An Angel among Devils – A short story.

Image by Kira Hoffmann from Pixabay

This story was written for The Haunted Wordsmith’s Genre Challenge, click on the link below to see the post:

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2019/04/21/genre-writing-challenge-april-21/

Today’s genre and image: Crime Thriller/Suspense

 

This was not the kind of place Inspector Tanner usually frequented. In a city renowned for it’s high level of crime, this district was particularly notorious. It was funny how things had changed so dramatically in just over two decades. This area was once a prestigious university but now, crime gangs roamed the campus and the university building itself had long since been burned to the ground. Arson was a common here as thievery. In the centre of the old university grounds was the Black Jack tavern. It was said that you could find out anything there, who murdered who, who had stolen what, for the right price.

Inspector Tanner was dressed as inconspicuously as possible. Rather than his usual smart trench coat and trilby, he now wore a rather shabby afghan coat over a pair of denim jeans. He was here to meet an informant, but not someone he had ever met in person before.

As the inspector pushed open the black painted door, the fumes of smoke emerged in fine tendrils into the clear night air. Not tobacco smoke, the smell was far too pungent for that, not even pipe smoke was that foul. The tavern was not particularly well lit. Electric lights buzzed and flickered from various points around the room, making pools of light that the many bodies standing around seemed to avoid, preferring to linger in the dark recesses and corners instead.

Through the haze, he could see the bar and the barman. The man was tall and thin, with lank dark hair that fell to his shoulders, yet the crown of his head was bare. He wore no shirt, but a black leather vest, unbuttoned showing a hairy chest with more grey in it than it’s original black. His bare arms were covered in tattoos, mainly flaming skulls. He knew of the barman by reputation, they had a file three inches thick on him back at the station. Jack Peel had a record of petty larceny and aggravated assault with intent to cause harm. He used to like collecting ears too, an unpleasant habit that had sent him to prison for twelve years. On his release he had opened this establishment, which had hardly given much assurance that he had decided to go straight, but they had not been able to catch him at anything lately.

He was told to buy a drink and then walk over to the pool table. Grasping the bottle of beer, he wandered over to find two people sitting by the pool table. In one corner, a small, smartly dressed man, in a striped suit and blue tie, with mousy blond hair neatly trimmed. He had black round rimmed spectacles. As he looked in his direction, the man smiled slightly, his eyes remained devoid of emotion. In the other corner sat a large ugly man. His face was covered in small scars, a nose that looked like it had been broken several times sat above a grimacing mouth filled with gold fillings. This man was dressed in denim, head to toe, but his left sleeve appeared to have been ripped away, displaying an arm that was decorated with a snake tattoo that wound around it from his shoulder, with the snakes head, complete with fangs, tattooed on the back of his hand.

The Inspector turned back to the suited man and sat next to him.

The man smiled again and leaned towards him. “Can I help you?” he whispered.

This had to be who he was sent to speak to. “I understand you can tell me about the recent murders in Market Street. Was it the Armstrong gang?”

The man jumped up and practically ran out of the bar.

Suddenly, he felt a tap on his shoulder. The ugly brute of a man was sitting close enough for him to smell his after shave and his foul breath.

“Why did you speak to him for? He’s the man I was going to tell you about. He’s probably gone to tell his boss you’re here now. You had better follow me, if you value your life, quick, out the back way.”

 

I have included the following word prompts:

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/04/21/ugly/

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/21/rdp-sunday-snake/

https://lightmotifs.wordpress.com/2019/04/20/three-things-challenge-pl66/

Today’s prompt: campus, pipe, haze

 

 

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“The Unfavourable Consequences of Pan”

IMG_9966 (2)This story was written for a challenge set by A Guy Called Bloke, see the link below:

What’s My Story Then #2

The Cult of Pan had caused the police no end of trouble. It had all started when an archaeologist had rediscovered an ancient temple, buried for thousands of years beneath a hillside in Greece. They had once worshiped Pan, a mischievous god of music and nature. Pan would play his pipe and entrance all who heard his music. It was a great story, but unfortunately it had been true. They now had plenty of evidence that these innocent looking pipes would cause people to drop off to sleep. Then the player could do with them what they wanted, rob them or abuse them. The underworld crime gangs had all seen the advantage and had converted to this cult which had now spread all over the world.

