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.

Right then, on with the blog...

Thursday, 29 July 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF Stories #16: The Tome of Levelling (Part 1)

The Tome of Levelling (Part 1) is the sixteenth installment in my on-going flash fiction serial, The UCF Stories. If you'd like to read the story from the beginning, please go here.

Back in Botchett's quarters at Goddess Rising, Swazzle and Pogmorton are just settling down for a nice cup of tea. Mistress Botchett is baking while her husband is making sure the Wyrm in its travelling box is securely stowed away.

Swazzle and Pogmorton sat at Mistress Botchett's kitchen table in the basement-below-the-basement of Goddess Rising. Botchett was busy securing the travelling box in the cupboard under the stairs.

'Look at the state of my hat.' Swazzle poked his finger through the neat hole left by the Banshee rifle bullet and wiggled it. 'And it's my best one. Where am I going to get a new one from now?'

'Give it here, hinny, I'll get my needle and thread.' Mistress Botchett bustled past with a huge steaming leek pudding. 'You'll never know there was a hole when I'm done with it.'

Swazzle wasn't convinced and glanced over at Pogmorton for reassurance. Pogmorton sat in Botchett's rocking chair, his back to the fireplace, cuddling a pint mug of tea and staring vacantly into space.

'What do you think, should I let Mistress Botchett have a go at fixing my hat?'

Pogmorton didn't seem to have heard him.

'I said,' began Swazzle again, nudging his friend, 'Shall I let...'

'Yes, I heard you,' snapped Pogmorton. 'The fairies have Rushalka in one of their prisons and you're sitting here, banging on about your bloody hat!'

Swazzle threw his hands up in a placatory gesture. 'And as soon as it's fixed we'll get working on a plan to get her out.' He handed the hat to Mistress Botchett as she passed.

'I'm sorry, I'm sorry.' Pogmorton shook his head sadly, 'It's just that...'

He was interrupted as Jamieson the house spirit dashing through the wall next to the fireplace, worry writ large upon his face. 'You'd better come at once,' he wheezed, dabbing his sweaty face with a large floury hankerchief, 'The Reverend has the witch upstairs. He's showing her The Book.'

Jamieson's emphasis on the last two words snapped Swazzle's mind back to the task at hand from where it had been wandering, idly contemplating how house spirits could get out of breath when they didn't actually need to run anywhere. Even Pogmorton was taking an interest.

'Lead on Master Jamieson,' Pogmorton instructed, jumping to his feet, 'We're right behind you.' The three of them bolted for the stairs, nearly sending Botchett flying as he emerged from the cupboard under the stairs.

'Gan canny, bonny lad!' Botchett grabbed the end of the kitchen table to steady himself. 'What's going on, like?' Jamieson repeated his message as he took the stairs two at a time.

'I'll be right with you,' called Botchett, diving back into the cupboard.

* * *

Aveena shuddered. She could sense the contents of the museum cabinets lining the walls of Rev. Beresford's study. She also sensed a certain amount of unease emanating from the Rev himself, as though he knew that she knew what they held.

'Welcome. Welcome,' Rev Beresford beamed. 'Come in, Miss Murphy. I have something to show you.' He glanced over Aveena's shoulder into the doorway. 'Simeon, would you mind putting the kettle on, there's a good chap.'

Simeon trudged down the landing to the small kitchen at the rear of Rev Beresford's rooms and, after shaking the kettle to check it was full, flicked the wall switch and waited. As the kettle burbled away in the background, Simeon busied himself setting out the tea cups, sugar and milk jug on a tray and trying not to wonder about whatever it was Rev Beresford wanted to show Aveena.

* * *

Rev Beresford was just reaching over to hand the book to Aveena when Simeon appeared in the doorway, the tea things rattling and chinking on the tray. At precisely the same moment, Swazzle, Pogmorton and Botchett burst through a small door in the wall next to the fireplace that apparently no-one had noticed was there, almost tumbling over each other as they skidded to a halt on the polished oak floorboards. Master Jamieson, it appeared, had decided discretion was the better part of valour and had vanished the second the door began to open.

