Friday FANTASTIC Flash Writing Challenge.

Friday FANTASTIC Flash Writing Challenge.

Last week I challenged you to write about a building. Here is the prompt…

Tell me about a building which is important to you; are its walls ancient and crumbling, or modern shining glass and cold steel? Does it mean home to you, or prison? What happened here? Why do you care?

First off, I’d like to welcome a newcomer to Friday FANTASTIC Flash, Darlene Foster, who submitted this stunning story…

Terror in the Tower

Angela glances at the tower ruins that overlook the city from high on a grassy mound and pulls her sweater tighter around her. She experiences the same chill every time she walks past the site.

When she was seven, her mother took her up to the old stone keep. From a small window, she saw a girl looking out at her through iron bars. Fire blazed behind the child. It had frightened her so.

“Mommy, we need to help that little girl,” exclaimed Angela.

Her mother took her hand and said, “There are no children in there. It must be a trick of the sun reflecting off the water.”

The sad, terrified and helpless child appeared very real.

Angela shudders as she recalls that day. She rushes to work.


It was the feast of Shabbatt ha-Gadol. Instead of the usual tables overflowing with food, around her lay the dead bodies of friends and neighbours. The air was thick with the smell of fresh blood and smoldering wood. Ester searched for Jacob, and Marta in the crowded tower. She witnessed parents slitting their children’s throats and then their own. Terrified, Ester tried to look away, but it was the same everywhere.

Since she didn’t have any parents, she stayed with old Jacob the money lender and his kind wife, Marta. For her board she cleaned the house, made meals and ran errands. Ester stumbled in the smoke filled keep looking for the only family she knew. Eventually she found them, dead in each other’s arms on a bed of straw soaked with maroon blood. A curved butcher’s knife lay beside them.

Did they forget about me? Did Jacob slit his wife’s throat and then his own?

The flames and smoke of the burning wood tower closed around her.

A growing mob outside yelled, “Come out, you dirty Jews.”

Why is this happening? We were promised safety in the tower.

She peered through the iron bars of a low window. Angry people outside the tower waved swords, scythes and pitchforks. It was safer to stay inside. It was better to die by your own hand. That is what the Rabbi said.

In the crowd, she caught the clear blue eyes of a girl her age. A girl dressed in fine clothing.  Maybe she can help me.  Ester mouthed the word Help.

The girl pointed to the window and said, “Look, Mother, there is a little girl in the tower. It is burning. We must help her.”

Ester saw an elegant woman take the child´s hand and pull her away. “There are no children in there, Angelina. Let us go away from this awful place.”

Ester coughed from the thick smoke and fell backward. The flames engulfed her.


Nine centuries later Angela can feel the eyes of Ester pleading for help as she hurries past Clifford’s Tower on the way to her Hebrew lessons. One day she will stop and help the child.

You can find out more about Darlene and her books on her website, and on her blog, You can buy her books on Amazon.


Next up it’s Ellie, who I met at the Bloggers Bash in London this summer. Ellie is an architect and a writer, so she couldn’t very well ignore this prompt, could she?

Its walls are made of concrete but it is a ruin. Its gate is a vibrant, cobalt blue – a blue so blue it makes the ocean green with envy. There is a tall tree right by its entrance. Was it a palm or a eucalyptus? As the paint chips from the walls, my memory fades.

Its walls are made of concrete and its foundations are deep. A legacy from the French, almost certainly. A century old, perhaps a little less. It is named after a French poet and novelist. In fact, this is the only French term in the surroundings. Rue Sijilmassa, the street that leads to the train station, refers to a medieval Moroccan city.

There are hints of Morocco within its walls, too. Pinned on a long frieze in the inner courtyard, a myriad calligraphy paintings tell the story of a sunny day in Casablanca – moored boats in the port, silhouettes wearing djellabas and countless representations of the Hand of Fatima.

The courtyard is silent. Clusters of palm trees rise from the ground like small oasis towns within walking distance. Under each cluster, a concrete round table and a bench, moulded from the ground.

Suddenly, a familiar scent wafts through the air. Kefta kebabs with chips. A bell echoes and almost instantly, the courtyard livens up. Teenagers rush in and out, their satchel bags tossed around their shoulders. It is lunchtime in Anatole France Middle School.

Its walls are made of concrete but it is a ruin. A sight that belongs to the past, buried along with the smell of the ocean and the innocence of my adolescent years.

You can find out more about Ellie on her blog, A Writer’s Caravan. She is currently busy working on her first novel, The Sands of Time.
Lastly, it’s me with an alternative view of of our ancient ancestors building efforts…
Stone Circles and Concrete Cities
You see them all wrong. You see them as something organic, as if they have grown from the earth, like a tree, or a mountain. But that’s not how it is at all. Those rocks were wrenched from the ground like pulling teeth, and the land shrieked with pain for every single one.

Man did this. Man shaped this landscape, not nature. Trees once sacred were felled to make room for the wealth of cattle, and the unnatural forced growth of grains. In the trees stead, boulders were hewn and shaped and stood in rows or circles, or heaped in mounds, and in these contrived, unholy places they worshipped the stars and celestial beings, where once they had worshipped the idols of the natural world.

Picture this; the concrete jungle of a modern city, with all the detritus it brings, the laying waste of acres of land, the gouging of red-brown earth in which to set foundations, sewers, electrical cables. The land bleeds and we patch it with tarmac and technology.

So you see, we are not so different. We make the same mistakes.

Their cleared lowlands soon turned to bog, barren and useless but for burying bodies to be dug up as future treasure. Hill-tops once bearded and hirsute with green, life-giving forest presented bald domes to the heavens, and man knew in his bones that the earth had been violated.

To make amends, he raised new forests of stone, but to build them, he first had to remove them from her gut, and it was no gentle surgery, that. To cross the bogs he built trackways, but that meant more trees felled, and thus the sacrilege was perpetuated.

Fine temples of tortured stone he raised, and he exulted in his cleverness, while around him the land lay ravaged. Yes, they were just like us.

Now, softened with moss and painted with lichen, shrunken and tumbled with age, whittled by the wind and washed by the rain, these once great structures blend into a landscape they had so radically dominated in their youth. Gradually, they are returning to the sundered womb, she is claiming her property, and they slide with slow deliberation and relief beneath the turf.

Contrasted with today’s abominations, they are but beautiful blemishes on the earth’s hide, just a few erroneous eyesores left behind by a people who are no more. We should heed her lesson, for she takes sly revenge beneath our noses; a twitch of her skin, and cities crumble. A ripple of her ocean, and cities drown. A gust of her breath, and cities collapse. It was ever so, and the work of man is never done.


Cheerful stuff, huh? My sincere thanks to Darlene and Ellie, I am so grateful to you both for taking part and sharing your wonderful stories.

Whilst the frenzy of NANO otherwise engages much of the writing community, Friday FANTASTIC Flash will be taking a short break until Friday 4th December. Watch out for the prompt coming soon…

Last week, it being the season that’s in it, I called for ghost stories. This was your prompt…

Give me your greatest, gruesomest, gory, ghoulish ghost story. have you got what it takes to frighten the life out of me?

