January 2018 competition

Tue, Jan 2 2018 09:19am GMT 1
John Alty
John Alty
114 Posts
We're at the start of a new year, an empty page, where will it lead?
So, this months theme is: Blank Canvas.
Feel free to interpret that as you like, but do it in less than 350 words. (I won't be policing the word count strictly, so you have a little leeway).
Good luck!
Newcomers to the Cloud - don't be shy, join in, have a go.
Tue, Jan 2 2018 02:40pm GMT 2
1411 Posts

Writer's Block


It was a conscious decision to choose the new moon of Hallowe'en to perform the most gruesome of crimes. The blade of the linoleum knife glinted like a diamond as the killer slithered by an un-curtained window in the once old vicarage library. The victim had long since rid himself, to his detriment, of his tools of trade, snaps, radio and holstered Smith & Wesson in the top drawer of the hall table.

Now in the sight of a motionless hairline just above the high backed blood red leather fireside chair, the killer paused when a log dropped sending a crackle of sparks upward.

Once the deathly silence returned, the killer dropped his shoulders on his final approach having noticed a flicker of flame lick the contents of a side table and highlight an empty tumbler next to the half-empty Bourbon bottle.

The killer had already planned his next move. Penetrate the stomach with the movement of a raptor's claw. Twist. Pull upwards. Jerk contents onto victim's lap. Watch in glee as innards flow like molten lava onto the fireside rug.


'How nice of you to prepare breakfast dear. I didn't hear you come in last night. What kept you?'

'Writer's block dearest I needed to put the Red Dragon to bed.'

'And did you manage it?'

'Yes, my darling. Now I can put something on that next blank page. I already have a title. It'll be the sequel.'

'Oh, you are a clever man. What will you call it, Thomas?'

'Silence of the Lambs dear. Now, eat your bacon and eggs there's a love.'

Tue, Jan 2 2018 02:44pm GMT 3
1411 Posts
Forgot to say, word count = 269 includes title. Smile
Tue, Jan 2 2018 04:58pm GMT 4
Purple witch
Purple witch
20 Posts
Wow Baz, I thought i was doing well I should have my offering ready by the end of day, but you are on fire.
The "did he have writers block or, did he actually do it" undertone is a great hook.
Brilliant entry.
Tue, Jan 2 2018 05:44pm GMT 5
John Alty
John Alty
114 Posts
Hey, everyone.
I should have mentioned for the benefit of new entrants and as a reminder for old hands, comments on entries should be made on the entrants own wall rather than on here. Thanks.
Wed, Jan 3 2018 12:41am GMT 6
Purple witch
Purple witch
20 Posts
Wed, Jan 3 2018 12:43am GMT 7
Purple witch
Purple witch
20 Posts

Canvas Of Life

The soft cry of a newborn breath paints the first muted mark on each folio of life and the pastel colours tint the opening sheet with purity.

Swiftly, childish scribblings and daubs coat those innocent years as the canvas grows; swelling, until the impulsive brush strokes of youth are able to stuff the small dimpled challenges of its surface with splashes of coloured hopes, dreams, laughter and tears.

Then, striding in, comes the strong, confident, engravings of a drafted and planned future, all carved with self assured strokes of maturity.

Specks of sadness punctuate this part of the design, alongside brightly coloured swirls of joy and contentment, which mark intervals along this great work of life so the creation is outlined with tenderness. Those lines thicken, lovingly, here and there along the path but, in places, spidery ink trails down the porous vellum, running from one lie to the next, placating adjoining portraits of life, or satisfying self-guilt, as it drips.

Sometimes designs are erased and drawn anew but still the work continues; spreading fully and more obviously with the passing years until you can almost guess what the next marks will be.

As time trickles forward the work becomes smudged and torn through age and use. Wrinkled and thick with dye, the canvas cannot cram another thing onto its forlorn face. Slowly, then the varnish flakes and the careful designs grow fainter until they are just memories of a life lived.

