Monday, 5 December 2016

Past Imperfect - A Christmas Story

As you may know, I’m a member of the Monday Flash Fics group on Facebook. Normally we post an image every week and a story based on that photo a week later. For December we decided to mix things up a bit. There will be one picture for the whole month and members can post their story on any Monday of their choosing. We also decided to forgo the normal wordcount restriction.

I’m not sure what to say about my story. It would be as fitting for Halloween as it is for Christmas. At over 4k words it is also a proper short story rather than anything resembling a flash. J

All of the above not withstanding, I do hope you’ll read and enjoy my little whimsy.

Happy Christmas/Holidays/…..



Past Imperfect

Trevor stopped walking when he reached the lake. Three-and-a-half years had passed since he’d last stood in the exact same spot and the view was as familiar as it was different. The sky had been as blue at the height of summer, even if the sun stood lower in the sky now, leaving longer shadows. Of course there were no leaves on the solitary tree in the middle of winter, but the icicles dripping off the branches made up for the loss. And the small rowing boat was moored exactly where it had been in the past, as if it had never left its spot. As if those afternoons he’d spent rowing the lake with Jonas had been the last time it had been on the water. Somehow that felt appropriate, after all, it had been the last time he’d been truly happy.
He wondered why he’d returned. What could he possibly gain from being back here? This place only reinforced what he’d known without a doubt from the moment—three weeks after that amazing, life-changing day— his uncle had driven him away from the only place he’d ever called home and the boy he’d been falling for.
He bent down and picked up a handful of snow, forming it into a ball and taking aim. He hit the middle of the tree trunk, the ball exploding into a cloud of snowflakes, feeling disappointed that the action didn’t produce a sound to match the visual. The total silence surrounding him felt wrong. There was no room for his anger and disappointment in this quiet world, so the scream burning in his chest refused to escape and shatter the peace.

