Monthly Archives: February 2014

Goodness Gracious….

This photo (Gary Plant Tubular Steel Corporation, 1943) is today’s prompt for the Flash! Friday challenge….

Steel Voodoo

The ping and tinkle of cooling steel flecked the factory’s silence like stars on a cloudless night. It was time.

Alice had made the doll, from the tailpipe of a Buick Roadmaster. Mavis was to use the arc welder. Ray would supervise, because he was the man and this was the 1940s.

Five years earlier Chuck Wiseman had gotten their friend Mary-Jane into trouble. He had told the supervisor that she didn’t always wear the obligatory company badge.

She had been fired, and now, in a sense, he was about to be too.

Mavis flicked the torch into life.

Two miles away the patrons of Joe’s Diner watched in horror as Chuck’s crotch burst into flames. One promptly cancelled his order of extra chilli.

Joe hurled a bucket of water, and Chuck left in a small cloud of steam, walking as if riding an invisible horse.

Revenge is a dish best served cold. Or else really, really hot.

On Twitter

I’ve won a competition!

The James Bond parachuting story that I wrote last week won the Flash! Friday contest that I entered it in. You can read the really nice comments the judge made about it here, if you feel like helping me feed my ego.

As part of my prize I won a badge which I will put on my blog whenever I stop having to work thirteen hour days (sometime around mid-May, then) and I had to give a sixty-second interview, answering ten questions in twenty words or less per question. This appeared on the Flash! Friday blog yesterday, and you can read it here, if you feel like feeding my ego.

I enter a number of these competitions now, since I’m really enjoying the challenge of writing to a specified word-limit, since I love looking at a photo prompt and trying to think of an angle no-one else will think of, and since I can’t think of any story ideas of my own at the moment. My only problem is that each one asks for your Twitter handle. This was a drawback for me, since I didn’t have a Twitter account and would have thought that a Twitter handle was something for opening a bird-cage, in the same way that Matlock keeps your wig on during windy weather.

But I opened one, @TinmanDoneBadly, and now have a small problem. The other people who participate in these contests have started following me on Twitter, and don’t I tweet anything.

They must feel like those people who believed that the world was going to end on December 21st 2012 felt on December 22nd.

In my defence, I have posted one or two tweets. When I started I wrote about, well, the fact that I had started, and am very proud of the fact that the last full stop brought me to exactly 140 characters. What I’m not so proud of is that I wasn’t sure if it had posted it or not, so I typed it again and sent it again. They’re both there now, which you can look at if you like, should you feel that my ego has had enough feeding.

During my next effort I accidently hit Send about half way through, so it makes no sense whatsoever.

Anyway, I’m going to stick with it, probably learning to use it properly just as it becomes obsolete, as I did with fax machines in the 90s.

Watch this space. Or just space in general, you never know where my efforts might end up.

Sky Fall


Bond had been sent on this mission with just two days to go to retirement which, as any cop in any film could have told him, made him practically a walking gravestone.

So it’s no surprise that as he parachuted in over the Alps he was held up by the thermals, and so overshot Blofeld’s secret base and plummeted instead into a dense forest.

He hit a tree with all the force of Wile E Coyote hitting a canyon floor, then pinballed from branch to branch, each one slapping his face like some beautiful spy that he had slept once with and then left.

Luckily his plunge was halted just five feet from the ground, and he swung gently, like a Christmas bauble poked by an enraptured child.

The elderly Bond had dressed warmly, lest he catch his death, and was being held up by the thermals.


The photo, Parachutist @Ft Lewis, was the prompt for today’s Flash! Friday challenge…

On Limited Offer

This photo, by Ashwin Rao, is the prompt for this week’s Flash Frenzy contest…

Wilted Daisies

Each autumn the pilgrims would come.

They would climb for five days, barefoot and clad only in bubble-wrap, to the Ephemeral Monastery, high in the mountains of Tibet. These hardy souls came seeking answers to universal questions, since they had learned not to trust Wikipedia.

No woman has ever set foot in the monastery, because they have more sense.

The pilgrims would be woken by the Ephemeral Monks at four a.m. each morning to welcome a day that would not start for another three hours, the spiritual equivalent of filming a Christmas special in October. After a meagre breakfast of yak, named after the sound made upon tasting it, they would visit the Gardens of Transience, where they would study the wilting flowers and aging animals, and reflect upon the impermanence of all things.

Then one day a pilgrim offered to buy a bunch of withering roses, to give to a girlfriend who was about to discover the fleeting nature of relationships.

A month later the Monks received a letter from the girl, asking could she buy a dying skunk.

Social media and the smell from the man’s apartment quickly spread the word, and soon the Monks were getting so much mail that they took to waking the pilgrims at three, just to help them to open it.

