Monday, August 30, 2010

Guest Dare at JM Prescott's 'A Reader's World'

Not many people would let me have control of their blog pages - and with good reason, I am useless at this stuff!! However, Jo Prescott has obviously much more faith than I in my blogging ability and asked for me to guest host her "I Dare You" challenge for this week.

So it shall be written, so it shall be done...

The dare for this week can be found here. Come on over and see what you can come up with. It really is a very simple thing...just like me!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Ambush! - Amelia & Kelsey (Thinking Ten Post)

Today, on Thinking Ten, the prompt was On Location, Hiding.
I had been working on the follow-up piece to my Friday Flash story from this week and the prompt just seemed to work perfectly.
For those who haven't checked out Thinking Ten, go and have a look - it is great exercise!!
Also want to thank Blake Cooper for all his hard work behind the scenes - mate, you are doing a fantastic job!


Amelia sensed an ambush; the silence was too quiet, the streets too deserted. Her pack weighed down on her shoulders as she crouched behind a parked vehicle, scanning the intersection for signs of her pursuers. She knew they were out there; she had the bullet wound to prove it.

Agent Kelsey emerged from a darkened shopfront and gestured her forward. She closed the distance between them in a half-run, half crouch. When she reached him, he indicated for her to keep moving down the street. “Try to remain hidden in the shadows as best you can,” he whispered to her.

Amelia nodded in agreement and kept moving.

A few feet further down the block, Amelia heard shuffling footsteps and, before she had a chance to react, bullets ricocheted off the wall beside her head. She heard Kelsey return rapid-fire. She hit the ground, taking cover behind a Jeep. A click behind her told her the terrible news that Kelsey was out of ammunition.

She rose up from behind the vehicle and saw one of the assailants crossing the road, making a path towards Kelsey. In one swift, fluid movement, Amelia leapt over the bonnet of the Jeep, tucked into a forward roll across the pavement where one of the attackers lay dead. With one hand she grabbed the dead man’s gun, executed another near perfect roll and threw the weapon back over her shoulder to a rather surprised Kelsey.

The agent did stop to ask questions; he fired at the oncoming enemy, hitting him three times in the chest with precision, before placing another two in his forehead for good measure.

“Good work, Amelia,” Kelsey called to her. He could see her grin and the light in her eyes, even from a distance. He didn’t want to stop and explore that smile – not now, at least.

“Now let’s keep moving.”

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Treasure Hunter - FFF #39

Friday Flash Fiction time again and our well-appreciated moderator Cormac Brown offered up a Randal-submitted starter sentence "She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again."
There was an added challenge this week i.e. not to write in the same genre that we did in the previous edition of FFF. To that end, I have written a action/adventure story. My last piece was a...err...ummm...not an action/adventure one!!
One final thing: this piece is just a little longer than normal (about 1200 words) - I just could find any more edits. If you have ANY suggestions, please fire away!!

The Treasure Hunter

She knew time was running out, fast, but opening that door was Pandora's Box all over again. She firmly believed that her journey would finish here, that the answers she sought lay behind this carved oaken door, but she had a sneaking suspicion that they would want more for her – they always wanted more. She took a deep breath, turned the shiny brass knob and entered the room...


The flight into Nairobi had been a nightmare; winds had buffeted the Pilatus PC-12 immediately after takeoff and continued to so for the majority of the journey. She had been on many flights; however, they were usually in larger, international carriers. This small nine-seater scared her more than anything she had done before. More than the men in dark suits, the constant fear of discovery, the gunfights...

The pilot’s voice broke through her fear. “Miss James, could you buckle up please? We are about to set down in Nairobi. May God protect your soul.” The pilot laughed at his own black humour. Amelia James just wanted to punch him - hard.


Amelia had quickly located the Jacaranda Hotel. She unpacked her belongings, took a quick shower and waited for her contact to arrive.

She wasn’t made to wait long. She had just sat down in the huge, plush velvet recliner when there was a knock on her door. Amelia leapt out of the chair and crossed the room in a near-sprint. A quick peek through the spy hole revealed the man she had been waiting for. She unlatched and unlocked the door and ushered the man inside.

“Amelia, it is so good to see you. I had been worried you wouldn’t make it.”
“Thank you, Jamil, it is good to be here. I take it you have the documents we spoke of?”

Without replying, Jamil handed her a large yellow envelope, closing his hand over hers as she took it from him. “Be careful, Amelia, they are out there, searching for you. They know you are here.”

“I will, Jamil. I promise.”


Amelia arrived at the airport early. Her private flight waited at the far end of the airfield and she hurried across the tarmac and climbed the stairs. As she was about to enter the plane, a deep voice made her stop.