Luckily, as long as people wandered the streets listening to their own music, they were safe.

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/16/rdp-tuesday-hum-2/

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/world/

 

50 Word Thursday – A Wonderful World

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I was used to travelling in the East. I had spent more of my life away from England than I had there. England held no sense of wonder for me. It was afternoon tea and Cricket, civilised and boring. I preferred to explore the far flung areas of the world.

On this particular trip, I was in Penang enjoying walking through the markets selling all manner of exotic spices. One stall selling small items carved from sandalwood was doing a roaring trade, an elderly man sat behind the display carving more objects rapidly trying to keep up with demand, such was the turnover.

That was when I first heard of the House of Wonder. I knew it for what it truly was, a trap for gullible tourists who would end up with their throats slit and their belongings sold on. I knew enough to keep away from it.

For reasons of my own, I had decided to remain in Penang for a while, I had found congenial company amongst a few of the natives and was in no hurry to move on.

I was not the only Englishman staying there. I had struck up a friendship with a fellow named Carstairs. We used to play cards, drink whisky and chat.

One day I saw Carstairs at the market talking to a fellow near the Wonder House.

I heard him ask ““Ah! The Wonder House! Can any enter?” and the man nodded.

I cried out “Wait!”.

Carstairs was never seen again.

[250 words]

This story was written for the 50 Word Thursday challenge, click on the link below.

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2019/04/10/50-word-thursday-15/

It is not too late to take part in this challenge, it finishes Wednesday and a new one will be posted on Thursday.

This story also contains the following word prompts:

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/world/

FOWC with Fandango — Turnover

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/15/rdp-monday-wait/

 

 

A Pantomime Joke

grayscale photo of laughing old man
Photo by Flickr on Pexels.com

 

“I say, I say, I say”

Said the man on the stage. In typical pantomime fashion, he was dressed as a washerwoman, with bright pink and white striped voluminous dresses with a spotted purple apron. He was also expecting the audience to participate.

“What?” The audience shouted back.

“What happened when the scientists tried to copy a Hurricane?”

The Pantomime Dame asked.

Again, the audience shouted back.

“We don’t know. What did happen when the scientists tried to copy a Hurricane?”

The Dame winked his eye and responded.

“They got a Cyclone.”

The audience groaned and laughed in equal measure.

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 12/April/2019

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/04/12/copy/#like-1199

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/12/rdp-friday-cyclone/

FOWC with Fandango — Pantomime

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/04/12/your-daily-word-prompt-participate-april-12-2019/

 

I caught a fish – It was this big – A Story for Rory, A Guy Called Bloke

 

white concrete building
Photo by Adrianna Calvo on Pexels.com

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Back when I was a nipper, I was taken fishing by my Grandfather.

I was only six or seven and so my memories aren’t clear, but I can’t articulate enough how much that trip meant to me. Particularly as my Grandfather died the following year.

He was a character, that was for sure. My most vivid memory of him was that he loved his whisky, with just a dash of water in it. I remember clearly his voice calling out to my Mother “Don’t drench it Gwen, whatever you do!”

On this particular day, we set off in his car. He was the terror of the area because he insisted on driving at twenty miles per hour and no faster, regardless of how many people cursed and beeped their horn. It took nearly forty minutes to reach the harbour, a trip that takes me just twenty nowadays.

Grandfather had managed to pull a few strings with some of his old contacts at the harbour where he had worked as a docker for many years and managed to borrow a small motorboat for the day.

As the engine went “Putt, putt, putt” it became clear that Grandfather was no faster on the water than he was on land.

