Wednesday Write-in #88

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Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in!

Welcome to the Wednesday Write-in. This event runs every week to help any and all writers take control of their productivity and imaginations. Please join in; we’d love to read your work.

Prompts

plastic  ::  verdant  ::  gingham  ::  lighthouse  ::  bathe

Guidelines

There are no rules, but here are some guidelines:

  • Use the prompts as inspiration or try to work them into your story somehow. Use as many as you want.
  • When your story is done, post it online (your blog/twitter/in a comment here), tag with #wednesdaywritein if you like, and comment with a link so we can read it.
  • Please take the time to read and comment on as many other stories as you have time for (but we won’t shout at you if you don’t).
  • If you want to write a poem, a script, or something completely different, feel free.

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51 thoughts on “Wednesday Write-in #88

  1. Here is my usual short piece of flash fiction. It is partly taken from childhood memories – we had gingham skirts in the summer and the school would do the ‘country dancing’ held in someone’s obscenely large garden. Even then I was aware of times changing and some clinging to an old way of life.

    The Spinster’s Tower.

    She watched from above, alone and aloof. Watched restless groups converge on their once verdant lawn. It was looking a little patchy after the prolonged dry spell. The herd wouldn’t notice. They poured in each year, trampling beds, snapping stalks and secreting cuttings into common little bags. Noses pressed on windows. Dirty little fingers getting into places they shouldn’t.

    It was an annual event, something she supposed she would have to do when her mother died. The church demanded it. Oh yes it did. Not verbally. It was expected.

    ‘Expected!’ she spat the word out.

    That’s what one did in ones position. Garden parties. Those sniveling little gobs would eat all the fancies if she didn’t have Peters on the summerhouse door. It was all such a bore. But Mummy loved it and there wouldn’t be many more.

    She sighed and rubbed her back. She would prefer it if she could stay put in her sun-beamed room with its mullioned windows and far reaching views. On a good day you could see Wales. Not today though. She looked to the window ledge, to the faded black and white photograph showing a man in uniform. Decorated and proud standing stiffly. She looked without seeing and put it face down. So long ago and not here to deal with the village hoards.

    Patricia watched gingham-ed girls spin Dervish-like, watched them fall, presenting bloomers to sniggering boys. She wished they wouldn’t shriek so. She watched them become swallowed, sucked into the rhododendrons, still dizzy and shredding leaves, spoiling buds. Probably kissing cake thieves. She hoped they’d catch something.

    Lifting a watch from her pocket she sighed and patted her hair. Splashed on 4711 and steeled herself. She could do it. The vicar would be waiting. She would have to throw the first coconut. At least the donkey poo could go on the roses. She told herself it would be over soon enough and slipped into the musty passage-way. Down the dark, wooden staircase she tugged open a cupboard and dragged a wheelchair into the light.

    A quivering voice called, ‘Patricia! We’ll be late! Do hurry along!’

  2. Locke set about her nightly round of checks. The Chief was keen on puns and issued her the task, one she’d rather have avoided. She pulled at the various doors and windows that were part of her round. The lights on the long corridors were operated by motion sensor, only sections lit up at a time. She’d brace herself on each reveal, a reaction that seemed to indicate that the light terrified her more than the dark.
    She was now in the ship’s sleeping quarters. All off-duty personnel were confined to their cabins. It made things simpler. The light above her flashed brightly for a few seconds, enough to reveal an open cabin door, then died.
    ‘Shit!’ she jumped. ‘Bloody lazy technicians.’

    She fumbled towards the direction of the cabin.
    ‘Joseph? Are you there? Why’s your door open?’ she said reaching the threshold.
    No reply.

    She moved gingerly into the quarters hoping the lights in there worked. They did. She braced.
    Her eyes hurt as light hit them.

    She glanced across the compact room now lit up in front of her. Everyone, except Locke it seemed, tried to put their homely spin on the sparse plastic laminate that formed table, shelf and seat. Joseph had chosen a green gingham material that he must have imagined reminded him of Before. Locke thought it was the sort of thing that would have lacked authenticity especially Before. People always harped back, attaching themselves to echoes and ghosts, even then.

    ‘Where was Joseph?’
    His dinner lay untouched on the single plate that sat on the tablecloth. Although it did look unappetising so maybe that was no surprise.
    ‘Joseph? It’s me Locke. Where are you?’

    No reply.

    She made her way to the sleeping area. The bunk was empty and made, more gingham stretched tightly across it. ‘Had he been brought up in tea rooms?’ she was thinking when she heard the footsteps behind her and all went black.

    When she came to, she was crouched and groggy.There was a taste of blood in her mouth. She tried to patch together the moments before she’d blacked out…Joseph.

    ‘Shit! Joseph!’