“Miss James, how nice to see you. Would you please drop your bags and come down the stairs slowly.”

Amelia turned and saw two men approaching the plane, arms by their sides but she could see the telltale bulges around their waists – definitely armed and dangerous. They stopped at the foot of the metal steps and crossed their arms, waiting for her.

“Come on, Miss James, we don’t have all day. Mr. Arbetreth is keen to see you and the documents you are withholding from him.” The taller of the two men spoke for the first time. “Besides, you don’t have a choice. Mr. Arbetreth can be very...persuasive.”

Amelia knew she had no choice; they had weapons and she believed they weren’t afraid to use them. Without really thinking of the consequences, she leapt into the air and spread her legs, each one landing smoothly on the railings either side of the stairs. She slid down toward her would-be assailants and, before they had a chance to register their shock, she landed one foot into the faces of either man, knocking them backward and off balance. She hit the ground hard, but rolled right back up to her feet. A sharp left foot snapped into the stomach of one of the men, doubling him over and she slammed her knee into face, hearing a satisfying crunch of bones and her attacker crumbled to the tarmac.

“Very nice, Amelia, I like your style.” It was the other man, gun raised and aimed directly at her forehead. This is it, she though, I am screwed. He is going to shoot me right here. She watched in fascination, as he tensed his finger on the trigger. That, however, was as far as he got. A split second later, his head had erupted in a splash of blood and bone. Amelia instinctively ducked her head and hit the ground.

“It is alright, Miss James, I mean you no harm.”


Amelia leaned back in the seat, staring out the window of the plane, watching the world slide below her, replaying the incident over and over. She wasn’t sure if she was pleased with her efforts or stunned by how close she was to be killed. She decided to be proud of herself. That kick...

“Care to share what you are smiling about? You were almost killed.”

Amelia looked up at the man who had saved her life. He was tall, handsome in an Indiana Jones kind of way, and had the palest blue eyes she had ever seen. He had introduced himself as Kelsey; she didn’t know if that was his first or last name – she found she didn’t care.

He sat beside her, worry furrowing his brow. “You really are a character – but if you aren’t careful, it is going to make you dead.”

“Kelsey, I can take care of myself. I have been chased, hunted and shot at so many times, I have lost count. This morning was a very close call, that is true, but I ain’t dead yet.”

He shrugged and leaned back in his chair. He pulled the brim of his cap down over his eyes and smiled. “You are definitely a character...”


Amelia and Kelsey arrived in Washington early the next morning. Kelsey had excused himself - citing appointments and a tight schedule, promising to catch up with her before she left town. Amelia found that she was looking forward to that.


She pushed open the door and stepped into the room. She was surprised by the size and opulence – even more surprised by the sight of Kelsey, standing beside the Director of National Intelligence. Her shock must have been evident, as the Director stood and approached her, a smile creasing his face.

“Amelia, welcome, please come in and take a seat. I see you know Agent Kelsey. No need for formal introductions, so we can get right down to business.” He shook Amelia’s hand and gestured to a seat in front of his huge desk. He returned to his seat, nodded at Kelsey, who moved around the desk and sat next to Amelia. She smiled at him, feeling a rush of emotions she knew had to be kept in check – she would explore them later.

“Amelia, my team and I have gone through the documents that you have brought to us, and Agent Kelsey has filled me in on what happened at Nairobi airport. We have discussed the implications of this and, coupled with what we know now about the missing artefacts, we believe we know exactly where we should next be looking.” The Director shot a quick glance at Kelsey. He nodded once – Amelia caught it – and the Director continued. “We would like for you to continue your service for the country, and would like to offer you an increased salary and top-level protection.”

“With all due respect, sir, I don’t think...”

“Miss James, the protection I am offering comes in the form of Agent Kelsey. I understand he has already saved your life once. I think he may be a little disappointed if you don’t show him a little gratitude in return.”

Amelia turned to face Kelsey. His smile was wide, his pale blue eyes shone brightly.

“Alright,” Amelia said, “I think I can live with that.”

Sunday, August 15, 2010

'The Thief of Shadows' up at Flashes In The Dark

A new story of mine, entitled "The Thief of Shadows" is up at Flashes In The Dark. It has been up for a few days...I got the publication date wrong...what can I say??

A huge thanks to Lori Titus for the acceptance. "Flashes" is one of the best online sites for short, flash horror fiction and I am so happy to be a part of it. Thanks again, Lori!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A Solution to National Debt - FFF #38

Another week of Friday Flash Fiction, and this week, in lieu of a starter sentence, moderator Cormac Brown has offered up four words to incorporate into our stories. These words are: Toil, Coil, Bubble, Rubble. Thanks to Cormac for his continual dedication to this is greatly appreciated!

