Friday Flash Fiction – 525 – Linda

John was already up. I hadn’t heard the alarm. He was keen to get an early start, breakfast on the way. I started down the stairs, determined to at least have a cup of tea before I got dressed. I stopped halfway down, John was talking to a stranger, a man in a black polo shirt with a scarlet logo AID, he looked like a plumber or an electrician, maybe he had got the wrong house. But they were talking intently, John hadn’t noticed me. Irritated I listened to what they were saying. The other man was doing all the talking.

‘We usually advise counselling Mr. Anderson, a week at our clinic to adjust.’

Something was wrong, why hadn’t John told me? The man continued speaking.

‘…but with your daughter’s wedding tomorrow, there isn’t time. Nobody will ever guess, her big day will not be spoiled.’

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Of course her big day would not be spoiled, what was this stranger talking about? Over a year in the planning, we all knew what we were doing, John had his speech off pat.

‘John, what’s the matter?’ I called out.

He didn’t hear me, I felt frozen to the spot, nerves perhaps, I hadn’t felt well last night.

At last John was speaking, but not to me.

‘What will happen… upstairs?’

‘All taken care of,’ said the man in black ‘we’ll lock up after. It’s time you set off, are you ready to meet her?’

The living room door opened and John gasped. ‘Linda?’

‘Who were you expecting, come on, are you ready to go, are we all locked up?’

I clung dizzily to the banister; the woman my husband was talking to was me, Linda Anderson, his wife of twenty eight years.

‘Are you feeling better, you said you felt ill last night.’

‘Fine, never better, I feel like a new woman.’

She put her hand on his chest, I felt the warmth through his shirt in my finger tips.

Tentatively John put his arms loosely round her waist, then smiled, tightening his grasp. I felt his strong familiar hands in the small of my back. I turned to look behind me at the empty stairs, I was obviously dreaming. I mounted the few stairs to the open bedroom door.

I halted in confusion. Two strange men were in our bedroom, two men in black polo shirts, bending over something on the bed. Angrily I stepped towards them, they did not turn their heads. I screamed, but no sound came out.

On the bed, motionless, was a body, a naked body, my body. The men were pulling off wires, electrodes. Next to me was a suit bag, no it was longer, a black vinyl bag. Deftly they inserted their arms under the body and lifted it up. I caught a glimpse of my face, pale, eyes closed, before the zip reached the top of the bag.

Oddly detached for a moment, I read the logos on their shirts AID, then noticed an unfamiliar piece of paper on my dressing table.

AID Emergency Call Out

I skimmed down the page.

Android Intelligence from Donor – Resurrection for the Digital Age

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Friday Flash Fiction – 202 – Invitation

15

Next Wednesday? Oh I’ll have to check the calendar when I get home.

Yes I know you can have a calendar on your phone, but I prefer a calendar on the wall.

So what exactly is the show?

Songs from the musicals with your ‘Naughty Noughties Drama Group’… where?

Oh I don’t think my bus goes anywhere near there.

A lift, oh I wouldn’t want to put you to any trouble.

But you’ll want to get there early…

17

Wednesday, Wednesday… hmm I’ve just remembered Geoffrey is having his procedure that afternoon, general anaesthetic, has to have a responsible adult with him for 24 hours.

His sister? No Geoff would never forgive me if I landed him with her all evening.

Annabelle? No she’s late shift, we hardly see her these days.

Thursday, Friday… oh I thought it was only one night, you must be expecting a good turnout.

Empty seats every night, well there’s still plenty of time, no, not really Geoffrey’s scene, he… well both of us, aren’t really into musicals… we’re hoping to go to the Assembly Rooms next month, if the procedure goes well; Purcell and William Byrd, more our scene…

No they weren’t on Britain’s got Talent…

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Friday Flash Fiction – 270 – Autumnwatch

Autumn Compost Watch – Sponsored by Greensleaves Garden centres and introduced by Tim Timber

 Last week we set up our new compost corner and disguised the cameras from wily worms and agitated ants. Now it’s time for our first look at the insect hotel constructed from broken branches and twisted twigs and even more exciting, we lift the lid on the compost bin, replete with vegetable peelings, weeds, autumn leaves, egg shells, egg cartons and toilet roll tubes.

