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.

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Clutter

“I don’t understand the problem.”

“Well, it’s just clutter, David. Can’t you see that?”

It was Friday; David wasn’t sure how, but, somehow, he’d made it to the end of another week. He was now standing with his wife in the spare bedroom, his eyes narrow.

That morning, he’d snapped. The crumpled resignation letter had finally been handed in and the final paycheck had been collected. Then he had marched around the corner and, finally, he had done it.

He’d created his own music room.

“This clutter,” he snapped at his wife, “happens to be my life.”


Word Count: 97.

This little piece of flash fiction was inspired by the Friday Fictioneers prompt from the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Check out the rules here.

I’m not sure why, but I found it really difficult to keep to the word count this week (more than usual, anyway). Perhaps this picture is just particularly thought-provoking!

Thanks for reading! You can click on the Inlinkz button to the right to view more interpretations of this week’s prompt.

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!

The Very Short Story Starter – Prompt #1

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 my first prompt:

Cover.jpgImagine you are on a train or at a train station when a murder takes place. Expand upon this scenario by writing a story of 500 words or fewer.

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!


The Remnants of War

He was an old man – withered. His skin was cracked and his eyes, somewhat hollow. They had born the sight of a thousand atrocities, scarlet pools of blood still reflected in his bottomless pupils.

Nobody took much notice of him as they hurried up and down the platform’s edge, piling into their trains or else scurrying away down the station steps. He was just another commuter – another lost soul on his way to another land.

Except that he wasn’t.

Railway.jpgThe old war soldier had only one destination, and it couldn’t be reached through train doors or down stone steps. He had been sat on his station bench for most of the day, and even when darkness fell, he didn’t move. He had no wish to, for he was exactly where he needed to be.

It was nearly midnight when he finally stirred. The pigeons had taken to their roosts above his head, and the station was almost entirely deserted. There was only one other person waiting in the dark, and it was on him that the soldier’s eyes were now fixed.

Anyone watching the scene could never have known that these men were the same age. The newcomer’s eyes were bright, and although his face was heavily lined, his skin seemed less waxy. He had lived a fuller life, unscarred by the remnants of war.

The newcomer did not notice the soldier as he got to his feet. He was looking the other way, gazing at the distant horizon as he waited for the last train. The soldier approached him from behind, his wicker cane bouncing on the stone ground as he walked. The sound stirred his companion, and he turned, his face blank. Then, upon seeing who it was who approached him, a shadow crept over his dark features.

“You’re late,” he croaked, licking his lips distractedly. “I expected you thirty years ago.” The soldier stopped walking, leaving about a metre between them. Then he leant heavily on his cane, his face stony.

Prompt #1.jpg“Can you blame me for expecting to see more fear in your eyes?” he asked coldly. “I gave you thirty undeserved years, and you cannot grant me a look of horror?” The second man chuckled slightly, and the soldier furrowed his brows. “I didn’t know that you were expecting me,” he added stiffly.

“I knew you would come,” nodded the younger-looking man. “I would, if it was me.”

“Except it wasn’t you,” his companion snapped. “It couldn’t have been you. You were my partner – my brother in arms – and you betrayed me. You betrayed us all.”

“I was scared, Joe,” replied the second man. “I was just trying to survive. I didn’t think that they would act so quickly. I was going to warn you before they…”

“But you have survived,” the soldier interrupted. “You’ve had seventy-three years, Brian. But I’m tired now. I want to rest, but I cannot leave knowing that you still live on.”

His companion didn’t resist. He met the soldier with open arms as he charged. Then, entwined in one another, the two men fell across the tracks, groaning in agony. The soldier had been a patient man, but, in that moment, as he heard the distant sound of the last train, he knew that his journey was finally done. His last order had been completed.


Word Count: 559.

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!

Sunday Scrawl #4

It’s Sunday again, which means that it’s time for the next Sunday Scrawl! This is a writing prompt competition that I have been running for a few weeks now; here are the rules:

Sunday Scrawl Logo

  1. Below, you will find this week’s photo prompt!
  2. Responses to the prompt can vary from prose/poetry writing to more photographs – there are no limits and no word counts.
  3. There are no tangible prizes for this challenge, but I will be reblogging the top entries!
  4. Feel free to use the photo below or the “Sunday Scrawl” icon to illustrate your responses (although I’d love to see some of your own illustrations, too)!
  5. Please remember to include a pingback to this post in your response.
  6. To enter, click on the “Mister Linky” icon at the bottom of this page!

