Stefanie Simpson

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#FlashFicHive GIF inspired flash fiction — October 15, 2017

#FlashFicHive GIF inspired flash fiction

Grace of Water

Grace’s toes dug into cool, wet sand as he gazed out into the predawn, waiting for the light to come. He was ready to go home and leave all mortal existence.
He was tired.
Leaving his shoes and socks somewhere behind him, he kept his eyes on the horizon and smiled into the dimness. Peace lapped in his heart as the sea licked his feet and he shivered. Cold water and the rushing sound of it centred him. A soft temptation of home, a call of love.
Tall and lanky with rich tawny skin, his sculpted hard face was as stone as he waited. Hands in pockets, time fell away. Squinting against the tiny hint of light, movement caught his eye, and in the distance, he saw a figure.
Grace’s shoulders slumped and set himself for the argument to come. Always the same.
As tall as he, but thinner and lithe, the figure looked amused.
“Who are you today, my friend?” Grace’s soft voice barely registered over the water.
They were dressed as he was, though they were much more dishevelled.
“I am Shah,” they smiled warmly, wild curls tangling in the wind. Light golden skin and soft features brightened.
“Shah, go home.” Grace turned back to the water.
“What happened that you would come here? This place brings you so much pain.” Shah faced the water alongside Grace, shoulders almost touching.
“I’m tired.”
The first hint hints of light hit the water, and Grace smiled. Shah took his hand.
“You’ve got blood on your shirt,” Shah murmured.
“It’s not mine.”
“When is it ever ours? We are not them. Wanting to be, wanting to look back at them brings us misery and regret. We cannot live that way. We are not people.”
“I know. I love you, I always have. For all my life and time. We are trapped, and I cannot bear the smallness of it.” Grace closed his eyes, a wealth of pain marring his perfect face.
“Sweet Grace. Full of compassion and yet without mercy to those in your path. Who did you kill?”
“A woman. Young. Frail. Weak. I made her think I was an angel.”
Shah laughed. Light crept closer over the water, warming the air with the cold sun.
“It comes. Do not leave me alone.” Shah turned, tears in their eyes as they ran their finger down Grace’s cheek.
“I want peace.”
“You will not find it in death. Come. Make love to me in a dark place and let me love you again. I’ll even wear a dress if you wish.”
Grace smiled at Shah’s tone. They were light and hope. Fluid in mind and form as he never could be. He’d loved Shah for it centuries ago when they were myth and pictures told with dead tongues.
An orange sky lined the horizon, and his eyes hurt. The tide invited him into the water. Come home it said, remember who you are.
He and Shah existed at the beginning of man. They were of the forming of the Earth and now exiled from their kind, all disparate and irrelevant.
Clinging to his bloodied shirt, Shah spoke quickly. “I cannot be here alone. There is just us left. From all that we were, there is only us.”
Grace shivered and turning to Shah saw tears fall down their perfect cheeks, and wet their shirt.
Grace hadn’t kissed Shah for more than a hundred years. A blink of time but forever. With a smile, he pulled them close, and he kissed them. Shah’s tongue sought his. So much history and love, passion and anger between them.
Shah’s smile as they pulled back was all the stars they’d ever seen.
To his relief, Shah pulled him away from the sea, and they made their way back inland.
Grace hated what humans had done to the Earth. Hated cities, the smells, the food, all of it.
Moving as mortals couldn’t, they left the city behind, and Shah took him to an open space, and through it, barefoot, they wandered the trees and fields. Grace felt ease at that moment, for he was of the forest and grasses.
All time was those moments, lacing in between banality and dullness.
Shah led him out to a small cottage beyond and inside where they would be safe, for now. Lost to each other, like the memory of water in creation, of the beginning. Bitter and sad, but beautiful and home.
With Shah, Grace would always return to hope. A peak of remembrance, harking back to the deities they once were.
Their names long lost, their purpose forgotten. All they knew was to kill, and love, and to fuck, and return to each other.

786 words.