The Monks reflected themselves, upon their vow of poverty, and decided yeah, right. They have opened a website,, where along with fading flora and fauna they sell frayed clothing, pre-dented cars and anti-botox, a cream that causes wrinkles.

Their slogan is “get it while you last”.

Other monasteries have quickly set up competing websites, offering everything from balding lions to fallen trees to bottled gout. Indeed, one is selling not dying but extinct items – for example, forty dollars buys you a dodo, though what you actually receive is an empty box and the opportunity to reflect upon the permanence of human gullibility.

So the Ephemeral Monks know that their success won’t last forever. But then, as they’ll be first to tell you, nothing does.

Some People Stand In The Darkness

This is today’s prompt for the Flash! Friday Contest. The photo is called Kolmanskop, by Damien Du Toit

 Baywatch beach-house

She was the last.

She had hidden in the abandoned beach-house while Hoffula, the vampire of Baywatch Bay, had preyed upon the other bikinied beauties, who had discovered that necking with the Hoff was not quite what they’d expected.

He was the ultimate life-guard, making you undead forever.

She could hear him running up the beach now, in slow motion and carrying a small bread-board. She had patiently sharpened an old mast into a stake large enough for his huge chest, and as he pulled open the door she grabbed the stake with both hands.

It was too big for her to lift. He smiled, fangs glinting.

She pulled the mirror from the wall by the bedroom and smashed it over his head. A flying shard pierced his heart, and he slowly faded away. His smile was the last thing to vanish, like the Cheshire Walrus.

He hadn’t seen the mirror coming. That invisibility thing works both ways.

Hedgehog Day

Today I’d like to introduce you to a good friend of mine, a member of my writers’ group.

Her name is An Gráinneog Galánta (it’s Irish for “The Elegant Hedgehog”), and she has a blog called My Brilliant Divorce, which is, obviously, about her divorce, but about many other things as well.

Her blog is like her – sometimes sad, often hilariously funny, and just basically good.

She wrote this post two weeks ago, and I’ve asked her can I link to it.

I was blown away by it.

Citius, Altius, Nippiness


In honour of the start of the Winter Olympics, Flash! Friday have this photo, from the first modern Games, as today’s prompt…

Olympic stadium 1896

It was 776 BC, and the pitifully small number of flags bore witness to how few city-states had entered these very first Olympics.

Athens were there, of course, along with Thrace and Sparta. Marathon were in too, hoping to win the really long and as yet unnamed feature race.  But Troy had boycotted the games, perhaps understandably, and Corinth hadn’t yet got the hang of a calendar that went backwards and had turned up four years earlier.

The dressage was about to start, and the first horse stood waiting in the main arena. As it was yoked to a cart this was likely to be interesting, especially the bit where it would have to dance sideways, but even so the watching crowd glared enviously at those in the packed stands around the smaller arena.

This was where the beach volleyball would be taking place.

In the nude.

People In Glass Houses

Ethan Hunt

Ethan Hunt lay across the skylight of Grand Central Station. In a moment he would cut a hole in the glass, lower a winch and dangle from it like a puppet after attempting Riverdance. He knew that passing commuters would pay him no heed. This was New York, after all.

He would then complete his mission, scanning the display boards to find the train times to Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

He could have looked them up online, but what’s impossible about that.

As he reached into his pocket for his glass-cutter, his phone rang. He fished it from his other pocket.


“Hello, Ethan,” said the familiar voice. “The picture on your phone is of Marcus Longmore, senior research scientist on a project so secret that I can’t tell you what it is.”

“Er, this isn’t a good – “

“The photo now on your screen is of his cat, Fluffy. Terrorists have kidnapped Fluffy and demanded that Longmore reveal all details of the Burger-Flavoured Ice-cream Project – ah, crap – or they will test the theory about a cat’s nine lives in a most empirical way.”

“Listen, I’m lying on the roof of – “

“The terrorists have cleverly hidden Fluffy in a Cats’ Home in Queens. Your mission, Ethan, should you decide to accept it, is to gain access to the Home, identify Fluffy from among two hundred other cats, who all look pretty much the same, and extract him.”

“The glass is beginning to creak here –“

“Furthermore, to prevent the risk of kittens featuring in future extortion attempts, since Longmore is bats about cats, we have decided that Fluffy should be neutered. As we can’t let any vet know of his existence, you will have to carry out this operation.”

“Oh, for f- “

“As usual, should you or any of your IM Force be caught, killed or badly scratched by an understandably angry cat, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. Good luck, Ethan.”

The call ended. Ethan peered through the fragile glass at the concourse over a hundred feet below, and groaned.

The phone was going to self-destruct in five seconds.


This week’s Flash Frenzy theme is to write 360 words prompted by the above photo, which is by @TheShakes72