Friday, 10 March 2017

The Countdown

“10!” The computerised voice boomed across the halls.

She whimpered as she lurched to her feet. She wasn’t prepared. She was never prepared for the countdown. Her bare feet skidded along the cool hardwood floor as she raced to find a safe place to be when the countdown ran to zero.

“9!” The voice again, slightly lower in volume this time.

Her heart juddered in her chest. She had managed to find an area that wasn’t close to one of the speakers, which also meant that she was further away from the seemingly ubiquitous microphones. She carefully exhaled, trying to calm her pulse as she kept her pace.


She skidded around a corner and ran straight into a giant wardrobe that had been shoved into the centre of its room. Her knee banged painfully on the expensive, antique wood but she wouldn’t allow herself to cry out. If he heard her now he’d know her exact location and she would be finished before the countdown ended.


She hastily wiped silent tears from her face with a filthy backhand as she manoeuvred through another adjoining room and into one of the hidden stairwells in the walls of the ancient estate. She prayed she could get somewhere, anywhere within the main house because she was sure he was outside patrolling the grounds immediately before the countdown.

“6!” The voice boomed.

She groaned inwardly about having brought herself closer to a speaker and another microphone but she was far beyond lamenting about the fairness of his little “game”. Her stomach churned slightly at the mental image of what was to come if she didn’t make it – and the premise was simple. She had to run and hide while the automated voice counted down. She had literally only herself and her knowledge of having been held on the estate for the past ten years at her disposal… He, on the other hand, had tech, he had gadgets…. Cameras, microphones, night vision, motion sensors, pressure sensors – he had it all.


Virtually tossing herself down a flight of stairs she landed with a well-practiced thump at the bottom and immediately rolled back onto her feet. The lean diet he kept her on added to the daily exercise she gave herself prepared her for his “game”, kept her mind and her body agile, ready for the fight. A fight she was getting better and better at winning over the years.


She gasped – He’d changed the timing interval between the two announcements, making them closer together. This was an unwelcome new development and she momentarily fretted that it was because he was closing in on her.


She refused to allow herself to consider it, however, knowing that the “game” wasn’t over until the countdown was finished. She pushed on, rushing from room to room in the cellar, past old, redundant boilers and dusty chairs.


She was desperate to win the “game”. When she succeeded, he rewarded her by leaving her alone for the night. When he “won”… the reward he took for himself didn’t bear thinking about.


She’d numbed herself to it years ago while he was rewarding himself, but she hadn’t yet been broken enough not to fight during the game itself, she would never allow him to break her. So she ran and ran, praying that one day her father would set her free.


Thursday, 9 March 2017

Girls and boys come out to play...

Girls and boys come out to play
The moon doth shine as bright as day
Leave your supper, and leave your sleep
And join your playfellows in the street.

An ancient song, I call to the children from the street – my voice soft, comforting, heard only by the innocent of heart.

They join me sleepily, rubbing their eyes, curious yet cautious smiles on their sweet faces. Nightgowns, pyjama legs and bare feet cross dew-covered lawns as they walk to join me. Quiet chatter develops as they recognise their neighbours, their cousins, their siblings, and their play begins.

Tag, hide-and-seek, hopscotch – we play them all and more.

Laughter floats like bubbles into the brightening sky and it’s time to go. Hours have passed in an instant and my belly hurts from the laughter. I rise to my feet and call the children to me one by one. A single kiss placed on the top of each head and I motion them along on their journey. When the final child is kissed, I join the children and follow them home.

Tomorrow night I will travel to another town in another land and take their children – as I have done every night since before time began. 

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

The Button Collector

When I was younger my mother had a cookie tin filled to bursting with buttons. I used to sit beside her while she crafted, my small hands buried in the buttons. I loved how they felt as they slid across my skin, the noise they made as they slipped and came together, passing through my fingers... I loved the way they would catch the light, rhinestones glinting, flat plastic faces reflecting my mother's work light. It soothed me.

It's no surprise, really, that I began collecting buttons myself.

It started with stealing one or two buttons from my mother's stash... Ones I didn't think she'd notice. I kept them in the back corner of my closet where I'd peeled back just the very edge of the carpet. I lined them up so that they were tight against the wall then laid the carpet back down on top of them.

I would drift off to sleep at night staring at my half-open closet door - not because I was worried about monsters but because I knew there was treasure in there, waiting for me, calling to me.

I began seeing buttons everywhere... One under a seat on the bus - a cool oval tortoiseshell button with only two holes... Another under a rack of dresses in our local department store - a plain black plastic one with three holes... They both came home with me and I added them to my collection.

Eventually, my collection outgrew the space I could get away with on the floor of my closet so I started taping them to the back of my dresser. Neat rows of buttons adorned the side of my dresser that only I saw. Before the collection got too big, I used to count them all each night before I slept and, as I drifted off, my attention now on that chest of drawers rather than my closet.

Sometimes, I would see buttons on people's coats or their clothing while I was out with my mother and I would be transfixed. A sparkly button could make my whole day and going a day without seeing a button that I deemed interesting could certainly ruin my mood. I'd be thunderous until we reached home again and I could escape to my room and my treasure.

