Tag Archives: Mid-Week Flash Challenge

For the Love of the Moon – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Super Blue Blood Moon over River Towy - Ralph Waldo Emerson quote - the last krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Cara moved slowly down the jetty, enjoying the warm weathered wood beneath her feet. She stretched her fingers by her side, flexing them and releasing pent up anxiety. Air caressed her naked skin and with conviction she pushed her shoulders back, ignoring the twinge of pain, and rotated them in unison, smiling wryly at the cracking sounds her bones made echoing in the humid night air. She drew in a deep sigh then let her breath ride on the breeze that fluttered about her.

The stars twinkled like diamonds studded in blue satin and Cara was exactly where she wanted to be.

Dainty steps took her to the end of the pier and she carefully lowered herself to the broad pontoon, her mouth opening as she smiled at the sway beneath her. Her knees were noisy too as she bent and dropped to the floor, but they would soon be eased.

She sat, her hands flat on the deck beside her, leaning back slightly to gaze up at the sky. The Milky Way stretched across the night and she wondered what it would feel like to float up into the sky.

Cara let her feet dip into the water, toes first, testing the temperature, then her legs up to her calves. She welcomed the flow about her toes as she gently moved her feet.

Water and stars…and my moon, Cara breathed out her words, almost silent thoughts, but a soft whisper took them from her mouth.

She jumped at the hoot of an owl and water splashed about her toes, and she laughed as the bird soared across the lake disappearing into the dark woodland at the shore. Bats also darted, seeking gnats and midges, but Cara felt akin to them and enjoyed their swooping paths.

Cara gazed at the moon. All her life she’d worshipped the deity of the night sky, softly lighting the dark and showing her that even when she wasn’t whole she was still full of depth, and mystery, and power. She smiled at the moon and lifted her hands, cupping them about the orb before her then closing them in a prayer.

Thank you, she whispered.

She shuffled forward on the deck and lowered her body to the water. The little strength in her arms left her and she let herself go, plunging with abandon. She didn’t hear the splash she made, just the bubbles and the oddly comforting gurgle that rumbled in her ears as she slipped down through the water.

For a moment she let the water envelope her, like a cocoon, then she moved her arms downwards and kicked her feet. She broke the surface and swallowed a deep gulp of air, her feet and hands still paddling. It was colder than she’d expected, and it took a moment to adjust her breathing and relax her body, but soon she stopped agitating the water and let it lap at her chin, her hands gently undulating beneath the surface and silver hair spread like a watery spider’s silk.

Her creaking joints quietened, the pressure easing as water supported them and pain lessened as if leaching into the liquid surrounding her. Slowly Cara let her body rise and floated with her head back, half submerged. No sound but the lapping water, and nothing to see but the stars and the moon bathing her in white light.

Still floating, Cara let the moon bless her, its gentle rays soothing away her pain and hurt. Stars shimmered and glitter rained down in spirals like winter snowfall. She smiled, meds kicked in and fatigue faded replaced by lofty intoxication. She was alone in the world, completely and utterly, and when they finally came looking they’d wonder, but they’d never know. Not until she was home.

Cara gazed up at the moon as water closed over her face.

The moon smiled, Selene smiled, waiting for her beloved to return…

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Stars and the moon enthrall me, so loved this prompt picture by James Wheeler – Moonlit Dock for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

The Sign of the Dragon – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

The Sign of the Dragon - Mid-week Flash ChallengeThe stones rocked inside Arla’s gnarled hands and clattered to the table. The old hag’s forehead creased and Talita’s parents leaned forward with expectation. When the runes were tossed at her birth the expression on her parents’ faces said it all

Arla’s finger shook as she read the symbols and sealed Talita’s fate.

***

It began with herbalists working with essential oils to calm her fervent spirit and treat thickening patches of skin. But as ridges hardened Talita fought her childhood with rage and passion that threatened fire.

Scales decorated her body and wing buds began to push through her shoulder blades, and it ended with the ashes of surgeons glowering in the scorched dust of her furious breath. Copper hair glinted in sunlight as her parents closed the book on her burgeoning puberty and iron doors became her prison gates.

***

“’tis true love that will release her,” Arla’s last hurried words rang through Talita’s parents’ heads and suitors were summoned as their daughter turned from teen to adult. But when faced with the abomination that swept through the Eastern wing of the castle every man turned tail and fled.

