Category: flash fiction

Flash Fiction. African Safari

I wake up to the bright light of morning, listening to the sounds of the insects as the alarm on my phone resonates with the barking guffaw of the zebra (I changed it to enhance the mood). Light is flooding through the walls of the tent. As I stretch and wiggle, luxuriating in the comfort of the bed, I am struck by the contrast of this tent cum up market villa, full of modern conveniences with the rugged unspoilt bush just feet away. Africa, I am in Africa. In a haven in the wilderness.  I sniff the air, it smells warm, dusty with a faint undefinable odour maybe of the red earth itself. The scritch of crickets fills the air, their sound overlaid by the rich song of the birds in the nearby trees. I can hear the muted chink of pans and crockery; the chef must be in the kitchen preparing breakfast.

 The amount of insect and bird life filling the air is amazing. Such a cacophony, it is almost overwhelming as I try to distinguish individual voices. This noise is incredible even without the voices of the large animals, who have gone quiet. Last night there was such a variety of noises permeating the tent, cracks and swishing from a browsing herd of elephants, alarm calls from buck and zebra and the cackle of the hyena sending a chill down my spine. Loved every second. I presume the animals both predator and prey are trying to stay invisible in the brightness if the day.
There is too much to do to stay in bed, so I make a move. The wind gusts and the door of the tent blows open, I walk over to close it, standing for a moment; a flicker of movement catches my eye. I register an impala racing past followed by a cheetah. The kill happens around 7 metres from the door of the tent. Quick and clean. Life begetting life. Awesome moment.  The cheetah turns its head towards me, (it feels an acknowledgement of my presence) then drags the impala into the bush. Wow!! What a start to the day. 

My blood is singing through my veins, my heart thumping that sight has been a pure adrenaline rush. I am privileged to see the power of nature in action.

Indoor or outdoor shower? No contest I must go with the full experience, so it must be the outside bush shower. I walk out onto the deck past the plunge pool, draping a towel around my nakedness. This clever arrangement is like the old, less salubrious camping days and much more to my taste. A canvas screen set up, with a wooden tripod sporting a large plastic bladder filled with water. The floor has a wooden grating to keep the feet clean. I leave my stubble in place and just soap my body then pull the string so that water from the bladder cascades over me, rinsing off the soap and energising my mind. Humming under my breath I shake myself like a dog and stand eyes closed basking for a moment in the heat of the sun. I reach for the towel and walk back to the tent drying myself in total harmony with this world. 

Today I have a scheduled game drive to acclimatise myself to the heat and rhythms of African  life, so different from my typical day. I am at peace relaxed and ready for any surprises that the day will bring. Tomorrow will be more testing, a trek into the wilderness with wild camping and two guides I am bursting with excitement today is the appetiser before the main meal begins. 

Flash Fiction. Meet on a plane

Rick.

I watch the people pushing down the aisle of the plane, hand baggage held like shields. A constant stream pushing and shoving trying to pack oversized bags into lockers. I notice the guy waiting to get to his seat, he’s tall and seems to be very helpful, stowing bags for the people around him. He has a pretty blonde in front I wonder if that’s his lady, she’s delicious. They are moving closer. I am in an aisle seat with two empty seats next to me. Sitting near that lady will enliven my flight. Damn she stows her bag in a locker, two rows in front of me and wriggles into a seat. Hah that’s my entertainment out of the window. The man continues towards me and stops by the row; he removes a book and a bottle of water from his bag and then rearranges bags to make room for his within the locker. He looks familiar but I can’t think why.

“Hi, I have the window seat,” he says. 

“Hi ok, I will move to let you in, bloody small spaces thank heavens it’s not a long flight.”

I stand up and shuffle aside, we are of a height and come eye to eye as we manoeuvre round each other. 

He says, ” Oh my god, aren’t you Rick Anson?”

I look at him still at a loss. ‘Familiar but I can’t place you mate.’

“Right, yes, I am. Sorry, you seem familiar but I can’t think. In what context might I have met you?”

He moves, busies himself removing headphones pillows and blankets from the seat then settles down with a grunt. 

As I move to sit back down he says, “Bonza thought it was you. We have only met once. We both barracked for team Chrissie I am her husband. Jake.” He holds out his hand I shake it whilst thinking ‘Oh he wants to be friendly.’

Oh, great I will now spend the next two hours with the husband of my ex, what a pain. I have no interest in what is happening in her life. I hope he will not rabbit about her or their life. Of all the joints in all the plane why did fate send him to mine?’

“Morning Jake small world.” 

Whilst I am well over Chrissie, I don’t want to appear a loser in his eyes or have him superior because he has the woman. He might feel that way – because he’s fa bloody dickhead – barracking the same team! Jeez! A tad crass. I  prefer not to talk at all but I suppose we have started a dialogue. I need to keep it off Chrissie and either relationship. 

