My Plan

From time to time, I post short stories that I have written. Helpful comments about what I've written or suggestions for future stories are most welcome. I also have another blog of stories from my family history

Thursday, 30 June 2011

A Happy Story

Here is a Flash Fiction Friday story, with the following prompt:

Today, the goal is to get optimistic … to be whimsical … to conjure a feeling of lighthearted wonder in your reader (and yourself). Prompt: Be Happy – Write a positive story.
Genre: Open
Word Count: 1000 words
My happy story has come out sounding a bit like a childrens story.  Enjoy!

Pepper and the Hedgehogs
It was the first warmish day early in spring, so Pepper was due to go and colour the blossoms on the fruit trees.  Pepper was a fairy.  She lived at the bottom of a large garden, in a mass of brambles, along with a fairy queen and some other fairies.  Each spring, the fairy queen sent the fairies out to make the garden look beautiful.
Being a fairy, Pepper could fly.  She had beautiful gold filigree wings.  Her hair was the colour of a rainbow.  Most days, Pepper wore a bright red dress, which contrasted nicely with her pale olive green skin.  Colours mattered a lot to her.  Like all fairies, Pepper was very small.  If a human ever spotted her from a distance, for she was careful to never be seen up close, she would look like a large dragon fly.
 “This year, Pepper, you must remember that cherry blossoms should be pink, a pale pink… and apple blossoms are white, so you shouldn’t go near them at all.” said the Fairy queen, just before dawn on that warm day.  The large garden had a several fruit trees.
“Yes, your highness.” said Pepper, “but there are so many pretty colours and it seems a shame not to use them.”
“I do not want any more episodes like the roses last year.” said the Fairy Queen sternly.
Last spring, after obediently colouring the fruit trees more or less as instructed, Pepper had lapsed by painting each rose on each bush a different colour.  Sadly, another fairy had soon spotted this and alerted the Fairy Queen.  She corrected it before any human had seen the strange sight of multi-coloured rose bushes. It was easy to change flowers from white to a colour but not so easy to change between colours or back to white.  Each plant was supposed to have the same coloured flowers from year to year, as Pepper had learnt at fairy school.
“I will be checking your work closely, now go out and see to the cherry trees.” said the Fairy Queen, before dismissing Pepper with a stern nod.
Pepper flew out of the brambles, heading towards the orchard.  It was windier than she expected; a warm wind coming from the south carrying old leaves from the previous autumn with it.  Soon, a gust caught Pepper and blew her towards the wood pile along the back fence between the brambles and the orchard.  Pepper grabbed onto a splinter of wood to stop her self being carried any further by the wind. 
Glancing down, she saw a grumpy hedgehog.  Pepper felt that she was very perceptive of people’s, or in this case, animal’s, moods and she liked everyone to be happy.  Bright colours made people happy.  That was why Pepper had made the multi-coloured roses the year before; it hadn’t worked though, because the Fairy Queen wasn’t happy.
Looking at the hedgehog, Pepper decided that one reason why the hedgehog must be unhappy was because he was all brown.  It briefly occurred to Pepper that all hedgehogs were brown and that maybe he was used to it.  She very quickly dismissed this thought, deciding that this hedgehog was a particularly dull brown.  To cheer up the hedgehog, Pepper waved her wand and turned his quills a bright buttercup yellow.  Now, he looked nice and cheery.
“Hello mister hedgehog.” said Pepper. “What do you think of your new quills?”
“What new quills?” said the hedgehog grumpily.
“Can you see them?  No, I suppose not when you are unrolled like that” she replied, please that she had read his mood correctly.
The hedgehog curled into a ball so that he could see of his quills. “Ooh, I say.  That’s a very nice colour.  My friends will be jealous... do you think you could colour their quills as well?  They don’t all have to be yellow.  One of my friends is particularly fond of red.”
“I didn’t know that hedgehogs liked different colours.” said Pepper.  She was very excited. “I would love to help your friends.”  Pepper looked around as if expecting to see more hedgehogs.  “Where are they?”
“They are not here.  They are in other parts of the garden. I can’t wait to show them my new quills.  Let’s go.”
So Pepper followed the yellow hedgehog.  They set off towards the rose bushes, Pepper fluttering around the hedgehog’s head, chattering away.
 “Mr Hedgehog, why were you grumpy this morning?” Said Pepper
“Oh, because I just woke up from hibernation and was hungry.” said the yellow hedgehog.
Along the way, the hedgehog found a few grubs to eat.  On reaching the garden bed, the hedgehog called out “Heddy! Heddy! Where are you?”
There was a snuffling followed by the appearance of a hedgehog who said. “Ooh, Hoggy, you’re yellow!”
“Yes! It’s thanks to this fairy.” said the yellow Hoggy. “Would you like red quills?”
“Ooh, really, can I?” said Heddy.  With that, Pepper pulled out her wand.
By the end of the afternoon, there were two more red hedgehogs, three blue ones, one green and one pink.  All of them were very pleased with their new quills.
Very tired from making all of the hedgehogs very happy, Pepper headed back to the brambles to have a rest.  It was only when she got back that she remembered the cherry blossoms.  It was too late to do anything about it, so Pepper decided to go to her room and to go to bed.  The next morning, she reported for duty as normal.
“Pepper, the cherry blossoms are looking very pale this year.” said the Fairy Queen. “Very pale indeed, in fact they could almost be considered to be white.”
“I think they will gain some colour in the early morning Sun.” said Pepper. “Actually, I am absolutely sure of this and will go out to check myself, just to make sure.”
You do that Pepper... you do that.” the Queen replied. “And look out for the hedgehogs. I hear that they have come out of hibernation early this year.”