Well, the short answer is yes, without a doubt! First up I am so delighted to welcome lovely blogger friend, awesome photographer and Ruinhunter, Ed Mooney, to the challenge…

The Hunter

Many years ago we lived under the sun. The land and sea provided us with everything we needed to live. Times were simple back then, but people were happy and life was good.

Then the darkness came, and with it, a cursed evil, like a pestilence that plagued the race of man. No one was safe, neither man, woman or child could escape it. Even the Sun and the Stars went into hiding.

It started with just a few, but as their thirst grew, so did their attacks. Farms, villages and eventually whole towns were over run and decimated. The lucky ones were drained and died. But as time went on, mankind began to defend itself and fight back. This was no war, it was a battle for survival. Then they began to turn their victims whom joined the ranks of the unholy walking dead.

As the enemy grew, the leaders of man made a pact with the vile creatures, and a truce was made, but at what cos. People were herded like cattle to the slaughter, sold out by their fellow man. The attacks continued but this time by the humans.

I never knew my family, for most of my life, all I have known is the hunt. It is all I know, and I am good at it. It does not matter to me, be they an Evil one or a human conspirator, when I find them, they will die…

Some may call it a curse! This was a path chosen for me, a lonely life. But it is my cross to bear and I shall bear it gladly. Who else can take a stand against this evil? Why should it not be me?

Ed Mooney, Ruinhunter. The man behind the camera.

Ed Mooney, Ruinhunter. The man behind the camera.

Creepy story, huh? I think Ed has the beginnings of a novel here. Thanks, Ed… I hope this is the first of many stories you will share with us. You can find Ed and his beautiful images of ancient Ireland, along with their legends, on his blog, Ed Mooney Photography.

Next up, it’s the effervescent, energetic, prolific Geoff le Pard, who is no stranger to this challenge or this blog. Last week’s story was macabre enough, but wait till you read this one…

A Question of Position

I’m very rational. Of course I can be startled, surprised and I’ll be the first to admit there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.
But ghosts? Spirits from beyond? Give me a break. Sure weird stuff happens but it’s only weird because we haven’t worked out how. There’ll be some modification of Newtonian physics, some subtle exception that explains it.
And then there’s the man at Victoria station, who, I’m about to meet.
It started on Monday. The station was chaos. They’re doing these rebuilding works. It was while I watched the indicator board, hoping my train would show as being on time. That is when I saw him.
I was in my favoured spot, near to the farthest left hand gate. The works have meant I’ve not been able to claim my spot but, happily, today I could. The works have moved.
I was staring up at the board when I saw him. For a moment I was sure he was hanging, and I must have gasped because the chap next to me asked if I was ok. He’s stood next to me for ever and that was a first. Name’s Gerald apparently.
I started to explain, but when we looked the man has gone, replaced by a workman in a hiviz jacket. I thought I must have been mistaken.
The next day, and the next I saw the man. Just glimpses. By the Maccy Ds. Going into the gents. It’s odd – it’s like he wants to look at me but is forcing himself not to.
Thursday, he was on the platform – no one else was there. He must be an employee, though the heavy blue coat looks like one of those old pictures.
I asked Gerald if he’d seen this fella but he said no. He made a joke about it, accused me of seeing a ghost.
When we reached the station on Friday, all sorts were going off. They’d cordoned the spot where I stand. Apparently they’d found a body. Seems like he had been buried there for decades and the ticket bloke said he’d heard he’d been buried deliberately.
We were all moved around, because three platforms were out of use. I saw him, as I knew I would, by my spot. I knew Gerald hadn’t seen the man even though he was there plain as anything. That’s when the man turned. He looked deformed, one side of his face damaged.
Even though the station was its usual noisy self I heard him say, ‘You!’
Like he knew me.
The weekend, I was anxious. The papers said he’d been buried alive. They did a mock up, in the uniform he was wearing. They said his face has been smashed. Like the man I saw.
I knew I’d see him on Monday. I knew we’d speak. I was responsible somehow. Maybe standing on top of him upset him. Or maybe there’s no logic to how ghosts choose those they seek to haunt.

Spooky story, well, I did ask for it! Thanks Geoff. Geoff has recently published his new book, My Father and Other Liars. You can read an excerpt from it here, when he stopped by my blog a couple of weeks ago. His first book is called Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle,  and you can buy them both here. You can catch up with Geoff on his blog.

And so we come to our final story from the very talented wordsmith, Jane Dougherty, who has another eerie, spooktacular tale for us today which she claims to be absolutely TRUE!

Dolly Mixtures

I noticed them up ahead, the young man in a dark-coloured hoodie, and a tiny tot dressed up like a dolly mixture. The tot was weaving unsteadily between the trees, chasing starling chicks. Light flickered between the tree trunks. Light but no sound. The man sat down on the steps by the side of the path and beckoned to the child. She sat down next to him, quiet and obedient, as he got out his tobacco and ciggie papers.

Tiny tots have an unsettling habit of running towards big dogs, shrieking with pleasure and their arms outstretched to give the cuddly thing a huge hug. Their parents generally follow at top speed, also shrieking, in terror. If you want to freak out a nervous dog, there is no better tactic. Not wanting any accidents, I bent down to clip the lead back on the dog’s collar. When I straightened up, the man in the hoodie was rolling up his cigarette, but the child was nowhere to be seen.

There was no reason for me to be curious, no reason to walk the ten yards to where the man was sitting with his back to me, head bent over his fingers as they flicked over and over. No reason, but a strong, morbid compulsion. I looked down the steps where he was sitting, up and down the cycle track beyond. A cold, damp sensation crept along the bare skin of my arms. There was nobody there. No child with her hair tied in a little blonde fountain on top of her head, no pink tee shirt and shorts, no pink sandles. Nothing. In front and behind the view was barred with the trunks of ornamental trees, tidy and neat, of the strip of parkland. To the right, behind a wall too high for a child to climb, lay the overgrown bank of the river.

I turned, a question ready on my tongue, but the hoodie was bent over his roll up, his face in darkness.

He’ll think I’m mad. Or a child abductor.

The dog whined and tugged on his lead. I walked away, troubled. At the end of the path I turned. He was still there, hunched over his cigarette. Alone.

Three days later, returning from our walk on the same path by the river, the dog slunk back to me, head down, whimpering unhappily. Voices came from the park benches ahead, irritated, loud. A young couple having words. She looked tired. Her hair was wild; a tiny baby in her arms was crying. He sat on the edge of the bench rolling a cigarette. The hood of his jacket obscured his face. A few yards away a tot dressed like a dolly mixture was chasing the pigeons.

A cold damp sensation crept over my skin, like water rising around the refuse trapped in the mud of the river bank.

Hmmm… I can feel a cold damp sensation creeping over my skin just reading that! Thanks, Jane. Jane is the author of The Green Woman Trilogy, and Grá mo Chroí, Love of My Heart, Love Stories from Irish Myth (which is FREE on Smashwords, btw!), which she co-wrote with yours truly, as well as numerous poems and short stories published in various fine magazines and anthologies. You can check them out on her blog, and buy them on Amazon.

