FFfAW: Dreams and Nightmares

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy.  The challenge is to write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the photo prompt below – this week provided by Sonya of Only 100 Words. I’d love to know what everyone thinks.

Photo Prompt: © Sonya Only 100 Words

Photo Prompt: © Sonya – Only 100 Words

Dreams and Nightmares

The cell stood on the town’s outskirts: a warning to the inhabitants; a reminder of the power of the Overlords. Despite the rust on the supporting framework, the unusual alloy of the elevated cell remained untouched by the passage of years. Occasionally the sounds of banging and shouting, of screaming, could be heard from within, reducing in volume as days passed. No one had ever been seen approaching. No way into the cell had ever been found.

Wraedan had always lived in its shadow.

It had not always been there, however. His grandfather had whispered of a time before the tyrants came; a time when their land was free. Wrae had loved to listen to the stories. He’d dreamed of living in a world that didn’t thrive on fear and pain. When the Resistance had approached he hadn’t hesitated in joining them.

His dreams had now all turned to nightmares, enclosed in inescapable darkness. Defeat and terror sapped his strength; bloodied hands pounded in futility.

Tonight it would be his screams keeping the town awake.

Word Count: 175

To read the other entries, click the little blue frog!
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FFfAW: The Lingering Ache

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was from pixabay. The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the picture prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt - from Pixabay

Photo Prompt – from Pixabay

The Lingering Ache

It had been years since he’d last ridden a bike.

Benjamin sighed, wishing the flimsy contraption leaning against the wall would simply vanish before his boys arrived downstairs. Their neighbour had offered him the bicycle after she’d heard Ollie and Lewis begging him to join them on a ride. His excuse that he didn’t have one had been neatly sidestepped by her generosity.

Anxiety coiled in his stomach and he rubbed at his aching temples as memories of blinding headlights and a dizzying, agonising impact overtook him. Six months of his life had been lost to unconsciousness. Over a year had been spent regaining full mobility after he’d finally awoken. The lingering ache of his injuries continued to bother him even now, years later.

He’d sworn to never ride a bike again.

The boys’ excited voices reached him long before they tumbled out of the doorway and he pasted a smile onto his face. Only one thing could persuade him to put his feet onto the pedals again.

He couldn’t bear to disappoint his boys.

Word Count: 172

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FFfAW: Tubby

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the picture prompt below which this week was provided by me. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt: © The Storyteller's Abode

Photo Prompt: © The Storyteller’s Abode

Tubby

Tubby liked to watch the people as they ambled by; liked to listen to the conversations of the men and women, the excited chatter of the children. It was such a pleasant atmosphere – so very different to years past.

Change had crept through the district in steady increments, the place metamorphosing from struggling fishing village to the tourist honeypot it was now. As time passed the rundown cottages were transformed into fine hotels, teashops and restaurants. The area was practically unrecognisable.

“Can’t you try to enjoy yourself?” The woman’s voice carried down the lane. “We’re on holiday. We’re supposed to be having fun.”

Her companion’s seething resentment was an almost palpable force; the woman’s irritation almost as strong. Tubby winced as their emotions hit him and automatically began to direct a sense of calm in their direction as he sought the root of their issues.

The man sighed, taking the woman’s hand. “I’m sorry, dear…” Their voices faded as they walked on.

Tubiel, the Angel of Summer, smiled. Some days he loved his job.

Word Count: 174

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To read the other entries, click the little blue frog!


In case anyone is curious, the photograph was taken in Bowness-on-Windermere last time I visited the Lake District (Cumbria, UK). The town of Bowness was just a small fishing settlement until the 19th century when it began to rely on tourism as its main source of income. If you’d like to know more about the place you can have a look here or here.

Tubiel is actually the name of the Angel of Summer according to this website.

FFfAW: The Gathering

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. After being absent for the whole of November with NaNo I couldn’t resist diving back in – I’ve missed the community on the challenge too much not to! This week’s photo prompt was from pixabay. The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the picture prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt - from pixabay

Photo Prompt – from pixabay

 The Gathering

The people of the plains knew that when the lights appeared the time of the gathering was upon them. Word spread, carrying like the warm breeze through the long blades of grass.

All paths turned towards the Heart of the World.

The multihued city of tents stretched for miles as the tribes came together, a massive settlement springing into existence across land left empty at all other times. Old friendships were renewed whilst strangers mingled, sharing salt and forging new alliances. Soon the scent of roasting bison began to drift from the fires where the feast was being prepared.

Acorena joined the other younglings in their celebrations, dancing beneath the towers that glowed in eerie splendour, her feet flying and body swaying in time to the unearthly melodies that sounded. Excited laughter filled the air. Anticipation thrummed an earthy beat. She waited, praying to the Lord and Lady that she would hear the summons.

