Cancelled #FridayFictioneers

In the wedding room white table cloths hung like ghosts and the napkins sat like sugar cones. The champagne was still in the fridge but most of the other food had been thrown out.

Everything was set up, the preparations done; the dried flowers on the tables with the candles. Fairy lights along the windows for a magical twinkle effect. Along the wall, the DJ stand waited to spin the records whilst on the dance floor only the dust motes twirled.

Silence roamed the room broke only by bird song and the wind blowing outside. There should have been music, talking and laughter but it was an empty celebration now.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/04/29/1-may-2020/ with thanks).

Uroboros #AtoZChallenge

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Uroboros – a circular symbol depicting a snake or dragon swallowing its tail, intended as an emblem of wholeness or infinity.

The strange bracelet flashed in the sunlight behind the charity shop’s window display. It was a worn bronze coloured snake with a detailed pattern on the scales eating it’s own tail. There was a little prize tag attached but it was turned over to tactically hide the price.

I went in and asked to see the snake bracelet. The old woman nodded and moved like molasses down a wall. Forever later, the bracelet was in my hand then on my wrist. I looked at the price tag and paid a crisp five pound note to the woman.

With the weight against my skin, I went back to gathering my shopping from the high street. There was a new supermarket at the end of the road but I loathed all the noise and people. Plus, I knew each owner of the shops I visited and enjoyed my weekly chats with them.

Back home, I had gotten use to the bracelet so I partly forgot about it. The rest of my day was normal gardening and selling a few of my plants and ornaments. I give my birds that lived in large cages outside more food and water, sometimes I sold some of them but it was hard to part with them.

In the evening glow, I had a light dinner then read until it grew cold. Back inside and getting ready for bed, I felt a heat on my wrist. I looked and saw the bronze snake bracelet. The black eye was staring up at me and I felt as if I was being judged. I took the thing off and left it by the bathroom sink.

That night I dreamt of snakes. They were curling around and around, trying to catch their tails. When their tails got into their mouths they began eating themselves.

I awoke in a warm sweat, slightly panicked in the darkness. I turned on the light, got up and went to have a drink of water. I looked on the edge of the sink but the bracelet wasn’t there. I looked on the floor and wandered around the bathroom and then I spotted the snake on my wrist.

How had that happened?

I tried to take the bracelet off again but couldn’t. The thing was stuck fast to my skin. I got soap and hot water and tried to get the snake off that way. But the old trick didn’t work. Drying my hands, I want back to bed and decided not to think about it.

The dreams didn’t stop and came to me night after night. The snakes chased their tails and once caught ate themselves. The bracelet stayed stuck to my wrist and wouldn’t budge no matter what I did.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Rubiginour #AtoZChallenge

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Rubiginour – rust coloured

I didn’t think it was going to be still there because it had been so many years but the car was right where I reminded it being from childhood.

The woods had grown thicker, the trees ageing just as I had aged. Children and animals still kept most of the undergrowth down though I could tell no one had been near the car for awhile.

The woods ran along the back of the school and also the park. Children came here to build dens and teenagers came to hide out. The car had been for years and no one knew why it had been abandoned but it sure made a great thing to play in.

I remembered all those long hot summers when we would come here. His red rusty coloured hair would flash in the sunlight that dappled down through the trees. He would laugh like the bubbling brook that ran though the trees. He would sit in the driving seat, dirty hands running around the leather steering wheel.

‘Where do you want to go today?’ he’d asked me as I got into the back seat.

‘To the beach,’ I’d say or name some other place as I pulled my summer dress down.

He’d make car brumming sounds and we’d pretend to be driving.

Look around now almost forty years later, I could still sense childhood magic flooding the air. Somewhere children were playing, their voices raising and falling as the wind played in the new leaves on the trees.

Walking over to the car, I could see that rust was doing a good job on the blue paint work. The bumpers had fallen off, the tires were flat, One headlight was missing and the other cover in moss. Autumn leaves lay like a blanket over the front, windows and roof. Surprisingly none of the windows were smashed but they were brown and grey with grime.

I peered inside and saw that time and animals had been rotting down the leather seats. Springs were poking through and there was a lay of dirt across everything. The dials and everything in the dashboard looked intact but couldn’t be read because of all the spider webs.

