Staircase

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The staircase spirals on and you follow each step up even though you are tried. Your hand glides over the wooden banister from which you can feel a strange warmth from. You long ago give up counting the white steps and though you wish to stop you can’t seem to bring yourself to still your feet.

The staircase goes on forever. You can’t see the beginning or the end. A soft white light filters around, but you don’t know where it’s coming from. However, it seems to move with you because when you look below or above the stairs are full of shadows.

The staircase never reaches the surface. You know that within your body and soul. You keep climbing still though. A few times you did turn around and head downwards, thinking that maybe there’d be something different in the opposite direction, but nothing had come of it.

So, you keep walking and hope that somehow this limbo that you are in breaks.

 

Outside #writephoto

He was lost and scared as he walked through the darkness in the rain. There were lights ahead, but he couldn’t be sure what they were. He thought he felt rough stone under his fingers. He carried on walking till there was enough light to see by.

Now, he knew were he was; the back area of his home. He could see the south tower, though it was wrapped heavily in shadows. Running over, he tried not to think about how much trouble he’d be in. Maybe, he hoped, no one had missed him yet.

How many times had he been told not to play on the roof? Yet, still tonight he had gone out there and he wasn’t even sure why. Trying only to think of getting back inside and to bed, he began trying to reach the third window of the tower. It was the only way back in from this side.

He climbed up, finding it easy to hold on to the worn stones. He pressed against the window. Thankfully, it hadn’t be latched back fully. Climbing through and wiggling over the ledge he entered the staircase, leaving behind him small puddles of water on the window sill.

(https://scvincent.com/2017/05/18/thursday-photo-prompt-inside-out-writephoto/)

Inside #writephoto

The maid frowned in her cleaning of the grand staircase as her sharp eyes spotted the water on the stone window sill opposite. Shuffling over, she looked and tried to figure out where the water had come from.

The window couldn’t be opened for it was just a single panel of glass fitted into a thick stone wall so the rain from last night couldn’t have got in. Plus, this section of the castle was currently closed and she was the first person to come in for a few weeks now.

Deciding there must be a leak somewhere above, the maid mopped up the water and give the window a quick clean. Then getting back to her main tasks, her mind forgot all about reporting the problem.

A month later, the maid came back to that section again to keep on top of things. Once again she noticed the small puddles of water on the window sill. This time she checked to make sure there was no holes in the glass and that the other window sills were dry.

Satisfied, she made a note in her little notebook and went back to work. It had to be a little leak somewhere. The castle was late thirteen century so it was to be expected that some of the old lead lining was fading.

At the end of the shift, the maid reported the leak and detailed where it was; south tower, third window on staircase.  

However, every time she went into that section the water puddles were still on the window still. She mopped them up and tried to find a source for them which even on rainy days seemed a mystery. Then she would report the problem.

Finally, one afternoon the maid complained to her manager.

‘The leak I keep reporting isn’t getting fixed,’ she said, ‘it was there again this morning.’

‘The third window in the south tower?’ her manager said straight away.

The maid looked at her from over the top of a very cluttered desk. The manager’s office was a big space that had once been a part of the servant’s ground floor rooms. It had been converted ages ago and was filled with office furniture.

‘It’s been looked at every time you have reported it and no leaks have been found,’ the manager replied with a serious look on her face.

‘But there must be something….’ the maid uttered.

‘It’s the ghost,’ the manager responded with a shrug.

‘Ghost?’

‘The story goes that a young boy fell from the tower. It was raining and he slipped. The servants believed that the boy’s ghost keeps trying to get back inside because he’s trapped on the outside. The third window use to be the only one you could open…’

The maid pulled a face and answered, ‘I don’t believe in ghosts…’

‘Nor do I or anyone else who works here, but for the groundskeeper and the two old gardeners. They use to work here when this place was a stately home, before it got handed over to the Trust. They’d tell you the story better then I can,’ the manager added.

‘No, thanks,’ the maid replied and saying goodbye left to get on with her other tasks.

The water puddles remind still and once a month when the maid was there cleaning, she would wipe them away. She really didn’t believe in ghosts and thought that it must still be a leak somewhere.

