Masquerade

The excitement wired my body like I was plugged into the mains. My brain was on fast-forward and there was no off switch. What was I even doing here? An impromptu vacation to attend the Mardi Gras was not only uncharacteristic of me, it was downright crazy. I am a desk-nerd. I don’t do irresponsible shit like this. And dancing was totally not my scene.

Yet I couldn’t help but vibrate in synch with the music playing all around me, music so loud that that my pulse thumped in time to its beat, as though we were one. Over the roar of music I could hear joyous hoots and chatter and the tinkling of laughter. The explosion of brilliant colours, exotic costumes, and the exuberance of life sucked me in. I had no choice but to join the crowd, jumping in a huddled group, like Tic-Tacs being shaken in a box.

Around me dancers moved like water flowing in graceful arcs, limbs in constant motion like ribbons in the wind, they were timeless. Yet even in this enchanted melee she stood out, twirling effortlessly, serene, as if she were floating, with a smile that shone out of her eyes. I couldn’t stop staring.

I don’t know which of us moved for I was in a dream. All I knew was that I was looking at a goddess. The rest of the world paled and faded away beside her.
When her long graceful finger curled to beckon me, I followed with the single minded determination of a parched man following the sound of water.

“Faster,” she called.

“Where are we going?”

“Nowhere”

“We have to be going somewhere.”

“Nowhere is somewhere too,” she teased.

“Your beautiful,” I called out behind her; “this can’t be real.”

“Maybe it’s not real,” she replied, her entire head turning to face me. “Maybe I’m not real.”

mardigras

Written in response to Michelle’s Photo-Fiction #86 challenge

Under the stillness

It was a picture prefect lake; its cloudy blue surface mirroring the sky above, with ripples so smooth that a stone would probably skip over it like a ballerina doing a petit allegro.

With its serene ambience and abundant catch, it was the town’s perfect retreat. Families relaxed as the waterfowls sailed by, or fished on the jetty while all their burdens sank into the idyllic waters.

To ensure that the marine life was not disturbed, the town had banned swimming and boating. Even dredging was done only after the waterfowl season.

It was the warning sign that gave him the idea. No one goes in, and fishes eat everything.
Perfect disposal.

100WW-2

Written for the 100 Word Wednesday challenge with photo prompt by Bikurgurl

The Timeless Lugger

Spoil the one you love with a romantic getaway aboard The Timeless Lugger.

Sail in idyllic waters aboard a bespoke barge with Victorian bedrooms, and a menu serving seasonal local cuisine.
Honeymooners get a special 50% discount THIS MONTH ONLY.

 

The advertisement had thrilled them. Only a fool would pass up such an amazing offer?

As their grouchy drunk captain stirred the refurbished fishing vessel out of the crowded harbour, they sat in their cabin staring at the wallpaper displaying a Victorian canopy-bed.

The old bed chortled with every rock of the boat, for the joke was on them.

 


Written for The Friday Fictioneers challenge based on photo by Fatima Fakier Deria.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction and does not refer to any establishment that may have a similar/same name.

Dreams that were

She knew the scene required he put his arms around her, but to her romantic mind it was as if he was cradling his baby.

Are you ready to give up your career for this? You just signed a movie deal.” he had asked earlier. But to her it was a no-brainer. She was already imagining their beautiful family; she braiding her daughter’s hair (God she really wanted a daughter), or teaching her son to ride the mare, awaiting his return at dusk. It would be a perfect life.

 

The next morning the headlines announced the end of her dreams.

Famous theatre actor plunges to an untimely death.

No one knew why she stumbled forward to the ledge. All the actors had been warned that the barricade props were flimsy at best. She was supposed to stay a foot inside. So why had she leaned on the balustrade? After a 15 foot drop she had bled out before they could reach the hospital.

Requiems were held. Eulogies were read. Wreaths were laid.

Two weeks later the show reopened with a younger and prettier lead actress to rave reviews. Romeo now had a new Juliet.

He had always known that public memory was fickle.

