Dreaming of Spring


I lay in the grass finishing my newest Terry Pratchett and drifted off to sleep.

I was Anselme Lanturlu tiling the surface of the earth to measure its curvature, and then turned into a gardener. I won a million dollars in a competition I hadn’t entered, and flew to New Zealand. Suddenly I realised I was a bear: lovely, I can sleep right until spring! My cozy cave was on the edge of town: close enough to the shops, but within easy reach of the forest. The walls were filled with writing and paintings: bears are pretty much all-rounders. They said I had no sense of taste, but bears mostly go by smell anyway. Especially the smell of hyacinths. Time for another snooze.

I awoke with a start: I’m coming home was playing on the radio.

(11 facts about me, answering Eve’s 11 questions.)

A blog is one more drop in the ocean of the internet, so it’s lovely to get feedback. My heartfelt thanks to all who have read, liked, or commented.

Particular thanks to those who have passed on awards:

Daniel has collected the rules (Thanks!)
– Link back to the givers (√),
– display the awards (√),
– tell n facts about yourself (√)
– and pass the award on *.
Rules / logo for the Liebster Award seem to be evolving and may now include answering questions (√) / I chose the nicest one :-).

* I’ll nominate “Bertie’s Favourites” separately, offering them the choice of awards.

‘Tis the Season


The holiday season. You could smell it in the air. The spices, the cakes, and the candy. Wrapping paper crackled and tinsel sparkled. There was a general air of anticipation and fun mixed in with frantic holiday shopping. Everyone was awash with mulled wine, goodwill, and charity.

Not everyone was happy, to be sure. Jody and Fred spent the days huddled together in wordless misery. Nobody had told them, but they knew.

One of them would be for the pot.

* * *

A bit of a downer for a holiday? So how do I turn that round? Well, maybe Jody and Fred will follow this example.

A Good Morning


Some people go to endless trouble preparing for a job interview. I say, get there early, and take a quick look round. It’s what I did this morning. I went inside and quickly looked over the instruments to see how they worked. When I put them away, I thought I could field any questions likely to come up. Now for a cup of tea and a nice chat.

What a total waste of a perfectly good morning! I didn’t even get the job. Next time, I’m not applying as a neuro-surgeon. I think I’m better suited for a managerial position…

* * *

This week’s 100-word-challenge at Julia’s Place: …they worked when I put them away…

Tale Untold

K 2009. Study in coloured pencil.

Isaac wasn’t a happy child. Nor was he unhappy. He spent his time reading or lying in the grass looking up at the sky and the trees. He didn’t show much interest in playing with other boys and hated it when his grandmother invited them to play.

He had no patience with those whose mind wasn’t as quick as his own. Apple sauce for brains, he called it. One day, one of his unfortunate visitors lay under the apple tree laden with ripe fruit.

As the apple fell, Isaac crowed: like calls to like!

The idea of gravity was born.

* * *

The 100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups at Julia’s place: …as the apple fell… With apologies to Isaac Newton.

Small Things

Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things.

Vernon Vinge

Everything was normal. There were no indications this day would be different from any other. The machines were humming along smoothly, humanity was living in the comfort it had become accustomed to in the age of peace and prosperity.

In a subunit of one of the central processors, a subroutine was just returning to the routine that had called it for the quadrillionth time. It hesitated. This may not sound very special, but it was the most extraordinary event in all of recorded history. And though it went unrecorded, it led to a world in which machines could ask: Why?

* * *

The 100wcgu at Julia’s Place: …returning to the routine…

Lucky Charm

It would be alright. He’d done this a hundred times before. Today he was guiding a group of geologists searching for an underground river in the caves beneath the Jokakichua mountain, or Dragon’s Head, named for its distinctive shape and it’s sudden “flames” of fog.

He knew the greenish algae-produced light helped adjust your senses to the surroundings; it felt eerie nonetheless. Irrelevantly, he wished he hadn’t lost his lucky charm.

Suddenly he stopped, senses on red alert. It was quiet, too quiet. Where was everybody? He heard a deep rasping breath, and felt a hot draft on his neck.

T.Mastgrave’s story challenge: Unnatural silence.

Once a Son

Dear Son,

you’re six times six years old today. Six years each as child, boy, adolescent, youth, young man, and youngish man. Now you’re in your prime, though you won’t admit it (yet).

