Mist and Cloud


He waited for Vandar’s tall frame to fade into the shadows of the forest then turned and made his way towards the stone stairs. It was easy going at first, tripping down the gently sloping steps as they stole down the side of the chasm. Ferns and lichen grew from fissures in the rock, brushing against his arms as he passed and sprinkling dew on the worn surface beneath his feet.

After descending only a dozen yards he was forced to check his pace. The stairs grew steadily steeper and slick with rain which hung in the air as a fine drizzle. Clouds of silver mist materialised in the canyon, lingering above the green canopy until Eldris couldn’t see a single tree. He was caught in a place between worlds. Above was a mass of grey cloud, hard walls of granite between and a floor of white haze below.

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Zero One Zero

Road trip

Okay, where should I start? I have an idea, something which might grab your attention. No doubt it’s something you’ve wondered about. The Day The Internet Broke. Let’s start with that day, that one event which shattered the crystal cage we built around ourselves and revealed just how decrepit our sense of security was in relation to the enormity of the risk we faced.

In my office, waiting for a PhD student who, in stark contrast to her usual precise punctuality, was more than half an hour late. God forbid I would be forced to eat lunch in the campus cafeteria, rather than strolling into town and visiting my favourite deli. But if she didn’t arrive soon, it seemed more and more certain that I would be forced to compromise in saving what little was left of my afternoon break.

“Professor!” Her voice shredded the calm aura of my office. You have to understand, I am a man of no small pretensions. It has always been my aim to affect an air of studious impenetrability, my corner of the crowded campus being an oasis of serenity where minds could come together in restrained discourse. All of my students understood this unspoken rule and she was no exception. In spite of this sacred trust, she burst in like the furies were at her back and shouted. “You won’t believe what happened!”

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Hermit Isle ~ 111 words ~


He watched the tide recede, leaving streaks of green kelp exposed as the steel grey waves peeled back from the sand. Sadness and relief mingled in his mind, knowing the parting mist of dawn might bring pilgrims across the headland, dreading the interruption they would visit on his sanctuary. At least, he thought. The tide will return to leave me alone again, and the people will return when the waves part to bare the sands once more. As he could bear neither being utterly at peace nor suffering interruptions without intermission.

While he chose solitude to be his burden, it was a blessing he could only shift off with reluctance.

A Slave’s Lot


“Keep marching, filth!” the veteran spat, swiping at Ongur’s back with his long whip.

The lash snapped across the heavy burden hanging from Ongur’s shoulders and, for the first time since their journey began, he was glad to be carrying it. Then the whip’s barbed tip raked the exposed flesh behind his thighs, a searing pain which made him howl in agony.


Ongur didn’t hesitate a second time. He stumbled forwards, or rather upwards, towards the distant summit of the sun-drenched dune. Sand swept away underfoot to run in cascading bronze waves towards the dune’s base. It made every step a torment and more than a few times he suspected his steps only brought him further from rest. Days of marching under his heavy load without rest, water or comfort.

Such was a slave’s lot.

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A Yard of Steel


Brenn watched the enemy fill the fields across the brook. Their numbers seemed vast, impossibly numerous even from such a distance. He knew, with a familiar chill of fear, that their numbers would only swell the closer they came. To be trapped amongst the oncoming horde, fending off blows on all sides… It was enough to turn his stomach and cause him to doubt the noble purpose which brought him there.

Am I really about to stake my whole life on nothing more than a promise? he wondered. And whose promise? A bishop, a man who never touched iron nor spilled blood in his life. 

Further doubt was forestalled by a ripple passing through the ranks of armoured men around him. Men shuffled around under the weight of plate and mail to look over Brenn’s shoulder. He turned and saw the king nudging his horse between the disorderly ranks of his vanguard.

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My Washbag

Don't ask...
Don’t ask…

For years I have searched in vain for something to define me as a modern man. The spears and sabres of yore have long passed out of fashion. Dead too are the ponytail and bowler hat.

What then? What next?

I have it. The solution!

One object which will let the world know of my prowess, my courage, my breeding. A simple thing which will make the masses say “Look! There is a man who travels!” even if I don’t.

A washbag, finest accompaniment of the modern man.

Cover Blown


Prompt: what if you had to throw away your whole identity

– every memory, friend and thing you have ever had?

Kris heard the phone ring and her heart dropped to a dead tremor in her chest. Was that the call? For six weeks, she had been working undercover. Her whole life had been a lie, a fabrication. Did they seriously expect her to go back under so soon?

