Friday, 31 May 2013

The gift of rage

A picture says a thousand words. Write them.
Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a critique about this picture. Write something about this picture. Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!
Picture Source:
There was something about the set of his shoulders in the shot; he looks upset to me. As per usual, I have no idea where this one came from. Watching too much Hannibal?

The gift of rage
He held the towel in his hands and stared down at it. His face looked blank, as if he was in shock; it certainly did not match the turmoil inside his head. He felt almost ill.
There were no stains on the towel but he felt as if there ought to be. He shivered.
His nausea overcame him and he rushed for the toilet. He vomited until his stomach was empty and the dry retching brought tears to his eyes. He splashed cold water on his face and used the same towel to dry it.
He took a deep breath before thrusting the towel away from him as if it was at fault. His sins were his own, even if they no longer stained his hands.
He’d had a great night at a bar with friends; drunk too much too quickly and begged off when they planned to move on to another late opening venue. The girls wanted to dance. He didn’t dance and he was not holding his beer as well as he usually did. They let him go alone, he was big enough and ugly enough to look after himself. Or that was what his best friend always told him. Dark alleys and deserted streets did not scare him. He definitely could look after himself after years doing martial arts classes at the gym. He needed to do something to stop the beer settling into a gut. He worked hard at it and the girls usually approved.
It crossed his mind to convince one of them to go home with him, but he felt odd. Sleeping it off alone sounded like a good idea.
Thinking about it, he’d felt odd since he had run into that creepy old man on the way to the bar toilet. He had apologised and the old guy had grunted something at him aggressively and had given him the evil eye. “Watch it, old man,” he had threatened. He would never have actually done anything. Empty threats. Like his martial arts. He’d learnt that karate meant empty hand in Japanese. He patted the old bloke on the shoulder and told him to have a good night.
The old guy had looked him straight in the face and said something in a foreign language. It seemed to have weight, if you could say that words had weight.
He had forgotten about it until later.
It had been raining while they were in the bar and the streets glistened. As he was walking home, he heard a muffled cry coming from a narrow alley. He had been intent on getting home; deliberately keeping his eyes downcast. The cry came again.
He decided to investigate.
He ducked up the alley, stepping quietly and keeping close to the wall.
“No,” a woman’s voice said. “Please?”
She did not sound happy. She sounded frightened and almost despairing.
He crept closer until he could see them. It was a them, as well.
The man had his hand around her throat. Her back was against the wall. Her bag dropped and at her feet; its contents scattered and ignored. It wasn’t a robbery, her wallet and phone were among the items.
He didn’t recognise either of them, but he did recognise the power balance. She knew the guy. Somehow he knew that. And she was terrified of him.
“Hey!” he called out.
The guy didn’t let her go but he turned to face the interruption.
He ignored him. “Are you okay?” he asked the woman.
“Mind your own business,” the attacker growled at him.
 “I am staying until she answers me.”
“Tell him you’re okay,” the guy ordered her.
Her lip wobbled. “You can’t help me,” she said.
“I can try.”
“Look mate, why don’t you just fuck off?”
“She goes with me.”
“No. She doesn’t.” He shook her.
“Let her go.”
“Or what?’
He shrugged. “I’ll make you.”
“Yeah right.”
“Let. Her. Go.”
He slammed her back into the wall. She let out a yelp of pain and clutched at the back of head, but he had let her go. He needed both hands to drive off the interruption. He took a threatening step towards the young man. The woman took the opportunity to crouch down and scrabble for her belongings.
The first punch rocked the attacker back on his heels.
He looked a little doubtful, now, but he was too stupid to back away. He swung a wide roundhouse punch that he ducked under easily before jabbing him under the arm. A few steps back to allow the guy to reconsider.
The woman was sliding down the wall, moving away from the fight.
“Go! Run!”
She took him at his word; not even a thank you. She just ran. He was glad she was out of the situation, but he had hoped for more.
The jerk had learnt nothing and that annoyed him. More than annoyed him, it enraged him. A red rage descended; he had no other way to explain it. He wanted the guy to hurt. To feel some of the pain he clearly dealt out to everyone he considered weaker than him.
When the red rage lifted, the guy was a bleeding pile of pulp on the ground. He was breathing heavily, the way he did after a full workout and the guy wasn’t breathing at all.
He didn’t want to leave fingerprints anywhere, but he needed to wash his hands. He crouched down and dipped his hands in a puddle in the middle of the alley, where the path was worn but some trash had formed a dam and the water had pooled behind it. He stood, and then pushed the trash away with his toe and the water drained away. He watched it.
He did not look at the body.
He backed away, turned and ran, just like the woman before him. No one saw him, he hoped. He didn’t know the guy or the woman. There was nothing to link them and this was an older area of town and didn’t have closed-circuit cameras.
As he was striding quickly home, he saw the old man. He didn’t say anything but the geriatric nodded at him. It seemed to be a nod of recognition.
He scrubbed himself clean and went to watch TV. Sleep was beyond him. He was waiting for a knock at the door, but it never came.
The next time it happened, he warned the guy... but he didn’t listen.
© AM Gray 2013

