Tag Archives: #shortstory

Coffee And Caramel Shortcake (flash fiction)

coffee and caramel shortcake

For such a beautiful Spring afternoon, the coffee shop was surprisingly quiet and she had no problem securing her favourite small window table. With her usual order placed, she turned her attention to her kindle and resumed reading.

 Hooking his sunglasses into the neck of his black t-shirt, he glanced round the unfamiliar coffee shop looking for a table. He spotted a small table over by the window and headed for it. Within moments a waitress was at his side with the menu. He only wanted a coffee so politely declined the menu and requested a large latte. 

When the waitress returned, she had two coffees on the tray and a piece of caramel. The sight of it was making him regret ordering just a coffee. Carefully, the young waitress set his large mug down then delivered the other smaller mug and the caramel shortcake to the adjacent table.

 As the woman looked up from her e-book to watch the waitress, she became aware of a pair of eyes watching her.

 The man and the woman made eye contact.

 She found herself spiralling into his brilliant blue eyes. Within them was a kaleidoscope of music, of lights, of songs, of guitars, of travelling, of hotel rooms, of restaurants and bars, of exhaustion, of jet lag, of loneliness.

 He found himself drowning in two still liquid pools of molten chocolate. Within them was a sea of contentment filled with calm thoughts of books, of writing, of scented candles, of soft music, of home cooked meals, of wine enjoyed out on a sea front terrace, of relaxation, of unbroken sleep, of loneliness.

 In that split second, the two strangers silently exchanged their worlds.

 She looked away first.

 A cloud fell over his world as he stared down into the milky depths of his coffee cup.

 “Excuse me,” said a honey soft voice beside him. “I don’t normally do things like this but you look like you need this more than I do.”

She offered him the slice of caramel shortcake.

“It’s medicinal,” she added with a smile that lit up his dark world.

“Thank you,” he said, his voice still husky from singing too many shows over too few nights. “How about you join me and we share it?”

Still smiling, she moved to sit down opposite him and cut the chocolate square neatly in half.

“You choose.”

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

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Silently Watching At Eostre – part eight

dark angel

Spring was perhaps the dark angel’s favourite time of year. There were plenty of young animals in the fields to provide easy succulent meals for her. If she was careful, she could disguise her lamb kills as dog attacks, easily diverting attention towards any number of local pets who were allowed to roam off their leads. While the fresh lamb’s blood was a delicacy, it didn’t satiate her hunger the way that human blood did.

Meals since the Winter Solstice had been lean. She had risked only one human kill. During a January gale, she had snatched an unsuspecting passenger from the deck of the ferry that traversed the river every hour.  Now, after months of rabbits, deer and, more recently, lambs, she was truly ravenous.

At this time of year, she preferred to seek young blood to rejuvenate her. It had crossed her mind many times over the years to snatch a child but, even in her transformed state, that was a moral step too far. When she had been reborn over two hundred years earlier, her creator had laid down three basic rules to survival.  

1 Never kill a child prior to it reaching sexual maturity

2 Never kill an expectant mother

3 Never drink from the bloodline of your creator. 

The first rule remained the only one unbroken. 

She ran her tongue over her broken fang and allowed her thoughts to linger on the runner. Oh, what she’d give to be able to savour that exotic, rich, ferrous blood of his! If she closed her eyes, she could see him in her mind’s eye and still taste him. Forbidden fruit indeed but what was she to do with him?

 

After a large family dinner to celebrate Easter and several stolen pieces of his children’s chocolate Easter eggs, he knew he needed to set off for a long run to burn off the calories. Time was marching on. Easter already! ..and he was  acutely aware that he hadn’t been following his desired training schedule. The Bank Holiday Monday offered the ideal opportunity to set out for a longer run. Not wanting to miss out on too much quality family time, he’d set his alarm early, leaving the house just before seven as the sun rose over the horizon.

With open countryside surrounding him and his favourite playlist playing in his ears, he ran at a respectable pace towards the local reservoirs. At such an early hour, he passed no one. Everywhere was still. The birds were singing in the hedgerows and trees. The water of the reservoirs was glassy still. It was an idyllic setting for his morning run.

After a few miles, something off to the left in one of the fields caught his eye. Several crows were gathered round it and, as he slowed his pace to focus his vision on it, he realised that it was two dead lambs, their throats freshly ripped out. Initially, he thought that they must have met their deaths at the fangs of a dog but, as he ran on, he wondered……

Subconsciously his hand went to his neck, touching the very spot where those deadly fangs had pierced his skin. He hadn’t allowed himself to think about the dark angel for a while. In fact, he’d gone out of his way to avoid her and avoided even driving through the village, opting instead whenever possible to take the narrow country road out onto the main dual carriageway. She fascinated him but terrified him at the same time. The thought that she still wanted to talk with him made his blood run cold. “Forbidden fruit,” she had said to him the last time their paths had crossed. He knew she intended to talk to him at some point but he wasn’t convinced it was a conversation he wanted to be party to.

