Lambent #WritePhoto

Isolation. Everyone was recommending it, everything into lock down and slowing.

Crowded streets and places were empty. Traffic lights changed colour but no one stopped and started before them. Signs hung in shops declaring the stock that was no longer available though most of those shops were shut for good. Life continued from behind closed doors.

On the research island it little mattered. I was the only one here, researching the puffins as they made nests and mated. I had two months worth of extra supplies in case of emergency as standard. Though, I had ordered more, as much as they could send me as I heard that panic buying was causing shortages.

I was far too busy outside, distracted enough with my recordings to eat or drink much. It was keeping warm at night that was the problem because even though it was spring, it was still cold and sometimes a bit of snow glittered in the morning light.

My boss had suggested I return home. Be with my family and stay safe because if anything happened to me out here there might not be no one to my rescue me.

I had thought carefully then answered, ‘no. I’m not at much risk here. The delivery people can leave the supplies and I can disinfect things. If I go home to the mainland I’m bound to catch the virus. We should keep in regular touch though. Two to four times a day fine with you?’

Laying on my stomach, I watched the sun rising and the puffins waking up. I couldn’t help but think about that idea of isolation. I imagined everyone complaining about it, becoming restless and fed up. I though, thrived on solitude. It was needed to become one with nature, to do the work I loved and never did the sense of boredom creep into my mind.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/03/12/thursday-photo-prompt-lambent-writephoto/ with thanks).

Luxor Temple By Air #TaleWeaver

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Seif had grown bored of his business in camel tours. There were so many other Egyptian’s hiring out their camels for treks around popular ancient Egypt’s ruinings that there was always going to be someone selling at a cheaper price then him.

He wanted to to do another tourist trade instead, something that was less competitive and didn’t involve smelly animals. Seif looked to the crystal blue sky for inspiration. How could he still show the tourists the Wonders but differently?

A bird flew across his vision and the idea came to him as if inspired by the Gods. By air was the way to go! But how? He didn’t want the responsibility of flying a plane and that could also be expensive for some tourists. So…?

Seif fell hard into thinking, a cheaper mode of flying…By hand-gliding? Parachuting? No, something more relaxing and less risking….Think! There must be…Ah! A hot air balloon! 

Quickly, he went to work, researching and deciding. There was money to be saved, training to happen, his camels to be sold, his wife to be reassured but finally, the day arrived.

His hot air balloon had a pattern of yellow, orange and red squares. Underneath hung a large wicker basket with enough room for six to eight people including himself. He had been assigned a pitch and he put up a sign advertising tours and his prices.

He didn’t have to wait long before tourists became interested.

‘Let’s see the temple of Luxor from above, wouldn’t that be special for our honeymoon?’ a British couple spoke.

‘Come, come,’ Seif called to them, ‘as first customers and newly-wed, I give you special price!’

The couple agreed and soon they were floating over the temple, pointing things out and talking happily.

Seif smiled and thought, yes this is a much better job for me. 

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2020/01/23/tale-weaver-259-temple-23rd-january/ with thanks).

Little guard dog #3LineTales

three line tales, five year anniversary edition: beware of the dog

I never had a problem with dogs until I started a newspaper and magazine delivery job. I tried to make things easier by introducing myself to the dogs and giving them treats, most accepted me and so when I came to their doors the dogs would calm down when they saw it was only me.

One dog I just couldn’t get near and that was a black and white terrier that would go nuts when it saw anyone. That little monster was the bane of my life and I was forever in fear of being attacked.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2020/01/23/three-line-tales-week-208/ with thanks).

Replaced Papers #FridayFictioneers

He was running late for his meeting, so he didn’t check his briefcase before leaving the house. All his paperwork was in there though as he had put it in yesterday afternoon, so why wouldn’t it still be?

He got to the meeting, flustered and feeling unprepared. He had to present the company’s finance report to the board, so today was not the time to be panicking.

Everyone was all ready seated, he apologised for being late and got on with things.

He pulled out the paperwork and looked for his notes but what he saw instead was brightly coloured children’s drawings.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/10/30/1-november-2019/ with thanks).