Thanks everyone for being such good fun and sharing your fabulous stories with us. For this week’s Friday Fantastic Flash writing challenge, I want you to write about a building which has significance for you…

Friday Fantastic Flash Writing Challenge

Tell me about a building which is important to you; are its walls ancient and crumbling, or modern shining glass and cold steel? Does it mean home to you, or prison? What happened here? Why do you care?

You can submit here, I will include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. Please send to me by next Thursday 5th November @ 12:00pm. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!


Friday Freaky Flash –

I set you a monstrous challenge for last week’s Friday Freaky Flash, and some of you almost snapped my hand off as you reached for the gauntlet;

Demons. Witches. Vampires. Werewolves. Tell me your most monstrous story.

But first, a late entry for the previous week’s dreams challenge from the wonderfully talented poet, singer-songwriter, blogger and philosopher, Éilis Niamh

Four PM, the night of the blood moon, saw me picking my way carefully across gnarled tree roots and jagged cracks as I entered the park alone. The day’s warmth seemed to be fading more rapidly than the sunlight, but both cast a collective shadow, an impending foreboding that silently trailed behind me. My friends tried to warn me earlier. People were being advised to stay indoors after five, they said. But I already had plans.

I noticed an absence of birdsong as I ducked inside the tent which mom erected for our campout. We’d watch the eclipse in style, faces turned to the stars. But first, we had a play to rehearse.!

At six PM, Kyle, a teen actor in our play, nervously checked his watch. “It’s late” he exclaimed. “I need to get home to my family.” He got on his bike, and the night swallowed him.

With growing trepidation I zipped the tent, fiercely hoping he’d make it home alive.

I sprawled on a sleepingbag and the casual conversation between mom and I created an oasis within the rapidly encroaching darkness, hovering watchful, right outside.

Suddenly, something under the sleeping bag bumped me from behind. “Mom!”

“What is it?” She half-turned from the mirror.

Desperately, I fought back panick. “Something’s wrong. Under the sleeping bag. I don’t want to touch it.”

Her presence behind me was reassuring until the cry of alarm. Startled, she dropped the edge of the sleepingbag and stumbled backward against the wall. “It’s a bug. It’s been skillfully dismembered.”

“How did it get in here?” I thought of the bug’s insect family whose mother or father would not be coming home tonight, and the boy who might not make it home, and wanted to cry.

Something was dreadfully wrong.

Mom stepped around in front of me, and was staring at me with hollow eyes. Her energy grew distant, dissociated. I watched in horror as her spirit ebbed out like a tide, and the dark separating silence took its place behind her eyes. Her mouth spoke with someone else’s voice: “A witches brew.”

I bolted. Outside, I almost crashed into a woman.

“Who are…”

“I can’t go back in there to get mom,” she interrupted apologetically. “She’ll have to save herself.”

Heart pounding, I stood in bafflement for a moment. Then I knew. She was myself, who separateness would have stolen from me. In a daze, I reached for her. She had no body, but slipped seamlessly into the space which could have permanently held absence.

When mom emerged moments later, I was fully integrated. Hands clasped together, we fled the shadows of separateness and the vacancy of an eclipsed sky.

When I woke, unsettled and disturbed, my ancient kin stood around me, Sadbh’s peaceful light Glowing soft above my head. “We can expand the light within and woven around us until there is no place for the illusion of separateness,” Caoilte explained. I waited expectantly. “It starts within you, first.”

You can find out more about Éilis on her blog, The Sound of What Happens.

Next up it’s Helen Jones, who is new to the challenge, and who floored me with this beautifully intricate twisted tale of what it feels like to be a monster…

Monsters. That’s what they call us.

Like I care.

I can’t help the way I am, any more than they can. So I ignore the taunts, pretending even to myself that the words don’t hurt me. But at night they return, banging around in my head until I can’t take it any more and bury my head under my pillow, tears hot against cool cotton.

‘Dirt eater!’


There are others like me, but base born, no more than cattle to my people. I’m different, because of who my parents are. We don’t get born that often, you see. Some sort of genetic throwback, memory of a time when we had to live in hiding, demonised and forced apart from society simply because of who we were. I don’t know when things changed and we started to take over. It’s so long ago now, though there are those who can remember, their skin stretched parchment pale over their bones, eyes a sunken glitter. I see them recoil as I go past, baring their teeth at me, hot hiss of breath.

And every day I shrink a little more into myself, every night I curl a little tighter in my bed.

My mother tries to help me – I suppose she feels somehow responsible, as my mutation is only carried on the female line. She is here now, sitting on the edge of the bed, waiting for me to emerge from under the pillow.

‘Come, my darling girl,’ she says, cool voice in the dark night.

I give in. Pulling the pillow away I feel her hands, chill on my hot skin. See the gleam of her teeth as she leans in to kiss me, before her dark fall of hair blots out what little light there is.

‘Do you want me to try again?’

‘What’s the point?’ I mutter, rolling over and hugging the pillow. I feel her touch my hair.

‘It might work, this time.’

I roll back. ‘Why? Why would it be any different this time?’

She stared at me, her beauty all fine planes and shadows. ‘Halloween is coming…’

‘I know.’ How could I not? The biggest festival of the year, presents and parties and fun for everyone.

Unless you were like me.

‘There will be a party. You could go, dress up-‘

‘I don’t want to try again!’ I snap the words out.

Mother pulled back, dark silk around her like wings.

‘But darling…’

‘I don’t want to talk about it any more.’

I roll over again, ignoring her. She probably needs to go out, anyway. It’s feeding time, after all. I hear my father moving around down below, then his call. Her weight leaves the bed.

‘Just think about it.’

She touches my hair one last time. Then I hear her squeak as she changes, the flap of wings, the sting of her teeth as she nips my hand. Ashamed, I pull it away, sick of what I am.

Human. In a world of vampires.

Helen is the author of the The Ambeth Chronicles. You can find out more about Helen and her books on her blog, Journey to Ambeth, and you can buy her books on and

And last but by no means least, we have the wonderful Geoff le Pard, who is no stranger to this blog, with a right creepy tale which has its sting right in the very last line… genius!

Toni thought the back bedroom odd from the outset. The smell – like something she remembered from her grandparents’ farm when she was small. ‘What’s the smell?’
John turned from the window. ‘What smell?’
The seller appeared behind her. ‘The farm probably. Over there.’ Toni couldn’t say why but she didn’t like him at all.
They moved in. John wanted to use the back bedroom but she refused so it filled with the stuff they didn’t need immediately.
When John went away for a conference Toni avoided the room until she couldn’t find the address book. ‘Damn where is it?’ She lost track of time and began to feel sleepy. She knew she should get up but dozed. Instantly she was in the room but it was night. She was in bed. John came to her and they made love. Yet when she opened her eyes it was the seller not John.
Toni came to with a start, shaking her head. In her hand was the address book.
When John returned she had news. ‘I’m pregnant.’ They were delighted.
Slowly the back room emptied, though Toni never went back in it, leaving it to John.
Then six months later, he went away again. She had him make sure the back bedroom door was firmly shut. He even offered for her to come with him but she knew that was stupid.
As she lay in bed her mind drifted back to the farm and her childhood and that smell. It came to her: It was the smell from the parlour when they laid out her great aunt. The smell of death. Maybe something had died on the farm next door. There had to be a rational explanation. Even so she didn’t want to fall asleep yet eventually tiredness overtook her.
She was in the back bedroom, in bed but this time she was on her own. Gradually she realised she was in labour and the baby was about to appear. In horror she watched as the infant’s head emerged, calloused, weeping sores and tiny black eyes set almost touching. There was no hair but rather two stubs like the beginnings of horns. A man was taking the baby; the seller.
She woke with a jump. Her phone was ringing. She pulled herself out of bed and realised pains were shooting across her stomach. Labour pains. She snatched up the phone. John.
‘John, the baby’s coming. I need you.’
‘What? Now? Oh heavens. Right I’m on my way. I’ll call an ambulance.’
‘Thanks.’ Relief flooded Toni. ‘Why’d you call?’
‘What? Oh the seller rang. He left something important and he’s coming round to collect it.’