I petted the car’s roof like an old dog and followed the path I had taken back. I had a team of people waiting for me to give the instructions on the edge of the woods.

‘Did you find it, mum?’ my oldest son asked as I arrived back. He looked so much like his father with his bright red hair flashing gold highlights in the sun.

I nodded, ‘just as I remember she was. Right through there,’ I added and pointed behind me.

‘And you are sure about this?’

I signed and touched his arm, ‘it was your dad’s dream but I feel it’s the right thing to do in his memory now.’

‘I might not be able to restore it,’ my nephew joined in, he’d been to have a quick look.

‘Then I’ll have her in my garage,’ I spoke, ‘she was always there for me and your father when we were children and now it’s time someone looked after her.’

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Phantasmagoria #AtoZChallenge (Part 2)

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Phantasmagoria – a sequence of real or imaginary images like that seen in a dream.

The mushrooms were strange. They looked like white toadstools. I picked one up and it carried on glowing in my hand. I sniffed it but it didn’t smell of anything other than damp soil. I put the mushroom back and watched it grow as if I had never touched it.

I looked up at the ceiling and it was empty. The blue butterflies had all gone. Frowning,  I turned back to the window and saw it was open and rain was dripping until the mushrooms.

I shut the window and decided it was time to have something to eat. There was no sign of the butterflies and I had a quiet evening. I sprawled out on the sofa and read my book before watching a late night movie. I wrapped the duvet around myself again and kept glancing at the windowsill.

The mushrooms were still there, letting off a candle flame like light. They had stopped growing now but the soil around them had sprouted grass as if it was a window box.

The thunder and lightening finally arrived. I watched the sky as a few white flashes went off and I counted like a child the gaps before the thunder rumbled. The rain was still coming down and the wind was whipping. The weather seemed more interesting to watch then the movie.

I dozed, warm and sleepy and not caring about the strange mushrooms or the blue butterflies, they weren’t doing any harm.

The lightening cracked, flashing like a bomb going off. I half jumped up by the sudden noise then the electricity cut. Darkness filled the house as the lights, TV and everything else went off.

I clutched the duvet, feeling like a character in one of my horror novels. Was the serial killer going to smash down my door, blood dripping axe held high and ready for it’s next victim?

I laughed and relaxed. Nothing was going to happen. A faint glow drew my eyes and I saw the mushrooms, they were casting a soft glow and there was enough light for me to see clearly by.

I rested my head back and watched them. A blue butterfly appeared and touched down on top of one of the mushrooms. Soon, it was joined by more. They appeared gently out of the darkness, landing and circling the glowing mushrooms, attracted to them like moths.

I listened and heard the whisper of their wings. I felt one brush my cheek. How many more were they? How had they been in my house all this time and I hadn’t known. Looking at the window, I saw it open once again and the rain was dripping in. Had I opened the window? I didn’t remember.

I was too warm to get up, so I shut my eyes and rested. If sleep came then it came. I felt soft feather likeness touch my face, I stirred and struggled to open my eyes. I felt something crawling on me. Dark blue met my eyes and put a hand to my face and felt a wiggling mass of butterflies upon me.

Crying out, I leaped up and tried to wipe them off me. I was half blinded by them, panicking because I didn’t know what was going on and it was dark. I fell and expected to hit the carpet or the coffee table or the windowsill. But I didn’t. I was falling and falling into blackness, the butterflies all around me and sounding so loud and brushing against me harshly.

I arrived at the bottom of wherever it was. Landing lightly on the ground. I smelt damp soil, rotting leaves and flowers. It was still dark, so I sit for a moment and got use to it. The butterflies were still around me, their wings fluttering and sometimes touching me.

Light bloomed and I saw all over the ground the glowing mushrooms. They lit up the forest scene before me. There were thick, tall dark tree trunks and a canopy of black leaves. Long grass and flowers made a soft bed for me to walk on.

The blue butterflies stayed with me, surrounding me as I walked. There was no path and the mushrooms didn’t lead anywhere but I wasn’t going to sit on the ground and do nothing.

The scene didn’t change, I walked and walked and it was like going around in a circle. I sat on a large tree root to rest. Though I didn’t feel tried. There was a wide hollow at the base of the tree. I crawled inside and found a nest of dried leaves and mosses. I lay down and watched the mushrooms glowing outside and the butterflies playing above them.

