The Wisps on the Moor

Written by Terrestris Veritas


She felt her foot snag in a root and lost control of her balance, falling forward to a jerking stop as the ground stayed where it was and a grip on her arm hauled her upright. The grip remained on her arm, firm but not without force. She looked up fearfully, seeing the gloved hand and crisp uniform, following along until she saw the stern, scarred face. He gazed at her with savage eyes that peeped out from underneath a shiny, leather cap.

He addressed her curtly, “Why were you running child?”

“I was chasing a rabbit,” she mumbled to her shoes.

“Speak up, and look me in the eye when you talk. There’s a good girl. Now, repeat what you just said.”

“I was chasing a rabbit.”

“Well you shouldn’t do that,” he said shortly. “Many people have important jobs to do around here and you wouldn’t want to get in their way now, would you?”

“No,” she said dejectedly, making sure to look him in the eye.

“Good. Now,” he continued talking as he led her back to the house. “I’m sure your mother would like you inside before it gets dark. No matter what, you must stay inside at night. The men here are on watch and could mistake you for someone else. And they do nasty things to people they don’t know in the dark.” He chuckled to himself as he opened the side door, still gripping her arm.

**

Samantha woke to the sound of someone calling her. Blinking rapidly, she looked around, straining to hear the voice again. The house creaked eerily. She gripped her bed sheets tightly. It was never quiet in this old, draughty house. And the noise made her skin crawl. Usually, Samantha slept in her mother’s room, but currently she was unwell with the baby and needed to rest alone. Having laid down again to sleep, she thought of her little brother. Samantha thought to herself: Why was he making mother so unwell? I hope she gets better soon. Her mother was the only nice person here, apart from the old maid who had made her bed for her. But no-one seemed to understand that her mother’s husband, the sergeant, was not her father.

“Samantha.”

She sat bolt upright. The voice had come from her left, near the window. Swinging her legs out of bed, she slipped on her shoes and stood up, smoothing down her nightdress.

“Samantha,” the voice whispered.

The house creaked loudly, and she jumped from the noise, almost knocking her stack of unpacked books. She walked to the window, pressing her hand against it to look out, shivering from the cold.

A small ball of orange light hovered just outside the window. “Samantha, follow us.” The voice was insistent.

“You want me to come with you? But come where?” Samantha was curious, but still cold.

“Outside Samantha. Come and play.”

Outside was warmer somehow, Samantha thought, turning away from the soft mist. Tucking her hair behind her ear, she looked around for the light. It bobbed into view, pulsing slightly. She chased after it, as it led her away from the house and up a slight hill. She kept a close eye on the ground so as to not fall over once more. Sometimes she’d think she had lost the ball of light but it would always reappear, whispering her name softly. It was just like one of her stories, she thought.

She didn’t know how long she followed that light, but eventually she came to a clearing of sorts. She heard a strange noise that sounded like water, and the air smelt funny too. But all that was driven away when she saw what she had been led to. Some distance away from her, she saw lots of balls of light – more like wisps in the mist. They were many colours including purple, yellow, blue, green and red. They zoomed overhead, chasing each other and laughing softly. And then they directed their attention to her.

“Come and play with us Samantha,” they chorused. “Come play with us.” They almost sounded like they were begging, again pulsing softly.

Samantha smiled. “Okay.”

**

“Sergeant, the girl has not yet been found.” The corporal stood stiffly, cap in hand and eyes front. Years of discipline could not disguise the slight tremble.

The Sergeant took a long drag on his cigarette, blew the smoke out in rings and considered the man in front of him. “How long has the little one been missing now?” he said slowly, dragging out the sentence as if he found the topic distasteful.

“Since… since your wife went to wake her sir. About five hours ago.” The corporal tried his best to hide his stutter.

He waved a hand in a mild gesture. “In my childhood, my sister would disappear for days on end, especially when she was around Samantha’s age. Indeed, I used to do the same. My parents never thought anything of it – they were guilty of the same thing. Sadly, my wife does not share my reasoning that this behaviour is simply a part of growing up. She worked herself up so much that she had to be sedated. She is not able to cope, and I do not want my child or wife at risk of further ill-health. That is why the brat must be found. Understand?” He raised an eyebrow at the shivering man.

