Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Who The Fuck Is My D&D Character?

This week, Chuck set a challenge where we had to use this site that generates random D&D characters. He said use one, but I couldn’t choose between the great results I got, so I used them all. They are as follows:

“Insensitive Gnome Rouge from the Northern Iceland’s who has twenty-seven siblings to provide for.”

“Curious Elf Druid from an Oasis Village who no longer dreams.”

“Dutiful Tiefling Warlock from a string of terrible places to live who is writing an epic poem about the party’s adventure.”

“Unbalanced Dwarf Ranger from the Enhanced Forest who likes to settle arguments with an arm wrestle.”

“Apathetic Dragonborn Ranger from a Village without a Tavern who wants to one day own a ship.”

Now, I’ve never played D&D so please don’t mistake my ignorance for blasphemy.

Fire & Friends

‘You think this is cold?’ sniffed the Gnome, ‘where I’m from, we consider this summer.’

‘I simply asked, why it was cold,’ replied the Druid, who sat staring into the fire; his large eyes, full of wonder, and his long pointed ears pinned back, as though listening to the surroundings.

‘Yeah, well when you’ve got twenty-seven hungry siblings, you don’t have time for stupid questions,’ spat the Gnome, and he held his hands out to the fire, the warm glow of which illuminated his russet coloured beard. ‘When my mother passed, God rest her soul, she said to me on her deathbed, she said, Gordie, it’s down to you to look after your wee brothers and sisters.’

The Druid turned to him, studied him, and then turned his gaze back to the fire.

‘I could tell you of some places, oh the places I’ve lived,’ piped up the Tiefling wearing the deep velvet robe, ‘It’s all in the name of art of course.’

‘Art!’ squeaked Gordie, ‘I don’t have no time for no ruddy art, I’ve got responsibilities!’

The Tiefling sat forward, the fire gave him a slightly pinkish hue, he said, ‘It is my duty to provide my poem to the world, a work of epic proportions’ he waved his hands in the air as though to convey the size of his work.

‘I’ll tell you what’s a work of epic proportions; providing for twenty-seven ruddy mouths!’

The Tiefling ignored Gordie and continued, ‘I call it Karthus’ Companions; the journey of love, life, and survival – it came to me in a dream.’

‘I don’t dream anymore,’ said the Druid, who was still staring into the fire.

‘That makes it difficult doesn’t it, being a Druid?’ the thick-set Dwarf who sat next to the Druid enquired.

The Druid turned to him, as though only just realising he was there, and said in the same dreamlike tone, ‘Yes, it does.’

‘I herald from the Enchanted Forest, loads of magic there, perhaps that environment might help you,’ he said kindly.

‘Thank you,’ said the Druid.

‘Ah, the love among companions,’ bellowed Karthus, ‘I must write it down,’ and he summoned a piece of parchment and quill from the sleeve of his robe.

‘The Enchanted Forest is a dive,’ said Gordie, ‘and there’s a real funny smell about the place, ye know?’

‘Take that back!’ bellowed the Dwarf.

‘I ruddy will not.’

The Dwarf stood up, near foaming at the mouth, ‘you take that back, the Enchanted Forest is the greatest place in the land!’

‘You been eating them mushrooms you believe that,’ said Gordie.

‘That’s it, we’ll settle this!’ yelled the Dwarf rolling up his sleeve.

‘Marvellous,’ said Karthus, who continued to scribble.

‘What are you ruddy well doing?’ said Gordie to the Dwarf, who’d kneeled down in the snow and placed his arm on the rock he was sitting on, palm open in the air.

‘Come on you venomous sprite, get over here and sort this out,’ called the Dwarf.

Gordie looked at Karthus, who was scribbling still, oblivious to the fracas. He turned to the Druid, who calmly looked at him, his wide kind eyes were glistening in the light of the fire, who said, ‘I think he wants to arm-wrestle.’

‘Damn right I do, I’ll show you,’ bellowed the Dwarf.

The commotion was interrupted by the arrival of the fifth member of their party. He looked like a dragon immerging from the darkness as the fire-light illuminated him. He slumped down on a rock, and sighed. ‘What’s the use,’ he said, ‘there’s no tavern; it’s like being back at home.’

‘Well I could’ve told you that,’ said Gordie.

Karthus looked up from his parchment, pleased with himself. ‘Ah,’ he said, ‘Arziros has returned, I must write this down,’ and he returned to his scribbling.

The Dwarf had sat back on his rock, his sleeve rolled down, and greeted Aziros, ‘It’s alright buddy, we’ll have a great tankard full the next village we come to.’

‘Not if it’s my village,’ Aziros said sulkily.

‘Cheer up lad, it can’t be that bad, you’ve still got your dream; everyday you’re one step closer to your ship,’ replied the Dwarf.

‘I used to dream,’ said the Druid, still staring into the fire, ‘but now, I don’t.’

‘It will probably sink the first journey I go on,’ said Aziros.

‘Ay, that’s the spirit, you great big bundle of sadness,’ said Gordie.

‘That’s it!’ bellowed the Dwarf, rolling up his sleeve and taking up the position.