 

(https://scvincent.com/2017/05/18/thursday-photo-prompt-inside-out-writephoto/)

Zoanthropy #atozchallenge

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Zoanthropy; a form of madness involving the delusion of being an animal. 

Dr Amy Percy stirred in bed and slowly came awake. There was a familiar ringing in her ears. Rolling over, she looked at the alarm clock and saw it was a two thirty eight AM. Wondering who was phoning her at this time, she reached a hand out and picked up her mobile.

Peering at the screen in the darkness, she saw it wasn’t on. Tutting, she placed it back and grabbed her work’s mobile. The screen was lit up with an incoming call from a patient; Tim Banks.

Her finger hoovered between the green answer button and the red end call. She hit answer and pressed the phone to her ear.

‘Doctor?’ a low desperate voice asked.

‘Yes?’ she answered.

Amy rolled onto her back and fixed the sheets, so she was more comfy.

‘It’s Mr. Banks. It happened again! I’ve just woken up and there’s a dead bird on my bed. My window is wide open too….’

‘What kind of bird?’ Amy asked sleepily.

‘It’s like…erm….a blackbird? Yeah. It’s neck is broken. There’s feathers everywhere! What should I do, Doctor?’ Tim demanded.

‘Throw it out in the garden. Vac up the feathers then go back to bed, Mr. Banks,’ Amy instructed.

‘I need to see you!’

‘It’s the middle of the night….phone my office and make an appointment.’

Amy ended the call and placed the phone back on her bedside table. Settling down again, she prayed that she was fully booked tomorrow so she wouldn’t have to see Tim Banks.

God didn’t answer her prayer. Walking into her office and across the small waiting room, she saw Tim wanting for her. He was wringing his hands together and was sat far away from her actual first patient of the day; Camilla Brown.

Amy went up to the receptionist and waited till the older woman, Mrs June Meakings, who was sat behind a long desk looked up from the computer screen.

‘I’ve squeezed Mr Banks in first,’ June whispered, ‘I hope you don’t mind? He seems in a such a state. He said he’d been phoning here since six.’

Amy sighed. She could feel a headache coming on all ready.

‘I have his file,’ June added.

She selected a pale yellow folder from the top of the pile and handed it to Amy.

‘I’ll take Mrs. Brown’s too. Does she mind waiting?’ Amy asked with a quick glance over her shoulder.

‘No,’ June replied.

The phone started ringing, cutting through they conversation. They nodded at each other and Amy walked into her room.

She took a few minutes to set things up and flip through Mr Bank’s file. Then she picked up her phone and asked June to send him in.

Without knocking, Tim entered and went straight to the red long, low backed sofa. He sank down then began pouring his heart out to the doctor.

‘I can’t take it any more! I’m not myself! I worry every day and night. What if I change in front of people? What if someone sees me and recognises me? What if this doesn’t go away? I can’t live like this, but I don’t want to go to the insane asylum!’

‘Who said anything about an asylum, Mr Banks?’ Amy asked, looking over at him.

She had been taking some brief notes and her pen was paused in the middle of a line.

‘Well…that’s what happens to mad people, isn’t? You lock them all away!’ Tim explained, flapping his arms about.

‘Maybe in the past. Today it’s different…’

‘Drugs? I’ve tried everything! Nothing works. Maybe it’s supernatural. Like werewolves. I’m a werecat!’ Tim declared.

‘Now, Mr Banks!’ Amy snapped, ‘there’s nothing supernatural about your condition. Were-creatures don’t exist. Just like vampires and ghosts, it’s all fiction. People like to attribute their mental conditions to the supernatural because they find it easier to understand and blame. We’ve been through this before.’

‘I know Doctor! But do you really know that? What if the supernatural is real and we are in denial? What if you have powers?’ Tim asked.

Amy stared down her nose at him, ‘Mr Banks, I can assure you I don’t have any powers. Now. Let’s go over what’s happened since last time I saw you, five days ago. How many times do you think you’ve….changed?’

Tim thought, his eyes studying the ceiling before he answered with, ‘about three times, maybe more.’

Amy wrote that down in her notes then asked another question, ‘What have been the rough times of these changes happening?’

Once again, Tim give it some thought before answering, ‘Well, it’s been the same as normal. Mostly at night. I always go to bed at ten on on the dot, as you know. So, around midnight maybe? Or in the early hours? Though I think there’s been two in the afternoon for sure now.’

