The deep

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The small bathesphere was lowered over the side of the science vessel ‘Valour’.

Steph sat at the controls, watching the pressure guages and reporting every 100 meters they dropped into the abyss.

At 1 kilometer there was a brief pause to check all the systems again. Carbon Dioxide was at acceptable levels, the filters were working. Air was being pumped down at the right rate from the ship. Up top in the ship the mission room were happy to give her the go ahead to continue.

A few minutes later, and the pressure had increased massively on the hull. But it was built to withstand them. The bulbous glass windows were curved to take the external forces without buckling.

A shadow passed one of the windows, something gold and glittering… It came back, huge, fish shaped. A gaping mouth opening. The images on the bathesphere’s cameras were flickering with the reflections from the metallic looking fins and scales.

Steph shouted out in surprise ‘what the hell is it?’. But the ship didn’t hear her.

The rescue wasn’t successful. As they wound in the cable the scientists  on the ship could tell that the weight on it was no longer there. Finally the severed ends of it were hauled over the stern. ‘lost at sea’ was the report that was published…..

 

Ivy grows

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As she sat on the ground by the house she felt the warmth of the sun calming her and relaxing her. It had been a long morning gardening. Now she had sat down with a cup of tea and a biscuit.

The ground she was sitting on was laid to lawn. Behind her the bare brick was partly covered with a few strands of ivy.

As she dozed in the sun next doors ginger cat came and sat on her lap. She dreamt of a perfect cottage garden, she would lift up the lawn and plant a bank of crocosmia and ox eye daisies. On the wall behind her she would remove the ivy and plant clematis and wisteria. Maybe a peach with branches strung out along the wall.

She gradually fell into a deeper sleep. The scents of the roses wafted across the garden. Time crept by. If you had watched a time lapse film of the day you would have seen the ivy seem to pulse, and grow….. Tendrils of green stretching. Ariel roots burrowing, not just into mortar but flesh. No way was the ivy going to be removed. Around the body of the woman the branches grew.

Finally all the moisture in it was sucked out, there was just a dried husk left. Tearing through eye sockets. From the mouth. The ivy created tiny berries. Dust fell to the ground, what was left? A mug and a plate. The wall was covered.

Glowing man

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I thought I saw him through the window. A man glowing all different colours, but I looked again and it was a pretty scarf hanging on my neighbours washing line.

Later, I went out to feed the stray cat, and saw something from the corner of my eye, but it was a reflection of the sky in the pond.

I went back inside wondering what was happening, was I hallucinating? The sun was setting and glimmers of light from the crystal in the window seemed to be coalescing… A figure shaped like a man, grew from the glimmers. He spoke no words but reached out towards me. I ran into the kitchen, slamming the door behind me, but soon his head and a hand protruded through the door.

I ran out into the garden. Dark was falling, the figure followed. Glowing brightly now, it quickly moved out across the ground. I felt dreadful fear. It reached out and touched my hand, and instantly I froze. Now it drifted around, and… into me! I felt its presence inside my mind. Then I knew it was too late… Tomorrow, I tell you, they are coming for you……

Dragon watch part two.

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The night had passed and Drulk, the grandfather, looked out from the dark Forge. The sun was rising. No sign of his son or grandson. He knew they were captives of the Dragon Lord and his beast Hirst. But somehow he knew in his bones that they would return…

Meanwhile, in the dungeons of the Dragon Lords castle, his son and grandson sat in the dark and damp. They were waiting to hear their fates.

Brerd was the old man’s son, his boy was called Srep. Neither of them had eaten or drunk since their capture.

‘Father will we die here?’ Said Srep.’ No, I don’t think so, son. I think the Dragon Lord wants strong slaves. But wait and see. I will try and free us if I can.’

Hours later and the sun had set. Two guards arrived and unlocked the barred door. Shackling the man and boy, they roughly pulled and dragged them out and up the stone stairs. Up and through tunnels and corridors, into the Great Hall.

Hirst lay stretched out on the rock surface at one side of the hall. Head lolling to one side. Eyes half closed.

In front of them, sitting on a throne, the Dragon Lord looked down on them.

Abruptley he said ‘what have you done to Hirst?’ ‘he is ill’. Brerd shook his head ‘he is poisoned, if you free my son, I will tell you how to save the dragon.’ At this the Lord shouted, ‘You poisoned him? How? Your son will die for this, not be freed. How dare you try to negotiate with me!’ Brerd shouted back, ‘then fight me. If you win you can make us slaves and gain the antedote. If I win we go free!’

He didn’t expect the Lord to agree to this so was shocked when a sword landed at his feet. ‘unshackle me, so I can fight’, ‘No’ came the harsh reply.

That is how Brerd the Iron master and blacksmith came to fight for his life against the Dragon Lord.

Heaving the heavy sword up he tried to parry the hefty blows from Lord. They rained down on him hard and fast. By luck more than judgement he remained upright. But like a tree trunk being practiced on, he remained mostly static, feeling the harsh crashes of sword against sword. He was being beaten down. His hands were slick with moisture and salty sweat dropped into his eyes. Still he fought on. Then a glancing blow caught his forehead and he toppled forward. The Lord stepped forward to take a final stabbing thrust at Brerd, but instead felt Brerds sword penetrate his chest. He sank to his knees and whispered ‘Hirst, kill them’. But his voice fell on dead ears. The Dragon had succumbed to the poison. It had been the ‘strong iron’ that the grandfather talked about. It was a mixture of iron filings and saltpetre. Something in that mix was death to dragons. Knowing this old knowledge, Brerd had taken a pouch of it with him when they went hunting. As he was snatched by the dragon he had thrown the pouch and contents into its mouth, where strong acid there dissolved it almost instantly. No antedote would save Hirst after that dose, it was just a matter of time.

