Category Archives: Flash fiction

Sue Vincent’s #Thursday photo prompt: Calm #writephoto

autumn-018-2

The stream looks calm, no ripple disturbs the surface. As if viewed in a mirror, images of the banks and wide sky form exact portraits of the landscape without the need of artist’s brush or photographer’s lens. The beauty of the scene is of no concern to you though.

It is Autumn and the waters of the brook are swollen after the first seasonal rains. Intuition tells you that changes will be taking place within the recent torrent. Now-placid and canal-like. This could be what you have been waiting for. From your pocket you take a jam-jar, emptied of it’s sticky contents, label removed and ready for use.

Three feet below the water’s surface the annual miracle has started. If, like some Old Testament miracle, the waters were to part, you would be able to witness an amazing spectacle.

Not trusting to any help from Moses your jam-jar will be required. Cautiously approaching the water’s edge you lie face down and place the jar on the surface. All the action is now laid bare to your eyes.

Before your eyes activity hidden from view is revealed. You are able to glimpse the private love act of salmo salar, the Atlantic salmon.

After years spent cruising the Atlantic ocean male fish known as jacks have answered an uncontrollable urge to return to their birthplace. The increasing depth of water due to  rain has enabled them to make their way up small rivulets. On their way the urge is so strong that they have no time to eat. Sea-lice has caused their scales to turn from fresh silver to a chalky white as they shrink and fall to the riverbed. Acquiring a deep blushing red the jaws resemble elongated hooks making the act of eating impossible anyway.

Females have laid millions of eggs in scrapes on the gravel beds and as the males release their milt it forms opaque clouds before settling on the eggs ready to  fertilise and start the new life necessary for the success of the species.

All this is revealed as you lean over the water’s edge with the jar resting  on the surface.

You take the jar and leave the fish to their devices’ knowing that within a few days with little rain the waters will return to their shallow state. Returning to the brook you will see many salmon stranded and dying, their work done.  Their bodies forming a bonanza feast for the local wildlife.

Meanwhile within the stream the fry will hatch and  soon be swimming, ready to face the trials of life and begin the cycle once more

 

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Filed under Factual, Flash fiction, nature inspired, Seasons, Self compositions

Time for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt: Stark #writephoto

stark

The tweet had come through to my phone whilst we were driving over to see my aged Mother. This was to be a surprise visit. For three weeks she had been pestering me to introduce my latest girlfriend to her. I suppose she was as shocked as I that a nice young girl was willing to accommodate my foibles, bad habits and awful sense of humour and be foolish enough to meet me more than once.

Every time I had ever mentioned a girl’s name I could imagine her plotting  a wedding. So far, she had been disappointed and I wasn’t sorry to keep dashing her hopes.

I could imagine her reaction when I had announced that I’d met someone and this crazy girl had expressed a desire to meet her despite my reservations and thinly veiled warnings.

The afore-mentioned was called Sally, and was beside me in the car. She picked up the phone when the notification sounded and told me that it was a tweet then asked if I was happy for her to read it for me.

It transpired that a Great grey shrike had been sighted about fourteen miles away from our destination. Sally was aware that I was a pretty keen birdwatcher and had occasionally sat quietly in  a bird hide with me and despite her probable boredom had manged to retain a sense of humour. I sensed that under the attractive exterior was a  closet twitcher.

This bird would be a first for me and as I always carried binoculars in the car this was an opportunity not to be missed. We stopped and taking the phone from her I checked the time of the message. Then we  pulled the atlas out of the glove compartment and with a growing excitement on my part, started to plan the route to the last known sighting place. We could  get there within half an hour. It was out at the edge of the moor, quite close to one of the narrow B roads that abound in that part of the country.

As we approached the site it was easy  to spot for there were quite a few cars drawn up along the grass verges. We followed suit and grabbing my binoculars and camera we headed for a break in the granite, dry-stone wall. Luckily the ground was dry as there had been unseasonably little rain for the past couple of months.

There was a small group of people standing about a hundred yards from the opening; a few standing next to tripods on which were perched cameras with telephoto lenses attached. Each as long and thick as one of my arms. All lenses pointing at a medium height ash tree with sharp, snapped limbs and very little leaf cover.

