A difficult beginning – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage the sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Jottings and Writings and Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine.

The challenge this week is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, using two pictures as inspiration.

This weeks pictures:

2014-06-08 13.02.24 2014-06-19 18.23.46

 

This weeks story:

A difficult beginning

You look so tiny as you lie there, surrounded by so many tubes and wires. I’m afraid to put my hands on you in case I pull on something by mistake. You were this perfect little thing the day you arrived, and it breaks my heart that everything wasn’t quite right on the inside. The doctor says its no fault of ours, these things just happen sometimes, but still I feel like I’ve let you down already and you’re not even 48hrs old.

        I could sit here all day with you, watching you, hoping that being here will in some way help you get better. But I ache all over. I’ve still recovering too, my little one, from the efforts of bringing you into this world. We should both be at home right now, snuggled together and helping each other adjust and get strong again. But instead here we are, you in there and me as close as I can be. I know I need to be taking care of myself, to get some rest and recuperate, but that also means leaving you here by yourself.

        I know, of course, that you’re in the best place, getting the best care you can, but it’s not always the same as having the people who love you nearby.  And I have your sister to think of too. She needs me as much as you do, and I didn’t think I’d be splitting myself between the two of you so soon. You probably won’t remember any of this, or how much time I spent with you, but she will. She’ll notice if I’m here too much and if I’m not at home spending time with her too. I must get that right, I can’t have her being upset with either of us already. After all, this isn’t her fault. It isn’t anyone’s fault, it’s just something that happens, and this time it’s to us.

        We know you’re on the mend now, my little one, and big sister has been here and had her cuddles. She loves you more than you’ll ever know, and she’s been hurting as much as we have. She comes and holds your hand every day so you don’t forget her. The bunny in your cot was left for us yesterday, a parcel left on the doorstep, flowers too. Had things gone differently it would have been a harsh reminder of a tragedy impossible to bear, but instead now they are a symbol of hope that we’ll have you home soon.

Get well my little one, we have many adventures to all share together, today and forever xxx

Word count: 439

Fun With Freewriting – Week 21: A place for all

 

Fun with Freewriting time! I like the idea for this as one central place being used and respected by so many different groups.

Please leave a comment if you have the time, I enjoy and encourage feedback. To check out my previous ramblings click on the link or tab at the top of the page.

 

Standing alone in the middle of the field, the shade tree stretches its branches as far as it can. Each year its reach extends that little bit further, its foliage growing that little bit greener. With nothing to stand in its way, the branches have grown  out equally in all directions, leaving a near perfect circle of shade beneath. The field in which it stands is lush in green grass, never grazed or used for crops, instead the owner keeping the grass short anyway.

        A well worn path leads from the gateway directly to the foot of the tree, and the gate is never locked. Everyone understands the importance of this place, and so it remains free and open to all. Visitors are known to have traveled hundreds of miles to see it, to touch it, and both young and old alike are drawn to the place. Surprisingly, despite the large volume of visitors each month, there had never been a single act of vandalism against the place, no scrap of litter left behind, or any other sign that someone had spent their morning or afternoon there.

        Of course, there were theories abound about the draw of the place, from historical and biblical to supernatural and scientific. In the local towns and villages, debates had been known to last for days over its origins and its purpose, but once there, by the tree together, all the arguments seemed to drift away on the breeze. Whatever their beliefs, everyone would stand side by side, brought together in unity by its beauty and wonder.

        Nobody seemed to know exactly how old it was, despite plenty of digging into it. Its solitary nature made it difficult to determine from photographs, other than the method of the photography itself. Even the oldest available pictures showed it to be a good size, so how far back it became established was anyones guess.

        Over the generations, so many celebrations and festivals had been held in its honour it was equally difficult to keep track of them all. All manner of groups had paid their respects in their own ways, some loud and brash, others more quiet and subtle affairs, but each group had a great respect for the rest and would always leave it exactly as they’d found it, with never a sign that they’d even been there.

        Far away from any hustle and bustle, the shade tree and its surroundings offered a place of sanctuary and tranquility to all that may require it. A place surviving the test of time and bringing joy and hope to as many as it can.

Fun With Freewriting – Week 20: Taking the coast road

 

Fun with Freewriting time! The imagery for this came mostly from the roads along some of the Norfolk coast, but the village and what happened are purely fictional. Could be the beginning of a longer story though …

Please leave a comment if you have the time, I enjoy and encourage feedback. To check out my previous ramblings click on the link or tab at the top of the page.