Curling and crusting at the edges, the canvas begins to fail and no amount of knowledge gained through the years can halt its papery decay. Every breath becomes a reminder and a challenge until death tiptoes in and folds the crumbling work into her mottled and silted portfolio of human art.

In time, snowy wet tears of other folios trailing in its wake will try to remember the colours and artistry of this intricate work as it fades away but now they are focused on the pale, fresh canvas, rising and another soft newborn breath making its first mark.


Fri, Jan 5 2018 03:01pm GMT 8
1411 Posts
Mon, Jan 8 2018 12:29pm GMT 9
14 Posts


Stubbing out his umpteenth cigarette of the day into the already overflowing ashtray, Dan pushed himself back into his leather chair, his mouth tasted foul and nothing was going to take away the feeling of decay inside.

Picking up his cup of tea, his face twisted as he spat the cold contents back into the cup.

‘Come on, come on” he forced himself.

His mantra fell on deaf ears; his plea for inspiration was ignored.

‘Give me something…anything…please.’

Glancing at the clock displayed at the bottom of his monitor Dan was gutted that only five minutes had elapsed since his last check. He was confident that it would have been at least an hour.

Lighting yet another cigarette, feeling repulsed by the smell and taste, he started rocking himself back and forward on his castors, holding onto his desk. Hey he thought, this could be a new office workout routine.

Snapping himself back into reality he rose from his chair and paced around his small office.

Yesterday had been the same. Same brick wall and same blankness.

Last night it had come to him though, deep in his dreams. Clear as day.

Why then was he struggling again today?

He had entered his office full of confidence. Annoyance and frustration started to well up inside Dan.

‘Bugger this for a game of Soldiers’ exclaimed Dan and left the room.

Five minutes later, he was getting into a bath. Nice warm water, filled to the brim, encapsulated by bubbles from the Radox.

He sank his head under the water and enjoyed the feeling of tranquillity.

Five minutes later he leaped from the bath like a breeching Humpback, water cascading accross the bathroom.

Hastily pulling on his robe, he sprinted back to the office still soaked, trailing wet foot marks across the carpet, his bits jiggling from his exposed body as he jumped in front of his PC.

His fingers danced on the keyboard, the click of his key strokes non-stop.

Forty five minutes later, he was done.

‘Best get the bathroom tidied up,’ he thought to himself smiling.

Mon, Jan 8 2018 04:12pm GMT 10
2058 Posts
Essence 1
Essence 1

Take paper pastels chalk and pencils favourite fine point brushes jar of water and some watercolour paint.

Perhaps choose music (Maxwell Davies’ ‘Runes’: jagged spiky spacious, mystery and awe) or recording of Orcadian voices (fishermen or poets: rhythms rising falling flowing lilting laughing interwoven soft and story spinning)

Empty mind think only of the place.

Mentally assemble such essentials as stark clarity of edges, flat solidity of bedrock, horizontals and the history of bones, consider stone-told evidence of man’s long ago existence piled and dug and scratched and shadows cast from slabs now stood.

Begin with what already learnt what quality of line how tremulous how strong the shapes what subtlety what strength the colours.


Pressure thinness side or point wide sweep or narrow delineation pause tentative too tentative feel add another colour solid shape again transparent over wash highlight with pencil by now not thinking feeling coming automatic instinct taking over fingers dancing lightly applying playing blending risking hesitating scribbling blurring stand back exaggerate a little here and there some whiteness, lightness, tiny brush just dipped and dabbed in shallow water allowed to puddle slightly left to rest.

And look again and think and pause go slowly now some parts seen as too precious to disturb to risk but risk so often makes the difference between what is fine and what makes it more than exactly and surprisingly just right.

Slow again stand back look more wait for a claim for more when all is silent then can call it done.

Wed, Jan 10 2018 07:37am GMT 11
2213 Posts
Wed, Jan 10 2018 11:27am GMT 12
716 Posts

My Perfect, Blank Canvas

We spent the night secluded from the world, she and I, until the sun found our window the next morning. It had climbed over rooftops to seek us out, breaching the voile drapes and reaching inside to caress my love’s nakedness without invitation. Her skin glowed under its amber touch.

