Stark #WritePhoto

Roxy was dead and drifting through a stark landscape. Below her were bare white trees,  branches reaching into an endless grey-white clouded, dark blue sky. Yellowed grass upon rolling hills created a sea for her to look down upon.

She didn’t know where this was. A countryside? A moor? Hell, perhaps and over that hill there’d be lava pools, towers of fires and demons chanting. She flew over, there was nothing. Heaven then? But it seemed too bleak and deserted for that.

Roxy was unable to stop moving but she didn’t feel anything, she was beyond that now. From time to time, she thought she saw white shapes in the distance, she couldn’t make out what they were and never got close enough to see.

On and on she flew, the landscape repeating itself. She tried hard to remember small details; the certain shapes of tree branches or clouds. However, her mind wasn’t working as it once did and she couldn’t keep hold of the memories for long.

An idea came to her, Limbo. That would explain it. So, she was trapped here until what? Roxy couldn’t recall. In fact, she was having a hard time thinking now. She slipped into the drifting motion and let it carry her away, forgetting everything.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/11/01/thursday-photo-prompt-stark-writephoto/ 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.

Restless

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The door of the box bedroom would not stay shut. Seconds after I’d closed it, the door would open again. If I was still nearby I would hear the handle turn and the door slowly moving open. I turned around to look but there never seemed a reason why this kept happening.

I would find my boyfriend, Reece, in another room of the house and start telling him about it for the hundredth time.

He would look at me with wide brown eyes, his face too quickly aged with worry lines and an expression that pleaded with me not to start anything. His short, dark brown hair always looked a mess and he seemed to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. He was in his early twenties, same as me but both of us looked so much older.

I was younger by two years. My blonde hair cut boy-short, my dull blue eyes hollowed alongside my pale face and too thin body I gave the impression that I was a cancer victim. I had never been, it was just the way I’d always come across. I had been through a lot too. Different from Reece’s experience but it still amounted to the same out come.

‘We need to replace that door,’ I snapped.

‘We don’t have the money and there’s nothing wrong with it,’ he replied.

‘But it won’t close properly,’ I complained.

‘It’s an old house. A house we are lucky to have, Joanna,’ he remind me.

And that would be the end of the repeating argument before it had time to build because he was right. His grandparents had owned the house and they had passed it to him but left hardly any money for the upkeep.

Reece had been in and out of foster care until his grandparents had ‘rescued’ him when he was thirteen. He’d only told me bits and pieces, including how he’d never had a real home and had constantly been abused.

I disliked this house but I had nowhere else to go. Reece’s love had saved me from having to survive on the streets and I was about to throw that away. Maybe, if we were able to make the house ours it would be be different. We couldn’t offered to redecorate or get rid of all the furniture and it still felt like we were living with his grandparents.

I kept trying to let the door thing go but I just couldn’t. I had a niggly feeling about the bedroom door each time I saw it open and I would have try to close it.

Finally, I’d had enough. I saved some money to buy a lock and had a neighbour, Mr Duman, who was a local handyman, fit it for me whilst Reece was out playing in a football match on Saturday afternoon.

Mr Duman was a nice man almost in his sixties and he had known Reece’s grandparents. He was tall, going grey and had a pot belly. He reminded me of images I had seen of Father Christmas.

‘This is the door,’ I pointed out to him, ‘can you please check it?’

He nodded and set to work.

‘Maybe, the hinges are loose?’ I suggested, ‘or the door frame misaligned? Does the carpet catch on the bottom of the door?’

‘No,’ Mr Duman replied, ‘that’s all fine.’

‘Then why doesn’t it stay closed?’ I pressed.

‘Could be a drift or a loose floorboard underneath?’ he said, ‘I could take a look for you, Joanna.’

‘No, it’s okay can you just fit the lock?’

‘No problems. Looks like there was once a lock here anyway. Makes the job easier,’ Mr Duman said.

‘Really?’ I asked and he showed me where an old lock had once been under the door handle.

Then he fitted the new lock and we tested it out.

‘Should be good now,’ Mr Duman spoke with a smile, ‘no more problems!’

That was true for two weeks. The box bedroom door stayed locked and shut. Reece wasn’t happy about it but he could see how much better I felt about it and that was good enough. Then I came home from my job at a supermarket early one afternoon and the door was wide open.

Forgetting everything else, I walked over and looked. The key, which was always left in the lock was on the floor next to the door, inside the room. Nothing seemed to have been disturbed, though there was only an old child’s bed under the square window and small, empty wardrobe on the opposite wall.

I picked up the key, closed and locked the door then went through the rest of the house. Everything looked fine. I tried to put it out of my mind but it was really bugging me. Why would someone do that?

‘Reece, did you leave the box bedroom door open?’ I asked him as soon as he come from work.

He was tried, covered in dust and plaster from his current builder job. He looked at me confused as he took his boots off at the front door.

‘What? No, Joanna,’ he replied.

‘It was open when I got home from work. Like all the way open and the key was on the floor inside the room,’ I explained.

Reece shook his head and dumped his boots under the coat rack, ‘I’ve not touched it.’

‘Then somebody broke in and did!’ I cried.

‘Is anything missing?’ Reece demanded.

‘No….It doesn’t seem like it, but someone must have unlocked the door!’