Talita watched the exodus from her window and curled her wings about her. She wasn’t sad at the sight of the fleeing men, but loneliness and desire bit deep within her belly, roiling like a black cloud on a thundery day. The time had come and as night fell Talita rocked the bars at her window, gently teasing dry brick and clay with her fingers until the iron rods bowed and fell free.

Moonlight filled the room and Talita cast a last glance behind her. The bed, a huge four poster, sat swathed with drapes of dusty velvet, scorched and singed, lost amongst the vastness of the room. A mirror blackened with soot reflected tears and frustrations and fury. Her wardrobe doors lay broken on the stone floor, discarded clothes strewn like ghosts of fabric, torn and beyond repair. Her life lay in tatters of dreams and destruction.

She released the binding cloth that swathed her body, no more a piece of clothing than a mere mantle, and climbed onto the windowsill. She crouched swinging her tail, coiling it about her. She remained hunkered, one hand clinging to the last bar for a moment, then stood and leaped, spreading her wings and soaring up into the sky.

Storybooks told her that dragons lie to the north and she dropped into the cold currents that pulled her from home. She flew for days, stopping to rest in caves and sleeping by burning logs, and each day her limbs grew colder and her scales spread further. Her hair thickened like wire and coursed down her spine like a bronze, wavy waterfall.

Finally, after weeks of solitude, beneath the crescent moon, far, far in the northern lands Talita whirled and somersaulted, and called with every fibre of her being. Her call echoed and in the still night air an answer sounded, echoing back with vigour and urge.

Talita danced and a dragon as red as rust wheeled before her, drenched in moonlight and stardust. Flames lit the indigo sky and embers flickered in their wake and Talita discovered her release.

Her last human traces vanished with bronze spines prickling down her back and her tail swished with ardour and arrow barbs. The dance beneath the moon heralded a new beginning.

***

“And that’s how grandma met grandpa…” soft words left the dragon’s mouth and she smiled as the baby dragon snuggled at her side and yawned, his needle teeth clashing as he closed his mouth and his eyes. “True love,” she whispered as her son fell asleep. “That’s all it took.”

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No doubting I’d want to write for this photo (unable to find a source to credit) for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, I mean – dragons!

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Romance – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Week95PhotoRomance was dead.

It was tough to feel romantic when the world burned about you, but Rourke felt sure he could still conjure up something more than just flames of lust.

His hand reached out and his fingertips brushed Lena’s wrist. She snatched it away, sighing as she gripped her hand and held it to her heart. “Just don’t,” she said with a sideways glance at Rourke.

He shook his head and lifted his hands in surrender. “Wasn’t doing anything,” he countered.

“Don’t lie.” Her eyes twinkled, but the anxiety behind them remained.

He thrust his hands beneath his thighs; sitting on them seemed the best option. He watched her as she gazed about the vast room. Rubble lined the walls, or what was left of them, and smouldering fires sent spirals of smoke up into the open, dark skies. Bombs continued falling miles away, and aircraft hummed in the distance. Lena’s soot-blackened face turned to his, and she spoke with reverence and loss, “There’s nowhere sacred left anymore.”

They jumped as the chapel wall tumbled a few feet away, and a cloud of dust and debris billowed swooshing out the candles that sat at the altar.

“At least there wasn’t a roof, or we’d be crushed…” he offered, staring up at the long-gone ceiling, gazing into the stars that peeped through the smoke-filled sky.

“I didn’t think they’d continue through the night. I thought there was enough destruction in daylight. I thought we’d be safe.” Lena wrung her hands and Rourke moved to touch her face.

This time she let him and his fingers caressed her cheek. He moved closer and the pew creaked with their weight. She turned to face him and Rourke swallowed. Firelight bathed her in flickering shades of amber and crimson, and his heart wasn’t the only part of him that reacted.

“See!” Her throaty laughter lit up his soul and he smiled as demons danced in her eyes. “I told you,” she said, “romance is gone. It’s just survival now.” Her gaze moved across his face and lingered like her hand did as it moved down his chest. His shirt, unbuttoned as he’d dived for cover, was now no match for her fingers as they strayed with insistence that betrayed much more than romance.

