Monday, 28 October 2013

The Righteous one............................                        

Story courtesy of Chuck Wendig's fiendishly difficult Flash Fiction Challenge, here.:

I asked the OH for 2 numbers and he gave me 1 and 20. Great. Slasher horror/Artificial Intelligence. Funzies! Or so I said BEFORE I started to plan a story.

Yikes! Horror writing is just not in my repertoire (although, to be honest, I'm only 4 stories in to creating a repertoire,  so make of that what you will). 

I had trouble thinking of a storyline, and when I did, it didn't gel at all. It heaved and thrashed all the way and I'm not exactly sure what I've birthed into existence.... I guess it's not called a challenge for nothing, is it?! 

Hopefully I ticked most of the slasher horror boxes - young adult victims; a mysterious killer; an attempt to right some (perceived) wrongs; inventive deaths (although not graphic ones. I'll have to work on that. Maybe *shudder*).

So here's my attempt at Slasher horror/Artificial Intelligence:

The Righteous One

Jules checked her bleary, red eyes in the mirror and yawned, jaw cracking painfully  It wasn't fun getting ready for class after pulling an all-nighter, but being at Oxford was a serious business. She popped an energy pill, washed it down with a Red Bull, grabbed her laptop bag and left the flat.

"See you later, babe," she heard from down the hallway.  Doug was leaving, of course; she could run her watch by him. As she held the lift, she wondered whose voice she'd heard.

"Morning," she said, grinning.  "And whose dulcet tones did I just hear?  Did someone get lucky?" Doug gave her an uncertain grin and sheepishly obliged her high-five (which was really a low-five for him), before properly looking at her.

"Geez, Jules! I know no-one looks good in a lift, but you look like death warmed up.  At least I got my bags doing something fun. What's your excuse?"

"The life of an engineering nerd is full of excitement, as you know, Doug, but if I tell you I'll have to kill you."

"Sure, Jules," he said, flexing his bicep in her face. "I'd kick your arse, and don't you forget it."

"Mmm. I forgot that whole height/weight/power ratio thing," she said, as they walked into the bright summer morning. "I was just working on my project " she said, slipping her sunglasses on. "They hooked us up with the Computer Science nerds. It's been fun, but I've had to put the hours in."

Rather you than me, Jules," Doug said, looking down at her as they walked. "I'm doing fine just skating along."

"Sure. You'd rather spend your time on extracurricular activities, hey?"

He gave her an easy shrug and smiled ruefully. She shook her head, but smiled back, and he wondered if her casualness hid any concern about last night's hook-up.  He hoped he hadn't stuffed up his potentially-in-the-future-maybe chance. He was still looking at her when her smile slid away and he followed her gaze across the road to the glass-fronted Engineering building.

"That's quite a crowd" he remarked, an epic understatement.  The building was vomiting a multi-coloured rainbow of frantic, screaming students.

"What the...? Let's go see what's going on."

Doug really didn't want to see what was going on. He knew it couldn't be good.  He tried to grab her sleeve, but caught only a wisp of material.  Cursing, he caught up with her, and together they pushed up the steps, passing a girl at the top who was vigorously throwing up over the wall.

They couldn't get through the doors; there were too many people coming out, but they could see through the glass in the gaps through the crowds. Something -- no, someone was hanging from the banisters of the mezzanine. He’d been handcuffed to the banister. Blood had dripped and dried down his arms where the cuffs cut into his wrists. His torso was bare, and lumpy purple-blue ropes of outards spilled out over his jeans, dangling like a broken slinky spring.

He recognised him about the same time that Jules did.

"Oh God. Oh God," Jules muttered, low and fast, over and over. In the glass reflection he saw her eyes roll to the back of her head and he caught her as she slipped bonelessly to the floor.  He picked her up, shouldered his way down the steps and through the crowd. He could hear -- finally!-- Police sirens, and then a loudspeaker, but at that moment she came to, legs and arms kicking and hitting out.

"Hey, hey! Stop it!" He put her, feet down, on the verge, where she crumpled, sobbing quietly.

"Ryan....No....Oh, Ryan..."

