The group of histourists moved closer together as Clancy Deville led them along a familiar path through the ruins. As he walked, he pointed out features he knew would impress, and waited patiently as they snapped shots with their ocular visors. As soon as they got back to a stable extranet connection, those snaps would be sent back to Ceti Alpha and Terra Minor, where envious family members would soon be booking their own once-in-a-lifetime trips to see a little piece of history.
“Look over here,” said Clancy, directing the group off the beaten track towards a derelict house. He gestured to an elaborate iron door knocker, now green with age and weather, clinging precariously to the ancient wooden door. “This was how our ancestors announced their arrival at the home of their host. The gruesome countenance of this fellow was said to ward away evil spirits.”
A few of the group chuckled over the foolish superstition. “Oh look!” one woman cooed. She pointed to the plant that had adhered to the wall. Clancy was particularly proud of that one; it had taken several attempts to coax the ivy to grow up the trellis. It wasn’t so much cheating as adding authenticity. These people had paid good money to see ancient Earth, and he had overheads to cover.
“Yes,” he nodded, injecting gravity into his voice. “Nature is reclaiming the Earth. Soon, these ruins will be nothing more than forests and nesting sites for birds. It’s good that you came now, before it’s all gone. Now, who’d like to take a picture of themselves standing by the knocker?”
Clancy smiled as hands shot into the air. There had never been a more profitable time to be a histoury guide.
Today’s flash fiction hits two prompts. The first is Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt for this week. Please check out the other awesome contributions which will soon come pouring in to her site. The featured image is also by Sue.
The second is the BlogBattle prompt, Ruse.
Gone is the freshness of warm summer rain,
Gone are the words which brought me to shame.
Gone are the birds, aloft in the sky,
Gone are the flowers, which in fields lie.
Gone is the comfort of family life,
Gone is the husband; gone like his wife.
Gone all the insects and all the beasts.
Gone are traditional Christmas Day feasts.
Gone all the laughter, gone all the joy,
Gone every girl and gone every boy.
Gone are the trees, down to the last beech,
Gone is TV and the freedom of speech.
Gone is the sun, burning yellow to red
Gone like the darkness present instead.
Gone are the books, all our fine written work,
Gone are our minds, in which monsters lurk.
Gone are the parks, and small empty swings,
Gone into the silence that nothingness brings.
Gone is the knowledge of present and past,
Gone is the belief that everything lasts.
Gone is all anger, all sorrow, all woe,
Gone into the void where emotions don’t show.
Gone is the wonder, the chance to create,
Gone into the same place as malice and hate.
Gone now are our friends, all of our kin.
Gone too our vices and gone is our sin.
Gone are the places in which creatures roam.
Gone our nobility, thrall upon throne.
Gone, all of this, in the blink of an eye,
Gone all the people who could have asked why.
And gone last of all, like a leaf on the breeze,
Is the image of God, brought down on His knees.
I wrote this poem many years ago. So long ago, in fact, that I can’t even remember what it was about. I’d guess it was about the end of the world, but it might’ve been about depression, or it may have been about androids replacing us all (because that’s what androids do. Damn you, androids! *shakes fist*). So, take your own meaning from it. Or don’t! Clearly, this was important enough to me to save for all these years, and it even survived the Great Hard-Drive Crash of 2014 (when so much of my other work didn’t) so now I’m sharing it with you interwebfolk.
Themes: Fantasy, Religion, Disobedience
The halls of residence are silent, save for the small noises of the other Acolytes sleeping soundly. The quiet snores. The fitful turns. The creak of Alovis’s bed as he rolls from his back to his side. They’re familiar sounds. Comforting sounds. They try to lull you into that same sleep, pulling at your tired mind and heavy eyes. But you resist. Tonight, you have a mission. Tonight, you’re going to break every rule in the Cloisters.
Silent, midnight silk,
starlight eyes in winter sky.
I’m being followed.
Haiku inspired by my cat. Picture courtesy of Pixabay.
