Tag Archives: horror

The Web – Mid-week Flash Challenge

© Ron Levy

It wasn’t just mycelium that connected the forest. Threads of fungus, microscopic silken filaments spread through the soil listening, sensing, and feeling every emotion that filtered through the woods. Carpets of ferny mosses blanketed the ground covering the feet of the trees and tapering out to the path. And tree roots stretched deep, down into the earth, connecting to the mycorrhizal network.

Not a thing, not even a moth, could enter the forest without being known.

So when Corinthian Taylor slipped into the woods unseen, he was not unknown.

He peeked out from behind pine branches in the shadows, gazing at the cottage in the clearing, just a stone’s throw from the trees. A lusty smirk spread across his thin features, and he leaned, out of sight, against the tree.

The tree shuddered and needles fell, but Corinthian noticed nothing. He was too busy staring up at the open window. The rising sun was in just the right place to glint against the glass as the woman behind it moved across the room. Corinthian released a frustrated throaty growl and blinked as the sun momentarily blinded him.

As blue spots danced across his vision he couldn’t focus on the woman behind the window, and he looked away, shaking his head and rubbing his eyes. The window above slammed shut, and he froze for a moment, trying to blend with the Scots Pine. He relaxed sure he hadn’t been seen as he gazed at the house. His mind began playing scenarios, vibrant extracts of salacious desires. Blood pumped as he imagined entering the house and coming across the slight woman, and he pressed hard against the trunk.

The pine recoiled, resinous sap drained from its surface, and three pine cones dropped to the ground at Corinthian’s feet.

The back door opened and the woman stepped out into the morning. She smiled at the sun, took a sip from a glass of water, and smoothed her floaty petticoat as the gentle breeze teased the soft white muslin. She stretched her hand to smother a yawn and her slip lifted to reveal her thigh, and Corinthian could hardly contain himself as she moved forward into the glare of the sun. Against the light and beneath the thin gossamer material, her whole body revealed itself.

Almost out of his mind with longing the man grabbed at his crotch and tried not to groan. He already knew her next move. She would finish her water, place her glass on the windowsill, and dance into the forest to feel the moss beneath her bare feet.

It was her daily ritual, just as his routine was too.

Sometimes she danced alone in the forest, sometimes she met other men or women, sometimes she made love, and sometimes she fell asleep amongst the flora. He recalled watching her as she lay among wild garlic, the pungent scent tickling his nose so much he had to steal away before he woke her. Of all the people she met in the woods he had never been one of them.

This time as she danced, backlit by lemony morning rays, his resolve began to weaken, his sweat began to bead, and his trousers bulged.

It was with relief to him that she stepped into the shade and her shift covered her nakedness once more. She faded into the forest like a dragonfly. Corinthian girded himself and followed, leaving the Scots Pine and its disapproval behind him.

The woman slowed to gaze up at wildcats or red squirrels, pirouetting to drink in her surroundings. Corinthian sidestepped, with practiced ease, and leaned against an ancient tree. Not long before she’d pause, before she’d slip to the floor and spread herself across the moss. Corinthian knew that there would be no holding back and, as he adjusted his trousers, that today was the day.

Corinthian was right, there would be no holding back, and today was definitely the day.

Messages had been broadcasting through the soil, from roots to fungi strands, and mosses, brambles, and coiling ivy. The forest’s network had been communicating beneath Corinthian’s feet. Moss began to sink, to gurgle, and ivy fronds unfurled and curled around his ankles, and Corinthian had no time to think before he was deep beneath the compost, and the taste of foetid and festering mulch was the last thing to entertain his drowning senses.

The Scots Pine, by the house in the clearing, shook itself again and stood sentinel straight, its job done.

A good nine months since I last wrote a piece of Flash Fiction, but a photo of the forest taken by Ron Levy and chosen by Miranda, at Finding Clarity, for her Mid-Week Flash Challenge this week was perfect for me. The sheer magic of the forest…

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph. I filled the brief with 747 words.

© Lisa Shambrook

For the Love of Books – What’s Your Favourite Genre?

Reading is a true pleasure, and not only do we all have books we love,
stories we adore, but we often have genres that we lean towards
when we’re searching for new books.

So, where’s your heart when it comes to the books you read?

For the Love of Books - What's Your Favourite Genre - The Last Krystallos

These days books are very much pigeon-holed into genres, which when I first began writing didn’t occur to me at all! I just wrote the story inside my head before discovering it really didn’t fit a particular genre. In the end, my first series of books, The Hope Within Novels, (Now renamed The Surviving Hope Novels) actually fit very well into the Young Adult field, and we all know YA can be read and loved by any age at all!

Since my first book, I did learn that to succeed it’s pretty important to know your genre, and through flash fiction and short stories, I discovered my passion is fantasy – moving into steampunk and post-apocalyptic.

I grew up with Enid Blyton’s The Famous Five adventuresexploring ruins, islands, castles, and moved into Narnia, The Hobbit, and my favourite The Dark is Rising Sequence. I was hooked. From there Philip Pullman, Tolkien, Eoin Colfer, and again, my favourite author, Garth Nix and his Old Kingdom series captivated me. I read many genres, but love writing contemporary and fantasy.

