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.

 

 

Fun With Freewriting – Week 15: Suspicious

 

Time for week 15’s entry for Fun with Freewriting. Please feel free to leave a comment, I enjoy and encourage feedback, and if you have any favourites from any on them let me know! You can check them out on my Fun with Freewriting page.

The trees and the houses whizzed past on either side, and I tried to keep my gaze trained on them. I held on to the rail tight with one hand, the other clasped to the strap of my backpack. Standing with my feet apart, I braced myself against the bumps and turns as we negotiated each corner. I swayed in unison with the other passengers sitting in their seats, everyone trying their hardest to look at anything but their fellow travelers.

        I couldn’t help myself though, I had to keep checking on them, to see if I had caught anyone’s attention. Keeping my head towards the window I stole a glance, first one side and then the other. Everyone seemed to be in their own little world, caught up in their own bubble of existence and whatever problems they were dealing with. I still didn’t trust them though. Any one of them could have been sent to watch me, to monitor my movements. How far would they let me go with my plans before pouncing?

        I looked around at them all in turn, sizing them up as potential threats, but the truth was it could be absolutely any of them. They were thorough in their deception, and it was a tough job for me to detect the impostor, never-mind a layman spotting them. And there were all the people sitting upstairs too, it could be any one of them and they were out of my sight line to check them out.

        The bus finally slowed and everyone began shuffling with their belongings ready to depart. As they all rose from their seats I pushed myself back against the window, willing myself to become as small as possible. One by one they filed past me towards the door, and with my head lowered I cast my glance up to look each of them in the eye. Their reaction to my presence was mixed, some smiling politely, to which I tried to reply, others scowling at me full of suspicion. And of course I couldn’t blame them, I really should have been the first to step off, but I needed to check my back first.

        As the last of my fellow passengers passed by, I joined the queue not knowing whether I felt relieved or frustrated. Surely they weren’t going to make this easy for me? Or maybe I was losing my touch a little. Either way I had no choice but to keep going with it, and keep my eyes open all the way. They had to reveal themselves at some point, and when they did I had to make sure I was ready.

 

Appear/Disappear – 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.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

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

This weeks contribution:

Appear/Disappear

Nobody knew where the object had come from or how it had appeared without drawing attention. One night the sun had set on the open space of the promenade, and the next morning the silver, ring shaped spectacle was there.

Big silver bean in Millenium Park.

We didn’t live in a quiet city either, there was plenty going on late into the night and early hours, but still its arrival was a mystery. It had just brought itself into existence without flash or fanfare.
 
        Simon had been mesmerised from the moment he set eyes on it. We went to see it together, and as we got closer it loomed overhead, blocking out the sun. We gazed up at our reflections, our bodies elongating as they curved around it. We dared to walk beneath, right into the centre where the sun shone through once again. As we did I noticed it began to hum gently, responding to something close by. Nobody else seemed to notice, so I kept this observation to myself.
 
        It certainly drew the crowds and Simon took full advantage, moving his busking spot right next it. He set his guitar case on the floor, donned his signature hat and glasses and began playing. Business was slow to begin with, the visitors barely paid him any attention as they wandered around and admired the object.
 
        But as he continued playing, something strange began to happen. It was very subtle to start with, and in the dazzling sunlight was easily missed, but the surface of the object started to change from its silvery, reflective surface, and instead colours danced across its surface.
 
        When he Dad's Guitar 005played a more up-tempo song the colours were bright and radiant, yellows, reds, oranges, all chasing each other quickly around. For slower, more sombre pieces the colours turned to blue and green, seeming to merge into one another gradually without any urgency at all.
 
        It didn’t take long for the crowds to pick up on the connection, and assumed Simon was doing something to it somehow. His case filled rapidly with coins, reflecting the appreciation of the entertainment.
 
        Simon was transfixed and the object seemed just as interested in him. He stayed all day, experimenting with different styles to see what it would do, and insisted on playing long after the sun went down. The colours seemed even more dramatic in the darkness, and it only intensified his efforts. I didn’t have the stamina though, and said my goodbyes before heading home. I’m not sure he even noticed me go.
 
        The next morning when I arrived with coffee and bagels, Simon was nowhere to be seen. And neither was the object. It had disappeared as smoothly and covertly as it had arrived, leaving no trace that it had even been there. The only evidence of Simon was his guitar case, overflowing with coins now, his hat and his sunglasses. It was like he’d never been there either. Looking towards the sky, I wondered where they had gone, and if I’d ever see either of them again.
 
Word count: 504

Fun With Freewriting – Week 14: Discovery

 

Here is the week 14 installment of  my freewriting activities. If you’ve missed any of the others you can check out my Fun with Freewriting page. Please feel free to leave a comment, I enjoy and encourage feedback, and if you have any favourites let me know!

 

There must be so many secrets hidden along this street. Every day I walk past all of the houses, in the morning on my way to work and in the evening on the way back again. And every day going back and forth most of the curtains remain closed, or at least the horrible net curtains do. It’s as though the occupants within are making a determined effort to keep the whole world out, where they can sit in their privacy and comfort and keep their own eye on everyone else.

        Not that I’m one to pry of course, but the very presence of such barriers is enough to pique my curiosity. It’s such an obvious statement that they want to hide themselves away, even if there isn’t really much of interest to keep hidden.

        My house stands right at the end of the street, with nothing but the woods beyond, a stark contrast to the rest of my neighbours. One of the first things I did when I moved in was to take down all the net curtains, front and back, and dump them rather unceremoniously in the skip at the front.This in itself was enough to unsettle everyone else along the street, I imagine that’s where the rumours of my strangeness began.

