Walk on

what do you see 19 by chris hall lunasonline

When you reach this final bridge
pause a while

Take your time to cross.

From here there is
no way back.

So make your peace and
take the ultimate step.

The Unknown awaits.

Tread softly and walk on
with hope in your heart.

Might the best be
yet to come?


Written in response to SadjeWhat Do You See #19 photo prompt.
Image credit: Unsplash

The butler did it!

The Butler did it by Chris Hall lunasonline
Blenheim Palace (Wikipedia)

The Queen gazed out of the window as a team of paramedics, flanked by dark-suited security men, slid the stretcher into the ambulance. Its occupant, whose face was covered, had been pronounced dead at the scene, slumped over his dinner at the top table in the Long Library. It had only been by great good fortune that the contents of the glass he’d been holding had missed her spangled evening gown. White silk was a devil to clean, apparently.

Standing by the back of her chair, her butler coughed discretely. The Queen turned to him and gave a conspiratorial wink. ‘Don’t worry, Watkins. You were only acting under orders.’ The Queen smiled serenely. ‘And I am monarch and above the law.’

‘Very good, ma-am.’

‘Worked a treat, didn’t it?’ she giggled. ‘Something Philip was given on a State visit. I knew it would come in handy one day.’

‘Indeed, ma-am. If I might be permitted to say, the poisoning was entirely justified. Not that one’s Royal Highness would need to.’

‘He might have been the Leader of the Free World, but in all my years as Queen, I have never, ever come across such an odious man.’

‘He actually asked for a Coca-Cola when Blenheim has such a wonderful wine cellar!’

They both glanced at the portrait hanging over the fireplace.  ‘I’m not sure what Mr Churchill would have made of him, or his own current successor.’

The Queen raised her glass to the portrait. ‘He’s a problem for another day.’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #32

The challenge this week was dinner.

Maneater

Praying Mantis by Laurette van der Merwe

Mickey, the young mantis, poked his head out of the bougainvillea bush. There she was, the lovely Marula, sunning herself on the trellis by the stoep. He watched her in admiration as she stretched out her plump olive-skinned limbs. His ardour was rising. She was a gorgeous creature. If only he could get her to notice him.

He crawled down to the windowsill where Gerald the Gecko was snapping at flies. Gerald followed Mickey’s gaze. ‘That mantis-lady’s a tough cookie, Mickey. You should steer clear of her.’

‘But she’s…’

‘She’s too old for you, Mickey.’

Charlie the Chameleon slowly made his way up the lavender bush, his colour changing from a dusty grey to jade green. ‘I couldn’t help overhearing you two,’ Charlie said, rolling his eyes so that one fell on Marula and the other fixed on Mickey. ‘Don’t grow up too fast, Mickey, she’ll eat you for breakfast.’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #31

The challenge this week was cookie.
Photo credit: Laurette van der Merwe

Author’s note: the female praying mantis doesn’t always eat her mate, although if he irritates her or she’s a bit peckish, she often will.

 

Burns Supper

Burns Night by Chris Hall lunasonline

People thronged around the marquee which had been erected on the tennis courts. Nobody knew why their little Lancashire village had been picked, but who’d question the Office of the US President?

The Women’s Institute had been tasked with preparing the celebratory supper. Mrs. Doubtworthy had suggested that they pop down to Asda for a brace of Hall’s haggises, but the other members of the WI were resolute. The haggis would be made from scratch.

Mr. Greenwood was ready with the requisite musical accompaniment. Everyone was familiar with his bagpiperly skills which he regularly practiced of a Saturday morning, when most civilized people were still abed.

At precisely 7pm, the motorcade swept into the village. Besuited security men shepherded their charge into the marquee, where the Mrs. Duckinworth, chair-lady of the Parish Council, bid him sit at the head of the table.

Mr. Greenwood’s pipes heralded the haggis which was laid before the President. Miss Lynch, the former language teacher, began the address.

The President prodded his haggis with a fork. ‘You Scottish people eat this stuff?’

Mrs. Duckinworth frowned. ‘Sir, we’re not Scottish. This is Lancashire.’

The President’s advisers muttered amongst themselves.

Mr Davies, the Geography teacher intervened. ‘Perhaps you’d intended to visit Lanarkshire?’

‘Whatever,’ growled the President. ‘I’m here now and I’m hungry.’ He stabbed a piece of haggis and thrust it into his mouth.

The room fell silent as he chewed.

‘Ugh! What is this?’ the President spluttered. ‘Forget my Scottish roots. Go get me a burger.’


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #30

The challenge this week was tennis.

Author’s note: I strayed far from the word prompt, not wanting to pass up the opportunity of writing about something so topical and so appropriate to Susan’s proud Scottish heritage. Burns Night, 25th January.

I give you the ‘Address to a Haggis’ by Robert Burns:

The recipe for Haggis the WI ladies used

Hall’s haggis from British Supermarket, Asdano relation, by the way!

Sadly for you US and Canadian folks, haggis has been illegal in your countries since 1971.
I shall be popping into our local Spar for mine tomorrow.