He’d been seventeen the summer everything in his life changed. The first half of his summer holidays had been fraught with tension. Most days had been warm and sunny and he’d spent long days walking the countryside, lost in his thoughts while trying to figure out all the confusing dreams and feelings he’d been unsuccessfully ignoring for longer than he cared to admit. It had been here, more or less in the exact same spot he was standing now, that he’d stopped denying the truth. All it had taken was for a boy he’d never seen before to row up to the tree, bank his boat and walk towards him.
“Hey. How’r you doing?” The blond boy’s voice sounded as cheerful as the happy grin splashed across his face looked.
“Not too bad,” Trevor replied, never one to show any enthusiasm if he could help it. The same had not applied to his curiosity. “Who are you? I’ve never seen you before.”
Having grown up in this rural and somewhat isolated part of Ireland, Trevor knew all his neighbours. Whoever this gorgeous—the fact that he’d thought the word had shocked him—young man was, Trevor knew he’d never seen him before.
“I’m Jonas.” The lad said. “We moved in over there three days ago.”
Trevor had turned to look in the direction Jonas had indicated.
“Into the manor?” He’d asked, shocked. The big house had been standing empty for years and rumour had been it would be demolished.
“I know right?” Jonas grimaced. “It’s like living in a building site. Jaysus that place is a disaster.” Despite the words he used, Jonas hadn’t sounded put out by the idea at all. His shrug and subsequent words confirmed the impression.
“It’s a hobby of my parents. They buy a house in need of lots of repairs and we live in it while they do the work. As soon as the project is finished they pack up again and we move on to the next house in need of loving restoration.”
To Trevor, who’d never lived anywhere except the house he’d grown up in, it sounded exciting and adventurous and he said so.
“Sure,” Jonas agreed. “It’s also frustrating to be moved away almost as soon as you’ve gotten used to a place and have started to get to know people.”
Jonas shrugged as if it was a minor inconvenience in his life rather than something he actually resented. “Do you have a name?”
“Trevor,” he answered.
“And you know your way around here?” Jonas asked.
“I’ve never lived anywhere else,” Trevor admitted, almost ashamed of the smallness of his world.
“You want to show me around?” Jonas looked hopeful and it occurred to Trevor that for someone not used to rural life these surroundings might feel very isolated.
“Sure, although what you see is pretty much what you get. It’s all water, fields, and more of the same around here.” Trevor glanced at the boat. “I’d much rather go rowing. I’ve swam in the lake but I’ve never actually been on it.”
Jonas looked aghast. “You live here, surrounded by all these lakes and you haven’t been in a boat? You’re kidding me, right?”
Trevor hesitated. He’d grown up with the story and never doubted the wisdom of his father’s refusal to allow him to have or use a boat on the lake. Faced with the opportunity to share the tale with a blow-in suddenly made him realise how incredibly superstitious he would sound.
“Go on.” Jonas stared at him, clearly intrigued. “There’s a story there. I can see it. Tell me.”
“It’s kinda silly really.” Trevor kicked the ground with his left foot, staring at the dust flying up before taking a deep breath.
“Just over a hundred years ago an accident happened on the lake.”
“What sort of an accident?”
“It was supposed to be a school outing.” Trevor decided to just get the story out. “The teacher hired a boat and a man to row it and took about twenty kids for a tour on the lake. It’s said the boat they used was too small for the amount of people he stuffed into it and it capsized just beyond that island there.” He pointed at the small patch of land not too far from the shore where they were standing.
“And?”
“They all drowned. Apparently few people knew how to swim and with this place being even more isolated back then than it is now, nobody knew it had happened until it was too late. They did find all the bodies. In fact….” He trailed off, wondering whether Jonas would thank him for sharing the rest of the story.
“What?” Jonas pressed.
“Have you been in the outbuildings behind your house?” Trevor asked.
“Yeah.”Jonas shuddered. “I’ve no idea why but that place keeps me the creeps. Even the dogs don’t want to go in there.”
Trevor nodded; it made perfect sense to him. “That’s where they brought all the bodies after they were dragged from the water.”
“Really?” The idea appeared to excite Jonas. “You reckon the place is haunted?”
“That’s what people have been saying. It’s supposed to be the reason the manor has been empty for so long.”
“Wow. I wonder if my parents were told about that before the bought the place.” Jonas grinned. “I bet they were. They’d love a haunted house. They’ve never renovated one of those before.” He studied Trevor for a moment. “But what has that got to do with you never having been on a boat?”
Trevor sighed. For a moment he’d thought he might get away with not having to share the really silly part of the story.
“Legend says that the boat owner caused the accident on purpose and is still haunting the lake to claim more victims in revenge for the way people treated him.” He stopped talking, hoping Jonas would be satisfied with what he’d said so far but one look at the boy’s face showed him his hopes were futile.
“The man was thirty and not married, which was bad enough. But he lived with another man who he claimed was his cousin. The stories say he was barely tolerated around here and had been forbidden from entering the church.” Trevor fell silent again, unable to put a name to what the man had been suspected of, especially on the back of the realisation he’d come to about himself only a few months earlier.
“Really?”Jonas sounded both awed and excited. “The lake is haunted by a gay man?”
Trevor nodded, unsure where Jonas’s thoughts were going and not at all convinced he wanted to find out.
“Cool.” Jonas grinned before sobering again. “Not that all those people drowned of course. And not that the man was being shunned but, a gay ghost? Surely that means it’s safe for me to row my boat here.”
Trevor froze under the hard stare Jonas shot his way. When he tilted his blond head, Trevor knew he was supposed to give some sort of reaction but he’d no idea what to say.
“You have a problem with that?” Jonas’s tone had gone from cheerful to almost aggressive.
“Not at all.” Trevor hastened to give his reply. “Really. I promise. I don’t have a problem with any of that.”
“Good.” Jonas nodded before staring at Trevor as if he was searching his face for some sort of clue. “So, you want to come out to the lake with me tomorrow? Or are you afraid of this gay ghost?”

That question had been the start of the best three weeks of Trevor’s life. He’d spent every day with Jonas, sometimes on the lake and sometimes roaming the fields. They’d gotten to know each other and Jonas had been Trevor’s awakening. The first kiss they’d shared had been an adventure. Trevor had squeezed his eyes shut as Jonas moved in, equally as afraid of what was about to happen as he was of it not happening at all. It had been perfection, so much better than he could ever have expected, not to mention that it had shown Trevor he wasn’t a freak. The day they’d explored each other’s wet skin after they’d been swimming, licking tiny droplets of water of each other’s nipples, had been all Trevor needed to decide that he would be true to himself and who he was, despite what others might think.
On the rare rainy days, they’d explored the manor, avoiding the rooms Jonas’s parents were working on while investigating every nook and cranny of the old house. They’d only made it to the outbuildings once. The memories of that day were still fresh, still warmed his blood, and still freaked him out.
They’d challenged each other. Looking back Trevor realised Jonas was probably as scared as he had been, but at the time he’d been determined not to be a coward. So when Jonas had made the suggestion, Trevor had instantly agreed to explore the haunted outbuilding with him.
And explored they had, even if it hadn’t been the building. They’d climbed a dubious-at-best ladder to the hayloft only to discover a large pile of fresh looking hay. They hadn’t wondered where that might have come from as they dove into it, play fighting each other until the pushes and shoves turned into kisses and groins rubbing against each other.
As Trevor had suspected at the time, he’d never forgotten how much dried grass could tickle naked skin, how heavenly it was to feel warm lips around his erection, a tongue exploring his heated flesh. And even more than three years later there were still nights he used the memory of Jonas laying on top of him, moving his body in such a way that both their cocks found the friction necessary to make them come, as the image to bring himself to his climax.
Just as he’d never been able to shake the feeling that they had not been alone that afternoon. The presence, whatever it had been, had not felt threatening or dangerous, but something—or someone—had been there. Watching and, Trevor had thought at the time, approving.