The Druid sat there, staring into the fire, wondering, questioning why he didn’t dream anymore. But he couldn’t concentrate; the images in the fire, which danced among the flames, became clearer the longer he stared; the Gods, or so he felt they must be, could be seen, their gargantuan size evident, as they conversed and took turns rolling large boulders with different numbered indents, deciding the fate of those they had created, or perhaps, just playing a game.

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Ten Titles You Made Up…

This week is no different to the others. Challenge here. Piece bellow.


The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis

Daisy stood on the porch and eyed the windows either side of the door; both were shuttered off, and the house gave the impression of being dead. She surveyed the street; it was, bar the odd stray cat traipsing about in search of fish carcasses or sluggish un-alert rats, completely empty. A dog could be heard barking in the distance, which Daisy imagined was due to a cat sitting on a fence casually licking itself as the dog jumped up in vain attempts to catch it, seemingly unaware it was anchored to the floor.

Daisy knocked again, feeling as though it had been enough time, and though she had lived in Japan throughout her teens (six years now), she still had a very British restraint. Again: silence. She walked to the edge of the porch, and looked down the street; the sky was a depressive grey, and had been all day. The locals told her it meant the storm would be particularly bad this evening, and that she should stay away from the sea front. She pulled out her phone and checked the time; to ensure she would have enough to make it back to the Inn for dinner; Mrs Ashida was strict on the hours she served food. Daisy was about to set off when she heard the door unlock, she turned to see a man coming out, his back to her, with headphones on. He relocked the door, turned, yelped, and jumped a foot backward in surprise.

‘Hi,’ she said, waving slightly and wearing a smile.

He pulled his earphones off, slowly, as though moving too quickly might provoke attack. The indistinct noise of what sounded like rock music filled the silence between them, until he reached into his pocket, without taking his eyes off of her, and switched it off.

‘Hi,’ she said again, offering her hand, ‘I’m Daisy.’

He eyed her suspiciously, but slowly extended his hand to meet hers.

‘Hoshi,’ he said, ‘Hoshi, Hamada.’

They finished shaking hands, and it was Daisy who spoke first.

‘So, it was you who took the picture?’

‘Which picture?’ he asked.

Daisy rummaged through her rucksack, and finally withdrew a folded piece of paper, offering it to Hoshi. He unfolded it, looked at it, then her, and nodded, handing it back.

‘It’s a great shot,’ she said.

‘Thanks,’ he said, rubbing the back of his unkempt hair, his cheeks flushing pink.

She returned the picture to her bag, and turned her attention back to him.

‘Going somewhere?’

‘Nah,’ he said, trying to appear casual, but looking disinterested.

‘But, you –’ she pointed to the door, then to him.

He suddenly stood upright, realising his mistake, and rubbed the back of his head again.

‘Well, I was heading to the store.’

‘Okay, I’ll come too.’

Hoshi looked confused, but made not protest. They walked down the street in relative silence, until Daisy interrupted it.

‘So, where did you take the picture?’

‘From the top of Daisuke Hill’

‘And you didn’t play around with it?’

He gave her a sideward glance, and said, ‘you mean, edit it?’

‘Yeah,’ she said.

‘No, I take pictures the old fashioned way, I don’t have a computer.’

‘Really?’ she looked at him as though waiting for the punch line.


She realised he seemed sad about it, and so she changed the subject.

‘So, you like, have to get the film developed?’

He shook his head, as thunder crashed above them. They both looked up at the sky; still the same drab grey, still promising rain. They arrived at the store. Daisy followed him inside, and gazed around. She was from the city, and though she was of a minority, she was not so rare a sight as to be stared at. But in this small coastal town, she was something of a spectacle, and she could not help but feel the eyes of the locals following her through the store; something she tried to ignore. Hoshi picked up a bag of clothes pegs, and took them to the counter. Daisy, tired of being gawped at, decided to wait outside. When Hoshi came out, she said.

‘Clothes pegs?’

‘For pictures,’ he said, ‘I develop them myself.’

Together they walked back to his house, the sudden eruption of thunder the only interruption of their otherwise silent walk. When they arrived, Hoshi stood on the porch and, finally finding some courage, he said,

‘Why are you here?’

He was not rude in his question, but the fact he spoke first is what took Daisy aback.

‘Your picture,’ she said, ‘the girl in the wave, I need to find out.’

Hoshi looked down at the floor and then, sheepishly, back to Daisy.

‘Because you think she’s a ghost,’ he said.

‘Well,’ she said, surprised.

‘It’s for your blog; you want to know if it’s real or a hoax.’

‘I thought you said,’ she frowned at him, ‘you didn’t have a computer.’

‘I don’t, but I go to school.’

Daisy realised then, that his sudden fright by her, might have been recognition, rather than the fact she was foreign. She brushed a stray blonde hair behind her ear; a rouge one that had somehow escaped her hair band.

‘Yes,’ she said honestly.

‘Well, that picture is untouched I developed it myself.’

‘So, she was in the image before you sold it to the paper?’

‘Well, technically,’ he said, ‘they came to me.’