 

Warm spring sunshine was bathing the still graveyard but the angel sat in the cool of the shadows, picking pieces of sinew from between her teeth with her long, pointed fingernails. Lamb for breakfast had been fine but she still craved human blood.

A familiar scent on the air caught her attention before she heard the rhythmic thud, thud, thud of the runner’s feet as he ran hard up the steep hill past the church. Soundlessly, she got to her feet, crossed the small cemetery and stepped out into the road at precisely the same moment that the runner reached the rusty gates at the entrance.

“Good morning, son of Perran,” she said with a smile.

“Hey,” he gasped breathlessly.

“Come,” she instructed, beckoning him to follow her into the cemetery. “Time to talk.”

“I don’t have much time,” he replied, desperately trying to think of something to stall her.

“You have sufficient time. Come!”

Obediently, he followed her up the stone steps then left along the gravel path towards a bench that remained in the shade.

“Sit,” she commanded bluntly as she herself sat carefully on the wooden bench, mindful of her majestic wings.

Choosing a spot as far along the seat from her as possible, he sat down.

“I need to tell you a story,” she began quietly. “No need to look so scared. You’re perfectly safe from me….well… for now.”

“I am?”

“Yes. We share the same bloodline,” revealed the angel, gazing into his dark eyes as if searching for his very soul. “If I were to try to drink from you, I’d die within a few hours. One of the golden rules. Never drink from the bloodline of your creator or his descendants.  You, son of Perran, are a descendant of the man who made me who I am.”

“I am?”

The dark angel nodded, “The wound I inflicted on your neck proved that. Those few delicious drops of blood poisoned me. Were nearly enough to end it all but, as you can see, I am quite recovered. Well almost.”

She bared her fangs to him. Immediately, he noted the broken tip of one of them.

“The tip is embedded in your neck,” explained the angel, reaching out to touch the spot.

His neck had begun to throb as soon as he had approached the church and the toothache had returned when the stone walls of the cemetery had come into sight. Now, for the first time in weeks, he felt warm, fresh blood trickling down his neck.

“How? Why?”

“How? Because I attempted to drink from you. Those few poisonous drops were divine,” she replied, savouring the bittersweet memory. “Why? That’s what I am trying to figure out. Minor injuries like a broken tooth usually regenerate and heal within a day or so. This has been over nine months and there is nothing I can do to heal it.”

“The place on my neck won’t heal either,” he acknowledged, reaching up to wipe away the fresh blood.

“In over two hundred years, I’ve never experienced this,” she stated looking almost insulted. “However, it means we are connected by more than bloodline. So, I’m going to offer you a choice.”

“A choice?” he echoed a little anxiously, edging forward on the seat ready to escape if need be.

“Yes. A choice,” she repeated, her green eyes boring into him. “The choice to either become like me or the choice to kill me.”

“Why?”

Smiling at his puzzled expression, the angel said, “To kill me would end the loneliness, the suffering, save the lives of the innocent. To become like me, then…. well, who knows what our futures would hold, son of Perran.”

“Why would I want to live a life like yours?”

“You wouldn’t have to live as I choose to,” she countered calmly. “There can be a partial transformation first. You can live your life as normal, watch your family grow up and grow old. You, however, will age at a far slower rate. You will remain fit and healthy. Able to run for more years than you would otherwise. Then, once your family are gone, together we can seek answers to why we’ve been bound together like this.”

He stared at her, struggling to comprehend what she was saying.

Effortlessly, the angel got to her feet, spread her wings and prepared to depart.

“So, I wouldn’t need the wings if I can live my normal life?” Once spoken the question sounded ridiculous and he flushed in embarrassment.

“Reach a decision first, son of Perran, then we can discuss the finer points,” she suggested with a mischievous smile. “Its not a decision to be taken lightly. Not one to be rushed.”

He looked up but the mid-morning sun was shining straight into his eyes. He blinked and looked again.

The angel was gone.

A single black, purple tipped feather lay on the ground at his feet.

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

 

The Last Emoji (flash fiction)

 

There had to be thousands of messages in the chain he was scrolling through….. and he missed receiving them.  Those silly emojis that she’d used. The crazy conversations of emojis alone that they’d both understood perfectly. Messages that would ping into his phone at all hours of the day and night. Random and bizarre. Short and sweet. Occasionally an annoyance. … an annoyance he now sorely missed.

For two long weeks the thread had been virtually silent. All the recent messages had been one way. All of them had been his.

With a sad smile, he looked at the last one he’d received from her

                Beach time 🙂 🙂 🙂

                Have fun 😎 Be careful 😀

 

She’d never reached the beach that day.