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#FlashFicHive. October Challenge 1 Beyond Sight — October 2, 2017

#FlashFicHive. October Challenge 1 Beyond Sight

william-stitt-196804Photo by William Stitt on Unsplash

tiko-giorgadze-261579 Photo by Tiko Giorgadze on Unsplash

Challenge 1 options from the featured game graphic.

second draft 714 words

Beyond Sight

Carrie let the soft sound of washing machines and scent of fabric softener take her back. Memories of folding sheets with her mother in the tiny laundrette in her hometown made her heart pinch.
She chewed the side of her nail where the skin was scabbed and raw. At the taste of blood, she balled her fists.
A blast of cold air reminded her how warm it was from the driers and shivered as the breeze cooled her damp skin when a man entered.
He was dark and handsome and looked her up and down before busying himself at a machine. Odd that a man in an elegant suit would be in the launderette.
She looked at the clock. Clenching her jaw and repressing all the tension in her, she turned back to the window.
“What do you do?” a smooth voice asked.
“Huh?”
“You’re not dressed like most people who come in here.” The man’s eyes glittered at her.
“Really.” She raised her brow at him before looking back to the road. “I teach little kids.”
“Isn’t it a school day?” he smiled, suave and practised. Realising he wasn’t giving up, she gave him her full attention. His umber skin caught the harsh yellow light in the dim day. He looked impressive and dangerously sharp. “Are you okay?” his eyes became gentle, and for some reason, she wanted to explain it.
“You’re going to think it’s silly.”
“Go on.”
She pulled her lips into her mouth for a moment and stood up as he sat on the bench opposite her. Hands clasped, elbows on knees, he watched her.
“I dream sometimes. Odd dreams where I’m other people. I’ve always done it. I just thought it was how I dreamt.”
His careful expression didn’t change, and she went on.
“My girlfriend left me a few months ago, and I’ve not slept well since. When I do sleep, I keep seeing this thing happen.” Carrie turned back to the window.
“Today, something will happen, and someone will die. I’m standing — or someone is — here, and outside, there is an accident. I see it, the traffic is bad, and then there is noise and shouting, and a woman is killed.”
The only sound was the slump of washing. The man stood next to her at the window, and Carrie knew it was his eyes she’d seen through.
Looking up at him, he frowned down at her, and it was time. She knew it.
Carrie didn’t think; she was a rush of chemicals and reaction. Adrenaline flooded her.
Opening the door and hurrying out, she noticed the cars were just as she dreamt. The sounds and a light mist of rain as she remembered, yes, this is what she saw.
A woman in her car, idling in traffic, slipped on her accelerator as Carrie weaved through cars to cross over. Carrie didn’t see the car jolt forward before it pinned her between vehicles with a loud crack and slam.

When she opened her eyes, she was looking on at the scene from outside the laundrette.
“Sometimes, things merely occur as happenstance. Sometimes, they are known. It is a glitch.”
Carrie turned to the man who now stood next to her. She slowly blinked in a daze. “Huh?”
He grinned a perfect white smile. “What made you come here?”
“I knew I had to.” Her voice shook.
“Yes. And now you are dead, and we can begin.”
“Begin what?”
“Work. I am not a man. And now you are not a woman. I chose you, Carrie, a long time ago. You have a gift so powerful that mortality cannot keep it imprisoned. It is time to embrace it.”
Carrie looked back at the scene of her death. She thought of school, home, her lonely cold life without Beth.
“It’s a lot. I know. Shall we?”
It wasn’t like she had much choice. The unexplained of her life slotted together as he took her hand. The world vanished to nothing and then to light.
Carrie saw it all, the huge expanse of existence before her. Everything.
“What do we do?”
“We are death. We kill.”
That was when everything truly went to shit.

 

The Constancy of Anxiety — August 27, 2017

The Constancy of Anxiety

It begins in my stomach. Free falling downwards, though I’m not moving. It travels up my throat, and I think I’m going to be sick. The sensation of plummeting travels down my legs and pain sears the souls of my feet.

It makes me want to cry out. But I don’t. I remain still and quiet.

My head pounds, pressure builds in my ears, and lights, tripping in complex patterns, pulse in my vision.

My heart – there are few words to describe that feeling – It constricts, queasy and painful. The squeezing of the ventricles, the push and suck of blood; I feel it all.

My hands shake, sweat pools, yet I’m cold and shivery.

It’s all at once, and not for a few seconds, but for hours and days. Through the night.

That scary film that made you jump once? The sensation of dipping on the rollercoaster just before you fall? That’s me. Every second, of every day.

