#FlashFiction Prompt: Paranoia

You can take this in any direction you’d like. Make it a self-deprecating tale poking fun at yourself, a piece of political satire, something dark and trippy – whatever form the inspiration strikes (with the usual proviso of not being NSFW).

Word count: anything from 500
Deadline: 8am GMT on Sunday 8th May 2022


If you can’t make this deadline, don’t forget you can use our #TortoiseFlashFiction page.

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line – you retain the copyright.

One caveat, if you want to go down this route: this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.

#FlashFiction Photo Prompt

Gearsly Kitchen Witchery Poster

We haven’t had a photo prompt yet this year, so it seemed like a good time to chuck one in 🙂 I feel this one allows scope for a story to go in any number of directions – so, pick your genre and give it a go.

Word count: anything from a drabble upwards
Deadline: 8am GMT on Sunday 10th April 2022


If you can’t make this deadline, don’t forget you can use our #TortoiseFlashFiction page.

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line – you retain the copyright.

One caveat, if you want to go down this route: this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.

#FlashFiction Prompt: Make Mine a Mystery!

For this month’s prompt, I’m going genre specific – it’s time to write a mystery. What a lot of different types of mystery you could write. You could make it cosy, dark, comical, investigative, procedural, paranormal, thriller, true crime – have I missed any? The only restriction – as ever – is that it mustn’t be NSFW for us to publish it here.

Word count: 500 upwards
Deadline: 8am GMT on Sunday 13th March 2022


If you can’t make this deadline, don’t forget you can use our #TortoiseFlashFiction page.

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line – you retain the copyright.

One caveat, if you want to go down this route: this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.

#FlashFiction Prompt: A children’s tale

Write a story you can tell a child. That child can be tiny or teenage – your choice, but otherwise, the world is your oyster.

Word count: up to 500
Deadline: 8am GMT on Sunday 13th February 2022


If you can’t make this deadline, don’t forget you can use our #TortoiseFlashFiction page.

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line – you retain the copyright.

One caveat, if you want to go down this route: this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.

#FF Prompt: The Story – You’re going on holiday

Oh the Views!

Why oh why did I think it was a good idea to go on a holiday Gregory had arranged? OK, it was his turn to pick. And, yes, he’s always been a good sort about what other members of the gang have picked.

But still….

I am totally and utterly freaked out. We’re in one of those amazing modern structures that look like a spacecraft – except one that’s jutting out of a mountainside. There are windows everywhere so I can’t get away from that view. You know – the really scary straight down one. I don’t think I’ll dare have a drink, in case I lose my balance and fall against the glass.

I can hear Gregory inviting admiration from the gang for his amazing holiday selection, and most do sound genuinely enthusiastic. But there’s also a couple who’re somewhat less so.

Me? I pretended I needed to go to the loo urgently, so now I’m sat here in the safety of the only room without windows, too scared to leave.

Thank goodness I brought my Kindle. I grabbed the WiFi card in my room as soon as I saw it, and now I’m sat here, connected to the WiFi in the smallest room, wondering how many of the 14 days I can spend in bed with the curtains drawn.

Poor Gregory! It really is an inspired idea. My fault entirely that I never mentioned my terrible fear of heights….

© Debra Carey, 2022

#FlashFiction: You’re going on holiday….

…. but where are you going? Not anywhere ordinary that’s where. No multi-level hotel or cottage on the beach will do. Pick somewhere odd, with someone unusual, somewhere wild & wacky – and tell us why you chose it, or how you came across it, or when you’re going (or when you went there), and what made it appeal to you? Will you holiday alone, a deux, en famille or in a crowd of mates?

So, any style, any genre, just nothing NSFW – otherwise feel free to branch out as you wish. Tell us your tale…

Word count: From a drabble to 1,000
Deadline: 2pm GMT on Sunday 9th January 2022


Don’t forgot, if you miss the deadline, you can always post your story to our #TortoiseFlashFiction page

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line – you retain the copyright.

One caveat, if you want to go down this route: this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.

#FF: Project Gutenberg’s Birthday- The Stories

Gentlemen prefer blondes: the diary of a professional lady

I can see the raised eyebrows – yes, even here from the page – and I can sense judgement made being that the words professional lady have nothing ladylike about them. But, that simply isn’t the case. I married into an old moneyed family. My husband was a darling man, he fell for me for the way I looked but, when he got to know me, to know my personality, my mind, my qualities – that’s when he got down on one knee. I’d struggled with my decision, for I’d sensed what was coming. He thought he was being clever asking to see my rings and putting each of them on his pinkie to test for size. But I knew… That said, my did that man have good taste in jewellery. His mother I found out later, she’d insisted on having him spend as much time with her as with his father, and she’d schooled him in many useful ways.

