The Perfect Cover #writephoto

Written in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. Thanks for the inspiration, Sue – I hope you’re having a good time on your travels 🙂

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Joanna crawled up the embankment, leaving a trail of red in her wake. She looked back, tracking the path she had taken; the trail like a flag to the raging bull on her tail. He was as relentless as the animal, too, and she imagined she could hear his snorting breath.

Her gaze shifted back to the ruins in front of her, her beacon of hope. If she could just find cover, she had a chance.

Pressing her body lower to the ground, she clamped her teeth together as shots exploded around her. She was a sitting duck out there, and she only had herself to blame. Joanna knew he couldn’t see her, knew he was aiming for the stark colour that leaked behind her.

She had to fight the urge to give in to her fear and stay put. Sure, it would make him sweat, but the longer she remained in place the less likely she was to succeed. Already her muscles screamed in protest. He never tired of the game, and though adrenalin had carried her this far, it was about to crash in a big way.

Taking a deep breath, she inched forward, her eyes narrowing in on the foliage covering the ruins like a protective coat of armour. Perhaps they would extend the courtesy to her. After all, the creeping plants that flared into a wide skirt at the foot of the stone were the perfect for hiding place.

It’s now or never.

Ignoring the soft pfft-pfft sounds that hit the grass around her, Joanna crawled as quickly as she could to the top. None of the shots hit her, and she felt a surge of triumph. The assault course her brother forced her to complete had finally paid off.

She didn’t get to her feet, didn’t allow herself to make a mistake now. Instead, she scrambled forward, through the entrance to the ruins, until she had ample cover. Only then, did she ease her body into a crouch, crab walking – her eyes on the empty windows – until she reached the small pack hidden in the debris. Snatching it up, Joanna let out a whoop of triumph, even as she was digging inside for her treasure.

The sound of footsteps outside didn’t deter her. She whipped the flag out of the pack and waved it in the air.

“Well played, Jo-Jo. Well played,” her brother said, panting.

She turned to the doorway, eyeing his readied paintball gun and gave him a winning smile. “Thanks, bro.” Her gaze dropped to her own gun, which was still leaking paint. She had doctored it, of course; taunting him. Luckily, she didn’t get a drop on her clothing.

“Do you think the others packed in by now?” he asked, gazing out across the meadow.

Joanna snorted. “Of course. They’ll be back at camp.” Their friends always let them go their own way, knowing how competitive they became whenever they played the game – any game.

When he turned back, he was grinning too. “Then let’s join them.”

Grabbing the water from her pack so she could clean the evidence of their game, she walked to him. “With any luck, they’ve already started dinner.”

The sound of her brother’s laughter tickled her ear as he hooked an arm around her shoulder and led her out.

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Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

 

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Sleeping Giant #writephoto

Written in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt. Thanks for the inspiration, Sue 🙂

Reflection

“What does it mean?”

Tamaya stared at the water, which had gathered in the frozen eye socket of Medea, the sleeping giant of Nearyon. She studied Aaron’s reflection as it fluttered across the surface in the beginnings of a watery dance. “I think it means she’s being summoned.”

A shadow flashed across the water, the merest glimpse of Esha flying in to land. The siren tucked her wings tight to her back and peered over Aaron’s shoulder. “She doesn’t appear to be weeping anymore. Is that good or bad?”

“I have no idea.” Tamaya turned in a circle, taking in the bodies littered across the stone – the mountain Medea had become almost a thousand years ago. The absence of blood could only mean one thing – the process had begun. Tamaya recognised the signs for what they were, and based on the clean surface around the slain villagers’, she knew their blood had not trickled down the mountain like Medea’s tears. No. The stone had absorbed it – a sacrifice to coax the great beast.

Tamaya’s gaze moved to her teammates, and for the first time since they arrived in Nearyon, she wondered if they were right for the job. “I think we need to bring in Orion. If she does rise, we don’t have the power to control her.”

