Category Archives: Fiction

The Seren Stone Cover Reveal and Pre-order

Welcome to The Seren Stone Chronicles.
The Seren Stone is a book for all those who

believe in magic and dragons and courage…
for all three will change you.

I am so excited to share this book with you, and I can now reveal my cover courtesy of BHCPress, And it’s now *available on pre-order!

Release Date: 5th April 2022

The Seren Stone – Lisa Shambrook

An epic fantasy adventure! When Loren places a family heirloom jewel around her neck – she, along with her brother and sister, Will and Cat, are hurled into a future they cannot recognise. Centuries beyond post-apocalyptic – the landscape of Wales has turned into a whole new country and the rumble of dragons has returned…

This book has a deep place in my heart, as I wrote it two decades ago for my children, then I hid it away until I was able to come back and rewrite it. The redraft ignited every flame in my soul as I captured gems and dragons, and sent Loren to try to right her wrongs. Danger dances, courage flirts with fear, a little cowardly lechrad tries to help, and nobody knows how to return them home

Back cover description – blurb – The Seren Stone

The Seren Stone is *available in all your favourite bookshops:

BHC PressAmazon UKAmazon USBarnes & NobleWaterstones
IndigoKoboGoogle PlayApple

*Check your preferred format availability when you order, ebooks available for preorder on all sites. Paperbacks and hardbacks available as bookshops offer or on 5th April 2022

The Seren Stone will test your courage as you fly on dragon wings
and fight for survival in an unfamiliar land…

The Seren Stone by Lisa Shambrook

Notes and maps The Seren Stone Chronicles © Lisa Shambrook

The Raven’s Call – Mid-week Flash Challenge

© Lisa Shambrook

The peridot-green tint of algae penetrated the wood, like it had been brushed on with a watercolour paint brush, like it was part of the mirror’s design. The wood, once damp, now flaky and dry in the barn, still sported delicate fretwork and inlays – though one touch and they’d crumble. And the glass, cloudy like a cataract, showed no reflection and mirrored nothing.

Rachel moved closer, her feet stumbling as she stepped over long abandoned debris and rubbish strewn across the floor of the barn. Chairs – covered in faded, torn damask, a tarnished bronze bedstead, garden tools with broken wooden handles, a pile of rusted metal-springs, coils, barbed wire, and myriad other lost items filled the space within the ramshackle walls. Rachel, however, noticed nothing but the mirror, as she shuffled forward.

Cobwebs floated to and fro in the light draught that drifted through the barn, as did the white hair framing her face, and she deftly brushed her errant tresses aside. Her flowing nightdress wrapped itself around her legs and she shivered. She smiled at the sensation the shiver sent through her. She didn’t think a shiver would have registered these days, she was so tired, so –

A bird flapped at the door, feathers rustling in the wind, and Rachel glanced back at it. A raven sat, perched with its head cocked on the splintered door. It watched for a moment as Rachel met its eyes then Rachel returned her gaze to the mirror.

She stood before the old looking glass, trying to see her face in its murky reflection, but only indistinct shadows stared back.

The raven cracked its wings in the silence and flew across the floor, this time landing noisily on the bedstead rail. Its feet clutched tight and Rachel watched its outline waver in the shadowy glass.

“Is it time?” she asked, her voice soft, and as quiet as the gentle spring breeze.

There was no reply, and she moved her hand to the decaying, rotting frame around the oval of glass. For a moment, as she touched it, the mirror was restored, a thing of simple beauty. She gazed into clear glass, her face surrounded by ebony hair, and her fingers young and slim. The wood – oak, warm, and delicately grained framed the mirror, and she was twenty-two, not eighty-two. The image faded, like the wood, and Rachel stood once more before the old mirror.

She smiled and nodded again. “It’s time,” she said, as the raven shifted behind her. She peered into the glass, and in it, or was it in her mind’s eye, she saw two people. The woman behind her, with raven black hair, like hers, wrapped her arms around Rachel, and Rachel let herself melt into the long missed and welcome embrace.

The mirror reflected nothing, as Rachel rested cold and unresponsive on the freezing floor. The raven, a ghostly shadow in the gloomy mirror, muttered and flew off soaring away into the cold, white morning sky.  