Daisy thought back to the image, of the girl, seeming to emerge out of the sea foam, wearing the thirty-foot high wave like a ball gown. And the title of the piece:

The Girl Who Surfed Tsunamis

The thunder crashed again overhead, rolling on longer now, warning of its arrival. Daisy checked her phone; she would have to leave soon, to make it back in time for dinner service. She felt a sudden shame come over her; how could she think about food, if what she had heard was true: that poor girl, Aiya Chiba, missing and never found; her spirit now entangled in an ocean wave.

‘You want to see it?’ said Hoshi, breaking her trail of thought.

‘The photo?’ she asked.

‘Yeah,’ he nodded, ‘I’ve got the negative, inside’

Daisy checked her watch again, but the queasiness she felt had already confirmed her decision. She nodded, and Hoshi opened the door, and led the way in.

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Twenty Random Titles

This week, after a long hiatus, I decided to partake in Chuck’s weekly challenge.

The Aim: roll, generate, or pick one of the twenty random titles.

I generated a 6 – The Gun of Crow.

And this, is the result.

The Gun of Crow

The peak of the mountain sat large and ominous in the sky; like the tooth of a Megalodon. The Sherpa looked up at it, and with the face of an un-amused leather handbag, turned to the man, and said.

‘This my stop’

The man looked up at the mountain top, the snow settled thick, and though seeming close; he knew its vast size concealed the true stretch of the journey.

‘Okay,’ he said, ‘thank you.’ He extended his hand to the Sherpa, who looked at it; exposed to the cold, yet without redness. The Sherpa took it in his own gloved hand, and shook, then without a further word; set off down the mountainside. The man watched him go, and then continued in the opposite direction.

Sometime later he arrived at a pass. The summit was still a long way off, but he was now in the shadow of the mountain. He looked up, its high peak a blanket of white in a greying sky, and yet he knew, despite its peaceful appearance, there was more to be found than frostbite. Thunder clapped, and the sky promised rain. He continued on, in search of shelter.

He came across a cave, and as the heavens opened, he made his way inside. He stayed near the entrance, not through fear of its depths – like the cold; such things did not concern him – but so he could gage when to continue. He sat down on the floor, opened his bag, and withdrew an assortment of sticks. He set them down on the ground and extended his hand toward them, palm facing. He spread his fingers, and stretched them in a rhythmic fashion; his hand seemed to pulse. Within a second the sticks began to smoulder, and erupted into flame. The light bathed him in orange and the heat washed over him. He breathed deeply; taking in the smoke, and the mossy cave air. He would need this, he thought, to continue the journey he would need the fire, it kept him warm, and the longer he basked in it, the further he could go, unencumbered by the bitter cold. He would find it. This he knew, though what he had been told and what he himself could see, would not go beyond the meeting; the visions were always correct, but a lack of vision – this was rare.

Though the man did not sleep, he waited until sunrise to depart the cave. The sky was cloudless, and the sun, a near white orb in the sky, bathed the mountain in its glow. He continued on. The journey would be arduous for most, but not for him. By early evening he had all but reached the summit. He made his way to the top, and stood before a cave; he had seen it before, though never in the waking world. The man looked up at the sky, a lone bird, large and black, hovered in the air. He smiled up at it, and taking his bag from his back, he placed it down, and sat beside it.

‘And now, we wait,’ he said.

When dusk set in, the man entered the cave. He started a fire as before, and sat as close to the entrance as possible, staring out at the view; the landscape vanishing as the sun set. A crackle echoed around the cave. From the fire? No.

‘I see the light intrigues you,’ he said.

‘It would be rude not to entertain the devil,’ a voice replied, in a parched tone.

At this the man turned, only making out the silhouette of the voice; even in darkness shape can be found.

‘You mistake me,’ he said, ‘I seek an acquaintance; you know who.’

The shape moved forward, out of the shadow; the fire’s light seemed to give birth to its grotesque appearance: its skin pallid, its hair thinning; the strands could be counted on one hand. Its face was like a skull that skin had been stretched over, and its ribs could be counted from a distance. It stopped; its black hungry eyes seemed to focus on the fire.

The man, sensing the creature’s need, got up, and stepped outside. He scooped up a handful of snow. He came back inside, dipped his hand in his bag, and withdrew a tankard. He placed the snow inside the cup, and held it over the fire. A moment passed; the creature watched the man, the man watched the cup. The man offered the cup to the creature. It crept forward slowly, and then, with the swiftness of a shadow, it snatched the cup, and retreated to its position on the boarder of the darkness. It drank greedily; water spilling down the sides of its mouth. When it had finished, it stared at the man.

‘You get more when I get my information,’ he said, seeing the hunger in its eyes.

The creature chucked the cup toward him, and it rattled across the cave floor; echoing in protest. The man opened his bag, and reached inside. He withdrew a large object; wrapped in cloth. He laid it down on the cave floor, beside the fire, where the creature could see. He pulled the cloth back; revealing a large pistol; black as the depths of the cave, casting no shadow, it seemed to swallow the light of the fire.

The creature gasped, and crept closer to get a better look at the gun.

‘I seek its owner. He goes by many names, but when last we met, he called himself Crow.’

The creature smiled, showing its sharp jagged teeth, and said to itself, ‘the master has been seeking this,’ and then to the man, ‘uses Crow for those he mistrusts.’