It was a news report shared on his timeline by a mutual friend that had delivered the news of the accident. The brief report had made his blood run cold.

Those first few days had been touch and go. From a distance, he’d waited for news, thankful that his sister-in-law was a nurse in the ICU. He’d made every excuse he could to visit her at work that week. Offering her lifts, coming into the hospital to let her know that he was there, hoping to seize the opportunity to visit Room 5.

The opportunity finally came three days after the accident. He’d arrived early to collect his sister-in-law from her last in a run of night shifts and, needing to confide in someone, he’d told her the gist of his friendship with the patient in Room 5. Luck had been on his side. There was no one sitting with her.

For less than ten minutes he was allowed to visit in secret. They had been the shortest ten minutes of his life. She had looked so peaceful, despite the tubes and IVs and the incessant bleeping of the machines keeping her alive. Nervously, he’d held her hand and talked to her. He’d kissed her on the forehead before he’d slipped unseen from the private room.

Now, ten days later, he couldn’t remember a word he’d said but he could’ve sworn that she had squeezed his hand ever so gently. Wishful thinking? A reflex reaction? He’d never know for sure but it made it easier to bear if he kept believing that she’d known he was there.

It was after that that he’d started to message her again. Short messages. His usual random messages as if nothing had changed.

                Morning 🙂

                What a shitty day! >:D

                Car broke down again. Hate buses 😥

                Night. Sleep well  😉

                Long day. Work’s fried my head 😕

 

And so they went on……

The day he heard that he’d lost her forever, he’d sent another message

                😥  xx

Even though he knew she was gone, he’d kept messaging her. He could see on his phone that they were all unread but sending them, holding onto the connection,  eased the searing pain of his unspoken grief.

After the funeral service, he’d messaged her again.

                You’d have hated that! SO not you! Not one song that you’d have picked ha ha  :’)

 

Now a week after he’d said his final goodbye alongside her family and friends, he sat on the wall looking out over the river in his lunch hour, scrolling back through their message conversation. Re-reading some of the old messages made him smile, triggering memories of happier times.  In the mix of short text and emojis, her personality was still alive.

In his heart and his head, he knew he couldn’t keep messaging a ghost. He had to stop ….  but he didn’t want to. Then he began to worry that her family might be able to read the message chain. A wave of panic washed over him. Silently, he prayed that she’d been as careful with their messages as he had.

What happened to folk’s social media after they died? Would her timeline just sit there growing old and out of date? Would it be deleted and be gone forever?

A swift Google search informed him that nothing would happen to it until the family reported her death to the host site. Knowing how thorough her family could be, he guessed that the death would be reported sooner rather than later  and the account “memorialised”. That at least would be something to hold onto in the darker moments of the days and weeks to come.

He had to let go. He had to say goodbye.

With a heavy heart, he typed one final message. 

                    Miss you  😥

He hit send then stuffed the phone back into his pocket. Time to get back to work.

As he walked across the car park, his phone vibrated twice.

Two notifications.

Pulling the phone back out, he glanced at the screen.

One notification. One message.

The notification was the change of status of her account to “memorialised” and her friends list had all been notified.

His heart sank.

The message almost made him drop his phone. It was from her! How? Why? His mind raced. Rationalising things swiftly, he deduced it must have been stuck as a draft and the suspension of her social media account had triggered it to send.

He opened it.

                   ❤ U x

He smiled.

 

 

 

 

Twisted Silk – a dark tale (adult content)

Black-Silk_028ebb56-bb9b-4406-a338-657e70170b66

 

The text message had been quite clear. She knew the rules, knew how to play his game.  Christ, she should after twenty-five years of marriage. Only this time, she planned to add a few moves of her own.

As instructed, she arrived at the hotel at four thirty, entering the room with the key card he had given her at breakfast. Room 413- his favourite suite in the small boutique hotel. They’d spent many anniversaries in that room and she knew it intimately.

The room looked identical to it had the year before as she entered. With a smile, she removed the black wig she had worn and shook her red hair free. She stuffed the wig into the side pocket of her overnight bag then set it down on the floor. Carefully, she hung her coat up in the wardrobe. She kept her long satin gloves on.

A bottle of champagne sat in the ice bucket beside the bed, two lead crystal flutes on a silver tray beside it.

She had an hour to finalise her preparations. Keeping her gloves on, she began to undress.

 

By five thirty, she was sitting on the edge of the bed ready to greet her husband. She had spent a little extra time on her makeup, ensuring that it was perfect. The black silk lingerie that he had requested that she wear wasn’t exactly what she felt comfortable in but she knew the role she had to play.

Behind her on the bed lay the “toys” he had requested that she bring from his personal collection at home.