Doug sat down, hugged her tight while she cried it out. He knew they’d gone out for a while. Jules had told him Ryan had ended it but they’d remained friends. The gym floor rumour was that she wouldn't put out, and that was why Ryan hadn't hung around, but he didn't know if Jules knew. He wasn't about to tell her.

Jules lifted her head from the wet patch on his shirt, sniffed, wiped her nose on her sleeve, and rummaged around for another Red Bull.  She broke the tab and took a gulp. The first sip hurt her raw throat, but it was a welcome pain. Doug watched her silently.

“I’m OK,” she said, standing up. She swiped her eyes with her free hand. “I need to walk.”

"Where? It's not safe."

"The police are here. Nothing's going to happen. It's broad daylight! Please. I need to get away from here."

They walked to the park in silence, Jules occasionally sipping her drink.  She seemed much calmer and he wondered where it came from. He felt jumpy, a tight coil of tension in his stomach. He looked constantly behind them but saw nothing.

"Want to talk?"


They meandered on, Doug double-checking behind, barely noticing the change from path to grass and sun to shade.

They ended up at the river edge, Jules staring blankly at the water.

Doug rested against a tree, feeling the cool rough bark on his arms. This early in the morning it wasn't very warm in the shade. He shivered, goosebumps appearing on his arms. He felt that lick of tension in the pit of his stomach again and wondered when they could leave.

“Are you OK?”

"Yeah. It was just a surprise.  What happened to him, do you think? How could anyone get him up there?"

He shrugged his shoulders, “I don’t know. Who could have done it? And how? And - shit – really, why? He wasn't a bad guy.” He peered round the tree. “They’ll catch him. They probably already have. I mean, the buildings must have CCTV all over them.”

Jules turned to him and said, “I wouldn't bet on it. I think they only have cameras on the outside.”

She stared at him a long moment. He stepped forward, hand outstretched, "Talk to me, Jules. You need to talk about it."

She said nothing, but pointed behind him.  He turned and looked, seeing nothing but bark and leaves and dappled sunlight. But then, like a magic eye picture, he saw.  A body, resting over a low, wide bough. A dead body.

She lay on the branch, head to one side, looking coquettishly down at them. He saw the huge, drawn mouth extending up to her temples, and knew they weren't pen lines. Bloody trails marched down the tree bough, and on the grass below a pool of darkness collected.

Sarah. She was Sarah. They both knew her. Sarah - a terrible gossip, but lively, funny, cute. Dead.

He gasped and fell to his knees. Jules touched his shoulder.

“Are you OK?”

"Mhhhnn." His vocal cords were willing, but his brain struggled.

He grasped for her hand, squeezing it hard.

"Ow!" said Jules, shaking him off. She opened her reddened first, revealing the small black box that he'd inadvertently squeezed.

"Jules?" he asked, still on his knees. "Please, let's get out of here. We're not safe."

"I am fine, Doug. I'm exactly where I want to be."

He shook his head. "No. Let's go."

She shook her head back at him. "You're not the cleverest, are you? You know, it's really not enough to come to Oxford and just skate along."

"I am safe, Doug, because I created something to keep me safe. I worked hard at it, night and day; apparently while you were off shagging slappers."

Doug wrinkled his forehead. What the hell was she talking about?

"I created something great. Something amazing. Something that can think for itself. Unlike you, Doug. Seems your dick does all your thinking for you."

"Let's go, Jules!" he begged. "You're not thinking clearly. Come on!"

"You want to know what's going on, Doug? I'll tell you."

"I'm safe from men who think women are whores if they don't give IT up, and whores if they do, and don't have the guts to tell you that's why you're dumped."

"I'm safe from false friends who smile at your face, but lie behind your back."

She grabbed his chin, holding it tightly, green eyes holding his. "I'm safe from false lovers, who tell sweet lies with their eyes, but don't have a faithful bone in their body."

Comprehension dawned.  He shook her off and stood.  Too late.  A crash from the canopy and something hard and heavy landed on him, crushing him down.

"Help!" Doug struggled to move, but only his feet were his to command. He thrashed ineffectually, kicking up leaf mould from the floor.

