Written by Silver

It wasn’t the first time Skyla had seen snow, but it was the most she’d seen in a long time. Her father had been outside for the past hour shovelling it from their drive, working up a sweat in his new winter jacket and dusty work boots. As she sat by the window, Skyla watched her father with disinterest, occasionally adjusting her body warmer and the sleeves on her white Christmas jumper. She was fidgeting more than usual, her fingers twitching. Really, the snow would have been just fine, perhaps even amusing, if her dad wasn’t planning on a trip to Disneyland this weekend. With Skyla turning 12, it was meant to be a surprise for her birthday. But instead of sheer delight, she found the tang of bitterness. It was all around her, in the air, in her bones, in the stupid biscuit jar that she could never reach. And particularly after her mother had left only a couple of weeks ago.

Leanne had told Skyla she was leaving back in October. Ever since the accident, her mother had always blamed herself. Skyla supposed it was due to the fact she was driving at the time. But it was never her mother’s fault, it was the idiotic driver in the white van who wasn’t paying attention. Though Skyla had never voiced her opinions on the accident, Leanne always seemed to know the hidden truth. Skyla had pushed those thoughts far down inside of her. There was always hope that she would be able to walk again; a tiny spark that just needed to be ignited and tended to in the right way.

Her father was still shovelling snow. She desperately wanted to be outside, crunching her feet on the freshly laid powder. Maybe she would be able to one day, but paralysis was something that was very difficult to overcome. Skyla thought about the robotic legs the government was currently testing on paralysis patients; she hoped one day that could be her.

Snapped out of her daydream, Skyla’s father called to her – rather he mouthed her name through the window – and she wheeled over to the front door, skirting around the armchair.

“I’ve been calling you for ages, Sky.” Stephen said, shivering slightly.

“Oh, sorry.” Skyla cast her eyes to the ground.

Stephen scuffed his boots together and crouched to his daughter’s level. Taking off his gloves, he took his large, scraped hands and clasped hers, kissing them.

“Sky, I know it’s hard. And this damn weather is just frustrating as hell. But I’m going to make the most of this time with you.”

She looked up at this point, meeting his eyes. His face flushed, his nose a deep pink from the cold, but his eyes glistened. And there on his eyelash was the tiniest snowflake she’d ever seen.

“Dad, don’t move. Don’t flicker your eyelashes. Just give me a minute.”

The snowflake held its form for less than a second. But before it melted into her skin, Skyla saw the intricate pattern.

“I’ve just realised something, Dad,” she said as Stephen raised his eyebrows and fingered her blonde curls. “No snowflake is the same. They’re all different but eventually they come together to make a bigger picture. I think I’m a snowflake, Dad. My body’s now just a different pattern that’s all. Maybe I’ll get my old pattern back one day, or find a new pattern in electronic limbs. But the thing is, I still have a pattern just like that snowflake. And that’s what matters.”

Stephen smiled, “Well of course, honey, you’re named after the very sky snowflakes are born from.”

As part of the HHC for last month under the theme ‘Spark’, Silver’s short story is a special piece full of hope and determination. As a teenager, she feared she would be paralysed from the waist down following two horrible accidents. But luck was with her and recovered the feeling in her legs. However, not everyone is as lucky as that, with Skyla as a prime example. A heart-warming piece ready in time for Christmas. If you enjoyed Silver’s work, make sure you check out her poem ‘Spirit‘ and short story ‘Fraction‘. 

Featured Image // Julie Falk

Love After Death

Written by Ricardo

“Where the hell is Nina?” Sam screamed at Paula, throwing her off and making her exert herself a little more to pick up the pace. “Where is she? Did she fall? Oh god, tell me she didn’t fall.”

Sam’s heart was already beating at an inhuman rate, but with the fear of losing Nina he thought his heart was going to burst out of his chest. His legs gained an abrupt burst of energy and, in that moment, he felt like he could have leapt onto the far-off green planet they seemed to be running towards.

“No!” Paula shouted back. “Her heart rate is still on the system, there’s not many of us left,” she paused to get her breath back, “most of us fell, but she’s still alive. She’s probably going for the escape pods too. I just hope she can make it with that body.”

“She’ll make it!” Sam shouted, almost offended. The escape pods. That’s where they were heading. He didn’t need the map displayed on the screen on his forearm, he’d walked the length of this ship more times than he could remember. And right then what he hated most about the world was not the emptiness behind them, or even the thought that Nina could be down there, it was that the doors he had installed last year were the newest models by Archon’s Security. He’d tried them out himself before fitting them with his own Tarantula rifle. Nothing was getting through those. Thankfully the walls were still as shitty as ever though.

