The dance hall was vibrant, lots of people littered the floors appeared to be smiling and enjoying themselves. As the music played, the melody was only interrupted by the occasional clatter and clang of glasses being brought together in toasts for everything from World peace to the Birthday Girl, it was her 30th birthday. She was wearing a vibrant red dress that flowed like liquid with every move she made. She was hauntingly beautiful with long, streaked blonde hair decorated by a sparkling array of jewellery.

Then, slowly, the DJ started fading out the current music, proclaiming “and now for something very special for the lady of the evening…..This is for you…” the song began fading up as the singer started… “Lady In Red…” the dance floor slowly emptied for all but a few couples.

She sat, patiently waiting for her husband to take her hand, but he did not…

Now really what would I do in this situation? I’m stuck on the words again and, you know that happens a lot. I’ve been sat here for ages trying to get the right thing to include into the story but it just wasn’t working out.

Well, what did you expect? I’m a newbie writer, its not so easy to just hammer down a story just like that you know, you have to be in the right mood. Or maybe that’s just an excuse to procrastinate, but we’ll never really know until we have a word with ourselves, will we?

Psychologically speaking I guess an author has to grow new Neuro connections in their brain to be able to just flow words out at the drop of a hat, to give their characters life and feeling. After all, a character needs life you know – they are people too. To stick them on a page with no basis or context as to what they are doing or why is in itself a recipe for disaster, or if you’re lucky – a few!

Then again who’s to say the characters have to be people? what would happen for example, if lots of frogs littered the floors appearing to smile and enjoy themselves…. well it certainly would change the dynamic a bit wouldn’t it?

Well, to be honest, it doesn’t help with the husband intervening all the time does it, I swear I keep having to delay and replan for my writing time and that really sucks for any new writing. I’d love to set up a writing sanctuary, away from the chaos – but then if I did that, he’d think I was abandoning him. Oh, what to do, what to do?

Hrm, lets take a walk and see what’s happening, you never know when inspiration will strike – so notepad in hand and a pen at my side, I decided to step out into the hustle and bustle of the Saturday markets. It was very busy at this time of the year, many people shopping for food or whatnot for the festivities. It’s been snowing you know, quite heavily, you could barely see the ground for the varying hues of white and brown, mixed up to form some sort of sporadic camouflage colours.

Comically, I just watched someone fall flat on their face at their door – haha, right – I’ll add that to my notebook, you never know when one of the main characters will be in snow you know, I’ll leave the birthday girl alone for now, I’m not done with her yet!

A very cold breeze was blowing, the kind that went straight to your bones at the slightest breath, still, at least it was fresh – not like that horrid stuffy kind you got in the summer, yes, I think winter is a nice time of year, many people wouldn’t but – meh, who’s to bother with that!

It was a cold Christmas Eve for sure, but still, the energy flowing between the people was intense, almost electrical, you could almost hear the crackle in the air if you have such an imagination. But, certainly it felt warmer in the market. Some might say that was because of the number of people milling around the stalls, others might say the force of energy does that. There’s no way to know for sure really, I try to keep an open mind on such matters.

Still, I find inspiration somewhat elusive, maybe I’m not meant to be inspired today. Continuing my trek through the market and cold, it wasn’t far before the atmosphere dwindled and diluted before a similarly desolate atmosphere melted in, the streets away from the market are dark, creepy and lonely. I felt my heart speeding up, the response to fight or flight welling up inside me like the dwindling embers of a roaring fire slowly growing to grasp at the clutches of flame all over again.

My breath erupted in a spout of water vapour, almost like the very air was being stolen from my body before I was finished with it. I pulled my jacket tighter to myself and kept walking, I had no idea where I was going – I just went. This wasn’t unusual for me, but tonight seemed so much more foreboding than usual. As I turned the corner I heard the loudest shriek from a woman, further down the road and my embers BURNED, I was terrified. What would I do? run, hide, help?, try to help – my mind was frozen, just like my fingers. I had came to a halt at a corner, so far I wasn’t seen by either of the two people, one woman, one man – it looked like she was running, or trying to, all I had to do was yell – it would distract the man long enough that she might get a head start. But if I did that, I would be next on the firing line, I had to yell and hide very quickly, there was some rubbish bins nearby where I could crouch and hide.