Yes, my husband was almost perfect. Intelligent, well-read, erudite, cultured, and kind – oh so kind. People said I married for money, but I didn’t, it was a love match. I’d have followed him into the anywhere, truly I would. And we were happy, ridiculously so, even though the family curse loomed over our happiness. It struck, of course, one day, after his morning ride. They shouted for me from the stable yard, and I was able to get to his side so I could be with him in his final moments. I withdrew from society after that, for I had nothing left of him, as we’d not been blessed with children.

Instead of spending my time raising children, he’d taken pleasure in schooling me – in business. He wanted to make sure I would have more than what he left me, for he was determined I would be my own woman and not dependant upon another man for my future security. It was he who told me not to be afraid to use my wiles. Not that he was suggesting I trade my person, oh no. Only that I shouldn’t be shy about using my looks – and my striking blonde hair especially – to get my foot in the door.

He also left me with one hugely valuable asset – an address book of the highest quality. Not lords and ladies, but rather business professionals of the highest standing and scruples. These were all men of course – for women are not taken seriously in business yet. But I always knew I’d want to work with women in due course, and set about making my fortune, so I’d have no-one tell me how unwise my plans were. It took time and now my locks are more white than blonde – still striking, I’m told, but no longer needed to get through those doors. For money talks, and I have a lot of it.

My ladies don’t have to be blonde, not have they needed to trade on their looks. I teach them not to be shy though. There’s more than looks to use with gentlemen in order to gain an advantage. Some have turned me down, assuming me to be something that I am not. Not one of them got a second chance, for I won’t be judged by those I work with. I don’t doubt there were some who thought the same but, by keeping their thoughts to themselves and acting on their ambition to succeed – have found success and, in most cases, a friend and mentor to both like and respect. We are a rare breed – successful business women.

I am writing my story so that others who come after me will know how best to obtain the advantage in a world where women are not taken seriously. Voting is permitted now, of course, and women are working – but it’s usually doing jobs men don’t want, or in lower paid professions. I’m certain that things will change in the generations to come, but I want women to know how to gain an advantage in a business world populated primarily by gentlemen. Being blonde certainly helps, but I’ve put pen to paper to capture all my knowledge and expertise. My words will help an advantage to be gained in business, whether you be blonde, redhead or brunette. But remember, your don’t have to be a natural blonde, you can become blonde if you’d like to use that edge!

© Debra Carey, 2021

A warning to the curious, and other ghost stories

The day had gone well for 2 section. Out of the whole company, they were the only ones to achieve all their objectives, and they’d had the lightest casualties. It had only been an exercise, but given where these raw recruits had been a matter of months ago, they had every right to swagger a bit. The captain had been complimentary to the rupert, and whilst as green as they come, he was humble enough to know that their success was mainly down to the NCOs, particularly Corporal Baker.

Baker had been one of the stars of the last intake and had earned his first stripe during training. The second had come after their passing out parade, and he’d been posted to training the next lot. Where the officers were posh and came from all over the place, Baker was every inch a Gloucestershire boy, and the lads revered him as one of their own. He spoke their language and got the best out of them. In training he patiently explained everything in his slow country cadence, stepping up the tempo as they moved from the classroom and parade ground and onto the rifle range and into the field. Here, his barked instructions were acted on instantly.

Tomorrow they’d be back in barracks, but for tonight they’d be given permission to bivouac without setting a guard. A couple of crates of beer had been dropped off and the fixings for a camp fire meal. Isaac smiled to himself at the enthusiasm the lads showed for this which, if they had known, was another training exercise. He also smiled at the thought that the brass imagined there was anything these West Country boys needed to learn about living off the land.

He’d got them started and then gone off to report to the rupert and the captain and take part in the debrief on the exercise. He mostly stayed quiet in the company of his peers and superiors, but there were a couple of things he felt it important to pass on, ideas which he believed would lead to a better outcome in a similar situation.

When he got back to his section, he found them settled in, and telling ghost stories round the campfire, waiting for the grub to be ready. They’d even waited to open the beer until he got back. He started opening bottles and passing them around whilst he listened to the stories. There were a couple of good yarns he’d not heard before and some of the boys had a real gift for telling a story. On the other hand, young Appleby was really struggling with his story, losing the thread and getting the characters mixed up. The rest of the section were getting restless and starting to heckle the unfortunate speaker.

“Come on Corp, your turn!”

“Well now, me ‘andsomes, are you sure? You’m don’t be standing guard tonight, but you’m still be needing your beauty sleep – early start and a busy day tomorrow.”