She had opened the champagne, poured two glasses, ensuring that the additional “surprise” in her husband’s glass was fully dissolved. To calm her nerves, she drained half of her own glass in one gulp then topped it up before adding the rest of the powder to the bottle, wiping the neck clean.

The click of the key card in the lock caused her to jump. Could she pull this off? She owed it to herself to try.

“Good evening,” she purred as her husband stormed into the room, slamming the door behind him.

He barely grunted his reply as he dropped his phone and car keys onto the dressing table.

Praying her hand stayed steady, she passed him his glass of champagne.

“Happy anniversary, master.”

“If you’re a good girl, it will be,” he stated before draining the glass, just as she had hoped he would.

“I’ll be good, master. I promise,” she replied, taking his empty glass and refilling it.

He took a sip then set the glass down.

“Allow me to help you, master,” she suggested.

Slowly she slid his suit jacket from his shoulders and hung it carefully over the back of the chair. She loosened his tie and draped it over the jacket. With trembling gloved fingers, she undid the buttons of his crisp white shirt. As she slid it off, she allowed her fingers to caress the backs of his arms just as he preferred.

Without a word, he took another mouthful of champagne, then sat on the bed and invited her to remove his shoes. Slowly, allowing him to savour his view of her full breasts, she bent to slip the Italian leather loafers from his feet. Ignoring the pungent aroma, she removed his sweaty socks then gently massaged his feet.

“Enough,” he barked standing up.

“Of course, master,” she replied, her tone dutiful but not overly submissive.

She unfastened his trousers and slid them down his slender thighs. He side stepped out of them as the material pooled on the floor at his feet.

Carefully, she folded them and laid them on the chair beside his jacket.

Before she could return her attention to him, he’d reached across the bed, selected his “toy” of choice, a riding crop, and smacked her hard across her ass. The blow stung and she gasped, biting her lower lip to prevent herself from squealing. A squeal would earn a second, third or even fourth blow.

“Too slow,” he growled as she turned to face him.

“Sorry, master.”

Already she could see his cock hard and erect in his boxers.

“Bend over.”

Obligingly, she bent over the bed, baring her bare butt cheeks to him. Her black silk thong hid nothing and offered no protection. She bit down hard on her lip as he cracked the crop across her buttocks twice more.

“Resume,” he commanded before draining his glass.

“Yes, master,” she replied.

The black silk negligée had slipped, revealing more of her breasts and the crests of the dark areola that surrounded her nipples.

Smoothing out her long satin gloves, she sensuously slid his boxers down his long legs. His erect penis stood proud as she bent down to fully remove his shorts. He staggered slightly as she lifted his feet in turn for her.

For a split second, as he stood naked before her, she was reminded of how attractive he could be. Without being asked, she refilled his glass.

She handed it to him. As he drank deeply, she saw him sway a little.

Her heart skipped a beat.

“Change of plan,” he declared, setting the glass down and lifting two silk cords from the bed. “On the bed on all fours. Hands on the bedstead.”

Obediently, she moved into position, staying stock still as he tied her wrists to the wrought iron bedframe. His knots were loose and sloppy, she noted with relief.

Crack went the riding crop as he whipped her across the butt once more, leaving another fresh red welt among the many.

Roughly, he grabbed the thin fabric of the thong, ripping it off with ease. His coarse hands roughly shoved her legs further apart. With a primal grunt, he thrust into her hard and deep.

Clutching the bedframe tightly she felt him lean over her. Felt his breath hot and stale on her neck.

“Happy anniversary,” he hissed before biting her hard at the back of her neck.

Totally disregarding her pleasure, he continued to thrust his erect penis into her hard and fast. His movements were clumsy and rough.

In her heart, she began to panic. Had she misjudged this? Was her plan about to fail?

Suddenly, she felt his weight slump down onto her back and his cock slide from inside her. Quickly she shuffled up towards the top of the bed, allowing her husband’s drugged body to collapse on the clean white linen duvet.

Time was now short.

Swiftly she wriggled her wrists free and removed the cords from the bedstead. Using all of her strength she wrestled the naked form of her husband onto his back, his un-satiated erection going flaccid in front of her.

She reached under the pillow and withdrew the knife, selected from their own knife block that morning. Placing the knife in his left hand, she wrapped her own gloved left hand over it and guided the knife over his right wrist. The sharp blade slit through the thin skin of his inner wrist with remarkable ease, opening the vein as planned. Breathing hard, she switched hands and repeated the action with the right, slashing deep into his left wrist. She let his hand fall to his side, the knife still loosely in his grasp.

Blood poured from the open veins soaking into the duvet.

She paused for a split second, then lifted his right hand along with blood stained knife for a second time. Leaning her body weight to it, she drove the knife into his abdomen.

Blood oozed from around the edges of the blade.

Time to tidy up.