Well what else could be done? I certainly wasn’t leaving her to her fate, oh no – so I leaned around the corner and yelled: “HEY! WHO IS THAT!?!!?” The man paused, looking back before turning and, seeing me on the corner, he gave chase. I jumped between those bins for everything that is dear to me. If anyone, not just me, saw him, he would be in trouble of course and that was bad news for anyone that did. Thankfully, the woman got away – I hope she is safe. My heart was thumping so hard and fast now, I was almost afraid he’d hear it. By the way he was hovering on the corner, in fact, I was sure he could. But eventually, he grunted “Arrgghh” a very deep, angry and aggressive grunt at that. I dared not move, at least, not just yet anyway. After some minutes, I didn’t know how many – it was lots, my fingers were all pins and needles, I decided to venture back into the world.

~~~

But goodness it WAS cold, it was time for me to head home. I didn’t get the story I was looking for of course – but then, these things rarely go to plan. I’ll need to get back to the Red Lady at her birthday party sometime, but not before I get some food and give the husband a cuddle.

Merry Christmas peoples!

Prologue – #FlashFriday 4

Friday Dec 18 2009

Sercheti was a little town almost humble by comparison to its yearly influx of cash from the sale of the gemstones. The buildings were mostly wooden, and lined the river on both sides. The town itself was nestled quite snugly between the river and the cleft of trees behind it and sat at the very beginning of the river before its winding passage took it through the forest. The obvious trading traffic used one of the main roads that connected with the Glades somewhere North of Sercheti. Many of the other roads that connected the various towns were nothing more than dirt tracks used by foot travellers or people on horses or donkeys.

The poorer people might use a donkey to carry their goods, the more affluent or noble people had horses. But by far the most common was people on foot with backpacks which they could carry around with them to set up stall wherever they felt might bring business. In this area certainly the link for most of the foot roads was at the glade, the glade was the central hub for the area. The main paved road through the region was there. So more often than not there would be a makeshift markets there at various peak times during the week.

~~~ Matt started his day, pretty much the same as every other day in Sercheti, he was a miner and it was his duty to seek out the gemstones in the Crystal caverns behind the waterfall.

He usually worked in the evening, preferring that time of the day because the position of the sun leant the caves a very beautiful sparkle far more subtle than you would get at the peak of the day. The caves had various holes in the ceiling, some made deliberately by the miners and some were naturally formed. He liked the naturally formed areas the best because they had a way of bending the sun in so many directions that would not be possible for the man-made counterparts. In some places the sunlight hit crystals above and bounced around as if in a cascade from crystal to crystal to form the most exquisite light patterns and beams.

It was one such evening that Matt found the red crystal, that exceptionally rare crystal that was only found once in every five or six years. Any miner who found these crystals were paid an awful lot more money than the other miners, because of the expert skills required to locate and subsequently extract them. The trouble with Matt was that he wasn’t a very good miner, in fact he’d only just completed his four year apprenticeship and acquired the title and rights of a Journeyman miner. This was his first full shift.

Upon seeing the red glint, he was unsure of what he saw – surely he couldn’t be just that lucky? Before too long he saw the glint again. It was coming from the left hand side of the cavern, looked to be tucked in way at the top of the caverns sides. He was told about the red crystals and their infamous rarity and also about how dangerous they were to extract, something about highly unstable compounds in it. Matt just thought that was just a scare story to stop the younger miners getting their claws on such a coveted item. He wanted to get it and prove that the stories were rubbish and started to look for a way to climb up and get it, looking around for a while, he saw what he was looking for and began moving towards the side wall.

Aside from the lack of mining skill, Matt could climb – in fact he was the best climber in his family of three brothers. So rather than seeing an assortment of edges and jaggy crystals on the cavern walls, he saw opportunities for handholds and even a path up to the red glint. So carefully, one hand over the other, he bagan to climb the wall sometimes, he would imagine the thought of himself as a spider, placing his limbs out and up as if he had those eight legs and if you saw him mid-climb, you might just agree with him as hand over hand leg over leg, he began to slowly make his way up the edge of the cavern wall.

Eventually, Matt reached the red crystal – it was actually hidden behind various jagged white crystals that magnified the glint of the red one. Using a rope he tied himself around one of the larger crystals and slowly taking his pick out of his pack, began chipping away at the white crystals around the red one. He kept some of the larger chips that came off the white crystals and kept going until the last few surrounding the red one came away. One of the final blows he made glanced of the edge of the red crystal and caused a small crack, “Shit!”

If a crack was on a red crystal it would be devalued and seeing this crack he had to think of something, fast. While he was staring at the crack and pondering what to do, he noticed that the crack was black, almost like a gaping maw where his pick had glanced it. If he extracted it now, it’ll likely get a much lower value when he weighed it in. After a few moments, his face brightened up and he realised what he could do, “Why not break it in two?” he mused aloud.

The idea seemed so simple, break it in two, weigh in one of them and hold onto the other – keep it for another time. So, having made his decision Matt decided to bring the pick down and attempt to make the crack even larger of course the odd thing was, when he brought his pick down to the existing crack, it came back up covered in black. Not sure what to make of it, after wiping the goo off the pick he tried again. No such luck, it still came back up covered in black. It was like the red crystal was bleeding black, like blood. Looking closer at the blackness, he almost thought it was spreading, spilling out over the whole crystal but it was so slow, so very slow he couldn’t work it out. By now of course, he was getting a little bit nervous – he had no idea what he was dealing with. He soon began to regret being the arrogant sod who wanted to be famous for finding the rare red gem. The black still oozed out of the crevice that had appeared on the gem and minute by minute the ooze became a stream and then a torrent. There was very little of the red crystal to be seen now and the black was all over his hands, it felt icy cold, like pure dread seeping into his soul, something was badly wrong….