Punch (Part 2)

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Chester arrived home close to ten and parked on the small driveway. He turned off the engine and got out of the van. Stretching his aching limbs, he noticed how cold the autumn nights were now getting.

He walked to the bungalow’s front door and unlocked it. He turned the hall light on and put the numbers into the alarm’s panel to turn the security system off. He was half tempted to leave everything in the van but it had broken into a few times and it wasn’t worth the risk. He had been lucky every time that the thieves hadn’t taken the puppets or the show equipment, clearly they didn’t know the value of things.

Chester unpacked. He put things into the no longer used dinning room. By the time he had done a few trips and was on the last box, he was so tried he could feel it in his legs. Making sure everything was locked up, he went into the living room and sank onto the sofa.

Sprawling out, he told himself he should get up to bed but he found his body was too heavy to move.

Quietness and darkness pressed upon Chester. He could hear the wind picking up outside and rain tapping on the window. The pressure on his ears and head was too much, so he put the TV on. He channel flicked until he found the news. He also put on the lights before getting back on the sofa.

Deciding he would go to bed as soon as the news finished, he caught up on the reports he had missed. Then the weather forecast came on.

A knocking noise came over tomorrow’s weather report.

Cheater dragged himself up and staggered to the front door. Who’d be calling so late? he wondered.

He looked through the spy hole, saw no one but still cracked open the door. There was nothing there. A gust of wind dragged a few rain drops onto his face and Chester felt a chill across his skin.

‘Kids messing around again! You stay away! Leave an old man be!’ Chester shouted.

He slammed the door, locked things again and went back to the sofa. Wide awake now, he huffed at the TV and crossed his arms tightly over his chest.

Knock Knock.

Chester looked up then around. That sound hadn’t come from the front door but from the back one.

‘Blast those kids!’

Chester got up and stormed into the kitchen. He turned the light, unlocked the door and flung it open. He screamed into the night, long and loud. As his voice faded, he dragged in deep breaths and looked around. There was nothing on the step or in the garden, just the wind shaking the bare branches of the dead apple tree and the back gate.

He prowled around, looking for an access point and signs of someone being here. The gate was lock and like the fences too tall to climb over. No lights came from his neighbours’ houses and as he paused the only other sound was a cat meowing.

Chester went back inside. He rubbed his chest, feeling pain burning him. He turned everything off and got into bed. He was too tried to play games and the cold was clearly starting to effect him.

He got ready for bed but Chester heard the knocking once more. This time because he was closer, he realised it was coming from the dining room. He got up and went to investigate.

Glancing at the show stuff, he heard the knocking again. It was coming from one of the cases! How could that be? He opened each case till he came to the last one.

‘Hello, Punch,’ he whispered, ‘were you knocking?’

Chester picked the puppet up. There was the soft clicking of wood on wood and the rustle of clothes. Chester slipped the puppet onto his right hand like a well fitted glove. Then he clapped Punch’s hands together and said in that high pitched, nasal voice, ‘well done, you’ve found me!’

Punch laughed a long haha.

Sighing, Chester closed the case and went back to his bedroom with the puppet still on his hand.

‘I’m sorry things have come to this, Mr. Punch,’ Chester said, ‘I would be passing you on to my son now just like my father and grandfather did. But times have changed and there’s no longer a place for you and Judy in this technology world now.’

Chester slipped Punch off his hand and arranged the puppet on the bedside table. He finished getting ready and got into bed. Leaving the lamp on as he did every night, Chester began to doze off.

‘Such a shame, that,’ Punch’s voice whispered.

Chester open an eye and looked at the puppet who was strangely lit in the glow of the lamp. There was an eeriness to the painted features, a wicked twist to the red painted lips and an evil glint in those blue eyes.

‘Yes, it is,’ Chester replied.

‘What you going to do about it?’

‘I’m sorry?’

There was a clicking noise then a drumming wood on wood sound as Punch swung his legs against the bedside table. The puppet’s hands gripped the edge and the head turned fully towards Chester.

