Few Hairs and The Torteless

So that’s his game!

The old man sat there with a brick for a phone pressed to his hairy ear. He squinted, strained to hear whoever he talked with, mouthed spittle-infused words.

Oh, he was good. Really good. But it was an obvious ruse.

He turned and gave me that glassy-eyed look only the elderly could, his comb-over blowing in the speeding traffic’s wake.

He knew I was on to him.

Across the road, the last chocolate torte glistened in the bakery window like an Olympic medal.

He wanted it, but I wanted more.

Red: A wiggle and a shake.

Red and amber: I checked my trainers laced. Come to poppa.

Green: He was off.

Goddamn! He was already halfway across the road!

I swerved through the milling pedestrians like a serpent through grass. I’d show the old buzzard!

Bursting onto the pavement, I dodged an old woman with a mop for a dog and leapt through the open bakery door, chest thrust forward. Winner!

With no time to gloat, I got straight down to business. “Onechocolatetorteplease.”

“Pardon?”

“One chocolate torte, please.” This time slower.

“Sorry,” said the girl behind the counter, “we’ve just sold the last one.”

“The one in the window?”

“That’s the one.” She beamed an inoffensive smile.

I panicked, after all, she was pretty. “But I was here first,” I whimpered.

The girl shook her head and pointed over my shoulder, her bangs smacking a drum ‘n’ bass rhythm against her rosy cheeks.

I turned so slowly, my hips ground.

He sat there in his buggy smug as you like, his eyes watering and his few stray hairs a mess. His dentures were missing as though he’d rushed to beat me and hadn’t had time to put them in, his hitched-up slacks revealing the argyle socks beneath — beige, of course. But worst of all, worse than anything, he had something to say; his lips frothed with the effort.

“You’re fast,” he said. “Really fast, son.”

I glowered.

“Whilst I’m old and slow.”

I gave him one of my best sneers.

“But I have this.”

He held his black brick aloft, or as aloft as his ancient limbs could manage. This, he waggled.

“Same tomorrow?” asked the girl behind the counter.

The old man cupped his ear.

“Same tomorrow?” she bellowed.

He waggled his archaic phone one last time; it might as well have been a cup and string.

“I’ll ring ahead,” he replied, then reversed over my foot and sped off.

You’ve won this round, old man, but I’m off to buy a new charger.

Truth was, I’d rather have had the torte.

15 Free Tools For Cash-strapped Creatives

15 Free Tools For Cash-strapped Creatives

Being creative doesn’t have to cost a thing.

This is my latest post on Medium. Please feel free to join me there. I hope this list is of help to you all.

BLOGGING

I thought we might as well start with those platforms that have given so many people a voice on the internet. Blogging can offer community, pride to those who thought they’d never be heard, and perhaps most of all, place. Yet despite being the gateway to technology to those who have never experienced it, the big blogging platforms still remain free.

Medium (Multiple Platforms) For those who like a clean, quiet and thoughtful place to write.

WordPress.com (Multiple Platforms) The original noisy neighbour, WordPress powers most of the internet, and although harder to use than some, still remains accessible and highly customisable.

Blogger (Web) Google owns and administrates this platform. Easy to use and powered by internet royalty, Blogger is often the introduction to the world beyond our window.

Browsing the Internet

I think three browser recommendations is more than enough. All are free. All are very good, to lesser and greater degrees. And perhaps most of all these days, each can be made as safe as possible.

Google Chrome (Multiple Platforms)

Firefox (Multiple Platforms)

Opera (Multiple Platforms)

Organisation

WorkFlowy (Multiple Platforms) WorkFlowy is a place to write your thoughts, prep, or organise a whole project. Exceptionally easy to use, although let down a little by its mobile apps, WorkFlowy can soon become the go to place for creatives. Highly Recommended.

The Outliner of Giants (Web) To those familiar with using templates, this outliner will be a dream. Again, easy to use and available in any browser.

Google Keep (Multiple Platforms) Google Keep is a notebook, place for reminders, and a generally bright and visual place to store notes. A highly underrated part of the Google portfolio, you’ll be surprised by this one.

Information Capture

Pocket (Multiple Platforms) If you’ve ever wanted to stash, store, or explore information you find whilst browsing the net or even other apps, Pocket provides that place. Available as an app, extension and any number of other ways, Pocket is superb.

Instapaper (Multiple Platforms) As above, but more text orientated. Instapaper provides a good place to read those things you might not have had time for initially. Highly recommended.

Images

There is much beauty on the internet but it tends to be scattered around. Here are some wonderful sites that you might like to spend an hour or three perusing.

Pinterest (Multiple Platforms) Many peoples’ favourite image site. Pinterest has everything from photos to art and more. Beautiful in presentation and with the offer of community, a popular and easy to use wonder.