Trevor kicked the snow, copying the movement he’d made the day he met Jonas for the first time, the flying snow much more beautiful than the dust had ever been.
And then his father had died in that stupid tractor accident. Immediately after the funeral, his uncle had made him pack his bags before moving him to England where Trevor had found himself stuck in another isolated rural location, and had been forced back into the closet he’d only just vacated and had vowed not to revisit, for four more years. If his father had been suspicious of homosexuals, his uncle was full on hostile.
But now he was free. He’d inherited everything his father had owned upon the man’s death but hadn’t been able to take possession of any of it until he turned twenty-one. He’d come home to figure out what to do. Did he want to keep the place? And if he did, would he live there or should he rent it out? He’d given himself the rest of this Christmas week to come to a conclusion, but deep in his heart he already knew the answer. Without Jonas this place isn’t the same. Funny how of the seventeen years he’d lived here only the last three weeks seemed to matter.
For the first time since he’d arrived on this spot, Trevor turned his back to the lake and looked at the manor. He wondered how long it had taken Jonas’s parents to finish the project. The house had always been imposing, even at its most decrepit. Now, with glass in all the windows, the roof intact again, and the high, white-washed walls gleaming in the sunshine, it looked impressive, stately even.
He put one foot in front of the other without thinking about the why of it or his ultimate destination. His feet were cold, melting snow seeping in to soak his socks but he barely noticed. He walked around the manor house, searching the windows for signs of life, hoping against hope that he might spot the gorgeous features he hadn’t been able to forget.He wasn’t surprised when all he saw was the reflection of sunlight in the windows. The world was as quiet as it appeared deserted but that didn’t lessen the persistent feeling that he wasn’t alone.
He stopped walking when he stood in front of the infamous outbuilding, noticing with interest it had been painted and restored too. Fully expecting the door to be locked, Trevor reached for the latch only for it to move soundlessly and the door to swing open on what clearly were well oiled hinges.
He glanced over his shoulder, all too aware he was trespassing and with no idea who the house belonged to now. The world was still silent and as far as he could see, deserted.
Squaring his shoulders, he crossed the threshold he and Jonas had only been brave enough to traverse once in the past.
I’m not a nipper anymore. There’s no such thing as ghosts. If he repeated the thoughts often enough, he might actually believe them. Except that as soon as he stepped into the large, mostly empty space where some features still hinted at its past as a cattle stable, the very air surrounding him felt alive, as if imbued with memories and spirits. He swayed on his legs and his eye-sight shimmered. When he made out a stack of hay in a dark corner of the shed he stumbled towards it, relieved when he could allow himself to more or less collapse into it.
He leant into the hay, the back of his head resting against the dried grass and closed his eyes. Images, memories, and voices assaulted him. He could have sworn he heard laughter sounding remarkably like Jonas’s.
He hadn’t been with anyone else since his summer with Jonas. Life with his uncle had been difficult enough without adding his being gay to the reasons the man had for disliking him. He’d also refused to pretend to be straight so he’d basically kept everyone he encountered in England at a distance, afraid they’d see right through to the real him if he opened up.
He didn’t regret the three lonely years and still thought it had been the right decision but fuck it had been a very long time to be on his own.
“You came back.”
The voice was loud and clear, had no ghostly qualities whatsoever, and was only slightly deeper than Trevor remembered it being.  Afraid of the devastation he’d feel once he’d open his eyes and knew for sure he was alone, Trevor covered his eyes with an arm ensuring he wouldn’t see anything even if he opened them accidently.
“I can’t believe you actually returned. I thought I’d never see you again.” The voice appeared to be drawing nearer and sounded so real Trevor was almost tempted to sneak a peek…almost, because if this was a dream or even a ghostly visitation he didn’t want to end it yet.
The two hands stroking his thighs from the knees toward his groin and back again were solid and not cold at all.
What if…. The dream floated through his mind before he clamped down on it. Miracles didn’t happen, not even on Christmas Eve.
He allowed his legs to be pushed wider apart and was vaguely aware of someone—or was it something— kneeling down between them.
“Are you not going to look at me at all?” The humour in the all too familiar voice was exactly as he remembered it.
“This is going to be our first kiss all over again, isn’t it?”
Curiosity got the upper hand and Trevor lifted his arm away from his eyes as he opened them and sat up, almost colliding with…
“Jonas?”
He only barely resisted the urge to pinch his arm.
“How? What?”
“I could ask you the same thing,” Jonas said as his face stretched into that never forgotten grin. “But first I wanna do this.”
Trevor held his breath as Jonas gazed into his eyes and pressed forward, his face inching its way towards Trevor’s. The intensity of Jason’s gaze was too much, and Trevor closed his eyes. When their lips met Trevor’s lungs were screaming and he exhaled in a loud puff, parting his lips in the process.
Jonas hadn’t been a man to miss an opportunity in the past and clearly that hadn’t changed. His tongue stroked Trevor’s before he had an opportunity to inhale again and he forgot about everything except the kiss which was even better than he remembered.