“That’s not entirely true. You could reverse the process and force her back into slumber.” Aaron frowned as they felt the stone vibrate beneath them. “And I know you can channel Orion’s power. We all can.”

He had a point. As members of the Collective they were bound to one another; a familial network of thirteen. The others had their own assignments, but they would lend their power if needed.

“There’s a reason that even the gods are afraid of her,” she said, pulling the bandanna from her head to wipe the perspiration from her neck. “And she is going to be royally pissed that she was awoken without permission.”

“We don’t know for sure she didn’t plan this,” Esha said. “Shit, for all we know the villagers’ sacrificed themselves.” Her wings came unfurled, the red tips glinting in the sun.

Tamaya dropped to her knees and leaned over so her face was close to the water, so close her breath sent tiny ripples across the surface. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” she said, without bothering to look up.

Gathering her power, she felt the pull of the elements as she searched for a connection. It snapped into place a second before the water changed, and she was looking into the eye of Medea. A deep bronze that seemed to burn with the power of the sun.

‘Why do you wish to prevent me from rising, little one?’

The voice in her mind was heavy and rich. There was enough strength to crush her beneath the weight of it. Tamaya wasn’t afraid. Not yet. She could also feel Aaron and Esha’s telepathic presence. ‘With respect, we are simply alarmed by the timing. It is unexpected.’

The pressure in her head eased a little. ‘I did not ask to be disturbed from my slumber unless such a time arose that my people were in danger.’

‘And yet your people were the ones sacrificed here today.’ Tamaya felt Aaron’s soft rebuke in her mind, but ignored it. ‘Are we to understand there is a threat to Nearyon?’

Instead of responding with words, Medea sent images filtering into Tamaya’s mind. She saw Medea’s loyal followers, those who understood that when the time came, only she would have the power to save them. This conviction, passed down through generations, was a kind of knowing that culminated in Medea’s awakening. The villagers had sensed great danger, a danger Tamaya and her team had not seen.

‘Gather your forces, little one. For a war is coming.’ Medea said, before severing the connection.

A moment later, Tamaya and her teammates were tossed from the mountain as Medea shed her sleeping form. Esha caught them instinctively, though there was no need. Medea assured them a soft landing by easing their descent with a swish of her long, elegant tail.

“Holy shit,” Tamaya breathed, looking up at the great beast. She had heard the stories, had listened avidly as her grandmother regaled her with tales of Medea and her journey into sleep. But she was not prepared for the beauty of a legend come to life. She found herself looking into eyes of power and grace. Eyes that until a few minutes ago had been hollow sockets in the mountain.

Those eyes, fanned with incredible lashes, blinked once and then Medea shot forward and took to the sky. She flashed across the clearing like a searing flame, no longer the sleeping giant, but a magnificent, fiery dragon.

“Well,” Aaron said, grinning up at the sky. “I hate to say I told you so, but she looked pretty calm to me.”

Tamaya went to punch his shoulder, but he was too quick. He dodged her easily. “I still don’t like it. We’ve seen no evidence of violence in the realm, except for the villagers here today.”

“That doesn’t mean anything and you know it. Trouble is always brewing.” Aaron swung an arm around her neck, and this time he wasn’t fast enough to dodge her when she elbowed him in the ribs. He laughed, but didn’t release her. “Let’s rendezvous with the others and decide if we want to join this particular fight.”

She ducked out from under his arm. First, she wanted to repair the damage to the land caused by Medea’s transformation. But she should have known better. Instead of an empty crater, the earth had righted itself and melded seamlessly with the rolling valley.

“Okay. Fine. Let’s head out,” she said, hiding her grin as Esha and Aaron’s laughter followed her out of the clearing.


Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Completing the Cycle – Thursday Photo Prompt: Roses #writephoto

Completing the Cycle – Written for Sue’s Photo Prompt.