 

The road ahead is clear as we drive along. To our right the trees pass us by, varying shades of green and undulating in size. Now and then there is a break in them and we can see the fields behind, stretching back across the flat land. A house can be spotted at times in the distance, a lone residence in the middle of the peace. None were built close to the road though, no-one dared anymore after the destruction of the village a half century ago.

        On the other side of the road a wooden fence is all that stands between us and the embankments that lead down to the narrow beach and beyond, the vast ocean. For once I’m actually glad that David isn’t a speedy driver. Although the road is clear of other traffic and the road can be seen clearly ahead for for a fair few miles, it wouldn’t take much to go straight through the fence and down onto the beach. I couldn’t help but wonder how many people had done so over the years and found myself glancing over the edge to try and spot signs of any wreckages.

It was a clear day but breezy with it. The clouds that were present in the sky were moving at a swift pace, intermittently blocking the warming rays from the sun. Further out the sea appeared calm and still, but nearer the shore the building and crashing of the waves gave away how choppy the waters really were.

        These days the beach was far more shale than it was sand, much had changed over the last few decades. There used to be a village stretched out along the coastline of about 60 homes, with a sprawling beach of soft golden sand within a few minutes walking distance. But after one of the most horrendous storms, perhaps even the most, one night the entire village was gone. In its place was a gaping hole carved out of the landscape, with practically no evidence that anything had ever been there in the first place.

        No survivors were ever found, there were no remains or debris from any of the buildings, it was as though something had just come along in the night and scooped them all away. There weren’t even any signs of anything washing back up onto the beach in the weeks and months that followed.

        To this day, it remains one of the biggest mysteries yet to be solved in the area.

Unknown Cargo – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Jottings and Writings and Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine.

The challenge this week is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, using two pictures supplied by Tena as inspiration. Both pictures need to be incorporated into your story somewhere.

My story for this week:

Unknown Cargo

20140409-132433.jpg‘See you later scruff-ball!’ The cat didn’t even stir as I finished packing my lunch into my rucksack. Instead, he just gazed at me with those soppy blue eyes, probably wondering what craziness I was up to now. His eyes closed gently as I gave him one last fuss around the ears, and I could just see him getting comfortable in my spot as I headed out the door.

        The sun warmed my back as I cycled to the depot, a matter of only ten minutes at this time in the morning. Stashing my bag, I headed to the briefing room to see what runs I had, and to get in my early morning coffee at the same time. Not for the first time I wondered if it was the same coffee that me and the guys were trekking all over the country, but somehow I doubted it. The company was too cheap for that kind of blend. And I most certainly wasn’t drinking the stuff that I’d been hauling around for the past few weeks. I had no idea what it really was, they wouldn’t tell me no matter how many times I asked, all they said was that I wouldn’t want to drink it.

        As I headed out to my ride, the other boys passed me on their way in.

        ‘Starting early again, Jim?’ called Sam.

        ‘Have to,’ I said, ‘I’ve got a long way to go.’

        Slinging my gear across the seats I got myself settled in. This was the only truck I took out these days so it was all set up for me already. I plugged the tunes in and was ready to go.

cropped-121212153743.jpg

       I drove all day but still didn’t make it to my destination. Even with scheduled rest stops I still had to pull over and call it a night. All I could do was get up in good time in the morning and get going again. The bed was comfortable enough, and I managed a few good hours sleep before being woken up. There was no rain or wind to speak of, but still the whole lorry, cabin and all, began shaking loudly back and forth. Rubbing my eyes, I fumbled around for my torch but a bright light shining all around illuminated everything.

        Pulling on a jacket I tried to jump out, but the handle and door wouldn’t budge. Throwing my full weight against it I remained trapped, with only the window to squint out of to see what was happening. Hovering above, a large oval shape sat motionless with its lights shining down. Just as quickly the light went out, and the shape disappeared into the night sky in silence.

        I fell out of through the door which had now been released, sprawling me onto the lay-by. The only evidence that anything had happened was the fill level of the tank, now sitting at empty. More terrifying than what I’d just witnessed, was just how I was going to explain this to anyone.

Word count 502.