Simeon let out a small squeak of surprise and dropped the tea tray. Rev Beresford jumped and put his back out, collapsing back into his armchair, grimacing. Aveena neatly snatched the book from mid-air as Rev Beresford dropped it, and in the aftermath of the tea things hitting the floor, no-one said anything for a moment or two.

Rev Beresford was the first to recover his composure, squinting over the top of his bi-focals at the intruders. Swazzle and Pogmorton stood stock still in front of the fireplace trying to look innocent, with Botchett a pace behind them.

'Good God above!' Rev Beresford stared excitedly at Botchett, 'Can it really be?' He wiped his glasses. 'A Gnomus vulgaris, right here in my front room? I had thought you extinct. What is your name, my fine fellow?'

'Now see here,' Botchett replied indignantly, shouldering his way forward. 'Who're you calling vulgaris? Gnomus Officinalis Mackemii, if you don't mind, bonny lad.' Botchett put his hands on his hips and puffed his chest out.

Rev Beresford just stared, his mouth hanging open in amazement.

'Aye,' chuckled Botchett, 'We still exist, like. Not the myth you thought I was, eh, bonny lad?'

Rev Beresford opened his mouth to reply, but was interrupted by the front window to his rooms disintegrating in a blossoming cloud of glittering fragments of glass, which rained down over the assembled party. Instinctively, they covered their eyes with their hands.

Once the glass had settled and they dared to look again, there on the windowsill, framed by the remains of the broken window, stood six fairies, five of them levelling Banshee rifles at the assembled company while their leader strode into the room.

Pulling off her helmet, Twinkle advanced on Aveena, her eyes riveted to the book in Aveena's hands.

'I'll take that,' said Twinkle, holding out her hand, a grim look on her face.


Sunday, 25 July 2010

Fabulous Flash Award

Jon Strother, founding father of FridayFlash said recently:

“I have decided to start the Fabulous Flash Award to spotlight some folks I feel deserve recognition for their, well… fabulous flash fiction.”

I am so grateful to my good friends Marisa of Out of Order Alice, Maria of Mazzz in Leeds and Joely of Between the Words who have very kindly awarded me the Fabulous Flash Award; I'm still blushing. It has been an almost impossible task for me to pick only four recipients from from the very long list of fabulous FridayFlash writers to pass the award on to. My list is at the end of this post, but first, the rules:

Fabulous Flash Award:
  1. acknowledge receiving the award in a blog post
  2. link back to the person who awarded it
  3. select four other fabulous flashers to receive the award to keep spreading the joy
  4. write one or two short lines explaining why you’ve chosen each recipient
  5. optionally (I know not everyone is on Twitter) tweet, “I just gave the Fabulous Flash Award to (name). They’re worth reading.” Include a shortened URL back to your post in the tweet.
I'd like to pass the Fabulous Flash Award on to, in no particular order:

Angie Capozello – writer of the Nox and Grimm flash fiction serial and owner of The Penny Dreadful, Angie's work is always a pleasure to read. Her Nox and Grimm stories are a particular favourite of mine, their fantasy world is incredibly rich and detailed, and Angie has a deft ability with cliffhanger endings.

Icy Sedgwick - a fellow Northener, Icy writes wonderful flash fiction stories (ask her about the parrot), the web serial “Tales from Vertigo City” and has recently begun audio podcasting her work through AudioBoo, which has the added advantage of me being able to listen to her stories in the mother tongue!

Emma Newman – a writer of sublime talent, Emma never fails to disappoint with any story of her's I've read. Her FridayFlash stories are a heady, ecclectic mix, and her Split Worlds serial is truly magical and captivating. Emma's short story club delivers a free short story to my inbox every month as well; what could be better than that?

Gracie Motley – beautifully crafted flash fiction stories that gently but inexorably draw you into their world are the hallmark of Gracie's work. She is also the writer of the on-going flash fiction fantasy serial “Fire and Water,” which is filled with dragons, shape-shifters and other magical types, and is always a pleasure to read.

Please take a minute to visit these excellent writers, you will not be dissapointed.


