Sunday, 21 January 2018

Steam Pump

During The Great Exhibition of 1815 an engineer reveals an elongated metal pump that thrusts forward and back whilst vibrating creating a constant flow of heat. However before he has time to fully explain his invention he falls ill and is rushed to hospital. His fellow engineers are fascinated by the device and speculate as to its purpose. Told from the point of view of a fellow inventor named Dr Ulysses B. White, Esquire.

* * *

The show was far more popular than expected with the excitement and thrill of The London Inventors' Fair filling my body with excited nerves. The crowds were vast making difficult to hear giving me inspiration of creating an automatic ear trumpet for the next event, but in the meantime I had to make do with my latest invention, a speaking toilet paper dispenser.

"Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen," I called out while waving my arm at the vast amount of people passing by my stall.

It was challenging to say the least to gain attention with so many people walking in either direction, causing difficulty for the few who wanted to marvel at my amazing creation. I was sure many of the attendees were really only there for the enjoyment of a day out visiting the splendour of Crystal Palace, but even so the many oddities of an inventors' fair were enjoyable in themselves. The were a number of businessmen too, eager to get their greedy mitts on new ideas, intent on selling new products. Luckily I had already protected my genius invention with a rock solid patent so I actively sought such people rather than avoid them.

"Ladies and gentlemen!" I called out again, "How many times have you paid a visit to the lavatory and realised you ran out of paper? Well now that is a thing of the past with my speaking paper dispenser."

Switching on my invention, and intentionally ignoring the smoke wafting from its innards, I pulled out a sheet of velvety soft toilet tissue while the dispenser uttered the words "twenty nine" with a robotic voice.

"That's right ladies and gentlemen!" I said with a tone of authority, "There are twenty nine sheets left. Twenty nine bottom wipes."

A large women among the crowd, wearing a lopsided bonnet, shook her head in disgust before making her way through the vast group of people towards the next stall. I couldn't tell if it was due to being offended at my choice of words or with the invention itself. I guessed I should have rehearsed my speech beforehand.
As the hours quickly passed by I felt I still hadn't gotten my message across as to how truly wonderful my creation was. Part of me felt the public were ignorant when it came to hygiene and their toiletry needs, preferring instead to wipe their filthy bottoms on used newspaper. In fact some of them likely never cleaned that part of their anatomy at all, instead waiting for their monthly bath. It was at times like those that I despised the lower classes. Maybe I was feeling sorry for myself. I must have gotten through to some considering the vastness of the crowd.

"Roll up, ladies and gentlemen!" I boomed out yet again with my tired voice almost croaking, "How many times have to paid a visit to the lavatory only to discover you've run low on..."

I was interrupted by the crowd as a commotion began to form at one of the other stalls further up my row. No doubt it was a hack inventor showing off something gimmical and useless, attracting impressed gawkers. I attempted to continue.

"How many times have to paid a visit to the lavatory only to discover you've run low on toilet paper?" I said to the crowd, "How often have you had to..."

I quickly turned my head as the crowd around me began hurrying over the to stall further up.

"Blast," I said under my breath.

One of the show staff opened a large glass side door allowing some of the public to make their way outside causing a cold draft to waft against my thin waistcoat.

"This way!" The staff member said with an authoritative tone.

I took a large intake of breath wondering as to what was going on. I hoped to dear God that it wasn't a fire, but then again I wondered how a glass building could possibly burn down. That was some unlikely to ever happen.

"That poor man," a woman in the crowd said as she made her way out the door.

It was only then that I noticed a man being carried by stretcher clutching his chest. From the look of his attire he must have been a fellow inventor overwhelmed by such a popular event. For a moment I was tempted to continue my presentation but decided to remove my hat and wait a few moments out of respect.

