Posts Tagged ‘literary lion’

Literary Lion – Vera Versus Las Vegas

December 7, 2015 41 comments

Here is my post for Laura’s Literary Lion. The prompt word this time is “gamble” and I’ve managed to get it just under the 400 word limit. Which is quite long, but don’t worry, it’s all dialogue!

This is Vera’s third adventure. Vera is a rather doddery old lady from “up North” (of England) who manages to get herself into all sorts of situations but always manages to extricate herself while remaining largely oblivious to the danger she’s in. Her other adventures are Vera Versus the Devil and Vera Versus the Muggers. This time, she’s off on a jolly to Las Vegas, America.


“Eee, look at this place, I think I’ll try the slots…”

Push. Shove.

“… eh, me money ain’t goin’ in…”

Shove. Bang.

“Excuse me Madam, what seems to be the trouble?”

“… ooh, you’re a strapping young lad, jus’ like me friend Ethel’s boy, do ya know ‘im, ‘e’s ‘bout your age, me money won’t go in the machine….”

“Ah, that’s English coinage, Madam, you’ll…”

“… if me money’s good enough fer the Queen (bless ‘er) it’s good enough fer me…”

“You’re in America, now Madam, so you…”

“… when I were a lass, all this were the British Empire…”

“Ha ha, Madam, very funny, now if I could ask you to…”

“… don’t you laugh at me, young man, me cousin Beryl’s youngest daughter’s hairdresser’s second cousin’s granny once stood this close to the Queen this close she’s prac’ly royalty so don’t you laugh at me…”

“I do apologise Madam (security to the slots, security to the slots), if you could just calm down a little…”

“…don’t you tell me to calm down, no respect fer yer elders your generation…”

“FREEZE! Don’t move!”

“… eee, who’s this now, waving yer gun around, what you need is a nice calming cup ‘a tea, now where did I put me flask, here in me handbag…”


Blam. Ping!

“… eh, will you look at that, you’ve punctured me flask, that’s lovely Yorkshire tea all goin’ ta waste, all the way from England too…”

“Shit, I thought you were reaching for a gun…”

“… it’s just not good enough, does your mamma know you’re running round with a gun…”

“I’m so sorr…”

“… it would never have happened in my day, the youth today, no respect…”

“Madam, please…”

“… shooting people left right and centre, shouldn’t be allowed..”

“Oh God…”

“… there ought ta be a law, shooting little old ladies indeed, I never saw the like…”

“Excuse me, Madam, I’m the manager and as an apology, and on the understanding you never mention this little… incident again, we would like to offer you a thousand dollars worth of chips…”

“… ooh, I could just go some fish ‘n chips right now, that sounds lovely with a nice cup ‘o tea, lead on, did I tell you about me grandchildren, look, here’s a picture, ooh, there’s a bullet hole in it ramble ramble mutter mutter…


Literary Lion – A Well-Honed Edge

October 25, 2015 23 comments

Here is my story for Laura’s Literary Lion challenge. The Literary Lion has pawed around in his stash of prompts and for this fortnight has produced the prompt word “edge“.



A Well-Honed Edge

Always look after your tools, his Master had told him. He had taken this to heart, spending hours oiling, sharpening, polishing. His routine had always seen him right. His tools had never failed him.

As darkness fell, he pulled on his work clothes, picked up his tools and left the dark, dingy flat – not his everyday home, but nicely anonymous on the nights he worked. Unusually, he felt a little stab of… fear? No, anticipation. He usually worked for money, but tonight he was upholding a tradition, one as ancient as the hills, a tradition which would allow him to take his place as Master.

Blending in with the night, he entered the old man’s house on silent feet, slipping through the hallways until he saw him sitting in his study, reading. As the knife slid easily – oh, so easily – between his former Master’s ribs, he saw a flicker of pride in the old man’s dying eyes of a tradition upheld, a job well executed, and an edge well-honed.


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Literary Lion – After The Fall

September 26, 2015 16 comments

Here is my post for Laura’s fortnightly “Literary Lion” challenge. We get 400 words to write a story relating to a prompt word, which this fortnight is “fall“. Sorry there’s no photo :-(.

Dravik shook his head vigorously.

“No, Crannik! Don’t go out there, it’s dangerous!”

Crannik sighed. He’d heard the stories, told to naughty children right before bedtime. How a rebellious faction of Inlanders had been exiled beyond the Wall. How they were supposedly there still (or at least their descendants, Crannik supposed). All this had happened a long, long time ago, if it had happened at all, and personally Crannik had his doubts about that.