 

Luck was on her side. There wasn’t a drop of blood on her or her gloved hands. Methodically, she wiped her own empty glass clean and set it back down on the silver tray. She gathered up the sex toys and returned them to her overnight bag.

In the bathroom, she removed the remains of the black silk lingerie, stuffing the tattered fabric into her bag. Using her make up remover, she wiped away the thick layer of foundation, revealing her natural pale complexion complete with cigarette burn scars on her cheek. As she dressed, she caught sight of her thin body in the mirror, wincing anew at the dozens of cigarette burns, some old some fresh, on her body and her breasts. She ignored the pain of the bruising on her ribs to twist round to inspect the bite on her neck. His teeth marks were clearly imprinted in her skin and were already turning a deep purple colour.

It was finally over.

Meticulously, she tucked her long red hair up into the black, bobbed wig. She lifted her coat from the wardrobe and slipped her arms into its warm soft sleeves. With her Jackie O sunglasses on to hide her face, she lifted her bag and left the room without a backwards glace.

Freedom awaited in the hallway.

 

One week later, she sat in a different hotel in a different city reading the newspaper that had arrived along with her breakfast tray. On page seven, she found the article she had been looking for – “Business Tycoon Takes Own Life As Company On The Brink Of Collapse.” The by-line detailed how he had been found by a member of hotel staff. The coroner had ruled that his death had been caused by an overdose of tranquillisers mixed with alcohol and multiple self-inflicted knife wounds. A statement from his lawyer confirmed that the IT firm was in ruins and that he had been on the brink of bankruptcy. The journalist went on to reveal that the family home had been saved from the business collapse as it had been in his reclusive widow’s sole name. He continued that the mansion had recently been sold to a mystery buyer and that the grieving widow had been unavailable for comment.

Sitting back, she closed the newspaper and smiled.

 

(image source via Google -credits to the owner)

 

In The Heart Of The Book (1000 word flash fiction)

bookshop 2

As she opened the latest delivery, she thought again about how lucky she was to be living her dream. In this technology filled world, running and owning her own bookshop had been a dream since childhood. The smell and the feel of actual books had held her captivated for decades. Now, in her late thirties, the books fitted perfectly around family life.

Working in the shop, the tiniest shop in the street, gave her an insight into other peoples’ family lives through the books they brought to her. In exchange for a minimal sum, she welcomed in boxes and bags of literary memories. Sometimes the bags came with a funny story about their previous owner; parents passing on children’s books told tales of babies long grown up; wives told tales on husband’s as they brought in books relating to pastimes that has been a passing phase; widowers brought in their late wife’s romance libraries, wondering how they could have read such “rubbish”. Every book in the shop came with a story.

The box in front of her was a curious mix. It had been handed in late the afternoon before by a young man a few years her junior. There had been something vaguely familiar about him but she hadn’t been able to place him. He had commented that the books had been his father’s and had long since been consigned to a shelf at the back of the garage. Something, a sixth sense perhaps, made her ask if he was sure they were all to be donated. His answer had been, “I guess so. He told me to clear out the garage.  Everything. The house has been sold and there’s no room in the new flat for everything as it is.”

The contents of the box proved to be an eclectic mix. She lifted out  sports biographies, a few books about classic cars and car maintenance, a handful of John Grisham paperbacks and a couple of Dan Brown’s. In among them she spotted a copy of a book that been one of her own mother’s favourites, The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo.

With a wistful smile, she ran her hands over the familiar cover noting that, like the copy she had that had been her mother’s, this one was well-read. As she reached to put it on the shelf, a folded piece of paper fell out and drifted to the floor, landing at her feet.

Lifting the pale blue sheet of paper, she unfolded it. Finding notes inside books was one of the sneaky pleasures of the job. Over the years, she had found countless shopping lists, Christmas lists, addresses, postcards, bus and train tickets, boarding passes and the occasional more personal letter. This was one of the latter. The blue page had previously been crumpled and parts of it torn off but someone had taken the time to smooth it out and fold it carefully, stowing it safely inside the book.

Her heart skipped a beat at the distinctive flourishes to the handwriting.

The first part of the letter was missing.

My head knows I shouldn’t feel like this but my heart begs to differ and is leading it astray. The countless unspoken thoughts and conversations in my mind are safest left there…..perhaps.

Who am I kidding here? You know me inside out and well enough to know how I feel without me having to say it out loud.

We both know the risks of that…..

Resting my head against your chest, hearing your heart beat, feeling your arms around me, feeling safe, feeling wanted, feeling loved….”

The rest of the letter was lost. The bottom section of the page torn off.

Shaking the book, she hoped the missing fragments might appear but nothing. Hurriedly, she searched through the box, vainly hoping that one or both of the missing pieces might be there. Nothing.