‘The name he used makes no difference to my cause. Summon him.’

‘The master is away,’ it spat.

‘Then you leave me no choice.’

The man placed his palm over the fire; the flame leapt up into his hand, and he threw it at the creature. It screamed, engulfed in flames, what flesh it had was stripped away quickly; the shrill screams filled the cave. The creature began to blacken and curl, shrivelling up as the fire extinguished its life, and then itself.

The moonlight shone down on the cave entrance, just enough for man to fathom the charred remains of the creature in the darkness. The light behind him dimmed, and he turned. In the doorway stood a figure; tall and hooded.

The man smiled, and said, ‘I thought that might work.’

‘What do you want?’ it asked.

‘I came to dabble with death.’

‘People do not dabble with me. They die.’

The man leaned down, and picked up the cloth, holding the gun within.

‘This is yours,’ he said.

The hood looked down at the gun, and then back to the man. It outstretched a milk white hand, and grasped the gun, examined it, and after satisfying itself, tucked it away; into the darkness of its being.

‘What do you wish?’ it asked.

‘Come now, Crow,’ said the man, ‘we’re old acquaintances; why such formality?’

‘What do you wish?’ Crow insisted.

‘Is it true that gun can extinguish life, any life?’

‘It is, is that your wish?’ Crow withdrew the gun swiftly and pointed it at the man.

He raised his hands up, ‘no, no, no,’ he said, ‘a mere question.’

Crow concealed the gun again.

‘So, it could, say, kill a God?’ asked the man.

‘Yes. Is that your wish?’

‘Oh, yes. It is,’ he said, ‘it most certainly is.’

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Flickr Photo Challenge

The Flash Fiction Challenge this week was to click a link that takes you to random, yet potentially inspirational Flickr photos.

After several reloads I came across this. And the story unfolded from there.


The door was a striking red, sat in a black frame, like a gloved hand holding a freshly removed heart; the sign above it read: Vacancies. Arthur checked the piece of paper in his hand, making sure he had the correct address; satisfied he returned the paper to his inside pocket. A cast iron bell protruded from the white porch wall, seeing nothing else, Arthur grabbed the rope and rang.

A moment later the door swung open, and standing on the threshold was a woman. She looked over her horn rimmed glasses at Arthur; her dark hair worn in a tight bun, pulled so taught that her face appeared displeased with everything.

‘Please, do not touch that’

‘Uh, sorry’ said Arthur ‘I just’

‘Yes?’ she said cutting him off.

‘I’m here for the interview’ he pointed to the sign above the door, but to her he just looked like a man holding up his forefinger.

She surveyed him with all the warmth of a glacier, and said ‘of course you are’

Arthur, feeling self-conscious, stood there trying not to meet her gaze.

‘Well, come in then’ she said and disappeared inside the house.

With apprehension, Arthur followed.

The house was decorated inside as out: clean and without overstatement.

‘Come along’ she barked

Arthur followed her through to another room, where she seated herself behind the desk.

‘Be seated’ she said, gesturing to the adjacent chair.

Arthur sat down, placing his folder on his lap. He watched as she scribbled something on a notepad, with a full-stop she lay the pen down, and turned her attention to him.

‘My name is Jemima Thorpe; I’ll be conducting the preliminary interview’

Arthur nodded ‘would you like to see my résumé?’

She looked at him over the rim of her glasses, which were dangerously close to the end of her nose.


Arthur returned the folder to his lap.

‘It is your capabilities that count Mr…’

‘Lodge, Arthur Lodge’

He felt the flush of colour in his cheeks. It had been unintentional, but it sounded lame.

Eyebrows raised she looked at him with disapproval, before writing something down on her notepad.

‘So, Mr Lodge’ she said ‘how long have you been in the business?’

‘Ten years’

‘Right’ she said, making another note

‘The last four were spent at one of the top accounting firms in the country, Brown & Bull. I was PA to Mr Brown himself’

‘Impressive’ she said, looking unimpressed.

The sound of her pen scratching across the pad was all that filled the room; feeling anxious, Arthur said ‘It’s all here in my resume’ offering her the folder from his lap.

Without looking up, she said ‘Capabilities

Arthur sat quiet while she scribbled.

‘Well Mr Lodge, I will compare you to the other candidates to make a decision’

‘Oh, right’ said Arthur, feeling as though the interview was not an interview but merely an opportunity for his confidence to be devoured again.

She flicked through her notepad, returned to her original page, and said ‘seeing as there are no other candidates at this present moment, the position is yours if you’d like’

‘Uh’ he said ‘yes, I’d like that’ though it sounded like a question.

‘Very well, follow me’ she got up from her desk, and headed toward the door.

While he followed her, Arthur tried to understand what had just happened.

‘Come along’ she called.

They stopped at a door down the end of the corridor, toward the back of the house. She knocked like she spoke.

‘Yes!?’ came a voice from beyond the door.

She opened the door, and Arthur followed her though, the room was lined with books, and trinkets; it appeared to be an office or a study or perhaps both.

‘Mr Simmons, your new PA has arrived’ she said, and then turned sharply and left the room.

