Tracking into Fear – Sunday Photo Fiction

Each week, Alastair Forbes offers one of his original photos to all Wordsmiths who like a challenge. This week’s photo is no different. You can join in the fun and add your story and read some great flash fiction at Sunday Photo Fiction. My story appears below starts after the photo.

Railway tracks

This is bloody ridiculous! We’ve been walking for hours along this blasted track.

‘I heard that James.’

‘Heard what…I didn’t say anything.’

‘You didn’t have to.’

James felt his heartbeat quicken. He’d forgotten about Leo’s ability to read thoughts. Supposed ability he reminded himself.

Leo sighed, ‘James, we’ll get there when we get there. Grumbling and swearing about the situation isn’t going to make it happen any sooner.’

Alternating between wanting to walk ahead of Leo to see whatever it was they were looking for first, and walking behind him in case whatever or whoever it was they were looking for was less than friendly. Then again, if he walked ahead of Leo, who’s to say Leo wasn’t the danger. Maybe it would be safer to walk behind him…maybe.

‘You’re getting paranoid James.’

James frowned. Was it just his imagination, or were the tracks vibrating? A few minutes later, he decided it definitely wasn’t his imagination. The tracks were vibrating—seriously vibrating. And humming—loudly. Everything screamed at him to get off the tracks, but his legs refused to obey his brain.

‘Relax James. Just take a deep breath and enjoy the ride.’

Even as Leo spoke, James felt the track drop away and send them hurtling into an abyss. A wave of vertigo washed over him and he threw up. All around him, white lights pulsed and he was vaguely aware of Leo saying, ‘He’ll be okay.’

And then he blacked out.

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Manor of Dreams – Scribe’s Cave #35

Written for The Scribe’s Cave.  All you need is 50-200 words about the picture prompt to take part. My offering begins after the picture.



Jess loved this old manor house, despite its state of disrepair. There were dozens of rooms where she and Daif, her grandfather’s stable boy, spent hours exploring and going on quests. She never wanted things to change.

Orphaned when she was eight, she’d been sent to live with her grandfather, whom she adored. He’d indulged her and allowed her to run wild but climbing down a rope to the stairs had turned the rest of his hair grey. ‘Jess, you’re almost twelve. You have to stop leaping and climbing like a boy, you need to grow up.’

Jess laughed. ‘Oh grandfather, I’m never growing up.’

This was her castle and the only other place she loved as much were the stairs overlooking the mist shrouded valley. She’d been climbing down ever since she’d been old enough to tie a rope around the balustrade and swing down to sit on the stairs and listen to the wild birds calling to one another and dream dreams she knew would probably never come true.

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Rock On – Sunday Photo Fiction

Each week, Alastair Forbes offers one of his original photos to all Wordsmiths who like a challenge. This week’s photo is no different. You can join in all the fun and add your story and read some great flash fiction at Sunday Photo Fiction. My story appears below.

*     *     *

(c) Alastair Forbes

(c) Alastair Forbes

There had always been rumours about the site—rumours of giant serpents and of animals disappearing. The archaeologists scoffed of course, but Nathaniel wasn’t so sure. The saying, “where’s there’s smoke there’s fire,” kept running through his mind.

Local legend said the serpents appeared once every three hundred king of moons. Nathaniel wondered what a king of moons could be, and decided it had to be a super moon, which occurred roughly every eighteen years when a full moon was closer than 360,000 kilometers to the earth at perigee. The question was, when would the next super moon occur in relation to the legend. Computer calculations soon showed him he had only to wait a month.

He wondered if there was any way to observe the area without being observed. Then an idea came to him as he watched his son flying a kite one Sunday afternoon. It would probably cost a bit, but he figured it would be worth it.

Now, floating silently in tandem on the hang glider, the weather was perfect. The warm air rising from the valley kept them aloft effortlessly. hang glider

“The wind is starting to gust too much; we’ll have to go down.”

“Please, just another couple of minutes.”

“It’s too dangerous. It’s starting to get dark – we could be…”

Below them, the land seemed to shimmer. The rock wall moved in an undulating motion and four sheep grazing nearby vanished.

His camera set to rapid shot allowed him to take dozens of pictures in seconds. “No one is going to believe this,” he grinned as the hang glider dipped and landed on a nearby hill.

The headlines in the morning paper screamed: “Hang glider pilot and passenger vanish. Locals blame legendary serpent.”

