Friday, 29 May 2015

FRACTURED DAWN - episode 9

Previously on Fractured Dawn . . .

A man wakes on a beach with no memory and discovers a strange purple stone embedded in his chest. Through a series of altercations he finds himself in the town of Bridgewood, a tree farming community far from the larger cities of the state.
After a boy is taken by a strange creature, two search parties head out to track it down and kill it.
But the creature is more than adept at killing and only Cook and Sheriff Lenton survive the attack.

Something moved in the undergrowth. Cook raised his knife, ready to fight to the death.
A bird scrambled from the shrubbery and took flight, before settling on a branch above Cook, looking down at him.
“Jumpy?” said Sheriff Lenton.
“Of course I am,” said Cook, eyes still on the bird. “That thing is still out there.”
The Sheriff chuckled as he tried to shift his position leant up against a rock, but the smile turned to a wince. He hissed as the claw wound reminded him that it was there.
“Careful,” said Cook. “You’re still losing blood.”
“Careful,” said the Sheriff. “Careful, he says.” He fixed Cook with a cold, hard stare. “You should have been more careful. Then maybe you wouldn’t have led that thing to my town.”
“How many times do I have to tell you, it’s nothing to do with me.”
“Kline and Dunnel have never seen anything like it. Neither have I. You turn up and this, this thing, is right behind you.”
“If we get out of this,” said Cook, “I’m gone.”
Lenton snorted.
“I get that we’re never going to get on,” said Cook. “But would it hurt you to show a little gratitude? I just saved your life.”
“Prolonged it.”
“Excuse me?”
“I said you prolonged it,” said the Sheriff, wincing once more as he did so. “That thing isn’t going to walk away. We wounded it and it didn’t blink. It’s probably back there right now, snacking on the men I called friends, so that it’s strong enough to finish us off.” He held up his bloody palm. “Of course, I don’t think I’ll be putting up much of a fight so I guess you’ll be on your own.”
“What is your problem?”
“That’s good, lad. Shout a little louder, why don’t you. The beast will find us quicker.”
“You’d like that?” said Cook. “You’d like to see it rip me to pieces right in front of you?”
Lenton gritted his teeth as the pain revisited him, and held Cook’s eyes for a few seconds. “How did we end up down here?”
Cook was caught off guard, expecting to throw another retort back to the man who hated his guts. He thought on the Sheriff’s question and realised that Lenton wasn’t dumb enough to let it go. Just in case, he played dumb. “What do you mean?”
“I’m not a big man, but in my current state I would have been dead weight. Now, you look strong, but even a mighty man would have struggled to carry me down that cliff face, down to the base of the falls, and all the while with that thing breathing down your neck too.”
Cook said nothing.
“That thing was coming straight for me,” the Sheriff continued. “So how in Salus’ name did we end up down river from the falls and all in one piece?” He glanced at his wound. “Well almost in one piece.”
“I rounded the creature,” said Cook. “I grabbed you and took us both over the falls. Quickest way down.”
“Bollocks. The only thing I’ve seen sharper than that beast’s teeth are the jagged rocks at the bottom of that waterfall. This gash on my side would be the least of my worries.” He pulled a concealed knife from a calf strap. “So, you want to tell me how we got down here?”
Cook opened his mouth and closed it again. His eyes were no longer on the Sheriff who was sat slumped against a rock in the centre of a small clearing. Cook was watching something large emerging from the long grass, something vicious looking entering the clearing, something monstrous baring its teeth.
“Sheriff,” said Cook. “Don’t move.”
“I’m no fool, drifter,” said Lenton. “I pull a knife and suddenly you want me to turn around. I may come from a backwards town in the middle of nowhere but I’ve been a fighting man longer than you’ve been breathing air in this world.”
Cook ignored the Sheriff and kept his eyes locked with that of the beast. Lenton opened his mouth to speak again but his breath caught in his throat as the jaw of the beast settled inches beside his head.
“Oh Tempus,” said Lenton.
The creature snorted as if to mock the Sheriff but all its attention was on Cook.
“What’s that?” muttered the Sheriff.
Cook could feel the stone in his chest beginning to grow warm. He didn’t want Lenton to see him change, to think he’d been right. But neither would escape this creature unless he used his abilities to even the fight.