After what could have been hours or seconds, Jonas took Trevor’s bottom lip between his teeth and bit down hard enough for it to sting before pulling back.
“I guess that answers that question,” he murmured the question so softly Trevor had to strain to hear the words.
“What’s the question?” Trevor had a feeling he knew the answer but needed to hear the words, if only because he hoped he wasn’t the only one losing his mind.
Jonas looked away for a moment. “My parents never sold this house for some reason. I mean, they didn’t even put it on the market after they’d finished refurbishing it. But I hadn’t been back here in two years. Didn’t really want to revisit if I’m honest. As long as I was far away the might-have-beens didn’t hurt as much.”
Trevor nodded because he knew exactly what Jonas meant. “So why did you return now?”
“I’ve been thinking about you, more than I normally do. I’ve been remembering how we spent our days,and every night since the start of December I dreamed about you and the time we got to spend together before it all went to shit.
Trevor wasn’t sure whether to be delighted or horrified. “It has been the exact same for me,” he whispered. “And there was this voice….”
“Telling you not to let the opportunity pass you by?” Jonas asked. “Saying that it was your duty to pursue your happiness if only for all who haven’t been able to do so in the past?”
Trevor shivered and had no idea whether it was the cold getting to him at last or something more other-worldly affecting him.“Yes, that’s what he said.”
Jonas’s eyes widened. “Spooky what?” He laughed but it sounded nervous rather than happy and he shook his head.
“Where are you staying? In your old house?”
“No,” Trevor replied. “It has been empty since I left and is in no fit state for anyone to live in right now.” He smiled as the thought occurred to him. “Maybe I should talk to your parents.”
Jonas grinned back at him. “So, you’re staying in a hotel, B & B?”
“I’m not staying anywhere. I drove up this morning and parked the car at the house. I haven’t really thought about where I’ll be staying yet.”I was far too busy remembering the past to worry about the present. He kept those words to himself.
“Stay with me.” Jonas made the suggestion as if it was the only obvious choice. “Let’s celebrate Christmas together.”
Christmas. Despite the cold making him shiver, Trevor had forgotten it was the middle of winter. For a short while he’d been transported back to summer, to the weeks they’d enjoyed together, getting to know each other. Is it really possible to just pick up where we left off back then?
A cold and fierce gust of wind shoved into Trevor’s back, pushing him into Jonas’s still kneeling body in front of him.
“I like your enthusiasm,” Jonas joked, but Trevor didn’t miss the edge of fear in his voice. “Let’s get out of here. The house is warmer.” He stood up, held out his hand and pulled Trevor until he was standing too.
Hand in hand they walked to the door. When they reached it they turned around simultaneously, as if obeying some silent command, and gasped out loud.
Trevor couldn’t believe his eyes. In the corner stood a man in old fashioned clothes with a flat cap on his head. His hair appeared to be wet and dripping. There was nothing vague or spooky about him and a huge smile brightened his face. He nodded at them once before the air around him started to shimmer, its vibrations slowly erasing the man’s presence.
Jonas’s grip on Trevor’s hand tightened. “Did you…?”
“Yeah.” Trevor gave the corner one last glance and turned. “Let’s go.”
They entered the house through a back door and Jonas led Trevor along a long corridor, through a doorway to a wide window.
“Look,” he said.
Trevor stared at the view in front of him. The sun had almost sunk below the horizon, leaving a pink glow across the sky, snow, and ice in its wake. When he lowered his gaze he spotted the tree with the rowing boat lying next to it.
“I watched you.” Jonas wrapped his arms around Trevor’s waist from behind, pulling him close in the process. “I saw you arrive and I wondered, hoped it was really you.” Jonas kissed his neck and Trevor tilted his neck to allow him better access. “It wasn’t until you kicked the snow that I knew for sure it was you.”
Trevor’s heart stuttered. Surely this was too good to be true.
“Come.” Jonas released him and took Trevor’s hand again, pulling him towards the hallway again before leading him into a medium sized room with an open fire blazing. “I got everything ready.”
Trevor stared at the sight before him. It wasn’t a typical Christmas setting. He saw no tree, baubles, tinsel, or even mistletoe. But there were burning candles everywhere, on the windowsills, the mantelpiece, and the numerous low tables. On the floor, in front of the fireplace was a large mattress that almost certainly didn’t belong there. Strewn all over it were pillows. Trevor didn’t miss the foil packages on the floor, nor the tiny bottle he knew contained lube. I have to be honest.
Turning to face Jonas he took a deep breath. “I haven’t been with anyone since you.”
A soft smile touched Jonas’s lips. “You’re going to be all my Christmas’s arriving at once, aren’t you?” He cupped the back of Trevor’s neck and smashed their mouths together, devouring Trevor with his lips, tongue, and teeth. Nibbling, licking, sucking; Trevor lost himself in the hunger and answered with a passion stemming from his own starvation.
He wasn’t sure when or where his clothes went, nor how he ended up on the mattress with Jonas on top of him, their naked bodies fitting together as perfectly as they’d done when they’d still been kids. Rediscovering Jonas’s body, the texture of his skin, his strong shoulders and firm arse was heaven and better than anything Trevor had been able to conjure up in any of his feverish fantasies.
When Jonas entered him it felt like coming home. This was where he belonged. Trevor’s orgasm, pulsing out of him with a never before experienced ferocity, was a form of sealing the deal—a blessing of their rediscovered connection.