‘What,’ Punch hissed, ‘are you going to do?’

‘I…don’t know…’ Chester trailed.

‘So, I’m locked in a box forever?’ Punch snapped.

‘Well, no. I’d get you out sometimes. Maybe leave you around the house for company. We can still have our conversations….and on Halloween we can scare the children together! Just like we always do,’ Chester suggested.

Punch scoffed and began climbing down the bedside table.

Chester sat up but stayed huddled in the bedding. He watched as the puppet reached the floor then began clambering up the bed by using fist fulls of duvet to do so.

‘What is going on here?’ Chester muttered, ‘is this a dream? You can’t talk without me.’

Punch swung himself up onto the bed and sat in Chester’s lap like an elf on Santa’s knee.

‘This isn’t a dream,’ Punch squeaked, ‘I’ve always been able to talk and move without a hand up my back side! You just never choose to notice until now….And ain’t that always the way? The master needs help from his puppet. Bah!’

Chester felt lost for words, he struggled to deal with his whirl of thoughts. He shut his eyes and decided this was a bad dream. He was sad at the loss of his show and his mind was trying to get him to come up with ideas to save it.

‘I’m too tried and too old for this!’ Chester shouted.

He pulled the bedding up and waved it so that the little puppet went flying through the air. Chester buried himself under the duvet, muttering about nightmares and forcing himself into actual sleep.

Punch had let out a startled cry at being thrown about. Luckily, he had managed to grab some of a blanket and use it to slide down to the floor with. Now seated, he looked up at his ‘master’ and decided something had to be done.

‘I won’t be locked away forever!’

Wooden feet tapped on the floor and Chester listened as his door was opened and sounds like someone grunted. The footsteps carried on towards the dining room and there were noises of something moving about and a high pitched voice swearing.

‘Go to sleep, go to sleep,’ Chester uttered, ‘this is all a dream. Punch hasn’t come to life! What a crazy idea!’

The sounds carried on and Chester fell asleep. That was until something slapped Chester across the face.

‘What the-?’ Chester roared as he shot out of bed.

‘Haha!’ Punch laughed.

Chester looked and saw the puppet with his wood slap-stick in-between his hands.

‘What are you doing with that?’ Chester yelled.

Punched giggled and brought the slap-stick down onto Chester’s face again. Chester raised his arms and felt the stick hitting there instead.

‘Give me that!’ Chester snapped and tried to grip the stick.

Punch danced out of the way and began waving the slap-stick around trying to hit any part of Chester he could.

Cheater shouted and cried, he tossed around in the bed, trying to catch the puppet. Punch was laughing his head off but then his wooded foot slipped on the duvet and he tumbled to the floor.

‘Right!’ Chester said and made to jump off the bed after him.

The bedding had twisted around him and as Chester struggled to free himself, he tumbled from the bed and banged into the bedside table. The lamp went flying and the bulb smashed on the floor, sending the bedroom into darkness.

Chester, sprawled across the floor, felt a shocking, shooting pain in his chest and arms. He gasped desperately, unable to breath and felt dizzy.

‘Do you give up?’ Punch’s voice’s sounded from above him.

Chester tried to move his head but the pain was too much and he could only groan.

‘I can’t hear you!’ Punch yelled.

‘No,’ Chester croaked.

‘You sure?’

Chester mumbled something into the floor and then despite the pain coursing through him he reached out and fumbled for the puppet.

There was a clicking of wood, a muffled laugh then Chester felt the slap-stick on his back.

He roared in pain and tried to move but found the pain in his chest too much. Tears came to his eyes, ‘stop, stop stop!’ he cried.

Nothing but laughter came back to him and more of the slap-stick which hit him repeatedly.

Red then black filled Chester’s vision. The pain grew too intense for him to handle anymore and then a last thing came to him, a voice in his ear whispering, ‘that’s the way to do it!’

Punch (Part 1)

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It was Chester’s last fete. No one was interested in Punch and Judy shows anymore. They had grown scary and not politically correct. Soon, he imagined, that everything would be offensive and no one would be able to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing and being put in jail.

