Onward #WritePhoto

The people of what had been Kirby town had been traveling for months, walking on the hard rocky animal tracks through the foggy and rain soaked mountain range. There seemed to be no end in sight and it was like they had been cursed to walk forever.

Wearily and hungrily, they followed their prince on his bedraggled white stallion and his surviving guards in their tattered livery. No one was sure where they were going but the wizard kept claiming the Gods would tell the prince soon enough.

A fine rain was falling and the wind kept driving into the people and animals. There was little shelter and half delirious some of the people started to believe the mountains were judging them.

But what would mountains know of having to flee your burning town? Of trying to save women from rape and murder at the hands of an army from a distant land? Of there being no help, no hope, nothing left but charred reminds of what had been?

‘Is that a cave or a gap?’ the prince muttered.

He was exhausted and finding it hard to keep the strength his people needed of him. Steering his horse off of the track and up a small ledge. He saw that a gaping hole opened inside the nearest mountain, like mouth that had been punched in.

The prince slide off his horse and lead the stallion over. The cave seemed back enough for everyone and it was also dry inside.

Prays were said to the Gods and a few people suggested that perhaps their fate was turning. Maybe tonight the prince would be told where to lead them too. Everyone settled into the cave, finding a large chamber for twelve horses, seven ponies, five goats, four dogs, two cows, one ox, one kitten and a crate full of chickens. There was also other chambers which the hundred odd humans scattered themselves about in.

No fires could be lit, there was no dry wood. The people ate whatever they had foraged, got as comfortable as they could and tried to sleep.

The prince woke early, feeling uneasy. He looked at the ceiling of the cave and wondered what to do.

‘My prince?’ ask the wizard, ‘any new thoughts?’

‘None,’ the prince uttered.

The wizard nodded and taking up his gnarled staff went out into the misty, rainy morning.

‘Shall we move on?’ the captain of the guards asked.

The prince looked around, taking in the closest children who were so tried and hungry they could no longer cry.

‘No. It seems safe enough here. We shall rest as long as we can.’

A few days passed and the people had made the best of things. Wood had been dried for a fire big enough to cook and dry clothes upon. The animals were providing milk and eggs now they were rested and grazing often. Everyone felt less hungry and tried.

On the four day, the wizard came back.

‘I have been seeing what there is to be seen,’ he announced, ‘and it looks like we must continue. The weather is turning and I fear we shall face greater hardships.’

The prince was fell silent in thought. A few voices give suggestions but at last the prince spoke, ‘tomorrow we leave. Go and find food, wood and prepare. We can’t stay here and must make it to some other town or city for the winter.’

Onward, the people of Kirby town traveled though a gap between two mountains where it stopped raining and began snowing. Some regretted leaving the cave but they knew if they had stayed they would have died, at least this way they had a chance.

On and on they pushed as winter bit in and heaped more harshness on them like never before. Some did not make it, but other weeks later, on the eve of the winter festival stood and looked down upon a valley and a town within.

Spirits soared and the people head forward. The prince feared they would be rejected or find the town in ruined but they were welcome in. A great hall lay at the heart of the town, heated by many fires and decorated with evergreen plants. The Lord welcomed them from his high seat and the prince counseled with him.

Dawn arose on the winter festival morning, crisp snow covered everything and a fine mist hung over the mountains. The people of Kirby all slept peacefully for the first time, warmed by the fires of the great hall, knowing they were safe for the time being.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/12/06/thursday-photo-prompt-onward-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

Advertisements

Untrodden #WritePhoto

The snow lay thick across everything. Hilda stepped outside her house, admiring the view and taking a photo with her phone. This early in the morning, nothing but birds had touched the snow and it looked as pure as it been in the clouds.

Hilda felt like laughing, she wasn’t sure why, maybe due to the overwhelming joy in her chest? She loved winter, there was just something so magical and special about the season compared to all the others. Maybe, it was also because her family came from Russia, the home of winter.

It was too cold to laugh, her breath was misting badly in front of her because she had been stood too long. Instead, she smiled and carried on walking down the country lane. There was no wind but some loose snow was drifting from tree branches. Hilda wished it would snow again, there was nothing like the feeling of snowflakes on warm skin.

