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.


Words and photo art by Ford Waight.

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: The Boutique for Lost Souls


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 Boutique


 

Editor’s note: I’m placing my note this week up front instead of at the end. This is so I can thank in advance our wonderful word hostess Denise for allowing me the honour of choosing this week’s cue word (thank you so much, D, joy 😁). The word I have chosen is boutique – I love how sweetly it rolls off the tongue. A French word – but one used in the English language.

My entry for boutique goes down a somewhat typical route for me: a dark and ghostly tale, but one I think is ever so tender and loving. The Boutique for Lost Souls is a tale about ghosts and running and dancing and falling in love. It’s origins are in a story I was once working on about a secret shop in which the visiting customers had to shrink to the size of a mouse before entering. It was loosely inspired by tales such as Tom Thumb, Thumbelina, and The Borrowers. The Boutique for Lost Souls has ended up a much different beast, though it still explores the theme of being or becoming small. And so here I present to you two versions of it: the long version, and the short version.

Enjoy.

Ford 🙂


The Boutique for Lost Souls (long version)

I once was a dancer who learned how to run, to run from a monster who was after my blood, and each time I turned he was one pace closer, and I felt his vile breath like fingers on my back, as I ran and ran until I thought I might collapse, on and on, and on, the monster always there, bigger than I, taller, wicked and agile, with spinning discs of barbarous eyes, with cutlas teeth and grotesque smile, a tongue versed in spells and ancient rhymes – it was all I could do but run for my life, like a dog with its tail set alight.

And at last, near-destroyed, my lungs seething with fire, I came to a town at the end of the world, and in it a boutique with windows aglow – a hideout I prayed might save my soul; a shelter, a safe house, a temple for the pursued – and so I pushed open the door and asked for refuge.

And inside was a woman who smoked a cigar, and her eyes brimmed with wisdom, perception and guile, and she said to me: “You’ll be safe here in my little boutique, if you hide somewhere good and don’t make a peep!”

And I saw many objects of antiquity and art: instruments and barometers, timepieces and charts; optical lenses for near and far; microscopes for bugs, telescopes for stars; violins and cellos, pianos and harps; paintings and drawings, books and cards; and a music box which when opened by the woman, held a tiny ballerina spinning to Swan Lake, and I – a dancer alike – beheld this twirling figure with my lovestruck eyes, as the woman urged me on: “Hurry up and join her, there isn’t much time!”

And I duly obliged, and scampered inside, not questioning how I shrank to such a small size, as the woman closed the lid and stepped aside, and puffed on her cigar as the beast stormed inside her little boutique at the end of the world, and how he hollered and bellowed and boomed and yelled: “Where is that fool dancer, tell me, old crone, or I’ll break your boutique into thousands of pieces, and then one by one your snappity-snap bones!”

And the woman pointed a finger to a door which said: LAST EXIT FOR FOOLS, and there the beast fled into a boundless chase of the phantom of a dancer which I once was – and may he chase my steadfast ghost as the fool master of the hunt he will always be – while I, safe forevermore in the music box, with my ballerina soulmate dancing at my side, ballerina, ballerina, O angels did you see her, how she mended my heart when it was broken in two, and a pirouette later, said: “My beautiful dancer, I so love you.”

***


The Boutique for Lost Souls (short version)

“Take heart if you are running from an ancient curse

For here is a love story set in verse

About monsters and ghosts and a charming boutique

And how love and dancing may set you free

Do not despair you will find that place

Of sanctuary and a loving soulmate.”

***


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