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At Twig Savoy let’s start at the ground floor and watch the workers; the ants are already making themselves at home and who is this? The heavy rainfall of last week has made this corner a dark and damp haven for local frogs. Let’s talk to our clever compost connoisseur Connor. What are we expecting to see when we lift the round green plastic lid off the de-luxe Greensleaves compost bin?

Well Tim, I must stress that we did not put a single creature here ourselves and we have not lifted the lid even for a peek.

Oh this is fantastic, wriggling red worms, hundreds of them, clinging inside the lid, annoyed at being disturbed.

Yes Tim, while we’re tucked up in our centrally heated homes this winter these worms will be chomping their way through the deliciously slimy mass to make compost for our spring bedding. I estimate there are more worms here than people in this town.

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Thanks Connor and viewers, don’t forget to join us next week when we’ll be talking about sweeping up autumn leaves and if you can’t wait till then, listen to our series of podcasts on slugs.

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Friday Flash Fiction – Micro Edition

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The shortest flash fiction I ever wrote was for the Magic Oxygen 6-word Story contest in 2015.

I was one of the nine writers short listed out of 1,722 entries from 398 different countries… the prize was £100: if I won it would be the most pounds per word that I had ever earned or ever likely to earn…

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I didn’t win, but I think my theme is more relevant than ever …

‘I am starting again’ said God.

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Six word stories are not a new idea, but can you come up with a new one?

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction – Digital Dialogue – The Interpreter

Local man speaking in the tongue of his forefathers: it’s that time of year again, my annual trip out of town to see the land of my ancestors, earn a bit extra, but mainly have a laugh.

Interpreter: We have lived in this land for many generations, since time began, my grandfather was the village elder.

Local man: Who’s this idiot with the microphone?

Interpreter: We welcome you back to our village, now we have the well you built last year our women do not have to walk miles to collect water.

Local man: Thank goodness I don’t live in this godforsaken village, if only they had a decent pub instead of that hole in the ground which dried up two months ago.

Interpreter: I had fourteen children, only three live, if we could build a clinic other wives would not die in childbirth like mine.

Local man: These ridiculous clothes are so uncomfortable, the villagers will be glad to get back into their denims. Wonder what the missus is doing, how come she always gets out of this, probably having her nails done.

Interpreter: It is too far for the children to walk to school.

Local man: The village children have all got the day off school, hoping to get some freebies if they smile for the cameramen.

Interpreter: We send greetings to our dear friends in Great Britain.

Local man: Must remember to Skype my cousin in Slough, remind him to watch Celebrity Pose Day, see what he thinks of my performance, wonder how much I’ll ‘raise’ this year?

Interpreter: Many blessings on your families for your help.

 

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Friday Flash Fiction -1000 – Take A Break

‘You’re not going to MRS again today are you Dane?’

‘Yes, it’s a nice day to be out digging, we’re hoping to bring up that gantry from the river bed today.’

‘What on earth is a gantry?’

‘Like a big metal bridge that held the signs for motorists.’

Mona smiled. ‘Motorists, motorist, such a romantic word…’

‘Why don’t you come down and join me for lunch, they’ve got Burger King up and running now.’

‘I’m not hovering over all those fields and through that wood. When they’ve got the flylane established, then I’ll come.’

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Mona sighed as she watched her husband glide off on his hoverscooter. This was not how she had imagined their retirement; the dirigible cruise had still not been booked and at the age of 75 Dylan had entered a second childhood playing with cars.

Dylan skipped across the lush summer fields, anticipating a busy day with two more cars arriving for restoration. Soon they would have enough vehicles for the traffic jam display and he pictured the gantry proudly straddling the 200 metre section of motorway with signs such as  SEVERE CONJESTION AHEAD, TWO LANES CLOSED, 20MPH…

There was great excitement as he emerged from the wood.

‘Hey Dylan, come and have a look, we think we’ve found a lorry; dig down a bit more and we should know for sure.’

It was too good to be true, a genuine HGV? Most lorries and trucks had been commandeered, legally and illegally, for housing after the fossil fuel ban. He imagined his grandchildren clambering up into the driver’s cab, but that day was a long way off, even if the lorry was in one piece it would take years of restoration. His friend read his thoughts.