Following the path around, she came to a breathtaking sight. Snow covered hills rose in the distance, the tops of which were covered by fog. Naked trees spiked the fields, frost bitten and snow draped. A wobbly wood and wire fence ran to the left of her, frozen snow domed the posts.

She scooped a handful of snow up in her gloved hands, patted it down and threw it at a near by tree. It fell short with a soft plop. Hilda laughed, feeling such like a child again that she could no longer contain herself. As her voice faded, she heard something, a faint cry?

Holding her breath, she listened and heard what sounded like a baby crying. The spell of magical winter gone, Hilda grew concerned and tried to follow the sound. It seemed to be coming from the tree she had thrown the snowball at.

How was it possible that a baby was out here alone? she wondered.

Hilda searched around the tree trunk, the crying had grown louder. She moved some snow away and found a little hollow. What was that inside? She reached in, thinking it just more snow but instead her hands withdrew something else. Holding it up to her face, Hilda saw the tiniest kitten she had every seen. It was snow white, with blue eyes and a touch of a pink mouth.

‘Oh! You poor thing!’ Hilda cried, ‘What are you doing out here?’

The kitten give a small whimper.

Quickly unzipping her coat, Hilda tugged the kitten inside to keep it warm. Zipping up again, she inspected the trunk and roots of the tree carefully but she found nothing else. Still worried that there might be more kittens or a mother cat out here, Hilda wandered from tree to tree, bush to bush, anywhere an animal could hide from freezing.

Sometime later and far down the lane, Hilda had to give up which really wasn’t what she wanted to do. There had been no other signs of cats though and Hilda’s worry had moved on to the kitten in her coat. She could feel it’s warm and gentle breathing against her chest.

Heading back home, Hilda decided she would have to find out how to take care of the kitten. She had never had a pet before. Maybe, someone had just lost the little thing and she could find the owner in the village or at one of the farms?

As soon as I know the kitten is okay, I’ll do that, Hilda decided.

Days later and after a lot of asking around, no one had come to claim the kitten. Hilda had decided to name her Snowy and she was doing great. Her time outside had’t seemed to have effected her that much. Snowy was growing stronger all the time and Hilda had fallen in love with her.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/11/29/thursday-photo-prompt-untrodden-writephoto/ with thanks).

Post It Note #52

post-it-1819739_1920

Remember, Remember the fifth of November! Buy fireworks tomorrow. Finish off setting up the bonfire and don’t forget to check it for hedgehogs before lighting it.

 

hedgehog-child-1759027_1920

Stone #WritePhoto

It was growing dark in the woods and everyone was locking themselves inside their homes. Candles and fires burned brightly, keeping the worse of the shadows away but the villagers knew it would not protect them. Nothing would if the monsters who dwelled underneath the trees decided to eat them.

Kissa led her lame nag pony around the moss covered trees, newly lit lantern held high in her small hand. The brown and white pony whined in pain but there was nothing Kissa could do. She was too busy trying to fight down the guilt of causing the pony to stumble because she had been running the poor thing too hard to try and get home before it was dark.

Now, it was too late. Kissa toyed with the idea of leaving the pony behind. The nag was slowing her down and Kissa could run, she wasn’t wearing skirts but dressed in boys’ clothes to help hide her identity. It was safer, her parents said to pretend to be a boy when traveling to see granny because girls were likely to be kidnapped on the roads.

Kissa looked at the pony. The animal was weary, pained and sad, it would be so easy to let go of the reins and walk away but she couldn’t, Bramble was her childhood friend. So, Kissa clutched the reins tighter and patted the pony’s neck whilst muttering soothing words. She also lowered the lantern to giving them more light to see where they were walking.

‘We’ll be home soon enough now,’ Kissa spoke, ‘look, there’s the stone marker ahead.’

Bramble neighed and limped on. Her hoofs tripping over fallen branches and pebbles.

‘We’ll rest there a bit,’ Kissa added, ‘even though I know we shouldn’t stop. It’s dangerous in the dark but we’ll look after each other right?’