The Fallen – doomed to life in the Beyond, to eke out a wretched existence, to die in misery for their crimes.” That was how the story, and Crannik was convinced it was just a story, ended. There was some evidence that The Fall was in fact real, but Crannik suspected it had been a minor uprising rather than the hideous deeds of a cannibalistic faction.

“Come on, Dravik,” he urged, “it’ll be fun! Think of the adventure!”

Dravik just shook his head and walked away. Crannik laughed and set out, reaching the boundary of Inland in good time. He’d found the hole in the Wall many weeks earlier and quickly slipped through, walking away from the familiar, deep into the Beyond.

He walked for hours and as darkness fell, he made camp. He huddled closer to the fire as unfamiliar sounds came from the forest around him. He was willing to admit, this was pretty creepy. A night bird, insects… a snapping twig… breathing? Crannik leaped up and ran, crashing through the undergrowth, sobbing with fear. He could clearly hear something following him, and now… in front of him! He slid to a halt as a shadowy figure appeared from behind a tree. He fell to the ground, breathless, shaking. The figure came closer, closer…

“Ha!” laughed Dravik. “So you don’t believe in The Fallen, huh? Certainly ran fast enough, didn’t you! I’ve been tracking you all day!”

“You little…” Crannik’s sigh of relief became a gasp of horror as he saw Dravik’s eyes widen in shock. His friend clutched at the metal-tipped shaft protruding from his chest, blood trickling from his mouth. He slumped to the ground.

“You damaged the meat, fool!” snapped a harsh voice from the darkness.

“Be silent!” barked another. “We’ll eat him first, and put the other in the larder!”

Crannik clawed himself to his feet and ran.


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Literary Lion – Skool Dayz

September 5, 2015 32 comments

Here is my contribution for Laura’s fortnightly Literary Lion challenge. The Literary Lion has spoken, and this week’s prompt word is “limerick“.

The photograph was taken by Christopher Web (flikr) and supplied under a Creative Commons licence.



Mr Glass looked around the class.

“Right everyone, I hope you’ve done your homework. Randall, we’ll start with you.”

Randall stood up and began reading.

“Limerick is a town in Ireland, innit. It is in the province of Munster, yo. It…”

“Let me stop you there, Randall,” interrupted Mr Glass. “The assignment was to write a limerick, not to write about the town of Limerick.” The class tittered.

“Woah dere. I has spent hours…”

“… minutes at most…” broke in Mr Glass,

“… on dis!” finished Randall.

“I’m sorry, Randall, but…”

“Right! Here is a limerick den, yo!” Randall began to make boom-box noises.

“I does da homework on time,
But Mr Glass he wants a rhyme,
I was doin’ jus’ fine,
All dahn the line,
An’ I don’ do drugs,
‘Cos I ain’t no mug,
Rub-a-dubba-dub. Pshhhhhhh… the Word. Yo.”

The class burst into appreciative applause.

“Randall,” said the long-suffering Glass, “two things. One, that barely makes sense. Two, that’s a rap, not a limerick.”

“Oh man, it’s like I can’t do nuffin’ right!” exclaimed Randall. “Okay den, here’s a limerick for ya!

“Dere once wuz a teacher named Glass,
Who always had trouble in class,
He hates all da kidz,
Now his life’s on da skidz,
He could do wiv a kick up da…”



Literary Lion – Stained Red

August 22, 2015 29 comments

Here is my story for Laura’s Literary Lion prompt. Mr Lion has spoken and this week’s prompt word is “flower“. I’ve left all attempts at humour behind for a slightly grittier attempt for this week’s story.




Ring-a-ring o’ roses,
A pocket full of posies,
A-tishoo! A-tishoo!

We all fall down.

The words of the old nursery rhyme run through Dravid’s head as he looks around. Apt, he thinks, but the Black Death had nothing on this.

Here a woman stumbles past, sobbing, clutching the remains of her baby close to her. There a child stares blankly, a numb look on his face as blood-tinged tears trickle down his cheeks.

Once upon a time there were “rules of war”. You can do this, but not that. Kill this person but not that one. Not anymore. Rules? In war? War is all about winning. About killing, and killing, and killing, until there’s no one left to kill. That’s how you know you’ve won. And so finally both sides unleashed the stores of chemical weapons they never admitted to having.

Delivery was always the trick, thinks Dravid as he muses on this. Too easy to shoot down missiles, planes. He drops his backpack by the side of the road, the empty chemical bomb rolling out into the dirt, its contents already unleashed. He’s done his bit. Time now to rest. Lowering himself to the ground, his fingernails already rimmed with red, he knows that his end is near, past overdue in fact. He plucks a perfect white rose, marvelling at how selective the chemical is, leaving plants and animals untouched. Something to do with DNA, he understands.