"Calm down, Doug. You're not going anywhere," Jules said, ignoring his frantic attempts at freedom.

“This is my project, Doug. I’m very proud of ZX69 - the first successful collaboration between the Engineering and Computer Science departments.  That’s the goal of science, isn't it? Creating something greater than the sum of its parts?”

Jules looked at ZX69 hunched over Doug, looking for all the world like a mechano spider.  A hypodermic needle extended from one arm and a moment later Doug stopped thrashing. Peace returned to the clearing, for a moment, at least.

She sat, rummaged in her bag, grabbed the last can and popped the tab. She wasn't sure exactly what punishment it would exact, but it would be fitting, no doubt. She'd been surprised, and pleased, at the development of its own moral code and the ruthless and inventive punishments which resulted.

Jules didn't have to wait long. She smiled happily as Doug’s punishment was revealed -- ZX69 extended an arm with something that it had prepared earlier, something truly fitting for Doug's crime -- a sharp and shiny bone saw.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie

So, this is for Chuck's most recent Flash Fiction Friday challenge. We were to pick a random song title and use it as the title of our Flash Fiction Piece:

I won the iTunes jackpot with 'The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie', by the very awesome Chili Peppers, but funnily enough, the story I planned out - a post-apocalyptic, alternate-world story about rain-making didn't actually get written. For some reason a very little story was asking me to try to tell it, so here it is. 

My face is hot. I can feel my cheeks burning as I watch Mrs Humphries put her arm in the box. It must be so obvious. I’m sure they’re looking at me. Who decided today was the day to put your heart on the line, anyway? Isn't he one of those made-up Saints, like St. George? So, maybe it’s just a made-up day for suckers like me to give everyone a good laugh? What possessed me??

The room’s thunderously loud, and whether some of us sent them, or are getting them, we’re all acting up for poor old Mrs Humphries, who won’t get registration finished until the cards are given out. She knows it. She must have done it at least a hundred times, which is why she’s given up calling names and is up to her elbows in the paper-covered box on her desk.  It’s red with pink love hearts, obviously.

The noise is just a cover-up for the fact that we’re all burning – some with curiosity, watching the proceedings, storing the gossip to share in other lessons. Did you hear Sarah got 6 cards! Well, Rebekah didn't get any this year, but did you see the evil look she gave Luke? And some of us (namely me) are burning up with embarrassment, anticipation and shame. Seriously -whatever possessed me to send it?

Last year neither of us got any, but that was just fine. Walking home we joked about how pathetic the whole Valentine’s thing was. She claimed boys were smelly, which I’d had to give her. I mean, have you smelt the locker rooms, like, ever? I went on and on about how annoying girls, especially her, were, and we ran home, laughing hysterically at how wet we were getting in the torrential downpour. We tried to trip each other up, elbows weapons against soft sides and we jumped and danced in massive puddles, singing ‘I’m singing in the rain’ at the tops of our voices.  

I got it in the neck from my mum as I walked through the back door, a dirty puddle forming under my sopping shoes, right on her bright, white, Domestos-clean lino. And although I ended up with a cold I couldn't shift for 2 weeks, I was happy.  That was the day I’d noticed how her straight red hair curled in the rain, how bright and shiny her eyes were when she really smiled and what a terrible singer she was. We’d bonded over rejecting all that soppy, sappy stuff and then I fell for her. I think that’s called irony.

I watch Mrs Humphries carrying a single envelope as she walks towards Maggie, the lobster of my affections. At least, I think that’s what mum called her. Sounds odd, but I think there’s other seafood sayings – something about an oyster, maybe? I try to remember the exact conversation.

“’Ey up, George” Uncle Phil said, ruffling my hair as he walked though. I jerked away, smoothing my parting back in place without responding. I was in the middle of the current episode of The Walking Dead and talking to me was not going to get any response.

My mum scolded him on my behalf. “Don’t do that, love! He takes 20 minutes to do his hair these days!” She sat on the arm of the sofa, swinging a damp tea towel to her shoulder. “Oh, but they grow up quick, Phil, don’t they?”

