Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Tag: flash fiction

In the Pyramid of Khafre (prose)

In the Pyramid of Khafre

I’m descending as fast as I can, while forty centuries look down upon me. This relentless stone claustrophobia drills inwards, oppressive and cold. There’s no heat in here and I can feel Khafre’s feet on the sandy floor as he comes for me.

Me. It’s about me. Ever since you abandoned me in this monument of the ancients, with its single interior chamber, two passageways and one sideways niche. There’s no you any more. Khufu, Khafre, Menkaure, mighty men of old, more mighty than the Nephilim, spinning about their heliocentric worlds of Ra.

So mote it be, as the skyclad wonders say. There’s nothing skyclad in here but arthropods and other non-vertebrate life. I’m dressed; I have to be. It’s cold here in Khafre’s monument to eternity, though the Black Land beyond rages with heat.

I’ve reached the innermost sanctum of Khafre’s mysterious structure, a gabled rooved space hewn from the obdurate bedrock and here too I must be obdurate. Khafre is behind me; a nebulous fetch out of megalithic history, false beard and uraeus a-flying.

I am a swine that’s been cast before diamonds, an abandoned entity in an abandonium and you are elsewhere, some place without a postcode, belirting me with your belirtings. Nothing can save me from the stout, vengeful pharaonic that slides through the gap in the old passage.

It’s a pleasant moment.

Plan of the pyramid of Khafre. Source: Wikipedia (public domain).

Plan of the pyramid of Khafre. Source: Wikipedia (public domain).

Twenty minutes of free writing (prose)

A short exercise for uni


There’s a country house far from the ocean, with statues of nymphs and maenads at the gate. You walk down that gate through an overhanging avenue of old trees. The house debouches before you, a large edifice made from stone and repressed memories. Does anyone live in this rambling – wait stop there. How can houses ramble? They don’t even move, let alone speak. Perhaps this one does. If you go inside the house and sit down on the dusty floor of the floor, can you hear it? Does it know the master’s secrets, or the screams of the madwoman in the attic? Does it remember the day that guy in the leftmost bedroom gave the house elf a sock?

Is there an old man in the kitchen? Men cook the food in this old house, and if you go upstairs the east wing is blocked off – boarded up. Why? Listen to the house, maybe it knows. Look, regardez! That painting on the wall resembles the maenads out the front. Who was the bohemian muse of the artist? Did she luxuriate her svelte self in front of a fire, a glass of cognac in hand? Or did she sub-luxate? Disjoint herself? Was time out of joint in the house that night? What’s past the boarded up door in the east wing? A beast hiding a rose? Does he have a magic mirror and a crazy old Frenchman in the basement?

Ariel, Belle, rama lama ding dong. Get up from the dusty floor, and go chase your bliss in the heights and lofts of the old house. Ignore the overgrown gardens, the worn statues, the scum in the pond, the verdigris on the cupolas. Maybe one of those statues is of Weena? Or is it Fuchsia Groan? Or is it Ophelia pre-suicide? Is it a mystery or an incidence of tragicomedy? It’s life during wartime, that’s what it is. An old house with a womanless kitchen. As it should be. Women have transcended the kitchen, even in old ossified monuments to Old Europe like this venerable house. So Bob the Gardener does the cooking now though there’s not a living soul to eat it. That’s Bob the Gardener, not Bob the Builder culture jamming, and rocking the free world.

A novel in ten lines

A short piece for uni


Three children are playing one evening on the fringes of a deep, gloomy forest.

One, the youngest, sees a dog at the edge of the forest and chases it.

The other two children follow the youngest child.

All three of them become inextricably lost in the forest.

The dog appears and leads the three lost and upset children to a mushroom ring in the heart of the forest.

Meanwhile the adults mount a search; the media is notified, posters are put up, rewards are offered.

The children find the mushroom ring is the nexus to a marvellous fairy land full of joy and light, and the dog is the fairy king’s herald.

The adults track the children down into the forest and the town mayor suggests that the mushroom ring be burned down to force the fairies of fairy land to relinquish the three missing children.

The children appear and state they do not want to go home, because Earth life is boring, full of silly homework, their parents do nothing but yell, scream and get divorced and last but not least, Xbox games are too expensive.

