Three Line Tales: Assignment

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.

photo by Les Anderson via Unsplash

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Spring morning, not too hot yet for the shade thrown by the awnings along the street to be more welcoming than the warm sunshine—I wait for her to leave her rendez-vous.

She dresses up nice for him, I think, and wonder if she’ll hail a taxi or walk the short distance to the apartment on boulevard Haussmann where her husband, my client, will be tapping his desktop with impatient fingers.

She walks; I follow, visualising the dark mouth of the side street behind the glamour of the boulevard that will swallow her up, where a bullet will burrow its way behind her ear.

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Ad Hoc flash fiction

I entered the latest Ad Hoc flash fiction contest and have made it to the long list! The winner is selected by vote open to readers, so if you want to read and vote, this is the site.

Entries are anonymous, so I won’t say which one is mine. I’m chuffed to get this far anyway.

#writephoto: No choice

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto challenge. More WIP…

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Dónal had a message for his brother, the blind seer. He had received word that the grey foreigner who had stolen his birthright was bringing over his eldest son, a Sasanach son and warrior with battle glory to his name, to set him up as chief in a caiseal over Santry way. This was surely the son he intended as his heir, not the wee boy barely weaned he had by Aoife. Dónal had never intended to let his sister’s son grow beyond infancy, but this was a bitter blow. A man and a warrior is much harder to do away with than an infant. Once behind the walls of his caiseal, the young Northman would be as hard to winkle out as any of his kin. Dónal vowed to stop him ever crossing the threshold.

“I have a job for you, brother.”

Énna did not move. He crouched, his back to Dónal, the spring before his feet, bubbling into the stone. Dónal despised and feared his brother’s power but he did not doubt its efficacity. He kicked him. Not hard. Just enough to remind him that he could.

“I said, I need you to do something for me.”

Énna turned his head slowly. He was not wearing the band that usually covered the scars and Dónal felt the hairs at the back of his neck stand on end. He had seen blinded men often enough, but this was his own handiwork and he took it as a provocation that Énna did not hide the mutilation.

“What?”

One word, and even that was slurred. Énna was slipping away. He would be no loss. Not once he had performed this one last service.

“The gall’s kinsman is on a ship. I want him drowned.”

“Is that all?” The words came out slowly. His teeth were pink-rimmed with scraps of berry skin.

Dónal shivered. “I am pleased you think it such a small feat. Find him and sink his ship.”

Énna turned away again, his unseeing eyes fixed on something no one could see. “And if I say no?”

“You know the answer, little brother. The gall’s son, or your own. And your black-haired wife too, why not? Choose.”

When Énna raised his head the empty orbits raged red and fiery, and in their flames, Dónal thought he saw their father’s face, and it was laughing.

Flash fiction: Escape

For dverse, a 144 word flash fiction including the line ‘When far away, an interrupted cry’.

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I have a good head start but they are crafty, sneaky, and they never tire. They’re onto me; I have to get out. It has to be after dark despite the curfew, because nobody just walks out of the city. I’m risking a bullet, but I have a plan.

Nights are always dark now, in these sad times, and the days are not much lighter. The air is full of smoke and fumes and dust from the buildings that fall down periodically from neglect. I know a house by the perimeter wall, abandoned and boarded up. Another unsafe dwelling. And the cellar door opens onto the outside.

The city is behind me now. I listen for my pursuers, when far away, an interrupted cry, mercifully short, tells me the trap has sprung. They might be crafty and sneaky, but I am the fox.

Redbreast

Another bit of WIP in response to Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt

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The pool shows her nothing; her robin-child has disappeared. Nor can she find Richard in any of the places where she has left a part of herself curled in the depths. Fear grips hard and cold, colder than the serpent coils that shift in the water, mocking her, calling to her to give in to that part of her nature that will wreak destruction on those who betray her.

The island beyond the sea is always wreathed in mists and she tries to see through the eyes of the seer, the red-haired woman’s kinsman. She reaches into the pool where he does his magic but it is full of madness and red as the berries he chews incessantly now, not just to give him visions, but to try to calm their chaotic dance through his head. When she finds his face, his lips are red with berry juice and she sees shreds of their skin in his teeth. There is nothing in his face but murder, stabbings and blindings. In a fury, she leaves the pool and calls up the white mare.

It is a three hour’s ride to the sea from Striguil, even for a horse such as the white mare. The evening tide is out and she rides across glassy sands to the edge of the water. When the mare’s hooves splash and foam hisses over them, she dismounts. She clears serpent-thoughts from her head and gazes into the shallows. She sees only clouds, their breasts white and billowing, and one is specked with red.

Espionage

This prompt from the Daily Inkling has decided me to admit to one of the silliest ideas I have ever had.

This is a true story. It happened last summer, our first in this house, and I was being introduced to normal, everyday country things that seemed utterly strange to me. I was walking Finbar along our lane one evening after dark. The lane runs along the side of a valley with a ditch on either hand, and on the hill side of the lane, the land rises in a bank higher than my head height. As we passed where the neighbour’s driveway cuts through the bank, I noticed a small, very bright green light in the grass of the banking. I tried to get closer to see what it was, but it was on the other side of the ditch, which was full of water, frogs and tall grass.

The first thought that popped into my head was that scene in A Beautiful Mind when Nash imagines he is being shown around a secret Pentagon lab where Soviet codes are being deciphered. The place is full of computer screens, a greenish light and a faint humming. I’m almost ashamed to admit the loopy idea that I had, to go up to the neighbour’s and warn them that there was secret espionage activity going on in an underground bunker at the end of their driveway. I think if I hadn’t had Finbar straining at the leash to go home, I would have done.

Instead, with the conviction that I had made an exciting and frightening discovery, I let Finbar race me home, told husband about the underground bunker and how the Roberts were exposed to an unknown peril. To his credit, husband put on his shoes and came up the lane with me to see if he could get close enough to the peep hole to see inside the bunker. When we got to the place, there was no light.

He didn’t say, I told you so, or you’re nuts, he just said I must have been mistaken. I was thankful we didn’t have to knock on the Robert’s door to explain about the Soviet or CIA or whatever threat, but the doubt remained. I had seen light escaping from a hole in the bank, nobody was going to tell me otherwise. It took the clear light of day and a bit of research on the internet to discover that the green light escaping from a tiny hole in the bunker wall was in fact a glow worm.

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Photo ©Quit007