Caged.jpg

When I first took this photo, it inspired me to write a poem about being trapped in the education system, which you can read here. That’s my take on this week’s prompt; I can’t wait to read yours!                                                                     Click here to enter –>

The Gated Gardens

This piece of creative writing is for the purposes of the Sunday Scrawl prompt challenge, the competition that I run on a weekly basis. I’m a little later at answering the prompt this week as I have just moved into a new flat, so I apologise if I have been late responding to comments etc. Thank you to everyone who has taken part so far, and I hope you enjoy my story!


Individual droplets of dew collect together on the leaves, clinging onto each other as their bodies stretch out, their reach elongating, until finally they snap. The water cascades to the floor, showering my hand as I hold it out, brushing past the leaves as I walk, slowly towards the familiar, black gate.13827185_303455753342581_2017557188_n.jpg

I hadn’t had any intention of returning to this place, but I’ve walked this path so many times that I now can’t seem to avoid it. My legs carry me here as if possessed by some higher power. I can’t resist it, and I don’t see why I should.

I stare hard at the gate, taking in its elaborate patterns and thick, bolted entrance. It’s the only way out. I’m certain of that; I’ve explored every inch of the gardens, traversed each of its many acres, in search of an escape. The perimeters of my prison are guarded by thick, impenetrable bushes that circle all the way around the manor, lowering only at this singular, haunting gate: my only exit, sealed with a bolt and key from the outside.

My feet take me right up to the gate, stopping only so I can reach a hand through the bars, scrabbling only half-heartedly at the lock. It will not open. It may never open; for twenty-three years, I have existed within my prison, speaking only to my fellow inmates. Why should that ever change? This isn’t just my prison; it’s my entire existence.

When I was child, I hadn’t minded the prison, because I’d thought that that’s all there was. I didn’t know that there was an outside, so I had no desire to reach it. I’d lasted most of my life in this happy state of ignorance, and all that while, from the gardeners, to the nurses and handmaids, no one had thought to tell me that there was more. Perhaps each of them hadn’t wanted to be the one to ruin it for me. That had been until my sixteenth birthday. It had been my first birthday alone, my mother having died in early September. I hadn’t wanted to talk to the servants. I hadn’t wanted to talk to anyone, so I’d run. I’d run all the way out here, to the strange, tantalizing gate. I’d seen the break in the hedges and looked beyond, to the trees and the flowers that I couldn’t quite reach.

I’d asked since, of course. I’d asked everyone I happened to run into, and then I’d discovered the truth. It had been too late by then, though. The only person who really mattered had already left me, which meant that I couldn’t ask her.

I couldn’t ask her why she’d done it.

IMG_1163.JPGWe’re all women here; I’m told it’s to stop the endless cycle of betrayal. That’s what one of the nurses told me, anyway. They don’t want more children growing up in here, which means that I’m the last one. Before long, all the servants will have left me; the youngest one left is fifty-eight, which, in my mind, can only mean one thing. Before long, I’ll be the solitary prisoner of this infernal, hated prison cell. Because it might look pretty and provide me with enough space to run around for days at a time, but it’s not enough. It’s still a prison, and I’m still alone.

I sink slowly to the cobbled ground, my legs crossing automatically as my head falls into my hands and I begin to sob furiously. I don’t want to do it anymore. I don’t want to have to think about my cold, lonely future. I don’t want to have to think about roaming around that manor all by myself. I don’t want to have to think about how many days I will sit here, staring hard at the immovable, impossible gate. I look up, angry tears still falling from my eyes.

Then I freeze.

Something that has never, during my entire existence, happened before, just has. I’ve seen a child.

