Zoo

Polar Bear, Zoo, Wildlife, Nature, Animal, Fur

There was just something so attractive about the zoo. The animals with all their bright colors and chattering noises, getting so close to them and actually touching others. The delighted oohing and awing of children filling the air as well as their cries. The smell of warm food and sugary treats. You could also picture yourself in a topical jungle, the heart of Africa or the middle of the ocean.

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You

Rose, Red, Red Rose, Flower, Blossom, Bloom, Romance

Of course, it all had to be about you. It was your fault right from the very beginning, your fault for falling in love then changing your mind.

Xenophobic

Finance, World, Accounting

Xenophobic: ‘A person who is fearful or contemptuous of that which is foreign, especially of strangers or of people from different countries or cultures.’ From thefreedictionary.com.

The girl making his coffee in the retirement village cafe wasn’t the normal one. Henry stopped suddenly and felt someone bump into the back of him. An angry snappy voice sounded in his ears, but he never heard what they said. He couldn’t take his eyes off the girl behind the counter. Her skin was dark, as dark as the night, he thought and her black purple hair was all twisted together in many braids finished off with plastic pony beads.

Someone, probably the man behind him, brushed hard passed Henry and up to the collection counter. He heard a low muttering and the other woman behind the counter taking the next order. He felt the urge to get out, but he still couldn’t take his eyes off the foreign girl. She turned and he saw her bright white eyes with a dark brown center staring at him. She was saying something, but he could not hear her.

She placed his cup of tea down and moved it across to him. Henry looked down at it, chewing his tongue with his remaining teeth.

‘Did I put too much milk in it?’ the girl asked with no trace of an accent.

‘I didn’t save this country for the likes of you,’ Henry growled.

The girl froze and Henry was aware that everyone else seemed to as well.

The girl opened her mouth and shut it again, her face crumpled like paper, but then she seemed to hold on and uncreased her expression.

‘I’m very grateful though,’ she muttered.

‘I don’t care,’ Henry snorted.

He turned and left, trying not to hobble so much. Behind him voices started whispering, but he couldn’t make out what they were saying. It didn’t matter, he didn’t care.

 

Working

Home Office, Workstation, Office, Business, Notebook

Was he working to live or living to work? He wasn’t sure, but he asked himself everyday in hope the answer would come.

Volts

Pasture Fence, Electric Fence

Without touching the fence they couldn’t tell if it was on, but two thousand volts was just too much to risk.

Umbrella

Banner, Header, Umbrellas, Wind, Fly

Shaking her head at the bad weather, Penny reached for her umbrella next to the coat stand. The space the bright pink, frilly brolly normally sat in was empty. Penny withdrew her hand and wondered where she could have left it. An odd sense of panic began to fill her then she remembered it was in work in her locker.

Growling at herself, she put on her winter coat and opened the front door. The strong wind, threatened to snatch it out of her grab, but she held on and managed to close the door again. The rain washed down and she felt drenched all ready. Cursing the ‘April showers’, which felt more like Autumn weather, Penny darted for her car, making a mental note to collect her umbrella later.

This Old House (part 2)

House, Abandoned, Vacant, Vintage, Grunge, Empty, Aged

Opening the door, Shiloh walked in and saw the wallpaper she remembered still on the wall. It was pink with unicorns, flowers, love hearts and rainbows. She touched the wall, just to be sure then walked further in. She recalled where all her furniture had been and her collection of bears and dolls stuck into every free space.

Shiloh saw her eight year old self, just for a moment playing on the floor with a large pink horse. The window was open letting in a breeze and she could smell strawberry cupcakes. She rubbed her nose and felt tears pricking her eyes. She went to the window and looked out, below she saw the back garden.

Turning, she left and avoiding her sister’s and parent’s rooms, went back downstairs. The stairs creaked under her then she back in the hallway. She hugged herself and knew she had had enough. In fact, she wasn’t even sure why she had come back here. Going to the front door, she left for the last time officially. Not looking back, she walked down the path and got back into her car.

The pine trees shook in the wind and out of the blue she remember how the wind howling down the chimney at night had sacred her. Getting into the car, she sat there and remembered her mother’s soft telling her not to be afraid.

‘I’m still afraid, mum,’ Shiloh whispered.

She started the car and quickly turned the wheel. The house filled her rear view mirror, looking depressed with its peeling white paint. Her eyes flickered upwards out of habit and she was transported back to being that kid waving goodbye to the house.

‘Why did we have to leave when you died, mum?’ Shiloh muttered.

Silent tears began falling. She licked her lips and tasted salt. Her sister had always said she was a cry baby. She wiped her face and had to look again at the mirror. The house was still there, framed more by the trees now, which seemed to be waving.

‘I won’t go back. There’s no answers there,’ Shiloh sobbed.

She got the car on the road and drove away, the house still filling her vision even though it was no longer there.