*Shudder*. Geoff has recently published his new book, My Father and Other Liars. You can read an excerpt from it here, when he stopped by my blog a couple of weeks ago. His first book is called Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle,  and you can buy them both here. You can catch up with him on his blog.

Thank you all for being such good sports, and for supporting my blog with your most excellent stories.

Which brings us to this week’s Friday Freaky Flash challenge; in case you hadn’t noticed, next weekend it’s Halloween, the night when the souls of the departed are said to walk the earth. What are they up to? Why have they returned? What, or who are they after?

Give me your greatest, gruesomest, gory, ghoulish GHOST STORY. Have you got what it takes to frighten the life out of me?

Good luck, and have fun with this one. You can submit here, I will include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. Please send to me by next Thursday 29th October @ 12:00pm. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!

Friday Fantastic Flash –

Last weeks Friday Fantastic Flash Challenge was this;

Daydream. Vision. Nightmare. You close your eyes. Where do you go when you sleep?

First up is a newcomer to this blog and this challenge by the name of Bri Ollre, who has written a wonderfully evocative description of her dream experience…

The Fickleness of Dreams

My dreams are as vivid as reality. Their ebb and flow as natural as the waves of the sea cresting upon the shore. In them I am me, and someone else entirely; I can soar above the clouds, as if Icarus straining towards the sun; fall in love with the sounds of the forest, wrapping myself in its comforting embrace; feel the pain of a thousand wounds, all digging deep within my skin. My dreams are a portal to another way of life. Where I am not simply holding onto the reigns for dear life. Instead they are a plane of existence in which I am lord and commander, the rest of the world my loyal subjects.

There are attacks upon these planes- no land is free from despair. It’s stench rolling in like Sulphur, seeping through the cracks in my thoughts. Wrapping its slimy hands around my throat like a vice. I succumb to it always, thrashing and fighting until my body limp from exhaustion and I wake. Sweat covering my skin, and my heart beating like a constant thwack in my ears. Only the calming rise and fall of my cats breathing lulling me back into sleep.

Where again I venture into the unknown, and yet somehow familiar landscape of my dreams. Faces I’ve seen, but can’t recall, smiling up at me as I climb. Fingertips brushing at the peak of my desires, grasping with all my strength at the hope that resides there; straining to bring it back to reality. The broken images I see in the morning just a glimmer of what I accomplished; and with the rising of the sun they fade, slipping back into the shadows. Where they will soon again become reality behind the dark of my eyelids.

bri ollre

You can find out more about Bri on her blog, Little Slice of Bri (great play on words there, which really tickled me and made me like her instantly!), and on her website, Go check her out, she is extremely well-travelled, and writes very entertaining posts on the places she has visited.

Next up, one of my all-time favourite authors with a breath-taking piece, it’s Jane Dougherty…


The trees tiptoed through the moonlight in a stately dance along the ribbon of road. I knew it was folly, but the path was so enticing I let myself be drawn into the dream. Trees’ dreams are not like ours. They dream of what they have known, soaked up into every cell through roots delving into antiquity and the ground-up bones of the earth. Dry twigs caught my hands and I felt the animosity through my fingertips. Earth shifted beneath my feet with the rumble of volcanoes and twisted like the scars left by loggers. Water dripped into my eyes from shrivelled leaves, noxious and putrid. I tried to pull away into the man-made strip between the rows of dancers, where the stench of car exhaust permeated the white, gravelly soil. Moonlight blinked and looked the other way. An owl hooted, a vixen screamed, and the steady whispering waltz went on.

Please, I begged. It wasn’t me. None of it was me.

But dream ears are deaf, and none so deaf as angry trees, guardians and frontline troops of the natural world. Brambles crawled over my skin, binding arms and legs, tying me to the swaying steps of the poplars.


The road stretches still, though the dream is ended. Dawn breaks in the world, but not here, not in the dream of the trees, where only night and death are waiting, for them, for me, for all of us.

Jane is the author of The Green Woman Trilogy, and Grá mo Chroí, Love of My Heart, Love Stories from Irish Myth (which is FREE on Smashwords, btw!), which she co-wrote with yours truly, as well as numerous poems and short stories published in various fine magazines and anthologies. You can check them out on her blog, and buy them on Amazon. Now that you have read her fabulous flash, you will be dying to read her books; I have, and highly recommend them!

Thank you so much, lovely ladies, for taking part and sharing your Fabulous Fantastic Flash!

It being the season that it is, so to this weeks challenge, and we are celebrating all things monstrous…

Demons. Witches. Vampires. Werewolves. Tell me your most monstrous story.

You can submit here, I will include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!



Timekeeping has never been one of my strengths. Perhaps it’s an Irish thing, I don’t know. In any case, I missed Sacha Black’s Writespiration for Death Row – sorry, Sacha – but as I have a story hanging about, I thought I may as well post it here. If you haven’t visited Sacha’s blog yet, please follow the link and check her out. Not only is she the source of great writerly posts and authorly wisdom, but her Writespirations draw some fantastic quality flash fiction writers. However, my fave posts are those which fall under the heading of Weekly Wonders… and if you want to know why, all I will say is that she is a ‘lover of all things strange and unusual’. Go see!

Death Row

He doesn’t know I’m here, on the other side of the glass. He never asked me to come, and I didn’t offer. I didn’t know if I could be strong enough, but how could I stay away?

Just one pane of glass, that’s all that stands between us. I press my hands against it, feel the cold unrelenting pressure against my fingertips, and it soothes the throb in my head, the roar in my ears.

He is weeping, but I won’t let myself feel pity. I suspect you won’t believe me, but the truth is, he is as much a victim in this as all the others. The ones he brutalised. The ones he helped on their way to salvation.

A decade of words on pages swapped, thoughts and emotions spilled along with tears, sadness, and joy. Confessions, both mine and his. We understood each other, and that was not something I expected when I began this journey.

You see, I too feel loneliness. I know despair, how one can sink into it so dark and deep, that the light of hope, always just beyond reach, gutters and dies in its grip. It is a terrible thing to witness. And when you are there, well, all the warm glad things which make us human just don’t matter anymore.

I hoped only to bring a little brightness into a stranger’s life, but our friendship became more than merely that. We depended on each other. He found my jokes funny. I found his poetry exquisite. He was fascinated by the mundane details of my life outside. I was devastated by the deprivation of his confinement.

Of course, he didn’t do it. You know, the things he was convicted of. He is just a flawed human being who took the wrong road. A childhood of abuse can do that to a person. No one but me, it seems, cares.