 


Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction challenge based on photo prompt by A Mixed Bag

32

Thirty two stab wounds, made by multiple knives, mutilated genitalia, a body about a week old suggestively posed, and cause of death was excessive bleeding. Going by the amount of overkill, this was personal. Coach Duran had been tortured.
Unfortunately because of the recent rains, coyote bites and maggots, it was going to be very difficult to get any prints or clean DNA.
There was nothing further to be done here.

Nothing like this had ever happened in sleepy Oothu, and despite the obscure location of the crime scene, a large crowd had gathered and the chatter was on.

Detective Sky stayed back to listen. Small town gossip often revealed useful clues.

“Who would want to kill Coach Duran?”

“I don’t know. But remember the old rumours.”

“Surely you don’t believe that!”

“Crap, it’s hardly been ten days since the school honoured him.”

“God, so many of his star athletes came into town for the felicitation.”

“Ya, almost thirty two of them, right?”

 


Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers with photo prompt provided by Tim Livingston with the blog, The ForesterArtist.

Chimineas

She loved the holidays – the anticipation, the planning, decorating the house, cooking a special meal, laughter with family and friends.
But this year Tony was away on an important business trip. He was really apologetic about missing family time. If he could have rescheduled he would have, but some things are unavoidable.
She understood.
And that was why she was taking the party to him.

Her first stop was the supermarket where she quickly and efficiently ticked off her shopping list. Some ornaments and candles, the costumes from two years back could be recycled so that was not required, and a few ingredients for a quick meal. Fortunately he was in a studio with a kitchen, but she was not foolish enough to expect a lone male to keep it stocked.
Outside the store she had even chanced upon these queer looking pumpkin shaped chiminea. Well, since they couldn’t lounge by the fireplace at home, this would be a small substitute.
With this she was good to go.

Having trudged up with all her paraphernalia, she excitedly knocked on the door.
“Who is it?” he called out.
Determined to surprise him, she answered, “Housekeeping.”

His secretary answered the door – in a bathrobe.

 

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Written for the Sunday Photo Fiction Challenge based on a photo by Dawn Miller.

A fool called Andy

Picking up the telephone extension without noticing the blinking red light had been his undoing.

Is that what she really felt? Why didn’t she ever tell him instead of complaining to her friend? And all those times….O Lord she had been faking it. He was the fool for believing that they had the perfect marriage.
Fool…fool…fool.
Fool for loving her… Fool for trusting her. All the times he had dropped her off at the yoga studio, happy in the knowledge that yoga made her happy. But it wasn’t the yoga, it was the damn yoga instructor! And what did that make him? A pimp and a damn fool.

He needed to get out of the house, get away from her, get away so that he could think again. Plan. But his stupid brain was not cooperating. It kept reliving that overheard conversation again and again.
Boring. She had called him boring.
The buzzing was beginning to give him a full blown headache, his insecurity growing steadily until it dominated his emotions.

Andy got into his car and started driving.

He was no bore. He would show her. He was a sexy virile man and just because he had taken himself off the market did not mean that he was no longer desirable.

What started out as a timid placation became a continual chant, I am not boring, my life is not boring, a chant so strong that he resolved to break out of his comfort zone, do something uncharacteristic, hit the bar perhaps, get drunk, and maybe, yes maybe even pick up a girl.
Yes, that’s what he needed. One night of debauchery to make him feel like a man again.

At the outskirts of town he spotted the perfect little bar. Cheap and sleazy. Not the kind of place where he would have to worry about bumping into anyone from work, the kind of place where the girls looked easy. Perfect.

Perched on a barstool, he ordered a vodka straight, and looked around. It was a rustic country bar, old blues music played, smoke permeating the air, couples making out unabashedly, and then he saw her. Blond hair, shy smile, a plunging neckline making her almost transparent top look even sexier, short skirt, and legs that went on forever and ended in 6 inch fuck me heels. Drop dead gorgeous.