The corporal saluted. “Yes-sir!”

“Of course corporal,” the Sergeant added with a wry smile, “I wouldn’t worry unduly if she were to not be found for some time. You say there was a slight incident yesterday with a guard?”

“Yes-sir. The guard on watch took exception to the girl’s game. He caught her as she tripped and escorted her back indoors. It was heard that he believed the child was distracting him and warned her, yet again as it is, not to go out after dark. He also hinted that he may have intimidated the girl.”

“Let him be. If he did truly scare her, she’ll come back when she gets hungry. ‘Tis the way with children, corporal.” The Sergeant took another long drag and murmured, “Had she been raised with my strict hand, such a thing would not occur, for she would know the punishment. And punished she shall be.” He declared to the corporal, “All should know, understand and receive the consequences of their actions.” He winked at the suddenly pale man. “Not a bad way to live, eh?”

The corporal was saved in answering by another uniformed man rushing in. Heaving for breath he saluted and removed his cap. “Sir!”

“Private.” The Sergeant acknowledged him. “Your report?” There was a moment of silence apart from the private’s heavy breathing. “Come on man, spit it out!”

The private flinched. He seemed to be steeling himself. “Sir. Not ten minutes ago the patrol boats from along the coast radioed the barracks. They were attempting to trail the runaways from two days ago. But they spotted something else…” At this, the private hesitated.

The Sergeant stubbed out his cigarette with a hiss and stood up from behind his desk. “Private, tell me what you have come to tell me or there will be consequences.” There was another pause as the private and corporal exchanged looks. “Out with it, private!”

The private blanched. Gathering himself together hurriedly, he garbled through the words. “They saw something on the rocks, at the base of the cliffs. Riding closer, it was clearly a body. They thought it was one of the fugitives at first, sir, but then they saw the night-gown…” He trailed off, not daring to say more.

The Sergeant remained staring at the private, mouth open in disbelief. Slowly he sank back into his chair and for a moment stared at his papers, as if at a loss. With a weak wave of his hand he dismissed the other men. They left the room as quickly as possible. It was quiet in the corridor beyond, so silent that they easily heard the clink of a bottle against a glass from the Sergeant’s room.


The haunting image of a girl driven to her death on the rocks is saddening, to say the least. But Terrestris Veritas’ words dig deep in his short fiction. We love how he’s created such a wonderful setting with Samantha and the ghostly spirits of the house. Perhaps she’s not dead though, and merely wandered into Wonderland as Alice’s doppelgänger. We can only hope. If you enjoyed Terra’s work, please feel free to leave a like or comment, or perhaps read some of his other work including, “For Loved Ones” and “Diaries of the Gods”.

Featured Image CC // Derek Bruff

Lost Love

Written by Kvothe


Glittering jewels scattered across a black abyss,
Darkness consuming the edges of light, stealing warmth,
Cold biting bone deep, despair folds around me.
Empty space of the only one I have ever loved,
Heart bleeds. Remembers the gentle safety of her arms.

Then, as if answering my harboring call,
A graceful beauty wanders in, filling the room with joy.
But my heart falters, while blood runs cold with loneliness.
I can’t find those perfect words. I want to tell you how I feel,
All past hurts lost, with only a mind for you.

As the bravest of warriors, I smile on seeing you,
Heart melting, happiness burning, cheeks flush.
But another takes your hand and kisses your neck,
Territorial and yet tender he claims you. Forbidden fruit.
I walk away leaving my lonely heart on the floor by your feet.

Time passes and wounds heal but the hurts stay the same.


Having written this piece largely to pass the time while on holiday, Kvothe’s poem hits us where it most hurts. Losing a loved one to another can be torturous, particularly if the one you love doesn’t know your true feelings. Kvothe captures those truly dark and lonely moments, wraps it up in a box of heartache, and leaves. We can’t help but feel for the poet here. If you enjoyed Kvothe’s work, make sure to read his lyrical beauty, “Tinker’s Tale“. 

