Last Christmas

December 25th, 2024. 05:17

‘Thank goodness you ate all the carrots, Rudolph and guided me around Earth. We’ve just made the final delivery, and all before the signs of that thick fog reforming. 

What a night it’s been! Not as many mince pies or glasses of brandy as previous years, but at least Mrs Demurrer left out some of her homemade Christmas cookies for me again. She never fails to bake cookies for me and leave some carrots for you all despite claiming to loathe Christmas and baking. 

However, those cookies tasted slightly different this year, but Mrs Demurrer never fails us, does she? Did your carrots taste the same as they usually do? No, you won’t find her on the naughty list.

Never seen a full moon quite like this one. It looks a bit mysterious like it should be shining on Halloween, not on Christmas night. But it’s always our sign that we’re on the correct route to the North Pole.

That way, boys, towards the moon, and we’ll soon be home.’ 

***

December 25th, 2025. 05:17

Christmas would never be the same for millions of people on Earth. 

Empty stockings hang over fireplaces and at the end of beds. Floors showed fallen pine needles and broken baubles rather than gifts underneath millions of Christmas trees. 

Nobody would find out that the strange moon that followed Santa’s sleigh the previous year was the type many claimed to see when they departed this world.

Looking out of her kitchen window, Mrs Demurrer switched on the kettle and looked out at the strange full moon fading away as thick fog formed around it. Chuckling to herself, she picked up the plate the Christmas cookies had been placed on the previous night and slid them into the kitchen bin. She knew this was the last Christmas she’d have to bake Christmas cookies.

Image for the short story Last Christmas, showing Santa on his sleigh being pulled by three reindeers
Last Christmas

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Can You Solve The Mystery Of A Blackmailed Missing Husband And Father?

Don’t go looking in puddles.

Be careful when taking toys, that have the ability to communicate, from a child.

Are the unexpected calls from a missing wife and mother on a child’s toy phone for real?

My latest short story, ‘Puddles’, is this month’s featured story over on the blog of Marsha Ingrao in her ‘Story Chat‘ feature.

Can you solve the mystery of a missing husband and father who believes his 8-year-old daughter is blackmailing him?

Click on the image and join lots of other readers who have already left their answers and thoughts of just what is going on in the lives of an ordinary family who may not be who you think they are.

Image of a young girl holding a toy teddy bear and giraffe
Image credit: Marsha Ingrao

Puddles – by Hugh W. Roberts

After you have solved the mystery of the puddles, why not write a short story for Story Chat? Your story will be read by a new audience who will interact with you. It’s your chance to promote your writing, your blog and yourself.

Click here to contact Marsha for more details.

Comments are closed here. Please leave comments over the original post on Marsha’s blog.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Thursday Doors – Going Back

Have you ever been through a door that wasn’t there when you were going back to exit it?

It happened to me. It was back in 2017 when I first published a Thursday Doors post that included these doors.

Photo of a black opened door that shows a painting of two slightly jarred opened glass-panelled, white doors that look out on a white cat sat on a balcony that looks towards the sea

When I pressed the publish button, I was transported through the doors and could not get back.

The white cat was very friendly, but everything else wasn’t as it seemed.

Somebody mentioned who or whatever passed by me into my world when places got traded carried on with writing and publishing posts on my blog.

You may have thought it was me who left you a comment or two but was it?

Thankfully, when Terri Webster Schrandt posted ‘Going Back‘ as the theme for this week’s Sunday Stills prompt, who or whatever was here took up the challenge and got transported back through the doors.

I’m happy to say that I instantly found myself going back to where I should have been for the last four years.

My fingers are crossed that I won’t be going back through those doors when I push the publish button.

Did/Will you miss me?

This week’s doors are located in Hove, East Sussex, in the United Kingdom.

Have you ever come across doors that have transported you back to another time and another place?

Linking to the weekly photography challenge ‘Thursday Doors,’ hosted by Dan Antion who blogs at No Facilities. Click here to join hundreds of other participants with your Thursday Doors.

If you’re enjoying the pieces of flash fiction I’m including with my Thursday Doors posts then you may like Glimpses, my first book of flash fiction and short stories.

Glimpses

28 short stories and pieces of flash fiction that take the reader on a rollercoaster of twists and turns.

Available on Amazon

Paperback – £4.99

Kindle – £0.99

Join Hugh on social media. Click on the links below.