“I just want to check something.”
On Christmas morning, after mutual blowjobs and breakfast, Trevor led Jonas back to the outbuilding. He opened the door and crossed the threshold, pulling his lover along with him. The interior looked exactly the same as it had the day before and yet it could have been a different place.
“He’s gone.” Jonas whispered the words Trevor had been thinking.
“Merry Christmas, Sir.” Trevor said, not sure whether his words would reach their intended audience. He turned to Jonas. “And a very happy Christmas to you. Thank you for making mine perfect.” He kissed Jonas, for the first time ever keeping his eyes open as he did so.
“Will you stay?” Jonas appeared torn between hope and fear.
“I will.” Trevor almost smiled; even a reindeer pulled sleigh wouldn’t have been able to tear him away from Jonas again. He’d no idea what they’d do next or where they’d do it, but they would find their way together.
Warm air engulfed them for a moment, heating their cheeks before disappearing again.
“I think he wished us a happy Christmas too,” Jonas said softly. “Or maybe even a happy life.”










Monday, 31 October 2016

Monday Flash Fics: The Bastard


The Bastard

“Five minutes until we go live.”The bastard, the one they were supposed to address as ‘Master’ scowled at Gary. “Remember what I said. You two fuck this up and you’ll wish you were dead.”

Gary swallowed hard. He’d no doubt the words were meant exactly as they sounded. The man who’d imprisoned him and his mate, Max, six months ago had hurt them to make them submit, he’d hurt them just because he felt like it, and he’d tortured them for infractions of the rules, perceived or real.

“Is he ready?” The bastard brushed past Gary, pushing him so hard he almost crashed into the wall, and stopped to stare down the stairs.

“Shit!” He looked at Gary for a moment, a triumphant grin on his face. “When you’re good, you’re good. Go on, admit it. He looks so real I’d be afraid if I hadn’t bought the costume myself.”

Gary knew what was expected of him and approached the stairs before glancing down. “Yes Master. He does look good.”

