Friday, 30 March 2012

Forty Eighth Friday Flash: Old One Eye

*This week's story suggestions of false teeth, broken lighter, wet socks, wilderness and murderous rage were provided by @Crusaderofchaos you can also find his blog World in Ink here where you will find book reviews, astronomy and other geeky things.

The fish just weren't biting, two hours of sitting on a small rowing boat with my friend Bill and nothing. Myself, I was enjoying the peace and quiet, Bill on the other hand seemed to be getting more and more annoyed by the minute.

Bill tried to light a cigar with his lighter, but it wouldn't work. He looked at me and I shrugged. He knew I hated the things.

“Damn fish! Where are they?”

“Maybe it's your foul mood scaring them away.”

“Ha ha! Very funny!”

“Come on, let's move a little, maybe our luck will change.”

Bill shrugged. “Worth a try.” He got out the oars and rowed us over to the other side of the lake.

“There you go, now we can get a better view of the countryside.”

“Bah! All I want to do is catch old one eye.”

“Don't start that again Captain Ahab!”

“It would be a tale I could tell me grand kids.”

“All your grandchildren are vegans, they think fishing is gross and immoral.”

“Stupid muddled up kids,” said Bill with a sigh. “Hey! There he is!”

“Where?” I said spinning my head around, just spotting the tail of a large fishing disappearing lazily back into the water. It was said that old One Eye was six to seven feet long.

Bill threw his line in the fish's direction. “Come on baby, bite!”

We sat there for several minutes in utter silence until the fish whacked the side of the boat with its tail, rocking it side to side.

“The bugger!” shouted Bill, his long beard quavering as his chin went up and down. “This my only chance, I'm going in!”

I moved to stop him, but he was over the side before I could grab him. I paced the rowing boat, my wet socks squelching in my boats, agonizing on whether I should join him, but I was terrible swimmer and would most probably make things worse.

A moment later my old friend came bursting to the surface.

“Did you see him?” I asked leaning over the side of the boat.

“Not only that, I caught the bugger!” he said with a toothless grin.

“Wow! But why did you let him go?”

“I think the kids may be right, I could feel his strength, his legacy, I couldn't harm such a majestic creature.”

“Good for you, but what about your teeth?”

“What! He said smacking his lips together and then pounding the water with his fist. ”Damn you One Eye!”

I couldn't help but smile as I helped Bill on board wondering if Old One Eye was now swimming around sporting a toothy grin.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Cthulhu Unbound, House of Fear and M is for Monster - Short Story Collections Progress Review Part 5

Here's a continuation of the reviews I'm doing of the books I won earlier this year via the #coffinhop and Kamvision review blog. I'm reviewing 3-4 stories of each book per blog post.

I've included website details of the writers where I could find them. I will also be posting the reviews on Goodreads (If you're one of the writers involved and I didn't link you, please let me know and I will).

For this part I will be adding Cthulhu Unbound to the line up. The book (signed copy) was kindly supplied by Kevin Lauderdale, the author of James and the Gentry (a story that appeared in PULP!). He popped me an email after he saw my review of his story. The internet truly is amazing sometimes!

Cthulhu Unbound

Noir-Lathotep by Linda L. Donahue

The collection is off to a cracking start with this story. It really lives up to both parts of the title. It was just dripping with noir and crammed with Lovecraft mythology. It has it all from the dashing dame to the villains you wouldn't want to meet, even in a well lit alley, Having 1000 or so aspects of himself Nyarlathotep has a lot to keep track of, but he soon has to concentrate on one of them when it pops up dead. Plus something very important is missing. Something that could unravel the whole universe.

The Invasion out of Time by Trent Roman

This story reminded me of the 90s series Space: Above and Beyond. Fighters defending Earth against an alien force, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. Bai is one of the elite pilots in the whole army and is promoted to Captain quite early into the story. Gaining him access to information that he didn't need to know before. Information that changes everything. Info that could change the tide against the seemingly invincible alien forms, but is all as it seems?

James and the Dark Grimoire by Kevin Lauderdale

After reading Kevin's previous story James and the Gentry I was quite familiar with the characters, but it's not necessary to have read it to enjoy this tale. (I do recommend you do though, cracking story). James's master Reginald Brubaker is invited to his good friend Dicky's wedding. Hosted in a town he doesn't care to return to because of past indiscretions. Indiscretions his unscrupulous aunt holds over him so he can procure a book for her: The Dark Grimoire. The Necronomicon (being an Evil Dead fan this appealed to me). A book Dicky's father Lord Bootchester is keen on using. What really makes this story shine is the carefree writing style, you feel like you've known the characters for ages. Plus it has a sense of humour about it that made me chuckle more than a few times. Kevin tells me he's working on James's next story. Something involving parallel universes. Can't wait.