Miranda, at Finding Clarity, chose one of my own photographs for her Mid-Week Flash Challenge, and I’ve always wanted to write something for this picture that I took of an old crumbling mirror in my dad’s barn… so here we are.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Dead Lake by Miranda Kate

‘Sometimes it pays to be tricky…’

I’d slipped out of my own writing and editing, and hadn’t read a book in ages, then Miranda sent me Dead Lake to beta read and I got lost in it! It reignited my own words and a desire to write again. Dead Lake has been out for a while now, and I’m still thinking about it.

From Monday Feb 14th Dead Lake will be on sale for 7 full days – up to and including the 20th of February. The price will be 99p/99c.

Seriously, if you like fantasy, crystals, forests, magic, and a heroine with bite and attitude, then you need to read this…

Tricky is searching for her lost Obsidian gemstone… © Lisa Shambrook

I really loved Tricky, the main character, and I knew I would, but I got caught up in her confidence and sass, and appreciated the times her vulnerability shone through. So, I asked Miranda what she loved about Tricky, and about writing her character:

Miranda said: I love her humour, her honesty, the way she flirts with any good looking man, and also her wily nature. She’s everything I want to be: confident, sure of herself, and lives her life on her terms.

She always makes me smile. She’s that inner part of yourself only you don’t dare let others see, because they might be offended. It’s like letting a part of me escape every time I write about her.

I agree, this is exactly how I saw her too!

Here’s my review:

‘Sometimes it pays to be tricky

Damn and blast! That rancid piece of excrement, Carter, has had her ransacked out of Clancy!

Tricky returns to her cottage to find it turned upside down. An action that means she’s got three days to leave the district or face punishment. Randolf Carter, head of the district, is spreading lies and suspicion about her kind, making life difficult. But it wasn’t just an ordinary ransacking – they were searching for something.

Using her gifts, Tricky traces the energy left by the men and spies another creature’s energy among it: a jackdaw. Swift and wily, it’s pinched her precious gemstone, a piece of black obsidian. But at whose bidding? Communicating with birds is a rare ability and she knows all who possess it.

Tricky wants her stone back, but coming up against people like Carter won’t be easy, especially when he’s got one of her kind in his employ. But she’ll handle it, oh yes she will. She’ll just have to be careful and a little bit tricky. Good thing she is then, isn’t it?

Adept at working with energy and time as well as communicating with trees, Tricky is lured into something bigger than ownership of a gemstone, and finds out that sometimes it pays to be a little bit tricky.

Dead Lake is a dark paranormal fantasy novel set a few hundred years from now in a post-apocalyptic world. After a massive shift of the tectonic plates decimated the world and its population, life on the remaining landmass has returned to simple living, with money, rulers and religion no longer tolerated.’

If you’re looking for a great book and a bargain,
you’ll not go wrong with Dead Lake and Tricky!

Hades Oven – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Dead End by Svetlana Sewell

It was as black as velvet, thick with stifling heat, and she shuddered at the echoing drips in the narrow corridor. The breath she pulled deep into her lungs threatened to suffocate her in the clammy air. She shook her head, trying to rid her skin of the constant illusion of crawling ants, and tightened the frayed tourniquet tied about her left bicep. Yesterday’s wound was depleting more energy than she’d expected.

Today’s cuts and bruises were more superficial, and she took a swig of murky water from her canteen before stuffing it back into her damp rucksack. She was sweating more than she was drinking.

There was only one way into this broiling labyrinth of brick, and no other way out, and the men still waiting for her and the gem at the entrance knew it. She sighed and leaned against the wall, her head torch wobbling as she slapped the wall in frustration beside her. Her eyes stung as tears blurred her vision and defeat gurgled in her throat. The huge garnet jewel stowed in her canvas backpack, still grey with mud and dried moss, and heavy within its matrix rock, weighed on her shoulders and in her mind.

The gem, bundled inside her jacket, carried value she didn’t want to give up, but trapped inside the tunnels the stories she’d heard as a child were slowly resurfacing as desperation grew. Was the legend worth the aggravation? Could the myths carry truth? And, within the miles of hallway could she find the gem’s fabled haven?

There was always another way out, no one would ever build a labyrinth without an escape route; it was unheard of. And it was – except within the oppressive dungeons of Hades Oven.

She moved on, her fingers trailing over the ruby moss swathed brickwork. Never ending walls stretched through the obscurity, until she turned a corner and a silver doorway greeted her. The door stood ominously open, streaked with broken and decayed latticework shining in her torch light.

She tried to see beyond the darkness, but the rays bounced off the walls, artificial light glinting like a dead end. Fatigue pounded and her sweat turned cold. This was it, the end of the eternal hallway. There was nowhere else to go, nowhere else but back.