‘Oh, really?’

‘Yes. Doctor. I had a nap you see. I’ve had a bad cold and with not really sleeping at night, I decided to have a doze in my back garden. The first time I awoke and was soaked wet through! It was like…pond water and I smelt of fish. It didn’t rained at all and it was blazing sunlight.’

Amy pressed her lips together, but didn’t say anything. Tim went on.

‘When I got changed, I peered over the fences of the nearest houses and the one right on the end has a large pond with fish in it! Well, I broken in and looked around the garden. I found a dead fish beside the pond and the stones were all wet.’

‘Another animal could have done that,’ Amy mused.

‘The next day I had my second nap,’ Tim continued, he’d not heard her, ‘and when I woke, I was soaked again and there was like slime all over my hands. The fish smell was worse too. I went back to the pond and it was empty of fish! I think I’ve eaten them all!’

Tim dropped his head and pressed his hands to his face. His shoulders were shaking. He took in a few deep breaths and seemed to compose himself again.

Amy pulled a face and scribbled some more notes down. This was a complicated case and she had been out of options for awhile now. She had contacted other doctors in and out of the field, but they had been stumped too. A man who fully believed he turned into a cat wasn’t something that could be easily fixed.

Kenopsia #atozchallenge

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Kenopsia; the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet. 

 It was a strange apocalyptic feeling that crept slowly over Georgina as they walked through the abandoned prison.

‘We shouldn’t be here,’ she whispered.

Bayo shot her a look over his shoulder then paused as her saw the cringing expression crossing over Georgina’s face.

Her voice had sounded louder and had echoed more then she had meant it too. Georgina felt like she had broken the second spell that hung over the building by being the first to speak. The first spell had been when they had entered the grounds, ignoring all the warning signs and sneaking under the two wired fences.

 ‘What is it?’ Bayo hissed.

‘This place is gross,’ Georgina said back.

Bayo give a small shrug of his broad shoulders and carried on walking. He was dressed far better for this place then Georgina was. He was wearing high work boots with his jeans tucked into them, a tight t-shirt and a padded coat. His skin was as dark as the shadows around them and his short black hair was a mass of small weaves.

Georgina watched him duck through a rusted twisted metal door then followed him, careful not to snag her blue designer coat, teal coloured mini skirt and matching tights on the sticking out wires. Her low pumps were covered by so much mud and dirt, it was hard to know what colour they were.

Judging from what was now around them, they had entered the first male block of the prison. The other three teenagers had come to stop in the main space and were shining their torches about. Bayo and Georgina joined them and began looking around too. On this floor, tables and chairs had been dotted round. There had been a TV, a snooker table and a table tennis table, giving the inmates downtime. Above rose four floors of cells, many of which had their doors wide open.

Nature had long taken over what had once been a loud and bustling scene. Patches of green and yellow moss covered the floor. Weeds grew in clumps through cracks and black mould coated the ceiling. Water was dripping heavily from somewhere close by. Rust covered everything metal and the paint was peeled.

Georgina shivered and felt like she was being watched. She touched her loose golden blonde hair nervously and making sure it was tucked safely into the hood of her coat. She double checked the coat was zipped up before putting her hands in the warm pockets. Then she turned away and took in her friends. They all looked deeply fascinated.

The only other girl in the group, Phoebe, had her head thrown back and was looking up at the ceiling as if it was covered in precious  gem stones. She didn’t seem at all concerned about what was around them. Her dark brown hair was plaited back and she was wearing hiking boots, old jeans and a thick grey jacket. Her torch light reflected off the grimy walls.

The three boys, including Bayo, seemed interested in exploring the cells. There were a few on this floor, but it was a certain one that they were eager to find. They shone their torches around, trying to figure out the numbers on the doors so they could plan their route.

Georgina moved closer to her boyfriend, Alex. He was the tallest of the boys and had dark spiky hair. His face was rounded and baby like but had a handsomeness to it that Georgina enjoyed staring at. He was wearing black trainers, ripped up dark jeans, a loose t-shirt and a leather jacket. She slipped her hand against his and wormed her fingers in between his so that they were holding hands.

