The Builder Of Bridges #writephoto

a flash-fiction piece

“What’s down there?,” you ask. I’ll tell you.

Down there is curiosity, insight and awareness; but down there, for me, I’ll confess, is ego and pride.

For I am the Builder of Bridges. Though all you see is a simple means of getting from here to there, a journey so facile it’s over before you’ve paid it any mind. And even if you do slow a pace and look out over the parapet, what do you see? A scene which bears little relevance to your world at that moment. A world apart, merely a view, somewhere, down there. You might see far but you see very little.

“And the Hole?” Be brave, be curious; you must descend it to know…

Behold, the Bridge is not apart from the environment but a part of it. Look how the stones grow from the Earth and blossoming into its three Arches, the sweep of their curvature belying their physical strength, like graceful Atlas cradling the Firmament. See how the old world now embraces the younger pillars, the caress of passing waters, the hug of the road; how the very atmosphere clings to its lofty curves, how it assists the sounds of nature: a ripple, a footfall, the breeze rustling the leaves, a songbird.

“So, why is the hole so small, so narrow?” It’s a fair question, I’ll grant you.

I can only say that the fewer people that know of it, the sweeter it’s rewards will be. And, really, can one such as me, the Builder of Bridges, afford more ego and pride than I already have? The hole is the size that it ought to be, I’ll not say more.

(273 words)

written for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo #writephoto prompt.


a flash-fiction piece in six sentences

Having missed my bus this morning, I’ll walk on to the next three stops where a “Fare Zone” badge atop of a pole tells me that I’ll save a few centimes.

At the tube station, at last, and a perusal of the map informs me that it is Zone 6, and I need to cross all the other zones to get to my destination which, ironically, is also in Zone 6 but way, way, way over on the other side.

Checkpoint Charlie: You are now leaving the American Zone.

I miss my stop, having zoned out a bit there…

My ticket, no longer valid to backtrack along the line means I am arrested by the transport police – or the Stasi, or the Gestapo, or the Feds – and I am cuffed, marched backwards towards an anonymous grey car where I am forced into the back and a bag is placed over my head.

Beyond this place, there be dragons.

For Six Sentence Story on Girlontheedge’s Blog

Rules of the hop:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word.
On Thursday, link your post…
Spread the word and put in a good one to your fellow writers 


The Safebreaker’s Daughter

a flash-fiction piece

They’ll tell you careers are chosen, but that isn’t true. Had her parents been teachers, she may have stood front of class. Or if doctors, she might been saving lives. Though the course isn’t always obvious.

She built safes. Her mother cracked them. Every one. She wasn’t good enough; mother made sure of that: ridiculing, taunting, laughing to her face.

“Where’s your mother?”

The detectives called again. Another unsolved burglary. She didn’t know, she lied, and they left.

She stroked the box in the corner. Safes were made to be broken into, but breaking out was a different matter.

(99 words)

written for the Carrot Ranch Literary Community Flash Fiction Challenge: August 29th

In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the safebreaker’s daughter. Who is she, what did she do, and where? Go where the prompt leads you!

Adventitious: Word Prompt Challenge

a flash-fiction piece

He read books; he read avidly and consumed rapidly. His mind was a repository for their diverse ideas and random bits of insight. The adventitious influences helped him solve cases.

Take the one of the body buried in the wood. She had been seen there with her boyfriend, his whereabouts since, unknown.

The team had spent months doing the usual footwork. They spoke to everyone, and every interview corroborated the other. His initial suspicions of a conspiracy of silence eventually gave way to a deep feeling that they simply knew nothing of the boy’s escape. He became desperate for a break; the case was turning cold.

Then, one evening at home, cradling a glass of rum and perusing the rows of upright spines on his shelves, Housman passed across his mimd suddenly like a shadow.

But she shall lie with earth above,
And he beside another love.

His stomach knotted. “What if?”

In the morning, his sergeant and two uniformed men scoured the ground close to where the woman’s body had been uncovered. It took barely two hours to find the spot of turned earth beneath the rotting leaves; a shallow grave which the uniformed men excavated with ease. They’d found a second body.

The coroner, with the help of witnesses, would soon confirm his identity; he had indeed been the woman’s lover, and the cause of death had matched hers. The detective resisted a strong urge to shout for joy: the case was far from solved but he sensed there was a fresh breeze raising its sails.

the adventitious prompt came by way of the app’s push, “word of the day”.

Adventitious: (adj.) associated with something by chance rather than as an integral part; extrinsic; coming from outside.

the poetry lines are taken from “Along The Field As We Came By”, from A Shropshire Lad, by AE Housman. I came across it on the Poetry Foundation website last night.