Featured Image CC // JLS Photography

 

Black Cat’s Doom

Written by Sparky


This is the legacy of an old cat, which has been passed down through countless generations and has survived purely by spoken tradition. It’s the only written copy known to exist today, although many of the details have been lost or changed, as is the passage of time.

Long ago, perhaps too long now to know for sure, a young black cat walked along the beach not far from his current home. Named Sam, short for Samson, though, if anyone called him the latter, they found themselves on the wrong side of his claws. He hated his name; he hated most things about his life. The families near him all viewed him with suspicion, all on account of his colour. Witch hunts were popular in his village and, lately, even innocent animals had also fallen under suspicion. In fact, Sam had almost been walking the cold path to death many times, through close encounters with hunters and mobs.

His stomach growled menacingly under the waning moonlight. Time to attempt a snatch and grab; he hoped that he would not be seen tonight. He hadn’t eaten in days, his strength greatly weakened. As Sam headed back into the village, he kept to the shadows, watching carefully for any signs of life that may betray food or danger.

His nose soon picked up an irresistible smell emanating from a place down the road. He knew that area well and had hunted many rats there. It was the local inn and, for a smart cat who knew the place, easy pickings for a fresh cooked fish or two. He crept closer to the inn, keeping in the darkest shadows to ensure he would not be seen by anyone.

As he came closer to the kitchen, he saw the door was open. Most other cats would take this as good fortune, but not Sam, he had been caught like this before and was not willing to risk it again. He kept to the shadows and watched the hustle and bustle of humans with two marble eyes. He didn’t move until he was certain of the cooking process routine. He saw a fresh fish, raw, and laid on the side near the door. He was not about to pass that opportunity up, danger or no danger.

Sam quietly padded over to the door and listened with his attentive ears. His ears flickered, straining slightly for any human movement close to him, all while never taking his eyes off that fish. As soon as he was sure the coast was clear, he made his move. With a mighty leap to the worktop where the fish was placed, he picked it up in his jaws. A quick glance behind showed the owner was far on the other side of the room. No matter the risk or reward, it was time to run.

The wind rushed past Sam’s face as he bolted down the alleyways and back streets, ones he knew so well from past exploits. The head and tail of the fish flapped back and forth as he ran. And he didn’t stop for breath until he had made the beach and his small sanctuary tucked into the caves. Once there, he put the fish down and began to eat. He hadn’t eaten in days and was savouring every little mouthful of delicious salted fish. Barely an hour had passed before the fish was reduced to nothing more than a skeleton. With all the meat gone and straight into Sam’s waiting stomach, he was finally satiated.

But the markings of betrayal are often hidden. That fish had been left on the side deliberately and it was laced with poison. Truth be told, the villagers had been suspicious of the black cat for many moons, believing Sam was consorting with despicable witches, as well as the Devil.

Sam’s stomach twisted and contorted around itself. He howled out in pain and threw himself against the rocks trying to stop it from hurting. The pain drove him mad, leaping to his demise from the cliff top and into the sea. Nothing was ever seen or heard from Sam again. That cove still has the same name to this day: Black Cat’s Doom.


Inspired to take to up his own writing challenge, Sparky penned this short story many months ago, but it still holds us with interest. Banking on superstition and horror clichés, his fictional piece works with the moral that betrayal may find one when we least expect it. Sometimes our hearts can be in the right place, but caution tells us to keep our distance. And if the heart becomes stained from a poisonous act, it can be hard to find the cure. If you enjoyed Sparky’s story, you can view some of his other published work such as, “Teddy’s Tale” and “The Inkwell”.

Featured Image CC // Stefano Mortellaro 

 

June Editorial – The Many Faces of Betrayal

Hey Inkblotters!