The stewardess comes down the aisle with a tray of champagne or Bucks Fizz, I don’t drink either but in the circumstances.  I need all the help I can get! So, I accept a glass of champagne and knock it back in two swallows. Jake is busy getting his headphones set up that looks promising, I heave a sigh of relief. 

He stays silent through take-off and when I glance across at him his eyes are closed and his hands white knuckled … hah he doesn’t like flying. I smile point to me! 

As the seat belt signs extinguish Jake sits forward and takes a swig of water from his bottle.

He turns ” Phew I bloody hate take offs and landings, it’s made worse with Chrissie she’s a gibbering wreck. I bet she drove you loopy flying.”

“We never flew together.”

“Oh, I see.”

I need to divert him from his Chrissie chitchat, I intend to work so I get my laptop out of my bag.

“I need to work but before we settle, did you watch the State of Origin game?”

“I did. Cool game. It didn’t disappoint. That fight between Myles and Gallens turned the game into a sparring match.”

“Yup what did you think of the referee’s performance?”

“Oh, mate wasn’t he crap….”

I smile diversion accomplished!

Jake.

I am shit scared of flying. It’s not rational but I am a nervous wreck. I have been trying to keep my mind occupied but now here I am in this metal tube full of jostling people.

Aw coomeon move. Move it, I need to get sat down.

“Here let me take that for you madam I will put it in the locker.”

The woman smiles at me she thinks I am being a gentleman I want her. Out of the Way. 

The woman in front of me , blonde and wearing a skimpy top would have aroused me in other circumstances. Now I am willing her, to get the hell out of my way. 

She turns into a row two before mine. There is a guy sitting in the aisle seat, I will have to get him to shift.

I say, “Hi I have the window seat.”

“Hi ok, I will move to let you in, bloody small spaces thank heavens it’s a short flight.”

He stands up and as he unfolds from the row, we land up eye to eye. Oh, bloody hell I am sure it’s Rick Anson my wife’s ex. Wow, I never got the full story there, could be interesting. Wonder if I could get him to talk. At least I have Chrissie he couldn’t keep her. Still I will play it cool it’s not important to our relationship. 

“Oh my god, aren’t you Rick Anson?” I blurt out.

Oh, whoops he’s looking at me as if I have grown two heads, shitte. Jake hardly cool!

“Right, yes, I am. Sorry, you seem familiar but I can’t think. In what context might I have met you?”

Seems grumpy that I recognise him, now I wish I had kept my trap shut. 

I take my laptop and a bottle of water and drop onto the empty seat, stash my bag into the locker and move into the seat space. I drop into my seat foraging around to sort out my seat belt. My head is spinning.

He sits down and my mouth opens of its own volition and I say, “Bonza thought it was you. We have only met once. We both barracked for team Chrissie I am her husband. Jake.” 

I hold out my hand and he shakes, it.

What am I doing?

He replies, “Morning Jake. Small world.”

I sit back and sort out my space, opening the headphones so I can listen to the movie. The stewardess arrives with a tray of poncey drinks champagne things. I decline but Rick accepts and drains his glass. Hope he will not get fighting drunk.

Take off is on me so I shut my eyes, hands clenched hard together telling myself to breathe, bloody purgatory and I so ,do not ,want. To have a panic attack.

I keep my eyes closed breathing steadily, my mouth is dry my heart pounding, and although the air is cold, there are beads of moisture running down my neck. When the tannoy pings I open my eyes,  the seat belt sign is off. I straighten and open my eyes to check around me, Rick is looking up the plane, so I am sure he hasn’t noticed my behaviour. Just to emphasise how fine I am, I take a swig from my bottle of water and then turn to talk to Rick.

” Phew I bloody hate take offs and landings, it’s made worse with Chrissie. She’s a gibbering wreck. I bet she drove you loopy flying.”

“We never flew together.”

“Oh, I see.”

Rick takes a bag from under the seat and takes out a laptop.

He says, “I need to work but before we settle, did you watch the State of Origin game?”

“I did. It didn’t disappoint that fight between Myles and Gallens turned the game into a sparring match.”

“Yup what did you think of the referee’s performance?”

“Oh, mate wasn’t he crap….”

Samantha Beardon.

The letter.

Activity 6.

March 30th 2017

Dear Sergeant Bristoe,
I wish to share my feelings about the training exercise which took place in January 1987 when you were the platoon instructor. The exercise where you had two near fatalities; it is etched in my mind I hope you remember it.
I understand that training needs be harsh and soldiers must be programmed to obey orders. That we need to push ourselves to the limit and beyond, to meet the objectives. It can be hard to see what is reasonable, when you are being tested past your level of tolerance. 

I would imagine you remember the training exercise, but just in case let me refresh your memory.  It was the last exercise in the January 87 special forces course we were the Bravo group. In the 42-degree heat at the edge of the desert, we were being forced way beyond what was reasonable. We were all experienced soldiers used to obeying orders and to testing ourselves.  We did as we were ordered.

