Tag Archives: Jennifer don

Sci-fail

So…I know you came here today, expecting something wonderfully written, to do with the terrifying Post-apocalyptic Sci-fi story. I’m sorry >.< I come to you today with one a beginning of one. This story just went nowhere for me. I lost all enthusiasm for it about the same time as I contracted a nasty 2 1/2 week long flu that literally had me down in the dumps. Sci-fi really doesn't seem to be my thing – however…however, the genre for next month? That's something I'm enjoying already. Steampunk Fantasy!

But, I digress. Without further ado – I present you with all I wrote….untitled.

I hunched, shivering, against the wall that had once bound a mighty river in its set route. Now, of course, water was a premium, as the Thames had been drank, emptied. All of the waters had that led into England. The seas remained, but I had never seen one. I didn’t want to. I wasn’t alone in my cringing state. I couldn’t be. There were a dozen of us, all in the same state. Thirsty, starved and dirty. We wore the scraps of clothing on our back as we roamed the streets of London, abandoned by all but the most desperate. The speeding winds beat at me, whipping my hair and clothes about my body. A scream came from somewhere beside me. ‘Davida’. I knew that scream, knew that voice. She was my sister, my only family member remaining.
And yet, I didn’t lift a hand to save her. She’d been marked days beforehand. A fungus, a mould particular to them, had sprouted across her back. We all knew what it meant. We knew what would happen if we tried to stop this. We were born of the first generation after they came to Earth. We’d all believed they were here to bring something new to our lives – to make them easier, somehow. Instead, everyone lived prosperously for a month. A single month in which crops bloomed and the governments were able to put by enough to get everyone through the winter. And then my mother said the Thames itself had dropped by a full foot when the tide came in one day. Davida’s screams stopped suddenly, and instead a slurping sound came from above us.
My fist filled my mouth as I bit down on it. I felt hot tears slid from my eyes – draining away water I couldn’t risk losing. I couldn’t curse, and who knew what would happen if I lifted my head. They could choose me next. I flinched as her body fell to the ground, a meaty smack as she landed on the pavement. She wasn’t my sister any more. She was a sack of meat and broken bones – but I could see the gaping hole where her stomach had been. Every organ was missing, her bones protruding up through the ruined mess of her skin like the skeletal remains of fingers, seeking help that would never come. I stayed still, but red filled my vision. It was the rough grip around my ankle that stopped me from moving away.
I focus my attention on the cracked paving at my feet. Weeds had tried to grow through before the relentless sun and lack of water had dried them. I hoped they fed well on my sister’s blood. I darted my glance along the tanned, scarred arm to Charlie’s face. He was watching me, but looking up. We held still, our gazes locked. He didn’t look at me in sympathy. It was hate and a promise at revenge. I grit my teeth on a fold of skin in my cheek and tasted the metallic wash of blood. ‘Damn…’ Now I had to keep my mouth shut – and wouldn’t you know it? That’s a hard thing to do when you needed to keep yourself under control. I wished for a moment to scream – but there was a lurching, gluttonous beast. A small disk kept it up in the air. Limbs, too many to count, hung down from it, lax from feeding.
I had to keep still, Charlie wouldn’t let me go. He wouldn’t let me get my revenge – and to be honest, I didn’t think it’d be a good idea anyway. Who knew what tools or weapons the beast from beyond this world had? I wasn’t sure myself, and didn’t want to think about it.

Please, tell me what you think of this atrocious attempt at sci-fi! I know…it’s so cliche, I cannot believe it. >.<

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Dystopia – Curiosity

Not sure on the title for this piece, but it’s the short story for February, theme of dystopia. I really enjoyed this month’s challenge, which means I’ll likely continue this piece at my own pace! Challenges will resume this week, but for now – enjoy this piece of writing! I loved writing it!

It doesn’t matter where I go. They can always see where I walk, who I talk to. The emotions I feel aren’t even safe. I’m paranoid, but only because the government have driven me to it. They even decide, thanks to the loose, but not too loose, metal collar around my throat, what time I should be indoors. I’d not be surprised if they even monitored what food I’d eaten that day. I’d often had less than nutritious cravings vanish without me biting into a single, fatty pastry or piece of chocolate. I didn’t understand why they saw us as cattle for them to rear in the way they decided. I hated it though. It wasn’t a life, I knew it. I had family who were free once. Free, but no longer.

I was a number without a name in their database. To my family and friends, my name is Shannon. To those who mattered, my number shows clearly on my collar for all to see. 134-546-6734. Try remembering that at a young age – when your teacher at school refuses to call you by anything else. It was because of school that I was walking around now…or that was the excuse I’d use if I happened across one of the NSG. The Night Safety Guard were able to use any brutal force they wished on citizens caught out of their section. My section was the western most flat block. I was in the north east sector, walking quickly, my head down. I didn’t need them to catch me now. I just wanted to get home.

If it wasn’t for the stupid school, I could have been there now. I could have been eating a lovely dinner, nutritionally balanced, of course. More vegetable products than I could bear to eat, a slab of boiled grey meat and something akin to boiled potatoes. I hated it. It was bland. The vegetables were either overcooked and watery, or undercooked – tough and cold to chew. I hastened along now, my head dipping forward so my short hair, a mix of brown and blonde that wasn’t one or the other, covered my face. The thought of food had made my stomach ache, reminding me how long it had been since I’d last eaten.

I passed a dark alleyway, not even darting a look down into it. Dark people lingered down there, almost enticingly free of the metal wrapping around my neck. I breathe carefully. I give them no reason to come close to me. I don’t couldn’t let the NSG arrest me for breaking some rule I’ve never heard of. It made me cringe as I heard the ringing footsteps behind me. I wasn’t sure who it was. If I’d see the silver baton of a NSG, looking out for my safety or coming to arrest me, or if it was one of those who wandered the criminal underbelly, undetected. I didn’t lift my head to look. I didn’t hurry my steps. I gave them no reason to notice me, while expecting to find a fist in my hair.

