The King #writephoto | Short Story

The grey clouds above us had begun to churn, rumbling and rocking over one another as we shivered. They were an omen, I thought, my knees knocking together in the air. They were an omen for our future.

The King.jpgUp ahead of us, our captors were murmuring to each other, gesturing first at us, and then over the hill to a point that we could not see. I shifted slightly, my chains grating painfully against my ankles, and glanced at the boy behind me. He must have been only nine or ten, his skinny arms limp at his sides and his face tinged with blue.

I wanted to offer some words of comfort to him, but I couldn’t find any to give. Then I heard the sound of approaching footsteps and I turned back to the front to see one of the guards marching down our ranks.

He was a tall man with a thick, black moustache that did not entirely hide his twisted smile. In his hand, he held the dreaded whip and was stroking it gently – almost lovingly.

“Walk,” he croaked, and I felt a tug on my chains as the prisoners at the front of the party began to march forwards. Again, I felt an excruciating pain against my raw ankles, and then it was my turn and I, too, was climbing the steep hill towards – or so it seemed – the clouds themselves.

At the top of the path, our party began to turn. Then I heard sighs and stifled sobs from the front, and the guard with the whip darted forwards to silence them. When I reached the top, I didn’t cry or gasp. My eyelids drooped slightly over the eyes that had become hard and stony. It wasn’t anything worse than I had been expecting, but it was eerie. There was no denying that.

the deadThe process was a long one. They led us into the gallows three at a time and, for every prisoner, they read out our shared sentence: this party has been found guilty of treason in the highest degree. Having plotted against our Lord the King, they are to hang by the neck until dead.

I thought of the King then. I hadn’t considered him since the day of my capture, but it all came back to me as I watched the guards toss away the bodies of my fellow prisoners. I thought of his malice and his demands, remembering how, on the day of his coronation, he had asked for a gift from each household. I remembered watching my daughter being dragged away from me, screaming as she was hoisted into the back of a van.

Back then, they had told us that she was to be made a slave, but I had never really believed that. My daughter was dead. They were all dead.

More bodies were being removed from the grass now and I took a couple of steps forward as the next three prisoners approached the gallows. What about the boy that now stood behind me? What could he have possibly done to insult the King? Perhaps he had thrown a stone at one of the guards as they had slaughtered his parents, or perhaps he hadn’t done anything at all. Perhaps he had been taken as a punishment to his family. It didn’t matter, though. Guilty or not, he didn’t stand a chance. There were to be no trials and no inquisitions. The King’s word was the law, and he had decided that we were to die.

I was at the front of the line now. I closed my eyes as the guard at my side thrust me forwards, leading me up some rough, wooden steps towards the gallows.

I did not resist. I only looked at the boy behind me, watching as the guards lowered the rope to his level. I didn’t take my eyes off of that boy the entire time. My eyes were fixed – resolute. After all, if this was to be my final moment on this earth, then I wanted to remember. I wanted to remember what our Lord had done.

Word Count: 696.

I hope you liked this #writephoto story. It was inspired by the weekly prompt challenge that is hosted by Sue Vincent. You can read all about it here.

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Dracula: A Thief’s Tale | Flash Fiction

“We shouldn’t be here,” Callie murmured, her eyes fixed on the window.

sunset2.jpg“The sun isn’t setting yet,” I soothed, but I knew that she could hear the falsity of my tone.

“Calm down, you two,” Bryn snapped from behind us. He was still shovelling treasure into his backpack, his eyes wide. “I don’t know what we’re gonna do with these old coins, but they’ll be worth hell of a lot.”

“He’s going to wake up!” Callie squealed.

I turned to her, but then stopped. From somewhere below us, we could hear the sound of a coffin being pushed open.

Word Count: 99.

As some of you may already be aware, I have been recently been rereading Bram Stoker’s Dracula (check out my review here). So, when I looked at this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, which could arguably be a sunset, how could I not think of the terrifying Count Dracula? I have absolutely loved reading this book and honestly cannot get it out of my head, so you’ll have to excuse this little bit of vampire fiction!

If you’re interested in the Friday Fictioneers prompt, it is a weekly challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields that asks its participants to tell a story in only 100 words or less. You can read all about it here. Thanks for reading, and remember to click on the blue Inlinkz button below to view more stories based on this prompt.

Picture Credit: Dale Rogerson.

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The Caged Warlock | Flash Fiction

The soft clinking sounds of the windchimes should have been soothing, but they weren’t. They were chilling.

“He won’t take his eyes off me,” I muttered, looking everywhere but at our prisoner.

“He’s tied up,” my companion hissed, though he, too, looked uncomfortable.

“I just wish the others would hurry up with that truck,” I sighed, my eyes scanning the area. “We need to get him away from here before-”

I had been desperately trying not to look at our captive, but as my eyes darted through the trees, I caught a glimpse of his cage.

It was empty.

Word Count: 99.

This little piece of fiction was inspired by the Friday Fictioneers prompt challenge hosted by Rochelle Wisoff-FieldsThanks for reading! You can click on the InLinkz button below to view more pieces of flash fiction based on this prompt.

Picture Credit: Liz Young.

The Sign of the Artificial Leg | Flash Fiction

“Faster, Watson! We must be right on his tail now!”

The two detectives tore through the town centre, their heavy coats flying out behind them as they ran. In front of them, the small, droopy-eared spaniel was beginning to slow, his nose pressed against the ground.

“Ah,” said Holmes.

The spaniel had come to an abrupt stop. Beside him, stood an artificial leg.

