She had wanted to swim forever and now she would.
She had wanted to swim forever and now she would.
What I happened? I only remember one thing;
Nancy running along the path in the woods. We were chasing each other under the shade of the trees with a grey sky peeking through the leaves. Nancy was laughing and tossing her head back often to see how close I was gaining on her.
My shirt, she had begged to have because it was cold and she was just wearing a vest top, was sliding off her shoulders and billowing out like a cape as she ran. I think my shirt give her wings because I couldn’t catch her.
Nancy flew away.
I heard the snapping of branches, the tumbling of soil and rocks. The ground left my feet and air rushed around me but unlike Nancy I couldn’t fly.
Was that Nancy screaming and crying as the world spun like a top or were they my screams and cries?
The ground was hard underneath me, I was covered in soil and small stones. It took me a few minutes to release I was in a quay crater. Despite the broken bones, bruises and pain, I looked for Nancy but she wasn’t with me.
What happened to Nancy? Do you know?
My shirt really give her wings, didn’t it?
(Inspired by https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2020/07/09/tale-weaver-283-shirt-july-9th/ with thanks).
The underground world had been closed for so long because it hadn’t been needed. Some sections had been turned into tour routes for those interested in history and ghost hunting. It was never thought that the space would ever be required again.
Then the outbreak happened. It was pushed off as a simple disease before levelling up to a world sweeping plague. Millions of people died but they didn’t stay in their graves.
The government repaired, improved and kitted out the underground cities, factories and farms once more. People moved in, coming not just from the country above but from others as well. Builders had to construct new sections and everyone had to pull together to survive.
The world above become ravaged by war and death, disease ran wild and people returned from the other side, their bodies reanimated, their hearts and brains nonfunctional.
Anybody who died in the underground world was thrown out the steel doors and just left there. Burials, prayers and rites no longer had a place and the families could only hope their loved ones stayed dead.
Wayzgoose – an annual summer party held by a printing house for all its employees.
It was too warm and the cocktails had gone to my head all ready. I dipped my feet into the cool outdoor swimming pool of the hotel and watched everyone else. Everyone from work I knew was here, it was a work do after all! and there were people from other departments I had never seen before.
Everyone from the printing house seemed to be here; the big cheeses, the receptions and the kids who worked in the post room. Everyone was drinking or eating, talking and enjoying themselves.
It was good to be not at work in this four star hotel for a weekend party. It was the annual tradition of the business. A reward for everyone and a celebration of last year’s best selling books and online articles.
I hated it. I loathed shifting through the paper and online submissions. I grimaced at simple spelling mistakes and rolled my eyes at grammar errors. For years, I had read other peoples’ writings whilst mine had slipped away like shells out to sea.
‘So, I heard you’d handed in your notice….’
I looked up at the sound of the voice, frowning and scrunching my face up because the sun was too bright. It was Naz though, no doubt about it.
He sat down next to me and dipped his bare feet into the water. He was wet from a swim and there was a towel around his shoulders.
‘This isn’t a pool party,’ I joked.
Naz laughed and shook his wet dark hair, ‘everyone’s too drunk to care!’
I pressed my lips together and kicked my feet under the water. He was right, everyone no one cared and the drinks were flowing too much. Not even the Christmas party ended up like this.
‘So, is it true? You are leaving me?’ Naz uttered.
‘Yes. How did you find out?’ I asked.
Naz tapped his nose and laughed.
‘I leave at the end of next month.’
‘So you got on that journalism course then?’
‘University at the age of thirty-one here I come!’ I cried and swung my arms up.
A few people glanced at me then got back on with their conversations or nibbles.
‘Go get ’em girl,’ Naz said, ‘fancy a drink to celebrate?’
‘No, I’ve had too much.’
‘Come on!’ Naz half shouted and got up splashing me with pool water.
I watched him go over to the bar and a part of me wanted to get up and go, make Naz come back with two drinks and discovery himself alone. I couldn’t though, we had known each other too long.
He came back soon enough with tall glasses and something pink and fizz inside. I sipped it through a paper straw and found it fruity and sweet. We didn’t talk for a few minutes, just sat and watched a group of men try and push each other in the pool. Someone give at last and splashed in, followed by another man he had snatched the arm of as he fell.
Laughter and shouting rose up as people swamped the pool. The men got up and everyone distributed lured by the music coming from the marque on the lawn.
‘Party’s kicking off now,’ Naz pointed out.
I rubbed my head, feeling the growth of a headache. I should get something to eat and then maybe slip off back to my room. I wasn’t in the mood for dancing, having my bum and boobs grabbed at. Also, I didn’t want to end up in someone else’s bed tonight like a lot of these people would do.
I turned to Naz and saw him waving at someone, ‘Cherry in accounting, Let’s go say hi.’
