The Facility #5

Days become weeks, the visits to the basement continue, the treatment-experiment-conditioning, whatever it is, each time washing over you in a stream of detached disinterest; each time, returning to your room and recovering in bed after another steady shuffle around the green garden with your fellow patients-subjects-inmates where, trapped on this endless treadmill, no-one speaks or makes eye-contact.

Food arrives on a tray – greyish porridge, brownish soup – delivered by the blank-faced orderly; later, a shot-glass of something sweet and very orange; later still, the lights dim and you sleep: is the orange liquid drugged you wonder, as you drift away again.

You request a newspaper for some distraction, but the request’s denied; instead, the orderly brings you a mindless magazine filled with photos of people you don’t recognise; you consider the art of paper-folding, but your fingers won’t cooperate. You study those fingers; your fingernails never seem to grow, still short and neat, just as when you arrived; your hair, as far as you can tell without a mirror, is the same; are you groomed in your sleep?

Another day, and when you return to your room, a TV screen has been installed, high up in the corner, just below the dull red camera eye; the orderly switches it on and just as the picture flickers into life, there’s a commotion in the corridor outside; a siren wails, there are shouts, running feet; the orderly spins around and rushes from your room.

In his haste, he leaves the door unlocked.


Confused? You might be! Read previous episodes of The Facility here.

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – HIGH, DAFT, SHIN
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – DISTRACTION

Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

Click here for more Six Sentence Stories. Better still, bring your own and join us!

The Facility #4

You’re wheeled into a bland anti-room and the homely-looking nurse murmurs something to the blank-faced orderly who places a restraining hand, gloved in dark rubber, firmly in the centre of your chest; there’s a momentary flash of crackling bright blue light, and the world of sharp senses swims away to be replaced by the sterile hums and beeps of medical machinery.

Later, consciousness returns and you find yourself lying in dimly-lit room, redolent with the unfriendly spectres of duplicity and distrust, hooked up to a machine; probes have been inserted under your skin, like tiny burrowing animals, connected to wires and tubes which snake away into the gloom.

You sense you’re not alone: others are in the room, you can hear them breathing – you try to shift position, but your limbs are leaden and you can’t move your head – a gloved arm reaches over and another shock is administered; you float on the edge of unconsciousness once again.

Someone’s speaking, you open your eyes to the yellow glow of sunlight and the homely-looking nurse smiles faintly and extends her hand to you; others are in the room, filing out through a great glass door into a patch of green garden, where there is even a hint of a breeze; you find your feet and follow.

You shuffle around in a silent circle, noticing that everyone looks alike; then you catch your own reflection in one of the windows – a face you don’t recognise.

A face that’s just like theirs.


Confused? You might be! Read previous episodes of The Facility here.

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – ANIMAL, FRIEND, TRUST
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – SHIFT

Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

Click here to read more Six Sentence Stories here – consider bringing your own too!

The Facility #3

Through barely-open eyelids you stare up at the red eye of the camera, deliberating – why are they watching? what do they want? – yet, despite the threat, you find yourself beginning to doze off; the lights dim, and the soft mattress ushers you into the peaceful comfort of slumber.

The click of the key in the lock startles you awake, the room brightens, and the door opens to reveal the homely-looking nurse accompanied by a blank-faced orderly, also dressed in white – another unsmiling type – just like the administrator at the reception desk; in fact, they look strangely alike.

Under the nurse’s neutral stare, and consciously not looking at the eye of the camera in the corner, you swing your legs from the bed and sit up, while the blank-faced orderly manoeuvres a wheel-chair into the room and escorts you to it with a firm and forceful grip. He whisks you from the room and along the sterile bright-white corridor, following in the nurse’s efficient footsteps; now, turning a corner, you arrive at a pair of doors which slide open at your approach: an elevator.

The nurse’s broad figure blocks your view of the control panel, so as the elevator descends and remembering your room is seven floors up from ground level, you carefully count as floor after identical floor flits past the vision panels in the dull metallic doors.

Ten floors down, the doors open into a dark void; a scent, reeking of menace, fills the air.


Confused? You might be! Read previous episodes of The Facility here.

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – TYPE, BEGINNING, ESCORT
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – CENTER / CENTRE

Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

Read more Six Sentence Stories via the Link Up Party here

The Facility #2

You finger the neatly folded garments which you’ve been instructed to put on; slippery to the touch and with a rainbowlike sheen, they are both inviting and intimidating; they are not the kind of clothing you are accustomed to wear but, without even asking yourself why, you dress in the unfamiliar items: underwear, bodysuit, socks and slippers, subconsciously yielding to yet another level of disassociation.