Wow, we’re halfway through 2015 and I still can’t quite believe it. I’m craving the heat of the summer sunshine, too, as it’s only arriving in fits and starts here in the UK. With the beginning of June, the festival season kicks off once again, children can’t wait until school’s out, and parents are a bit concerned as to how they’ll keep their offspring occupied throughout the summer. It’s a slightly busier time for me, as I not only have a number of work events and exhibitions to attend, but also the biggest gaming event of the year springs up, namely E3. But don’t worry, Inkblots will continue to bring you fresh content this month.

And speaking of which, last month we had some fantastic poetry and short fiction, and it continues into June under a new theme, Betrayal. Yes, it has many faces, often hiding the truth under our feet. But it’s also a great theme to explore. Veteran forum member Sparky takes June’s first slot on the 5th with his short story, while on the 10th we have beautiful poetry from Kvothe. Later, we have a special two-part fictional piece from Rob and a superb poem from new contributor Awokunle Toyin Sheriff on the 30th. Of course, that’s not all the content we have planned, so make sure you pop back during the month to view the latest work.

As per, the Half Hour Challenge theme for June works in conjunction with our current content theme for the magazine. So to inspire our fellow writers, we’re asking you to pen a short story, lyrics or poetry with Poison in mind. Perhaps you think of a plant, or maybe it’s the famous Alice Cooper song. But whatever your inspiration is, we hope to see some fantastic entries emailed over to us. Check our submissions page for all the necessary details. And before I forget, Inkblots is bringing back the FICTION FRENZY starting from July 1 until August 31 once again. More details will come in July’s editorial.

But for now, it’s time for me to wrap this post up, so have a lovely June and keep writing!

– Colette, Inkblots Editor

Featured Image CC // Aasif Iqbal

Prologue from Aes: Book 0.1 – The Blaze

Written by Rae-Chan


Blazing flames sent shadows dancing around the buildings, the sounds of people’s screams mixing with the noise of gunshots. Freya Park cowered behind her mother, clinging onto her older brother Jun, eyes tight shut, tears leaking out from under her eyelids, and coughing from the smoke that was making its way through the shirt Jun had pressed over her mouth.

Jun was doing his best to hold his breath, he only had one shirt to use as a gas mask and he was much more focused on keeping his little sister safe than himself. He was crouched low where the smoke wasn’t as thick, feeling light-headed as he took shallow breaths, black spots starting to appear before his eyes.

“Jun, take your sister and run,” whispered Kanya Park, stepping away from her children and walking towards the front door.

“Mum, don’t!” Jun cried, immediately his lungs burned as he lifted his head, letting smoke into his lungs.

Jun could hardly see anything anymore, the smoke that was flooding the room already starting to swallow up his mother. He held Freya close to his chest as he choked on the acrid air, her small little hands clinging onto him for dear life.

“Take Freya and run,” Kanya repeated, looking back to offer her son a teary-eyed smile.

Tears spilled from Jun’s own eyes as he bit his lip, pulled Freya closer, and rose just enough to be able to move. Freya whimpered against his body as he sprinted out the back door. He ran as fast as he could, dodging the flames that were quickly spreading from house to house. He heard a gunshot from close by and felt his heart skip a beat. He knew what that gunshot meant.

The noise startled Freya and she buried her face into her brother’s shoulder, sobbing uncontrollably.

“It’s alright, Freya,” Jun lied, trying to stop his sister from hearing the tears in his voice. “It’s alright.”


Rae-Chan’s gripping prologue from her upcoming Aes series was written on behalf of the Half Hour Challenge in January. Focusing on a traumatic beginning, the prologue simply titled “The Blaze” is a great reflection on strength and how it affects characters both physically and mentally. And as such, it’s fantastic work to close our strength-themed content on this month. If you enjoyed Rae-Chan’s prologue, feel free to view her additional published pieces, including “Remembering War” and “Ignite”. 

Featured Image CC // Kaibab National Forest

Short Poetry Spotlight – Strength in Mind, Body & Spirit

Written by Katie Allen


Menkind

Society embracing the fast-paced life,

Although immersed in conflict and strife

Without time to marvel at wonders of the earth,

We grow either optimistic or cynical since our birth.

