Counting #TwitteringTales

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The new pills were causing sleepless nights. Kim tried the traditional counting method; a wooden gate and sheep jumping over. Then a wolf, huge and grey, mouth red. Kim’s eyes snapped open, she heard a loud growling within her bedroom. She turned on the light and knew she wasn’t alone.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/11/13/twittering-tales-110-13-november-2018/ with thanks).

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Tiki

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It was almost Halloween and typical autumn night, the rain pelting down and the wind at gale force. The clock ticked to 3 AM. In the haze of sleep, a voice was calling me and something was touching my arm. I woke, confused and fuzzy.

‘Mummy? The ghosts have been talking to me again,’ a voice whispered.

I clicked on the lamp and looked down at my five year old son, Bailey. He was clutching an action figure of Iron Man and looking as tired as I was feeling.

‘You said I had to tell,’ Bailey spoke louder.

I yawed and mumbled something that was meant to be I know. I rubbed my face and got up.

‘What did they say?’ I asked.

‘The ghosts say we have to get rid of the tiki head.’

‘Again?’ I moaned, ‘are you sure that’s not just you, Bailey?’

He shook his head, soft blonde hair floating about.

‘What’s matter?’ my husband, Tom asked from the other side of the bed.

‘It’s nothing,’ I replied.

Getting out of the bed, I took Bailey’s hand and lead him back to his bedroom. The night light was on, casting an calming orange glow and also creating more shadows. I thought I saw shapes moving by the wardrobe but it was just my tired eyes and lack of light.

‘Where did you see the ghosts, Bailey?’ I questioned.

He let go of my hand and said, ‘all round.’

‘And they look like…?’

‘Like they normally do!’ he snapped, ‘see-through, floating and like people.’

‘Okay,’ I muttered.

I put him back to bed, not impressed. Ever since Bailey had started talking, he had spoke of the ghosts most nights. Which was weird because my husband and I had never told him anything about ghosts or the supernatural. I tried to keep him away from that stuff, believing that it could effect him somehow.

I tucked him back in and sat on the edge of the bed, ‘tell me what they said, again,’ I asked.

‘The tiki head is evil. We have to get rid of it,’ Bailey replied.

I knew of course what he was talking about, he had been going on about it for weeks. Tom and I had a wooden tiki head which we had gotten from Easter Island where we had gone on our honeymoon. I wasn’t that keen on the ugly face and had half hidden it on the corner bookcase in the living room. I don’t remember telling Bailey about it but maybe Tom had done?

‘Why is it evil?’ I questioned.

‘A bad spirit,’ he said.

I rubbed my face again, not sure what to do.

‘Okay. Go back to sleep.’

I kissed him, patted the duvet down and went back to my own bed. Tom was snoring again and everything looked normal. I wondered as I got back into bed and turned out the light what was going on with Bailey.

Waiting to fall asleep again, I listen to the heavy rain and decided in the morning, without saying anything, I would take the tiki head and hide it somewhere. Then Bailey would stop talking about it and the ghosts.

In the morning, before Tom and Bailey were awake, I went downstairs and took the tiki head from the shelf. It felt rough and cold in my hand, the features of the bold face leering at me in a shocking grimace. I remembered Tom picking it, making a joke that it remind him of my mother, whom he didn’t get on with.

In the hallway, I opened the under stairs cupboard which we used to store unwanted things. I tucked the tiki head in between a horrible brown glazed vase and a stack of old books. Closing the door, I dusted my hands in a there that’s dealt with motion and went to have a shower.

I shouldn’t have believed that a simple act like that would solve the problems. That night I put Bailey to bed and told him, ‘I got rid of the tiki head. You should sleep better now.’

‘Thanks, Mummy,’ he said sleepy.

I tugged him in, kissed him goodnight and left his room.

In the morning though when I woke him up and took him into the bathroom, Bailey announced, ‘the ghosts say you didn’t get rid of the tiki head.’

‘What? Here, brush your teeth,’ I said.

‘Mummy, you said you was getting rid of it but you didn’t.’

‘I did,’ I countered back.

Bailey shook his head, ‘you hid it.’