Check out some of other Thursday Doors Posts

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Follow The Feathers #flashfiction

July 8, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features feathers. It can be a single feather or more. Where did the feather come from? Does it hold meaning to the character or story? Go where the prompt leads!


Follow The Feathers – by Hugh W. Roberts

Slowly opening the front door, thirteen-year-old Adrian listened for signs of life.

Confident that nobody was home, he stepped inside.

Should he go to the kitchen for snacks or upstairs to turn on his new Playstation?

The strange coloured feathers had the answer. Adrian picked them up as he ascended the stairs.

Walking past his parents’ bedroom, he suddenly stopped. She was wearing her favourite dress and feathered boa, applying makeup and doing her hair in the dressing table mirror, a figure he knew.

“Mum?”

“Adrian!” came the deep voice of his father, turning round to face his son.

***

Image of a white feather being highlighted against a blue sunny sky.
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join in.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background

Click on the ‘Diversity With A Twist’ image to read my post ‘How To Write Yourself Into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It’ on my new column at the Carrot Ranch


Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you may also like…

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Symbols #flashfiction

July 1, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the old photograph.” What is captivating about it? Where did it come from? How does it incite a story? Go where the prompt leads!


Symbols – by Hugh W. Roberts

“Have there been any other gay people in your family, Richard?” asked Adrian as he put the old photograph down.

“Have a look at the photo again. I think it’ll answer your question. Tea?”

Nodding his head, Adrian studied the photo again. “The older man is hot. Who is he?”

“My great-grandfather. Mum said my grandmother took the photo in Poland in 1939.”

“Why does he have a star and what looks like a triangle on his shirt?”

If that photo were in colour, you’d see a pink triangle. But the family have never wanted to talk about it.”

***

Image of a pile of old black and white photos
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join in.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background

Click on the ‘Diversity With A Twist’ image to read my post ‘How To Write Yourself Into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It’ on my new column at the Carrot Ranch


Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you may also like…

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Three Houses #flashfiction

June 24, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a cat named Rainbow on an outdoor adventure. Rainbow is any cat of any identification. What would draw a cat outside? Go where the prompt leads!


Three Houses – by Hugh W. Roberts

Having come from wherever it had departed, the cat’s eyes peered at the three houses.

The first was too dark, dull and lifeless. Nobody lived there.

The second was charming, full of life; every window opened with a mixture of human voices and music emerging — no chance of any peace there.

A rainbow flag fluttered from the third and, although familiar, seeped grief.

A tragic-looking middle-aged man named Adrian answered Rainbow’s scratching at the front door.

“Richard? Is that you? You always told me you’d come back as a cat.”

Tears of comfort allowed grief to leave empty-handed.

***

Image of a fluffy cat with a flower crown on its head, taking a rest on grass.
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Adrian and Richard appeared in last week’s piece of flash fiction. Click here to read it.

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join in.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background

Click on the ‘Diversity With A Twist’ image to read my post ‘How To Write Yourself Into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It’ on my new column at the Carrot Ranch


Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you may also like…

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Edge Of Summer #flashfiction

June 18, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that features a solstice. What is the era and setting? Use the solstice as a celebration, metaphor, or talking point. Go where the prompt leads!


Edge Of Summer – by Hugh W. Roberts

On the longest day of the year, his most prolonged problem was about to end.

Looking over the edge of the cliff, Adrian wondered if he could fly. After all, he was a little underweight, and although daylight had broken, nobody but his best friend would witness him flying.

At 04:31, his problem died when he took the final jump and placed his lips on the mouth of Richard.

As both young men enjoyed the moment, the butterflies in their stomachs did the flying.

The summer solstice of 2021 was the day they both came out to the world.

***

Image of sunrise at Stonehenge on the day of the Summer solstice
Image Credit: Charli Mills

The summer solstice took place at 04:31 BST on June 21, 2021 in the United Kingdom.

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join in.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background

Click on the ‘Diversity With A Twist’ image to read my post ‘How To Write Yourself Into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It’ on my new column at the Carrot Ranch


Enjoyed this piece of flash fiction? Then you may also like…

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Push The Button #flashfiction

June 10, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about a new way to office. Has the office changed? Can we return to normal after big changes or time away? Go where the prompt leads!


Push The Button – by Hugh W. Roberts

Sitting on a cloud surrounded by harp-playing cherubs wasn’t quite the ‘new way to office’ Stella was expecting.

