Monday, April 30, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: Z is for Zanzibar

I can't believe it's the last day of the A-Z Challenge! Today we're going to Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in Africa. Among other things, Zanzibar is famous as the birthplace of Freddie Mercury, the probable birthplace of the Swahili language and the location of the shortest war in history, which lasted 38 minutes. It is this last fact which inspired today's story.

Zanzibar, 27th August 1896, 9:00

"It is 0900 hours and there has been no surrender," said General Lloyd Matthews. "Open fire."
Andrew Graves should not have heard the order. He had left his station briefly, just to check on his friend, and at the sound of the general's quiet voice, he turned on his heel and tiptoed back to his post, rushing to arrive before the fire started.
But no gunfire could be heard.
Had the order not filtered down? Andrew wondered as he looked out over the sultan's palace. It was large and sprawling - not as large as Buckingham Palace at home, but large enough to house staff. He had  heard rumours from the other soldiers than the new Sultan had a harem. It sounded appealing then, but now all he could think of was unarmed women, sitting inside, eating breakfast, with nowhere to run.
The sound of gunfire pierced Andrew's reverie and he began to load his canon.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to visit, read, comment or follow me during the A-Z challenge :) I've had great fun. All of the entries can be read by clicking on the A-Z Challenge 2012 tag below.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: Y is for Yemen

Today we're visiting the Middle Eastern state of Yemen. It is almost impossible to write fiction set in this country without touching on serious issues - women's rights, access to health care, development. I've tried to keep my microfiction as light as I can this month, but today I'm not sure I can avoid issues.


Naaz felt Aadil squeeze her hand. "Hello," he said. "This is my wife, Naaz. We are here for her driving lesson."
The man at the desk nodded. "Wait here, please." He disappeared behind a door.
Naaz was glad Aadil had spoken first - she was just too nervous. She had been afraid that the man would ask why they had crossed the border to Yemen, where she could legally drive. She didn't want to have to blurt out the whole story about her ailing mother-in-law, how Aadil's job took him away from home so much, how she was afraid her mother-in-law would fall ill one night and have no one to get her to hospital. It would be a risk, driving at home - an enormous risk. But she would feel safer somehow if she could.
And who knew? Maybe one day she would be allowed to drive at home. And she would be ready.

The rest of my A-Z flash fiction can be found by clicking the tag under this post. Thanks for visiting!

Friday, April 27, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: X is for Xanadu

We haven't been to Asia very much on this trip, so today we're visiting Xanadu, the site of the Yuan Dynasty Upper Capital, located in what is now Inner Mongolia. Most famous as the place where Kubla Khan did something (what exactly he did eludes everyone who only knows the first line of Coleridge's famous poem). 


Sally brushed her hair back from her forehead and stood up straight. Her back was aching from a long morning of digging and sifting through the loose silt, looking for any artefacts that might shed some light on life in Xanadu, or revive her flagging stature in the department.
Her colleague Brett was worrying at some earth. As she watched his tanned, dusty fingers probing, Sally caught sight of the tiniest glimmer. Her heart skipped. He'd found something!
"BRETT!" Sally yelled. "Mosquito!"
She hadn't got the word fully out when he leapt to his feet, flailing his hands and gasping.
"Shitshitshit, where? Is it near me?"
"No," Sally said, bending down and hunting for the fragment Brett had dropped. "Sorry, it's gone. My mistake. . . hey, I think I found something!"

I would like to point out that any archaeologists I have met in real life are lovely people and would never do this! If you want to read any other entries in my flash fiction world tour, click on the tag below this post. Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: W is for Woolwich Arsenal

Today's flash fiction is set in Woolwich, in south-east London. Rather than have another maritime-themed story (after Kevin and Jack's exploits and our adventure with Ventian tides yesterday), I decided to move from the Woolwich dockyard to Woolwich Arsenal, close to the site of the Royal Arsenal ammunitions factory from 1805 until the 1970s. In peacetime, the facility built steam locomatives and railway wagons, and ironically spent a good deal of World War II empty due to ariel bombardment during the Blitz.

