Saturday, 24 May 2014

Hey, you. Yes. You.


I’m sending you an image.   It will reach you somehow.

You’ve been unresponsive since we got you back from the enemy, but the doctors say your mind is active in a  dream prison they made for you.  A life so real you can’t escape it.    Reasons to stay there.   

I don’t know what dream it is but my words have to reach you.  

Maybe you’ll hear them, or read them in a book.  

Maybe on a screen.

You have to walk through the door to wake up.  The door in the image.

Please.  Do it now.

(Don't walk through the door, this is just a response to a writing prompt from Light and Shade Challenge, that's all, just a writing exercise, nothing else.   The picture is just a picture from the internet by someone called Sulaco299 at

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Helping Hand

Picture by Ayla87 on

I clean the shop, I mend the shoes, I help the downcast maiden choose
Her future prince, her future bright, her perfect brave and charming knight
I bless the baby that she bears, I honour every oath she swears,

I prophesy of days unborn, of trials to come, of oaths foresworn
Of fallen thrones and mirrors smashed, of crowns cast down and glories past
And then I turn and start again, I’ve seen each story wax and wane

And in each tale of destiny, in each strange tale there’s always me
A little voice, a hidden hand, a sprite perhaps with so much planned,
A crone perhaps, a crone I am, Or sometimes yet a wizened man,
Or youth in green, or far off light, or voice that whispers in the night,

My favours come to those in need, my favours plant the fertile seed
I’ll stack the cups up on the table, to spin the straw to gold I’m able
I’ll give you all the riddles’ answers, I’ll train the girl to join the dancers,
To sing with angel’s voice and soar, to bring her love back from the war

I’ve seen ten thousand stories told, I’ve seen ten thousand lives unfold
And touched each one, and made them mine, I know the ways to make them shine
The mundane waste of mundane life, in seconds passing, dismal strife
Or dismal joy, so pale and weak, I cannot bear such futures bleak
So I step in with sharpened story, and cut so deep in search of glory
And cut away the life that bores, and cut away the life that’s yours

I know you see, I know what’s best, the shining tale, the mighty quest
I’ll put you on the path I choose, I’ll see you walk it, don’t refuse,
Dull daily life requires mending, and who would shun a happy ending?

I’m here to help,

I’m good, I’m nice,

 I never ever name the price

(in response to the picture prompt shown above from Light and Shade Challenge)

Saturday, 17 May 2014


Image courtesy Vierdrie of 

Hiram Harrison left the pulpit of his megachurch, smiling.   His sheep were his to fleece and he knew a text for every bit of hatred to stir up, every appeal for more money.

The stranger in his office looked like trash,  tattered , unkempt,  a tattoo on his arm:  Hebrews 13:2

Hiram, sneering,  went to snap out a text about marking the skin and instead said “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…”  and he went on, unable to stop.

“Carry on till you’ve heard,” said the stranger, and then he was gone, leaving Hiram helplessly, carefully, reciting.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

All That Glitters

image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev/

The conqueror rose from his seat at the council table.  Of the six lords seated, four were likely to
become his supporters, one his enemy, and one would bide his time.   It was always like that, and easily dealt with.

He strode from the chamber followed by his young courtesan.   She’d knelt silently, patiently, head lowered at his side throughout the council session.   He had spoken passionately:   He and his warriors had conquered the small kingdom, all the armies of knights and archers not by superior numbers but by greater discipline and organisation.   He would teach his new subjects this.   He would raise their kingdom, his kingdom, to a place among the empires of the world.   Their ambitions had been paltry and he would show them that what they’d considered the ceiling of achievement was what he would consider merely the floor to stride upon.   

And he had won them over, four new loyal provinces each with their own levies of knights and men at arms.   The others would fall in line, or they would fall.

He opened the door to his tower room and held it for his courtesan who skipped nimbly ahead of him, gorgeous and scantily dressed, his little piece of fluff, of happiness, of distraction.   And who would begrudge him that?

He closed the door then crossed to the bed, and stood motionless.   The young woman kissed him on the cheek and then caressed the back of his neck.   Finding the access panel she slid it open and removed the batteries that powered this most sophisticated of androids and then slipped them into the charger unit in the generator beneath her bed.

Nobody would dare enter the chamber before dawn, which meant she had plenty of time to catch up with her reading.

(In response to prompts from:
Light and Shade Challenge - Sometimes glass glitters more than diamonds because it has more to prove.- Terry Pratchett
Studio30 Plus :  Fluff of happiness
Write on Edge: “Are you really sure that a floor can’t also be a ceiling?” ― M.C. Escher)

Sunday, 11 May 2014


(image courtesy of Wikimedia commons)

Bronte Belvoir was three generations adrift from from  her ancestress  the most feared woman in Port-au-Prince.  Her Manhattan apartment was further adrift from Fredeline’s spice-haunted shack.