‘I don’t like it,’ she muttered like a tried child being forced into bed.

‘It’s cool,’ Alex answered back.

‘It’s not. It’s creepy and unhygienic. I want to leave!’ Georgina snapped.

‘Go ahead then,’  Tiger sneered.

Georgina looked at him and pulled a face. It was Tiger’s fault they were here in the first place. He was the oldest of the group and Phoebe’s boyfriend. He had short brown hair, sharp eyes and model’s face. He was old boots, tight jeans and a long sleeved top.

Georgina turned away and pressed her face into Alex’s shoulder.

Tiger snorted as if he had expected her not to reply to him.

‘Which one is it?’ Phoebe asked.

‘It’s on the second floor. I remember that much,’ Tiger answered.

He walked over to the unstable looking concrete stairs and began climbing them. Phoebe and Bayo followed, their footsteps ringing out in the quietness.

‘Alex, I really want to leave. There’s something off about this place,’ Georgina whispered.

‘It’s fine,’ Alex responded and drew her into a hug, ‘I really want to see where one of the most famous murderers of all time was locked away.’

‘Why?’ Georgina asked into his jacket, her voice muffled

‘Let’s go,’ Alex spoke, having not heard her.

He took her hand and they walked up the stairs then across to another set and up those. Georgina tried not to look further ahead then the next steps. The open cell doors didn’t seem inviting at all and they reminded her of animal mouths, just waiting for something to walk in before snapping shut.

‘This is it, I think. Number thirty-eight,’ Tiger pointed out.

Alex and Georgina joined Tiger, Phoebe and Bayo at the open cell door.

‘Yeah, they say he drew pictures of his victims with his own blood on these very walls,’ Tiger continued.

He walked into the cell and flashed his torch around. It was empty of furniture, pipes were sticking out were a toilet and sink had once been and the walls were a dark grey and peeling badly.

Phoebe squeezed her way in and touched the wall. She inspected the floor and began looking for something.

‘We’ve seen it now, can we please go?’ Georgina cut in.

She tugged the sleeve of Alex’s jacket.

‘There’s other cells to see on this tour,’ Tiger declared, ‘the hanging cell, the gun shot cell….the showers. Do you fancy a trip to the showers, Georgie?’

‘No!’ Georgina cried as Tiger leered at her.

‘That’s enough,’ Alex growled and moved between them.

Tiger shrugged, letting the whole thing slide.

‘I can’t find the blood pictures,’ Phoebe said disappointingly.

‘It’s okay, babe. There’s more to see,’ Tiger answered.

Georgina looked behind her. There was a wire fence securing the edge and below was the main room. She thought she saw a flicker of movement down there in the shadows. It was nothing though, right?

She tugged Alex’s jacket sleeve again.

‘Okay, we’ll leave,’ he huffed.

‘Whatever,’ Tiger scoffed, ‘we’ll carry on then.’

‘Some other time,’ Alex added to show there was no hard feeling between them.

Tiger shrugged, not caring either way. He took Phoebe’s hand and led her out of the cell. Bayo trailed after them like a guard dog.

‘You okay?’ Alex asked Georgina.

She nodded, her eyes still watching below. There was a figure down there for sure now. He was a massive man with tattoos and he was just wearing shorts. He didn’t appear to be doing anything, just waiting.

Georgina held her breath and watched the man blending back into the shadows. The urge to get out reached it’s peak and she fought back a scream. Biting her lip, she looked up at Alex, he was watching the others head to the next floor.

‘We need to go,’ Georgina forced out.

‘Sure,’ Alex sighed.

Holding hands, they began to head out towards the sunny afternoon whilst behind them their friends walked further into the darkness of the jail.

Eldritch #atozchallenge

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Eldritch; Eerie, weird, spooky.

As night came to settle in the woods, the trees fell dark and the shadows vanished. The half moon and stars above were the only light for miles. The nocturnal animals came out to hunt, their voices more eerier then their daytime opposites.

From somewhere rose a crying. At first it was hard to tell what could be making it. The more the sound grew and ears listened, the crying became that of a human child.

A lost child, wondering around the nighttime woods, all alone.

The  crying was enough to make the people in the nearest villages at the edges of the woods pay attention. However, they knew better and it wasn’t a real child that was out there. It was a demon.