Arthur was standing in the door way, looking at a stout elderly man, sat behind a desk.

‘Shut the door, take a seat’ he said to Arthur, gesturing to the chair opposite him.

Arthur did as instructed, while the old man studied an older looking text; the paper yellowed with age, and the once black ink had turned grey. A few minutes later the man appeared to join Arthur in the room.

‘Ah, dear boy’ he said ‘sorry about that, once I’m deep in thought there’s no pulling me out’ he said with a smile.

Arthur extended his hand ‘Arthur Lodge’ he said, returning the old man’s smile.

‘Seymor Simmons’ said the old man gripping his hand and shaking it like a cat does a mouse. ‘Now lad’ he said ‘you couldn’t have come at a better time, I hope you’re ready for the work ahead’

‘Yes sir, I’ve read all your work, and with my experience I think I’ll be able to help you be more organised. Would you like to see my references?’

‘Christ no, those things are always dreary’ he said ‘now, you have to understand, to come on board with me means you’re dedicated, organised, and always prepared for the worst’

‘Yes, sir’

‘Morning, noon, and night’ he said

Arthur would have sought clarity on the morning, noon, and night thing, but the idea of his steadily depleting bank account, and the taste of ramen noodles for the fifteenth night in a row, made him hold his tongue.

‘Yes, sir’

‘Jolly good’ he said striking the desk ‘that’s the spirit. Come on then’ he said, jumping to his feet in a fashion that belied his age.

Arthur looked surprised, and a little confused, he said ‘Where to?’

‘A pack of Romanian Lykans have been getting out of hand, making a nuisance of themselves’ he said, pulling his hat, coat, and scarf from the stand in the corner.

‘Romanian Lykans?’

‘Oh yes, rarer than your typical Lykan, but can be far more dangerous’

‘Erm’ said Arthur ‘what’s your typical Lykan?’

Seymor stopped, his face awash with disbelief. ‘What are Lykans?’ he repeated.

‘It’s just not something I’ve come across’

‘Oh’ said Seymor, a little bewildered ‘well I guess that’s odd, but not entirely impossible. Still I thought it would be a basic lesson, but I don’t know what they teach them nowadays’ he was talking to himself more than Arthur.

‘I worked as a PA for one of the top firms in the country, very demanding but very rewarding; Brown & Bull’

‘Never heard of them’ said Seymor ‘but it’s all very hush, hush nowadays, don’t want to panic the public and all that’ he was rooting through some draws now, searching for what, Arthur did not know.

He came up with what looked like a giant marble and a look of triumph on his face. He placed it in his coat pocket, and the turned to Arthur ‘where was I?’

‘You were explaining Lykans to me sir’

‘Ah’ he said ‘more commonly known as: werewolves’

Arthur had lied. He hadn’t read all of Seymor Simmons work, but he knew he wrote fantasy, and so he assumed this was just something he did, in order to write; he acted as though he lost a few marbles, and went out looking for werewolves. Either way the thought of plain ramen noodles and a pizza box duvet made Arthur decide to play along.

‘Right, sorry, completely forgot’

‘That’s alright dear boy, I’ve forgotten more in the last five minutes than you’ve ever learned, including where I put that blasted bottle of anti-venom’ he said as he went rooting through a nearby cupboard.

‘Tell me Mr Simmons, why are Romanian werewolves, in particular, more dangerous?’

He stopped looking when he found a little vial of deep purple fluid ‘ah ha’ he closed the cupboard and turned to Arthur ‘Why, because they’re from the homeland of course.’

‘The homeland?’

‘Yes, the homeland, where they originally stem from, the forests of Transylvania’

‘Transylvania, right’ said Arthur trying to get on the same page ‘that’s where Dracula was from, right?’

‘Yes, the grumpy old chap’

‘Oh, you know him then?’ asked Arthur, feeling as though he was finding his role.

‘We’ve met a few times’ he said, rooting through a lower draw of a bureau, in search of something else.

Arthur, trying to keep the conversation going, feeling as though this may be part of his duties as a Personal Assistant, said ‘Is he nice?’

‘Well, I don’t know about nice, but he’s not as bad as all that, you know, he’s not a monster like they say, just a reclusive old bat’ he burst up from the bureau holding a cloth bag that looked as though it contained marbles.

‘Right, then’ he said ‘ready?’

Arthur stood up ‘yes sir’

‘Good show’ said Seymor and strode out of the room.

Arthur followed him to the front door, down the front steps, and to the drive-way.

‘Where are we off to Mr Simmons?’

‘Shoshone Forest’

‘Wyoming!’ said Arthur ‘but that’s three-hundred miles from here’

‘Four-hundred forty-three’

‘But’ says Arthur ‘I hadn’t intended to go anywhere’

‘Well, that’s what it means to be a PA dear boy’ he said with pride ‘phenomena like the ocean, wait for no man. Paranormal Agents must always be ready’

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: Random Song Title Palooza

This week on Terribleminds, Chuck told us to pick a song at random, and use said song as the title, and ideally the inspiration for the story.

I got One Republics – Counting Stars. Got to say that fate was kind to me this week, and so here is:

Counting Stars

‘What’s your biggest regret?’

