The Very Short Story Starter – Prompt #4

I recently treated myself to John Gillard’s The Very Short Story Starter, which is filled with 101 flash fiction prompts that I hope will provide me with some blogging inspiration over the summer months. Here was today’s prompt, “Unrecognizable”:

Cover.jpgWrite a story from the perspective of someone who has woken up in a room or place they do not recognise (in 200 words or less).

Please feel free to have a go at this prompt, too; I would love to read what you come up with. I will be posting these prompts quite regularly, and if they spark your inspiration, please do paste a link to your story in the comments section!

Previous prompts are available here.


Caged Flesh

The first thing that I became aware of, as I resurfaced from the depths of my subconsciousness, was the pain. It burned through my entire body, making my knees buckle: a great, dull ache as though I had been forced into a too-small space.

Next came the fear. As I opened my eyes, I realised that the familiar woods were gone. The grassy scent of the trees had vanished, and been replaced by a cool, clinical smell that did not quite mask the stench of something monstrous.

I knew that smell. I had grown up with that smell, and I had grown to despise it, for it was the stench of death.

Fear now consuming all other thoughts, I tried to get to my feet, but there was something holding me back. I tried again, and heard a strange, clinking noise from around my neck.

I was just telling myself not to panic when the Strangers entered the room. They were wearing green overalls and white gloves that stretched up to their elbows. I began to struggle desperately against my bonds, screaming for help, but they took no notice of my pain.

They didn’t offer me one word of comfort as they slit my neck. All I heard was one, unfamiliar word, whispered through their masks.

“Venison.”


Word Count: 217.

Thank you ever so much for reading, and remember, if you do want to have a go at this prompt, paste a link in the comments section so that I can read it!

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The Versatile Blogger Award

On the same day as I posted my last blog awardSoul Connection nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award! Whilst I was very pleased, I thought that it would be too soon for me to post about another award, so I decided to leave it a while. Nevertheless, I need to thank Soul Connection for this nomination! It’s so nice to feel appreciated in this way!versatile

Rules:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Nominate up to 15 bloggers for this award.
  3. Share 7 facts about yourself.
  4. Put the logo of Versatile Blogger in your post and display the rules.

Facts about Me:

  1. I absolutely adore nature. I consider myself – not an activist exactly – but I want to help animals and the environment. I hope, in the future, I can help our world as I can.
  2. I prefer writing to reading. I’ve always felt bad admitting this, particularly as I’m taking an English Literature course, not a Creative Writing course, but, even though I like books and I appreciate other writers’ works, writing will always be my true passion.
  3. I’m a bit of a Potterhead. I can’t remember how old I was when I saw the first film, but I remember that I was pretty young when I got hooked on the books. Even now, I listen to their audiobooks (read by Stephen Fry – I can thoroughly recommend them) to relax.
  4. I’m still not very sure about what I want to do in the future. As an undergrad, it’s about time that I started making some big decisions, but I’m struggling a fair bit if I’m honest.
  5. I have a tendency towards misanthropy (in other words, I sometimes view the human race pretty darkly. Philosophy taught me that we may only do good deeds out of our own need to survive, and, considering some of the evil things in the world, it’s not hard to judge our species).
  6. Having never really lived in a big city, I definitely prefer the countryside – I went to London a few months ago and hated every second of it; it was all noise and people, like there wasn’t enough space to breathe.
  7. I’m probably going to start a new blog section soon – more non-fiction based about either philosophy or Ancient Greece/Rome – let me know if you’ve got any ideas/advice for me!

This is the part where I’m supposed to nominate some new blogs for the award, but I’m going to have to pass on that this time. It just hasn’t been long enough since my last lot of nominations, and I know that a lot of people that I interact with are “award-free”, so I’m just going to leave you with this: anyone who reads this post and would like to receive the award, consider yourself nominated!

Thanks for reading, and thanks again to Soul Connection for the nomination! I really appreciate it.