Deviant Art (Multiple Platforms) Deviant Art offers predominantly art of a fantasy nature although they would say far more. Some of the illustrations on there are breathtaking.

Pixabay (Multiple Platforms) Photography based, Pixabay offers free imagery to all and what staggering imagery it is.

Writing

There are many places to write without ever downloading a thing even though you could. Here are a few of the more reputable offerings.

Google Docs (Multiple Platforms) The premier online word processor that is now also available almost everywhere. Good for all types of writing it is hard to find any fault with Google Docs.

Celtx (Multiple Platforms) For the budding screenwriter. Celtx won’t be much good to anyone other than the next James Cameron, but if you are, knock yourself out.

LibreOffice (Multiple Platforms) For those who can’t afford Microsoft’s offerings, (which is a lot these days). Beloved of those who use it, LibreOffice is a great free option.

Hemingway (Web) A place to write and have that writing checked, this site offers something a little bit different. Well worth trying, and truly beneficial.

Often the only thing standing between us and our dreams is a little help. I hope some of the above websites and applications can offer just that.

Please note: As far as I am aware, all the above are either free or offer free structuring at the time of writing.

Thank you for reading

Richard

Richard M. Ankers / Author of The Eternals Series

The Eternals

Hunter Hunted

Into Eternity (Very Soon!)

Security Breaches – Be Vigilant

Sorry if you’ve wondered where I’ve been just at a time when I needed to be about, but awful things can happen.

I am careful to the point of paranoia with passwords and the like even using a specialist app to make unbreakable ones. Yet someone did break it. I had my Outlook and Microsoft account breached (fortunately, I barely use either) and it has taken almost a day to sort and correct all associated passwords.

I only noticed something odd when I received a Microsoft email saying thanks for logging into my email on a new device – I hadn’t! I traced it all through and someone had got my email details. I have no idea how?

So the main reason I wrote this post was just to highlight how careful and vigilant we all must be these days. I don’t trust anyone or anything, so my conscience was pricked by what happened immediately but many people would have ignored it. Whatever you do, DON’T! 

I hope this might help avert a disaster for you, as it almost was for me.

Richard

PS. Apparently Outlook is one of the worst for breaches so make your passwords really strong.

Automaton (Drabble)

The zeroes and ones snuck up on us like a morning alarm, no matter how many times we pressed snooze, they just kept coming. In waves of pulsing, cobalt light, flashing beacons and white noise, they enveloped us.
I often asked myself if I could have done better, preempted the war, but knew in my heart I couldn’t.
What did I do? I’ll tell you what. There was only one thing I could do.
Unlike the rest who raged and moaned and fought, I relented.
Now, I live my life as a tumble dryer. It’s nice to always be warm.

In Voice: Technological Shortfalls

“What’s that?”

“My hard drive.”

“It’s not very big.”

“It doesn’t need to be.”

“Says who?”

“The lady in the store.”

“Was she laughing when she said it?”

“No. She said it might be small but offers lots of protection.”

“Safety man, eh?”

“You’ve got to be.”

“So why haven’t you put it away?”

“It got hot.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“What happened.”

“It ejected before I’d finished.”

“Says it all.”

50 Word Stories: The Raven 2016

A raven flew in the apartment, perched on the wall-mounted OLED and cawed, "No chance, pal!"
"You dissing me?" cried the brooding youth, swatting it with his iPad.
"No chance pal!" it replied repeatedly.
He tried, but the youth couldn’t find Beyoncé’s picture on his iPhone.
He never would.

The Steel Ones

Red-eyed and dark 

The shadows move.

They outnumber us now:

Four feet;

Four eyes;

Hard shelled,

And hateful.

When did we lose the battle

For our own existences?

Was there even a battle?

I see the odd biped 

Moving through the flow 

With fear etched upon their face.

I share it;

I hate it.

This is the world we have created.

This is the world we once owned.

I see it all from my house

Nestled between mountain ridges.

I see it all from my eyrie

Where the steel ones can’t find me.

Future Past

SONY DSC

Washed up on some distant shore,
Memory of what came before.
Beach of crystal fibres gleaming,
Fabricated child stooping, feeling,
Collects a trinket, battered, grazed.
With passing thought light is raised.
Held to air, what could it be, do?
Imperfect circle, gold of hue.
Not made for him, not meant for all,
Unique prize for a museum hall.
No use to the hive, defective.
What should he do? Reflective.
But, before thrown back to ocean,
Electric eyes behold encryption,
‘My darling wife. Yours for eternity.’
Processors whir, child’s new reality.
And, for the first time in aeons,
Someone believes, eyes like neons.
And water, not oil, drops to the floor.
A child shall dream this day, once more.