Uncle Phil plumped down in the easy chair with a big sigh. “Ahhh. That they do, Sharon. Take my Kayley. (No, please, take her, eh?!) She’ll be done with Uni soon. We’re keeping our fingers crossed she doesn’t want to come back home after. She doesn't know I've turned her bedroom into a brewery and I doubt she’ll want to climb into bed around my kegs!” They both laughed. I muttered grumpily and turned the TV up.

“Come on, George!” Uncle Phil said, too brightly. “Don’t be a grumpylugs. Turn the bloody TV off and chat with your Uncle Phil, eh?”

“I’m watching TV, Uncle Phil!” I complained, but I switched it off anyway, and turned to him expectantly. “So, what do you want to talk about Uncle Phil? Religion? Politics?” I’d smiled sarcastically, thinking I was winning.

“What shall we talk about? Real life, George! Surely it’s more exciting than your TV programmes, eh? What was that you were watching?  Some vampire/witch nonsense?”

“No. Duh! Zombies, Uncle Phil. Can’t you tell the difference? You’ll have a problem come the apocalypse.” I rolled my eyes, closing them quickly as mum swatted at my face with the tea towel.

“Hey, Mister! Don’t you cheek your Uncle.”  I grinned and sincerely apologised, crossing my fingers at the same time.  

He battered me with questions, “So how’s school? How’s that new teacher doing? Mr Philpot, isn't it? Still on the rugby team? How’s that going? Good, eh?  Still doing that Duke of Edinburgh rubbish? Sure you’ll need that orienteering skill when you’re lost in town of a weekend, eh, eh?” 

I knew he didn't want me to answer him. A) He wouldn't actually be interested; and B) This was an old, old routine.  He’d leaned forward, eyes narrowed, went in for the kill: “So. Got a girlfriend yet, George?” 

Pow! Death blow delivered he grinned, cut a sideways glance at my mum and winked.  He always thinks I can’t see him, but I always can. He’s not that bloody clever.

“Matter of fact, I've got someone in mind for it, Uncle Phil. I’ll let you know when the position’s filled.”

He guffawed disbelievingly. I’d huffed and turned the TV back on, but the Walking Dead had finished. I tutted –reminded myself to stop channeling my mum, because 14 year- old boys don’t tut -- and switched it off again. Uncle Phil circled and tried another death blow, “Oh. That’s a good ‘un, George. Or should I say Casanova, eh? Love’s young dream? Should I buy meself a hat, George? “

“How’s about a cup of tea, Phil?” my mum asked, taking pity on me. I hadn't minded mum rescuing me -- Uncle Phil’s a right pain in the arse. Thinks he’d give Billy Connolly a run for his money. As if.

She’d given me some advice as she went through to the kitchen, me straining to hear. “Don’t you listen to your Uncle Phil, Georgie,” she shouted. “He’s just teasing.  You’ll get your girl, me handsome. You’ll win the lobster of your affection, no worries.”

But ‘no worries’ was a lie.  There were plenty of worries -- choosing a card that said the right thing. One that wasn't too sweet, or cuddly, or old, or serious. I didn't want to declare my undying love.  And after choosing one that didn't completely suck, the agony of what to write?  I’d considered the classic:

Be my Valentine



But that was hardly original and how would she know it was from me, anyway?  

Instead of doing my homework last night I agonised for hours and hours about what to write.  I finally fell asleep without deciding, but in the middle of a feverish night it came:

Rain-Dance Maggie.

Please be mine.


I watch Mrs Humphries walk back and I put my head on the cool desk, hair falling in a screen around me. No turning back. She hates it, I know it. She’s sickened. What if she laughs?? Oh, kill me now and end this agony. Whatever possessed me to send it?! Maybe mum will let me change schools?

My heart is drumming like a Duracell bunny and my face is literally burning.  The conversations and shrieks get louder then fade in and out as I concentrate on the hot pulsing in my ears. The sound of the ripping envelope is the loudest thing ever. I imagine it’s the sound of my heart being shredded into a million pieces.

A soft hand touches my arm. I straighten slowly, eyes on the suddenly incredibly interesting desktop. She’s sitting next to me, Maggie. Where else would my best friend be? 