When my mother died, I made sure that I got all of her buttons, but it wasn't difficult - neither of my brothers were interested.

My collection grew and I started housing it in a glass-fronted cabinet so that I could look at them all the time. My brothers think I'm weird but they no longer lived in our mother's house so their opinions didn't matter. I was alone there with my treasure and it was just how I liked it.

Going out to do things like grocery shopping I began to realise that the lovely buttons that I saw on other people weren't being appreciated the way that I would appreciate them if they were mine. It's wretchedly unfair so I started carrying a small seam ripper with me. I was on a personal mission to liberate unappreciated buttons.

I became quite adept at "accidentally" bumping into someone and freeing a button from their coat or sleeve. I made it into something of an art - I was like a strange little pickpocket except I never stole anything of value to my "victims", never any money or anything like that. Just buttons. Buttons they didn't even know were missing until it was too late. Buttons they must have presumed fell off of their own accord, as buttons are wont to do sometimes.

It's been a few years since I've seen any interesting buttons. I guess that's to be expected where I live now but it saddens me. I still collect them when I can but my collection is super small.

I only have three buttons now and when I'm not in my room my buttons are hidden in a pair of socks. I keep them tightly wrapped in my fist when I sleep. I dream of them. I dream of buttons, of course. I try not to dream of the woman whose beautiful button took my treasure away from me...

She was standing on the platform, waiting for her train - I had followed her into the station from the coffee shop two doors down. She had the most amazing floral buttons on her dress and I couldn't tell if they were acrylic, resin or glass but they were stunning. Hues of pink and purple petals set off against a dark green background - they perfectly matched her summery dress. I had been waiting for my moment for some time when it finally came. Her train was approaching and I slipped my seam ripper into my hand, gripping it tightly, keeping it firmly concealed. Because the platform was packed for rush hour, I knew this would be easy - I'd done it hundreds of times before.

I approached the woman as she bent to grab her bags in readiness for boarding the train and I rushed forward, pretending I was eager to be one of the first to board the train. She was significantly distracted. My hand moved in a practised motion and in one swipe the button between her breasts was mine. I pocketed the coveted button.

But she had felt her dress pull apart and she jumped back slightly, startled. I never understood how, but at that instant, as the train pulled along the platform, she was suddenly shunted forward and into me. I put my hands up to protect myself as she crashed into me and we fell to the platform.

My chest felt warm and wet and I couldn't work out how or why as I started trying to push the woman off of me when I realised people were starting to shout around us.

I couldn't hear what they were saying but there was so much warm water on me that I began to wonder if the woman had peed herself.

When I finally slid out from under the woman and stood up the shouting turned to screams and I heard the words "She's got a knife!". I looked down at the woman, confused - If she'd had a knife, I would have seen it. I'd been watching her quite closely and she definitely didn't have a knife. I knew they weren't screaming about the woman on the platform but I was then confused as to why she was still down where we had fallen together. She wasn't moving.

It didn't matter, I had to get out of there. Knife person or not, I definitely needed dry clothes.

As I approached the barrier to leave the station I turned to look back at the platform. I wasn't holding my seam ripper anymore, I must have dropped it. It was OK, I had several more at home but I wanted to see the woman whose button I had taken. I wanted to make sure she had made her train. I didn't want her to be late.

She was there but she still hadn't moved.

And there was a wet patch all around her, spreading out from under her on the platform.

As I walked back to her, I noticed that people were moving out of my way, some were running. The whole thing was very confusing.

As I knelt down to ask her if she was OK, to ask her if she needed any help, I saw my seam ripper. For a flash I was excited. I didn't want to lose a seam ripper.

But my excitement was short-lived as I was abruptly tackled from behind. As I fell forward, smashing my face into the platform, I realised that my seam ripper was embedded in the neck of the woman with whom I had fallen. What a silly place for her to have put it!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017



I watch her in her room, playing with her makeup, speaking to her toys as though they're going to respond. How ridiculous!

She acts as though she doesn't belong where she is, she dreams of places and worlds she has never visited, yet that she longs for, as though she was never offered the chance to leave the life she loathes.

I gave her the chance to escape. I moved the stars for her and she denied me. At the very end, when I thought I had offered her the very thing she begged me for, she denied me.

She claims I have "no power" over her... Yet every night she dreams of me. Every night I hold her in my arms and we dance - the masquerade masks, the music, the life for which she yearns, all within her grasp.... All she has to do is say her right words.

I have given her so much already and even though... No. In spite of her denying me, I have given her everything.

I have given her the power. The power to bend me to her whim. All she has to do is speak the words that will bring me to her once more, the words that will, once more, enslave me to her.

But she's making me wait.

And so I will. One doesn't become the King of the Goblins without learning patience, of course.

In time she will see that I am right. In time she will call for me.

She has no choice for I am hers and she is mine. Forever.


Written for the #FoEWritingChallenge

An homage to/story follow-on from my favourite movie.

I want...

Yesterday I paid for drugs.