“Don’t push any of those extra buttons on your desk until I get back,” said her unique boss. “I’m off to get my beard trimmed.”

All but one button was marked. ‘Coronavirus, Heatwave, Flash-flooding.’ But what would the unmarked button do if pushed?

Not resisting temptation, Stella started slowly descending after pushing the unnamed button.

“Welcome back to your old office,” cackled a horned figure beset by fire. “The “Master said you wouldn’t last long working in those new office surroundings.”

***

Image of a office which includes a desk and chair with a computer sitting on the desk
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join in.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background

Click on the ‘Diversity With A Twist’ image to read my post ‘How To Write Yourself Into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It’ on my new column at the Carrot Ranch

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Woof! #flashfiction

June 3, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story being leashed. Is it literal or metaphorical? Who or what is leashed. How does it set the tone? Go where the prompt leads!


Woof! – by Hugh W. Roberts

Panting, Rusty admired the world around him. Doing this got him excited. A hard pull on his leash forced him to stop fantasising.

“Good boy, Rusty. You deserve a treat for being so good today,” said his owner. 

A treat,’ thought Rusty. ‘I hope that means doing this again today.

Twenty minutes later, an exhausted Rusty stood up and asked his owner if they could try out what they’d been doing with the leash down at the new leather bar. 

As his boyfriend’s eyes lit up, Rusty knew the thought of other leashed men on parade was a winner.

***

Image of a dog on a leash being walked in a field
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join in.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background

Click on the ‘Diversity With A Twist’ image to read my post ‘How To Write Yourself Into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It’ on my new column at the Carrot Ranch

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Murder In Picnic Wood #flashfiction

May 27, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes tiny flying insects. Think about how the insects shape the scene or add to the action. Go where the prompt leads!


Murder In Picnic Wood – by Hugh W. Roberts

Swatting away the tiny flying insects from around her, Mary turned to her husband and demanded they headed home.

“It’s too hot, too humid, and these insects are bugging me.” 

Laughing at what he thought was a joke, Micheal picked up a can of insect repellant while the persistent nagging carried on. 

“Use it! Use it!” demanded Mary.

Two hours later, Michael opened a can of cold beer in the garden of his now nag-free life. ‘I must buy more insect repellant,’ he told himself. 

Twenty-three miles away, the tiny flying insects feasted on what remained in Picnic Wood. 

***

Photo of a daisy flower with a small black fly on the white petals
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join in.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background

Click on the ‘Diversity With A Twist’ image to read my post ‘How To Write Yourself Into A Piece Of Fiction Without Knowing It’ on my new column at the Carrot Ranch

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Story Chat: Building Your Confidence One Short Story at a Time – A Guest Post By Marsha Ingrao @MarshaIngrao

Do you like writing or reading short stories? Have you heard of Story Chat?

My guest, Marsha Ingrao, has an invitation for you.

***

Image showing a group of readers around a table discussing a story they have all read.
Image credit: Marsha Ingrao

A Short History

Last October, I asked Hugh Roberts if he wanted to write a guest post for me. He agreed. We both thought a short story for Halloween would be fun.

When Hugh’s story got lots of comments, we thought it would be fun to do a summary post, turning the post into an event with a Book Chat ambience.

Authors Win

Story Chat helps authors. They get double promotion for their story and their overall story-writing ability. 

● First, the story itself is published by someone other than themselves, so it’s put in front of a brand new audience. That is a big deal that looks good on a resume if authors try to publish the traditional way. 

● Secondly, they get free feedback on the first published post. They have a chance to see the story from their reader’s perspective and interact with them and listen to what they say to each other. 

● Third, they get additional exposure when the recap is published. There are usually more comments on this post as well. There is always a resurgence of interest in the original post at this time, too, because after reading the recap, some people want to go back and re-read the story either because they missed it or missed a certain point that someone else caught.

Image of a quote from Hugh Roberts about a short story he had featured on Story Chat
Quote – Hugh Roberts
Quote from Geoff Le Pard about his story after it appeared on Story Chat
Quote – Geoff Le Pard

Story Chat Attendees Win

The commenters sitting around the table respond to each other and to the author. They bat the ideas around in the mishmash of hundreds of comments in the comments section.

After the story airs for a couple of weeks, my job with people reblogging and pushing it on social media is to pull the comments into something that follows in a natural sequence.

I list the attendees and link to one of their posts, and they have one more link to a different post on their first comment. 