Thursday, 30 May 2013

No harm ever came from reading a book

Another challenge from writeworld. I kept thinking of that line from the Mummy, and this fell out of my head.
“Do you have any idea what you just did?”
She dropped the book in a rush. She was certain that she had been alone.
The lead fighter of the expedition was shouting at her. If she hadn’t seen him in the room before, she did so now. He had hold of her upper arms and he was shaking her like a kitten.
She tried to answer him but had trouble with her teeth rattling in her head.
“Do you?” he demanded with another shake.
“S-stop-p it.”
He almost threw her away from him. Her back hit the edge of the altar.
“I-it was just a b-book,” she stammered.
She didn’t like the tone in his voice. He sounded beyond angry.
“What did we come here for?” he demanded.
She didn’t answer. She hadn’t spent much time listening to the leaders of the expedition, it had all seemed like a grand adventure; nothing serious. A bit of fun. A way to get out of her tiny village. She was starting to think that nothing happening might be a nice thing right about now.
When she still hadn’t responded, he finally seemed to understand that she really didn’t know what she had done. “God’s blood! How old are you?”
“I have seventeen summers.”
“Seventeen.” He wiped a hand down his face and stared at the ceiling of the ruined chapel. He let out an enormous sigh; it sounded as if he had the weight of the world on his shoulders. He glanced at her suddenly. “Wait a second... you can read!”
“The ancient script?”
“No. But it isn’t or it wasn’t or whatever.”
That made his eyes gleam. “It looked like Common to you?”
“Yes. I could not have read it otherwise. I can’t read the old scripts.”
He rifled through the hidden shelf they had exposed after smashing the stone wall built in front of it. It had not concealed the cache of books from his experienced eye. He had gone to see if the noise had alerted any other members of the party.
He held the book out to her. “What’s it called?”
“A guide to wyrd.”
“You’re sure?”
“Yes.” She sounded annoyed with him. Of course she was sure, the words were right there, in front of her.
She looked at his face.
“And this?” A second leather bound volume in her face
“Ah, I am not sure of the second word. A flowering?”
“Of what?” he pressed.
“Of faith.”
He shrugged.
She suddenly understood.
“You can’t read them,” she accused.
He looked caught out.
“Ha!” she crowed. “And this is only Common.” It was rude of her to laugh at someone that couldn’t read, but he had frightened her and she was glad to be better than him at something; at anything.
“No, it isn’t,” he said quietly.
Her mouth hung open.
“This book,” He grabbed the first volume. “This is in a script made up of swirls and brushstrokes. This one,” He held the second volume. “Is written in tiny pictures. To me this word is a bird with a beak and claws... maybe a hawk? It does not look anything like a word.”
She took a shaky breath.
“None of these volumes are written in Common,” he added. “They are far older than that language for a start, and we also think that these books were hidden because they had a kind of magic of their own. They frightened people.”
“So they hid them?”
“Yes, I guess they were more terrified of what would happen if they tried to destroy them.”
She brushed the edge of one cover, still sitting on the shelf. “This one looks burnt.”
“Yes,” he agreed. “And this one has had some kind of chemical poured on the cover.” He flipped it open. “But the pages inside are unmarked.”
She caught a word or two as he flicked through the pages. “Warfare,” she said, before he asked her about the writing.
“Good.” He gave her a look. “This is written in a third language; made of pictograms and brushstrokes.”
“I wish I could see it, but they all look the same to me.”
“Whatever spell you read out-”
“It wanted to be read.”
“I think so. We found this cache relatively easily.”
She made a face; his version of easy was not one she agreed with. They had spent weeks, searching through ruined buildings all over the country.
She saw the final resting place; the broken stones, the musty air inside the ruins, the hidden store. “I would not like to be walled up like this.” She waved a hand at the cache to explain herself to him.
“Like the books were?”
She nodded.
“Oh, you might be.”
“Is that a threat?”
“Think about it, girl...”
It was the books that were precious, not her. “Oh, no!” She was the only person who could read them. If it was going to grant the knowledge to a second person, then it would already have done so. The symbols were meaningless to him. If the volumes needed her, then she also needed them. She also needed to educate herself. She was a valuable thing. The key to the knowledge.
He saw the realisation on her face. “Better get reading, eh?”
“Aye,” she said.
As they packed the volumes into a heavy wooden chest, that he had clearly brought for just such a purpose, she studied him. He had not come back with any other members of the party. He had intended to leave her here, after taking the books away. She was the youngest and stupidest of the group, or so he had thought. Now she knew things. It was their secret. He needed her to read and she needed him to protect her and to guard her. An uneasy alliance, maybe, but she had no fighting ability. She eyed off the warfare book. Maybe it contained more than just battle techniques. She certainly hoped so.
She decided to read that one first.
© AM Gray 2013

Wednesday, 29 May 2013


This week’s challenge from Terribleminds and Chuck Wendig was another random choice from the following list:
So, here’s how this works. I’m going to list 20 psychic powers at the bottom of this post. Feel free to roll a d20 to pick a random one or just grab the one you think it most awesome (though let’s be honest: random is more fun). If you need to know what it is: well, Google is your best friend. And your prom date.
Your story must include one — and only one — of the psychic powers mentioned.
And now, the list of psychic powers:
1.     Clairvoyance
2.     Pyromancy
3.     Cryomancy
4.     Telepathy
5.     Psychometry
6.     Faith or Psychic Healing
7.     Precognition
8.     Telekinesis
9.     Mediumship
10. Levitation
11. Astral Projection
12. Bilocation
13. Teleportation
14. Aura Reading
15. Divination
16. Retrocognition
17. Past-Life Regression
18. Mind Control
19. Dream Control
20. Psychic Empathy (aka an Empath)

I rolled a 17. Besides remembering that wonderful line from Red Dwarf when Rimmer announced that he was Alexander the Great’s chief eunuch in a previous life, I didn’t have many ideas. Isn’t it amazing how many people who say they have previous lives were always someone rich and important?

