Monday 25 April 2016

Monday Flash Fics: What You See

What You See

I sigh. I can’t afford to lose my patience but, jeez, it has taken an hour to get him to take his shirt off and stop scowling at my camera. At this rate we’ll be here all day.

“Go on,” I hope the encouraging tone in my voice still sounds convincing. “Just open the top button and try to look naughty.” I wink and am happy to see him wink back at me.

Honestly, I don’t like him all that much. But I promised I would help him on several occasions and today he appears to be ready. And there’s no denying he needs help. His self image is so negative I sometimes wonder how he manages to live with himself. He gets compliments all the time, other members of the gym we go to never stopped telling him how fabulous he looks, and he always gets propositioned when we go out. But none of it means anything to him; it is as if it goes right over his head. He doesn’t see what others do or, if he does see it, doesn’t believe it is really him. My mission is to get him naked, take the pictures and make him look at them. Maybe, if he looks at himself from a distance, he’ll be able to see himself more objectively.

“Now, open the rest of your fly.” I put as much authority in my voice as I can muster, hoping to forestall any objections he might have. He stares at me, his gaze fixed on mine, his eyes unblinking, before opening the buttons.

I study the body he has never fully shown to anybody. It’s almost impossible to believe nobody ever followed that long treasure-trail all the way down his sculpted body to find the as yet hidden prize.

I focus on taking my pictures, suddenly careful not to look at him too closely. It would be so easy to scare him off now. Instead I mutter encouragements. “See, that wasn’t too hard.” And, “I told you, you could do it.”

He doesn’t say a word and yet it is as if I can hear him grumbling. He might as well be speaking out loud.

The last step in the process; this is do or die. Either he will reveal all of himself or all my efforts will have been for nothing. “Take your jeans off, please”. I almost whisper the words, afraid to spook him.

For long moments he does nothing, just stands there with a look on his face as if he isn’t sure whether or not I’m serious. The impasse last so long my arms grow heavy and I put the camera aside. But I don’t break eye contact. I’m not giving up. Not yet.

Without taking his gaze of me he pushes his trousers down and discards them. Defiance shines out of his eyes while he waits for my next move.

I reach for my camera again, lift it, and pause before taking the final pictures for this session.

Our relationship is a strange one, but I live in hope that one day we’ll be true friends—me and the man in the mirror.


528 words

For more flashes based on the same image please visit the Monday Flash Fics Group on Facebook.

Monday 11 April 2016

Monday Flash Fics: Hidden


The shadows deceived him. The constant changes from light to shade and back again played tricks on the mind. Cameron held his breath. Was that somebody moving? No, it had only been the sun coming out from behind a cloud for a few moments and illuminating a segment of a bush before it was obscured by the gloom again.

His mind raced, but his arms held firm. He wasn’t sure how long he’d been lying in wait with his bow cocked, ready for the moment one of his opponents would reveal themselves. Years of practice had preceded this moment. He’d trained his breathing until he could hold his breath twice as long as any of his friends. He’d meditated until he could shut his thoughts down on the spur of the moment. All of it for this moment, and for other, similar occasions.

A branch snapped behind him. Cameron whirled around and released the arrow before he realised he’d seen someone. The soft thud followed by a much louder curse satisfied a primal need deep inside him.

One down.

Arrows rained down on his hideout before he could finish the thought. They hadn’t seen him, didn’t know exactly where he was, but his shot had given them a general direction to aim for. He lowered his bow and pressed himself flat against the moss covered ground, happy to remain invisible and wait for however long it took. Unlike those shooting at him he wasn’t prepared to waste arrows on targets he couldn’t see.

The onslaught ended as abruptly as it had started. Either his enemies thought they’d managed to kill him or they’d given up trying because they’d at last realised how impossible it was to hit something they couldn’t see.

Cameron raised his head just in time to see four figures emerge from the bushes thirty metres ahead of him. His mind went blank as instinct took over, making his eyes and arms function without a conscious thought on his part. One after the other the four arrows left his bow, the second releasing before the first one reached its target. Like lined up dominoes, the four attackers fell to the ground in quick succession. He lowered his bow, his arms suddenly heavy and tired.

He didn’t hear a thing, wasn’t aware of the approaching danger until a shadow stretched out in front of him. Swallowing the curse burning on his tongue he turned over, ready to release an arrow at whoever had managed to sneak up on him, when a trumpet sounded.

Cameron allowed his arms to relax again as he watched a grin spread across the features of the man staring down at him. “Fuck me! You’re good.”

“Why, thank you, Pascal,” Cameron said, smirking widely. He sat up and turned to look over his shoulder, just in time to see the four men he’d shot down moments earlier, get up from the ground while retrieving the blunt arrows from where they’d fallen.

“Is there something you’d like to tell me?” Pascal asked.

Cameron shrugged. He’d thought about coming clean when his boyfriend of two months had first invited him to this medieval version of paintball, but that would have spoiled the surprise, especially considering how smug Pascal had been about his supposed prowess with a crossbow.

“You mean I should have mentioned that I’ve been into archery since I was eight?” He grabbed Pascal’s offered hand and allowed himself to be pulled up. “That would have been no fun at all.”


585 words

Thank you for reading my flash, I hope you enjoyed it and would love to hear your thoughts.