They reached the stone pillar which was covered in green moss and surrounded by stones in a circle. No one alive now knew what the stones had originally been placed for but they were now used to mark the miles between places even though nothing was written upon them. Many people couldn’t read anyway.

Kissa sat on one of the stones, dropping the reins and placing the lantern down. She took the cloth bag off her back, pulled out a waterskin and a wrapped packet. She drink and ate the hard bread and cheese that granny had given her. Bramble stood still, right foot slightly raised off the ground, dozing.

A wind rocked the trees above them, an owl hooted and a fox cried out, the long sound taking awhile to fade away. Kissa huddled into her cloak, trying not to let fear get to her but it was hard as she was just a child of ten years. She finished eating, saving some just in case and took a few sips of water then packed everything away.

There was a rustle in the tall bushes close by and Kissa stood up, clutching for the lantern and the reins of the pony. She shone the light in the direction and waited. Perhaps, it was just the wind or a normal animal? Or it could be….

The breathe caught in Kissa’s throat as images of monsters flooded her mind. She had never seen one before but there was enough stories and drawings around for her imagination to create them. They came in all different forms and colours but the most famous ones were black and red, had huge horns on their heads, faces and bodies of beasts, cloven hoofs, human hands and a taste for human flesh.

Kissa was stuck between running and staying, she felt the tug of fleeing more strongly but she knew Bramble wouldn’t be able to move fast. Staying still and hoping the beast passed by was the best thing to do.

Kissa wasn’t sure it would make any difference though, she had seen dogs hunting rabbits and fox out of hiding by smell and sound. The stories said the beasts had great senses; they could see in the dark, hear and scent twice as better then any dog.

The rustling stopped and the bushes that had been swaying before came still. Kissa bit her lip and slowly moved. She put on the cloth bag and started to led the pony away. It was difficult to soften her footsteps and the hoofs of Bramble. There were too many crunchy leaves and snappy branches.

‘Come on,’ Kissa urged Bramble on, ‘We’re almost home, just try a little harder.’

Before they could get out of the stone circle, a tree next to them, give off a  loud crack, branches snapped and showered down on them. A large beast let out a roar so loud it shook the ground and a huge weight swung down to land before them.

Kissa screamed and threw her arms up to protect herself. The lantern banged against her arms, the candle inside wildly flickered, almost going out. The pony cried in fear and more pain as Kissa had suddenly pulled the reins upwards. Bramble twisted hard away, causing Kissa to drop the reins then using whatever energy the nag had been saving, she ran away.

‘Bramble, come back!’ Kissa shouted, spinning and getting ready to chase after the pony.

A massive, heavy, hairy hand hit her shoulder and Kissa fell to the ground. She dropped the lantern and there was a tinkling of glass. Gasping, she picked it up before the candle could go out. Breathing deeply, she stayed on the ground, tasting rotting leaves and soil whilst staring into the flickering flame. Kissa couldn’t move nor bare to look behind her.

She could hear the monster breathing heavily and sniffing around. Hoofs clomped about and the tree was still making snapping sounds. There came a smell of wet fur, dung and the stink of animals that remembered Kissa of the long haired cows some of the villagers kept.

‘Don’t eat me,’ Kissa mumbled.

She shut her eyes and lay still, waiting to feel that hand again picking her up and placing her inside a wet mouth, full of sharp teeth. She held her breath and prayed, for someone or something to save her, anything that would keep her safe and Bramble too, wherever the poor nag had ended up.

The hands and claws never came though, the monster was still walking around, letting out snorting and growling sounds. It seemed to be keeping it’s distance.

Kissa slowly pulled herself up and sat next to the lantern. She saw the monster; a towering, hairy beast with twisted horns growing on either side of his head, black and red fur, stood on two legs like a man, only the feet were cloven and the long fingers curled up. The face was made up of a large snout, with a wet black nose and a snarling mouth where white fangs were stained black, the monster had deep red eyes that were staring at her.

‘What do you want?’ Kissa spoke as she curled up into a tight ball.

The monster roared and leaped towards her but before it could touch her, the monster was thrown back. A tree trunk broken under it’s weight and the tree fell with a crash.

