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Interested?

Just a short story I wrote for my Writing Group at school. The topic was ‘Vampires’ and the challenge was a 1000 word story. Want to read it?
***

Bloodless

The clock chimed midnight. The coffin creaked open, cobwebs straining and breaking. The man inside emerged, his pale eyes glinting through the gloomy darkness. He stood, long dark hair streaming past his shoulders and onto his cape, once rich velvet but now a little moth-eaten around the edges. His coffin obviously wasn’t as air-tight now as it had once been.

The attic was empty. His heightened senses showed him that the entire house was, likewise, abandoned. No humans, no animals, not even a rodent lurking inside a wall. He smiled wanly. His vampiric scent, undetectable by humans but not by more sentient creatures, must have become noticeable during his decade-long slumber, so anything larger than an insect had fled. Still, he preferred the solitude. Bloodlust upon waking could be unbearable if blooded creatures were nearby; it was so much easier to maintain control if brain cells activated before centuries-old instinct. Intellect before everything was his philosophy; control was paramount. Hence his decision to wake today; the day to commence his plan.

He descended to the second storey of his mansion, noting instantly that not all was as he had left it. His eyes narrowed, the only outward sign of his temper flaring. A sign to those who knew him that death – much, much death – was imminent.

He took a deep breath. Yes, since he had fallen asleep, human fools had occupied the house… but his determination to overcome baser passions was strong, and he calmed his wrath within moments. The power of rational decisions over mere instinct. He quirked an eyebrow and intentionally focussed on the changes. 

Someone, years ago, had repainted, and furniture he didn’t recognise lay scattered in random fashion. The heavy curtains he’d chosen, which blocked out all view of the mountainous terrain beyond, were the only feature left untouched. Wise. It could get cold up here – not that he’d felt it once he’d been turned. Still. Whoever the interlopers had been though, they’d long since gone. It looked as though they’d been moving in when suddenly they’d been interrupted. And for whatever reason, they’d left and not returned. Curious.

He continued down to the first storey. More unusual furniture, more evidence of sudden abandonment. Dishes laid out on the dining table, ingredients prepared in the kitchen with saucepans ready on the stove – all long since left to dry up and rot. He snorted. Humans. Limited intelligence, rarely successfully utilised!

The ground floor revealed still more questions, but some answers to others – the family was here. What remained of them, anyway. Two larger skeletons were huddled together with two smaller and one canine. Amongst the jumble of bones, now stripped bare of flesh by insects, he noted that their faces had been either turned toward the main doorway, or averted from it. His brow furrowed. What had happened here? He thrust his senses out further, searching beyond the house for the logical explanation. There may not be any creatures inside – his scent had driven them away – but he knew there’d be owls hunting rodents in the forests outside, foxes stalking their prey, eyes bright despite the lack of moon.

And yet. He canted his head to one side, forcing his senses further, then still further. There was nothing. No blooded creature nearby. No sense of anything. He stopped, noticing his powers were only rudimentary due to his long fast. He’d need blood, and soon, to regain his strength.

He stepped to the main doorway. Its thick oak had stood for centuries now; he expected it would last for many more. It had withstood wars, plagues, even a siege during medieval hostilities, however it had always prevailed. The question of safety fleeted through his mind, however he dismissed it. It was well past midnight on a new moon; it was almost pitch black outside. And although vampiric sight meant everything was visible for him, he’d be unnoticeable to others. Not that there were humans outside. He tried casting out his senses again. No. Nothing and no-one in the immediate vicinity.

The sturdy metal handle felt old, and uncared for. Like his cape, it was showing evidence of age. He sighed. The bolt grated metal on metal as he unlatched the door, swinging it wide, releasing air into the house. And that’s when he noticed it.

The air was lifeless, oxygen-depleted. The forests opposite were gone. The mountains were bare; empty of everything… as far as his eyes could see. No trees, no creatures, just bare grey earth. And the sky wasn’t black anymore, stars shining brightly with the lack of a moon. No, the sky was orange, as if it were burning. The brilliant intensity of the colour hurt his eyes. By the light of the sky he stared out at this unexpected scene. It was desolate. Completely and utterly dead.

