Microfiction 150 words: Running with fire


Fire-Carrier was old and slow. The people waited for her in the safe place, anxiety squirming like sickness in their bellies. If she dropped the fire-seed, how would they make more fire?

Squirrel knew. She struck flints clean and sharp, not like the fumblings of Fire-Carrier, made sparks quick and kept them alive. Squirrel knew more than any of the people. That was why Chief hated and feared her. She had hair the colour of squirrel fur, long legs that could run, like the new people, like her father. She knew Chief was afraid enough to kill her. She knew his thoughts before he knew them himself.

She had found her own safe place and would go there, before the night-fear drove Chief to smash her head with a stone. She had her own flints, shaped sharp, and a glitter-stone. She would survive. Until she found her father’s people.



The burden lifted long ago

the childish wondering how and why so much suffering

because faith belief God’s love etc.

Long ago (the piles of bodies

clambering for the last pocket of rank air

the faces smiling

as they dragged mothers and their children through horrors)

long ago (and tomorrow too

despite the candles and beatitudes

and the smug well, just believe and be saved)

long ago I opened eyes and saw the truth

incontrovertible, unassailable

unshakeable as mother-love.

Stars and meadows roll

and birds bring fledglings to flight

kits and cubs from blind to crafty world-wise

and we are what we are

ourselves alone

the hand that holds the knife the gun the whip the pen is sovereign.

No hiding in the celestial light

or praying for celestial rain to cleanse

this world is

this earth

this life


Bring your eyes from the clouds and that ever-receding pie

and count the dead and dying.

What matters is.

What is

is this bird

this child

this future.

#Three Line Tales: Second thoughts

For Sonya’s Three Line Tales writing prompt.

photo by Philippe Mignot via Unsplash


Dawn on the quay; he’d seen it so many times before as he trudged, head bent to the cobbles, on his way to work, but this morning he seemed to see it for the first time.

They were already there, waiting up ahead for him, but he slowed his steps, watching the play of the first rays of light on the rippling water, making the damp stone glitter.

They were leaving, it was decided, so there was no going back, but suddenly he felt a catch in his throat, his vision blurred, and he wondered, if the others had been late, would he not have turned around and walked back home through the early morning splendour?

A better place

Strange image calls for strange story. This is D. Wallace Peach’s February speculative fiction prompt.

Screen Shot 2019-02-01 at 22.22.55


How long she had stood in the falling cold, the baby couldn’t say, but her back wore a white blanket now, and her toes were covered in it. It was longer again before she realised she didn’t feel cold anymore, that her thoughts were unfreezing and she could remember. There had been so much sorrow, crying and death. Tears filled the baby’s eyes, but the image of the woman with fiery hair smiled at her, and the tears dried.

She remembered the fiery woman who had swept down from the hill where all the others were lying dead or dying, and how the woman screamed in anger and threw bolts of flame from her hands until the sadness became a forest of flames. The flames swirled and twisted and carried the baby in strong fiery arms and left her in this strange, quiet place where cold white fell from the sky.

She shook her head and found that her forehead was butted up against a tree, and in the tree was a tiny human house and on the roof of the tiny house was a family of mice, white as the falling cold. She pushed. The house lurched, and from inside came the shrill miniscule shrieks of humans. She pushed again and the tree cracked. The mice twittered and leapt to the ground. Instead of running away they watched, intrigued. The baby’s unfrozen thoughts grew clear as spring water, and suddenly she knew. The mouse family knew too. The fiery woman smiled inside the baby’s head from within the flames of her hair and the baby smiled back.

The baby nudged a third time and the tree trunk broke. The tiny house slipped and fell to the ground, splitting open like a coconut. The tiny people rushed out then back, in and out, in and out of the wreckage unable to resign themselves to leaving behind this or that piece of useless junk. Then one pointed. Their movements froze just for a second, before they screamed in unison and ran. The baby stretched out her trunk and trumpeted a baby war cry. The mice squeaked, the baby stomped on the matchwood human house, and the cold stopped falling. The fiery woman spoke inside the baby’s head.

No more. Never again.

No more, agreed the mice.

Never again, agreed the baby, and started off into the great forest where the white cold had never fallen, to look for others like herself.

NaNoWriMo update

Seventeen days into NaNoWriMo and I’m keeping up with a slight lead. I’ve written rather more than 30,000 words this month and had 19,000 words written before the beginning of November. I needed this challenge to keep me focused. The story is more or less mapped out since it’s historical fiction with just a bit of embroidering to make some connections that history doesn’t mention.

The challenge is not so much to know what to write, as why. I don’t suffer from writer’s block so much as writer’s doubt. Justifying so much time writing is difficult. Until I get a book past one of the committees that decides what gets published and what doesn’t, the doubt will persist that my time should really be spent doing something else.

Whether I could actually stop writing is another question. Meanwhile, back to the Norman Invasions. I have a wedding to prepare and the Battle of Waterford to fight.

#Three Line Tales: Space junk

This is for Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.


This was the kind of photo shoot the public loved, and Scott knew he owed it to them—they were paying billions for this program that allowed him to walk in space.

He pulled himself through the immensity, feeling the eyes of stars as well as millions of earthlings following his beetling movements, to where the foreign bodies were caught up in the heat shields.

The anxiety that had grown to blind terror abated, and in a fury of irritated relief, he cut away the damn bicycle panniers and let them drift away into space.

Microfiction #writephoto: Nightmare

On this election Sunday, I’m afraid there isn’t much chance of thinking about anything else. This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt


From the safety of the forest eaves they peered out into the morning, calm and misty blue after the night of storms. The strand stretched shiny-smooth to the distant breakers, their rise and fall the only movement in the stillness. Though they strained their ears, all they heard was the distant crash and hiss of the waves.

“Do you see a færing?” Una asked, shading her eyes to search among the dunes for a sign of a beached craft.

Fiachra shook his head. “Too late. We wouldn’t be safe on the ocean in any ship now. See that?” He pointed to the strange trench that curved sinuously across the strand to where it slid into the water to be engulfed by the flow of the tide. “Can’t you smell the stench of corruption?”

Una’s hand flew to her mouth and her eyes opened wide in horror. “I thought it was only a nightmare that we left behind with the informers and the outlaws.”

Fiachra gritted his teeth. “It is a nightmare, but it has followed us.”

“It can’t be!”

“It is though. What other loathsome creature would drag itself from the depths to crush the light of hope?”

“Marine,” Una whispered.