Packing the puppets away, Chester knew he would keep them all. He would sell everything else- the red tent, the Italian style back drops and the small van he transported around in. He was in constant need of money and the puppets would have sold for a fair bit but he couldn’t part with them.

He put the doctor, clown and constable in one case. In the second went the crocodile, the dog with his string of sausages and the skeleton. The third was for the baby, Judy and Punch and his whacking stick. The four case, bigger then the others, which he hadn’t opened for this show contained the lesser used puppets of; the hangman, the devil, the ghost, the lawyer and the beadle.

Chester placed Judy then the baby inside. Finally, he picked up Punch. Feeling the weigh in his hands and studying the puppet, Chester felt the deep connection he had always had to this character.

Punch was wooden like the rest of the puppets and dressed traditional in a jester suit of red and yellow trimmed with a matching cone hat complete with pompom at the end. He had yellow painted stockings, red and shoes. His face was hand painted with a long hooked nose which was bright red end, wide teeth flashing grin, red lipstick lips, red circle cheeks, staring blue eyes and just the hint of flock grey hair coming out from under the hat.

Chester slide his hand inside the puppet and brought him to life with simple movements. Whispering words in Punch’s squeaky, high pitched voice, Chester felt like he was saying a final farewell to what had been his life since he could first remember.

The shows had been his grandfather then his father’s trade and naturally Chester had followed them. The puppets, who had been repaired and repainted over the years had belong to his grandfather. It was hard to get good looking traditional puppets like this now, collectors went crazy over them.

Sliding Punch off his hand, Chester placed the puppet in the case. He closed the lid and wondered if he would ever get the puppets out to perform again.

He took the cases to his grey van then drove back to pack up the rest of his show. As he did so, he noticed some of other stalls packing away too. It had been a good crowed for the autumn harvest festival in this farmer’s field and the weather had held too.

The smell of pies, cakes, cheeses and burgers had filled the air all afternoon. Children had ran about laughing, holding balloons, candy floss and over sized stuffed toys won from the game stands. The music and noises of the fairground rides in the field next door had become background to everything else.

Chester drove his van back to the car park, made sure it was locked tight and walked back to the field. He brought a few last minute things – a pie, some cheese and a fancy bottle of fruity wine. He walked passed the craft and snack stalls into the tea tent.

They were still just about serving. He got a cup of tea and a slice of lemon cake. Sitting at one of the empty tables – of which there were many- he people watched and listened to the chatting.

The creeping feeling of being alone came across him. He was an old man now in his mid-sixties. His wife was dead, his only son moved to Sweden for work then stayed due to marriage and two children. Chester had meet his grandchildren once or twice. He didn’t have a good relationship with son or his wife, there was too much bitterness there. Nor was Chester a fan of being called ‘farfar’ the Swedish for grandpa.

He kept his distance, just like he had done with other family members. They had frowned at his career choices, said he was too close to his puppets, thought he was odd and the black sheep of the family. He was best written out and forgotten about.

Chester sighed and finished eating and drinking. He sat until the tea tent closed and an old woman shooed him out.

The fete was slowly closing but Chester walked through the prize flowers, veg and fruit and autumn themed displays as they were packed away. It was always nice to look at the hard work of other people and celebrate their achievements which were so unlike his own.

After, he crossed fields and wandered around the fairground. There were many rides all being lit up as the evening darkness arrived showing that though the fete might have ended the night was still young here.

The air smelt of greasy burgers, hot dogs, chips, melted cheese and burning donuts. There was also a smokiness from all the grills and the sweet smell of sugary treats.

Adults, teenagers and children crowded the muddy pathways. Their voices raised above the booming music to point out a ride they wanted to go on or a food stall they wanted to visit. Ticket booths had queues outside and there was an atmosphere of a party.

Chester walked passed the rides, noticing ones he recognised from his youth; whirling waltz, bumper cars, carousel, helter skelter, haunted house and the ferries wheel. 

