Thursday, 28 July 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "3x3 re-run"



Sorry folks, time's just got away from me (preparing to do some DIY ) and I haven't had time to create anything 'new' for this week. :-(

However, as I was trawling through the 'virtual' filing cabinet I came across a few previously aired mini-stories - each 100 words or less. So, to satisfy the 300-word limit of 'Thursday@3' here's three to keep you going!

Apologies if you've seen them before - but I think they bear another look! (hope to be back on track next week - assuming the decorating's finished!)



First off, a little walk on the wild side - all in the line of duty!

NIGHT SHIFT

If I don’t go soon I’ll lose my nerve. I could murder a stiff drink but I’m on duty. Damn, these shoes hurt, but I have to admit the five-inch heels sculpt my calves into something almost shapely.

Colin nods towards me and releases the catch, easing open the van door. He blows me a kiss earning him a scowl as I step out into the darkened alleyway.

As I cross the road and walk away I know I’m being watched. I hope they’re ready to act. It’s no fun being the Vice Squad decoy, especially when you’re in drag.



-oOo-




Next up - it ain't over until well after the last echoes of the 'fat lady singing' are just whispers:

ENDGAME

The Devil rubbed his hands in glee, as he watched the city fat-cats who lusted after profit.

Mankind, like Cinderella with amnesia, stumbled through the wreckage of history, unaware that life didn’t need to be this way; that there was an alternative. But Beelzebub bred his evil into their lives, a mongrel strain that twisted and warped their values.

Back in the Garden it had been so easy to deceive, he thought. Yet a disturbing unease that was not of his making tightened around the Prince of Darkness.

It started as the first bowl of wrath hit the earth!



-oOo-




Finally, proof that not all animals are 'dumb'?

LITERARY LUNCHEON

The goat smiled. If people left their stuff lying around and it got trashed that was their look-out. He licked his lips and swallowed, then bent down to munch another page.

Mmmmm….. ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. He loved quality books; so much more to get his teeth into, and looking further into the bag there were other Tolkien goodies for ‘afters’.

He idly wondered how many rain forests had been pulped to satisfy the reading masses then froze in horror as a thin volume slipped out of the bag – “101 Goat Stew Recipes”.

Suddenly he wasn’t hungry anymore.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

F3 - Cycle 41 - "Fall Guy"


This week the F3 crew are honoured to have Paul D. Brazill, eminent writer, interviewer (and prolific tweeter of tweets on Twitter!) as guest 'whip-cracker' for our weekly writing challenge.

To spur us on to literary creation he provided an opening sentence as a prompt, with the added option of the above picture for further inspiration! (with artistic licence, I'm determining the gender of the prone individual as male, late 30's and well built!)


So, with his opening words in italics and the rest my own invention - read on (and hopefully enjoy!) and please leave whatever comment you think appropriate! :-)


FALL GUY

I slowly peeled back my eyelids and immediately wished I was still out for the count. The last thing I wanted to see was three earnestly worried faces staring back at me.

“Lay still! Don’t move!” said a voice from somewhere above me. It was presumably connected to the hands that held my head in a vice-like grip. Now that my eyes were beginning to refocus I could see the guy’s lips moving but they weren’t synched to the words he was yelling. Man, if that didn’t engender panic I don’t know what would. Then again, maybe it was just the affects of concussion.

I tried to turn my head to the side but Vice-man held firm.

“I need to….”

“I said don’t move!”

“But….”

“Look, I’m a Med. student and I’m telling you not to move!”

Oh great! Some ER wannabee with a little knowledge and a lot of attitude. Well this could go one of two ways, I’d either vomit and aspirate the contents of my stomach, or else I’d make a really nasty mess of that expensive-looking leather jacket he was wearing but either way this thing had to play out!

“Oh, man! Shit! What a mess….” Med.Student released his grip momentarily in disgust and I managed a half turn of my head to spit out the remains of regurgitated food and stomach acid into a foetid pool way too near my own nose.