“Give me your pistol!” Sam shouted at Paula, who had drawn her sidearm and unloaded the cartridge with alarming speed. He took the cartridge and threw it overarm toward the wall they were approaching. He took the rifle from his back at the moment the cartridge left his hand and fired off a single shot. Sam was thankful he was still a little drowsy since, if he’d been on top form and as fast as usual, the blast would have blown him right back into the depths of space. Sam went first into the escape pod chamber, thrusting his shoulder into the honeycombed wall and breaking through, followed by Paula only a fraction later.

They were far enough ahead to take a second to gather themselves. There were two pods left, and besides Sam and Paula there were was only one person there – Khaj, the technician. Sam had an insatiable urge to shoot the useless bastard directly in the left eye. Why was he here rather than Nina? What reason did he have to live over her?

“Sam,” Paula knocked him from his wandering thoughts and grabbed his arm, pulling him into one of the pods. “We’ve got to go! I’m sorry, but we have to go.” Sam knew it. He couldn’t stay even if he wanted to, survival was all his body cared about right now. He’d have gotten into that pod whether he liked it or not. It was only when he saw the glow of Nina’s eyes through a slender gap in the wall that he jumped back out of the pod. Paula grabbed his ankles, forcing him to lurch uneasily and slam hard onto the floor.

“NINA!” he shouted as a small robotic feline leaped into the chamber and toward the pod, the silver metal paw landing in his palm as his fingers closed around it, with Paula pulling him back into the pod. The end of her tail caught in the door and scraped it slightly as it slammed and sealed shut. All forty thrusters fixed to the outside ignited at once, propelling the pod from the shell of Andromeda, Sam’s father’s space station turned space cruiser, and then his, and now it belonged to the infinite grasp of the universe.

In that moment Sam couldn’t have cared less. As he held Nina in his arms, tears slipping off the top of her shiny head, she consoled him with gentle words. All he truly cared about was safe and still real, still in his grasp. And as their shuttle hurled toward the distant green planet that he felt he could jump to, he knew he still had a shot at redemption. He could still make it to humanity’s colonies. He could still get Paula back to her home planet. But most importantly, he could still get Nina back to her old body. He could still make up for what he did. He could kiss her again, even just once more. He could get her back.

It was when he was drifting off to sleep with Nina in his arms that his fingers traced up and down the robotic feline’s right leg. That’s where Nina liked to be tickled – on the inside of her forearm. And it still had the same effect of making him smile like an idiot.

Then Nina whispered in her old voice, “I love you”.

There’s something chilling about Ricardo’s tale of love, death and hope. Maybe it’s because space is cold, or maybe it’s just because it’s an incredibly tense piece of work that gets us worked up in such a cold sweat. We’ve chosen a neat little excerpt from Ricardo’s ‘Love After Death’ as it’s gripping and pauses in just the right moments for great effect. If you enjoyed Ricardo’s work, make sure you check out, ‘The Start of Something Beautiful‘ and ‘Careful Driving‘. 

Featured Image // Sweetie187

Wake Me When It’s Winter

Written by Blue-Eyed Devil

They call aloud with happy tone
“Come, leap from shade and frost!
Shake the cold from soul and bone!”
So I know the fools are lost.

The blooming flowers spread their ploy
Heralding the coming thaw
The wickedness of springtime joy
Chills me to my core

Let the north wind take me to flight
O’er laughing faces and merriment
Away from scorching, summer light
And speed the days of long lament.

Let me sleep away the warmth,
And wake me when it’s winter.
Goodbye, farewell, so long at last,
And wake me when it’s winter.

Blue-Eyed Devil’s poem was written on behalf of a previous Half Hour Challenge – it was great but never quite fitted in with our Inkblots’ themes. Now we have the perfect chance to publish it under our running theme, hope. As you may be able to tell, our poet isn’t a big fan of the summer months and loves a cold snap in the air. Well, it’s winter now, Blue. If you enjoyed his poetry, make sure you check out some of Blue’s other work including last month’s ‘Little Candle‘ and the short story ‘Thankfully Forgetful‘. 

Featured Image // Moyan Brenn


Written by Rae-Chan

It only takes a spark to ignite a flame.
It only takes a flame to torch a city.
It only takes a spark to set the wheels of change in motion.
So light up the night like a firework,
Send sparks flying through the sky,
Become a mighty phoenix and blaze those that stand in your way,
Ignite the flames, become a burning inferno,
Shower the sparks everywhere.
It only takes one spark to ignite something beautiful.
It only takes one spark.
Be that spark.

A powerful message written simply here from Rae-Chan, but it fills us with such hope and delivers such impact in its short form. Rae-Chan’s best work is often found in succinct little gems of poetry, so we hope you love it just as much as we did. You can check out more of her poetry such as ‘Wings‘ and ‘An Ode to Low Self-Esteem’

Featured Image // Kendra Miller