The stories were different and wide spread, but it was claimed the demon acted like a lost child to led people away and eat them. A few villagers claimed to have seen him, but the descriptions were so wildly different, it was hard to pin down.

They said he was blood red skinned or bright blue or else he was deep black. He had large horns, small horns or none at all. He had a massive tail or a short stubby one. He spoke in a deep gravel voice or else he didn’t say anything at all. He had sharp red teeth and a mouth that was massive which swallowed a person whole.

Whatever the demon looked though, the villagers were sure to stay away from the spooky woods at night.

The Gold Family

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I woke up suddenly from a collection of bad thoughts that had leaked into my mind. The pale peach ceiling which I had always hated, met my eyes and my nose was so close to it. Realising this, I had drifted upwards again, I rolled over and floated back down.

Hovering above the bed, I tried to make my floating form conform to the curled up position I had always liked to be in. I couldn’t feel the blankets or pillows under me, yet with a lot of contraction, I could move them around with my energy.

Settling as best I could, I looked across at my husband, he was resting soundlessly. I wondered what he was thinking about. Listening, I couldn’t hear the children, so I guess they were resting too. The blinds were down on the windows so I couldn’t see what it was like outside. There was a clock on the bedside table, but I disliked looking at it. Time was meaningless.

However, we couldn’t do much in the daytime. An energy reversal seemed to have happened. Once we had gotten energy from sleep, food and the sun, now we could only get energy from darkness and live animals. Though there wasn’t a lot we could do with the energy. Yes, we could move things and make noises, but I couldn’t clean or leave the house!

I don’t know how we’d all ended up like this to be honest. Maybe, it was a curse or punishment? I didn’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Instead, I tried to carry on as normal, even though that was impossible, but still we had to keep going somehow.

My husband stirred then sat up. He drifted to the bathroom and I listened to him swearing as he remembered he couldn’t do anything.

I got up and tried to straighten the bed though it was in vain. In the background, the children’s voices could be heard and the sound of the clockwork lullaby played. The floor creaked with their footsteps and laughter drifted down the hall. They went downstairs and tested their energy on whatever they could.

Some nights we were stronger and other nights we were weaker. The oldest child had been keeping a record of this, but it she’d long forgotten it now. I heard them turning on and off the TV and radio. There was also the flicking of the hallway light switch and the ping of the microwave. All sounds that had once filled our house and been so normal to us all.

My husband came back in and defeated, lay on the bed again.

‘What will happen when a new family move in?’ I asked.

‘I don’t know,’ he sighed, ‘maybe they won’t.’

‘Someone’s bound to!’ I cried.

He mumbled something and curled up tighter into a ball.

Grumpily, I left him to it and want down to join the children. They were in the living room, messing with the TV. I drifted on to the sofa and watched then turning the channels. They were exhausted soon enough and settled around me to watch cartoons.

I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen when someone brought the house. Surely someone knew what had happened to us. What if they didn’t though? I tried not to think about that. It didn’t make sense, someone – a family member, friend or neighbour had sorted things out now. Too much time had passed for it not too.

The children went outside to play. Though it was very little play, just the moving of a ball back and forth and the rocking of the swing set. I watched them from the kitchen window, just like I use to. Then I went up to see my husband. He was still as I had left him.

‘Why don’t you go outside and play with the kids?’ I suggested.

He uttered something, then got up and drifted through the floor as if it wasn’t there.

I potted around the bedroom, touching things I had once loved; jewellery, books, dresses, DVDs. Things I missed so much and never really taken for granted. I sighed and looked out of the window. I couldn’t see anything. Just the blackness that seemed to have engulfed us.

I knew it was going to happen one day. It happens to us all, I just didn’t expect it to be like this.

Bridge

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The troll had lived under the bridge for a long time, however he had finally decided it was time to move. The river was too polluted and the smell was making him sick. Every morning, the troll would sit at the edge of the river and watch rubbish floating by. Sometimes he would pull things out; a bent bike, a rusting shopping trolley, a dead dog. He would add all these things to his collections and in the afternoon he would make art.

The troll enjoyed bending metal, snapping wood and breaking other things up to constructed his sculptures. Then he would leave his art in random places so that passersby would see them. His favorite pieces were; the owl made out of wire netting and car parts. The horse made out of shopping trolleys, bikes and wood. The armless mannequin who’s dress was made out of plastic bags and coat hangers.