Image of a quote from D. Wallace Peach after leaving a comment on Story Chat
Quote – D. Wallace Peach
Image of a quote from Charli Mills regarding the Story Chat feature
Quote – Charli Mills

What Do You Have to Lose?

I can’t see any way that you will lose with submitting a story or leaving comments on one of the featured stories.

All you have to do is send me an unpublished story – one that hasn’t been published on your blog or used in a writing contest. If you like, you can use outcrops of a longer novel you’ve written if that part was never published. You can write the beginning, middle or end of a sequel to a book you’ve already written. 

Word-count is 500-1,000 words, and in that time, you need to develop a setting, beginning, middle, and end to a plot and develop the characters. If you are accustomed to writing a piece of flash fiction for the Carrot Ranch 99-word flash fiction challenge, you shouldn’t have a problem in meeting the restrictions of 1,000 words.

Readers will have to do more than skim the story, or they might have to come back and re-read it. This is a fun but somewhat scholarly discussion. 

Image of a quote from Cathy Code after
Quote – Cathy Cade

Why This Guest Post?

The monthly Story Chat event is 100% dependent on readers and authors.

If no one submits a story, Story Chat dies. If the story is published on Always Write and nobody reads or comments on it, Story Chat dies. As the Story Chat event host, my only job is to give you a venue to have a deep discussion about a great story. If that doesn’t happen, then the event dies.

If there are ways to improve it to draw in more authors and commenters, deepen the discussion, lighten the discussion, change Story Chat in any way to meet your needs, please leave a comment for me on this post. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Image of a quote from Cathy Cade about Story Chat
Quote – Cathy Cade

We have two more Story Chats scheduled. Our May Story Chat author is Anne Stormont, a Scottish friend of mine with a short story romance with all the adventure you could cram into 1,000 words. I loved it, and I think you will too. 

Don’t be put off if you don’t care for a particular genre. I don’t like horror stories, but Hugh sent me a horror story right out of the shoot, and wow, what a great story it was. If you haven’t read it, it’s fabulous, and so was the discussion.

We have Australian writer, Debbie Harris, from Deb’s World for our June Story Chat. The stories come in two weeks or more ahead of publication so that I can check for edits and provide illustrations if desired. 

Some authors prefer no illustrations, so I give them an option now. I do not change spellings of English, American or Australian words.

Submit and Schedule Now

If you would like or have been thinking of submitting a story, procrastinate no longer. Submit your story by contacting me via the following link – Always Write Contact.

And if you have any questions about the Story Chat feature, don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments section.

***

Photo of writer and blogger Marsha Ingrao
Writer and blogger Marsha Ingrao

Marsha Ingrao is a retired educator and wife of a retired realtor. Her all-consuming hobby is blogging which she says has changed her life.

Marsha’s friends live all over the world. In November 2020, she and her husband, Vince, sold everything and retired to the mile-high desert of Prescott, AZ.

They live less than five miles from the Granite Dells, four lakes, and hundreds of trails with their dog, Kalev, and two cats, Moji and Nutter Butter. Vince’s sister went with them and lives close by.

Masha says that every day is a new adventure.

Connect with Marsha

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Do you have any questions or comments for Marsha? Leave them in the comments section. She’d be delighted to hear from you.

Copyright © 2021 hughsviewsandnews.com – All rights reserved.

Flash Jacks #flashfiction

April 29, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the phrase, “hit the road, Jack.” You can interpret the phrase any way you like — road trip, goodbye, or story. Go where the prompt leads!


Flash Jacks – by Hugh W. Roberts

I boarded the bus to London with my whole life in a black bin bag and met the driver’s piercing blue eyes and incredible smile.

“Ticket, please,” said the owner.

It was love at first sight. The badge on his shirt told me we had the same name – ‘Jack.’

‘Hit the road, Jack. Take us to our ‘together’ future,’ I said without speaking. 

For the next incredible seven months, we were lovers.

On the day of my death, ‘Hit the road, Jack‘ were the last words he screamed at me before possessiveness forced him to mow me down.   

***

Image of a woman driving a metallic blue truck looking through the drivers' window
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch. Click here to join in.

Diversity with a Twist Banner showing some coloured straight lines and pens on a white background

Click on the image to check out my first post, How Blogging and Rod Serling Helped Me Conquer Dyslexia, on my new column at the Carrot Ranch.

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