A.J. Walker


February 2021

The Keys: Old Doors/New Adventures

The Keys: Old Doors/New Adventures

It was raining. Not hard, but that soft incessant rain that seems to get you wetter than the heavy stuff. Geraldine and her little brother, Daniel, had been out in the garden trying their best to keep in the shelter of the trees and bushes. Keen to put off going inside for as long as possible. They’d covered the entirety of the house over the long wet summer and if they needed adventure they needed to be somewhere new.

Daniel was following his sister as they found themselves in the furthest part of the garden.

‘What are these flowers called?’ Daniel asked, pointing at some bright purple blooms surrounded by lush green foliage; the rain making the green leaves gleam like emeralds.

‘How should I know?’ Geraldine said, without looking. She was a girl and proud to be, but she enjoyed doing boys things. Aunt Jane called her a
Tom Boy - and this made her happy. She probably knew the plants from school and reading books all through the dour summer. But it wouldn’t do make out that she did.

Daniel shrugged. He was sure that knowing such things was supposed to be his sister’s job - and even if she didn’t want to know, he did. Sometimes he wished he had a different sister. But most the time he loved her - and was jealous of her ability to climb trees, jump over streams and swing on ropes.

He picked at the flower. Maybe he could draw it later and ask mum what it was.

‘Hey! What’s this?’ Geraldine had passed beyond the thick bush. Daniel looked around and could only see the back of her head. He ducked under a branch and squeezed past the bush.

‘Argh! Once you are fully wet how do you get wetter?’ Daniel asked. It was more a statement than a question and got the answer he was expecting: silence. When he looked up he saw what Geraldine meant. She was stood inside a greenhouse. He’d not see it before, but they’d never gone this deep into this part of the garden. But there were no paths. The area was thick with vegetation. It was a strange place to put a greenhouse. There wasn’t even much light.

When Daniel got up to Geraldine she was stood there with a big grin on her face. They’d wanted somewhere new to have an adventure and here was somewhere new; better still it had four walls and a roof.

The two of them did what they were best at in a new place: investigate. There was nothing better than finding new stuff. Unspoken they went into their methodical survey, Geraldine took the right hand side and Daniel took the left.

There were some piles of books and magazines on the shelves. There was an old oil lamp and some boxes which would require investigation. There were no old empty flower pots, no bags or tools. No soil. It was amazingly clean and tidy. Not like a greenhouse at all. At the far end was an old brown leather chair, which looked like it had been heavily used at some time.

‘It’s so dry in here. It looks ancient and yet the plants haven’t touched it and it is so, so dry. The books and magazines are in perfect condition. How strange.’ Geraldine was stood up in her questioning pose, with both hands on her hips. She made her mind to take control of the situation by sitting in the chair.

Daniel was still looking at the items on ‘his’ side of the greenhouse.

‘Do you think it is just a Glass House rather than a greenhouse? I mean someone used it as their private room for reading and getting away?’

Geraldine pulled a face and nodded. ‘Not a bad though pipsqueak.’

She tapped her feet thinking. There was a hollow noise. They both looked down and saw her feet were on a thin blue carpet. It looked like it may have been nice once. Daniel thought he could make out creatures and a map on it.

Geraldine was soon on her knees pulling back the carpet to discover a wooden door. Daniel dropped the box he’d been holding. The fall broke the box open and two ornate silver keys spilled out by his feet. They both looked from the door to the keys and back. There was a lock on the door.

They had a door and keys. They wanted an adventure. They were going to get one.

WC: 750
Mid Week Flash - February 24th 2021



Jeremy stood at the fridge pointing accusingly at the plate. A single crumb of biscuit base seemed to make the point even harder.
‘I didn’t take it man,’ Adil pleaded innocently, ‘I was in my room. There is something odd going on here mate.’
‘Something odd?’ Jeremy sarcasmed. ‘It was here 10 minutes ago before my shower and no one else is, or has been, here. So what you suggesting? Beamed up by a passing space ship perhaps, or maybe thrown out the window by a mischievous poltergeist?’
‘Well man, I don’t know, but I ain’t had it, have I?’ Adil sounded sincere and a little annoyed, ‘The absence of proof don’t mean it didn’t happen does it?’ He looked out the window half expecting to see cheesecake splattered across the path.
‘You are having a laugh mate, I’m not believing in something without proof and reason,’ Jeremy explained. ‘Just admit it and go and get me a new one and I’ll say no more.’
‘I don’t even like cheesecake. Show me something, anything that points at me, the fact that I am here is just a weak argument man. There ain't no evidence.’
Jeremy looked again for even the vestige of a crumb on Adil's shirt and growled, ‘There is no other explanation. I didn’t have it, so you must have: QED.’
Somewhere between the sofa and a parallel universe the little space alien looked on and laughed. It then looked down and wondered whether the cheesecake had gone straight to his hips.