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Visions of Sugar Plums – The Daily Post

© Boarding1now |

© Boarding1now |

As a child, I didn’t really have any visions about growing up until I was about thirteen. Until then, I was too busy surviving childhood. But for all that, I knew I wanted to be a writer of some sort.

At Christmas and birthdays, when asked what I’d like, my request was always the same: “I want a book.” So I read. And read. And read. Losing myself in the stories; who would want to grow up?

When I reached junior high, I began to contemplate the future and thought maybe I could be a journalist. My father would have been okay with that—possibly even proud of me—but my mother had different ideas. I should add here that when I was born in 1948, my mother was forty-two and my father was sixty. So, although my dad was quite open to what I might be “when I grew up,” my mother’s idea (although not stated aloud) was quite different. I would stay with her and take care of her in her old age, which was quite a common expectation of a daughter back then; especially if you belonged to the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum.

In my second year at junior high, we did a “vocational aptitude” test, and mine showed that I had low-level math skills (no surprise there, so a career in science was out)stressed-out-primary-girl-child-holding-her-head-100155111  and high—very high comprehension skills. The comments at the end of the results stated: “A career in journalism is quite within the scope of the results.” I don’t remember much else, except something about needing to study more blah, blah, blah especially in math to make the most of my opportunities.

I was on the cusp of a great career—the Pulitzer Prize beckoned. Then, three months before my fifteenth birthday, my father died of a sudden heart attack and I grew up. I became an adult and went out to work to support my mother.

My first job was behind the cash register in a butcher shop. I hated it! My second job was in a department store (again behind the counter) selling whatever the particular department I was assigned to that day sold. I do remember getting into trouble with my supervisor for being too generous with the soft-serve ice cream cones (a new innovation in stores at the time) when serving children. Both these jobs only lasted a couple of months.

Then came my big break (in my mother’s eyes at least) and I began working for the New South Wales Department of Motor Transport (DMT is our version of the U.S. DMV). I began in the lowest job available—opening the mail. Thousands of letters and payments for driver’s license or car registration renewals and paper cuts were in abundant supply. mailroom-300x225

Everyone was regularly tested for their honesty. The supervisor of the mailroom would take the cheque out of an envelope and replace it with cash, then put the envelope into a particular bundle for the day’s victim. I remember one poor girl being accused of stealing $120 (a small fortune considering our weekly wage was $17.50), but it turned out the supervisor’s stupid assistant had given the bundle of mail to the wrong girl. It almost cost her job. It did cost the assistant a verbal dressing down for his carelessness. We were all delighted. He was a horrible, slimy little man who smelled disgusting.

Travelling to my place of employment was the hardest part of the job, It meant a twenty-minute bus trip, an hour and a half train trip and finally another bus journey of fifteen minutes—just one of the joys of being an adult that I certainly hadn’t had a vision of as a child.

I stayed with the DMT until I married and had my first child, but by this time, I had climbed up a few rungs on the ladder, been through four different departments and now had a plum job at the local DMT in the town where I lived motorRegistry1 (it didn’t rate being called a city until 1979). Travelling two hours each way to and from work was now just a memory.

Looking back now that I’m retired, I realise I was right to want to hold onto my childhood as long as I could. Childhood is precious and can be cut short by circumstances beyond our control, and I’ve always accepted that—though not always gracefully. My childhood was tough, and there was not much time to play with friends. We owned a poultry farm with 3,000 chickens in various stages of life, and when both my parents became ill at the same time, I had six months off school (I was eleven) to do all the work with the help of a local teenager in need of a job.

My childhood was lonely. I was an only child—only I wasn’t. But that’s a story for another time.


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Unrequited Love – Sunday Photo Fiction

(c) Alastair Forbes

(c) Alastair Forbes

“I think I’m in love.” Jeremy sighed as he sank down onto the grass.

“Say what?” Percy almost choked on the salad greens he was eating.

Jeremy sighed again, “She’s beautiful.”

“Who’s beautiful?”

“My future bride – I just saw her again.”

Percy looked at his friend in confusion. “Saw who? What are you talking about Jerm?”

“She was at the park yesterday, and again today. It must be fate…we’re meant to be together.”

“Jerm, if you don’t start making sense, I’m going to knock you from here to Michaelmas!”

“You don’t believe me!” Jeremy’s eyes were bright with unshed tears.

“Okay, okay, why don’t we go to the park and you can show me the love of your life.”

Jeremy leapt off the grass and flew down the road towards the park. “C’mon, Percy. Quick, before she leaves.”