The chemical, his chemical courses through his body, and his last sight as his insides liquefy is his blood, staining the rose red. Such a beautiful shade of red.


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Literary Lion – Watcher

August 15, 2015 26 comments

Here’s my story for Laura’s Literary Lion challenge. This week Mr Lion has supplied the prompt word “eye“.



Marcus settled back into his chair after one of his infrequent visits to the kitchen. This is where he felt at home, felt alive. Banks of monitors stared back at him, each showing a different scene.

Here a road, there a bedroom, on another scenes from corporate CCTV flashed past – an office, a stairwell, employees catching a sneaky smoke on the roof…

Some men had armies to enforce their will. Others knew the human psyche so intimately they were able to manipulate people into doing almost anything. Marcus had his monitors. His window on the world. Knowledge was power. And he knew everything.

Within his peer group he was known as “The Eye”. He was at the top of the pyramid. He knew everything worth knowing. And he used it to his advantage, regardless of the harm he caused to people’s lives.

A scene on one monitor caught his eye. Wasn’t that… yes! A middle-tier government minister. Not so high as to cause him problems but high enough to have a reputation to protect. And the lady he’d just entered the hotel room with? She was at least a nine, maybe nine point five (Marcus had no trouble objectifying women, and it would come as no surprise to learn that he’d never had a meaningful conversation with one). The minister was married. To someone else.

Fingers flickering over his keyboard, Marcus activated the webcam on the laptop in the hotel bedroom and began taking screenshots. He’d get a pretty penny for this, maybe buy himself a new server. Who would pay more for these pictures, he wondered? The minister to keep it quiet, or his wife for leverage in a divorce? Life was good!

Unseen in the corner of his room, a tiny lens watched his every move, streaming images back to base.

There’s always a bigger fish.

Very soon, Marcus is going to learn this. Because actions have consequences, and Marcus’s cosy little life is about to change in unexpected and unfortunate ways.


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Literary Lion – Lord of the Dance

August 8, 2015 30 comments

Here is my contribution to Laura’s Literary Lion prompt. I had one for last week (“water”) but it was complete pants quite frankly, and I didn’t have time to make it less pants :-).

This week’s prompt word, kindly supplied by the Literary Lion, is “dance”.

The picture I have used was taken from The Guardian, but the same picture was on multiple websites so it’s likely a publicity shot (from “Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell”) and owned by the BBC.



Mirabelle whirled amongst the dancers, her feet a blur. Her head swam and her heart pounded as she swirled around and around the Hall.

The Lord had wooed her, told her she was pretty and invited her to the Hall. For a poor peasant girl, this was a dream come true!

No longer.

The Lord of the Dance watched the mass of unwilling dancers with an appraising eye. As one flagged, he moved in and touched their shoulder. A moment of agonising pain and then, magically revitalised, they would dance renewed. But each time, the renewal faded more quickly. Mirabelle had witnessed the end of the cycle – a girl spasming, helpless on the floor, froth pouring from her mouth. The Lord, uncaring, stepping over to snap her neck.

This would be Mirabelle’s fate – already she had danced… two weeks? Three? How was she to keep time in this nightmare? As she whirled, she longed for death, an end to this travesty of joyful dance. She no longer cared, just wanted this to end.

Garett, concealed on the balcony above, watched the dance, horror reflected in his eyes. He’d long suspected that the Lord of the Dance was of the Elder Folk. He’d known The Lord was cruel, but this?

It was too late for his beloved. He’d watched the Lord snap his darling Jenna’s neck when he had no more use for her.

She would be the last, he determined. Holding the Medallion of Akros in one hand and raising the other above his head, he drew a deep breath, ran over the spell one last time, and began to chant.


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Literary Lion – A Homonym Too Far

July 25, 2015 36 comments

Here is my contribution to Laura’s Literary Lion challenge, which has a 400 word maximum. This week the Literary Lion has supplied the prompt word “time”.

I had lots of ideas for this week and finally went for the maddest one :-).

Flowering thyme

Flowering thyme – image from Wikimedia Commons, attributed to user “Greenmars”


“Thyme. A king among herbs.”

This was the opening line of the presentation given at the Twelfth Annual Conference of Advanced Physics, Manchester by Professor Grint Bigglesworth.

Bigglesworth, a man so convinced of his own infallibility that “mistakes” were something which happened to other people. A man who, in his youth, had developed a theory which had made him impossible to ignore, much as everyone wanted to.

An appreciative laugh rippled through the audience. Biggleworth was slightly confused – he’d decided not to start with the standard opening joke – but carried on unperturbed.

“Used by the ancient Egyptians for embalming and by the Greeks as incense, today we use it…” he continued.