 

Multi-tasking is the norm,

Constantly busy even after we are worn

Developing competitive streaks, cut-throat and ruthless

These minutes flash by, let alone the weeks.

 

Craving love, acceptance and security,

Instead we may receive hurt, mockery and pity

Despite this we are strong and able to cope,

Only by believing in true faith and hope.

 

Clichés although they may conquer,

While the superficial and material consumption is paramount…

Empty disposable gratifications – our world is crying out

Gaining no internal satisfaction, are we becoming crazy?

Yes is fact – plus slightly stoic, complacent and lazy.

 

So in the midst of personal turmoil and chaos

Stay true to yourself, be authentic otherwise you are truly lost!


Tiger

The Tiger may be beautiful and mysterious

But his huge sharp teeth are certain to make you nervous,

As he communicates while stretching his paws

You mustn’t make a single sound otherwise he’ll open his claws,

Towards doing something extremely notorious!

 

He releases an enormous roar making everything rumble

His almighty power can make anything crumble,

Able to prance up and down to the pulsating beat

Although when he’s camouflaged he ducks low to his feet,

In this humid psychedelic kaleidoscope jungle.

 

He cunningly scours in search for distant prey

As he reaches in for the kill – he targets those that lay,

The sleuth carnivore is still on the prowl

To discover and catch a meal using his dark nose to smell,

Patience is virtue, he instinctively thinks.

 

The tiger’s pride, dignity and reputation

Make all the other creatures have a scary sensation,

Just gaze at him cutting through the foliage

As sharp and deep like the blade of a knife,

Causing no end of chaos and strife

Especially when this ferocious figure is hunting for a female!


Our Short Poetry spotlight this month twins two extraordinary poems written by returning contributor Katie Allen. Blending together seamlessly despite their stark subject differences, both works of poetry take on strength of the mind, body and spirit. While Tiger was inspired by a trip to the zoo, Menkind was written by Katie as a way to explore the often cut-throat state of our world and, in particular, how people feel, consume and behave within it. Sometimes strength can take the shape of the tiger, seeking out its prey, but we also harbour it within ourselves. If you enjoyed Katie’s poetry, feel free to view her superb poetry published last month, “L.O.V.E“. 

Featured Image CC // Frank

Waterworks

Written by Ashcloud


It starts as a trickle, deep within the ground,
One day bursting from dark caverns, moaning silent sounds.
The water erodes the toughened ground and carves wrinkles in its face.
Flowing wild, furrowing down, to find a new hiding place.

It gushes down the mountain, with speed and power as a guide.
It begins to slow and mellow coming nearer to the tide.
From waterfall to river, from river to gentle stream,
As quiet as it came to be, the water vanishes under the evening beam.


Ashcloud’s beautiful poetry gives us a sense of strength and salvation through powerful emotion. Water works in wondrous ways, twisting and turning, filling up holes, eroding rock, and then submitting to the powerful sun rays. But water is also in our tears, and sometimes we need them, particularly to combat the darkest of days. If you enjoyed Ashcloud’s poetry, you can view some of her other superb work such as, “Is it Wrong?” and “A New Star is Born“.

Featured Image CC // Kim Seng

The Ascension of the Pilgrim

Written by Dice


The gong rang through the old temple.

“Almighty Orlin from the Great Ringed World of Phorlin, you look over us.” Chanted an old priest in practiced rhythm and certainty from his position on a high dais, as he looked over the gathering crowds filling the large main chamber of the temple.

“Blessing to the almighty Orlin,” came the replying chant from a kneeling man dressed in a simple white cloak.

Upon finishing his reply, the man named Damus returned and bowed low, placing his forehead on the holy floor. He knelt in the middle of the six pronged star, each point of equal distance from him. At the tip of each point there stood a thin, three-foot high pedestal. Behind these pedestals, at least from Damus‘s view point, stood a high priest or priestess dressed in the vibrant colours of the Divine One they served.