Wednesday, 21 July 2010

#FridayFlash: A Last Hurrah

The Pixies will return next week, in the meantime the following story is my entry for Deanna Schrayer's Birthday Writing Contest. It is also the 100th post here at Future; Nostalgic, I can't think of a better post to mark my first century.


Biting back the tears, Mary gazed deep into Tom's eyes. Birthdays weren't supposed to be like this, she thought, they were meant to be joyous occasions, not something papered over with a veneer of bonhomie. At least Tom seemed happy. It was sometimes hard to tell these days, but as she watched him sitting up in his hospice bed, slowly working his way through a steak dinner and sipping his wine, she began to relax a little.

'Lovely steak, dear,' Tom mumbled, 'My compliments to the chef.'

Mary smiled.

'Shame Sarah couldn't join us,' Tom continued, 'but I know she's busy, what with work and the kids.'

Mary felt the sudden stab of anxiety. 'I'm sure she'll be here tomorrow.'

'I hope so.' Tom took another mouthful of wine.

Mary did not respond. She was re-living the previous day's argument with her daughter, the reason why Sarah hadn't come to visit her father on his birthday.

'Mum, you can't!'

'But love, it's what he wants.'

'He can't!'

'He's old...'

'His mind's going. I'm having no part in this lunacy.'

Mary sighed. 'He's old,' she repeated gently, 'But his brain's as sharp as a tack. He knows his own mind.'

'But Mum!'

'No buts. If it's what your Dad wants for his birthday, why should I argue? Don't you think he's earned it?'

'But, what about the kids? What will they think? What do I tell them?'

'That their Granddad is old, he's happy, and that he knows what he wants.'

'He's dying, Mum. For God's sake!'

'No. It's decided. He's decided. I'm not going to argue with you any more. And don't you dare say anything to him about it. I will not have him upset.'

The last sentence hung in empty air, Sarah had already left, the slowly closing door the only reminder of her presence.

* * *

As Mary drove Tom out to the airfield the next morning, she didn't really expect to see Sarah's car in the car park, but still felt a pang of regret that it wasn't there when they pulled in. While Tom wheeled himself across to the hanger, she dialled Sarah's number on her mobile phone and stared up at the clear blue sky while the phone rang, and rang. Voicemail.

Mary dabbed her eyes with a handkerchief as she walked slowly over to the hanger. Tom, newly kitted out in blue overalls, was deep in conversation with a man in a pilot's uniform. Seeing her looking a bit lost, the pilot excused himself and walked over, extending his hand.

His grip was warm and reassuringly firm. 'Good morning, you must be Mary?'

'Yes. Is he...' she glanced over at Tom, ' he...'

'He's just fine. We'll take good care of him. Don't you worry.' The pilot smiled, patting her hand. 'I'm Adam by the way, I'll be flying Tom today.'

There were so many questions Mary wanted to ask, but her voice had deserted her. Taking the silence for agreement, Adam continued. 'You can watch from the spectators' area,' he said steering her towards the door. 'It's over there,' he pointed, 'just where that little shelter is. The thing that looks like a bus stop.'

'Thank you, 'Mary murmured. 'I just wanted to ask...' she began, but Adam was already out of earshot, walking towards the plane that dominated the hanger. Mary wandered over to the spectators' area and settled herself on the bench inside the perspex shelter.

Her heart was in her mouth, white knuckles twisting the hankerchief into knots as the plane was pulled out of the hanger and started its engines. As it taxied across the apron, Mary saw it brake suddenly as a figure dashed out from the hanger and clambered aboard.

'Oh God,' she whispered, 'Please tell me there's something wrong with the plane so he can't go.'

The plane began moving again and was soon climbing into the azure morning sky, leaving Mary a lonely, disconsolate figure on the tarmac.

After what seemed like hours squinting fearfully into the sun, Mary watched as first one, then another, then finally a larger black speck emerged from the plane and began to fall away back to earth. When, a few seconds later, the canopies opened, Mary let out the breath that had been tightening her chest. Even she had to marvel at the sight of her husband, in tandem with his instructor floating serenely towards the large white “X” marked on the grass in front of her.

