A lone voice in the dark keeps hope alive

Submitted to Round 1 of the 250-word Microfiction Challenge, November 2022

The formerly busy square of a bustling city, streets now desolate, deserted, atmosphere dark and brooding.

The only sounds, the eerie moan of a lonely wind, and screams of twisting buildings, corkscrewing into oblivion.

No human walked these streets, only hungry creatures roamed free from interference. Rodents, pets gone feral, deer, wolves. And predators.

A battered German Shepherd named Harvey, who’d once been loved by a Small Child, came daily to this place of echoes, ghosts. Aching for his Gracie.

His matted, patchy fur, grey lined muzzle, tattered ears and flyblown eyes disguised the beauty of this once fine animal. His heart lifted and eyes shone when he heard her voice calling him, gathering memories, hastening hot tears. He hurt, yet he came as a Willing Supplicant, in hope that he could feel her love, her warmth, her touch.

‘Help a hungry child, every dollar counts. Donate today.’

The disembodied voice played around the square. Muted as it bounced off green covered buildings. Sharp as it hit open air and clear-to-the sky glass towers. The voice was of a girl child, bright, innocent and hopeful.

Ears pricked and tail wagging, the beast smiled with happiness. His vision impaired by tears and overlong fur, he gambolled like a puppy with joy. She was here.

Except that, she was not. Once a day, the girl’s voice broadcast from the bones of a screen that showed children squatting in dirt, huddled and unhappy.

Hope sustained his canine soul.

1916 Rising a reimagination


A man of character must stand for love of country, or bend for the love of his wife.


In Dublin fair at Easter time, the year nineteen sixteen

A patriot stood among his friends, composed almost serene.

He stood and pondered empty streets

And friends broken, or dead.

Breathed in the reek of blood and gore

Quite overcome with dread.


Michael was that patriot, brother to these men

Who littered now the floor around, with lifeblood, all his friends.

Who lay there broken, crippled, weak

Crying for their mothers.

The ghost in the machine was he

A traitor to his brothers.


Reflecting on his subterfuge, the cause he had betrayed

His wife, dear heart, the pawn with which he’d paid.

Michael’s honour withered, shattered

He’d crumbled when it really mattered.

Protect the brothers with whom you fight

Protect your wife, love of your life.


We shattered peace for Eire, he thought

and waved the tricolor.

To loosen boots upon our neck

With heart and soul we fought.

But I did take the coward’s route

And handed friends one final boot.


We all had chosen with our hearts to take this desperate stand

Despite explicit orders of the leader of our band.

For centuries we had dreamed of Ireland, free of outside rule

It weren’t enough to live in peace, while treated still as fools.

Home Rule at last bestowed

though Free State still on hold.


I’ll be grand, he’d told his wife, smile wide upon his face

Behind the cheer however was a deadly lack of grace.

For freedom sought, for safety bought

These brave or stupid few.

Built barricades, were unafraid

Until the Brits broke through.


Watford boys first at the fight, strategically unprepared

For sniper ambush from above

Death came then undeclared.

They clambered over bodies, crawled into rebel ranks

No way they could recover

From certain death they shrank.


Send grenades to flush them out, called officers of rank

There’ll be no reinforcements lads

Short shrift, then on to France.

With bloodied hands and hearts and mind

They measured out revenge

And stood their ground; entrenched.

Anger grew, pride delayed

For rebels behind barricades

Too close to fragile innocents

Too late to get away.

British power must be invoked

Till rebel dreams go up in smoke


For Ireland.


For King and Crown.


You’re Michael Ryan? The King’s man said

He dropped his head with shame.

Take them out, one bullet each, direct into the head.

Oh please God, no, Michael cried, the fight had been in vain.

You made your bed, the soldier said

You brought this heinous game.


The longed for glorious rising stalled

Too little thanks for those we called.

But triggered at last a desperate howl

For independence and self-rule.

That ended in partition and

One hundred years of deep division.


Michael was released from Kilmainham Gaol

Two weeks after that night.

As his reward for dealing fraud

For giving up the fight.

One last time he looked behind

At dark and brooding walls.


And raised a prayer to sons of Eire

Was proud to stand beside ye.

Challenge parameters were: Max 600 words. Genre: Historical Fiction. Theme: Counterfeit. Emotion: Proud.

Personal note: This was quite the challenge for me – I unintentionally write ‘poetry’ in flash fiction pieces. But to write a story in rhyme was a whole different ballgame. It feels a little clumsy to me, but I hope it provides context and emotion of an important historic moment in the history of Ireland.

Extinction Event

When a species is too stupid to save itself, what can you do?

One hundred and fifty years ago I stood here on Mt Fuji and gazed out over a lush, green valley, breathed deeply of pristine air and delighted in the melodies of bird song, the playfulness of forest animals and the ingenuity of man.

Today, I have returned to confirm the emergency; our worst fears come true. This world and its humanity have reached total societal collapse.

The dire wolf beside me whimpers with despair and I push a hand through his fur as his gigantic body brushes against my fragile one.

My large head and slight limbs don’t suit the gravitational pull of this planet. My pale skin burns easily and the sun hurts my large, dark pupiled eyes.