Life

This piece of creative writing is for the purposes of the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge, which runs each Sunday with a photo prompt and the task of writing a story in less than 200 words. I hope you enjoy!


My mother once told stories of a place where grass grew beneath your feet. She said the air was so pure, you didn’t need a mask to walk outside. She told of the animals, too; beautiful creatures that roamed the lands in search of food.

12 J Hardy Carroll 06 August 2017

Credit: J Hardy Carroll

I’ve only seen birds before. They fly above the city sometimes, keeping their distance as they dive past. The other animals – the wildcats, the fish and the antelope – well, they just don’t exist in my world. Tarmac and pollution are my animals. They’re the only things to watch, after all. Even on the TV – the broken, old set at the back of the front room – it only ever shows more tarmac. I might as well stare out my bedroom window.

I’ve seen grass before, though. One day, I’d had an argument with my mother and stormed off in a temper. I can’t remember where I’d run – if I could, I’d visit – but there was a corner of the road where the paving slabs were coming loose, and, from between them, crept this strange, green shimmer that I could only recognise from my mother’s stories.

Life, I called it.


Word Count: 193

Click on the blue froggy for more stories!

If you’re looking for more prompt challenges, check out my Sunday Scrawl.

No Man’s Forest

Here’s my attempt at the Sunday Scrawl prompt challenge, which I recently begun myself; it runs from Sunday on a weekly basis (you still have all of today and tomorrow to enter and a new challenge will be released tomorrow) If you want to know more about this challenge, check out the page here.


There’s a sound in the distance – not a flurry of feathers or a scampering of paws – this is a new noise, a stark contrast to the familiar chatter of the forest. It’s distant, but undeniable; my ears prick as the quietest of whispers scream one, single message: there’s an intruder in the forest.

It doesn’t take long for me to shake off my former drowsiness. As I race through the trees, I keep my body close to the ground, skimming across the leaf-strewn earth. I’m fast, and within minutes I have reached the source of the whispers. I duck behind the nearest tree, ears still pricked.10245908_229013817292235_2035726348_n.jpg

The whispers are stronger now; their once frail voices have become hard as they slice through the serene quiet. I watch as their owners reveal themselves: not one, but two. Men.

They laugh to one another, trampling through the undergrowth as frightened insects scarper from over their feet. I glance skyward to see all the nearby birds take off, fleeing for their lives.

It’s been a long time since man has dared enter our forest. At the border, they put signs up – signs that are meant to ward them off, but these men must have ignored the signs. They must have ignored the danger. I hesitate behind my tree, wishing I was bigger – wishing I was just the tiniest bit more powerful. I don’t pretend to like man. They’re loud and brutish, caring only for themselves, not the forest or its animals. Yet, if I could, I know that I’d stop them. I know that I’d try to warn them.

I glance to my left. A fellow rabbit has arrived behind the next tree, his ears pinned back and eyes wide. I try to catch his eye, but he’s far too preoccupied with something in the distance. I turn to look, too, and then I close my eyes. I thought it would take longer for them to get here.

From behind the men, on the wooden path that they tread, three pairs of narrowed, yellow wolf eyes stare back at us from the gloom.


If you want to enter the challenge, simply write a post based on the above picture, and click here enter! Thanks for reading!

Hesitation

Hesitation

Photo prompt 04/07/17. Credit: Kecia Spartin

This short story was written for the Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers Challenge, which invites writers to interact with one another through weekly photo prompts.

My word count for this piece is at 175. Enjoy!


He doesn’t see me. He flexes his neck as he preens himself, but still he doesn’t see. It’s almost cruel, plucking him from the world without the slightest bit of notice. I want him to turn around; even if it is just the tiniest glimpse, I want him to see.

It’ll be too late, of course; even if he does see, it’s too late. He’s mine.

It shouldn’t matter, I think to myself. If anything, this is better; he’s stupid. He’s not being careful, so, in a way, it’s his own fault. I’m an innocent, just trying to survive, and he – well if he really cared, he’d be more careful.

