Thursday, 16 February 2012

Thursday @ 3 - 'ON GIANTS' SHOULDERS'

(Pictured attributed, amongst others, to this site)

This week I wasn't sure whether I had it in me to carry on writing. I often get demoralised - one writes to be read, and having spent time creating and fashioning a piece it's sad that sometimes you want a wider audience to read it. (Let's be honest, our desire to entertain is coupled with the reward of appreciation!)

Today, though, - this story just welled up in me after reading this article coupled with the recent, harrowing BBC Panorama programme

It's actually based on something I witnessed from a distance, a while back. It really caused me to think again about our motives and expectations getting in the way of a simple act of service to others.

Over the original limit of 300 words for this meme, I've managed to cull it down to the magical (and acceptable!) alternative of exactly 333!

I hesitate to say 'enjoy' - but I hope it provokes and inspires action beyond this simple little blog!



He was hunkered down against the cold wind; the damp and dirty blanket trussed about him and all that he possessed. I passed him by, just following the crowd. He didn’t complain, he just pulled the blanket tighter.

His simple act interrupted my day; in each quiet moment his image bounced back into my consciousness like an unwelcome boomerang.

Guilt accused me of my shortcomings; I could have offered money. Sensibility retorted with the notion it would have bought drink or drugs; not giving to him saved that peril.

Compassion rose from it’s stupor and smacked me about the face - who made me the judge of how he should spend the small largesse I and others might choose to bestow? I resolved that next time I wouldn’t just walk on by; I’d stop and try to make a small difference.

But he wasn’t there the next day.

Nor the next.

The plummeting temperatures of the past week left me with dire thoughts. It troubled me into a sleepless night and a morning of resigned discontent.

I dutifully joined the ranks of the rush hour lemmings but the familiar unoccupied doorway screamed at me as I walked past fingering the loose change I’d had ready in my pocket.

However, turning the corner I recognised the scene; the same drab blanket, the hunched position, a different shop doorway. My hand tightened around the meagre coins and I mumbled an apology, bending down to drop the small donation onto the blanket. He nodded his thanks, pocketing the money as I hastily retreated to the bus-stop; in my mind Sensibility clanged on with its earlier comments.

Presently, the man emerged from the shop with a bag and settled down on the ground. Pulling out a carton of milk and a sandwich, he teased the blanket back and proceeded to share his feast with a small dog. I watched in humbled awe.

It didn’t change the world.

But it made a difference to him.

Monday, 6 February 2012

F3 - Cycle 66 - @The Begetting of Wisdom

It's been quite a while since I submitted anything to the varied themes suggested by the team at F3 (Flash Fiction Friday)

However, this week's meme was too good to pass up!

Using the words Forest, Fortress, Flying, Forever, and Brimstone the object of the exercise was to create a tale in 1,500 words, or less, along a theme of Swords, Sorcerers, Dungeons and Dragons.

The image (above) from a Moody Blues album came instantly to mind and sparked off a train of thought that morphed into the tale below; I hope you enjoy it, please feel free to leave comments!

....and now I'm off to hunt out said album and relive some fabulous prog-rock!


The flame shuddered in the unseen draught, casting dancing shadows across the dark curtains and tapestries. Mirandella caught the movement from the corners of her eyes but fought to keep her focus on the matter in hand. The glittering, molten metal hissed and bubbled as she took the ladle from Master Galbinus.

“Easy! Gently, my lady!” His ancient voiced rattled, echoing off the hard granite of the fortress tower, his breath a fog that danced upwards through the cold gloom.

His sigh of relief as Mirandella deftly cast the lead into the mould made her smile at her teacher and mentor.

“You have taught your apprentice well, sir,” she chided him. “See – it is done!”

Returning the ladle to the crucible she resisted the urge to rub at the reddened skin where the heat from the blistering metal had spattered and left its mark. Her calloused hands bore testament to the teaching and training she had acquired thus far; she counted each scar as proof of the skills she had attained.

It did not do well, though, to show them in public. Her father, the Lord Kiramir, would not countenance his beloved daughter being subjected to anything so unladylike; therefore she wisely kept her cuffs long and drawn down and her hands gloved whenever possible in his presence. Besides, it was not a great difficulty, for the ladies of the inner court were accustomed to such attire.

Now, Mirandella’s attention was caught by the long robes of Galbinus as he reached across and lifted the mould, dropping it into the dish of water, whose surface instantly stirred into something that roiled and bubbled, hissing like a thousand snakes and an odour that tainted the air with an acrid smell of brimstone.

Galbinus was something of a mystic, an enchanter, a sorcerer; his origin was uncertain and for that alone he was, to Mirandella, something of an enigma that must be pursued. As she sat back in her chair her eyes surveyed the shelves to one side, laden with jars and bottles and strange, other-worldly items that she could not begin to fathom.

Her teacher had mooted the need to restrain her curiosity but he had, on occasion, begun to tell her of strange lands and peoples and customs that lay far beyond the boundaries of Lord Kiramir’s domain; across seas and oceans and something that Galbinus had referred to as the Bridge of Time.

For hours Mirandella would have sat in fascination as her mysterious mentor regaled her with tales of heroes and battles, of huge cities with buildings so tall they scraped the very sky; where people talked across long distances as if they were but in the same room, of curious boxes that conjured up all manner of images and sounds.

Though there was much to wonder at, he had made her laugh with the notion of these strange people having to build machines that enabled them to fly though the air; she had mastered that art in early infancy, levitating slowly from her crib and flying to the rafters of her nursery and causing her nurse endless grief.

Now, though, Mirandella’s thoughts were interrupted as Galbinus approached the steaming bowl set before them. Carefully, the ancient one lifted the tongs and clasped the mould, wresting it from its bubbling repository and laid it carefully onto the table. He knocked away the two halves and a small object rolled free.

Mirandella watched in fascination as Galbinus lifted the artefact into the light for her closer inspection and she marvelled at its simple form.

“What is it?” she asked, turning it over and over in her hand. It bore no relation to anything she had seen before. Galbinus gently took the curious four-armed symbol from her, and held it aloft by its longest part.

“That, my lady, is something that men, through misunderstanding, ignorance and greed, have fought and died over for many, many years. In the lands I have told you about so many times, beyond these borders, beyond time itself, this symbol has great power. Riches cannot buy it, indeed it cannot be possessed; rather, I have heard it said, it possesses men.”

Mirandella looked at the curious object; like two rods, one long and one shorter, laid one atop the other at right-angles. She could not imagine why it had such power over men and her brow knotted in thought.

Galbinus glanced at her face in the flickering candle flame. Her innocence and purity, both present and inherited, had no concept of salvation or the need of it. Indeed, this land of Terrestria-Edensis, was blessed with such peace and plenty he wondered how it could ever change.

And yet, there was already a dark shadow at the edges of the realm. Beyond the endless forest a sense of malevolent evil, worse than the dragons of yore that had been vanquished long ago, crouched at the gates. Tales were already filtering through the streets, rumours and fearful wonderings were already beginning to blight the sleep of many.

Galbinus placed the cruciform metal into his young apprentice’s hand. He had heard that the sacrifice it symbolised, made once and for all and forever, also had the power to span the bridge of time and space; even into this garden of hitherto peace and serenity.

Mirandella fingered the strange talisman, her mind occupied with a million questions and Galbinus sat uneasily in his chair.

So, it had begun.