‘Hold, Diego,’ I say.

Diego sits, his great shoulders slump and tears roll down his snout.

‘I know, my friend,’ I say. ‘It is a sacrilege, but we knew it was coming. We were lucky to save *you* from extinction.

As a puppy, Diego became the last of his true kind. We have had success with cloning and so he has companions. His species was ‘saved’ but they are unable to reproduce.

My kind are the great collectors of the universe. This world is off the beaten path for us but we love its complexities and cultures, despite the flaws of the people. Our interactions are few and often end in pain, for us. Death for them.

It is hard for us to see a dying world and so we tried to warn humankind. We left signs, like the occasional ‘natural’ disaster or deadly virus release, in an attempt to bring their attention and concern back to basic caregiving, and away from selfish expansion.

It was easy for us to insert code into scientific work; to push science in the right direction.

Our concern was twofold.

The peoples of this planet would destroy all other living creatures, including plant and fauna, before erasing themselves. Or they would attract the attention of less friendly extra-terrestrials who would see the rapaciousness as a clear and present danger. A pest to be eradicated or at least encouraged to self-destruct.

I can no longer stand here, as I struggle to breathe. With a mourning soul, I move toward my ship.

Diego growls, always my faithful bodyguard and I look up to see people gathered around us. They carry small belongings, hold the hands of children and stare at us in awe – and with hope.

A voice in my ear says, ‘They have gathered at all the sacred mountains. We are their last hope.’

I look again at the dense smog covering the land, the desiccated trees and the corpses.

And I answer.

‘Tell all ships. Bring the people on board.’ [455 words]

Written for Furious Fiction September 2022 – non-winner (nor shortlisted, longlisted …)

Story prompts: 500 Words.1st line must contain FIFTY.  Must contain a four-legged animal. Include the words: Emergency, brush and board (or derivatives thereof).

Text describing Furious Fiction the ultimate flash fiction challenge

Furious Fiction, flash fiction challenge


When you realise that you’re really over your boyfriend

‘Everyone met Holly? Babe, you know everyone, right?’

Such an arse, I thought. Tony, my dickhead, soon to be ex-boyfriend and his obnoxious artificial bonhomie.

He’d been so angry when I rocked up in girly blouse, mini skirt, sandals for a bush walk. My quiet rebellion.

Two hours of hiking this coastal bushland before this lazy introduction.

‘Hiya, I’m Sarah,’ said a pretty brunette. She held out her hand. ‘Sorry. Old habits.’

I smiled. She seemed nice. Genuine. Quite the surprise in Tony’s world. She looked comfortable, good walking shoes. The other women looked hungover, their men much the same. Although, ripped, athletic, tattooed. Delicious.

‘Nice to meet you, Sarah. Enjoy hiking?’

‘Love it,’ she said. ‘These aren’t my kind of peeps, but Johnny,’ she pointed to a dreamboat, ‘he’s working something with Tony.’

‘Part of the deal. I know how that works.’

Sarah raised an eyebrow.

‘Do I look like a hiker? I’m paid to attend.’

‘You’re a hooker?’ Sarah asked. I laughed.

‘There are similarities. Look, last night we attended the Aria Awards.’

Sarah cooed her delight.

‘You’d think so, right?’ No. Posers. But new dress, shoes, dripping in diamonds that I can keep. A tidy stash, and I’ve earned it.’

‘You don’t like him,’ she said.

‘I hate him, arrogant prick. But he has opened doors I would never have walked through. Some I wish I hadn’t. You ever tried bondage?’


‘His version of the Red Room. No safe word. Free to his mates. He sweetened the deal, but I paid with body and soul. I’m set up and cashing in.’

‘You’re leaving,’ said Sarah.

‘This afternoon. Chalk and cheese this life and where I come from. Time to go home.’

Tony dropped his sweaty arm across my shoulders.

‘Time to hit the peak, Hols. Let’s give those sandals a real workout,’ he said. Smiling, with cold eyes.

‘You don’t want to talk a little more business?’

‘Nah, bunch of losers. No offense, S.’

Sarah looked livid, about to strike back.

‘Some alone time, darling,’ I quickly said. ‘And, better views.’

‘Instagram worthy,’ said Sarah. I’d rescued her and Johnny from disaster.

Treacherous walk, feet slipping in sandals, wind up my skirt, hat threatening to blow away. I reached the top, gasping for air. The vista took what was left.

‘Drop your knickers,’ he said, abruptly.


‘You heard. Drop em.’

The bastard being true to himself.

Suddenly, my hat flew over the cliff.

‘Stupid bitch,’ Tony yelled as he reached for it.

It was the fork in the road.

In seconds, I was at his back. With desperate power, I pushed. He fell.

His broken body far below. My eyes watered from salt air. I dropped and began to scream.

‘Help me!’ [457 words]

Written for Furious Fiction March 2022 – non-winner (nor shortlisted, longlisted …)

Story prompts: 500 Words. A character who commits a crime. Some kind of door being opened. Words to include: Chalk, talk, fork (or derivatives thereof)

Words describing the Furious Fiction flash fiction challenge, with an image of pencils wrapped in a detonator timer

Furious Fiction flash fiction challenge