I couldn’t hear anything as my heartbeat began to throb in my ears. I couldn’t even hear my own footsteps. My breathing was sawing in my chest. I was panicking. I bit back a whimper, sinking my teeth into my lip. I couldn’t even begin to think about where I was going, but I needed to stop. I made a show of pulling out my directions from my pocket. I then lifted my head, looking for one of the street signs that would point my way. The footsteps had halted, but I didn’t look behind me. They couldn’t think I knew they were there. My heart continued to race. The sweat on the back of my neck dried under my hair, and I almost forgot my troubles as I realised just how matted it would be.

Instead of complaining about my hair, I lifted my head upwards. I was standing under a streetlight, one of the few to remain. There were rumours that the NSG were sensitive to light, but I knew otherwise. The government didn’t have the money to keep the lights on all the time. As I hesitated about which way to go, I heard a cruel rumble of laughter from behind me.
“Looks like a little girl is lost…where are you going, sweetheart?” I sank my teeth into my lips before squaring my shoulders and straightening up. I turned on my heel, promising myself I wouldn’t act like a wimp.
“None of your business. I was just resting for a moment, that’s all.” I snapped the answer back, the gnawing pit in my stomach telling me how stupid I’d been.

“Well aren’t you a confident one? Don’t you know what roams this street could curl your hair and turn it grey before your time?” I’d already noticed that he didn’t wear the same collar I did. His was larger. He had no numbers stamped onto the thick metal. Where mine was loose, I could see the light gleaming off shiny scars – ridges of them, building up towards his chin. I wanted to wince, to show sympathy. Some gut instinct told me that he would see it as pity. Hardly anyone wore the old collars. They were prototypes, punishments reserved for the most heinous of crimes. Staring into his eyes, I knew I should have run. I could still have time to – but I didn’t want to show how scared he made me feel. I wiped my clammy palms down my trousers before lifting my chin defiantly.
“I don’t care. I’m not going to be out much longer, anyway. So why don’t you leave me alone?”

I didn’t expect the low chuckle, warmer this time. He stepped closer, his cold grey eyes seeming to warm a little as he looked at me.
“With fire like that in your stomach, I don’t think you’ll do too badly here. But let me walk you. The NSGs see you alone, they will take you. You don’t want one of these.” He rapped on his collar, the metal ringing out dimly. I could see where his flesh was beginning to grow onto the metal. I winced a little before he watched me. Now he was closer, I could see that the corner of his eyes lined with laughter, and that he didn’t seem so rough. Even with the fading remnants of inked designs on his arms. I knew I shouldn’t, but I nodded.
“I’m looking for building 157 in the north east. I’ve gotta give a message and pick something up.”

He nodded, but I sidestepped when he came close. I still wasn’t going to let him get close enough to grab me. He sighed, but I didn’t care how much I hurt his feelings. It was a hard world – one made worse by the government. They made sure we were under control, and much as I hated it – I was no different. They had conditioned me to not accept the aid of one man – simply because the hunk of metal around his neck told me he caused trouble. I dropped my eyes guiltily as he led me along, taking a direct route that was mostly lit up. The pools of light were where he hesitated, looking around for some unknown landmark.

I was sure by the end of today, I’d have frown marks permanently embedded in my forehead. I’d be old before my time, and all because my teacher was too lazy to go home. I wanted to say something now, but the only person I could speak to was the man walking just out of reach, in utter silence. I opened my mouth to speak once – before hesitating and shaking my head.
“Just spit it out, will you?” He didn’t snap the words out, like I would have. He spoke gently, almost like he cared about me.
“What’s your number?” I knew better than to stop and talk. Already, I was expecting to have to make a report to someone. I’d broken curfew and the boundary where I should be of an evening. If I lingered too much, they might send an AVR out to find me.

AVRs were nothing to snort at, either. Armoured Vehicle Response has to be the last thing I ever wanted to be involved with. They tranquilised first, asked questions later. A lot later.
“I don’t have one. They wiped me from the system after I upgrade to this beauty.” He knocked again on the hollow collar, and now I looked, I could see a darkness to his eyes. Darkness that spoke of evil deeds done. I swallowed softly before lifting my chin.
“What did you do to get one of those?” It was a question from the gut. I hadn’t wanted to ask it – and yet I knew it was the right thing to do. I just had to know – now, rather than later. He stopped in front of a tall building, and looked up.

“Here. Building 157, as you asked. I’ll wait here for you, then walk you back to your area. Hurry now. AVRs patrol here. This isn’t a nice place to be.” I snorted at his words as I entered the block of flats. I was hoping the elevator worked. My teacher lived on the fifth floor, and I didn’t want to climb all of those stairs. That was just asking for me to be too exhausted to even walk back to the tiny room I call home. My stomach called out for food, and I pressed into it with my free hand for a moment as I pushed the button on the ancient rickety lift. I held my breath until lights gleamed. I could have danced with the relief of knowing I didn’t have to walk. I stepped inside, wrinkling my nose at the smell inside.

This place must have truly been a punishment. It was worse than where I lived. That was saying something. I lived in a nasty area, where criminal activity was rife. Most of them wore collars however. Collared and permanently cuffed with trackers and ways to stop any undesirable behaviour. I wasn’t impressed. I’d never been tempted to be a part of one of the gangs, going around and antagonising any of the guards. I waited patiently for the elevator to rise the five floors, ignoring the shuddering and trembling. I knew that it would get there, it was just a sluggish thing.

The lights dipped and I held my breath, gasping as I clutched the mirrored edges of the elevator and waited. Please…please don’t go out now…I wouldn’t be able to escape. I bit my lip, chewed it until I could taste the sharp rust of my own blood. I growled under my breath as I shook my head. Stretching upwards, I touched the low ceiling for reassurance. This wasn’t a small box, caving in on me. This was a piece of machinery that had lasted centuries, repaired and upgraded where needed.

Finally, the lights flicked back on. The doors whooshed open, sliding apart smoothly – as though they had never caused me a worry. I sighed as I stepped free, leaving the bobbing box behind me. I knew this wouldn’t be easy. I had her key, but I didn’t want anyone to accuse me of breaking in. This mattered too much to my teacher for that. I blew a breath out, lifting a sweaty strand of hair that threatened to bother me. I found her door, marked with her number – 167-547-6975. I knew it well, stared at it every day I was in class. Her key worked fine, though the door creaked open. I cringed, closing my eyes, recoiling. This was too loud.