This Old House

House, Abandoned, Vacant, Vintage, Grunge, Empty, Aged

The house was too cold as Shiloh carefully walked across the worn wooden floor. She listened to the creaking sounds echoing through what she remembered as the front living room. A heaviness she hadn’t been expecting filled her chest as took everything in. Wall paper was starting to peel down the walls and the curtains were not pulled all the way across the large bay windows.

She walked across to the large fire place with the burnt reminds of papers spilled out from it. She knelt down and poked through the ashes, recalling her last night in the house when her father had been burning documents. She turned over a page that hadn’t been burnt and saw it was a newspaper dated a few weeks ago. She pushed it away and got up.

Leaving the living room, Shiloh headed up the stairs. Closed doors clustered together at the top, keeping their mysteries shut in. She went to the first door, remembering it was a bathroom and inside it still was. Dust lay over everything and the air smelt of damp. She peered into the bathtub and saw a pile of tiny bones. A mouse or a bird maybe?

She turned and went to the next room, it had been her father’s study. She walked in fully believing to see the desk and chair in the middle of the room, the bookcases lining the wall and her father stood smoking by the half opened window. Shiloh swung the door in and looked into the empty room. Nothing remained to even suggest what this space had been witness too.

A tumble of memories came back, flashing before like photos being taken. Shiloh saw her parents sitting on the desk laughing, her older sister reaching for a book, her father smoking and drinking. Voices from the past rose around her, but she had long forgotten what they had actual said. Shaking her head, she left, unable to take any more and eager to rediscover her childhood bedroom.

Savers

Star Clusters, Galaxy, Star, Ngc 602

Gracie walked passed the still robots, eyeing then worriedly. Their huge sliver figures stood off to the side in every public building and street.They were always watching and to Gracie, silently judging. Red, green and blue lights some times flashed on their heads or bodies for seemingly no reason. Then there was the bleeping, whirling and soft wailing sounds that they admitted.

Of course, everyone knew they were for protection against the Terrorists, but no one liked to speak about them. She got onto the train into a middle carriage were there was unlikely to be one standing between the seats. Above her a poster called the robots The Savers Of Earth!

Sitting down, she looked out the windows and wondered what the world was coming too.

Rumbled

Graveyard, Headstone, Cemetery, Grass, Creepy, Gothic

The game was up and so was his number. Johnny sprinted through the church gate and headed to the large graveyard. He’s swinging arm scrapped against the rough, cold stone wall and he pulled back. Nearly toppling over the raised corner of a moss covered flag stone, he rounded the corner.

Breathing hard, he wondered, Can I stash my leather jacket and pretend I’m an early morning jogger? These black PJ bottoms would just pass as jog pants from a distance…his thoughts trailed as he spotted the small wooden back door of the church.

He hurried over and tried the worn ring handle. The door didn’t move. He shouldered it, thinking it was only stuck, but it turned out to be locked. Grunting, he looked around, mapping a clear run though the graveyard.

Sirens wailed in the distance, echoing through the streets and making it impossible to tell where they were or how close they were. A dog began barking and voices shouted out.

Panic filled, Johnny ran, dodging around the dilapidate headstones. Long, wet grass whipped against his legs and his eyes filled with the sight of a depressed weeping willow tree in the far corner.

If I could climb it… Johnny thought.

His foot caught on something, his toes soaking up all the pain from the hard stone before he tumbled. He hit the ground hard and spread eagle, breathing in grass and dirt. Johnny scrambled up, not wasting time on seeing what he had fallen over nor the throbbing of his foot. He weaved onto what once might have been a path and rushed on.

He reached the tree and began climbing. Fortunately, there were enough branches and leaves to hide him. Stopping on the last thick branch, he spit the foam that gathered in his mouth out. Calming his breathing, he listened and watched, but couldn’t see any movement or hearing anything else other than the police sirens.

Believing he was safe for the time being, his thoughts flashed back to less than half an hour ago. The realization of how luckily he had been sunk in. His insomnia had actually worked in his favour for once. Johnny had been in the kitchen, back door open, holding a mug of almost finished coffee and watching the microwave clock ticking the minutes to five am.

The crashing sound of his front door and the yelling of police had been surreal. Then mug had dropped, smashing to the floor and splatting coffee droplets like blood. Flight had shot through him and Johnny had raced out of the door, over the low brick wall at the back of the garden and into the alleyway.

Running on, he’d stayed in the back streets, not sure where he was going and unable to get his mind to think. He had seen the church bell tower rising above the terrace house roofs like a lighthouse at sea. Guided, he had followed it and found the front gate by chance.

Rubbing his face, Johnny started to mull things over and wondered how he had been rumbled. His small time drug gang hadn’t been working that hard lately, though he knew that the police could have been watching for months.