Good didn’t begin to describe Max’s appearance. The pointed ears and snout lined with sharp teeth, made him appear fierce, dangerous, maybe even horrific. But no matter how bestial his face was, his arms were still all too human in appearance, if not in colour or skin texture.

“Now remember,” the bastard turned to Gary again. “When he reaches the top of the stairs you start hitting him.” He glared at Gary. “No pretending. You hit him with all you’ve got, and you don’t stop until he’s down and out. For real.”

The first time the bastard had shared his ‘brilliant idea’ for a live Halloween pod cast, it had been all Gary could do not to burst out crying. He couldn’t, wouldn’t beat his best friend and lover to a pulp. When their ‘Master’ had left them alone in their cell again, Max had taken Gary into his arms and reassured him. It had taken all night but eventually Gary had allowed himself to be persuaded. Now the moment had arrived doubt filled him again.

“Get in position.”

Gary stepped to the side of the stairway, turned his body exactly as he’d been instructed and raised the, thankfully blunt, axe up over his shoulder.

Five.Four.Three.Two.One. Now!

A bone curling growl emanated from the stairwell and seconds later a black blur flew past Gary. He blinked. No way. Max wasn’t capable of movements like that. Whatever black monster he was staring at, it wasn’t his boyfriend dressed up.

The creature landed on the floor midway between Gary at the stairs and the bastard and his camera. It turned its head to look at Gary, staring at him hard before inclining its snout.

Gary knew those eyes. He’d looked into them every day for the past ten months. His lips formed the word but no sound escaped his lips. “Max?”

The moment was over. Before Gary could blink the creature—Max?—switched its attention to the bastard again and jumped. It effortlessly bridged the four metres separating it from its intended victim. It ploughed into their captor, who appeared paralysed by fear, slamming him head first into the wall. When the man lay stretched out on the floor, clearly unconscious, the creature knelt on his chest, opened its jaw wide and bent forward.

“Max. No!”

Gary said the words without thinking and watched in wonder as the creature—no, it really was Max—looked over its shoulder at him.

A low growl escaped Max’s mouth before he lowered his gaze, jumped off the bastard’s chest and raised himself to his hind legs.

“Let’s go.” Gary held out his hand and led them to the door they hadn’t been allowed to walk out of for the past half year. “You scared the shit out of me.” He looked up at the black hairy face next to him. “I should have known you weren’t joking when you said you’re cursed.” He winked. “Seems to me sometimes curses are blessings.”

****

666 words.

Yes, I did exceed the target word count by quite a bit, but when I ended up with a first draft exactly 666 words long for what is a Halloween flash, it was too perfect to mess with. In the end I did do some editing, but much to my delight I managed to keep the word count as it was. J

More Halloween flashes based on one or both of these photos can be found in the Monday Flash Fics group on Facebook.

Happy Halloween!


Monday, 24 October 2016

Monday Flash Fics: Abduced


Abducted

“I’m so glad you could make it.” Ben smiles at me when he opens the door.

I’m still not sure about coming here. Every bit of advice I’ve ever come across tells me not to meet strangers in their own homes for the first time. I should have insisted on a neutral place—a coffee shop, cinema, or public museum, but curiosity both about the man and about what he’d told me about himself had gotten the better of me.

“Come in.” He opens the door wider and steps back, creating space for me to step by him into the interior of his house.

Six months have passed since we first chatted online. We found each other in a group of science fiction aficionados and quickly bonded over a mutual interest in alien abductions and experiments.  

“Would you like a drink or do you want to see my collection first?” he asks.

“I’d love to see everything you told me about. If it’s even half as good as you made it sound….” I trail off, excitement over what I think will come next robbing me of words.

He smiles at me as if I’ve given the right answer, his enthusiasm clear on his face. “Good, follow me.” He leads us down the hallway to a door which opens to a stairway leading down. He turns a switch and lights come on, before gesturing for me to precede him.

I stop moving when we reach the bottom of the stairs, unable to believe my eyes.

“This is even better than I imagined.” I stare at him in wonder. “You made this? How? Those men...they look so…real.”

“Thank you.” Ben sounds proud. “It wasn’t easy. It took a lot of trial and error but in the end I found the right method.”

I stare at the cylinders holding figures so realistic I almost expect them to raise a hand and wave at me. The green liquid surrounding them combined with the somewhat eerie light in the cellar give the room an unworldly feel, perfectly in tune with the abductions we discussed.

He slowly leads me from one cylinder to the next, telling me which one he constructed first and how he takes comfort from their presence now. “In fact,” he says, “I spend most of my time here now. I even brought a bed down.”