According to religious teachings, the seven Divine Ones were demi-gods. Once mortal, they had been hand chosen by the Great God Orlin to rule and protect each of the seven Shift Worlds; six moons that orbited the large gas planet named Phorlin. The Divine Ones were Orlin’s representatives in the mortal realm and they lived in their temples on their respective worlds, which they shaped and changed as they saw fit.

Damus risked a glance forward. The pedestal directly in front of him had no priest stood behind. Instead, about five yards back, upon an ornate golden throne sat Alynne, the greatest of the Divine Ones. This was his temple, his moon, his world.

Above Alynne the old priest, his High Priest continued the ceremony.
“O’ Pilgrim, you have travelled to each of the six worlds and have received the favour of each of the Divine Ones.”

The gong sounded again and the priest standing behind the first pedestal, and left to the one directly in front of Damus, lifted a small – perhaps fist-sized – shining green orb above his head. The High Priest of Alynne continued.

“Endu, The Young, lover of life and children.”

The gong followed and the next priest to Damus’s left raised a similar orb, but her orb was yellow and slightly larger than the last.

“Sudale, Protector of the Weak, lover of re-balance.”

The High Priest named each of the Divine Ones, Ilture, Galaine and Ninsune, and each respective priest raised their orb. When the High Priest named ‘Alynne, Orlin’s Second and Lord of All’, Alynne himself stood. Raising one empty hand, he breathed into his open palm and an orange orb formed.

“Stand Pilgrim,” demanded the High Priest.

Damus stood, tall and proud, though with a slight shiver.

“Pilgrim, are you ready?” asked the old man in a powerful voice.

“Yes, High Priest,” answered Damus confidently.

“Do you accept the honour placed upon you?”

“I accept and thank the Great Orlin for the honour he has granted me.”

“Are you pure in heart, innocent in life and free from any bonds?”

“I am free to serve.”

“Do you welcome the blessing of the Divine ones?”

“I welcome and thank them for their Blessings.”

“And will you take up service to the Almighty Orlin, who has hand chosen you to serve by his side for one hundred years, after which you will bathe in the glory of his heaven?”

“I will gladly serve.”

“Then may you ascend to his side and serve him well.”

The gong sounded again and the five priests and Alynne stepped forward. In the order of their calling, they placed the orbs upon the pedestal before them. But when Alynne placed his orb, a coloured beam of light erupted from each orb. The beams then connected the orbs together and blended to create a perfect circular beam of white, intersecting each of the orbs.

Damus held his arms outstretched, as a symbol to welcome the light.

“I go to serve Orlin,” he chanted.

There was a great flash of white light from the orbs, which dazzled all in attendance for a brief moment before it vanished. And with it, Damus and the orbs had disappeared, too.


Written on behalf of our Hallowe’en Trick or Treat Fiction Frenzy, Dice’s short fantasy excerpt was originally planned for a NanoWriMo entry. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out the way he had expected, but we did get a great entry for our Fiction Frenzy competition. If you enjoyed Dice’s piece, feel free to view his other published work on Inkblots, including “The Game Parts 1 & 2” and his most recently published Alexander short, “Summer 1943”

Featured Image CC // Zach Dischner

Hold My Hand

Lyrics by Miss Smiley


Verse 1:
I’m not asking for your tears
Don’t want you all upset
I don’t want to drag you down at all.
I don’t need a pool of salt
Or shouts of justice spent
I just want you to catch me when I fall.

Verse 2:
I don’t mean to be a nuisance
I don’t want to be a pest
But, baby, I just need someone to know.
Darling, I don’t want to make you
Lose one moment here
But honey, I just need a hand to hold.

CHORUS:
Hold my hand, guide me through tonight
‘Cause I just don’t know where I am and which light is my light
Baby, I’ve lost the eternal struggle here against my fright
And all I want is you to hear my plight
I’m sorry, honey, but tonight in your arms I’m going to fold,
Baby, I just need a hand to hold.

Verse 3:
I don’t want to drown your hopes
Or rain on your parade
I’d never want to drag you down as well.
But what I need is someone who
Will fold me in their arms
And let me maybe dampen their lapels.