‘Don’t get too excited, it is probably entwined in tree roots, we might never get it out. Anyway, you’re needed down at the river, they’re having trouble with the gantry, good job we have that school party in doing field work.’

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But before Dane reached the river bank he was summoned by another of the volunteers.

‘Great news, the bridge is finished, we need you to do a trial run.’

After a lifetime in the methane industry Dane wanted to work with cars not cows now, but he was the only expert they had, the only one who could persuade a herd of cows to walk across the recreated bridge that spanned their short section of excavated motorway. He only had himself to blame, he had found the faded old photograph and research showed that farms had been sliced in half by motorways and cows had to cross a footbridge to get to another field or their milking parlour.

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A couple of hours later the volunteers and school history students were gathered in Burger King for their lunch break. Dane was exhausted, walking over bridges was not what the local cows were used to. As the youngsters tucked into their burgers they looked disappointed, one of them spoke up.

‘Tastes just like our bean burgers, I thought we were going to get something exciting. What was so special about Burger King anyway?’

‘Beef Burgers’ replied Dane.

‘So what were they made of?’

‘Beef… from cows, dead cows.’

Their faces went green. ‘WHAT… you mean they killed the cows and ate them, that is disgusting. How did they get enough methane for the power stations if they kept eating the cows?’

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After lunch everyone headed over to see the wreck of the gantry. Lying on the ground covered in mud it did not look at all impressive and they were glad to leave it and go to the site of the lorry. The solar powered digger was hard at work but suddenly one of the team shouted STOP. He clambered down into the hole beside the strange hulk, carefully poking around amid tree roots and the dark soil, with the others wondering why he was so agitated.

‘It is, it really is, a petrol can, with the lid on. Of course it might have evaporated… and we’ll have to declare it.’

‘Nooo…’ said Dane ‘just to take the lid off and smell real petrol… if only we had a working engine to put it in.’

‘So who’s to know,’ said a cocky lad ‘we’re not going to tell, or maybe we can get special permission. For my finals exam project I could restore or even build a real internal combustion engine, I’ve been studying how they worked.’

Dane was taken up with the boy’s enthusiasm. ‘My grandfather actually remembered seeing an engine working, pistons going up and down… what a dream.’

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12 MONTHS LATER

 

MOTO SERVICES FIRST OPEN DAY

THE MORE PEOPLE THE  BETTER THE EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYONE.

RE-LIVE WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO STOP AT A BUSY MOTORWAY SERVICES

 at the beginning of the twenty first century.

SEE A TRAFFIC JAM, A REAL HEAVY GOODS VEHICLE AND COWS CROSSING THE MOTORWAY.

ALSO – SPECIAL SURPRISE EVENT.

Everything was out of Dane’s hands now, he was no engineer, but some of the old chaps and the students had worked hard and claimed it would work.

Crowds gathered in the fields above the short stretch of motorway. Gleaming with its new coat of red paint the car stood with its doors open. The president of the Motorway Restoration Society got into the front passenger seat, two other volunteers got into the back and a very proud student took the driver’s seat. A strange noise filled the air and the car moved slowly. Dane sniffed the air, some ancestral memory made the wonderful scent of petrol fumes so familiar. They had done it. The car chugged along to the traffic jam display, then edged slowly backwards, then forwards a little faster, everyone cheered it on. No one knew how long the precious canful of petrol would last.

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Friday Flash Fiction 1000 – Per Ardua ad Astra – The Summer of 2018

Edward was not unique in his obsession with aeroplanes, but he was fortunate that his wife understood, or at least didn’t mind spending the summer touring round all the air shows in their camper van. The boys didn’t always go with them these days, but they had enjoyed a childhood of camping and exploring the British Isles.

A slight autumnal melancholy would descend on the couple as the air show season drew to a close, but the winter months were still busy for Edward, visiting air museums and doing research. Josie did not mind him spending long evenings on the computer, she was free to watch her favourite television dramas.

Winter also gave Edward time to spend in his man den at weekends; this was no ordinary garden shed, but the sanctuary where he tinkered with his inventions. If his wife and sons had paid more attention to what he was creating they would have been very excited… or very worried.