Eventually, we reached a spot out to sea and grandfather taught me how to cast the fishing line.

Something tugged on my line almost immediately.

“Grandpa! I think I’ve caught something,” I exclaimed.

“Well, reel it in son, don’t let it get away” he cried back.

Together we reeled in the line, it took both of us, then it emerged, the biggest fish I had ever seen. It was as tall as I was, admittedly I wasn’t tall for my age,  but it was pretty impressive considering we’d forgotten to pack any bait.

 

[300 words]

This story was written for A Guy Called Bloke’s Challenge, click on the link below:

Spin The Keyboard Yarn – Baby Steps First

 

I have also included the following word prompts:

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/rdp-wednesday-articulate/

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/your-daily-word-prompt-drench-april-3-2019/

FOWC with Fandango — Contacts

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/04/03/penitent/

 

Right OK. I admit it, I didn’t read Rory’s instructions fully. I skipped the part about marking the story out of ten for believability! So I was a bit taken back by the marking…

Anyway please forgive me, I am most penitent. 😉

Here is what I should have added.

Out of Ten, how believable do you think my story is?

 

 

 

Genre Challenge – A lonely existence.

This story was written for The Haunted Wordsmith’s Genre Challenge:

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/genre-writing-challenge-april-2/

Today’s genre is VAMPIRE.

 

People thought that living alone in a drafty castle was just an idiosyncrasy, as was wearing velvet robes with flowing white linen shirts.

They thought he modelled his appearance on the portraits of his ancestors that littered the dusty walls.

The upshot of his weird behaviour was that practically nobody disturbed him. In the past that would have caused him great distress, as he would have no victims on which to feed. Nowadays that was no problem, he could order what he required online and it was delivered fresh. AB negative was his favourite flavour, slightly sweeter and less metallic tasting than other types. He avoided O Positive unless he was desperate, it just tasted inferior and often gave him terrible reflux.

The fact that he was a Vampire just didn’t enter into people’s minds, not with any stretch of their imagination. These things were just not believed anymore. He had Hollywood to thank for that. They had all been exposed to such drivel from the movies, which at first had filled him with absolute dread that people would suddenly realise what he was. Instead, it made them less suspicious.

They didn’t believe that most of these family portraits were actually of him, in times gone by when he had bothered to keep up with the latest fashion trends. He didn’t miss the wigs at all. He just combed his sleek black hair back into a ponytail nowadays.

As he sat at the dinner table, surrounded by silverware that glinted in the candlelight, he smiled as he took a sip from his goblet.

To tell the absolute truth, he was rather lonely. He contemplated shutting up the castle and going on holiday somewhere. His uncle had had a wonderful time in Whitby, in England, a couple of centuries before, he raved about the place, until they’d managed to put that steak through his heart.

He put that thought out of his mind again. Even he had nobody to talk to, there was an upside. He was never visited by the taxman or any religious nuts.

He stood up from the table and strode from the room, his deep red velvet robes billowing behind him. Then he flopped into his leather armchair by the fire and turned on his television. He never liked to miss an episode of The Waltons.

 

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/upside/

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/your-daily-word-prompt-absolute-april-2-2019/

FOWC with Fandango — Idiosyncrasy

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/04/02/rdp-tuesday-stretch/

 

Flashback Fridays – Two posts that I wrote a year ago.

 

I wanted to share with you two posts that I wrote a year ago and that you may well have missed.

The first is a poem that I wrote after receiving one of those depressing knocks that life sometimes gives us. It made me feel better.

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/soaring-free-haiku/

 

The second was a story I wrote about gossip and how we judge others but often fail to see the problems closer to home.

https://talesfromthemindofkristian.wordpress.com/2018/03/28/the-four-furies-fictional-tale/

 

I hope you enjoyed this trip into the past. Did you like them?

