Tag Archives: Mid-Week Flash Challenge

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.

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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.


Alone – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Purple tinged the sky where the setting sun met twilight above a swathe of burnished gold. Sarah rubbed her thumb over her loose ring and smiled. The large amethyst set amid its gold band twinkled, as the last of the day’s rays glanced across its surface. Sarah sighed. The Milky Way already arced across the night, stars more infinite than the seconds in her life. It was perfect. It couldn’t be more perfect.

She gently slid down the tree’s rough trunk landing in soft hay, and drew a deep breath into her rattling lungs. Crisp oxygen, clean and cold, rushed up her nose and down her throat. The breeze gently wafted the nearby lavender crop. She closed her eyes and let the scent intoxicate her. She smiled again. She couldn’t have planned it better.

Sarah was tired; the walk had taken all day. She was alone, frail, and exhausted, but happy.

Her gnarled knuckles shook as she clasped the metal bottle in the rucksack that had dropped from her shoulders. She opened her eyes to do what she needed to do, and gently pulled the plastic tubes from her nose. The bottle and its tubes slipped away into the grass, and Sarah let them go. The bottle was almost empty anyway; it would never have seen her home.

The night air that now moved about her was softer, lighter, and dipped in lavender, and as it infused her body she let the fragrance calm her thumping heart. Sarah brought her hands together and gently rubbed the amethyst. The ring rotated easily, the band too large for her thin finger, but the soft touch of quartz comforted her and she relaxed.

The final glimmers of the sun faded beneath the horizon, and the full blanket of purple and indigo night slipped across the field. Only the stars still glittered as lavender wafted and Sarah allowed her curtain to fall.

She’d said her goodbyes, letters were signed and sealed on her mantelpiece, and she was ready to go.

The frozen, star-filled, lavender dusk claimed more than just the day that night, but Sarah would walk free from mortal constraints into a brand new dawn.

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Beautiful picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Javier de la Torre. Gorgeous colours…

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.


Blades – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Blades - Photograph Sarolta Ban

Photograph: Sarolta Ban

They were my weapon of choice.

Words cut deep, words wound, but mix words with blades and you have the perfect weapon.

They say Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me – they’re wrong.

It wasn’t even what others said, lost amid my world, inside my own head, is what brought me down.

There were words, plenty of them, but they were mine. No one else uttered them; no one else spoke them, but me. Words simmered below the surface, whispering and murmuring, digging and muttering, piercing and cutting. They moved through my bloodstream, through my veins, seizing and taking hold inside my brain – until they cut like knives, like blades determined to bury themselves deep within.

Nothing could dislodge them and their commitment to destroy was flawless, and they worked into my wounds like burrowing wasps brandishing scalpels. No parry was enough to deflect and I was soon forced to choose my own weapon.

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Blades - Photograph Andy Bate

Photograph: Andy Bate

I would dig them out, thrust and plunge, and drive my own blades deep. And I did.

I gouged and lanced and met those words until they flowed like red silk, until they ran and poured like rivers of crimson, until they gushed in cascades of scarlet ribbons, and I could hold them no more.

They say words don’t hurt.

They do.

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Another great picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, from Sarolta Ban. This hits home.

The second picture, by Andy Bate, was last week’s prompt and certainly sat alongside this week’s for me.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.



Wild Harbour – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Wild HarbourHe waxes and wanes like the moon – bursting with passion and brim-full with deep satisfaction, and then lost in absence and lonely apathy.

I ride the waves of his storm.

The minute his lips touch mine I sink into his depths, drowning in tides of desire and climbing to heights I’ve never known. He and his touch spark fireworks and constellations shimmer through my universe. My night sky lights up with the fullness of an October Hunter’s moon and I relish every moment he stays. He is my sun and my moon and every star in my cosmos.

My heart aches when he leaves, when he shifts from my orbit. He remains, connected with my physical world, but lost to me as the moon is absent to your touch within a puddle. I know it’s not his love that wanes, but his island inhabits a remoteness that even I cannot reach. I cannot sail its waters and I cannot rescue him from his solitary soul.

When he is only a reflection of himself I keep him safe wrapped within the cocoon of my heart. When his light fades I keep a burning coal in my belly. When he weeps and collapses, like a neutron star, I remain at his side to fuel his escape from the black hole, and keep him tethered to life.

Then, as I wait, his dark moon catches a spark, a shooting star, and its tail threads back through our course. And, in time, he returns, hungry and starved and eager. And I greet him with love and shelter, and allow him time to regain his glow.

Our eternal round will never fail, my harbour will encircle, and my heart will embrace, through the good and the bad, the high and the low, the waxing and waning. It will always go on, because that’s what you do when you love someone encased within bipolar extremes.