Your role was to push us soldiers to foster all the attributes needed for special forces. You had a job to do. It was the last exercise in a gruelling three days and the conditions as you know had been extreme. You should have assessed the situation more and looked at the condition the recruits were in, before that final exercise. I wanted to tell you to fuck off, which wouldn’t have helped. To highlight that some of the men were too exhausted to do that last big push in the forty plus degree heat.

It is my biggest regret that I didn’t, say what I thought.  If I had, perhaps Mick and Robbo wouldn’t have nearly died. They might both have been able bodied and in the army if not in special forces.

I blame you for your blind determination to goad us lads, to the end, without taking in all the factors in play. I hope you learned from it , and developed further skills in the training and deployment of men. 
The upside for me is that I learnt the lesson well. When I led patrols, I assessed not only the situation but the condition of my men very carefully as part of my planning process. A good lesson but a poor way to have learned it. I still wish I had, the balls to challenge you and it will always be a niggling regret.

Rick Anson.

Flash Fiction. Paris

Flash fiction

“The first day of the rest of our lives, we have escaped our demons. Oh darling I didn’t think this day would ever come.” May hugs her lover Hugh as they alight from their taxi outside the hotel in Paris. 

“I know darling, we are going to have an amazing time. Let’s get into the hotel and get started on our honeymoon without the wedding!” 

“ What an idyllic spot Hugh,  a step from the river Seine, the Notre Dame in view ,such a romantic setting.”

The porter steps , and picks up the cases, leading the way through the marble and gilt foyer to the reception desk. He places the cases on the floor, nods at the couple and walks back to the front door. 

Hugh and May walk to the desk and the receptionist  said, “ Good afternoon and welcome to the hotel, could I take your name? “

“Hugh Winters.”

“Yes sir, a three night stay,  if you could fill in your details on this form and sign the bottom.”

“Your room is on the fourth floor sir, here are the keys, the porter will bring your luggage  up shortly.”

Hugh picks up the keys and wrapping his arm around May, they stroll to the lift. On reaching the room Hugh unlocks the door. “Just stay there May, give me your bag.” He disappears into the room, then reappears, grabs May around the waist and hoists her over his shoulder. He staggers through the door and kicks it shut, then deposits a giggling May on the bed.

“ Idiot, don’t do your back in!” she splutters. “Oh look Hugh we have a balcony with a glimpse of the River and the Notre Dame. Look you can even see the gargoyles on the tower.” 

“Our honeymoon has started. Then our time to be totally together unfolds.Yes how fabulous and romantic, lets go out and get a clearer look, you first I will come behind you. “

“Oh Hugh its so beautiful, thank you for bringing me here. What are you doing?”

“Just picking you up, so I can cuddle every part of you, my lovely lady.”

“Mmmm I just so love you. Gosh I thought I saw that gargoyle flex its wings! It moved I am sure! ”

“Now that would be a miracle. Turn your head and kiss me darling.”
As May turns her head, Hugh gives a mighty heave with his arms and  May flies over the balcony. 
She screams summersaulting  as she falls into the street below, laying spread eagled on the cobbles of the side yard

“The first day of the rest of our lives,” he mutters as he turns and leaves the bedroom carrying May’s bag. He carefully makes his way down the back stairs and exits the hotel by the side door, hurrying into the crowd. 

This was written in response to a photo prompt and the challenge was to mix some genres.

Flash fiction. Transformation

It is time. Time for my next transformation. I am prepared, well as much as I can be. I sit in the coolness of the temple my metal casing cooled by the shaded darkness. The creeping insidious  flashes of pain  in my head are growing stronger. My mind is pierced by a raging heat, I raise my hand to my temple to soothe the pain,  but hurriedly lower it, the heat is too much. I realise this is to be ordeal by fire, this was not  explained at my briefing from the elders.  There is a tremor running through me, and I hear a  whistling noise. It’s me, I am keening. Fire, my nemesis. I visualise that portion of my  third transformation where the heat had cracked my shell and left me with life long pain. I need to run from this place, I will not endure the agony that I suffered.

I need a way of cooling the heat, dousing the flames. I am not ready.

I feel flames licking around my face, hot spirals of magma seeping from my eyes, my skin is melting. I will not be consumed by flames. 

I remember the lotus pond in tne temple garden . I grab the table in front of me and lever myself to my feet, I cannot stand so I sink to my knees and crawl towards the exit. I reach the pool, gazing at the reflection of my grotesque firey face in the pond. My decisions now will alter my own future and the balance if power in the universe. Halting this transformation will send me back to being a frail mortal woman who will never again aspire to be a God. I teeter on the brink of the pond, have I the courage? 

Then I plunge head first into the pool.