“Whatever happens,” said Cook, “stay back.”
“What do you-”
Cook’s skin began changing from soft flesh to solid, grey rock. It was quicker this time and less painful. His body was getting used to it.
The creature roared and charged at the stone man stood before it.
Cook stepped left and grabbed hold of the creatures head but was thrown against a tree. The thick trunk cracked under his weight. He stood back up as the creature lunged for his head and reached out to grab its jaws. Warm, putrid breath washed over Cook as rows of vicious teeth were bared right in front of his eyes. He tried to split the creature’s jaws, to snap them back or damage them enough to rid the thing of one of its weapons, but it escaped his grip. Instead it went with one of its claws at slashed across Cook’s chest. Three thin grooves were etched into the rock and Cook was surprised to feel it.
He guessed he wasn’t as tough as he thought.
The creature didn’t give him much of a chance to assess his abilities and came at him again, a battering ram of teeth and claws. It lifted Cook off the ground and pinned him down. The tail waved in the air and struck down towards his head but he managed to turn away. The creature raised a claw and forced it down at Cook’s chest but he managed to use his free arm to grab the ankle. It brought its weight down upon the stone man, determined for the razor sharp claws to find their target. Cook gave it everything but he knew that, being beneath such ferocious strength, it was only a matter of time.
And the beast roared and it sounded like agony.
Lenton leapt from the beasts back, and rolled around behind a tree. Cook could see the hilt of the Sheriff’s blade protruding from the creature’s skull. He felt a little relief on his limbs as the creature’s attention was lost as it tried to swing its tail at the weapon causing it so much pain. Gathering what strength he had left, Cook forced the beast off of him.
Now he circled the creature and charged at its side, using his shoulder to tip it over. He clasped his stone fists together, raised them over his head, and brought them down hard on the beast’s ribcage.
Another howl of pain as the creature tried to get back on its feet but Cook didn’t let up. Again and again he battered the exposed underbelly, the weaker area. He heard ribs crack.
The tail wrapped around Cook’s right wrist and tried to drag the stone man back, but he was letting the power of the stone flow through his body now. He grabbed the tail, tugged hard and tore the end away.
The creature was weak now. It tried to right itself but its energy was gone. It looked Cook in the eyes as the stone man knelt down beside its head. It growled, then snapped its jaws half-heartedly.
“You will no longer terrorise these people,” said Cook, struggling to catch his breath. “Whatever you are.”
Fists brought together once more; Cook brought them down hard, shattering the creature’s skull.
He rolled back then, lying beside his defeated opponent, the creature that had caused so much misery. As he relaxed, he felt the energies seep away and his body return to normal. He just needed to rest for a short while.
It wasn’t over. Cook knew he couldn’t just walk away. Ten men died up by the falls. Ten families will find out they have lost something by sunrise. And as soon as he had the strength he would get up and make the walk back to Bridgewood, he would tell them himself. It was the least he could do. He just had to find Lenton-
“I knew there was something not right about you,” said the Sheriff. He had crawled across the clearing and now lay beside Cook, his blade rested across the drifter’s soft neck. “What in Salus’ name are you? Some kind of abomination?”
“I’m the man who saved your life,” said Cook. “I’m the man who killed the beast that threatened your fair town. But if you want to slit my throat, if you want to kill me as I lay here defenceless, then just do it. Because I’m tired of trying to earn your trust.”
Slowly, Lenton moved the knife away. Wincing, he rolled over onto his back and looked up at the sky as the first light of a new day banished the stars that had watched over them. He coughed a little and looked at his bloody hand.
“I am grateful,” he said. “But it doesn’t mean I have to like you.”
Before Cook could say anything else, an archer from the second hunting party burst into the clearing. He gasped at the sight of the beast before he realised it was dead and relaxed his bow. Then he turned to see the two men on the ground.
“I’ve found them!”        