Woolwich Arsenal, November 1940

Tommy lay on top of an old laboratory work bench, a cigarette clamped between his lips.
"Ain't nothing like a good smoke, is there?" he said, with an air of great satisfaction. Alfie rolled his eyes. Tommy had pinched the fag from their dad that morning, yet he was talking like he had a source on the black market. Even their dad could only get a few smokes a week, and there would be hell to pay when he found this one was missing. He said as much to Tommy.
"Oh, stop being such an old woman. . ." Tommy said, taking a deep drag.
"We should go," Alfie said. "This place is a target, we should get home."
"Where is home?" Tommy sneered.
"Back to the Tube, then."
"Oh, shut up. We have plenty of time to get back."
The sound of an air-raid siren rent the air.
Tommy's cigarette fell to the floor as he and Alfie scrambled for the exit.

To read the rest of my A-Z flash fiction world tour, click on the tag below this post. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: V is for Venice

I had to go to Venice on my flash fiction world tour, didn't I? I've never been there in person, but I have hopes I'll make it there next year. Although it divides critics, I don't think there is a city in the world that occupies such a unique place in the popular imagination.

I chose today's story because my dad was a marine engineer, whose professional life was lived around the tides. I have never been any use at figuring out tides (I can rarely even tell whether the tide is going in or out) so today's story about the acqua alta or high water in Venice is a small shout-out to his knowledge.


She hopped from one wet foot to the other as the men pulled the high walkways out and settled them over the submerged pavement.
"Come on, come on. . ." she willed them silently. The hands on the church clock were pointed at five minutes to five, forming a straight but rusting slash across the crumbling clock face.
"Grazie!" she said, skipping across the temporary walkway. "Grazie!"
She made it to her front door with mere seconds to spare, hanging her coat and sitting on the couch with a magazine. He could not know that she has been outside. He would know where she had been.
Her heart was pounding and the fear was making her vision too sharp. But the lazy hours in another bed were worth it, more than worth it.
He arrived a little later than usual. Her heart had slowed by then, and she was cursing the few minutes that his lateness had stolen from her lover. She cold have stayed longer.
As he bent to kiss her, he froze.
"What?" she asked.
"Your shoes," he said softly. "They're wet."

For the rest of my A-Z flash fiction, please check out the tag below this post. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: U is for Utah

Today's stop on my A-Z flash fiction world tour takes us to Utah - specifically to Hanksville, a small settlement of about 200 people located close to several large national parks. A large portion of the town's income comes from tourism, but it is also home to the Mars Desert Research Station and the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosour Quarry. I suspect all 219 of those residents are quite interesting. . .

Hanksville, Utah

"What do you want to be when you grow up?" Miss Anderson asked the first little boy.
"A paleontologist," he said, chewing on his finger.
"Wow, that's interesting!" said Miss Anderson. She'd have to keep an eye on this kid. He must be smart.
"How about you?" she asked the boy sitting beside him.
"I wanna be a paleontologist too," he said.
"Don't just copy Caleb, sweetie, tell me what you really want."
"I want to be a paleontologist, I wanna dig up dinosaur bones."
"You - what would you like to be?" she asked a girl with reddish pigtails.
"I'm gonna be a paleontologist and I'm gonna work in Hanksville-Burpee just outside town and I'm gonna have a house next door to my best friend Kennedy."
Miss Anderson had never encountered such ambitious seven year-olds.
"Would anyone like to be a NASCAR driver or play for the NFL or go on TV?"
The class shook their heads, and Miss Anderson found herself doing the same. She suspected she was going to like this town.

For the rest of my A-Z flash fiction, click on the tag below this entry. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, April 23, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: T is for The Moon

Yes, OK, it's a bit of a cheat using The Moon for T, but seriously, when have you ever heard someone call it 'Moon'? :) And I wanted to do Monaghan for M, but I also wanted to have a space story in here somewhere. So, guys, today is the equivalent of winning the air miles lottery on our flash fiction world tour.