Fun With Freewriting – Week 19: Preparation

 

Fun with Freewriting is here once again. I quite enjoyed writing this one, although as it went along I was very aware of influence from a particular trilogy of novels. I wonder if it’s obvious to anyone else …

Please leave a comment if you have the time, I enjoy and encourage feedback. To check out my previous ramblings click on the link or tab at the top of the page.

It would soon be time, but Rachel really wasn’t sure if she was ready. She’d been building up to this moment for months now, and as it finally approached, the last few hours ticking away, all those doubts from the first few days came flooding back.

How could she be good enough? She was a nobody, born into an unknown family and abandoned in the first days of her precious life. She had no sense of who she was, where she came from, and no way to find out either. Standing at the top of the stairs, waiting to be called, waiting for her turn, she could see Brayden in the doorway at the bottom.

She couldn’t let him down now, he’d given her so much just to be here. He glanced up at her and held her gaze. His clear blue eyes were full of hope, knowing how much this day could change their lives. The corners of his mouth twitched, offering the subtlest of smiles, his excitement yearning to burst out from within.

Rachel lowered her gaze as the dread began to build inside her. She could feel it deep within, bubbling away with rising intensity, threatening to consume her and prevent her from succeeding. Her palms were sweating, she had to resist wiping them on her gown. It may only be for show until she changed into her battle dress, but she’d had few things in her life anywhere near as beautiful and she wanted to keep it sparkling.

From out of nowhere a guard came into view and stood at the bottom of the stairs. He raised his hand up to her and held it there, waiting for her to join him. His head and face were covered by his helm, and all she could see were a pair of unfriendly eyes transfixed on her as she descended.

She concentrated on the stairs before her as she began to descend, her efforts focusing on taking one step at a time in her uncomfortable footwear. If she fell now, she hoped it would be hard enough to smash a hole in the ground large enough to swallow her whole. Successfully reaching the bottom, she held out her own gloved hand to meet the guards at the bottom. Her gloves were well lined but she could still feel the coldness of his touch through them.

He led her through the open doors to the waiting night where she would finally meet her opponent. She looked straight ahead as she passed by Brayden, willing herself to be strong if only for his sake. Her resolve fluttered though as she saw for the first time who she would be facing. It was all she could do to stop her knees from buckling as she came face to face with him, the stranger from her dreams.

Just who was he, and how did she end up meeting him like this?

Hidden in the storm – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Jottings and Writings and the newest member of our team, Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine.

The challenge this week is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, using two pictures as inspiration.

This weeks pictures:

IMG_20140504_135821

IMG_20140420_162554

This weeks story:

Hidden in the storm

As the storm built overhead my appetite seemed lost, leaving me pushing my food around my bowl. It had been scorchingly hot, the fields dry, with barely enough water for the cattle.

        We hadn’t fared much better, the house  holding the heat and baking us as we slept. Even with windows open and fans on full, I still woke in the night dripping with sweat. Tonight had been forecast for rain though, and we felt it in the air as the rumbling grew in the distance.

        There hadn’t been a good storm for years. We’d spent two days strapping everything down that could be, locking things away, tying them to anything that was likely to hold itself in place. All we could do now was wait for it to arrive and ride it out as best we could.

        I knew it wasn’t just the wind and the rain that had everyone worried though. I’d not seen it myself, but there were stories of other things that came when the wind was high, when the storm distracted one and all. They weren’t to be fussed over in the broad light of the sun, but when the night fell, and the winds blew, they could terrify.

        I knew I’d need my energy if I was going to be up all night with the others, but I couldn’t bring myself to eat a thing. My stomach was churning and I didn’t trust it to keep anything down. I picked up my full bowl and took it to the sink where mother was standing, staring out the window. Following her gaze I could see the trees beginning to sway a little bit more, the leaves rustling loudly. The cattle were becoming restless in the barns, jostling against one another in the uncertainty. They could already sense that something was happening.

        I think mother knew too, her hands gripping the edges of the worktop until her knuckles started turning white. I couldn’t tell if it was through fear or determination, and I was too scared to ask. She lifted one hand at last and pointed out through the window. The storm was becoming more visible, even against the black of the night. The lightning flashes were frequent, lighting its way as it came. For a moment I couldn’t see what she saw, but as my eyes adjusted they became clearer in the black.