The squeal and shuffle that this, in turn, created from Earnest Face #2 attracted my attention momentarily. In her puffer jacket I took her for a student too, but judging from her reaction I didn’t think she was involved in anything remotely to do with health care.

“Man, that’s gross!”

Thank you for your concern, Ma’am, I thought. Here I was, recovering from whatever just happened and her reaction is to scream at me.

That, too, is an interesting point – what had just happened? I remembered walking across the road towards my car and hearing a sound like a faraway thunderclap, then these three amigos appeared.

When I managed to swivel my eyes a little left I saw the third in this trio of interested individuals taking just a little too much interest, if you ask me. And a little too much video footage on her cell-phone as well; I’d probably be a hit on YouTube within the hour.

“No…” I held my hand up across my face. Curiously this felt like one of those actors who scream ‘No photos! No comment!’ to the adoring paparazzi and then ask their entourage to check they got their best side.

Apart from the indignity of the situation there were several very good reasons I didn’t want my picture taken and none of them to do with the clarity of the close-ups.

I rolled free from the Med. Student, who was clearly more interested in limiting the damage to his clothing than in limiting possible damage to my spinal column, and wearily dragged myself to my feet. Raising a hand to the back of my head I felt the warm stickiness in my hair and the raw, open graze in my scalp.

Curiously, the pain I felt seemed to come more from the front of my face and looking down at my stained shirt I saw crimson trails that I tracked back up towards my nose. I staggered slightly as if drunk and reached out to the car to steady myself. That’s when I noticed the bloody stain on the wing mirror and the slight dent in the wing. I put two and two together and came up with a reasonable ‘four’ as an answer. A second glance in the mirror confirmed my broken nose and what was rapidly becoming a russet-shaded hue around my right eye.

Aware that I was still of interest to those around me, I had to do some quick thinking. The two girls I could easily cope with – Doc Kildare might take a little extra, he looked like he did weights; I guessed that beefcake image kinda helped with the bedside manner. Looking carefully around it seemed my three Good Samaritans were the only ones passing by at the time. Lucky break, I guessed; I could get this wrapped up quickly and be on my way.

I pocketed the cell-phone and rolled the bodies over into the undergrowth. I was right, the girls were no problem, a few deft swipes and they were looking at the sky with their heads in unnatural angles. Doc at least put up a bit of a fight but like a lot of gym-jockeys the muscle was just for show.

Now, the sting on the back of my head makes we wince as every bump in the road throws me back into the headrest but one thing still bothers me as I reverse back out onto the highway.

Who the hell just tried to shoot me?

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "Paying the Price"



A sombre tale, today, inspired by reading this. At least in this part of the globe we still have freedom of speech and also the freedom to practice faith - but for how long?



PAYING THE PRICE


I can see the grey and white clouds through the cracked and grimy glass beyond the bars at the window. It’s morning again, but I have no idea what day it is. The passage of time has become an enigma to me, disrupted by their relentless interrogation; endless hours standing, being kept awake – the pleasure of that sensation of falling into oblivion violently ripped from me with water or pain.

Sometimes I think that I have indeed slipped into blessed oblivion and that this is merely a nightmare I shall awaken from and hear familiar sounds, smell the aromas of distant cooking, feel the warmth of my wife sleeping next to me.

The cold, rough dampness of the wall at my back assures me this is no nightmare and the salt of my tears bites into the cuts and sores that they have inflicted. An obtuse thought strikes me that the saline qualities of those tears may serve as a simple remedy to infection; even in the midst of despair there is something positive.

The scudding clouds have moved and there is a wisp of blue beyond; a simple pleasure bringing hope amidst the grey depression of Sung Fui jail and all its horrors.

Reluctantly, I close my eyes and begin my morning devotions. It is hard to give thanks in my current situation but I cling to life, such as it is, praying for the strength to endure and hoping for a better tomorrow. And I am not alone, for the physical pain and deprivation cannot take from me what is hidden in my heart and my mind and I long for home.