I held no objections to its brazen salacity. Why shouldn’t it yearn to touch her as I did? – explore each flawless fold; each exquisite curve. Curves that she, surprisingly, resented.

‘Why me?’ she’d ask. ‘You could have your choice of girls. I’ve seen them in their size tens, flashing their taut flesh at you.’

‘I don’t want their flesh, taut, slack, whatever size it comes in,’ I tried to tell her. ‘I don’t want any part of them. Can’t you see, it’s you who makes my head spin.’

Well, I suppose spin isn’t quite the word, is it? – but her intellect, her charm, they intoxicate me, and I would never trade that smile for a size ten pout. As for her pure skin …

I reached out to caress it, when her eyes blinked open.

‘You’re awake,’ she mumbled, a huskiness scratching her voice.

‘Hmmm,’ I answered absently, focussing on the silk beneath my fingertips.

‘What’re you doing?’


‘Imagining what?’

My fingers descended her throat and encircled the rosy pinnacle of her breast. ‘Around here, I picture a velvet bloom, its petals sparkling with dew.’

She sighed as my hand descended, brushing the contours of her abdomen. ‘And here?’ I whispered in her ear. ‘Here I imagine an angel’s wings, down feathered, enfolding a nest that is yet to bear life.’

A trail of kisses trickled to her arm and I stroked it from shoulder to wrist. ‘Along here, a web of gossamer thread, intricately laced. Can’t you see? You’re perfect.’

She seized my hand, her glistening eyes widening as they met mine.

‘I told you, Adam – the best at your art you might be, but try as you will to put me at the top of your list, I’m not having a bloody tattoo.’

346 words excluding title.

Wed, Jan 10 2018 07:15pm GMT 13
164 Posts

A Work of Art

“Welcome to The Greenberg Gallery,” said the receptionist.

Six month to get an appointment, worth it based on the gallery’s reputation—the finest establishment in the city for someone with taste, and money. In pursuit of hedonistic experimentation, he had rented pieces throughout his younger years, like a lot of men , but he was ready to make the commitment and invest in a work of art. His father had instilled in him an appreciation for fine art, and the extravaganza of owning a custom-made piece seemed logical, rather than buying one at auction, a cast-off from someone else’s collection.

“Mr. Melrose, welcome.”

“Please call me David,” he offered shaking the gallerist’s hand before seating down.

“So David, tell me about your artistic vision for your piece.”

First, the crucial choice of blank canvas. He ran his fingers over different textures, assessed their grain, studied curves and shapes until he found the one. The customisation protocol next, no less than eighty-seven different criteria to ensure each piece was uniquely tailored to the owner’s taste. The only restriction was eye colour, there was no subtlety in available shades. They had found out that it could compromise the integrity of the piece, Greenberg explained, and leave it with an unwanted “character of its own”.

A few signed documents and two cappuccinos later, he walked out into drifting snow, resigned not to take delivery before summer—you cannot rush perfection.

The open crate stood in the middle of the living room. Stepping back, he took in the exquisite beauty of the craftsmanship. Standing still, she had the grace of a Degas ballerina, the luminosity of an Adele Bloch-Bauer, of forgotten beauties from centuries ago. The bold lines and curves, highlighted by the red dress he had chosen for her captured his imagination. Tomorrow he will unveil her, displayed to be admired by all and their jealousy will sharpen his desires. But first, tonight—he hardened in anticipation at the noises she will make for him.

“Hello David.” She smiled.

As he marvelled at his purchase he didn’t notice what Quality Control had missed—in her eyes subtle specs of gold amid the jade.

359 words (excluding title)

Thu, Jan 11 2018 05:58pm GMT 14
179 Posts
First Love...