A stench came from within. A horrible smell making me gag. Stealing my breath. Thick and cloying enough to coat my tongue, so I could taste it. I hesitated to enter. I wasn’t sure I could do this. I wished, with all my heart that I could walk away. That I could turn, go home. That I wasn’t alone with the sickly sweet scent, like a warning. Like a creature I’d heard tales of in the past. I pulled the neck of my issued top over my nose, trying to filter out the smell as we filtered our water. Stepping inside, I cleared my throat slowly.
“Hello? Is there anyone in?”

I was hoping that there’d be no reply, but I knew my luck was awful. Why would this, now, have to be any different?
“Third door on the left. She said you were coming.” I wondered how, but I soon remembered that adults received chips that transformed their info-tabs into phones. I moved forward reluctantly, dipping my head forward. “Come on, girl! I don’t have all day!” The thought that it was night hovered on the tip of my tongue. The next was that his voice seemed to change. From croaking to easier, as if he’d cleared his throat. I shook my head a little, opening the door with no small amount of trepidation.

“Come on then! Where I can look at you, or are you too much of a wimp to come and see me?” He offered me a challenge I couldn’t deny. I stepped forward, the fire in my heart flaring fresh. I wanted to snap, to shout. Only respect for my elders stopped me.
“I’m no wimp, sir. I just came to give you a message. Your daughter just told me to let you know that she has a meeting with her friends tonight. And she asked me to collect her overnight bag.” I stood upright, back straight and chin jutting forward stubbornly.

There was humour in his eyes. He was wrinkled, deeply so. It looks as though his eyes were disappearing into the loose flesh about his cheeks. His jowls hung low, hiding the thin snaking metal that no doubt tracked his movements as surely as mine tracked me. I didn’t think he moved much, however. Despite the wrinkles that spoke of an opulent lifestyle, he seemed gaunt, lacking something in the face. No matter what I did, he wasn’t going to look happy. There was a sad look to him. It was almost as though someone had forgotten him. I felt ashamed. I didn’t like how he seemed forgotten. There should be a pride in reaching old age, especially in a place that seemed festooned with mould and damp.

“Well done for speaking up, young lady. Now…what’s your name?” I caught a glimpse of something in his eyes. A sharpness, glimmering deep within those pale, pale orbs.
“134-546-6734.” I spoke crisply. I knew he meant that, he had to. There was no way anyone else could ask if I had a real name. I knew I didn’t have one. Well, not one that anyone would know. I was a number. We all were.
“Your name, not your number, child.” His words were harsh. I cringed back from them, not sure if I even dared to speak. “Now, before I die in front of you.” He gave me no chance to say no.
“Shannon…” I spoke carefully. I spoke reluctantly. I knew there was no way he could help me if something changed, or if someone came after me.

I’d admitted to a cardinal sin. I knew the punishment. We all did. We had it drummed into our heads from the moment we went to school at five until the day we died. I could have spoken the rules in my sleep. It didn’t mean I believed them, had to follow them. I did everything I could to keep my head down, so no one knew – but this old man had wrinkled my name from me in moments. He held me with his glazed glare, the wrinkles in his head giving his skin the appearance of a pile of folded towels.
“So do you want to know how to avoid get a ATC or not? Speak up, I’m deaf!” He barked words at me, and forced me to answer. I couldn’t refuse an answer to that tone.

ATCs were the first level of punishment, and the least invasive. Activity Tracking Collars worked by connecting special wires to all of your limbs. If you moved away from your designated zone, you would experience an electric shock that would knock you out. It was the easiest punishment. The next level involved cuffs around your ankles that locked together and stopped you in your tracks, would make you vulnerable to anyone walking by. The third was the worst, to my mind. You disappeared. There was no record of you even existing. No one knew what happened when you vanished, but no one ever mentioned you again. Even your family didn’t seem upset. I was a wimp, when everything came down to it. The thought of pain, of hurting – why would I even want to do that to myself? But to lose myself entirely? To vanish? I didn’t want that.
“Yes please, sir. I have this pass from my teacher, but – I don’t know what I can do. Please, tell me?”

I tried to speak clearly, but I was afraid that fear had lodged my tongue against the roof of my mouth. That I had lost my voice, simply because I couldn’t even bring myself to look at him. He seemed to settle back in against his flat pillows, reeking of old person and the cabbage they fed us every meal. I sighed softly, shaking my head as I clenched my fists, digging my nails into my palms. I tried to force myself to relax, but his eyes moved, and I realised I was edging towards the door. I was moving toward my escape. I needed to get out of here. A sobbing breath rang out, and I shook my head when I realised the feeble sounds were coming from me. I was embarrassed, hating myself for being so weak.

“Scared, little girl? Well you should be. There’s a world out there, and it ain’t as pretty as you think.” I watched as spittle dribbled down his chin and tears sprang into my eyes. If this was what old age made you, then I wanted to die young. I didn’t want to be so bitter. “Ach, dry those tears. You need to be strong. Learn to have a spine and say what you feel.” I felt his eyes on me and flinched. I wished I’d had the courage to say no. He wiped his damp chin with the back of one skeletal hand, skin sagging. He looked like he was shrivelling, in front of my eyes, and I hated it. This wasn’t how I wanted to live. I had been happy.

Had been happier. It would end up being the story of my life, or so I feared. Instead of speaking, he began to laugh. A guttural laugh that led to him coughing. After coughing, he began to choke and I ran. I couldn’t be there. Even as I fumbled with the door, breaking a nail, I heard him gasp for breath. There was a rattle in his chest that terrified me – but not as much as the sound of screaming bells outside. I sobbed a breath before running for the door at the end of the corridor. I forgot everything but to escape. For the NSG to be here would mean that he had died. His collar would have reported his failing life-stats. I knew it, we all did. And I was responsible for him dying, because I hadn’t even used the compulsory first aid taught to us to save lives.