Only twelve people have set foot on the Moon. They have been farther from Earth than anyone else, they are the only people to have seen the far side of the moon, and they are the only people to walk on an astronomical object other than Earth. For this reason, I have tried to use their names respectfully, but I have had to populate my little story with real people.

The Moon

"I intend," said Commander Alan Shepard, "to be the first man to play golf on the moon." He produced the golf club and balls he had smuggled aboard their spacecraft.
"You may as well be the first," said Mitchell. "Because once they start letting the tourists up here, you'll never be the best."
Shepard pulled a face.
"Why golf, anyway?" asked Mitchell. "You could be the first man to do almost anything on the moon. Read a book. Drink a Coke. Play hopscotch. Why did you choose golf?"
"Because I like it," Shepard said. "And because it doesn't have any values. The moon shouldn't be about a writer or a drinks company. It should be for everyone. And golf is just golf. No one can have a problem with it."
He placed one of his golf balls on the tee and began to aim.

Thanks for visiting! My other stops on the A-Z world tour (can I call it a world tour now we've left Earth?) can be viewed if you click on the tag below.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: S is for Skeleton Coast

Today's stop on the A-Z flash fiction world tour takes us to the evocatively-named Skeleton Coast in Namibia. The Skeleton Coast got its name from the whalebones that once littered its beaches. Today's piece highlights what I think is the most interesting thing about the Skeleton Coast. It also features a reappearance of Jack and Kevin from our trip to Queensland.

Skeleton Coast

"What do you mean, we're stranded?" Kevin asked. Jack shrugged into his 'Ghost Ship Hunters' jacket and jumped over the side of the boat.
"That's the problem with the Skeleton Coast," Jack said. "A human powered boat can land. . . but it can't launch."
". . . You might have mentioned this," Kevin said, and kicked a piece of driftwood in frustration. He looked around. There were three rusting shipwrecks within view.
"You have to admit, though," Jack said, "professionally speaking, we could have landed in worse places."

To read the rest of my A-Z world tour, just click on the tag below this post. Thank you for reading!

A-Z Microfiction: R is for Rio de Janiero

This post is coming to you from the new Blogger interface, and it is a testament to my self-control that this post will contain no swearwords. . . instead, I'm going to get on with the R instalment of my round-the-world A-Z flash fiction. Today we're in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro

Ines stormed through the dressing room door just in time to see Bianca and her posse sashay past Beatriz, with their usual sneers.
"Beatriz, what the hell are you thinking?" Ines yelled. "I heard you're not auditioning for the Carnaval parade. Is it true?"
"Yes," Beatriz said, tying her hair back.
"Are you crazy? It's practically a straight contest between you and Bianca. If you don't audition, she'll get it. Do you really want her dancing at the front of our parade?" Ines was almost in tears.
"If I audition, she might win it anyway," Beatriz said baldly. "But everyone knows she and I are the two best dancers in the troupe. If I don't audition," Beatriz went on, a sly smile creeping across her face, "then everyone will say 'Bianca only led the parade because Beatriz didn't audition.'"
"Oh. . ." Ines said. "Oh." She started to laugh. "You're good."

To read the rest of my A-Z world tour, please just click on the tag below this post. Thank you for visiting!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: Q is for Queensland

Today's alphabetical microfiction takes us to Queensland in Australia, our first visit to the continent that as called Australasia when I was in school and Oceania on Wikitravel :) Any passing folk from the region care to tell me which is the preferred term? 


The small city of Townsville was busy when Kevin and Jack's boat departed.
"So are you guys checking out the wreck?" the skipper asked Kevin.
"No. . . " Kevin said.
"Then what brings you out here?" The skipper took off his felt cap and raked fingers through his hair. "Most people come to see the Yongala. I dove down myself a few years back - very interesting spot."
"We might see the Yongala," Jack said. "We hope to. If we have time on the way back."
He hastily hid the Ghost Ship Hunters business card that Kevin had let fall.

To read the rest of the A-Z world tour, please click on the tag below this post. Thanks for visiting!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: P is for Patmos, Greece

After two days in Canada, we're back in Europe (barely, though - we're almost in Asia) to visit Patmos in Greece for more A-Z flash fiction!


