Calm Before The Storm #WeekendWritingPrompt

The tavern was so quiet that Elias could hear the wind whispering through the gaps in the walls. When the serving girl brought him his drink he paid her with a whole silver, saw her eyes widen, and patted his coat pocket.

‘Keep ’em coming.’

She nodded and darted away.

Apart from one table near the door, every seat was taken. Elias counted the mercenaries, almost all of them Roderick’s, their necks marked with his brand. The King had called the practice draconian, but that didn’t stop him hiring Roderick’s men when revolts broke out.

That was why rebels had to hire Elias.

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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 this one,’ said the Thalt. He was the oldest of them and as such was able to avoid the task of ferrying the dead back and forth. He stood and watched until the two younger novices had hefted the child between them, Jamie with his hands under its knees, Galeth at the shoulders. They stumbled in the mud but kept their footing. Dropping one of the vessels always resulting in a beating.

The rest of them lingered as Thalt moved on, casting a careful eye over the banks. He was short for his age, not that any of them were entirely sure of their ages. If Maradine had to guess, she would say he was close to his fifteenth year, almost a man in most circles. Thalt certainly seemed to think so. He had taken to coercing female novices into shadowed corners and empty supply rooms. Told them that it was their duty to serve all those above them in the order.

Maradine had been spared his attentions, but only because of her markings. The ones that her village had said made her a witch.

The wind picked up and Maradine clutched her robes tighter. It was still early and the bodies had been few which meant she was still dry. Soon enough the noon bells would toll in the city and the gallows would begin their daily work of filling the river. By evening she would be as wet and rank as the dead they salvaged.

She glanced up at the temple behind them, its low, squat roof crouching at the foot of the mountains. By evening the dead boy would be sat at a bench with the rest of the novices, fresh robes still stiff with starch on his fragile, little body. She wondered how long it would take him to speak. She had been silent for almost a month before Thalt had beaten words from her throat. It had been the first and the last time he laid hands on her. The only time she had believed her village might have been right about her.

She shivered again and turned her gaze away from the temple.

Once she was old enough she would be sent out on assignment. Then should might have chance to run. Until then she was bound to the will of the monks, and the flow of the river.

She watched Thalt pause at the water’s edge and counted the seconds until he moved on.

Patience was all she needed. Patience and a heart of the dead.

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Flash Fiction written for the September Speculative Fiction Prompt. If you would like to join in then please follow the link and share your own speculative fiction pieces based on the image above. There are no word count limits, no form specifications, just a picture and your imagination.

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 on to camp in. It was small and dark, the windows mostly blocked by the shifting sand dunes outside. Eddie had imagined deserts to be like the ones in ancient stories. Blisteringly hot, golden, and majestic. To his horror he had found grey towers of brittle dirt. The grains sharp enough to slice open the skin or worse if you were unlucky enough to be caught in a storm.

Instead of the sun’s endless scorch there was the endless moon. Silvery blue on the horizon, always watching from constant fixed position as if pinned there by magic, or perhaps by the gods themselves if Eddie believed the same things as Gavin.

There was no warmth in the light it gave. It was almost as cold as the ice planes, but the desert was so dry that nothing froze. If it had then there would be ice to melt into drinking water and he would not have to rely on the sludgy muck from the well he had discovered in the building’s cellar. He had tried boiling it but there was almost nothing to burn for a fire and what little fuel he had found smoked so badly that Eddie though he might suffocate. If he had persisted though he might not be in the position he was. His attempt had run through the small supply of burnable material he had, making a second attempt impossible once he had doused the flames. If he had not done that then he could have perhaps cauterized the wound on Gavin’s hip. He might have avoided trapping them inside this ruin as they waited for Gavin to die.

Eddie closed his eyes and tightened his hold on the spring. He wasn’t out of options yet.

Bundled in both his own clothes and the ones that Eddie could spare, Gavin was slumped against the wall where Eddie had propped him. His eyes were open, but their glassy sheen suggested that he wasn’t aware of the barren room around him, or Eddie standing nearby. He breathed in short, sharp hiccups. Each breath whistling through his ribcage.

The spring seemed to burn in Eddie’s hand, but he kept his grip. He should pray he thought. He had not prayed since he was a child and his mother ordered him to do so. He vaguely remembered how to, and he had seen Gavin at prayer enough to echo the ritual.

He crossed the room and let his knees hit the floor before Gavin’s shivering form. Eddie reached for his hands and pulled them from the cocoon of fabric, pressing the spring between them as he dropped his forehead to rest against Gavin’s.

‘Please,’ he started, stumbling over the words. His mother had begged in her prayers. She had begged for his father to come home, for the landlord to stay away, for the debt collectors to take her in payment instead of the food on the table.

Eddie reached for something else, but the words dried in his throat.

Save him, he wanted to scream. Please, please, save him.

Gavin’s hands twitched and a sob cracked out.

‘I’m sorry, I’m so, so sorry.’

Once the tears started, they would not stop. The ran hot and cooled almost immediately. Tracking salt down Eddie’s cheeks until it felt like his skin was breaking with every movement. He swallowed and tried to reign himself in, coughing until the lump in his throat eased enough for him to breathe past it.

Gavin’s eyes remained glassy, his chest rattling like a slip of paper caught in the wind.

Eddie lifted a hand to the back of his neck and eased him flat onto the floor, straightening his limbs so that Gavin looked almost like a corpse ready for burial. Eddie squashed that image before it could cripple him and lifted the hem of Gavin’s shirt. It resisted, the wool sticking to the scabbed wound oozing beneath.