The bells grew louder as I forced myself through the door. My lungs burned, tears scalded my cheeks. The muscles in my legs threatened not to work, until I was stumbling down ten flights of stairs. I knew I wasn’t going fast enough. The only way I would go faster would be to fall – and then they would catch me. This fear was too much for me. I stopped, somewhere near the bottom and retched. I gagged until bile soured my throat and splattered on the ground. I’d killed a man. They would make me disappear. I didn’t run any faster. Simply by being there, I’d incriminated myself. I was the one who was in the wrong. I had shown myself to be a guilty party. My collar would let them know I’d been there when he died.

A hand covered my mouth as someone tugged me into the shadows. The hand stifled a scream as I slipped from a step and my ankle. Tears built again in my eyes as the taste of my own vomit made me gag again. The hand loosened as a low voice rumbled in my ear.
“Stay still. They’re looking for you, but if you stay still, I’ll do what I can to keep you safe. It’s what she would have wanted.” He cursed behind me. I paid no attention to what he said then. The question of who ‘she’ was instead made me frown. I had to question him.
“Who would want me-” I was hushed again, his hand smothering my mouth, my words lost to his palm. I felt him fumbling with one hand at the back of my neck.

The collar snicked…before slipping from around my neck. I felt naked without it. One hand lifted to my throat, stroking the skin that felt roughened. I brushed my fingers across the flesh before I felt cold metal slipping over my neck and tightening a little. I was ready to gag, but then I realised that this wasn’t my number. I couldn’t feel the familiar embossed edges, sharp enough to slice my fingers. I lifted my eyes to the man who had escorted me, but he was doing something weird with my old collar. The metal had wires sticking out from either end, and he was twisting different coloured ones together. I heard the quiet snick of a door opening and my breath caught in my throat.

I would have cried out, but the door shut and I let go of his shirt. He nodded at me, unable to smile. He seemed worn, exhausted. I spoke in a whisper, hidden inside the echoing shadows of a stairwell.
“Who is she? Please tell me? And…why did you even save me? I’ve…I’ve done wrong. Too much wrong.” I was about to break down. I could feel a lump in my throat. I wanted to leave, wanted to go back to this afternoon. Wanted to say no to the teacher who taught me the most important of things – how to survive in this world.
“Your mother. Before she died, when you were no taller than my knee. She told me I had to watch out for you.” He spoke quietly, but not in a whisper any longer. He seemed to know something I didn’t – but it was the mention of my mother.

She’d died when I was five. I had been at a friend’s house, learning to spell and read. When she’d not picked me up, her friend had alerted my father and the DSG. The Day Security Guards had found her dead, her wrists slit in the kitchen. Suicide. The least preventable death, as the body released nothing until blood began to drain away, too fast to halt. My dad allowed me to say goodbye. To kiss her blood-smeared cheeks. I didn’t cry. I didn’t understand then why her cheek was pale and her eyes open, staring. I didn’t know why she was cold – I just remember turning to my daddy and telling him to give mommy a blanket, as she was going to get a cold. I must have been nine or ten before I realised that she was dead, and that was when I started worrying about the collar I wore.
“How…how did you even know her?”

“She was my younger sister, she wasn’t even meant to be here. There are places…outside this place. Small cities, where you don’t need a collar. Where you can talk to anyone you want. I only came here with her because she met your father, and fell in love. Otherwise, I’d never have this thing on.” He kept his voice low as he rapped his knuckles against the metal that he had lodged in his skin. I flinched and shook my head, wincing. It was…my fault? Was that what he meant?
“So…why don’t I know you? Why can’t I remember you?” I was practically pleading with him at this point. I didn’t have a clue how to get away from where I was – or even if he was lying to me. It was possible, I knew.

The frantic beats of my heart must have done something to the collar around my throat, as I heard a frantic beating, muffled by his soft curse.
“Don’t tell them you saw me. Just say – someone threatened you. When you can, come to this place.” I didn’t know where he meant – I hoped he didn’t mean here. I’d never be coming back here again. He forced a piece of dirty tissue was forced into my clenched fist as he leaned forward and kissed my head. I startled back, but he simply ran his hand over my hair before fleeing. I waited for the sound of a call or boots thumping on the ground. Nothing happened bar a shout from above me, and I wrapped my arms around my legs and prepared for them to take me away.

In the eyes of the law, which I knew as well as any other citizen, I’d committed murder. I closed my eyes and tipped my face upwards. I just hoped – whatever they did to me didn’t hurt. That I could once again walk the dingy, cracked pavement that was my home. I wanted to find this man who called himself my uncle, and see what he had to say for himself. It seemed like he’d woken something inside of me. Maybe – there was a cat-like curiosity within me…and I’d have to reign that in the whole time that they interrogated me. After all, if there was a way for me to escape this collar, judging every little thing I did, everything I said – then I would take it.

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Wednesday Writing Challenge (One Week Late)

Yes. I missed posting last week, as needed a week off from this challenge! Not because it’s boring, but because it’s truly challenging me to think in different ways (and I kinda hit a small slump >.<). But, cracking on with the challenge – this week was, again, from the Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide To Creating Imaginative Fiction. Page 25, this week, as chosen by Jennifer Don. This was a doozy of a challenge. A picture prompt, nothing to really learn – bar writing from a prompt, I guess! This was just entirely different for me…a fun, short, flash fiction more than anything else, however. So – without further ado – the challenge (and prompt)!

Jugend Magazine, (c 1900)

 

If suddenly confronted by an image like this from Jugend magazine (c 1900), could you create a story about it? Write one right now.

You can see it’s hard, right? Well this is what I came up with – and think….1600s/1700s for the time in this. Or….Victiorian Britain. That works rather well!