That morning, instead of sitting by the river and collecting things, the troll began packing. He dug out two huge suitcases he had dragged from the water and ponder what he would take with him. He emptied the broken wardrobe of his clothes, – he enjoyed being fashionable- the cupboards of his kitchen equipment, – he liked cooking tasty meals- his shelves of books, – the troll was a great reader- his chest of drawers full of trinkets, – he liked shinny things- and finally he took his paintings from the wall, – the troll enjoyed experimenting with different mediums.

Putting on his huge coat and large hat, the troll picked up the suitcases and left home. Waves of sadness washed over him as he left the bridge and sculptures behind. Of course, he hadn’t been able to take any of them with him for they were all far too big. Trying not to think any more about it, the troll walked and walked.

Hours later, he arrived at the seaside. He took in deep lungfuls of fresh salty air and decided he liked it here.

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/02/23/thursday-photo-prompt-bridge-writephoto with thanks)

The Repeating Dark

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Most people don’t really know they are dreaming. They just wake up realise they’ve had a dream and then get on with their day. Me though, I always know when I’m dreaming. I guess it’s because for years I’ve had the same dream. I’ve never really told anyone about it fully. When I was younger, I told my parents a few times about it but they just said it was a nightmare and it would go away.

The dream never has though.

So why now do I want to share it with you? I guess it’s because we know that by the time you read this I’ll be dead. So, it really won’t matter anymore. I’m worried though that this dream won’t die with me and it might get passed on to you. So, I thought I better write everything down and if the dream ever does come for you then you’d be more prepared and maybe do what I could never figure out; break the cycle.

The dream is the same all the time. Nothing, not even the tiniest detail changes nor does the events. I’ve tried many times to change something, but it has never worked. Also, I’ve never found a pattern for the occurrences. Nothing seems to bring them on or makes them stay away for long. The dream seems like a ghost; appearing and disappearing when it wants to.

The dream begins when you wake up in a dark room. For a few moments, you think you really have awoken and it’s the middle of the night. Then though you began to see things and the realisation that this is not your room dawns. You see a table, an empty bookcase, a tall leather armchair and a window.

As you began moving around, you’ll notice other things; the smell of flowers even though there’s none in the room, the breeze of fresh air though the window isn’t open and there seems to be no door. Soft sounds that you are not sure what they are; voices whispering maybe? Faint footsteps, the patter of animal paws. You feel the furniture, it’s solid and cold.

You study the bookcase and see that it’s not actually empty. There is a book in the bottom corner. Pulling it out, the book is thin and black, you open the pages and see a language that is beyond you. The letters seem to move across the page, twisting and transforming, but still you can’t read them. You put the book back.

Unsure what to do, you go to the window and look out. There is no curtain or netting and the window is sealed. No matter what angle and how far you look, you can never see out of the window. A blackness masks the glass, leaving you no hint of where you are.

You can continue to inspect the room, but you’ll find nothing else. Time might then began to pass but sometimes he appears quickly. Once again, I have found no pattern to his appearance. Sometimes you feel you’ve been waiting mere moments, other times it’s hours or days trapped within that room.

The man always appears though. He seems to come from the window, shifting out of the darkness. Taking the form of a shadow at first, but then becoming more solid. He is a dark man; black from toe tips to the fine strands of hair. Backed by the window as he always is, you can never make out any of his features and often he seems to be one with the darkness.

You can try talking to him, but he’ll never answer back. For years, I have questioned him, but not once has he uttered a word. Perhaps, things might be different for you and maybe he will break his vow of silence. I have also tried different things; standing or hiding in different places, giving him the book etc. But nothing works.

Then he holds his hand out and waits for you to take it. I’ve tried not to. I have fought hard to ignore him and often I have stood facing a corner with my back to him. No matter what, somehow my hand always ends up in his! Then his hand closes on mine, holding it tightly and I feel a strange coolness.

He begins to fade back through the glass slowly. You can’t take your hand out of his. I’ve tried but found no solution. He vanishes totally and you see your hand has gone to and the darkness is creeping up your arm. Even if you panic and scream, nothing can be done. The fear is so over-welling that you get dragged down with it.

