Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy what you find here. Whilst you may not agree with everything I post, if you respect my right to my opinion I'll respect your right to disagree with it and we should get along just fine. :)

Disclaimer: the views expressed by the characters in these works may not necessarily represent the views of the author. Got that? Good.

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Friday, 30 April 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF Stories #7: Black Crocus

‘What does he do?’ The goblin’s clipped tones dragged Pogmorton’s attention from the parchment on which he was checking details of the latest incoming gold shipment.

‘Do? What does who…’ Pogmorton looked up to see Swazzle leaning against the tunnel wall, a blissful look on his face, traces of gold at the corners of his mouth.

‘Oh, him,’ Pogmorton waved his quill absently in Swazzle’s direction, ‘Captain Swazzle reckons gold, particularly Swiss gold, has the most marvellous flavour; he has a bit of a weakness for it.’

The goblin pulled a face, ‘but, the gold, isn’t it…’

‘Yes. Gnome droppings.’

Further discussion was cut short by the distant thump of an explosion. Dust drifted down from new cracks that appeared in the ceiling as the tunnel rocked with the blast.

Pogmorton dropped the parchment, thumping Swazzle on the back as he nearly choked on a mouthful of gold nugget. A momentary look of alarm flitted across the goblin’s face, replaced with one of determination as the snail shell clipped to its ear barked urgent, guttural orders.

‘Fairies,’ the goblin growled and loped off up the tunnel.

Swazzle and Pogmorton exchanged glances.

‘We’d better get out of here,’ said Swazzle, ‘I’ve never been terribly fond of summary execution if caught.’

A soft popping sound interrupted Pogmorton’s reply. They both turned to find a wild-eyed Flaarti leaning on the tunnel wall for support, blue blood dripping from an ugly wound in his scalp.

‘Here,’ he urged, thrusting something into Pogmorton’s hand, ‘Take this and run for it.’

‘Wha…,’ began Swazzle.

Flaarti waved the question away, ‘Fairies assaulting the tunnels. They’re nearly through to the lab. I must go back,’ and with that he vanished.

An iron bullet slapped the wall next to Swazzle’s head, a puff of dirt blossoming like a flower as he and Pogmorton dived into the darkness of the loading bay alcove.

'Bugger me, that was close!' muttered Swazzle.

Pogmorton did not reply, instead he pointed back into the tunnel. A fairy in full combat gear was slowly advancing towards their hiding place, her beetle carapace body armour glinting in the lantern light. Just as she swung the ugly looking banshee rifle towards them, the tunnel walls seemed to ripple, growing first arms, then legs and heads as a squad of goblins climbed out of the earth and fell upon the fairy.

Within seconds the fairy was merely a bloody stain on the floor and the goblins scurried off up the tunnel whooping with delight, gore still hanging from their teeth and claws. Swazzle snatched up the discarded banshee rifle and swiftly retreated back into the shadows.

Pogmorton watched the goblins bounding away down the tunnel, ‘You know,’ he whispered, ‘those Black Crocus paramilitary units scare the crap out of me. You never know where they’re going to pop up next. There’s no talking to them either, they’re complete fanatics.’

‘Wouldn’t you be if most of your family was in the camps? We’re lucky the few who escaped decided to join us,’ hissed Swazzle, ‘Now we really ought to be leaving.’

A pack of slavering weasels scampered past, dragging their grim-faced Pixie handlers behind them on long silver leads.

‘Things must be bad if we’re committing weasels so early on,’ muttered Swazzle.

As they stepped from the alcove, Swazzle and Pogmorton were almost bowled over by another detachment of goblins thundering past, and only just had time to flatten themselves against the tunnel wall. The first three goblins carried a large, orange pneumatic nail gun between them. The rest of the platoon bringing up the rear with bandoliers of nails and what looked like a heavy video camera tripod. One of the goblins grinned as it passed, revealing a mouthful of razor-sharp fangs.

‘Fairies,’ it chortled, ‘Kill fairies. Lots of fairies. Very good.’

Pogmorton shivered.

‘Time to go,’ urged Swazzle, ‘Now!’

* * *

Amid the ruins of Flaarti’s lab, a small group of fairies crouched over the remains of an iron cage. Twinkle cradled her sister’s head in her lap.

‘I’m sorry,’ Saffron whimpered softly as the Healer examined the stump of her left wrist, ‘I told them about The Book.’

‘Hush now,’ soothed Twinkle, ‘It’s alright. We’ll get to The Book before they do. At least the Key’s still safe.’

‘It’s not though,’ Saffron wailed, ‘I told them where to find that too. I held out as long as I could but,’ she glanced towards her where her left hand should have been, ‘they weaselled it out of me.’

A collective shudder went through the fairies as each contemplated the poisonous, acidic bite of a weasel, one of the few non-magical things to which they were not immune.

Twinkle turned to a large male fairy with a battle-scarred face, ‘Lieutenant, I want Flaarti alive, we need to know exactly what he has planned.’

‘And the rest?’

She smiled thinly, ‘You know my orders.’


Friday, 9 April 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF Stories #6: Goddess Rising

Unlocking the gate at the rear of No. 13 Gallows Close, Simeon Chesterman put his shoulder against the wood and heaved. With an almighty squeak of protest the old gate suddenly shot open, depositing him in the slimy puddle that lay just across the threshold.

‘Shite!’ Simeon muttered, hauling himself to his feet and trying not to think too much about what he was attempting to wipe off the sleeve of his jacket.

Shouldering the gate shut again, he picked his way up the narrow path past piles of soggy cardboard boxes, builder’s rubble, dead pigeons – another one fresh this morning, and old shop fittings, to the rear door of the shop. He checked his watch – 5.02am, he was two minutes late.