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 20: “Pressed SEND four times. Now what?”

2015 WORD COUNT = 30132 words

It has been a hectic few weeks due to a lack of ideas, leaving things to the last minute, and even coming up with an extra story that I didn’t realise I was going to write. The main thing is . . . all four of my FlashDog Anthology pieces made it to FDHQ on time. In fact, unlike any homework I’ve ever done in my life, the assignment was completed a day early. Check me out.

Obviously I have to give a massive thanks to Emily Livingstone and Chris Blackburn again. They were extremely patient with me throughout the whole process and both threw back ideas at me that I have no doubt improved the original drafts (and in the case of my story, POTENTIAL, it was many, many drafts).

So now it’s over to the legends at FlashDog HQ who are currently going over everything and working on putting the project together ready for release. Obviously, as with the last Anthology, I will give you details closer to the time, but I think it’s due for release sometime late June.

So what now? Well I plan to put more focus back on my Flash Fiction contest entries. It’s been a very lean two months with zero results. I have no doubt that that’s partly because my heart hasn’t been in it, and my attention has been elsewhere.

Talking of Flash Fiction, this Friday marks my Flash! Friday anniversary. I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I first attempted a Flash Fiction story with my entry, THE LADY OF THE WOODS. Next week I will be devoting a whole post to the past year as well as including some milestone entries.

In a few days I will start the planning stage of this year’s Camp NaNo project. I’m going to be adapting my ‘Chris and Mike vs’ stories into a collection of novellas. I’ll be doing a bigger post later in the year on the history of the characters and what plans I have for them going forward, but for now it’s all about expanding the background and building the world.

And that’s about it. The other main change is that I will hopefully be getting back into the blog post writing as they have been a little lean as of recent.

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 19: “Crunch Time”

2015 WORD COUNT = 28088 words

These short posts are becoming the norm of late. Hopefully, once the Anthology deadline of next Monday (Bank Holiday – woo hoo!) is over, and the stories are in, I can get back into the swing of things.


So, update: The Anthology pieces are coming along great, in no small part to the very helpful Emily Livingstone and Chris Blackburn. These guys have offered very useful feedback over the last few weeks and, as well as being extremely grateful for their input, I’m especially grateful for their patience.

My first completed story, COST OF FREEDOM, was sent in to FDHQ over a week ago.

Next up was KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR (slight title change). This is the story set in the same world as TANKS FOR THE HELP, from Anthology one. I enjoyed revisiting some of the characters from that original story as well as introducing a fresh look at the barren world they reside in. I finally got it wrapped up and sent in on Monday night.

So I’m half way there.

All that’s left now are the last minute rewrites on POTENTIAL (I’m close to having that better ending) and MERELY OBSERVING, a piece I thought wasn’t there, the mystery fourth picture that had me shaking my head and walking away in defeat. Well something arrived in my head, half formed, and should hopefully be ready in time.

And that’s been my week. Offering feedback to Emily and Chris while incorporating their feedback into my work. It’s been a crazy ride and it’s almost over. I’ll have a better update and take a look back at the writing process for these pieces next week.

See you in seven.


It’s been a busy week, both at home and work, but I still managed to get a few pieces of Flash Fiction done. Going forward I’ll be dropping the Sunday Flash updates and, instead, will post the previous weeks pieces on the end of my Wednesday night blogpost.


Another Thursday brought with it another Chris and Mike vs story. I’m starting to realise that I’m writing myself into dead ends while trying to keep a plot going over several weeks. It wasn’t too bad in the early days just developing the characters over weekly one off adventures. But, with the prompts and photo being random, it makes it difficult to include everything in 100 words. Take this week’s entry; there’s Chris, Mike, the bookends (Face and Book), a photo of two fencers . . . young Chris, time-travel, Chris’s father, Argentina, and a witch. It’s a hell of a lot to tie up in such a small piece. I’m thinking of going back to those one off and seeing how that goes.


“Face facts,” said Mike. “Your Dad has gone and screwed us over.”

Chris had to admit, things weren’t looking good. For reasons unknown, his Dad had used his younger self and an ancient spell to drag them both back twenty two years, only to scarper, leaving them at the mercy of two phantom swordsmen.

On top of that he’d spotted the corpse of the witch named Eva, his father’s contact in this part of the world, crumpled up in the corner of the room.

Chris gripped the candlestick. “Nonsense,” he said. “We deal with these two spirits and then we go get back that spell book.”


I’m closing in on my first Flash! Friday anniversary and still searching for that elusive win. This week we had to use ‘Downtown’ as the setting. I was worried that the story behind the story of the first entry would be lost but people got it. And the second entry? That was just plain fun.


I remember I ordered the Kobe Beef.

The firm had just closed a big deal and the bosses wanted us out celebrating. It was a nice day and the piazza was bustling. Everything was New York and normal.

And then the Native American Indian turned up.

A crowd started building just down from our restaurant so a couple of us went to check it out. A Native American Indian was stood there wearing next to nothing. People took pictures, someone called the police.

And then he started touching people.

Nothing violent or crass. He just touched their foreheads with the tip of his finger. And it wasn’t everyone, either. He was choosing people from the crowd as if he had a purpose. Those touched just stood there with an odd look of realization on their face. It was a surreal thing to watch.

And then he touched me.

My world changed. He’d awakened something in me, in my blood, and I saw the world for what it really was. My heritage rose up inside me. Looking around I could see the others he had chosen, the others like me. Each one was nuzzled by a red halo. Each one knew what they had to do.