        I could only make out a few to begin with, dotted around the sky, flitting in and out of the storm clouds. I thought they must be birds but as the absurdity of this fact struck me I realised I didn’t know what they were, but I knew to be afraid. Their numbers grew as the cloud came closer, and on the wind I could hear their wailing and moaning. They were coming, whatever they were, and as I turned back to mother she was already moving.

        ‘They’re here,’ she said, without emotion. ‘Grab whatever you can and be ready to defend yourself.’

 

Word count: 501

 

Fun With Freewriting – Week 18: Decisions

 

Time again for some Fun with Freewriting. Please leave a comment if you have the time, I enjoy and encourage feedback. To check out my previous ramblings click on the link or tab at the top of the page.

 

The wind is blowing outside, keeping you from sleep. It whips around the guy-ropes, pulling tight against the tent and you pray that the pegs were hammered in hard enough. The outer sheet blows against the inner, threatening to collapse the whole tent around you. You have to resist the urge to brace your hands against either side, trying to keep everything in place through sheer will.

Where was John? He should have been back hours ago. The longer time goes on without his return only heightens the inner turmoil you’re going through. He told you to stay put no matter how long it took him to get back, but as the night draws on and the wind howls around you it’s getting harder to stick to his advice.

The rain has started now, gently to begin with but it doesn’t take long until it’s beating down hard, joining with the cacophony already surrounding your little bubble. It’s almost impossible to hear the sounds of anything else now, no way to hear the noises from anything that may approach, be it friend or foe.

What if John can’t make it back, and one of the others has to come in his place? You have no way of knowing if they are on your side or theirs. They’re hardly likely to declare themselves loudly as they get nearer, putting your mind at ease. And even if they did, what reason do you have to believe them? They would probably declare that anyway, even if they were the enemy, gaining your trust before they pounced.

If only John had left you with some sort of clue, some strategy of knowing who to trust and who to fear. Instead you have to sit here and ponder, scaring yourself more and more as you can only think about the worst case scenarios.

But eventually you will have to make a decision. Do you stay, paralysed in your own fear, until someone comes and finds you, all the time knowing it could mean life or death?

Or do you make a move? To either go out and find John for yourself, or simply to remove yourself  from being such an easy target?

Which would you do?

 

Fun With Freewriting – Week 17: No rest

 

Here is my latest offering for Fun with Freewriting. Please leave a comment if you have the time, I enjoy and encourage feedback. To check out my previous ramblings click on the link or tab at the top of the page.

 

Time is taken for granted in too many ways. We look at the clock constantly throughout the day, too many times to count, always checking that we’re in the right place for that particular point in time.

It’s almost a given that tomorrow will always come for us, and the next day and the day after that. But for many of us that certainty is not always there, and although as individuals we never really know it, there is always one who does. He knows the fate of all of us, from the moment we enter into this world in a daze and full of confusion, he knows just how many days we have been given to walk this land. He has no hand in this decision you understand, that decision comes from somewhere, something far greater than himself, he is simply supplied with the knowledge.

And, understandably, he does not work alone. There are far too many of us trundling across this planet for hi to cope with such a burden alone, he couldn’t possibly be on opposite sides of this globe at precisely the same time should the need arise. So he has his minions to assist him, a legion that is thousands strong and spread out as evenly as they can be.

His selection process for this task is a tough one too, only the best will do. It is not an easy job recovering the souls of the dead, especially if in life they had excelled at being evil. And if the soul had their wits about them and fled, they could be devilishly hard to catch. They’d lost no end of souls that were running around causing mayhem because a collector had taken their eye off the ball. And that usually meant he had to step in himself, meaning a massive detour in his plans in most cases.

He felt it a shame that he had to delegate his work in this way, he was convinced that the rest of them didn’t bring such care and attention to the job as he did. They only saw it as a job, no matter how much they protested the fact.

He would much prefer to attend each and every one of them himself, to give them the level of respect that they’d earned in their life. If only there was a way to replicate himself for the task, he’d have no need for the rest of them.

Surviving the night – A WWBH post

This post is part of the Writer Wednesday Blog Hop, a weekly meme designed to inspire creativity and encourage sharing of stories.

The hop is co-hosted by myself over at Reading, Writing and Everything in Between, Leanne Sype at Writings and Ruminations, Tena Carr at Jottings and Writings and the newest member of our team, Debb Stanton at Stanton Sunshine. Welcome to the team Debb!!!

