The False Oasis


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Oasis


The Desert Constellation. Photo and digital art render by Ford.

The False Oasis

Our city is an oasis in the middle of the desert. You can see it from the dunes – all glittering at night like strewn about jewels tossed from the fists of princes and warlords in the midst of temper tantrums as wild as the wind.

Our dear oasis city in the middle of the desert, liberated from tempestuous sands and scorching heat, the freezing nights, the quicksand, the snakes, the scorpions, and the promise that the sun will strip you of your meat and bleach your bones if you dare to wander from our city home for too long and too far and too wide.

We fine men of our city, we finish our work for the day and catch buses back to our air conditioned homes, to obedient wives and sons and daughters who will follow without question our oasis city traditions. See how full our bellies are, as we recline in plush furniture stuffed with the bills agreed upon by Western handshakes, oil and weapons and luxury apartments in London – ha! see, children, see, another oasis city, yet surrounded not by desert, surrounded by sea!

Now shush, children, shush, the news is about to begin; it’s a very important statement from our esteemed chancellor, once more promising us the earth from an oasis city, and in a tongue still wet from dinner taken in his ivory tower.

***

The Desert Constellation (2) Photo and digital art render by Ford.

SomEone  eLse’S  countRy,  SomEone eLSe’s CriME

Jacques Richez. Colour trap.


I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story, poem or article constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Resistance


 

SomEone   eLse’S   countRy,   SomEone   eLSe’s   CriME

Proudman L. had never murdered a soul in his life, nor tried to, nor threatened to… okay, sure, beaten a few up, yes, plenty: a lousy drug dealer once, a filthy pimp, a mouthy biker, his ex-boss (three ex-bosses to be exact), a gas station clerk, four liquor store owners, four mechanics, a dozen or so doormen at various bars, a professional hockey player, a scientologist, numerous racists and queer-bashers, and his own father – that drunken, sick bastard.

And these were just the ones he remembered.

Proudman wasn’t proud of what he had done with his fists over the years, but neither was he ashamed; he felt grounded in his belief that sometimes people got what was coming to them – and standing at six feet ten inches tall, and broad enough to take up two seats on a bus, Proudman usually gave what was deserved with little resistance.

So what was coming for him?

What had he done so bad to deserve being locked up in a police cell in a country he had never even visited before?

For sure it wasn’t because he tried to murder some people called Henry S. and Iris S. – hell, no, above all things, and let’s be brutal here… things right now were as crazy as the craziness in crazyland on a crazy night, Proudman was certain he was no murderer.

***



Editor’s note: the story SomEone eLse’S countRy, SomEone eLSe’s CriME is an extract from my WIP gothic ghost novel, and features the character Proudman L. from Vancouver, Canada, who awakes one morning to find himself in a jail in London, England, accused of attempted double murder.


Thank you for breaking out of chokey with us 🙂 

October horror shorts: Pheep Pheep Pheep

I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story, poem or article constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Volume

 


WARNING: The following short contains strong horror.

Pheep Pheep Pheep

The police would come to discover her macabre hobby and gain a grim confession, and the press would label her The Small Heath Scalper, though her real name at trial would be Delores Ann Callaghan, 38, unmarried, no children, of Muntz Street, Birmingham.

A night owl she was in a decade about to roar around her, while she burned oil in her salon in her cellar, with a cast iron bath in which to discard all the heads; her day job – switchboard operator at the city hospital, with Mr Byrd and Mr Hardy being her favourite porters.

And by the small hours in her subterranean salon she would whistle while she worked – pheep pheep pheep to the clip clip clip and the snip snip snip of her scissors, and the heat of her Marcel wavers and curlers, the swish of her combs and Bobby pin snap, pheep pheep pheep, the hum of peroxide and pomade heavy to the walls of that windowless room.

Byrd and Hardy knew her favourites: the harlot-y dancers of the city bars and revues, the painted strumpets as her mother once was when she parted her legs to let a man in, who paid her with horse-won guineas after leaving her with child… she… she pheep pheep pheeps as she admires her newest coiffured creation: such beautiful waves and curls, such shine, such volume…

Her work done for the night, she places the mannequin head next to the others beside her mirrors, takes a step back, pheep pheep pheeps, and admires her collection of scalps; while upstairs comes a-crashing as the police break in, and they creep like a line of black cockroaches to the cellar door, and the horrors upon horrors waiting to greet them from below.