I blink hard, standing instantly and rushing manically over to my bars, mouth slightly agog. The boy stumbles a few paces back, apparently alarmed. He’s clutching a small, stuffed rabbit around his chest, which he drops as he scuttles away. Then he looks down at it, apparently conflicted.Rabbit2.jpg

“What’s your name?” I ask greedily. I know I should move back so the boy can grab his rabbit, but, if I do, he might leave me. “My name’s Alika.” The boy doesn’t move. His eyes are still fixed on the rabbit, every muscle frozen, as if every portion of him is occupied in his own internal war. If he moves forward, he can get his rabbit, but then again, if he moves, the strange, wild woman might attack him.

I sigh, stepping away from the gate slightly.

His eyes are fixed on me as he creeps forwards, bent low as if he thinks it will make it harder for me to see him. I don’t say anything else. I don’t see the point.

In a sudden move, he rushes to the rabbit, yanks it up by the ear, and races off in the opposite direction, without sparing another glance for the wild woman behind the gate.

I lean heavily against my cell door, regret pounding through my veins. I should have kept him with me. I could have at least looked at him a little more, taking in his tiny little features and smooth, innocent face. It was one thing to see a child, but a male – well that was something as equally as foreign to me. I rattle my cage, and, on the strangest of impulses, begin to shout.

“Please! Please, help me! I’m trapped in here and I can’t get out! Anyone… you have to help me!” My voice begins to break, and I mutter, in a barely audible whisper, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”

They’re funny things, wishes. In the days of my childhood, I would waste them on frivolous things, such as wishing for the agility needed to climb the highest tree, or wishing to be able to run as fast as the rabbit that just alluded me. I’d never wished for an escape, though. It’s as if a part of me already accepted my fate. Why try to fight the inevitable?

So, I didn’t wish for an escape, even as I beat my head against the hard metal of the gate. I didn’t wish for anyone to help me as I felt the blood begin to trickle down my forehead, but it didn’t matter. My unasked wish was answered, nevertheless. I hadn’t really thought about what the boy had been doing in this forest, all alone. If I had, I might have yelled a little louder.

His parents found me a few minutes later. I’d almost knocked myself out by then, but I was still alive. The father disappeared to find something called wire cutters. I didn’t know what they were; they didn’t exist in my world. Then – well, it was so easy – then I was outside and being led to a strange, unfamiliar box with wheels attached. I screamed in alarm, as well as amazement, as the box began to move. I wasn’t really scared, though. There could be nothing scarier out in the real world, than there already had been in that prison. I didn’t care what wild beasts I would face out here, because I wasn’t alone anymore.

There are people – so many people – now. They are busy and colourful and blessedly unfamiliar. I don’t know them. I can walk up to them and introduce myself. The best thing, though, the best thing of all about being free, is that I don’t have to think about those things anymore. I don’t have to hate my mother for betraying her royal husband, and I don’t have to worry about being alone. Out here, I will never be. There’s too much life.

That’s all folks! – Sunday Scrawl #1

The first week of the Sunday Scrawl challenge is officially over! Thank you to everyone who took part; it’s been an immense pleasure to read your wonderful responses to my photo! I’ve reviewed all entries and chosen a ‘winner’ for the week – it’s only a little late because I moved flat on Saturday, so everything has been a bit of a mess!

This was not an easy decision to make as so many of the entries were not only well written, but engaging and pretty intense! I have, however, selected Varad’s story to reblog this week; there was just something about the ending to the story that left me reeling. Thanks again to everyone who has taken part this week; as there were so many great entries, I’ve added links to all of them below!

L.E.R.T

11272892_847812051963254_1840294869_nGoodbye, cruel world! Is that how suicide notes begin? Whatever! I’ve had enough. Usually, the person committing suicide blames someone in their suicide note. Well, where to begin! Should I start with my absolutely useless and horny parents? Maybe! If you don’t have the brains to purchase a condom, then maybe you didn’t deserve to have sex.

Hey, my so called mother! Ever heard of abortion? Nope, don’t think so. If you were dumb enough to get pregnant with a child you never had any plans of raising, then I guess you wouldn’t have been smart enough to visit the nearby clinic. My worthless father, great job sticking around mate. Hope you had a great night of fornication.

My foster parents, If your idea of bringing a child up is whipping the cane out for every small mistake, you needn’t have bothered taking me in at all. Might as well…

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