    She straightened up from her crouched position releasing him. How would she explain this?
    She hadn’t gorged herself in such a long time and this time had come without warning.

    • What a great ending! I love the way you manipulate the reader into feeling sorry for Locke, only for it all to turn on its head by the end of the story. Fantastic. You really set the scene well; the beginning is so claustrophobic and atmospheric. Excellent story. 🙂

    • I’m not sure if I understand this, even after three readings. The conclusion I’ve come to is that she gorged herself on him during her black-out. I guess the Chief will get the full story.

    • Hunted by a frustrated vampire on a lonely boat at night

      Great suspense, atmospheric, surprise ending

      Everything

      Will I sleep tonight?

      Roy

    • Cunning use of checks and puns at the beginning. Pity Joseph wasn’t locked up to protect himself from Locke.

  3. A bit short of time to polish the ending today, but here it is:
    The Island
    Previously visited only by a few intrepid bird-watchers the island had been ‘discovered’. Boatloads of red-faced tourists shuttled over from mainland hotels every week to roam through its verdant interior and party loudly on the beach before being led unsteadily out of paradise and back to their plastic wrist-band package holidays.
    The party was over, the beach deserted. The chairs and tables and bright gingham cloths were packed away. The last stragglers had been led off, finally defeated. All that remained was the detritus of the night, a few stray bottles and cans that had escaped the clear-up, and the lingering smell of the bonfire.
    Moonlight bathed the sea in silver and a flicker from a distant lighthouse picked out the horizon with monotonous regularity. A natural silence replaced the loud thump of the music, just the rustle of crabs clicking over the pebbles and the soft splash of waves on the sand.
    Then another sound as dozens of dark shapes emerged from the water, dragging themselves ponderously up the beach. The turtles were on their annual pilgrimage to lay their eggs. This was one magic feature of the island the locals did not want to share. But who knew how long it would be before word got out and these mighty beasts became another tourist attraction.

    • Oh, I hope they survive a bit longer without the tourists’ destructive footprints smashing all over the place… 😦 I love the world you’ve created out of the prompts. You describe the setting so well, and so concisely. Excellent stuff.

    • That’s a great ending. I’m pleased the locals recognise the need to protect this aspect of their heritage. Delightful!
      Not sure about red-faced tourists. You don’t mean embarrassed, do you?

    • Loved it as usual

      I was in the Caribbean and hating the invasion of the cruise ships

      Then

      Moonlight bathed the sea in silver and a flicker from a distant lighthouse picked out the horizon with monotonous regularity. A natural silence replaced the loud thump of the music, just the rustle of crabs clicking over the pebbles and the soft splash of waves on the sand.

      Before the turtles

      Terrific

      Roy

  4. Pingback: Future Imperfect | patrickprinsloo

  5. Here is mine late again. I promise to read all of your contributions today.

    Cakes # 88 23rd April 2014

    Prompts – Plastic, verdant, gingham, lighthouse, bathe

    Fear No Evil

    He could not remember properly what had gone wrong. How did he come to be here with a headache to burst the brains out of his skull? He remembered getting into the bank with the rest of the gang and shouting at the customers;
    ‘Keep down if you don’t want to get shot.’
    The plastic face masks were not a good idea. Sweat was streaming into his eyes and smarting so he had to keep blinking.
    A terrified guy one of the hostages jumped up and made a dash for the door they had blown to get into the vaults. His body jerked back from the recoil as he sprayed the guy with his automatic pistol and watched him crash, his body rolling over to bathe in the pool of blood and guts. Everyone was screaming, crying shouting; then the bang which blew out his ear drums.
    *
    He couldn’t hear a thing now, everything was silent. He could feel the breeze that parted the clean gingham curtains making them flutter like a freedom flag. Someone must have brought him here; one of the other gang members no doubt. They must have got him out and back to the old shack on the beach they used as a hideout. He tried to move, a lot of pain but he managed to look through the window. He thought he could see the white horses crashing over the coral where he knew that in the depths the multi-coloured fish would be grazing the verdant gardens of the beautiful reef. Then he passed out.
    He woke in the night; a moving blue light penetrated the darkness and swept across his vision like a beam from a lighthouse.
    ‘It must be a cop’s torch or a marine marksman’s night sight. He thought. ‘They’ve come to get me. They’ll round up all of us; all the brothers who just wanted some money to feed the poor.’
    ‘Serve Allah, death to the infidel,’ that’s what the Imam said.
    Then the light went out.
    He froze in terror. ‘Maybe they won’t find me.’
    *
    ‘He’s gone,’ the nurse said as she checked the heart monitor.
    ‘Poor kid,’ the doctor sighed, ‘he was barely big enough to carry the dam gun.’

  6. Pingback: Weekly Wednesday Write-In | Tessa Sheppard

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