At each gathering only a few would be Chosen. This time, maybe, just maybe, it would be her…

Word Count: 172

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I’ve only recently heard the tragic news about Barbara Beacham, the lovely host of Monday’s Finish the Story flash fiction challenge, who sadly lost her battle with cancer last month. She will be missed. Rest in peace, Barbara.

FFfAW: Flutterby

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was provided by TJ Paris. Thank you TJ!  The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the photo prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt: © T.J. Paris

Photo Prompt: © TJ Paris

Flutterby

Sometimes she forgot that the world kept turning. Her own life had frozen in a single moment of despair. Annabelle gazed out over the bare field, a veil of tears obscuring her view as memories taunted her mind. It seemed only yesterday the place had brimmed with life: brightly coloured wildflowers swarming with insects; long grasses swaying in the breeze. Now the meadow was as empty as her existence.

Only a lone butterfly drifted along the hedgerow.

Nova had always loved to run among the flowers, the tattered wings of her fairy costume trailing behind her as she chased butterflies from blossom to blossom. Her joyous laughter had filled the air. “Mummy look! I’m a flutterby!” she’d called.

Annabelle choked back a sob, trembling fingers swiping away tears. Dark bruises had marred pale flesh. How could she not have known? It was a mother’s job to protect her child – how could she have failed so abysmally?

The butterfly landed on her hand, tattered wings aglow in golden light. “Mummy look! I’m a flutterby!” she heard.

Word Count: 175


I’ve always loved the symbolism of butterflies. Mostly this relates to themes of transformation and movement from one phase of life to the next. They’re also said to symbolise joy and the soul, among a number of other things. This story, however, was mainly inspired by a line on this website that states that in some parts of England the folklore has it that butterflies contain the souls of dead children brought back to life.

The story was also inspired by one of my favourite places to sit and write – the wildflower meadow in the village. This picture was taken in August:

August 5 edited

and this was taken two days ago, on the same walk as yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday picture:sunbeam over meadow edited

It gives a rather different view!


In case anyone didn’t see the note on this week’s MFtS, I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo this year so my blogging will be slowing down over the next few weeks and during November will reduce to only the occasional photography post and writing update. I’ll be working on the first draft of a fantasy novel called ‘Age of the Dragonlords’, an idea that’s been sat in a file on my computer for several years now and really needs writing! If I don’t manage to get to your blog over the next few days, I’m not ignoring you – I’m just distracted by planning out my characters’ exploits. 🙂

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FFfAW: A Place of Safety

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was provided by Sonya O. Thank you Sonya!  The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the photo prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt: © Sonya O

Photo Prompt: © Sonya O

A Place of Safety

They huddled together in the shadows, waiting for the brief time when they could board unobserved. The guards’ line of sight would be obscured for minutes only as the cargo swung into place. They’d have to be quick and careful. His daughters trembled at his side, their eyes wide and scared. He pulled them close, unwilling to ever let go.

“You know what to do?” he asked.

He knew they did. His girls might be young but they had their mother’s indomitable spirit. They’d run, climb and hide as ordered and soon be sailing to a life free of fear. They wouldn’t worry about riots and starvation; wouldn’t huddle in terror as armed men stalked through their home. They’d be able to laugh and play. It hurt to send them, but it was for the best.

“Look after each other. Remember I love you.” Tears filled his eyes as he watched them go.

Only he would stay. He’d fight to make their land a place of safety once more. Someday his family would come home.

Word Count: 174


Just out of curiosity, of what nationality did you picture the characters in this story and where and when did you imagine it set?

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FFfAW: Withered Dreams

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was provided by Etol Bagam. Thank you, Etol! The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the picture prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt: © Etol Bagam

Photo Prompt: © Etol Bagam

Withered Dreams

The buzz of excitement was almost palpable as Sarah eased through the crowds of chattering theatre-goers, her ears still ringing from the applause that had thundered as the curtain fell. She’d felt such a glow of pride as Gemma took her bow, the audience on their feet.

Creeping envy was forcibly quashed.

Her sister’s dressing room was filled with people, alcohol flowing in celebration. Curious eyes turned in Sarah’s direction.

“Sassy – you made it!” Gemma pulled her into an excited hug.

“So this is the enigmatic sister,” a deep voice said. “You also act, I’m told.”

“I…”

She and Gemma had always dreamed of becoming actresses. As children they’d performed before audiences of stuffed toys. It was with the onset of teenage insecurities that nerves took over. Even the thought of a sea of faces caused nausea to rile.

“My next play is about sisters,” the man continued. “I’d be interested in seeing you audition.”

“Think about it, Sassy.” Gemma grinned. “Stage fright can be overcome.”

Sarah’s breath caught as withered dreams blossomed anew.

Word Count: 175

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FFfAW: The Red Boat

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was provided by me! The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the picture prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt: © 2015 The Storyteller's Abode

Photo Prompt: © 2015 The Storyteller’s Abode

The Red Boat

The storm appeared without warning. Wind and rain whipped the tranquil lake whilst clouds darkened afternoon into early dusk. Tom watched from the restaurant, his aged eyes casting a faded patina over the once familiar view. Gnarled fingers trembled against the warm ceramic of his teacup.