I slept and dreamt. I had weird dreams of over coloured worlds where fairies and other creatures lived. I rode unicorns and whales. I flew with dragons and spoke riddles with a Sphinx. I climbed trees and watched giants moving rocks. Colours ran and mingled together, like a water colour that someone had dropped.

I laughed in the sun, I splashed in the sea, I collected oranges the size of beach balls and drink from them with a bamboo straw. The sky was a wash of a sunset forever and I was finally free of worry. Free of pain.

 

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Phantasmagoria #AtoZChallenge (Part 1)

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Phantasmagoria – a sequence of real or imaginary images like that seen in a dream.

They said the drugs might effect my mind. I may see things that are not real; hallucinations. I wasn’t to worry and if needed I should go somewhere where I felt safe to let whatever I was experiencing pass.

I was fine for the first few weeks then one afternoon whilst it was raining outside I saw a blue butterfly on the window. It was on the inside, so I opened the window and hoped it would go free.

It was the middle of Spring and I’d seen lots of butterflies about. They had been white, black with red patches and the other day I swore I saw a peacock one. So, I didn’t think about the blue butterfly too much, other then I hadn’t seen one like it before.

The phone rang as I studying the butterfly and I went to pick it up. It was a friend calling to see if I was okay and up for coffee tomorrow. We chatted for a bit then I went back to watching TV and resting.

A flash of blue caught my eye and I turned my head. There were two blue butterflies fluttering against the window now.

‘You’ve got a friend,’ I spoke as I got up, ‘you should be outside though…looks like it’s really coming down.’

The rain really was. The sky was a rolling wave of black clouds and the rain was like a large waterfall, everything was being covered in water. The wind was getting up too. Looked like a storm was coming in.

‘You can stay there,’ I told the butterflies, ‘it’s rough out there. I’ll leave the window open for you.’

I turned on the lamp, turned the TV off and picked up the current horror novel I was reading. I should have picked something lighter, maybe a supernatural romance to read but I got the same experience that riding roller coasters had when I read horror; the high of being alive.

A read for an hour or so, the rain a fitting background sound. Slipping the bookmark into a chapter page, I stretched and decided it was time for a hot drink. I looked over at the window and saw there were three blue butterflies resting on the sill, their wings moving up and down gentle.

‘Where do you all keep coming from?’ I muttered, ‘do I have an infestation? Surely, I’d have noticed before. Maybe, I should shut the window?’

I got up and carefully did that then I went into the kitchen and made a hot drink and something to eat. Afterwards, I went to bed for a nap. I couldn’t sleep all the way through the night due to the illness and the other pills which caused insomnia. I felt tried a lot and getting little sleep often helped this.

Two hours later, I got up and it was as dark as the middle of the night. Grateful I had left the lamp on, I looked to see the time, it was almost four. I had pulled my curtains to, I got up and parted them. A storm was making itself known outside. I watched and listened for thunder and lightening but it was too distant yet. The rain splattered against the window, driven by the rain and I felt cold.

Wrapping up in a jumper, I went downstairs, leaving lights on behind me. I made a cup of tea and got out a tin of of soup to eat later. The house was too quiet, despite the sound of the storm so I went into the living room and turned on the TV. There were afternoon game shows on to watch.

A chill caused me to turn my head to the window and I saw the window open. Frowning, I got up and closed it, though I was sure I had shut it before I went upstairs. Sitting down, again I looked for the blue butterflies but they weren’t there. Maybe, they had left? But why go out into a storm?

Shrugging, I pulled a duvet around me which I left on the sofa in case I needed it down here. Snuggling, down I watched TV. After the two game shows was the news and then it was time to eat. I was too warm and comfy though to move. I thought about how hungry I was and decided not much, so I didn’t have to move. I found something else on TV to watch and carried on laying there.

There was a tapping on the window that I thought was the rain. I glanced to look and saw a blue butterfly trying to get through the glass. At least one of them hadn’t left. I felt sorry for the poor thing and I knew I should try and help but I couldn’t move. I watched the butterfly flapping about and then there were two.

‘None of you left then,’ I said then yawed.

Being cocooned was making me sleepy again. I shut my eyes but then opening then soon after, thinking I should open the window and give the butterflies a chance of escaping. I looked over the window and saw there was a cluster of blue butterflies there, about ten or so. Also, growing up from the sill were cream coloured mushrooms.