Sally and I tagged on the end of the semi-circle and raising my glasses I started to focus on the bare branches. It only took a couple of minutes to spot the first tell-tale sign of the shrike. Festooned over the spiky, short branches I spotted a frog, two mice and numerous large flying  insects, all hanging grotesquely like circus acrobats frozen in mid-swing. Each little corpse starkly silhouetted against  the darkening sky. A few twitched haphazardly in their death throes. I asked Sally if she wanted a look and was surprised at her eagerness to take the glasses from me. She asked me what was happening there so I explained about the rather gruesome habits of this bird, also known as the Butcher bird. Her fascination was palpable  when I explained that the bird catches prey when it can and uses a tree or sometimes a wire fence as a larder in case  food becomes scarce.

An excited  tremor passed through the group and all eyes went up as suddenly the focus of our attention turned to a small grey bird that flew rapidly back to the tree. Then it hopped from branch to branch looking for another natural hook on which to hang  the still struggling body of a field-mouse. Then he was off again and with my desire to add this bird to my list sated, Sally and I took a few photos of the grisly display. With a broad grin on both our faces we  returned to the car to continue our journey.

I was happy that Sally had been so interested  but the look on her face when I told her about the larder could be a bit worrying as it might show a different side to her character..

 

 

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Filed under As you read it, Flash fiction, nature inspired, Self compositions

MlMM’s #Heeding Haiku With Chèvrefeuille, October 31st 2018, raindrops shimmer #Haibun #Trapdoor

raindrops

Perspiring raindrops

shimmer in the warm sun’s glow,

soon to form rainbows.

Her trap is set. Grasping the last strand she sits motionless in the dark, cool sand at the bottom of her burrow and waits. She feels a vibration and tensing her legs prepares to grasp  and pierce her prey. The trapdoor springs up and a flood of raindrops rush in soaking  the fur that covers her black, bloated body. A desert flash storm. She leaves the trapdoor open knowing that it will soon dry in the bright sun then she can continue her lonely vigil.

 

 

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Filed under As you read it, Factual, Flash fiction, Haibun, nature inspired, Self compositions, Temperatures rising

Sue Vincent’s wonderful Thursday photo prompt #Writephoto #Haibun

 

stone-in-the-wood

Beautiful bower,

Stained marble stones hide bleached bones.

A place  of sadness.

 

From his raised throne at the head of the hall, the Compte LaReine turned to his master chevalier.

“I’ll see them now, my three guests.”

The heavy oak doors at the end of the hall swung back and three white robed knights were invited into the long, wood-panelled hall. They had surrendered their swords and shields, distinctively marked with the red long-halted cross.

The three approached the dais and bowed low before the Count. Dubois, their spokesman started to introduce himself and his companions but was rudely interrupted by a loud, bellowing voice demanding the reason for their apparent desertion from the Templar order.

Unbeknown to them the Count was dismayed that they had not been willing to divulge the whereabouts of the legendary famed Templar treasure. He knew that the Order had lost favour and wished to curry favour with King Phillip. After secret negotiations he had agreed that the three, accused of heresy, although falsely, would be confined for two days and without trial, put to death as ordered by the King.

“Take them below,” he thundered and roughly, without ceremony, they were lead away. Two days later they were unceremoniously put to death and their bodies taken and placed in a shallow grave in the forest to be forgotten.

So they remained for the next two centuries until the Pope was persuaded to grant a pardon to all the French Templars and throughout the country, the bodies were exhumed where known and re-interred beneath marker stones in the territories where they were once revered for their piety and fighting prowess.

These stones remain a place of pilgrimage, although more often  a destination for treasure hunters and the curious.

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Filed under Alternative history, As you read it, Christian, Flash fiction, Haibun, History, Inspired by fable, Self compositions

Kirstwrites.wordpress.com #SixWordStoryChallenge: 27th October

Challenge open Saturday 27th October 2018 – Thursday 1st November 2018

Welcome to the Six Word Story Challenge.

For those who have never dropped by before, a new prompt is posted every Saturday morning at 9am (or thereabouts) GMT, either on this site or that of fellow blogger Wonderwall. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to plot a story on that subject… in just six words.