This image was suggested by Theo Fenraven. More stories inspired by this picture should be available in the Monday Flash Fics group, which is also where we’ll announce what image next week’s stories will be based on. We would love to have you join us.

Monday 4 April 2016

Teaser Monday

It is Monday so I should have a flash fiction for you today, but I don’t. I actually love the image Theo Fenraven suggested for this week but it didn’t inspire a story in me.

It is quite possible my lack of inspiration is a direct result of the fact I’ve started writing a new book and I’m totally submerged in that story-line and those characters. The story, working title S/m, will be a new departure for me again. It is set in a world not quite our own and will end up a lot darker than my usual fare. I’m very excited about it, while also somewhat worried about whether or not I can pull it off. We’ll see.

I’ve decided to share the first 1000 words of this new story here today. Please bear in mind that it is more or less unchecked and completely unedited. I hope that won’t prevent you from enjoying it. Any feedback will be very welcome.

Please visit the Monday Flash Fics Group on Facebook to find out what others have been inspired to write based on the chosen picture.

 Shit, it’s almost dark.
Markus picked up his pace, fully aware that if he didn’t make it home within the next fifteen minutes he’d be in trouble. The street was almost deserted. He was one of only a few stragglers rushing to make it back to their quarters before curfew started. He cursed. This was the third time in two weeks they’d kept him busy until it was near impossible to make it back on time. The bastards didn’t care whether he got arrested or not. For him ten others as far as they were concerned and he was in no position to argue or walk away from a job it had taken him long enough to find.
Ahead of him a large door opened and a group of night guards marched onto the street. Markus thanked the Gods that the quickest way home meant he needed to turn left, away from the platoon. As soon as he’d rounded the corner he set off at a run as fast as the bag he was carrying would allow. It was a risk. If the guards saw him running they’d assume he had something to hide. They’d take him down and lock him up before asking questions. Being caught out and about after dark was even more dangerous—punishable by death.
His lungs burned as he spotted the door to his residence, his mother standing on the threshold, a worried expression on her face. The first chime of six, signalling the start of the night-time curfew, sounded and Markus gathered the last of his reserves and picked up his speed despite the heaviness in his legs. He all but fell into his front room and pushed the door shut behind him just as the sixth chime sounded. He closed his eyes and collapsed with his back against the door. Somebody—he was too exhausted to look and see who—grabbed the bag from his hand as he tried to catch his breath.
“That was too close.” His mother’s voice held a combination of fear, relief and anger. “Don’t do this to me…to us. We’ve got enough to worry about without you adding to the burden.”
Resentment burned deep inside him. How dare she? Didn’t she know everything he did? Had she no idea how hard it was to keep going? To find what they needed to survive? The feeling receded again as he realised that she knew all of that only too well. It was exactly because she knew how precarious their situation was that she feared for his safety. As hard as their life was right now, it would become impossible if something were to happen to him. He was the only thing standing between his mother and six siblings living in relative safety, and death of starvation for all of them. Of course she worried.
“I’m sorry.” He opened his eyes and looked at her. “They didn’t give me a choice. It was either stay longer or leave without the food.”
“That’s just wrong.” Frustrated fury sounded in her voice, although she made sure not to raise it. “They know they’ve got you over a barrel and use it against you. What if you had been arrested? They would have lost you too.”
“Oh Ma,” Markus laughed but it wasn’t a happy sound. “People are lining up daily to take my place. You know that as well as I do.”
“It’s just wrong.” The frustration that was Markus’s constant companion was clearly audible in his mother’s voice. “Look at what you do for them, the hours you put in and for what? A bag of food that will barely see us through the week, a hovel to live in, and discarded clothes. They only give you what they’ve no use for themselves.”
“Stop it!” There was no anger is Markus’s voice, only resignation. It was hard enough to keep going without his mother stoking the fires of his discontent. Of course his mother could remember how it used to be. She’d been ten years old when the world changed. She’d told Markus and his siblings the stories about her life before technology allowed the mega-rich to take over the world. There were times he wished she hadn’t. What good did it do them to know that once upon a time most people had jobs which allowed them to pay for possessions, that slavery had been outlawed until forty-odd years ago? The knowledge that his grandparents had at least had an opportunity to better themselves didn’t make him feel better. It only filled him with a greater sense of his powerlessness.
Suddenly feeling exhausted Markus looked his mother in the eye and said what he seemed to say every week. “At least I have this opportunity, we’re lucky. We’ve been able to avoid the crime lords and slavery. Without this job we’d have nothing. If you hadn’t taught me how to read and write, I wouldn’t be able to bring home what we need to survive. I hate it as much as you do, but the alternative is worse. You know that.”
The anger evaporated from his mother’s face to be replaced by sadness. “We can’t avoid them any longer. Our time is up. This came today.” She handed him a letter with an official stamp.
Fear cramped Markus’ stomach. He’d known this moment would come and had tried to ignore the fact. Hoping he managed to keep his features smooth, he took the piece of paper from his mother and read the words.

This notice serves to inform you that it is time to do your duty as a loyal and obedient member of our blessed society. One member of your family, aged no younger than fourteen and no older than twenty-five years, is to report to our Recruitment and Training centre tomorrow morning at eight.
Failure to obey our instructions will result in incarceration for your entire family.