So, what do you love?

My love of fantasy arrived with dragons and after Smaug, I fell for some friendlier types in the rather wordy Eragon series by Christopher Paolini. Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea is a classic, as is anything by Tolkien, and I’ve loved current books Orison by Daniel Swensen and the beautiful Quest of the Dreamwalker from Stacy Bennett. I am also entranced by Patrick Rothfuss, and fell in love with The Slow Regard of Silent Things.


© Lisa Shambrook

Are you a romance reader? I went through some steamy romances in my twenties, my bored housewife/young mum years, but my palate grew up and I now love fantasy and contemporary romances. I have been completely enchanted by Sophie Moss and her Seal Island Trilogy, and can’t wait for her latest book in the Wind Chime series… And you’ll love ditsy Katie Button from Lizzie Koch.


© Lisa Shambrook

Or does horror chill you? I was never a horror fan, preferring movie versions of most horror stories if any, but I did love James Herbert’s Portent, and I’ve read a few Stephen King. J. Whitworth Hazzard blew the zombie genre right out of the water with Dead Sea Games, and I adored the chilling literary tales from Max Power and Darkly Wood.


© Lisa Shambrook

Do you love the classics? Are you a Bronte fan, or do you go weak at the knees for Mr Darcy? I’ve always loved fairy-tales, stories that chill, enthral, and fascinate bringing us dragons, fae, and much more. I love Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, then there’s The Count of Monte Cristo from Dumas, and so much more. The classics are right there, standing the test of time.


© Lisa Shambrook

Are your tastes more eclectic? I remember raiding Dad’s bookshelves to read John Wyndham, introduced to Chocky by the BBC TV series on Children’s Television back in 1984 – and I then devoured The Midwich Cuckoos, The Chrysalids, The Kraken Wakes and more. Sci-fi is still up there with my favourites, but I tend to watch sci-fi much more than read it.

Autobiographies, Mum and Gran loved reading about people, real people, and my husband enjoys it too, not so much my cup of tea.

Contemporary, is a hit and miss thing for me these days. There are some brilliant books out there like Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep from Joanna Cannon, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, but you can easily hit some real misses.

I also enjoy Thrillers, Harlan Coben being my favourite.


© Lisa Shambrook

Children’s books, I still read kids’ books, why not? They are what introduced me to reading and inspired me to write myself. The Silver Brumby absolutely entrances me, and I will always love it. I’ve even been known to reread Blyton’s The Castle of Adventure as an adult…

From children’s books to Young Adult…a genre that is a law unto itself. Harry Potter broke the mould with children’s books, bringing them to children and adults simultaneously. Now, you’ll see YA in the hands of all ages. John Green and Meg Rosoff inspire when they pen great stories, and so do some much lesser known authors, like Angela Lynn who had me completely in love with All the What Ifs, and Louise Gornall with an emotional journey through Under Rose Tainted Skies. Another book that made me weep was Loser from Jerry Spinelli, a book I would read again and again, and Anne Holm’s I am David. My books, Beneath the Rainbow, Old Oak, and Distant Star, also inspire through difficult journeys and true to the YA genre have been loved by all ages!


© Lisa Shambrook

Lastly, I love short story books. I love a book I can pick up while I’m waiting, and I’m often waiting for children, dentists, Drs, and other appointments. Short tales are inspiring, eclectic, a good use of spare time, and they also introduce us to new authors, or an author’s writing style, when you fall in love with their writing, you can search out full-length novels and bury yourself among your favourite words! And, like with Human 76, you can sometimes find a completely original and exciting concept, this time a book of tales by different writers, brought together in the same world, but each telling a unique story.


© Lisa Shambrook

So, tell me, what books do you love, where is your passion,
and what genre is your ‘go to’ when searching for a new read?   

Visual Dare: Voice

His stomach still turned even after they set foot on land. Nausea rose in waves and he held his hurting belly in his hands. His headache spread right into his eyes and reeled every time he tried to gaze past the dense thickness of bodies. Interminable days and nights squeezed below deck had stiffened him, and now his little legs could barely manage movement.  “It’s good. We’re safe, we’re safe…” he muttered over and over again. No one would ever try and steal his father away again.

His mother’s hand gripped his like a vice and noise overwhelmed him, but he tried to smile and ignore the anguished and tired cry that left his mother’s tight lips. He gazed through the crowd with sunblind, salt-stained eyes. “Where are they taking Papa?” But no one heard his desperate voice above the cacophony of fear and his mother’s hand slipped through his.

00. VisDare BadgeI haven’t writen Flash in a while, too busy editing, but this picture from Visual Dare spoke to me, especially with all the news features about European Refugees and Asylum Seekers. Just imagine, for a moment, being a small child escaping a country torn apart by war, dictatorial oppression, and/or religious extremism…then being rejected in the very place you hoped to find sanctuary…
If you’re interested this is a great article: 10 truths about Europe’s migrant crisis.

Please, also, take a look at the other stories, each is very different, but very powerful.