The remaining few hours of the show were a total washout to use a colloquial term, wish in turn gave me inspiration to invent an automatic washing machine for a future event. The crowds had quickly made their way outside the building after the unfortunate incident, many of which never returned under the belief that the show had been cancelled. I too called it a day and took a wander around the stalls along with other exhibitors who had chosen to do the same. It wasn't long before the event was officially closed and it was time to pack up and head for home.

"So what do you believe it is?" I heard a female voice as I approached the stall of the inventor who had collapsed.

The woman wore a long brown scarf, covering her dark leather jacket and hanging over her back, tapping against the bum of her tight trousers as she walked. She appeared to be talking to a fellow inventor who too appeared baffled as to the object's use that was displayed on the stall. I wondered if the woman was from the press in which case felt the need to step in on the off-chance of being mentioned in the newspapers.

"It's too large for a lamplight," said the man stroking his pointy black beard, "Maybe it's to keep the flies away, like a bug zapper perhaps."

"The inventor was holding it up before his collapse," the woman said, "It was vibrating back and forth like it had a mind of its own but now it's motionless. I guess it's out of power."

Keeping my eyes firmly upon the eight inch brass object on display I too guessed as to its function as I approached.

"How is our fellow inventor who created this fine instrument?" I said under the guise that I cared for my fellow man as well as not giving away that I had no idea what the invention was for.

The man with the pointed beard looked at me before tilting his hat.

"He's been taken to St Bartholomew's Hospital," the man said, "He's sure to recover. I suspect he was overwhelmed by the sheer size of this extravaganza due to his advancing years."

I nodded in response.

"There's to be a collection on his behalf and I'm sure many of us will pay him a visit once he's fully recovered," he added causing me to repress my annoyance at having to pay a single penny for other's misfortune.

I looked up at the item on display once more trying to gain a little insight as to its function. I will still totally flabbergasted, yet didn't want to appear foolish in front of my fellow peers so tried to sound knowledgeable while still inquisitive as to its purpose. Reaching out I picked it up from its display stand and held it up before noticing its slippery surface.

"I tried that earlier," the woman said, "It's coated in a sheen of oil, you may wish to wipe your hands."

I placed the item back upon its stand then retrieved a handkerchief from my waistcoat pocket quickly wiping away the sticky oily substance from my hands. However it proved difficult and I only hoped the oil wasn't corrosive.

"It's sealed at the base," I said taking a closer look but daring not to touch it again, "But I'm sure it unscrews. Maybe its a container of some sort for storage. Possibly an oil container that's sprung a leak."

"I agree," said the man with the pointed beard, "Something along those lines anyway. There are a lot of amateur inventors at these shows parading all kinds of novelties as true inventions. There was even a guy with a talking toilet paper dispenser of all things."

Both the man and the woman let out a chuckle having no idea who I was or what I had been showing.

"My name's Dr Ulysses B. White," I told them both offering my hand before realising it was still coated in an oily film.

The Bearded man was hesitant as to whether to attempt to shake my hand then held his arms to his sides instead.

"I'm Dr Sherwood Lantry," he said giving his beard a nervous strokes.

"And, I'm Inq Mary-Jane Ukridge," said the woman holding out her gloved hand for me to shake.

"Ink?" I responded having no idea what she meant while taking her hand and gently shaking it.

She smiled brightly.

"Inquisitor," she added, "I'm not an inventor per se. I'm more of a representative, an agent if you like, of manufactures looking for new products."

My face lit up then remembered how she chuckled when my lavatory paper dispenser was mentioned. I made a mental not to not mention my invention if pressed to do so.

We all looked at one another while Mary-Jane's eyes glanced back toward the mystery invention. For a moment it looked as though she blushed but it may have been a trick of the light.

"I think I may know what this is," she said softly as she leant closer to Sherwood and myself.

We were puzzled as to her quieting voice as though she was reluctant to reveal the secret. There was silence for a few moments while Mary-Jane gave off an aire of embarrassment licking the side of her mouth unsure whether to reveal her theory.

"Please tell," I quickly said causing Sherwood to frantically nod with agreement.

