Flash Fiction Presents… “A Warning.”

This is a hole in a crumbling brick wall. As it stands (barely), it is a window of opportunity for anyone with the creative ability to step through it and into another world.

Unfortunately, it isn’t my wall. My wall was different, and it took me to a different place; to many different places.

I’ve looked at the image above and tried to find an angle that takes me to where I want to be, but it can’t. The bricks are wrong, the hole is wrong and although it can still serve it’s purpose, it isn’t as right as my wall was.

My mistake? I took my wall for granted. For eight years, in the wind and the rain, in the snow and the sun, I walked past the wall and on almost every occasion I dared to take just a few imaginary steps through that crumbling brickwork into the worlds of my imagination.

Day by day I watched as the odd brick tumble from that fragile frame. I watched, but I didn’t see.

And then one day, it wasn’t there. At some point, one particular odd brick had tested the fragility of my portal just too far and it had all come down in a sorry pile of stone and dust.

It is only now, as I look at the image above, that I realised I should have spent more time making notes; taking pictures. I should have made the effort to visit some of those worlds whilst I had the chance; when the places and the characters were still fresh in my head.

Will I still visit those places? It’s hard to tell. Through my mind’s eye I can still see the wall as it stood proudly against the elements and time itself. Through scattered notes in my notebook I can still trace footsteps not yet made into those worlds.

Yet, I can barely hear the conversations when I used to know every word, and I can barely follow paths that I used to walk. Somehow, I feel some of these visions in my head crumble just like the wall – brick by brick.

And so it begins..

There’s a lot starting to happen this week that I’m please about.

Firstly, I’m really excited to be on the edge of beginning to study my MA in Creative Writing with Teesside University. I’ve just made my ‘hello world’ post on the forums and am really keen to start to get to know my fellow students and also my tutor. I’ve already done some reading ahead of schedule and have picked up some really good information about routine and commitment.

Secondly, this week marks the first of four weeks with Futurelearn’s course on William Wordsworth. I can’t pretend that I spend much time in the world of poetry, but this fine chap lived and wrote very close to where I live and, when I did my English Literature degree, I felt his poems jumped from the page. It’s only fair that I take a few hours out of my schedule to pay this wonderful poet the respect that his writing deserves. As with the Writing Ficion I’ll be sending out progression updates so people can make their own choices about whether they would feel the course worthwhile.

Finally, I’ve managed to pull a bunch of pictures off my camera from some of the visits to various cities on my holidays. Some of them really got my creative juices flowing and I felt flash fiction fall from the sky!

Flash Fiction Presents…”Truth be told”

There was a grimace, a release, and then pain.

Kerin stared at the dagger hilt protruding from his chest and slumped down against the cell bars.

“You’re a liar!” Kerin wheezed, his chest cavity already filling with blood.

“How so?” asked the guard from the other side of the bars. “I said I’d release you from this cell if you told me where you’d hidden the letters.”

Kerin shifted around and stared at the chain around the guard’s neck.

The guard glanced down, “Oh this?” He stifled a laugh as he lifted the chain to reveal a large, iron key. “I could open the door if you wish, but I doubt it would make little difference. Your fate was sealed the moment you took those letters.”

There was a groan, a cough, and then dizziness.

“But we had a deal,” Kerin whispered, his body felt detached.

The guard leaned in. “Isn’t it ironic that the man whose letters you stole blamed me – the guard – for losing them and not the petty thief who took them?  So, whilst you were safe in your little iron cage, it was I who faced a death sentence if they weren’t found. Truth be told, until you gave up the location, you were making a deal with a dead man; and dead men have nothing to lose.”

Kerin spun with as much speed as a dying body could muster and grabbed through the bars. “You’re right; taking those letters did seal my fate. I knew I’d never leave this cell alive. So, it was you who made the deal with a dead man.”

A look of panic broke over the guard’s face. “So, they’re not…..”

“Like you said; dead men have nothing to lose.”