Kissa shuffled and hit the stone. She cried out then stopped as the monster ambled towards her again. The beast paced around the edge of the stone circle, staring at her and snarling.

‘It can’t get in….’ Kissa mumbled.

Kissa got more comfy and moved the lantern to be at her feet. She hugged herself and hopped that Bramble has made it home. Not sure what to do, Kissa put her head onto her knees and despite the danger she was in, began to doze off.

Three times, Kissa woke herself with a start and the second and third times, she found the monster gone and the woods quiet. She thought about leaving the circle and trying to follow the path home but the candle was getting low and the night was still pressing down.

Finally, she lay down and gave into sleep. Sometime later, the candle gutted and went out. A curl of smoke drifted upwards then the darkness fully settled. The monster crept forward two times and tried to break the protective circle with all his might but nothing would make the strong ancient magic give.

As dawn approached, the monsters faded into the shadows of the trees, going underneath them into the cold, darkness. Sunlight touched everything, birds burst into morning song and Kissa awoke.

Rubbing her face, she looked around and saw no monsters. She prayed her thanks, gathered the lantern and with a deep breathe stepped out of the stone circle. Nothing rushed towards her and she felt the sunlight warm on her face.

Sticking to the path, Kissa walked home, feeling weary with lack of sleep and fading fear. Soon the path wove down into her village and she saw most of the villagers standing around getting ready to head out into the woods. Kissa spotted Bramble standing by her house, her brother holding the reins and she rushed forward to hug the pony.

‘bramble! You’re safe! I’m glad you didn’t get eaten!’ Kissa cried.

Then her parents were sweeping her up and fussy and asking where she had been and what had happened.

Kissa told them everything and when she was exhausted, she fell sleep on her father’s shoulder, truly safe once again.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/10/25/thursday-photo-prompt-way-stone-writephoto/ for thanks).

 

 

 

The Bird House #TwittingTales

The birds were flocking around the house like they had done every morning now. I stopped my delivery bike, newspaper still in hand and wondered what was going on. Walking into the back garden, clouds of birds wheeling, I saw why. There was a dead body on the lawn.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/10/23/twittering-tales-107-23-october-2018/ with thanks).

 

 

A Bad Choice

abundance-color-decoration-1486689

Halloween was ten days away and Jay was running out of time.

Passing the Warringtons’ house, he saw it was surrounded by pumpkins.

Jay pulled his car over, saw no one was about then darted out to take a huge pumpkin.

Shoving it into the back of the car, he drove off again.

First place in the pumpkin carving contest here I come, Jay thought.

A black cat shot out on to the road, Jay swerved to avoid it but hit a lamp post instead.

Jay never made it to the pumpkin carving contest after all.

Shadows #3LineTales

three line tales, week 142: a girl and her puppy at sunset

It plays in my mind still, that afternoon fifty years ago, there was a girl and her dog in the garden playing with a ball under a sunset blood smeared sky.

I wanted to play too but the fence was high and I could only see through a hole, I tried calling out but they ignored me, so I want to the shed, took out a ladder and climb over into her garden.

It was abandoned as was the house, there was no girl, no dog, just the wind in a dead apple tree.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2018/10/18/three-line-tales-week-142/ with thanks).

 

 

 

Crow Song #FirstLineFriday

bird-414104_1920

It sounded like birds were being murdered, the noise of their cries was that loud. I opened the blinds on the kitchen window which looked out onto the back garden. There on the lawn were four large crows fighting each other.

I had no idea what to make of it, other then they were fighting over food. It was too late in autumn for them to be mating. I knew nothing of birds though, nor put any food out for them. I was aware my neighbours did though, so perhaps that’s why they were attracted to my garden?

A half reminded, old poem came into my mind; one for sorrow, two for mirth or joy, three for a boy and four for a girl. Wasn’t that how it went? I couldn’t remember, it was something grandma sung. It didn’t matter.

I didn’t like the birds fighting out there and making all that noise. I went to the back door, calling my cat as I did so. He was old and lazy now but the sight of him might spook the birds into flight. I unlocked and opened the door, the cat came slowly towards me.