Sometimes, I can push it away, fight it, and find a sense of calm. It lurks, ravenous for adrenaline. I know I won’t win. I never do. Occasionally, I find something that distracts me. Pleasure and comfort. It’s not enough and never lasts.

Adjusting in the absence of ease is the worst. I try to cling on. It always slips away. The falling is worse then. Knowing a moment of relief makes it so much worse.

So here I am. Falling, with pain and grief in my gut making me want to fight and claw at it. It does no good.

Nothing does any good.

There is always hope, my quiet little voice says at the back of my mind. That, my friends, is bullshit. Hope of love and freedom from drowning is a constant lie. Finding balance in the riot of my body is what I should do. Yet there I go, searching for something to distract me. Fill the void. I might find it again, and for a time, I’ll sing. Then I’ll burn with the stench of fear in my nose, and sick in my throat.

This is what I am.

#FlashFicHive — August 24, 2017

#FlashFicHive

I have been lax this month, and have failed most of the prompts, this started out as something entirely different, and now no longer fits to any prompt, but wanted to share it anyway.

painting-2111490_1920

The Painting

 

The scent is what hits me first. A thick aroma of linseed. Drawing a brush through the viscous texture of paint and the coarse drag of sable against the palette, centres me.

A bright stroke of colour against pristine canvas is heaven. A breach. It is done, and I work.

That first mark is always the hardest.

The line that appears is my body captured, it is the transference of energy and movement, and now forever recorded in paint.

Every daub is like hitting a drum, and the sound a rhythmic beat.

The raised texture of the canvas, the rough draw of brush, and the paint spreading under my will unfolds before me, building into the unknown.

I’ve yearned for this moment, and now it’s mine. Lost in colour, I delve into a blank mind, concentration driving the chatter away. I find the story in layer and colour. I feel truth under the play.

It builds in me, I guide it, coaxing the image from my fingers and muscles. I know its song and feel it coursing with a pulse. The brush falls away, my fingers blend, paint smears on my skin, its colour permeates me, and marks me as much as I mark it.

We dance as the light turns in the day, everything fades, and I see it.

The form, structure, and depth reveals itself. Familiar as an old friend, one I have not seen for years.

I remember it, startled and happy. I brought it into the world, and caress it with love.

Sitting back, I am sated and spent. A light smile on my face as I continue to stare. I can’t look away.

Flawed, but real, it breathes with life, and we dance away into the night.

 

295 words

#FlashFicHive Prompt: create a story from a film character. — August 4, 2017

#FlashFicHive Prompt: create a story from a film character.

Based on The Labyrinth and The Goblin King – Jareth, this is version one of the prompt. The second is very different.

Revenge.

A kingdom of magic in ruin and chaos was good for no one. After too long alone in his palace, Jareth put his labyrinth in order.

Yet he watched her through a mirror, unable to look away, and his resentment grew.  Her life, her choices, the man she chose, the child she bore, were so insipid. So ordinary.

Jareth was disappointed and – unexpectedly – not bored by it. His interest never waned.

Goblins returned to their lives, in time. The city was rebuilt. Poor souls were caught in Jareth’s magic, but none were her. None challenged him as she did, even if they stayed.

Every night he returned to the mirror. To her, and in time, her child.

Elina was just like her mother. Black, wavy hair fell around her pale sweet face.

Jareth wanted her for his own, a cruel thread wove in his heart, and he spun it into gold. He wanted to play.

He waited until she was sixteen, just as her mother was.

He infected the girl’s dreams, offered wild hopes and revelations. She was sweet and kind and lost in what he gave her. At night he sought her out. She dreamt of owls, of dancing and love, and when he appeared one starlit night, her eyes lit up with wonder and interest.

Standing before the thing he most desired in a charming gold coat that glittered at her with his feathery hair and owlish touches, the Goblin King was beautiful and powerful, and he knew it.

The lights came on, startling Jareth. His blood rushed at the sight in front of him.

Sarah.

Older now, a life lived in her eyes, causing him anger, and something else. Regret perhaps or longing; all those years watching her age and move through an ordinary life hardened his resolve.

“We did this once so why are you here?”

“Sarah, you look old.”

She raised her head. “I am, thank you.”