And then we were many.


Maurice’s heart was beating fast. He’d talked the talk and now he was walking the walk.

“There you go,” said the teller as she nervously placed the last money bag on the counter.

“Thank you kindly, ma’am,” said Maurice. He tipped his hat because manners are important, grabbed the bags, and walked out of the bank.

“Hold it right there!” yelled a vulture dressed in black.

Maurice spotted the Sheriff’s badge and cursed. His trigger finger itched. “It don’t have to go down this way, Sheriff.”

“Drop the money and the gun, and lay on the ground,” said the vulture.

Maurice smiled at a fine looking crocodile in a pretty dress across the street. She smiled back. In the blink of an eye his pistol was drawn. Each thump of the hammer sent a small Native Indian flying through the air, little axes swinging. The Sheriff dived for cover as Maurice backed away down the street.

Maurice could taste freedom. His horse was just across the street. He made to run, but failed to see the stagecoach barreling down the street.


“Dispatch, the bank robber’s down. Hit by a bus on the corner of Fifth and Eastwood. Looks like he was high on something. We’re gonna need a coroner.”

Friday, 15 May 2015

FRACTURED DAWN - episode 8

Previously on Fractured Dawn . . .

A man wakes on a beach with no memory and discovers a strange purple stone embedded in his chest. Through a series of altercations he finds himself in the town of Bridgewood, a tree farming community far from the larger cities of the state.
People are nervous of the stranger and are not afraid to let him know, especially the towns Sheriff.
But grudges are put aside when a creature steals a child away. Now Sheriff Lenton and Cook must lead a group of townsfolk into the woods to hunt a deadly predator.

Cook focused on the undergrowth before him. He was as sure as he could be under the circumstances. When he’d been with Tanel and they’d first seen the creature it had been the middle of the day and even then he’d struggled to spot it. Now though, with the sun absent until morning, everything was bathed in shadows.
He checked the trees again, but only the small oak to his left with a strange looking knot was familiar. It was all he had to go on so he just had to sound confident.
“Well?” said Lenton. “Is this the place?”
Cook turned to the Sheriff and the gaggle of tree farmers crowded behind him. “Yes. It was just a few metres in from the path that we spotted it.”
Lenton held Cook’s gaze for a few seconds as if arguing with himself internally over the validity of the information. Then he turned to two men on his right. “Go see what you can find.”
The two men nodded and hurried over to the spot Cook had pointed out. They crouched down and checked the leaves and the dirt.
“Kline and Dunnel are two of the best trackers that Bridgewood has,” said Lenton. “If they can’t follow this monster, no one can.”
“How far will the other hunting party go?” said Cook.
“They’ll take a few hours to reach the forest border,” said the Sheriff. “If they’ve had no sign of it by then they’ll turn around and follow the river back to town.”
They stood in silence for a while as the trackers searched for any sign of their quarry.
“You know how to use that thing?” mumbled Lenton. He glanced at the sword he’d given to Cook, although his exact word had been ‘lent’.
“Hopefully we won’t have to find out,” said Cook, his eyes still focused on the trackers.
“You think that’s funny?” said Lenton. “I don’t want my life or any of these men’s lives dependant on whether you can keep hold of blade when it counts. I’m already regretting bringing you. You’re a liability.”
Cook went to say something but was interrupted by the trackers.
“We’ve found the tracks,” shouted Kline.
Lenton led Cook and the tree farmers over to the spot. “What is it we’re hunting?”
Kline looked to Dunnel, who shrugged, and then back to the Sheriff before shrugging himself.
“Well, which way did this mysterious creature go?”
The trackers stood up and both pointed north.
“Towards the falls,” said the Sheriff. “It’ll be in the caves.”