I won’t be attempting a word of the day prompt every day, it would be too challenging, but maybe now and then, when the mood is right.

image by Sebastian Pilcher via

The Foreign Bloke

a flash-fiction piece

“Minding my own business, I was; jest popped out for a drink; the missus’s sister come visiting and I can handle a woman’s company, but two in the bush, you get my drift? I always sez, it’s for a man to decide whether he wants it or no. So, I sez, I’ll go for a snifter, my sweet, and give me regards to yer sister! So, I’m enjoying my lonesome with a glass and it’s slipping down peaceful, when this chap’s come over and what if he don’t settles besides me and bends my ear over a story ‘bout this man he met in a place like this. What a peculiar sight, sez he, I’d never believe it but it were true. It wasn’t that I doubted him, nor any word he spoke, it was jest I couldn’t understand everything he said, his accent, see? He was some foreign bloke.”

(150 words)

The city of Bath has a modest art museum. Its exhibits are not exceptional but it is a gallery and it’s a good place to experience something other than work for half an hour of a lunchtime. After many visits over a long time, I get to see the paintings as you might old friends. I see their familiar sides and then they reveal other things about themselves.

I hadn’t really taken in this funny little painting before, by Rex Whistler (not to be mistaken for the guy who famously painted his mother; that was the American artist, James McNeill Whistler). I snapped it on the mobile phone, it’s easier than describing it in words but I’ll do that as well.

It shows two guys sitting at a table upon which are two quite different drinks. Judging by the glasses, they look alcoholic so we can assume they’re sitting in a bar or pub, though the view out of the window behind them suggests the room is upstairs. Maybe a private room in a pub, or an hotel bar. The signs outside the window behind them don’t appear to be in English, so which of the two men is the eponymous “Foreign Bloke“?

It soon struck me that this painting would make a good prompt for a flash-fiction piece. Actually, galleries are awash with paintings which are ambiguous enough and intriguing to be fiction prompts (rather like The Girl With The Pearl Earring – a whole novel was inspired by that one).

Rex Whistler died in action in 1944, after the Normandy landings. He was a tank commander in the Welsh Guards Armoured Divisions. He was struck by the blast of a mortar shell whilst running between his incapacitated tank and the one following behind. When they recovered his body, there wasn’t a mark on it but his neck had been broken.

During combat service, he was an unauthorised war artist, stowing his brushes in a bucket hooked on the side of the tank. There were official war artists employed as serving men in WW2. It seems a very strange assignment to me.

Rex Whistler, artist 1905 – 1944 (wiki)

A Ghost Story #writephoto

Along that passage we share with presence
unseen, only knowing they’re there and perhaps
where they’ve been, by the scent of dankness, like
dew on old earth, or stone dust; by the motes
which twist in the morning’s beam, and a shadow
glimpsed where one ought not to be; when hairs
stand up upon our neck and our limbs grow
inexplicably chill, then, for a long
moment’s passing, all of time stands still.

written for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo #writephoto prompt – “Open”

Forgotten Memories #writephoto

a flash-fiction piece

Just a wall, we wouldn’t have noticed it, but a door, that’s something else. Remember how it drew our thoughts to imagining what could be on the other side?

Not that we would have bothered with a boring old door when there was that wall to climb. Besides, doors have locks, and a lock needs a key, and we didn’t have one of those between us. Which was a good job, really, because, I said, who wanted a key to unlock a door in a wall when you can climb over it instead? Not us.

It was apples on the other side, if you must know. Not that we went a bundle on apples; especially not those kind as they were sour green cookers. Remember, we made the little one eat a whole half of a big ‘un until he said he felt sick and threatened to tell his mum? He would have as well. We gave him nine pence and a button – that’s all we could muster between us – to keep him quiet. I don’t know if he ever told on us; we didn’t hear anything bad.

Not being able to eat the fruit, we had a battle instead, dividing ourselves into two tribes, standing apart and hurling great, green apples at each other. It was a laugh. Until Graham caught one in the gob; made his lip bleed; bright red all down his yellow shirt. And he cried.

He ran blubbing to the door and, somehow, he had it open, just like that, and was off home. The door hadn’t been locked at all, all that time. Fancy that? Still, it was a good job we hadn’t tried it first because, as I say, who wanted to walk through a silly old door when there was a perfectly good wall to climb?

written for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo #writephoto prompt – “Forgotten”.