I put my hands on my hips and told him firmly to brush his teeth. I got him dressed and wished, as I imagined other parents often did, that I was taking him to school. It was half term though and so today, I would have to entertain my son.

We went downstairs and at the cupboard underneath, Bailey stopped and went to the door.

‘What are you doing?’ I asked.

He opened the door and went in before I could stop him. He picked up the tiki head and handed it to me. There was a such a serious adult look on his face, that for a few seconds I didn’t recognise my little boy.

‘You lied,’ he said.

‘How did you know?’ I whispered.

‘The ghosts told me.’

‘Fine,’ I snapped.

I took the tiki head into the kitchen and placed it into the bin.

‘It’s gone now,’ I declared and Bailey seemed satisfied again.

The tiki head wasn’t though.

Two days later was the eve of Halloween and we were watching a movie on the sofa. There was a knocking at the door. Confused, I stepped into the hallway to answer it and heard that the knocking was coming from the back door and not the front. Kids playing jokes? A neighbor wanting to point something out?

I turned on the kitchen light, the knocking stopped and so did I.

Sitting on the sink draining board was the tiki head.

‘Tom?’ I called.

‘Yeah?’

I backed out of the kitchen and hurried into the living room.

‘The tiki head. Did you take it out of the bin?’ I asked.

‘What? I didn’t move anything,’ he replied.

‘Bailey?’

He shook his head and turned back to the movie again.

‘Right.’

I walked back into the kitchen and turned on the light again. The tiki head was gone.

I walked in, over to the sink and ran my hand across the slight wet surface. Nothing. I went to the bin and looked inside, I could just make out the tiki head from underneath other rubbish. I grabbed the bag and took it outside.

The air smelt like burning wood and leaves, damp earth and fireworks. The sky was a dull black and the half moon stark. Rain began to fall and I heard the wind playing. I dropped the bag into the waster bin and went back in.

Back in the living room, on the sofa, the soft glow of the TV and Bailey laughing, I didn’t say anything to them. I told myself I had imagined things.

That night, I lay in bed unable to sleep. I could hear this plastic rattling and something tapping. The wind and rain had died down now and I couldn’t tell what was making the noise or where it was coming from. I must have fallen asleep at some point because I had a weird dream that the tiki head kept appearing all around the house and I was chasing after it.

In the morning, I got up and searched the whole house but there wasn’t anything. I went to the outside bin and looked in, the bag with the tiki head was on top and the knot I had tied was still there.

I felt uneasy all day. Bailey was happily doing some Halloween craft activities and later we decorated the house. He didn’t say anything about ghosts or the tiki head. When Tom came home, we carved pumpkins together and get ready for the trick or treaters to call.

The first knock came at the door and I hurried to answer it.

There was no one there, just the grinning pumpkins flickering with light and the fake cobwebs pulling in the breeze. I looked further out, there was no way I could have missed anybody. In the distance, came the faint voices, knocking and doorbells. Something on the path moved. A leaf?

I walked out and towards it. My feet hit something and I looked down. The leering face of the tiki head stared up at me. I picked it up, the wood was icy cold and wet.

‘This has to be a joke!’ I snapped.

I looked round and saw no movement. I went back inside with the tiki head and placed it on the hallway table. I grabbed my coat and car keys.

‘Tom?’ I called.

‘Yes, Katie?’ he shouted back.

‘I’ve to go out. I forgot something.’

‘Now?’

‘I won’t be long!’

Snatching the Tiki head up, I went to my car. Not sure where to go, I drove around until I reached the park. There was a pond there and if I dropped the tiki head in it would be gone forever.

I got out of the car and smelt the deep autumn air. There were some people dressed up and wondering about. The park was light with some street lamps and the glow of the houses around. I hurried along the pathways to the pond.

The black water rippled against the stone wall, looking dangerous. A firework crackled into the sky, startling me. I saw the bobbing of a cyclist’s headlight and heard laughter.

Looking down at the tiki head, I tossed it in the water. The splash was loud and small waves rushed towards me.

‘So long,’ I said.

