#writephoto: Once upon a time in the Shire

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday writing prompt. I couldn’t take this picture seriously.

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“This is naff. I told you it would be.” Em looks around critically at the Hobbit-sized cottages half-buried beneath heaps of unseasonal flowers, at the windy, white pebbly paths, giant toadstools and Ye Olde Inne. “Where’d they hide the Black Riders? Underneath the nasturtiums?”

“Let’s go back to town and get pierced,” Jo says. “They sell studs in the souvenir shoppe. I want a Hobbit’s foot. What about you?”

Em grimaces. “Itchy. I wouldn’t mind a complete Orc facial though.”

“I think that can be arranged.” The voice is deep and hollow and comes from a point behind and about a yard above them. They turn and look up into a charred face with eyes of an unsettling red. “The studio is just across the village green.”

Em looks at Jo who looks at the character draped in darkness. Where his gigantic shadow falls across the flower beds, pansies and sunflowers wilt. She turns back to Em. “You up for it?”

Em nods. She asks the shadowy character, “Can you do nose rings with hidden writing inside?”

“What do you want it to say?”

Em thinks for a moment. “If you can read this, your breath must be toxic.”

The charred lips curl back in a grin. “Easy peasy.”


Behind the bar in Ye Olde Inne, an aged gentleman with a long grey beard shakes his head sadly and pushes a double whisky to the shifty-looking individual standing at the counter.

“And they wonder why the place is overrun with Orcs. He wants locking up. Somebody should see to it.”

“I know just the man for the job,” the shifty-looking individual says, throwing back his drink. “Well, half-man. I’ll be needing a few magic accoutrements though.”


“Magic swords, cloaks of invisibility, loaves and fishes, the usual.”

The old gentleman sighs. “I’ll have everything ready by this evening. Can you make it permanent this time— no resurrections, transformations or coming back as a bit coin scammer?”

“Don’t worry. I’m sick of wearing this stinking outfit and answering to that thick name. I’m supposed to be a king, you know, with palaces and servants.”

“Well, get rid of His Nibbs and maybe the script writers will give you a different role.” The old gentleman pours himself a shot and raises his glass. “Here’s to Aragorn.”

“Cheers, Gandalf. Don’t go provoking that Balrog downstairs while I’m gone.”

The old gentleman laughs. “You think I’m stoopid, or something?”

Strider/Aragorn smiles. You’ll be laughing on the other side of your face in a day or two. I’ve seen what’s in the script.

In the piercing studio, another couple of Orcs are being prepared to join the latest cohort, and the shadowy character is preparing for victory. Unfortunately for him, he hasn’t read the latest script changes either.