House of Fear:

Inside/Out by Nicholas Royle

This story had a dream like feel to it, you can almost see the shroud of fog in your mind's eye as you follow the main character as he stalks someone. It's one of those stories where a lot happens, but nothing too solid you can recall later. Although I do remember the gist of it, and it all comes together in a nice ending where everything suddenly makes sense. As you can imagine too late for the MC to do anything about it.

The House by Eric Brown

As stories go this a prime example of how you shouldn't let the past chain you down. Things happen and it may be hard at first, but you have to put it behind you. Focus on the future and the good things in life. The main character realizes it late in life, but better late than never. It's the sort of story you would expect to be made into a late Sunday evening drama you can enjoy with the family. In addition it's unique compared to the other stories, when you realize it's not the house itself that is haunted.

Trick of the Light by Tim Lebbon

This story pretty much continues the theme of the previous one. Live life while you have the chance. Penny a widow (husband missing for 7 years while on holiday and presumed dead) never was the adventurous type and didn't share her late husband's need to see the world and discover new things. She just wanted to stay at home in her own little world where nothing changed. After years of no news she decides to sell up house and buy an old mansion. I'm assuming Peter was quite well off because the place sounds massive. As you would suspect all is not right with the house and strange things start happening. Things that remind her of her husband.

What Happened to Me by Joe R Lansdale

I think this story was a fitting choice to end off the collection. It was suitably creepy and it's one that really fires the imagination. When the main character and his buddies pool their resources together to rent an old house they thought they had found the bargain of their lifetimes. The first flatmate pretty much leaves the first day there and the next soon after leaving the MC to tackle things on his own. Things get worse and worse to the point where he finds a previous tenant of the house, an old woman who used to live their when she was a girl, to help him get to the bottom of it. A woman the house seems to still have a strong bond with. Overall the story flowed nicely and even though the story was fantastic in nature it was told in a way that made it very much possible. A story I think I would make a great movie if was made by someone like Peter Jackson.

M is for Monster

Q by Carson Buckingham

I found this to be one of the most light-hearted and fun stories out all of the collections so far. An odd looking lady comes into a jewellery store to sell one of the rarest and biggest diamonds anyone has ever seen. Thinking it too good to be true they check and double check it, finding it to be real, but this being a collection of horror stories you know there's something nasty in store for the characters, and it may not be what you suspect.

R by Rakie Keig

Every neighbourhood has one, a busybody who puts their nose into everyone's business. Although these type of people can be annoying, Rakie does a good job of getting you on her side. She's an old dear who only wants the best for the people around here. But does she take it too far? And the strange experience she has, was it really a dream?

S by Wayne Goodchild

This reminded me a lot of The Mummy movies. Going around the world collecting artefacts. But as you would suspect they soon bring home an artefact they wish they had never found. Something that brings the whole village under attack. Forcing people to do things they wouldn't normally do. It makes me wonder if people would act the same in a similar and real situation. Good writing overall.

T by Magen Toole

This story has me wondering about the people we meet, what sort of past are they hiding? Carroll is your average hard-working, but he as a dark past lurking underneath. A past he has forgotten about and put safely behind him, but the universe hasn't forgotten, not at all. Should people pay for crimes they committed years and years ago even though they have lived quite a productive life? I agree with Magen when I think they should. Pay your debt to society. To the people you caused harm they most probably relive the event everyday for the rest of their lives. Overall the writing was compelling and I was hooked to the end.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Forty Seventh Friday Flash: Penguin and Bear

Image Source

Bear searched high and low, but penguin was nowhere to be seen.

From the edge of all he knew to the other side of everywhere else he walked and walked, searching, but his black and white feathered friend was nowhere to be seen.

Many times he went back to where they first met, a river. He had been in one of his foul moods, slumped on a park bench when she came across him. At first he wondered what she had wanted, but they soon got talking and she brightened up his day. For weeks they met at the same spot, going up and down the river talking about anything and everything.

Every moment was precious, their senses heightened, everything just feeling that little better than normal. Others thought they were a strange pair, but they didn't care. Their bond meant more than little differences.

Then one day she didn't show up. He thought maybe she was just late, but after waiting the whole of the rest of the day he realized something was wrong. The next day he got there earlier than usual, hoping that maybe there was a note or some sign of her, but still nothing. Fearing that she was in danger he began his search.