The spaniel was wagging its tail, looking between Holmes and Watson as if waiting for praise.

“He took it off?” Watson asked, but Holmes didn’t answer. Watson understood, though.

They had followed the wrong scent. Again.

Word Count: 99.

Inspired by the weekly Friday Fictioneers challenge, this little piece of flash fiction was based (very roughly) on Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four. This Sherlock Holmes story is one that I am currently reading, and it really is gripping. It was the first thing that I thought of when I looked at today’s prompt, as a large portion of the story centres around a man with a wooden leg!

Thanks for reading, and remember to click on the InLinkz button below to view more stories based on this Friday Fictioneers challenge!

Picture Credit: J Hardy Carroll.

4 Ways to Turn your Blog into a Portfolio

4 Ways to Turn your Blog into a Portfolio.jpgI usually don’t share too much about myself on this blog, simply because it is, in part, an online portfolio of my writing. I want it to be casual, but not too casual, and I don’t ever intend to use it like a diary. Despite my efforts to keep this blog at least semi-formal, however, I never really saw it as anything other than a platform that I could use to improve my writing. Then, a few weeks ago, I had some very good news that made me look at my blog in a different way.

That’s right: I got a job (well, it’s actually more of an internship, but you get the idea). As proof of my writing skills, my employers (a digital marketing company) asked for a link to my blog, where they could review my writing. Well, something clearly worked because, a few days later, they had offered me the job. I therefore thought it would be good to share some of the little things that I do to keep my blog looking semi-professional.

#1 – Don’t use your blog as a diary!

I know that a lot of bloggers like to be really personal when they are writing online. I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with this; if you’re happy to talk about a particular mental health problem or a difficult time that you’ve been going through, then well done – that shows a lot of courage! If you want your blog to ever be viewed by potential employers, however, it’s a good idea not to share too much.

Personally, I like to share small things, such as the fact that I have now finished my second year at university. This relates to my blogging habits and I don’t have any particular problem with sharing this piece of information, but I’m unlikely to mention the fact that I could have a cold. This distancing just keeps your blog a little more professional, which can help when promoting your writing ability.

#2 – Write on a range of topics, in a range of styles.

Prompt #1.jpgThis point might not relate to everyone, but it certainly does to me, as my internship involves content writing. This means that I need to be able to adapt my writing style for different audiences. One way to do this is simply to talk about a range of subjects.

When I first started this blog, it was strictly for my creative writing. As I started posting more regularly, however, I branched into book reviews, author spotlights, poem analyses, and various other literary subjects that help me to practice a range of writing styles and techniques. This means that, if a potential employer looked at my blog, they would be able to see that I am not confined to one particular way of writing.

#3 – Think about the overall presentation of your blog.

Appearance is key to a good blog, regardless of whether you ever plan on showing it to potential employers. Put simply, it needs to look good. This doesn’t just mean having pretty images beside your posts (although that is always a good idea). Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself about the overall presentation of your blog:

  • Is my site easy to navigate? – This is particularly important for those of you with a static homepage. It really is shocking how many blogs I visit where I just don’t know how to access its main content.
  • Will my site load quickly? – If your blog takes hours to load each page, no one is going to want to read it, and, in the case of employers, it looks as though you haven’t put much effort into your blog’s maintenance. To fix this issue, consider how many widgets you have on each page, and remove any large background images (particularly those that have moving animations!).
  • Am I using the best layout? – There are a few templates for blogs on WordPress that play to a particular blog’s strength. For example, there are those which target food blogs, which will probably have small amounts of text and a lot of pictures. There are also those which would be good for photographers, with even more space to display your pictures. So, remember to choose a good layout!

#4 – Remember that your blog is online.

Online World.pngThis last point may be the most important in this list. It’s all very well to use WordPress or another blogging platform to keep a portfolio of your work, but it’s important to remember that this is an online portfolio. If you don’t engage in the online community, then you might as well be printing off your work and keeping it in a folder under your bed. Put simply, you need to talk to people. Find likeminded bloggers who are posting similar things to you, and you will soon find that you are learning from them, just as they will be learning from you. Reply to comments, read and comment on other people’s work, and remember to stay positive. Even if your blog doesn’t help you to get a job, it can still be a lot of fun!

Blind Trust | Flash Fiction

“Don’t look!” my companion hissed from beside me. She spoke with such a ferocity that I momentarily lost my balance.

“What are you talking about?” I demanded, steadying myself. “I’m blindfolded! All I can see is darkness.”

She snarled softly, nudging me a little to the left as a way of directing me.

“This isn’t what I had planned,” she said after a while. “Anyone could be out here. It’s not that late yet and, Cassie, I’m glowing.”

I didn’t know what to say to this, so I stayed silent, concentrating on my footsteps.

“It’s hard to explain,” she added, prodding me in the stomach so that I turned further to the left. “I wish I could tell you what’s happening, but it’s hard. There are rules.”

“It’s fine,” I murmured, reaching for her hand. “I don’t need to know. You’re finally going home. That’s all that matters.”

Word Count: 148.

This little piece of fiction was inspired by the weekly prompt challenge hosted by Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers. Thanks for reading!

Picture Credit: Michelle De Angelis.

Change (A Short Poem)

A little while ago, I posted a YouTube video alongside my poem, “The Dark Sea”, where I read my poem aloud. So, although I haven’t written a new poem, I decided to do the same thing with one of my older poems, “Change”.

This was the first real poem that I ever wrote, and although I don’t (by far) consider it my best writing, it holds a fair amount of sentimental value to me.

I hope you enjoy! You can thank my lovely boyfriend for the music.