The New World

Written by Ricardo


“What is this?” Charlotte asked in the gap between shoving more of the half-melted brown substance into her mouth, occasionally stopping to wedge a chunk out from between her molars with her tongue. “It looks kinda like poop,” she stopped chewing then, with several blocks of the stuff in her right hand and looked up at the man beside her, horrified. “It isn’t poop is it?”

“No, you idiot, of course you haven’t,” the man replied. “It’s a food from the Old World.”

“Oh, so it isn’t…?”

“No,” he interjected. “Just eat it.”

“Oh, okay.” Charlotte looked down at her hands, where the chunks she had been holding had begun to melt, creating a hardened shell around her palm and the base of her fingers. She shoved the chunks in her mouth, chewing at her hands like a cat trying to groom itself.

The man shook his head, looking up and away from the girl pulling more of the stuff from a broken vending machine. He scanned the area around him, trying to mark out any potential hiding spots or escape routes, either for himself or for anybody else currently in here. But he found it difficult to concentrate when all his eyes could see was what used to be there.

It had been nearly fifteen years since he was in this particular supermarket. He with his girlfriend the last time, buying groceries and kitchen appliances for their new house. He even remembered, rather oddly, the vending machine. He tried buying a drink from it but the damn thing ate his money. It took almost two decades, but he finally showed that vending machine what for.

Illuminated aisles showed shoppers the way to their selected produce for the day. The burning heat of thirty 700 watt light bulbs went largely unnoticed. Nobody cared, it was normal. But there was a brief moment after stepping back outside from your weekly shop when natural sunlight was appreciated. And the warmth of it too, rather than the chilled air conditioning and stale smell of sweat.

Now all that surrounded him were filthy floors, shattered windows, and the shelves were pushed into each other in order to create makeshift camp sites and barricades. Everything was either riddled with bullet holes, or plastered in blood, or the green sludge that those things emitted whenever you so much as touched them. This was a hot-spot for them. In actuality, this was good as it meant it was one of the few places where no humans came, meaning supplies. And lots of them. He checked his bag was still intact and nothing was leaking, tightening the cross-body strap around him. They made a good haul today, they’d have enough to survive the next three months.

“Shaun, what’s that man doing?”

The man stopped right where he was looking, between two empty and defrosted chest freezers with the lids torn off. Charlotte must have started looking around too and saw him before Shaun did. He could see the figure between the freezers clear as day, on his knees, with one hand on the freezer beside him vomiting blood and a puddle of green sludge in front of him. Shaun’s heartbeat seemed to triple in speed after seeing the man at the freezers and hearing the Howler tear the revolving door out of the wall, throwing it into the parking lot behind it, and showering the entrance in a glowing green spatter of goo.

Shaun dropped behind the shelving units where the vending machine was and where Charlotte was sitting wide-eyed, a mouthful of the chunky sweet stopping her from screaming. As her eyes filled with tears, they locked on to Shaun. He never thought he’d be so thankful that she had an insatiable sweet tooth. He placed a hand over her full mouth.

“Listen, we’re going to get out of here the way we came in, okay?” he waited for her to nod in confirmation, her tears now streaming down his hand. “You go to the manhole, I wedged it open so you can pull it back open. Get back to the shelter, I’ll be right behind you.”

Charlotte obeyed, crawling through the door entitled Staff Only. Shaun heard the manhole cover drag across the ground, and her footsteps descend the ladder. He took several deep breaths, getting his thoughts together. Now that she was gone, all he had to worry about was getting out with his supplies. He clenched his hands into fists until his knuckles turned white and peered over the shelving unit.


With our next batch of content coming up in October under the theme “Halloween Scarefest”, it’s a great time to conclude August’s work with a post-apocalyptic short story. Loosely tying into both themes, Ricardo’s story was written on behalf of a past Half Hour Challenge and we can’t get enough of it. In fact, we hope he writes more! If you enjoyed his HHC, you can read his other stellar work published on Inkblots, including “A Sweetened Ache” and “Love After Death”. 

Featured Image CC // Revan Jinn

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Her Eyes

Written by Arwa


She is a woman.
A beautiful woman,
full of life.
She has a wild spirit
of love.

She dances like the waves,
too delicately
and gracefully.
She walks like the wind,
lightly.
She smiles innocently,
like a child.

Yet, her eyes…
they’re tired, full of sadness,
full of pain.
Makes one wonder:
Who is she?
Where does she come from?
But she only makes one wonder, not others,
for they’re all blind,
and understand nothing
about the truth of the eyes.

Her eyes…
so dark, wild, vehement,
and violent.
Her eyes,
they scream with anguish
and grief.
Yet her voice is so serene
and lucid.

She sings with the wind,
and smiles with sun.
She embraces nature,
and dances with the waves.

She lives.


The grace of femininity is spoken of in Arwa’s poetry – and it’s not to be sniffed at either. Her Eyes describes both the beauty and the pain of a woman at her natural peak in life. Without the wonder and sadness of life, there simply wouldn’t be life, and we must fight for that day in and day out. Simple pleasures are worth it. If you enjoyed Arwa’s poetry, you can view the simply splendid poem, “Here Where The Sea Stands”. 