Opening the book, she prayed she might find another clue. What she found was the possible remains of one. The top corner of the title page had been roughly ripped off but the tails of the letters from the inscription remained. Whatever it had said, it had been written by the same person who had penned the love letter. She would know that handwriting anywhere, even after all this time.

It was her mother’s.

Deciding to err on the side of caution for a while, she re-folded the letter, placed it back in between the pages of the book and put the slim volume safely on the shelf beneath the counter.

A little voice in her soul told her the rightful owner would be back for it as soon as they realised it was missing.

 

A month went by and the well-loved copy of The Alchemist lay under the counter, gradually being buried by letters and receipts. Occasionally, she would bring it out and read the letter over again, trying to work out who her  mother had been writing to.  She never mentioned the book to a  soul. It was her secret. A final connection to her mother.

 

Two more weeks passed by.

 

Late on the Monday afternoon, she was absorbed in the task of re-organising the shelves, perched precariously on the top step of the rickety, wooden stepladders she had brought from home, when the bell above the shop door tinkled. Balancing on one foot and leaning on the shelf, she half turned to see who had entered the shop.

She recognised him immediately, despite the changes caused by the passage of time.

“Hello. Be careful up there,” he said warmly. “I was hoping you’d be able to help me.”

He paused while she climbed down the ladder.

“My son brought a box of books in here about six weeks ago. I’m trying to track down one of the books that got into the box by mistake. It’s of sentimental value.”

“I have it right here,” she replied, smiling at him with a smile so like her mother’s that his heart skipped a beat.

 

(Image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

 

 

Silently Watching At Lammas

dark angel

A tiny vole scuttled around in the damp leaf mould in the icy cold, dark mausoleum. Sniffing the air cautiously, it ventured out from the safety of the edge of the tomb and moved slowly across the stone floor. It’s tiny paws barely made a sound as they pattered across the room. Pausing momentarily, the vole sniffed the air again. Something sour tickled its twitching whiskers. More cautiously, it proceeded across the open space. Just before it reached the sanctuary of the far side and the tiny crack in the stone that would lead to freedom, it’s paws touched something coarse and ridged. Feathers! Realising what it was, the vole accelerated to safety, reaching the escape route just as the dark angel began to stir.

For forty long days and nights she had lain on the floor suffering an agony that she had never felt before. The excruciating pain had begun in her throat as she had flown back to the mausoleum on mid-summer’s night. It had burned like fire down through her chest as she had flown the few short miles. Her strength had also been waning as she had landed clumsily in front of the stone doorway. The last strands of her energy had been drained as she had pulled the door closed behind her. It was then that the full force of the pain consumed her. Agony exploded inside her, searing into her stomach. With a howl of pain, she had collapsed on the floor, dipping in and out of consciousness for the next forty days.

The vole scampering across the tips of her wings had roused her.

As she lay in the darkness, weakened and virtually lifeless, the dark angel deduced that she had been poisoned. Something she had consumed on mid-summer’s night had been tainted.

Slowly, she pushed herself up into a sitting position, the world around her spinning as she did so. A sharp pain shot through her mouth, causing her to gasp. Toothache? Disbelievingly, she ran her parched tongue over her teeth. The tip of one of her fangs was missing. With her energy reserves so depleted, the dark angel knew she would need to feed before she could regenerate the tip.

 

Glancing in the mirror, he put his left hand up to the wound at his neck. Almost six weeks had passed since he’d suffered the mystery puncture wound and still it refused to fully heal. A dark purplish circle about the size of a five pence piece marked the spot. The wound had never scabbed over but, instead, there was an almost blister-like covering to it. Occasionally, it throbbed deep inside his neck.

As his fingertips brushed the delicate blister, it burst and oozed fresh blood once more.

“Bugger,” he muttered to himself. “Not again.”

Despite both his wife and his running buddy’s nagging, he’d refused to see a doctor about the mystery wound. It was clean. There was no obvious infection and he wasn’t suffering any ill effects from it. In fact, if anything he had felt more invigorated and full of energy over the past few weeks. He had argued with both of them that it would heal in its own good time.

“I’ll be back in an hour,” he called out to his wife. “Maybe a bit more.”

Closing the door behind him, he settled his earphones into his ears, cranked up the volume on his iPod and loped off down the hill. A few short minutes later the hill evened out a little and he was faced with three choices- left took him up into the countryside and the trails, straight ahead took him through the housing estate and meant he’d have to run past the yappy dog’s house or right would take him down past the graveyard. He still avoided that road where possible after the strange encounter on it last Halloween. He didn’t feel keen to explore the trails without his buddy by his side. However, he had no desire to tempt that damn dog to take a bite out of calf. The graveyard road seemed the lesser of the three evils.