Lena gazed down at the floor. Torn white lace mixed with ash and debris, and red petals lay strewn across the scorched scarlet aisle. They’d tried. Old fashioned romance he’d called it, but Lena knew better. She moved her face to kiss his fingers, and her insistent hand pushed against his chest. Marriage called for more than just ceremony – even in times of war and destruction. Rourke didn’t resist.

Romance was dead, and the last cinders of her wedding bouquet confirmed it.

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Amazing photo for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and a photo created  by a company called Ars Thanea, find out more here.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Black Water – Mid-week Flash Challenge

Sunbeams glanced through the pines in a ricochet of dancing light across broken roof slate, and the wind wandered aimlessly exhausted amid the boggy heat.

Lance and Scarlett had fallen for the property, literally, upon first sight. Scarlett’s fingers had shaken as she clutched the details in her sweaty palm, and Lance had visions of renovation and luxury whirling through his head. It had been the easiest sale, and they hadn’t even gone to see the house in person.

The Estate Agent had watched the couple leave her office and finally let out a shaky breath. Shivers tingled as she tried to forget the day she and a colleague had visited the long abandoned property to take pictures. It was done, sold, out of her hands.

Fixing the place up would be a long and expensive job, but Lance couldn’t wait to get his hands dirty and his creative mind busy. This was their dream.

The woodland could be curbed, the tangle of brambles and bush, trained, and the pond turned into something truly beautiful. The house, the original stone actually made Lance’s heart somersault, would be lovingly rendered and he’d already made investigations to roofing companies to find the closest match to the tiles. The photo on the page was enticing, but the finished images in his head completely bewitched him.

Scarlett grasped his hand as they fought through the undergrowth, following the wall beside the overgrown driveway. Excitement was palpable as the tip of the gables and the tiny attic window came into view. Lance squeezed Scarlett’s hand and let go as they began to hack at the brambles, already brown in late autumn’s warmth.

Scarlett took a moment to shove a long stick into the still green water and swirl it around. “It’s not deep,” she said as her stick bumped into whatever constituted the pond bed. “Probably deeper in the middle…”

Lance grinned and wiped the sweat from his brow. “C’mon!” The concrete yard was much clearer of debris and they stood in front of the house. “After years of no care and attention, this place is finally going to get the love it deserves!”

Scarlett pulled her shirt away from her clammy skin and leaned up to kiss his cheek. “So much love!”

“Let’s explore. This place has so much history, and we know nothing of it!” Lance could barely hold himself back and took Scarlett’s hand again. They crossed the threshold together, staring up into the dark, damp house with joyous anticipation. “Let’s discover its secrets!”

The wooden stairs creaked and strained, roof tiles shivered, and timbers itched with stories to tell. Floorboards, rotting and splintered, with deep holes leading to dark cellars, urged each step. Up in the attic, a partition wall, built to conceal, shook as sunlight from the fragmented roof shone in touching cracks and tell-tale interior scratches.

Slates gripped battens and rafters, and cracked pitch and roofing felt hung in stiff curved capes, ready to crumble at the slightest touch. Weathered beams braced, and plaster, paint, and mildewed wallpaper trembled and curled as mysteries clung in sanguine stains like red wine.

Outside, humidity cleaved to the trees, draping them in beads of perspiration and heavy sighs. The heat hung like a cloak and the blanket of algae swathing the pond sat in undisturbed silence, hiding its treasure beneath a mantle of green.

The house and its grounds whispered, telling secrets, not least its latest, as the Estate Agent’s colleague lay trussed and knotted beneath the calm shroud of black water and green weed.

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Feeling emotional today so this was cathartic… Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and a photo taken by Flemming Beier, a Danish Photographer, click his name to see the picture this story was inspired by.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Drained. Empty. Done. – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

RadioArts Cadena de AmoreDrained. Empty. Done.

That’s how I felt. Life had sucked me in and spat me back out, drained, empty, and done.

There was nothing left and nowhere to go, and I’d dropped to the ground with a whirlwind of emotion spiralling through my mind about an hour ago. Rage, disappointment, and anxiety had flooded my body, and I’d ridden the waves until they crushed me.

Now I sat in the dirt, my arms tight about my knees, rivulets of mascara smudging my cheeks, and a runny nose glistening atop my lip.

I threw my head back and stared up at the sky. Grey clouds rolled and mists closed in and I relished the pathetic fallacy. Mournful moors and lonely mountains spread before me and I howled. I bawled and let the tears flow afresh like a waterfall tipping over the edge of a precipice.