The challenge this week is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, using one picture and five random words as inspiration. All of these elements need to be incorporated into your story somewhere.

This weeks picture:

 

This weeks words:                            shout, sieve, degree, pile, planning.

 

This weeks story:

Surviving the night

I was alive. I had survived, when everything within me was convinced I wouldn’t be opening my eyes again in this world.

        I shifted my body weight and the stiffness in my legs protested. It didn’t stop there either, the discomfort traveling up my back to my shoulders in increasing degrees of pain. Sitting up, my skin responded to the coldness, making me shiver up and down. My fingers and toes ached as I tried to encourage some life into them, and I could see my breath surrounding me as I tried to use it to add heat into my hands.

         Some of the ache in my hands was from the cold I knew, but some of it was from gripping the ax handle too tightly as I’d waited for sleep to take me. The locked doors of the car would provide little protection, but grabbing the best weapon I could and getting myself hidden inside something was all the planning I’d had time for. I thanked my lucky stars again and again that I’d parked away from the buildings, hidden from view within the trees. It only went a small way to compensate for the complete failure of the engine to start, but I was glad for it now.

        My sleeve became damp as I wiped the condensation from the back window, and I peered through the morning mist looking for any kind of movement. The choice of location was much more remote than the last party, and I couldn’t help thinking now that the decision had been deliberate. In the middle of these fields, at least three miles from the nearest main road, you could shout your heart out and nobody would hear. And a lot of people had tried. What little I dreamed had all been filled with the shouts and screams of frightened, escaping people. All piled on top of each other trying to flee the barns, and only fueling the thirst of that which sought to devour them.

         All was quiet now though, the mist seeming to sieve out all the usual morning sounds. My stomach grumbled as I looked all around. If I tried the engine again it would draw attention in this silence, but I needed to get away and I wasn’t keen on making a break for it on foot. From what I saw of these things from last night, they certainly didn’t conform to any rules I knew of, which meant I wasn’t taking any chances.

         My heart pounded as one of the barn doors opened gently, the shadows from within coming forward into the light. There was no way to tell how many there could be in there. I was concentrating so much on trying to see them, I had no warning when the one hiding in the trees launched itself at the side of my car.

 
Word count: 477
 
 

Fun With Freewriting – Week 16: Reflections

 

Here is the latest installment of  Fun with Freewriting. Please leave a comment if you have the time, I enjoy and encourage feedback. It’s all a learning process after all!

 

Looking at her reflection in the mirror, Jackie could hardly believe that the person gazing back was herself. She didn’t look anything like the woman she thought she was, or even felt she was. Gone were her long red curls that used to cascade over her shoulders and down her back, replaced now with grey hair cropped short for convenience and pushed back absently behind her ears.

        Her face looked thinner than it used to be, not in an unhealthy way but her cheeks weren’t as plump as she’d like and her cheekbones and eyes had a little too much emphasis. Her clothes didn’t appear to cling to her body either as they once did, instead just hanging from her shoulders and loosely covering her frame. Without lifting her blouse to check, she didn’t believe she had any hips or breasts to even speak of.

        What has happened to her? Had so much time passed her by that she barely even noticed what it had done to her?

        She looked again at the clothes she’d brought into the changing room to try on. They didn’t look any different to the ones she was already wearing. They had the same dull straight lines and were the same drab colours with no life in them at all. Looking again at herself in the mirror she sighed. She always used to make much more of an effort, thinking carefully about her outfit, her hair, her makeup.

        She realised she was retired now but that really was no excuse, surely she should have more time to think about and plan these things. She could understand it when the children were little and she spent all of her time running around and looking after them. But they were all grown now and had set up their own lives a long time ago. She had the grandchildren every now and again but that was far more of a pleasure than a chore.

        Something definitely had to be done, before she gave up on herself completely. Grabbing the new clothes, still on their hangers, she hoisted her bag over her shoulder and stepped out of the changing room. She left the shop assistant bewildered  as she handed the clothes back, explaining that they were just too old for her. She strode from the shop and headed over to her husband who’d been waiting for her.

        ‘Didn’t you fancy anything from there, love?’ he asked.

        ‘No,’ she replied, ‘it’s all just too old. Let’s find somewhere else.’

        She put her arm through his and set of with purpose. She needed a better clothes shop and a cosmetics department. And after that, she thought to herself, maybe they’d go and see what the travel agents had to offer.