An Invite to Hollingdrake Hall

Photo copyright: Rochelle

Photo copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Approaching the house that was to become her home again Karen swore that she would put things right. Today she would start reversing the wrongs that had occoured. The recent history of Hollingdrake Hall had stopped most people from visiting what had once been a beautiful house.

Experimenting with alchemy, her father had developed a potion which changed him. He had then altered his name from Mandrake to Ekardnam. For fifty years he mercilessly controlled the family business – until the day lightning struck his car. The lightning reverted him to Mandrake. Whilst Karen sat taking tea with her mother – until Nerak screamed.

A Tea Break for a Writer

A Tea Break for a Writer

This Post Has 61 Comments

  1. neelwritesblog

    Looks an indulgence in sci fi here. Good writing.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Neel. As is sometimes the case, I started off writing one type of story, with a intended sci fi element: but then drifted into the horror genre.

  2. JS Brand

    A chilling tale retold in classic style Michael.

    1. Michael Humphris

      I was drifting somewhat with this story; which ended in a way that I had not intended. Hopefully I will find an opportunity to redraft the story for another prompt picture. Thank you for your feedback, it is appreciated.

      1. FabricatingFiction

        It’s always good when a story takes you somewhere you didn’t expect.

        1. Michael Humphris

          Perhaps, but it always leaves me wondering about what might have been.

      2. JS Brand

        I liked it Michael. It reminded me of one of those old supernatural tales like The Monkey’s Paw.

        1. Michael Humphris

          I do not recall reading the Monkeys Paw, I will look up WW Jacob. Thank you for your feedback, it is appreciated.

          1. JS Brand

            It’s probably 40+ years since I last read it, so I don’t recall every detail. There was just something about the tone of your story that made me think of it, as well as some of GK Chesterton’s stories.

          2. Michael Humphris

            I now read a synopsis of the Monkeys Paw. It appears to be a mix of a moral story with a good dollop of horror. Fascinating. It reminds me of telling stories around a open fire at night in the ghostly style of Ireland.

          3. JS Brand

            Thanks Michael. You’ve put into words what I was trying to say. Your story conjured up that kind of atmosphere for me – not easy when there’s a tight word limit.

          4. Michael Humphris

            Flash fiction with its limit on word use is a challenge that I enjoy. Then there are all the differing responses to the prompt. Lovely

  3. neilmacdon

    That was an HP Lovecraft whimsy. I tried spelling Hollingdrake backwards, but nothing happened

    1. Michael Humphris

      I am so pleased to be reminded about HP Lovecraft. Hollingdrake Hall is unaffected by the potion. Only humans are reversed! I did start this story with a totally different end and genre in mind !

  4. rochellewisoff

    Dear Michael,

    Do you mean Nerak there at the end? Clever and spooky story.



    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Rochelle, I did mean Nerak. I started this story intending to write about the house in The Secret Garden by Burnett. But the horror genre took over my tale.

  5. Iain Kelly

    A spooky little mystery tale, nicely done.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Iain, I started up writing in one genre and ended up in a different genre.

  6. Clare Hempstead

    Spooky stuff!

    1. Michael Humphris

      It was spooky how the story just grew, it was supposed to be a nice description of a happy old house, but turned into a horror story. But having seen a photo of the house I am not surprised at the change of genre.

  7. Alicia Jamtaas

    Interesting how or muse lets us start a story one way then turns it into something else. Well done little mystery.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Alicia, the mystery will unfold in a later story I hope,

  8. yarnspinnerr

    Very clever and neat. It gives the desired spooky impact.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Yarnspinnerr. I started off not intending this story to be spooky, but something took over.

      1. yarnspinnerr

        I know … occasionally stories and characters do as they please. 🙂

  9. James

    Seems like Dad wasn’t the only one messing around with the forbidden.

    1. Michael Humphris

      That’s true, it was a family business, sadly Karen [Nerak] found that out the hard way.