It didn’t take them long to reach the falls. They hadn’t been far from the river to begin with and once they’d reached its banks they just followed it all the way.
Cook had heard the falls before he’d seen them. The brutal rumbling of the cascading water echoed throughout the trees, drawing them in.
“Careful near the edge,” said Lenton as Cook hopped up on a rocky outcrop to peer over the edge. “Wouldn’t want you to fall off. Horrible way for a man to go.”
Cook ignored the Sheriff and carried on looking down. It wasn’t a large waterfall but it was vigorous. A dome of white wash swallowed the falling river far below. Jagged rocks embraced each side of the pool like the rotting teeth of an ancient beast. Away from the falls the rest of the forest spread out before them beneath a half moon. It was a beautiful view.
“We’ll have to climb down,” said Lenton to the rest of the party. “If it’s come this far then it’ll be using the caves behind the falls. Get some rope tied off to those trees and let’s get going.”
A couple of the farmers dropped their packs and took lengths of rope out, tying it to the sturdiest trees a little way in from the cliff edge. Cook stepped away from the crest of the falls and joined the Sheriff. “What’s the plan once we’re down there?”
“You and half the men wait outside the entrance while I take the rest in. If we don’t find it and kill it ourselves then maybe we’ll flush it out. Then you can find out if you’re able to hold onto your blade or not.” He walked away from Cook and checked the ropes. “Right. Three ropes. We go one at a time on each. Move!”
The tree farmers didn’t hesitate in following orders. Three men stepped forward, took up the ropes, and turned their backs on the drop. They took a few steps back.
That’s when the creature struck.
It burst from the tree line and used its claws to cut all three ropes in one pass. It did this just as the three tree farmers put their weight over the edge. With no support they simply dropped. Cook heard the screams over the thunderous roar of the falls but only for a few seconds.
From twelve men now nine remained.
The rest of the hunting party were startled but not for long. Axes were raised and bows were drawn. Cook unsheathed his borrowed blade as two more farmers fell to the beast; one in its mighty jaws, the other had his stomach torn open.
Seven men left.
As Cook charged into the fray he felt his grip on the blade shift a little without even thinking about it. For whatever reason, he was making it comfortable. The weight didn’t notice anymore as the weapon became an extension to his body. He knew what to do and he knew how to do it well. Fighting felt natural.
The creature turned as he swung the blade and saved itself from losing a paw. It lashed out at Cook but its razor sharp claws only connected with the sword. The creature snapped its jaws and Cook rolled to the side, narrowly missing the whip like tail that cracked the air.
Cook stood quickly but the creature’s attention was on its other side as a couple of arrows struck its hind. It charged forward and knocked the two archers of their feet before biting into the arm of a third. The man screamed as he was taken off of his feet and dragged back towards the treeline where the creature, free from attack for a moment, shook its head and freed the man from his appendage. With the arm still cradled in its jaw, the creature growled. It raised a rear paw and used a claw to silence the screaming man before it began stalking back towards the remaining men.
Half the hunting party remained.
The beast picked up its pace as the remaining men readied themselves. One of the Sheriff’s hand axes shot past Cook’s head and dug deep into the creature’s side but it didn’t even flinch. The Sheriff dived out of the way but it wasn’t enough to completely avoid being sliced. He clutched his side as he rolled onto his back.
The creature circled back, removing the face of the last archer who fumbled his arrow. Cook leapt forward once more bringing the blade down with all his strength. Inches from the creature’s neck, the tail knocked the blade and all it found was dirt. While the creature was distracted, a farmer managed to get on its back. He got a few strikes in, blood was drawn, but the tail retrieved him and he was thrown over the falls.
Four left if the Sheriff didn’t bleed out.
The last two farmers joined Cook on surrounding the creature as best they could to keep its attention from the wounded Lenton. The three men goaded the beast as they circled it, each waving its weapon, each demanding its attention. The creature lowered its head, growled at the hunters, and clawed at the ground as it found itself herded.
Despite the loss, the men felt confident. The creature looked tired and confused. Cook knew that if they attacked at once, if they watched for that tail and those claws, if they could just get close enough . . .
The farmer to Cook’s left charged with an enthusiastic battle cry that was ended when his throat was removed in the blink of an eye. The remaining farmer froze on the spot. Cook moved to get to him but the creature knocked him back with its tail before pouncing on the farmer. The man screamed as the beast burrowed into his chest.
Cook looked around for his borrowed sword as the beast now focused on him. Cook had nowhere to run to and nothing to fight back with. He wondered if his life would flash before his eyes. Would he only see these past few days or would everything come flooding back? Would that be the irony to his death?
His chest started to tingle; the stone. The creature was just a few metres away. Was that enough time to transform? He felt the anger rise, felt his skin begin to shift. It would be close. If an arm became stone, just one arm, perhaps that would be enough. Only a few feet between them. Cook braced himself.
A cry of agony from behind. The creature turned its head and then moved towards the Sheriff.
“No!” yelled Cook. “Come after me!”
But the creature wasn’t interested in the stone man now. It smelled blood and it wanted to finish the fight.
Cook watched as the Sheriff forced himself to stand. “Come on, you ugly beast. Take your best shot.” He threw his remaining hand axe which found its home in the creatures shoulder. Yet again it seemed unhindered.
“Come on!” yelled the Sheriff. He let go of his side, his palm covered in blood. “Come on!”
The creature pounced.
And a man made of stone grabbed the Sheriff taking them both over the cliff.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 18: “One story down, two to go”

2015 WORD COUNT = 24930 words

Just a quick post today regarding the state of my Anthology entries.

