Stranger, Strangest, Strange!

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

She frowned in that way little children do, with that absolute certainty that she and not them were correct. Her brows creased to Norwegian fjords so severely as to threaten to crack her porcelain features. Her eyes narrowed. The crème de la crème, out came her tongue to blow a raspberry to wet the world. She ran.
“Come back, stranger!” roared the little boy.
Kara bolted back into the trees from which she’d emerged to a whiplashed face and thorn-tugged clothes. The boy had no such issues, for he was smaller than she. He proved faster, too.
The little boy had her by the ponytail before she’d exited the hawthorn bush. He tugged. She wailed.
There was a scuffle, a curse regarding the football shirt the little boy wore, one returned with interest about her red wellington boots — how she wished she’d worn trainers, he’d have never caught her then. And only when the two staggered from the bush and fell in the long grass did the idyllic summer return.
It was several minutes before the boy rose to his elbows and offered the first words of a truce. “You’re the strangest girl I’ve ever met.”
“My name’s Kara,” she hissed. “And I’m not.”
“Robbie,” he replied. “And you are so.”
Robbie was unsure whether the wellington that hit him square on the jaw was called Kara or the girl who tossed it? He imagined he ought to have known, but the stars in his head prevented any confirmation. So much so, that Robbie collapsed back into the grass with a thud. There, he remained.
Kara waited an appropriate amount of time before retrieving her boot; it slipped back into place with a schlep. She gave her new nemesis a kick, then a pinch to his bare arm, both to no reaction. “Hey-ho,” she mused.
Robbie remained as recumbent as an overfed sloth.


“Why did you leave him, love?”
“Why not?”
“But it sounds like he’s hurt.”
“So what? He started it.”
“It sounded very much like you did. It’s not normal to blow raspberries at someone who was just walking past.”
“Raspberry,” corrected Kara.
Her mum rolled her eyes. “Come on, you’ll have to show me where you left him. I want to make sure he’s okay.”
“He’s not okay.”
Her mum pulled the same frown Kara had.
“How’d you know?”
“The same way I knew he was going to call me names.” Her eyes widened to raging suns. “I’m strange!”

The End.


Thank you for reading
Richard

Within the Rose

Petals folded, clasped tight
No perfume escapes
Here, protected from life’s thorns and barbs
Cocooned isolationists sleep
Dreaming in false colours
Of Edens closed and gated
Ones milked in moonlight
And bathed in ebony shades
Shame!
If only someone had told them
Within the rose all worlds are possible
Once we cease to scream


Thank you for reading

Richard

50 Word Stories: Plain Bad

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash
Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Grinning, she toasted his death, then smashed the bottle over his head.
They locked her away, called her mad. She was mad, but not without reason.
Seventeen years later, and release. She went straight to his grave and did a jig. The police were waiting. They each shook her hand.


Thank you for reading
Richard

NEW RELEASE! – BRITANNIA UNLEASHED

BRITANNIA UNLEASHED

Hi Everyone!

I’m very proud to announce the release of my latest book titled ‘BRITANNIA UNLEASHED“. This a story that has taken years to spring from mind, to word, to published. I hope you enjoy the result.

Richard

Richard M. Ankers, author of: Britannia Unleashed. Available from all major sellers.


The Story

Evil will come, and champions will fall, but Britannia shall reign eternal.
Every world has its heroes, and every hero has tales to tell. Britannia, Queen Victoria’s realm, is not the least of these, for its many heroes are varied and inextricably linked. If but one falters, then others might follow.
In a Victorian world off-kilter with our reality, a malevolent entity and an incarnation of past evil seek to overpower Britannia and its weakened queen. The disenchanted Sir Belvedere Magnanimous Wainthrop, the Lion of Britannia, will brave time and space to battle this unholy alliance and return glory to the empire. Others shall follow his lead. Destiny will test every ounce of their courage and resolve.
From a Himalayan Shangri-La to a subterranean London and the corridors of Buckingham Palace itself, this disparate group of individuals will battle the odds and come together to make the ultimate sacrifice. But will it be enough?