I feel her gently squeeze and I stop breathing. I look at her smiling, shining face. She mouths the word YES and blushes violently, lobster red to match my blushes, and I think -- Mum was right -- she is the lobster of my affections.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

So, I missed last week's Flash Fiction Challenge, as I was away in Orkney for a week. What a beautiful, desolate, and amazing place it is (and quite, quite wet!). We went to Skara Brae, a prehistoric village over 5000 years old. They had furniture! Beds and dressers, functional boxes for keeping seafood fresh. Amazing to think people were living very similarly to how we do now, but 5000 years ago. Somehow I don't think the ubiquitous Ikea furniture will still be around in 100 years time, let alone 5000, but I suppose it's a mite more comfortable than a rock bed!

Anyhoo, this week's flash fiction challenge was fun. Linked here:

Basically, a horror story in 3 sentences. It needs a beginning, middle and end and has to be scary. I had fun with this little challenge and might return here again!

Hopefully this little offering hits the spot :)

I wake suddenly with a full-throated scream, torn from a terrifying nightmare of being endlessly chased by a shadowy figure through a dreamscape city of half-formed streets and houses. With sleep-encrusted eyes barely wincing open, I grab the glass from the nightstand and take a sip. Cool, rich and globular, the crimson liquid soothes my torn throat, and I sleepily thank my corpse bride as she lies next to me.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

So, let's work out this blogging thingy.

Ok, so hopefully a link shall appear, like magic, here:

I hope it links back to Chuck Wendig's co-operative cliffhanger challenge.

So, I picked this up at the second part. The first part involved others writing a 1000 word story, ending on a cliffhanger. The second part was to finish it from the cliffhanger, also in 1000 words. I didn't quite manage to keep in the limit (not even nearly!) but c'mon, give me a break. First creative writing in 20 years!

I chose to finish a story called Simon and the Box. Magically linked here. Tah dah!

And here we are, Part 2:

Simon smiled and opened the box

A soundless, percussive wave of


something emanated from the box, scrambling his brain. He shook his head and the shrieking buzz in his ears subsided. He could have sworn he’d heard guns go off, but no bullets smashed into him.

“What the…?” The sound of his own voice made him start. He realised he could only hear himself. He strained to hear something, anything else. Utter silence.

He blinked sweat out of his eyes and looked down. They didn't move, or blink. The Boss’s mouth was wide open, screaming noiselessly, veins in his neck and temples outraged. Rhino, aka Agent Sims, knelt on one leg, both hands on his gun. Reckless, or Agent Jax stood to his right, legs wide, gun held in a two-handed grip.

Simon took a trembling breath and smelt that smell you get after lightning’s struck; metallic and cold. It clung to the back of this throat and he coughed drily. He looked down at the box in his hand, lid hanging by the hinges. It was empty. Shrugging, he jammed it deep in his jacket pocket, purposefully leaving the lid open.

He turned and looked at the street below. He could see people on the block, frozen in whatever act they were engaged in before this happened. Across the way he could see a pigeon about to land on a deep window sill, wings outstretched, just that tiny bit away from landing.

He jumped down. Before him he could see Jax and Sim’s bullets, suspended in the air. He gingerly pushed one. “Damn!” he cried, sucking his finger. He’d felt it give slightly before he realised how hot it was. It rested back in the same spot.

Simon circled the Agents. He could smell The Boss’s aftershave, a cheap, synthetic musky smell which tickled his nose. He could see sweat on Jax’s face, a bead threatening to leap from his nose. “Freaky, freaky shit, man,” he muttered. He could hear the panic in his voice and shut up Ok. Ok. You're fine. Obviously that's what it's meant to do. Need to make the delivery. Quick.

He headed to the ramp, slowly walking backwards, watching the Agents not move. Confident that opening the box had somehow frozen time,

[frozen time!],

he breathed more comfortably, but he didn't know how long it would last, so he had to be fast. He turned, picking up the pace, legs protesting strongly. Gee. You couldn't have fixed that, as well? he thought, sarcastically.

