‘Dark brown voices, buttons and bows’ – Eight Days of Ether

Day 8 -2Eight Days of Ether: every day a new theme and only 24 hours to submit.

Day 8 – Song and Dance

Dark brown voices, buttons and bows. We’re in Jackson, me and Jude, for the show. I have a two-day beard and my feet hurt like hell. I sling them up on the table and lean back.

Oh but this was fun! Once I’d set myself the challenge of using song titles, music, band, or show titles to tell the story I was off checking lyrics. Would anyone remember the Kinks? Probably. The Hollies though – risky. There are 25 in there at least, some of which my subconscious contributed without telling me! I should make a list, see if it gets added to!  Here’s the link





This is my list, there may be more! Dark brown voices buttons and bows cheat-sheet


‘Daniel’s Level’ – Eight Days of Ether

Day 7-2Eight Days of Ether: every day a new theme and only 24 hours to submit.

Day 7 – Family

Daniel’s Level. ‘The army? Him?’ Jacqui is stunned. Sophie though, is intrigued. Steve doesn’t look army, he looks – gamey.

A little bit sci fi but with some fancy reality underpinning it – the US army really has been recruiting via online video games (MMOGs[1]). Virtual reality is being used in all sorts of ways – including treating soldiers for PTSD, and training doctors and paramedics in both basic and emergency medicine[2]. Here’s the link


[1] Massive Multiplayer Online Games. I put my typo in the story down to preemptive channelling of the final theme, Song and Dance!

[2] Imperial College London. Dave Taylor – a research colleague – is head of Virtual Worlds and Medical Media and if that isn’t a job title to die for, I don’t know what is! http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/alumni/newssummary/news_22-4-2008-14-24-37


‘When you can’t go on’ – Eight Days of Ether

Day 6 -2Eight Days of Ether: every day a new theme and only 24 hours to submit.

Day 6 – Tragedy

When you can’t go on. Awards ceremony. Posh frock; pale peach …

A very cheap shot, this one! When the clear impetus was towards difficult human experiences, I only heard The Bee Gees[1]. It’s a 22 worder and, ladies, you’ll know what I’m saying! Here’s the link


[1] Tragedy – in case you’re so very, very young http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPcsMMEMbfw


‘The People Indoors’ – Eight Days of Ether

Day 5 -1Eight Days of Ether: every day a new theme and only 24 hours to submit.

Day 5 – The People Indoors.

‘Boring,’ says The Charlie. He’s The Paul’s opposite but the upshot is the same, pulling the decision away from absolute certainty back to something more lively. He rarely has any ideas of his own though, these are Carole’s prerogative.

Risk, like adventure, is in the mind of the taker. For some of us, a roller coaster ride is beyond our need for excitement but for others, it’s jumping off a platform[1] at the edge of space. Well, maybe just one other! Strangely, risky decisions are more likely to be made by groups despite the fact that the individuals themselves would be more conservative. It’s called the Risky-Shift[2] phenomenon and it shows how extreme views pull other group members along the dimension of risk towards a view they wouldn’t have held otherwise. Usually, this would be an external event – one you can leave if you wish – but what if the debate was taking place within? There is a much debated condition that used to be called multiple personality disorder and now goes by the name divided or dissociative identity disorder. People with this condition are reported to experience multiple personalities often battling for supremacy, some of which actually take over so that the ‘main’ personality has no idea what happened during that time. This story is about what happens when the acutely balanced need for risk that keeps this individual safe is suddenly upset by a new, more extreme entity. Here’s the link


[1] Felix Baumgartner. No, no, no, no, no! http://news.sky.com/story/997627/space-jump-felix-baumgartner-sets-leap-record

[2] Also called group polarisation or cautious shift among other things http://changingminds.org/explanations/theories/risky_shift.htm


‘Where Things Come From’ – Eight Days of Ether

Day 4-1Eight Days of Ether: every day a new theme and only 24 hours to submit.

Day 4 – Desire

Where Things Come From. Chocolates – dark and bitter and containing surprises such as a chilli-coated scorpion or a gingered locust.