Dexter turned to Trudie, her eyes lit up like the stars above them, and ran his fingers through her jet black hair; stroking her face with the back of his hand.

‘I told you before; I don’t have regrets’ he cooed.

‘Everyone has regrets’ she said ‘even if it’s just buying a particular shirt’

He looked down at his shirt, checking he didn’t regret this particular one, and then looked up at the night sky. The stars were on display, as they always were outside the city.

He stared up at the sky for what felt like a minute, but the impatience in her voice when she spoke told him it must have been longer.


‘You see that star over there’ he pointed to a bright, but small, star far in the distance.

‘Which one, there are so many’

He pointed to the brightest star in the sky ‘you see that one, right?’


‘Count sixteen to the left, and then three up’

She pointed her finger to the sky and began counting stars. When she reached the end she said ‘that one?’

‘Yes’ he said ‘that is my regret’

‘What is?’ she looked perplexed

‘Leaving it, leaving home, that’s my biggest regret’

‘What was it like?’ she asked


She nodded slow, looking sad. Or was she simply responding to his sorrow.

‘It was the most beautiful place in the Universe, but it could, at times, be the ugliest’


He turned to look at her again, now that the two moons had surfaced from their blanket of clouds; they gave her hair a purple hue. He smiled.

‘People: we were why it got ugly’

‘Oh’ she said ‘is that why you left?’

He turned his attention back to the sky, focussing on the same small bright star.

‘We had no choice. We were running out of fuel, and we had all but killed the planet in pursuit of more’ the memories brought him deep waves of sadness, but he continued ‘I lead the first venture; to find new resources, and if necessary – a new planet’

She smiled at this, all innocent contentment ‘you did both’

He nodded. He had. He wasn’t alone, but one of the few people who had found new worlds; the five new worlds known as: The One Republic. But still, the achievement could not stave off his deep sense of loss.

‘But at what cost?’ he asked himself

‘You should be happy’ she said ‘if it wasn’t for you coming here, we never would have met’ she smiled at him; it should have been warming, but the light of the stars highlighted the tears in his eyes.

‘Oh Trudie’ he cupped her face in his hand ‘I miss you more than ever’

She looked taken aback, almost hurt, she said ‘but Dex, I’m right here’ she touched his chest. He felt it physically, but it was no more his wife than this was Earth.

‘I’m feeling tired’ she said. She laid her head down gently on the ground and closed her eyes.

Dexter watched her for a moment, lying there; peaceful, serene, lifeless. He sat up and looked around. He, like the other founding members, had designed the planet in the image of Earth. But it felt surreal, false, unconvincing; like a doppelganger trying to pass for the original.

He looked back up at the stars. The small dwindling light still pulled the strings of his heart. He tried hard to remember his wife Trudie, and his son Teejay, not as the chard, gnarled husks they were when he last saw them, but as they had been before. Before the sun scorched the Earth and ravaged humanity; no longer sustaining life within its protective bubble. The atmosphere gave way to the abuse man had subjected it to, and those that remained, waiting patient for the return of their loved ones, could do nothing but feel the flesh melt from their bones.

‘Mr Goldstein, sir’

Dexter turned to the voice; appearing out of the darkness like a spectre.

‘Yes Professor?’

‘Has she powered down?’


‘I’ll have her collected and recharged, sir’

Dexter nodded, and as the silence filled the space between them, the professor took it as he cue to leave.

‘Oh, John’

The professor paused.

‘The hair was a nice touch’ he said ‘that’s the sort of colour she would’ve dyed it’

The professor nodded, and walked back across the grass toward the house.

Dexter looked back up at the stars, and to stop himself remembering the bad times, he began to count.


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Why I Write

This week Chuck really pulled the rug.

It’s the first Terribleminds Flash Fiction: Non-Fiction Challenge (That I’m aware of)

The task is to write a blog post. The Topic: Why I Write.

Why I Write

I’m not like most writers. I never knew from a young age what I wanted to be. I went through a string of things: vet, race car driver, marine biologist. But I wasn’t bookish; I didn’t spend my early years suckling stories from the bosom of the local library. Books were present; my Mum always read, and my Granddad was halfway through a different book every time I visited. I’ve always had an active imagination, but the stories I did digest avidly were in the form of television and movies. My toys were how I crafted my stories, and how I played out the vivid images my brain relayed to me.

My adolescence took me farther from epiphany; I was convinced I would work with computers, and with that settled I rested on my laurels. In my mind I was already programming computers, working on state of the art video games, and building multi-million pound online businesses. School was just a hurdle I had to jump in order to reach my goal, but I never jumped; I simply crept underneath. Video games were the new narrative in my life; I lapped them up while the toys gathered dust.

An ankle injury kept me inside. To stave the boredom I read old books I found lying around. Hours of my life devoured, but never wasted, by the magnolia pages. When they were done, I rummaged through the contents of my Mum’s books, in search of the next fix. I continued to read while the Playstation gathered dust.

Ankle healed. I left the books inside and headed back out into the world. My affair was over. We wouldn’t meet again for some time.