"I believe it's a ladies' personal item," Mary-Jane said softly.

"In what way?" I quickly added.

Mary-Jane glanced her head around making sure that we weren't being overheard then leant closer again.

"This is just my theory I might add," she said, "I have no real evidence, it's just due to its elongated shape and the fact that it's lubricated."

"And..." I said while waving my hand in a rolling fashion.

Mary-Jane took a large intake of breath.

"A bathroom item," she said, "When a woman is alone and she needs a certain problem dealt with, a need if you like, that she can't perform if her husband is away."

I was still baffled.

"I understand," Sherwood said calmly, "And I can see why the object has the need to vibrate whilst performing a pumping action."

Mary-Jane nodded.

"I suppose gentlemen can make use of it too if they are, well, that way inclined," she said with a smile.

I opened my mouth hesitating whether to inform them that I had no idea what they were talking about or to fake that I did. Sherwood leant closer to whisper into my ear.

"For clearing the pipes," Mary-Jane continued.

Sherwood took a step back having not told me anything.

"Wait, what?" He said.

"It goes down the plug hole of a bathtub to clear out hair that may clogging it up," she said red cheeked looking down at her feet, "Ladies often shave one's bodies in the tub."

"Yes that's what I thought you meant," Sherwood quickly said whilst nodding, "That's my theory too."

It wasn't until much later that day that myself and many of the inventors made our way to St Bartholomew's Hospital to pay a visit, as well as a little money, to the creator of the unusual item. A dozen of us crowded in his small private room ogling at him as he sat up on bed while we wondered if he was a genius or just another hack.

"Oh my word," he said as we wished him well, "You are most kind and I can see the inventors' community is one that takes care of its own."

The jar of coins had already been placed at his bedside while I stared at it wondering how much the others had donated, while certain I had inadvertently donated the most.

"What happened to you?" One of our fellow inventors asked.

"Oh, do not worry yourselves," he replied, "I'm to make a full recovery. I just need plenty of bed rest and to take a break from the labours of invention."

"Speaking of invention what was that device you had on show?" I asked him, "We've been pondering as to its purpose."

His grin was wide pleased to be asked such a question.

"Is it for clearing bathroom pipes?" Mary-Jane asked him.

"Or a back massager, hence the warming oils?" Another of the inventors asked.

The man sitting in bed let out a chuckle.

"My dear fellows," he replied gazing his eyes at us in turn, "That was merely a prop, a prototype micro steam pump devised to show off the wonders of steam power. It's of no practical use in its present form."


Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Warm Flutter

Whilst waking on a particularly cold night a child finds herself attracted by a bright light that illuminates her home, warming her body as well as her heart. She decides to leave the safety of her home and join her friends basking in the warmth as the flutter of snow begins to fall. All is not as it seems however and the glowing orb isn't as welcoming as it first appeared.

* * *

The mutter of whispered voices echoed around my mind as I awoke from my sleep. In my slumbered state I was unsure as to whether I was dreaming but as my eyes tried their best to adjust to the light I realised the hushed voices were real, as to the light however I was still oblivious as to its cause. Was it morning already? It had been at the pitch of night when I settled down yet now all I could see was bright sunshine.

The whispered voices from my friends marvelled at the spectacle before them as they stared at the light with awe. My eyes flickered as the silhouettes of my fellows mingled with their own shadows as though dancing among themselves.

The chill surrounding my body was a constant reminder that it was still winter yet part of me grasped at the idea that I had slept the entire season and it was now spring. It was a crazy notion. I was still groggy and wanted nothing more than to lay down my head and continue my sleep but the distraction of light was too powerful.

My friends began making their way outside through the open door of our home. Without hesitation I followed and swiftly made my way towards the light. The chill within my body instantly vanished and was replaced with a warm pleasurable tingling sensation.

There was laughter and screams of pleasure as we danced around the light, smiling happily in a state of pure bliss. I wished the moment would never end. Others from our home joined us, including my parents, who rather than punishing me for leaving the house joined in with the dancing. Everyone was happy.