But twenty years of quashed appeals and pacing a 6ft by 8ft cell for the large part of each day can drive anyone a little crazy.

I watch the poison take a hold of his body, rolling his eyes back into his head, teeth gnawing till his lips bleed, spasms racking his muscles till it seems his bones must snap. Then he slumps.

But I am dry eyed, as I gather my coat and bag and leave. I have no time for grief. I have his memory to honour, and his legacy to fulfil.



So the challenge I set you on Friday Fantastic Flash last time was all about…

Conflict: you’ve had a row. Harsh words were spoken, which can’t be unsaid. Do you fall apart, or kiss and make up?

First up it’s the Geoffle with a masterclass in dialogue and a very unexpected ending…

‘You used the f-word.’
‘Yes, but I…’
‘Dawn says if you are getting so angry, maybe I should worry about what might happen next…’
‘You’re not serious…’
‘I’m just saying, Dawn thought…’
‘But what do you think? Do you really think I could, what? Hit you?’
‘It’s in the paper ever week.’
‘Sure it’s in the Express. Hardly the home of accurate reporting.’
‘I don’t think I deserved to be treated like that. I was only asking…’
‘You said I don’t want you here.’
‘No, that’s what you wanted me to say.’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘You’ve never wanted me here.’
‘That’s what you said to me.’
‘What did I say?’
‘I really doesn’t matter.’
‘That I didn’t want you? I would never say that.’
‘It doesn’t matter.’
‘No, if I’ve said something wrong tell me.’
‘There’s no point.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘You’re my mother. I can’t divorce you or send you home can I? Shall I make some tea.’

Geoff has just completed a gruelling blog tour to promote his new book, My Father and Other Liars. You can read an excerpt from it here, when he stopped by my blog last week. His first book is called Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle,  and you can buy them both here. You can catch up with him on his blog.

Next, it’s Sacha Black with a piece entitled Verisimilitude, which also has a sting in the tail of the last line. Mind you, I love the very first line, too…

“I like my nails long, Paul. French polish, because it makes them tidy yet elegant.”

I walked round the chair he was tied to and stopped at his back. I leant into his neck and drew a nail up his skin digging as hard as I could. A trickle of blood oozed down his throat. How far was he willing to go for this?

“After what you did, Paul, I willingly sacrificed them. Can you feel their razor sharp point?”

“You’re a psycho, Shona, untie me.”

“You have to be joking, you’re never getting untied. In fact, you’re never doing anything again.”

I picked the hunting knife off the table and tapped the point.

“Excellent,” I breathed. It was just as serrated as my nails.

“Shona, this isn’t funny. I said I was sorry. Now, let me the fuck out.”

I slammed the knife down into the chair right between his bare legs. The point punctured the wooden base and stood erect like a soldier at attention. Sweat trickled from his forehead and splashed onto his thighs. I bent down and licked it off.

“Scared are we?” tingles of excitement raced through my body. I wasn’t even sure what I would do, what I could do. What was allowed?

“Shona, sweetie. Please.”

“Shh, now.” I said, placing an index finger onto his lips.

I drew level with his face, tension narrowing my glare to a cold slit.

“Are you ready?” I said, curving my hand round the knife and pulling it out of the seat.

I slammed the blade into the chair. His scream echoed around the theatre as applause erupted from our audience.

I turned and bowed. Paul gave a nod, still tied to the seat. The judges stood. My shoulders relaxed, tears spilled down my face as I breathed relief. We had smashed the audition.

Sacha currently has her first novel, Keepers, in the editing phase, and is also busy writing her second novel, Adultland, as we speak. You can find out more on her blog.

And now, I am honoured to welcome a new writer to Friday Fantastic Flash… welcome, Rachele Baker! Rachele is not new to writing, however, as you’ll see. Her piece is entitled The Courage to Love.

Marissa stared out at the grey sky. Rivulets of raindrops made their way down the window. “Perfect,” she mused. “Perfect weather for the mood I’m in.” Her mind was suddenly filled with an image of Jeff’s face. His intense blue eyes, his thick dark hair that was always a little unruly, his chiseled features that softened when he laughed.

“Why now?,” she thought. “Now, when everything was so perfect. Now, when, after all these years of carefully guarding my heart, I finally got up the courage to take a chance on love. And look where it got me,” she thought bitterly. “Brokenhearted. Just like I feared.”

She replayed the events of the previous night in her mind again. How excited and happy she had been that Jeff was finally back from his overseas assignment in Germany. He had been gone for months and she had missed him terribly. Everyone had told her that it was difficult to maintain a successful long distance relationship. But she had hoped that their Facetime chats, their frequent emails, and the little gifts she sent him to surprise him would keep their romance alive.

Reflecting on the last several months, Marissa realized that she had noticed a subtle change in their relationship that she had been unwilling to acknowledge. Jeff had seemed distracted when they chatted on Facetime like he was not fully engaged in their conversations. His laughter had not come as easily as it used to when she made little jokes. He did not seem as enthusiastic as she expected him to be when they had discussed what they would do when he finally came home.

Last night was a disaster. She had been so excited to see him. She had purchased a sexy new dress that she thought Jeff would love. She had left her long brown hair loose and flowing – just the way he liked it. She was wearing an exotic new perfume that she was sure would drive him crazy.

When she heard his knock on the door, she rushed to open it – slightly breathless and smiling happily. One look at him and she knew. The smile disappeared from her face. Her legs suddenly felt like they might not support her. A slew of emotions raged through her body. Disbelief, pain, anger.

Marissa stared at the man that she had been falling in love with. He stood silently on the doorstep and made no move to come in. When his gaze met hers, his eyes were no longer full of light and love. They were blank and devoid of feeling. It all seemed a little unreal.

She waited for Jeff to speak. Finally, in a voice she did not recognize, he spoke. “Hi, Marissa. How are you?” he said mechanically. They were only standing a couple of feet apart from each other but the distance felt cavernous.

Rachele is a veterinarian by day, and a writer at all other times. You can find her on her blog, where she dispenses great tips about looking after your pet, as well as information on various pet complaints and treatments. She has also published a very moving account of her mother’s final months with malignant pleural mesothelioma, Eighteen Months to Live. I have read this book; you can see my review here. You can buy Eighteen Months to Live on and

So, a mixed bag of wonderful stories for your delectation, and thank you very much to all this weeks participants for gracing the Friday Fantastic Flash.

And now to this weeks challenge, inspired by something Sacha Black said recently.

purple prose

I want your purple prose. Give me all the adjectives, adverbs, zombie nouns, and metaphors you can. Forget the rules, they’re made to be broken. Lay them on me, but make them classy, not trashy. No dialogue, just description. I want original, not cliché. So lean and mean is the fashion du jour in the writing world, who cares? We make our own fashion. You can describe a scene, a person, an incident, anything you like. Go for it.

You can submit here, I will include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!

The Friday Fiction with Geoff le Pard

Geoff needs no introduction on this blog; he has practically become a regular of late having taken up residency on the Friday Fantastic Flash! As a member of the Bloggers bash committee, and proponent of #1000voicesspeak, he has become quite well known around the blogosphere. Well, in case you hadn’t heard, he has a new book out, and here he is to tell you all about it.