Now, I will apologise if this seems a little familiar or similar to someone else's writing...I can't help where my influences come from. Two points for picking the author and story I may (or may not have) read lately...

A Solution to National Debt

Laura and Richard found a spot by the side of the road – a great place to watch the runners as they came past, heading into Newtown and, eventually, the city centre. She unfolded the blanket that they kept in the back of the car and he grabbed the picnic basket, closed the passenger door with his hip and strolled across to where Laura had smoothed out the blanket and was arranging some cushions as if they were expecting royalty – not some sweaty teenage boys.

They got the call from the Marshall on the Friday evening, saying Davey had been selected and would need to be at the starting line in the city on Monday morning at nine sharp. Laura and Richard were both elated and worried at the same time – happy because his participation could help wipe the debt they owed City Corp, but worried that his lazy ass might not even make it to the first checkpoint, thereby forfeiting any chance of settling the account and repairing the rubble that was their financial lives.

An elderly gentleman approached Richard. He removed his Akubra and crouched down beside the edge of the footpath where Richard had begun to sort out the food and drink for lunch; crusty rolls with meat and salad, champagne for Laura (she just loves them bubbles) and a six-pack for himself.

“Hello, folks,” came the greeting from the twisted and toothless mouth of the visitor, “here for one of your own, or just here for the view?”

Television cameras appeared out of nowhere, capturing the moment and broadcasting them not just across the country, but around the world.

Laura looked up from the pillow arranging assignment she had set herself. Her eyes locked on those of the old man, as if telepathically sending a message of sod off. When she realised that it wasn’t working, she shrugged her shoulders and went back to her cushions. “Yes, our son is running this year. We had a pretty bad time of it last year; the business folded and I couldn’t find work anywhere the New Sector. That’s why Davey is running – we could really use the prize money.”

“Yeah, it sure was a crazy time; banks closing all over the place, people losin’ their homes – some folks lost more’n that. Wages went to hell – those who could keep the jobs – and the introduction of the New Coin and Note currency doesn’t seem to have helped any.” He wiped a bead of perspiration from his forehead and gazed up the length of the street. “They should be coming any time now. How do you think your kid is doing?”

Richard shook his head. “To be honest, I don’t know. Last I saw on the big screen, he had made it past Checkpoint Three – that’s three grand he has paid off with minimal work or toil – but I really don’t think he has it in him to run the full distance, let alone do it in front of the pack.”

The old man placed his hand on Richard’s shoulder. “He will want to keep going, won’t he? You and the missus didn’t come all the way down here to watch your lives disappear down the drain because your boy couldn’t pay off the debt, now did you?” Richard was about to reply, but he continued on. “How far does he have to get before the City grants you a reprieve?”

Laura stood up, cleared her throat and placed herself between her husband and the old man. “That is none of your concern, sir. We are well aware of the risks – and consequences – of this race. We don’t need to be sharing it with strangers.”

“Whoa, there, Missy, you get back on your blanket there and just let us men do the talking.” Laura was about to reply in her usual balls-to-the-wall fashion but a flash of silver, tucked into the man’s belt, quickly dissuaded her from any further conversation. A rifle shot in the distance added to the tense moment.

“You are a Marshall, aren’t you? My God – you are one of...them.” Richard could hear the fright in his voice, could feel the trembling in his hands and the fear coiling around his spine.

“I am, indeed, a Marshall, and don’t worry, the lady’s insolence won’t be taken into consideration – it is to be expected, I suppose.”

Richard paused again, weighing up his words. “Into consideration...what does that mean?”

The Marshall laughed, loud and hearty, and tucked his hands into the pockets of his neatly pressed slacks. “What it means, son, is that your boy has already – how shall I put this – retired from the rest of his life. He broke down four miles back. He didn’t even reach the Ten Percent Gate. I am sure you are aware of what that means for you both.”

Laura began sobbing immediately. Richard didn’t know whether it was from the death of his son (lazy bastard, couldn’t make five miles) or from the imminent punishment for Laura and himself.

“Yes, I am aware of what comes now.” He was resigned to the fact that this would happen – they had prepared for this eventuality. “Can you give us a few moments to say our goodbyes?”

“Well, of course. But just remember, seeing as though Davey didn’t make the Ten Percent Gate, the viewers have decided through an online poll that you both should perish for your debts. Don’t you just love modern technology?”
Laura and Richard clung to each other, whispering goodbyes choked with grief-filled sobs, touching each other’s faces, as if not to forget how they looked in those final few moments.

Richard heard the safety flicked off, and saw the shadow creep across him as the Marshall put the rifle to the back of his head. He heard nothing more.