I’m being careful. I’m looking all about myself, even now. The world’s too dangerous not to, but apparently nobody ever told him that. I stick my tongue out into the air, feeling along the leaves. I can taste him; I can taste his feathers and sharp little beak that will desperately squeak as he tries to escape.

Should have been more careful, then.

I strike.

Hesitation 2
21/05/15

 

Hunted #writephoto

I recently discovered a weekly photo prompt competition run by Sue Vincent. She provides excellent “Thursday” challenges for writers to have a go at. This week, I was keen to give the prompt my best attempt, as the photo (depicted below) deeply inspired me. There was no word-limit to this piece, so I just wrote to my heart’s content and ended up at a word count of 781. I hope you enjoy my short story!


I sit in silence. All it will take is the slightest spasm of an aching limb, or an untimely itch that I simply must scratch. I breathe deeply, slowing down my heart rate as I try to make as little noise as possible.

He’s still there, watching me. I can’t see him, but that doesn’t really mean anything. I know he’s there, because he’s always there. He’s always waiting for that one fatal mistake that I know one day will be my undoing. He doesn’t know where I am and I don’t know where he is; that’s the game. Because it is a game: it’s an endless game of dice rolling, where neither party has any control of the outcomes. The only issue is, if I lose, I don’t just lose a day’s pay or my dignity. The price is my life, and his reward is his.

Rabbi

June, 2017.

I can feel that itch now. It’s in my right leg. I want to look down and check that there’s not some horrible insect sucking at my blood, but I can’t. Even when I’m being eaten alive, I can’t move, and I can’t make a noise. All I wish for, is to hear the tell-tale rustle of leaves and snapping of leaves that tell me he’s leaving. He won’t go far, but he will move far enough that my window of escape will open, and I will run, and, as the dice are flung into the air, I will race for my life.

The itch is getting worse. How I want to scratch it, but there can’t be long to wait now; he’ll be tiring, too. He’ll feel an itch, and his muscles will buckle under the pressure. Soon. I try to calm myself down. I’m breathing too rapidly. I can’t let my own fear be the ruin of me, not when so many are depending on me. I soothe myself, closing my eyes and letting out a long breath.

It happens in an instant. Just as a sharp, jarring pain cuts across my leg from the itch, I hear the sudden rustling to my left that tells me my hunter is giving up. Too late. I gasp out in horror from the pain in my leg, and then it is too late and I am running.

I dart out from my hiding place, a clump of densely-growing leaves, and flee into the open meadows beyond. He’s still right behind me, rampaging through the undergrowth as he reaches for me. He is close: too close. There isn’t going to be enough time. He is meant to be further behind. I speed up, putting all my remaining energy into my legs. My right one is still stinging painfully, and I can feel a suspiciously warm substance trickling down it that I have a horrible feeling might be blood. I don’t have time for this, not for injury. The smell of blood will only drive my hunter on faster.

Birds

Photo prompt provided by Sue Vincent.

I duck back under the cover of trees: a detour. It’s risky, and it might cost me, but it’s also my only option, to confuse my companion into letting me keep my life. I dart around tree trunks and leap over uneven ground, always rushing and never slowing. This is it, a little voice whispers from the back of my head. You’re going to die today. You’re going to lose the game. I can almost feel his hot breath on the back of my neck, and almost sense his harsh, sharp teeth snapping at my injured leg. You’re too late, the voice whispers.

I stop running. I stand stock still, but in this single instant, time seems to slow right down. I don’t think of my hunter, storming towards me, desperate to sink his teeth into me. I think of my tiny, little home, tucked away under the trees barely two metres from where I stand now. I could make it, of course I could. But I can’t. Under those trees, four little babies lie all snuggled together, their eyes bright and innocent, and their mouths hungry, desperate for the food that only I can bring them.

They will have to go hungry tonight, but they are old enough by now. It isn’t fair and it isn’t right, but they are going to have to feed themselves from now on. It’s better to risk that, whispers the voice, rather than to lead this monster right to them. Right to your babies. You can’t do that. You can’t kill them.