The noise of her own blood pumping through her veins thundered through her head as she gazed at the mottled silver smeared across the walls like fog, like ice. A wry smile flickered across her face. Her final moments of torture, as she baked beneath the earth, would be the imagery of ice, of mist, and of cool water running down the bricks. An illusion in her rattled and ragged dried out mind.

Then she moved across the threshold into the tiny room, and pulled the door closed, its hinges creaking tired and worn, until it clicked shut. She slipped her backpack off her shoulders and smiled at the weightlessness she felt as she slipped to the floor, the bag landing with a thud beside her. She took a last look at the small room, the beam of her torch flashing over the silvered bricks, and she switched off her light. Darkness enveloped the room and she sank into the corner to await her end in death’s antechamber.

It wasn’t completely dark. A burgundy glow emanated from her bag. Even through the thick canvas and dirty jacket the garnet smouldered. Trembling fingers tugged open the bag and turned it upside down. Dust billowed and the gem bounced on the concrete, and in the red light a tiny switch shone. She grabbed it and as the lever came away in her hand, bricks crumbled. Light, as white as heaven, flooded the tiny space, blinding her. Then the dust settled and running water crashed past the opening. Still squinting, she pushed out and gulped in cool fresh air. Without another thought she stuffed the gem back into her bag, and stepped out beneath the torrents of waterfall. A valley stood before her, miles away from the labyrinth’s entrance, and offering freedom. She’d found the haven and Hades would have to wait.

Really wanted to write something for this photo provided by Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge prompt. Something suffocating about this image, by Svetlana Sewell, that needed a story.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Nexus – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

“Do you think it was ever real?” Jeff shifted his face towards me.

sculpture by Hasan Novorozi

“What was?” I replied absently, staring into the distance.

“The horse, the Pegasus?” He lifted off his elbows, rolling onto his side. “That one?”

My eyes refocused, taking in the golden bronze sculpture not far from our blanket.

The lowering evening light glinted like magic and I could almost imagine the creature lifting into the sky, its precision pistons and hydraulics whirring smooth and silent. It would soar on glorious wings, skimming clouds and the far off mountain tops. Then Jeff nudged me.

“Wow, you’re just lost today!” He sniggered.

I tore my eyes away from the monument. I flushed under his gaze. His ice-blue eyes softened and the corners of his mouth curled into a grin. My hair slipped across my face and he stretched out his hand to lift it away. His hand brushed my cheek and my heart quickened.

Embarrassed, or shy – I couldn’t decide which – I broke eye contact and dipped my head, hiding a heady smile. I heard Jeff move closer to me. His arms wrapped themselves about me and I let my body mould itself against his.

“I’ve never met anyone like you, Tansy,” he whispered, his words moving like velvet across my skin and into my ear.

I smiled and his mouth met mine. For a moment I froze, wondering if my inexperience would register with him, but I had nothing to worry about and melted into the kiss, my lips moving gently against his. It wasn’t just our mouths that responded and I let my hands rove, my fingers ending up entwined in his hair and stroking the nape of his neck.

Soft kisses rained down, and his lips explored my shoulder. My back lightly arched and my head dropped to the side as his touch sent tiny fizzing explosions through my body. I opened my eyes and the late sun bathed me in golden rays, and I caught a glimpse of the gleaming Pegasus in the corner of my eye. Its cogs and gears and wheels shone, and the light flowed through its mane and tail, and I almost believed it alive.

Jeff’s mouth sought mine again and then he reluctantly moved aside grinning at me as we untangled. I giggled and he laughed. “You do things to me!” He threw himself down onto his back and stared up into the sky.

I shuffled closer and looked at him, his face rosy with desire, untidy hair, and creased shirt. I smoothed my hand across his chest, slipping it between an unbuttoned gap to caress his skin. He closed his eyes and groaned.

I laughed and sat up, tucking my legs beneath me. Jeff rolled over and leaned against me, propping himself back up on his elbows again. The horse glowed in front of us as the sun disappeared behind the mountain. It became a shadowy figure as pale moonlight took over from the sun, ghostly even.

“So,” he broke the silence. “Do you think it was real?”

I didn’t answer.