I’m awed. I can’t imagine coming up with an idea so grandiose, never mind putting it all together.

My host takes me by the arm and smiles at me. “Come, let’s have that drink I­—"

A loud crashing sound coming from behind us cuts his sentence short. I turn around and my heart skips several beats.

“I thought….” My mouth is suddenly dry and I swallow hard. “You said….”  I stare from the man leaning out of the broken cylinder at Ben, my mind scrambling to come up with a logical explanation. A deep and paralysing fear grips me when I see the bowed man’s hand twitch.

“Such a shame you had to see that.” There’s no longer any trace of friendliness in his voice. He tightens his hold on my arm while he reaches around me with his other arm

I pull, try to break free, while at the same time twisting to see what he’s up to behind my back.

A vicious pinch in my arse and my muscles turn to jelly. I open my mouth but can’t speak. My eyelids are too heavy. I’m falling. I’m doomed.

****


I overshot my word count by almost 100 words today. But this is how this flash wanted to be told so I can live with it. More flashes based on this picture can be found in the Monday Flash Fics group on Facebook. And while you’re there, why don’t you suggest an image we might use for our Christmas project?

Monday, 17 October 2016

Monday Flash Fics: Freedom



Freedom

“Fuck you. I thought you trusted me, saw me as an equal. I’m good enough to be in your bed, but not to do my job, is that it?”

A week has passed since he shouted those words at me before turning and stalking away. I was concerned then, now I’m worried sick.

As I leave the forest and climb higher I wonder how it all went so horribly wrong. If I’d kept my big mouth shut, if I hadn’t voiced my doubts, I might not be here today, hoping against hope to find signs of life where so far I’ve encountered none—I slap a hand to my neck—except for insects, determined to eat me alive that is.

I stop to take a break and catch my breath. I’ve been on the go for almost eight hours, since first light, and know it won’t be much longer before I’ll have to find shelter for the night. I already left it too late to turn around and go back. Maybe that’s what happened? It’s possible he went too far and just kept going. It’s also possible he had an accident and has long since died…horribly and alone.

I push the thought away and think back to that final meeting. Had I been too negative? This is a sensitive and prestigious project. If we get it wrong we’ll lose our funding. And no matter how bad that would be for us, it would be even worse for those in our care.

Too worried and restless to stay still for long I push forward again, climbing the mountain, over and around boulders, checking my compass occasionally to make sure I don’t veer off course.

I’m not being honest. Of course I’m worried about the future of our work; we’ve come so far and achieved so much, it would be a crying shame if it all went wrong now. But that’s not why I suggested he shouldn’t go. He is as qualified as any of us to take this task on. His chances of success are as good or as bad as mine or anybody else’s would have been. I wanted someone else to go because I didn’t want to be without him.

An hour later I come to a stop. The view in front of me is breathtaking. The expanse of almost barren rock, the soft clouds reflected in the lake far below. This is nature at its purest, but it’s not what has my heartbeat speeding up and understanding dawning on me. I carefully move closer, making sure not to startle either Jeff or the wolves approaching him.

He must have sensed my approach and turns his head, smiling before he holds up his hand, indicating I should stop.

It all makes sense now. He did successfully release the wolf couple we raised to adulthood. The reason he didn’t return has nothing to do with me, or our fight, never mind any incompetence on his part. He can’t leave until he’s sure they’ll settle in the wild rather than follow him back to where they can only survive in captivity.

From now on, he won’t be waiting alone.

****

528 words

This flash was a little bit harder to write than most but that’s my own fault. A shifter story would have been easier, but I sorta accepted a challenge to write something other than that. I hope you enjoyed what I came up with instead.


As always, more flashes based on this wonderful image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics group on Facebook. 

Monday, 10 October 2016

Monday Flash Fics: Justice by All


Justice by All

“I don’t know about this.” Melissa averted her gaze from the idiotic looking creature standing in front of her to glance at Paul just in time to see the irritation sweep across his features before he smiled again.

“Will you give it up?” His tone of voice expressed all the impatience his expression no longer showed. “The decision has been made. It’s not up to us to question it. Nothing has changed, not really. You know that as well as I do.”

Knowing that she’d never win this argument didn’t stop Melissa from pushing her point. “It has turned the whole thing into a joke. Look at him.” She pointed at the bad imitation of a shark, cooling its feet in the water. “How is anybody supposed to take that seriously?”