A Little Background

Britannia Unleashed is a Steampunk, Alternate History, genre-spanning extravaganza. A tale where not all is what it seems, and what seems is a tale within itself. An alternate Victorian society crumbles in the wake of the Prince Consort’s death and Queen Victoria’s subsequent ruination, for nothing scars such as a rebuked love. Dark forces gather from both near and far with only a handful of heroes to fight them. Theirs are stories which shall interlace as only unknown fates can. Whether they shall prevail will remain moot.

From a man the whole empire admires to a mere servant, a heroine who never backs down and a detective unparalleled, it shall take all their mixed skills to battle the forces of evil and return a queen to her throne. In this world, there is no United Kingdom only Britannia.

Thank you for reading

Richard

BRITANNIA UNLEASHED

AVAILABLE NOW!

Published by Next Chapter

Bullet

Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash
Photo by Marek Studzinski on Unsplash

You know when your time’s up by the slowing of your breaths. A blink takes a century, a smile forever, the world around you stalls. Teardrops catch mid-cheek like dewdrops in a web. The blood in your veins turns sluggish and turgid. Your every organ closes down with a malfunctioning sigh. That’s what they say, but that’s not what happened to me.
I hung in the moment as Hell opened and Heaven slammed closed its gates, straining, determined to breathe, convinced of putting words to my madness. Battles raged all around as though I wasn’t there, smiles flitting across faces, scowls more, love, honour, all instants in time. More was lost in those seconds of non-redemption than eternity could hold. Infinity wrapped in a watch face, I crumbled.
That’s what you did to me, when you stole my heart. You killed me with a bullet not shot from a gun. You attacked with a weapon called love, then walked away and left me to die. Kindness, that’s what you murdered me with. I never stood a chance.
I never will.


Thanks for reading 
Richard

Sapphire Blue

Photo by Ion Fet on Unsplash
Photo by Ion Fet on Unsplash

Londinium’s streets filled with merchants of every description. Some purveyors of fine silks set up stalls in such-and-such an alley, others of fresh produce in this and that, the retailers of jewels and gold settled closer to the constabulary’s arterial junction. It, or rather, she, sat somewhere in between.
Less an organ grinder’s monkey, but not quite a ventriloquist’s dummy, she rested, her coiled legs draped over the side of a wooden cart. Her creator, or owner, or whatever he was, poled people to guess her name at a sovereign a head. He promised great riches to the soul who guessed correctly, though I ventured no one ever did.
Entranced, I squeezed through the gathered crowd to better gaze upon her, excusing myself more times than decorum demanded. Nevertheless, it felt nowhere near enough. At my last muttered apology and doffing of my hat, I looked up: there she was.
She was stunning, beautiful, yet made. Plaited horsehair adorned her bonnet-less head, which stood against convention, but looked right on her. A face of chalked perfection rested on a frame of awkward, angular imperfection. The contrast made for an uneasy balance. Yet, it was not her body I looked upon, but her eyes. Even though I knew it was wrong, evil even, an affront to God, I could have stared into them forever.
The almost-woman had the sort of eyes that dreamt of oceans, a blue so deep as to swim to the stars. She stared out across her audience impassively, searching for something, searching for me. I was hers, and she was mine.
“Hey, that’s a sovereign’s worth of a gawking you’ve given. You gonna guess ‘er name or not?”
I paid the man his money and walked away.
“Hey! Hey, mister! Ain’t you gonna guess then?”
“Sapphire,” I replied.
“Wrong,” he expounded.
Maybe to you I thought, but Sapphire she remained. My dreams would be eternally painted blue.


Thank you for reading
Richard

The Black Rose

Courtesy Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash.com
Courtesy Mathilde Langevin on Unsplash.com

Ours was an unusual romance, one bordering on desperate, teetering on brave. Whether squawking like crows or cooing like doves, we loved and hated with equal passion. She was the black rose with thorns so barbed as to puncture, and I was the unwitting gardener who cultivated its cruelty.