Lots of drugs, actually, worth over £700.00 in total.

This fact leaves me feeling all sorts of emotions at the same time. So many that I am not sure I can articulate them coherently, but I feel I should try.

In 14 days our home will, once again, be filled with needles and alcohol wipes and my abdomen will again become filled with tiny holes. Holes through which I will inject the necessary hormones for trying to conceive via IVF.

Spouse and I have travelled this road together before. After "forever" of trying naturally, we started in October 2016. By December we learned that we'd not been lucky.

Of the eleven eggs removed; four fertilised. Two perfect embryos were implanted - and two perished before they could be frozen. The two that were implanted didn't "stick" and so the seven pregnancy tests I took that fateful day all came back negative.

No one knows why our embryos didn't "stick". I wrote cryptically about my reaction here and, to this day, the box has not been opened.

But it's not such a large box that I am unwilling to perhaps create another.

I adore my daughter; she's one of the most amazing people I've ever met, hands down, but I want a baby. I want a child with Spouse. I want to see his little face on a tiny human that he and I made together. I want to help raise amazing people who will change the world. I want to once again see my heart outside my body. I want...

I want.

The decision was fundamentally down to two things: me and finances. Spouse has been amazing throughout all of this. He cannot bear to do the injections or even watch me do them myself (I have no problem with them, thankfully), but whatever I have said, done, wanted or needed, he has been there, done that - no questions (other than the occasional checking in to make sure I'm not holding something back - I do have a tendency to do that).

As an aside, when this works and our child/ren ask where babies come from, we're going to tell them: When two people love each other very much.... Mummy becomes a pin cushion!

Or maybe not. But the chance to have to make that decision is a chance I cannot pass up.

So, I will be drugged and we will hope for "sticky" babies this time and I will be grateful that this option is available to us for we have tried and I am ageing and I want...

I want.

Monday, 6 March 2017

I wake in the night

inside my heart echoes my howling soul

beside me he sleeps, dreaming dreams I do not yet know

a simple touch, my chilled hand on his warm arm

I am stilled, my stampeding pulse calmed

I snuggle in again, welcoming sleep

I drift into morning where, 

together, we face the coming day

Sunday, 5 March 2017

A weekend in pictures

Frozen "White Russian"

Enjoyed in front of a roaring fire

A chilly, wet walk along the seafront...

 With added political statements...

Before a much-deserve hot drink...

And then heading towards home...

Making my own Jarvis

There's a software development concept known as rubber duck debugging and, having been reminded of it recently, I knew having a duck couldn't hurt during times when I feel stuck with my writing.

A duck could help me work through problems with plot, characters, setting - any number of things.

Looking around, I quickly found The Perfect Duck but he is Out Of Stock and ne'er to return, very sadly. (Yes, I did ask.)

Needing a replacement, I decided to make my own Perfect Duck, one that's more me than the original would have been and hopefully, therefore, a better solution for externalising my ramblings.

I bought three white "racing ducks" from the wonderful people here (Thank you, Lynn!) and the ducks certainly lived up to their name with their arrival speed. They're actually a hard plastic, rather than "rubber" or a soft plastic and I prefer it that way, it means that their surface is more easily customised by simply applying paint or glue, I feel.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie

Wanting to customise them quite substantially, I first had to remove their cute little faces...

Acetone-free nail polish remover to the rescue!

Looks like someone's been eating Cheetos/Wotsits 

Cotton buds/Q-Tips managed to get the rest of the bills off.

Now, time to get creative.

My favourite colour is Aurora Borealis (AKA: "AB" or"iridescent") and I'm a sucker for anything glitter so the idea was pretty easy and pretty obvious. These little beauties would be covered in AB glitter. Duh.

Apart from stripping off their bills and eyes, I didn't do anything to prep the ducks.

I did hot glue the ducks to the tops of soda bottles so that I could access all of the curves of the ducks without covering myself in paint/glue...

I call this "Naked Ducks on Soda"

I used a cheap, acrylic kid's craft paintbrush and applied Mod Podge Extreme Glitter by Plaid - one coat on each duck.

While I certainly got far better "glitter payout" than I expected (it's a great product), it wasn't glittery enough for me. I demand glitter. I used the Mod Podge for two more coats on one of the ducks but on two, I did a single coat more before coating them in loose AB glitter.  I did two ducks this way because I wanted to then compare a duck who had been clear-coated to adhere the glitter better to the duck versus one that hadn't been coated. I presumed the glitter would fall off of the uncoated duck but needed to see if the clear-coating would dull the sparkle of the glitter in any way before deciding which duck was perfect.

Clear-coated duck, natural sunlight, outdoors 

Clear-coated duck, natural sunlight, indoors

Clear-coated duck, "bright white" light, indoors

I've named him Jarvis and I think he's perfect. I see no loss of sparkle from under the clear coat, which is a relief!

He's much more me than the duck I had originally wanted and I still do want that duck, but not as my Rubber Duck Debugging Duck. Jarvis is the duck for me in that regard.

Do you use Rubber Duck Debugging?

How would you customise a rubber duck?