Father Hurley sipped his wine, leaned back in his chair and let the sun warm his face.
I'm on the island where John's Gospel and the Book of Revelations was written, he thought. And it's paradise.
The pilgrimage was due to start tomorrow. For now, though. . .
"Could I have another glass, please?" he asked the waiter.

For the rest of my A-Z flash fiction world tour, just click on the 'A-Z Blogging Challenge 2012' link below this entry. Thanks for visiting!

A-Z Microfiction: O is for Ontario

Apologies that my O instalment is late - it's been a busy few days but I'll be back on track for the rest of the month! We're staying in Canada today (there's only so many virtual air miles a girl needs) and visiting the lvoely Ontario :)


It felt strange. His tools had been so much a part of him.
Madeleine hoisted the box on to her hip and walked towards the door of Dead People's Stuff. The uncompromising wording of the sign unsettled her a little, but it hinted at a sense of humour she liked.
"Can I help you?"
Madeleine smiled. "I hope so. I'm trying to find a good home for my grandfather's old tools. They're from the 1920s, and I can't use them, so I wanted them to go to someone who would. . .  well, appreciate them."
The lady looked through the box for a few moments, a line of concentration appearing betwen her eyes.
"I may have just the guy for these. Can you hold on a moment?"
As the lady dug for her phone, Madeleine felt a weight leave her body.

For the rest of my flash fiction world tour, click the tag below. Thanks for reading!

Monday, April 16, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: N is for Nahanni National Park, Canada

Yesterday's microfiction was close to home for me, as I was writing about a town 90 miles away from where I live in Dublin. Today we're off to the other side of the globe, to the Nahanni National Park in the Northwestern Territories in Canada.

Nahanni National Park

"Oh, this looks so amazing!" Natalie's nose was pressed against the window of their small floatplane.
"You see that part of the river there?" Jack said, pointing and checking his map. "That's called Funeral Range!"
"How did it get that name?" Natalie asked the pilot.
"Apparently some gold prospectors died here. There are a lot of stories about the place being haunted," the pilot said, not turning his head from the controls.

Natalie gave a slight shudder. Jack fingered the ring box in his trouser pocket. Hopefully she'd forget about that soon, so he could ask.

Thanks for visiting! The rest of my microfiction world tour can be found by clicking the tag below.

A -Z Microfiction: M is for Monaghan

Apologies for posting this so late. I had a very busy weekend with personal commitments, so unfortunately my microfiction got sidelined. But to catch up, the first of today's two posts comes from Monaghan in Ireland, a town with a population of about 8,000 people, that unexpectedly hosts one of the country's best known blues festivals.


It was the first night of the Harvest Time Blues festival when a tall young man in black made his way to the stage in the Anchor Bar.
The singer turned, as though some primal signal had alerted him of danger.
"Tom. . ." he breathed. "What are you doing here?"
The man in black stared into the singer's eyes. "I want my guitar back."
"Well, you can't have it back!" The singer squared his shoulders. "I won it fair and square."
"And now I want to win it back," said the young man, and he drew a harmonica from his pocket as though it was a pistol. "I'll play you for it."
The audience hummed with anticipation. A glimmer of fear danced across the singer's face, but it was replaced almost as soon as it appeared. "You're on."

For the rest of my microfiction world tour, click on the tag below. Thanks for reading!

Friday, April 13, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: L is for Lausanne

We're back in Europe today and visiting Lausanne, a small but vibrant university city in Switzerland. It is exactly the sort of place I might have ended up in when I was interrailing in 2008, so in that spirit, today's story is about two interrailers. I would like to point out that my interrailing companion would never have been as cruel as Libby. I might be, though :)


They stood at the top of the Sauvabelin Tower, the winding streets of Lausanne laid out before them.
"Can we go back down now, please?" Jess begged. Libby shook her head, the green streaks in her blonde hair swirling around her small face.
"No. You haven't confronted your fear yet."
"I am on holidays. Why am I confronting my fears?"
"Because our next stop is Paris and I am not climbing the Eiffel Tower on my own. You need to face up to this."
"I am on top of a tower made out of sticks. What more do you want?"
"Look out. Look down at the terrace." Libby began to snap pictures of the view. "Shall I take one to prove you've been up here?"
Libby took Jess's grimace as assent and aimed her camera at Jess. She had more sense than to ask her to smile.