He tasted the air again, closing his eyes this time to focus his concentration. And there it was. The radiation he’d missed the first time, when he’d been astonished by the devastation before him. The air was saturated with it – so much radiation that nothing could survive except insects. He even felt his bloodless skin recoiling from its touch.

A faint buzzing nearby made him reopen his eyes. A swarm of gnats rose from the area where the forests had been, racing toward him. They’d sensed his presence when he’d opened the door perhaps? And acting purely on instinct, they’d decided he’d be a worthwhile meal.

Fear shot like a lightning bolt down his spine, and he turned to close the door – too late. The swarm was upon him, biting and tearing, devouring his clothes in seconds, his bloodless skin yielding under their assault soon after.

What had happened to the world he’d planned to conquer? His scheme had been flawless; his intellect had foreseen it!

As millions of razor-sharp teeth ravaged his body, and his mind descended into pain and darkness, he regretted not living by his instincts after all.

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random scribblings Scribblings Writing

Flash fiction contest entry

The contest allowed 100 words, and 5 prompt words were mandatory. Fox / Sox / Blue / Cold / Shiver. You could split up the word over multiple others, but not change the order of the letters.

My entry:

The bell rang. Everyone left, then Tess slipped the card into Steve’s desk tray. She shivered, thinking about tomorrow. Would he like it? She’d tried her hardest, rubbing out the wonky lovehearts. She’d also pasted fox pictures onto it, cut from Grandpa’s encyclopaedia. (Steve liked foxes. See? She’d thought this through!)

Then she’d spent ages writing the words. The front: Be my Valentine. Inside: Roses = red, Violets = blue. Once I was cold, now I’m hot for you. (Something grownups said on Mummy’s TV shows.) Then she’d signed it.

Tess

O X

Unfortunately, their Kindergarten teacher checked desk trays each morning.

What do you think, dear Reader?

And have a love-filled day yourself 🙂

  • KRidwyn
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Scribblings teaching Work Writing

Flash fiction – 4 prompt words

Last term, I started a “Writer’s Group” at my school. Interested students – only girls so far! – meet each morning and practise various activities to improve their writing skills.

One such activity was “write a 100-word flash fiction story which must include random prompt words”. My favourite story used the words: Fate; Find; Potential; Fiendish. Below is what I came up with:

It’s fate, I knew it! Jane thought. I knew I’d find him – the stars aligned perfectly this month!

She stared dreamily out the window, remembering last night. Their eyes had met across the crowded bar. Excusing himself from his friends, he’d moved toward her, his eyes – mesmerising! – locked with hers. Other girls, appraising his potential, tried flirting as he passed; he ignored them. He only had eyes for her! And they had a tete-a-tete tonight!

Ma cherie, he murmured into her neck later that evening. Her eyes closed, she didn’t notice his enlarged canines behind his fiendish smile.

I quite liked writing it! Never written a vampire character before. I’m thinking it’s all the manga I’ve been reading for work this year…

Anyway, here’s wishing you a story-filled day today yourself, dear Reader!

  • KRidwyn

 

 

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#blogjune Blogging challenges my novel-in-progress Random thoughts teaching

And… it’s #blogJune time!

Well, what a difference 12 months make!

May 31, 2019: I was employed as Head of Middle School at a local private school. I was stressed, exhausted and a fortnight away – although I didn’t know it! – from being made redundant. Man, am I glad I didn’t play along with #blogJune last year!

May 31, 2020: I’m employed as Teacher Librarian (and also Head of House) at a different local private school. I’m not stressed – in spite of tumultuous changes in schools because of COVID-19 – and I’m not exhausted – again, even though I’ve been working dozens and dozens of extra hours in both the school and Library areas of my job.

And these past few days, I’ve even managed to get back to writing again!

Not to mention some reading… but I’ll leave that for tomorrow. Have a great day, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

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9/52

It’s been four years in the making. But the Repressed Races series has come to…

Yay!!!

And now: to edit. Sigh.

Have a week full of closure yourself, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

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my novel-in-progress Random thoughts Writing

1/52

I’ve decided, instead of New Year’s resolutions for 2019, to try implementing two pieces of advice I’ve been given in the past several years.