‘This doesn’t make sense,’ I mumbled and got up.

Stumbling over, I disturbed the butterflies and they took the air and circled the room like startled birds. They curled around the ceiling light and landed up there. I turned back to the windowsill and saw the mushrooms were sporting up from soil and the they were glowing white.

To Be Continued…

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Orrery #AtoZChallenge

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Orrery – a clockwork model of the solar system

The Engineer’s workshop was a fascinating place and Kit Benedict Kettle was having a hard time keeping his hands to himself. There was so much temptation to set off the devices and see what they did.

Withdrawing his fingers from almost touching an hourglass that was attached to a series of cogs and bubbling tubes, Kit rubbed the sweat on his brow. He pulled his leather flying cap further up his head, causing unruly boyish brown hair to escape out. Then putting his hands in the pockets of his short, brown leather jacket, Kit looked around the room again.

There was a heavy smell of hot oil, a smoky fire and faint whiff gas from the lights filling the room. Steam, smoke and coloured mist rose from a number of items and gathered on the ceiling looking for release. It was hotter than outside which was really saying something as this city was on the edge of a desert.

It was hard to tell how big the room was because of everything packed inside, but had to be the size of small warehouse. As well as all the devices and parts of them, there were towering bookcases stacked with not only books but models and other things. There were a number of work benches, each crowd with tools that did multiple jobs. Everything and anything you could imagine was in some state of construction in this room.

Kit walked around a cage that had some pink rats inside and spied the Engineers’ two apprentices. One was a lanky young man who kept pushing up the heavy framed glasses on his nose and the other was a hollow older woman who had shown them in when they had ring the doorbell. Though she had tried to hide it, Kit had seen her bronze metal left hand.

The apprentices were hunched over a small workbench and whispering to each other whilst they fixed a small engine that was burping steam. They hadn’t shown any interest in the guests, nor offered a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Kit sure wanted a drink. He felt his hip flask at his side and took a few sips of lurk warm water. The absinthe had run out days ago and he was desperate to try and get some more. Clicking the flask back on to his belt, he walked away from the apprentices, around strange machines that God only knew what did. Though a huge glass bowl that was empty but connect to some scientific test set up, through it Kit saw Patience Jane Castleton.

The ace navigator of their airship The Lost Harmony had found a dirty window and was lent against it. The top panel only half opened but it was enough for Patience to let some fresh air in.

She was taller than Kit, thanks to the high heel and knee length silver boots she wore. Patience had on brown leather trousers like Kit had but covering some of the front and all of the back was a ruffled dark brown top skirt. She also had on a short sleeved white blouse and a brown corset with bronze straps. Her leather jacket was thrown over a pile of books and balanced in her piled high and twisted up blonde hair was a small black hat were a netted veil and peacock feather.

Kit turned away from her and left Patience to her thoughts. The navigator had been touchy since they had landed here. Something about how she hated deserts.

Meandering around more piles of things and ignoring the gutting of gas lamps, Kit found himself back where he had headed off from; the main pathway to the Engineer’s metal desk. Surprising this one stretch from the door to the elephant of a desk to another smaller door in the back wall was all clear of things. As the Engineer needed an escape route.

Kit walked up to the four people gathered at the desk and found a bookcase to lean against. Three people- the other crew members of The Lost Harmony- where on one side of the desk and the Engineer, who to Kit looked so much like a dwarf because he was so small, yet studly built and had a long well groom red beard and a shaved head, that the Engineer must have been a dwarf, was sitting on a high chair on the other side and fiddling with a blunder bluster gun whilst he listened to his guests.

The engineer of the airship, Meriwether Bramwell Redsmith the third and the gunner, Nicodemus Radulphus Langridge were putting in an order with the Engineer. It was why they had come here; airship and weapons improvements. The two men were taking turns to talk in low voices as if they were worried about being overheard.

Kit didn’t blame them. Meriwether might claim to have known this Engineer well and to have used him before but everyone knew that Engineers were not to be trusted. They were the listening devices of the world thanks to all the contraptions they could secret about.