Themes: Suspense, Horror, Fantasy
His hunger was a wildfire burning within his belly, its flames licking greedily at his thoughts. The fire wasn’t doused by the sight of Coira MacDermott bathed pale in the moonlight, her rough woollen cloak pulled tight around her slender body, against the autumn chill—rather, the flames were fanned to an inferno of desire. As he stepped out of the forest onto the dirt track trod by years’ passing of boots and shoes, he licked his lips, already savouring the sweetness of her flesh on his tongue.
Themes: Urban Fantasy, Magical Realism, Mysticism
Theo kicked out at a stray stone, sending it bouncing along the sidewalk. It bounced three times, then went plink! as it struck a post driven into the Stukers’ lawn.
In the yard, Mrs. Stuker arranged items on a table, whilst Mr. Stuker brought another cardboard box from the house. The Stukers had been threatening to hold a sale for years, ever since their son had left home to take a job in Pensacola. Dennis had been a hoarder, a fact Mrs. Stuker complained about often.
“But I’m tired of the doll house. I want to play on the rocking horse.”
Alexander’s complaint reached Maria as she crossed the midpoint of the stairs. The creak of the ancient wooden staircase beneath her feet drowned out his next words, and it wasn’t until she approached his bedroom door that she heard him speak again.
“Oh, fine. But only if it’s a story with monsters in it. Monsters that eat little girls.”
Maria knocked softly on the door, and was rewarded with Alexander’s call of, “Come in!”
When she popped her head around the jamb, she found her adopted son by the doll house, a lip-heavy pout betraying his displeasure. He’d breezed through his terrible twos with barely a cry, but since turning six, he’d become distant and distracted. Maria and Thomas told each other it was just a phase, that he’d soon grow out of it. Luckily, she knew just the thing to entice him out of his room.
“Alexander, I’m about to have afternoon tea. Would you like a scone?”
He shook his head. “We’re playing.”
“Who are you playing with, Alexander?”
Maria looked up at the picture hanging on the wall. The girl’s golden curls crowned her head, the smile on her face infectious as she struck a pose for the camera. Two months after the picture had been taken, the curls were gone. Chemotherapy had ravaged her body, ripping from it the plumpness and vigour of youth. Five months after that, Clara passed away, just a week before her seventh birthday.
Tears stung Maria’s eyes. Alexander had been asking about the picture, lately. Maria had found a sort of catharsis in talking about the daughter she’d lost. But she’d never imagined that Alexander would turn Clara into an imaginary friend.
“Maybe Clara would like a scone as well,” she suggested, blinking rapidly to clear her vision.
Alexander cocked his head to the side, pausing as if listening to something. “No… Clara wants to stay here and play with her toys. But she doesn’t want you to have afternoon tea alone, so I’ll have a scone with you.”
A smile teased its way across Maria’s lips. One of Clara’s last questions had been, “Can I still have afternoon tea in Heaven?” That was the moment Maria felt her heart break.
“Come on, then,” she said, holding out her hand. “While the clotted cream’s still fresh.”
At the door, Alexander turned back to face the emptiness of the playroom. “Alright, you can ride it until I’m done with my scone.” And with that, he left the room and began clumping down the stairs.
As Maria closed the door behind her, she heard a familiar wooden creak. With a shiver, she hurried after Alexander. Just the stairs, she told herself.
I’ve had a bit of a break from writing (and reading—sorry, people whose blogs I follow!) for a couple of weeks to sort out some RL malarkey. But I’ve found time to write this little piece for Sue Vincent’s weekly #writephoto prompt. Hope you’ve enjoyed it, and please check out Sue’s site for other excellent entries.
It’s should be old news to you, but John and I signed a contract with Severed Press for them to distribute the English eBook and paperback of War of the Worlds: Retaliation worldwide! They re-edited the story, and came up with a killer cover:
Pretty epic, huh?
I promised exciting news, so here it is: Severed Press is interested in another War of the Worlds sequel, and it just so happens that John and I have an outlines for two more books. We’re currently in negotiations for book number two!