Ali has kindly offered me the chance to share with you a little about my new book, My Father and Other Liars.

The extract below is the start of chapter five. Before this point we have focused on the two main protagonists, Maurice Oldham and Lori Ann Beaumont. In this scene we meet Isaac Beaumont for the first time. Isaac is Lori Ann’s father and the current head of the Church of Science and Development. We already know about the Church, its focus on genetic research at the university it funds and that an investigation is underway into the possible misuse of certain Federal grant monies it receives towards that research.

I wanted to share this with you because (a) It begins with a description which for me is quite long but since it relates to the fictional town of Beaumont where a lot of the action takes place is crucial to the narrative – how do you feel about this? I explored locations over at the Daily Echo last week; (b) We hear a little about the investigation but also the internal stresses at the University – in this context we come across two important characters for the first time: the Professor in charge of the genetic research, Jacob Stzinski and the Chief Operating Officer of the Church and the acting head of the University, Dan Albertstein – do these introductions leave you intrigued? (c) We are also introduced to Gina Peroni, Isaac’s PA and friend to his daughter who it turns out has crucial part to play in the story – what do you surmise about her from this section? (d) Apart for the opening chapter that probably changed ten times, this was one of the most difficult sections to write, mostly because I was trying to answer the questions I’ve posed above.

A lot happens in this part, most of it via dialogue. As I’ve written over at Sacha Black’s Writespiration, having effective dialogue is a real skill and difficult to master. The combination of the longish opening description, the significant information dump and Isaac’s internal and external dialogue make it something I want to change every time I read it. So what do you think? What would you change?

Beaumont is a modern town situated close to the panhandle to the north west of Oklahoma. It is within 100 miles of Enid, the nearest town of any size. In the 1987 edition of Towns and Cities of Oklahoma Beaumont, then called Cooloon Heights (pop 1720) was described as ‘a bustling little throwback to a distant age of ranching and staging posts’; that ‘while the oil and gas wealth that has benefited other parts of the north of the State did not extend to Coolon Heights, the town has grown with ‘the unexpected and unbalancing addition of the Church of Science and Development’s growing community’. That year, two changes that would dramatically alter the landscape occurred. First, Pastor Joseph Beaumont persuaded the town council to change the town name to Beaumont on a promise to drill for new water supplies, and second, Isaac Beaumont, his son, produced the first sketch of what was to become the Beaumont Christian University campus, later renamed the Christian University of Beaumont. The development was rapid. The old town survived but as a twee museum piece of boutiques and coffee shops serving the university’s growing population. The campus itself, shaped like a fan with each Faculty housed along one of the spines, was dominated by a 15 storey monument of glass and steel, designed with more than a nod to Mies van der Rohe. This centre piece, at the hinge of the fan and called the Cornucopia building, housed the headquarters of the university, the Beaumont Charitable Foundation and, at the top, the administrative offices of the Church itself. Isaac Beaumont, now Pastor of the Church, occupied a corner office that looked out over the town. Whenever he needed inspiration, for a sermon or an essay or any one of the many interviews he gave, he would stand and stare to the west, calling to mind the stories his Father told him of that first bumpy truck ride when he found Cooloon Heights and knew he’d come home.

Isaac was a tall man with a straight back and the remnants of blond hair, mostly now silver. His blue eyes shone in the light from the hot Oklahoman sun. He turned away from the window, having briefly caught his reflection, distorted by the angle of the glass; it made him look tired and older than his 57 years. He glanced towards his PA, Gina Peroni, bent over her notepad. She had short blond spiky hair that Isaac felt sat oddly with her conservative dress sense. She was waiting for him to continue the read through for Friday’s sermon, but his concentration had gone.

He said, “You know, Gina, several times I’ve thought I missed the cut and thrust of the university, helping shape its future but talking to Professor Stzinski earlier reminded me what a… a pain it can be.”

She smiled up at him. “He did sound animated, sir.”

“You heard? Jacob was pretty loud.” Isaac paused, wondering if he should say anymore.

Gina said, “Can I do anything, sir? In Mr Albertstein’s absence?”

“No Gina. Jacob’s just a little paranoid. You’d think, after the press he’s just had, he’d be happy.” He picked up a sheet and read, “The Chronicle called him ‘genius’ and The Monitor said he was a ‘once in a generation marvel’ and Beaumont Christian University is the ‘go-to place for budding geneticists’.”

“It hasn’t all been favourable, sir.”

“What have I missed?”

“The Oklahoman was pretty rude, I thought.”

“Was it?”

Gina shuffled her papers, avoiding his gaze. Isaac smiled. “Come on Gina. Tell me the worst.”

She coughed. “It implied that you didn’t know what you were getting into when you recruited him and you’ve been lucky so far. Pretty churlish I thought. It said… it said you must be crowing.”

Isaac smiled as Gina lifted her head. “That’s pretty good for those fellas, don’t you think? After all they usually display their Southern Baptist prejudices quite openly.”

“I think they feel we are a little too liberal, sir, taking on the Professor.”

Isaac smiled. “First folks to call us liberal. That wouldn’t please Dan.”

Gina nodded. “Did Professor Stzinski say why he was upset, sir? Was it Mr Albertstein?”

Isaac hesitated before continuing. “It’s nothing really. And yes, it seems to be Dan’s fault this time. Apparently, Dan agreed to one of the department’s main funders, the Medical Research Funding Bureau, he said, sending in a team to do a check and, of course, according to Jacob, their sole aim is to disrupt him and his work. I’d not heard about this.”

He glanced at Gina but her head was down. “It sounded harmless enough to me. As usual Jacob expects me to sort this out.”

Gina nodded. “I’m sure Mr Albertstein can quiet him, sir. Maybe during your 2 pm call you could mention it?”

“Dan’s good at polishing Jacob’s ego, isn’t he? Yes, probably best if I ask him to speak to Jacob.” Isaac looked at the picture that dominated his room, a reproduction of Raphael’s Madonna and Child. Another reminder of his Father. “Sometimes…” He shook his head and looked back at Gina. “Sometimes it’s easier dealing with the egos of TV producers than those of scientists and administrators, that much I have learned. Now, this interview with the Chronicle…”

My Father and Other Liars is the second book by Geoff Le Pard.Published in August, it is available as an ebook and paperback on and

His first book, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle can be found on and

Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry and blogs at He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls.

So this was the Friday Fantastic Flash Challenge last week;

You come face to face with a serpent, winged and fire-breathing, or venomous and land loving, you decide, and tell me all about it.

There were three entries; first off the blocks was Geoff le Pard with a cheeky little poem… methinks he probably wasn’t taking things too seriously, or else he’d been knocking back the old vino!

Can’t miss
Each hiss
I Piss

Geoff has already written these two books, and is currently working on at least another two that I know of, including a dark YA fantasy, which I have just had the privilege of beta- reading for him. You can buy them here. You can catch up with him on his blog.

I was very honoured indeed to receive an entry from Sally Cronin this week. Sally writes beautiful short fiction, is a great supporter of Indie authors, and has written many books of her own.


