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.

SSS: a micro story and poem

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.

This week’s cue word is Clip. Last week’s was Tender. I missed last week’s due to work, so this is my double bill feature to catch up 😊


 

The Haunting of the Clipper

She was going at a fair clip across the lurching tapestry of the Atlantic Ocean, England to America, blue agate skies and lemony sun, seabirds orbiting the old ship as it sailed westward.

Mary leaned on the rails and gazed at the vast and moving plain, her thoughts turning to the dreams of joining her husband Richard at his plantation; did she love him? Yes, otherwise she wouldn’t be making this voyage, but… the but was as stark as the shrieking of a gull as it made a pass over the deck, a black and white phantom of the seas, all hungry and brutal and vital, and Mary gave a shiver.

And she saw then on the horizon gathering clouds, blooming with the menace of a fantastic storm she might later find herself sailing into; a storm as inescapable as the life she was about to commit herself to at Richard’s plantation.

That night, in her cabin, it wasn’t storms which troubled Mary – but terrible nightmares riddled with pleas for vengeance and retribution; and the moaning and groaning she heard was not the protesting timbers of the clipper, but voices weeping with pain; and the dreadful rapping at her porthole was no striking pellets of rain nor hail, but the knuckles of fists demanding her attention; and the howls which pervaded every inch of the ship were no lamentations of the wind – but people calling out to her “Avenge us” and “Free our souls”.

The next morning Mary told her dreams to the captain, who smiled knowingly beneath a seasoned beard, and through a puff of smoke from his billowing pipe he said: “Ghosts, lass, nought but the ghosts of slaves tossed overboard and now un-resting below, aye, did ye not know this route was once sailed by slavers?”

And upon that following night, while Mary slept and once more bore witness to the moans and the howls and the voices demanding her help, she found she was no longer afraid but steeled with resolve to unshackle those ghosts, and a vow made that as soon as she reached the promised land she would burn her husband’s plantation down to the ground.

***


Tender

Tender is the man who succumbs to the virus, tender becomes his limbs and lungs, palest skin, and fragile eyes as weak as glass panes in cheap picture frames.

Tender is the meat he is helped to eat, hashed and blended, almost a liquid, when not one week ago he was scramming Sunday dinner down his throat, unaided, unhindered, unblemished by the invisible fingers of a virus tapping at his shoulder.

Tender is the bed he slept upon here, de-blanketed and de-sheeted, the mattress disinfected, his worldly belongings put into quarantine before being sent to relatives tender with tears.

Tender, so tender, the placement of flowers at a socially-distanced funeral.

Tender are the sentiments we are left with to nurse: the anxieties, bad dreams, stress and grief machined into relentless missiles lined up at the open hatch of a roaring bomber in a midnight sky –

Yet hearts, made of tough steel to meet the enemy at whichever gate it chooses, strong and vital, beating hard; O virus, ye shall know our wrath in the most tender moments you can reduce us to, and by our acts and courage we shall persist.

***


Micro story and poem by Ford.

Image: Suzy la Revoltée. Par Tani et Souriau. Lisette N° 24, 1946.

50 Shades of Bodice-ripping Halloween Cheese

Here be a Halloween short tale to ever so slightly chill the blood yet warm the cockles of your hearts, me dearies. Late-night fun and frolics in the bedroom? Bodice-ripping yarns and things that go bump in the night? And with generous slices of cheese!

It’s all happening in yet another audacious episode of Six Sentence Stories

And this week’s cue word is…

foundation

 


Madge knew something was terribly wrong that Halloween night when she awoke to the bedroom lights switching on of their own accord, and the Teasmaid kettle (which she and Victor had received as a wedding gift in 1978) started spluttering out a liquid which could only be described as blood, and when her collection of porcelain dolls began spinning their heads and cackling: “Die Mama, die!”, and the flowery patterns of the wallpaper Victor had put up last spring changed into grimacing spiders and slithering snakes … and she half expected the reassuring tones of Victor who was sleeping next to her to say: Go back to sleep, Madge, it’s just a bad dream, but Victor remained asleep, blissfully unaware of the drama playing out in the bedroom.