I felt better as the tears dripped off my chin and down my collar bone, sliding into my cleavage. I cried more, letting the liberty of anguish relinquish my anger. I shook with sobs, my breast rising and falling against the black swathes of chiffon. Guttural and organic, my cries echoed and spilled right out of me and into the gathering fog.

“Damn you!” I cursed with abandon and wiped my nose the length of my forearm. I was ugly crying now, but I didn’t care. I was far enough away to shout and swear at the drawing night without concern, and my blubbing continued relentlessly.

Finally my body was done – drained, empty, done.

I sniffed and wept, but there was nothing more to give.

I opened puffy eyes and blinked, wiped my nose again and cleaned my arm with an inconspicuous piece of chiffon, before dropping both hands to the ground and leaning back. I really was alone up here, completely alone. I took a moment to compose myself. Wiping my wet eyes with my fingers and smudging away the lines of black mascara with my thumbs.

I sighed, my body catching with every breath as the sigh escalated then I breathed out. A few more and calmness overtook my torment. Images of betrayal, of a cheeky grin, a guilty grin – my lip curled, but I lifted my hands and lowered them in a palliative movement.

I remembered my agony, up here beneath the glowering sky, and smiled with wry embarrassment. He was not worth those tears, that grief, and exhausted I let my head sink again to my knees. I stroked my leg, soft and smooth and worth more than him. In a gesture of acquiescence I lifted my left hand and felt something weightless alight.

Very slowly I moved my head, peering from beneath my hair and saw a chaffinch, sitting, as unperturbed as my morning hairbrush, in my hand. I raised one eyebrow and he cocked his head. Grey and pink feathers ruffled in the breeze and his tiny feet tickled my palm. Was I Cinderella? Would he speak?

I held my breath and he stared at me, his black eye glistening. He warbled something deep within his throat, but I didn’t understand. Then he zig zagged through the misty air ‘til he was gone. Then I understood.

I sniffed again, pulled out my reticule, and checked my face. Fresh mountain air would take away my puffy eyes and a quick wipe corrected the stains on my cheeks. A brush of powder, a sweep of eyeshadow, and a stroke of eyeliner was all it took. I got to my feet and shook out my dress, clouds of dark chiffon billowing like the cumulus above.

He wasn’t the only man at the party, and I’d spied a bloke in a grey suit and a pink shirt on my way out… I shook my head. I wasn’t done, after all.

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Inspired to write for this photo literally just as it presents itself… for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and a digitally manipulated photo from RadioArts, this one is called Cadena de Amor.  You can find him on Deviant Art.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Ghosts and Water – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Lake Pehoe, Chile Mid-week Flash Challenge Ghosts and WaterThe mountains rose like ghosts of a world past in pinnacles of granite entwined with shards of history. Shay stood opposite, perspiration biting beneath her armpits like sand ants.

Months, maybe years, of hope culminated in this moment as she stood knee-deep in crystal waters. Murmurs whispered on the breeze as her people shuffled behind her, gathering on the foretold beach.

She allowed a small sigh to escape her lips.

“Is it now? Are we here?” Menon spoke in a low whine and his voice irritated her. Shay tightened her fists, her fingernails too short and stubby to do any damage.

She nodded. “It’s here, and now.”

“But…” Shay’s jaw clenched as Menon’s voice complained.

“But nothing,” she stared ahead, ignoring the muttered protest that Menon didn’t dare complete.

Another voice rose from the crowd behind her, small in its volume but large in awe. “Is that home?”

“Home…” began Shay, “is the other side of those giants.”

Menon spoke again, “The mountains we can traverse like goats, it’s the water…”

“I know!” Shay betrayed her emotions.

“Give her a moment,” cried a voice from the back. “Don’t push her,” called another. Menon dropped to the sand and Shay hoped sand ants would find him.

“We don’t swim,” he muttered.

Shay moved forward, her legs pushing through the water. She’d read the prophecy a thousand times and not once did it ever mention crossing the water. She’d always put the sea to the back of her mind. Now it stood in front of her, vast, deep, and the colour of her hair.

The sun was going down, and their pursuers were less than hours behind. If they were to find safety the water had to be crossed. But if they found a way to cross, so would the companies behind them. Shay’s sigh was louder this time and accompanied by a minuscule shake of her head.