 

Letters from India – A multiple word prompt story.

brown ganesha figurine
Photo by Artem Bali on Pexels.com

 

This story was written for Teresa, The Haunted Wordsmith’s Genre Challenge:

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/genre-writing-challenge-25/

Today’s Genre is Epistolary Fiction
(stories constructed as a series of letters exchanged between characters)

I have also included the following word prompts:

Word of the Day: Mea Culpa

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/mea-culpa/#like-1164

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Weasel

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/rdp-thursday-weasel/

Your Daily Word Prompt: Talisman

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/03/28/your-daily-word-prompt-talisman-march-28-2019/

FOWC with Fandango: Amicable

FOWC with Fandango — Amicable

Three Things Challenge: salon, mystery, elephant

https://lightmotifs.wordpress.com/2019/03/27/three-things-challenge-pl42/

 

Letters from India

It was several months after they had parted that she received his first letter.

She had been annoyed at his sudden departure. They had been engaged to be married and yet he had developed a sudden passion to travel and see the world. Outwardly, it had been an amicable parting, but inside she still seethed with feelings of rejection.

She lounged on the silk tasselled settee in her salon and gazed at the photograph of her ex-fiancé.

Arthur was dressed smartly in a dark suit, looking every bit the Victorian gentleman. Under his nose, he sported a large bushy moustache that he was most proud of. She thought it looked like a stuffed weasel. Despite that, he was from noble stock, his father was a Baronet and his uncle was Bishop of Leeds. A good match for the youngest daughter of a silk merchant. Her family had money, but they lacked social status and a marriage to the son of a Baronet was just what they needed. She did rather like him, despite the weasely moustache. Until, of course, he became gripped with his insatiable desire to visit India.

Queen Victoria had just been crowned Empress of India and this had sparked an explosion of interest in all things Indian. To her, India was just where her father imported his silks from, but to many people, it had become an exotic land of adventure.

The letter began rather formally, as was fit and proper.

“My Dear Miss Florence,

I hope this letter finds you well and recovered from our last little contretemps. I know you did not understand my compulsion to visit India, but I hope you will forgive my mea culpa. This land is indeed a land of colour and vibrancy. The smells and odours that assault the nostrils in every street are totally different from anything you could experience in England.

I have now made it as far as Bombay, which is a bustling city but almost every other face you see in the street is an English one. I want to see the real India, not this rather Anglified version.

I have been speaking to several people who have promised to take me to see some authentic Indian culture. They are going to hire a caravan that will be travelling to some of the more remote villages.

The caravan is made up of Elephants! I can’t wait to have my first ride on an Elephant.

I keep your handkerchief, the one you hand embroidered for me with my initials, next to my heart. It is my talisman. With it, I have no fear. I know that I will one day return to you.

I hope that when I do, you will have forgiven me for leaving and consent again to become my wife.

With Sincere Regards

Arthur Worthington. “

 

He had given his address as the Bombay Star Hotel and so she decided to write back. Looking at the date of his letter, it had taken three weeks to reach her. “So much for modern Victorian efficiency!” She thought to herself.

Picking up her pen she began to write.

 

“My Dear Arthur,

Why, I was very surprised to have received your letter and the words of affection that you had expressed in it. I had been given to understand that you were not happy at the prospect of marrying me and as such wanted to get as far away from me as possible.

It is with that understanding in mind that I have begun seeing Freddy Armitage, who, I am sure you remember is a man of the most steady and reliable nature.

However, if you should decide to return before I have entered into any firm relationship with Freddy, I will, of course, consider your proposal.

I would not be at all disappointed to hear again from you. It is interesting to hear of your adventures and I would very much like to know that you have gotten your fascination of that country out of your system and have decided to return home.

Yours Sincerely,

Miss Florence Clegg”

 

She walked to the post box and posted her letter. Coincidentally, Freddy Armitage walked past and nodded to her. He had just begun walking out with her Sister Isabel. She blushed to think of the liberties she had taken with his name, in her letter. She hoped her sister would never find out.

Nearly two months passed before she heard anything more. The house was in a great upheaval planning for Isabel and Freddy’s wedding in the front Parlour in a fortnight’s time.