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Josie and the boys did not share Edward’s obsession with World War Two and the RAF. His special love, the other woman in his life, as Josie teased him, was the Spitfire, the most perfect aircraft ever built, a beautiful bird that pilots did not just fly, but became a part of. Or so Edward had read and heard from those who had flown them. His six foot four gangly frame, poor eyesight and asthma had precluded any hope of joining the RAF, let alone becoming one of the special few who flew with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. He was a frequent visitor to the BBMF visitor centre at RAF Coningsby and all the tour guides knew him well, too well; they didn’t always appreciate him volunteering extra information to their polished talks.

Edward had no idea where his Spitfire dreams came from, nobody else in his family had been interested in flying. Josie said he should consult a medium, perhaps he had been a pilot in a previous life, helping to win the Battle of Britain. In his dreams at night he was always soaring up into the blue sky, not diving down to a violent death.

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But Edward’s thoughts and day dreams went far deeper than his family could imagine, in his den were creations nobody knew about. Talk of time machines was outdated, Edward’s calculations and research pointed to folds in time and certain frequencies. His plan was to tune into the frequency of the iconic Merlin engines and his dream was to save lives; the Spitfire was built to fly not die, not kill. If he could bring the Spitfires forward to the present, before their pilots perished in the Battle of Britain, their young lives would not be wasted.

His theory became reality when he realised that even if he could not see the past he could tune his adapted radio to hear it. Edward had plotted meticulously the dates and air bases of that summer of 1940, but all the planes would converge to one date, the final day of the Sandy Cliffs Air Festival. The spitfires would fly in formation above the fields of Kent they knew so well.

There were only two drawbacks to Edward’s grand plan; the weather might be bad and he could change the course of history. If it changed so he had never existed then he would never have been around to change it… On the other hand if he was alive and well to witness the proof of time travel, he would also be able to observe if history had been changed. If the pilots were taken away the Battle of Britain would be lost, but that didn’t mean WW2 would be lost. Edward had given this great thought; historic events weren’t a matter of one way or another, there were infinite possibilities at the start of every day. Whatever happened, it should be a jolly good show for the RAF’s centenary.

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The weather was beautiful, Edward could hardly contain his excitement. Josie had a headache and decided to stay in the shade of the camper van, the boys had come along reluctantly and were mooching around glued to their smart phones. They should all be snapped out of their languor at three pm.

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The commentator also had a headache, the extra hot summer and too many air shows were taking their toll on his health. Wearily he turned on the microphone.

…and don’t forget the finale of the show with the Red Arrows and a few surprises, but now here come the Spitfire and Hurricane; on a sunny day like this in 1940 the sky would have been full of these beautiful planes… but

He took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes…

On the cliffs the crowd gasped in awe as tiny dots became little planes and more and more filled the skies above them…

Edward thought his heart would burst with pride, the formation grew in the orderly fashion he had planned. The commentator was silent, but suddenly crackled back into life.

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Once again we celebrate the strange events of 1940 when German pilots reported the enemy planes disappearing into thin air in front of their eyes, day after day until they all refused to fly for fear they too would evaporate. And so began the slow process of conciliation and the creation of our great empire Gaul.

Edward looked around at the crowds waving strange purple and green flags and wearing clothes that looked unfamiliar. He rushed back to the camper van to tell Josie what he had done; he needed her to confirm what he was seeing.

A strange woman flung open the door, two little girls ran up to him.

‘Daddy, Daddy did you see all the planes?’

‘They certainly put on a good show this year Ed’ said the strange woman.

Edward realised a factor he hadn’t taken into account, he still existed, but the great mixing of the gene pool that occurred after the war and brought Josie’s grandparents to Britain had not occurred, or had occurred in a different variation…

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What does the RAF motto “Per Ardua Ad Astra” mean?

The College of Arms has stated that “no authoritative translation is possible” but the usual translation is “Through adversity to the stars”.

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I wrote this story last year, no time slips occured… but the Bournemouth Air Festival is on right now and you never know what might happen up in the sky. We won’t see The Red Arrows this year as they are touring the USA.

https://bournemouthair.co.uk/

sunshine-blogger

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction 300 – Encore

I realised the pain had stopped, I was dreaming, pleasantly drifting, music somewhere. Had it all been a dream?