From the back, it was easier to tell Meriwether and Nicodemus apart. Nicodemus was built like a rock giant. He was almost seven foot tall, all bulging muscles and skin tight leather and rough cotton clothes. He had long black hair, tied in a plait that ran down his back. His accent give him away as a man of the cold regions, he spoke with a harsh voice and Kit had never heard someone speak as much foul language as Nicodemus did.

Meriwether looked the total opposite on the giant. The airship engineer was short, skinny and capable of getting into the smallest gaps on the airship. Meriwether’s mind was always racing with this or that improvement or task. He hardly spoke but when he did it was thoughtful and scholer like. Thin glasses balanced on his nose, his eyes were a strange teal colour, his hair short and greying. He wore black trousers, a spotless white shirt, a red velvet jacket, a perfect cravat was tied up at his throat and a long black top hat on his head. Meriwether had dressed up for the occasion.

The third person was Captain Cornelius Horatio Featherstonehaugh. He was standing apart from the others at the corner of the table. He had on a massive sky blue coat with a golden high collar that was up and pressed against the back of his neck. His thinning black hair was tied in a small ponytail and poking out of a large tricorn hat pulled low over his heavily scarred old face.

Two fingers were missing from the Captain’s right hand and he had a metal right leg which was always seizing up and has he often said, ‘causing me more grieve then the real one ever did!’ He wore specially made boots with magnetic heals and toes and baggy, flaring blue trousers. On the Captain’s shoulder sat a creature that made everybody but the Captain uneasy.

The creature was half monkey, half clockwork. One side of it’s face was normal but the other was all made up of cogs, gears and metal pieces. A flashing glass eye whirled around whilst the real black eye stayed still. Brown fur met dark grey metal plates across cheek and skull, they screwed together with tiny bolts.

The monkey’s heart and lungs had been removed and in there place were steam powered ones which could be viewed through a piece of glass in the monkey’s chest. The right arm and leg had been replaced with bronzes replicates and random cogs that seemed purely decorative had been stuck into the monkey’s fur. The monkey’s tail was thankfully normally.

The Captain had rescued the clockwork monkey and Kit could repeat the story off by heart. The Captain had fought some sea pirates when he had been a sea mercenary and he had found a ship full of mutilated animals who had had things replaced cockwork parts that were being smuggled into different countries and sold to people as novelties.

‘There is nothing novel about animals experimented on and changed,’ the Captain always added into his story, ‘unfortunately the ship was blown up and the only animal to escape was this little one who I was trying to save at the time. He bit me fingers off and we’ve been best friends ever since.’

Kit shivered at the thought of the horrible monkey creature and his elbow slipped further into the bookcase. A pile of cogs flew to the floor, making an awful din as they fell and scattered. All the heads in the room turned towards him.

The monkey broke into loud cries and began jumping on the Captain’s shoulder in worry. The Captain raised his hand and began comforting the creature. Meriwether rolled his eyes and Nicodemus mumbled something in his own language. The two apprentices shot out from nowhere both armed with guns as if they had thought the loud sound was a fight starting, followed by Patience jogging over with her two heavy pistols drawn.

Kit held up his hands and mumbled ‘Sorry.’

He bent and scrambled to pick the rolling cogs up. Some of them were heavier than he expected them to be and he felt bruises blooming underneath his leather arm guards.

‘Be careful there, boy,’ the gruff voice of the Engineer spoke, ‘everything is fine, Priscilla and Elijah, go back to work,’ he added and waved the apprentices away.

Leaving the cogs stacked on the floor, Kit slipped off and went to hide his flushing face in one of the devices. He stopped before one and stood there not really seeing it for sometime. Then his eyes and brain focused and he saw he was standing before a large moving clockwork model of the solar system. Each planet and some of the larger constellations had been painstakingly handmade and fixed to thin metal poles which was attracted to a heavy wooden base.

Kit looked underneath and saw a mass of cogs and gears, like the inside of his pocket watch, working away to turn all of the solar system representatives above. There was the harsh sticky smell of warm oil and a tricking of burning steam. A piston was pumping away and Kit followed it to see an coal fueled engine hard at work.

He went back to the clockwork model, his fingers reaching to touch one of the moving planets whilst his thieving mind tried to work out how to steal this rare and expensive item.

‘Don’t you think you’ve caused enough trouble?’ Patience said, her posh voice softening.

‘I can’t help it,’ Kit muttered, dropping his hand.