We stepped out almost together and the birds saw us both. Their horrible calling screeched upwards as if they were unhappy to be disturbed from their argument. One of them took flight, large black wings beating and the others quickly followed.

‘Make sure they don’t come back,’ I told the cat, ‘damn birds.’

I hobbled back inside, my knees aching and my chest heaving. It had been worth the pain to stop that racket. I settled into my arm chair, relaxing into the peace. I shut my eyes and began to drift off, exhausted all ready.

A tap tap on the window, stirred me. I didn’t want to awake but it could be important. The nurse coming to check up on me or my daughter visiting. I opened my eyes, moved my almost ninety year old body and looked towards the front window where the tapping sound was continuing.

A large crow was sat on the window sill outside, tapping it’s sharp beck against the glass.

 

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/10/12/first-line-friday-october-11th-2018/ with thanks).

Bone #WritePhoto

The skull was laying in the trodden down wheat field daring me to pick it up. It looked like the remains of a deer or a cow without the horns, I couldn’t really tell because it wasn’t whole and the jaw was missing. The bone was clean, snowy white and looking out of place in this yellow-brown acre.

‘Just walk away,’ I said aloud and turned my back on the skull, ‘but it looks so good and far better then the fake ones you’ve seen. And wouldn’t it make the perfect table center piece for Halloween dinner? No, you don’t know where it’s been, Bryce!’

I walked back the way I had come, brittle stalks crunching under my boots. The wind blew tassels of my flame red hair and rattled the branches of trees. A crow cawed in the distance and the clogging smell of upturned soil blocked the air.

Isn’t that exactly what you’ve been looking for? A voice in the back of mind that was half my own and half not whispered, it’s right there for the taking, a gift from nature. No one else would give it the admiration and respect it deserves. Go back and get it!

I stopped and spoke aloud, ‘No, No! I just can’t!’

Why? the head voice asked, who would know you’d taken it? No one knows its there. If the farmer finds it he’ll crush it with his tractor or just throw it away. Could you bare that? You should rescue it! Keep it safe!

I pressed my lips together, scrunched up my face and turned back around. I wanted the skull to be gone but it was still laying there, a rectangle of stark white in an yellow nest. That’s how I’d seen it to begin with from up on the ridge of the woods. It was hard to be sure what it was from over there but seeing the murder of crows flapping above had made me believe it was a wounded animal. I couldn’t have walked away from that.

A dog barked sharply, jumping me out of my thoughts. I look around, hoping it was in the woods but no, the dog was in the field with me! It was a big, black and brown beast which was bounding towards me! Giving no more thought, I dashed back to the skull, snatched it up, despite the heaviness of it and raced out of the field like an Olympic gold medal runner.

I scrambled over the lowered barbed wire fence, clutching the skull to my chest. I stumbled but got back up and over the ridge into the trees. I ran through the woods, out of them and over a main road before my burning lungs forced me to stop. Looking wildly around, I saw no sign of the dog, only a startled man who looked to be in his fifties, waiting at a bus stop.

‘You all right, love?’ he called.

I nodded, too breathless to speak.

‘What happened? What you got there?’ he asked, pointing towards the skull.

I glanced down at it, my mind racing and said the first thing that came into my mouth, ‘I’m fine. Jogging with weights, new exercise plan.’

Before he could reply, I turned and walked quickly away, my words echoing stupidly round my head.

I made it home with the skull without meeting anyone else. On my doorstep, meowing his head off was one of my black cats. He stopped and watched me as I approached, seemly startled that I was outside and not inside getting ready to open the door for him.

‘Hi, Spooky. Where you been? I just had an adventure!’

He yowled and weaved around my feet. I let us both in and we headed into the kitchen. I placed the skull in the sink, ran the hot tap and washed my hands. Water splashed on the skull, darkening it. I washed it and realised I would to have research how to clean best.

Spooky jumped up on the counter next to the sink and I held the skull towards him. He took a few sniffs, whiskers twitching.

‘What do you think? isn’t this going to be perfect for Halloween?’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/10/11/thursday-photo-prompt-bone-writephoto/ with thanks).

