Tag Archives: Improbable Press

Lockdown Fiction: The Dancing Bees

Improbable Press’s latest prompt included bees, and then I thought of that old tradition that the bees must be told when their keeper dies. And then I thought of Sherlock Holmes being away during WWI as a spy. And then I thought of John Watson. And then I thought of this.

The Dancing Bees

It is spring and we bees work, we fly, we gather pollen for our colony, for our queen.  We nourish, we protect, we select and serve our queen.

Our Keeper is away and in his stead, his own worker-drone-queen protects the colony.

The wingless four-limbs are nothing like the hive; and our Keeper and the Other are sometimes like a bee, sometimes like the flowers. We know, from springs and summers and some sunny autumn days that they have stamens, and pollen, which they gather or sometimes let fall to earth (though no new flower ever grows from this seed).

Our Keeper and His Other are not like bees at all, and for many turns of the sun now, our Keeper has been gone.

Soon, soon, His Other will come to tell us. He will keep the tradition.

He will tell the bees that our Keeper is dead.

We are puzzled that he has not already done so. His Other sits wilted among us, many days. He Keeps us as our Keeper would, with faith though less skill. He sighs our Keeper’s name among the hives.

“Sherlock misses you.”

The Other means that he misses our Keeper too. We know this. He sighs. He wilts. Sometimes he leaks, wet salt on his face. This leaking he shares not with other wingless ones, but only with his fellow workers (fellow drones, fellow Queen; our Keeper mates with him, so the Other is maybe a Queen; or maybe our Keeper is the Queen of his colony-of-two. As we say, the four-limbs are peculiar and will not succumb to correct roles).

We the bees know that far away is danger. Dances waggled from the unfathomable distance tell us.  The dances come from the colonies near the stone hive, which is clustered by the river up north and filled with four-limb drones and workers (and a male Queen; we will never fathom them at all). The stone hive is smashed by falling black clouds, and the air is filled with dust and great cries. Such danger!

Our Keeper is in the danger, further even than the stone hive; across the Great Salt Wet. He told us before he left, that he would fly far, so far, to gather strange pollens, to waggle the dance of its knowledge to his Male Queen and the Drones and Workers of the stone hive.

We miss our Keeper. His Other misses him. We wait for the telling. For word that it is time to Farewell the Keeper with the solemn, grave dance of goodbye.

Here he comes today, the Other. Today he comes to tell us, and become our new Keeper.

Take courage, Dear New Keeper.

He walks on his two back limbs (so ungainly, more than ever today, poor unbalanced drone-worker-queen without his Keeper. He will Keep us now our First Keeper is gone, but who will Keep him now?)

His Sorrowing Other comes to wilt and sigh and leak among us today.

But no! The Other sorrows not, though he leaks and sighs. He does not wilt. He stands tall as a tree, that little hedge upon his face stretches happy with his mouthpart.

“He’s coming home. The war is over and he’s done his part, and Sherlock is coming home. Today, tonight, soon! By God, he’s coming back to me. To us. Sherlock is coming home!”

He sits among the hives, a flower waiting for the sun to shine on him; waiting for his drone-worker-queen to gather his pollen; waiting to be whole with his colony-of-two once more.

Around him, we bees dance, we waggle the news to all our kin and to our queen: Our Keeper returns!

No need for the Goodbye dance now, no. Today we dance a greeting, and rise up in a cloud as we see him arrive through the garden gate. His Other rises with us, and walks, then runs (unbalanced still, his hind limbs stiff with age and with sitting) to his Keeper.

Like bee to pollen, like flower to sun, like the colony to the hive he goes, they go, and embrace, and we dance, we dance, for our Hive is whole again.

Lockdown Fiction: New Moon

This week, the Improbable Press prompt drew a song out of me. (Check out the site and try the prompts yourself!)

I’ve been thinking about werewolves a lot, for an upcoming story, and this is the lyric that happened.

It might also apply to vampires, actually, but mostly it was written for a new werewolf.

Yes, I have a melody for it.


New Moon

Shine on, shine on
Little darlin’
Night is comin’ soon

Don’t let shadows
On your shoulder
Take away the moon

Darlin’ do not hunger for the sun
Let me tell you, darlin’
It’s for you the moon was hung

Lift your head up
Little darlin’
Sing to the starry sky

It is only a
Trick of vision
To see through the lie

Darlin’ do not hunger for the sun
You can feel it, darlin’
It’s for you the moon was hung

Shine on, shine on
Little darlin’
Night is comin’ soon

Don’t let shadows
On your shoulder
Keep you from your moon

Lockdown Fiction: The Only Daughter of Time

Here we are again, with a story prompted by the Improbable Press blog. It seems my mind lately is rather fixated on metamorphis.