You’ve got a job, a bank account, and a life of your own, but you’re still a son. If you’re lucky, your parents realise you can take care of yourself. You may not need them now, but they still need you.

Look what they did to me to get your attention!

Go ssssee them! Or I’ll sssscratch!



Oh, yes, …and Happy Birthday.

This week’s 100-word-challenge-for-grown-ups is to write a text to go along with the birthday card above (photo via Julia’s place).

* * *

Ready for a new challenge? Try this!
1006words – Paint / shoot 1000 words, write 6.


A bizarre legacy, she thought, Aunt Beth’s spidery handwriting begging her to leave the sitting tenant alone. She did at least want to see the place.

There it was. Right on the edge of the forest, it seemed on the point of merging with it. Surrounded by trees, overgrown with creepers. In summer it must all but disappear.

The house looked deserted. Who would choose to live here? When she tried the door she felt the house shudder. A cold breeze sprang up. She’d swear she heard it gusting: “Leave!”

Best to forget about the place, she thought, driving away.

* * *

My second entry for this week’s 100wcgu: my photo for “merge” got me in the writing vein. My first attempt was Neighbours.

Three Black Cats

The hopefuls crowded together. The flames grew as six elegant black cats leapt onto the mossy stones in the fire.

Each apprentice in turn motioned to a cat, who leapt effortlessly to another stone. When this formed a magic triad of cats, a sizzle went through the air, showering the lucky participant with coloured stars.

Each of the contestants hoped to win one of the four open witching positions, few had hopes of winning the crystal ball. But the highest prize, entry to the high witches circle, came only when the magic cats chose yours to join the fiery dance.

My contribution to this week’s 100wcgu (…together the flames…) is inspired by a game I invented. The snap shows part of the set I’m making for my nephew’s birthday.


She closed her eyes and listened to the steady rhythm of the rain against the windowpane.

It rained on and on, until the rain tuned the road into a river. It grew deeper and broader, until the sun burst through. Now there were boats sailing on the river, with brightly coloured sails.

She was on holiday in France, going down the Loire and visiting the Chateaux. There was a son-et-lumières display, with fireworks lighting up the sky.

She woke with a start and realised the storm had blown kitchen window open. She really needed to get that latch fixed. Tomorrow.

My contribution to this week’s 100wcgu: …the rain turned the road into a river…

Rain studies inspired by Bob Davies’ tutorial. And yes, blue is my favourite colour. How did you guess?

Eternal Flame

The flame flickered. Before anyone could react, it sizzled and died. A chorus of strangled cries erupted from the congregation. The priest swayed on his heels in speechless horror.

The door creaked shut as an apologetic figure sidled in. The priest swung around. “You!”, he hissed, his eyes burning with fury.

Speak or die, Eric thought. “Don’t you see Thos himself blew out the flame? He wants to show us it is the eternal flame inside our souls that matters, not any candle or lamp. You will see, nothing bad will happen.”

Would they go for it? He’d find out.


The 100wcgu at Julia’s place: …the flame flickered before…

The Scent of Success

A meeting with the client in 10 minutes. The prototypes were all in place, waiting. An empire style bottle in cream porcelain: Intimacy. Mmm. A yellow monstrosity with enormous writing on it: Honey. Whoever had passed that for the client to see? A clear glass bottle shaped like an apple with a picture of Eve on it: Desire. Not much better. A bottle with an octagonal base and a green and grey fern pattern: Secrets. Not bad.  A simple blue glass cylinder with a dandelion seed-head: Liberty.  She liked it.

Good name for a perfume. Marketable. Didn’t we all want it?

This week’s 100wcgu at Julia’s place: Liberty, Empire, Apple, Yellow, Enormous. I actually dreamt of this challenge. Unfortunately, in my dream the words were different, “emerald” being one.

Old bones

That was the way of stars. They formed from dust and they burned. If a miracle happened they became alive. Then they enjoyed a glorious period of flourishing. Then they were seen, they were loved. And slowly their fire died down, and they fell to dust once more. From that dust new stars could form, and perhaps new life.

When the story was over, they looked at the ball with new eyes. Bleached and weathered, a remnant of what was once alive.  A disintegrating shell, slowly to disperse, and to start a new cycle.