Jogging and wincing, he wove through the strangers in the street. He passed a hot dog seller handing over a chilli dog to a kid with his mom. A delicious, salty, onion-y smell enveloped him for a second and then immediately disappeared. He ignored the grumbling in his stomach, and concentrated on the hollow slapping as his foot hit the sidewalk. It sounded too loud, too echo-y.

At the end of the road he saw two police cars, frozen as they sped towards the garage. “Suckers” he mouthed, with a self-conscious curled lip. He stopped, taking out a flick knife. Eight slashes and a moment later he hurried on. Three more blocks and he wondered if he could slow down. After all, he had all the time in the world,

[the only time in the world!],

didn't he? But he didn't know how long his ‘magic’ second would last. He carried on, soles of his feet burning and pulsing, the hollow, slapping sound that matched each foot's spike of pain keeping him going. His clothes were soaked with sweat and his chest heaved, but he managed two more blocks before he had to slow.

He stopped a moment, still breathing hard, and wiped the sweat from his forehead before he took out the box. He hefted it; it was pretty solid. It felt and looked wooden, but as he turned it in the sun he could see a metallic sheen. He turned it upside down. No markings. The swirls and stars carved into the lid were pretty, but they told him zip. He jammed it back into his pocket, knocking the lid closed as he did so.

Noise boomed. Traffic moved, beeped and screeched. Hundreds of noises assaulted him as conversations continued from twenty minutes, no -- a millisecond -- ago. He froze in shock as life speeded up around him. His heart tried to make a run for it through his throat.

“Hey, man. Watch it!” A young guy walked into him and bumped past, dreads whipping round as he turned to insult him, “Dumb fucker!”

He lent against a building while he fought to breathe properly. He grabbed the box and flipped the lid. Nothing happened. “Dammit!” he cursed, ramming it back. He caught a startled look from a passing grandmother as she moved quickly away, knuckles whitening on her shoulder strap.

He hurried to the stop light, next to a young woman on her cell, “Jamie’s mad for it, but I’m not spending a grand just so he can go to Florida.” She gave him a sideways glance and turned away, uninterested. Bitch, he thought, as he slalomed between vehicles before it was safe. Head down, ignoring his screaming shins and the fiery balls he jokingly called feet, he sprinted to the building on the corner.

The opaque doors swished open to safety, and his sweat immediately froze as the air-con hit. In the dimmed lighting he could only just make out the guard behind the desk. He crossed over the lobby, his pulsing feet thankful for the plush cream carpet that appeared halfway across.

“Delivery for Mr Barnard. Simon Samuels”, he said to the guard, a female lit harshly by the screens on the desk. She looked down at him coolly, “One second, Sir, I call up”. He checked her out as she used the handset on the desk -- straight up and down, with an athlete’s build –but more to the point, he could see the outline of a serious gun in her holster. He whipped his eyes away. Finishing, she turned, “Elevator to top floor, then through doors on the left.” Pointing, she continued, “Elevator is through double doors just here. Please leave your knife, Sir.”

He stepped from the elevator into a bland, nondescript corridor, through wooden doors carved with the same swirls and stars as the box, and into a plush reception room. A muffled voice immediately called out from behind the only door, “Come through, Samuels.”

Barnard sat, wedged in a chair behind a swirls-and-stars-carved desk. His rotund belly provided a convenient cushion for his pudgy hands to rest atop. He stared down at the city through the glass wall. Simon stopped in front of the desk, next to the chair, waiting to be invited to sit down, despite his tiredness.

Barnard continued looking out, “Well?” he asked. Simon set the box down on the desk.

He peered up at Simon, “I didn't expect you on your own, Samuels. Where is Collins?”

“They caught him scoping the hotel, sir,” Simon explained, resting on one sore foot and then the other. “It’s why they were on the move. But they didn't spot me.”

Barnard nodded and sighed heavily, “Given the manner of your arrival I assume you used it to get away?” He waved his hand airily as Simon started to explain. “No, don’t bother. Collins had other means. But you haven’t finished your training. I’ll make an exception, not an example,” he said, smiling tightly. Simon swallowed thickly, nodding his thanks. He hadn't known what else to do.