The flutter of snowflakes gently fell from the sky and we all knew all too well that we would soon have to return home but as of that moment we were safe within the light, or so we thought.

"OW!" I cried for I had bumped my head into the glowing yellow orb.

It was clear I had to be careful for it was hot, but there was just something about it that drew me closer. I needed to keep a clear head and not venture too close as to enjoy the moment without getting carried away. However, it was as though I was trapped within a trance, the light drawing me closer. Again and again I burnt myself as I repeatedly drew too close. It was clear my friends too were caught within its spell and getting dangerously burned.

The light flutters of snow continued to fall from the sky melting around the light causing a dilemma. Should I stay within the warmth and protection of the light and risk getting burned or should I risk flying back home and getting caught within the snowflakes. The hypnotic light drew me closer giving me to real choice. I just hoped I would survive the night.


Monday, 2 October 2017

Welcome To My Parlour

While on the run from highwaymen who want to steal his wares a nobleman hides in an abandoned castle that once belonged to a vampire. The vampire, presumed long since dead, doesn't cause the nobleman any fear but the superstitious highwaymen are terrified and are afraid to follow. However, they still want to get their greedy hands upon the nobleman's large purse of money and their greed soon outweighs their fear. It's not long before they too enter the castle.

This story is told from the nobleman's point of view and shows how the notion of good and bad isn't quite as clear-cut as it may at first seem.

* * *

There was a biting chill within the air that night. The sky was clear and there wasn't even a hint of a breeze but the cold had teeth and it bit through my tunic as though it had fangs. My cloak was worn and moth-eaten but it was my favourite item of clothing which I had possessed since childhood which incidentally felt like an age ago. The rest of my clothing, my tunic, trousers, undergarments and neckerchief were of impeccable quality, made of the finest silks and cloths. I was a man of refined taste and was proud of my handsome features. Even my beard was neatly trimmed without revealing a spec of protruding stubble.

Resting my hand against the top of my hat I continued at a fair pace as my sturdy boots trod heavily against the frozen clumps of mud, on the outskirts of Tulcea village. I was heading for the local inn to collect their due rent and no doubt a free drink, something to warm the cockles.

As I traversed down the narrow lane I could make out three figures ahead. They were dawdling as though they had nowhere to go, and it was too cold a night for standing around. One of the figures was sat upon a farm gate while the other two leant against it.

"Good day," I called out while tilting may hat as I casually passed by.

"You're a gentleman," the one on the farm gate said as he jumped down and hurried over to me.

The other two dark figures followed the other. All three of them were rough unkempt males and stank of stale booze. The one in front appeared to be their leader of sorts as it was him that did all the talking while the others had a contorted expression of frozen smirks upon their faces.

"You off to town then?" The man standing directly ahead of me asked while rubbing his facial stubble.

"Yes I'm off to the inn," I said in a confident tone, "You're welcome join me and partake in a beverage or two."

I hoped the offer of free booze would calm the tension and allow them to let me pass, but it was clear they wanted something far more valuable than a free drink.

"That's a heavy purse you got there," the man said, "Maybe we'll just relieve you the burden of carrying it an' all."

One of the other men at my side pulled at my cloak attempting to get a closer look. Within a flash I yelled out a curse word and pushed the man ahead of me to the ground. I then turned on my heels and ran into the forest.

"Get him!" I heard one of the men yell from behind.

The frigid air of the night filled my lungs as I ran at full pelt into the darkness trying my best not to slam into a tree. The undergrowth and thicket crunched against the underside of my heavy boots with no way to hurry in silence. There were also the sounds of the men hurrying behind me. They were surely intent on doing far more than steal my monies after what I had done, they would likely beat me or worse, and I so deplored violence.

"He's around 'ere somewhere I can hear his footfalls," one of them said.