        The whole house had been foisty, my aunt hadn’t been one for the fresh air, and I had all the windows flung wide open for most of the weekend. The scent of the cut grass wafted into the house, making the entire place smell like spring itself.

        If I thought that being at the end of the street would offer any amount of privacy I was wrong. It seemed the entrance to the woods was right next to me and was a popular route for dog walkers, of which there were many. I couldn’t help but notice how much interest they all showed in what I was doing to the place either.

        There wasn’t much interest in me as a person, however, all I seemed to get were scowls of disapproval. The house was already beginning to stand apart from all the rest and I wasn’t even half way through with my plans yet. It didn’t bother me much though, how little interaction these people were willing to have with me. Getting to know them was all part of the next phase, and there was plenty of time to get there.

        For now, everything was about getting the house prepared and getting myself settled in. It wasn’t a small job to get the entire house decluttered, at 93 years old my aunt had accumulated a lot of stuff. Some of it was precious, worth keeping, but the majority was junk and filled skip after skip.

       I didn’t come across anything interesting until it came time to do the loft space. There wasn’t much up there except a battered trunk, the contents of which went along way in explaining the behaviour of my new neighbours …

 

Fun With Freewriting – Week 13: Watching

I’m a bit late with the latest Fun With Freewriting post, but it’s finally here. And the upshot is that you’ll have two during this week! At least I hope you will …

Anyway, I hope you enjoy it now it’s here.

 

Here is my safe place, where I am the most comfortable and content. After days of dodging gangs, avoiding the fires and being chased by thieves and muggers I can finally rest at last. I’d stay here indefinitely if I could, alone with the quiet and tranquility that only the forest can provide. Nothing but the sun shining from above and the birds songs resonating in my ears. If only it could sustain me with food and water too, my life would then feel complete.

And so the peace would always be broken after a few days, and the lower my food reserves became, the more agitated I felt myself getting at the thought and anticipation of returning to that hole. I was left with little choice if I wished to remain in this small piece of surviving wilderness, the next closest town was just too far to travel back and forth. At least with this one I only had to spend one night in a hovel, cowering for my life, hoping and praying for the daylight once again, and I could carry enough provisions for nearly a whole week, I’d take that balance any day.

But the distance and my safe place are not the sole reasons for me sticking around here. This city may be the dirtiest and most dangerous place that I’ve ever had to depend on for my survival, but it’s also home to one of the most beautiful things in the world.

I can’t really remember the first time I caught sight of Serena, she seems now to be such a constant in my life. Her long, wavy, blue hair and silver skin stood out like a beacon amongst the black rubble and burning buildings. Everything was in chaos around her, yet she seemed logical and methodical as she made her way down the street, helping those that had a chance for survival and easing the transition for those that were on their way to the next world.

She wasn’t daunted by any situation, no matter how hideous or horrendous, simply assessing, tending and leaving comfortable while she made her way to the next. As I watched it felt as though the rest of the world simply faded into nothingness. At the centre of my focus, the rest of the city emanated from her and revolved around her presence.

One day I hoped to have enough courage to meet her, talk to her, learn more about her. But not today, today I could only watch,

Looking for Home – 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.

For more information and to see my other stories, check out my Writer Wednesday Blog Hop tab.

The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction in up to 500 words, and this time using one picture and five words.

The picture:

20140324-101651.jpg

 

The words:                            body, person, silky, crack, pleasure

The story:

Looking for Home

Another life, a whole other world. The memories were fresh in my mind, if not in anyone else’s. But then how could they be, I’m the only one who traveled from that place to this. Every other person was already here, this is all they’ve ever known.

It’s not hugely different I suppose. The landscape is the same, all the cities and buildings within them are the same. Yet, everybody‘s strange here. People are so absorbed in their own internal world they hardly notice anyone else around them. On my first day here I had three people try to walk through me as though I didn’t exist.

At first I thought it was just me, maybe I wasn’t there, maybe the journey had done something to me, made me invisible. This theory was dismissed though after other people shouted at me for being in their way. After that I tried to make myself as small as possible, dodging my way through the cracks in the crowd, not drawing attention to myself.

My arrival hadn’t registered with any of these people, which surprised me. There was plenty of noise and a whirlpool large enough for me to fit through. Surely these things weren’t common enough to be ignored, considered insignificant. Perhaps I was wrong. The initial pleasure I’d felt at successfully navigating the time spiral had dispersed quickly once I got a sense of the place.

Everything was so noisy here, I wondered how anyone managed to make any sense of it all. I wandered the streets for as long as I could stand it, gathering data to take home, but it all became too much and I had to seek the solace of the park. It seemed to be on the outskirts of this city, and I managed to find the outer edge, as far from the chaos as I could manage. Amongst the trees I could still hear the noise of their strange vehicles droning in the background, but I could lose myself a little in the silky black of the night sky.

I had to try and find a way to get back home again. This place wasn’t somewhere that our Elders had in mind as a refuge. I’d rather stay in my home when the end came than have to live a whole day here. But I needed a power source.

My thoughts were interrupted by loud noises charging through the trees. Shouts were behind the noise and soon lights appeared to accompany the roar. Three of the natives had appeared on strange two-wheeled vehicles I’d never seen before. They sounded powerful and an idea began to form in my mind. Maybe these strange things would have enough power to create the return whirlpool I needed, maybe I wouldn’t be stuck here until the Elders opened the window for me. I studied the newcomers as they set up some kind of camp, waiting for an opportunity to seize one of their machines.

Word count: 496