Thanks for reading - the rest of my flash fiction world tour can be accessed by clicking the tag below this entry. PS - this is the view that faces Jess if she manages to inch her way to the edge. . .

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: K is for Kilimanjaro

We're staying in Africa for today's microfiction, and we're joining two characters as they tackle Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa. Kilimanjaro has - apparently - developed a reputation as an 'easy climb' because so much of the mountain can be walked (still, I wouldn't fancy trying it). However, it is estimated that 70% of climbers on Kilimanjaro suffer from altitude sickness, which can be prevented in some cases by taking the route slowly and allowing the body to acclimatise.

Today's piece is a little more light-hearted than yesterday's.


"What does the GPS say?" Alex asked. Mosi dug in the pocket of his jacket and extracted a small lump of grey plastic.
"About 9,000 feet," Mosi said. 'We should probably stop here for the night.'
The two men climbed down a few hundred feet. It was best to 'climb high and sleep low' on Kilimanjaro - once they hit their maximum elevation for the day, they would climb down to sleep. It helped with acclimatisation.
They made up their camp and watched the sun glowing in the afternoon sky.
"Don't suppose you brought a book?" Mosi asked.
"No. . ." Alex said. "Shall we play Twenty Questions?"

For the rest of the round-the-world flash fiction, click on the tag below.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: J is for Johannesburg

Today's stop on our world tour takes us to Africa for the first time, as we visit Johannesburg. I feel quite unsettled about today's piece - I have tried to avoid writing about the obvious or troubled aspects ofthe places I've visited, and writing about anything to do with apartheid when writing about South Africa felt obvious and lazy. I tried to find something else to write about but none of my other ideas went even a tiny bit well, so I decided to run with this one in spite of the theme.


Tau wasn't religious. He never had been. But still he removed his hat as he reached the door of the Regina Mundi church.
Inside it was quiet and dark. Regina Mundi Day had been a couple of weeks ago, and Tau tried to imagine the church full of people. He found he couldn't. He always came when it was empty - although that was difficult, because of the tourists.
Tau walked along the aisles, running his fingers over the pits and scars from the bullets, before he knelt. He set his briefcase down and joined his hands, thinking of the people who had once stood here. He didn't pray, but he gave thanks.

For the rest of the A-Z world tour, click on the tag below. Thanks for reading :)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: I is for Irishtown

This story takes us a lot closer to home for me - Irishtown is a small suburb of Dublin located somewhere between the city centre and my house :) The name always fascinated me until the A-Z challenge prompted me to look up the history of it. 

Irishtown, Dublin

"So why the hell is it called Irishtown anyway?" Emma asked me. It was funny listening to her say 'hell' in her accent, which sounded like tweed, private schools and Princess Diana. "Every town in Ireland is an Irish town by definition, surely." She stubbed out her cigarette and waited for me to reply as we strolled on towards the city centre.
"It's because - well, in the 1400s sometime, when the English occupied Dublin, they expelled the natives from inside the city walls. This is where they settled. So I guess the name dates from a time when not everywhere in Ireland was Irish."
There was a long, uncomfortable pause.
"I think," Emma said, "that I'd like to stop somewhere for a coffee. What do you think?"
"That sounds good," I said. "But you're buying."
I could hear the relief in her laughter, the sound of old tension breaking.