  10. Dale

    Thank goodness for lightening. Oh no, wait. Poor Nerak now…

    1. Michael Humphris

      Dale I am hoping Karen aka Nerak will remember the possible beneficial effects of a near lightening strike.

  11. yuhublogger

    Oooh! What an end! Awesome.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you so much. With FF – only having a hundred words to play with encouraged me to be brief

      1. yuhublogger

        Oh! You did well.

  12. nonsmokingladybug

    Beautifully written. I love when a story takes us to unknown territory.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you so much. When a story does that to me, I wonder if the story that I intended to write is lost for good.

      1. nonsmokingladybug

        If it was a good story if will come back at the right time. If it doesn’t come back…..

      2. nonsmokingladybug

        It will come back if it was a good story, if not…oh well.

  13. Rowena

    This was very clever, Michael…a bit too clever for my humble brain and it took me 3 readings to cotton onto the name reversals, but that was a great idea.
    BTW, your heading should read: “An Invite.”
    Hope you have a great week and I look forward to next week’s encounter.
    xx Rowena

    1. Michael Humphris

      Me too, I am always interested in what the flash fiction prompt delivers.

    2. Michael Humphris

      Sorry about the name reversals. I was desperately trying to stay within the word limit, yet say the the potion reversed there character

      1. Rowena

        It was a great idea and it did work.
        I know what you mean about the word limit. Some weeks it’s been very difficult to cut it back.

        1. Michael Humphris

          Hi Rowena, thank you for your encouragement,

  14. Life Lessons of a Dog Lover

    For some reason this made me laugh, I guess because she seemed dismissive of her father.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Now there is a reaction that I did not expect. It will make me think. One should never underestimate the effects of alchemy.

  15. Michael B. Fishman

    An interesting story but there’s a stark shift between the two paragraphs that kind of broke concentration for me. The first paragraph had kind of a gothic horror feel and then I wasn’t sure about the second paragraph. I think I would have liked it more if those final 53 words had been used to talk about the wrongs Karen wanted to correct.

    1. Michael Humphris

      I agree with you, I really struggled with this story to stay within the word limit, causing the flow of the story to suffer.

  16. Michael Wynn

    I enjoyed this one Michael, it took me two reads to cotton onto the reversing of the names. I like a story that makes you use your brain a bit.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Michael, it took me two attempts to get the spelling right!!

  17. Christine Goodnough

    If being in reverse means you start to grow younger every day I’m all for it. Patent the potion.

    1. Michael Humphris

      The potion as well as making one younger, subdues kindness and promotes evil deeds. I do not recommend it.

  18. Sascha Darlington

    Ah, reversal of fortune, so to speak. Well done!

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Sascha.

  19. Oliana

    I am not too quick, and had to read it a second time to catch Nerak…ouf!! scary stuff and sounds like trailor pitch to a scary movie. I love it when my muse takes over and turns a story to another bend.

    1. Michael Humphris

      Thank you Oliana, not to scary unless one is Karen/Nerak

      1. Oliana

        Karen is my sister’s name so I had a double take.

        1. Michael Humphris

          I had not considered that Nerak might have a wider family. Now Hollingdrake Hall may become a saga.

  20. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    I think that it means back to the drawing board… but that’s what it means you have to constantly keep improving

    1. Michael Humphris

      You are right; if Nerak wants to get back to being Karen, I will have to return to my drawing board. Aka writing board.

  21. patriciaruthsusan

    It was an interesting story, Mike, but I’m confused about who Nerak is. If it’s a classical story I’m unfamiliar with it. Good writing, though. 🙂 — Suzanne

    1. Michael Humphris

      Suzanne, my story is about a potion that reverses the personality. Nerak is Karen reversed.

  22. athling2001

    Nerak is the father?

    1. Michael Humphris

      Hi Athling – the name Nerak is the name Karen reversed. The father having lost his role has been replaced by his daughter – the replacement has been arranged by her mother! I really need more words to complete this story. Sorry for the name reversal thing. Mike

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