The parents come to a compromise with the fairy king to everyone’s satisfaction (with a few exceptions), and everyone lives happily ever after (with a few exceptions).

A dryland idyll (flash fiction)

From a short piece I did for uni


The thing I notice the most about the hills about me is how diseased they look. Not denuded, but diseased. Denuded has a sexual connotation to it, I think, seeing that the word “nude” is buried in there somewhere. These hills aren’t nude; they’re just plain ill. When I wander over them, there’s a sadness present that I’ve felt on and off for years. These hills, sick as they are, have been standing there for millions of years, long before any kind of human first appeared. Now they a lot to lament about and I can bring them no surcease. For sure, I can bring them nothing at all except the minor happiness of youth, how I roamed over them, carefree and footloose and what have you.

My home is nestled between these brown lumps of rock and soil, and my family has wrought a pathetic living from the merciless land about; land that was never intended to be cultivated or coerced into providing sustenance for mere humans. It’s too dry, too poor, too old to care much for the plight of a few scurrying people. And likewise, we cared little for it, using it as we saw fit with minimal thought given to how to repay what meagre bounty it was providing. So the land became sick, and in spirit, so did we.

Yet I’m here now though, and I really can’t be anywhere else. I have no other home.

My outsider (flash fiction)

This was a brief exercise I did for a uni project..

They say she’s kin with Lovecraft’s outsider. There she is, alone up on the hill, neither hag nor naiad, but ageless and deathless. At night she sings to far stars and planets, the words never distinct, but still unsettling in their clarity and her voice chilling with its unearthliness. Her music is what compels me from my bed at night. They tell me not to climb the hill – I’ll never reach her, they say. She’s like a fog that recedes if you come close, misty iridium grey too frail to thrive in the noonday sun.

Lovecraft’s outsider dwelt on the fringes and so does she. It’s like the spokes on a bicycle wheel – I’m moving from the hub to the edge along a thin and unforgiving path. Up I go, up that slope to where she sits on the rock, her eyes lifted to the sky. The path wants to defeat me. There are gullies and precipices on either side, waiting gleefully for me to misstep. The outsider hasn’t moved but she knows I’m coming. Her voice has shifted tone, changed in cadence, and now it’s almost sonorous, as though it wants me to stop and curl up asleep on this edgy path.

But I prevail. Step by step, I dodge pain and death, keeping my feet sure on the path before me. I reach the crest of the hill where she’s seated and for a moment, I’m elated. I’m like a conqueror standing over the slain, but now she beckons. I come up beside her to take a seat on that hard, unyielding rock. I have defied opinion; I have reached her and survived the challenge of the path. I sense her smile as I too turn my head to the heavens and sing.

Automatic writing is automatic (flash fiction)

From an exercise I did for uni.

Automatic writing? What’s wrong with manual writing, manuals about everything – sex, chemistry, geology, 5-speed Jeeps, a Jeep was a creature the US army co-opted for their vehicle. Greater vehicle, lesser vehicle, we go there, we go here, the Scarlet Pumpernickel is in the oven with the buns, the hot-cross variety, the Queen’s Command performance, Lemony Snicket in the rain, raining with Lady Gaga, Rihanna and all that jazz, driving their 5-speed Jeep down Ventura Highway in the sunshine, Darth Vader at the wheel, C3P0 his sidekick, a chunky beatnik poet in a pillion sidecar. She told me her name was Megan, loved the Lemony Snicket, lives in Equestria with my daughter and the other ponies. Megan Finnegan Begin Again, begin the beguine, dance the pavane with Keith Roberts, bring the jubilee with Ward Moore, once more into the bleach with Debbie Harry and get closer with Joy Division. It’s all fun and games in the jungle with the jeeps and bazookas, with Blue Peters and Edwige and Edgar Cayce and Ezra Pound, a pound’s worth of pennies, all automatic for the people, nightswimming? Yes, of course, it’s all near wild heaven, waxing and waning lyrical, dancing pavanes and salsas, rubbish in the tip, liquid paper in the drawer. Automatic for everyone, cheese, cabbage, bananas, whalebone corsets. Automatic!

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