“You've done well, getting it back.”

“Yes, Sir, thank you. I hope.…”

“But how the hell Jax passed our checks, I don’t know: A government Agent infiltrating MY company!” His voice rose and he glared through Simon, eyes disappearing as he screwed up his reddening face, “A decade of development gone to waste for the blasted NSA!”

He moaned, sucking in sharply, clutching his chest, “I have to calm down.” He breathed deeply several times, before continuing normally, “I’m getting too old for this, Samuels. And I don’t know how we got so lucky. If he’d passed this on sooner we'd already be shut down.” He shook his head, “Incompetents, the lot of them. But they've got nothing, now. And once deal is done the box won’t even be in the country. The Chechnyans are taking it, I think. Or maybe the Russians?” He chuckled. “Who cares, right? They’re all the same to me, with their bloody ideals and politics. As long as they have money! Big money!”

Simon heard a small sound behind him. Then a louder one. “Fuuuccck!” he screamed, as his shoulder exploded into pain. He felt warm, sticky blood soaking through his clothes. He slumped down, gasping as it jarred his shoulder. It was The Boss. “Shit, oh shit”, he moaned. How’d they manage to trace him? It didn't make sense. He’d disappeared in front of them.

The Boss pointed his gun. Barnard’s face turned a dirty shade of gray as he grabbed at his chest and gasped, “Don’t kill me! I’ll give you everything. Everyone. Please!” He begged for his life between tortured breaths while tears and snot streaked down his ashen face. The Boss lowered his gun. “I don’t need a bullet, do I, you piece of shit?” he asked, as he watched Barnard turn grayer and grayer and finally slump forward.

He turned to Simon, checking him thoroughly for weapons before roughly checking his shoulder. Simon moaned pitifully. “You’ll live,” he said dismissively. As Simon’s vision started to darken and blur at the edges, he watched The Boss talk in his comms unit, “Tell Collins it was a successful take down. He’ll get immunity.”
Hmm. So where do I start? With a cup of Twinings' finest and an explanation of this blog, I guess....

Being a rather insular soul, the thought of blogging never crossed my mind. And I mean never. And although I'm typing one now, I'm still not sure about it.

It all started one rainy evening... What? Ok. You got me. It didn't.  It actually started in June this year, when I'd decided I needed a break from my - really quite stressful - job managing apartment blocks. I handed my notice in and day-dreamed for the next  2 months about being an unemployed (funemployed) bum for - ooh, at least 3 months.

Come the 11th hour, I realised (thanks to many friends, who know me really quite disconcertingly well) that I'd go from 200 miles an hour to zero in a second and would probably lose my mind after a week of enforced relaxing. Well, lose what little was left from burning out on the job, that is. No, not literally the job. I told you, I managed property.

Anyways, I decided that to keep busy I would do a relatively short and simple writing course online. Now, I haven't written creatively since I left school 20 years ago, but always in the back of my mind was a little voice that whispered encouragingly, 'You've got a book in you. Somewhere. Deep down. I can see it, down there, almost totally buried. Hey! It's still shiny!' I gather lots of people hear variations of that particular voice, and like many people, I've successfully managed to ignore it for many years. Until now.

Ok, so, it's a big dream, and I'm only just flexing my creative muscle now.  I finished my writing course, which was short but enjoyable. Best of all it ensured that I didn't end up rocking in the corner of my darkened sitting room, mumbling to myself and sucking my thumb occasionally. Boredom successfully avoided.

Since I finished it, around a month ago, I've mostly been reading about the art of writing fiction, and reading all the examples I can get my greedy mitts on in the genre I want to write in. That might seem like brilliantly disguised procrastination, but I promise it isn't. Well, not any more, anyway!

Some of the really inspiring and informative things I've read in the last month are other authors' blogs and at some point I'll work out how to link them in. On one of them just last week I found a writing challenge that made me want to attempt it. So I did. And I thought that it was just for myself, to get some practice in, after 20 years of not writing anything, but having participated I damn well want someone to read it! Hence my blog.

So here we are, thanks to Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Friday.

1 Oct 2013