(The image incidentally brought to mind HG Well’s short story, “The Door In The Wall”. It’s good; it’s part of a short story collection of his and I recommend it.)


a flash-fiction piece

In my seat, I try not to meet the eyes of my strange travelling companions in the row opposite while surreptitiously giving each of them the once-over.

When the carriage enters the underground tunnel, the dismal faces multiply as those seated to my left and my right are reflected in the windows behind those in front.

The noise is loud and a stifling blanket of claustrophobia begins to envelop me.

In the centre, above the head of a baldy man listening to yellow headphones, is the red emergency stop lever with its stark white warning, “£50 penalty for improper use”, and I wonder if that isn’t such a deterrent sum in this day and age.

I am suddenly aware of an out-of-body experience as I watch myself leap from my seat and, grasping the red handle, swing down on it with all my weight.

As we float uncontrollably in the ether of a peculiar parallel existence, some of the passengers are giving me the evil eye, like, how are they going to explain this to their boss later, while others are clearly bemused, yet to catch on to what’s happened, but I bet most will come to reflect on this sudden existential change with fondness, as you do, once you’ve realised you’ve actually survived something totally unexpected.

written for GirlieOnTheEdge’s Six Sentence Story – “Release”.

“Rules of the hop:
Write 6 Sentences. No more. No less.
Use the current week’s prompt word.
Come back here on Thursday, link your post…
Spread the word and put in a good one to your fellow writers.

The Unsung Ballad of Rod Taylor, Actor

a flash-fiction piece

You see some strange looking abodes in my job: hot food courier for Deliveroo. Take no. 73, Jackbottom Lane; its frontage put me in mind of the post-apocalyptic underground shelter inhabited by the cannibalistic Morlocks, in the film, The Time Machine, starring Australian actor, Rod Taylor.

Before landing the role, Taylor won an award in Sydney which included a ticket to London, with a stop over in L.A. He didn’t go to London, deciding Hollywood was a better bet. It was.

The Eloi exhibited no such subversiveness having evolved into a complaisant race, commanded only by the siren’s call, causing them to file, like Pavlov’s dogs, into the Morlocks’ shelter, to be consumed.

That is, until Rod arrives with our 20th century ethics: folks eating other folks? Wrong! But is it right to impose one society’s ethics on another?

I hand no. 73 their Hawaiian pizza. Buon appetito.

(150 words)

written for Crimson’s Creative Challenge #32

“Every Wednesday I post a photo (this week it’s that one above.)
You respond with something CREATIVE.

You have plenty of scope and only two criteria:

Your creative offering is indeed yours
Your writing is kept to 150 words or less.”

A Big Small Act of Kindness #writephoto

a flash-fiction piece

She ran an efficient refuge hostel, you couldn’t say less. Two spots to the right, six spots to the left, but strictly No Harlequins! Those were her rules.

“Yes, love, how can we help you? Need a space for the winter?”

The ladybird at the door looked shaken.

“Erm, no, thank you, but I was hoping you might have taken in some children…”

“Children!” she said, horrified, “What children would these be, then?”

She gave a quizzical glance to the tiny red thing hiding behind the larger one before her.

“Who’s this one, then?” she asked, accusingly.

The ladybird looked around, as if she hadn’t been aware of the little thing all along.

“This is my little Ann,” she replied, “she’s all I found, after the fire…”

“Fire?!” the manageress exclaimed with stern suspicion, “What fire would this be, then? We don’t tolerate no firebugs here…”

“No, no, no!” the mother implored. “I was out collecting aphids when I heard the cry; fly away home! But too late, the house was gone, as were the kids, except little Ann who had the sense to crawl beneath a pan…”

“Oh, you poor thing,” interrupted the manageress, because bugs have sensibilities too. She turned to face the twin entrances and bellowed into the masses,

“Oi! Anyone seen this here lady’s children?! Seeking refuge from an house fire, they are!”

There was a scuffle and a tussle, a bit of pushing, and a shove, and a faint cry of “Mum!”, and three two-spots in increasing sizes finally came to the fore, and all five of them then burst into tears. Though not the manageress; she was made of tougher stuff. At least that’s what her reputation had you believe. But under the hard elytra beat a heart of gold.

“You’ll be needing somewhere to stay,” she whispered, “take my place, two stones down the aisle, on the left. I can just as easily put my head down here, if you like,”

She then gestured to the masses behind her, “Keep an eye on this lot.”

And so the Ladybird spent the winter in the manageress’s house, and when Spring arrived, and with the help of her children, she built a brand new house, with fire retardant materials, and with reliable smoke alarms installed everywhere for good measure.

written for Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo #writephoto prompt – “Small”