I couldn't see them but knew they were very near. My heart pounded and it was difficult to catch breath. I needed to rest but there still wasn't enough distance between us, if only there was a place to hide. I ran as fast as the forest would allow me taking care not to trip hoping that my wouldbe attackers would take a tumble of their own.

The old castle came into view ahead of me, I couldn't believe I had caught up with it so quickly. I knew of the rumours about who once lived there and hoped the men giving chase knew of them too. Dashing out of the thicket and into clear view I hurried across a field heading for the stone path that led to the castle gates.

"Over there!" I heard a voice from behind.

Without looking back, and with all my will forcing my tired legs to run faster, I dashed towards the open door of the castle then as silently as possible hid among the shadows.

My hunch was right and my wouldbe attackers didn't follow, however they stood outside daring one another to enter and I knew it would only be a matter of time before one of them did.

"Go on, you a chicken or what?!" The leader of the group said.

"You're crazy? It's cursed. There's a werewolf that lives in there everyone knows that!" Was the reply form another.

"It's a blood sucking vampire not a werewolf you nutter!" Said the other man.

"Whatever it is I'm not going in there, you go if yer so brave!" Replied the man.

Their bickering continued to and forth while I crouched panting heavily trying to regain control of my exhausted body. I wished I could just jump to my feet rush over to the door and slam it shut, but the huge oak door on its rusted hinges would be an impossible task especially in my condition.

While still within the shadows of darkness I slowly crept across the floor over to the staircase making my way upstairs. Each footfall caused the dilapidated steps to creak making it all too obvious where I was heading. I cursed myself for doing such a thing but there was no turning back.

"Well if he's not afraid then neither am I," said one of the men as he entered the castle.

I crouched then tried to move as silently as possible continuing up the stairs upon my hands and knees, but it was obvious from the creaking steps as to my location and as each step flexed beneath me I knew it wouldn't be long before the men followed.

"Listen, shut up!" One of the men said as the other two made their way into the castle.

I stopped moving, imagining I was a little mouse, breathing shallow, forcing myself to remain as quiet as possible. The only sound was dripping water which eerily fell at an inconsistent pace. Drip, drip, drop, drop... drip, drip, drop, drip. I hoped it would spook them, causing them to flee, but alas they had a sudden spurt of bravery.

"The cunning blighter's gone up stairs, get after him!" The leader of the group shouted.

All three of them hurried toward the stairs causing me to jump to my feet and run in the darkness. Their footsteps were heavy but alas despite the ruined state of the stairs it still wasn't enough for them to break beneath the men's feet. There was a room at the far end of the landing to which I swiftly dashed slamming the door closed behind me. It was only moments before all three of the men figured where I was hiding and they burst open the door with one forceful kick.

The moment my wouldbe attackers entered the room they were greeted with the flickering light of an oil lamp illuminating the small room. A number of chairs and a small table had been arranged as to greet the new guests. I was already sitting.

"Welcome," I said calmly, "Make yourselves comfortable."

"What's going on 'ere?!" One of the men moaned, "Bash his head in and grab his purse."

I stood up and walked across the room causing my shadow to remain motionless before swiftly catching up with me. An illusion caused by the oil lamp perhaps but enough to install a chill down the spine of even the bravest of men.

"Are you familiar with the works of Mary Howitt?" I asked calmly knowing full well they were uneducated ignorant fools.

All three of them looked at one another wondering whether to attack or turn and run, each wishing someone would make the first move, all sensing looming danger.

I took a step forward and proceeded to speak, "Will you walk into my parlour said the spider to the fly, 'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever did you spy, The way into my parlour is up a winding stair, And I've many curious things to show when you are there."

The door behind them slammed closed of its own accord leaving them looking bewildered and trapped within the room.

"Welcome to my parlour," I said calmly, "This is my castle, and you're my next meal."

I laughed ecstatically while they clambered at the door in panic.


Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Fairy Dance

A very excited person is filled with childish joy when encountering fairies at the bottom of the garden. They are deliriously happy and share a joyful dance while birds sing above. This soon reaches its conclusion when this happy person is forced to face reality once more breaking their joyful mood.

* * *

I laughed ecstatically, with pure joy within my heart, as I span on the spot in the middle of the lawn, surrounded by fairies. It was dawn, with the distant sun popping its head above the horizon as if to peep at the surreal spectacle of me dancing in nothing but dainty pink panties. The damp grass beneath my bare feet cooled the rest of my body, that never ceased spinning for a single moment dancing alongside the fairies. I was growing increasingly breathless and I knew it wouldn't be long before I had to stop, but I was ecstatically happy not wanting this feeling to ever end.

Fairies were gentle creatures, pure of heart, that only chose to reveal themselves to true believers. No doubt they sensed I was special, one of the chosen few, someone they could trust. There were around half a dozen of them, each with wings of splendour, dancing with one another as I danced among them. My smile was wide. The birds in the tree above sang a calming tune as the fairies and myself danced in unison.

"Tweet, tweet, tweet," said the birds.

"Flutter, flutter, flutter," replied the fairies with their gentle near silent wings.

I gave the birds a momentary wave while continuing with my dance. It wasn't long however that I grew exhausted and collapsed onto the lawn almost falling into the pond in the process. Quickly repositioning myself I looked up at the early morning sky with the fairies still dancing around me. I felt giddy and took deep breaths.

"Danny what are you doing? You're embarrassing yourself, get inside now!" My wife called out from the open front door of the house.

"I'm dancing, um, I'm with the fairies," I replied while slurring my words.

"Why are you wearing my undies?" My wife moaned.

Turning to the fairies they appeared unbothered by my wife's words and continued to dance with happiness, the birds however had swiftly left the tree.

"You're drunk!" My wife moaned.

Fairies or dragonflies, what did it matter? They made me feel happy. So long as creatures exist that spread happiness who cares what they're called. My head continued to spin as I made my way slowly on my wobbly legs towards the house and my angry wife.


Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Coming of Age

While showing off his skills within a coliseum a mighty gladiator is challenged by a member of the audience and is shocked to discover that it is a young boy. The warrior laughs but the cocky young boy has no intention of backing down and the challenge is accepted with a fight to the death, or until one of them cries. Set in the days of old and told from the point of view of the gladiator.

* * *

I fell flat on my face, my cheek resting against dirt as six large men pounded on top of me hitting their arms against my back. Their mighty brawn was no match for my own however so with ease I jumped to my feet flinging the other men into the air as the crowd of the coliseum roared at my feat of strength.

"Ha, ha, ha!" I boomed with a deep laugh, "None of you weaklings are a match for me. I'll snap you all like a twig."

One of the men, a particularly large wrestler, lurched towards me with both his hands in readiness to grab my shoulders. I simply stood out of the way pushing him to the ground much to the amusement of the cheering spectators.

"Ha, ha, ha!" I continued while resting my fists against my hips, "Your feeble attempts amount to nothing."

Another of the wrestlers took advantage while my back was turned jumping onto me in an attempt to topple me over. Grabbing hold of his legs I held him in a piggyback fashion then span my body around and around forcing him to fly out of my arms the moment I let go. His dizziness caused him to wobble on his feet as he tried to stand and ended up flaying across the coliseum into the spectators who continued to roar with laughter.

The other wrestlers had had enough and fled with fear.

"Ha, ha, ha, ha!" I boomed raising my arms high and addressing the crowd, "Is there no one to dare challenge me?!"

I flexed my muscles, continuing with my exaggerated laugh for a few more moments, before turning my back and making my way towards the coliseum entrance. A group of archers began making their way inside ready to entertain the crowd further. The overlapped voices, cheers and laughter of the spectators echoed around my head but one particular comment was all too clear.

"I challenge you!" Yelled a prepubescent voice.

I ignored it and continued along my way.