WC: 254
Trifecta 7 August 2013

The Monkey Man

The Diverting Tale of the Monkey Man

Outside the chapel a man with a monkey was looking harassed. It used to be so easy making money in villages with a monkey - the parents loved the entertainment as much as the children. Now, everyone had seen it all before and a monkey was just a monkey after all. He was happy when got to pick up pennies these days.
A mile away Sofia was at home and looking as beautiful as always. She’d usually kill for that hair, pristine make-up, the dress. Accentuated beauty, not just a painted face. Her eyes though were full of sadness. Someone else looked back from the mirror. Jitters they called it, which didn’t do it justice. Knotted and choked stomach, adrenaline peaking and troughing. An unyielding fear loomed large as she made her way downstairs and out to her wedding carriage.
In the church Edward de Beaufort made final adjustments to his lavish gold brocade doublet and ostentatious jewelry. It wouldn’t do to be understated on your wedding day. The son of the local Baron looked briefly in the mirror smirking. He would soon have his beautiful wife to add to his catalogue of status symbols.
His father looked at him, not a little ashamed, ‘If you’re supposed to look more effeminate than your betrothed then you have the look down pat.’
‘It’s the continental fashion father. I look...’ Edward agreed with himself, ‘outstanding.’
The great, good and not so good were inside the church. If it wasn’t for his father, no-one would have been there for Edward, but his father’s money and power bought at lot of friendship.
Outside the church the monkey man called, ‘Spare some change for the dancing monkey.’
The children laughed as on cue the monkey took off his hat and flung it into the air.
Across the square young Henry watched the melee progress as the kids ran after the hat then proceeded to run amok, screaming with delight as the monkey man theatrically chased them. Chaos ensued as predicted: as designed. Henry readied himself as the mare pulled under him, trotting on the spot.
Carts of fruit and vegetables were now flying. Children and parents alike taking their opportunities while angry tradesmen walloped anyone within hitting distance. In the chapel Edward waited oblivious to the staged nonsense outside.
The monkey perched high in a niche happily munching an apple, while the monkey man edged away from the madness with Henry’s two crowns in his pocket: Job done.
With carts overturned and the playful riot Sofia’s coach arrived at the square with no way to get to the church entrance. Edward’s men took the only option and led her out of the carriage on to the street.
She barely saw Henry whirr around the corner, but she seemed instinctively to realise what was happening. She grabbed out at her beloved’s arm as the horse thundered up to them. She was pulled back around safely on to the horse. They were off into the distance before you could shout “Get me that Monkey Man!” It was a shame it was early afternoon, or else the couple would surely have headed off into the most glorious of sunsets.