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


This is my first attempt at Flash Friday Fiction (  The story prompt for this week:
Teenagers in Space -
Themed word list: Plutonium, galaxy, robot, photon, and lasers
Genre: Sci-fi, Sci-fi/coming of age or sci-fi/romance
Word Count: 1,300 words
Xelon looked out of the portal at the planet he longed to visit.  Its beautiful blue green surface seemed so inviting compared to the inky blackness of space.  There were stars and galaxies in space that interrupted the black, but they were merely unreachable pin-pricks of light to Xelon. A nearby planet that nearly filled the portal was a much more attractive object.  With his parents busy working and living on the space station that was orbiting the Earth, Xelon had never been down to the planet; he desperately wanted to go there. 
Because gravity was lower in the space station than on Earth, it was generally accepted that if you hadn’t spent substantial time on Earth by the time you were about sixteen, then it would be very detrimental to your health to ever go there.  Gravity was kept low on the station to match Martian gravity, as most people who lived on or passed through the station were more likely to end up in the Martian or Moon bases than on Earth.  Earth people tended to stay on the planet.  Xelon was fourteen and he knew that he had to go to Earth soon if he was ever going to go.  His parents weren’t interested in him going.  They wanted him to take an apprenticeship on Mars in the plutonium mines.  The money was good.  Time spent on Earth adjusting to the gravity there would cause health problems later on Mars.  Xelon didn’t care about money.  He wanted adventure. 
As his parents wouldn’t help him, it would be difficult to get to earth, Xelon realized.  There was a need for passports and permits that required parental approval, which wouldn’t be forthcoming in Xelon’s case.  Some of his school mates have been more fortunate with their parents sending them to Earth for their last years of schooling.  Xelon did have a plan, though.  He would stowaway.  It was simple, really; he would hide in a supply box.  Supply boxes were for food and other organic supplies from the Space Station, the Moon or Mars and they had to be shipped in pressurized and aerated compartments.   With money given to him on his last Birthday, Xelon had paid one of the porters to help him.  It was all arranged that he would go in the next big shipping run, which was due to go the following day.  Xelon was so close to getting to Earth, he could feel it.
The next morning, Xelon skipped school and went to find the porter.  The porter was waiting for him in the store room, as arranged.  It seemed that everything was going to plan.  Xelon climbed into the supply box, which was just big enough that he didn’t feel too cramped.  With him, he had some supplies that would get him through the 10 hour journey to Earth and his backpack containing his most treasure possessions.  Following his arrival on Earth, he had arranged for one of his school colleagues to meet him. 
Xelon felt the supply box move and then a little while later, felt it being strapped into place, presumably in the transporter ship.  Soon, the thrust of the transporter made Xelon feel as heavy as he had ever felt in his life.  It wasn’t very comfortable and for the first time, Xelon wondered what Earth gravity would feel like.  He had never been off the space station so he had only ever experienced the one level of gravity.  Soon, the heaviness disappeared and was replaced by weightlessness. Not long after that, Xelon discovered that weightlessness in a confined space was not very comfortable.  He had been warned about nausea, which he didn’t feel, but not about the awkwardness of trying to avoid his pack and supplies floating around and, occasionally, into him.