For the rest of the A-Z world tour, please click on the 'A-Z Blogging Challenge 2012' tag below. Thanks for reading :)

A-Z Microfiction: H is for Helsinki

Apologies for the late post for H - I was out of Dublin at the weekend and didn't manage to get today's piece of microfiction up. On the plus side, two stories today - one this morning, one this afternoon :)

Helskinki - 20th June 2012

Laila paused on her windowsill for a moment, listening.
'Hurry up!' Daniela called from the garden. 'We're late enough already!'
She watched as Laila braced herself and jumped. The two girls broke into a swift jog.
'When will you grow a pair and start sneaking out before dark?' Daniela asked, as they rushed towards the rave in the harbour. 'We get five hours of darkness at this time of year. It's hardly time to get to the rave and home again.' It sucked having your social life depend on someone who was afraid of her parents.
'Do you think Matt will be there?' Daniela asked. Laila glanced at her watch.
'He may have left by now,' she said.
By unspoken agreement, both girls jogged faster.

For the rest of my A-Z Microfiction world tour, please click on the 'A-Z Blogging Challenge 2012' tag below this post. Thanks for visiting :)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: G is for Gravesend

Today's microfiction comes from Gravesend in Kent, England. Gravesend is located on the Thames and played a key role in shipping and maritime communications on the river for many years.


'Can you believe it?'
Dina looked up from her book. On the other side of the St. George's Churchyard was a gaggle of young women, a jungle of cameras dangling from slender wrists and long fingers marking critical pages of dog-eared guidebooks.
'We're actually at the final resting place of a princess. . . ' There was excitement and awe in the speaker's voice, and she smoothed her highlighted chestnut hair.
'Let me take some photos.' One of the other girls swung her camera effortlessly into her hand and began directing the others to form a sombre line around the statue of Pocahontas.
Dina couldn't suppress a small smile. If her mother was here, she would go over to the girls with a wagging finger and tell them that Pocahontas wasn't a princess, she was a chief's daughter, and that no one was sure where her remains were. She had died at Gravesend but the location of her body wasn't known. Dina's mother had never let a little thing like politeness stand in the way of accuracy.
Dina closed her book and walked over to the statue.
'Would you like me to take the picture?' she asked.

To read the rest of my A-Z Microfiction World Tour, just click on the 'A-Z Blogging Challenge 2012' tag below.

Friday, April 6, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: F is for Falkland Islands

Today's super-short story takes place in the Falkland Islands, a British overseas territory located off the coast of Argentina.According to Wikipedia, "justice is administered by a resident senior magistrate and a non-resident Chief Justice of the Islands who visits the islands at least once a year." The senior magistrate is also the islands' coroner.

Falkland Islands

Gerard removed his glasses, wiped a hand across his forehead and looked at the nervous crowd assembled in court.
It was not easy being the coroner for a tight-knit community of 3,000 people, who lived on a small archipelago. He had investigated the deaths of more friends than he cared to recall. There was no one else he could ask to help with the difficult cases, or the personal ones - and out here on the islands, everything was personal. Never more so than now.
He took a deep breath. 'It is my verdict that Mr. Anderson died by unlawful killing. This was murder.'
Gerard braced himself for shouts, but all he heard was silence.

To read earlier entires in my alphabetical world tour, just click the 'A-Z Blogging Challenge 2012' tag beneath this post. 

Thursday, April 5, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: E is for Eiger

Today's piece of A-Z Challenge microfiction takes us to the Eiger, a peak in the Bernese Alps, close to the town of Grindelwald (yes, I know, I'm a Harry Potter fan too and I geeked out when I realised Grindelwald is a place). The North Wall of the Eiger is one of the toughest climbing peaks in the Alps. 

Today we're going back in time as well as back to Germany. This is not strictly microfiction, as it is based on real events.  But as I have no idea how these men came to their decision, I decided to imagine it - and maybe someday I'll find out the real story.

The Eiger

The four men hung from their ropes, as the biting wind spun around them and the sheer drop below their feet seemed to sing.
'We couldn't have made it this far without you both,' said Harrer.
'We couldn't have done it without your ropes,' said Heckmair. 'The Hinterstoisser Traverse is treacherous. We would have been lost there.' His climbing companion, Vorg, nodded.
'Might as well admit it,' said Kasparek. 'We haven't been two teams for a while - we're one team of four. Let's go for the summit together. I wouldn't feel right reaching the top without all of you.'
Beneath their hoods and scarves, all four men started to smile.