Muntz Street and Small Heath map 1904. Image: Wikipedia Commons


Editor’s note: Muntz Street is a real street in the ward of Small Heath, Birmingham, England. I worked in Small Heath and its neighbouring Bordesley Green during the late 1980s and early 90s, and bought my first drum kit there from a shop known as Green Lane Music Centre. The small hilltop site of Small Heath has been used as a settlement since Roman times, and was developed into housing for both wealthy industrialists and working class labourers in Victorian times. Small Heath is the original site of Birmingham City Football Club (now in Bordesley Green), as well as home to the once mighty Birmingham Small Arms factory which produced guns, motorcycles, bicycles, cars and taxi cabs – and which was heavily bombed in World War II. Small Heath was also home to the notorious Peaky Blinders gang; the gang and their Small Heath territory featuring in the ongoing BBC TV series Peaky Blinders since 2013.

The Malt Shovel. Muntz Street corner, Small Heath, Birmingham. Date and photo credit unknown.

In my story Pheep Pheep Pheep, the porter characters Byrd and Hardy are fictional, but loosely based on the real Burke and Hare murderers a hundred years earlier. The character Delores Ann Callaghan is also fictional, but loosely based on the fictional character Sweeney Todd – the Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The establishment in my story of Delores Ann’s location and the early twentieth century date stamp might easily put her at the same time and place as the Peaky Blinders gang, perhaps even making Delores a once quiet and unassuming neighbour of the gang, until the police discovered her grisly hobby. And after… was she hung? Was she sent to the asylum? Did she flee incarceration to escape into the night of another story and another time?


Six Sentence Stories: Sing, Trilby, sing!

I’m linking up with Denise at Girlie On The Edge Blog, where she hosts Six Sentence Stories, and everyone is invited to write a story or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is bend

 


Sing, Trilby, sing!

“You will bend to my will or so help me, dear Trilby, I will break you into a thousand pieces!”

“But I do not want to sing.”

“Sing!”

“I am tired of singing, tired of this life, tired of you, Svengali!”

“Sing, sing, SING!” came the volley of words torpedoed from his mouth on a hiss of foul air which parted the waves of his wretched beard; and in the silence that followed – outside, from the open window looking onto a square in bohemian Paris – came the lull of the crowds and the painters downing tools, and the emptying of cafés, and even the yapping dog from appartement cent vingt-cinq made not a whimper, and the afternoon slumped into its silent repose save for the church bell signalling quatorze… and her voice, floating through the same window on broken strings and damaged chords at the behest of her conductor and his spinning hands.

And as Trilby trilled to the command of Svengali, under his spell lay a small lagoon of lucidity in which she understood – if for only for a moment – that: no one should be made to sing at the hour of la sieste.



Editor’s note:

My story Sing, Trilby, sing! is inspired by the novel Trilby by George du Maurier.

Trilby, written and illustrated by George du Maurier (grandfather of Daphne du Maurier – The Birds, Rebecca) was one of the most popular novels of its time. Published serially in Harper’s Monthly from January to August 1894, it was then published in book form on 8 September 1895.

Trilby is set in the 1850s in an idyllic bohemian Paris, and is believed to have inspired in part Gaston Leroux’s 1910 novel The Phantom of the Opera. It was also known for introducing the phrase “in the altogether” (meaning “completely unclothed”) and the term “Svengali” for a man with dominating powers over a (generally female) protégée, as well as indirectly inspiring the name of the “trilby” hat, originally worn on stage by a character in the play based on the novel.

Adapted from Trilby Wikipedia


More random book cover designs, and a spotlight on British Salvationist illustrator Jim Moss

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. 1999 Harper Collins. Cover by J.R.R. Tolkien.

We have you covered… again!  (See part one here)

Today’s book post features design covers and illustrations published between the 1920s and 2010s, courtesy of a generous donation of old books to TVTA!

What happened was this… an English teacher working in France was moving home and job, and before leaving she decided to give away a number of her old books. Finally, after a Pandemic-lockdown-observed-meeting outside the local park gates, two bags of wonderful books were handed over for the reading and scanning pleasure of those inside TVTA Towers – cue happiness 🙂

Some of the titles will be instantly recognisable, others obscure, some have been adapted for stage, film or television, but all are equal here in having interesting covers to bind their tales.

Enjoy your donated book!

1920 William Heinemann.

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