She opened her laptop and closed her eyes momentarily, feeling the light of the screen on her eyelids.  Instead of drums, the soft whirr of a hard drive and she was ready.   No sacred names, but a username and password.  No drawn veve, but a cryptic Captcha.  And no sacrifice but her career and a USB stick full of secrets.

At the crossroad where meatspace and cyberspace touched, Papa Legba, lord of messengers, grinned as she passed by.

(Written in response to Light and Shade Challenge's prompt using the quote: “the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” - Roald Dahl)

Friday, 9 May 2014

Pocketful of Hope

Image courtesy of Jiimm of FreeImages.Com

The rain turned the trenches of the western front into a hell of muddy immobility.   Edward Royce, returned from leave, stepped back into real life.  Back home he’d worn a mask made of pre-war life, but every conversation, joke and smile was something he’d simply worn.

Back home they said the enemy was monstrous, barbaric, guilty of vile atrocities.  He’d nodded, but knew that in the trenches Death was impersonal.   Moral high ground was a precarious perch easy to slip from.

They said the war would be over by Christmas but nobody here believed that.   One sergeant in B platoon had planted daffodil bulbs on the lip of the trench so that if the war lasted till spring they’d have some colour and even a bit of cover.   

Private Royce was a clearer thinker. He’d brought back a dozen acorns to plant on the muddy edge between life and death.

(inspired by a prompt from Studio30Plus to incorporate the phrase Precarious Perch)

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Half Full

(A response to a  prompt from Light and Shade Challenge - inspired by the phrase "Optimism is like a spiritual magnet")

(Image courtesy of Hills22 via

The young man would die unless he received aid, that was clear.  Nobody was more surprised than him.

“Can’t be killed,” he said, almost petulant as he lay there doubled over in the moss, “Prophesy.  When I was a child.”

“Aye, well,” Lucas crouched down, stroked sweat-slick hair from the youth’s forehead, “maybe the Hive didn’t know about that, eh?   Typical of them.  Never do their research.”

The Scotsman’s weak jest drew a grin from the pained face of the other.

“We’ve changed context,” the youth said, only now taking in the scene.   Tall old trees and thick undergrowth, a sky of deep blue.   Moments ago it had been night, with steel and concrete towers twisting in anguish through the blazing sky, sirens howling from all directions.

“We have.   No drones here, we can rest.  Well you can rest anyway, lie there till help turns up.”

“Is help coming?”  There was sudden hope in the young man’s voice.

“Someone’ll turn up,”

The youth laughed, then winced, clutching at the wound in his side, a spreading continent of dark inevitability on his tunic.    “Never… never figured you for an optimist Lucas.”

“Optimist?”  Lucas spat the word.  “Me?”

“Expecting help to arrive.   Optimist.    Glass half full, that’s you, secretly, that’s you.  You think the glass is half full.”

“Oh aye,” sarcasm sizzled in that syllable, “Optimist thinks the glass is half full, pessimist thinks it’s half empty, right?    Well I’m a realist.”   He paused for effect.   “The glass is entirely full.   The top half’s full of air, the bottom half’s full of whisky.   Not empty at all.   And don’t tell me air’s not important or I’ll prove you wrong.”

The young man smiled at the familiar chiding.   “Why whisky?” he asked.

Lucas shrugged.   “Why not?  Anyway lie still.  Help will be along shortly.”   He stood up and walked a little way, toward the rough track that snaked through the woodland.   He ignored the mocking cry of “optimist” that followed him.

Lucas could already see the horsemen approaching, just as he’d expected.   Half a dozen mounted men on barrel chested dark steeds.   As they drew closer he saw the lofted banner with the scarlet hunting dog on the sable field, and thrust his hands into his pockets and waited.

The leader of the horsemen drew to a halt by him and looked down, raising his hand to the visor of his half helm and raising it.   The face beneath was cruel and carved from stone and war.

“You,” the warrior said.

“Incisive as always,” said Lucas.

“You know the king’s edict.  It’s death for you to return here.”

Lucas shrugged.   “There’s a warrior back there with a stomach wound.  Do you still have that senile old healer at the castle.   Aye, good.  Well he’s a bloody genius.   See to my friend and I won’t even resist arrest, how’s that.”

“Resist?” the mounted man said, “You, alone?  Against six armed knights?”

Lucas just smiled until the other man nodded once.


Sunday, 4 May 2014

Nuptial Feast

(picture courtesy of

The city was burning,  the choking smell of war-despair heavy in the streets.  Refugees of a moment’s notice, an hour ago simply people, rushed and stumbled with their hearts in hasty bundles and packs, desperate.   

Quick and lethal, the Duchess’ armies had struck after their mistress had been refused one last time,  rejected by this city’s eleven year old Duke who was, she said, the love of her life.  

Three proposals, three rejections, and now her armies came in like the tide.  Spurned and insulted, she told the world.  She did not mention the city’s gold reserves.

This is in response to three prompts - Write on Edge's quotation (“Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.”), Studio30Plus's phrase ("Quick and Lethal") and Light and Shade Challenge's quotation ("She tells enough white lies to ice a wedding cake")