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This Friday’s fiction is based on a writing prompt I found somewhere on the internet:

You wake up the day after St Patrick’s day with a hangover, no memory of the night before, and a sore arm.  You discover a tattoo of a map on your arm.  After getting over your horror at now having a tattoo, you wonder where the map leads.

Here it is:

I huddled in the corner, wondering how I was going to survive this.  I wished I had never woken up this morning.

It started like any other morning-after-the-night-before – with groaning.  I pried open my eyes and winced.  The pain in my head rose from “a freight train lives in my skull” to “someone is sticking needles in my brain”.

I became aware of a pain in my arm.  I brushed back my sleeve, and stared, horrified.

Why on earth would I decide to get a tattoo?  What was that anyway?  Some squiggles, a couple of triangles, and a… tree?

A map.  I didn’t know where the answer came from, but I knew it was right.  I had a map tattooed to my arm.

I staggered out of bed.  I had to find out where the map had come from.  I found my phone and called Andrew.


He sounded as bad as I felt.

“Andrew, it’s George.  What the hell happened last night?”

“You’re asking me?  You went off with some paddy around 10 and we didn’t see you again.  We were worried about you.”

“I’m fine.  Well, I woke up with a tattoo, but I’m ok.”

Andrew laughed.  “You have a tattoo?  What of?”

I reddened.  “Oh, look at the time.  Gotta go!”  I hung up.

There was only one thing for it.  To find out what happened, I would have to follow the map.

I peered at it.  The squiggles could be rivers, but there are no rivers near my house.  The tree had an interesting pattern of branches.  I knew that tree.  I grabbed a pair of sunglasses and set out.

Flashes of the previous night started to return.  Meeting the Irish man at the bar.  He bought me a drink.  I think it was green.  Asking for proof of something.  Proof of what, I wondered.

Two triangles were next on the map, with a black dot on the left one.  I looked around.  There!  Two vaguely triangular hills.  When I got there it was obvious where to go next.  In the left hand hill was a cave.  I climbed the hill and entered.

It was dark.  As my eyes adjusted, I could see a faint glow ahead.  I moved forward carefully.  There was a strange hissing, and I hoped it was not dangerous.

The light was brighter now, and I entered a chamber.  It was large, and it looked like someone was living there.  There was a bed against one wall, and a fireplace – the source of the light.  I approached the fire.  Just as I got there, there was a flash, and a man was behind me.

“I warned you not to come back!” he said.  He had a very strong Irish accent.  “Now you will pay for offending me.”

He clicked his fingers, and the cave was full of snakes.

I leapt backwards and pressed myself against the wall.  I hate snakes!  The man turned to leave.

“Wait!” I called desperately.  “Who are you?  Why are you here?  Where did all the snakes come from?”

He paused.  “You don’t remember, do you?  I am Patrick.”

He left, and didn’t look back.  The snakes hissed menacingly and slithered closer.

The Author

Nicola Higgins is a 30-something martial artist who runs two Brownie packs and works full time. She somehow still finds time to write.

Her favourite genres are near-future and alternate world science fiction and fantasy.

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