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Just loved this picture for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge, though she couldn’t find anyone to attribute it to, but I had to write for it.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.


Perpetual Repercussion – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - Perpetual Reprcussion - Photograph - Sarolta Ban

Photograph by Sarolta Ban

Perpetual repercussion – words resonate. Seasons lost – time too late. Arctic perma – wayward lea. Dig for seed – find the key.

I’d not taken the riddle literally, so my surprise at discovering the huge protrusion in the sand is very real.

Tolkien snuffles at its base, his nose flaring and his whine rising amid a low growl, and I tentatively hold my hand to the square and my team remains silent behind me. Only Tolly’s snorts and the thwack of canvas sails flapping in the wind make a sound.

I stare at the metal post, the cold biting through my clothes, and call Tolly back. He barks at it one last time and returns to my side. Through my blurry lenses, the shaft rises at an angel out of the ground with notches protruding like the bit of a key. I rub my goggles, but only smear the dirt and scratch the surface glass even more.

My boots crunch as I move closer, the dry stone and sand giving way beneath my soles. I tug the scarf from my throat, loosening the itchy material away from my beard and chapped lips then lift my goggles. I chuckle. It isn’t a key, not a literal key, but the leaning post does offer answers.

We’d spent months traversing the desert, crossing the ocean, and reaching the island called Spitzbergen, at least we hoped that’s where we were. The world had changed; its continents and islands had altered beyond recognition in many cases. How could we ever be sure where we were?

But Tolly jigs at my side, his muscles taut with pent up excitement, and it’s contagious. I reach up and brush the dust from the broken metal sign. I smile, as I can’t read the words etched into the steel, and Nottson approaches from behind to clean and decipher the runes. Moments later his laughter rings out on the breeze. “Your riddle speaks true.” He beckons the rest of the team. “Perpetual is clear, Repercussion half lost, but the words are true. It is here. We are here.” His arms swing wide and a cheer erupts from the men and women at my rear.

We dig – unearthing the base of the signpost and nothing more. Frustration fills our hearts, our souls, and our exhausted bodies, but Tolly insists and alongside the faithful dog, we keep excavating.

It takes days, weeks, but Tolly has never let us down and finally, as the arctic sun begins to drop in the sky Tolly’s bark echoes and his claws ring out – on glass, or metal, or?

We dig, and clean, and polish, and then we step back with tears in our eyes. Mirrors, steel, and prisms, preserved beneath the sand, gleam beneath our feet. Dyveke Sanne’s ancient work glistens once more, reflecting the Svalbard polar light in tones of green, and blue, and white.

Finally, we have the key within our grasp. Tolly whirls and barks and feeds our anticipation. The world is waiting, tired and weary, and hungry, and we are just moments from the vault, just moments from saving humankind.

Perpetual Repercussion…life can start again.

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I was inspired by the existence of the Global Seed Vault and Dyveke Sanne‘s art Perpetual Repercussion on the roof and entrance to the facility in Svalbard, Norway. In my story the world has suffered great catastrophe and the hunt for the seed bank underway… See more stories at Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.


Nightlings – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

The battle was not yet won and nor would it be without help.

The opposing army stood silent but for a drum beating in time with Nomin’s heart. Sweat and fear from his warriors and their horses reeked and the taste of blood set his teeth on edge.

Numbers did not favour him, and the exhaustion evident in the hoarse breaths behind him made him wonder how much longer he could stall the inevitable.

Though they were almost a mile apart, separated by a stretch of verdant mossy green and a crystal clear stream, he knew the Captain’s eyes were trained upon him, and he squirmed with discomfort. Within moments the virid velvet carpet would become mire and the stream would run with ruby swirls.

Nomin straightened his back and relaxed his shoulders heavy beneath his leather armour, and stared back. The drumbeat, echoing across the glen, quickened and Nomin’s heart matched it. His breathing rose and fell with the strain of courage building and determination gilding his lungs. It was now or never, and time was not on their side.

Nomin closed his eyes, and uttered her name beneath his breath, a single syllable, yet everything, “Bren…” Her name fluttered away on the breeze, but he hoped she’d heard it. Their lives depended on it.

The horses shuffled, nerves tingling beneath their hide and anticipation flooding their veins. The drumming stopped and a shimmering wave glinted on the far side of the valley as shields rose, and in the sudden hush Nomin raised his arm. He could not retract his response and commitment was sealed in his shaking hand.

Tension increased as armoured gloves clenched reins and boots gripped flanks. The battle roar opposite had the desired effect, and Nomin swallowed hard then dropped his hand. Heels kicked and horses sprang and Nomin urged his steed forward.

Thunder flooded the glen, and lightning flashes of swords and shields glittered beneath the gloomy sky, and they raced towards death and glory.