‘I know, Thief,’ Patience tacked on like a pet nickname.

Kit slipped his hands into his pockets and turned away, pressing his redden cheek into the soft fleece of his jacket.

Footsteps creaked on the wooden boards and some of the devices shook with the vibrations. Kit looked out of the corner of his eye as Patience turned and spoke something to the Captain. Meriwether and Nicodemus were close behind, looking pleased with their agreements with the Engineer. 

‘Let’s go, kid,’ Patience said turning back to Kit.

He give a swift nod and trailed after them. At the door, Priscilla saw them out, scowling at Kit as he had been a bad dog she was kicking outside. The door snapped shut behind them and Kit carefully went down the dimly lit metal staircase.

At the bottom, night was falling in the city and the fading voices of people could be heard alongside the hissing of steam and the creaking of ropes. Kit took in lungfuls of fresh air, glad to finally be outside. Cooling wind wrapped around him, wiping away the heat of the Engineer’s workshop.

‘Are you coming to have a drink with us?’ Captain asked.

Kit shook his head, he wasn’t in the mood for that, ‘I’ll go back to the Harmony. Will you buy me some bottles of absinthe, if they have any?’

‘Sure,’ Patience repiled, ‘though you should really lay off that stuff.’

‘I’ll come back to the airship with you,’ Meriwether cut in, ‘I have to be up early to find some parts I need. It’s market day tomorrow.’ 

They said their goodbyes and split into two groups. It felt like a long walk back to the dockyard where The Lost Harmony was awaiting for them but Kit didn’t mind, he was glad to be outside and couldn’t wait until they took off once more and were flying high over the cities below them.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

(Writer’s Note; Though this story might seem like it’s from a longer piece it’s not. I had the idea of the character Kit come into my head then the Captain and the monkey – the imagine in my head of the monkey kinda scares me! 

I’m a massive fan of steampunk and I try to go to a few events during the year. With everything in lockdown, I’m missing it. I don’t think I’ve tried to write a steampunk story before, though there may have been hints of it in some of my stories. I’d really like to write a steampunk novel but I’m not sure where to begin with it. Perhaps this short story scene is my gateway?)

 

Minikin #AtoZChallenge

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Minikin – small.

I was gardening and humming along to the radio when I saw a flash of orange. Frowning and wondering what it was, I peered closely under a small bush and saw a tiny kitten.

Crying out, I dropped my trowel and carefully picked up the limb body. Was it dead?

Hurrying into the house, I wrapped the kitten in a tea towel and took my gardening gloves off. I rubbed the towel over the kitten, not wanting the poor think to be dead.

There was a weak mew and small wiggle of movement. I peeked into the wrapped towel and saw a little white paw moving.

Straight a way, I thought of one of my neighbours who fostered abandoned kittens. She would know what to do.

I took the tiny kitten to her and got her to help. It was touch and go because the kitten was only a week or so old and was so weak.

Everyday, I went to see the kitten, prepared for the bad news but the kitten hung on and got well and strong.

I named her Mini and as soon as she was well enough, I brought her home to live with me.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Juramentrum #AtoZChallenge (Part 2)

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Juramentrum – oath

Siegfried breathed deeply and smelt the nature drifting his way. It was mid spring and everything was waking up after the long dark winter. He could smell something sweet, maybe flowers hidden from sight in the grass that covered the rocks. There was a damp earthy smell from soil that had found its way into the cracks of the rocks.

The river smelt of nothing but has he dipped his fingers into the water, Siegfried felt the coldness and smoothness of the flow. Removing his hand, he took a few sips of water from the waterskin.

He didn’t have to worry about steering the boat, it was making its own course as if being pulled along by unseen hands. The boat was also small enough to pass by and over any threatening rocks. It was a good boat. His brother, Hrothgar, had done an excellent job.

One of the old dogs yawed and Siegfried twisted to look at them. They were settling down again. Grey heads resting on the edge of the boat and their bodies curled together for warm. They looked peaceful and not worried.

Siegfried grabbed one of the furs and threw it over them. He could trust his dogs sense of things and if they weren’t worried about any danger then nor should he. It was growing colder though.

Grabbing a fur for himself, Siegfried drew it around his shoulder and noticed how dark it was getting. The height of the gorge was blocking out the warm sun and casting everything into darkness the further you entered in. Soon, he wouldn’t be able to see.