A vague feeling of contentment enfolds you and you cross to the window to observe your surroundings, surprised to find yourself on an upper floor, when you’re quite certain, so far as you can be, that you haven’t climbed a staircase or entered an elevator since you tumbled through the front entrance to… where?

The view overlooks an atrium enclosed on all four sides by lofty blank-windowed blocks, stretching up to graze a surprisingly bright blue and cloudless sky; the ground below is covered with the greenest grass you’ve ever seen: surely it must be synthetic? You study the featureless buildings, but no faces return your gaze.

You move across the room and slide open the bathroom door; there’s nothing remarkable here, although you notice there is no means of locking the door which you find vaguely disquieting but not, you assure yourself, any cause for alarm.

You return to the bed and lie down, your eyes roving over the ceiling and into the corners of the walls; spotting a pinprick of dull red light, you suppress a cry – a camera – you are being observed.


Confused? You might be! Read the first episode of The Facility here.

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – WHY, CRY, SLY
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – BOWL

Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

Join us at the link party for more Six Sentence Stories here!

The Facility #1

Welcome to the…’ the double doors swish open before you can read the rest of the sign emblazoned across them and you stumble forward onto a deep coir doormat where a homely-looking nurse in a crisp white uniform stands waiting, clipboard in hand.

‘You must sign in,’ she says, taking you firmly by the elbow and propelling you towards a large wooden desk where an unsmiling administrator slides a sheet of paper across the polished surface towards you; the nurse thrusts a pen into your hand and for a moment you’re not sure what to do; you stare at the form but the words slide off the page and tumble into oblivion.

‘Just sign it, we have your details,’ instructs the unsmiling administrator; the homely-looking nurse stabs the form with a forefinger, so you submit a faint fragile scribble that seems to satisfy them.

The nurse whisks the pen from your fingers and indicates that you should follow her down a blank corridor lined with unlabelled doors, offering no clue as to what might lie behind them; you have no alternative than to comply, although you have no idea where you are or why you are here, so you shuffle along after her until finally she comes to a halt and opens a door.

She ushers you into a clean, compact dorm room: ‘Your new clothes are on the bed,’ she gives you a little shove then withdraws.

The key turns in the lock and her footsteps fade into silence.


Photo credit: Scott Webb on Unsplash

The Facility is a new short story series, written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – HOMELY, WELCOME, SMILING
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – ALTERNATIVE

Read more Six Sentence Stories here!

The Coming of the Rain

As the sun’s pink fingertips caress the tops of the purple mountains behind the cave, Owab is the first of the hunters to wake. Aquila waiting for him outside. The eagle bows and turns to the east, where a procession of wispy clouds rises with the dawn. Aquila takes to the air and Owab, in the thrall of his night-time vision, follows where his guide and protector leads.

When they return, Owab is leading a long-legged rain-cow which will bring soft raindrops to last a whole season.

The Great Bull bellows
rain swells the gathering clouds:
the parched land awaits.


This concludes my little African adventure, although I wouldn’t rule out a comeback for Owab and Aquila sometime in the future. You can find the previous episodes here.

Photo credit: John Fowler at unsplash.com/@wildhoney

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – WISP, CARESS, FINGERTIPS
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – SEASON

I also set myself the additional challenges of confining my piece to 100 words exactly and writing in the haibun form. Just for fun!

Read more Six Sentence Stories here at the Link Up Party!

Rain Dance

Hopeless as it’s beginning to seem without the elder’s lead, the dance continues. Chanting, stamping, every person keeps in time, as strings of shells which dangle from their ankles, rattle to a timeless beat. Owab, carried by the rhythm of the dance, wills himself on, inhaling the powerful scent of the sacred herbs smouldering on the remnants of the fading fire.

They cannot fail. Without the Rain Bull, the land will turn to dust and the group will be driven from the place they call home.

Far into the night
they dance on through scented smoke;
waiting for a sign.


Previous episodes of this little African adventure are here.

Photo credit: Nika Zhorzholiani from Pexels

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – PERSON, DANGLE, HOPELESS
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – REMNANT

I also set myself the additional challenges of confining my piece to 100 words exactly and writing in the haibun form. Just for fun!

Click here for more Six Sentence Stories – come and join the party!

The Summoning Begins

The hunters advance further into the foothills of the purple mountains. Despite Aquilla’s reassuring presence, Owab remains downcast. He cannot pretend that his failure to forestall the lioness’ attack on the elder hasn’t weakened the group’s chances of success in their search for the Rain Bull.

As night falls, the hunters light a fire on a shelf-like outcrop of rock and wait as the quarter moon rises in the velvet sky to align with Orion’s three she-tortoises. Each throws a handful of scented herbs into the flickering flames.