Ten hours later, Xelon was desperate to get out of his box.  His torch battery was going flat.  It had been very difficult to eat or drink anything without gravity and relieving himself had been a bit messy as well.  So what had started out as a fun adventure had, within hours, turn rather dark, smelly and uncomfortable.  Then, what must have been Earth gravity kicked in.  Xelon felt pushed into the base of the box and he could hardly move.  When he thought that the movement of the transport had stopped, indicating that they must have landed, instead of feeling excitement, he just felt heavy.
A short time later, Xelon felt the supply box being released from its moorings and being moved.  Every bump was painful and made him feel heavier but the journey didn’t last long.  There were voices and then the lid was opened.  The face looking down on Xelon wasn’t his school mate but a muscular man of uncertain age and very short hair.  Xelon recognized an Agent when he saw one.  No one else had hair like that or the ice hard expression in their eyes.  The Agent had a photon laser in hand.  This meant trouble.
“Do you really think that you could disappear for ten hours from the space station without anyone noticing?” asked the Agent.  “I would ask you to get out of the box, but you’re used to Mars G so I know you can’t move and that you will come along quietly.”
Xelon just looked up at the man, knowing he was right because whatever Xelon might want to do, he was stuck at the bottom of the box and couldn’t move.  Rather than remove Xelon and his pack from the box, the put the box on small hover platform and carried him to the back of a truck.  So far, in his short experience of Earth, it wasn’t looking much different to the Space station.
Three months later, Xelon found himself sitting in a garden attached to the rehabilitation centre, where he had been placed while he adjusted to gravity, pondering his fate.  It turned out that teenage stowaways from the space station and the Moon base were common.  A whole industry had been set up to deal with them.  They weren’t sent back where they came from, as they were viewed as potential trouble makers and having such characters on a space station was deemed too risky.   A single thoughtless act could result in many deaths in space.  Instead, the teenagers went through physical therapy to adjust to Earth gravity and were allowed to finish their education.  Then they were sent out to work in jobs that were considered too menial for anyone to bother making robots to do them.  There they worked until they had paid for their treatment and schooling.
It seemed that it would be some time before Xelon experienced any adventure.  He soon discovered that most Earth cities had been developed in a way that left them looking similar to the Space station, the only difference being gardens and the open sky above.  The novelty of the uninspired city gardens had soon worn off.  There was a very limited variety of trees and flowers grown and no grass at all.  Xelon heard stories about the countryside that had been allowed to go back to its natural state after too many years of human interference.  People were rarely allowed to visit the countryside.
Gradually, it dawned on Xelon that life of Earth was not unlike life on the Space Station.  The only difference was that on the Space Station, he had a family and friends who loved him.  Xelon looked up into the night sky.  He could see one pin-prick of that was much brighter and bigger than the others moving quite fast across the sky.  It was not a star, but the space station.  He longed to go back there to see his family and maybe travel onwards to Mars.  Xelon longed for adventure.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