I went back home and enjoyed Halloween with my family. I felt like a weight had been lifted. However, as I went to bed that night I heard a dripping sound. Thinking someone had left a tap on I went first to the bathroom then the kitchen.

Turning on the light, I saw the back door open and the tiki head laying in a pool of water.

I screamed.

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).

 

 

 

M .A. D #FridayFictioneers

The M .A. D Laboratories Complex ruled over the small island. Toxic smoke rose thickly to a bleak sky and everyday came sounds of explosions and blood curdling screams.

Dr. Lowbonic, returning from collecting new materials, breathed deeply the horrid air from the boat’s bow.

‘Almost home!’ he called, cheerfully.

Arriving, the Doctor left the unloading to the crew and hurried into the Laboratories reception area. The marble circle desk glittered in artificial light coming from the glass dome ceiling. The receptionist was typing away on an ancient computer.

‘Tell my assistants to prepare! I’ve found the key to bring back the dead!’ Lowbonic cried.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/10/24/26-october-2018/ with thanks).

In The Fog #3LineTales

three line tales, week 143: poles in a misty lake

The fog came down over the sea so thick and fast that the lighthouse keeper, John, rushed to turn on his light but the beam hardly made it through.

John looked out, which wasn’t very far, wringing his hands with worry, he couldn’t have another shipwreck being his fault.

Then he saw it coming out of the fog, a huge ghastly green ship with ripped sails, flying no flag and John felt his blood chill, with shaking hands he turned out the light but the ghost ship still came.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2018/10/25/three-line-tales-week-143/ with 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).

 

 

Unexpected #100WW

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The party hadn’t been what Destiny imagined. It felt more like some kind of protest then a Halloween celebration.

On arrival, everyone was given a white plastic mask to wear, no matter what their costume. Destiny had dressed as Alice. Then directed to a chair in the abandoned theater. Empty chairs had small, stuffed animals sitting on them.

An orange smoke bomb went off causing people to scream. A drum roll and a horrible clown dashed on to the stage.

‘Welcome to your worse nightmares!’ he yelled.

Then the lights went out.

 

(Inspired by; https://bikurgurl.com/2018/10/17/100-word-wednesday-week-93/ with thanks).

 

Alarm #FridayFictioneers

The strange white tower stood higher then anything else in town. Whilst it was being built, people stared in wonder then thought if the alarm would truly work.

The mayor held an opening ceremony but that was a flop. Who would want to celebrate the turning on of a machine that was so experimentally? Especially, when there was so much danger in the streets.

Gradually, a month later, people’s minds were beginning to change. It had been weeks since the last reported zombie entering town had been shot. So maybe, the high pitched alarm was keeping them all away after all?

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/10/17/19-october-2018/ with thanks).

Open Door #TaleWeaver

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Even now, in the middle of nowhere, in the the heart of darkness and grip of the coming winter, did people still keep the candles burning in the old tiny chapel.

If by chance you came across someone and asked them why, they would reply, ‘to keep the evil spirits away. Pray there to be kept safe before continuing your journey.’

You would go and do that. Enter the tiny white building with lots of light spilling out of the door and single window. Take off your snowflake covered hat and kneel before the baby alter. Pray for safe passage through the Nomad Mountains and ask God to protect you from evil spirits, Amen. Then you leave and make it safely back home.

Or perhaps, that response would amuse you because you don’t believe in such things. You carry on, not going inside the chapel but merely glancing at the light pouring out of the tiny building. You walk into the mountains, where you hear crying and screaming. Darkness rolls over you, consuming you and you never make it home.

Somethings are not worth the risk.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/10/11/tale-weaver-192-an-open-door-october-11th/ with thanks).

The Witches’ Jail #FridayFictioneers

It was a strange stone building set away from the others at the far end of the court. Lucy walked up to it, leaving the rest of the tour group behind and read the sign; Witches’ Jail. 

Anybody accused or found to be a witch was held here. The jail was built in the 1500’s and was used up until the late 1700’s. 

Lucy glanced around, saw no one was watching and slipped inside the jail. It was cold and dark, musty smelling.

Lucy reached out and found the ghosts of the witches waiting for her.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/10/10/5-october-2018/ with thanks).