He reclined, shoulders back, against a wavering tower of books, already searched through for answers. Not the smallest of men, Sir Benjamin Cherry rested his fists on his ample hips. Scurvy, his cockatoo and Scrumpy, his parrot fluttered down, landing on his shoulder and arm respectively. He was frowning, the birds quivering with fear. The reason – this unknown taxidermy-preserved creature, currently menacing him from the corner. It was almost like some kind of wild hybrid, of unbelievable proportions. The body was that of a fish, absurdly spotted. Set in some heavy stone, the creature also bore wings, as spotted as the body – matching those of a bat. Absurdly swollen, it looked about to burst, and he was pretty sure that was what was happening. Perhaps the heat had caused something to ferment inside…

Two days later, he still stood in the same place, though now joined with another three towering piles of books. Nothing had compared to what he had read. No creature, real or imagined, matched the unrealistic proportions of the one he had in front of him. He wandered closer, picking up one of the quills he’d been using to make notes. ‘This’ll make a good tool to check on it…I’m pretty sure, anyway. It had better not be Sir Thomas and Sir Barry poking fun at me again!’ He would be sure to wager against them next time they were sure to use. Turning to make sure both birds still remained safely tucked away behind bars, he drew in a deep breath before tentatively poking the flesh of the creature. He recoiled back.

There was no boom. No bang. No pop, to make his birds keel over of terror. Instead, he observed, through weary eyes…the creature losing air. A squeak, long, loud and shrill rang out. He pulled back, believing it to be some sort of incendiary device, until it moved again. It sagged, an empty sack on the ground, leaving behind an awful smell of rotting fish. He snorted, using a handkerchief tucked in his pocket and scented, to protect his sense of smell. He saw, pinned to the back of one of those wings, now loose from the fish flesh.

Sir Benjamin,

I truly hope you enjoyed the look at the world’s fast spotted flying fish.

Remember, take care of it! No sharp objects.

This fish can truly fly, but they are particularly vulnerable to damage.

I return in a fortnight.

Sir Boris.

Of course…Sir Benjamin had no option except to curse, loudly and fluidly, in a manner that did not suit his station as a noble sir.

 

 

Of course – this is why I dislike this challenge. It was rather limiting, in my opinion – however – why not join in? Come and have a go, and join me here next week for another challenge!

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Utopian – Pawfection

This month’s writing challenge was potentially the hardest one I’ve ever experienced. Writing a utopia is hard work, not least because I can’t understand how a perfect world would work. I ended up regretfully having to go to my ‘fall back’ of writing an animal utopian city. The story is meant to exemplify what I wish would happen within the rescue world. I’m looking forward to this month’s challenge, however! Dystopia is something I’m pretty good with! (Yes, that’s this month’s challenge, and it WAS chosen at random.)  And take a look at Jennifer’s own utopia, The False Perfection. She did a much better job than me!

 

“I’m bored!”
“Me too!”
“Can’t we go outside to play?” The trio of pups begging would have softened the hardest of hearts, but I wasn’t buying. With a hiss, I swiped at them, claws retracted so the blows wouldn’t hurt. They were young, they didn’t know what generations of our kind had gone through outside of these walls. I backed them away from the exit I guarded. When they moved out my way, I uttered a low growl that had them quivering in their brindled coats.
“Please, Miss Shenai, don’t tell our ma!” I wasn’t as soft as any old dog – but those wide brown eyes did seem to swim with apology.

“Maybe I can make an exception, this time.” I couldn’t hold back the purr in my voice before they converged on me. Small whimpers and wagging tails assaulted me. They beat me into submission before I could finish what I was saying. They weren’t getting away with this entirely. “But…you have to go and talk to Apollo and Banjo. You want to know why we can’t leave here, they remember why.” I fought back a laugh at their identical looks of despair. If I had been them, I wouldn’t have much enjoyed a visit to the old tortoise and parrot. I didn’t give in though. “It’s either talk to them, or I go and see Sprite. Your ma will not be pleased to find you are trying to leave safety.”

I ignored their scoffing sounds of disbelief. We all knew what it had once been like. I knew that only the unlikely pair of friends remained of those that had lived through what had happened. I stood and padded delicately at the flat rocks below us, using my blunt nose to push the puppies along. Humans passed us, splitting to either side to allow us space to pass. I mewed my thanks and received the odd, lingering stroke. The puppies led the way, no longer as interested in me as the people around them. Time was passing by, and like the litter of kittens I had in my stomach, they would go off to their humans soon, to live in happiness until they passed this world for the next.

Our little procession wasn’t unnoticed. Soon, the tom I had mated with walked at my side, his ginger-pelted frame shiny with health. I purred at him, my side brushing against his velvet-soft fur.
“Where do you take the pups, Shenai?” He always spoke so casually. It made my cream coat bristled against the air. I smiled at him, taking my time. I didn’t need to worry, or hurry as the humans watched us go by.
“To see Apollo and Banjo. They wanted to leave the city, Magus.” His face wrinkled a little before he sighed.
“So that’s why you take them then? To go and see those crazy creatures?” His purr was a soft laugh, even though there was a worry in his green eyes.

I nodded. Magus understood me. He understood what I was doing with the pups. They needed to know just how important our small world was. Just why it was that we didn’t leave, why no one wanted to leave. They wouldn’t understand until then. I realised we were almost at the home where the pair were looked after. I could hear soft songs coming from Banjo, his wings beating the air. I laughed, padding to the front as the pups hesitated. I butted my head against them in turn, my tail swatting gently from side to side.
“Come, learn why it is we all live in peace. We all came to these two as pups and kittens ourselves.”

The group around us, the honour-guard slipped away. Magus watched for a moment longer, before giving a bow I was impressed with. I’d remember that, next time. I purred and dipped my head at my sometimes mate. I had a duty to do – a duty that these pups would one day perform themselves. I stepped forward, the pups at my hips. My stomach was beginning to protrude, and perhaps they knew. They weren’t as crazy as normal. As hyperactive, and loopy. I smiled at them, rasping my tongue across my lips before letting out a low mewl. Apollo stuck his head out from his shell, his wizened, leathery old face seeming surprised to see me.

“My…Shenai. How…you’ve…grown.” His voice was soft, halting. I purred, walking forward smoothly. I felt the bated breath of the pups behind me as I rubbed my head against the hard edges of his shell. A beak tugged gently at my ear as I lifted my head, purring under my breath.
“What Apollo means to say is that you are a very beautiful queen, Shenai. A queen among queens, if he had his favourites. What can we do for you?” I loved how accommodating these two were. I circled round to herd the pups forward, towards the pair, speaking the whole time softly.