There was a grin, a splutter, and then darkness.

Flash Fiction Presents…”Something Nasty in the Woodshed”

“There’s something nasty in the woodshed!”

That’s what we told each other as kids whenever we passed the old house at the edge of town. With its cracked windows and broken frame, it was a vision from a child’s nightmare, but the woodshed was worse; a decrepit lean-to sagging against the back of the house. It had cobwebbed windows, moldy wood and a door that threatened to swing open if ever the wind had enough courage to try. Even if you looked hard, it was impossible to tell if the woodshed was holding the house up, or trying to pull it down.

“No there isn’t,” Billy Pratt argued. He hadn’t heard about the woodshed, so I’d felt it my duty to tell him of its reputation.

“There’s something nasty in the woodshed and anyone who goes in never comes out!” I shouted back.

“I’ll prove it to you,” he’d said smugly before walking around the back of the house.

And that was the last anyone ever saw of him…

***

That was twenty years ago. Yet, as I stand across the street, the house still looks the same. I can’t see the woodshed from here, but it’s there, I can sense it.

Turning, I see young Billy approach. He stops. He gestures. There’s no-one else there, but I know who he’s talking to. All too soon he walks away.

“There’s something nasty in the woodshed!” I shout. 

But he’s already disappeared behind the house.

Flash Fiction presents… “A Beach in Winter”

The warm wind that once wrapped itself around you like a comforting blanket has long gone – emigrated South with the birds and replaced by bitter, cold gusts intent on pushing you away. Light spray or heavy drizzle? It’s hard to tell; the sharp, salty tang lingers in the air and lasts on the skin. Thirst comes from licking lips – water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink.

Wrap up warm to brave the elements; it’s good for the constitution. “A thick jumper and a sensible coat is what you need!” Mum always used to say. “A hot flask of coffee, someone to share it with and a march, not a walk, won’t go amiss…”

Indecisive weather makes good company for nature’s wintery palette. Some days the light grey rises up to meet dark grey, on other days it’s the opposite. But who’s watching? If a wave crashes on the shore with no-one around, does it still make a sound? Maybe the white gulls know the answer as they flit and swoop over the high tides searching for an ice-cold snack.

Lonely and sad at the lack of attention, nature’s play continues with its’ daily shows. No bronze, tanned, fair-weather friends anymore, it now makes do with shivering dog-walkers and out-of-their-mind joggers.

Now the show has finished and the tide recedes for an intermission. Fishermen descend with their spades and their buckets stab at the sand in search of wriggling life. Stab, hack, stab, chop – don’t they realise the beach is already dead?

 

Flash Fiction presents… “Decisions”

A snap. A scrape. And then the sound of age-old hinges complaining.

The thief rose, and stood before the open chest. Without turning, he motioned for his companions to move closer.

“C’mon.” said the thief as he let out the breath he’d been holding. “Have no fear, the traps are all disabled.”

To a man, the group behind him took two steps, and then stopped. After their own intakes of breath, the group fell silent, bathed in the chest’s orange glow that radiated like the embers of a dying campfire.

“We’ve found finally found it; Lynette’s Potion of Youth.” whispered the wizard, unable to blink, nor avert his eyes.

“That we did,” replied the warrior. “I almost thought we’d never see it.” A solitary tear appeared from under the steel helm and set off down his cheek.

The druid leaned against his oaken staff, the movement causing the shadows to dance across his face. “Although we all had doubts about this quest when we first set out, did we ever think it would be a forlorn hope? There is always a risk, but there is always a reward. Isn’t that the reason why we do what we do? Fighting evil? Making the world a better place for those less fortunate?”

The cleric nodded. “You are right as always, my old friend. I agree that it isn’t a surprise that we are once again victorious, but rather that, in this age of chaos and violence, greed and envy, someone had the virtues and generosity to spare us this most precious of treasures. ”

“True,” rasped the dwarf, struggling to clear the lump in his throat. “Question is, who’s going to take it?”