He thought back on the day before she left, she hadn't acted any differently, maybe she knew she had to leave and didn't want to spoil their last moments together by having to say goodbye.

For years and years he didn't give up hope. Hoping maybe she would remember the good times they had and return.

Everyone he asked shook their head when he asked of her. Had she been a ghost? Someone his depressed mind had made up to cheer him up? Would he only ever see her in his dreams. Her smile and voice haunting him forever?

World weary and with a heavy heart he returned to the bench where it all started. His old tired bones pleading for him to rest. He dropped down on the bench and watched as the sun set. Vowing to never leave the spot until he heard news of his long lost penguin.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Forty Sixth Friday Flash: Donna Loses Her Wings.

Donna stuffed her pockets full of tissues. It was her last box, and she was on her way out to get some more. It was one of the worst colds she had had in years, she had gone through three boxes already. Popping some cold medication she headed out the door, she hoped to be back before the drowsiness set in.

The first store did not have her favorite variant Angel Wings. They offered her other brands, but she refused, she had tried them before, they would feel like sand paper to her already inflamed nose.

In a huff she went off to the next place, Pearlingtons, the biggest retail store in town. They had everything you need and a lot you didn't. It was quite a drive, but they had never let her down before. Blowing her nose with the second last of her tissues she made her way to the aisle.

She stared dumbly at the shelf where the Angel Wings normally were. This just could not be! She clicked her fingers at the nearest Pearlington employee.

“Oi, sunshine!”

The shop assistant sighed and shuffled over. Donna wondered if the kid was old enough to work there.


“Angel Wings, where are the Angel Wings?”

“The what sorry?”

“Angel Wings tissues!” said Donna pounding her foot.

“Oh those, we don't sell them anymore.”

“What? That's insane! Call the manager.”

“Umm... but it's such a small problem...”

Donna went a little further down the aisle and knocked over a Feathersoft tissue display. “Do you doubt the seriousness of my request now?”

“Crazy old bat,” muttered the boy.

“I will pretend I didn't hear that, now go!”

A bit shame faced the assistant shuffled off again.

Donna wondered if maybe she was a bit harsh, but she shook her head, how could they not stock Angel Wings? It was an outrage. Some shoppers stared at her, but soon stopped when she glared at them back.

A few moments later a tall man arrived, he was about twice her height.

“I understand you're causing a disturbance?”

“No, you listen to me, where are my Angel Wings?”

“They have been discontinued.”

“I don't believe it!”

“Maybe you would like to try new the Feathersoft?” he asked grabbing a box from a nearby shelf and offering it to her.

She knocked the box out of his hand. “Never!”

“Calm down ma'am!”

That was it, she snapped. Donna gripped the man by the tie, pulling him down to her eye level. With a full back swing she slapped him across the face.

“That calm enough for you?”

The man fell over, squashing half a dozen Feathersoft tissue boxes. There was a spot of blood coming from his nose. He just sat there, his eyes large and his hand pressed against his cheek. She threw her last Angel Wings at him and stomped away. She had a strongly worded email to write when she got home.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Forty Fifth Friday Flash: The Lost Girl

2012 Artwork Copyright: Irena Lazovska

*This week's flash was inspired by Irena's suggestions of place, items/plot points and emotion (moon, isolation, lost girl, an orphan boy and his rabbit) as well as her beautiful original artwork. Hopefully I have done the image justice.

Brett and his pet rabbit Chompers were going for a walk, a very long walk, because there was no way he was going back to that stinky, horrible and hurtful home. Not for all the chocolate in the world.

It was cold, maybe it would have been better to have chosen a warmer night, but he couldn't take it any more. He had to get out. He just hoped his friends there would understand, maybe he could find help for the others. He hugged Chompers closer, the rabbit nudged his head under Brett's blue and white striped pajama top for warmth.

It was hard work slogging through the muddy fields. He lost one of his shoes in the mud along the way, he tried to fish it out, but it was useless, in the end he grew so frustrated that he threw the other shoe into the distance. He forgot the coldness for a few moments, but it soon returned and with vengeance.

Feeling more alone and isolated than he had ever before he trudged on, until a forest came into view, his spirits were lifted, maybe he would be able to find some shelter.

The forest wasn't much of an improvement. There were odd sounds all around him, he had taken no more than a few steps when a small deer came shooting past him, he jumped back in surprise and landed on the hard ground. His pants now muddy too, he did his best to get the worst of it off before continuing. Chompers scrambled on his chest to try to get a better hold, he seemed to like the forest even less than Brett did.