WC: 530 words. Not written for a challenge

The Great Zingaro

The Great Zingaro

Zingaro came from nowhere. Not so much plucked from obscurity but created from nothing.
He was the talk of the town, the city, the country and then the world. This mesmorising genius who could make grown men cry with just his four strings and a few minutes of his time.
We have to have Zingaro!” was the most heard line at all organising events.
We have no chance of getting Zingaro!” was the second most heard.
Zingaro did not tour. He turned up at places alone and unannounced; just him and his violin. Whatever was scheduled was cancelled; such was his reputation.
Some say that he had sold his soul at the crossroads, some say that the violin was enchanted. It mattered not to those who heard him. It was truly a once in a lifetime moment. Soothing and chilling, love, lust and hate all these feelings woven together by Zingaro’s unparalleled magic leaving those who heard him in untold raptures.
He turned up at the Philharmonic Hall on Friday morning. Unannounced, as ever. His brooding presence in his Johnny Cash black thick and heavy. The manager looked at him incredulous, hoping he wouldn’t faint, then giving thanks to every god he’d ever heard of. Zingaro in
his hall.
“You? Oh my! You want to see the hall? You want to play here?”
The silence was ended with a nod. Zingaro never spoke.
Zingaro carefully placed his jacket over the arm of a chair and shook the manager’s right hand, holding his violin firmly in the other.
The twitterverse and media meltdown was soon matched by real fighting for tickets outside the hall.
“Zingaro is in town!” was the headline in the local paper. “Zingo-mania!” ran the Metro tagline above a photo of riots of well-healed gents hustling through the foyer for the few precious tickets.
He played that night - his usual one hour slot - to twelve hundred of the luckiest people in England. Afterwards no-one could tell you what he had played, but that it was the most incredible hour of their lives. No one thought to record it; they never did. That was put down to being part of the magic, everyone was literally entranced for the hour.
That night a faceless man in a long black coat breezed through the hall’s foyer passing through the thronging crowd unnoticed as they tried to relive what they had just witnessed. He knocked on the door before walking straight in to Zingaro, who was waiting for him with the violin on his lap. A hand reached out from the folds of the shadows and Zingaro bowed slightly before passing the violin over without question.
The Great Zingaro was never heard from again and there are no recordings from his year of touring. Some say he was the greatest musician who ever lived, some say the devil took him after his deal was complete. Most just say “Who was Zingaro?” There is never a satisfactory answer.


WC: 499 - November 21st 2014 - on
Luminous Creatures

Recycling: New Gods and Old Ways

Recycled gods
Photo Prompt for Mid Week Flash 185

Recycling: New Gods and Old Ways

Windows down in my banged up car; the dry desert air felt refreshing. Not literally, but to be all but back home it felt like it. The coast had its beauty; I enjoyed watching the ocean on some days, but with my pockets now half full of money after working the season I could only ever return home.
Six miles from town I came across a bunch of cars parked off the desert road in a makeshift lay-by. This was new. There was nothing there to park for.
I drove past at first, keen to get home, but my interest was piqued and I turned back a mile later. I pulled off into the dust on the opposite side next to a decrepit cactus. Dry, so dry, after the coast.
In the sand I could see the recent path that people had taken up a small rise to the south. I followed the trail. From all my years exploring as a kid I knew there was nothing there. It was over a mile to the cave at the base of a low bluff, that I used to use as a shady stop sometimes. I’d pretended it had been important back then. Maybe used in history for religious practices, or a gold mine.
As I approached the top of the rise I began to hear singing. Not a tune a knew and there were no instruments; just a group of people singing together. It sounded like a church song.
It didn’t feel right. The voices sounded unreal and edgy. Despite the heat I felt goosebumps rise up my forearms. I slowed. The singing stopped, then a drum started thumping a slow juddering beat.
I made for the rock outcrop ten metres to the left. There was a nervousness to me I hadn’t felt for decades; I almost considered turning back. I sat at the base of the outcrop and sipped from a water bottle. As I drank a single plaintive voice rolled over the rocks to me. It sounded like a young woman: it was beautiful, endearing and it pulled me up the outcrop to see who the singer was.
At first I couldn’t see anyone. My eyes were drawn to a horse built of metal, glinting with the sinking sun. A whole horse built with what looked like rescued pieces of machinery. I could see cogs, wheels, spokes and pipes. Whoever had built it was an artist of unparalleled ability; in these parts anyway. Rusted vehicles and parts of barns and old railroad made metal ubiquitous in places man had been here. I was always torn as whether it was an ugly stain on humanity or a beautiful marker screaming ‘man was here, look where we can go.’ But this person had turned these metal reminders of man into a sculpture of glorious nature. I was impressed. It took me a while to notice the horse had wings. They flowed perfectly, as if I’d always seen horse with wings.
Movement caught my eye: from behind the tail a group of people came into view. Suddenly the group burst into a song complimenting the woman’s voice. Everyone was singing and they were circling the horse. It was reverential. I thought it was a work of art but these people seemed to be praying to it. A woman pushed forward a young boy of maybe seven or eight and stopped him as they got to the head and the singing rose to a crescendo before abruptly stopping. A woman stepped forward, who I think had been the one with the plaintive voice. I noticed her right arm reach out and pull at a feather from the horse’s being. It was a rusty knife: all the feathers of the horse were knives. From my viewpoint some of them looked cleaner, newer than others; some looked stained.
The first woman had her foot on the back of the child, who was on his belly, his head raised - I think on a boulder. How I didn’t scream I’ll never know, but I wouldn’t be here if I had, I’m sure. The plaintive woman rose the recycled sword into the air and brought it down. The decapitated body rolled down the slope to the feet of the singers as they started a new song. The last thing I saw before I ran back to the car was the plaintive woman placing the head on the back of the horse perhaps in readiness for his final journey.