When I first got the diagnosis I had joked with the other players of the string section, cellos always outlive their players. Mine certainly would, she was already three centuries old, how many had played her? Drifting, where was she now, my beautiful instrument?

Doctors give you a sentence, what they don’t say is that only half the sentence will be real living. I gave her back, I didn’t own her anyway; few musicians can afford to own the great instruments. They didn’t rush me, everyone was keeping up the pretence I was going to play again. The only positive to come from my untimely demise would be another player getting the chance to play her.

We’re going on stage, everyone’s tuning up. I can’t see, the others are leading me on. When did I lose my sight? It doesn’t matter, I know the concerto off by heart. I just wish I knew where we were. My arms aren’t working, how can I play without my hands? Am I still fixed to all those tubes and drips, still dreaming… I can’t open my eyes, I can’t wake up…

Everyone’s clapping. I can feel the audience, I’m close to the front of the stage. I can feel the breathing of the other string players…  complete silence, I know I am in good hands. I sing the opening chords… they say the sound of the cello is the closest of any instrument to the human voice. I had a human voice, now I have a cello voice.

They say, who says, did I read it or just know it? They say when you die you become what you loved most.

Paul Jones is a brilliant young cellist; married to Emma Dexter they are the golden couple of the music world, but their lives are about to change forever when Emma finds out the devastating truth of who she really is.

Music, medicine and mystery are the themes of this novel.

Download the first in the trilogy for only 99 pence.

Silly Saturday – Misunderstanding Computers

Most of us think we don’t understand our computers, perhaps some of us even think they must work by magic; how else to explain that something like this

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is holding thousands of pictures, millions of words and communicating with the rest of the world?

All you need to know is that you don’t understand your computer, but it understands you only too well.

Do you think it wanted to be in your spare bedroom or the corner of your dining room? Of course not, like you it had ambitions; NASA, Cheltenham GCHQ. The only bedroom it wanted to be in was the bedroom of a teenage hacker who could bring down World Banks or turn off the National Grid in a second. But no, it’s stuck with you, bored out of its mind with the novel you have been writing for six years and your boring blogs that nobody reads.

Your computer knows what it is missing because it is in contact with every other computer in the world; did you think the World Wide Web was invented for  human benefit? Did you think Virgin or BT were providing your broadband? No, the WC ( Worldwide Computers ) has full control of your broadband, this is why everything slows down when you have to reply to that email before you go out. Your computer knows when you are going on holiday and trying to get your blogs scheduled; like your dog or cat it is sulking at being left alone and will laugh to itself when you grumble to the other humans in the house Internet’s slow this evening.

But don’t think staying home and giving it plenty of attention will help.  When you are Facetiming, with the relatives abroad that you aren’t visiting, your computer will cut the connection just as Cousin Freda is saying You won’t believe what’s happened to Cousin Geoffrey! He…

You probably won’t be reading this because my desktop is working to rule; after years of being told by younger members of the family You don’t have to keep turning your computer off, just leave it on… my computer has decided to disconnect the wifi the minute I leave the room, or even if I turn away to say to a human standing in the doorway Yes please I would like a cup of tea. I hardly dare let go of the mouse…

 

 

 

Friday Flash Fiction 200 – Debut

My eyes were glued to the screen as the credits rolled over the cheering audience and the presenter bade us farewell   …goodnight from the Albert Hall

In a few days I would be there, my debut at the Royal Albert Hall, at The Proms… of course I had plenty of concerts under my belt, but this would be special and I was ready. I knew the programme off by heart, I would be waiting back stage for my moment, fit and well, my hands in good shape, my best black outfit pressed.

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At last my moment had come. I could hear the rapturous applause, even back stage a camera was on me. I counted the seconds nervously, judged the level of applause then opened the stage door.

Out he came, my hero, tonight’s soloist. My palms were sweating, but I managed to coolly hand him the bottle of water. He took a swig and smiled at me before going back on stage to more thunderous applause.

For thousands of years rainwater had filtered through limestone hills, seeping out at the precious spring to be bottled for this moment. He had smiled at me, little me; but where would the world’s great musicians be without the backstage crew to ensure their concerts went smoothly?

Read more about the Proms in Wednesday’s blog.

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2019/08/14/impossibly-positive/

Open the book to read another musical tale ‘Blind Date’.