Reece gripped my shoulders and said firmly, ‘stop getting hysterical about it. It’s just a door, Jo. Just a door.’

I took a few deep breaths and nodded.

Reece took his clothes off so he wouldn’t get dirt everywhere and I took his things to the washing machine. Once he’d showered and dressed, he checked through the house and I made us something to eat.

‘Nothing’s been touched,’ Reece came back to tell me.

He kissed and hugged me, giving me the little bit of comfort he was able too.

We ate, watched TV and went to bed early. I had a dream where I could see the door in front of me and the key was turning in the lock by itself. The door opened, I went inside, the door closed and locked behind me. I tried to get out but couldn’t. I yelled, screamed, kicked and punched the door. Exhausted, I curled in a corner and cried.

I awoke up into darkness and heard the sound of a door slowly creaking open. Turning on the lamp, I woke up Reece and though he was grumpy, we both got up and went out into the hallway.

Reece turned on the light and we both saw the box bedroom door wide open.

‘Stay here,’ he said.

He walked down the hallway, turned the light on in the room then bent down to pick something up. Turning off the light, he pulled the door to and locked it. He came back and showed me the key between his fingers.

‘I’m keeping this,’ he said.

I nodded and watched as he put the key in the top draw of his bedside table.

Without saying anything, he walked passed me and went downstairs. I heard him trying all the doors and windows, making sure everything was locked.

I got back into bed, wondering about my dream whilst I glanced around the old fashioned decorated room. It had been his grandparents room and there was a pink ceiling, flowered wall paper and old brown furniture. At least the bed was all new. I had refused to sleep in the bed both his grandparents had died in.

Reece came back, announced everything was secure and we both tried to sleep again. However, it felt like I spent the night awake listening to a child crying and a door handle being rattled.

In the morning, the door was still locked and we went back to having believed we’d dealt with it. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong and every night it seemed I could hear crying and rattling.

I didn’t believe in the supernatural and I’d never had much of an imagination, my strict Catholic parents had beaten that out of me. That’s how Reece and I had met and stuck together; both orphaned teenagers with lost childhoods.

The noise was getting to me and I starting to hear it during the day when I was home alone. So, one afternoon I took the key from the draw and unlocked the door.

‘There now, stop crying,’ I spoke into the empty room, ‘go out, whatever you are, be free and let us be in peace.’

Leaving the door open, I went back downstairs and made some Chamomile tea. I felt better after that and waited for Reece to come home.

‘Why is that door open?’ he asked from the hallway.

‘Because, I want whatever is trapped in there to leave,’ I replied back.

He muttered something then came into the living room doorway, carrying his football kit bag. He looked flushed and tired, still damp from the shower he had before coming home. He reminded me of a child, exhausted after a hard practice session and long day at school.

‘Do you want something to eat?’ I asked to change the subject, ‘there’s pizza.’

He nodded and without saying anything else went upstairs.

I thought he would come back down but later after calling him twice that food was ready, I went up to find him.

The upstairs lights were all off except for the one in the box bedroom. I went slowly up and along in the dark, my mind turning over all kinds of things. I peered around the door and saw him sitting on the bare mattress of the bed.

‘Reece?’ I whispered softly, ‘what is it?’

He took a sobbing breathe and turned to me.

‘Are you crying?’

I went in and hugged him. He grabbed me, wrapping his arms around me and burying his face into my stomach. He broke into a hard crying which affected his whole body.

‘What’s wrong?’ I asked in a soft voice, ‘whatever it is you can tell me.’

‘It’s me!’ he broke out through the heaving, ‘I’ve been causing this!’ he waved at the door.

I stroked his hair, trying to figure out what he meant. I sat down on the bed next to him, the old springs squeaking and we held each other until he’d calmed down.

‘This was my bedroom when I first came here,’ Reece began, ‘My grandparents didn’t hurt me and they convinced me I was finally safe. For sometime though I would have these angry rages. I would destroy whatever I could, I would scare my grandma and my grandpa. It was his idea to lock me in here to keep them and myself safe.’

‘I see…’ I trailed off.

‘I got over it, I guess’ Reece continued, ‘and they let me have the bigger bedroom next to their’s. I’ve hated this room ever since. Things were better afterwards, until they…’ he stopped and took a gasping breath.

‘It’s okay,’ I said gently, ‘I won’t complain about it anymore. We won’t lock or shut this door ever again. It’ll always be open and you don’t have to worry anymore.’

He nodded and snuggled into me as best he could. I felt his crying stop and his body relaxing. I stroked his face, waiting till he was calm again.

‘We have to make this place a proper home now,’ I whispered into his hair.

‘Why?’ he mumbled back.

I took his hand, placed it over my stomach and left my hand on top of his, my fingers rubbed his knuckles.

‘Because we are going to have a baby.’

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).

 

 

Shadows #3LineTales

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

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).

 

Postcard #50

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Dear Hana,

Thank you for the book of spells you sent me last week. I have so far cast two of them – A Ward Against Evil and A Good Luck Charm, both seem to have work. I am still little nervous about trying something bigger – I guess all those movies were spells go wrong sticks in my head too much!

I would very much like to join your circle on Monday nights. Perhaps, seeing some real witches would improve my confidence? I hope it wouldn’t be too much of a bother. I shall keep practicing!

Best regards, Morgan.