Things are still going well. I took a big, big step on Monday by posting the first of my stories, COST OF FREEDOM, into FDHQ. I had a lot of help from Chris Blackburn on this one and I feel he deserves some of the credit (unless people hate it and he’d rather not be associated with it J).

I’m still searching for the ending to my second piece, POTENTIAL, but hope to have something in place before the weekend.

My third story, the one I like the most from my Anthology triplets, now has a title. NIGHT AND SHINING ARMOUR is a sorta-sequel to TANKS FOR THE HELP, which was my prompt piece in the last Anthology. While it features the main character from ‘TANKS’, it’s told from the point of view of a new character and watches how their paths cross in a post-apocalyptic world.

I’m still rolling the forth prompt around in my head, even as the deadline looms ever closer (12 days!). Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. Who knows?

So what next? Other than the regular weekly contests where will my writing take me? Well, obviously there’s FRACTURED DAWN (better get this week’s episode typed up!). Still going well, nearly eight episodes young.

I have a new project I’m starting in a few weeks. It’s something I’m looking to take into Camp NaNo in July, something I’ve wanted to get stuck into for weeks now. I’ll update more on this in the build up to Camp, probably dedicate a whole post to it.

After that the sky’s the limit. When August rolls around it’ll be like that moment when you finish a book and wonder what you’ll read next. I have some small projects I’m considering but part of me is itching to start a novel. Unfortunately I have too many ideas that I’d like to be the first. Maybe when August rolls around I’ll just flip a coin or run a poll.

Well, I’ve got two (or three) stories to get finished that won’t just write themselves.

See you in seven.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 17: “Time To Get My Edit On”

2015 WORD COUNT = 23834 words

I have just 19 days to get my Anthology stories written, proofed, and sent in to FDHQ so that they can be included in the second FlashDog Anthology.

·         19 days.
·         456 Hours.
·         27,360 Minutes.
·         1,641,600 Seconds.


Right, that’s that out of the way.

It’s been more of a struggle working on this second Anthology. I had a complete lack of ideas back in the first few weeks and I’ve talked previously about the ‘second album fear’ I suffered. But, despite these silly problems, I’m seeing the light at the end now and I think I might just do it.


Last year’s anthology includes four of my stories but only two were especially written for it.

IF YOU GO DOWN TO THE WOODS TODAY is a 150 word piece of Flash Fiction I wrote back in July of last year. Despite the fact that it was short (350 words off the allowed word count) I wanted to include it because it means a lot to me. I have a lot of pride in it.

GLASS OF MILK was a failed competition entry that I thought would be nice to include due to its Christmas theme. The Anthology was coming out in December, after all.

MY NEMESIS was the first of the two original stories I created for anthology. I spent an afternoon brainstorming this one and was determined to have one of my contributions be a superhero story due to my love of the genre.

And then there was TANKS FOR THE HELP, my prompt entry. I had struggled to get anything from the prompt and started three different stories before this one popped into my head. I love that it’s silly but serious.


When the second anthology got started, when the four prompts were revealed to us, I was just going to do four separate stories, much like last year. But then my brain stepped in and said ‘No. Let’s do something crazy.’

At first I thought about a single story in four parts. I spent lunch breaks with the four photos laid out in front of me, every few minutes changing the order. But nothing happened.

Next I tried four stories linked together and something actually came from this. It started with the tale of the father losing his son in a terrorist attack. This led to story set in an AI controlled world where crime and terrorism are nearly eradicated but freedom was fading. The third story showed the war between man and machine before all being tied up in the last piece set in a future where mankind finds a second chance without relying on technology.

I liked it and it took a lot to walk away from it. Four separate points of view at moments spread across an epic conflict. But man vs machine has been done before, the end story didn’t really have a solid plot, and 1000 words per story was a little too short for what I wanted to do (although I know a few Flash Fiction writers out there who could easily manage it).


Last week I made the decision to let go of one of the prompts. Since day one I’ve had an idea for a story (in those barren first few weeks it was the only idea I did have) but it’s not fighting to be told. Its clich├ęd and I don’t think it works. I won’t write the prompt off completely; anything can happen in the next two weeks. But for now it’s gone.