Then you are surrounded by total blackness and nothing else can be done.

When you awake because despite everything you always do, the dream will seem gone but it never really does. It lingers at the back of your mind and you’ll catch yourself questioning the dream though you might have been thinking of something else. Nothing will resolve though and the memory of the dream will stay with you like a scar.

I really hope that you don’t have it. I hope it dies with me. But since I can’t be sure, I hope you can find some comfort in this letter and know that you weren’t alone.

The Wizard’s House

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I rang the door bell of the mansion and stood on the step waiting. Struggling to control my excitement, I looked at the letter in my hand. The script was large and loopy, almost rushed so that the words blurred together, but I could still make out what it said; the world’s most powerful wizard had hired me to be his cleaner!

My mind rolled with all the things I might see in his house. There’d be a library for sure! Books and books lining the walls. There’d be a lab for making potions, comfy rooms to rest in, kitchens to feast in and spaces to amaze guests in. Oh, it’s going to be so wonderful!

Slowly the door creaked open, light and darkness met in the middle.

‘Hello? I’m Henrietta. The wizard’s new cleaner,’ I declared.

The door got thrown backwards, banging against the side and a loud, booming voice said, ‘Of course you are!’

I felt my heart and stomach jump. The wizard was standing before me! He was very tall and dressed in a bright blue robe with a large pointy hat on his head. There were yellow crest moons and stars on the hat, as was tradition for someone as high up as the wizard. Most of his face was covered in a white curly beard, which was actually shorted then I’d thought it be. Nice blue eyes stared back and the face look youthful.

Suddenly there was a flapping of wings and a large brown bird that had been siting on his shoulder took off and flew past me. I gasped as feather brushed my cheek.

‘Blast! Adrastos! Come back!’ the wizard shouted.

I glanced over my shoulder but the bird was gone into the early afternoon.

‘Was that an owl?’ I asked politely.

‘Damn right it was! And the last I’ll see of him! Took me years to capture and train him! I knew giving him that name was a jinx!’ the wizard yelled.

‘Oh….I’m sorry….’

‘Do you know what Adrastos means?’

I shook my head.

‘Not inclined to run away,’ the wizard answered, ‘and look what’s happened!’

‘Maybe you could tempt him back?’ I asked gently.

The wizard fell to muttering and ignoring me. Peering about and around him, I saw there was a large toad at the wizard’s feet. The toad was croaking but didn’t seem interested in escaping.

‘Well,’ I said, ‘at least your toad stays. Does he have a name?’

The wizard snapped back and looked down to where I was pointing. He scooped the toad up and held it close to his chest.

‘Don’t be silly! Toads are not worthy of names. Now, come in before anything else gets out!’ the wizard snipped.

Nodding, I followed him inside. The hallway was cluttered with coats, shoes, umbrellas and contraptions. A number of kites were on the floor tangled together as if they had just fallen from the sky. Wires dangled down with things attached to them and there was a whole stack of cardboard boxes to my left before the towering staircase.

We went into through a door to the right and I had to stop as the room was jam packed. There were so many things, it was hard to describe them all. Furniture poked out from piles of books, papers, paintings, shinny objects and bric-a-bric. I saw the wizard placing the toad in a cloudy bowl of water then shuffling through a mountain of paper on his desk.

‘Oh my,’ I uttered.

‘I don’t have time to show you around the house,’ the wizard spoke, ‘I’m too busy.’

He waved me away and sat down with a little puff on a stool.

‘Well….where should I start?’ I asked.

‘Where ever you like! But remember when you move something always put it back where you found it! There are some things in this house that are very dangerous,’ the wizard explained.

Without further words, I left and began picking my way through the house. Ever room and hallway was full of stuff, dust and dirt. The place hadn’t been cleaned in decades! How could the world’s most powerful wizard live like this?

Finally, I found the library, the place I had dreamed about and it was nothing like I wanted. Most of the bookcases were empty and the books were scattered on the floor or on the desks and chairs that were dotted around. Dust and spider’s webs covered everything and it seemed no one had been in here in years!

Deciding it would be the place to start. I got down to cleaning. Somehow though, I had a feeling this job wasn’t going to last.