They stood at the gate of the creepy looking house. It could have been a set for the Munsters. From the outside it looked as if they relied on candles or maybe even gaslight for illumination. It clearly wasn’t enough.
Luke sighed. “Why are we here, again? At Madame Minerva’s of all places.”
Allison ignored him.
“If the gate creaks loudly like it always does in the horror movies, I am just running back to the car, okay?”
She gave him a look.
He reached for the gate with exaggerated slowness. It creaked loudly.
They both giggled. Neither of them ran back to the car.
“Seriously, honey. Why are we here?” It was then he caught sight of the sign. ‘Specialist in past life regressions’ it boasted.
He snorted. “Seriously? Past life regression?”
“I know, right. They are so rare.”
“What is she going to do? Tell us where the necklace is? One of her past lives buried it in the yard or something.”
“Look, I don’t know. But she is all we have right now. So if you could shut up and stop being so negative for once-”
His eyes narrowed. “Fine,” he spat at her.
“Fine,” she responded. “And anyway it’s not her past life we want to know about.”
“Wait… what?” He looked at her in disbelief. “You do not believe in this crap!”
“No, I don’t… but…”
“But?” he prompted.
“There has to be some link between me and the necklace. Just think about it.”
“I don’t like it.” His hands were clenched and held tight at his sides.
“You don’t have to like it. I just want you there.” She reached down and tried to hold his hand. Eventually he loosened enough to return her gesture. “I want you to hold my hand.”
“And remember everything. You’ll be out of it, in a trance or whatever.”
She smiled at him carefully. “Yes.”
“I still don’t like it.”
“I know.”
“What if you don’t come back to me?”
She thought he was joking until she looked at his face. She reached up and put her palms on his cheeks. “I will always come back to you.”
His lips curved an infinitesimal amount. “We’ve been through some heavy stuff, before.”
“Yes. Together,” she added.
“If you turn out to be Cleopatra it’s over.”
“We can’t all be rich and famous. I am highly unlikely to be Cleopatra.”
He stroked down her nose with one finger. “Oh, I don’t know. You have a very pretty nose.”
“What if you are my Anthony?” she asked him.
He laughed. “No way. Odds on, I was some poor beggar or slave who got smallpox and died in a ditch and I never met you.”
She grinned. “So, let’s go find out.”
The ancient door pull jangled noisily inside.
The door was opened by a woman who looked very inch a hedge witch. She wore a long sleeved gown that trailed on the floor behind her, several layers of blouses, shirts, cardigans and a shawl held in place by a pin that appeared to have a decoration of a tiny animal skull. Her wild hair looked uncombed and had twigs caught in it.
“Madame Minerva?” Allison was loath to shake her hand. “We… ah, spoke on the phone. I’m sorry that it is so late.”
She looked down her very impressive nose at them.
“Minnie!” she squalled towards the staircase. “Clients!”
And then she just turned and walked away.
Luke snorted and she thumped him across the chest.
“Trifle overdone?” he whispered to her.
A small woman wearing sensible heels, a dark woollen suit and with very neatly combed grey hair came down the stairs. All her actions looked brisk. “Hello,” she said to them. “You must be Allison.”
“Madame Minerva?”
“Oh,” she waved a hand airily. “Call me Minnie. Everybody does.” She took Allison by the arm. “Why don’t we do this in the kitchen? My sister may be a hedge witch but I am really more of a hearth one.” She laughed at her own joke.
Allison glanced towards Luke. He looked cheerier already.
Seated at the battered old kitchen table with a large mug of hot tea in her hand, Allison could admit to herself that she felt better about this, too. She leant on her other hand as Minnie started chatting to her about the garden and the cats… and then she started to ask her questions. Allison relaxed and answered her. She had an awareness that time was passing but she was so relaxed that she just wanted to sit there and keep talking to the nice old lady.
“Are you okay, Allison?”
“We need to go deeper. Do you trust me?”
“Luke is here. He won’t leave you.”
“Never does,” she said.
After that, it became more blurred. She could hear everything she said, but it didn’t feel like it was her saying it. It seemed to be coming from somewhere much further away. She kind of tuned out; it was too hard to listen when she just wanted to relax.
When Luke kissed her, she came back to herself. He was holding her hand and leaning around her shoulder. His face looked bright and he was clearly happy with the results.
She blinked. Her eyes felt grainy and sore. “Was I crying?”
“Yes,” Minnie answered. “It’s called release. It happens sometimes.”
“I feel… exhausted.”
“I am not surprised. It has been a long journey.” She glanced at Luke. “Did you hear what you wanted to hear?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Minnie patted their joined hands. “You two have been together before, but you knew that. You must have recognised each other.”
“Yes,” Allison said. “At least it felt like that.”
“Love at first sight,” said Luke.
“No such thing,” Minnie scoffed.
Luke laughed.
After confirming their payment to the local feline rescue centre they were shown out the door. Minnie hugged her goodbye.
Luke drove home.
“Now what?” she asked.
“Now, we go to bed. It is nearly dawn. It will still be there tomorrow. It’s been there for two hundred years.”
“I told you where it is?” she sounded astonished.
“You told us more than that.”
“Could she have influenced me?”
“I don’t see how. And I thought you were the believer?”
“And I thought you were the sceptic.”
© AM Gray 2013

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Kittens can scratch

Writer’s Block

In one sentence is the spark of a story. Ignite.