So last week’s theme from Wonderwall was ‘grandmother’, which I didn’t get round to entering. But in the last week I’ve written a #FridayFictioneers 100 word story set in a museum. And on a similar theme, ‘bones’ is the prompt for this week’s #StreamofConsciousnessSaturday (which is another great prompt you should really check out – AFTER you’ve written your six word story, obviously). So with grandmothers, museums and bones… it’s all pointing to this week’s prompt being:

History

And here’s my attempt to get you started:

Grandmother’s buried secret still haunted us

So how does it work?

  1. Leave your story in the comments until Thursday 9.30pm GMT
  2. Like, comment & engage with other authors
  3. On Thursday, I publish a poll – and this is the important bit – don’t forget to come back and vote for your favourite!
  4. Bask in glory if you’re a winner.

Never tried microfiction before?

Never fear, help is at hand. You can get a few more hints and tips about writing six word stories here.

Can I share my story?

Of course – in fact, please do! The more people who take part in this weekly challenge, the merrier. Tell your story and inspire others to have a go. Write a blog post, send me a pingback, share your six word story on social media or reblog this post to encourage your own followers to take part. There are various different hashtags floating round t’internet, so you can use any of these to reach a wider audience – #SixWordStoryChallenge #6words #sixwordstory #microfiction #flashfiction #fiction #amwriting. The most common one we’re using at the moment is #SixWordStoryChallenge, so linking up to that hashtag should help you connect with other participants.

How is the winner chosen?

I close entry to the Six Word Story Challenge on Thursday and open a poll which remains open for 24hrs. Anybody and everybody is invited to vote in this poll, the winner is the story with the most votes at 9pm on Friday. Simples!

Click through to this page to read the full rules of the challenge.

Good luck! Remember to share your entry on social media using the sharing buttons below! Let’s tell everyone about our challenge, the more the merrier! and don’t forget – use the hashtag#SixWordStoryChallenge.

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Filed under Flash fiction, General competitions, Re-blogged

100 Word Wednesday: Week 94 #100WW

bikurgurl-24-oct

It was the first day of our guided tour. Myself and the other thirty passengers exited the luxury coach as we arrived at the forbidding wire mesh gates. I assumed that like me, all were on a personal pilgrimage.

i looked around at my fellow travellers, there was no look of expectant excitement on any of the faces. On the journey the atmosphere was subdued as everyone was visiting to bring closure to stories of their family’s fate.

Photography was allowed so I sent my drone up, instantly tears formed as it picked out the child’s toy on the roof.

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Filed under Alternative history, As you read it, Flash fiction, From the heart, History, Inspired emotion, No offence intended, Self compositions

Sue Vincent’s magical #Thursday photo prompt: Glimmer #writephoto

distant-lights

I gazed at the ashen faces and tired expressions of my companions. For three days we had been hiding atop this rocky outcrop. Shivering  in the dark of the cold nights and crouched among the rocks by day, reluctant to light a fire for food and warmth in case of discovery. We had seen no aircraft overhead for the last forty-eight  hours which we all agreed may have been a good sign or perhaps a sign of something worse to come.

Far below, the dark, oily, clouds of smoke drifted lazily across the plain where only a few days before there had been green, lush fields and trees. Now all was a scorched , brown, devastated wasteland.

There was no way of knowing if it would be safe to descend and although we could obtain fresh water from  the numerous springs our food supplies were running low and would soon be extinguished.

There was still no phone signal and the batteries would soon be running out leaving only the radio from which we had heard nothing since we saw the bright glow in the Eastern sky with the ominous mushroom shaped cloud that could only have meant one thing.. We could only hope that there were others down below but it had all happened so fast that we could not be sure we were not the only survivors.

Had we few not been members of this expedition we also would have been victims of the catastrophe. unleashed in such a brief time.

We decided to take a vote on finding volunteers to make a descent into the valley. This would be the only way to check if there was a glimmer of hope for our and the rest of mankind’s survival.

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Filed under Flash fiction, Self compositions, Temperatures rising

Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt: Bone #writephoto

skull

Over the western hills the sparse, silver clouds are tinged with  red. The sun, not yet set gives up it’s daily battle with the revolving Earth.

A slight breeze starts vibrations in the tall grass heads previously still  in  the heat of the day as the first chill wind from the shore  heralds the onset of evening.

The rain-washed,  sun-bleached skull lies on the path of low foot-worn grass between the heather tussocks.