The adverts had already started and the cinema was dark. She’d been led to the back row, where he slouched beside her. Pulling her head towards him, his mouth covered hers and his tongue was not so much exploring as deep caving down the back of her throat. Was that hot dog? Eugh! Did he clean his teeth at all? Don’t think of that. Somehow, he’d managed to cover her nose. She struggled against him, wrenching her face away.
‘Oh, I… I , um’ she stuttered, ‘sorry, I couldn’t breath.’
‘What’s the matter? It’s what you want isn’t it?’
‘Oh, yes, of course.’ She did want this, didn’t she?
‘Good, ‘cos so do I.’ He took her head in both hands and his mouth enveloped half her face, sucking and slobbering, his spit dribbling down the back of her throat. Oh God! She was going to gag for sure! What was worse, he’d now got hold of her hand and was dragging it downwards, down towards his crotch, where he held it tight against him and he was sort of writhing and moaning. What was she supposed to do? His other hand had snaked up under her t-shirt and he tugged at her bra, wriggling his fingers over the lace cup and against her bare skin.
She pulled away for a second time.
He made a noise in the back of his throat, like he’d growled or something. ‘I thought you said you wanted this? Are you just leading me on then?’
‘No, of course not. I just…’
‘What?’ There was no softness in his voice.
She wanted it to be nice.
Leaning in, it started again, pawing at her breasts, he pushed himself against her so hard that she was practically bent backwards over the next seat. His body finally juddered and he moaned so loudly that she was frightened in case someone came to see what all the fuss was about. His breathing slowed and he settled himself back into his own seat.
Tears slipped greasily down her cheeks. She tried not to sniff.
‘That was great, babe.’
It was okay. He’d called her ‘babe’.
‘Yes, it was.’ What else could she say?

360 words
Sat, Jan 13 2018 05:23pm GMT 15
18 Posts

I look the same but I’m someone new now. My reflection won’t lie, no matter what I ask it.

There’s a knock at the door, which opens a crack.

‘Hey, you done in here, Kid?’ Crowley steps into the room, his bald head glistening under the harsh florescent strip-light.

I release my gaze from the mirror and pull myself away. ‘Sure, I guess’.

‘You’ll get used it……..the name, I mean.’ says Crowley

‘Yeah, I know that. It’s just, I see myself...in the mirror, I see who I really am’.

‘Listen, son, no one said this would be easy. Actually, I remember telling you this would be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.’ He leans back against the wall and reaches into his pocket, pulling out a handkerchief and running it across the back of his neck.

‘I don’t even look like an ‘Ian’. What’s the surname again?’ I ask. I can feel myself getting worked up.

‘Rawlson’. Crowley replies, almost apologetically.

‘Ian fucking Rawlson’.

‘Well, we didn’t give you a middle name...but I can put ‘Fucking’ to the boss, see what he says’. Crowley grins. So do I.

I take a deep breath and close my eyes for a second. When I open them I’m still stood in the dank toilet of this police station in South London. I was hoping it was all a bad dream.

The door flies open, and in comes Ford. He barrels straight over to me. ‘3 minutes’, he spits, clearly pissed off. ‘I told you 3 minutes. What the fuck are you even doing in here?’.

‘OK, Jim. The kid’s finished. He’s on his way out’, Crowley says, not quite jumping to my defense.

Ford doesn’t like me, and that’s OK, he doesn’t have to. He just needs to do his job, which is something I know he’s good at. Right now, though, his face is about an inch away from mine and he looks like he wants to bite my nose off.

‘If it was up to me, I wouldn’t have even bothered with you’, he says quietly. ‘I’d have thrown you to the fuckin wolves’.

‘Enough, Jim!’ Crowley pipes up, trying to show some authority over his younger partner.

Ford snears and moves even closer to me, our noses practically touching, I can taste his breath. ‘Good luck in your new life, Ian, you’ll need it.’

‘Yeah, you're probably right’.

Sun, Jan 14 2018 09:46pm GMT 16
dyslexic of dartford
dyslexic of dartford
117 Posts

Blank Canvas.