The Only Daughter of Time

The sun blazed hot outside but within the colonnade the air was cool and fresh. Outside smelled of hot dust; inside of earthy stone and antiquity. Ruins, partially reconstructed for the delight of the tourists, made them all feel small in the scheme of time, large in their self-estimation. They had lived to see these sights, and had the gumption to travel far to places where habits, beliefs, language, all different.

Excited travel chatter faded and the group stood in the cool stone cocoon and gazed up, up, up at the paint that clung, centuries later, to the ceiling. Ochre reds and pale greens, the hint of yellow and, in one large, stubborn patch, a blue ground from lapis lazuli made a faux sky on the stone that blocked the real sky.

Ameenah sneezed into the silence, mucus membranes agitated beyond endurance by the colour blue. The floral origin was neither here nor there. Ameenah was allergic to blueberries, blue skies, the blue moon, the Moody Blues. Blue got right in amongst her cells and niggled till she sneezed. Every. Goddamned. Time.

Dr Mason, back home in London, insisted the allergy was psychosomatic. Ameenah insisted that her imagination had never been that vivid, let alone powerful enough to actually manifest sinus pain, irritated nasal passages and actual snot.

Ameenah, sneezing, as remarked, into the silence, and the explosion of it bounced off the marble walls and around the pillars and from the stone floor to carved ceiling and all in all, there was nothing discreet about it.

A tiny flake of blue split away from the ceiling, and another, and a third: drifting down like falling ash.

Sl
  ow
      ly
          do
             wn

                 onto Ameenah’s red-eyed face. A flake into her left eye, a flake onto her lip (and licked unconsciously away) and a flake below her nose so that when the next sneeze began, she inhaled it sharply into her sinus cavity.

Blue. Right there. In the centre of all the trouble.

Ameenah, who was not a believer in crystals, was not aware that lapis lazuli was associated with self-knowledge, with intuition, and with past lives.

Well, not to begin with.

But as she stood on the flagstones, blue in her nose, in her eyes, on her tongue, a much older part of her self turned over. The blue that invaded her body woke up sleeping knowledge and woke up the blue in her blood and the blue of her skin.

The sleeping part of her blinked, took a deep, deep breath and …

Maat, Goddess of Truth, awoke.

Ameenah was not, it turned out, allergic to blue.

Truth had just been waiting for the right blue to rise up.


La verità fu sola figliola del tenpo.
Truth was the only daughter of Time.

~ Leonardo Da Vinci, from original manuscript “Moto, colpo

Quintette of Questions: GV Pearce

Today I’m asking GV Pearce 5 questions about their new book!

1. What’s the name of your latest book – and how hard was it to pick a title?

The book is called Ghost Story, which is also an accurate description for its contents. There were a few themes so it was a little difficult to choose, but sometimes it’s nice to get straight to the point. I’m sure John wishes Sherlock would do that more often too!

2. If you could choose anyone from any time period, who would you cast as the leads in your latest book?

Early 1980s Paul McGann and Richard E Grant. There are some photographs of the pair of them taken behind the scenes of a film that absolutely fits the aesthetic for this John and Sherlock. McGann’s overgrown hair is perfect for an ex-military man finding his new persona, and Grant has always looked a little spooky.

3. What five words best describe your story?

Eerie, melancholy, uncanny, sanguine, tactile.

4. Who is your favourite fictional team/couple?

Gomez & Morticia Addams have always been my touchstone for perfect relationships. They’re always there for one another, no matter how strange their lives become.

5. What song reflects a theme, character, relationship or scene in your book?

‘When You Don’t See Me’ by Sisters of Mercy could easily apply to both the central relationship and the central theme of the book (not to give too much away) 

About Ghost Story

John Watson loves his husband, but he’d like Sherlock Holmes to leave this case alone. They’re supposed to be taking a break from London. From work. But then again, when has Sherlock’s brain ever taken a holiday? And honestly, the strange disappearance of Gloria Evans bothers them both—though for very different reasons.

Buy Ghost Story

About GV Pearce

G.V. Pearce is a mysterious being said to haunt the North York Moors, but is otherwise as yet unclassified by science. Rumour has it that they can be summoned by leaving coffee in a faery circle at midnight.

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Read my review of Ghost Story.