“Who cares if people think it’s all a joke?” Paul sounded as if he was close to losing patience. Then again, he always gave the impression that he couldn’t stand Melissa, so who knew for sure? “Don’t make yourself look even more…” he hesitated. “…more silly than you usually do. It’s all about the ….”

“Counting down to the end of the commercial break.” The disembodied voice interrupted Paul before he could finish his sentence, but it wasn’t as if Melissa needed to hear the rest of it.”

“And we’re live.”

Here we go. I hate this part. Like the professional she was, Melissa plastered the obligatory bright smile on her face.

“Welcome back viewers,” Paul said. “We’ve reached decision time. But before you get to make your choice, let me recap the case for you.”

Melissa sighed as he paused for exactly three seconds as he always did. Surely he had to realise that after having done the same thing at least fifty times whatever dramatic effect his silence might have had in the past had long since been lost.

“The accused as he stands before us is obviously a shark. A high-end loan shark to be precise. As such he’s been responsible for at least three suicides, five violent beatings—two of which ended with the victim dying, and numerous cases of homelessness and despair. In a few more moments you, our democratic jury, will get to decide his fate. The choice, as always is between death and exile and, also as per usual, the sentence will be executed instantly. Please cast your vote sixty seconds from now.

Melissa knew the viewers would see a huge clock on their devises, counting down to zero. She imagined fingers hovering over the button of choice as she reflected on how she’d ended up here. When they’d recruited her they’d sold her on the idea of this show by stating that it would be true justice because the general public would get to decide the fate of those who endangered their society. And, as long as the setting had been a courthouse, she’d been able to make herself believe the spin. Now it had turned into a circus where those making the decision didn’t even see the accused’s face any more.

“Choose now!”

Melissa silently counted down from ten. The shark would either drop or disappear, depending on what the majority verdict was.

Three. Two. One….

****

536 words.

I wasn’t sure I’d come up with a flash this week but clearly having to get up at five o’clock in the morning worked wonders for my muse, because here we are. I hope you enjoyed it and I wasn’t too obscure.


As always more stories based on the same image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics group on Facebook. I’ve already read a few and they’re good!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Monday Flash Fics: Copy Cat


Copy Cat

“Oh, isn’t that cute?”

A tall and leggy blonde to Jonah’s left gushed loudly and he turned to study the image she was pointing at. It was kinda cute, he guessed, if you liked a messy pile of kittens and babies. Personally he wasn’t overly fond of the younger generations, feline or otherwise. He preferred the creatures he interacted with a bit more mature.

Not for the first time that evening he questioned the impulse that had led him here. He should have stayed away. It was bad enough that…. He shut his thoughts down. It was a bit late to start worrying about it now. Besides, there was nothing stopping him from walking away. So far nobody seemed to have noticed or said anything. If he went now he would avoid awkward questions for which he didn’t have good answers—in the short term at least.

“This image is remarkable.” It was the woman who’d spoken earlier, sounding more subdued this time.
“Yes, I see what you mean,” her friend said. “It’s almost eerie, isn’t it?”

He took an involuntary step in their direction before he realised what he was doing and stopped. Adrenaline coursed through his system and he was on edge, ready to flee at a moment’s notice. He looked at the picture the women were studying and stared at himself. He should have never taken that photo. He shouldn’t have left it where his younger brother had been able to find it. Now it hung in an exhibition of local photographers and while Jonah could certainly do with more clients, this was the one image he would never have picked to advertise himself.

“I mean, if it wasn’t impossible. If I didn’t know any better….”

“You’d say they were one and the same.” The blonde finished her friend’s sentence. “I know. I feel the same.”

The women turned and stared at each other before bursting out laughing. “Maybe we should read something besides shifter stories for a while.” The words came out chocked as the woman tried to catch her breath.

Jonah sighed in relief and turned towards the exit. Maybe coming here hadn’t been a bad idea after all. He’d just been given the reassurance he hadn’t realised he needed. He heard rather than saw the two women turn towards the next image as one of them spoke again. “Still, that photographer has remarkable skill to produce an image like that. I’ll put his name on our list.”

He smiled—some might say like the cat that got the cream— as he walked out the door of the gallery into the dark night. He felt the change and knew exactly what anybody who’d look him in the face would see: eyes shining bright from slit pupils. He purred softly before walking home.

****

467 words


More stories based on the same image can, as always, be found in the Monday Flash Fics Group on Facebook. I do hope you enjoyed my whimsical tale and would love to hear your thoughts.