“C’mon then.” Menon was impatient.

Shay’s hands shook as she stared at the land, their promised land, their sanctuary after all these wilderness years. This time it would take more than words to save them.

She refused to look behind her; she already felt dozens of pairs of eyes boring into her spine and the pressure sat upon her shoulders like concrete. Like the concrete prisons that had enslaved so many of her kind. Now they stood on the brink of returning to their own lands, far enough away from the destruction and toxicity of the compounds, and she could taste freedom like salt on the air.

Closing her eyes, Shay offered silent thanks to the ghosts of the past, the Elders that dwelt on in the mountains buried beneath granite tombs, and to the eagles that still soared on the horizon in a welcome that spoke directly to her soul.

Nothing now entered her mind except the cry of the eagles, and the wind that weaved through the mountains and across the turquoise sea.

She’d heard of miracles, she’d met them face-to-face, and she needed one now.

Clenched fists opened as calm washed over her and Shay lifted her arms in a biblical motion. She barely heard the murmur behind her as she concentrated on her ancestors’ whispers.

The ocean bubbled at her feet, sloshing about her legs and soaking her leather trousers above her boots. Maybe it would part like legends of old had once told, but the water remained, cool and fluid.

Creaking iron, steel, metal shattered the silence, and Shay’s eyes fluttered open as gasps flew about her like errant butterflies. Water undulated and waves broke as rails rose from the water bed, sand and water washing over the previously buried struts as they pushed clear of the sea.

They weren’t rails, but a ladder, like a rollercoaster which rose and rested just below sea level, unseen to those behind but a saviour to those who climbed and walked across.

Shay led her people to safety, to the foothills of their home, and as they entered the mountains with feet as nimble as antelope, the ladder crumbled.  Metal shattered and gurgled and disappeared, lost in all but memory.

Eagles and ghosts sighed and Shay took her people home.

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Needed the flash fiction boost, so Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and photo was perfect inspiration this week.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Inside Looking Out… – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Luis Serrano Mid-week Flash Challenge - Inside looking out

Photo: Luis Serrano

The moth bumbles and fidgets, dusty wings flapping, growing in earnest panic, but the electric bulb remains lost to it behind the window pane. Light floods the room, seeping through glass, throwing shapes and shadows out onto the lawn, but the moth is incapable of seeing the freedom within its darkness. It only sees light, shining like a beacon, magnetised like love, and it lurches and pitches at the glass tossing its tiny body at the one source of everything it wants.

Soon, exhausted, it will stop, simply cling to the window and gaze. It has no choice. Until the light goes out the moth is committed, imprisoned on the wrong side of a cell. All the world exists open and free, but until the light is vanquished the moth is bound.

How sad to be trapped within desire for one true thing.

Light is not always the answer.

Sometimes darkness and adventure, failure, excitement, desire, and longing live in the shadows. What does a moth know if it spends its entire life staring at a flame behind glass? Sometimes you need to get burned.

I’m in that room. Light blinds me. I am saturated, full up to the brim and ready to escape to the shadows. The moth believes the light will answer everything, but I need the gloom of the penumbra to ponder and hide.

So I press my nose to the window backlit by light, my sweaty palms flat against the glass, condensation dripping like tears. Fingertips curl and claw as panic rises up into my throat and the bright light burns like fire on my spine. The moth continues to flutter and tap against the pane, its desperation and craving matching mine.

The light behind me is clicked off and my eyes take a moment to adjust. Black obscurity, behind the glass, opens up as my sight adapts and the moth takes off into the dusk. How I wish, trapped behind the glass, prisoner of light, I could switch places with the little winged creature and explore my dark places, the twilight world, and flit between realms and spheres – utterly free…

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I’m melancholy right now and very introspective, so Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge and photo from Luis Serrano, hit home.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

The Memory Game – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

They said I’d never amount to anything, but what did they know?

They’re all dead now.

But, truth be told, they all helped. They helped me amount.

I amounted, is that a word? I don’t care, I amounted. I amounted to this.

Mother helped first. You’ll find her in the lavender bottle, father’s in the swirling beige decanter. Mrs Barnes lived next door. She hated me, but she’s in the blue jar.