Mission: Write a story, a description, a poem, a metaphor, a commentary, or a memory about this sentence. Write something about this sentence.

Be sure to tag writeworld in your block!

Kittens can scratch
She hauled her arm back and punched him, as hard as she could, right in the gut. He made an oof of surprise, but it was only that. She hadn’t hurt him at all.
“That hurt about as much as petting a kitten,” he snarled at her, as he cuffed her across the top of the head.
Her servants made noises of shock and horror that he had dared to lay a hand on her. It was the way he would chastise a child, not an equal, and most definitely not a superior.
She blinked tears away. She was angry; a deep, burning anger that reached down to her insides and made her feel shaky. Something inside her broke.
“And you call yourself a princess.” He mocked her. “Seriously pet, give it up before you hurt yourself.”
She growled at him.
Now, he put his head back and laughed at her.
Her hands clenched into fists. Yes, she was a princess. But she was only young; she had never been told why her family led, they just always had. And then this man had come along, broken into her home when her father and brothers were away and he had threatened her and the people she felt responsible for.
She understood that the attack was a feint; a plan to lure them away. She also understood that someone within the castle had let him in. There was a traitor in their midst. She would deal with the traitor later. Right now, she did not take her eyes away from the invader.
She wanted him to stop laughing. No, she wanted him to stop breathing.
She stared at him.
“Stare all you want, pet. You can’t hurt me.”
She didn’t reply. She was dealing with some dark, curling, dangerous part of her that she had never known existed. It scratched at her insides. It demanded to be released. It wanted revenge.
And so did she.
She could have forced it back inside the broken box, but she let it out. It told her what to do.
He jerked his face towards her suddenly. It was intended to surprise her; to frighten her.
She did not move.
He stepped back and started to pace. Large strides that showed his height and his strength compared to her. She was half his size. “You can’t hurt me,” he opined, “your family’s days are over.” He waved a hand at her assembled servants. “Not even enough strong men left to guard the baby.”
“I am not a baby!”
He snorted derisively.
Her eyes fixed on his face.
He blinked. His mouth opened but nothing came out. He reached a hand up to touch his throat. His eyes became wide; too much of the whites showed. He clearly tried to inhale but he couldn’t do that either. He gaped like a fish out of water.
She did not blink.
The room was oddly silent.
He realised too late where the attack was coming from. He tried to take a step towards her, but the need to breathe overcame him. He raked at his throat with both hands, before his eyes protruded and he fell with a crash at her feet.
The few men, who had accompanied their leader, threw their weapons down and prostrated themselves on the floor.
“How many more are there?” she asked one of the men. He had stood behind the shoulder of the leader; she presumed he was a deputy.
“But a dozen, lady,” he replied, suitably respectful now.
She turned to her fencing tutor. He was an old man, but he had been a fighter in his younger days; a good one. “They surrender or they die,” she said.
“Yes, princess.”
He motioned the man who had spoken to his feet. “You can deliver the message,’ he suggested.
They had almost reached the door, when she recalled the traitor.
She allowed her eyes to travel slowly across the attendants in the room. People feared her gaze, she noticed. They flinched as she looked at them. She had better get used to that. It would not go back in the box, now. “Someone… let… them… in.”
“Who… was… it?”
The glance of the chatty invader flicked towards one man. Her husband-to-be.
Her head turned and she looked at him. He thought it was for reassurance.
“Don’t worry,” he said as he stepped towards her. “We’ll find him.”
“How do you know it was a him?”
“Princess,” she reminded him.
A tiny shake of his head, as if he didn’t understand. Now was not the time to be disrespectful. He was a fool. She had always thought so.
“How could it be a woman?” he asked, genuinely confused.
“Oh, of course,” she said. “Women are weak and small and powerless.”
“Ah.” He frowned. His hands on his hips in his permanently aggressive pose.
She had heard him espouse this theory often. Her father had told her that they needed this marriage as an alliance with his kingdom, but she had never liked him. “Is my father too healthy for your liking, prince?” she asked. “And all those brothers, who will inherit before I do.”
“Not if you exhibit the family trait,” her tutor suggested quietly.
The prince looked caught out.
“Oh, I see,” she said. Power was relevant, not gender, in her kingdom. She brushed her palms down her skirt. “Was that the plan? You threaten me and I may show signs of the gift. If I do not, no harm is done. You will marry me anyway and then control my kingdom. After you get rid of my brothers.” She looked up at him. “So what do you do now?”
“I have the gift. Clearly.” She waved a hand at the dead man. “But I also have you and you are not a comfort to me. You are a traitor. A man capable of betraying the family of the woman he swore to love. Doubly a traitor.”
“You betray me; your beloved.” She was sarcastic. “And my family and you betray yourself and your family.” Her head tilted. “Did you not think about the repercussions for your family?” She stepped towards him. “Hmmm?” she asked.
Her tutor had been silently creeping towards the prince. He wore a long dagger at his belt as all men did. It was the only weapon he had but he would probably be stupid enough to use it.
As she got closer he grabbed her around the neck and drew his dagger. Her tutor caught his arm, before he could hurt her, but took an elbow in the face for his trouble. He didn’t let go.
She took the prince’s breath away. Her tutor released him when it was clear that she had the situation under control.
“For that, you will die slowly and horribly,” she promised her attacker.
She asked the darkness inside her what else they could do.
He fell to the floor on his back and gasping. As he lay there, she made the stone below his hands change. His hands sank into it as if the stone was liquid. She let him breathe. He gasped in a mouthful of air and then tried to get to his feet. He looked puzzled for a second and then he screamed when he could not pull his hands out of the floor.
She smiled at him. It was not a pretty smile.
“Thank you, Gurney,” she said as she pressed her kerchief to her tutor’s bleeding nose.
“Princess,” he said.
She took off the ring the prince had given her and dropped it on his heaving chest.
The deputy’s face was white and his hands were shaking.
“Falconer? Send a bird to my father. Tell him we are all safe. Warn him of the trap. Hurry now,” she added when he hadn’t moved.
He bowed quickly and ran from the room.
“Right,” she said as she dusted off her hands. “We have more vermin to remove.”
© AM Gray 2013