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Rebecca stepped onto the front porch and froze when she saw the obstacle in her path. She knew what it meant, what they represented, and her heart began to pound. The song was next. It came at her from behind, in her own damn house, the haunting melody pulsing into her very core as her legs gave out and she dropped to her knees.

Her gaze fell on the roses and she thought of Matt, of the shriveled, decaying dream she once had; now as dried up as the flowers and their crumbling leaves. She watched them tear apart and flutter in the breeze, taking the last of her broken memories. He had finally come for her, and this time he intended to end it. Why else would he leave the real thing, the symbol of their dying love, if not to complete the cycle – as she had hoped he would.

Rebecca’s hand shot out, but hovered inches from the bouquet. In her mind the colour was a luscious, vibrant red. She had been so happy the day Matt gave them to her; young and innocent and in love. It didn’t last. The bloom fell from the relationship well before the flowers withered and lost their glow. She hadn’t known about Matt’s illness then, hadn’t expected he could hurt her.

“May I have the honour of this dance?”

Rebecca felt the breath catch in her throat. It was time. She had known he was there, in her house; toying with her. He had always been good at that, at finding weakness and exploiting it. “I think I’ll pass.” Her throat sounded scratchy, and for some reason she thought of the thorns.

“Don’t be like that,” Matt said from the doorway. He was using his quiet voice, his scary quiet voice, and yet she felt no fear. Not this time.

“You were the first man to give me flowers. The only man.” She turned towards him. “You’ll also be the last.” Rebecca stood, her legs unsteady. Not her thoughts, though. No, her mind was focused for the first time in months. The waiting was always the hardest. “It’s time to finish this. I’m done.”

“We’ll never be done,” Matt said, stepping forward. “You belong to me.”

Without taking her eyes from him, Rebecca crouched to retrieve the roses. There was no hesitation this time. She crushed them in her hand, and felt a slight scratch across her palm. Matt moved, eyes glittering, and the moment he stepped out onto the porch she slapped her hand against the floor.

The spell snapped into place immediately. Rebecca felt it buzz along her skin. It hurt, but she could deal with a little pain; she’d endured worse from Matt.

With her eyes still on his, she moved back so she was on the edge of the porch. He tried to follow her, but he couldn’t move. She saw the moment he realised what she’d done, and the satisfaction was like a hit of vodka; it went straight to her head.

“I never wanted this,” she told him. “But you gave me no choice.”

“Your juvenile spell can’t hold me forever.” Matt’s body began to vibrate with rage, and she knew he was fighting the hold.

“It doesn’t need to, because it’s already done.” Taking a deep breath, Rebecca placed her hands on the side of the porch and took a deep breath. “I’m taking away your power. Literally. And you will never be able to hurt me again.”

Energy shot through her, the impact taking her off her feet. Her chest burned, a white hot pain that she knew was a brand in her soul as well as her skin. On unsteady legs, she regained her feet. Matt was lying in the exact spot he had placed the roses, his skin pale, his eyes brimming with fear.

“What have you done?”

She walked to stand over him, pulling at the neck of her jumper so he could see the representation of her freedom, a talisman scored into her flesh. “What you intended to do. I broke the cycle and I’m letting go of the past.”

Matt screamed, a loud, high pitched noise that drowned out the song still playing in the background. Music to her ears. She dropped her head back and stared at the trap she had carved into the ceiling. It had taken days, a drop in the ocean compared to the time she had waited for this very scene to play out.

When Matt’s scream became a low whine of defeat, Rebecca smiled and glanced down at her chest. The roses were hers now, and they would not wither or die; they did not instill her with fear. They gave her strength, and protection. The best gift of all. “Thank you for the flowers,” she said, and walked back into the house.


Thanks for stopping by

Mel

Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Week 21 – Fresh

I have to admit, when I saw the theme for Hugh’s photo challenge this week, I heard my nan’s voice in my head! She used to chastise my grandfather for being ‘fresh’ with her. Of course he did it on purpose, and teased her mercilessly.