Using the sword to cut through his sons bonds, Brerd freed Srep., ‘Come’ , he said, ‘ we must go back to see your grandfather and tell him the news. We will release the slaves as we go.’

Later that day, Drulk looked out of the door of the Forge again. Instead of seeing no-one, he caught sight of his son and grandson. ‘Thank the gods’ he shouted, as he walked to meet them.

Favourite 12

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I’m doing an art challenge for January and today it asked for 12 books or films that you would say were your favourites.

I decided to draw a quick sketch rather than going through my bookcases to find things. Because I read such a lot it was hard to be specific so I have generalised some of my choices.

My list starts with the Sky at Night TV programme which was on the BBC tonight. I’ve been watching it on and off since the 1960’s which is a long time, but it’s been great finding out more about the universe as human knowledge has increased. No one knew about black holes when it first started, and it was before we  went to the moon.

The second book could be anything about painting and drawing, either full of brilliant art or about exciting new techniques. I once bought a book from the National Gallery full of all sorts of art. I was enthralled.

Third is Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck, I’ve seen the play of it but to my shame I’ve never read the book. There are a lot of classic books I would like to try and read.

Four. I was introduced to The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, by my hubby. He had a copy for his eighteenth birthday. We then heard the story on the radio. It was abridged but still ran for thirteen hours. A lot of the book was cut from the radio show and a it more from the films. I must read it again.

Fifth, any book on Art and Design. It could be about theatre design or clothes or architecture. As long as its interesting.

Six is any book about Evolution. I don’t think I could manage Darwins Origin of species. I have got the Blind watchmaker by Richard Dawkins, but I haven’t remembered to read it.

Seven (halfway-are you bored yet?). Any book by Terry Pratchett. From the Colour of Magic to Making Money, and all his other titles, this is fantasy fiction with a grin on its face.

Eighth, is a film, Spiderman, with Toby McGuire. I liked it because it was one of the first Marvel films. It isn’t a fight fest like some if the later ones, and again it’s fantasy, lights, special effects. My favourite things tend to be visual.

Nine is an old film, the Sound of Music. I saw it again on the TV recently. There is a lot more to it than I remember. And the songs are lovely.

Ten, almost there, Cats, not the musical, but Old Possums book of practical cats, by TS Elliot. It’s great to read McCavity the mystery cat, or about the Jellicles cats. I would recommend it.

Eleven is any book about Frida Kahlo. I didn’t really know much about her until I got a present about Women Surrealist Artists. When you find out about her incredibly difficult life, but see her art I just have such a strong admiration for her.

Finally, twelfth, any book on Anthony Gormley, artist and sculptor. He created the Angel of the North, a winged human up in the Newcastle-on-Tyne area. Its a huge sculpture next to the motorway up there. He has done other sculptures of figures emerging from the sea near Liverpool. His work is always interesting and thought provoking.

Looking at this list makes me feel like I am only dipping my toe into the things that interest me. Maybe some if the things will interest you too….

Dragon watch part one

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Dark was falling, the clouds lowering, fearful people cowered in their homes. The Dragon Lord was coming, he would take slaves this month and they knew it. Only in the morning would they go out into the world again.

Aging grandfather Drulk hesitated as he closed the shutters to the cottage. He had been lucky and his son and grandson had stayed safe. He was a blacksmith and so was his son. He kwew how to keep them hidden, using strong iron to stop the Dragon Lord sensing their presence. But his son had been on a hunting trip and this was the first time his grandson has gone along. They were overdue. No sound entered the cottage, but if Hirst, the Dragon, came to it they would hear its beating wings many seconds before it arrived.

A knock at the door, Drulk opened it carefully. His grandson stood there, shaking, his clothes torn. They have father, was all he could say.

Drulk held his grandsons shoulders, what happened, he pleaded. We were at the edge of the forest, I tripped over a root and my head hit the ground. Father was trying to help when the Dragon grabbed him in his claws. He is gone….

In Flar Castle, their son and father stood before the Dragon Lord. You are now my slave, you will serve me. Never, said Drulk’s son. I will not serve or help you…..

I’m not sure where to go with this story I don’t write fiction very often… Maybe I should say ‘to be continued?’ I’m not sure about naming characters, it’s hard to decide what to call them…

Flight

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The light flew across the sky, something not seen for centuries on the Earth.

The world had overheated in the previous millennia, viruses and bacteria had spawned a plague and 90% of the population had died before a cure was found. The remaining humans were all children, the fate of their parents leaving them in a world of technology they could partly use but not maintain.

Then came the explosions, nuclear power plants went offline, nuclear bombs rotted in their silos. Crops and fruit failed. A few books had been left, some technical papers, but the schools were gone. Children grew to adulthood and learnt to hunt and gather like their ancestors. Technology was stored in caves, but without power could not be used.

Then came wars over food and clean water. People living near reservoirs were lucky, but those downstream were cut off as the pumping stations failed. Humans were close to extinction. As the fable said ‘how the mighty had fallen’.

But a few people learned electronics from taking old things apart then putting them back together. They tinkered and played, and a light rose in the sky which was artificial. Who knew what would happen next?