Saturday, 25 May 2013


Another prompt from writeworld. I really do like their prompts. This one was a sentence
I came up with this. Oddly, about half an hour later, my son started watching old episodes of the X files and there was an episode of teens being found by the road with amnesia. What are the odds? lol
He held out a pair of track pants and a long sleeved t-shirt to her.
She looked at them in disbelief. “Your clothes won’t fit me.”
He had to be six feet four and built like a line backer. She was five feet four in her bare feet and weighed maybe 120 pounds wringing wet. She was both right now.
He shrugged and dropped them at her feet. “It’s that or go naked.” The pool of water was spreading around her feet and she started to shiver. “Or freeze,” he added.
She scooped them up before they started to soak up the water. “I-is there a bathroom?” she asked.
He gave her a look.
Of course there was a bathroom. Stupid question. “I-I m-mean may I use the bathroom?”
He nodded.
She scuttled for the door he indicated. Not that there was a lot of doors to choose from. Two. That was all. A bathroom, and she assumed, a bedroom. It wasn’t exactly the height of luxury. She glanced longingly at the shower.
A knock at the door startled her enough to emit a startled squeak.
“Have a shower, if you want,” he said through the door. “Clean towels are under the sink.”
“Thank you,” she called back. She didn’t hear a response, so she hoped he had heard.
She stripped while the water heated up. There were no signs of a female sharing the house. No girl things.
A shower restored her humanity but not her memory. The track pants thankfully had a drawstring waist, but they hung and bunched around her waist. The t-shirt was almost a dress and at least, covered the rest. The sleeves were so long she had to fold them back on themselves. When she emerged from the bathroom he was watching football. She padded out quietly in the athletic socks he had thoughtfully provided. The heels of them were halfway up her calves.
He had wiped up the puddle she had left on the hard wooden floor.
He looked up as she approached, but said nothing. He was sitting in the recliner and she took up a position on the sofa. She wasn’t sure how far away from him to sit; too far was rude, too close was more than she could handle.
He seemed to notice the distance. He gave her another look.
They watched the game silently for a few minutes.
He cleared his throat.
“I don’t know, okay?” she said.
He made a snort noise. “No car. No shoes. No bag.”
“No wallet. No ID. No clue,” she added. She had been incredibly lucky that anyone had been driving past on the road, let alone actually picked her up in the storm. It was further good luck that he lived not half a mile down the road. She would never have seen the house from the road as she was walking in the rain, and it might be more accurate to call it a double wide. The drive had gone on for what seemed like much further than they had driven on the main road.
She was extremely doubtful about the whole situation but she didn’t really have a lot of choice. She could not walk any further with no shoes and no idea of where she was.
His eyes lifted and seemed to scan over her head. “Any bumps? Abrasions?”
“No. I do have a headache, but I think it is just from trying to remember too hard.”
He nodded. “Name?” he tried.
She shook her head mutely.
He stood, leaned down, grabbed her hand and pulled her sleeve up her arm with the other hand.
She protested, until she realised what he was looking for; needle marks.
“Huh,” he said.
Her arm was bare.
“Teeth,” he said.
“What am I? A horse?”
“Teeth,” he repeated.
She gritted them and showed them to him.
She did.
“No fillings. Nice, straight white teeth. You’re not poor. Any name labels on your clothes?”
She shook her head. She had checked in the bathroom.
He resumed his seat.
She glared at him.
He ignored her. “You can come to the station tomorrow.”
“What? You’re a cop?”
He nodded. Then made a noise when what was clearly his team fumbled the ball.
“A cop,” she repeated.
“Does that frighten you?”
She thought about it. “N-no.”
“You don’t sound sure about that.”
“I don’t even know my name. I have no idea if I am a criminal on the run or not.”
“So we’ll check and find out.” He gave her another look. “Will you be here in the morning?’
She shrugged. “I’ve got nowhere else to go.” She paused. “And I feel safe here.” She knew that was true, the second she said it. Her stomach growled audibly.
He chuckled. “Hungry, huh?”
She was distracted by the game. “That was an encroachment,” she cried. “That should be a five yard penalty.”
His eyebrows raised. “So you know football,” he said.
“Pffft,” she said. “Anyone knows that!”
He chuckled. “You really do know football.”
“Wow. I guess I do.”
He stood. “The next question is, can you cook?”
“I honestly don’t know.”
“So let’s find out.”
He held his hand out to her and after a pause she took it. He pulled her to her feet.
“I haven’t introduced myself. The name’s Jeremy. Jeremy Sheffield.”
“Hello, Officer Sheffield.”
© AM Gray 2013