“These pups need to learn our history. As you once told me, will you now tell them?” I was polite. One day, these old creatures wouldn’t be here to tell us all that had happened. We would have to tell each other the stories. As the pups sat and sprawled down, I sat sedately upright. I did as I needed to, as any guard, as any mother to be would do. I could no longer act like a kitten. I was in my third spring now. My third year of being with a human that loved me, and that I cared about. Only dogs truly loved their human companions. My tail swayed back and forth, my eyes gleamed. My ears perked upward, as I waited, alert. I enjoyed hearing this story, much as it made me hide in fear at times.

Our past was horrible. We’d lost a lot of kin, we all had. Only the humans could have changed our way, and that was what they did. They changed. Life was better now, from what I knew. From what I’d been taught. Banjo preened himself before he turned his attention to us, his beak running gently through dull green feathers.
“I wasn’t very old when the world was bad for all pets. Humans were cruel, forcibly mating their pets, their dogs and cats, until so many existed that they had only one solution. They would leave them in tiny places called ‘pounds’.” The parrot extended his wings at the last word, uttering a squark. He was clearly unsettled in a way I hated to see.

I stretched a little, curling myself around the wide-eyed pups to wait for him to settle his ruffled feathers.
“When no one came forth to give them homes, the humans had no choice but to send each cat, dog and other animal to the endless sleep, to the eternal dream. Don’t fear your humans, pups. Those that had to do it loved us so much they wouldn’t see us suffering. Never the sun on our backs. Never a breeze through the fur, or feathers. There was no freedom, not for any pet. Even those much loved – they weren’t allowed to roam. They had to be tethered to their humans, all the time.”

I could see the shock welling in their eyes, in those brown, wide-eyed pools of innocence. They still wouldn’t understand the depths of this until they were older. I wish I could have eased this from them, but now they needed to know what the world outside was like.
“Those humans that loved us dearly decided one day to gather up all the animals humans had cast aside, and built themselves a city. A massive city, where we can roam the streets. Where every human is brought up to love animals.” He shook himself, his tail feathers dipping as he changed his grip on Apollo’s shell.

“Now, we live in peace. No animal wants to leave the city. The humans grow their own food. They keep us as their companions. That is why only certain among us breed at certain times – such as Miss Shenai, there.” I dropped my head, purring as I rasped my tongue over one of my slender paws. I wasn’t embarrassed. I was a cat, I knew how wonderful I was. I was instead pleased. I was proud in myself, in the fact that my perfection had a reaction. “She paired with the best male she wanted to choose from. She’ll provide a litter of kittens that will go on to new homes in our fine city.”

I watched the pups before they turned from me to watch Banjo and Apollo. I stood, determined to draw their attention before a low purr ebbed from my lips.
“So, pups. Do you want to leave the perfection of our home now? Or will you return to your mother?” I waited, aware of the squirming kittens in my heavy stomach. I tired quickly this day, even as I uttered the lowest of purrs, curving my lips into a smile.
“I don’t want to leave here now.”
“Nor me, it’s safe here!”
“I would rather stay with my ma…” The last pup caught me. I purred at him, bumping my head against her shoulder.
“Then run on home, little pups. And remember what you learned today.”

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Wednesday Writing Challenge (and small update)

As of this week on, I will be posting a writing challenge, and what I interpret it as. Feel free to join in with your own in the comments! This week’s one came from the book ‘Wonderbook: The illustrated guide to creating imaginative fiction’. This book focuses mostly on building fantasy worlds, which works wonders for me, as a fantasy writer! Of course, I’m not doing this challenge alone. What would be the fun in that? Jennifer  is doing this challenge WITH me. Go check out her blog for her own version.

Writing Challenge

Shadows by Charles Henry Bennet

 

This image from Shadows by Charles Henry Bennet (London, 1850s) suggests the hidden characteristics of a person and, perhaps, a technique: using the attributes of an animal to help in describing your character. Write a paragraph describing someone you know well using only the attributes of one animal.

Last night (Wednesday) I wrote my challenge up. I used a friend I know from school as the ‘muse’ for this piece, and I was rather pleased with what I came up with.

There are many things that describe her – but her personality was, perhaps, the easiest to pinpoint by comparing it to that of a cat.. Mostly prickly, she never wants to be touched, except on her own grounds. On her own terms. One to hold a grudge, she keeps her distance from all but the most treasured friends – but even those don’t know her deepest desires. She is, essentially, a cat. A feline. Some dangerous beast, stalking from the shadows. Hidden in the darkness – ready to attack. From her sensuous ways to the snapping amusement that comes to her when exchanging barbs with her friends and family. Even the way she preens, on occasion, speak of a feline sharing her spirit.’

Of course, being me – this couldn’t be it all! Instead, a character kept swimming about in the murky depths of my mind. A character I will probably use in the next series I write!

His skin was worn, scaled, lumped into hard armour along his hands. His fingers grew crooked, nails sharp. He had dead eyes. Eyes of a killer. Eyes of someone soul-less. He had the long, slender build of someone that spent a lot of time moving, hunting – seeking his next meal. I noticed the folds of skin between his fingers. They were thickened with callouses, almost webs. I didn’t want to go anywhere near his menacing presence.’

Which of the two do you find more menacing? I think the second one creates a better image of how a character looks, but the first provides more details of a personality. Give it a try! Next Thursday, another Writing Challenge will begin! You are welcome to join in!

In nine days, you will also get a look at a utopian short story. Utopia is swiftly turning out to be something I dislike – a lot. It’s not my kind of genre, though I know trying it is for the best. The story is totally unlike anything else I’ve ever written. Truly, I need to make sure that it remains utopian. That there is a conflict. I hope you come back next week to check out what I’ve worked on. Even the title is in place. I just need to finish the writing, so it’s the best it can be!

 

Bye for now. Post your attempts below!

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C-c-c-changes!

Big things are coming this year on my blog! Every month, I have a different flash fiction theme to write to! That means you, my followers, are treated to a short 5000 piece story EVERY month, on the last day – FREE! This will give you a chance to learn my style in a variety of genres. I’ll be posting discussion themes which I hope you join in with!