An infection spelled death unless treated and without medicine Eddie had only one course of action. He held the sharp edge of the spring to Gavin’s hip.

‘I’m sorry,’ he repeated. ‘This is not what I thought we would find.’ His hand trembled and he fought to keep it steady.

Desperation breeds just that he thought. Desperation.

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This response uses the same characters my January response This Terrible Thing Called Hope. It seemed like a nice opportunity to revisit these two and the image was such a great juxtaposition to the first with the variation on setting, the single figure as opposed to the group, it just ended up leading me here.

The Curse Of The Ex-Wife

‘You know something, I think life was better on the other side,’ said the mummy currently unwinding the bandaged around her torso.

‘So there is one?’ Dr Williams asked, cheeks colouring as the creature plucked a bullet from between flesh her ribs. She examined it for a moment and then tossed it aside into the sand beside the yellow placard marking one of the entrances to the burial tomb.

‘I’m dead, a revolver is not going to make me any deader,’ she sighed.

‘No, of course not, I do apologise,’ said Dr Williams. ‘You just, well you know, caught me a little off guard.’

‘You were preforming an ancient revival ritual in the middle of the desert over a corpse. What did you think was likely happen?’

‘Well honestly, I thought nothing would happen,’ Dr Williams admitted.

‘Then why bother?’

‘It seemed harmless enough,’ he shrugged. ‘The rest of the team have taken the day off and I was the only one about so I thought why not give it a crack. The least the could happen was that I’d prove Linda was a fool for believing in this sort of stuff.’

‘Linda?’ asked the mummy, she reached her chest now and was revealing a little more than Dr Williams was prepared to see, he worried the toe of his boot into the sand beneath it and tried to focus on digging out a little trough instead.

‘Ah, erm, Linda? Yes, well, she’s my wife, I mean by ex-wife, we’re divorced, sort of. Nearly. Separated technically.’

‘Technically?’

‘She moved to Ohio with her new boyfriend.’

‘I see.’ The bandages were gone and in their place was acres of bronzed skin, blue eyes, and ebony hair. ‘Are you going to let her know that she was right then?’ The mummy shook her hair out behind her and began carding his fingers through it to detangle the knots.

‘I…’ Dr Williams trailed off. ‘No, I think we can let that lie for now.’

‘And what about me? How will you explain me?’

‘I…’

‘She will probably ask questions after all, I mean you’re not planning on leaving me here are you? A naked woman abandoned in the desert. What sort of man would do that?’

‘I hadn’t really thought that far ahead.’

‘That much is clear. Do you perhaps have something I could wear for now? Your jacket maybe?’

‘My jacket?’

‘Yes your jacket. I’m naked remember?’

‘Oh, yes.’ He fumbled to remove his arms from the sleeves and passed it across. ‘Are you coming with me then?’ he asked.

‘Where else would I go? You brought me back to life two thousands years after I died. It’s not like I can wander into the nearest city and tell them to bow down because their queen is back. You cast the ritual, you now deal with the consequences.’

‘Consequences, what consequences?’ Dr Williams squeaked.

‘Me you moron, you have to look after me.’

‘Oh, that doesn’t sound too bad.’

The mummy grinned. ‘Trust me, I wouldn’t start counting your chickens just yet.’

‘You’re not going to try and take over the world are you?’ he asked quietly. ‘Normally in the movies things don’t go very well for the people around you when that happens.’

‘No more than any other woman,’ she shrugged. For now let’s focus on not being in the desert.’

‘Okay, I suppose that’s sensible,’ Dr Williams nodded. He let her sweep past him, her slender feet sinking into the sand as she walked in the opposite direction of the jeep he’d hired to bring him out here. ‘Wait,’ he called. ‘Wait, wait, you’re going the wrong way!’


Writing Prompt 2

Prompt curtesy of The Story Shack

I did try and write a 50 word short for this prompt but there was too much detail to cut it down to that size. Instead the piece ran to about 600 words. If you have a moment please leave the feedback in the comments below. I’m always looking to improve my writing so any constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated.

Shadow Dawn – Extract

Sweat was running into Tara’s eyes and she could hear her breath coming in ragged pants, but she met Talis’ next blow without wavering. The staves cracked together like trees trunks splitting and she forced the new recruit back a step. Despite her lack of training, the girl seemed to be keeping up. She watched Tara with sharp green eyes and ignored the stray ebony curls dancing in front of her eyes from her bun. She aimed another sharp jab at Tara’s chest and the princess parried it easily. The girl was tiring, leaving herself open to basic, amateur tactics. Tara took the opportunity. She aimed high but at the last second twisted, the soft grass giving beneath her boots as she swept her stave towards Talis’ anke.

Oak met oak and the taste of copper exploded across Tara’s tongue as Talis moved like lightening to block the attack and throw one of her own before Tara’s brain could catch up with itself.

Staggering back Tara grinned. She liked this girl a lot she decided. She might just keep her around.


Current Word-count: 61,943

I’m working on the last leg of Shadow Dawn, trying to make a decision about how to create an interesting and exciting ending to the book. However, there’s still a fair way to go and I’ve got stuck on chapter twenty-four that for some reason is being a bitch to write. So instead I’ve turned to penning some snippets that belong to later chapters. Since I haven’t written with pen and paper in a while I thought I’d share a small bit of the results with you.

As always, I love to know what you think and if you like this then check out the Solitary Creatures series! Parts 1-4 can be found on the site and the rest is on the way in April for CampNaNoWriMO.