Midgies swarmed round him in clouds as he ran down the tree-lined road. The mild, damp weather had brought them out in droves. Much as he loved the warmth of late summer evenings, those tiny flying devils certainly took the edge off the enjoyment. Halfway down the narrow road, a sharp pain shot through his mouth. Toothache? With a groan, he kept running, silently cursing the thought of a visit to the dentist.

As he reached the village’s main street, the pain vanished as quickly as it had appeared.

With a sigh a relief, he headed for the coast road, looking forward to stretching his legs for a few miles. Ever since the incident with the two dead deer, he’d been training hard, finding a new turn of speed and extra stamina. On their twice weekly trail runs, his buddy had been struggling to keep pace with him, causing him to temper things when he was out with him. Now, on his own, he was free to set his own rhythm.

 

Almost an hour later, he was back at main street, still feeling fresh, despite having run around eight miles to the ferry terminal and back, and was faced with his usual dilemma – straight ahead up the hill past the yappy dog or left up past the graveyard? He didn’t fancy being a late evening snack for the dog so, again, he opted for the shorter, steeper graveyard road, praying silently that the light breeze had dispersed the midgies.

 

Wearily, the dark angel sat on the marble bench seat that ran round three sides of the tomb. She had scanned the immediate area for wildlife, hoping to track down an easy meal to rejuvenate her enough to fix her fang. The pain from it was an incessant throbbing. A mortal pain that she had long since forgotten. Trying to block it out, she trained her attention to the area outside the mausoleum, listening to the sounds of anything that could serve as a meal. Forty days without blood had taken its toll on her as well as the effects of the poison. Thinking back to mid-summer’s night, the dark angel fathomed that one of the deer must have been poisoned. She would need to be more careful in future. With a smile, she remembered meeting the runner again, albeit too briefly for her liking. With a sigh, she recalled how she’d almost been allowed to dine on his rich, exotic, ferrous blood. A divine meal yet to be savoured.

The rhythmic thud of feet approaching up the road caught her attention. Her mind was immediately filled with a vision of him powering his way up the hill towards her lair. In her vision, the dark angel could see the vein pulsing in his neck, the skin covered by a sheen of sweet sweat. Ever acute, her senses picked up on the puncture wound on his neck.

A sharp pain stabbed through her damaged fang as a cold realisation struck her.

 

Outside on the road, oblivious to the ancient mausoleum that was hidden by the trees, the runner felt the toothache return. Same canine tooth as before, only this time the pain stabbed right up into his cheek bone. He also became aware that the wound on his neck was throbbing. Casually, he rubbed his hand across his neck. His fingertips came away covered in fresh blood. Not for the first time, he wondered whether there was something in the wound. There was a definite pressing, pulsating feeling deep in his neck. Perhaps his wife and buddy were right. Perhaps he should get the wound looked at. He vowed to make an appointment with the doctor, after he’d seen the dentist about his toothache.

 

As his footsteps receded, the angel set staring down at her feet, not fully believing what she had just uncovered. Could it be true? How could it even be possible Carefully, she ran her tongue over her broken fang, certain now that it’s missing tip was lodged in the runner’s neck. With equal certainty, she now knew what had poisoned her. It had been those few delicious drops of his blood…but why?

 

(image sourced via Google – credits to the owner)

For info –  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lammas

 

So, what would you do?

latte-stock-photo

So, if you came face to face with your favourite actor/rock star/sports star in a normal situation, what would you do? If they were “off duty”, would you approach them? Would you ask for that obligatory “selfie” or an autograph on the only scrap of paper you have in your purse, most likely a receipt for something mundane?

It’s a conundrum I’ve thought about occasionally over the years and never really drawn any finite answer to. I’ve frequently thought that, as I live in a reasonably small town and am used to seeing familiar faces about town, I’d most likely nod and say “hello” thinking it was someone from school or work or an old neighbour…..then several hours later go “Damn, that was So And So!” (ha ha…..it’s happened!- Mike Oldfield in Debenhams in Glasgow a long time ago!)

A few years ago, I wrote this while pondering such a situation.  Enjoy!

 

The Tale Of A Skinny Decaff Latte

With a quick glance at the clock on the dashboard, I figured I had just enough time to spare to treat myself to a well-earned and much needed caffeine fix before my next appointment. Signalling to my fellow drivers, I slowed down and turned off the main road down the narrow twisting slip road into Gourock’s water front car park- the Swimming Pool car park to us locals. As usual, the car stereo almost drowned out the warning bleeps from the reversing sensors; as usual, I heard them just in the nick of time. One of these days I knew I wasn’t going to and would be rewarded with a resounding expensive “crunch”! Grabbing my bag, I scrambled out of the car, checking twice on my way across the car park that I had locked it. A narrow alley led me from the car park back up onto the main thoroughfare and right to the doorway of my caffeine source- Gourock Coffe Co.

