Saturday, January 31, 2009

Six Words and a Few More

I found very interesting the idea of a story written in just six words. It now came to me from LaughingWolf and L.A. Mitchell, but I remember seeing it at SzélsöFa's a while ago. Well, this is my attempt at it...

Ulysses and the Sirens (1891) - John William Waterhouse

Sirens sang. The cliffs are sharp.

(This, however, is not Ulysses's story. Ulysses escaped the Sirens by having all his sailors plug their ears with beeswax and tie him to the mast...)

red Attic vase from the British Museum (ca. 480-470 BC)

And now about the Lemonade Award for sites who show great attitude and/or gratitude. Thank you Kaye and Karen for having thought of me for this award! I'm very honoured, very happy, and I thank you very, very much!

These two are a wonderful addition to my first lemonade stand, and , yes, I love lemonade!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I've Seen It. And It's Seen Me

My training was to be – naturally but somehow reluctantly – followed by practice in recognising the... target.

Archie’s was the place – where else? Besides, Laughlin sustained it was best in semi-darkness, and the bar was much better than roaming the streets at night. We didn’t have long to wait. It was midday. Two men in suits came in and took seats at a table next to the dingy wall. I could see Laughlin cringe, his hands clutching the fork so hard, he started to bend it.

“Those two... Do you see?”

His voice was so low, I had to rely on reading his lips.

“See what, Laughlin?”

“Squint. It’ll come to you... “

“But what-”

“On their left shoulder. A vapour... an emanation...”

I shook my head, disappointed, apologetic. A waiter moved to take their order and, as he did so, for a while he blocked the dull light coming from the wall lamp.

Now!” Laughlin said, annoyed. “Now you must see it!”

“Calm down,” I whispered, not very calm myself. I narrowed my eyes, straining them, trying to see anything at all and, suddenly, I think I did. A greenish blur, a mist bearing the resemblance of an eerie face, seemingly emanating from the man’s shoulder; two eyes in it, almost luminous, like two elongated slits in a curtain of fog, a beak-like nose, no obvious mouth, a long narrow chin. Something that would appear on a moved photograph. I held my breath, appalled by the strangeness of this sight, by the cold alien malevolence I thought I could discern in those fluid features. And then I gasped, for the “double” had twisted and looked directly at me. Its mouth rounded, maybe forming a word of some sort. The next moment it was gone.

“You’ve seen it!” Laughlin shouted, with eagerness, making some heads in the bar turn to us.

“And it’s seen me...” I said, and gulped down my gin.

This is another excerpt from "Shadow on Your Shoulder", a short story. The first one was "Of a Bizarre Contraption."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Shadows on the Snow

Where do you find your solace, boy?
Sweet love has withered, joy is old.
The shadows on the snow are long.
How do you patch your mangled soul?
The dark is close, the wounds are cold.

Where do you find your solace, boy?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Never the Same

art by George Grie at

You can never
the moment.
It’ll pass –
even the ones
to hold into
your being.

You will never feel
that overwhelming joy
or that
paralysing sorrow –
only shadows of them,
only ghosts –
and all the intricate feelings,
and thoughts,
and sensations
that have made up
this year
and the other,
the subtle flavour of days,
the light in your child’s
or your father’s
will be little more than a certain
kind of bittersweet nostalgia
pressed in between
the pages of a worn scrapbook,
or simply gone...

Onward we go,
we trudge
we fly,
other horizons
will lure us,
deceive us,
upon other shores
we’ll step.
Never the same,
never the same.

Friday, January 09, 2009


“Ascension”, the tenth flash fiction contest that Jason Evans is holding at The Clarity of Night, is still going on until January 14th. My entry is given below the photo that serves as an inspiration for the contest.


Ben dashed down the moving staircase, the stolen wallet bulky in his jeans’ pocket. Behind him, in the beehive noise of the mall, shouts rose, though barely above the thunderous pounding of his heart. He jumped steps by twos, oblivious to the disapproving looks his rough flight elicited.

Midway on that endless descent, a stroller halted him, but before he could jump around it, his eyes fell on her.

She had stepped onto the bottom of the climbing staircase, a slim silhouette in a pink two-piece suit, a luminous face in the halo of blonde locks. Ben thought of swans, of roses, and rains of apple blossoms. He had never seen anything that beautiful, that elegant.