What lies beneath?

Remington Portable Typewriter

The night is still. Down in the village of Little Sidebottom on the Marsh, all is quiet. The streets are deserted and the houses in darkness, even though it’s not yet eleven o’clock. The residents of this quaint picture-postcard village, in the heart of the quintessentially English countryside, are of the ‘early to bed’ variety, although not necessarily in their own beds.

Under the village’s bucolic exterior lies a hotbed of vice, murder and worse.

Who will be the next victim? Will they die by pistol, blade or poisoned cup?

Agatha’s fingers hover over the keyboard, poised for action.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #27

The challenge this week was village.

Author’s note
I’m a great fan of Agatha Christie. I recently came across this article about her writing habits:
https://tonyriches.blogspot.com/2014/02/agatha-christies-writing-habits.html
I was interested to discover I have quite a lot in common with her way of working.

Beyond her comfort zone

Apocalypse by Cliff Davies
Apocalypse by Cliff Davies

Modern art glares at her from the gallery walls. Does it demand her praise or merely crave her understanding? She pauses before a blood-red canvas, a slash of blue and two blobs of green, created by a modern Scottish artist of whom she’s never heard. Should she have done?

She feels the assistant’s snooty gaze rest on her as she crosses the room, her footsteps echoing on the stark white floor. The centre-piece sculpture rears up menacingly; a hooded man, a gaping maw. Does his expression reflect the artist’s angst?

She’s seen enough.

Out on the street she meanders past a few shops but none can tempt her within. She crosses the road. The city’s unfamiliar and she’s just killing time before her train leaves.

Then she sees it.
The display beckons.
She quickens her step.

Soon she’s inside perusing the shelves and bathing in the gladdening glow of beautiful books.


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #26

The challenge this week was literature.

With apologies to galleries and gallery staff – I used to work in one!

Those Useful Things

Useful Things by Chris Hall lunasonline

Charity Jones was a collector of things. She started small: buttons and bows, needles and pins, those little bits and pieces a person often needs.

She kept them neatly; jars and tins filled her cupboards.

She had books for cooks and pots and pans, mixing bowls and fancy cake stands. Cauldrons for witches and… well, that’s when it got out of hand.

There were reports in the neighbourhood of eyeless newts and earless bats, headless chickens and missing cats.

It was quite a while before they caught her.

So, beware of little old ladies with sharp eyes and overstuffed cupboards.

 


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #25

The challenge this week was charity.

Just the two of us

Just the two of us by Chris Hall lunasonline

Let’s go up to the lake today, Frankie!

Come on, it’s such a beautiful day. You can do a spot of fishing.
Maybe you’ll catch something and I can cook it for us later.
Wouldn’t that be nice, Frankie?

You’ll have to help me down those rickety steps, mind.
I can’t quite manage them on my own.
Not like the way I used to.

We’ll walk along the shore, dipping our toes in the water and picking up pretty pebbles. Remember the tiger eye you found that time?
Where is it now, I wonder?

And then we can sit on our bench and watch the pretty boats.

And listen to the sound of the water lapping.

Just the two of us.

*

Frankie?

Where are you, Frankie?

Frankie?

*

Tell her he’s just popped out for a minute. It’s better that way.
Otherwise it’ll be like she’s lost him.
All over again.

 


Written in response to a prompt from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #24

The challenge this week was lake.

Blackout

Dark Lake by Chris Hall lunasonline

The lights have all gone out. Mist closes in, swallowing up the moonlight. Darkness prevails. She throws another log on the fire, flares a match and lights a candle. At least the woodshed is full, the larder too. Her eyes flit about the room: every technological trapping is now defunct. Useless.

She’s more resilient than most, living alone in her little lodge on the lake. She’s just put new batteries in the radio, but no-one’s broadcasting. Empty airwaves.

Cut off. Cut adrift.

She takes up her pen and pulls her notebook towards her. All she can do now is write.


Written in response to a prompt new to me from Susan T. Braithwaite
Genre Scribes Friday Fiction Writing Challenge #23

The challenge this week was communication.

A Tom’s Life

A Tom's Life by Chris Hall lunasonline

Romeo clung to hope as fiercely as he clung to the gutter, eavesdropping on Nero as he chatted up the new little cat in town. The pretty princess had never given Romeo a second glance, but his hope swelled when he heard her rebuff his rival.

Nero leapt down, landing with the soft thud of paws on paving-stones. Immediately Romeo swung himself up onto the roof and stretched seductively before the little queen.

She slammed her paw down on the tiles. ‘Enough of you toms, you’re just after one thing! I’m going to hang out with the girl cats.’ Tossing her pretty head, she flounced off into the night.

Romeo stared after her open-mouthed. He peered down into the street below where Nero was twitching his tail in irritation. He jumped down and landed beside him. Nero turned his head. ‘No luck either?’ Romeo shook his head. ‘Wanna go rat-catching?’


From  a prompt by Hélène Vaillant of Willow Poetry: What do you see? June 4, 2019