He looked at the game stalls. Grab a duck win a goldfish! Throw three darts pop a balloon for a prize. How many hoops can you score? Tin can alley knock down them all. Ladder climb, ring the bell at the top to win! Bingo. Horse Derby Racing. Whac-A-Mole and finally, the one he wanted; Shoot ‘Em Out

He paid for three rounds, heaved the air rifle to his shoulder and aimed at as many targets he could. The rife give a kick back he recalled from the real thing. In a flash, Chester saw himself in the woods with his grandfather and father shooting deer, rabbits and pheasants.  

Chester focused on the moving targets like they were real animals. His score came close the first tine. The second and third rounds, he shot down enough to win two medium or a large prize.

‘What do you want?’ the grumpy looking vendor man asked Chester and began pointing out the stuffed toys as he named them, ‘a tiger, a unicorn, a panda, a dog or one of these kids movie characters?’

Chester looked across to the other prizes and the vendor continued, ‘the medium ones are a fish, a turtle, a teddy bear, a rabbit….whatever.’

The vendor shrugged his shoulders then crossed his arms over his stained waist coat. 

‘Two teddy bears, please. One white and one brown,’ Chester replied. 

Begrudgingly the the game’s owner handed them over. Chester thanked him and walked away. He would keep the teddies to send to the grandchildren for Christmas. He started to head back to his van but his stomach growled at the scent of food. 

Why not? It’s a two hour drive home now, Chester thought.   

He brought a burger then some chips which tasted much better. For the trip home, he got some bottled water, sweet rock pieces, sticky toffee and hard humbugs.

Back in his van, he sucked on a black and white, minty humbug and tried not to feel tried. Starting the engine, Chester looked in the rear view mirror into the back of the open van.

‘Right, Punch,’ Chester spoke, ‘I hope you’ve had a good last show because it’s time to go home for the last time now.’

To Be Continued…

Broken Tree

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The storm had brought a few trees down but as Ken stood before an oak that most have been over a hundred years old, he felt sad. He hadn’t seen the tree in it’s summer or autumn glory but he could imagine the heavy burden of colourful leaves. Moss and climbing plants covered the trunk of the tree which now lay on it’s side.

Ken took his axe and other tools and began chopping branches and the trunk down. He never felt happy about such work and not because it was hard going but because he was finalising the life of a piece of nature.

At least, the tree would have a second life and carry on being enjoyed in a new way.

In his workshop next to his cabin on the edge of the woods, Ken turned the fallen trees in to tables, chair and other handmade furniture. He sold his pieces to shops across the country and to people who ventured out to visit him.

Seeing his work being loved and knowing he had in someways saved a tree, made Ken feel satisfied that all his hard work had been for good.

 

Taxi! #TwitteringTales

Everyone thought the job was easy; drive people from A to B but Dec knew there was more to it. With twelve years under his belt, he found the waiting boring, nervous still collecting customers and traffic stressful.

That’s why he’d decided to give up and move to the coast to work on a boat.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/08/13/twittering-tales-149-13-august-2019/ with thanks).

Purple Fields #FFftPP

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Hannah’s family could trace it’s business back to the French monks who had lived in the 12th century monastery in the valley. Today, that holy place was in ruins and made a fine tourist attraction.

The family relayed on that draw for customers to their gardening shop, specialist laid out gardens, wild meadows and small woodlands.

Hannah’s favourite place was the lavender field. There were over twenty kinds of the purple, heady smelling flowers. It had been great-grandma’s job to tend the field and now it was Hannah’s. She knew each plant like an old friend, it was just a shame she could no longer smell.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2019/08/07/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-36/ with thanks).

Mystery Mail #CCC

The postman knew the house was empty because he had never delivered any letters there. So, it was a shock on Monday morning when he saw a letter with that address.

Frowning, he went up to the house and saw a metal box with mail written on the lid. He posted the letter through then looked around. There was no signs of anybody.

Weeks and months passed, the postman kept delivering letters but he never saw anybody. Perhaps, no one had moved in and someone was just using the address? Criminals? Lovers?

Whoever it was, was none of his business and he was just doing a job.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/06/19/crimsons-creative-challenge-32/ thanks).