As the delusion of a teenager goes; I was the unstoppable force, on a collision with greatness, or whatever I hit first. I didn’t know how, I didn’t much care either. But then I met the immovable object. She would be the still cool water that quenched the irrational and undirected fire of my youth. We spent a summer in Cyprus; Sun, Sand, Sea, and an old love I had secretly harboured: we both raced to finish Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. She won; so did I.

Fast forward: June 2nd 2006. I’m pacing the speckled blue linoleum of the hospital floor. I’m about to take the biggest step of my not so long lived life. At 12:25 I welcomed my son into the world. At 12:28 I welcomed my daughter. In the space of a few minutes, my entire world had changed.

From that day, I would begin to find out who I was, what I was capable of. I knew I had to help my children go right, where I had gone so wrong. I owed it to them, to my better half, and to myself to be everything I could. From reading them bedtime stories, and picking up books again, reading for my own pleasure, I had a revelation: all my life, in one form or another; creating, imagining, and experiencing stories was a continuing point of joy; a focal point, the epicentre of my happiness. A faint whisper echoed inside my mind. Could I do this?  Could I write? I decided to see if my capability could match my desire. It didn’t, I was terrible, but I loved it all the same. My desire far outweighed my capability, still does to this day, but it’s what keeps me going; striving to put on page what my brain makes so flawless and effortless. I doubt I’ll ever reach the dizzy heights of my desire, but I believe that’s the point. Through writing I’ve discovered things. Things I never would have discovered had I not wrestled my mind for the thoughts it contains, for the small pieces of my soul that the words reveal. There are things I understand, but only writing exposes them. There’s knowledge within me, but only writing brings it to the surface. It has been the making of me. To write, for me, is to feel alive; to feel connected with something larger than myself.

Why do I write? Because if I didn’t, I would simply exist.

Why do I write? Because without writing my heart would beat simply for necessity

Why do I write? Because I have no choice. I’m a writer.

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Terribleminds Flash Fiction Challenge: The Subgenre Boogie!

This weeks flash fiction challenge over at Terribleminds.

We had to pick (randomly. preferably) two subgenres; one from either list of twenty.

The RNG gave me 13 and 18. Which translates to Superhero and Noir.

Now, I’ve blurred the lines here a little, but hey, as far as I’m concerned Hercules is the archetypal Superhero.

Which leads me nicely into part three of – The Twelve Labours of Herc.u.Lees

Part one is here, and part two is here.

The Second Labour

I awoke to a pounding inside my head. I felt like my brain had been dropped from the tenth floor. It took a few minutes before I realised the thumping in my head was an echo of the thumping at my door. I got up and stumbled across the room. I opened the door; the thumping stopped, but the light from the hallway hit me like I owed it money.

‘Oh, Mr Lees!’ she exclaimed, barging past me.

‘Come in’ I said to myself

‘Mr Lees, I’ve been trying to contact you’ she said in a panic ‘something terrible has happened’

As my eyes readjusted to the dim of my office, I got a look at her; impeccable as always.

‘Are you listening to me Mr Lees?’ she asked

‘Sure’ I said with a wave of my hand walking back to the couch ‘terrible things’

I picked up the cigarette packet from the table, and set to killing myself slowly.

‘Mr Lees’ her tone demanded attention

‘Herc’ I said

She rose an eyebrow in distaste; I couldn’t tell if it was the cigarette, yesterdays suit, or the informality of my suggestion.

‘Mr Lees’ she continued ‘I have rushed here with great urgency; I told you I have the most distressing news, and you don’t seem to care, have I placed my trust in the wrong man?’ she asked sternly

‘Most people place their trust in the wrong person, but they don’t usually know until it’s too late’ I quipped ‘this might very well be one of those occasions’

She snorted in derision, taking a seat in the armchair opposite me. Her golden hair shimmered in the rogue strands of light that filtered through the venetian blinds.

‘You said you would help me’

‘I said I would take a look and let you know’


‘I looked’ I said ‘No’

‘No?’ she seemed hurt

‘Miss Athena’ I tried to be tactful ‘I’m not the man to help you recover your horse’

‘Pegasus’ she said

I ignored it and continued ‘This goes way over my head, and I don’t feel you’ve been straight with me’

She frowned, her thin deliberate brows came together as she sought her most innocent of looks. It was good.

‘I don’t understand Mr Lees, I told you everything I know’

‘Your father’

She looked down at the handbag she had rested on her lap, toying with the clasp distractedly; like a child.

‘I didn’t think you’d take the case if you knew who my father was’

‘You’re right, I wouldn’t’

‘I wanted to find Pegasus before he knew what had happened. I believed it to be petty criminals. But if Daddy knew…well’

I took the last drag of my cigarette and stubbed it out in the astray.

‘Well it would seem that the culprit is anything but a petty criminal’

‘You know who it is?’ she sat forward, her eyes lit up at the possibility.

‘Nope’ I said ‘I don’t want to, that sort of information will get me killed, and despite the contradiction’ I gestured to the empty bottle of scotch, and the ashtray ‘I like being alive’

She seemed deflated, as though she was slowly accepting the fact I wasn’t going to help. She opened the clasp of her bag, and pulled out a folded piece of paper.

‘I received it this morning’ she offered it to me across the table.

