A selection of images including the cover to Titanic Terastructures, A Quiet Afternoon 2, Thirty Years of Rain, New Maps, Shoreline of Infinity, K-Zine, Flotation Device and Magical Crime Scene Investigation.
In the centre are two painted images, one of a frazzled ginger haired woman drinking tea and one of a Sikh gentleman holding a bucket and sword and facing pink tentacles

Not NaNoWriMo 2022

 Didn’t do NanoWriMo this year but I did follow the below set of prompts from Cat Hellisen to knock out some flash fiction. I did keep forgetting and having to catch up, though, so there is very little thought behind any of these.

1 – Gloaming. 

‘It’s no dark!’
‘Aye, but it’s no light neither. Whit are you daein trying to read the noo? You’ll ruin yer een.’
‘Aye, but it’s ma instructions fur turning oan this reading light. Ah’ll hae it in a mo.’

2 – Exodus. 
The ships slipped their moorings and pulled out of the harbour, the last to leave. Behind them lay detritus, empty baskets, broken carts, empty homes and broken lives. In front lay a future uncertain but with the potential to be better. Hope filled their sails.

3 – Deceit. 
‘It’s a crying shame they’re stopping those wee Bounty bars in Celebrations. If only you could get some of the older boxes that still have them but all sold out.’
‘Aye, total shame.’ I muttered as I shoved the four boxes more deeply under the sofa with my foot.

4 – Knell 
The tolling of the bell rolled across the landscape, drowning out conversations, silencing lowing cattle and driving birds into the air. I wiggled a finger in my ear and turned to the monk on the end of the bell pull.
“K’n ‘ell, Patrick, that was loud!”

5 – Orison 
‘Mork calling Orson, Mork calling Orson, come in Orson.’
‘Bloody computer exchanges, Nanoo, nanoo this!’

6 – Puzzle
The arch was ancient, covered in moss and the words carved into it by the ancients illegible but everyone in the village knew the puzzle they’d once set. Solve it and you could pass through to knowledge, power and riches. Over the years they’d tried presenting many things to the arch, but none would open it and so, over time, they stopped. No one came to try their luck anymore and the arch disappeared into the peat.
They’d forgotten what a Valid Travel Card was and eventually they stopped caring.

7 – Sacrifice
‘But I don’t want to!’
‘We all know it’s not easy but you’re name came out of the hat so you have to do it this year.’
‘That’s easy for you to say, you’ve never been picked.’
‘Well, no, but I know the doom that would be visited on us if I didn’t, so I would.’
‘Aye, aye, of course you would.’ They sighed loudly and then picked up the book, gently caressing it’s cover. ‘I’d just got to a good bit with pirates.’
‘The dragon is best pleased when we send a decent sacrifice. A book that good should keep them away for ages.’

8 – Lizard
Plock! Plock! Plick, ick, ick, Plock!
Anita wiggled a little green foot and then placed it back on the ceiling, squishing the sole of her new boot against the surface to adhere it firmly.
They held firmly yet came off easily, with only a small noise and the colour pleased her immensely. Why humans had not invented similar baffled her, but presumably that was why lizards were far superior to them.
Pleased with the way of the world she continued with her day.

9 – Mural
The artist clambered down the scaffolding, another day done. The patron seemed happy with her progress but she was beginning to suspect she’d bitten off more than she could chew. Did she really need all those ships?
Were the C-Beams on the Tannhauser Gate glittery enough? How would she ever find the time to fit each planet in and make them identifiable? And would the notoriously thin skinned emperor like how she’d painted him? Still, it was better than nerf herding.

10 – Abandon
The bear tumbled out of the box, dropping onto the grass and bouncing under the edge of the hedge. It looked up from it’s frozen position as Danny hurried off with the box towards the car and cold dread crept into it’s heart. Was this it? Finally abandoned?
All these years giving unconditional love and now it was coming to an end. Fear clutched at its stuffing and a tear came to its glass eye as it contemplated what would happen to it now. Rain smirred the sky and scufflings in the leaves boded ill.
Then a hand out of nowhere swept it up and a familiar greying beard rubbed at its head. ‘Oops, nearly lost you there Ted. Not doing that after forty years.’
The bear relaxed and uttered a silent prayer of thanks to the great god Steiff.

