As he stepped through the door

As he stepped through the door, the air was filled with the sound of bells. Joy, he thought. Joy! And stood on the top step of the short flight down to the street and drew himself up straight and raised his head. As if a great weight had fallen from his shoulders – a weight that had bowed him down for weeks, months. It was gone.

Descending the stepsHe breathed in the air, sweet with the flowering trees that lined the street. Across the way and a little down to the left, a wedding party crowded outside St Nicholas’. The bells pealed from the steeple as pigeons flew in a flock about the slatted tower. But he felt the bells rang for him, the air was scented for him, as he slowly stepped down from the door to the pavement.

The knife slipped from his hand to drop, point down, on the step by his foot then somersault, blade over handle, ahead of him down the steps. It made no sound, drowned by bell clang, and fell slowly, he thought as he watched it tumble, little drops of glutinous red flicking from it to speck the stones.

It reached the street before he did, just as a woman passed by. A woman with a little girl beside her, holding hands. Hurrying, late for the wedding. Dressed in their best clothes, the girl with black lacquered shoes, white socks, a tartan skirt and a green jacket. The woman did not see the knife, but the girl did and she turned her head to look up at him as he came down the steps. Fixing him with her large brown eyes. Holding his eyes in a serious, judgemental gaze.

No joy there.

He stood by the knife watching the girl and her mother as they walked towards the church, the girl hanging back, her eyes still on him. The sweet scent had vanished from the air, the bells were a cacophony. He felt the weight pressing down on him again. His eyes were wet. No, he thought. Not–

But he stooped and picked up the knife.

The Changing of the Guard

“Hi Bea! Where y’bin?”
“Buzzin’ around.”Bees
(Sound like band-saws: giant bee laughter.)
“Buzz me in, Bess.”
“B’Guard Bea buzzed in 19.55.”
“Thanks. So how’s Her Majesty?”
“In a bonnet about somethin’.”
“Still?”
“You know what it is?”
“Happened on my watch. That Eric! Caught him sneakin’ into the Princesses.”
“That bee’s a drone!”
“Well, duh! But y’know, birds n’bees.”
“Whadda birds gotta do with it?”
“Be glad when the nuptial flight’s over. Tomorrow, right?”
“Yep. OK. You set? I’ll buzz.”
“Formalities! B’guard Bess I relieve you.”
“B’guard Bea I stand relieved. Now, I’m off to suck down some nectar.”
“Big day tomorrow. Get some zzs.”
“Yeah-yeah.”

© TheSupercargo


The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum curated by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The prompt: a photo of a giant bee. (See the photo prompt, Jennifer Pendergast’s photo here.). Jennifer P is ElmoWrites.

To see a list of links to all the responses to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, click here.

On the clock tower

On the clock tower
‘Isn’t that dangerous?’

‘It’s where the kids sit.’

Jim was showing me around, the first newcomer for over a year. The kids were high on the skeleton of a clock tower.

‘I wouldn’t worry,’ he said. ‘It’s stood like that for years. Since the bomb. Pretty stable.’

There were two up there. Girls or boys, I couldn’t tell. Just squatting.

‘Get a good view?’

He laughed. ‘Sure! Great view.’

Later, I climbed the tower myself.

The gravel desert reaching out to the edge of the world. The track snaking away. The sun setting, huge, forlorn and dull through the dust.

 

© TheSupercargo


The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum curated by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The prompt: a photo of two people climbing a ladder set against a metal framework on which two other people sit. (See the photo prompt, David Stewart’s photo ‘The Rescuers’, here.) The other influence on the above is JG Ballard – hence Jim. The illustration is partly based on the skeleton of the ‘A-bomb Dome’, Hiroshima.

To see a list of links to all the responses to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, click here.

Time’s arrow thuds home

A confusion of blaring, screeching, shouting, screaming – then a sickening thud.

He felt himself falling, turning, falling and everything slowed, strangely slowed, and the colours, the trees, the sky, the street, the people blurred, spread like watercolour on wet paper. He thought –How beautiful! And held the thought, falling into red.

Busy road. The man stood to cross, checking left, right. A careful man, unremarkable. Then a ball in the street, a boy chasing. The man stepped from the curb, crouched to seize the child about the waist and in one movement lifted and swung him back to safety. But…

Time's arrow thuds home

 

© TheSupercargo


The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum curated by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. The prompt: a motion-blurred photo of a bus, sky, a road, a tree. (See the photo prompt here.) If I have managed to do what I intended, you should be able to read the three paragraphs of the story in any sequence.

To see a list of links to all the responses to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, click here.

The successful novelist

The successful novelistMuch of that summer she stood guard duty at the palace. Rifle-barrel straight in spurred boots, her hair in a net under a polished coal-scuttle, she featured in many a tourist photo.

Watching the people, she found stories in all of them.

The middle-aged couple holding hands like teenagers – married, but not to one another. Here together, a stolen holiday.

The girl in the party dress, alone in the street – looking for White Rabbit.

The well-dressed man crumpled on a bench – all his wealth gone. Folly and greed.

