Flash Fiction: Big game hunter shot friend while aiming at lion he wanted to kill

James and Stewart went hunting.

James shot Stewart.

You couldn’t make it up!

After putting in years of planning, James Brown and Stewart McAlpine finally set off on their big game shooting and fishing holiday of a lifetime to Kenya.

Their fishing trips went well. They caught dorada, yellow-fin tuna and Stewart even managed to hook a marlin, which weighed in at 183 pounds. The dorada was served up by the head chef at their hotel. Their fellow guests were very appreciative.

Things started to go wrong almost as soon as they arrived in the Tsavo national park. As they stopped to admire some elephants, which were covered in local red dust, the leading bull charged at them. Only the quick wits and action of their driver allowed them to avoid serious injury.

On the first afternoon, their objective was to bag a lion. The king of the jungle would make a magnificent trophy. They had paid a fortune for the privilege.

The guide was excellent. He took the two hunters to the spot where he had previously tracked a pride of lions on several occasions. He positioned them, concealed behind two adjacent, large bushes and told them to wait.

The guide’s assistants ensured that the lions were driven towards the intrepid pair.

The huge male,  his expansive mane making him appear to be even more massive than he actually was, ran between the two bushes, unaware of Stewart and James.

James became over-excited and, with complete disregard for his companion’s position, swivelled and fired both barrels at the frightened lion.

He missed the lion.

He hit his friend.

The lions were long gone by the time the ambulance arrived.

James is currently recovering well in hospital in Nairobi.

“I was very lucky to only lose my right arm,” he told our reporter. “It could easily have been much worse. If my friend hadn’t fired at that exact moment, that vicious beast would have surely killed me!”

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Flash Fiction: The Flying Athlete

The athlete sat in the waiting area at Gate 23 in London Heathrow’s Terminal Three.

His athletic prowess was obvious to all around him. His shirt told us that he was superior to the rest of the mere mortals who were waiting to board the flight. He proudly sported his golden Under Armour t-shirt.

When he rose to head for the plane in response to the call for the first ten rows, I was mightily relieved. He would not be sitting next to me.

Phew!

The man in the sporty t-shirt weighed about twenty stone. The size label read XXXXXXL!

Rock, flab and roll.

It makes you wonder.

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Flash Fiction: The Bottle Dungeon

There was only one way in and one way out of that hellish hole. I could imagine the prisoners languishing, helplessly down there in the bottle dungeon in days gone by.

The condemned man’s fate was sealed as soon as he was lowered into that damp, rocky cavern beneath St Andrews Castle. Within a few weeks, he would emerge as a corpse, tied to the end of a rope which had been lowered from the surface by the guards. That same rope was also used to lower pig swill and water as sustenance for the prisoners and to raise the bucket of excrement and urine.

Us boys would lower ropes into the dungeon for a different reason. We would use ships’ lead lines, loaded with tallow, to pull up some of the coins that the tourists had thrown down there. We viewed these riches as our just rewards for persuading the visitors that the practice would bring them good luck and that the spirits of the past would grant them their wishes. We were great tourist guides!

On a good weekend, our coin-fishing expeditions could yield as much as ten shillings each.

Peem had once pulled up a really old coin. It was over four hundred years old. We took our find to the bank to be valued. It was worth more than five hundred pounds. We were rich! But not for long. It was declared as treasure trove and became the property of the Crown. We had to donate it to the local museum. We lied. We told them that we’d found it on the beach, just in case they stopped us from fishing for more in the dungeon. Next time, we’d find ourselves a buyer.

That’s when Peem had his brilliant idea.

“Why don’t we actually go down there and see what else we can find?”

That night, he lowered me down on a rope, torch in hand. We’d managed to prise the iron grid off the top of the hole. I have to admit that I was very scared.

When I got to the bottom, I swept my torch around the walls. It was obvious that there were a lot more coins near to the edges of the cavern than there were in the centre. I started to fill my bag.

As I got nearer to the perimeter, the temperature fell noticeably. I was freezing.bottle dungeon

My bag was getting heavy.

I touched the wall. It was damp and slippery. I continued to harvest coins and reporting my progress to Peem.

“There are loads down here. I bet some of these are ancient.”

I had no time to examine the coins as I scooped them up and put them into my bag.

As I bent down to collect them, I kept my balance by resting my free hand on the wall, which had been carved out of solid rock, hundreds of years ago.

Suddenly, the wall moved. A piece of the rock was loose! I jiggled it around a little until it came away from its seating. It dropped to the floor.

I shone my torch into the hole but it had no effect. It was pitch black in there.

I put my hand into the hole and felt around. I touched something that felt like a piece of soft, damp leather. I gripped it and pulled. There was some resistance but the wet piece of hide was coming slowly out of the cavity.

Without warning, what felt like a huge blanket came flying out of the hole. I over-balanced and fell onto my back. The blanket landed on top of me, enveloping my whole body. It came to life! Slippery arms bound around me, hugging me tight. Hands closed on my throat, squeezing.

I screamed.

I struggled to free myself. I was panicking.

“What’s wrong, Jimmy?” I heard Peem’s voice in the distance, very far away.

“Pull me up” I yelled at the top of my voice.

The rope tightened and so did the grip of the beast.

I was sure that I was moments away from a gruesome death. I was terrified.