Her eyes scanned the walls of her studio flat. Bookshelves, cupboards, drawers. Should would miss all of them and all the half-remembered treasures they contained, but it was only temporary.

She would be back, with a lifetime to forget them again. Her hand reached for the phone. Had she missed the call? It rang again. Tough luck, she thought.

“This is Kris.” she said, keeping her voice flat and toneless. If that did not get the message across, nothing would.

“Agent Maddox?” the voice on the other end asked. It was unfamiliar, the voice of a blue shirt, no tie bureaucrat in a back office. But there was panic in his tone, words stumbling over each other in a rush to get out.

“That’s right. What happened?”

“Agent, your cover’s blown.” 

The words stewed in her mind, swimming around in sluggish circles. What did they mean? She knew the answer. They did not mean anything.

“What are you talking about?” she asked, hearing the bitter anger in her tone. What were they thinking, making her panic like that? “The operation is over. Which cover is blown?”

“I’m really sorry. They said you had to be told straight away. There’s no one else here. They said it’s serious. You have to burn it now.”

“For fuck’s sake, which cover?”

She was almost shrieking, the words scratching her throat as she spat them out.

“The file says ‘Kris Maddox – identity compromised’. I’m sorry.”

There was a grating ripple of static and the line cut out.

Kris was sitting on the floor, her back resting against the kitchen counter. Since when? She did not remember sitting. How long had she been staring at the phone? There was no time for that.

Her legs were moving, taking her from one side of the room to the other. How had she stood up? It felt like there was no strength left in her body. Her arms reached out. Kris was picking things up, putting them in the trash can.

Where was the rubbish? There it was, strewn across the kitchen floor. She looked around and saw the balcony. The screen doors slid open and she stepped out into the cool night air.

A childhood photo dropped into the can, a spider’s web of cracked glass splintering through a pair of smiling faces. They were fond faces. A laughing child swung from their arms.

The match hissed to life, leaving a winding trickle of black smoke as it dropped. A red glow, a yellow flame springing to life, more smoke. Fire ate at the corners of the picture.

School yearbooks, favourite novels, a leather-bound notebook with her initials embossed on the spine. Who was K.M.? Jess did not know anyone with that name.

Someone was crying on the balcony, but there was no time to ask why. This was Kim Maddox’s home, not hers. It was time to leave.


Dianne really is something special. Jason thought. She has the looks, the sense of humour, the intelligence. 

He could not help thinking how lucky he was that they had started dating. In the back of his mind, he knew other guys must have been interested in her. Who wouldn’t be? Perhaps she was seeing other people, he had no idea. It was only their third date after all.

His heart raced as she leaned closer, the scent of her hair filling his nose and making him light-headed. This was the night, he knew it. Things were shaping up to get serious between them and the look in her intense, chocolate-brown eyes said it all.

A high, piercing whine rippled out over the sound of the movie. Dianne looked around for the source of the noise.

Please, God, let her think it was a fly.

The sound came again, longer and more insistent. She was staring now, looking down at the spot where he sat. His head grew hot with embarrassment as she drew away. He tried to sit still, but the itch in his back had become unbearable.

Jason shifted again and his jeans creaked against the couch’s leather cover, a drawn-out buzz. He could not believe his eyes, but she was smiling at him. It was a look of warm affection that made his spirits soar.

“I’m really happy you feel comfortable enough to do that in front of me.” she said, a hot blush creeping into her cheeks.

A loud, rippling retort of flatulence came from her end of the couch. She had not moved. As soon as the noise had ended, Jason unfolded from his seat and cleared his throat.

“I’ll show myself out.”

The Chair

James was sitting at his desk on the ground floor, working on his novel as he did every weekend. It would be a lie to say that he was writing, he wasn’t. The infamous writer’s block had settled on his shoulders and he couldn’t shake it. The horror epic had ground to a juddering halt. He was there, the tortured wannabe author tangled in amongst the broken gears and shuddering cogs.

“Daddy, are you in here?”

His son poked his nose around the door and came inside. For a second, James was angry. The last thing he wanted was a distraction, but perhaps that was exactly what he needed. He looked out of the window at the garden chairs they never used. It had rained and their seats were wet, holding thick drops of water to surprise anyone who sat first and looked second. Every seat except for one, that was.

One chair was always dry, no matter where it was placed or how strongly the downpour came on. It was a miracle and one he had no explanation for. James stood and went to the window, staring at the empty chair.

“Why is it always dry?” he asked himself.

His son came to stand beside him and giggled, tugging at his sleeve. “That’s silly, daddy. Of course it’s dry.”

“Why is it dry then?”

“Because someone’s sitting there.”