“I mean, years ago, centuries ago, before they were banned?” When I still didn’t speak, he continued. “Not just horses, but people, you know – the mechanical ones. They got really advanced, then when they thought we’d not be able to tell the difference, they banned them. Do you believe that? I never saw one I couldn’t tell was robotic.” His voice trailed off as he stared at the sculpture. “If they were real, they sure were beautiful.”

My skin prickled, goosebumps spread across my arms, and my scalp tingled.

“I’d know if I met one. Not that I could, they don’t exist anymore.” He turned to smile at me. “That one, the Pegasus, it enchants me. That’s why I like coming here, and with you –” His fingers trailed across my bare arm. “With you, it’s even better.”

I linked my fingers with his. His hand was warm, sweaty, and real. He gazed into my eyes with such intensity, such adoration, that I knew his naivety was genuine.

I leaned down and touched my lips to his. He pulled me into his embrace and his hand moved slowly down my neck, across my collarbone, and down to the soft cotton décolletage of my dress. Not far beneath the cotton, beneath my silky organic skin, beneath the network of miniscule tubes and hydraulics, beneath the silent whir of cogs and gears, beat my heart, my clockwork heart.

Really needed to write something for this photo provided by Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge prompt. A sculpture by Hasan Novorozi. The steampunk Pegasus just spoke to me, as do most things steampunk!

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Books – A Different Story for Every Reader

When you pick up a book and lose yourself inside its pages,
you are creating your very own unique experience.
The way we see a book, its characters, its places,
and its plot, as we read, is exclusive to you.

Books are emotive, controversial, grounding, escapist, factual, fiction, and so much more. Books often mean different things to different people, and that’s fine. Some people have never picked up a book in their life since leaving school, some can’t live without them. I’m in the latter group. Books were everything to me as a child, and have remained a major part of my life. I was a loner, quiet and introverted, and books helped me survive the tough times. If you couldn’t find me, I’d be curled up somewhere with a book in my hand escaping into another world. I read, I drew, and I wrote.

Books became more than just reading material – they became what I wrote, and how I try to earn a living. I love creating characters, and worlds, and a tale people can escape to.

The Lord of the Rings – My writing – Of Zombies and Lies – A Symphony of Dragons, and Human 76 – © Lisa Shambrook

I recently said I have had trouble reading this year, and I have, it’s been an unsettled year, and the ability to curl up, untroubled, and read hasn’t been an easy place to find. The same could be said about my writing too, but I have opened a few books and lost myself in them. Twenty Twenty has been about finding comfort, and that’s been in both television and books. I rewatched all of Star Trek, currently rewatching Doctor Who, and I’ve been reading a Star Trek Enterprise book, and am rereading His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman. The best bit is that I’m rereading (The Amber Spyglass) right now in tandem with Cait, who hasn’t read it before.

The Slow Regard of Silent Things – Clariel – His Dark Materials – My writing – © Lisa Shambrook and Bekah Shambrook

His Dark Materials, with its provocative and polemic ideas, is one of my favourite books, and alongside the books the current television series is also enchanting and enthralling me. I rarely look forward to a show as much as I do this one, we (daughter and I) literally squeal at the screen when it comes on each week, and both the casting and the adaptation’s writing has been superb. Every nuance and detail delights me.

Gormenghast – The Princess Bride – Novels – Human 76 – © Lisa Shambrook

It’s the epitome of escapism and fantasy and offers me a completely new world to live in. Cait and I were talking the other day about books and about how each book we read is different, each book is a different story to whoever reads it. When we read His Dark Materials together, what’s amazing is that inside our heads we are each seeing the story unfold in a unique way. Even alongside the television adaptation and the actors we see each week, it’s still different inside our minds. I first read the books fifteen or so years ago and the characters were unique to what I saw in my head as I read. The places, the developing narrative, everything that played out in my mind became my own interpretation. We talked about how the mulefa will be played out in the series on tv… (no spoilers please) and it’s a fascinating thought that every single person, including Philip Pullman who wrote the books, will have seen them differently. And that’s the magic of books!

Beneath the Rainbow – Windchime Cafe – Dead Sea Games – Tell a Beautiful Story – © Lisa Shambrook

I commented that maybe the writers of the current series will have to go to Pullman to decide exactly how to portray them, I mean, who better than the author – who imagined them up in the first place – to go to for advice? But it reminded me of a recent tweet Pullman posted saying:  ‘I can join in discussions about my books, because I too have read them, but my opinions have no greater authority than anyone else’s just because I wrote them.’

I love this!