Elina looked at her mother and the wild danger that she knew already.

“Tread carefully, Sarah,” he said, glancing at the girl.

“You cannot take her. No one asked you here, and no one made a wish.”

“Are you sure of that? I have watched you from afar, I have waited patiently, but find myself disappointed in you. The choices of your life and what could have been for you had you stayed with me makes me curious. But this creature,” he gestured at the bed, “is  lovely, as lovely as you were.”

Sarah moved slowly with no naive innocence or wide-eyed wonder at the Goblin King. Her hard eyes glared.

“You had no power then, and you don’t now. For a time I wondered if you were real or if I’d made it all up, but when Elina told me of her dreams,  I knew I hadn’t. We’ve waited for you, I wouldn’t leave her naive to you.” Sarah moved across the room, holding his attention as Elina slipped out of bed, her eyes intent and cruel.

Jareth narrowed his eyes, and pulling a crystal from the air twisted it into a coming horror, and as he was about to set it free, Sarah brought out a gilded cage from nearby.

Jareth paused. “All I ask is that you do as I say. I will take her-”

“No, you won’t.”

Elina caught hold of the crystal in his hand before Jareth could unleash it, and threw it at him. He turned as it smashed into fragments against him, his image shattering with it, and in the roar of sharp noise, he turned back into the owl.

He flew frantically around the room before heading to the window, but Sarah shut it before he could escape. Elina threw a blanket over him, pulling him down to the floor. He flapped violently, screeching.

And then he was in the cage, the little door shut firmly and locked.

“Say your right words,” Sarah mocked. “Now, mighty Goblin King, you are a pet. Enjoy him, Elina.”

The beauty that gazed at him through the bars smiled. The last fragments of his illusions and magic faded, glittering into dust, and there was just Elina in the dark.

He tilted his head.

“Don’t worry Jareth, just do as I say, and you will be free.”

 

#FlashFicHive ‘The Argument’ —

#FlashFicHive ‘The Argument’

From June’s prompts, and late to be uplaoded, here is a 250 word flash.

CW: Contains sadness and tragedy of the road.

At a quarter past eleven, the best comeback entered Pete’s thoughts. The fight with Abbie had been going on for a week.

A week.

With a huff he pulled on some clothes and stomped down out of his building, jamming on his bike helmet.

Revving his engine a few times, he pulled out of the garages and into the quiet dark.

His bike cut through the silence, and in his hurry, he took the parkway.

Either side of him, along the narrow road, darkness hid the beauty of the wild park. Pete always loved it. He and Abbie had their first real date there, a picnic. He’d been chased by wasps for ten minutes, and they ended up having a mad snogging session in his car.

He smiled as he rounded a sharp bend. Instead of continuing their fight, he wanted to kiss her and pull her close.

He saw it too late.

The beams of the car hit him hard at the peak of a hill, blinding his vision. Driving in the middle of the lane, the car weaved a little. Pete swerved to avoid them, but too late.

The car struck the bike in a crunching squeal that barely registered as he vaulted over the car. The bike went in one direction, and him in another.

All he thought as he flew, rolling in a blur, was that it was a shame he’d never see Abbie again. Or kiss her. Or say he was sorry.

#FlashFicHive challenge – word cloud 2 — June 26, 2017

#FlashFicHive challenge – word cloud 2

Genre: Crime – Horror. Word count 124 – 458 – 371 (final word count)

A Nightmare in Consequences

The dream was the same, a nightmare, falling, terror strangling him, his wife clinging tight, her screams unending as they went. Tangled in her dress, drenched in terror, they were both screaming.

Waking to darkness, sweat pooled on his skin as he heaved his breath, hair dripping, and sheets soaked. Wiping the saltiness from his eyes, he reached over and felt her arm; her cool, smooth skin reassuring him.

Taking a deep breath, slowing his heart, he sat up and nearly vomited.

A fly buzzed somewhere in the dark and landed. He turned, and in the dim light, he watched the fly crawl over his wife’s face. Her eyes were half-open and body completely still.

He waved his hand, and it flew off, the thick sound of its flight echoing in his thoughts. The man whispered garbled words in the dark, but a weight sat in his mind, halting his voice.