The first was from a nurse helping me through depression following the birth of child number 2. Her piece of advice (among many others, most of which I use regularly) was to have realistic expectations – for myself, as well as for others. That’s a tricky one for me – but one I’m going to try to remember in 2019.

The second was a few years ago, from New York literary agent extraordinaire, Janet Reid. She wrote a blogpost responding to a question I’d sent her; the gist of her answer was for me ‘to focus’. Again, something which is going to require more than a little training, for those of you who know me IRL… but something that’s worthwhile, I think.

So in 2019 I plan to ‘focus’ on my writing. The novel-in-progress, that is, not my blog. Hence the plan to post photos each week. Starting with this:

 

The view from one of my early-morning writing spots. Peaceful. Quiet.

Amazing, hey!

Anyway, here’s wishing you a wonderful week, dear Reader 🙂

– KRidwyn

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random scribblings Scribblings Writing

What would you do?

I was given a progressive story to finish recently. This is what I had to work with:

  • 2 love-struck teachers, John and Angela. They’d been kissing for the first time, in the school break-room, when
  • an explosion had occurred and they’d been knocked to the ground. Angela had been impaled, and John was also much the worse for wear.
  • Enter cleaner, George. He tells them he’s called the ambulance and encourages the two teachers to talk to each other. They declare their undying love (yeh, I added the adjective here because hey! irony!)
  • explosion number 2.

Oh – and finish the story in just 300 words.

So now what? What would YOU do?

If you’re interested in my take on the story, read on below. If not, that’s fine! Have yourself a fantastic week, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

*****

Now it was George’s turn to be thrown to the ground. He landed heavily on his vacuum cleaner. John, who’d finally managed to stagger upright, was blasted down again. This time, his temple hit the corner of the lunch table. He’d never rise again.

Angela, disoriented, bleeding profusely from multitudes of cuts, tried to rise but couldn’t. Her legs wouldn’t support her. She could feel her body growing weaker. In her pain, she didn’t notice a man stride into the destroyed room, gas mask covering his head and a thick black coat disguising the rest of his muscular body. He kicked John’s body out of his way.

George, regaining consciousness, groaned loudly. Leaning over, the man hauled him to his feet. “Leave.” George, spluttering, quickly decided this was not a man to trifle with. Eyes wide, he took the stranger’s advice and fled.

Not even bothering to watch, the stranger had calmly sauntered over to Angela’s broken body. He removed his mask, his face flushed with hatred. “I told you,” he spat.

“Henry?” Angela’s whisper held pain and confusion. “What…? Why?”

“When you broke my heart two years ago, you promised me ‘never again’,” he roared, over the wail of approaching sirens.

He grabbed the piece of window frame embedded in her abdomen and twisted it slowly, painfully. “You lied.”

“But…”

“No,” he snarled. “You’d promised. It was easy enough to get the gas contract for this stupid old school. A piece of cake, letting it leak into this break room over the past several weeks. Just waiting for today. For you. And him!” His eyes glittered crazily; her eyes, tear-filled, lost their sheen of life.

The sirens stopped, replaced by screeching tyres on the gravel outside.

Henry, smiling grimly, surveyed his handiwork, then slipped silently out the back door.

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my novel-in-progress random scribblings Random thoughts Scribblings teaching Technology Work Writing

Moving right along…

So now the musical’s over, I’ve been head down and getting stuck into the work I’d been (of necessity, mind you!) neglecting. Housework, gardening – oh, and my students’ assignment drafts too, don’t forget! I’ve also had enough head-space to actually ponder the commencement of writing again, would you believe? And I also found 15 minutes in there somewhere, last week, to FlowState… although what came out was embarrassingly pitiful and barely worth keeping, but writing is writing and a skill practiced is a skill improving, I always say. (Well, okay. I made that saying up just now. But it sounds significantly better with the word ‘always’ in it, don’t you think?)

What’s FlowState? You ask. Well, it’s a horrific tool which forces you to write by threatening to remove all your words.

Originally, you could set the timer for 5 minutes, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes. I preferred that. But with an update a year or so ago, they removed that functionality, leaving users with only a 15 minute option.

And the idea behind it is that you WRITE for 15 minutes. No hesitating, just writing. Adding word after word to the screen. Or else!