“Did you see that?” A woman pointed to the water.

A scarlet flash caught his gaze. The noise of the restaurant faded as memory beguiled him.

The red boat had been their pride and joy: a ramshackle vessel revived through youthful enthusiasm. “We’ll have adventures,” twelve year-old Robbie had announced. Nine year-old Tommy followed in his wake.

Their joyful summer ended with the storm…

He remembered clinging to the mast, the boat tossing wildly. He remembered churning fear as water closed over his head. He’d been pulled to safety. Robbie had not.

“There’s a boat out there!” the woman was saying.

Tom closed his eyes. His brother’s voice rang in his ears, clearer than it had been in decades. “Come on, Tommy, we’ll have adventures!”

He followed in his brother’s wake.

Word Count: 175


You’d think that with the photo prompt having come from me this week I’d have found the story easier to write. I’d hoped to have this posted yesterday. That obviously didn’t happen!

In case anyone is curious, the photograph was taken on a boat on Lake Windermere in the Lake District, UK.

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FFfAW: Delicate Brushstrokes

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was provided by Graham Lawrence. Thank you, Graham. The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the picture prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt: © Graham Lawrence

Photo Prompt: © Graham Lawrence

Delicate Brushstrokes

“Elsie?” Frances’ tremulous voice broke through Elsie’s absorption. She turned to face her friend, blinking in the early afternoon light as she tore her gaze from her painting.

“Hmm?” she replied absently. Hadn’t it just been morning…? Her sluggish thoughts meandered as if she was emerging from the depths of sleep.

“This… I don’t remember painting this. Why did I paint this?”

“What?”

“This!” Frances lifted her board. Rather than the other woman’s usual bold flowers two fairies danced upon the stretched paper, elegant forms captured in delicate brushstrokes. “And look.” She pointed at Elsie’s own picture.

Tiny winged figures peeked from behind vibrant blooms. Elsie stared in shock. She hadn’t painted fairies since she was a child! Whilst she’d always been able to lose herself for hours as she painted, this – this was different. She couldn’t remember a single moment of it.

As they packed away their paints and easels Elsie couldn’t resist peering into the flowerbeds, hoping to catch a glimpse of… something.

A hint of tinkling laughter carried on the breeze.

Word Count: 175


I’m curious as to whether anyone has worked out the reason for the name choices this week… If you haven’t, follow this link!

I apologise to anyone whose posts I didn’t manage to get around to last week. I discovered a new author – Lindsay Buroker, who writes some great fantasy novels set in a steampunk world – and found it rather hard to stop reading! A week later and I’m  on book 6 of the series with several more still to read. Despite the urge to abandon my blog in order to bury my nose in a book, I will try to visit everyone this week.

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FFfAW: Standpoint

This post is for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers (FFfAW) Challenge, run by Priceless Joy. This week’s photo prompt was provided by Scott of Scott’s Place. Thank you, Scott  The challenge is that you write a story of 75-175 words inspired by the picture prompt below. I hope you like it.

Photo Prompt: © David William Laughlin

Photo Prompt: © David William Laughlin

Standpoint

“It’s just not right.” Steall idly scratched Noble’s neck as the horse head-butted his chest. He barely noticed the rain drenching him – troubled thoughts consumed his attention.

His only task was to look after the troop’s mounts. Overhearing the knights as they talked around their campfires and in the taprooms of roadside inns was an unpleasant extra. The casual cruelty they showed him was nothing compared to the stories they laughed over, making his stomach churn in horrified disgust.

He could listen no longer.

Those were his people they found pleasure in abusing; people with lives and families of their own. How dared they!

A chill blade pressing against his neck startled him alert. He froze as a voice whispered, “Don’t move, don’t shout and you won’t get hurt.”

Stealthy figures moved through the rain, weapons in hands as they surrounded the inn. Rebels, he realised – the very people the troop hunted.

“I’ll raise no alarm.” Steall relaxed as the knife lifted away. “I wish you every success.”

Their abuse would end tonight.

Word Count: 175


As you may know, I generally like to give my characters names with meanings that fit them. For a ‘real world’ story I’ll usually look through various baby name sites but when it’s a fantasy story I’ll often use Old English words. For today’s character I wanted to give him a name connected in some way to horses. When browsing the results in the Old English Translator I actually managed to find a word that worked on several levels, adding extra layers of meaning that perfectly fitted with the story I wanted to tell.  I thought I’d share these meanings with you:

steall Strong Masculine Noun
1. a standing position 2. the way matters stand position of affairs state condition standing se steall cirican the state of the church 3. position place standing 4. place stead brihtweald gehalgode tobian on his steall brightwald hallowed tobias in his stead 5. a place for cattle a stall stall (for cattle) stable 6. a place for catching fish fishing ground

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