All posts filed under: Long Reads

October Speculative Fiction Prompt

Well September is over and October is here in full force. Leaves are on the turn, England has turned grey and rainy (well even more so than usually) and everywhere you look people are prepping for Halloween (or in some cases Christmas). This is the second month that I’ve had the honour of hosting the Speculative Fiction Prompt  and hopefully this month’s image inspires as much as last month’s. If you want to read the stories for last month then you can check them out at the September Speculative Fiction Prompt. The guidelines for those of you who are new are as follows: Speculative Fiction: a genre of fiction that encompasses works in which the setting is other than the real world, involving supernatural, futuristic, or other imagined elements. [Oxford Dictionary] Use the image below to write a story, poem, perhaps even a script. There are no rules about form or style. If you would like to create a piece of art in response that is also welcome. This prompt is about being artistic and …

Heart Of The Dead #FlashFiction #SeptemberSpeculativeFictionPrompt

When the bodies washed ashore, the novices were there to pluck them from the mud. It wasn’t pleasant work. It was a short trip from the edge of the city to the bend in the river. The unfortunates who made it, came out of the silt choked waters heavy and stinking, muscles still locked up by rigour mortise. ‘Another one!’ The cry went up from lower down the bank, further along than the bodies usually travelled. Flexing her fingers to work some of the feeling back into them, Maradine followed the other novices to the cry and tried to avoid looking as if she was dawdling. She let herself breath when she saw the child, eyes huge and bug like, withered limbs half buried in the mud. It was small, small enough for two of the novices to manhandle inside the temple doors without need of her help. She didn’t try to work out how this one had found its way to them. The monks frowned on questions regarding the vessels. ‘Jamie, Galeth, you take …

Power And Glory – #FlashFiction

When the coffee runs out, she drinks tea instead. It’s bad, overly floral and cloying. She drinks it anyway, hips bumping up against the chipboard kitchen counters, sink at her back, eyes on the peeling desk on the other side of the cabin. Downloading… 65% The screen on the computer flickers for a second before steadying. Downloading… 66% She sips the tea, holds the liquid in her mouth and grimaces when she swallows. Downloading… 66% It will be another hour at least before the system is up and running. Until then she will have to be patient. The screen flickers again, blanks out temporarily. She holds her breath. Downloading… 67% She keeps the breath in her lung, feels it burn. Downloading… 67% She exhales slowly, carefully, almost as if she will break the fragile internet connection with just that. The screen stays clear and her shoulders drop. It would be easier if she could go outside, leave the system to do its thing and come back when the download completes. Outside is not an option …

NYC Flash Fiction Challenge 2018 – Stolen Silence

Last year I took part in the NYC Flash Fiction Challenge and came tenth (I think it was) in my group overall. Unfortunately this didn’t get me through to the second round, but for a first try I was pretty happy with that result and it was a valuable learning experience. Today I signed up for the 2019 challenge and though I have another look at the second of my flash fiction submissions from last year. If I remember correctly, my group was given the genre of drama, our object was salami, and our setting was possibly circus but I could be making that up. Since I was no longer focused on writing a piece of flash to fit with the prescribed prompts, I decided to focused solely on ensuring the piece stayed under 1,000 words without losing the original plot. Fair warning, it’s somewhat dark. Stolen Silence The circus crowds poured out in waves of warmth and laughter, ushered past the gates by stout men in dark jackets. Tucked inside the shadows beyond the …

No Light By This Moon #FlashFiction #MarchSpeculativeFiction

The settee springs had burst through the cushion and what little stuffing there had been was gone. The remaining fabric sagged or clung to the rusted springs, much like the building around it, and the skeletons beyond it. Eddie gripped one of the springs near the base and tested it. He sneezed as the cloth attached crumbled to dust. The coil snapped free of its anchor, surprising him and opening a line of crimson across his other hand. He cursed and pressed the cut to his mouth. The taste made him gag, as if the pollution in the atmosphere had changed even his blood. He tore a strip from his sleeve and used his teeth to tighten a knot in the bandage. It would have to do, much like everything else he had done for the past six days. Desperation was a great provider of inspiration he had discovered, but he didn’t hold much hope that it would see him through. Asides from the settee there was no other furniture in the room he’d settled …