Verse 4:
I’m sorry, my love, my love
After this, I’ll leave you be
I don’t mean to hamper you, my man.
But oh, my love, I need you now
To hold me in your arms
And if it’s not too much, to hold my hand.

CHORUS:
Hold my hand, guide me through tonight
‘Cause I just don’t know where I am and which light is my light
Baby, I’ve lost the eternal struggle here against my fright
And all I want is you to hear my plight
I’m sorry, honey, but tonight in your arms I’m going to fold,
Baby, I just need a hand to hold.

Verse 5:
And it’s so hard to see the light when darkness crowds around
Darling, do you have a torch to burn the shadows’ ground?
Can I steal one ounce of life from you to kindle mine again?
I’m so scared and mine’s blown out, my friend.
Yes, I’m terrified and mine’s blown out, my friend.

CHORUS:
Hold my hand, guide me through tonight
‘Cause I just don’t know where I am and which light is my light
Baby, I’ve lost the eternal struggle here against my fright
And all I want is you to hear my plight
I’m sorry, honey, but tonight in your arms I’m going to fold,
Baby, I just need a hand to hold.


Although it was written some time ago, the charm and appeal of Miss Smiley’s lyrical ballad has never faded. Hold My Hand, for those with musical ears, should be sung 4/4 in a minor key – preferably E minor – and is a regular, slowly sung ballad featuring a natural rhythm. But for those, like me, who are a little tone-deaf, it’s a beautiful ballad nevertheless. If you enjoyed Miss Smiley’s lyrics, why not check out her musical ensemble, “The Laurel”. 

Featured Image CC // Chris JL

Man’s Salvation

Written by Rob


Popular wisdom says one should never discuss religion or politics with a friend. Jed and Mark were definitely not friends and threw insults at each other, across the office, all day, every day. It had all started as a theological discussion but no one could remember when. Little Mark was a devout Catholic, and incapable of allowing any opportunity to profess his faith pass unfulfilled. Jed Smith, built like a brick house, loathed all things religious with a burning passion. These were two minds that could never meet, nor indeed agree to disagree. So the status quo was protracted jibes at each other’s beliefs, whilst their colleagues laughed and pointed. No one seemed to mind as this sideshow eased the dreary days of accounting practice.

When Arthur – the company secretary – retired, they all went out for a beer. A dozen employees commandeered an alcove of the pub and swapped anecdotes of Arthur’s peccadilloes from forty years’ service; all good-natured banter. It was getting late when Mark overheard two lads outside their circle discussing crucifixion in a not too reverent manner. Off like a lurcher, Mark was out of his chair, citing blasphemy laws, quoting gospel chapter and verse, wagging his finger. The lads were clearly taken aback. Mark returned to the group, looking smug, but saying it was probably time to “call it a night”.

Mark said his goodbyes, shook Arthur’s hand and ambled out of the front door. Jed noticed one of the lads nudge the other and follow. Jed couldn’t have told you why, but something in their demeanour had the hairs on his neck erect. On instinct, he followed, too.

Outside, Jed looked up and down the High Street: no sign of Mark or the lads. Then a noise, maybe a muffled voice, drew him to the alley at the side of the pub. Pinned against the wall, little Mark looked up terrified into the faces of his tormentors.
It was all over in seconds. The lads looked up at Jed’s challenge, saw his huge frame nigh-on blocking the light from the High Street, and took to their heels.

Monday morning, to an outsider in the accounts office, nothing had changed. Jed and Mark still belittled each other’s beliefs at every opportunity. But the passion and hurtful edge had gone, replaced by a “this is just a game” undercurrent, a performance for the benefit of the onlookers.


Inspired and written on behalf of May’s half hour challenge theme ‘Salvation’, Rob’s flash fiction hits the point hard. Though religion may come between many people, sometimes it’s refreshing to get a different opinion and have an open mind. And sometimes it can make the difference between a friend and a foe. If you enjoyed Rob’s HHC, make sure to view his other great pieces such as, “Ending at the Start” and “Coach”. 

Featured Image CC // Fusky