 

This month’s theme…is a Utopia. Wikipedia’s definition of a Utopia in fiction is this;

Utopian fiction is the creation of an ideal society, or utopia, as the setting for a novel.’ This will be a challenge for me, as I have to think of a setting for this, and a way to portray an ideal society, without it being over the top or boring.

 

Of course, I’m not doing this alone! Fellow author, Jennifer Don, is doing this too! We’re working together to make ourselves better authors – which means you join in with it! (Follow Jennifer here and here)

 

I really hope you’ll enjoy!

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Collaboration/Teaser Flash Fiction

My world shattered one day. I’d been playing at dominance games with Arashi, my bigger brother, when the wind whispered in my ear. It shook me into standing still, those terrifying words on a gentle summer breeze.

“You lack a part of yourself.” I fled my brother then, leaving him behind me as my muscles powered me forwards. I snapped at the air in front of me, seeking to do harm to the very sprites talking so quietly to me. “You need to leave, Amaya. Leave and offer us your thanks as we guide you on your way. You will need us.” I snarled, unable to believe what the world was telling me. As soon as I was under cover, within the trees, the voices stopped.

The thrumming of paw-steps coming after me made me flinch as I turned my head to look at my black-pelted brother, his golden eyes gleaming with concern.

“Amaya…are you okay?” His voice was a concerned whine as he dropped his head forwards, his ears flattening when I replied with a soft, silken snarl that curled my lips into a face of pure anger.

“If I were okay, Arashi, I wouldn’t have run, would I? You are such an omega sometimes.” I had to insult him. It was an urge, deep down. I was reaching the age where I would leave Deephollow. I also knew, deep down, that it was cruel. He was an omega as much as I was. It was our older brother, Ashai that would be alpha, however.

“Fine! Be the bitch that mom says you are.” His snapped words made me stagger back a step, my hackles lifting in a wave that tingled up my spine.

“If mom said that, she’d at least say it to my face.” I turned from him, utterly disgusted with myself. I’d let him get to me, again. My nose wrinkled back in a small snarl before I shook my head from side to side and wheeled abruptly around. Wasn’t it just my luck that I walked right into Volkan – pack beta and my uncle on my father’s side? I sighed at the look in his gold eyes – so unlike my own – before sitting down. I even dropped my head to avoid looking at him.

His chuckle made me lift my head up sharply. I almost caught my sensitive nose on the underneath of his jaw, I moved so quickly.

“It’s natural, Amaya. You will want to leave soon, but you are staying here. Only in Deephollow woods are you safe. A pretty wolf, like yourself? You will be a human trophy in a day. We can’t lose any more of the pack.” The concern in his voice made my tail wag, furiously so. To know someone in the pack cared made a world of difference. I stood, arching my back before brushing my nose against his cheek. That was when his words hit me, hard.

“What do you mean, lose any more of the pack?”

*Please note – names/roles/story may change. This is a collaboration between my best friend/fellow author Jennifer Don and I, to take place in November. This will be available…in the future sometime 😀

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Lupus Animus

Can’t afford a donation to help out a charity? How about a book?

55 fictional pieces for less than $4

‘She was just eating her meal when she smelled a male wolf nearby – not one of her own. She watched him warily as he came slowly toward the three pups that were out the enclosure again.’ Lost Mate, Terry Spear – US Today Bestseller

Featuring poems, stories and haiku with the theme of wolves and the truth as each author perceives it.

Discover wolves in a sci-fi setting, followed by in character views of wolves in their natural settings and in conflict with humans.

All proceeds go to Artisan Rarebreeds.
Registered Charity Number
HMRC XT37297

With stories, poems and haiku from Ylva and Rose DelaWulf, Sherrill Willis, Zakira Salem, Krystal O’Brien, L. Anne Wooley, Shelley Walsh, Eleanor Musgrove, Delbert McGill, Michael E. Herman, Melina Turner, Caio Henrique Tavares, Yanick Zolnerciks, Paula Acton, Philip Tolhurst, John C. Scott, Jessica Kuilan Gonzalez, Dee Martin, Danielle Newman, James Don and Lisa Miller.

Buy links
US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00KWL0GGA

UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00KWL0GGA

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show…..2-lupus-animus

anthocover3

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Third Stop on the MK Blog Tour – Jennifer Don! (again!)

Well my guest once again today is Jennifer Don, and this time we have the most apt post for what I write about here – she’s talking about wolves, and the way they have directed her life towards writing. Let’s see what she has to say about the mysterious guides, who appear when we need them, only to fade away to wait until we next call for them…

Wolves, my muse and lifelong inspiration

I cannot begin to tell you how much the Wolf has influenced my life. I’ve been fascinated with them for as long as I can remember and considering I’m 25, that’s a fairly long time in my world. But there is more to it than just sheer Childhood fascination and this is where it becomes harder to write about, without sounding like a lunatic. I’ve questioned long and hard over whether to state why or not, but I find it is always better to be honest not only to self but with others too.

For those that don’t know me, I am a firm believer in knowledge or belief that for each of us an animal in the spirit world will walk with us as and when it is needed. They will teach us aspects of ourselves and help us to see what we may not have done. I understand this can be rather had for people to see, but these are my beliefs. These animals are known as Animal Totems, very common with the Native Americans. They are also known as Animal Guides and for me, I constantly see that of a white wolf in my mind’s eye. You could say he is my muse, my soul and my inspiration that drives my determination to keep going. Such is the power that he bestows in my mind, that he even made is as far as to star in my novel – Timber Varden which is still undergoing extensive edits.

 
The constant teacher...
 

But never mind that for the moment, it deviates from the subject at hand. I bet your wondering – how can a wolf become a muse to a writer? Well I don’t see the wolf like most people do; they see the wild side, the killer. Whereas I see below the surface, I see the wisdom within the eyes. I see the passion they hold for the bonds they keep, how they protect those nearest and dearest. They may seldom like to walk off on their own, but at the heart of matters they are predominately family orientated. The wolf has great stamina and can keep going for miles on end and while I am unable to cover such distances like them, I do have the stamina to write for hours on end.