So, I listen to the voice. I don’t move, because I can’t move. I don’t feel angry. Everyone loses sometimes; everyone must lose. I don’t mind. I’m ready.

Story Starters: A Collection

My biggest problem as a writer has always been sticking to one story after I create the initial opening; it’s too tempting to move onto something new and more exciting! Here’s three story starters, varying in length, that I’ve, at some point, abandoned.

1) This opening story sentence is for the purposes of the writing competition at: Writer’s Digest, with the brief of a maximum word count at 25 words, and the picture prompt seen below.

screen-shot-2016-10-11-at-10-30-47-am

A snowy owl swooped low above the forest, invisible against the white trees, and ignorant, for little did it know of the danger lurking there.

2) The flames roared high above them, great waves of smoke towering higher still. They choked and coughed as they ran, ducking and diving around the broken infrastructure that now surrounded them. Time was running out; they were already scorched and burned in more places than they knew, the agony of their wounds occasionally causing them to contort their steps as they raced onwards. Great chunks of wall and ceiling were crashing around them, too, wires dropping down into the fiery mass and sparks exploding from every direction. The reality was that they had entered hell itself, and every runner accepted that fact with a bleak resolution. There was no turning back, and, chances were, there was no escape. Hell had become the endless corridor of fire that they now faced, and they were all too aware of it.

3) The sirens were louder than they should have been. Even before her body crumpled and collapsed onto the pavement, they were there with us, ringing in our minds and pounding in our hearts. Craig was bent over her, muttering to himself and beating the ground with his fist. Little Pete was at his side as usual, waiting for the directions that would never come again. I didn’t need to crouch over her as they did, though, because I knew. In reality, I think we all knew, even before we’d hit her; we’d known even before she’d been lit up in front of my car headlights and Craig had fought to avoid her. There was no use checking her pulse or breathing rate. There was no point, because Kelly Holmes was dead, and we’d killed her. We were murderers.

“We should run,” Craig breathed, turning to face us in the half-dark. “The sirens don’t mean anything. They could be hours away yet.”

“I agree,” Little Pete piped up instantly, not even allowing a breath between Craig’s suggestion and his own sycophantic plea for attention. I shrugged, but I doubted that they could see the slight movement in the darkness. I wasn’t going to run. I didn’t want to run. I was a murderer. I had to stay and face the police, no matter how devastating that would be.

“Dan,” Craig persisted, ignoring Little Pete. “We need to go, now.” I swallowed hard, feeling braver in every new cry of the sirens.

“Then go,” I whispered, looking not at Craig and Little Pete, but at Kelly. She was beautiful even now, her long, dark hair a mess about her shoulders and back, and her slender, ghostly form almost shining in the light from the surrounding street lamps. I’d known her since she was little, from when we’d played together in my back garden. She was dead now. She would never breathe again, never laugh, never smile. She was simply gone.

“Dan, they’ll get you!” Craig whispered, his voice slightly incredulous. I could not look at my best friend, though. He wasn’t like me. He wasn’t feeling this like I was. He felt only fear, whereas I felt only loss, grief and a furious, biting sense of self-hatred. I had done this. “Dan, you know what that means!” Craig persisted, shaking my shoulder now.

“If you want to run, run,” I snapped, looking at Craig at last. “Save yourself. You better hurry up, though. It’s been too long already.” Craig stepped back slightly, confusion edging its way into his fear clouded mind. He looked at Little Pete then, suddenly lost and vulnerable. Pete looked back, and suddenly they were no longer leader and disciple, but two scared boys: criminals.

Without another word, they took off, running in the opposite direction from the houses and sirens beyond them. There were fields not too far off, and after that, the forest. If they made it that far, they were safe. It was said that fugitives and criminals caked the trees themselves, living amongst the branches and leaves on the earthy floor. I used to have nightmares about the place, but for Craig and Little Pete, it had just become the last hope. Maybe, just maybe, they would be okay.

I looked back at Kelly then, and my heart shuddered to a halt, too.