As Tom swooped in low for a landing, Mary caught sight of his face. He was grinning. A huge, sparking grin that lit up his face, and just for an instant she was transported back to the dance in the church hall, April 12th, 1940, when she'd seen that grin for the first time as the sergeant with paratrooper insignia on his shoulders had asked her to dance.

It wasn't until the canopies had been gathered in and Tom gently lowered back into his wheelchair by his instructor and the photographer, that Mary noticed the other figure again. She bent down to kiss Tom, pulling her helmet off and shaking out her long blonde hair as she straightened. Mary's heart leapt as Sarah turned towards her mother and waved, a mirror image of her father's grin lighting up her face.

Sarah ran over and hugged her Mother.

'I'm sorry, Mum, I nearly missed it,' she mumbled into Mary's neck. 'You were right though, I couldn't not go with Dad, could I?'

Mary held her daughter out at arm's length, gazing deeply into her daughter's blue eyes. 'Thank you,' she mouthed.

Mary pecked Tom on the cheek then stood back, not wanting to intrude on the memories her husband was excitedly sharing with his instructor.

'Dad, that was brilliant!' Sarah laughed, 'Bloody scary though.'

Tom roared with laughter at his daughter, a knowing, bittersweet look passing privately between him and Mary.

'Aye, kid,' he replied, 'As birthdays go, that one wasn't too bad.'


Monday, 19 July 2010

Audioboo and a Gargling Cat...

Tony Noland, owner of the excellent writing blog Landless, has kindly offered me the opportunity to regale you all with my thoughts about Audioboo and what it could mean for authors of flash fiction. To discover what I think about it, and to find out where the gargling cat fits in, head on over to Landless and check out my post.


Friday, 16 July 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF Stories #15: Repercussions

Repercussions is the fifteenth installment in my on-going flash fiction serial, The UCF Stories. If you'd like to read the story from the beginning, please go here.


Having at last captured the Wyrm, Botchett, Swazzle and Pogmorton are preparing to return with it to the mortal realm when they come under attack by a fairy patrol...

Hastily dismantling his apparatus, Botchett grabbed his backpack and pulled from it a three-barrelled shotgun-type contraption. Pumping a round into the shotgun's chamber, Botchett loosed off a shot as another five fairies, flying in a “V” formation, appeared close behind the first. A green-glowing pine cone arced through the air, exploding with a terrific bang amid the fairy flight. One of the fairies clutched her face and spiralled into the ground.

'By the god's balls, Botchett! Where did you learn to do that?' Swazzle was amazed.

Botchett laughed. 'I wasn't always a Wyrm catcher, bonny lad.' Turning to the fairies, he roared, 'Howay, ye little winged bastards, come and get it! Pilgrim's back, and there's gonna be some dying this fine morning, like.'

As the fairies began to return fire, rounds from their banshee rifles screaming overhead, Swazzle and Pogmorton joined the fray, loosing off shots from their wands while Botchett deafened them with the reports of his shotgun. Two more fairies went down under their combined fire before a banshee rifle round took Swazzle's hat clean off his head. Swazzle's black look by return, flew unerringly towards its mark and began to claw the fairy's face off; she was still desperately trying to pull it off her when she flew full tilt into a tree, her body landing with a sickening thud among its roots.

The remaining two fairies were by now adept at avoiding Botchett's shotgun blasts, and their fire was becoming dangerously accurate, so with Botchett holding onto the travelling box, Swazzle and Pogmorton grabbed him under the arms and dashed off in the direction of the portal, Delilah scampering along at their heels.

Tumbling back into the mortal realm, Swazzle, Pogmorton and Botchett ran up Hangman's Passage. As they reached the intersection with Gallows Close, Pogmorton skidded to a halt, motioning the others to do the same.

'What is it?' Swazzle whispered, flattening himself against the wall.

'Fairy,' Pogmorton pointed, 'In that tree in the churchyard.'

Swazzle whispered to Botchett to stay where he was with the travelling box while he and Pogmorton dealt with the problem. Seeing the grim determination on Swazzle's face, Botchett did not argue as the two Pixies blinked out of sight.