She didn’t smile, only her gleaming gaze lingered on him, a warming caress in it. He held his breath, all else forgotten. Too slowly, too quickly they got closer.

Soon their hands on the rubber handrails passed each other, the idea that his could’ve brushed hers numbing to Ben, the whiff of her perfume dizzying. Even then, she did not avert her azure eyes.

As she passed on her way up, he twirled around to watch her, a mesmerised automaton, forever in love.

When he realised she was soon going to float beyond his sight, he leaped at last, only back up, not towards freedom.

“There he is!”

He allowed Security to restrain him, struggling only to see past their shoulders. To see her, his sweet impossible unattainable angel, for a few moments more.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Taste of Antarctica

A day such as this one, with the crisp brilliance of a harsh sun over the windswept unshifting snow, always brings to my mind polar landscapes, forlorn yet majestic, and ice shelves bathed by freezing seas of exotic names, and mind sweeping mysteries forever buried in the cold.

It’s all the more suiting that I’ve just finished reading H.P. Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness,” the story of the Antarctic expedition that discovers strange fossils and unbelievable terror. Although I have known of this Master of horror for a long time, this is my first encounter with his work, prompted – I must gratefully say- by some of the comments that my story “A Harvest of the Deep” has received on this blog. How I wish I were a “real” part of that Miskatonic Expedition, and flew over those gigantic mountains, and stepped onto the stones of that Cyclopean city...

Aksel Karcher at

"Little by little, however, they rose grimly into the western sky; allowing us to distinguish various bare, bleak, blackish summits, and to catch the curious sense of fantasy which they inspired as seen in the reddish antarctic light against the provocative background of iridescent ice-dust clouds. In the whole spectacle there was a persistent, pervasive hint of stupendous secrecy and potential revelation. It was as if these stark, nightmare spires marked the pylons of a frightful gateway into forbidden spheres of dream, and complex gulfs of remote time, space, and ultra-dimensionality. I could not help feeling that they were evil things--mountains of madness whose farther slopes looked out over some accursed ultimate abyss. That seething, half-luminous cloud background held ineffable suggestions of a vague, ethereal beyondness far more than terrestrially spatial, and gave appalling reminders of the utter remoteness, separateness, desolation, and aeon-long death of this untrodden and unfathomed austral world."

There are certain books that do this to me, books that, beyond any reasonable explanation, will always represent a never-ending fascination to me. Books that I HAVE to have, and keep close to me, and read again and again, or just touch and relish in the comfort of their presence. This is and will remain now one of them.

Another of these books is “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket” by Edgar Allan Poe, this overwhelming genius and one of my most beloved authors, and often mentioned by Lovecraft in “At the Mountains of Madness.” And its sequel of course, Jules Verne’s “Le sphinx des glaces” (“The Sphinx of the Ice Fields” – translated as “An Antarctic Mystery”). Those of you who have read Pym might remember its haunting ending.

"And now we rushed into the embraces of the cataract, where a chasm threw itself open to receive us. But there arose in our pathway a shrouded human figure, very far larger in its proportions than any dweller among men. And the hue of the skin of the figure was of the perfect whiteness of the snow."

This is where Jules Verne picks up from and expands, bringing to the fantastic and the horror of Poe the rational quality of his science fiction.

"One day I witnessed the departure of an albatross, saluted by the very best croaks of the penguins, no doubt as a friend whom they were to see no more. Those powerful birds can fly for two hundred leagues without resting for a moment, and with such rapidity that they sweep through vast spaces in a few hours. The departing albatross sat motionless upon a high rock, at the end of the bay of Christmas Harbour, looking at the waves as they dashed violently against the beach.

Suddenly, the bird rose with a great sweep into the air, its claws folded beneath it, its head stretched out like the prow of a ship, uttering its shrill cry: a few moments later it was reduced to a black speck in the vast height and disappeared behind the misty curtain of the south."

Fantastic expeditions in frozen lands, thus was my daydreaming on this frigid January day...

A New Contest - Coming Soon to The Clarity of Night

To start off the New Year for everybody in a wonderfully creative way, Jason Evans, at The Clarity of Night, is preparing another one of his much anticipated contests. The rules are as always, and the photo that has to elicit our inspiration is shown below.

So we still have a little bit of time to prepare our stories or just to look forward to the many good reads.