Friday Fictioneers — A Rare Specimen

For this week’s Friday Fictioneers (photo prompt copyright © Jellico’s Stationhouse) I couldn’t resist adapting another excerpt from my latest, as-yet unpublished novel Counting Magpies.

Those of you who read my earlier excerpt “Snow Baby” will already have met Morag. In today’s piece, she arrives in the unfamiliar city of York in the middle of the night after a journey of 300 kilometers on an antiquated bicycle that decides to self-destruct on a cobbled street outside the home of the centenarian cleric and one-time Dean of York Minster.

Genre: Dystopian speculative fiction
Word Count: 100


I sit there stunned with the bicycle lying beside me.

A man thrusts open a window above me and cries out. “Hell fire! What’s the good Lord delivered to my doorstep? Some up-skelled and paggered lass, by the looks of it.”

I haul myself to my feet and stand there, with my hands on my hips, forgetting about the size of my belly. “Up-skelled and paggered? Are you insulting me?”

“No, I’m observing that you’ve fallen off your bicycle and look all done-in. …Oh, I see it now. It’s so many years since I’ve encountered anyone in the family way.”


To read other Friday Fictioneers’ stories for this week, or to add a 100-word story of your own, please click on the blue frog below.

Author: Sarah Potter Writes

Sarah is a British eccentric who writes offbeat fiction, haiku and tanka poetry. When stuck for words, she sketches or paints instead. She's into nature conservation, sustainability, gardening, dogs, natural health, and reading. Her sociability is something that happens in short bursts with long breathing spaces in between.

48 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers — A Rare Specimen”

  1. I love British phrases that we don’t hear in the States. Oftentimes I have no idea what they mean, but just the sound of them while saying them is enjoyable. 🙂 “Paggered?” No clue what that means, but it works in the context of the writing. I enjoyed this…you have a nice rhythm to your fiction.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Paggered means knackered and up-skelled means upset/knocked over. Both of them are Yorkshire expressions.
      Thank you so much, Bill, for your comment about the rhythm of my fiction. I often read my stuff out loud, which helps highlight any impediments to its forward momentum. There are two writers who I’ve learned so much from, with regard to seamless writing, and those are Donna Tartt and Rose Tremain. Reading their work is far better than attending a writing course and much cheaper, too!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Sarah,

    I was going to say something about British slang. Love it. So he must be from across the pond and has ended up in New York? Love the scene and the fact that she’s in a family way. did you say this is going to be a novel? I hope so. Wonderful read. What an imagination you have.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Rochelle,
      It’s York in England, and this slang is very local to the county of Yorkshire.
      The novel is the one I’ve been getting very excited about, when talking to you on Skype 🙂
      I’m glad you enjoyed it. My imagination exhausts me sometimes, but it’s far better to have an imagination than no imagination at all. I’ll risk the exhaustion, as there are many moments of euphoria, too!
      All best wishes,

      Liked by 2 people

      1. …When I’m not coughing my guts up, as I am today! If your husband heard me on Skype, he’d want to turn his hearing aids down, just as a man used to do in my choir, when the high sopranos got too loud (never the mezzo’s of course!). I’m skipping choir this evening, as they don’t need a mezzo who has temporarily turned into a bass, and a barking one at that! (and I don’t mean barking mad — or do I?).
        Don’t worry about not having read my intro properly. You have quite enough reading to do, as head girl of the FF’s academy.
        All best wishes,


    1. She is exceedingly feisty, so I am glad you picked this up from that small excerpt. I so love writing from her point of view, especially when she shifts to narrating in second-person POV from time to time.


    1. I’m happy that my cousins from over the Pond are delighted by Britishisms. There are plenty of Americanisms that I find equally entertaining.
      I guess this could be the beginning of a novel, although it’s just over halfway through Counting Magpies at the beginning of Part IV that goes under the title of “Insurrection”. See what you’re missing, Leigh 😉 But not to worry — if you keep your fingers tightly crossed for me during the submission process, I’ll be very happy. Joshua has promised to give it one last read-through, as he has an eagle eye for detail and can be trusted to give me his honest opinion, even though I am his mother! That’s because I’ve never shown offence at any of his constructive criticism.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Being a Sussex girl, I’m entranced by the Yorkshire words, too. And I totally love the Yorkshire accent. There was some market research done that proved consumers responded best to this particular accent, as it had a homely, trustworthy, and warm quality about it.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Alicia 🙂 That’s the fun challenge of writing a novel, is to keep your reader guessing, while giving them just enough to keep them reading to the end. Being a pantser, rather than a plotter, sometimes I’m guessing, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hope you are feeling chipper soon, Sarah. Love the use of slang, even if I had to think a little to remember what the phrases meant. Really enjoyed reading it, too. The poor man and his misconceptions… I’d be concerned for her, I mean, a bike wreck while preggers is no laughing matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m on the mend, thank you, although have to abstain from too much talking as it starts me coughing. I love talking, too!
      The old man in the story is a kindly fellow, so she has fallen off her bike outside the right house 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Magaly 🙂 You would have been all mad giggles if you’d seen me writing my bicycle while pregnant. I finally gave up at about 7 months, after someone suddenly opened their car door in front of me. Fortunately, I didn’t get knocked off the bike, as my reactions were quick, but it gave me a fright. During my second pregnancy, for safety, I stuck to the exercise bike at home! It’s funny how one’s life experiences stack up and serve as writing inspiration later.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. In my city, is not uncommon to see pregnant women on bikes (usually at the park, though). If one of them shared the personality of your character on the bike, I would probably roar at them too–I’m a sucker for a fiery attitude.

        I bet you had very healthy pregnancies.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice little scene—she does sound feisty. I thought maybe you’d made the words up (dystopian and all) but I see they’re for real. Knackered I’ve heard of, but I might be insulted, too, if anyone yelled these ones at me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She’s unaccustomed to Yorkshiremen. He’s just expressing amused surprise, Northern style, and teasing her in a playful way. But he’s very old (100+) so he probably feels the need to shout because his hearing isn’t quite what it used to be!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that any bicycle that has travelled 300 kilometers with a pregnant woman on it, would self-destruct on a cobbled street, especially a bicycle that was a bit of an antique in the first place! I’m pleased that you wanted to know more, Christy 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great fun writing in the dialect. I must admit, despite being English I didn’t know what those words meant but they are beautiful in their onomatopoeic qualities as regional words so often are

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tend to be a bit sparing with dialect and probably wouldn’t attempt it with a major character in a novel, as it would become a bit tiring for the reader (and the writer, too!). In my excerpt for FF, the old fellow does explain what he’s saying, after she mistakes his choice of words as insults, so I thought I could get away with it here. I once got shortlisted and published in the Aesthetica Creative Writing annual short story competition for a piece of dystopian science fiction, in which I had one of the two main characters using futuristic lingo. Again, I’m not sure I would have attempted that in a novel with a major character.


  6. Close as I was born to Yorkshire (I’m a red-roser, myself) I didn’t recognise those lovely descriptions. I’m hoping I can remember to use them at some time in the future. Lovely!

    Liked by 1 person

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