She sashayed up to him, shot him a coquettish smile, and perched on the stool beside. I’ll have what he’s having, she told the bartender. For the next hour they drank, and flirted, and eventually when it looked like he was never going to summon up the courage to make a move, she decided to take matters into her own hands. Are we ever going to get out of here or do you just want to pass out drunk with a sexy woman next to you?

Despite the blood rushing to his groin, Andy hesitated. This was not him.

Until he remembered the phone conversation and the chant started playing in his mind again. I am not boring. My life is not boring.

With that the decision was made.

They got into his car and he couldn’t hold back any more. Like a man possessed he grabbed her hair and pulled her forcefully towards himself, meeting her mouth in a frenzied clash of lips and teeth, breathing in her aroma, tasting the sweetness of a willing woman after a long long time. His eyes closed tightly he was lost in his desperation when suddenly he heard the bang of the rear door. Startled, he jerked around to see the man who had simply plopped into his car.

“What the hell man, this is not a cab you just get into. Get out. This is my car.” Andy screamed.

“And now it’s my car,” was all he heard.

He didn’t hear the gun fire. He didn’t see the blood. He never even realised that she was the one who had pulled the trigger.

Poor Andy! He lived a boring life, but at least he saw an exciting end.

Smoking gun

The All Seeing Eye

 

Ted Ray, you are under arrest…

The cops swarmed in through the door and before we realized what was happening, Teddy was cuffed and on the floor. Somewhere in the room Nina screamed and I rushed to find my baby. The cops were screaming, Teddy was screaming, Nina was screaming, and I just didn’t know what to do.

Call Big J. You hear me, call Big J,” Teddy shouted as they led him away.

Six months, he had been underground for six whole months, and he just came home. It was Nina’s birthday. She was crying for her daddy. Barely 5 hours and the cops were here. How did they know he was home? How did they know?

Suddenly the door bursts open again and one of the cops is back. “Don’t be scared ma’am. I am not going to hurt you. I just need to collect the evidence.” Then he took away the stupid dragon puppet that had been hanging in the corner.

Now I’m confused. Why is the puppet evidence? It is just some silly toy that someone gave Nina a while back.

And then I remembered why it was hanging out here and not in her room. “His eyes glow in the dark,” Nina had said.

 


Written for Sunday Photo Fiction. Photo credited to A Mixed Bag.

Upon the death of the old man

No one was surprised when the old man died.

Ever since the day his wife and son had suddenly left him, he had shrunk into himself, given up on living and merely continued to exist.
He went nowhere, and welcomed no one.
Neighbours tried to reach out, the community offered to help, but the old man refused. Curious peeping-Toms reported that he spent most of his hours walking in circles talking to himself.
The house, his old pickup truck, everything was in a dilapidated state. Sam even went over to clean out the yard, but he wouldn’t even open the gate.
He lived a lonely life; he died a lonely death.

Some distant relative came down to dispose the estate.

It was only when the construction crew brought in by the new owners finally moved the truck to level the ground that people realized – The wife and son had not left after all.

 


Written for Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers based on the photo by Mike Vore

It’s time

02-jhardycarroll-05-february-2017

How many bottles?

Almost two dozens.

How many litres?

Enough, and some to go.

Are we ready to do this? If anyone wants to leave, do so now.

No one moved.

The plan was in motion.

Everybody had had enough. They had come into our street, armed with their guns and sticks, wearing helmets and bullet-proof jackets, under the guise of protecting and serving, but they served only themselves, protected only each other. They cursed and spat at us, stole from us. Protection money – they called it. You took our money to protect us from you, but in the end you didn’t even protect us.

It was a Naxal attack, they told the media. Naxalites had abused our women, brutalised our children, and kidnapped our youth to brainwash them into joining their camps, they claimed. But we know the truth. We recognise the cold hateful eyes of our tormentors. Some wore the uniform, others were chosen by the uniforms. They knew we were helpless but they did not hesitate, they did not show mercy.

We were helpless and unprepared then. Not anymore.

When you treat a man like an animal, you are going to bring out the beast in him.

petrol_bomb

Written for Sunday Photo Fiction – Feb 5thSunday Photo Fiction – Feb 5th