Corrine was a hateful woman until one got to know her. She discouraged this by using a wide variety of scowls, sneers, and shakes of the head. If one got close, she stepped closer, sudden and sharp. If one spoke over her, woe betide them. The darkness in her eyes steered all in the required direction, drove the rest away. All except me, that was. I couldn’t run. My pride wouldn’t allow it. We grew close. Some might have claimed us entangled.
We took a tour of Europe by train, The Orient Express. You may have heard of it. Despite the indisputable luxury this vehicle offered, Corrine bellyached non-stop. At first, I agreed with her, employing appeasement. Soon, I grew as disenchanted as she, not with the train trip, but Corrine herself. Despite her unrivalled beauty, her exquisite lines, hair to die for and eyes to drown in, there was only so much one could take. I had taken enough.
I stepped from the train as we crossed a viaduct. Dramatic, but true. I had, of course, threatened to leave first. “If you don’t stop! I’m warning you! I’ll do it! Don’t tempt me!” Etcetera, etcetera.
“Promises, promises,” her always reply. She’d blow smoke from her cigarillo right into my eyes, as if us trapped in a Parisian haze. The urge to scream became unbearable. So, I did. I’m unsure when I stopped?
So, as mentioned, I leapt from the train whilst my strength remained, my will still intact, and most of all, whilst Corrine was, as we say in polite circles, momentarily indisposed.
I hit the water as her scream shattered the landscape, sending boulders crashing and birds flooding into the sky.
The question came after thrashing my way to the riverbank, where I lay like a floundering fish until the moon rose high and stars blinked a welcome: Why? Why would a woman who so discouraged interaction, actively oppose it, be bothered? In the greater scheme of things, what difference did my escaping her make? Here was the key.
Schemes are like flower bulbs planted so deep as to go forgotten. Only when they burst unexpectedly from the cold, hard earth into rainbows of unexpected colours do they become apparent. I was her colour, and she the darkness that buried me.


We met again quite by accident at the Teatro alla Scala, Milan. I had taken a liking to this country so unlike my own, where a shrug meant more than a novel and kindnesses were only ever a handshake away.
Turandot: Opening night. The performers were so close as to sing in my ear.
I don’t know why I turned, looked up, stared. Why I held her gaze when I should have slipped down in my seat, or better still, run. She was older then, her raven hair now closer to lead. She wore black, trimmed in lace, as an Italian widow might. Her face was as pale as snow.
As the music played, she mouthed something at first unreadable in the fragmented light. At first, but not by the end: You killed me.
Curiosity forced me up there to that empty stall. Curiosity or madness? Getting even never came into it. She had gone. Only a solitary black rose left snuggled in a seat proved her ever there. This, I took.


London, and home.
The rose remained un-withered, as fresh as if picked that very morning. This, I planted in my garden.
When I awoke the next day to Big Ben’s incessant chimes, breakfast was on the table. I had no servants? The windows were thrown open, the curtains flung back and a stench of decay permeated the atmosphere. Confounded, I wandered outside. The rose was gone.
Corrine’s fingers slipped around my throat like a noose.
“I always wanted to visit London,” she breathed. “So kind of you to bring me.”


We argue daily. Life is not good. Yet in my heart of hearts I know this, I missed her misery, her melancholy ways, and she missed mine. For what is life without the threat of death to keep the world in balance. No, seriously! I need to know?

The End.


Thank you for reading
Richard

50 Word Stories: The Lie


“There’s sharks in the river!” screamed Ray.
Our elders set out to kill them, men and women. No one returned.
The army tried next. They dynamited everything, then drained the river. There wasn’t a shark or a villager in sight.
“I lied,” confessed Ray.
“So did our parents,” I replied.

Thank you for reading
Richard

Photo by Wynand Uys on Unsplash