”The food’s not ready yet Corp. We’ve all told a story – of sorts.” Everyone looked at Appleby who blushed and pulled his head in like a shy turtle.

“Well then, if you’m sure, but I warn ‘un, this is a true story. This happened to me when I was on training.” The section settled themselves back again, with two of them dividing their attention between Baker and the fire where their meal was cooking.

“In fact, ’twas a night much like tonight: cold, clear and with the promise of frost. In’t middle of night, I got woken up to stand my duty and was sad to leave my nice warm sleeping bag, I can tell you.

“Well, my hour passed peacefully enough, and I went to get my replacement. After I’d done that, I thought I’d not get back to sleep until I’d emptied my bladder, so I took myself off past the guard. My night sight was pretty sharp by now, so I had no problem picking my way over to an appropriate tree.

“I’d just buttoned my fly back up when I spotted a glim of light bobbing away amongst the trees further in. What I probably should have done was to report it to the guard or the corporal or perhaps even the sergeant, but I were young and foolish and I thought I’d be checking it out for myself.

“Well, I followed that blessed light around and about for nigh on half an hour, nearly got myself lost I was so turned around, but I never caught up with th’ light and whatever was causing it. In th’ end I found myself back where I had started and deciding to get on to my bed. I picked my way back and checked in with the guard. The corporal was checking on them and asked me where I’d been. When I explained, he laughed.

‘Oh, you’ve seen the ghost have you? Nothing to worry about their, although he do be taking a shine to some people. Follow ’em about he do, if’un be too curious about his doings.”

He laughed again, and I pretty much decided he’d been having me on. But… He didn’t seem to be too worried about whatever was out there… I got back to my sleeping bag, but struggled to sleep. I were tired a’right, but my mind were all awake with this business of ghosts.

About an hour later, I reckon, I was just starting to drowse, when I realised I could see a glim of light bobbing around outside moi bivvy. The light seemed to be circling around moi bivvy…but getting closer with each pass. I wanted to cry out but moi voice was frozen, like. Closer and closer this light came, until I could start to make out features. It looked like a soldier, but from an earlier time. He still clutched his Brown Bess, but he knelt and laid aside his rifle and reached out his hands.

” I tried to say ‘What do you want?’ but it just came out like a creak.

“The hands were reaching out, reaching out, reaching out, until they clasped around my leg and started tugging.” Isaac paused and took a swig of his beer. The attention of the whole section was on him now.

“Where was I? Oh yes, they clutching hands pulling my leg – just like I’m pulling yours!”

© David Jesson, 2021

Author’s note: How could I not go with MR James and a ghost story this close to Christmas? The stories I normally write from the PG prompt focus on a trio of brothers that first came on the scene in a little second bookshop that may or may not be haunted, but as I’ve been spending a lot of time with the characters of the November Deadline (the book Debs and I are writing) recently, that I decided to explore Isaac’s background a little. I also need to say a thank you to Mr Dodge who gave me the bones of the story many years ago.

#FlashFiction Prompt: Project Gutenberg’s Birthday

cupcakes

Once again, it’s time to celebrate the anniversary of Project Gutenberg being unleashed on the world on 1st December.

 

The aim of Project Gutenberg is to help people access books that they might not otherwise be able to get hold of.  This can get a bit tricky because of copyright issues, but in some ways it becomes easier, because there are some fantastic books that are now out of copyright which would get lost forever if it weren’t for PG.

For this month’s #FlashFiction prompt, head on over by clicking to Project Gutenberg, trying not to get distracted by the 50,000 or so books on the site!  Take a look at the Recent Books section and pick one that you like the look of – the title of the book is the title/prompt of your story.


Tell us you tale – any style any genre, just nothing NSFW.

Word limit: 500-750 words
Deadline : Sunday 12th December @ 8am GMT

Don’t forgot, if you miss the deadline, you can always post your story to our #TortoiseFlashFiction page

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line.  

Two caveats if you want to go down this route: if you want to retain the copyright, then you will need to state this, and this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.

#FlashFiction – Mary Sue: The Story

Burnham finished the last paragraph, shook his head in disbelief and turned back to the beginning. Perhaps a third reading would make more sense, make the transcript of the interview more palatable.

Subject: Interview with Miss Mary Susan Broom, ATS

Interviewer: Thank you for coming today Miss Broom –

Broom (interrupts): Please call me Mary Sue, everyone does.

I: Indeed. Well Miss Broom, as I say, thank you for coming today. Could you tell me a little about yourself?

