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I’ve finished it! I’m going to post this short story, and not look at it again for a few days. I want to enter it into a competition and the cut off date is the 1st of May. So until then, I might look at some more short stories and edit them… or do my assignments for uni. Lol.

Anyway, read, enjoy, tell me what you think.

Lenny’s Graveyard Run

By: Lisa Harte

April 2015.

The bus barrelled down the dirt road; the driver hunched over the big clockwork steering wheel as close as he could get.

His scrawny fingers were wrapped around the cool lack metal so tightly that his knuckles looked ready to split his skin.

His name was Lenny, and his mood was foul, not that there was anyone to notice but such was his lot in life.

He was a bus driver. So he drove.

And he fumed.

– Goddamn sell-out corporate company. Work like hell, put in the hours, the days, the weeks, for years and years, but does that count? Noooo. It sure don’t. One lousy ‘mistake’ and it’s like you’re a newbie they can push around. You get the goddamn, stinking, graveyard run. –

Lenny hauled at the wheel

– And that prick of an inspector. He was just one of those grunts, and they promote HIM and every word that comes out his his ass is like pure gold. A stupid PC price that probably wipes his ass on brown paper just to show he’s integrated. And anyway. I was right! I did NOT make a mistake. When it’s the job I am always right, they’re just too stupid to know it. –

It looked like it may rain.

– And that dumb tramp, the complainant? What a world we live in when somebody like HER is believed more than a professional. It don’t make sense. All I did was stand up for the now good old fashioned, and solid values. Then BANG. Everyone hates me. –

It was raining for real. Unregulated, and uncontrolled rain started to pelt the panoramic windshield of his bus. Lenny could feel the blood pumping to his face, in the reflection he was red. Vermillion red.

So red that it could have a pulse.

– Great. Just great. If this were my regular route there’d be nice controlled weather for for city life and business needs. Out here it’s chaos for God’s sake! It rains where and when it feels like it!

Lenny could just imagine the dirt turning into mud that would splash up against the lovely chrome sheen on his bus. The mud would cover the ungrateful passengers and unregulated water, and they would then stomp and trek through his lovely pristine bus.

– Don’t they know how hard I work to keep their stretch out? Don’t they appreciate that I clean the floors and scrape their leftovers from the bottoms of the seats! Nooooooo! –

The angrier he got the more he stomped on the accelerator.

The dashboard bleeped and a light flashed red to get his attention, the computer overload the mute he’d activated as soon as he boarded.

“Caution, Comrade,” Lenny muttered, snarling his lips up and making his voice sound high and winy, imitating the voice that he knew was going to come.

Caution, Comrade. Speed has now exceeded Federal Regulations. Please rectify or lose manual control as per Company regulations.”

– Naturally, the damn computer’s voice is delivered in the nonsensical drone of a woman. Of course it is. There is always a woman nagging you.-

The bus driver continued to mumble about the injustice of women and their ‘nit-picking’, but still he complied and eased his foot off the pedal.

After the ‘incident’, Lenny was sent to the company’s counsellor to teach the man some calming techniques. At first it was all corporate bureaucratic nonsense to him, he was furious when they told him he had to take some anger management sessions with shrink or else he would be in danger of losing his job. The anger drained out of the Lenny with that information, he was for once afraid. He went to the appointment, he sat in the waiting room and he sweated more than he had ever before.

It was now or never. Lenny gave it a try.

            – Breathing colours, for God’s sake. What a joke. Then the shrink tells me that the colours will change as I breathed in, and then out. I was meant to imagine that the negative colours were being filtered out… Or something like that. I tell ya, I’m so glad it was a guy telling me this crap. It’s the only way that it made sense. It was a bit prissy, but whatever. –

Lenny was starting to feel calm again after imagining that he was breathing in a bright, fluorescent pink and when he exhaled the colour turned into a very calm, and soothing blue.

Then the computer bleeped at him, a cyan blue light flashed and the computer again spoke in her honeyed voice.

‘Approaching fare stage. Boarding passenger imminent.’

Enraged again, Lenny glared through the rain flowing down his windshield. Then his eyes narrowed to slits as he scowled at the dashboard.

Then he snarled.

“Computer. Unregulated weather conditions are not optimum for passenger boarding.”

“Detroit State Incorporation Company Regulations, Section 10, Paragraph 9, clearly state that -“

“Yeah, yeah.”

Lenny muted the computer again. He knew the Detroit State Incorporation Company Regulations by heart. He knew exactly what the computer would have said to him. He has nightmares about that computer’s voice.

The bus eased to a stop.

Lenny took one more calming breath and touched the dashboard, the glass doors whooped open.

The passenger was wet.

And muddy.

The passenger was a woman.

Lenny rolled his eyes heavenward and sighed.

– Mighta known. –

“Destination and stand still for ID scan. On the mark.”

– Oh shit. I forgot to say please.-

The woman stepped to the mark, she was holding herself in a way that made her look small. Lenny was instantly on his guard. In his mind, women only made themselves seem vulnerable and demure for a reason.

“Sir, I desire to go somewhere I can find shelter. As to my destination, I have no idea where I am.”