Tonight there will be no moon to cast it’s glow over the silent tors. The evening air remains curiously warm, almost sultry.

Imperceptibly, as if guided by some gentle, unseen hand the skullbone is turne to face the darkening  Eastern sky. d

In the distance,  a low unearthly sound as of the moaning of the wind in the mast of a storm-tossed sailing vessel can just be heard. The skull shudders and begins to roll to the side of the path.  Like the growth of moss but vastly accelerated, a black downy growth begins to form a shadow on the stark, white surface. The black down grows longer until it resembles the short, thick fur of a dog. An impression helped by the impression of long limbs and thickset body of a hound which appear  to be forming around the single skull.

At last there stands a large hound. Saliva drips from the muzzle as the jaws open showing a row of strong teeth where once were just sockets. Red, unblinking eyes like cinders stare out as snorting nostrils flare and a snarl escapes the shaking head.

Darkness reigns but the black fur is embued with a dull, green lustre. If anyone was near they would start to sense a foetid smell,  increasing in strength with each shake of the thick flanks.

While out over the darkening hills the previous low moaning is now distinguishable as the baying of  a pack of hounds.

The newly reborn beast raises it’s head turning to the right and left. Upraised newly grown ears point straight up, cocked, listening.

With a snarl and a huge leap the beast  runs off in the direction of the approaching pack.

Across the moor a dark-cloaked rider sits atop a heavy black steed. His hood rolls back  allowing a glimpse of a white, gaunt cadaver-like grin. He frowns. he struggles to control his rearing horse, while in his free hand he holds a horse-whip which with every flick emits a stream  of red and gold sparks. Around the horse’s  feet a pack  of identical black hounds snarl, circle and fight, cowering  at every crack.

Soon the pack will be complete again and the Heath hounds will start their nightly hunt seeking out the souls of the wicked.

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Filed under As you read it, Flash fiction, Inspired by fable, Old knowledge, Otherworldly, Self compositions

Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt: Faraway #writephoto

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I walked back down to the slipway at first light. As expected there was only one reminder of our work from the night before, at the last low tide. Of course none of us could be sure if the Gods had smiled favourably upon Ulrika and allowed her to escape ready to rejoin the world of men.

Not that she could come back into our community. The prejudice of the villagers was too great. Many of the young men would be unhappy that she had been taken from us before she had given her acceptance of a marriage proposal.

Apart from the memory of her long, flowing, red hair nothing was allowed to remain in the minds of men. Her name could not  be spoken. Her supposed crime never again mentioned unless as a warning to naughty children who failed to eat their meals or refused to carry out their chores.

Elder brothers and sisters would frighten their younger siblings by telling them she was hiding under the beds, as older children do.

I was saddened for I did not believe the tales they told of her. That is why I had returned to the place of the crabs. I was not disappointed. if the Gods had not intervened then overnight the crabs and fish had done their work.

The white rock which had been  so carefully  placed upon her bare chest sat lonely in it’s place. No scrap of flesh or bone remained. Picked clean by snapping claws and teeth.

Ulrika was now far away, either in the hands of Gods or men and I would be the only one who would feel remorse.

 

 

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Filed under Alternative history, As you read it, Flash fiction, Inspired by fable, Old knowledge, Self compositions

#FirstlineFriday

Amber light streamed down from the arched windows, splattering the altar and their upturned faces. The priest held the ornate, silver chalice in both hands and raised it above his head. His low, droning incantation repeated by his two surplice-clad assistants. 

All three turned to face the expectant congregation. Already a queue had formed for the communion ritual. The first communicants already knelt before the screen that separated them from the Holy of holies.

The three officiates moved towards the kneeling line with their platters of communion wafers and wine chalice.

As the priest leaned forward he lurched and trying to grasp the arm of his assistant he dropped the wine chalice to the stone floor before collapsing with his hands clasped to his breast. A red stain slowly spread across the flagstones as the echo of the falling cup died away.

Cries of alarm and shock escaped the stunned congregation.

All except one.

A tall, strangely pale figure got up from his seat at the back of the nave and laughed. Placing his black cape over his shoulders he skipped to the door and exited.

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Filed under As you read it, Christian, faith, Flash fiction, Self compositions, Submission calls, Uncategorized