There is little joy in paying the price for daring to express my faith, but I would do it again – how could I do otherwise?

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

F3 - Cycle 40 - "The Observer"




This week's F3 prompt was in the form of this picture - what would it inspire?

Well here's one scenario, please feel free to comment! (Oh, and if you hop over to F3 you'll be able to catch the stories other members of this writing community have produced - give them a look-see, eh?)



THE OBSERVER


Every day’s the same. After breakfast I get dressed, although it takes a while to select my apparel for the day. Then I ride the trains.

All life is here. I’m a keen observer of life, you see. That’s why I like to ride the trains because there’s no landscape to distract me; I can just feast my eyes on all those faces around me.

The whole world comes here; I hear so many different accents that I can almost imagine I’m in any city on the planet.

So, I keep watching and listening. I miss nothing; I can even lip-read, taught myself. Also perfected the art of the glazed look for when someone stares back. They usually turn away pretty quickly, especially if I start mumbling to myself.

Sometimes it’s hard seeing other people like me. Well, not really like me, they just look that way. I’d love to help them, get them a square meal, spare clothes, you know the sort of thing.

Still, I know my ‘regulars’ – old guy, gets on three stops from me, always carrying a battered old leather suitcase. I’ve fanaticised about what he carries in there but he’ll never tell me because we’ve never spoken.

Then there’s the Mom with the kids – never seen a wedding band; probably does three jobs just to keep them clothed and fed. Nice kids though, polite and all.

But you, now, you’re a newcomer. Just moved into the city? Busy, isn’t it? People running here there and everywhere, scurrying about like ants. I see it all. I file it all away. It’s my job, see. Oh, this is your stop? Well, see you later, maybe. I’ll be here, riding the trains.

Of course, when it’s quitting time I ride to the end of the line and Jefferson picks me up. Jefferson? Oh, he’s my chauffeur. Means I can get home unseen and no-one knows my true identity. I’ll shower and change into something comfortable – I love the feel of pure linen and cashmere against my skin.

Then I’ll grab a scotch and head for the den and spend a couple of hours writing up my day. The novel’s going well, but I do enjoy my research – meeting new ‘characters’ as I ride the trains. Like I say, all life is there!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

East of Eden



Living in the middle of the country (not far off dead-centre, actually!) means getting to the coastal extremities is a long, long journey! So trekking down to Cornwall is not something we'd do on a whim - nearly 300 miles and not all of it on motorways - think slow, windy lanes in places!

Anyway, we had the opportunity to visit the westernmost county of England (although some see it as a kingdom of its own) and decided to fulfil a long-held wish to visit the Eden Project while we were there.

Battling heavy rain showers was interesting but once inside the 'biomes' it was, indeed, like being in a different world.

The two main structures (biomes) contain the 'Rainforest' and 'Mediterranean' climates and you have to admire the sheer construction of the habitats to begin with! The Rainforest biome is large enough to contain the Tower of London - aparently, the biomes are recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest 'conservatories'!

(to give you an idea of scale - click on the picture and look at the people on the walkways of this aerial gantry!)

In the Rainforest biome the temperature and humidity hit you smack in the face - with cold-room respite shelters for those overcome by the conditions! With the birds, small lizards and waterfalls it's the nearest I shall ever come to a jungle - thank goodness they hadn't also imported too many indigenous insects and creepy-crawlies! (But I spotted a stray Robin picking through the undergrowth!)





Besides being beautiful to look at, there's a great concept of education behind it all:


Walking into the Mediterranean biome was like a breath of fresh air - much more temperate! And some of the planting was more more familiar, too!





Although, there was a re-created desert habitat with specimens (and fun items!) from the west coast of America - hmmm, 'Mediterranean'?



Aside from these two massive biomes there's a huge refectory and bakery:

Also, building on the education theme, 'The Core' houses inter-active exhibits on ecology

Ecology, in fact, is the name of the game - the whole site is contained within a former clay mining pit and as such is 'invisible' in the surrounding Cornish landscape. Natural rainwater harvested from the biomes' surface and surrounding areas drains into vast collection reservoirs under the site, servicing the irrigation system and the toilets! Everything, where possible, is recycled - non-recyclable items are used to make original art-work to adorn the outer garden spaces!