* * *

Twinkle was cold and stiff. She'd been hiding in the tree for hours, waiting for any sign of movement from within Goddess Rising. She knew the witch was in there, but there had been no indication she had gone anywhere near the book yet. It was up to Twinkle to stop her if she did, especially since the Pixies now had the walnut shell formerly entrusted to the keeping of that idiot Simeon. At least while the shell's contents were in his possession, no one would have suspected the awesome power it held.

Hunkering down against the trunk of the Beech tree, Twinkle pulled her cloak more tightly around her and tried to get comfortable. It was a lost cause. There was bound to be movement soon, she thought, then I can get out of here.

* * *

With a soft “pop,” Swazzle and Pogmorton blinked into existence next to one of the huge stone buttresses holding up the church wall. After checking their arrival had not been observed, Pogmorton gestured to Swazzle and they tiptoed quickly across to the base of the tree in which Twinkle was hiding.

'We need a diversion,' Pogmorton mouthed to Swazzle.

Swazzle winked and, working his throat as though he was retching, carefully spat something into his hand. Swazzle took a step back to check his aim, then lobbed the content of his hand gently up towards where Twinkle crouched.

At the top of its arc, and just behind Twinkle's head, Swazzle's larynx began to move. 'BOO!' it shouted, and the Pixies had to dive out of the way as Twinkle jumped, lost her footing and tumbled to the ground, fighting in vain to free her wings from the swaddling folds of her cloak before she hit the ground.

Twinkle landed at their feet with a thud, groaned and lay still. Swazzle deftly caught his voice box and stuffed it back into his mouth as Pogmorton bent over to see if Twinkle was badly injured, or worse.

'Out for the count,' he announced with satisfaction.

'Not dead then?' Swazzle squeaked, hands working to adjust his throat. He coughed then continued in his normal voice, 'It's Twinkle!'

'Aye, it is,' replied Pogmorton, 'And no, she's not dead, just unconscious. ' He clapped Swazzle on the back, 'Well done by the way, throwing your voice like that was perfect, just perfect.'

Swazzle bowed low, grinning. 'So, what do we do now?'

'Get Botchett and the Wyrm inside sharpish before she comes round.' With a soft pop they disappeared.

* * *

Master Jamieson's front door, referred to by the Pixies as the “tradesmen's entrance,” though not in Jamieson's presence, had barely closed behind Botchett when Twinkle moaned and slowly began to move, holding the back of her head as pain arced through her skull. She still wasn't sure exactly what had happened, but it smelled to her like a Pixie trick, and she strongly suspected which pixies were responsible.

Getting gingerly to her feet, Twinkle neatly folded her cloak and, after a few tentative flaps, took to the air in search of a better vantage point.


Friday, 9 July 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF Stories #14: The Trap is Sprung

You can read the UCF Stories from the beginning here.


As Pogmorton crept slowly forward, the Wyrm gave no indication it was aware of his approach, its attention focussed completely on the fairies' frantic fortification of their border. Creeping as close as he dared, Pogmorton did as Botchett had instructed and whispered, 'Psst! Wyrmy.' Immediately he sensed the Wyrm stiffen, its tail stopped swishing from side to side and he was sure it turned its head imperceptibly towards him, but when it made no move in his direction, Pogmorton repeated the call, a little louder this time. Still nothing.

I must be mad, thought Pogmorton as, wiping the sweat from his palms, he inched the barbed pole forward and, Botchett's instructions ringing in his head, worked the tip between the Wyrm's scales and prodded forcefully.

The effect was instantaneous. Rearing and snorting, the Wyrm turned, steam jetting from its nostrils. An eerie, visceral screech escaped from deep within its throat.

On the border to the fairy kingdom the prisoners and their guards froze in terror. Pogmorton caught only the briefest glimpse of a familiar face among the fairies' work gangs before diving out of the way as the Wyrm lunged, it's huge shovel-shaped head slamming into the earth inches from where he'd been crouching, clods of earth flying in all directions.