Books are magic, they create worlds in your head, and if it’s different to someone else’s interpretation that’s okay. Your reading experience is yours, it belongs to you. And every book out there is a new world for whoever picks it up! What beauty there lies in that!

The Surviving Hope Novels – I found my family in a book – Under Rose Tainted Skies – A Symphony of Dragons – © Lisa Shambrook

So, if you’re inclined, go and pick up a book and lose yourself in the story, the description, the characters, and disappear into a new world for a bit. We all need a bit of escapism.

The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse – Ghostbird – The Castle of Adventure – A Symphony of Dragons – © Lisa Shambrook

Do you have a favourite book?
What do you read when you need to live somewhere else for a while?

The Holloway – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

The motorbike growled between her thighs, its back wheel skidding on gravel as she raced down the country road. Her hand gripped the throttle twisting it roughly, her fingers tense inside her leather gloves, and trees blurred as she risked a glance over her shoulder.

They followed. There was no let up, as two, maybe three, bikes thundered behind her. She swallowed and her mind whirled for a moment. Was there even still a reason left to run? She’d saved all she could save, delivered everything she’d been entrusted with, and now there was only escape. There’d be no hero welcome, no liberation, nothing for her. Quietly, the Resistance would win, but they no longer needed her, her job was done. She’d given everything. All that was left was evasion and lonely seclusion – if she could shake her pursuers.

Clusters of flashes zipped past as bullets skimmed and ricochet off the bike’s chrome, and she momentarily flinched and lost balance. She focussed and forced the tension from her body into the bike and sped on.

A shot echoed, its report bouncing through the trees, and then pain erupted in her shoulder knocking her off balance and throwing her forward. The bike shifted beneath her, its weight slipping and its tyres burning against the tarmac, and Ayla let go. The bike crashed to the ground, spinning and screeching across the road, sparks flying and metal glowing. Ayla landed on her back and her body flipped as she tried to pull her limbs close. Ayla felt the impact as her helmet hit the ground and her head spun and lights flickered behind her closed eyes before blackness enveloped her.

Moments later Ayla opened her eyes and, barely allowing herself to move, gazed at the mass of chrome and black metal strewn across the road. Engines roared and as her pursuers slowed and leaped off their bikes, Ayla instinctively twisted and rolled away from the scene. She hurriedly pulled off her helmet, discarding the cracked and shattered polycarbonate, and shaking the ringing sound from her ears. She jumped into a squat and threw herself into the hedgerow. Brambles caught in the tears and slashes in her leather jacket as Ayla tumbled down a steep embankment.

She quickly gathered herself and, on all fours, stared about her. Metal clashed and running footsteps echoed above her and she threw herself into the wall of the bank. She pinned herself there as voices rose and chaos sounded, but no one appeared in the trees above her, and after briefly patting herself down, Ayla bolted forward.

Tree roots, ivy, and moss coated the walls of the holloway and they reached clean over her head. She needed distance from the crash site before she could even think of trying to scale the earthy wall. She ran until the noises lessened and she could hear birdsong instead. Birds sung and twittered, voles peeped out of holes in the ivy, and a squirrel danced through the treetops above. She gazed up and only white light bathed her through the canopy of leaves.

Ayla slowed, pushing her hair off her face, wiping the sweat from her brow, and then lifting her hair from the nape of her neck. The adrenaline rush was gone and Ayla stood for a moment then slowly turned on the spot. Behind her the holloway stretched further than she could see. Steep banks curved either side, like looking through the barrel of a telescope, and in front, the sunken lane lay hidden some way along as a gap in the canopy let the light flood in.

She smiled, feeling safe, and surprisingly fit despite the motorbike crash. She ran her hands along her arms, taking time to check for injuries she might have missed whilst escaping, but there were none. Her jacket, torn and grazed beyond repair, a bullet hole in the shoulder, leather trousers scored and scuffed, but not a scratch on the bare skin beneath the sliced open material. Not a bruise or a cut, nothing but soft skin. She pulled off her gloves, and though her hands shook, she was fine, unscathed and unharmed.

She would keep walking until she reached that celestial rift of bright white light…

***

Behind her, back on the road, three motorbike engines started up as their owners left the scene of the accident. Not one of them glanced back at the shattered helmet, pool of blood, and the broken body – its neck at an impossible angle, prone and lifeless.