The story I have closest to completion is a piece titled COST OF FREEDOM, which I’m quite happy with. It’s recently come back from a fellow FlashDog with quite positive feedback. It just needs a few tweaks and another look over and then I’m sending it in.

Next up is a story called POTENTIAL. I’ll admit that it’s a little flawed at the moment but I’d guess this was to do with its ‘birth’. I originally planned to send in a different story for critiquing but I was having problems with it. So instead, I ingested a whole 250g bag of Fruit Pastilles and wrote a 1000 story from scratch in forty minutes. But, something irked me. It was only once I got it back with notes attached that I realised what I already knew; the ending stank. Some authors might be annoyed being told this but the feedback I got actually put a smile on my face. I wasn’t being told something I didn’t know but something I wasn’t admitting. It was like being caught out. So now I’m going to fix that ending and hopefully improve the whole story.

My final piece is the trickiest. I’ve started it from scratch four times now. It’s a follow up to a piece I put in last year’s Anthology. Originally I didn’t want to do sequels but this bends the rule a little. It’s set in the same world as the previous story, a world I wanted to go back to, and includes some of the same characters but it’s told from a new characters point of view. The only problem I’m having is the start point. I know I can do it in a 1000 but I keep starting slow. Fingers crossed it’s ready in time because I really like it.

Hopefully, with the deadline looming, and the pressure pushing me forward, I will get these done and they will be of a standard I’m happy with. I want to look back at this anthology and know that the stories I contributed belong there and meet with the standard of the tales they are surrounded by.

Hopefully, when the book is released, you can let me know.

See you in seven.

(art work courtesy of Tamara Rogers) 

Friday, 1 May 2015

FRACTURED DAWN - episode 7

Previously on Fractured Dawn . . .

A man wakes on a beach with no memory and discovers a strange purple stone embedded in his chest. Through a series of altercations he finds himself in the town of Bridgewood, a tree farming community far from the larger cities of the state.
To pay off damages he caused in a bar fight, the man now known as Cook works in the kitchen of the Highwayman’s Hat.
After a visit to the beach with Tanel proves pointless, the pair head back to town, to find their path crossing with a vicious beast.