On shaky legs, he went to the kitchen and forced water down his throat. His body felt dry, having sweated out all the fluid in his body. He walked back to the bedroom, watching her from the doorway, and for a second she looked asleep, but she wasn’t.

The crisis had passed, but the consequences were coming.

He went back to bed, closed his eyes, and welcomed the terror that waited.

Looking at the ceiling, a hint of dawn already creeping, sleep evaded him. A hand touched his arm, and he turned his head to see his wife smile at him. His mouth opened wide as she grabbed him, and they fell through the bed down into a dark pit, screaming and tangled in each other.

Struggling against her, he wanted the end, he wanted it over, and with a guttural scream, they tumbled down endlessly, locked in struggle.

Air rushed his ears, drowning his screams.  In the darkness he felt her, but could not see her. Turning over, spinning through nothing, he understood.

His frantic struggle wore him down. All fight left him. A worn, broken spirit in the arms of the woman he once loved and betrayed.

They no longer fell, but floated, always with her, trapped in her arms, tormented with her hands around his throat.

Forever.

 

#FlashFicHive Word Cloud Challenge — June 21, 2017

#FlashFicHive Word Cloud Challenge

From the word cloud given as a prompt, and images I chose, here is my flash fiction piece.

 

Demon Lesson

 

Crawt pulled his hood low over his face and led the pony away from the dismal remains of the village. The poor creature was laden with riches and gold – the accumulated wealth of the place that had tried to destroy him.

He smiled, his repulsive face curling in disgust at the people who tortured him; an exiled demon, afraid and alone, and they abused him.

Immortality had its burdens. Hanged, drowned, and lashed in the stocks, yet he did not die.

He limped on the narrow path away from the grim place, out to the countryside where he’d be free to find peace. His eyes glowed as he passed Mirelda the fair. The maiden released him from the chains and healed his wounds. She didn’t flinch at his mangled demon form, or the lash marks, but looked sad. Rolling his shoulder, he felt pain in his back, marred and scarred from weeks of punishment.

Her eyes filled with tears as she watched in silence with the rest of the village. Crawt’s lip curled higher, revealing his fangs.

How malleable these people were. Soft and weak of body and mind.

Uncounted years of existence had passed where he doled out punishment to humans. He supposed it was some justification that he should endure retribution. To them, he was a form of evil, and they do their duty by vanquishing him.

Alas, in their pursuit of justice, they grew cruel, and the villagers learnt no secrets and knew no promises of eternity or salvation. But with their humanity tested, their treatment solidified his understanding of these creatures as inferior and foolish.

Crawt took everything he could from them and felt no sorrow for it, only hatred.

Except for the woman, for she alone was kind, she made the way for him to take what he wanted, and take he did.

His step faltered in the mud, and turning a little, he heard her step. He grinned and walked on, the pony following obediently, as did Mirelda.

 

335 words

 

#FlashFicHive GIF challenge — June 14, 2017

#FlashFicHive GIF challenge

tenor

Flash fiction inspired by this gif.

 

Gothic Romance.

 

Memory of the sea

A door slammed, and the wind screamed in the chimney. Petra didn’t flinch at the noise but picked at the ice on the inside of the window, her mind elsewhere, in the past.

The floor creaked, a door upstairs opened and closed, bringing her back from her thoughts.

“I’d like to go out.”

The whistling draft answered.

Petra paid no attention to the rotting, swollen wood of the windows or the cracked panes. She didn’t notice the empty rooms, or that spiders and beetles resided in the hall as she walked through the desolate house.

Standing before the locked front door, and without her keys, the desire to be free of her prison swept her.

“Let me go.”

The house went quiet.

“Let me go, please.” Her weary voice and spirit were desperate. The silence thick.

The creeping at her back began as a cold caress. Her lips trembled, and tears fell. She remembered his warmth and hold; the sweet love of what was lost.

Fear prickled; the feeling of someone standing close behind her, and she felt his touch. She tried to fight and resist the allure but couldn’t.

The atmosphere crackled, tension in the air made her skin goose, and she felt his frozen lips on her neck.

Sobbing, her head fell back to his shoulder, and surrendered.

Pulled close, Petra spun to face what she couldn’t look at.

“Petra.”

She shuddered, mouth lax, and found herself walking. Compelled to move forward, steps painful and filled with dread.