Featured Image CC // Tommie Milacci

Short Poetry Spotlight – The Warmth at First Light

Written by Blue-Eyed Devil


Haiku X

The fallen walls crush
All hope and dreams of freedom.
Tomorrow’s bleak dawn.

Haiku XXIV

With one final step,
The warm wind takes me, smiling,
To find peace at last.


Written by Dizzy Dazzle

Spiderwebs

A glimmer between the trees,
Fresh, catching the morning dew.
Each delicate thread a ray of light,
patterns of a spiders nimble hands.


August’s short poetry spotlight falls on three absolutely sumptuous poems, each of which are delicately balanced in the author’s choice of words and feature a beautiful flow. With sunshine our theme for this month, it’s a fantastic way to showcase some of the best poems from contributors Blue-Eyed Devil and Dizzy Dazzle. From the warmth and morning dew of first light to the very last, all three poems convey great meaning in their short form. If you enjoyed both of their work and would like to view more poetry, please see Blue-Eyed Devil’s “Wake Me When It’s Winter” and Dizzy Dazzle’s “The Humanitarian”. 

Featured Image CC // Glenna Barlow

Haru

Written by Rae-Chan

The following is a short excerpt from a longer work of fiction entitled “The Boy in Crystal”. Earlier in the story Lily discovered a man locked away in an underground science facility, he was kept preserved in a tank which was encased with pale blue crystals as part of “Project Future”, and Lily manages to rescue him. 


Lily and the man sat outside under the copious blossom trees. He stared up into the branches, seemingly amazed by the little pink and white flowers.

Lily watched him silently, taking in his pale skin and large, hetero-chromatic eyes. He looked like he hadn’t seen sunlight in a long time. His skin had an ugly greyish tinge to it and his hair, though tied into a braid, looked greasy and unwashed. Just how long had been in that tank, Lily wondered. Although he seemed fit and healthy, the lack of sunlight in that dark basement room made him look drained and ill.

‘What are these called?’ the man asked, awestruck.

‘Blossoms,’ Lily informed him. ‘Haven’t you ever seen them before?’

‘I don’t think so. I don’t remember ever seeing anything like them. They’re so pretty.’

Lily smiled and looked up at the flowers. She had to agree with him, they did look beautiful.

‘They only bloom in the spring,’ she said to him. ‘Bees and other insects are attracted to the flowers and pollinate the trees. Once that happens, the blossoms aren’t needed anymore so they die. Then in the summer, the trees are covered in leaves and fruit and stuff like that.’

‘Wow…’

The two sat in silence for a good ten minutes or so, looking up at the blossoms.

‘Lily?’ the man asked suddenly, pulling his gaze from the blossoms to look at her.

‘Yes?’

‘… Nothing,’ the man shook his head and looked down at the ground, a sad look crossing his face. ‘Doesn’t matter.’

Lily offered him a smile and said, ‘Don’t be shy, you can talk to me.’

‘… Are the doctors mad at you?’

‘I think so,’ Lily said, smiling a little.

‘… I’m sorry. It’s because of me.’

‘It’s not your fault. I disobeyed orders.’

‘What orders?’

‘I wasn’t supposed to go into your room.’

The man looked confused but said nothing else. After a few minutes of sitting in silence together, Lily spoke again.

‘So, what’s your name?’ she asked.

‘My name?’

‘Yeah. I mean, you know my name, so I should probably know yours too, if I’m going to be looking after you.’

‘… I don’t think I have one.’

‘You don’t have a name?’

‘The doctors never gave me one.’

‘Well, that won’t do. Everyone needs a name. We’ll just have to come up with one for you. Let’s see…’

The man watched Lily as she thought of a suitable name for him. She looked up into the branches of the blossom trees, thinking.

‘I’ve got it!’

‘Yes?’ the man asked, eagerly.

‘Haru!’

‘Haru?’

‘Yeah. I found you today, and today it’s spring.’

He nodded slowly, seeming to agree with her logic.

‘So what do you think? How about Haru?’

The man considered it for a few moments before smiling, suddenly looking happier than Lily would have thought possible, his face lifting and brightening in such a way that he almost looked healthy.

‘Haru,’ he said.

‘Haru,’ Lily repeated, laughing. ‘That’s settled then.’

Haru looked delighted, like a child who had just received the greatest gift he could have imagined. And, Lily supposed, having a name – particularly to Haru – was the greatest gift he could imagine.

‘Thank you, Lily,’ he said quietly, suddenly looking close to tears, the whole thing seemed to be, quite understandably, overwhelming for him.

‘Hey, it’s all right,’ Lily said, quickly putting an arm around Haru and giving his shoulders a reassuring squeeze. He leaned his head against her chest, closing his eyes and letting her pull him into a soothing embrace.

Lily rubbed his back comfortingly, like she used to with her little cousin whenever he got upset while she was babysitting him.

‘It’s all right now, Haru,’ she said, soothingly. ‘Everything’s going to be all right.’