There are more, many more, each one better than the one before. It’s okay though, they were old, most of them. It’s better when they’re old. They’d lived long, interesting lives. It’s fascinating how interesting peoples’ lives really are, even when they think they’re not.

Take Grandpa, he’s in the bottle stained green, Army green. His life in the services was paramount to my success.

Just in case you’re worried by my use of words, they aren’t really in the jars, or bottles. Not really. They’re dead and buried, all good and proper. They died of old age. No story there.

Old Mr Thompson, a real gentleman, but one who wooed many young flirty things, and Mrs Crane, she had some stories I can tell you! Ms Haines lived a riotous life during the swinging sixties. Bob, I’ll use his first name, he’s special to me, a real treasure, he’s a deep burgundy, wine red, churning like hell itself. He helped. He’s one of my most popular. And Mr Bartlett, oh, yes, we have the dreamer. Hatchet, he lived in the Amazon, not the bookshop, the warehouse, the real thing! Sandy, lived up to her name.

You’re wondering now, aren’t you? How did they help me?

I wasn’t much – they told me I wasn’t much. Even when Dad gave me that chemistry set when I was eleven, he laughed and told me not to burn down the house. I didn’t.

I wasn’t much at school that I’ll admit, but when you have Google, and the world at your fingertips, you can amount to much more than people tell you you will. Chemistry, bio-chemistry, neuroscience, electronics, astrophysics, and a little dabble at alchemy of a sort. You’d be surprised what you can learn online. I wasn’t an Emo locked in my room contemplating suicide *insert mwahahaha laugh here* I was learning. I was amounting.

Mother showed an interest, the first of her negligent motherhood, so I showed her everything. I think she was worried about the number of packages arriving from Amazon, the online store this time not the jungle, and that sparked her interest, or maybe it was concern. She was great! She wasn’t well, anyway. So, timing was imperative. She helped me learn.

So, now I’m renowned. I don’t think how I became renowned is really the issue. Nobody cares anymore. They only care that I amounted, and because I did I can help them. I can offer them, and you, a service that no one else can.

After patenting the process I amounted to so much I now own businesses, governments, clients, and the entire entertainment industry. People rely on me.

You know when life gets too much? When you’re so stressed out you don’t know what to do. You can’t cope, anxiety creeps in, panic rises, and you need something? It used to be weed, Ritalin, coke, the little blue pill, brown sugar, a little bit of skunk, a tab, acid or liquid gold, the Halcyon days. Now – it’s me.

I can give you anything, whatever you want. I can help you escape for however long you wish, wherever you wish, doing whatever you wish.

I’m in the memory game.  I am the memory game.

Whatever memory you want to experience, I have it. I only take from the dead. I have clients queueing up to donate to me on their way out of this life, hoping they’ll live forever in someone else’s mind. That their memory will be your favourite, that their moment standing on the beach, waves lapping at their ankles, cotton clouds wafting by will be your chosen moment of calm.

So, tell me, what do you want to experience? Love, sex, peace, war, I have it all. What are you buying?

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Amazing picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge from Mikhail Batrak, check out his art, it’s gorgeous!

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

From Dusk to Dawn – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-week Flash Challange-Emerald Depths-Danielle CliftonIt was never going to be easy, and I’d pondered long and hard, and now the choice literally stared me right in the face.

The wind whipped across the moor and I glanced back as its chill bit through my bones. Faces worn with years of decay, pain, and fear stared at me. Crippled bodies, like mine, bore the brunt of the bitter gale atop this mountain and waited.

I’d spent more than an hour staring through the portals, trying to decide. There was no hurry, the chase had ended and we were all that was left. A few hundred of us, lost, but surviving, just waiting now for salvation. And that salvation rested upon my own crooked shoulders.

The storm whistled through the valley and across the crags, and the sun dived behind clouds as the mist rose below us, shrouding the world. The time was now. I turned to face them, my back braced against the blustery wind.

“This is it. It’s all or nothing and this world won’t survive much longer. This is the only way.” I began, raising my voice as loud as I could against the squall. Hundreds of pairs of eyes never left my face as I spoke. I indicated the rear portal. “That one won’t work; look at the storm raging inside… And this one,” I swept my hand out. “is reaching its own twilight, its own dusk. We all know what happens next. So, it’s this one, at the front. Look! The sun still shines as if morning breaks. A new day, that’s what we need and that’s where we’re going.”