On the landing, she held the smooth round newel post, knuckles white, and breath misted in the cold.

“Petra.” Her name was an echo; it came from the walls and the wind. Compelled onward to her bedroom, she struggled. She would not submit to the madness again.

The pull and promise of the past, full of memories flooded her mind.

She screamed so loud, it echoed through the house, and the groaning quietened. Taking the opportunity, she fled down the landing to a disused room that had once been her sanctuary.

She slammed the door and turned the key in the lock, thankful it was there and slid down to the door. Feeling the cold for the first time, her tears were icy on her face, and she tucked her hands under her arms.

Faded linseed oil and paint scented the air, bringing her to her senses.

Her gaze landed on a large unfinished painting. The past came forward, one of summer and wild youth.

Down the dune, she ran with paint box in one hand and easel in the other. Her hat blew away in the rush, and dumping her things on the pebbles, she set up to catch the sight of two tall ships sailing out to sea.

The proud vessels moved slowly on the water, which undulated and sparkled in the sun.

The smell of salt on the wind and sound of gulls in the distance were happiness, and she worked madly to capture the ships before they grew small. Paint flecked her dress, a smudge on her cheek, and her hair blew all about her.

She didn’t hear footsteps crunching towards her as she frantically worked.

“Petra.”

She looked at the man, startled from her work.

“Sebastian,” caution shone in her eyes. A wave pulled her, the tide coming in.

“Let me help you.” The rich son from the big estate grinned his sharp grin. Petra was afraid and fascinated by the way he looked at her.

He carried her easel, held her hand as her dress dripped everywhere, making him laugh. He reached out and wiped at the paint on her face, a glint in his eye.

Petra shivered as she opened her eyes. Behind her, the door groaned, pressure pushed at it.

“Sebastian.”

The whistling stopped, the door stilled, and the key slowly turned in the lock. Petra no longer cared if it was madness or damnation. All she wanted was her beloved.

It was time, and Petra looked at the painting again, remembering the majesty of those two ships, appearing like lovers exploring the seas.

Eternal cold and madness were hers, but Sebastian had come back from the dead, and she would join him.

 

701 words

 

#FlashFicHive Challenge: redraft — June 7, 2017

#FlashFicHive Challenge: redraft

Bound

Behind Tern and Grace, the town grew small in the dark night. With hands clasped tightly, they ran for their lives into the wilderness.

Cast out into the dangers of wild, reaching the ancient forest was the only hope of survival. Stories of the magic and the realm beyond had long held sway with their people. No one came back from the world beyond their sanctuary. Predators that outmatched their own strength were hunting them, and the sound of their cries on the wind meant they were catching up.

Across hilly grasslands they fled, hearts pounding, muscles screaming as the howling cries closing in.

Forbidden and far from home, the old forest loomed in the distance.

Exhausted, Grace pulled Tern to a stop.

“I can’t go on.”

He pulled her close as the cold wind stung. “We have to, there is no choice now. It is this or death.”

Holding tight to him, his pain and tears made her heart clench. Another howl made them turn to the blackness behind, their home long out of sight.

“I’m sorry I did this to us. To you. You could have been bound to someone else by now.”

“I’m not sorry. We will make it, and hope. But we must move, now.”

With that, he pulled her behind him, the ground sloping down, and they neared the trees. Rushing into the wood, the bracken dry underfoot, sheltered from the wind, they kept their courage.

In the distance, a faint light shone, and they headed for it, leaping over fallen trees, dodging branches.

Strength surged with the end before them. Their pursuers made the woods. Tern held Grace’s hand tighter.

The precipice hung over water beneath it, mist hovered, filtering light that shone upward.

“This is it,” Tern panted as they came to a stop.

Grace heaved her breath as she peered over the edge.

“What if there’s nothing? What if it is just a story?”

“Then we die together, on our terms. We did nothing wrong, but make our own match and fall in love, but it’s done now.” He cupped her face, taking a last kiss.

“We were enemies once.” She said softly, even though the noises grew louder. “I remember thinking how much I hated you.”

“I thought you were cold.”

“I’d rather live like this than have lived without you.”

They looked at each other, then Grace took his hand, and with a nod, they ran forward, leaping into the unknown.

 

joao-silas-104961

 

word count: 411 words.