Friday, 24 May 2013

Am I missing something with Facebook?

I have a feeling that I am missing something with Facebook. I was reading an article about how to FB properly. (And now I can’t even find the article. Tech - it hates me. Lol) It said something like you needed to post four times a day at a minimum to stay ahead in the search engine optimisation stakes, but no more than eight times a day otherwise you got annoying to your followers. Riiight.
Well. I’d be hard put to find something to post eight times a day. At least, that is quality stuff. I could post eight photos of books but that’s not really me, and others do it much better.
I have been writing a lot of flash fiction lately; things under one thousand words, usually inspired by a picture or word prompt. They are too long to be posted on FB itself. Most of these are coming from Tumblr. I am losing track of what I have posted and where. There is a function you can click and ALL your tumblr posts are shared on FB or twitter, but you really do not want to see everything I repost on tumblr. (No; you really don’t.) Plus, I am not sure that they would post to my FB author page rather than my personal page.
FB insists that I cannot have a personal FB and an author one - my author persona has to be a ‘page’ but they don’t allow ‘pages’ the same flexibility as a normal account. I can’t ‘like’ some things or some other pages, for example, or make lists for my page. I can’t use some internet pages when I am logged in as ‘page’ me rather than personal me. It is very annoying. And honestly, Facebook just all round annoys me. It nags me to complete my profile. No. You do not need to know where I am every minute of every day. And now it has sold out to advertisers. Grrr.
I have worked out how to automatically post my FB posts to Twitter. That was pretty easy, but if I am posting a blog post then I need it to go back the other way. I want to send a link to Tumblr that I have posted a blog post and it seems that I can’t do it automatically. Blogger can do it, but only to google+ and I have spent too long searching their help files to no avail. I know other people who use Wordpress can do it. Sigh. I will just have to remember to do it manually.
I find it annoying to click on a twitter link that takes me to a Facebook page that takes me to another link that is an article that turns out to be a slideshow that I have to click ten times to get through. GAHHHH! And I assume that other people do, too.
On FB if I want to schedule a post to load later, instead of defaulting to today’s time and date - so I can add three hours or whatever - it starts with the year. And last year is an option. What the? I have to select year, month, day, hour and minute. Five things, before I can press post! That is NUTS.
So shove it, search engine optimisation. No way am I posting eight things a day.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Waiting room

Another writeworld picture prompt - Station foyer. I searched through their FAQs and they said they don’t use pictures unless the artist has given them permission. I guess that means I can paste it on my blog, too; with credit, of course. I assume that the artists understand that people will write things to go with it and reblog it. That is the point of the exercise. 
Who said ‘Concept art produced for Wheelman - this was planned to be a playable area of the game. Due to time constraints, this was sadly dropped.’

The Waiting room
It wasn’t empty by any means, but every time she recalled that first glimpse of him at the railway station, she saw the whole room as bare… except for him. She was waiting for him and he was therefore, the only person she saw.
She had been waiting to meet him for her whole life.
Her legs were tired after the long trip and she was sitting on the floor under the counter of a closed bookseller. Her accompanying adult had gone to the bathroom. She had refused to accompany her, in case he arrived. She was safe under there; out of sight. The woman hurried off and swore she would hurry back.
A man dressed in jeans and a worn and faded working shirt came in the entrance and stopped nervously just inside the doorway.
She knew him the second she saw him. She didn’t know why; but she knew him.
She hadn’t wanted to miss him, but now he was here, she didn’t know what to say to him. She did manage to stand and clutch her small backpack to her chest.
When her escort came back, her shoes clicking hurriedly across the polished floor, the little girl hadn’t moved. She glanced in the direction the girl was staring. She didn’t say anything, but she reached her arm down and clutched the tiny hand. Her hand felt wet from the bathroom. The child wanted to let go but didn’t. She clung to her as if she was an anchor.
A little tug encouraged her to walk.
A worried glance up was met with an encouraging smile. “It’s what we are here for,” she suggested. “To meet your father.”
A tiny nod.
They crossed the wide foyer carefully. The woman understood the girl’s nervousness. She had done this before, the child hadn’t.
She called his name as they approached and he responded. The girl heard none of this. Her whole being was concentrated on him. He glanced down at her quickly, but continued to speak to the woman.
He asked something and the woman nodded.
He crouched down so that he was on an eye level with the child. He gave a tentative smile. “Hello.”
She tried to speak but no words would come out.
He chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. “I’ll tell you a secret,” he whispered to her. “I’m so nervous, my mouth feels all dry and clicky and my tummy is all messed up.” Another smile. “Are you like that, too?”
She nodded.
He noticed a furry ear poking out of her backpack. “Does teddy have a name?”
She nodded.
He looked the question at her.
“Teddy,” she said.
He nodded. “Seems fair.” He studied her. “While we are exchanging names, what’s yours?”
She frowned at him.
“I know what it is,” he added, “I just want you to tell me, so that I know how you like people to say it.”
She thought about it and then nodded. “Kat. With a K.” She had just decided that. Her name was written as Catherine, but she thought she needed a new one.
“Hello, Kat with a K.”
“No-” She stopped.
He grinned at her.
“Joke,” she said.
She managed a small smile.
“Miss Jones has to come and see the house and make sure it is all ready for you.” He spoke to her as though it was already decided. “Okay?” he checked.
She nodded.
He rose to his feet and suggested to Miss Jones that they should go in his truck.
His hand was right there next to his thigh and she lifted her hand and slid it into his. He gripped her hand firmly, but not too tight. He stopped talking and his eyes closed in a long blink.
She couldn’t see it. His lips moved as if he was saying something and then his eyes opened again.
He smiled down at her. “You hang onto Teddy and I will hang onto you. Okay?”
“Okay, Daddy.”
© AM Gray 2013