Frozen by fear, Matt was unable to move from where he was hanging, suspended from the larger white crystal and powerless to free himself, much less climb down the canyon walls. From the coldness in his chest, he felt a growing nausea emerging like a ball of grease building up his insides. It wasn’t too long before the nausea grew so intense he had to heave and wrench so hard that the rope holding him tight to the white crystal bit into his gut. The pressure built and built before he had projectile vomiting. The vomit itself was bubbling and black as it took flight in the air, travelling mere inches before gravity overcame the mass, bringing the vomit to the floor with a sickly splat and gurgle.

By now, his insides were in flames and Matt couldn’t hold a single thought but for the searing pain travelling through his body in shocking waves. His eyes rolled into his head and he convulsed before he let out a burble and he crumpled. Hanging limply from the rope, Matt was dead, leaving the cavern once again silent but for the eroding hiss from the black ooze

Standing in the forest, I take a look around, the majesty and age of the trees succinct, they give life, shelter and wood for heat. There can be no more a stable diet of life, life without noise or chaos. A Life ordered in nature’s infinate way, slow and methodical. A good place then, for writing my book, amidst the crystal clear air and quiet shuffles of animals through the brown and gold of the autumn leaves for their next meal. Sunlight shafts explode through the canopy, adding to the atmosphere. It begins to rain now – Nature’s cleanser.

As it hits the leaves and the under-brush below, the unmistakeable musk that breathes fresh air into the world enters my nose. You can’t help but clear your mind here, all that circles your mind is calmed by the ageless woodland around you.

The rustling sounds closer now, a nearby rustling of leaves. From underneath the detritus, pokes a little nose, wet long and furry – it wrinkles up in miniature movements, it smells the breadcrumbs I supposed, the very same ones I discarded a moment ago.
Pickings must be slim for it at this time of the year. In but one moment, four stocky little legs with glistening black fur gave way to a gentle brown coloured body, round and dumpy – just the right shape for its legs.

I outstretched my hand in friendship, the animal doesn’t look to be a threat, and clearly doesn’t eat meat, no teeth. It approaches me, its long nose sniffing at my face, clearly its still looking for some food. Slowly, I move my hand towards its fur, so very slowly – so as not to cause it to start and run away. Its fur was so soft, I could tell why people chose to hunt these animals. I’d seen many like it before, but all dead. It saddens me that people would selfishly take this animals life to keep the fur for themselves.

There was a sudden shot in the distance (BANG) and the animal ran away, it must have been terified, and with good reason – heck I was. I felt the air cooling against my skin and just as I noticed that, the light dimmed a little, it was time to leave. The light was fast fading and I knew I’d left it too long to come back, I wanted to explore where the shot came from but when my muse hits, time disappears into a vacuum, usually passing way quicker than I perceived. It must be something about writing that causes it. I wasn’t far from the glade, but I had went off the trail some way and I very nearly couldn’t find my way back to the trail. If only it wasn’t so damned hard to get a place of peace, maybe, just maybe my writing could be completed. The plague was racing through most of the towns anyway, so where better to spend some time than in the wilderness where no one comes around to spread the plagues ill tidings upon me.

Certainly, my novel wouldn’t thank me if I died. It has an astonishing force of will to have me hanging on as long as I have. It speaks to me, coerces me down its dark passageways and twists of plot. The world needs this story, only it doesn’t know yet – heck I don’t even, all I know is what must be written. The pictures are so clear in my mind. (BANG) Dammit!

Oh, I hope the little guy is safe, life for those little creatures whilst simple is not without its own terrifying dangers. Imagine being threatened with your very life almost every time you woke to get food – yeesh, sometimes I’m glad I’m human and other times I find myself envying the simple life of the creatures, I guess there are benefits to both – it’s freezing and we humans don’t have any fur.

Now that’s a sound I never tire of hearing, the distant rhythmic rumble of the waterfall at the glade always eases my soul and helps me focus, the way it always changes but also stays the same is hypnotic. I could listen to it for hours, but the daylight is fading fast and I need to get back to Mable at home, she always misses me terribly when I go to write. I always tell her that it’ll be okay and not to worry, but half the time I don’t think she hears me. The sound of the waterfall is closer now, my horse should be around here somewhere…(WHISTLE) (WHINNY)

Ah, there he is – Bolt. He’s always been a friend of mine, been with me for years, don’t ask me why he chose to stick around so long – no better offers I guess. How are you boy?

(WHINNY)

Yes, I know its cold. We should head back now, can we ride?

(WHINNY)

Thank you, lets away.

The rain thrummed on my back like so many small pebbles hitting the surface of the water. Soon be home to Mable, she’ll have it at me for being late and soaked – sigh.

~~~

After arriving at home, I was soaking wet and I must have cursed too loudly when I landed on the puddle because then the damned lock wouldn’t budge. The door was mocking me. I would mock it back, but I was just too damned tired to try.

Eventually, the door opened (I asked it nicely) and Mable hadn’t moved from the fire. She was sulking.

Ha! she wont be sulking when I put her dinner out. Sure enough, when the clatter of that steel bowl hit the kitchen top – in bounded Mable, her grumpy demeanour seemed to have vanished. Her brown fur was slightly singed.

Have you been too close to that fire again?
(GROWL)

Ahh, women – can’t live with them, can’t live without them.