Perhaps it was all just a horrid dream, Madge supposed – a nightmare brought about no doubt by that generous wedge of Wensleydale cheese she had foolishly indulged in before bedtime, and on Halloween of all nights, and what with her overactive imagination… and so she swiftly fell back to sleep and thought no more of the nightmare.

Moments later she was woken by Victor’s fingers caressing the back of her new black nightie she had purchased in the summer sales, and his heavy and sultry breathing which he reserved for impending amorous moments – usually on anniversaries or Valentine’s Day, but rarely – if ever – on Halloween.

“Mmm, stop that, Victor… it tickles, you saucy devil you,” she purred, and she turned over to meet him, the warm tingles inside her blossoming with the promise of a slow seduction followed by a hot and full-blooded 60% Cotton 40% Polyester nightie-ripping romp… but… oh… my… how quickly Madge’s passion dissolved into horror… for next to her in bed was a man with the face of Victor – yet gaunt and deathly pale, as though he had smothered his features with her foundation; and with crude black lines like scars etched across his sunken cheeks, like he had criss-crossed himself with her eyeliner; and then the vulgar red circles ringed around his eye sockets, like he had smeared himself with her new lipstick (Ripe Red Rosy Apples™, an environmentally friendly brand she had discovered recently on Amazon Prime).

“Victor!” she yelled, “You’ve been possessed by some kind of Voodoo magic, I’m calling an exorcist!” and at which her husband awoke with a start, and the Teasmaid kettle stopped spluttering blood, and the porcelain dolls stopped spinning their heads, and the creepy designs on the wallpaper turned back to pretty flowers, and her husband said: “Victor? Who the Dickens is Victor? I’m Harold for goodness sake. You’d think after forty years of marriage you’d get my name right! Go back to sleep. You’re having a nightmare.”

“Sorry, Harold,” said Madge, “I don’t know what came over me. I knew I shouldn’t have had that slice of Wensleydale before bed on Halloween.”

***


“As writers it is our duty, nay, nay, and thrice nay, our spiritual calling, to explore every literary genre available to us, dammit, even if that means delving into erotic suburban romance.”

 

W.A.E.R. Hobbe-Spaniel,

author of: Rubbish Quotes and Rubbish Invented Genres and Other Such Rubbish Rubbish and Pulling Faces at The Flying Egg which Cried Crocodile Tears in a Thunderstorm in a Japanese Tea Cup in Timbuktu.


Editor’s note: I really wanted to write a rampant stonkingly good bodice-ripping erotic suburban romance sex jamboree, pulsating with pent-up passion and lingerie and blindfolds and riding crops and gliding throbbery notched up to eleven. However, I ended up mostly writing about cheese.

Happy Halloween 🎃🎃😄


October horror shorts: Diary of a Weekend Vampire


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, article or poem constructed of six sentences based on a cue word given.

This week’s cue word is Field


 

warning: contains vampire lust

Diary of a Weekend Vampire

I

Suzy trimmed my hair on Monday after work when it was dark
(I’ve promised her a book of poems and picnic in the park)
She cut her index finger on the edge of her scissors
And I gave a little snigger as I watched her in the mirror
Run into the kitchen searching for Elastoplast
And it got me set to thinking that nothing ever lasts
And roses that are red to her to me always turn black.

II

On Tuesday I was stuck in traffic and very late for work
Some scoundrel driver cut me up and made me go berserk
I fantasised about his neck and drinking road rage blood
Then at the perfect moment as he was just about to turn
I’d slash an artery here or there and leave him for the worms
Rotting in a field in the English countryside
Good for him I wasn’t on duty and only work part-time.