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

I can't talk to you right now

A word prompt from writeworld. Write less than a thousand words using that sentence as a prompt. My effort is 849 words.

“I can’t talk to you right now,” she said when he tried to pull her away from the others.
“Why not?” he asked.
“Go away!” she hissed at him.
He didn’t. It was really annoying.
“I’ll just wait here,” he said.
But he stood very close behind her; close enough for her to be completely aware that he was standing there. And he was watching her. The other workers gave her glances that asked questions with their eyes.
She emitted an annoyed huff. “Fine.”
She turned, grabbed him by the arm and dragged him over away from the other women.
“What is the matter?” he asked. “You were fine this morning.”
“Shhh. Don’t talk about that.”
“Why not?”
“Because you have a girlfriend, that’s why not.”
“I do? You think I might have noticed.”
She blinked. “W-what?”
He looked at her. “No girlfriend,” he said. “I don’t cheat.”
“Well neither do I,” she argued.
“Maybe… but you do believe gossip.”
She was a little annoyed; her friend had been so certain. “Wait a second… but you did have a girlfriend?”
“So when did you break up with this now non-girlfriend?”
She had met him in a bar yesterday. After talking for fifteen minutes, he had said he needed to make a call. She had gone to buy another round of drinks while he did it.
“You called her,” she accused, “last night, when I went to buy drinks.”
“Yep. The second I decided that I wanted to bury myself in you.” He whispered the last part at her.
She frowned at him.
“Is there a set time period or something?” he asked.
“Well… I … yes. Yes. There ought to be.”
“There is? How long should the mourning period be?”
She made an annoyed noise. “I don’t know. More than two hours.”
He chuckled at her. “If it makes you feel any better she did one of those ‘I was totally going to break up with you, when you rang’ things.”
“And you believed her?”
“I did. We weren’t good for each other.” He studied her. “Did I seem upset?”
“No, but you wouldn’t be if you were dumping her.”
“It was mutual, believe me.”
“And then you just boomerang into bed with another girl?”
“Well, given you were that girl and you enjoyed it at the time, I didn’t think you’d be complaining.”
She blushed.
He leaned in close and stroked a finger up her arm. “In fact… boomeranging into bed sounds like a great idea. I don’t think we tried that position.”
She folded her arms across her chest. “It isn’t a position,” she grumbled.
“No, huh? You know, if you like rules, then I shouldn’t be here. The rules state that I am supposed to wait two days, or is it three, before I even call you after a date.” He leaned closer. “Days of not talking to you, or calling you, let alone offering to take you to bed.”
“It wasn’t a date,” she said. Why was that the part she chose to argue about?
“You’re right. We haven’t been on a date.” He gave her a raffish grin. “You want to go on one now?”
“I’m busy here.” That was a point. He must have remembered that she told him she would be here this afternoon helping out at the thrift shop. He had really listened to her.
“So that’s a ‘later’?”
“Oh, come on. Why are you so grumpy?”
Her eyes narrowed. “Lack of sleep.”
“Makes you grumpy. Got it. Good to know.”
“Well, you should. You were the cause.”
Another grin. “So you need to go to bed, then?”
She sighed. She was tired. And tired of arguing with him. “A date?” she checked.
“Yes. What time do you finish here?”
“I have another hour. It’s a voluntary thing, but I would like to stay to the end.”
“Excellent. I’ll be back to collect you in one hour.”
“Don’t you trust me?”
She rolled her eyes.
“You will be here?” he asked.
“Yes. I suppose so. Where are we going on this date?”
“My bed. We’ll call it a sleep date.”
“Will I get any sleep?” she asked in a low voice.
His lips brushed against her ear. “Only if you want to.”
She smiled. She stroked the middle of his stomach with the back of her fingers. She knew exactly what he looked like under that shirt and she was very glad to see him again; even if he had worn her out. Maybe especially because he had.
They stood there very close together and they both sighed.
“An hour is such a long time,” he suggested.
“It is, but you can do it.”
He kissed the side of her head. “One hour,” he breathed at her.
She watched him walk away.
She turned to go back to sorting items on the trestle table. The old ladies held their tongues for maybe thirty seconds before they all demanded to know everything. They had heard quite a lot given they all swore their hearing aids never worked properly.
© AM Gray 2013

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The accidental trespasser

This weeks’ challenge from terribleminds and Chuck Wendig, was to use a random fantasy generator. It gave you five options at a time. I seemed to get lots of armies of orcs for some reason, but in the end, I chose ‘A stiff trespasser is afraid of her uncontrollable powers.’ Less than one thousand words. My effort is 979.
No idea what to call it… oh, oh, I know. The accidental trespasser. That’ll work!

