Friday Fictioneers — The Ancient School at “D–wh–n-e”

This week’s photo prompt brought to mind the horrendous terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday night. I am so overwhelmed with emotions about this, that it has rendered me mute with regard to such atrocities. Therefore, I’m going to avoid the subject of explosions and move forward to the year 2183 and write about a ruin instead.

This is another chance for you to meet Morag in my not-yet unpublished novel Counting Magpies. On the previous occasion she was in York, having trouble with her decrepit bicycle (A Rare Specimen). This time, she’s in the Highlands of Scotland in a village that has some of the letters missing from its signpost.

Come on, you clever clogs. Let’s see who’s going to be the first to fill in those blank letters (each em dash stand for two missing letters and the hyphen for one)…

Genre: Dystopian speculative fiction
Word count: 100


I pick my way through the rubble, tripping once and almost twisting my ankle on a rusted kettle.

At first I mistake the bundle for a heap of rags, until I prod it with the plank and turn it over. The thing has a face, or rather bones with empty eye sockets and a gaping jaw. I let out a reflexive scream, despite knowing a skull can’t harm me. The rest of the skeleton is clothed in rags covered in mildew. 

Who was this person with unusually long leg and foot bones and narrow hipbones? Perhaps it was a man.


Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo prompt: image copyright © J Hardy Carroll

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.

53 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers — The Ancient School at “D–wh–n-e””

  1. And my mind is a total blank. I’m too tired to come up with anything logical or clever this morning, and too numb from the latest attacks to even form an intelligent statement about the state of this world. How’s that for a sober Good Morning?

    I love your writing but then you already knew that. 🙂 Have a peaceful Thursday.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Likewise, re feeling numb.You have a peaceful Thursday, too, Bill.

      By the way, I haven’t forgotten about sending you some interview questions for a guest post on my blog. My only excuse for the delay, is an acute state of disorganisation made worse by my desire to spend hours outside in the sunshine whilst it lasts. Heatwave.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally understand the desire to be outside. I’ll be here whenever you find time for the questions. Have a marvelous evening, my friend.


  2. As I am not familiar with enough anything Scottish, I shall not attempt to fill in the blanks… unless the name has nothing to do with Scotland but then, you would not be so cruel!
    What a thing to discover!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Dear Sarah,

    You made me think. Why do we scream when happening on a skull? Too many horror flicks, I think. 😉 I’ll not hazard a guess about the missing letters, but I enjoyed this piece and look forward to your next novel.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Rochelle,

      You scream when you’re being pursued by people who want to kill you and your nerves are all on edge, but I guess that this is the problem of posting an excerpt and not wanting to make the word-count to the preamble decidedly longer than the 100-word story 😉 She (Morag) has only seen skulls in museums and there are no horror flicks being shown in her time. It’s not your standard dystopian novel, where everything has descended into chaos. Rather, society is trying to pretend that nothing is wrong, when this is far from the case.

      All best wishes,

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Dear Sarah,

        That explains a lot. Just the same I think the natural response to finding a skull would be to scream. 😉




    1. No, it’s pronounced as written and the answer is now to be found in the comments. …Yes, there will be more, Cybele, but not sure when, as I’m going to try going down the traditional publishing route with this novel first, and see how things go. Wish me luck!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. YA!!! I dinnae believe it. OOOH!!!! I am liking the sound of challenge and hardship Sarah, I will well be getting your books too, espesh if they are set here. That whole bit there is one of these semi deserted expanses and we only went that way once cos of where we were heading. Mind you, the day the road was shut at Crianlarich after an accident we thought we night have to go to Glencoe by that way.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My two published books aren’t set in Scotland. The YA crossover novel is set on the SE coast of England, and the MG crossover one starts there but then the main character disappears off into another dimension. The as-yet unpublished dystopian speculative novel that the story excerpt is taken from — definitely a novel for adults — is partly set in Scotland, partly in Dorset, but primarily in the Isle of Wight. Of course I would be delighted if you read either of my published novels, but you’ll have to wait for the one with Scotland in it. xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

  4. A man? I was hoping for a mannequin. Having never stumbled upon a skull, I don’t know if I’d scream or just feel queasy in my stomach. I hope to never find out.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s just as well the answer is already in the comments as I’m hopeless at word games! Another intriguing extract from the book though Sarah, I like the image in my mind that the missing letters on the signpost hint at, as well as the action taking place in the scene.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Andrea. I am happy to keep you intrigued 🙂 I have this thing about old signposts and am always taking pictures of them, although a broken Dalwhinnie isn’t in my collection. Perhaps I should start a series of them on my blog, posting a signpost picture per week.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. How interesting! As a child, archaeology was on the list of jobs that I wanted to do when I grew up. I remember having an archaeological “dig” in our garden but I never found anything other than some old bits of pottery and a threepence. I think my love affair with meteorology and astronomy was less disruptive, although I ended up not being able to follow any of these things as a career, as I wasn’t good enough at science!


    1. Yes, I agree. I know that if I stumble upon a spider, grass snake, slow worm, or mouse unexpectedly, then I’ve been known to give a little startled scream, even though I’m not frightened of any of those creatures. I’ve never come across a human skull unexpectedly, but I’m guessing it would startle me in the same way. …I’m glad you loved the scene. She’s on a rather fraught journey where she’s being hunted, with only her husky to guard her. But occasionally her curiosity gets the better of her and she can’t resist stopping to explore things of interest on the way, especially things that tell her about the world as it was before the big happening… (no spoilers allowed!).


    1. It is horrible. I can remember watching a TV serial years ago in my early teens when they didn’t air much scary stuff. It was about the German occupation of the Channel islands and there was a skeleton dressed in the rags of a uniform in the basement of a house. I ruminated over this for ages after; it even prevented me getting to sleep at night. Of course, today’s teenagers would quite likely think I was a real wuss, as most of them have been desensitized by exposure to far worse images on TV.


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