III

On Wednesday Alicia from accounts did my Tarot cards
She said she learnt them from a man who was a Russian Tsar
I played her up and drew for fun ol’ Death and The Hanged Man
And she rattled on ‘bout new beginnings and being the best you can
How my chakras needed aligning and my aura looked like mud
And all the while I was thinking I’d like to suck her blood
But Wednesday’s only half the week and I’m meant to be good.

IV

Thursday after work I volunteered at the skate park
The kids there think I’m very cool and call me Mrs Sharp
Or Northern Vamp in Aviators, Vans and skinny jeans
With links to Bauhaus, SoM and Siouxsie And the Banshees,
And I tell ’em go listen to the Cure’s Carnage Visors
While flashing them my fingernails and sexy incisors
Yeah, I know it’s cool to be a kid – as I once was before being bit.

V

Thank Fuck It’s Friday for I was horny as hell
Was dress-down-day at work and Alicia sure looked swell:
Alicia in black stockings and an off-the-shoulder number
And thoughts of gorging on her neck stirred me from my slumber
And after knocking off at four I met her in the pub
Should never mix my Gin and Tonic with my colleagues’ blood
Coz around midnight later on, Alicia was supped up.

VI

Saturday I woke up late with an epic hangover
Virgin blood and toasted bread, a nice refreshing shower
Then at the discotheque that night I spied my vamps-to-be
Gave invitations to my castle overlooking the sea:
A beauty queen, a nurse from Leeds, a cosplay Wolverine
Sacred rites, blood and lust all night… yes Saturday is the best!
Then precious sleep in ancient caskets, for Sunday is our day of rest.

***

***

***


***


Dedicated to weekend vampires the world over.

Poem and art card by Ford.


Editor’s note: disclosure – normally my Six Sentence Stories are written on demand subject to inspiration found from the weekly cue word. However, my poem Diary of a Weekend Vampire has been sitting in the Six Sentence Story reception area for more than a month, its impatient author waiting for our wonderful word mistress D to unleash a cue word applicable to my, erm, vampire urges, and all fine and dandy and in time for Halloween 😁 🎃

But time passed, and the cue words wouldn’t marry the spirit of my vampiric tale, and before I knew it we were almost halfway through October. Could I risk waiting for the following week’s cue word? Or worse, risk it with the last date in October? Not on your holy water! It had to be this week’s Six Sentence Story, or my protagonist lady vamp Mrs Sharp might be consigned to the perils of next October.

So, this Sunday, came the announcement of the cue word… and it was… wait for it, hah, oh, wait, what… Field. Umm?!? How do I fit part-time vampire lust into a field? Or a field into part-time vampire lust? It seemed our fearless word mistress D had delivered to your humble editor a deadly word-blow – akin to a stake through the heart at midnight while the coffin was still warm.

What could I do? Who could I turn to? Nothing at my Writing & Bakery School classes (micro stories while making tarts) had prepared me for this; nor were there any chapters devoted to my dilemma in the 1001 Ways To Get Your Sorry Ass Out Of Writing Trouble which Wooof bought me last Christmas; and my clandestine seances with the spirits of Edgar Allan Poe, Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker (The Three Dead Literary Spooks and a Rubbish Living Writer Society) garnered no advice nor wisdom other than: “Don’t give up the day job, mate, and can you get us any laudanum?”.

Only one thing for it… the word field simply had to fit! Somewhere, anywhere, even if it didn’t make sense! Well, luckily it did, in a way. And you know, on reflection, the word field ended up stamping itself with some authority inside the swaggering sentence: “Rotting in a field in the English countryside”. I really like that line. It also sums up Brexit quite nicely. Fuck you, Brexit.

I’m glad now that it was field as the cue word; and this is the beauty of Six Sentence Stories – you have to work with what is given, and this is not a constraint really but a liberation. And I love it. And I love our word chooser D for taking time each week to challenge us all ♥. If you enjoy writing, then come on over to Six Sentence Stories and try your craft. We’re a lovely bunch here, and we don’t bite (apart from the part-time vampires among us 😉)


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?