First Story - Percy the Pink Dragon

 This is a light hearted story I wrote on St David's Day this year. I got my ideas from legends about Welsh Dragons, combined with a related discussion with a couple of work colleagues.
Percy was a pink Dragon.  He was a magenta shade almost as dark as red but still very definitely pink.  Most dragons are either Red or White.  Percy’s brothers and sister were either one colour or the other; none of them was the mixture like he was.  In fact, Percy hadn’t ever met any other pink dragons.  There were plenty of rumours and legends about pink dragons, but these dragons were always somewhere else, at another time.  Still, as Percy was undeniably pink, it was obviously possible for there to be pink dragons.
No one knew why some dragons were born red and some white, so there was no chance of explaining why Percy was Pink.  Both of his parents were red, but further back in his ancestry, there was a mix of the colours, the same as with all dragons.  There had been five eggs in Percy’s clutch and the others were red or white.  The only clue to something odd in Percy’s family was that one of his cousins was white but had one red leg.  Both Percy and his cousin were singled out for special attention, particularly by the other young dragons.  Special attention wasn’t always good.  They were teased for being different.
The elders, however, were very pleased with Percy because the best and more fantastical legends in his clan’s histories often featured a pink dragon at some point. By his very existence, Percy gave weight to the truth of the legends.  Because he was singled out by the elders, the other young dragons were jealous and this gave them another reason to pick on Percy.
Percy’s dragon clan lived high in the Scottish Cairngorm mountains, far in the north and hidden away from human settlements.  However, the dragon legends mostly told tales from many hundreds of years ago when they had lived further south in the Welsh Breacon Beacons, making them Welsh dragons and not really Scottish.  In those days, the only people to be found in the area lived very wild lives, mostly hunting but also farming small holdings, growing just enough to survive, and fighting wars with neighbouring tribes.  On the whole, these people had shown little interest in the dragons.  On the few occasions when dragons and people had met, the people showed due respect.  Now, people just didn’t see the dragons.  This was because being magical creatures, only those who believe in them can see dragons and so few people believe now. 
Percy had seen people at a distance, when he had been flying over the mountains but he tried to avoid them most of the time.  This was not because they posed any danger, but because they looked so tasty and tempting a food.  Recent experience had taught the dragons that eating humans tended to lead to vast numbers of people coming into their territory, trying to find the missing person.  Because there was no body to find, the searching tended to last quite a while and risked leading to further disappearances and searches.  In addition to these problems, one of the legends said that Pink Dragons were the easiest for humans to see, but generally the humans had to have consumed a lot of alcohol or other mind altering substances to see a pink dragon.  As most human’s didn’t believe dragons existed, stories were told about pink elephants and flying pigs instead.  So, Percy was encouraged to avoid areas where people were likely to be.  Instead, he spent a lot of his time around his home settlement.
As pink dragons were the main characters in so many of the legends, Percy liked listening to them.  He often spent time with the elders, asking them to retell the stories.  Everyone’s favourite story was the one about the first pink dragon.
*             *             *
Once, when all of the Dragons had lived in the Breacon Beacons, there had been red clans and there had been white clans. The two colours of dragons kept separate from each other and when dragons of the two colours met, there were fights.  This feuding got so bad, that several dragons were killed and humans had started to notice the fighting.  Some dragons were tricked into taking sides with the people in human battles that were being fought at the time. Soon it seemed that the dragons were fighting in place of the humans, as they were so much bigger and better at it.  Once the dragons realised what was going on, the leader of the white dragons and the leader of the red dragons decided to fight a duel to end the slaughter of their clans.  Dragon duels were fought in caves deep under the mountains, where there were no witnesses; whoever emerged from the caves was the winner.  If both made it out, they had to go back and finish the fight.  So the two warring dragons headed for the caves.  For days, there were constant rumbles as the dragons fought below ground.  These lessened over time, but just when everyone, dragon and human, thought it was all over, there would be another faint rumble.  This went on for months and months.  The rumbles were heard less and less. Eventually, it was all quiet, but no dragon emerged from the caves.
 By this time, the red dragons and the white dragons had spent a lot of time together awaiting the outcome of the duel.  They had realised that in fact, they weren’t that different to each other and that with a bit of effort, they could get along.
At about this time, a young human man came along to find out the result of the fight.  He had to let the humans know which army was the victor and so the winner of the disputed territory.  The dragons explained that it was against their tradition to interfere with a duel; however the young man was insistent and said that he would go down into the cave.  After much discussion, it was decided that an elder of each colour would accompany the man into the cave.
The trio travelled deep into the cave.  There they found a strange site.  There was no sign of the either of the duelling dragons.  All there was, in the largest of the caves, was an egg.  To the dragons, it looked like an ordinary dragon egg.  They couldn’t see anything special about it, other than that it was beginning to crack.  The two elders stood back and watched as the baby dragon broke its way into the world.  In the dark of the cave, the baby looked red.  Therefore, the red dragon elder claimed this as victory for his clan.  The white dragon was not happy.  The man merely looked bemused at the bickering of the dragons and suggested that they take the small dragon out of the cave.  The red dragon carefully picked up the baby and the trio returned to the surface.
Meanwhile, a crowd of dragons and people had gathered around the entrance to the cave to await the outcome of the duel. As the trio emerged from the caves, there were roars of shock from the dragons, which made the people run for cover.  What had shocked the dragons was that the baby wasn’t a red dragon, or a white dragon, it was very definitely pink.  In the daylight, this so shocked the red dragon who was carrying the baby, that he nearly dropped it.
Apart from being pink, the baby dragon looked healthy.  One of the mother dragons, who had a new clutch of her own to look after, offered to take care of the pink baby.  As no one could think of what else to do, this was quickly agreed to.  The dragon and human elders then settled down to discussing the pink dragon.
*             *             *
Percy wasn’t so bothered about the rest of the story because it was about politics, which he thought was boring.  However, he knew that in the end, the fighting stopped because it was agreed that the pink baby was a sign that no one could win the war.

The end...
for now...