There were a couple of things that Darren liked to conceal from people. One was his pathological fear of snakes that did not sit well with his athletic, masculine and gym-toned public persona. At five years old his well-meaning parents had bought him a Jack-in-the Box type toy for his birthday. He had screamed like a girl when a two foot and very life-like banded snake had launched itself at him from the stupid thing.

The other secret was his little gambling habit. He did love those horses but unfortunately they did not love him. Lucky for him he had the good sense to have married Becky, daughter of a multi-millionaire retailer. Darren played at being an Estate Agent, but with the downturn, his commission was as extinct as a Dodo. Recently the account with his bookie had plummeted deeply into the red. Their frequent telephone conversations had become downright hostile.

His wife, though pretty to look at, was a bit of an airhead and with a generous allowance from Daddy, rarely bothered to check her bank balance. Darren decided to do a little mining into her account and knew she would never notice. He gradually syphoned off thousands of pounds to cover his debts over the next two months.  To celebrate he suggested that he and Becky head off to Thailand for a second honeymoon.

They stayed at the best hotel close to the sandy white beach where the calm waters invited the visitors in for swimming and water sports. For the more adventurous, deep sea snorkeling was on offer, and surprisingly Becky took to the activity like a duck to water. She headed off with one of the undersea guides every day for several hours.

Darren was a little miffed if he was honest. He got a bit bored lying by the pool and sipping a selection of exotic drinks off the cocktail menu. At the start of the second week Becky suggested that he might come with her out to a small reef just a five minute swim off shore. He donned his mask and after some tips from Becky on how to breathe and dive with his apparatus, they headed away from the beach.

He had to admit it was pretty stunning seeing all the brightly coloured fish and coral life and he relaxed into the adventure. Suddenly, Becky appeared right in front of him with her hand behind her back. She gestured to him to rise to the surface.

They both removed their masks and as the warm water lapped around his neck he saw her gloved hand reach out towards him rapidly.  He felt the sharp pain in his neck and looked down to see the brightly coloured, writhing body of a snake. As his vision blurred he screamed like a girl and looked at his wife treading water calmly.

As his eyes met her cold and steady gaze, she mouthed just one word.


Sally’s links: Blog :


All books available in print and E-versions

And finally, whilst not strictly a piece of flash fiction, Sue Vincent had a narrow escape when she came face to face with a real, live adder when rambling her beloved hills, you can read about it here. Sue is a prolific writer, and has sixteen books to her credit, here are just a few of them. You can buy them here.

So to this weeks challenge.


Conflict: you’ve had a row. Harsh words were spoken, which can’t be unsaid. Do you fall apart, or kiss and make up?

You can submit here, I will include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me (and Geoff) and take part in the craic!

Friday Fantastic Flash No.3 with Geoff le Pard

Last week’s Friday Fantastic Flash Challenge was this;

You are drifting, down, down, through deep water. It is cold, dark, murky. You are desperate for air, and you sense something’s out there… you are not alone. Will you sink or swim?

Proving he could swim like a dolphin, Geoff le Pard was quick to take up the gauntlet; he just can’t seem to resist a writing challenge… he does LOADS of them!

Why does everything have to change?
For as long as I can remember I’ve been here, warm, comforted, constantly fed love. The light is beautiful, the place is just… safe.
But recently I’ve felt somehow different. First it was the shocks, like quakes in the walls. I knew not to be frightened, I don’t know why, but looking back that was the start. Then I noticed things. Everywhere was getting smaller, tighter and I kept twisting and turning.
But the voices told me to stay calm. I heard voices now. A lot.
And then, one morning everywhere exploded. From feeling safe to terrified; from not noticing my surroundings to being aware of water – everywhere: in my eyes, my nose, my throat. I pushed and clawed. There was one way the voices told me but by now I was getting cold and everywhere was dark and dangerous.
I wanted to stay, to go back to how it was but that wasn’t an option. The walls were closing in, crushing me. I had to get out.
One minute I was drowning in the dark and cold; next it was lights, screams everywhere, constant movement. I couldn’t stand it but I had no choice. There was no going back.
Hands held me, comforted me and a single voice rose above the din.
‘It’s a girl.’

Geoff has already written these two books, and is currently working on at least another two that I know of, including a dark YA fantasy, which I have just had the privilege of beta- reading for him. You can buy them here. You can catch up with him on his blog.

And so to this week’s challenge…


Sssibilant, sssneaky, ssscaly, ssscary… SNAKES! You come face to face with a serpent, winged and firebreathing or venemous and land loving, you decide, and tell me all about it.

You can submit here, I will include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me (and Geoff) and take part in the craic!

Silly Cow!

Somewhere in Ireland’s heartland, a herd of cows, much like any other herd of cows, were peacefully grazing in a lush green field. After a time, the cow nearest the gate which gave onto a typical narrow country lane with moss and other vegetation growing in a jungle-like stripe up the middle, raised her head, nostrils flaring in alarm.

“Did you feel that?” she asked her companion, who was an older and far more worldly wise cow than all the others, for she had been born in Killeshandra, which was a long way away from Cavan. For a cow, anyway.

Worldly Wise Cow flicked her tail. “All I can feel is this fly, which seems to have taken a particular liking to my derriere,” she complained, stamping crossly.

“There it is again. The earth is shaking. I think we are having an earthquake.”

Worldly Wise Cow raised her head and listened, twitching her ears with irritation. Then she snorted. “Don’t be afraid. It’s just that silly human woman out running again.”

“Running?” Youthful cow looked puzzled. “Is old Farmer Paddy chasing her with his big stick?”

“Don’t be so silly,” said Worldly Wise Cow contemptuously. “What he gets up to out of farming hours is no concern of ours, but I have heard that he reserves such behaviour specifically for us.”

“Really? Why is that?”

“Well, just look at her,” said Worldly Wise Cow as a diminutive red-faced sweaty human female trundled laboriously into view. “She’s only got two legs for a start, and she only grows hair on her head.”

They both stared, unblinking, at the human as she made slow progress up the lane.

“Yeah,” said Youthful Cow. “She is pretty ugly. I’ve never seen a human so short and so round.”

“I suspect you’d get more rump steaks out of her than from this whole herd put together.”

“Poor cow,” said Youthful Cow, eyes limpid with sympathy. “No wonder she’s having so much trouble running with only two stumpy legs. But why is she making that awful noise? She sounds like a hurricane.”

“Oh, that’s just the way they breathe. I believe it has something to do with their pitiful lung size, compact ribcage and ridiculously small noses.”

“Ah. ” Youthful Cow was mightily impressed with Worldly Wise Cow’s wisdom.

“You watch, ” said the older animal with a sly wink. “She’ll be back in a minute, staggering up the other side of the road like Farmer Paddy after a Friday night in Virginia, back the way she came.”

Sure enough, Worldly Wise Cow’s prophecy was realised when after some moments the peace was shattered by the woman’s reappearance, panting and gasping and wheezing harder than ever as her pace slowed and her feet stumbled.

Youthful Cow shook her head and twitched her ears in disbelief. “It just doesn’t make any sense!”

“I don’t think she’s all there,” confided Worldly Wise Cow, dropping her muzzle back into the riot of grasses which required her attention.

“They should catch her and put her out of her misery. She’s not running that fast.”