Later the novelist would say: “That was when I learned my craft.”

 

© TheSupercargo


The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum. The prompt: a young woman in uniform standing guard outside the Royal Palace in Stockholm. Copyright in the prompt photo is held by Managua Gunn. To see a list of links to all the responses to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, click here.

Mind over matter

Ladies!

Gentlemen!

The power of the mind is greater than anything in the material world. The material world, what we call ‘reality’, is just an illusion. A projection of our minds. A limitation we place upon ourselves.

Understand this, believe it, and it becomes possible literally to step beyond the physical world. Believe you can do it and you can walk through walls. Dive through pianos.

My assistant will demonstrate. Henry, if you please.

(Ready?)

Breathe. Believe. Concentrate.

(By the way, I’m sleeping with your wife.)

Go!

Oh dear. Something must have broken his concentration. Henry! What a tragic end.

Mind over matter - Piano man

 

© TheSupercargo


The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum. The prompt: the legs of a man projecting from the body of an upright piano. I’m proud to say this week’s photo was one I took myself, but in keeping with the style of this website I choose to reproduce it here as a doodle. As ever the Friday Fictioneers target is 100 words – and this week I hit it on the nose! To see a list of links to all the responses to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, click here.

The Camelopardophant in the Zoo of Heraldic Beasts

You humans don’t realise how demeaning this is. And boring. For me anyhow.

The griffin, the unicorn, even the cockatrice have their fans. And Leroy over there gets a stream of visitors. “Do rampant!” They say. “Do couchant!” And he obliges. He’s a trooper.

Well, actually he’s a lion and an egomaniac. But that’s Leroy.

Not me. I don’t get the requests. Does anyone have me on a shield? The only visitors I get say: “What’s this funny looking thing?”

I say: You want funny? Look in a mirror!

No, I don’t. Can’t speak, can I? But think it and try to transmit my contempt by telepathy.

Heraldic Camelopardophant

© TheSupercargo


The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum. The prompt: what appears to be a large soft toy animal with the hindquarters of a zebra, the body of a tiger, the forequarters giraffe and the trunk of an elephant. Obviously a camelopardophant! As ever the Friday Fictioneers target is 100 words – as ever I fail to hit it, but the above is only 107 words long. To see a list of links to all the responses to this week’s Friday Fictioneers prompt, click here.

A pride of princesses

Penny was our captain, the only girl among the four of us, but where she led we followed. We built castles in the sandpit with water fetched in bottles from Penny’s kitchen. We built a lean-to of sticks round the climbing-frame, camped there till sunset when our parents fetched us home.

Inspired by her cousin’s forthcoming high-school prom, Penny decided we should have our own. She commanded: wear ball-gowns! And after a fashion we did. Jim wrapped himself in a sheet, Peter found an old dress of his mother’s, I wore my sister’s ballet-skirt.

Penny “borrowed” her cousin’s dress.

A pride of princesses in the playground.

The uproar when we were discovered!

Princesses of the playground

 

© TheSupercargo


The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum. The prompt: a brightly coloured ball-gown hung to air on an American-style fire escape on the facade of a monochrome old tenement. The target is to keep the text to 100 words. I haven’t quite managed it yet and not this week either, the above is 112 words. There’s a Pride Week going on in my town at present. That might have influenced me too. 🙂

Hanging on the telephone

I’m in the phone booth across the street.
It’s trashed, but I’m hiding here.
Calling on my cell.
Why can’t we talk again?
I’ll keep ringing!
Hanging on the telephone Don’t answer – I’ll keep ringing.
Switch off the sound – I’ll vibrate in your pocket!
But why can’t you answer?
Saw your mother just now. She going to work? The store?
All those things she said.
I told you…
Why didn’t you listen?
Godsake. Pick up!
When I don’t hear your voice things go… wrong.
Can’t we talk again? I want to tell you…
Sirens. Your mother’s called the cops!
I can’t control myself. I’m coming…
I just want to show you some… affection.
Don’t leave me hanging…

 

 

© TheSupercargo


The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum. The prompt: a clapped out US telephone booth. As soon as I saw it, Blondie’s  “Hanging on the Telephone” started on a loop in my head. Perhaps I should add that I’m aware the illustration limits the text; in fact there’s no reason to assume the speaker is a woman. Blame Debbie Harry 🙂

Through head-high grass

The boy was slashing through the head-high grass with a stick. An explorer, he was cutting his way through a jungle.

The meadow sloped up to a little knoll. On the knoll, enclosed by a white spindle-fence, was a grave of broken stones. He was hoping to find snakes. Imagined them waking from their winter sleep, basking on the stones in the sun.

But when he got to the fence a woman, who must have been sitting on the grave, stood up. Her head and shoulders appeared suddenly above the grass.

‘Who’s that?’ Sharply.

The boy crouched down. What had he woken?
In head-high grass

© TheSupercargo


The above was written for the Friday Fictioneers flash fiction forum. The prompt: a photograph of white painted metal railings and tall grass.