Monthly Archives: May 2014

Elixir Of Life

This picture is of the Earth Goddess, from the Imaginary Worlds Exhibit at Atlanta Botanical Garden, and is by C. Joey Ivansco. It’s the prompt for day’s Flash! Friday 140-160 word challenge, and we had to incorporate “Freedom” in our story…

Earth Goddess

The Earth Goddess took a sip, then let the rest of the water trickle softly back into the fountain.

She shook her head in bewilderment. It still tasted lovely.

She had filled the lakes with it, and the rivers, as her gift to Humankind. It was the perfect drink – sugar-free, odour-free, calorie-free, and free. As free as Freedom, in fact.

Yet Humankind had spurned it. They drank small beer, though in large glasses. They drank wine, essentially fruit that someone had stood on. They drank milk. Dear God, thought the Goddess, they drank milk.

They drank camomile to help them sleep and coffee to keep them awake.

They drank suggestively-named cocktails.

They had now moved on to even stranger drinks, like cranberry-flavoured whiskey, and cabbage-flavoured vodka, and Budweiser.

Meanwhile they used her precious gift to wash their socks with.


Bottling It Up

This is the photo prompt for this week’s VisDare challenge…

Genie in a poison bottle

“I can grant you three wishes”, the genie had said.

”That must be so cool,” Grace had said. “I wish I was you.”

Which is why she now finds herself in a bottle marked “Poison” and an unflattering outfit, while the genie has taken her job.

She has thought of rocking the jar to try to escape, but that would mean shattering the glass, and she fears that the experience may scar her for life, in every meaning of that phrase.

So she waits, hoping that someone notices her on the shelf, decides to ignore her sour expression (you try living in a poison bottle, see what it does to yours) and take a chance.

She needn’t worry. The genie is on her way back to release her, and to wish that she could understand Excel, hide holiday web-pages when her boss passes and be able to un-jam a photocopier.

You’ve Got Mail

This is the prompt for today’s Flash! Friday challenge…


It irked Steve that the Alien got more post than he did.

So far during their quarantine Steve had received a note of commendation from the President and a letter threatening to cut off his cable.

The Alien got daily care packages – some sort of grey paste, a purple smoothie and, bizarrely, a KFC Variety Bucket. Each parcel also contained one metal part. It seemed his friends thought he could in time combine these into a makeshift rocket to fly home, like an extra-terrestrial member of the A-Team.

The parcels were addressed in the manner so beloved of schoolboys – “The Visitor, Area 52, Nevada, USA, Earth, The Solar System, Space”.

They were so addressed because the Government denied that there was any such place as Area 51, so the pair had set up their mailboxes outside Area 52, and their neighbours simply dropped their post round to them.


Frozen In Time

This photo, by Ashwin Rao, is this weekend’s Flash Frenzy challenge. Our story has to have less than 360 words, so at least I managed that…


Deep below the ocean lies the Crustacean Cryonics lab.

It was founded by Krusty the Crab (his mother was a Simpsons fan) and his clients, the Crabwise, as he refers to them, lie in wait for a world in which their claws are not considered delicacies, in which curious children do not lift them up to see if they run on wheels, and in which innocent Irish people trying to write a story can Google “crabs” without learning far more than they wanted to about lower body disorders.

They also dream of a time when the English join the rest of the world by walking sideways to the right.

A Whiff Of Cordite

This is today’s prompt for the Flash! Friday challenge, 140-160 words which had to involve Comeuppance…

Berlin, Rückkehr Emil Jannings aus Amerika

Emmaline had stolen him from her, with her slimmer figure, longer legs and better taste in hats.

Martha was bridesmaid, meaning “runner-up, but with free cake” and it was while planning the day that the idea had come to her.

Emmaline was allergic to lilies, so Martha laced the bouquet with them, like olfactory arsenic. Now she smiled grimly as her ex-friend threw back her head as a prelude to her first sneeze.

The earth would certainly move for Emmaline tonight.

Emmaline sneezed once, explosively, then, as is traditional, threw the bouquet. Since Martha had ensured that it was huge it travelled just a few inches, hitting Martha full in the face.

She instinctively caught it (she was a spinster, after all, and you never know) and smelled peonies, her own allergic affliction.

As Martha’s eyes ran and her nose began to burn Emmaline threw back her head again, this time in laughter.

Time Travelling

This is the photo prompt for this week’s VisDare Challenge ….

Stefan's Clocks

Go into a hotel lobby at noon in New York and an array of clocks will tell you that it is nine am in Los Angeles, five pm in Paris and tomorrow in Auckland. It’s apparently important to know this.

Stefan had spotted a gap in the market. If you weren’t in a hotel you had no idea, at that moment, of the time in Cork, or Kuala Lumpur, so Stefan decided to provide a mobile service to walkers of the streets – hobos, tourists and streetwalkers. It was a plan without a flaw.