Then I thought about how I could reflect the theme and, I have to be honest, I got a little carried away. There are so many possibilities: fresh air; snow; paint; cream; coffee; flowers; water – I could go on. Needless to say, I had trouble deciding, so I settled on a collection of random shots, which incorporate the theme – as far as I see it.

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My brother took these shots on a skiing trip, so he gets the credit 🙂

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I really enjoy taking part in the challenge. I try to contribute to others when I can, though it has not been easy of late. Sue has a pretty great photo challenge, which I’ve been meaning to take part in for a few weeks now. I’ll try my best to fit it in this week, when the next prompt is released on Thursday.

Thanks for stopping by.

Mel

Hugh’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Week 20 – Solitude

I haven’t taken part in Hugh’s photo challenge for a while, but I felt compelled to this week. Perhaps it’s because my week has been consumed with photography – my eldest daughter has three projects to complete for her photography class and she likes to involve the whole family!

The theme also spoke to me. I’m a solitary person, I think writers are in general; we’re never really alone – what with the characters in our head! I’m at ease in solitude, it soothes me, and allows me to recharge my batteries. It’s not that I don’t like being with people, it’s that I like my own company, too. I can write anywhere and at any time. It’s easy for me to switch off, even in a crowded café, but there’s something to be said for the quiet peace of nature.

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When I’m on holiday, I tend to be on the go; exploring a new place so I can soak it in. I usually find a quiet spot to reflect. The first photo, a place named Durdle Door in Dorset, gave the perfect backdrop and I almost got lost in my moment of solitude!

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I lived in Dorset for a while, and loved the area. When I got time off, I went exploring with my family. Bournemouth beach is wonderful, especially at six in the morning when there are few people around and the beauty of it settles like a calming breath. The second photo was taken on one of my early morning outings. I took a notebook and a cup of coffee, and let the inspiration flow.

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The last two photographs are here because the garden used to be one of my favourite places to relax and find time for myself. The garden was built below the house, and though you can’t see it in the photograph, a decking area provided the perfect viewpoint. I would sit out in the evening or in the morning, and enjoy the scenery.

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Thanks to Hugh for providing the inspiration and, as always, thanks for stopping by.

Mel

The calm beneath the storm

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Sitting here beside you
As the sun softly fades
The light shines across you face, a
Beauty represented in all its shades

We come here every summer
Sit together and share our dreams
Then as the day disappears from sight
I sneak a kiss under the glowing beams

The water is tranquil, but I am not
My heart is full, it’s fit to burst
All these emotions whirling inside me
Just looking at you quenches my thirst

You are my morning and my night
Whether the sun is setting or on the rise
I’m happy to sit with you side by side
With our love lighting up the skies

Can we sit her just a little while longer?
Away from our busy lives and wonder
What comes next for us in the year ahead
And watching the sun until it finally goes under

This poem is in response to a photo prompt – Once More With Feeling #2

Poetry and I have a difficult relationship. I love it, and yet I’ve never mastered the art. I tell myself a writer can’t be good at everything – we all have our strengths, and still I strive to improve on this area of my work. So where I would normally have responded to the prompt with a short story, I stepped out of my comfort zone instead.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Thanks, as always, for reading.

Mel

Weekly Photo Challenge: Family

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It’s been just the three of us for a while now. This is my precious family. I love taking photographs so I have numerous shots. I actually have a big clan, not all blood related, and I value my friends and loved ones.

I think the term in encompassing. I have a writing family, work family…even the characters in my head are a type of family!

Perhaps we’re all connected in some way. I’d like to think so. There’s certainly evidence of a ‘family spirit.’ You only have to look at the way communities pull together; whole nations will stand up for the rights and freedom of others. As in life there are many different layers, and almost as many interpretations. What’s yours?

Thanks for reading.

Mel