Nomin closed his eyes as his breath tore through his throat and his knuckles grazed against his horse’s armour. How long had they before the clash, before the clang of steel took the lives of those around him, how long before death graced the green, green grass?

A new sound echoed, wailing and tearing through his brain and his eyes flew open. He almost dropped his reins as he pulled up his mount and watched his army divide and veer. “Bren!” his voice cracked with effort and passion.

Bren sat astride a steed of the night, clothed in witchery and ebony. She howled like a wolf, and from the forests came a host of Nightlings, baying like demons and screaming with banshee calls. Black, and white, and grey chargers, midnight’s ghosts, streamed from the trees with wild manes and tails, and the magic of the night.

Nomin watched with wonder sparkling in his tired eyes and love pumping through his veins. He screamed and roared encouragement, and he and his army watched as Bren stormed the soldiers that would have annihilated his. Tears welled and merged with the sweat on his grimy face.

Nightlings, the myths of the night, stampeded across the glen without leaving a hoof print or a trampled piece of grass, and barrelled into the army with a force they would never survive. Screams of men mingled with the rage of the revenant, and death did indeed come to the glen that afternoon.

When it ended, Nomin galloped forward, searching the Nightlings for their queen. The ghosts departed and finally Nomin gazed into the dark eyes of his love. Bren smiled with eyes that could not weep, and blue lips that matched the pale skin that barely covered her hollow face. Wild black hair, whipped in strands as the wind kissed her in a way that Nomin now – never could.

Their steeds stood side by side, ghost by flesh, and Nomin tore off his glove and reached to cup Bren’s face in his warm, calloused hand. Bren’s frozen fingers closed around Nomin’s in a clasp that would have to last for all his time he had left. She backed slowly away, until he nodded and whispered in a breath that only she could hear, “Til then…” and Bren’s mount was gone, and she with it.

Death and the Nightlings came and the battle was won.


Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge is back again after a summer break and this photo truly inspired me, and I listened to Audiomachine as I wrote…epic battle music!

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.



Going Underground – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

abandoned subway station - City Hall Station, in New York

Abandoned Subway by John Paul Palescandolo & Eric Kazmirek, featured Daily Mail 2012

Talin grabbed Cae’s arm, yanking her away from the wall and down to the ground. Cae yelped, but dropped beside him cursing at the cry she’d uttered. She bristled as his arm swept across her chest in a protective gesture and he held her against the crumbling wall. Falling bricks and concrete echoed amid the crash of shattering glass, and dust clouds rushed round the corner.

They pulled bandana scarves up and over their mouths and shrank back. A billowing fog of debris and death smothered the back street, and they remained crushed against each other and the broken wall.

Moments later, Cae impatiently pushed against Talin’s restraining arm and signalled to him. Reluctantly, he released her and followed as she began to creep, toe to heel, along the wall, her dirty fingers clutching at the disintegrating brick as the ground trembled beneath their feet.

Fog and dust swirled and rotors whirred above them, the hum of drones hovered, and Talin moved behind Cae, wiping the dirt and grease from his goggles. He could hear her breath wheezing behind her neckerchief, and knew her asthma was playing up. He reached out to slow her, but she was gone.

Explosions and splintering glass still rang in his ears as tenements crashed and collapsed behind him, and as he bolted forward, the ground disappeared and he fell through the same rotten boards Cae had.

He landed in a pile of rubbish with an oomph that juddered through his body. He jumped as a hand rested on his leg, as Cae grabbed him and pulled him to his feet. He knew it was Cae as her breath still rasped and rattled, and he immediately snatched her backpack off her shoulders. Even in the gloom he knew what he was looking for and his fingers quickly located her inhaler. They slipped off the mound of rubble and waste, and collapsed onto cold concrete. Talin found Cae’s hand and pressed the inhaler into it. He heard her cough and then gulp down the medication. There was silence as she held her breath, then she took another puff.

The sound hissed in the eerie silence, and then Cae breathed softly, more measured, and Talin relaxed.

“Where are we?” she panted.

“Don’t talk,” he warned. “We have to move from here, in case we’re tracked.”

“The drones can’t get down here…” began Cae.

“Never say never.” Talin squeezed her arm.

The vague light from above disappeared with a thunderous crash as the wall they’d inched along fell, and more dust and grime mushroomed down the hole.

“Not know, anyway!” cried Cae, leaping away from the falling stone and filth. She shrugged her backpack on again and felt along her belt until she found the torch hanging at her waist. She flipped the light on and a stark white glow shone out into the dark.

A broken steel ladder barely clung to the wall, rusted and hanging free of its bolts, and they stood inside an alcove. Cae stepped forward and cried out again, “We’re in a tunnel, the old railway!”