I stepped aside and motioned for those at the front to shuffle forward. Tired limbs brought them to the gate, to the portal, to a new life, and with only my words to trust they stepped through. I didn’t realise I was holding my breath until I watched their twisted frames straighten and breathe deep in the fresh air that wafted through the gate as they moved through. The queue moved, gaining momentum, until I was alone. I stood for a moment, staring through the threshold, sudden uncertainty overwhelming me. Then I took a deep breath and stepped though.

It was indeed the dawning of a new age.

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Another brilliantly evocative picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, this time from Emerald DepthsDanielle Clifton.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.

Punch Line – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

I was sure I was on the streets of The Capitol and Peacekeepers trolled me as the plaza swayed and shifted. I kept expecting Katniss to lunge forward and demand I run, run for my life! But her long plait never whipped over my head, and I remained prostrate and confused.

As the clock tower pitched violently to the right I fought the urge to puke. Spikes shot through my head and Leonardo DiCaprio stumbled into view. He dropped to my side shaking my shoulder. “Where’s your totem?” he asked. I mumbled, but couldn’t even recognise my own voice. “You’re not Katniss…” I slurred.

His slap stung bringing me round for a moment. “What the…” I began.

“Where’s your totem? Where is it?” he insisted, his eyes, round and big, burning into my skull.

“I don’t have one!” I yelled, my voice screeching like train brakes. I grabbed my head screwing my eyes shut.

When I opened them again he was gone but the buildings still ducked and dodged and reeled. This time Katniss did speak. She leaned across and kissed my forehead. I smiled then retched as my belly plunged like it would on the first drop of a rollercoaster. This was a bad trip. This was a nightmare.

I reached for her hand but mine waved limply in the air before me. Poison raced through my veins, and the blue blood vessels in my forearm wriggled. Bulging worms threading up my arm threatened to explode and I puked. It didn’t make me feel any better.

Noises of disgust emanated about me and I tried to see through blurry eyes. I tried to apologise, but the words refused to form. Instead a steady stream of vomit landed in the lap beside me and despite my inebriated state shame burned.

Within moments Katniss was gone. She’d left me for Peeta or for Gale, which, I had no idea, but I’d blown any chance I had. Tears stung like the slap Leonardo had delivered. The sun shone through the grey sky as steel-blue clouds roiled and churned. The light stung my eyes and made the Italian landscape bow and twist. I tried to wipe the tears, but someone had hold of my hand. They had a tight grip, a strong wrist, and for a moment I wondered if I’d been strapped to a bed like James Bond. That was it! I’d been kidnapped, drugged, and left to rot in Italy while they escaped in my DBS V12. I knew enough to know that. I had that car imprinted on my brain.

My wrists tensed, I’d break these bonds if it killed me… I writhed and squirmed and fought to escape. Desperation threw my mind into fresh chaos and I swung my legs off the table. Yes, I was on a table, a flat, uncomfortable table. I tried to slip off and land on my feet, but hands, many hands grabbed at me and restrained me, placing me back up on the slab. Slab! Maybe I was dead. I felt dead.

My eyes flew open, blinded by the bright sun, which was preferable to having my fears validated and seeing Emilia Fox staring down at me. Fearing death, I quietened. My head still swam and my belly still churned and to avoid further restraint, which was painful – my wrists hurt, I relaxed into my delusion.

My brain fogged as the sun grew brighter and the sky coiled about me in shades of green and grey.

When I finally woke, my eyelids were still sluggish and my eyes worked hard to focus, I noted my surroundings quickly as clarity unveiled itself. The shame of the night before enveloped me far more, as the green curtains of a Casualty bay remained, mostly shuttered, about me as I reclined on a bed covered by a scratchy blanket. My arm was restrained by tube in the back of my hand as a drip rehydrated and flushed out my system.

Katniss re-entered the room, her long plait hitched up in a twist and she checked my vitals on the clipboard at the bottom of the bed. Her blue plastic apron creased and puckered as she smiled at me. “We almost lost you last night,” her voice was soft and I knew I’d been forgiven for the vomit, but I’d have to work hard to absolve myself from the nightmare. Resolution sparked. I’d never drink such a strange concoction again.

0000. Divider

This picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Piroshki-Photography totally intrigued me.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.