"Are you not brave enough?!" This voice called out fully aware that I could hear his comment.

I was still willing to ignore him but the spectators had also heard his challenge and they began to hush. Turning around I looked toward the vast crowd trying to gauge who had spoken. The sun was in my eyes distorting my gaze so it took a few moments to make out who was speaking. Part of me wished it was a larger than life muscle-clad man but as he continued to heckle I saw him sitting in the front row. It was a child.

"I challenge you for real!" The boy said in a broken and put-on tough guy tone, "Everyone knows your wrestling is fake, so I challenge you to a real fight, a fight to the death!"

I laughed out loud in the hope that the spectators would join in, but to my surprise not many did so, I guessed they were fed up with fake fighting too.

The boy's face was distorted with anger and he was likely serious in his childish little mind, but there was no way I could fight a child for he wouldn't last no more than a single punch. It was a crazy challenge. I was going to have to wiggle out of it to save face.

"So child," I said calmly as approached, "What makes you think you have even the slightest chance of succeeding against me?"

The boy's face twitched.

"Because you're a big fat fraud!" He chirped his response causing the crowd to laugh with him.

I let out a breath trying not to let the situation overwhelm me just in case I did something stupid I would later regret.

"How old are you?" I asked guessing he was no more than twelve at the most.

"Old enough to defeat you!" He shouted as he jumped to his feet and raised his fists.

With that the spectators cheered and I was clearly losing the battle of popularity with him. I wondered if I should accept his challenge then simply spank him in front of everyone to teach the little brat a lesson. I leant forward trying my best to intimidate.

"Challenge accepted," I responded calmly.

The boy jumped from his seat then ran as fast as he could slipping against the dusty ground as he hurried into the middle of the coliseum. The archers quickly started making their way out not wanting any association with the crazy battle that was to take place.

"Ha, ha, ha, not too steady on your feet are you?" I laughed at the boy who simply stood defiant with his fists in the air.

I flexed my muscles a few times to make him realise how foolish he was acting but he continued to stare at me. Shaking my head I walked over to him.

"I won't see that you come to any real harm," I told him softly as to not let the spectators overhear, "But you will get hurt I promise you, so I suggest you back out now."

"This battle will end with you crying!" He yelled his response before striking his fist at my belly.

I lurched back as the crowd started laughing, but I was sure they were laughing at me rather than with me. I wasn't used to being made to look the fool and felt anger brewing inside.

The boy lurched forward and began punching my abdomen with his fists one after the other, I turned away only for him to then start punching my back. I then felt his boot kick me against the back of my leg causing me to wobble and fall to one knee. The spectators went wild with amusement as they cheered the boy.

"You annoying little runt!" I yelled as I turned and grabbed the boy by his neck lifting him from the ground while he kicked his feet in the air.

It took just one punch from me to cause blood to spurt from his nose and his body to fall limp. I threw him to the ground and the crowd let out a silent gasp.

Some of the archers and other wrestlers re-entered the coliseum and raced over to the boy who remained lifeless on the ground. There were screams from the spectators and shouts of abuse directed toward myself.

"Are you out of your mind?!" One of my fellow gladiators yelled at me.

My mind span and I felt dizzy as the huge coliseum felt so small and claustrophobic. Everything was a blur and all sounds incomprehensible. Collapsing to my knees and covering my hands over my face I began to immediately regret what I had done. I was a monster. Why couldn't I control my rage? I began to weep causing my tears to flood between the gaps of my fingers before letting out a loud cry of grief. Falling into a heap to the ground I sobbed loudly.

A shadow was then cast above me as the boy who had just regained consciousness stood looking down at me. He wiped his bloody nose across his sleeve.

"I said I'd make you cry," he said with a smile.