 

She took the bulky letter from the tray in the hall and ran upstairs to her salon to read it.

She did not recognise the writing on the envelope.

 

She began to read.

“Dear Miss Florence Clegg.

 

I hope you do not mind my taking this liberty of writing to you concerning a great mystery.

Our patrols recently found this handkerchief and a letter from you, both of which I have enclosed.

I would not distress you by describing in too much detail, the circumstances with which these items were discovered, but I regret to inform you that the bearer of these is now, deceased.

I would be grateful if you could let me know the details of his next of kin, to which I will in future write to spare you any further distress.

Yours Sincerely,

Captain George Pengelly-Jones.”

 

Grasping the handkerchief in her hands, it was only when she cried out his name, “Arthur” and began sobbing inconsolably that she realised that she had loved him very much.

The End

 

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 28/March/2019

50 Word Thursdays – Skim Like a Swan

“You’d better hurry.”

Natasha Tarpley, The Harlem Charade

 

This story was written for the 50 Word Thursday challenge, this week hosted by Teresa, The Haunted Wordsmith. See like below:

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2019/03/21/50-word-thursday-2019-12-sorry-im-late/

Now, you may be thinking that Thursday was a while ago, but it isn’t too late to have a go at this challenge, entries must be in by Wednesday before a new challenge goes out this Thursday.

Here is my story for the prompt:

 

He was proud of his student. At first, he was like the others, doubting their abilities and failing to push their limits.

It had taken a while to remove those doubts from the young man’s mind. Once he’d cleared his mind, only then did he become teachable.

He had to prove to the boy, that all things are possible. He could learn to run like the cheetah or fly like the eagle. It had taken many years, but he did not regret that huge donation of his time.

He watched his student take the lead in the Olympics Hurdles. He’d learned his lessons well. He could run the cheetah, soar over each hurdle like an eagle and even skim over the water like a Swan.

After the young man had passed the finishing line, he jogged over to his trainer. The old man had been a hard teacher so he was shocked to see tears in those eyes.

“Thank you for your lessons, Master.” He said, bowing respectfully.

His trainer did something he had never seen. He smiled as a tear fell from his left eye and said “You’d better Hurry or you’ll miss your award ceremony. Your first Gold.”

[200 Words]

 

I have also included the three things challenge prompts:

https://lightmotifs.wordpress.com/2019/03/24/three-things-challenge-pl39/

Today’s prompt: limits, donation, eagle

and the Word of the Day: Teachable.

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/03/25/teachable/

 

A DNA Disclosure – A Genre Challenge Story

Teresa, The Haunted Wordsmith has set a Genre Challenge to write something in a particular genre. Click on the link to her post below:

https://thehauntedwordsmith.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/genre-writing-challenge-20/

Todays Genre is: Medical Mystery 

Here is my FICTIONAL story:

 

I was never sure of my identity. I grew up in an orphanage never knowing who my parents were, or if I had any family out there. It made me feel extremely lonely. Like I was the only one of my kind, on a planet full of aliens.

Gradually, I managed to make a way in the world. I excelled at school and college, even doing so well as to get a scholarship to attend a very prestigious university. Always people said how great it was that I had overcome such hardship in my life. In some ways, I had an advantage. No one else tried to force me to be someone they thought I should be. I didn’t have to follow in someone else’s footsteps or live the life that someone had wanted for themselves. I didn’t feel I had to constantly please someone else, I had only myself to live up to and only myself to please.

It was years later, I began to wonder again about where I had come from, what my roots were. Did I have any relatives alive out there? I didn’t really want to meet them. It would feel weird running up to them saying, “Hi. I’m your distant cousin, let’s pretend to be very close friends even though we actually know nothing about each other.”

Genetic science had come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, the human genome had been mapped entirely and DNA tests had become a bit of a fad. Everyone was doing it and finding out that they had 3% Neanderthal in their DNA or were distantly related to the British Royal Family.