Worldly Wise Cow snorted as she chewed. “She should grow some udders. They’d be running after her then, sure enough. The bigger the udder, the better the mudder, as you well know.” Worldly Wise Cow had the biggest udders in the herd,  and as such, was treated with respect by cows and humans alike.

Youthful Cow sighed as she watched the poor woman until she dribbled out of view. She shook her head regretfully, then returned her attention to the important task of grazing.

“Mad cow.”

Friday Fantastic Flash with Geoff le Pard & Sacha Black

Last week’s Friday Fantastic Flash Challenge was based on Deception and Lies, and Geoff le Pard was first off the mark with this wonderful piece… take it away, Geoff!

She said the tablets were for sciatica. Ha! I should have suspected. She’s never had back ache. Pain in the proverbial at times, but I put that down to the usual, you know her monthly wotsit.

I may never have realised. We were old enough not to care about others. I understood, given what she’d said about her past, that she would be reluctant on the physical side. Geez, of course she’d be a bit reluctant in the intimacy area. And I assumed the scars were, you know, from that relationship.

We talked about kids. We’re a bit old may be, but not that old. I wasn’t that keen in truth so it wasn’t an issue. We sort of left it open.

Looking back the clue was there on Facebook. That photo of her primary school, when they tagged the wrong person and I laughed that she’d not noticed.

Things changed after that. For a week or so she spent long hours at work. Then she asked me to collect the repeat prescription. Maybe she told the pharmacist to say something. Maybe she knew I’d ask. ‘Hormones,’ that’s all I heard.

Sitting in the car, the pieces have jammed into place like a badly cut jigsaw. And that photo. The little blond lad tagged ‘Lesley Grade’.

I’ve sat here for two hours. She’s at home, waiting for me. The kids aren’t going to happen but so? And she’s had a hell of a time. Is it strange she finds trust difficult? I want to hold her, but whether it’s to strangle her or hug her I’m not sure.

I thought I’d explode, wondering what to do. That’s when it occurred to me I was still calling her ‘her’ and ‘she’. Maybe that’s what I should hang on to.

Geoff has already written these two books, and is currently working on at least another two that I know of, including a dark YA fantasy, which I have just had the privilege of beta- reading for him. You can buy them here. You can catch up with him on his blog.

Next up is Sacha Black with this naughty little number, full of teen angst…

She wrinkled her nose, stuck her hip out and folded her arms.

“Frankly, Justin, it’s only a lie if you get caught.”

Despite my best efforts not to look cynical wrinkles formed on my brow.

“Right, and you figure that how, exactly?”

“Simple isn’t it?” she said, picking up her folder ready for class, “if u keep consistent and tell the same story, everyone accepts it and you,” she pointed at my chest, “don’t get accused of lying…” She leant into my face, so her nose touched mine, “that makes it a truth.”

She popped a kiss on my lips and giggled.

“It’s hardly a truth Leah. I’m still deceiving everyone, and what I did was wrong.”

She rolled her eyes, “do you wanna get into uni or not?”

“Course. Can you imagine what my parents would do if I didn’t get in? I wouldn’t have stolen the paper if I wasn’t desperate. But…” my stomach twisted, bile rose in my throat, it was bitter. A flash of what I’d done. The touch of Miss’s hand. The sweet rose perfume I’d watch her spray through the classroom door before I entered. The quiver of her lip as she handed over the paper. Her skin was so soft.

“Promise me Justin,” miss said, “promise me no one will ever know.”

“I shouldn’t have done it, Leah. What if they find out? What if I ruin her career as well as mine?”

Leah’s face grew dark, her eyes narrowed.

“Silly cow shouldn’t have taken a liking to ya then should she? Look, this is this isn’t about you any more, this is about all of us you have helped.”

“It wasn’t like that, I forced her. Tempted her, She’s only 4 years older than us you know.”

“So you do like her?” her neck was flexing, her face shook as pink rose up her cheeks “how could you?”

I opened my mouth to answer. She put her hand up cutting me off.

“I thought you loved me,” she screamed, as she stalked away.

“I did,” I whispered, “I did.”


Sacha is currently working on her first Fantasy/ YA/ Dystopian novel called Keepers, which is just about to enter the editing stage. In the meantime, you can find her on her blog, where she shares her writerly experiences, and enthusiasm for all things weird and wonderful.

So to this week’s Friday Fantastic Flash Challenge…

You are drifting down, down through deep water. It is dark, cold, murky. You sense there is something else out there. You are not alone. Will you sink or swim?

You can submit here, I will include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!

Friday Fantastic Flash with CS Boyack

Author and blogging friend Craig Boyack responded brilliantly to my recent call for participation in my new feature Friday Fantastic Flash, so without further ado, here is his masterpiece.

“Captain Stevens, the pressure on the hull is building again! I don’t know how much longer before it crushes,” Ensign Lola said.

I buckled myself in my chair. “Everyone buckle up. Boost the shields to the pressure points. The last time the pressures were followed by that awful shaking.”

“Pressures seem to be coming from the top and bottom of the ship. Like being in a big vice. I can divert some power from the sides, but it’s just a guess.”

“Do it!”

“Pressure is easing up, but we’re in motion again.”

“Hang on everyone.”

The ship moved violently from side to side. The sudden change in direction reminded me of a whip cracking. Half the crew would be in sick bay tomorrow if we survived whatever kind of storm this was. It wasn’t bad enough to risk landing here for fuel, we might need more repairs than we could handle after this.

The lights failed, and emergency lights cast a shadowy glow across the cabin. “Try to get a fix on where we are now. If we have to send an emergency signal, we need to tell them where we are.”

Lola paused. “We haven’t moved far at all. It’s almost like some kind of vortex. We don’t have enough power to break free, and all we can do it ride it out.”


“Some surface damage to the upper part of the ship. The bottom has some too, but not as bad. We appear to be coated with a watery type substance.”

“Not unusual for a storm, right Lola?”

A creaking pressure silenced us all. Lola focused on her terminal and worked on the shields in silence.

“Well?” I asked.

“So far so good, but we can’t take another round of this.”


“Honey, grab her while I finish folding this blanket and putting our lunch away.”

“She’s okay. She’s just sitting in the shade being happy.”

“I know, but I want to change her diaper before we drive back to your mother’s.”

“Hey, big girl. What ya got there? Somebody’s old toy spaceship. That’s nasty. Daddy will buy you your own someday. Honey? Do we have her teething ring in the cooler?”

I have just finished beta-reading Craig’s most recent work, a collection of short stories entitled The Experimental Notebook of C.S. Boyack, and let me tell you, it’s GOOD! If you enjoyed his flash piece, you will LOVE his book… out soon, watch this space. In the meantime, you can content yourself with one or all of his other books, available on Amazon, of course, each one a cracking good read; I know, I’ve read ’em!

Deception 2

And so to this week’s Friday Fantastic Flash Challenge. Deception and lies. You discover someone has not been honest with you. Why? All is not as it seems beneath the surface. How do you feel? What do you do about it?

You can submit here, I will feature one story each week and include links to your blog and books. Entries must be under 500 words, but please remember that I write YA, so there may be young people on this site… please keep it family friendly. I really hope you will join me and take part in the craic!