WC: 750
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An Ocean Apart (the Giants' Lament)

‘An Ocean Apart’ (The Giants' Lament)

The most beautiful song in the world is one few have ever heard. Developed over geological timescales each time sung it is made more beautiful than the last. It is the song of love and lamentation between the giants Benn McDuinn and Mòr Morne, who were separated by a growing ocean and who yearn for tectonics to one day bring them back together.

Benn McDuinn stretches out and yawns the yawn of a giant who has slept for a thousand years. It is his time to wake up and to sing. The golden eagle, whose favourite perch happened to be just behind Benn’s left ear, was not aware of this and was currently perplexed at seeing its perch some distance away from where he’d left it. Wheeling high above the mountains he saw his tree topple down the face of Benn McDuinn. It had never been aware that the foothill had covered a giant and was vaguely unsettled by the idea. She decided that her new favourite perch would be several miles away, one in a nice low lying valley, maybe one above a river.
The ground shuddered as Benn creaked up showering first pebbles, then boulders, down the slopes into the soft peaty foothills below. He wiped the remnants of the accumulated soil from his chest and rolled back his shoulders. Apologising to the surprised ptarmigan, which he’d sent flying from his shoulder along with a clod of earth, he then set his sights west. A low rumble began to echo through the Highland mountains and valleys as the giant started to hum, as he always did when on his walks.
Simultaneously, on the bitter windswept coast of Newfoundland, it was the middle of the night as Mòr Morne began rising. She slowly extended up to her full height sending heather and sodden soils down her suddenly steep slopes alarming several caribou. They were roused from sleep and bounced away in shock at the noise and at what they thought they could see in the moonlight. The old black bear glanced at the commotion but showed no concern. He had heard the ancient tales of giants and felt blessed to actually see one for himself.
Mòr strolled, as nonchalantly as a giant could, eastwards through the night towards the High Cliffs. Trying to step as carefully as she could, dozing birds and mammals were still scattered hither and thither some unconscious, some just pretending, hoping they were in a bizarre collective dream.
Benn sat down with a thud onto the cliffs on the west coast of the Atlantic and for a while watched the waves nibbling away at the rocks below, enjoying the westerly wind play against his face, a feeling he’d forgotten. Gannets and skewers soared through the watercolour grey skies about him without paying much heed. His low rumbling hum slowly gave way into a new song. If truth be told into the world’s oldest song.
It told of the love between Benn and Mòr and was sang in languages long disappeared from the world, no-one else but Mòr could now understand its words. It described a primal love as old and solid as the oldest of rocks, as beautiful and vibrant as any sky and as deep and enduring as the oceans.
Across the water Mòr echoed back the verses and sang new ones she’d worked on in the centuries since their last song. Her heart ached but also soared with each verse, their love deeper and stronger than ever. The new twists and turns Benn had added to their song excited her and she thought they fitted well with hers. She was soothed.
At the end of the day Mòr and Benn returned to their wilderness homes with new ideas for verses, ones to make their song more beautiful still. They would need work, but they had time.
The parted giants were separated by an ocean that had not always been there and they yearned for the day when the seas would close again, as they thought one day it must. When the Atlantic becomes but a ghost of a memory, then the giants would sing new songs. Joyful songs. Together. That’s what they told themselves.
The reality of tectonics would continue to grind them ever further apart for millennia to come. But fate one day would deal a different hand and start to play a new game.

(733 words) Original was submitted to MWBB Week 25 based on the song ‘Eireann’ by Afro Celt Sound System. Story slightly modified since.