Author: Fragments of Fiction

Panic

There is a party. With laughter and drink and people I love. The room is packed. There is music and I am spinning.

Then someone comes to talk to me and they bring with them a smell. Maybe it’s the brand of the wine they are drinking, or their deodorant, or whatever they used to wash their hair. Whatever it is it sends a jolt of something horrible coursing through me. It squeezes my chest. It grips my thoughts. It lifts me up and takes me back to somewhere I don’t want to be.

There was another party. With laughter and drink and people who told me they loved me. One of them touched me. I told them not to, but we were alone and they did not stop. They had that smell- that wine, that deodorant, that shampoo… that… They are long gone now.

But that smell.

That fucking smell lets them reach through time and do it all over again.

The room is tiny. The music is far away. The walls are closing in and they are spinning.

via Daily Prompt: Jolt

Light on the Mountainside

wintry-2068298_960_720He’d been climbing for about four days when bad weather struck- a violent and sudden snowstorm that threatened to push him off the craggy mountain. The blizzard circled him, making it difficult to see more than a few feet ahead. Snow clung to his glasses, the cold bit at his neck and nibbled on his ears.

In less than an hour everything looked the same. It was too windy to pitch his tent or pull out a map. He couldn’t navigate without any landmarks. Several times he wandered dangerously close to the edge of a cliff before seeing the sheer drop and turning back in the nick of time. Night began to fall and he could feel the cold worming its way in to his damp gloves. The snow was relentless.

And then he saw a light so bright it pierced through the snowstorm. A small stone hut emerged from the mass of white surrounding him. None of the lights were on inside, but outside hung a small, powerful lantern.

He pushed hard on the door and it opened. He brought some snow in with him and slammed the door shut against the howling wind. Inside he found a modest, comfortably furnished room. A note on the table read:

‘Welcome lonesome traveller, please rest your weary head.’

At the heart of the room was a well-stocked fireplace and everything he needed to light it. Above it hung a large pan that was already filled with some kind of broth. His stomach grumbled. He sat in a comfortable chair as the fire warmed both him and the pot. The snow melted from his boots and he pulled out his map to work out where this bothy was. He hadn’t heard this one and all of the other mountain shelters were much further down. He couldn’t find it on anywhere, but he was determined to work it out and return in better weather to thank the owner for their kindness.

When the broth was ready he helped himself to a large bowlful and that warmed him even more. It was thick and packed with potatoes and vegetables and a meat more succulent than any he had tried before. He helped himself to seconds and fell asleep by the fire.

He slept so deeply that he did not hear the door open or feel the icy wind blow the fire out as something else came in from the cold.

He did not stir when something held his head still and slit his throat with its claw.

In the morning there was very little of him left- just a few bones and scraps of flesh that were stirred up in to a broth to await the next weary traveller.

via Daily Prompt: Climbing

For Sale: One Nearly Empty House

For Sale:

A spacious, four bedroom house in a quiet neighbourhood. 10 minute drive from the beach and 15 from the City centre. Bedrooms are all large with stunning sea views. Newly refurbished kitchen and dining area.  Ideal family home.

Property also comes with an attic ghost. Not creepy, just extremely cranky (especially around holidays). He moans and wails and rattles his chains a lot and there seems to be very little any of us can do to calm him down. He refuses to leave, which seems fair enough as he was technically here first.

Will accept offers under the asking price.

via Daily Prompt: Cranky

The Time Theif

The bandit travelled between galaxies on intergalactic highways.

He stopped passing ships and took what he could from them. Trade was easy when you knew to steal things that would not be missed. Who’d have thought that apples would sell so well on a planet where trees could not grow, but diamonds were as common as rainwater?

He could board any ship, take any item and escape without detection. The one thing he could not work out how to escape from, however, was Death.

He spent years searching for the Fountain of Youth only to find that while its waters gave you the appearance of being young, they did nothing to make you immortal.

His next port of call was the Sands of Time. He plundered a ship and took a life. He watched as Time ran out of the body and tracked its return to a quiet, unexplored corner of the Universe. The Sands of Time ran together here, twisting around one another in an infinite loop, eternally replenished and diminished by an ongoing cycle of life and death.

The Bandit took out a cup and stole a measure for himself. Somewhere in another galaxy, an entire star burnt out.

via Daily Prompt: Measure

Early

The first thing she did when she landed was ask for the date. She was early. So early, in fact, that she hadn’t even set off yet. Seven years too early.

The Time-traveller sat down on the bank of a river and wondered where to go now that she had seven years to kill. She knew that if she tried to go home she’d find it full of strangers, because her past self hadn’t yet moved in. She thought about going back to her own time and re-trying, but was worried she’d miss it again or that it wouldn’t work this time. It was better to be seven years too early than to miss it completely. Perhaps she’d have to just wait.

“Hungry?” she looked up to see an elderly woman standing on the opposite side of the river.

She was, actually.

The old woman smiled at her hesitation, “You look a little lost. I packed an extra egg and cress sandwich if you’d like one?”