Through the eyes of the wolf, I have found the person that I am meant to be. It has not been and easy road but when you learn to see what it is that they wish to show you then you can see where you are meant to go. The wolf is the pathfinder in my understanding and through belief has led me to where I am now; he is the teacher and teaches what we need to learn. But that still doesn’t explain my admiration for an animal that others would sooner kill than respect. If you could have one voice, one chance to change the way just one person sees things, would you give that up and ignore the undertakings of others? I can’t. The wolf, my muse, is why I write. It is why they are mentioned in Timber Varden. And if my words, help just one person to see that the wolf is not the aggressor people think he is, then maybe one day future generations will be able to appreciate the mystical aspects of an animal that remains free. But because of human nature, anything they perceive is being a threat then to all they can to eliminate it. Over the years, Wolf numbers have declined to the point that some countries no longer have wild wolves – I pray for the day that they are re-introduced to the wild in many climates where they belong. .

Now for some questions for YOU by our guest, Jennifer Don.

She wants to know…

What animal would you say leads your muse into the fruitful woods of writing?

and

If your muse is not animal based, what would you describe them as being?
About Jennifer Don

Jennifer spent many years without daring to lift a pen, without writing a word that wasn’t forced. But 2008 arrived and with it, her love of writing. She began with poetry which quenched her thirst to begin with but soon that wasn’t enough to satisfy her. 2011 arrived with a dream to write her first novel – Awakening, which is on-going. November saw her attempt her first NaNoWriMo, and so Timber Varden was born, with the bulk of it being written within that month. Now she finds herself aiming to re-write that draft and turn it into her first published novel.

While she aims to work through the edits needed, updates on her progress can be found on here –http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferDon
To find out more with regards to her other projects, then check out her blog here – http://thoughtsgowild.blogspot.co.uk/
And should you wish to follow her on Twitter, or ask her any questions please see here –https://twitter.com/#!/Voice_Of_Spirit
Jennifer will be more than happy to answer any questions you have for her. You can contact her at any of the links posted above. Or email her at authorjenniferdon@hotmail.co.uk

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First Stop on the MK Blog Tour – Jennifer Don!

For the first stop on the amazing Master Koda tour, I am hosting for Jennifer Don, an amazing author and person I’ve known for a long time. She’s always supported me when I wanted to give up, and I hope to do the same for her. She has one fully finished novel which is undergoing some edits – but Timber Varden is an amazing tale, featuring wolves and a writing with writers block (which I’m sure we’ve ALL had at some stage!) What we want to know today is…What inspired Jennifer to write? Read below for her answer.

And here’s a sneak peek at the cover for Timber Varden

What inspired me to write?

An easy question for others to answer perhaps, but this soul, this being, finds it difficult to pinpoint the moment where I thought – Hey, I can do this. It was never a thought that crossed my mind during childhood or time spent through school. Hell, I certainly read a lot during that time period but I never once saw myself as being someone who could write a book, let alone start one. But then everything changed rapidly in the space of 6 years, all I’d dare say on the matter is that nothing has been the same since. I wouldn’t change the past, no matter how much I wish those days had been different. Instead, I hold my head high and look to life with a different outlook.

I guess then I can say that life itself has inspired me to write the thoughts that cross my mind, but it wasn’t always about writing a novel. Life is young and there is plenty to see and take inspiration from. At 25, I still haven’t decided where I want to be in years to come. But one thing I know for certain is that I’ll never give up writing. Not now. Not after experiencing the passion deep down when you create a basic image in your mind and allow it to build on paper into something far bigger than you could have possibly imagined. How a simple strain of creativity can lead to a full blown novel just waiting to be edited. I’ll tell you this; there is nothing better in this world than the feeling of achieving a task that you had never thought possible. It can be done, it has been done and you can achieve the impossible too and you know why? Because deep down, if you look at impossible it says I’m Possible – anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

Where did I begin, I hear you ask?

It didn’t occur to me to write anything until 4 years ago. It’s hard for me to put it into words, but my fellow writers out there will understand what it’s like when you have random sentences running through your mind, where instinct tells you to write it down. And they weren’t just the odd sentence or two; they became verses, poems to be more specific. Okay so they aren’t fancy, but they gave birth to the greatest passion to set my soul on fire, the passion to write. Each poem written was either based on a road of spirituality or they were based on the world around me. I believe that these had become pebbles in a river that then grew to stepping stones to something bigger.

But that’s not everything; I’ve always had a love for the unknown, the paranormal. I would spend many hours reading books on vampires, ghosts and werewolves but despite my love for them, I doubt I could ever write a Vampire novel. Not because I don’t want to, but because it’s been done. And I don’t really want to be another shadow in the night, following the same flickers of inspiration as those gone before me. I know that nothing now can ever really be classed as an original piece of work, but there is enough that can be written to class it as such. We writers may take inspiration from books that we read, films that we watch of music that we listen to, but be aware that no two books are ever alike, not totally.

The door is always open, and it’s in my soul to write, and to think that perhaps one day in the near future, I’ll walk through that door with a published book in hand, until then it’s back to editing I must go. And to those of you who would love to write a book but feel you never could, why not give a go and see how you get on. You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised!

 

Jennifer spent many years without daring to lift a pen, without writing a word that wasn’t forced. But 2008 arrived and with it, her love of writing. She began with poetry which quenched her thirst to begin with but soon that wasn’t enough to satisfy her. 2011 arrived with a dream to write her first novel – Awakening, which is on-going. November saw her attempt her first NaNoWriMo, and so Timber Varden was born, with the bulk of it being written within that month. Now she finds herself aiming to re-write that draft and turn it into her first published novel.

 

While she aims to work through the edits needed, updates on her progress can be found on here – http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJenniferDon

To find out more with regards to her other projects, then check out her blog here – http://thoughtsgowild.blogspot.co.uk/

And should you wish to follow her on Twitter, or ask her any questions please see here – https://twitter.com/#!/Voice_Of_Spirit

Jennifer will be more than happy to answer any questions you have for her. You can contact her at any of the links posted above.

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