Rex #WeeklyWritingChallenge

house-3126362_1920

Ty listened hard to the sound, looking up at the locked door and wondering what was going on in there. The new house was creaking and not just because of the wind, there was something in the attic.

Mum and Dad said it was nothing, just the noises old houses make but Ty was old enough to know what was normal and what was not. The sounds in the attic were defiantly in the not area. It was difficult to make out what the scrapping, scratching and low moaning could be, maybe an animal?

Ty turned and went down the large staircase, he was just high enough at eight years old that his hand could hold onto the too smooth banister. The hall light was on at the bottom but the corridor was still dark. Light was spilling out of the living room door like a welcome sign and focusing on that helped Ty make it all the way there.

His parents were on the sofa watching the TV which for now was balanced on a coffee table. Around the room, were stacked cardboard boxes and mis-match furniture – some from the old house and some from the new. There was a empty fire place in the back wall and the left wall was all windows that were now blocked out by heavy curtains.

‘Mum, Dad,’ Ty called out, ‘I think there’s an animal trapped in the attic!’

His parents turned to him, looking at first disgruntled then confused.

‘What do you mean, Ty?’ his Mum asked.

‘Come and listen to the noises.’

‘That’s just the house,’ Dad explained.

Ty shook his head and held out his hand. He led his Mum upstairs, his Dad following behind. They past their bedroom, the bathroom, TY’s bedroom, turned the bend and came to the front of the steps leading up to the attic. There they stood and listened.

There was nothing at first, just the faint drift of noise from the TV and a car outside. Then came a low moaning like a cat or dog in pain. A tapping of claws? Nails? on a wooden floor, a scratching like a dog wanting to go out and the sliding movement of wood against wood.

‘See,’ TY whispered.

He watched his parents looking at each other.

‘It does sound like something, doesn’t it,’ Dad said.

He walked up the stairs slowly, each step creaking under his weight. He felt around the door frame, disturbing a line of dust which floated down to TY and his mum.

‘What’s he doing?’ TY whispered.

‘Checking for a way to get in,’ m=Mum whispered back.

‘Ah ha!’ Dad said and turned to show them the small key in his hand.

He unlocked the door and turned the handle. A mouth of darkness yawed before them.

Ty crept up the stairs, feeling nerves and excited at the same time. What was going to be there? Something hidden from the past?

The light pinged on and an awful smell filled the air. Ty stopped and put his hand over his mouth, he was going to be sick. He swallowed a few times, saw his Dad was also effected by the stink and carried on climbing to join him.

The attic was a mess; furniture broken, contains of boxes ripped up, things scattered everywhere and some animal had been to the bathroom all over the place it seemed.

‘What an earth?’ Dad muttered.

Then they both saw it coming out from behind the remains of a chair a large dark shadow which was slowly creeping towards them.

TY grab his Dad’s hand, feeling numb with fear as whatever it was came closer.

The shadow came into the edge of the light and they saw it was only a dog. A big, fluffy brown dog which was trailing a lead behind it.

‘What is it?’ Mum called as she came upstairs to join them.

‘A dog!’ Dad cried, ‘the last family must have left him behind!’

‘What a stink and mess!’

The dog hung his head guilty and give a swing of his tail.

‘Poor thing! He’s staved. Who would do such a thing?’ Mum added.

‘Bad people,’ Dad answered then tried to call the dog over, ‘come here boy, we won’t hurt you, come on.’

The dog didn’t move and let out a little moan.

‘Come here dog,’ TY called, ‘you hungry?’

The dog whined and came forward, shaking slightly. Once the dog was close enough, Dad held out his hand which the dog sniffed then Dad took hold of the lead and they all went down into the kitchen.

There it was clear the dog was very hungry and thirsty. He was also friendly enough and grateful to have been saved.

Dad untangled the lead and found the dog was wearing a collar with a tag.

‘His name is Rex,’ Dad announced.

‘Rex,’ Ty repeat and hugged the dog, ‘we’ll take care of you now!’

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/10/08/weekly-writing-challenge-162/ with thanks).