I don’t know why I did, but I took it. I unfolded the paper, and the same crude letter cutting had been applied to this one too, it read:


‘Who?’ I asked

She shrugged ‘I’ve never been to Lernea’

I was getting too old for this, and I wasn’t likely to get any older if I continued poking around in shady waters. But something about the sad eyes of a beautiful woman make me do the craziest things.

‘I’ll see what he knows’

She looked up at me, the tears glistened in her eyes; she smiled, though it was an exhausted smile.




The sign in the window read:

Paul Hydrakampf – The Answer to Your Legality Issues

I smiled to myself. Should’ve known a serpent tongued messenger would be a lawyer. The fluorescent beacon in the door said open. I went in. It was a typical office; a reception desk sat in front of an arrangement of chairs.

‘Can I help you?’ The receptionist asked

‘I’m looking for Mr Hydrakampf, is he here?’

‘One moment please’ she picked up the phone on her desk ‘There’s a gentleman out here for you’

She eyed me over the rim of her glasses ‘he looks like a dick’

‘No, a private detective’

‘One moment’ she moved the mouth piece away from her lips ‘your name please?’

‘Mr Lees’

She spoke back into the phone ‘Mr Lees’

She looked at me again ‘What’s your business?’

‘Detective work mostly’ I said with a smile

She stared at me unimpressed.

‘I’m here on behalf of a client, Miss Athena Athens’

‘Uh-huh, okay’ she said to the phone before placing it back in its cradle.

‘He’ll see you now, go on through’

She gestured to the doorway off to the left. I followed it through to his office. I knocked once, and then entered. The office was mahogany; floor, walls, furniture. He sat behind his desk, the proverbial saw thumb: he wore a dark purple velvet suit, a mauve shirt, and a bright green tie.

He gestured to the seat adjacent to his. I obliged and sat. His smile was as wide as it was false, and his lips were so thin, they were almost non-existent; while his amber eyes clashed with his attire.

‘Sorry about all the questions, but in my game, you can never be too careful’ he extended his hand across to me ‘Paul Hydrakampf, but most people call me The Hydra’

I shook his hand and replied ‘Is that because you’re slippery?’

He laughed. ‘No’ he said and swung his foot up on the desk ‘on account of these’

I stared at a snake skin boot until he lowered his foot.

‘Now, what can I do for you?’

‘I’m here on behalf of a client; she received a note stating you might have some information for her’

‘I see’ he said ‘I write it?’

‘Nobody wrote it’ I reached into my coat pocket and pulled out the note, and slid it across the desk to him.

He unfurled it, studying it with a squint. He leaned back in his chair.

‘You see Mr Lees’ he said ‘In my profession, sometimes you have to do some things for people who are’ he paused looking for a suitable word ‘suspect’

He must not have found it.

‘I understand that’ I said

‘Good, because I wouldn’t want you to take this personally’ he opened a draw in his desk. I half expected him to be holding a .22 when his hand came up, but instead he held envelopes. He laid them across his desk, placing each one down with equal importance. When he was done there was nine manila envelopes on his desk; each one identical.

‘These are your options Mr Lees. Only one of these envelopes contains the information you seek: the truth’

‘The others?’

‘Almost certainly death’

‘That’s a lot of promise for such a small envelope’

He chuckled. ‘The information inside is not like to kill you, but rather where that information should lead you might’

‘So what’s to stop me from taking all nine envelopes?’

‘Certainly not me’ he replied ‘but when you open one, it will release a toxin into the air. If you should open the others, the toxin will react with the ink, and you’ll be left with nothing but blotted paper’

‘Of course, why didn’t I think of that’ I said ‘So I’m just supposed to pick one, open it, and follow the information, with an eighty-nine percent chance I’ll die’

‘No greater odds than life; every decision we make can lead to death’

‘Do I get to ask some questions, or am I just playing lucky dip?’

‘You may ask me three questions, to which I will answer yes or no’

‘Great’ I said

He smiled at me. I smiled back.

‘Did you write these?’ I asked


‘Were they delivered by the writer?’

‘Yes’ he smiled ‘Last question, do ask wisely’

I eyed the nine envelopes in front of me. Each one a duplicate; even the way he placed them made them seem like the limbs of some ominous creature. The words of Nemean began to ring through my mind. “She will always get her way”

I took a deep breath, and noted a scent in the air. I picked up an envelope. The Hydra looked perplexed as I sniffed it, placed it down; smelling each one in turn. When I was done I sat back in my chair.

‘Got any good places to eat around here?’

He looked stunned, and slightly bewildered

‘Is that your final question?’

‘Yeah, I’m starving’

Confused he replied ‘No’

I shrugged ‘I’ll wait until I get back into town’

I stood up and made my way to the door.

‘Mr Lees’ he called

I turned and gave him a questioning look.

He gestured his hand to the desk ‘your envelope’

‘Ah, yes’ I said.

I walked back to the desk, and chose the envelope directly underneath his upended hand. He looked up at me astonished.

‘It was the one I was going for, since it had the strongest smell of perfume, but you just confirmed it for me’

I gave him a wink and a smile, and walked out of his office; leaving the snake alone with his lies.


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