Desire is sometimes, I think, about things we find ourselves valuing above almost anything else even though they’re often shallow and meaningless. But sometimes it’s about a deeper, more personal need, a longing for something solid, profoundly meaningful such as a connection with other people that is unconditional. This story, at first glance, seems to be saying a lot about materialism – showing off an acquisition of products – but really it’s about the second; the lonely, needy person who has no one to share anything with. Here’s the link


‘When’ – Eight Days of Ether

Day 3-2Eight Days of Ether: every day a new theme and only 24 hours to submit.

Day 3 – Time

When. When you don’t have any left because something in you stopped working. When you have too much and it hangs like wet blankets in your head and over your eyes. When someone steals it by gossiping …

I own up right away to hearing ‘If’[1] in the background all the way through writing this and I apologise to the spirit of Rudyard Kipling for my impertinence. This is not so much one story as many; probably ones we’ve all experienced – or will – and in a way, it’s also a list but without the numbers. Lists, I’ve found (via The Verb on BBC Radio 3) can be poetic because of their rhythm and the white spaces they leave, but with When, there’s anything but white space –  I just let it set its own tempo and say its piece without interruption. Here’s the link


[1] ‘I’, by Rudyard Kipling. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/175772


‘Pretending not to see’ – Eight Days of Ether

Day 2-1Eight Days of Ether: every day a new theme and only 24 hours to submit.

Day 2 – Hats

When Jodie put on her magic hat, she became invisible …She ran, crawled, dived, and shot enemies.

There’s a saying, ‘I’m wearing my X hat today’, when we want to be seen as a particular sort of person. But some hats send us into the background where we become one of many or just a number. Children generally want to fit in, to be the same, until they reach a certain age and then they want to stand out. But not too much – being the only one not looking like everyone else or having the same beliefs, is very isolating. As adults we too want to be thought of as individuals but we also go to great lengths to be like groups of people we value.  Hats can make us distinctive or they can make us anonymous – motorcycle helmets, balaclavas for instance, and some make us unseeable, one of a crowd. Invisibility is complicated: this story is about hats that make us invisible for different reasons. Here’s the link


‘The space between thinking and doing’ – Eight Days of Ether

Day 1-5Eight Days of Ether: every day a new theme and only 24 hours to submit:

I thought I’d give maybe one or two a go but maths was never my strong point and anyway, come the end, I’d have eight pieces of flash that would otherwise never have seen daylight. Also, taking a peek at the next day’s theme brought out the competitor in me. I didn’t make it easy for myself though, after getting through the first without mentioning the topic by name (or even syno-name) the game was on …

Day 1 – Adventure

The space between thinking and doing.  A door opens in the space between thinking and doing and a young woman steps through. Her body has no shape, her head is empty, her eyes are pale and dilute.

Adventures can be crash bang wallop, magical, fantastic and physical, but so many of them are internal – they’re what we construe as adventure and sometimes someone else has to make them happen for us. Books and films are proxy adventures; stories that involve us and allow us to rehearse or examine our reaction to challenging events – how would we cope trapped down a pothole with deadly toothy creatures in it, or on the end of that swinging boom in Gravity[1]? Books and films don’t arrive fully formed, they’re assembled from little bits of ideas, clips of dreams or nightmares, aunties on buses. This story is about the point between there being nothing and then there being something. Here’s the link


[1] Gravity – that film with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Massive suspension of disbelief, mostly around the idea that our heroine is able to tackle the dashboards of strange shuttles in three different languages. That and she ends up in a lake in a jungle and there aren’t any crocodiles.



‘Pretending not to see’

Day 2 of the Ether Books flash competition. The prompt today was ‘hats’ and I’ve even managed to make mention of one! Due to a glitch, all entries will be available for download after the submissions period is closed. Plenty of time to get your smartphone smartened up with the Ether App.

‘The Space Between Thinking And Doing’

Day One of the ‘8 Days of Ether’ flash fiction competition and today’s prompt is ‘adventure’. If you fancy your chances, here’s the submissions page, and if you have a smartphone – download the app for as much content as you can squeeze into your brain between now and just before the sun goes whooomf. The Space Between Thinking And Doing will be available from midnight tonight, UK time.