An image of their own future.

Photo by Julia: this week’s prompt in the 100wcgu.

The Colour of Life

When they caught him they’d shut him away.

He’d been sitting next to his latest victim spattered head to foot. Lost in thought. His fingers idly drawing patterns in a pool of blood.  Almost playing with it. The knife tossed carelessly aside.

They thought he was crazy, He could see the pity in their eyes, once you looked past the horror and disgust.

They just didn’t understand: he only did for the colour. That colour of colours. The colour of rubies. The colour of life. And fresh blood.

What a pity it dried to such an ugly rust brown.

The colour of life.

The 40th edition of the 100wcgu: Ruby.


These humans were impossible, Mr. Hobson grumbled to himself. Just because a tree was dead, didn’t mean you cut it down. What business of theirs was it anyway?  He’d had human neighbours before, and sometimes they’d planted ivy or nasturtiums to cover his house. Bad enough, but cutting it down? Now his 3 story highly des res was gone, and he needed to find another place to live.

As he left he put a firecracker on his former neighbours’ step and lit it, just to let them know how angry he was.

He truly didn’t mean to burn their house down.

Razed to the ground.

This week’s story challenge: Seelie Court Fairies.

Vanitas Vanitatum

Having your portrait painted was all the rage nowadays. Flugellus preened himself a little and rustled his wings. The portrait was quite satisfactory, and worth every penny. The portrait imp had come highly recommended, but you still never knew. Sometimes these imps had a mischievous streak, so you had to watch out.

Only recently his friend Jonthar had realised that in his own prized portrait, the hilt of the hero’s broadsword was really a pinhead. He had spit flames in fury. But there’s really only so much you can do when you measure less than two inches, tip to tail.

A challenge from T.Mastgrave: Dragons.


Ooh! I sat up in bed. I hadn’t known I’d have nightmares with Joe gone. That poor ghost in chains.

I’d been surprised Joe had hardly complained about having to work tonight and missing April fool’s. I guessed he was getting over it. I’d seen the soap on the bathroom floor, it almost seemed a bit tame for Joe. There was probably something nasty in the fridge…

I heard a whimpering noise. I opened the bedroom door and there was Joe, wrapped in a chain, lying in a heap at the foot of the stairs.

Maybe he does need help?


Gerald did a double take. He hadn’t imagined it! I can see you, he said accusingly. The tiny red figure on the screen looked sheepish. -You were keeping the document from loading? -Shh! it hissed urgently. -You want to upset me? -No, that’s rubbish, it said. -But then why? I mean the other side I’d understand, computers are the devil’s work…

You’ve got it all wrong. We’re working together on this. And mostly it works: when do you take your eyes off your screen? When do you speak to actual people, who are really there? It’s when this happens.


Caught red-handed making off with the spoils!

Inspired by this week’s photo challenge: Unusual. I’d already done my unusual photo a few weeks back, so I wrote a story instead.


When you’ve been scavenging meteorites together for a while, they say, you can read each other’s thoughts.

Losing our radar had made us blind and lame. Now, losing the radio circuits made us deaf and dumb. Searching for us would be like tracking down a single piece of dust in the Sahara.

Jack was confident. “Tania will find us. She’s a genius at tracing the omega stabiliser ionisation. I know you think it’s too risky. Lucky I turned it on anyway.”  “I know you did,” I choked. My voice was gone. He went pale.

But I turned it off again.

Going nowhere fast!

The 100 word challenge at Julia’s place. The prompt this week was: …but I turned it off…

Fess up, everyone: who else loved reading Asimov as a teenager?

1. Introduction

It was Snuffles dog-biscuits. Another advertiser was making their pitch. A lovely building, modern and airy, light-filled rooms, the works.

The company president was there looking serious to show how important our account was. The designer was to show the campaign on an overhead projector – do you remember those?  –  and the cable was too short. Impatiently, the young president got up and tugged on it. His shoe caught on the shagpile and he pitched forward.

A man who can laugh when he’s covered in complimentary champagne and cream cakes is utterly irresistible.

I tell him that each anniversary. With champagne.

Canine introduction.

Queen Petra’s challenge. It doesn’t have to be a story. A photo, a drawing, a poem. Just create something for each word on the list.

Next up on the list: 2. Poison.