B: Oh, there’s not much to tell really. My mother joined the Women’s Volunteer Service as soon as it started and between helping out with air raid precautions, running the local evacuation effort and so on, she didn’t really have enough time to knit things for soldiers, so she got me started on that. But after knitting a hundred pairs of socks in two days, I felt there must be more that I could do, so as soon as I’d had my eighteenth birthday, I volunteered for the Auxiliary Territorial Service.

I: I see. And it looks like you passed the ATS training course with flying colours – (copy of training record attached).

B (interrupts): Oh yes! Such fun, and I really enjoyed helping the other girls when they found things a bit of a struggle.

I: Now, tell me a little bit about this reprimand on your record.

B: It was so silly. I still can’t believe that I was reprimanded for that. I was waiting to pick [REDACTED] up from [REDACTED]. I’d just finished the Times crossword – jolly nearly a personal best too, I think it took me three minutes that day – when I spotted this cove looking terribly suspicious and thought that he must be up to no good.

Burnham decided he couldn’t face dealing with the ‘tailing’ of the spiv again, especially the lengths Miss Broom had gone to to disguise her ATS uniform, so he skipped to the end.

B: And so they docked me a days wages and gave me an official reprimand, even though I’d caught this spiv and handed him over to the police. I thought that was jolly unfair.

I: Hmmm. Well now, could you tell me about this letter you sent to [REDACTED]? (copy of letter attached).

B: Well, I would have thought it rather obvious. There was a puzzle in the Times – jolly hard, too, took me nearly ten minutes to solve it – and it said if you could solve it to send your proof to an address and there would be a small prize. So I thought I would send in my proof.

I: Yes? And then what?

B: It turned out my prize was an invitation to sit some sort of exam! Cheek! Well, I swapped my day off and went and sat the exam, just for something to do really. I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about, because it was quite easy really, easier than the puzzle in the Times, although maybe I’d just got into the right frame of mind by then. Anyway, the whole thing took me about half an hour. On my way out, I pointed out that there was a mistake in one of the questions. The examiner was a bit rude about it actually. Anyway, I didn’t hear anything more about it, except that someone in my section was saying that her boyfriend had also answered one of these ads and was now working on something hush-hush somewhere. So I thought I’d write to [REDACTED] and see if there was any possibilities for me there. I do enjoy my ATS work, but this sounded like such a lark.

Burnham took a sip of his tea, and realised that it had gone stone-cold. He’d wasted enough time on this. He flipped to the last page of the interview.

Conclusion: Subject considered unsuitable for SOE work. Promote within ATS and move to non-critical sector. Surveil. Possible Security Risk.

Burnham picked up a rubber stamp, inked it, and brought it down firmly on the paper underneath the conclusion:

RECOMMENDATION APPROVED stared back at him in big red letters. He gave the stamp a moment to dry, closed the file and repeated the process with another stamp. When he was finished, REJECTED crossed over the legend ‘Special Operations Executive Recruitment Interview’. He sighed, rubbed his eyes and picked up the next folder.

© David Jesson, 2021

Author’s note – in answer to a comment made when we posted the prompt, the character is definitely not a reflection of an idealised form of the author! Also, regular readers of the blog may recognise the name Burnham. Yes, it’s the same chap, although until I’ve had a chat with Debs, this is very much non-canon…

#FF Prompt: Mary-Sue

I think I’ve mentioned ‘Mary-Sue’ in passing on this blog before, but I can’t now find the post. C’est la vie. Suffice it to say that a Mary-Sue (a male version is sometimes referred to as a Gary-Sue) is someone who is impossibly perfect (except for one, obvious, knowing flaw), typically has something tragic in their past (which is what drives them on), and somehow manages to stay on good terms with everyone on their side. The most blatant examples of this character are to be found in fanfic: the classic, and possibly definitive version is the raw ensign who is somehow able to out-Kirk Jim, out-Scott Scotty, out-Vulcan Spock, and out-Doc McCoy. This prodigy will probably die saving the Federation, and Spock will cry at her funeral.

So, for a bit of fun, 500-1000 words about a Mary-Sue kind of character. Bonus points for:

-Fanfic – anything you like, but perhaps lets give Star Trek a miss. Double points for something non-obvious. This can include a parody of your own work, should you happen to have written something suitable.


Word count: up to 1,000
Deadline: 8am GMT on Sunday, 14th November 2021

If you can’t make this deadline, don’t forget you can use our #TortoiseFlashFiction page.

A reminder to new readers/writers, please post on your own site and add a link in the comments section below.  If you don’t have your own blog or similar outlet, do send us your story via the contact form on the About page and we’ll post for you, with an appropriate by-line – you retain the copyright.

One caveat, if you want to go down this route: this is a family show, so we reserve the right not to post anything that strays into NSFW or offends against ‘common decency’.