To read earlier entires in my alphabetical world tour, just click the 'A-Z Blogging Challenge 2012' tag beneath this post. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: D is for Danvers State Hospital

More alphabetical microfiction today, this time from Danvers State Hospital in Massachussets, which operated from 1878 til 1992. The buildings have since been demolished and replaced with apartments, although the facade of the historic Kirkbride building is still standing. The cemeteries remain on the site. Honestly, I'm sorry I can only write one piece of microfiction about this place. . .

Danvers State Hospital

'And this,' the tour guide intoned, as the bus snaked up a long and winding driveway, 'is believed to be the birthplace of the pre-frontal lobotomy.'
'Awesome,' Cayden whispered, and took out her camera. 'Dad, isn't that awesome?'
Her father faked a smile, rolled his eyes and checked his watch.

To read earlier entires in my alphabetical world tour, just click the 'A-Z Blogging Challenge 2012' tag beneath this post.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: C for Chelsea Physic Garden, London

Welcome back to the A-Z Challenge - I'm writing microfiction themed around a different place each day. After our visit to Bamberg in Germany yesterday, today we're off to London; specifically, to Chelsea Physic Garden, which was founded in 1673 as a research garden for the Worshipful Society of Apothecaries (isn't that a brilliant name?) and is now open to the public.

Chelsea Physic Garden

Grapefruit. The very word sounded heavy and rich with possibility.
Aaron glanced left, then right. His dad was pointing at something or other, his mum was nodding. They did that a lot.
The fruit hung above Aaron, like a pale orange.
'These,' his father had said, in his best lecturer voice, 'are the northernmost-growing grapefruit in the world. Imagine that, Aaron - no grapefruit from here to the North Pole.'
Aaron pictured a sign - 'North Pole: No Grapefruit til London SW3.'
His parents had walked on, but Aaron stayed under the grapefruit, looking.
He'd stolen apples before, from the low-hanging tree in his neighbour's garden. This could be his only shot at grapefruit, ever.
He glanced around again.

Monday, April 2, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: B for Bamberg

Continuing with my alphabetical microfiction world tour, today we're ricocheting all the way from Alaska to Germany to visit Bamberg, a UNESCO-listed university town in Bavaria.


Inge stood on the bridge that linked the two sides of the river Regnitz as hoardes of tourists surged past, rushing to photograph the beautiful medieval town hall. Her son waved from the opposite side of the river, broke free from his father's grip and ran to her without a backward glance.
Inge watched the hurt flit across her ex-husband's face, but it was always like this. Their Grand Idea - that their son should spend alternating weeks with each parent, so his whole life would feel like a holiday and neither Igne nor Robert would miss out on his daily life - was working very well.
As Inge bent to lift him up, she looked again at their town hall, which she had lived beside since she was born and no longer even saw. It had been built on a man-made island, belonging to neither side of the river. It stood alone in the centre of the small, bustling city - proud, tall and self-sufficient.
Inge looked at her son and wondered what she and Robert would create.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A-Z Microfiction: A for Alaska

For the A-Z Challenge, I'm going to post microfiction - each post will be themed around a place, from buildings and tiny villages to countries and continents. To kick off, I'm heading to somewhere remote, fascinating and beautiful, that I have always dreamed of visiting: Alaska.


Kayla stepped out of the SUV gingerly, planting her feet carefully on the deep snow. Only her eyes and upper cheekbones were exposed but she instantly felt the bite of the cold Alaskan air on her skin. She watched as Tom unloaded their backpacks and boxes of groceries on the driveway of the Boreal Lodge.
'This. . .' Tom said, looking around at the landscape as though he'd built it. 'It's exactly what I dreamed of. This is just what we need. Isn't it amazing?'
Kayla was sure it was beautiful, but she wasn't in the best frame of mind for appreciating scenery. Seventy-five miles north of the Arctic Circle, in a village with 22 inhabitants and no shops, stiff from hours of driving from Fairbanks and the even longer flight from Texas.
It seemed an odd way to save a marriage.