– Great, this is really my night. NOT. –

Lenny said nothing. He sat scowling at her doe a few uncomfortable seconds.

“How much money you got?”

“Please excuse me, Sir. But I have none.”

Lenny gave a tortured sigh.

“Then why did you wave me down?”

His words came out in a screech, but the woman was unmoved.

Lenny glared at the dashboard. Readout said that she was registered as female, her name – Carma something that he couldn’t pronounce or even tried to. No present employment or residential status.

– Goddamn itinerants. Weird names and no money. It figures. Only somebody like this would be out here, in the sticks, at this time of night. –

While this battle was going on in Lenny’s head, the woman, Carma Something, was not phased by his instructions and alighted the bus, and out of the rain.

Then all deference gone, she shook her wet hair, water splattered against the glass. No fear. She looked Lenny the bus driver straight in the eye.

“I can pay in other ways.”

Just in case he was unsure what she meant, the woman began to unbutton her coat.

Lenny fell back on Company Regs.

            “You WILL desist, madam!”

            – My God. Did I just say that? –

Lenny didn’t get a chance to finish.

He didn’t get a chance to finish because when the woman unbuttoned her coat it was to draw out a Police Pistol Mark 5 with witch she shot the driver neatly between the eyes.

She enjoyed it. Every little bit of it.

The way his eyes popped, the way his jaw sagged onto his chest and the way he flopped back when the bullet hit.

As if he had enough and leaned back, weary of it all.

Carma had lifted the pistol odd a foolishly trusting detective. She persevered it to the MArk 3 she carried before. It had much better action and a decent silencer, thus a much better, and a calmer shot.

She opened the driver’s booth and looked at the body. Neat and tidy, hair greased back, uniform immaculate.

It was likely to be all his own work.

Mark’s like this – she scanned the ID plate – Leonard Bronsen, were getting rarer.

Control freaks, the right guy if the right guy’s always right. A man who would beat a woman down into submission. Why not? He would think that is how things should be.

Carma frisked the body and got nothing she could use.

House keys on a ring.

A wallet.

Empty of course, except for an appointment card for a downtown shrink. It figured. Too little too late, Lenny, Carma thought. Yes, Mr. Leonard Bronsen saw women as drudges, whores and bitches. You got one right.

She dragged the body out into the night. The boots clunked as rattled on the metal stairs and then Lenny’s lifeless body squelched as he hit the mud.

Back on board, Carma tapped the dashboard.

“Confirm present location please.”

A map appeared.

She let the computer auto-drive her to some more congenial spot and sat back.

It certainly felt good to be out of the rain.

La Fin.

1, 490 words.

In my Reading Poetry seminar, we were given David Cameron’s speech on immigration from The 24th November 2014, and tasked to write a found poem.

This is mine:

“I”

Today
I
Want
to talk about immigration.
That is what
I
Want.
It needs to be –
Controlled.
It needs to be –
Within.
and it needs to be centred around –
What
I
Want.

(By Lisa Harte, 2015)

On the school run, my daughter Lilianna decided to call the side walk ‘The Red Bone Forest’, it’s red cement you see. But we got to talking about what this forest would look like. Kids do have a massive imaginative scope, and in broad daylight holding mommy’s hand spooky stories are safe to speak of.

I’m sitting in Costa coffee, waiting for my friends from English Lit to turn up before we head off to Northumbria University for a day of workshops and lectures (I even crossed the damn bridge without screaming!) and well, the words just started to flow. Here is the begging of a new story:

The Red Bone Forest is a scary place where goblins gather in their hoards and you have to cross the Troll Bridge to enter, though why would any sane person choose to do so is beyond most people. The forest bed is covered in a thick, dry moss that has the same colour as dried blood, but rather than crunch under foot it oozes something thick and pungent. The trees, black and this of trunk leer at your, with long gnarly branches that seek to grab you at ever turn. The forest could be mistaken for being alive, as the canopy will change, seeking to blot out the light so that the dark ghouls will feel more at ease to come out and snatch the wandering souls.

But why is it called the Red Bone Forest? The trees aren’t red, and there are no bones around for anything that enters is eaten whole. And don’t be mistaken to think that the forest is haunted or cursed, I assure you that the residents are very much present and accounted for. It is their own deviousness that gives the trees and wood their own malevolence.

No. I’m afraid the tale goes far back into our memories, it involves a beloved king and his special armour, his enchantress of a daughter and what befell their family. So sick back listeners, put the light on and beware of shadows. This tale is not something to be listened to lightly….

When he woke up, he could smell burning. Ian’s head throbbed. Opening his eyes was torture and the smell of burning fish sent white flashes through the back of his eyes. The stupid bitch is cooking again, he seethed. Ian belched. Long and hard. He thought he might bring something up, but a few fist pounds to his chest later and he felt like he could sit up without being projectile.

 

He groaned as he sat up, and threw off his duvet dejectedly. Trying to regain his composure to fight of the nausea of far too much drink, Ian flexed his yellow toes and wiggled around so that he could scratch his ass. Again, a belch came up so strong that he thought he would explode. When he didn’t he gave himself a mental high five, but the smell was motivation enough to move.