The car made it's way slowly down the palm lined avenue, flanked on either side by lush green manicured lawns. Which would have looked more at home the grounds of an English manor house than the middle of the desert. A perfect scene if it wasn't for the pollution that hung in the sky; colouring it like dirty bath water. Even in this heat the gardens looked impressive. A testament to the simple fact that if you have money, you can have anything you want.

The clinic was a smart, modern building all mirrored glass and stainless steel. A stupid design for a place like this. But state of the art offering every benefit that late 21st century medicine has to offer.

Mr Grant was standing out the front ready to greet me. He'd dragged all of his staff out to join him. Looking like a toothpaste commercial they stood in a line beaming at me with teeth that matched their starched white uniforms. I instructed my driver to pull up in front and waited for him to open the door for me.

'Mr Stone,' said Grant as he ambled forward 'it's always a pleasure to see you'.

'The pleasure's all mine Mr Grant,' you arse licker. 'Now tell me. How is Emily ?'

Grant smiled a little wider, 'she's much better now. In fact it won't be long before you can take her home.'

Now I was the one smiling, 'I want to see her,' I said 'the tour can wait until later.'

'Of cause,' he replied while dismissing his staff with a wave of his hand. 'Please follow me.'

Emily looked beautiful as she slept, no more wires or tubes, no machines or monitors. Just a young woman peaceful in her slumber.

'Very different from when you bought her in,' I said not lifting my gaze.

'Oh yes,' said Grant 'nothing like the wild cat that took three orderlies to sedate.'

'Will she,' I paused 'love me ?'

'She will worship you,' Grant assured me. 'Once we erase their memory they become a blank canvas. Then we paint the picture desired by our clients'.

I raised an eyebrow, 'and she'll have no memory of her past self?'

'None at all,' he assured me. 'The piece of street trash is gone forever and replaced by a sophisticated lady. It's a kindness to them really'.

I stared at the girl in the bed 30 years my junior and looking like every fantasy I'd ever had. Her eyelids flickered as she opened them. Looking up at me with recognition she said, 'John darling, I've been having the strangest dreams.'

I bent down and kissed her before saying, 'never mind my love, it's time to take you home.'

Sun, Jan 14 2018 09:47pm GMT 17
dyslexic of dartford
dyslexic of dartford
117 Posts
Sorry miles over the word count.
Mon, Jan 15 2018 08:27pm GMT 18
T B Carter
T B Carter
25 Posts

A rusty lamppost marked the end of the long unused track Natalie had been following. She paused for a moment to wipe the sweat from her brow and, after a quick sniff, gave her armpits a quick wipe. To her surprise she was much higher than not only the ruined town but also the castle. The Hand of God, the pride of the church’s fleet looked tiny moored at the docks. She wondered how long it would be before Mother Ericka woke from her drugged sleep and noticed she was missing or, maybe Master Scully would admit the engines weren’t really broken.

Natalie realised she was procrastinating. She took one last look at the great river then turned and entered the cave wondering how she was going to open The Gateway. It was visible a little way in, three great slabs of stone in the shape of a wide doorframe. Instructions for its use were conspicuous by their absence.

“Open.” She intoned grandly but wasn’t really surprised when nothing happened. “Oh for fucks sake,” she sighed and waved her hand, felt something in her mind catch and it opened. Darkness appeared in the frame sucking the light out of the cave. She stood in front of the blackness realising if she went through any chance of getting her old life back was over. She shrugged, took a deep breath, closed her eyes and stepped forward.

She’d expected many things but she hadn’t expected it to be so cold and she wrapped her shawl around her shoulders wishing she’d listened to Mother Ericka and worn something that covered her shoulders and arms. The track lead up through a stand of trees to a large grey house, almost a castle in fact. A ragged white and green flag with a red dragon on flying from the gatehouse was the only colour in the winter landscape. She walked through the gates and into a large courtyard, noticing three strange frost covered wheeled wagons, one of them looked like a baby traction engine, the other two... maybe they were for transporting people. The place felt deserted, no smoke came from the chimneys and no-one answered her banging on the door. She even tried screaming. No one was there.

She settled down in on the bench in the porch to consider her options.

388 words

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