They arrived at the park and Jeremy pulled Percy into the shadow of a tree.

“See? What did I tell you? Isn’t she gorgeous?” Jeremy was all of a flutter.

Percy looked across the sports oval to the object of Jeremy’s amorous declarations. He stared, rubbed his eyes and stared again.

“Jeremy, you great pillock, you need glasses. That’s not a lady-beetle. It’s a bloomin’ half-deflated soccer ball.”


Every Sunday, Alastair posts one of his flash fiction photo prompts. To join in (you only need 200 words or less), or just read some of the crazy tales, go to Sunday Photo Fiction.

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The Scribes Cave – Rebirth

Derelect Church“It’s just perfect!” Jenny spun in a circle; joy written all over her face. “I absolutely love these tiles, they’re gorgeous!”

“Just look at the thickness of these walls, Jen!” Matt patted the window ledge he was sitting on. “Put some double glazing in and you’ll hardly hear any of the outside noise.”

Recently married, Matt and Jenny had just bought the old church on the edge of the village. They couldn’t believe it when their bid at auction was successful.

“Skylights,” Jenny pointed to the rows of windows high up on the walls, ”all the way along. They’ll let in heaps of light.”

Matt stood up and wrapped his arms around her, “What do you think about designing the fireplace on the old organ?”

Jenny tilted her head to one side as she examined the object of Matt’s suggestion. “Big screen television on the wall above the fireplace using the old organ speakers. We could get them refurbished and polished – couldn’t we?”

A slow smile spread across Matt’s face, “How did I manage to marry someone so smart?”

They continued to stand in the middle of the building enjoying the peace and contentment that washed over them. It was as if the old church approved.

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Written for “The Scribe’s Cave” a place where fiction dwells. Pop over and add your piece of flash fiction based on the picture. You only need 50-200 words.


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The Nightmare Continues – J’Sharn’s World Episode 21

Written for Today’s Author – Write Now prompt. Anyone can join in the fun so click on the link and check it out. The only real rule is you have to use the current sentence prompt somewhere in your post. My story begins after the photo.

© Luis Louro |

© Luis Louro |

As she prepared to board the bus, she was frozen in her tracks when she recognized the man getting off it. Her heart almost leapt out of her chest and she ducked behind the obese woman to her left, and not for the first time, was she grateful for her small stature.

The man scanned the area, his eyes seeking – resting fleetingly on every child. He was good at what he did, and the scan was over in seconds.

The line moved towards the bus, and Andrea kept to the woman’s right out of the man’s line of vision, edging slowly ahead of the woman until she was able to leap onto the bus and push her way to the back seat.

The last passenger on board, the doors closed and the bus started moving. Andrea couldn’t resist looking out the back window as the bus turned the corner. The man turned at the same moment and began running after the bus.

The bus moved towards a set of traffic lights and began to slow. No, no, keep going, keep going! The bus turned the corner and the driver slammed on the brakes as a truck suddenly stopped in front of them.

Andrea flew to the front of the bus, “I need to get off; I’m going to be sick.” Her hand flew to her mouth and she made retching sounds. The driver pulled the lever to open the door and Andrea tumbled down the steps and ran towards the abandoned warehouse. Once inside, she crouched behind a broken wall and watched as the bus moved off down the road. She stood and let her breath out in a rush then ducked down behind the wall again when a car spun around the corner and overtook the bus. A man jumped from the front passenger seat and waved the bus down. He leapt on board and a moment later exited and headed at a run towards the warehouse.

There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. She was trapped. Unless…What building was she in? What was it before it was the warehouse? The old bakery—the flour store—in the basement. She could hear the man searching for her at the far end of the warehouse. She didn’t have much time. There had to be a trapdoor somewhere…or stairs.

“You may as well come out Andrea, I know you’re in here.”

Andrea had the insane desire to yell, “Catch me if you can you jerk,” but settled for thinking it.

It has to be here—has to be! Desperation was beginning to set in as she moved towards a corner deep in shadow.

The man hunting her was getting frustrated and threw something across the room. She turned around—that sounded close. Before she could move, a pair of hands pulled her into corner. One of them clamped over her mouth and her arms were pinned to her sides. She struggled; terrified as she felt herself lifted off the ground and pulled back into the darkness.

‘Andi, stop it! You’ll get us both killed.’

————————————————————————————————————-                             This forms part of a larger piece of fiction. If you’re interested, you can find the first episode Mint Juleps and Little Green Men here.


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