If you hesitate for longer than 5 seconds (from memory; I *think* it’s five but I’m too scared to check it and see) the words fade on the screen and when they’re gone, they’re gone forever.

You’re forced, you see; to write, and write non-stop, until the timer finishes, and the work is saved.

And believe me, you do NOT want to stop at 14 minutes and 55 seconds! I did that before, and lost literally hundreds of words. Yes, I cried. And yes, I also stopped using the app, my own solitary protest, for several months. But returned though, because it’s perfect to get the writing mojo happening (rather than the thinking mojo!) and the threat of losing work is enough to keep the fingers tapping keys 🙂

Anyway, so that’s what I’ve been doing.

That, and dreaming about publishing. If only Book 7 of my Justine Browning series would write itself!

 

Have a great week, dear Reader 🙂

– KRidwyn

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#blogjune Blogging challenges my novel-in-progress Random thoughts Scribblings Work

Sipping from the saucer #13

I work at a Christian school. The pastor of the church which established our school has a saying: “The LORD has blessed me so much, my cup is overflowing (taken from Psalm 23) and I’m sipping from the saucer.”

I like the visual, so I’m using it here, in this month-long blogging challenge focusing on the blessings God has poured out on me.

Today, blessing #13.

My ‘About’ page used to list all the many and varied places I could be found online; and the list finished with the Writing Race I used to attend, almost religiously, every Wednesday evening from 8 til 9pm, over on Facebook. Well, since being blessed with full-time work last January, my attendance at the race has been haphazard, to say the least. And I’ve missed it.

But last night, I found myself sitting in front of my computer at the dining table, finishing paying the last of my bills and lamenting exactly how much interest my mortgage is earning against me, when I realised that it was 8.07pm, Wednesday, and the level of marking-and-reports-looming-over-my-head-stress, was actually manageable… so I logged on to Facebook and joined the race. I think the Race Captain fell off her chair.

I was welcomed in seconds… with fireworks, even!

These fellow writers; it’s wonderful to be in an online support group of them, because they all know what it’s like to write around the day job. To try and steal some minutes here and there to get another chapter written; to edit paragraphs during lunch breaks; to spend valuable minutes (if not quarter hours or half hours… or longer!) of precious ‘writing time’ backtracking and trying to remember exactly where you were up to, and attempting (often in vain, darn it) to recapture the thought processes that *were* firing when last you got interrupted… my fellow writers understand all that.

And I love that there are some people out there who get that. Who understand my passion, and who feel the same way that I do.

Never mind that June 13 is the first race I’ve turned up to in 2018. Never mind that I probably won’t make it back again for weeks, if not months.

They’re there. They’re a blessing to me.

And I love that.

Here’s hoping that you can also find a blessing in your day too, dear Reader!

– KRidwyn

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my novel-in-progress teaching Work Writing

Swimming, not sinking

2017 has been quite an interesting year so far. I scored my dream job, which started officially mid-January, and have been hard at it since, working long hours and seeing welcome developments in the culture I’m attempting to establish.

I’m loving it. It’s keeping me extremely busy… so busy, I’ve let my writing slide shockingly. Initially, I thought I’d be able to have things sorted by Easter. Nope. Then, I hoped, by the mid-year holidays. Nah – not a chance.

But I can see how unrealistic my initial expectations were, and am no longer bemoaning my lack of time. I’ve laid off the guilt, been kind to myself, and am far happier knowing that I’ll be more comfortable once I’ve seen the full year cycle.

Having said that though, I quite surprised myself last week. Driving home on Thursday, with a remarkable ‘urgent work to complete’ quota of zero, my mind turned again not the long-awaiting WIP, and I realised that there was only housework and cherub-looking after standing between us! It was a lovely moment. 

Acknowledging that the period of sinking-almost-drowning which I’ve been living, is maybe ending. That I’m swimming, and that perhaps my head is managing to stay above water for longer and longer…

I sure am hoping so!

I love how life works in seasons. How there may be seasons of discomfort, of hardship, of pain, but likewise there will also be seasons of joy, of peace, of love.

God is good. I truly believe that.

Have a lovely week, dear Reader!

-KRidwyn