Scrambling to his feet, Pogmorton took off at a sprint, jinking this way and that. A terrible rumbling sound filling his ears as, giving chase, the Wyrm bulldozed its way through earth and vegetation. Glancing over his shoulder, Pogmorton saw steam being sucked back into the Wyrm's nostrils, a sure sign according to Botchett, that things were about to get hotter.

Just as he threw himself behind an outcrop of rock, the Wyrm began a long rumbling exhalation, and liquid fire splattered against the rock and surrounding vegetation, barely missing Pogmorton's body and singeing the hair on the right side of his head and burning away the tip of his pointed Pixie hat.

The Wyrm smashed its head down onto the rock, dust and stone chipping raining down over Pogmorton. He rolled quickly to his right and, just for an instant, came eye to eye with the beast. Time seemed to slow as Pogmorton took in the baleful glare of a huge reptilian eye, centuries of pain and fury seeming to exude from within the creature's soul. Pogmorton felt a stab of pity at the sight of scars from old injuries around the beast's head, then the Wyrm slowly bared its fangs and Pogmorton's nose was assaulted by the stench of rotting flesh, the remains of a fairy's arm stuck between two of the creature's wickedly sharp teeth.

Great slimy gobs of saliva dribbled slowly from the Wyrm's mouth onto Pogmorton's trousers. He winced as the acidic drool began to burn his leg and saw the Wyrm's eye snap instantly into focus as he moved. Scrabbling desperately backwards, Pogmorton jumped to his feet and dashed away towards Botchett's trap, the Wyrm snapping sideways at his retreating form.

* * *

'Here they come,' yelled Swazzle.

As Pogmorton streaked under Botchett's net, Botchett and Swazzle took up their positions. The Wyrm, now fully focussed on its Pixie prey, followed Pogmorton straight into the mouth of the trap, but it was only Botchett and Swazzle's quick reactions that avoided it barrelling out of the other end before the net could be released. Howling in rage and pain, the Wyrm thrashed as Botchett's net tightened itself, biting cruelly into the beast's hide. Swazzle and Botchett scurried this way and that, pegging the net down until, at last, the Wyrm lay immobile, seething with impotent anger. The net was designed to be tightest around its head, preventing the Wyrm from using its fiery breath.

Once the Wyrm had been contained, Swazzle and Botchett wandered over to where Pogmorton stood, doubled over, sucking in great lungfuls of air while his clothes smouldered.

'Well done, bonny lad!' Botchett beamed, clapping Pogmorton on the back. 'You're a natural. Couldn't have done it better myself, like.' He pulled a flask of dandelion whisky from his pocket, 'Here you go, looks like you could do with a drop.'

Botchett turned to Swazzle, 'Keep an eye on him, like,' he said quietly, 'While I go and sort the travelling box out.'

Swazzle, puzzled, turned to find silent tears streaming down the Pogmorton's face.

'By the gods, what's up? You're all right, I'm all right, so is Botchett, and we caught the bloody Wyrm.'

'They have her,' Pogmorton sniffled, 'The fairies have Rushalka.' He caught sight of Swazzle's shocked expression. 'I thought she was dead. We all did. How was I to know what had really happened?'

Swazzle whistled in disbelief. 'I had no idea...' he began, then paused, the colour draining from his face. 'You hear that?' He cocked his head to one side as the familiar droning grew louder.

'Fairies.' He turned, 'Botchett...'

'I hear 'em, bonny lad.' Botchett had set up what looked like the horn from an old gramophone on top of the travelling box and was frantically turning the handle on the side of the box. The Wyrm was drawn gradually from under the net, shrinking as it went, the tip of its tail had just disappeared into the mouth of the horn when the first fairy appeared on the horizon.


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Commenting Problems on Blogger

Apparently, Blogger is having an "issue" with comments. Needless to say, I am not a happy bunny as the last five people who commented on my previous #Zombieluv #FridayFlash post have had their comments eaten. Rumour has it that Blogger are working on a fix, though I have yet to see any official word about this.

Therefore, since I'm still getting email notifications of new comments, I intend manually adding them should I need to. Having said that, I did just that this morning and, whilst the comment count on the post has not updated, if you open the Post a Comment link in a new tab on Firefox, some of those comments do appear. (edit: not any more they don't!)