As suddenly as the horrible being had grabbed me, it let go and retreated quickly into its hole. I was violently whisked off my feet and was dragged upwards as Peem jerked the rope frantically. My shoulders hit the sides of the opening, painfully as I emerged into the fresh air above the ground.

Peem and I landed in a tangled heap on the grass, breathless.

It took a while for us to calm down.

We secured the grill and collected our belongings. Our torch was shining brightly in the depths of the bottle dungeon.

We buried our ill-gotten gains in a nearby field and marked the spot with a pattern of stones. As far as I know, that bag of coins remains buried in that field to this day. It may be very valuable. I don’t care. The thought of going back to retrieve it is too much to contemplate.

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June 16th: Flash Fiction Day 2018

For the many writers who follow my blog, here is a fun flash fiction event to join. It is hosted by Damon L Wakes, author of Ten Little Astronauts.

It would be great to see a few entries from my friends and please check out his books.

Damon L. Wakes

This year National Flash Fiction Day is June 16th, and so that’s the day I’ll be hosting my annual flash fiction extravaganza. The rules are simple, so I’m just going to go ahead and copy the same ones as last year:

Before June 16th:

  1. Comment on this post letting me know you want to take part.
  2. I put together an “official” Flash Fiction Day post listing all the participants.

On June 16th:

  1. The event begins at the very start of June 16th, your local time. You can start writing any time after that.
  2. Write your first piece of flash fiction. Maximum 1,000 words, minimum 1 word. (I have read every conceivable 0 word story and am now bored of the genre.)
  3. Publish a blog post (or equivalent) titled “Flash Fiction Day Submissions” (or something more imaginative) containing that story.
  4. Post a link to…

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Book review: Forgiveness Made Easy by Barbara J Hunt

Forgiveness Made Easy: The Revolutionary Guide to Moving Beyond Your Past and Truly Letting GoForgiveness Made Easy: The Revolutionary Guide to Moving Beyond Your Past and Truly Letting Go by Barbara J. Hunt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book explains the forgiveness process in very simple terms which can be easily understood and followed. Not only that, it explains the huge benefits of forgiveness. The release from the stress that resentment brings can be enormous. It is well known that letting go of the past can be like breaking free from heavy chains.

It is also clear that you don’t have to agree that a particular act was right to be able to forgive the person or organisation. In fact, some things are clearly wrong and evil. That doesn’t mean that they cannot be forgiven, as you will discover if you read this book.

The language that Barbara uses is very clear. The order in which she explains everything is logical. That makes it all very easy to follow.

It is also clear that the author is compassionate and takes time to understand the concerns of her clients. Through he writing, she connects with the reader. At least, that is how I felt.

I confess that I knew Barbara before I read her book, but my what I read in this book just served to confirm my opinion of her as a caring, compassionate person who really understands this subject. She has many years of personal and case experience and refers to this throughout the book.

For me, there was far too much preamble before I reached the explanation of the process itself. Two-thirds of the book is taken up with explaining what “forgiveness” is and is not and the meanings of “resentment” and “ego.” There are also lots of quotes from other books on the topic; too many for me. However, they are all relevant and I am sure that other readers will place great value in them.

I raised my concern that it took too long to get to the forgiveness made easy process with the author. Her advice was to skip straight through to the process. So, my advice to you, dear potential reader, is to start reading from the beginning. If you start getting to the point where you can’t wait any longer to get into the process, go straight to it. You can come back and read more about forgiveness, resentment and ego at a later date.

Having said all of that, I can tell you that this book is excellent and will bring you real benefits. You will learn a lot. You will learn a lot about yourself. You will discover people, organisations, events and acts that you need to forgive, some of which will surprise you. You probably have some self-forgiveness to go through. That’s right! You need to forgive yourself.

Then, when you come to the process, you will find it fairly easy, even if it is traumatic, to follow. And it works!

Finally, and coincidentally, in parallel to Forgiveness Made Easy, I was reading a psychological suspense novella from which I take the following quote. It was like a blinding light, summarising the big message from Barbara J Hunt’s splendid book.

‘Every box I threw away, every cupboard I emptied – it was as though I was peeling layers of resentment off myself. I’d hated the hoard for so long, and now it was disappearing. Guess I cleared the crap in my head as well.’ – from Blackwater Lake by Maggie James.

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Book Review: Blue Monday by Nicci French

Blue MondayBlue Monday by Nicci French
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an amazingly gripping psychological crime thriller; but only from about half way through. Up until that point it just plodded along, and actually dragged along for a while. There was just too much background building and not enough tension building.

Once it got going though, it really took off and became unputdownable. I had to curse at the stupidity and naivety of some of the characters at times, but where would a good crime thriller be without those silly mistakes?

I would recommend this one to my friends, but I have a feeling that the second in this series will be better than the first.

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Book Review: I Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark

I Heard That Song BeforeI Heard That Song Before by Mary Higgins Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just what one expects from a Mary Higgins Clark formula: a few possible suspects from the outset, some twists and turns, and a fairly predictable ending. This is her formula. I always enjoy trying to predict the killer within the first twenty pages. Occasionally, I begin to doubt myself as I turn the pages, but I am usually right with my initial prediction. But this is what makes these books such fun to read!

Almost two days of my reading time on the beach were taken up with this one, and I don’t regret that. I enjoyed the book, and would recommend it to any MHC or crime fiction fan.

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