 

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Getting words written during lockdown… Miranda’s photo prompt on Mid-Week Flash Challenge is a holloway, a sunken lane in La Meauffe, France, once a site of a 1944 World War II battle – although dating back much further than that. It was taken by Romain Brégetalias Kormin on the Wikimedia projects. I love holloways and the tunnels carved out in nature, completely natural, formed by constant walking and the flow of water.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

 

BHC Press Online Book Store Launch

My publisher launches their online book store today
accessible at their website BHC Press and at their Storefont 
to help support Independant Bookstores.

BHC Press online bookstore launch
BHC Press is pleased to announce they have launched their new online storefront in conjunction with Bookshop.org to help support the independent bookstore community … and make their books more accessible to readers.

“We’re always looking for ways to help support the book community, independent bookstores, and libraries,” stated Joni Firestone, co-founder and co-publisher at BHC Press. “That’s why we’re so excited about Bookshop.org and the benefits and support they are providing to independent bookstores. There’s nothing more magical than a book, and we’re thrilled to lend our support and help to the book community.”

Over 200 titles are available for purchase at the BHC Press storefront, including many award-winning books for both adults and young adults. Books are available to purchase in both hardcover and trade softcover. Every purchase through their storefront benefits and supports independent booksellers.’

Read more at the BHC Press Blog

BHC Press online bookstore launch

You can find my books in the bookstore too – Beneath the Rainbow, Beneath the Old Oak, and Beneath the Distant Star, and A Symphony of Dragons, plus anthologies that I have contributed to, and a copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for which I wrote the forward and an original short story.

BHC Press online bookstore launch

Find your next book and your next favourite read… 

Last – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Week144Photo Alfonso Leon SurrealThere was nothing more to say. I stood in the gutter, rain slipping down my face with the tears I couldn’t stop. The last plane had gone and I wasn’t on it.

The streets were quiet. In the distance I could still hear the whine of jet engines. I could still smell the gasoline and kerosene, the fumes, and her fragrance.

Now, my tears ran more freely.

I paced, my eyes flitting from tenement to tenement, my movements twitchy, glitching as I tripped over my feet and sprawled across the tarmac. A guttural moan moved up my throat but I was reluctant to release it. I froze and gazed about me, terrified I might have woken one of the waiting demons hiding in the shadows.

I had no idea what to do.

It was too late to convene at one of the final terminals – the exodus had finished – and I had no one to run back to. I’d be able to hunker down in the apartment for a few more weeks, but after that? And on my own, without her, how would I even cross the threshold into our home again?

I pushed my hair out of my eyes and got to my feet, snapping out of my stupor to hurry on down the street. The eerie silence compounded my fears and my footfall echoed between the tall buildings. As I ran down the centre of the road, I slowed and stopped. There didn’t seem much point in running anymore. For a moment, in the unearthly quiet, I grinned and let a small laugh escape my lips. It wouldn’t be long before lunacy slipped into my mind. What was I running from when there was nothing left to run to?

My breath lightened in my chest, and a feeling like helium invaded my head, and I dropped to the floor. The damp road seeped through my jeans, but I didn’t care, and as my head spun for once the cold asphalt beneath my fingers was the only thing that felt real.

There was nothing left in this world for me. My last foolish mission had seen me trapped for too long, and I’d known even before I escaped that she’d have gone. Our pact determined our actions and I’d been the one to ruin it. I stared up at the sky, grey and overcast without even a chem trail to follow. I knew she’d be angry, furious even, but maybe one day she’d remember me with sadness rather than ire, and recall our love with passion and reverence, but I wouldn’t blame her if it wasn’t for a very long time.

She’d start again in another country with the rest of our refugees, with everyone who’d escaped. Woozy with emotion and despair, I pulled my knees up to my chest and sat there in the road. In the periphery of my sight I knew they were coming. I didn’t care.

Unwilling to watch the gloomy shadows vacate the cover of the tenements, I buried my face against my knees, my fingers threaded over my head. I didn’t want to see what was coming for me.

Scratchy sounds dragged themselves across concrete and I tried to think of her, tried to imagine her soft arms holding me close. Groans echoed in the still air and my own moan mingled with theirs.

Then the sound of metal unsheathed whirred about my head and I cowered into my shell, as it sliced through rotten flesh and meat thudded to the ground.

“Get on your fucking feet!” she screamed, and I sprang from the ground, my head spinning.

She was here, beside me, her wakizashi swinging through the air and severing an infected head from its shoulders. I yanked my katana from its sheath and joined her, suddenly invigorated. Together we fought, until the bloody mass at our feet stopped writhing.