11 – Recognition
‘You got any idea what this is?’
The archaeological professor stared down at the carved stone, twisting and turning his head to look at the two women from every angle. Their joined hands, the swords held aloft, the bodies at their feet.
Eventually he spoke, ‘Obviously a religious ceremony to celebrate their husbands victory.’ He nodded, happy to have defined history correctly and went to the pub.

12 – Cygnet
‘This ring is pish! I’m taking it back to the shop I bought it from.’
‘How, what’s wrong with it?’
‘It’s no shiny, jist a dull grey, it’s a weird shape and it went fur me when I tried tae push it intae wax.’
‘Aye, see, you’ve spellt signet wrong there, mate.’

13 – Fossil
It sank below the water, settling into the mud at the bottom of the pool. Over time sediment covered it, shutting away air, light and eventually even the most persistent of predators.
Eons rolled around, the land rose and fell, twisting up into the side of a cliff.
Water came and went, wearing away sections and forming a pool in front of the eroded cliff.
A small boy walked past, picked it up, smiled at the funny pattern and then skimmed the fossil into the pool to settle once more.

14 – Skin
Everything had to be collected on the ships and recycled. Food, waste, clothes. But what to do with the skin? It couldn’t go in a bin and it kept fouling the air processing. Then a manager had an idea and so all astronauts were sealed in plastic wrap before missions.

15 – Moth
Flit, flit, bonk.
Flit, flit, flitter, flit, bonk, flit, bonk.
Helen sighed. Moving to Mothtown had seemed so sensible when she saw the house prices but she finally had to admit, once the Christmas lights went up, it was not a place for a good night’s sleep.

16 – Fertility
The cow daintily picked its way across the pasture, nose down and carefully scrutinising each micron of the field, eagle eyes hunting out that exact spot with the least fertilisation.
Then, once identified, it relaxed and entirely missed its mark.

17 – Court
I’ve tried everything. Bought it flowers destroyed by a hurricane, offered it dinner that burnt the house down, invited it to watch an Ed Wood film. Nothing took its fancy.
How on earth do you court Disaster?

18 – Immigrant
A journey starts with a single step, they say. But every step has the potential to be that single step, the start of something new and, after many steps across land and sea, this felt like one of the most important single steps.
They stretched out their leg, set their foot upon the quayside and started the next journey. No longer an emigrant, a traveller or a wanderer, they had become an immigrant.

19 – Commune
‘How was the Commune? Did you feel very communal as you communed with the rest of the Commune?’
‘Communal? That lot wouldn’t recognise if they were stuck on a farm together. I’m off to start my own where I can commune with the only person worth doing it with, myself’

20 – Silver
In the scheme of things, forty years of hiding in the bushes just off a motorway service station was not something he’d have wanted but it was better than being trapped like Sapphire and Steel. Stuck in an early 80s cafĂ© and missing out on the technological advances?
No thanks.
True, Silver didn’t get much time to examine these new items, constantly having to be on the lookout for a Transuranic and ready to construct a Motorway sign to hide behind. But he knew they were there. Could see humans using them.
Then, finally, they gave up and left and he could at last try to rescue the other two. But first, time to see how these latest phones worked.

21 – Contagious
They had all the firewalls, masks and filters but someone had been sloppy and the meme got in. They tried to investigate but not even the guy in the hotdog suit knew who to blame and once it mutated to become Spiderman pointing they seemed to be doomed.
Then it made its fatal mistake and mutated once more to the other girl, got distracted by the next planet over and left.
They breathed a sigh of relief, reinforced their defences and returned to failing to be able to decipher who Darmok and Jalad were.