Searching in the boat’s hull, Siegfried found a lamp and lit it. Carefully and slowly, he crawled to the front of the boat and placed the lamp into its place. Going back to his seat, he found another lamp, lit it and placed it beside himself. Clutching the oar in one hand and his sword in the other, Siegfried was swallowed by darkness.

An icy wind swept down and Siegfried smelt snow in the air. It was normal of winter to hold on has long as he could and he found hiding places where the sun couldn’t find him. Siegfried hoped the river was frozen and that it didn’t start snowing. Just in case though, he threw another fur over the dogs and pulled a large one onto his head.

Siegfried might be a mighty Viking but he was old now and felt the cold stiffen his bones more and more.

Perhaps, I should have waited till the summer? he thought.

Shaking his head, Siegfried got the oar back out and began paddling again. He’d rather meet the ice sooner rather than later. A few small flakes of snow landed in his beard and boat. The darkness pressed deeper down, everything had been blocked out above him as if the gorge had a roof.

Not stopping, he rowed faster, not liking the darkness and the gathering cold.

‘This can’t go on for much longer,’ Siegfried muttered, ‘how you doing back there dogs?’

There was a muffled moan and Siegfried glanced over his shoulder but he couldn’t see the back of the boat. The light from the lamps was hardly anything but he was grateful to not be in total darkness.

He turned his face up, looking for glints of blue sky. His oar hit something hard, probably just a rock, he felt the vibrations going through his arm. Nothing to worry about. He padded faster, not liking this at all and feeling uneasy in his gut. Telling himself there had to be an end to this soon spurred him on.

There, was that a hint of blue above? Did the path ahead look lighter? Siegfried concentrated on that patch of blue and slowly came out into the light once more. Sighing, he stopped rowing and blew the lamps out. He took a few deep breaths and let the furs slip off him.

Blue sky angled it’s way into the gorge, filling the gap above the rocks. Sun cast light on green things and grey surfaces. Warm slowly tricked down to the river and soon the way widened. The river burbled along as if happy to be out of the darkness just as Siegfried was.

Pulling the oar in, he let the boat drift again. The river lapped against the wood and the shore in a calming way and carried the boat along its course. Siegfried settled back, watching more and more of the sky open above him. He could tell the gorge was coming into an end.

Shutting his eyes, he rested, feeling the cold leaving him and warmth filling him up. He dozed then when the boat slowed and began bobbing against something, Siegfried opened his eyes and saw he had arrived at the gates of Valhalla.

 

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Juramentrum #AtoZChallenge (Part 1)

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Juramentrum – oath

Siegfried stopped paddling the wooden long, narrow boat and looked up at the rising landscape around him. It was quiet. Too quiet he thought. He could hear the far cry of birds, the wind playing through trees and long grass, the flow and lapping of the river but that was all.

He pulled the oar half in and watched water dripping off the neatly shaped paddle. There was nothing smoothing about the steady sound, just reminded that he was alone out here.

I hate this, he thought and lowered the oar again.

There was nothing for it but to get through the gorge and hope nothing attacked him.

‘I’m tried of fighting and that’s saying something coming from an old Viking!’ Siegfried spoke then chuckled.

He paddled swiftly, with years of experience, his eyes watching his surrounds and not his oar or the front of the boat. He could trusted the craftsmanship of the vessel his brother had built it and there was no finer ship building then Hrothgar.

Siegfried wished his brother was here with him now, instead his traveling companions were two old hunting dogs who never left his side. Still though, this journey was Siegfried’s alone to take.

The gorge rose up on either side, blocking out some of the afternoon sun. Solid multi-coloured rock with bits of green plant life sticking out seemed to stretch endlessly to meet the blue sky. Rocks jutted out of the river, covered with moss and worn smooth. Boats still had to be careful though as there was no telling if some of those rock edges could still break through wood or not.

Entering the gorge would mean no going back. It was a long way to the other side. Most people tried to avoid going through, preferring the other, longer route the river divided into further back up. This way was favored by bigger boats because in some places the gorge forced the river to narrow far too much.

Siegfried stopped rowing and let the boat drift as he went inside the gorge. He knew being quiet as much as possible would help if anyone or thing was listening above. He picked up his shield which he had rested in the bottom of the boat and lifted it over his head.