“Are you sure?” the Time-traveller asked. After all, those were her favourite. The woman nodded and began to walk towards the river, rummaging about in her bag. Before the Time-traveller could say anything she had taken a proud and confident step into the river, splashing through it towards her.

“Wait!” she called, running to her own side of the riverbank. “I’m sure there’s a bridge, if you just-”

“Oh, I know there’s a bridge, dear, but I’ve never been one for conventional travel, come here.”

The Time-traveller stepped in to the river to meet the old woman half-way.

“You really don’t have to do this, I’m just…”

“Early?” the old woman finished. “Yes I thought so. Seven years this time, isn’t it? We never were one for timely arrivals.” She laughed at the look of shock on the Time-traveller’s face. “You didn’t think this was the first and last time we’d come back here, did you?”

The Time-traveller took the sandwich from herself and suddenly understood. “They say you can’t stand in the same river twice,” she looked down at their feet.

“Yes,” the Future Time-traveller agreed. “But we always saw that as a bit of a challenge now, didn’t we?”
via Daily Prompt: Timely

Mid-air

They found the passports. They found the luggage, clothes and boarding passes, but they never found the passengers.

They found the plane easily enough. It had made a safe and controlled landing in a field not too far from where Control had seen it disappear from the radar. There was no sign of engine trouble- no smoke, no flames- but the rescue teams still braced themselves for the worst.

They found nothing.

Well, that’s not entirely true- they found open books, lonely iPods still playing music and cold cups of tea still brewing. But there were no people- living or dead, passengers or crew. When they entered the cockpit they saw nothing concerning, there were no flashing warning lights and plenty of fuel for the journey. When they played the recording on the black box there were no cries for help or signs of struggle, just inane conversation between the pilots and the occasional air-steward. The  last words that could be heard on the recording were the co-pilot taking about his family.

“Carrie’s just got her dance scholarship. We’re so proud. Amy’s making her favourite, maca-” And that was it. Cut off mid-word, but the recording didn’t stop. The rest of the tape was crystal clear silence, as if both pilots had ceased to exist.

via Daily Prompt: Passport

Wheel of Fortune

 

The Casino is filled with merriment.

The Fates sit around a roulette wheel. Folly continues a losing streak on a fruit machine. Sloth sleeps in a corner. Vice serves drinks and Gluttony drinks them all.

The three Fates keep playing. Clotho spins the wheel. Lachesis places a bet. They do not gamble with chips, they bet their threads- each one representing the life and fortunes of a man. They wait. A loss. Atropis smiles and cuts the thread.

A man on Earth has been terminal for months. He takes a last breath and feels the thread snap.

He feels fortunate.

via Daily Prompt: Fortune

No Man’s Land

An old soldier stands in a poppy field, unsettled by the peace.

Who’s territory is this now?

The source and sight of so much conflict lies dormant. Tourists pass through and somebody tends to the poppies, but nobody stays.

He wonders why. Was this empty field worth the blood spilt if it was only ever going to be a home for the dead? Why did they fight so hard for this empty space? Do friendships grow amongst the friends and foes buried beneath the poppies?

The old soldier touches a medal on his chest. This land belongs to the fallen.

via Daily Prompt: Territory

Tempestuous Territory

Many have tried to tame her, to claim her, but hers is not a body that can be owned.

When men come to blows, when they get territorial and wage war, she is neutral. She carries her own laws. Her own set of rules.

Many have loved her. Lucky men think she favours them, others curse her for toying with them. Neither are right, for they mean nothing to her.

She can be calm. She can be stormy. She can sink both sides of a war, but it is nothing personal. The quarrels of men mean nothing to the sea.

via Daily Prompt: Territory

The Alchemist’s Secret

The Alchemist moved from town to town to sell his lotions and potions. A few posters and flyers would announce his arrival a exactly a week before he was due. Nobody knew how they got there, but for exactly a week he was the talk of the town. The townsfolk would list every ailment they had to anyone who would listen and they would start to notice ones they hadn’t realised before.

When he arrived they would form lengthy queues and he would give them ointments for sores and boils, rubbing salts for bad skin and a sharp tasting drink for even worse breath. They would go to bed and sleep- happy and optimistic that in the morning all of their woes would have gone.

The Alchemist did not sleep. The Alchemist unzipped his skin and climbed out of it, discarding it on the first fire he could find. He would creep around the town and watch the townsfolk as they slept. Then he would pick one- whichever one he most liked the look of- and skin them while they were dreaming. He kept them alive, kept them feeling, but gave them something so they could not move or cry or scream. Then he would grind up their heart and put it in a sweet elixir- the only potion he carried that truly worked. He would climb inside his new skin and drink it. The drink bonded him with his new skin, but only for a week. When this was done he would cook the rest of the remains in a large pot and then he would leave, taking a new face to a new town.

When the townfolk awoke they would find a delicious stew left behind by the Alchemist, which they would devour before realising that one of their own was missing.

Daily Prompt: Elixir