‘You go. I’ll see you at the buffet table,’ I replied.
Naz nodded and hurried off.
I got my wrinkled feet out of the pool, back into my red flat shoes that matched my red cocktail dress and went to get something to eat.
There wasn’t a queue though there was enough people getting food to bump elbows with. Most people had gone off dancing. I got a paper plate and selected a few things, not really fussy over the trays of food.
I found a table outside and ate slowly, enjoying the setting sun and the lights coming on in the gardens. Noise echoed around me, the booming of the disco music, the shouting of the people. A woman was screaming somewhere- I guessed in delight as she was chased by a suitor? Or maybe a murderer? I didn’t care.
I finished eating and went back to the buffet table. I gathered some sandwiches, fruit, mini blueberry muffins and a few other things to eat in my room. Then acting like I was looking for somewhere to eat or perhaps the friends I had left a few minutes ago, I sneaked back inside the hotel.
It was a long way to my room and I was grateful not to meet anyone. Either the whole hotel had been booked for the company or the other guests were sticking in their bedrooms. I took the elevator and walked along the corridors until I made to my door.
Once in, I put the food on the desk next to the gathering of bottled water and fizzy drinks I had brought with me. A few packets of sweets and chocolates were there too. That had been my plan for night; far from the party and by myself.
I sat on the bed and turned the TV on. I nibbled on a sandwich and sipped some water.
What a way to spend my last work’s summer party.
(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)
I promised myself this year I wouldn’t buy anymore books. The bookcases and shelves were bowing under the weight of so many books, they wouldn’t take anymore. I had moved on to filling storage boxes and then to piling books on the floor by my bed, sofa and desk.
Most people held maps of how to get to places in their memories, I had a map of where each book was in my house instead. If there was one title I wanted to read, I was able to go to the room and shelf or box or bookcase it was in and after browsing through, locate it.
Most of the time, I took my next book from a current reading pile and moved through them that way. When I went out, the book came too and so I was never without one. There was something comforting about the weight of a book in your bag and also if you needed to wait you could read for a bit.
I had calculated I had enough new books and ones I wanted to re-read that I didn’t need to buy anymore books for a few years. So, I thought to try and read what I had and save the money I would have spent on something else. So began my new year resolution.
Within a month I had broken it. There were two books I wanted that I had missed the release of. I brought them and told myself to get back on track. Another two months later and I went to an art and craft fair. I meet an self-published writer who hadn’t sold a book all day. I felt bad and so brought his book and also another which had been on my list for awhile.
I told the writer of my book buying ban and thought it a hard task to do. I agreed and said this was the second time I had broken it now but I was determined to keep trying. I told myself if temptation came again I was to turn away.
It didn’t work! A few weeks later, I found another book I couldn’t live without and had to buy it. A new addition to my library and other world to escape into when I got around to it.
Why couldn’t I stick to my ban? Why did I have no self control? Why was I so addicted?
I pressed a book to my face and breathed in deeply, loving the ink stained pages and weight in my hands. I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t stop, I needed more books.
When the news said there was an amber weather warning, I knew that Ciara wasn’t going to be friendly. She was coming over from America with the full force of a winter storm. At least, the British weather wasn’t as bad as the USA.
Ciara woke me up on Sunday morning by driving hailstone on to my window. I heaved the winter duvet and my massive Great Dane, King, off me and looked out of the window. The wind was fifty to sixty miles per hour, everything was moving violently and the surrounding bare trees were really showing how strong the wind was. Rain thundered down and the wind whipped the water into a frenzy.
I got up and sorted for the day. My bachelor mind doing it’s normal voice off about how nice it was not to have a wife or kids being noisy but also how worrying it was not to have those things.
Letting King out into the garden, the wind blew ice into my face and I was grateful that within a minute King was back inside. I dried him off, wondering how he could be so wet!
King sulked off to his massive dog bed in the converted dinning room. Dispite him being a huge dog – he came up passed my hip and I was six foot two, he could easily rest his head on tables too – King hated the cold and wet weather.
Getting a large mug of coffee and some toast, I went to my study and began working on my different writing tasks. I had a novel to complete, creative writing lectures to plan, students’ essays to mark and journal articles to finish. It might have been a Sunday but writers and teachers never stop.
Storm Ciara erupted throughout the whole day. She hit against the windows desperate to get in. She threw out everything she had; wind, hail, snow, rain, thunder and lightening. I glanced up often from my work and watched the storm from the small window.
King joined me at some point, he put his dark grey head into my lap then curled up tight under the desk. When the thunder started, he yowled and only hugs and comforting words soothed him.
I tried to take him out at lunchtime but a quick trot to the park entrance at the end of my street was it. Storm Ciara was still bad in the afternoon and darkness came early. I took King out again and we embraced the gusty wind and drenching rain together. I tugged him along, trying to convince him that a longer walk was what we were going on.