Pushing open the heavy door, I inhaled the heavenly aroma of coffee as I looked to see if my favourite table was free. It was. In my hurry to get to my caffeine fix, I had barely noticed the hire car that had parked haphazardly outside or the driver inside, who was talking animatedly on his phone. With a sigh, I slipped off my jacket and sank down into the squishy, soft, velvet-covered chair. The coffee shop was surprisingly quiet for a Monday afternoon. Only one other table was occupied. Spotting my arrival, the owner, Robert, called over from behind the counter, “Usual, Coral?”

“Please, Robert,” I replied then added, “And a fruit scone and jam too.”

Reaching into my bag, I brought out my phone debating with myself “Candy Crush or Facebook?” Facebook won and I watched the screen as it connected to the shop’s WiFi. While the newsfeed was loading, I heard the door open, felt the draft of cold, autumn air rush in as a tall, slender man entered, his puffy, bomber jacket zipped up and a black beanie hat covering his head. It struck me as odd that he was wearing sunglasses on a dull October day in Gourock. There was something vaguely familiar about him but I barely gave him a second thought as he sat at the window table across from mine.

“There you go. Medium Americano, no milk,” said Robert, setting down the hot mug in front of me. “And my last fruit scone. Enjoy.”

“Thanks.”

As I sliced the scone in half, scattering crumbs across the table, the owner went to take the man’s order. Robert was blocking my view but I could see that the new customer had removed his hat and glasses. They were just visible on the table from where I was sitting. His soft American voice caught my attention. I knew that voice! I’d know that voice anywhere. Not surprisingly, I listened as he ordered a large, skinny, decaf latte. On the table in front of me my Facebook newsfeed had opened. The first post on there was that day’s photo from the fan page of the very man who was now sitting ten feet away from me.

My hands trembled as I fumbled the foil top on the portion of strawberry jam. Flustered, heart racing, I attempted to spread the jam onto the scone and only succeeded in dropping the knife on the table, with a resounding clatter. The noise echoed round, causing the new arrival to glance over in my direction. He smiled at me. My heart skipped a beat as I flushed scarlet with embarrassment.

On the table beside him, his phone buzzed and vibrated. Instead of answering it, he ignored it, turning instead to gaze out of the picture window at the panoramic view of the Argyll Hills, Ben Lomond looming in the distance. A few seconds later, his phone buzzed again and, again, he killed the call and then again, a third time, as a young waitress brought him his latte.

Trying to act normally, I pretended to be reading the screen contents of my phone while actually watching him sneak a spoonful of sugar into the mug then sip the hot, milky coffee. His long, slender hand was shaking as he lifted the mug to his lips. Something about him looked sad, haunted almost.

How I managed to eat my scone and drink my own coffee, I will never know. (Maybe that caffeine habit is worse than I feared.) All the while, I kept my own counsel but discretely observed him sip half-heartedly at his latte. There was an aura about him that seemed to scream “I need my own space for a while.” Repeatedly his phone buzzed and every time he declined the call. I drank in everything about him. His fine features; his long hair, with a hint of grey appearing. After a few mouthfuls of his coffee, he stood up and removed his jacket. I recognised the fine black and grey striped hoodie he was wearing underneath from the interview I had watched on YouTube over breakfast a few hours before. I risked a glance beneath the table as he sat back down and noted his trademark worn leather boots. What size were his feet? Ten? Eleven?

Inside my head, a battle was raging- one half of me saying go and speak to him; the other half saying leave him to enjoy his coffee in peace and quiet.

A message flashed up on my Facebook page asking if I was excited about heading to the Hydro later for the gig. It was Susan- who else? She had been outside the venue for hours already. With surprising calm, I typed back, “Having a coffee and enjoying the view. Will be up as soon as my friend finishes work. Should be there around 6. X” She would never believe me if I said exactly what view I was enjoying. He was meant to be thirty miles away where she was! Why was he here?

I finished my coffee and scone before he was halfway down the large mug. Not entirely trusting myself to remain calm for much longer, I got to my feet and prepared to leave. He was still staring out at the view of the ferry crossing the river as I put on my jacket and gathered up my belongings. At the counter, I handed over a twenty pound note with shaking hands and said to Robert, “That’s for mine and the guy over at the window’s. Send him over another latte and a slice of carrot cake. My treat.”

Stuffing the change into my pocket, I left without a backwards glance and headed back down the alley way to the car park. Had I imagined that? Had it really been him?  Yes, it had been. Why had he been there? I would never know. Did I regret not speaking to him? Yes and no. As I reached the car, I looked back up at the cafe window. He was watching me. Raising his coffee mug, he nodded then smiled that beautiful smile of his.

 

Those of you who know me may have guessed the inspiration for this   😉

(image sourced via Google -credits to the owner)

(If you ever see me drinking decaff, I’ve been kidnapped and it’s a plea for help!)