 

He staggered into the door frame. Ian didn’t even notice but he heard the loud crack as the wood gave way to his bloated body. That was all he registered. He didn’t care. He had to focus on getting down the stairs to tell the woman to stop her cooking. Why couldn’t she just use the microwave like all his mates wives? 

 

The stairs narrowed in front of him. He never remembered them being this shape and when he went to reach of the banister he missed. Twenty years in this house and he missed! He managed to land on the second landing in the stairs without much hard damage. Ian sat there, a lump in the corner trying to stop the world from spinning. He would have happily gone back to sleep there, curled up in a safe ball. But then he got a a woooooff of the kippers. Through the smell of burnt char there came fish. Mmmm. Fried kippers, Ian started to drool as he closed his heavy eye lids.

 

He woke with a snort. Suddenly alert and with a purpose. He staggered down the rest of the stairs with a dexterity he didn’t posses before and stumbled into the kitchen. Without any regard he dropped himself into an empty chair and banged his beefy hands on the Formica table.

 

“I’m parched!” Ian announced.

 

The woman tossed a plate to his space, and then slammed the cutlery down. Oooooooooh, someone is in a mood, Ian sniggered to himself.

 

“Did you hear me, woman? Drink!”

 

The woman walked over with the skillet, it’s still sizzling and Ian forgets that he’s thirsty. Suddenly he is hungrier than he has ever been.

 

“Where were you last night?” The woman said, spatula held like a shield.

 

“Mind your own fookin’ business,” Ian growled. 

 

“I don’t want you here anymore,” the woman went on.

 

Ian snorted.

 

She emptied the skillet on he plate. It was lush breakfast; kippers, mushrooms, beans, oooooh and those little fried onions, Ian got all excited.

 

“I want you gone,” the woman repeated herself.

 

Ian, with a mouth full of food expressed an expletive at her. 

 

Thinking himself clever, he looked up to see how she took it.

 

The last thing Ian saw was a black round circle closing in on his face…

 

Just uploaded my first story on wattpad:

http://www.wattpad.com/story/2574236-the-cedar-witch

My 3rd assignment came back yesterday – FINALLY!!! – and the tutor said once I made my corrections I should submit it to one of the magazines I’ve researched. Ha! Of course she pointed out that they probably get loads of submissions and not to get my hopes up but still! I was so jazzed that as soon as I tightened up my sentences and fixed a few tense lapses I submitted it. It wasn’t until after I sent the email that I realised I forgot to put ENGLAND on the bottom of my address, and this is an American magazine. Whoops.

Response time is about 2 months the online submission guide says, the payment is pretty lowest but I wold get a free copy of the magazine. This might not seem like much but it’s one less thing for me to buy – yes I have bought this magazine before – and as I’m not too attached to the story I’ve just tried to sell I’m feeling quite proud of myself just for being in a position to try.

I’ve also realised that this particular story I’ve redrafted about 8 times. When that penny dropped I kinda laughed. Knowing that redrafting many times is not a sign of failure but growth. Ian Irvine one of my favourite authors just posted on his Facebook account that he has redrafted his plot sequence 8 times already and it still has loads of scribbles and adjustments on it.

My final thought is that a body of work is a lot like an oil painting; to the artist it is never finished.

10:4 /

I hate having to wait for the mail every morning. I’m currently doing a long distance writing course and instead of opting to do it all online I decided that because I’m rather nostalgic I opted to have my assignments done by post…. It’s gonna be 2 weeks now and I really really hope that my assignment comes back because i have the 3rd one all ready to send off right away. I’m very proud of myself for that, getting on top of things is something in struggle with but I successfully batted aside my chronic depression for long enough to complete my assignment…. Now I just have to wait to send it off.

If all I get today is another blank envelope from a broadband company and a letter of sales bs from my bank I might just scream in frustration….

Luckily tomorrow is Halloween so if I do my neighbours will just think I’m practicing. Ha.

10-4 /

I finished My first draft of The Cedar Witch this morning, I also only went over my aim for 4 000 words by 200 so I am rather impressed with myself. I’m glad that I chose to keep out the hobgoblins because that not only would have added too much bulk but also it wasn’t relevant to the story. One brilliant thing I am learning the more I write is to control word vomit. Haha. Still, I will be keeping that bit about the hobgoblins for another story.

So what no? Well I’m gonna leaves for a bit, read it again with fresh eyes to make sure I am accurate with the tense and typos, then decide if I am brave enough to post it on wattpad. S between now and then m going to try and read up more on this whole electronic rights business…. Because if I am honest it still gives me a bloody headache.

If I post this story on a site like wattpad does that mean I can’t try and sell it to a magazine or ezine if I wanted to? What if I posted it to a blog?

The mind boggles.

10-4/

Well I do think that writing writing over 5 000 words over 2 days by hand is a good achievement. writing a further 3 000 words on the iPad has totally killed my fingers so I am calling it a night. Well so far, knowing me I might add some more before bed. Until then though I am going to continue reading The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts.

Peace out!