Bloody cats, he thought as he flicked the latest feathery corpse off the back step with his toe of his shoe before unlocking the half-dozen five-lever dead locks and letting himself in.

As the back door to the shop closed, high above, a small piece of brickwork detached itself from the old building and began to fall. At the last second, the fairy threw off the Blending Charm and swooped low over the yard before executing a graceful climbing turn up over the wall and, picking a last fragment of pigeon feather from her teeth, disappeared into the gathering dawn.

Hanging his jacket on the hook by the door, Simeon set his lunchbox down on the table in the back room and flipped on the kettle. Tea, he thought, always start the day with tea, makes everything alright does tea. While the kettle boiled, he washed his hands, repeatedly.

He poured the tea, recorded his arrival time in a small black notebook, then removed his training shoes and wriggled his toes into a pair of bunny slippers, whose mouths opened to reveal rows of sharp, pointed teeth and growled when he walked. The slippers had been a gift from a customer in the USA, whose orders always came in by email from an anonymous US PO box return address, and whom Simeon knew only as “Jezebel.” It had taken him months to track down the particular volume “Jezebel” had wanted, his scars had almost healed, and he was more than a little grateful when the package had arrived by return.

Taking his mug of tea through to the shop, Simeon set it down on a coaster next to the till and went to check the Warding Charms he kept permanently set around the place, noting with relief no one, no-thing, had disturbed them.

Simeon surveyed his domain. Dust. Books and dust, that was what characterised Goddess Rising for the few who had ever ventured across the threshold, by invitation of course. Bookshelves lined every inch of the walls, free-standing bookcases and tables occupying almost all of the rest of the space, each overflowing with tomes and grimoires of every conceivable size, age and language.

After a quick slurp of tea, Simeon picked his way through the teetering piles to check for notes in the dumb waiter hidden in a back corner – only two volumes required today he read, and both in stock. The landlord must be taking it easy for once, he thought as he gathered up the two requested books and placed them on the dumb waiter’s tray.

As he closed the hatch Simeon sighed contentedly - he loved his job and could think of nothing better than spending his days surrounded by the smell of ancient texts, though at the back of his mind was a constant nagging doubt that he would be found out.

That nagging doubt, insidious in its tenacity, was because Simeon Chesterman had a secret. Something he had never revealed to another living soul, something that had coloured his view of the world since the age of sixteen – Simeon Chesterman had seen a fairy.

Just the once, in the woods behind his grandparent’s house on a scorching day in August, 1976.

The fairy had spoken to him at length about the Magical Realm and had told Simeon there was a plan for him, that one day he would play a vital part in a larger struggle. She had given him something, wrapped in a walnut shell and had told him to keep it with him always, that it was more important than life itself; Simeon assumed she meant hers.

The walnut shell and its mysterious contents, at which Simeon had never dared to look, currently resided in the shop safe, a much more secure place than anywhere in the high-rise council flat on a very rough estate across town that he called home.

By the time he had drained his first mug of tea of the day, Simeon had worked through much of his usual routine – he had checked the Wards, checked the dumb waiter, checked his email for orders – two, and one of the requested books would take some getting hold of. Ticking off these items on his internal list, Simeon bent down under the counter and opened the safe, making sure the contents remained untouched from the night before.

Realisation hit him with a wave of nausea, and he only just made it across the shop, wrenching open the door to the under stairs cloakroom before vomiting his tea into the Victorian porcelain lavatory bowl. The walnut shell was gone.

As he had torn open the cloakroom door, Simeon was nearly bowled over as a large, terrified cat streaked past. Completely bald, wild-eyed, and glowing a pale shade of blue, the cat shot behind a pile of books leaving dust motes swirling in its wake.

* * *

Swazzle and Pogmorton swaggered along Gallows Close, Swazzle throwing the walnut shell up in the air, bouncing it off his bicep and catching it again.

‘That was surprisingly easy,’ he said, ‘Now all we need is the book.’

‘Hmmm,’ Pogmorton replied, ‘Getting hold of that is not going to be quite so simple.’

‘Shame about the cat though,’ said Swazzle, ‘I usually quite like cats.’


I'd like to dedicate this story to my good friend @LauraEno, without whose persuasion encouragement I would almost certainly never have taken the plunge and written for #FridayFlash, Laura, this is all your fault! Laura is a great writer and you can find her blog here.


Thursday, 1 April 2010

Guest Post: #FridayFlash by Aislinn O'Connor - The Dark Assassin

I'm very pleased to introduce Future; Nostalgic's first ever guest post, a debut piece of flash fiction from my good friend Aislinn O'Connor (whom you can find at: @Aislinnye24 on Twitter). Hope you enjoy it.

The Dark Assassin
Aislinn O'Connor

With his dark clothing and equally dark thoughts, he waited in the shadows of the night. Some called him a hero and some a vigilante - some almost worshipped him, while others thought he was the devil's child. It didn't matter. Secure in his identity, he needed no-one's approbation but his own.

His victim would, he knew, arrive at any moment. Already his sharp ears had picked up footsteps, getting closer. Quick, light footsteps that betokened hurry.

Their owner was, of course, no match for him - his strength, his agility, his lightning-fast reactions... or his absolute determination to rid the world of yet another enemy. He poised himself to strike.

It only took a moment, and the deed was done. Not a sound escaped his victim - just the lightest of thuds as the mouse's tiny body hit the pavement. The pure-black cat, almost invisible in the shadow of the wall, licked his lips in anticipation and settled down to wait for his next kill.

Thank you for reading. Let's hear it for Aislinn everybody!

You can find the rest of this week's #FridayFlash stories in the usual place, and please follow the #fridayflash hashtag on Twitter for all the latest, up-to-the-Tweet news of #FridayFlash.

The UCF Stories will return next week.

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