I decided to buy a pack and find out more about myself. I spat into the tube and posted it off. It felt a bit strange sending some spit in the mail. It just seemed wrong to send bodily fluids in the post.

I was expecting to receive a pack giving me my results but instead, I received an invitation from DNA Science Laboratories in L.A all expenses paid.

It seemed too good to be true, but I hadn’t had a holiday in years and I’d never been to the States so I thought “What the hell, why not?”

I was greeted at the airport by a bored looking chauffeur holding a card with my name on it, spelt all wrong, of course, and before I knew it we were speeding across L.A to the headquarters of the DNA Science Laboratories.

When I walked into the meeting room, I was astounded to find myself in front of an assemblage of distinguished looking scientists all seated around a large table.

A man at the head of the table stood up.

“Ah, Welcome Mr Berkshire”

I couldn’t help cringing as he mispronounced my name, like all Yanks. I was named after the County the Orphanage was in, Berkshire was pronounced Bark, like a dog, not Berk to rhyme with quirk. It was a common mistake, as was spelling the name Barkshire, instead of Berkshire.

The man continued. “Please take a seat. You must be thirsty after your long trip. Have some water. I wanted to thank you for coming all this way. It’s really exciting to meet you. Your DNA is the most impressive I have ever seen.”

He sounded impressed too. All the other scientists around the table were leaning forward looking at me like I had come first prize at a freak show. I reached over and poured out a glass of water from the jug in front of me and drank it down in one go.

“look, I just wanted to find out a little about where my family had come from. I’m an orphan and so didn’t know anything about my background.”

“I see. Yes, that would explain why you sent us your DNA so willingly. If you’d known, you would have remained hidden.”

There was something about the way he said that, that I didn’t like. I stood up but then my head started spinning. I remember feeling delirious and fuzzy headed, then there was just darkness.

***

I came to, blinking at the light flooding my eyes. I was lying on a hospital bed, I could feel my body covered in wires, linked to a monitor going bleep at regular intervals.

As I looked down at my naked body, I was shocked to see all my veins and arteries marked out in a fine tracery of red and blue.

“Mr Berkshire. It is nice to have you back with us.” The annoying patronising voice was familiar and seemed to come from everywhere.

“Please don’t alarm yourself. You had a seizure but we have stabilised your condition, but I wouldn’t advise trying to move right now.”

I hadn’t realised I had sat up in the bed, shooting pain ran through my body from head to toe and I collapsed back into the pillow.

“That’s better Mr Berkshire, just rest. Your DNA was exceptionally interesting. It proved something that government scientists had only speculated about. Many people have unusual DNA. Some people have small percentages of DNA from Neanderthal or other primitive races, but you have 25% DNA from something that is not human at all.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I found myself unable to speak.

“Back in 1947, Mr Berkshire, something happened at Roswell in New Mexico. The Government has tried very hard to keep exactly what happened a secret. My father was the chief scientist involved at the time. An Alien creature was discovered and an autopsy was carried out, but there has always been some conjecture that this alien had had a human companion. Someone who had tried to keep him hidden from the authorities. The Alien had been very distressed when he was caught and kept calling out a name, Marianne, over and over. It was speculated that he had possibly formed an attachment to this Marianne. Your DNA shows that this did indeed occur. This Alien was your Grandfather, Mr Berkshire. Now, I’m afraid that we cannot allow this information to get out. You are living proof that there was an Alien incursion. We cannot allow that. Goodbye Mr Berkshire.”

I felt a fluid being injected into my veins and my body exploded in pain.

 

The End.

Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 23/March/2019

 

I have also included the following word prompts:

https://wordofthedaychallenge.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/identity/

https://ragtagcommunity.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/rdp-saturday-tracery/

FOWC with Fandango — Delirious

https://onedailyprompt.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/your-daily-word-prompt-assemblage-march-23-2019/

https://swimmersweek.wordpress.com/2019/03/23/lonely/