Talin pushed past her and stumbled on the ancient iron rails. Regaining his balance, he switched on his own torch and swept it about the tunnel. “Trains haven’t run for years…” He pointed his light at the tracks. “But these rails look so clean…”

“We shouldn’t be down here…” whispered Cae, clinging suddenly to his arm.

“Rather here, than up there,” said Talin, patting her hand. “And there’s no way back up there.”

Together they moved forward, following the tracks, stepping from sleeper to sleeper, their pace increasing as they hurried over the wooden stepping stones. Torch light bobbed ahead of them and they flinched as the sound of devastation continued to rain above.

The sound of war lessened the further they ran, until up ahead a soft golden glow shone like a candle in a window. The tunnel widened opening up into a vast domed underground station. Cae gripped Talin’s hand as they slowed to a walk then they stopped as two tiny red lights shone in the dark.

The red dots danced lightly across their chests, settling on their hearts. They stopped and waited.

Two women, dressed in combat trousers and torn jackets, with rifles and military boots, stood before them. “Friend or foe?” they asked in unison.

“We were escaping… I’m Talin, this is my sister, Cae.”

Broad smiles lit the women’s faces, “Talin, Cae, welcome to the Resistance.”


Another great photo prompt from Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge over at Finding Clarity.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.


The Key of Life – Mid-Week Flash Challenge

Mid-Week Flash Challenge - KeysTime was running out and she knew it.

Alys let her eyelids drop and rested her head on the soft feather pillow. A tear trickled down from the corner of her eye, slowly running down the creases of her skin and into her ear. She smiled wryly at the warm sensation. She relished every sensation her aging body still had, even tears.

Sunlight spilled through semi-closed curtains, muted by the veils of voile that hung from the rail. Dust motes danced in the summer breeze drifting through the high open window.

The sound of birdsong took her back to days gone by, of days when the sun shone, days when she flirted, and teased, and lived ‘til twilight fell and stars glittered in the sky.

Even the subdued rays teasing her window reminded of nights beneath moonlight, nights of passion, nights of love, and nights embraced in warm arms.

Those days, and nights, were long gone, and so were the people who’d inhabited them with her.

Now, she reclined in solitude upon crisp white sheets, soft pillows, and surrounded by the fragrance of orange blossom from the vase upon her night stand. No one visited any longer except nurses, who were dutiful, and friendly, and engaging, but none were family, none mattered beyond the essentials.

Time was waning and Alys was fine with that.

She listened to the whispering breeze curling around the mock orange outside, lifting the scent to join the foliage in her room. Beneath her dry, closed eyelids her eyes itched, and her nose whistled as she breathed. A limp curl of snow-white hair fell across her brow and tickled her furrowed forehead. Her throat rattled, and despite the nurses’ regular attention, her parched mouth gasped.

Alys placed a frail hand on her chest, gently stroking the lace beneath her fingers, then letting her palm rest still. Her heartbeat pulsed, slowly, steadily – like the rhythm of an evening cricket’s chirrup. She knew the time had come.

She pulled lightly at the ribbons holding her nightgown closed, and they slid away from the bow the night nurse had made. Alys drew her nightgown open and exposed her chest. Pale, papery skin threaded with lilac, purple, and blue veins sat across bones that protruded beneath their fragile shroud. Alys reached down towards her heart, feeling gently along her delicate, cool flesh, until her fingers stopped at warm metal.

A weary smile curved her lips, and her fingers smoothed over the bronze metal plate that sat over her heart. She lifted a thin tab and withdrew a small key. The key was intricate, ornate, and truly beautiful, and she held it between her fingers with true reverence and gratitude.

Not everyone had a key, but due to heart failure decades ago, when young children still sat on her lap, she’d been fitted with a bio-mechanical heart. Coronary lockets they called them, with a narrow door and an interior mechanism that worked with biology and clockwork movement.

Alys held her key and brought it to her lips. With unsteady arms she lifted her hands to her head, and carefully slotted the key into the bundle of curls upon the crown of her head. She liked shiny things – and hairpins, decorations, and ornaments adorned the nest of tousled hair caught up in her bun. The nurses would search for the key – but it was hers and there wasn’t another like it – and eventually they’d find it, but time…

She’d outlived everyone she cared about, and now was her time. She placed her hands back upon her chest, closed her eyes, and listened to the birdsong at her window. Orange blossom filled her senses, and her mouth lolled slightly open. Her chest rose and fell, and her heartbeat began to slow. Alys felt the sun roll across her and as its warmth finally dissipated, her heart whirred, and jarred, and stopped.

Alys was finally where she wanted to be.


Loving the photo prompt for Miranda’s Mid-Week Flash Challenge over at Finding Clarity.

Write up to 750 words inspired by the prompt photograph.