What about that new guy? He thought, pigs, are great at working themselves in now…  

A dog barking distracted him. Johnny looked out of the tree and saw a German Shepard sniffing the nearest headstone. A cop rounded the corner, black lead dangling from his hand. He spoke to the dog then to someone behind him, but Johnny couldn’t hear what was said. He held his breath and though he wasn’t religious, he prayed they wouldn’t find him.

The dog moved into the graveyard, nose stuck to the ground and the long grass zinging around. There was a sharp bark and a brown flicker of movement to the left. The dog shot off and as Johnny watched, he saw a rabbit bouncing away. He held his breath and bit his tongue as he saw the cops running and yelling after the dog. It didn’t seem like they had seen the rabbit.

The German Shepard darted out of a side gate and out of view. The cops followed with their voices just loud enough for Johnny to hear a few snatched words of ‘dog, scent, got him, West Church Lane.’ The police disappeared and Johnny breathed a sigh of relief. He got more comfy and decided that for as long as he could he would stay in the tree.

 

Johnny guessed it was around mid-morning, going off the bright blue, but cloud hazy sky. He could smell cooking meat from somewhere and it was making him hungry. He stretched feeling the stiffness in his back and limbs. He glanced down and saw the ground looking quite far away. Now, that he had time to think though he knew where to go.

Double checking there was no one around, he slowly climbed down the willow. His grip felt numb and his body ached with the movement. He almost lost his footing. Reaching the floor, he rubbed his hands on his pants and looked around for another way to leave the graveyard. Spotting a large black gate, he walked over and through, not noticing the white ball of light that seemed to be following him.

He walked casually down the streets, trying to look normal. There was no way he could go home. And even if they hadn’t taken his girlfriend in for questioning, someone would be staking out the place. Maybe, they were watching the streets too? He almost picked up his pace, but decided it’d look odd. Anyway, his friend’s wasn’t that far from here and he could hide in the cellar’s priest hole again.

When he arrived it didn’t take things long to get sorted. Heading down into the cellar, on the wobbly wooden steps, Johnny wondered how long the all clear would take this time. He helped his friend remove somethings that were up against a small boarded up hole in the wall. Then they ripped it open. Dust motes rose in the torch light and the faint smell of damp tickled their noses.

‘Home Sweet Home,’ Johnny muttered and chuckled.

He took the torch and crawled into the tight space. His friend put the board back then Johnny heard him moving some of the stuff back into place.

Pressing his head against the icy cold wall, Johnny shut his eyes. He dozed, just like he’d done in the tree. Black patterns swirled before his eyelids then a white figure started to form. It was tiny at first, but grew and grew until it took the shape of a young woman in a white floaty dress. Johnny didn’t recognise her.

She reached out her arms as if to hug him, but a loud knocking vanished her away. Johnny opened his eyes and listened, but the sounds were very muffled. He rubbed his head and tried to remember where that girl was from. Nothing came to him. He put his head back again and let himself doze off.

 

She haunted him for days. Every time he shut his eyes, she came to him in that white float dress, arms out reached, a begging look on her face. Countless times he had asked her what she wanted, but she didn’t reply. He didn’t believe in ghosts, but what else could she be?

‘I think it might be a ghost…’ he announced to his friend one afternoon.

The heat had almost died off and they were sat in the living room together drinking beer. In the background the TV was showing a football match whilst the sound of children playing outside could be heard.

His friend eyed him.

‘I don’t know…but what else can it be?’ Johnny added.

‘You know, my old gran use to tell me this thing…’ his friend trailed off.

Johnny nodded and took a drink off his beer.

‘If you don’t leave a graveyard the way you came in spirits can attached themselves to you when you leave.’

Johnny scratched his cheek and thought.

His friend shook his head. ‘She way lost it in the end though…thought birds were spying on her.’

‘What she say about getting rid of it?’

‘You had to go back in the way you went out and then go out the way you came in the first time. Sounds crazy don’t it?’

‘Yeah, crazy! Totally!’

Johnny laughed and finished his beer, but his mind was already planning.

A few days later he left and headed home. Almost a month had past and there was no way the cops were still watching his place. They had better things to do, he was sure. Walking home, he headed straight for the church. The woman in white had even been coming to him during the day now out, he had seen her out of the corner of his eye.

Spotting the graveyard gates, he hurried in. The place looked just the same though it was now under a darkening evening sky. He went to the willow tree and stared up at where he had sat for most of a morning. Then he looked around at the silent graves and wondered if his friend’s gran had been right. Slowly, he walked on and up towards the church. The dry grass crunched under him and the birds sing in the background.

He walked passed the church, along the path and to the gates he had entered by. As he got closer he wondered what was going to happen, but when he walked through them he felt nothing. Letting go of the breath he hadn’t realised he was holding, Johnny went home.

His girlfriend was gone. A note on the table told him so. He shrugged it off and took a shower. Then went to bed and for the first time in years, he fell fast asleep.