It was an interesting concept - but I couldn't help having a futuristic sci-fi moment as I passed by this viewpoint, imagining a post apocalyptic remnant of mankind being forced to live in these 'glass bubbles':


Anyway, just a few pics to give you a flavour!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "Show & Tell"

{credit}




Some of you 'regular readers' will know I have a great love for the work of Norman Rockwell. His paintings are more than mere pictures; each one tells (or has the potential to inspire) a story.

So, for this week's 'Thursday@3' what better than a tale suggested by this beautiful Rockwell print .....oh, shhhhhh! Seats, everyone - Teacher's coming!




SHOW AND TELL


"Class!”

A reproachful glance, perfected over decades dedicated to the education and enlightenment of young minds, was enough to smother the rising ripple of hilarity. Nevertheless, pockets of mirth broke out like miniature forest fires and even the gracious and long-suffering Miss Jones could not keep a smile from tugging at the corners of her lips.

“Well, there is certainly some improvement in your handwriting!” she commented, with a sly wink towards the blackboard. The morning’s work she’d painstakingly chalked up the previous evening, long after her young charges had gone home, was now defunct. Any other day, she’d have let slip a few severe and stern words, but not today. Today was – special.

“We’re going to do something different,” said Miss Jones, hanging up her coat. The instant hubbub of speculation and twisting round in seats to confer with their neighbours was enough distraction for her to lift a handkerchief from her pocket, dabbing away the dampness from her eyes. By the time she turned to face them again she had, outwardly at least, regained her composure enough to continue.

“Today we’re going to have a special ‘show and tell’ session!” The children looked at each other quizzically, wondering whose turn it was to stand at the front of the class, embarrassed or ebullient.

Perched on the edge of her desk in an unfamiliarly relaxed way, she mysteriously reached into her skirt pocket to produce a small box. Today it was Miss Jones’ turn to ‘show and tell’ but her vision was slightly blurred as she surveyed the bright and excited eyes that focussed on her.

There was much craning of necks and at least one chair tumbled over as those in the back row stood to get a better view.

The diamond ring that sparkled in the blue baize box signalled both a beginning and an end; a new life for her, but also a parting of the ways as she took her leave of her young pupils.

A bittersweet birthday treat.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Cats v Dogs?




As a lifelong dog owner/lover I find myself surprisingly smitten by my daughter's new feline 'companion' - Amber (or Ms Amber-cat Purrs-a-lot, as DD refers to her!).

Amber was re-homed via Cats Protection and has some vision impairment, so she is not an outside/predatory cat - however she seems to adore sitting halfway up the stairs poking her head through the bannisters so she can 'spy out' the rest of the house!

Companion animals have a great scope to give comfort by their presence and entertainment in their sometimes peculiar behaviour but which are the funniest - cats or dogs?

Perhaps these two clips might help you make up your mind - well, they'll have you chuckling, anyway!





Thursday, 7 July 2011

Thursday @ 3 - "A CochonaryTale"


Has intensive animal husbandry bred out the 'survival' instinct in the farmyard? Perhaps not completely; this week's 'Thursday@3' veers towards all matters bucolic - but not necessarily in the idyllic sense!

(excuse the play on (French) words for the title! :-p)


A COCHONARY TALE

The goat was right all along; none of us dumb animals is worth diddly-squat when push comes to shove.

That things have changed in management circles is evident in the three long days and nights we’ve been left to fend for ourselves.

The chickens have scattered haphazardly around the yard, scratching out something of a poor living from any seeds and grubs they can hunt out.

The goat bleats in between tearing strips of ivy from the wall.

“I to-old you so-o!” he croaks hoarsely at me, lifting his nose over the boundary of my domain. He smells the cool rainwater that’s collected in the old tin bath in the corner. I suppose he’d slake his thirst if he could; pity he’s tethered. Then again, if he were able to roam free nothing would be safe from his cavernous belly.