Just when he thought he would be lost forever he saw a flashlight in the distance. He ducked behind a tree, what if it was someone from the Home looking for him? He waited, breathing slowly and holding Chompers.

The person with the flashlight shouted, it was a girl's voice, she sounded afraid. “Hello! Anyone out there?”

He peeked around the tree, the flashlight was moving away from him. He jumped out, scared that if he didn't act now he might never get out of the forest. Brett picked up Chompers to protect his eyes from the light.

The girl screamed, it looked like she was going to run away.

“No! Wait!” he cried.

The girl froze and turned around. Her flashlight shining on him, Brett blinked against the harsh light, he had to let her see that he was harmless.

“Phew!” she said clutching her chest. “I thought you were a monster with a rabbit's face!”

“Oh no, it's just my buddy Chompers, he's harmless.”

“Good,” she said, moving a little closer. It hard to tell by the light, but she seemed about the same age as him. “Are you lost too?”

“I'm not lost, I ran away.”
“Oh. I'm lost, I went exploring on my own and got lost, my parents are going to be so upset with me.”

“It must be nice to have parents,” he said with out thinking.

“What was that?” she asked moving a little closer.

“I was just saying that you are brave.”

“Silly more like,” she said with a laugh. She had chocolate brown eyes and darkish hair. “It's so cold tonight!”

“You can hold Chompers if you like? He's been keeping me warm.”


Brett handed Chompers over. “Be careful of his claws.”

“I will, maybe we can find our way back together?” she asked, looking everywhere but him.

“Okay, but please don't tell anyone I run away, I really don't want to go back.”

“Deal,” she said. “I'm April by the way.”

“Brett,” he said. “Let's follow the moon, at least we will be going in one direction.”

“Good idea.”

The moon was full, and it was kind of comforting to know that there was something constant in the surrounding world they could rely on.

For an hour or so they walked and talked, finding they had quite a lot in common, they took turns carrying Chompers, he was rabbit that loved his carrots after all. Just when they had been talking about finding shelter for the night they stumbled across a search party that comprised of a lot of police, concerned parents and community members.

April screamed with joy when they found her parents, they were unhappy with her, but over the moon that they were reunited again. Brett stood back, not sure what to do with himself. Suddenly, just when he was enjoying the warm blanket that was wrapped around him his ear was gripped hard and he was pulled back.

“There you are you little brat!” He couldn't believe it, it was Miss Hammersham. He had obviously not run away far enough.

“April!” he shouted.

April came running over.

“Hey! Leave him alone!”

“Get lost, you scallywag!”

Brett watched as both April's parents ears' pricked and they both came over quickly. Miss Hammersham let go of his ear, but kept him close.

“What did you just call my daughter?” asked April's father, Brett could see barely controlled rage in the man's eyes.

Miss Hammersham looked down at him like she did all other people.

“I was just telling her to mind her own business.”

April's mom put her hand on April's father's shoulder. “Is this the boy you were talking about? The one who helped you?”

“Yes, he was wonderful.”

“And you are?” asked Miss Hammersham.

“May Perryweather, social worker.”

Brett couldn't help but smile, when he felt his tormentor flinch.

“Good for you, but I must rush.”

May Perryweather folded her arms, “Not so fast. Hand the boy over.”

Miss Hammersham stamped her foot. “On what grounds?”

“I have reason to believe you are mistreating your charges.”

“Nonsense!” Miss Hammersham pulled at Brett to leave.

“Sheriff!” called May.

The sheriff who had just finished debriefing the search party came over. “Mrs Perryweather?” he said tipping his hat.

“Care to accompany us to Miss Hammersham's home?”

The sheriff looked at the two kids, and the tight grip on Brett's shoulder.


The Home was closed that night, all Brett's friends were taken in by social services and Miss Hammersham held until further investigations could be made.

May found a great home for Brett and Chompers in the very same town, he didn't go to the same school as April, but they kept in touch and when they were old enough they started their own safe haven for kids, a place where children they looked after didn't have to ever feel lost and alone like they had.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Forty Fourth Friday Flash: The Puddle

Hi all,

A little change from normal this week. Haunted Waters Press accepted my piece The Puddle for their Spring issue. So please click through the link and have a read. Please comment on the story here. Comments on the magazine itself seem to be disabled. Feel free to read the other stories in the issue too.

Also have a special Friday flash next week with an original art piece.