“I waited!” she spat at me.

“I can see that…” I replied as she threw herself at me. Relief flooded my system making my legs go weak. She kissed me, violently and fiercely, then extricated herself and stared at me.

“You prick!” She slapped me, hard across my cheek, and it blazed with fire. “Don’t you ever give up.”

“The plane?” I began.

“There won’t be another. We’re on our own,” she said, as I nodded. “Just us, that’s it.”

“That’s enough.” She grabbed my hand and we ran, flames now flowing through my body with the intense desire to live. “That’s enough.”

 

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Really enjoying getting stuck into some more short fiction for Mid-Week Flash Challenge, which you can find on Miranda’s blog. This week’s photo prompt is Surreal by Alfonso Leon and drew me right in…

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

A Doorway to Nowhere – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Week143Photo Cornelia KonradsThe light was definitely different. It was warmer, brighter, and at odds with the spot where Eva sat.

Eva squinted and leaned forward, resting her chin in her hands and her elbows on her knees. The light on her side glanced off her spectacles, flaring against the lenses, and she adjusted her position. She stared at the opening made of weaved twigs and sculpted into a doorway, and let her mind stray.

A portal, a gateway into another world, maybe the threshold of adventure … so many ideas spun through her brain and she let a smile spread across her lips. The leaves on the other side whispered, then the trees around her fluttered and so did her heart. It was all she could do to stay put on her small portable stool, but she did. Eva softened her grin and leaned down to pick up her book. The day was yet young.

About thirty minutes later Eva had read and reread the same page multiple times and she finally dropped the book. It rested in the moss at her feet and her gaze returned to the doorway.

Her sigh reflected the breeze and she knew the sun was different on the other side of the track. She repositioned her body again to her previous studious arrangement and watched the opening.

Eva’s eyes began to blur and her eyelids closed, just briefly as her elbow slipped off her knee, and then a bark cut through her reverie. The bark echoed bouncing off the trees and she looked up to see a golden flurry of fur flying at her through the portal. The dog, an excited retriever, bounded up and wound itself about her legs, snuffling at her feet. Unable to resist, Eva’s hands buried themselves in the dog’s fur, fluffing and stroking the animal as it pushed against her like a cat demanding attention.

“And who are you?” she asked. “Where have you come from? Somewhere exciting?” Her voice lifted and the dog licked her hands. “Another world? No wonder you want attention! What’s it like in your world?”

The dog stared at her with big brown eyes mesmerising Eva. When the dog finally strayed from her touch, snuffling back towards the portal following its own trail back through the leaf mulch, Eva followed. She didn’t even pause when the dog hurried back through the doorway, and she stepped right through.

The light shone brighter, glaring through the canopy, and Eva shielded her eyes as she tried to follow the dog, but it loped away too fast vanishing into the trees surrounding the meadow. Eva looked back through her portal. Her stool now lay on its side beside her book, dull in the lesser light, and she turned back to the meadow searching for the dog.

The sun tingled against her skin and Eva shivered with anticipation. Leaves rustled and the dog bounded back out of the trees followed by a young man. He paused when he saw Eva and called his dog to heel. Eva stood with the doorway behind her as the dog waited impatiently at the man’s side. She stepped forward and the dog leaped across the grass to welcome her.

Eva grinned as the dog eagerly jumped and the man issued a quick reprimand. “Fenrir!”

“It’s okay!” she replied, laughing.

The man hurried over with apologies slipping from his mouth and a smile in his eyes, but Eva smiled widely.

“He likes you!” the man said. “I’m Jake.”

“Eva, nice to meet you, and you too, Fenrir.”

“Are you local?” asked Jake, looking behind her at the gap in the trees framed by sculpted twigs. “I’m from the next village …” He indicated behind him with a sweeping hand. “We don’t usually walk this far, and I’ve never walked beyond the tree gate, but Fenrir got spooked and ran away – finding you, as it happens.”

Eva turned to gaze back at the sculpted trees. “Yes, a few miles back that way,” she said, smiling, and she knew her long-awaited adventure had begun. “Maybe you’d like to walk even further along the path today? With me?”

0000. Divider

I only wrote three Mid-Week Flash Challenge pieces last year, which you can find on Miranda’s blog, and I’d like to do better this year! So, the prompt photo of an art installation by German artist Cornelia Konrads caught me. When have I ever been able to resist trees?

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.