22 – Willow
The strands were supple and soft as she wove them back and forth, twisting, catching and binding the willow into loops and whorls that formed the body, limbs and head. Once done she took the figure out into the garden and placed it by the hole in the hedge.
Nestling it carefully she nodded to the hedge. ‘For this year’s harvest and all your bounty.’ She backed away, locked the door behind here and snuggled into bed, deep under the covers, hoping she wouldn’t be able to hear the creaks of it’s brethren as they arrived to take it.

23 – Seven
Seven times they asked and seven times they were refused because they had asked wrong or it was a bad time or they might do something stupid if they were allowed. But they were told had the right to ask properly ‘later’.

On the eight time they did not ask, they took.

24 – Ritual
“It’s what we always did, film in the afternoon and then dinner afterwards. It made for a lovely Sunday afternoon and a relaxed evening before going back to work. How was I supposed to know it was also important?”
“Hang on, are you saying that you going to a later showing of a film caused all this?”
“Well, do you know anything else that changed that day?”
“Umm, no, I suppose I stuck to my usual Sunday gaming.”
“Exactly. This Sunday, if I can find a cinema left, I’ll prove it. I’ll see a film and then have my dinner and everything should go back to normal.”
“Well, good luck with that but I think Cthulhu ate your usual cinema. Anyway, got to get on scavenging tins. See you later.”

25 – Veil
The trumpets sounded, the ground shook, horses whinnied and cows lowed in mild peevement. The air shimmered and parted as a curtain, ripping open the veil between the worlds and letting through a sweet air and sparkling light.
Gerald threw his gardening fork into the soil and muttered under his breath before turning to shout through the back door and into the house. “Titania, dear, that’s your parents here. Can you get them to close the portal this time, it plays havoc with the wifi?”

26 – Tree
‘I want to be a tree!’ The little girl was adamant.
‘But sweetie, we’re going to spend years in the simulation when we sleep as we travel to our new home, don’t you want to dream of something that can run?’
The girl shook her head. ‘No!’
The ship spent two centuries in deep space and the travellers lived on in the VR simulation as knights and dragons, heroes and villains, happy families and glorious individuals and, through it all, a tree stood in the centre, shivering in the breeze and happy in its best life.

27 – Ogre
It sat on top of the mountain and listened to a buzzard screech. Yes, technically, it was supposed to answer the Dark Lord’s call and march to war, but what was the point of that? Would it stop the Light eventually winning? Of course not, it knew all the prophesies and this was why it lived far from any idiot farm boys or wizard’s towers.
The ogre covered over the glowing dark mark and went back to looking out at the view. Maybe this time it would finally see that noisy bird.

28 – Calligraphy
Swoops, sworls, curls. The brush moved across the paper dancing out a complex and beautiful pattern as loaded with artistic symbolism as it was with political import. Once done, she picked up the scroll and stowed it in a tube for safe-keeping.
Stopping at home she placed the scroll in her gallery before copying out the gist of the text in plain runes on a scrap of parchment, stuffing it in her travel sack and setting out.
The Queen would kill her if she ever found out but there was no way she would give such a work of art to one of the Northern Lords. History would thank her.

29 – Poison
‘Item 14 – The toxicology report on flavour X9. It is in depth, clear and brooks no argument. The poison builds up in the liver over time and will kill.’
‘True, but we could market it as for under tens. Meaning by the time they die they’ll not be eating it any more.’
‘That should hide the cause enough for plausible deniability.’
‘I like it. Go to market. Next, item 15 – Waste storage under hospitals.’

30 – Upward
The PM cackled as he felt the brown envelope in his breast pocket. Corruption was just so much fun when you had a client media who would applaud any stupid thing you said. This, for instance, was clearly barmy, but the warm feel of a healthy bank balance reassured him
He stood. ‘Honourable members, today I am here to announce a new step forward for our great country. Indeed, a new step upward. For today I announce that, to place our ladder building industry back as the best in the world, we will go to the moon.’


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