Aquilla cries out;
they gather around the fire
and prepare to dance.


Previous episodes of this little African adventure are here.

Photo credit: researchgate.net

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – PRETEND, SHELF, TALL
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – QUARTER

I also set myself the additional challenges of confining my piece to 100 words exactly and writing in the haibun form. Just for fun!

Click here for more Six Sentence Stories – or bring one of your own to the party!

Blood Moon

After a solid day’s trekking, the hunters are cheered to find a group of thorn trees, indicating the presence of precious water. Aquila flies on, scouting for a cave to protect them from the coming night.

Distracted as they forage for food, the hunters fail to sense the danger. A lioness leaps, the group scatters, but an older man lags behind; Owab turns, raises his spear, but he’s too late.

Gripped by powerful jaws, the lions move in; by morning there will be nothing left but bones.

The pride is sated
and under a blood-red moon
a shooting star falls.


Previous episodes of this little African adventure are here.

Photo credit: Nick Owuor

Written in response to two challenges:

– Di of Pensitivity101‘s Wednesday’s Three Things Challenge – HORN, CHEER, SOLID
– Denise Farley of GirlieOnTheEdge‘s Sunday’s Six Sentence Story Word Prompt – PRESENCE

I also set myself the additional challenges of confining my piece to 100 words exactly and writing in the haibun form. Just for fun!

Click here for more Six Sentence Stories – or bring one of your own to the party!

Planet Earth: Restart (again)

Great Being Five had been practicing mindfulness while idly airbrushing some of the scenery on Orea, her second favourite planet, when a Thought Bubble popped up in the corner of her monitor. It was her friend and protégé, Great Being Nineteen. His Bubble glowed amber with agitation.

‘It’s Planet Earth. Something’s wrong!’

Five flicked a switch and focused her Third Eye on the spiral galaxy that contained her most beloved planet. Nineteen was right. Planet Earth was behaving very oddly. The whole world was flickering, like one of the earthlings’ little light bulbs when it was about to go out. Her Eye roamed around the screen. The stars in the Milky Way were shifting and shimmering ominously.

‘I think it’s the Time Grid,’ Nineteen yelled. ‘Something has gone wrong with the reset on Planet Earth1. Do something, Five!’

On the far side of her screen, a large chunk of the Milky Way blinked off and on.

A bolt of alarm shot through her. What had gone wrong? All she’d done was turn back Time a little bit in that small corner of the galaxy, so that the little humans could have a major re-think and cease their wanton destruction her lovely blue planet.

And it had all been going so well. The little earthlings had emerged from their planetary pandemic a reformed race. They’d been caring for the planet so well.

‘Shut the planet down!’ bellowed Nineteen. ‘Earth is compromising the whole galaxy!’

‘I can’t do that after all we’ve done,’ snapped Five, anxious to protect her little humans. She took a moment to focus. ‘There’s no need to panic.’

Nineteen’s Thought Bubble eye-rolled.

Five started scrabbling at the keys. She’d just have to reset the Timer again. Go back to the previous setting. Switch it off and switch it on again. Wasn’t that the mantra of every Techbot?

A sudden thought occurred to her. ‘What about your Mind-Set Program, Nineteen? Can you replicate that?’

Nineteen’s Thought Bubble made a thumbs up sign.

Five aligned the Time-Grid counter to its previous setting: 01.01.2020. She took a deep breath and pressed the reset button. At least the little earthlings wouldn’t know they’d already been through Nineteen’s Mind-Set Program, and after all, it had only taken a year for the scourge to die down. They’d be fine.

The screen went blue.

Five held her breath.

The image reappeared. Planet Earth and the Milky Way were stable. The Space-Time Balance had been restored.

The Thought Bubble made an apologetic pop.

‘What’s wrong, Nineteen?’

‘Sorry, Five. Planet Earth’s Virus-Settings wouldn’t accept the same program again. I had to opt for a Mutation.’

Five clutched the edge of her keyboard. ‘What do you mean?’

‘The pandemic is going to take a little longer to play out this time.’

‘How long?’

‘Well, there’ll be at least a second and a third wave before it’s over.’

‘And then?’

‘You’ll have your beautiful blue planet back again.’

‘But what about the little humans?’

‘Those who survive: never better.’


It’s been more than a year since we last caught up with Great Being Five in a story I wrote1 shortly after South Africa and many other countries first went into hard lockdown in March 2020. I wrote the story you’ve just read in January 2021, when South Africa went into the second wave of the pandemic but never got around to posting it. Reading it again this week, as the country teeters on the brink of the third wave, it seems even more apt than it did when I penned it.

You can find all the stories featuring Five here.

Photo credit: watercolour painting by Elena Mozhvilo