Only arrows or rocks or other things could be rained down on him from the gorge’s high cliffs because nothing would be stupid enough to jump down and try to get him. No, if a wild animal or monster wanted him they would track him to a more suitable place.

I’m being over cautious, Siegfried thought, this too dangerous journey is getting to me.

He lowered the shield and studied the view above. Nothing was moving up the clouds and he could hear the river singing along. He looked at the two dogs, both now awake and looking around as if they sensed there could be danger.

Siegfried looked down into the hull of the boat once more and gripped his long sharp edged sword. The weapon comforted him even though it was no use currently. In the boat was also some daggers, a bow and arrows which he hardly used anyway, some food, water and other useful items. He had packed well for this journey, not sure what he might need.

Siegfried shook his head then ran his hand through his long plaited grey beard. He felt uneasy and wished things were different. But he had made an oath to his brothers, wife and children that he would do this. He would go first….

To Be Continued…

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Cereology #AtoZChallenge

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Cereology – the study of investigation of crop circles

It was definitely aliens this time, I could swear to it. The crop circle was huge and spread across two fields of corn, most of which had been flattened. The plants hadn’t just been laid flat though, there were shapes within the main ones. The corn lay in almost a spiral pattern, some going one way then the next patch going the opposite.

I glanced back at the farmer who had called me into inspect this weirdness. He was stood against the open gate to the field, scratching his head under his flat cap whilst his three boarder collie dogs paced around him, eager to get back to work.

There was no way he could have done this. It was too big, too complex and why would he want to ruin a crop that was a month away from being harvested? No, it didn’t make sense for him to have done this….

I looked at my clipboard again and made some more notes. I took some more photos then went over to the farmer. He was petting one of the dogs and talking to her.

‘Do you have a ladder or something I can get a higher photo with? I’d love to try and see this thing fully,’ I asked.

The farmer mumbled something in his thick Yorkshire accent which I could hardly understand and walked away. I hoped he was going to get a ladder and hadn’t decided I was crazy. Though, he like everyone else, except those of The Fellowship of the Outer Finders Orbit (FUFO) thought I was mad, so what did it matter?

Minutes passed, I re-read my notes, made a few more, walked around bit and then the farmer and another man appeared with the ladder. The dogs were running around and barking but once they realised they were back at a sheep free field again, they calmed down.

The farmer spoke and I guess he was introducing me to his son and also where were they to put the ladder?

I pointed to the corner of the field and we went over.

Once up the ladder, I could see the crop circle in all its glory. God it was beautiful! There was circles of all kinds joining together to make what had to be the base of a space craft. I took a few photos then had to change the film in the camera.

‘Let’s move the ladder over there,’ I said.

For maybe a hour or so, we moved the ladder around and I climbed up and took photos of the different view. Finally, we returned to the gate and the ladder was laid against a hedge.

‘What’s tha think?’ the farmer asked.

‘You sure you didn’t hear or see anything?’ I asked.

‘Nowt.’

‘They must have been cloaked,’ I muttered to myself, ‘I wonder what they wanted….Any cattle or other animals gone missing?’

‘Not sure. Sheep ‘re on fell. Don’t count ’em.’

I frowned and took that to mean he didn’t know. Was there any point in asking if he could go and check? I shook my head.

‘Tha done?’

‘Yes. I think so. If anything else happens, call me again.’

‘Theerz nowt s’queer as folk,’ the son said in a low voice.

I frowned but before I could ask what he meant, the farmer spoke, ‘tek n’gorm.’

God, I should have brought a translator!

‘Tha want brew?’ the farmer asked.

‘Er no, I’m driving. Thanks anyway. I should be going actually. It was nice to meet you. Thanks,’ I said and shook both their hands, ‘goodbye.’

‘Aye, lad sithee.’

I nodded and left the two men talking to each other. I guessed they were discussing me, probably insulting me but I had no idea. I walked back to my car, parked almost in a ditch in the courtyard of the farm.

Once back in my car, I felt strangely safer as if I had just escaped from an alien encounter.

I sipped some warm water and took a some deep breaths of hot, stale air. I started the car and put down the window. I glanced at the collection of papers and camera films I had dumped on the passenger seat.

‘Unbelievable evidence though, wait to the FUFO sees this!’ I spoke.

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)