Flash Fiction Faction: Aunt Edie’s Bunker

OK,  was not feeling it this Thursday. Didn’t really get around to listening to the prompt  on Quill Shiv’s blog, properly, which was silly of me, although I managed to listen to most of it. Thursday comes round quickly. Lesson learned. But another potential story is forming below.

The ‘Clouded’ entry from last week is available here.

Below is the youtube clip of Elgar music we used. I definitely visualised some of the images below right away, when I heard it:

Aunt Edie’s Bunker

We were having tea when the bombs started dropping. My Earl Grey rippled like the Atlantic on a wet Wednesday, and Aunt Edie said, “Off to the Bunker, Charles.” I picked up my book and my blanket, and she ushered me into the back garden. Rushed as we were, I caught a glimpse of long streams of smoke falling from the sky in the distance, and the fog had turned a deep, flickering orange above the surrounding low hedges.

The siren still hadn’t howled a warning, and there were bright lights on display in the houses nearby as I followed Auntie E into the back garden. She unhooked the lock and hatch of our shelter while I watched the family who lived beside Edie struggle into their own shelter. I forget their names. Their three children were shivering, big eyed, in loose white nightclothes. Their mum, only wearing underwear and thin wool robe, tightly clutched her crying baby against her breasts. Their dad, a big man in a thick jumper and undershorts, put down a big bag that rattled and tinged musically as he set it on the wet grass. He struggled with their bunker’s lock, I could hear muffled curses and the mother scolding him in a low voice.

The ground vibrated beneath my slippered feet . Edi got the hatch open just as I heard a shrill whistling noise, loud enough to be coming from inside my head, closing in from above. Without warning she shoved me forwards into the dark below. I fell badly, sliced my left leg on sharp edges of stairs, and lay at the bottom, winded and hurt.  The hatch banged shut above me and the darkness filled with pounding thunder. The bombs were landing. I clung to my knees and lay like that in the dark on a rough concrete floor, the earth above me roaring and thundering.

For a while I heard only the awful insect drone of planes. I was freezing when I finally realised the bombardment had passed. My skin was numb all over. It was still pitch black. I crawled up onto sore knees, cried out as my foot’s nerves screeched in agony. Leaning on my good leg, I felt around in the confined space for the matches I knew were stored down there. I found the staircase first and I climbed it painfully, my entire left side stiff and bruised from my landing. I pushed against the hatch, but it was securely locked, or maybe weighed down. It felt strange under my numb fingers. Warm. I pulled my hands away and scrambled downward again, and tried to decide what to do. After catching my breath, I located the matches and lit a candle.

The bunker was little improved now that I could see in there. It was so nasty that I think Edie always lived in denial of the situation. She had installed very few home comforts here, barring the old kettle from a dead relative that she’d put here ‘for being ugly’, and a little packet of her Earl Grey, of course, which she kept for ‘waiting it out’ down here. I started boiling it simply to warm up. I sniffled once I had more tea inside me, thawing out my mind and body. I wondered miserably how to escape from this cramped hole in the ground.

Part of me still believed that Edie was up there waiting. Then I remembered the whistling noise. I’d heard it before, but never so close. I sniffled some more, and after I’d finished the tea, I clambered back up the stairs to the hatch and pushed at it again. It was still warm. I couldn’t get it to shift, anyway. I stayed up there for several hours, occasionally pushing and hitting the door to my prison. It was too heavy, too securely fastened. I think I cried a lot, and shouted a lot. I nodded off again while I waited, and when I woke I groaned in pain.

There was water here, at least, and therefore I had nothing to do but make tea and feel sorry for myself. I sat on the little bed in the waning light and wondered what I should do next. I missed my book. It had bee a good one, about pirates and boats and hidden treasure, and I had dropped it when Edie had given me the shove. I kicked at the breezeblock wall for a bit with my good leg, becoming more bored than worried, listening to my own depressing thoughts and dozing off, dreaming of pirates. When I woke again I’d stiffened up so much  could barely move. I hopped up and leaned on a set of dark smudged bricks behind the candle. The heat scorched my arm. I jerked back and landed on the pile of unloved blankets. They were ‘ugly’ as well.

Once I’d recovered, I realised I’d shifted the blankets and to expose a heavy looking, gnarled old book with a broken spine. It contributed greatly to the general musty smell of the room, and when I picked it up it truly reeked of age. Its pages cracked as I opened it. I lifted its weight and dragged it over to the pool of candle light. Pulling one of the ugly blankets around my shoulders, I began to read.

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Flash Fiction Faction: Aunt Edie’s Bunker

17 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Faction: Aunt Edie’s Bunker

  1. You may not have felt the prompt, but the prompt seeped in. This has the tone of Elgar alllll through it. Have you tried listening to it while reading your piece? I would. You will be surprised.

    This is fantastic. And I really would love to see this expanded. What was read; how long was he in the bunker, etc. A very compelling piece. Excellent work.

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    1. Hi Quill,

      Thank you! I was having a crappy day, so I was worried I’d done a weird job. I think you’re probably right and I absorbed the tone while trying to listen to it. Didn’t want to end on a typical twist, either. I think it deserves some developing. Also, thank you for the encouragement, it means a lot.

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      1. Not a problem! That’s what we are all together for. And I think that is exactly what happened. Because the tone is spot on.

        A musical prompt is really hard, which is why I wanted everyone to stretch out a bit. And it is amazing–everyone has done marvelously with it! Just goes to show–If you set a challenge to a writer, they get out the ol’ writing tool and kill it. Then they say…I don’t know…I think it sucks. (which is what I say too :D)

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      2. It’s true, we often don’t trust our own work. Then again, it stops us getting bored. That’s why flamers are so EVIL.

        I do like a challenge, though, it gives a lot of focus for getting something written, and in a manageable length.

        Can’t wait for this Sunday’s prompt, :D:D

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    1. Thank you! These longer pieces do seem to produce the start of novels. Hopefully one day soon! I almost had Aunt Edie falling down there with him, but I think the isolation made it eerier. The air raid was there from the start of writing, and the tea, and Aunt Edie. I’ll add it to the ‘develop this’ list! 🙂

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  2. I don’t know how to put this, exactly, but your work is very compulsively readable. I would love to read a whole book written by you.

    I loved that you set this during the Blitz. If you are interested in that time period, Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis is a can’t-miss book.

    My entry is here: http://bit.ly/zhOXoG

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    1. You’ve just made my morning, thank you for such a lovely comment! Things are going well and I want to have a book one this year. This just reinforces why I need to keep going with it. Re the Blitz, I think I was sort of channelling memories from my Grandma, and WW2 permeates everything from Narnia to Doctor Who. Thanks for the book recommendation, too, as stories are so often a better way of learning about situations than just the drier facts in text books. Really glad you enjoyed this, though!

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  3. I loved it. Simply adored.

    I think it was a very tense, emotional story. It felt vivid, and I could really imagine what it was like to be the character, and what it would be like in that situation. It felt really real, like you were writing from personal experience. Impressive, considering that you probably haven’t.

    Of the other flash fics I’ve read, this was the only one that wasn’t mystical in some way. (Strange, isn’t it, how that ended up so common?) Mine’s not, either. Though I think it’s funny that my imagination jumped straight to a bloody murder from the prompt.

    http://littlewonder2.wordpress.com/2012/03/19/flash-fiction-faction-blood/

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  4. I really enjoyed this. I too am find WW2 a very interesting period although I must say I tend not to think about the home front. It’s very claustrophobic, especially with the boredom and the ugliest of bare essentials. Even though he doesn’t consider it, I can’t help thinking about how long it would take for someone to find him, if they ever did!

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