It was a plan with a flaw. While he may well have been earning the gratitude of passers-by, and this in itself is doubtful, it didn’t earn him any money.

He was really hungry. He could do with a good lunch.

Or dinner, had he lived in London.

Too Young

This is today’s Flash! Friday prompt. 140-160 words, and the story has to relate in some way to Coming of Age…

Past and Present, No. 2 1858 by Augustus Leopold Egg 1816-1863

Two simultaneous sounds made her turn to the window. One was the first chime of a clock-tower striking midnight. The other was the soggy squelch of a large coach becoming a small pumpkin.

Cinderella turned her head toward the window too, unmuffling her sobs and leaving a snail-trail of snot across the Fairy Godmother’s lap. I bet that won’t wash out, thought the Fairy Godmother.

“It’s over,” wailed Cinderella. “You said I’d go to the ball, and you lied.”

“I didn’t mean to,” said the Fairy Godmother. “When they sent me here they didn’t tell me that you were only fifteen.”

Cinderella blew her nose in the dress. I’m not even going to try washing it, thought the Fairy Godmother, it’s going straight into the fire.

She felt deeply sorry for the girl, so close to womanhood, yet so far away.

Though perhaps not that far away. Cinderella suddenly looked up.

“Can I keep the shoes?” she asked.


Wheels Set In Motion

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

Line of Bikes

They lined the street like ladies of the night, though cheaper to hire.

Their shift was over for the day. They were tired, dusty and had chewing-gum stuck in their tyre-treads. Most of all they were saddle-sore, the human equivalent of a migraine. Having someone sit on your head all day does that to you.

They worked in the cultural quarter of Dublin, available for short-term rent to tourists. Now, like men on bar-stools, they unwound by complaining about their day.

Bike Two had been cycled on the wrong side of the road, a common mistake made by tourists. Bike Seven’s rider hadn’t been on a bicycle for thirty years, and had picked him up and carried him around every corner.

Bike Five had got his wheel stuck in the tramlines, and had watched in horror, like Penelope Pitstop tied to a railway track, as the tram bore down upon him. His rider had wrenched him free at the last second.

Bike Four claimed that a truck had backed out in front of him, and he and his rider had had to slide under it. The others laughingly told him that he had seen too many movies, which was a pity, because it had actually happened. Indeed, they had also cycled through a line of washing, but Bike Four decided that there was no point in mentioning that.

Bike One had got a flat tyre. To a bicycle the sensation of this is rather like what a human would feel if one buttock deflated.

They all agreed, though, that Bike Number Three had had the toughest day. He had been ridden through the old part of the city, along cobblestones, and this had driven his head down into his neck as far as his crossbar.

Gift Horse

This amazing driftwood sculpture, by Jeffro Uitto, was the prompt for today’s Flash! Friday challenge…

Sea Horse

Her rocking-horse had been called Primrose.

Her twin brother’s was Thunderbolt, and they would play at knights jousting, each rocking forward and trying to poke the other off with a plastic cricket-bat.

They’d been five then. They were thirty today. She’d given him a book on sculpture, his great love, as his present, and now he led her outside, eyes closed, to hers. She shrieked when she saw it and raced to climb on. There was no saddle carved onto it but she had always dreamt of riding bareback, and in the dress she was wearing she very nearly was.

She snuggled her head against its mane, then made a mental note never to try that again.

She turned to her brother, eyes bright with joy, love and the glisten of tears. “Thank you,” she whispered.

He smiled. “I’m only sorry,” he said, “that it doesn’t rock.”

She hugged its neck. “Oh believe me,” she said, “this horse rocks.”

Home Improvement

Regular readers (by which I mean people who often visit this blog, not people who have a monthly subscription to National Geographic) will have noticed that the layout has changed a number of times over the last few weeks. Like many homeowners (and this is my home, at least spiritually) feel the need to re-decorate every now and then, if only to hide the wine stains on the carpet and paint over the crayon drawings on the walls. It can be tedious explaining why, after drinking so much wine that you dropped your glass, you decided to try to draw Wonder Woman on your wall.

The advantage of re-decorating a blog is that you simply have to select a theme from among the hundreds available, and if you decide after a few days that you don’t like it you simply opt for another one. House re-decoration requires more thought, because if you find that the paint colour referred to on the tin as “Summer Sky” is in fact a leaden grey, then you are stuck with the feeling that you are living inside a submarine for the next five years.

Anyway, I’ve settled on this one. It’s brigh and has all the of the features, such as a list of all of your comments, that I like. It also has a “Follow” button (no pressure, I’m just saying) and it informs me that I have 825 followers. What number do I need to officially qualify as a cult leader?

And the photo at the top of the blog? Sorry, I haven’t figured out yet how to change it.

It’s a picture, by the way, of the en-suite of the guest bedroom in the left wing of the Tinhouse.