Tag: short story

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


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


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

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

The Novelist: On Writing

The Novelist lived in a part of the world that was noisier than she would have liked. She made sure the inside of her house was quieter and she lived shrouded in words. They were other people’s words of course, but she borrowed them and put them on shelves that stretched wall-to-wall and ceiling-to-ceiling. Occasionally she would dip in and out of these words and think about how much she liked them, how much she wished she had been the one to pluck those words from the air and put them on that piece of paper in that exact order. How nice it would be, she thought, to be so regularly visited by Inspiration.

The Novelist rarely invited new people round, she preferred the company of her books and selected loved ones, but in the evenings a Stranger would come knocking on her door and every evening she would answer. She hadn’t the heart to ignore the Stranger because they looked so familiar, like a family member who was slightly out of focus.

“Hello,” the Stranger would say. “My name is George Liebenstein. I am a detective, about to solve the case of a man who was murdered locked inside his own panic room. If you invite me in, perhaps you can write about it?”

“Perhaps some other time,” the Novelist would reply. “I am far too busy just now, I have a dinner to make.”

The Stranger would nod sadly and walk off in to the night, his crime still unsolved. The Novelist would go back to the kitchen and finish dinner, which she would eat with her family before settling down with them to watch a television show she didn’t much care for. She thought she could probably write a better one if only Inspiration would come.

The next evening, the Stranger would come again.

“Hello,” she said, because this time the Stranger was a she. “My name is Annabelle Cavendish. I disappeared a long time ago on Christmas Eve and I’ve been lost ever since. Wont you write about me?”

“Perhaps some other time,” the Novelist would reply. “I am far too busy just now, I have to take my cat to the vet.”

The Stranger nodded sadly and walked off in to the growing darkness, never to be seen again. The Novelist took her cat to the vet and spent the rest of the evening scrolling through Twitter but writing few Tweets of her own.

The next evening the Stranger came again and this time there were two of them.

“Hello,” they said in perfect unison. “We are a brother and sister from a future you will never live to see, but we have seen such strange and terrible things. If we tell you, won’t you write about us?”

“Perhaps some other time,” the Novelist replied. “It’s Sunday and that’s my day off from work, I am far too tired to write anything now.”

The Strangers turned away sadly and started their long walk back to a future nobody might ever hear of.

“Wait a moment!” the Novelist called and they turned. “Why is it that so many strangers with such strange stories will not leave me alone?”

“You are The Novelist, are you not?” asked the boy.


“We are your characters,” said the girl. “We hear you calling out for Inspiration and we try to answer you. But you won’t listen to us in return.”

The Novelist made them a cup of tea and sat down with a pen. Their story poured through her and she never had to call for Inspiration again.

A Glass Heart

He shattered her heart. Shards of it crunched under his boots as he left. She tried to pick it up, piece it back together, but every time she touched it she bled.

There was glass in her skin and splinters of anger in her pain. The floor trembled and pieces of her heart rose with her rage. She sent them to find him, like a plague of angry locusts, a swarm of broken dreams come to claw at his skin.

He bled a little. She bled far more.

And still he did not love her.

via Daily Prompt: Swarm

Vivid Love

The shadows that stalked me stained my world grey. They shrouded me like a cloud of smoke, draining me of my colours and hiding me from sight. I was cold and quiet and lonely.

Then I met you.

Our hearts met and I filled with light that chased the shadows away. Our eyes met and there was warm brown, rings of green. You sat with me in calming blue. You spoke in my favourite purple. You laughed in bright yellow. Your touch sparked vibrant reds, blushing pinks and fiery orange across my skin.

You kissed me and there was gold.

via Daily Prompt: Vivid