Lost: One Bench #Throwback Thursday

‘How can you forget where you left it?’ Samantha demanded, shooting Michael a withering look before closing her eyes and counting to ten. In a moment she would let out a deep sighing breath and give Michael her best, why do you insist on embarrassing me stare before ordering another drink from the bar and forgetting the subject altogether. 1,2,3,4- ‘I mean really Michael!’ Michael blinked, confused as to where the last 6 seconds had gone and why she hadn’t ordered a large glass of red wine. She wasn’t following the natural order. ‘It’s a bench!’ Samantha spluttered. ‘You cannot misplace a bench! Especially not one of yours! They’re massive and made of wood. WOOD MICHAEL! WOOD!’ Everyone else in the pub had fallen silent now, the hum of conversation dying as all eyes turned to stare at the couple having the argument. Or rather, Samantha yelling at her bemused husband since Michael rarely said two words to anyone about anything. ‘I could understand a nail or two, perhaps even your level metre, but misplacing …

Fallen From The Beaten Track #FlashFiction

No matter how he wrapped the blankets around himself, the wind found a way through the fabric. When he’d been here before it was summer. Bright and green, the pass lined cherry blossom and blackberry brambles. The other men on the pilgrimage had ignored the fruit, chosen instead to set up camp on a rocky outcrop and dine on the tough heels of bread they’d brought with them. James had spent an afternoon with purple juice staining his hands and mouth. When he was done, he’d cleaned himself in the stream than ran close by, marvelling at how cool and crisp the water felt across his tongue. Now the stream was little more than a strip of ice, the brambles only thorns. Perhaps, James thought, he was seeing the truth of it at last. The beauty of before was only a trick designed to lure him in, distract him from the death that was waiting for him, now he could see it all he could see what this place truly meant. The wind screamed through …

A Girl Called Spider #ThrowbackThursday

She sat smoking three seats away from the door, cigarette pinched between black talons as she waited for the boy in a green apron to bring her coffee. ‘There is something of the devil about that one,’ whispered an old woman standing in line. She leant in so her companion could hear. ‘Something unnatural.’ The pair twisted to stare; peering over round spectacles to examine the girl in black leather and brass buckles. ‘Very unnatural,’ hissed the old woman’s companion. “Not the right sort at all!” The girl sighed, pouring the smoke from her lips. She smiled at the old women and stabbed out the cigarette on the table-top. ‘Problem ladies?’ she asked. ‘This is a no smoking zone!’ squawked the first, pointing a shrivelling, stumpy finger at the no smoking sign just beside the door. ‘You are no supposed to smoke that,’ she pointed at the crushed cigarette, ‘in here.’ The girl smiled again, teeth bone white against ebony gloss. ‘I must have missed the sign,’ she said, curling her lips back further. The …

This Terrible Thing Called Hope – #ShortStory #FlashFiction

‘There be giants in these parts,’ Gavin muttered, hiking the pack higher onto his shoulder as they trudged through the snow drifts at the bottom of the monument. In front of him Eddie huffed, his breath turning to ice and smoke. As the sun sunk towards the frozen horizon the temperature would continue to fall, and in the fading light Gavin had to squint to see the humped silhouettes of the outpost. There would be traders there they hoped. A chance to refill their supplies before moving deeper into the wastelands. ‘You believe all that, really?’ asked Eddie. ‘Damn Gav, you’re worse than those priests back at the temple, always trying to tell us that we’re only here by the mercy of the gods.’ He scratched his chin and tipped his head back. They were right beneath the right hand of the statue, the lines of its palm a shadowy black web in the dust. In full light it would seem almost human. The same shape to its face, its arms, its legs. The only …

Case One: The Missing Boy

Gates called the flat opened planned, Felhorn called it a dump. It occupied the top floor of a condemned building where demolition had ceased halfway through, leaving only front half standing and the rest as rubble. At night Felhorn would dream of the floor suddenly collapsing beneath her bed, the chipboard walls they’d thrown up as protection from the elements tumbling with her for the sixteen floor drop, before waking soaked in sweat in the very sheets she’d just been clinging to, her throat alight and aching. Gates didn’t help much. After six hundred years of not needing to sleep he’d forgotten what it was like to have nightmares and couldn’t understand why she didn’t just change the story if it wasn’t going the way she wanted. Finding him standing above her with that frown on his face when she woke often ended with her sending him sprawling across the flat, magic burning in her veins as it jumped to the surface before she could quench it. It didn’t teach him, he still came whenever …