A beautiful story excerpt written by Rae-Chan was certainly meant for publication this month. In Japanese, the meaning of the name Haru speaks of sunshine, spring and light – perfect for August’s sunshine theme. As alluded to above, the excerpt is part of a larger work of fiction named “The Boy in Crystal” and is well worth a read. Our author is still revisiting parts of the tale and restructuring, but if you did enjoy Rae-Chan’s work here, please see her other superb work including, the “Prologue from Aes: The Blaze” and “Remembering War”.

Featured Image CC // Walter

Shelter

Written by Silver


Take shelter from the rain, little heart,
find a place to hide
from both the good and the bad,
all these troubles that seem to collide.

Take shelter from the snow, little heart,
the icy, dark streets are no safe haven.
You’ll slip and slide in the powder,
no longer with power to reach your cavern.

Take shelter from the sunshine, little heart,
burning with sultry anger and desire.
Stamp out those wayward flames and no longer cower,
leave the shadows of your makeshift pyre.

Embrace the clouds and sky, little heart,
and take shelter in their heavenly comfort.
A touch so soft, so gentle,
it’s something you’ve forever sought.

Please, little heart, take heed.
These are wise words that you’ll always need.
We all want to hide from the rain, snow or sunshine,
but look to the sky, little heart,
and remember your last journey before you depart.


Commenting on my own work is always a little surreal, but the poem above is certainly important to me and one that I’m glad to share with all of our Inkblots readers and contributors. Shelter is dedicated to my Nana and was written on the evening of her passing ten years ago. She was a wonderful woman who cared deeply for my own mother and her family. In fact, she was so proud of her husband that she shied away from telling us he was suffering from Vascular Dementia. Ten years ago she died of heart failure and her little heart fluttered away. If you enjoyed Shelter, feel free to check out my other poetry such as, “Spirit” and “Fudge.

Featured Image CC // Denise Rowlands

The Merriment of Summer

Written by Rob


Pebbles click and rattle as each restless wave retreats. The gentlest of sea breezes wafts the drying seaweed, over-salted spinach, on the groyne. Gulls wheel and squawk, searching the next titbit to squabble over. Only mid-morning, but the glare and heat-haze from the white sand is already intense. Almost low tide, the beach is vast; this town barely qualifies as “sea-side”. The awkward merriment of the fun-fair seems miles away. All is calm, azure, bright.

This place, this “here and now”, what can it mean? Decades and millions of holiday-makers passed this way. Two weeks escape from the daily grind, the blood and bullets of economic activity, the boss and his targets. Plump wives and sticky children, string vests and ingrowing toenails, shown to sun, sea and sand. Gritty butties and cherryade, ice creams and squeals of delight; the summer was made for these. Aspire for nothing more: these are the times of our lives.


Rob’s flash fiction was written as part of a previous Half Hour Challenge. Though it’s one of his older HHC works now, it’s a great way for us to kick off our content for August. We rarely think about what’s on the surface during the summer, usually we’re just hoping we don’t recognise anyone from back home when we go on vacation. Tan lines and bulgy bits are a constant worry but they rarely keep us from having fun in the summer. If you enjoyed Rob’s work, you can also view some of his recent published fiction such as “Heidi”, parts one and two

Featured Image CC // J Lippold

 

August Editorial – Brighten Up Life with a Little Bit of Sunshine

Hey Inkblotters!

Welcome to August’s editorial post, where it’s starting to heat up in Britain with a little bit of sunshine, though mostly rain! Aside from the July two-week heat wave, it seems our summer has notoriously left on vacation, or in the very least just moved location. More than ever, I’m desperately looking forward to my week-long holiday to Austria in September. And as we all need a little “R & R”, Inkblots will be taking a break from publication for one month. We’re back in October with our Hallowe’en Scarefest though, and we’ll still be taking in submissions throughout September.

Moving on to August’s content, we’ve got lots of beautifully written work to share with you from our pool of regular contributors. With sunshine as our overarching theme, HHC veteran writer Rob kicks off creativity on the 5th with his flash fiction, while we have some wonderful poetry from the lovely Arwa later on in the month. As part of my Nana’s passing ten years ago, I also have a short poem to share with our readers as a tribute to her life. As always, make sure to check back during the month for new and original work.

August’s Half Hour Challenge should get the inspiration cogs turning with the following quote: “Without ice cream there would be darkness and chaos”. It’s a lovely summery theme, a little light-hearted, and it’s also delicious to eat, so why not? Our Fiction Frenzy is still running until August 31st, so if you are planning on sending an entry in under either of the themes, Sunlight and Moonlight, then please send an email to theinkwellwriting@gmail.com before the closing date.

For any members of the forum, we’ve currently reverted back to our original domain name creativewriting.freeforums.org. All your work is still there, so please don’t panic. But for now, please access the writing forum via that URL address. Our administration team is currently assessing the situation and we’re hoping to make an official announcement in a couple of months.

Right, I won’t waffle on any longer – have a wonderful August and September! I shall be back for another editorial in October.

– Colette, Inkblots Editor

Featured Image CC // Leo-setä