The curtains haven’t moved again, I see. The light in the upper room has been on for the duration of this enforced sabbatical. I can’t help feeling all is not well in that house; even the phone has remained unanswered.

The goat is busily chewing again; I am a little tired of his constant mandibular activity. The thunderous echoes of my empty belly remind me of my own hunger. The stream of glorious leftovers that I am accustomed to is becoming a distant memory.

In quiet moments I fantasize on one of the fowls fluttering onto the wall, perhaps to cheekily avail themselves of my water supply. A deft thwack of a judiciously-aimed trotter and it would all be over, bar the blood and feathers and licking my lips.

Meanwhile I laze in the morning sun, semi-comatose in my sty, realising that for once we are not the centre of Farmer Jack’s universe. Diddly-squat is about right.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

F3 Cycle 38 - REVERIE



This week's F3 prompt, set by Doc Shaw, was to explore one of the many facets of madness and produce a short work of fiction.

One aspect of insanity that intrigues me is how you would deal with everyone else marching to a different drum-beat than your own - what would it feel like to realise everyone else was behaving or talking in a demented fashion, compared to yourself? Is pure insanity not likely to present itself as completely rational and lucid to the sufferer themselves.....?

(Maybe that explains a few things! ;-p)

Anyway, here's my 'take' on this week's challenge - it doesn't seem right to say my usual 'enjoy'!


REVERIE

The years have faded into one long summer. A time of memories, children running down the grassy banks, tumbling into a heap of sunburnt arms and legs, of grazed knees exposed by warm-weather shorts and a world of adventure to explore in the long vacations.

Then, there are other memories; faded and torn, like old photographs burnt around the edges as if someone had tried to obliterate them.

Forgive me, but the faces and the places are a jumble. They are perfectly stored in my memory but the filing system is not working properly at the moment.

Was it I or my sister who disappeared all those long years ago? I have disjointed images in my brain: a truck pulling up silently to the den we had created, voices, a man’s heavy work boots at my eye line, the view pierced by green shards of grass. I sense a feeling of fear, a smell of dampness and decay and something that makes me afraid of darkness and confined spaces. Are these my memories or someone else’s? Do I remember truth and fact, or do I merely remember someone else’s account.

Somewhere in the labyrinth of my mind lies the answer to what happened all those years ago; suppressed through early adulthood and like the stuff of dreams as I raised my own sweet babies. Then the stroke stopped time and reset my body clock and what had been forgotten was suddenly a reality. In morbid fascination I’ve begun to reconstruct the past, replacing the fabricated memories that were reinforced by well meaning parents and family with the odd flashes of truth that pierce the dark blanket of unknowing.

Today there is something new; a memory of movement, the rumbling sensation of wheels that rattles and vibrates inside my tiny childish frame and the rough feeling of the cover over my face. It smells of grease and petrol, but I cannot move my hands to push it away.

I must hurry and write this down before oblivion descends. They torment me with their lies dressed as truth, dismissing my thoughts as fabrication. I hear the bell ringing again, it always heralds the demise of thoughtful clarity and soon the fog will cloud what little judgement I have. They like to call it Alzheimer’s and treat it with pills and potions, trying to wash away the memories I try to cling to.

But I have noted it all down, in scrawled writing that defies their understanding but which is plain to me. It may be days before I find my book again and then, reading through, discover once more a reality I thought was just a terrifying dream.

Pink and green pills today, a bitter taste I recall, so I have stored them in the rough seam of a pocket, but the subtle feeling of fear that crouches like a demon at the edges of my mind is already evaporating like rising mist. Perhaps they have realised my deceit. I wonder, idly, if they’ve put something in the water instead?

The drowsiness descends, obliterating the rational processes of my mind and wrapping me in a cocoon as readily as they wrap the blanket around me and push my chair out into the sunny day-room to lie semi-comatose alongside the other ‘vegetables’.