The trees above swayed violently and the branches cracked. Deep, long stretching pools of water were either covering the grass or the pathways of the park. As we passed the children’s playground, a creeping feeling crawled along my skin. The swings, roundabout and the rocking animals were moving because of the wind but for some reason I thought of ghost children at play.
The wind was whistling through the climbing frame, slide and other things, making ghastly sounds. Rain was dripping off everything and it was all so eerie, almost abandoned looking.
We hurried home and once safe inside, I got use both into a hot shower. King sit, drinking the shower spray and I enjoyed the warmth spreading on my icy skin. After, I got the fire in the living room going and feed King. I just had some soup then we both sat by the fire, watching TV.
‘What is it, King?’ I asked as he raised his head and whined.
Then I heard it, the monstrous groaning and cracking of a tree. There was almighty snap, crunch of metal and shattering of glass. I felt a tremor running through the house and King threw back his head and howled.
I rushed to the window and saw a tree had come down across the street and was laying across a number of cars.
There were bits of tree and car scattered across the road. The wind was picking up the lighter things and blowing them away. Doors of the houses opposite opened and people stepped out. I couldn’t hear them but I could see the shock on their faces and in their body language.
King pushed me out of the way and looked out of the window too. We stayed there for awhile. Watching the crowds of neighbours gather and soon a fire engine arrived. No body had been hurt but some of the cars were write offs for sure.
‘There’s not much we can do,’ I said to King, ‘looks like everything’s under control. It’s snowing again. Let’s go back to the fire.’
Settling down again, King sprawled across the sofa and myself. His head and front legs on my lap, pinning me down. I felt safe like that, even though King was a rubbish guard dog. I guess just having a massive dog and his heavy weight on me was enough comfort as storm Ciara raged outside.
(Inspired by current events; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/02/11/storm-ciara-commuters-warned-snow-ice-across-parts-britain/)
It was the most unusual place to write but Barry loved the abandoned office. He could sit, type on his Sci-Fi dystopia novel only disturbed by the cooing of pigeons.
Nyctophilia; love of darkness or night. Finding relaxation or comfort in the darkness.
I loved the night. Staying in my friend’s parent’s Greek ‘castle’, whilst I finished writing my sixth novel, I continued my nocturnal habits.
I got up late, joined my friend and her boyfriend for dinner. Then walked around the castle and down to the beach for the sunset. After, I sat by the open door at my desk, letting the night pour around.
Embracing the darkness helped write the horrors within of my novel and peace made me type faster.
The night spoke to me and as I listened to those whispers, ideas flowed into me.
(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/04/10/12-april-2019/ with thanks).
Hi everyone, I just wanted to let you know that I’m taking part in the A-Z Challenge again this year. Sorry, my for the late notice but I’m currently ill and struggling with lots of things, including mental health problems.
As of yet, I’ve not put anything together for the challenge but my plan will be like that of the last few years of taking part. I’ll search out words of different kinds that I’ve never heard of before and use them to base a story around. Some stories might also include inspiration from other imagine or writing prompts which I shall note.
The link to the challenge is here; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/ there’s still time to sign up and get involved.
Thank you for all the support and inspiration I receive from all you comments and likes. They do help to keep me going when I’m struggling to write. Here’s to many more short stories!
Arianie had only one thing on her mind as they pulled up behind the abandoned house and that was books; what condition would they be in? Could any be saved? Even good enough to sell?
Her boyfriend, Lex, turned the van’s engine off, satisfied they were hidden from view. Lex and his three friends; Tyler, Evan and Rhys got out and scouted around making sure no one else was about.
Opening the car door to let some cold air in, Arianie listened to the birds chirping, distant traffic and footsteps in the overgrown garden. She looked at the house which from the back looked fine at first glance. Closer though, masses of cobwebs could be seen in the windows, the net curtains were colored by age and dirt, just like the windows and was the back door slightly ajar?
Bored of waiting, Arianie got out, tightened the pony tail she had twisted her dark brown hair into and walked across the long, damp grass in her borrowed safety working boots. Not sure and not caring where the boys had gone, Arianie walked up onto a decking area which was tumbling away from the house.
Someone had smashed a pane of glass in the back door and used it to break in.
Putting on black gloves, from the pocket of an old winter coat that was so last season, Arianie pulled open the door and cringed at the piercing shrike the rusted hinges let out. Her eyes shut as she yanked the door all the way open then she peered inside.
‘Arianie!’ Lex’s voice called.
‘I just want to get it over with!’ she snapped back.
‘You know the rules.’
She muttered something under her breath as Lex joined her on the decking. He nudged his way passed and stepped into the house, shouting, ‘Hello! Anyone here?’