If anyone has a fix for this, lemme know!

Please keep leaving me comments, and I'll use the manual fix below until such time as the problem is fixed. Thank you for your patience (edit: It seems, as of 12noon GMT that Anonymous comments are getting through).

So, here, without further ado, are those comments Blogger keeps eating, along with my replies:

Icy Sedgwick said:

Wow, you just took the concept and ran with it! This is by far one of my favourites - such a different way of looking at it! Awesome tale.

Jane Travers said:

Fantastic! Loved the idea of the zombie family, pets and all. :)

That kiss at the end sounds a bit like my first snog, though... *shudders*

jdanetyler said:

Great job on this! A whole family of rotten creeps. Literally. :) Nice job!

Laurita said :

ahhh, it does the heart good. Formaldehyde breath was a nice touch. :)

Karen from Mentor said:

I only read Carrie's comment. oh man. ECHOES CARRIE with feeling.

Good. hurl. eyeball in dinner.


Man I must really love you guys.

In reply, Sam said:

Icy - Thanks so much! I wanted to do something different as I must confess to not knowing much about "classic" zombies. I'm so pleased you enjoyed what I did with it.

Jane - Thanks for the lovely feedback, but possibly a shade too much information?! ;)

jdantyler - Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed my story.

Laurita - The formaldehyde breath was a flash of inspiration mid-way through the writing of this story, I'm pleased you enjoyed it. Thanks for your comment.

Karen - LMAO!!! Thanks for the great feedback. :)

Update 13.54 GMT:

Seems the problem still exists, as the following comments didn't make it through, even though I still got email notifications:

Cathy Olliffe said:

It happens to me, too, sometimes. Sort of goes in waves. I won't have a problem for a long time, then it will arrive sporadically and then disappear.
I also have problems commenting sometimes. I'll write a long comment only to have it not post. After a few frustrations I've learned to copy the comment before I hit post. That way if it has screwed up, I can try again with only hitting paste, rather than re-writing.
Good luck with the prob! I like to imagine that I have twice as many comments, only half of them were eaten by Blogger.
Which makes me think: perhaps Blogger is a zombie.

Mari said:

That's weird... The commenting seems to be working fine back at Randomities...

I hope this problem will be solved soon! *hugs*

Update 08.50 GMT 07/07/2010

Well, as of this morning, all the lost comments appear to have returned. Phew! Here's hoping this is an end to the problem. Thanks for all your messages of support.


Friday, 2 July 2010

#FridayFlash: Zombie Luv Flash Fiction Contest: For The Love of Mike!

Well Mari, this is what happens when you talk me into something. Don't say I didn't warn you!


'Ma! He's doing it again!'

Maggie sighed and, apologising to the spirits, opened a door in her circle, stepped through and carefully closed it again behind her. Picking up the candle she'd left burning on the dresser, Maggie hurried through the darkened cottage to the kitchen.

Bartholomew stood on his hind legs in his cage on the counter top, nose and whiskers quivering as Maggie snapped on the light and set the candle down on the kitchen table. Bramble sat on the floor staring intently at the mouse in its cage, swishing his tale back and forth and moaning, flexing his claws against the tiles. Mike was over by the sink, giggling.

'See Ma, Bramble's at it again,' Mike slurred.

'Bramble! What have I told you?' Maggie scolded. Bramble turned, fixing her with a pair of milky, dead eyes.

'Yes, you!' she continued. 'Leave that mouse alone. Come on, shift.' She flapped her hands at the cat, who lurched unsteadily to its feet and shuffled stiffly across the floor towards Mike, the tip of his tail hanging at a strange but jaunty angle. Midway across the floor, Bramble's left ear quivered then dropped off onto the tiles.

'Oh not again,' Maggie muttered, hunting through a drawer for the glue.

Bramble let out a low, moaning meow as he approached Mike. Mike grinned a lopsided grin.

