Flash fiction: When they came



A knock on the street door in the night and we don’t answer. We look furtively through the louvred shutters and see nothing, nothing definite, but we know it’s there. You go to check the locks, I watch, see the faintest flutter of movement, a sliding up the wall of the building.

I want to call out to you but daren’t break the night silence. I don’t want to be alone and leave the window, looking for you. There are only two rooms in the apartment, and you are in neither of them.

The front door is unlocked. I fling it wide in panic and the darkness surges forward. I slam the door closed, lock it, pull across the bolt and I think I hear you calling, far away.

There is a creak, a gust of night air and I know a window has been opened. It’s there, in the bedroom. I back up against the apartment door. The bolt rattles, eases itself free. I watch mesmerised as the key turns by itself, clicks.

There is no point resisting.

I just hope it will be quick.

Writing exercise: Tension

Issa Dioume is passing on some of Ursula Le Guin’s writing advice in the form of exercises. This one is to write a short scene of less than 150 words using whole, grammatical sentences of no more than seven words. This is a condensed scene from my WIP.

The watch slams the door closed again. Will she come? The message surely won’t leave her indifferent. Énna is her favourite brother. Minutes pass, and the postern gate opens. Aoife stands there, two gallowglasses behind her. Her eyes widen in surprise.

“You? Why has Énna sent you?”

Art’s eyes shift to the gallowglasses. Their hands grip sword hilts. He fumbles for something in his cloak.


He reaches out a hand. Aoife steps forward to take the message. His empty hand grabs her arm. He pulls her outside; a gallowglass lunges. One by one, Art can take them. His sword slices across the Ostman’s throat. The return stroke catches the man behind. Art whistles for his horse, turning.

“You are coming with me.”

The words die in his throat. Aoife faces him, drawn sword in hand. Her eyes flash in fury.



Selling up

I saw this prompt yesterday on the Real Toads blog but was too wearied by our first week of house visits to reply. Waiting, trying to breathe calmly before the next onslaught on Monday.

Room with laptop

I sit in this room,

in a bubble shot with rainbowed fish and fur,

scented like the rose.

Beyond, behind, above,

the house, my house stretches,

desert dry and unfamiliar,

a foreign land,

unnaturally tidy,

sparkling superficially,

prowled by visiting avid-eyed sharks and the blandly curious.

Strangers touch and poke,

to see if the glass is real,

the doors open and close as they should,

are these knotted boards really woody wood,

and I hunch among waving fronds of gentle sea flowers,

hiding from the sharp twitches of displeasure or greed

that storm the placid ocean of my house,

waiting for them to leave.