Cook stood in front of his rooms doorway at the Highwayman’s Hat and looked down at the chaos that swamped the bar area of the inn. The town elders struggled to control the anger and the desperation of the townsfolk as panic spread. People wanted answers and they wanted them now.
“I heard you saw the beast,” said Abigail.
Cook turned to the barmaid. “I did.”
“I heard you saw little Kenley too.”
“Is he the boy that’s missing?”
Cook just nodded.
Abigail stepped up beside him and looked down at the towns’ folk. “They won’t sort this problem out if they can’t stop talking over each other.”
“They’re scared and confused. It’s difficult to calm a crowd running so high on emotion.”
Abagail leaned in close. “They think they can save the boy. They think he’s still out there. But he’s not, is he?”
“The child I saw in that creature’s mouth was lost to this world. There’s nothing anyone can do for him now.”
“Silence!” shouted Sheriff Lenton as he entered the Highwayman’s Hat, carving a straight line through the crowd. He joined Dusty, Doctor Falter and Tanel at the bar. There were two other well-dressed gentlemen beside them but Cook hadn’t yet made their acquaintance.
The Sheriff turned and faced the crowd and slowly the commotion became a fuss and then became just a silent, expectant group. “I’ve just come from the Regest house where little Kenley was snatched. The boy’s parents are in a terrible state but Dounel Regest made it very clear to me that he wants his son back alive or that creatures head on a stake.”
The crowd cheered at this now. They were being organised.
The Sheriff turned to Doctor Falter and his daughter. “Tanel,” he said as he gestured for her to step forward. “Can you tell us what we might be facing?”
Tanel looked at her father who gave a nod of assurance. She looked out at the faces begging to be riled up again. “I’ve never seen anything like it before,” she said, wincing at the memory. “It was as large as a horse, covered head to toe in green and brown fur. It . . .”
“Go on,” said Lenton at her hesitation.
“It had teeth like daggers, big daggers. And eyes that looked right through me. I . . . I don’t know what I would have done if I had been alone. I’ve never been afraid of creatures in our woods before. Not Grey Steel Snakes, not Kindle Dragons, and not Taggle Cats. But that thing, whatever it was will haunt me for a long, long time.”
“We have to kill it,” shouted someone from the crowd.
“Aye,” agreed another faceless voice. “Before someone else’s child is taken.”
The Sheriff raised his hands, hoping to stop them getting too worked up again. “That’s exactly what we’re going to do,” he said. “I’m asking for volunteers. That thing already has a head start and I don’t want to waste any more time just stood around here.”
Cook went to speak up but hesitated when he felt Abigail’s hand tighten around his wrist. “What’s wrong?”
“Don’t go,” she whispered. “It’s too dangerous.”
“I have to,” he replied. “I can help.”
“These people don’t want your help. They think you’re a bad omen. They think this creature followed in your wake. You have to stay out of their way. Let them deal with it.”
Cook watched as people from the crowd stepped forward. “These men can’t fight the thing I saw out there,” he said.
“And you can?”
“Better than a bunch of tree farmers. It’s sweet that you want me to be safe-”
“I owe you after the other night.”
“You don’t owe me anything, Abigail.”
“You’re stuck here because of me,” she said, her hand moving up his arm. “Just stay out of the way and let the town of Bridgewood deal with its own problems.”
“I can’t. I’m sorry.”
Cook looked back at the gathering. People were stood around a table in the centre now, a map of the town had been laid out that showed surrounding lands.
“Tanel,” said the Sheriff. “Do you think you can take us back to where you saw the creature?”
Tanel looked at her father and then back to the Sheriff. “I don’t think I can go back out there,” she said. “It . . . it looked right at me. I’m sorry. I’m truly sorry.” With tears streaming down her face, Tanel turned and ran out to the kitchen. Benso held his hands up as if to apologise and then followed her.
“Well,” said the Sheriff, “looks like we’ll have to do this the old fashioned way.” We’ll split into two groups, cover more ground.” The volunteers nodded, eager to set off now and avenge the evil that had befallen their community. “No one goes toe to toe with it unless you’ve got back up. Stick together. Don’t make yourself easy prey. I want that thing to be the only death tonight, do I make myself clear?”
The volunteers all nodded.
“Good,” said the Sheriff. “Go to your homes, get your weapons, and pack for hunting.”
The crowd cheered. The Sheriff had rallied them. That was the easy bit. He watched them all stream out of the inn like rats leaving a sinking ship before he sat down at the map table. Dusty came and sat down opposite.
“You know what you’re up against?” she said.
“I do not,” said the Sheriff. “But what else can we do? Hide away in our houses and pray to Obitus that it goes away?”
 “Just be careful out there,” said Dusty. “This town needs its Sheriff.”
“Why Dusty, you almost sound like you give a damn about me.”
Dusty shook her head. “My mistake.” She got up and turned around, almost bumping into Cook. “Dear boy, what are you still hanging around for? The inn’s closed until further notice. You can have the night off.”
“Actually,” said Cook. “I’d like to help in the search.”
Lenton turned to look up at the drifter. “No need. We’ve got this. This is a Bridgewood problem and Bridgewood folk will deal with it. Like Dusty said, you can have the night off.”
“I’ve seen this thing. It’s going to be dangerous out there, especially at night. One more blade can’t hurt.”
“Oh, you want a sword now as well?”
“I . . . I didn’t think that would be a problem.”
“I told you last night,” said the Sheriff as he stood. “You’re a stranger and I know less about you than you do, which isn’t much. I’ve got enough to worry about out there without having a mystery man among the group.”
“Let him go with you.”
The three at the table all turned to see that Benso had come back from the kitchen.
“Is Tanel okay?” asked Dusty.
“Just shaken up,” replied the Doctor. “I’ve given her something to help her sleep.”
“I’m sorry I put her on the spot,” said Lenton. “I just assumed it would be easier to be led back to the creatures’ last whereabouts by someone who’d sighted it.”
“It makes sense,” said Benso. “That’s why you should take Cook.”
Lenton sighed. “What is it with this guy? Is no one but me concerned about him?”
“Come, old friend,” said Benso. “He saved my daughter from three bandits. He’s a good guy.”
“How do we know they weren’t his friends?” said Lenton.
“Sheriff,” said Dusty. “You’re getting paranoid.”
“Am I?”
“Sheriff,” said Cook. “I am not the threat here. That thing out there is though and I can help you take care of it.”
Lenton almost continued his protest but saw he was out numbered. He sighed. “You stay with me,” he said to Cook. “I mean that. I want you to be my shadow. Understood?”
Cook nodded.
The door to the inn opened and a man poked his head in. “We’re ready, Sheriff.”
“I’ll be right there,” said the Sheriff. He turned to the others. “Dusty, keep the town locked down until we come back. Don’t send anyone else after us. As for you,” he said to Cook. “I guess we’d better get you a blade.”