'You hear that?' He sounds like me.' Mike stuck his hands out in front of him and shuffled towards the cat. 'M-O-U-S-S-S-S-E,' he moaned, and even Maggie had to smile. It had never crossed her mind when she'd raised Bramble that a zombie cat would retain the instincts it'd had in life.

Mike stooped awkwardly to pick Bramble up and Maggie froze. As he straightened up she released the breath she hadn't been aware she was holding, nothing important had come adrift. While Mike wasn't looking, she poked his eyebrow out of sight under the table with her toe; she'd stick it back on later while he was sleeping.

Seeing the love Mike still had for Bramble brought a lump to Maggie's throat, casting her instantly back to the night of the accident. She'd been driving them back from the vet's after getting Bramble's booster injection when their car had been T-boned by a drunk driver in a horse box. Mike and Bramble had died instantly, yet she'd walked away without a scratch.

It had taken her months to perfect the spell, Bartholomew was proof of her first successful attempt. She preferred not to think about the previous ones, and wouldn't be caught outside after dark for love nor money. Even so, it was neither as simple, nor as quiet a procedure as she'd thought, so Maggie had sold up and moved to the cottage – nothing for miles around in all directions except fields. The perfect place to re-build her family.

She'd done the best she could with Mike, even shopping online for a preparation popular among undertakers, which really did seem to help arrest the decay. It had even seemed to help Mike retain his speech, at least for a few weeks, but recently she'd noticed his vocabulary diminishing and he seemed to be having increasing trouble forming words. Regular baths of strong-smelling herbs helped with the odour, whether Mike enjoyed them or not. The only thing that saddened her was she could do nothing about the ugly gash running across Mike's face, loosening his right eye, which had ended up in his dinner on a few occasions.

Mike seemed happy to be back, though isolated as he was in their new home, he was lonely. When the nightmares had got so bad he'd stumbled into her room and tried to wrench the top of her head off, Maggie had resolved to get him another pet. A zombie mouse was hardly the pet for a growing lad she thought, so Maggie had performed the ritual again to bring back Mike's beloved Bramble.
Seeing Mike cuddling Bramble and tickling him behind his remaining ear had Maggie all misty eyed. She recalled vividly as she dabbed her eyes on her sleeve, their first night together again as a family. A pet-food commercial had played on TV featuring a small boy and his cat. Mike had dissolved into hysterical moaning, which Maggie took for laughter, and when she'd asked him what was so funny, he'd fixed her with his lopsided grin and moaned, 'My cat loves braiinnnsss, and I love my cat.' He'd even emphasised the “t” of cat, just like the little boy in the advert.
* * *

Completing the ritual for the final time, Maggie exhaled slowly as the body of her husband William, dead from leukaemia these past four years, began to twitch within the circle. As she lay down next to him, Maggie prayed this ritual would work. William had been dead longer than anyone, or anything, else she'd raised, and she'd had the devil's own job exhuming his body and driving it to the cottage by herself.

A single tear slid down Maggie's cheek as the spell took the last of her life-force to power William's awakening. It would be okay, it had to be, she thought as her heart finally stuttered and stopped, she'd built into the spell that she would join him, an undead wife to an undead husband, undead mother to an undead son. The spell had been complex to construct, but after all, a growing boy needed both his parents. William's eyes flickered open slowly, his head lolling to the side where Maggie lay entwined in his arm. Recognition seemed to flicker across his face.

'Hello, love,' he moaned softly, planting a passionate, foetid kiss on her lips, his cold, clammy tongue tentatively exploring her mouth. Maggie shuddered with elation – it had worked, it had! Her family was complete again.

We will have to do something about that formaldehyde breath though, Maggie thought as she returned the kiss.

  • Word count: maximum 1000
  • The story must be a romance between two zombies. Make it as horrific as you like.
  • Stories containing animal cruelty, torture, graphic sex or violence, any form of exaltation of violence, racism or other forms of prejudice will be immediately disqualified.
  • Post your entry on your own blog, with a title resembling this:
Zombie Luv Flash Fic Contest: Story Title
  • Leave your story title and a link to the story entry post as a comment at mari's randomities:
  • Copy and paste the contest logo and the guidelines at the end of your entry post.

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