Arianie followed him into a small room that was like a back porch area. There were mud encrusted boots on bristled mats, worn coats on hooks, bits and pieces on the shelves and a stopped clock on the wall. There was also a smell, that was hard to identity but it was a mix of dust, mold, rotting things and wet dog.
Wrinkling her nose and pressing the sleeve of her coat to her face, Arianie walked on and into a kitchen. Ignoring this room, she stepped through an open door and into a hallway.
Lex’s voice was echoing through the rooms and from behind her Arianie could hear the others coming in.
She walked through a dining room, a living room, and a front room, noticing things the men might take. The house was full of stuff and a thick layer of dust and cobwebs covered everything.
As she walked and looked for books, Arianie recalled what Rhys had said about the place. It had belong to a poet, though she had never heard the name before, he had died ten years ago and nobody had come forward for his body or estate. That was why the house was perfect target for them; lots of items to steal.
Lex came downstairs, shouting the coast was clear.
Arianie went into the hall to meet him, feeling like her allergies were starting up though she had double dosed antihistamine.
‘There’s a room upstairs just for you,’ Lex said in a low sexy voice.
Arianie pulled a face but couldn’t hide her building excitement.
Letting Lex take her upstairs and into a back bedroom converted into a study-library, Arianie found her slice of heaven.
There were floor to ceiling bookcases on all the walls which were only broken up by the door and window. Books, untouched for years crowded the shelves. There was a desk by the window, with a high leather chair and in the opposite left corner a matching arm chair that had a small table beside it.
‘Get to work,’ Lex spoke, giving Arianie’s bum a pat as he left.
Any other time she would have told him off for that but words at the moment failed her.
Slowly, walking into the room, Arianie began with the books not on the shelves; those that were on the tables or floor. Strangely, she had always been a big reader but today it was values that drew her more. Her granddad had been a rare book dealer and he had filled her head with knowledge Arianie had always deemed useless. That was until she had met Lex and got in on his ‘second hand business’.
There was never enough time on these kind of jobs, so she hurried through as much as she could. By the open door, Arianie stacked books she thought could be sellable and left others where she dropped them.
From time to time, Lex or one of the others would come and take the books away. Arianie could hear them going through the rooms, opening things and scattering everything. The poet might not have been rich but like everyone else he had things other people would pay for.
Arianie knew she would never make it through all the books in the room. So, once she had figured out if and what the system was in place to order them by, she moved quickly through the subjects.
The poet had liked classics, mythology, legends, history, old fashioned romance and poetry.
Taking down a volume of Shakespeare and seeing it in good condition, Arianie pulled out everything by the playwright and stacked it in the doorway.
‘Shakespeare always sells,’ Arianie muttered, echoing her granddad’s words to her once.
There were other people who sold well too and she was quick to find and pull out those names too.
‘No more now,’ Lex said from the doorway.
Arianie turned to him with books of War poetry in her hands.
‘Shame,’ she replied.
Checking she had all the War poetry books, Arianie quickly scanned the rest of the shelves just in case a hidden gem stuck out. It had a few abandoned places back, when she had found an first edition and signed Peter Rabbit book.
Nothing at first but then next to the desk was a section of books that seemed different. Arianie pulled them out and saw they were the poet’s published works. Maybe, no one would buy them but it was worth a shot. She added them to the pile in her hand then left them balanced on the desk whilst she looked through the draws.
Lex and his friends would never forgive her if something was missed. She might specialize in books but she also had a duty to find anything of value.
The desk was empty, just old letters, papers, stationary that weren’t worthy. Collecting the books, she went downstairs and outside into the cold air. It was growing dark which meant the raid was coming to an end.
Arianie walked to the van and saw the back double doors open. Inside were stacked a few small tables and chairs, a tall lamp, cardboard and plastic boxes which contained more breakable things and all the books she had selected.
A cold blow of air made shivers run up her spine despite the protection of her coat. Arianie walked around and opened the passenger door of the van. She put the books into the foot well then climbed in. She closed the door and was glad that there was a separation between the back seats and the loading section of the van.
Picking up one of the poet’s own books, she sat reading, whilst the men finished the job then shut the van doors. Rhys, Tyler and Evan got into the back seats and Lex climbed into the front. Someone passed the beer cans around and they sat drinking and chilling.
‘What you got there?’ Lex asked Arianie.
‘Just one of the poet’s books,’ she answered and give a small shrug.
‘He any good?’ Rhys laughed from the back.
‘Maybe. We’ll see how much we get for him,’ Arianie responded, ‘can we go now?’
‘Sure,’ Lex said.
He started the van up, gulped down the rest of his beer and threw the can out of the window.
They drove out of the hiding place and back onto the road, mixing in with the traffic as if they were normal people heading for home.
Micro fiction contest