Had he taken a moment to think, he might have wondered why his allotted topic at a conference of advanced physics was a discourse on a small green plant. Had he looked at the faces of his audience (all inferior to him, as he believed), he might have noticed the grins of embarrassment. the nervous fidgeting. Had he insisted on a written copy of his invitation to speak, he might have noticed the spelling of the word “time”.

However, he did none of these things. And thus he continued extolling the virtues of thymus vulgaris for a full hour and thirty minutes.

He was instantly ruined. No-one would return his calls. No journal would accept his submissions. His university finally had an excuse to be rid of him.

And so on that day, a self-important blowhard was forever removed from the invitation list of every major scientific conference in the world. On that day, a self-righteous narcissist with all the social graces of a cucumber was denied access to all public forums. On that day, an annoyingly persistent serial letter-writer was permanently barred from publication in any respectable (and many less respectable) scientific publications, magazines and newspapers.

Was it an honest mistake, an insidious conspiracy or rampant stupidity that brought him to this? Do we care? Let us just sit, close our eyes, take a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit perhaps, and be thankful.


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Literary Lion – A Day in the Life

July 21, 2015 31 comments

Just under the wire (and in a hurry), here is my contribution to Laura’s Literary Lion challenge. This week’s prompt word is “king”. Sorry there’s no photo, I’m doing this in my lunch break and don’t have time to find something suitable. So, with very little proof-reading, here we go.

A Day in the Life

It’s not easy being King. Some days it feels like the whole world and his wife is after me for something. It’s always, “Sign this, Your Majesty!” or, “The palace sewers are backed up again!” Like I’m a plumber. I’m the King, dammit! Here we go…

“Your Majesty, Drimmen’s let his cows graze in moi fields again.”

I don’t care.

“I’ll send someone over. Next!”

“Your Majesty, the milk’s turned sour. It’s witches!”

Saints preserve us.

“You left it in the sun again, didn’t you, Breevor? Next!”

“Your Majesty, my daughter’s run off with the milliner’s son! What shall I do?”

How should I know? She’s your daughter.

“Prepare for a wedding. Next!”

And so it goes on. And on. And on. Day in, day out. Don’t I have people for this? It’s not right. Ah, here comes a royal messenger.

“Your Majesty, King Matchett of Greater Gribdovia has crossed the border! It’s war!”

At last, something I can sink my teeth into. Something Kingly!

“Call my generals, sound the alarms, bring me troop…”

“Whoops, sorry, your Majesty. Wrong piece of paper, he hasn’t crossed the border after all. Just a little novelette I’m writing. Ahem. I meant to say that the royal chickens have burrowed under the wire and escaped into the woods again. What shall we do?”



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Literary Lion – Not So Merry

July 11, 2015 16 comments

Here is a story I’ve written for Literary Lion, hosted by Laura at I Smith Words. Laura has interrogated Literary Lion and he has delivered the following word for the prompt – “merry”. Now we have up to 400 words to write our story.

My story is pretty mad even for me this week, so don’t be expecting a clever plot :-).


Picture courtesy of

Not So Merry

Merry wasn’t. Merry, that is. Not living up to his name. In fact he’d change his name to “Grumpy” if that weren’t already taken.

Few people are aware that the Seven Dwarfs line-up has changed over the years. Merry was an original. Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Merry, Bashful, Sneezy and Myxomatosis.

“Merry” was deemed too confusing (given “Happy”). “Myxomatosis” was a non-starter. They were quickly replaced.

All the other dwarfs had made good lives for themselves. New stories, repeats, remakes – they were living the high life. Merry had nothing. A dank bedsit, no job… was it any wonder he wasn’t merry?

Even his showbiz friends had made it big. Okay, so Bambi had a drinking problem and Snow White had spent six years working in a meth lab to fund her crack habit, but she’d cleaned up her act and it had only helped her career in the long run.

What did poor Merry have?

Nothing. Zip. Nada.

Poor, poor Merry.

It came as no surprise when one day he snapped, strapped his shovel to his back and smashed his way into the studio, swinging his pick axe left and right. Chaos ensued.

Puff trampled the Ice Queen in his panicked attempt to escape. Cruella tripped over a Dalmation and took a shovel blow to the head. Road Runner ran into a wall. Visiting super-villain Ming the Merciless, Lord of the Universe, Destroyer of Worlds had an embarrassing panic attack in the corner.

In the end it took the concerted efforts of Alice, Aslan and the entire cast of “The Wizard of Oz” to bring him down.

And so now Merry lives in a padded cell, pumped full of exciting pharmaceuticals. And thanks to those pharmaceuticals, Merry finally is. Merry.


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