The accidental trespasser
He was half asleep in front of the TV when he heard a noise like a rushing wind and then a thump from the vicinity of his kitchen. He lived alone and didn’t even own a cat so his first thought was that someone was trying to break in. He froze and listened intently.
Then, he heard a metallic crash followed by a muttered swear word.
Nope. They had already broken in. That was the sound of the cookie tin he had left too close to the edge of the kitchen counter hitting the floor.
He rose, looked around for a weapon, realised he didn’t have one and decided to investigate anyway. He tiptoed for the door. He rejected the surprise shouting approach, or calling out ‘who’s there?’ inanely.
He peered in the doorway and got a glimpse of a woman trying to pick up the broken biscuits and put them back into the metal container. She was tidying up? Some thief.
He glanced past her. The door looked undamaged and still latched. That was weird. The back of her head looked familiar. Wait a second… he knew her. She lived next door. She was the aloof, unfriendly type of neighbour who never acknowledged his smiles or waves.
“What are you-?”
“EEK!” She emitted a startled screech noise and dropped the tin again.
He probably could have just shouted at her and terrified her less.
“You’re home!” she squeaked at him.
“Yeah… duh.”
She looked around like a frightened rabbit. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
“It’s my home. I can be here. The question is what are you doing here?”
“I don’t know,” she wailed. “I was just standing in my kitchen, thinking of the view I can see into your kitchen from my window and the next thing, I was over here!”
“What?” She could see into his kitchen? He wondered if she had ever caught sight of his midnight milk raids; he was usually naked.
“I know it doesn’t make sense and I can’t even believe it and I am the one saying it.”
“Ah… okay.”
“You don’t believe me!” She looked wildly around. She was going to run for it; he knew it. The door was still locked so she glanced towards the hallway. She tried to dash across in front of him and he made a grab for her. He had no idea what he was doing; he just didn’t want her to leave before she had explained herself. He had just got hold of the top of her arms when there was that wind rushing sound again and a dizzying gamut of images swept past his eyes. He shut them to stop feeling sick and he clung to her. They stopped with a jolt almost enough to throw them off balance.
“Oh, no!” she wailed.
He opened his eyes carefully. They were at the park. Standing in the fountain.
“What the hell just happened?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I told you that.” She looked down and realised rather belatedly that he had no shoes on and that his jeans were wet to the knee. “Oh, no. And now you’re all wet.”
“Well, you are, too. Should we try and get out of here before anyone notices?”
He kept his hand gripped firmly around the top of her arm in case she tried to disappear on him again. They waded to the edge of the fountain, ignoring the gooey squishy things underfoot. A small boy pointed and laughed and he glared at him until he ran back to his mother.
He helped her step over the wide stone rim. He walked over to the grass to wipe his feet. She sat on the rim.
“Why are we at the park?” he asked her.
“I like the park,” she replied as she emptied water out of her shoes. “I come here a lot for peace.”
“Were you thinking of the park? When you tried to run?”
She paused and frowned as if she was trying to think. “Oh, I think I might have been.” She stood and slid her wet shoes on with a grimace.
“You think?” he asked.
“Are you criticising me?”
“Heck, no. Just trying to work out what happened.” The thought occurred that she could flash off and leave him here without a way of getting home. He reached over and grabbed her arm again.
She stared at his hand as if she had laser eyes.
“Ha,” he said. “That didn’t work.”
She frowned at him. “What do you mean?”
“You looked at me as if you wanted me to burn. I don’t think you have that superpower.”
“Super power?” she repeated.
“How else do you explain moving almost instantaneously to a place you are thinking of? You’re the Nightcrawler.”
“Excuse me?”
“Comic book character. X-men?” he tried.
“Never seen it.”
“No, not the movie, the comics.”
She still looked blank.
“Blue guy, with three fingered hands, a prehensile tail and adhesive hands and feet.”
She glared at him. “You’re the only one with adhesive hands,” she accused.
He rolled his eyes. “He teleports. That’s the point.”
“Oh, I see.” She seemed to think about it. “So you think I go to the place I am thinking of?”
“Yeah. Like my kitchen. And why were you thinking about my kitchen?”
She just stared at him and blushed.
He put his hand over his eyes and muttered to himself. Crap. She had seen him. “So for God’s sake, don’t think of anywhere-”
His words were cut off with another rushing sound.
His feet were burning on hot asphalt. He hopped in place for a second before a blared horn, followed by a stream of abuse from a cab driver told them to get out of the middle of the road. The cab was yellow.
“We’re in New York.” He sighed resignedly.
© AM Gray 2013