Monday, 11 September 2017

Vampire Valley

A young boy is lost within Vampire Valley as nightfall draws in. As the sun goes down and the weather takes a turn for the worse, hunters are on the prowl and it's not long before the child's fear and imagination takes over believing that danger lurks around every corner. Not all of the dangers are within his imagination however so it's imperative for him to find a safe place to hide. In the meantime the boy's frantic mother searches the valley knowing all too well the life and death risk she is taking. This story is told from the point of view of the child.

* * *

I remember that fateful day as though it were yesterday yet I was no more than a mere child when my life almost came to an end. The fragility of life comes all the more apparent when something as simple as getting separated from my mother for a few hours nearly caused my existence to cease. I was alone that day with only my wits to help me survive as I wandered alone within Vampire Valley.

It began with the inevitable panic as I rushed around frantically calling out to my mother hoping she was within earshot.

"Mummy!" I screeched at the top of my voice causing my throat to become sore, "Mummy!"

The darkening sky above appeared to spin and my breath grew shallow while I tried in vain to attract help. The dirt ground beneath me crunched as the gravel slid against my shoes and the bare trees offered no protection against the elements. My shoulders hunched from the cold and it was sure to rain as the grey sky darkened further.

"Mumm..." I yelled before stopping mid-sentence hearing a rustle within the thicket.

Could it be my mother? I wondered, is my ordeal over? Am I rescued? Maybe it was something else, perhaps a monster on the hunt with me as its prey. I didn't want to wait around to find out if I was being stalked so instead ran as fast as my legs could carry me practically slipping against the loose ground. My breathing was fast, my belly ached with each breath, but it was essential that I did not slow, even for a moment, until I reached somewhere safe. I could feel raindrops starting to fall.

I ran on and on, as fast as I could, but could still hear sounds behind me. The sounds of breathing, the sounds of snapping twigs and the sounds of snarling creatures. The sounds echoed throughout my mind, causing me to feel giddy, filling my head with panic, and it wasn't long before they surrounded me. I could see nothing, just the trees among the darkening sky illuminated by the full moon. But I knew of the reputation of Vampire Valley and the monsters that hunted at night. They were ruthless killers and could be hiding all around me luring me into a trap.

I collapsed in a heap with total exhaustion not being able to run any further while panting heavily trying to regain my breath. I sensed movement from behind but the moment I turned and saw nothing the feeling diminished only to be replaced by sensing more movement behind. My imagination was playing tricks upon me but my eyes were not so easily fooled.

The sound of a bird swooping from the thicket both startled me and filled my heart with relief. I clearly wasn't being stalked but within a flash my imagination took over again and I wondered as to what had startled the bird.

With just a hint of a smile of relief I spotted my eye on a dilapidated shack among the trees, not long for this world but sturdy enough for temporary shelter. My ankle twinged as I jumped to my feet but ignoring the pain I hobbled as fast as I could towards the shack practically diving inside. Swiftly I slid across the creaky wooden floorboards then huddled in the corner hugging myself for warmth and to self comfort my shattered nerves.

It wasn't long before the sky darkened further, causing the already crisp air to bite, as nightfall fell. The rain poured heavily tapping against of what remained of the tin roof of my shelter, yet it barely covered the sound of my own breath that croaked with each inhalation.

My ears were poised listening intently at the sound of something approach but with the sound of the pouring rain ricocheting from the dilapidated shack it was difficult to know whether it was my imagination playing tricks again. Maybe I had been lured into a trap after all for there was no escape from my present location.

It took me a while to reach the conclusion that it wasn't my imagination and footsteps were actually making their approach. I held my breath while my body shook as I saw the silhouette of a figure standing within the open doorway. It was difficult to see clearly within the partial moonlight. It was a woman wearing Victorian clothing shaking raindrops from an umbrella as she entered. A stench of death oozed from her pours filling the shack with the aroma of fresh blood. The woman looked down at me, grinning widely, revealing her razor sharp fangs that appeared to glow within the near darkness.

"Mummy!" I called out jumping to my feet and rushing over to her.

She hugged me tightly as tears fell from my eyes. I was safe once more.