Tsujigiri #AtoZChallenge

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Tsujigiri – crossroad killing. A Japanese samurai with a new katana to test attacks a random defenceless passer-by at night.

The single track road was dark. Touches of light cast from the houses of the edge of the town kept the night at bay but wasn’t enough to really see by. There was a low murmuring of animals, a dog whined somewhere and horse let out a long neigh. People’s voices faded as the doors of the tea houses shut, leaving only the gentle lapping of water to break the silence.

Hiki sat as if he was a drunk who had fallen asleep by the side of the road. His black helmet with the forked stag like horns on top was pulled low to cover his eyes. The rest of his black lacquer armour was back in his room. Hiki hadn’t needed it for this. Instead, he was dressed in black bellowing robes and saddles which made him fit in more of the town’s people and also the growing night.

At Hiki’s side, laying in the long grass so it was hidden but still in easy reach was his new katana. The sword was unsheathed in preparation and Hiki’s right hand was resting next to the black lacquer handled.

This afternoon when he had received the katana, he had practised with it to make sure the balance was right. Hiki had demanded of the swordsmith that the sword be lighter then normal, so it could almost be wielded in one hand. The blade was to be sharp on both sides and the curve more pronounced. The handle was to be left plain so Hiki could dress it himself and that was going be in the traditional black and white diamond pattern of ribbons.

Firstly though, the katana had to draw it’s first blood and kill it’s first victim. Which was why Hiki was sat outside the town pretending to sleep. He couldn’t fight just anyone for the katana’s first outing. This thing had to be done just right and Hiki had found the perfect setting.

He had been observing the town since he had first arrived and during the wait for the katana to be made. The town was no stranger to samurai and produced good weapons and armour. There was a steady flow of people coming in and out with supplies, even by night they travelled because the roads were free of dangers thanks to the numbers of samurai.

The sounds of cart wheels and a horse clopping along, sent a thrill through Hiki. His fingers twitched towards his katana and held the handled lightly. Trying to remain still was hard but he controlled his breathing and cleared his thoughts. He couldn’t get up too soon, the timing had to be just right.

He peeked out from under his helmet and looked at the patch of road he could see. He didn’t turn his head towards the sound. He knew when he saw the horse come into view that was his signal.

Time seemed to slow, Hiki counted each breath and listened as the horse got closer. Hiki’s hand tightened on the katana, his legs twitched as they got ready for action. Soon, it would be the right moment.

The horse came into view faster then Hiki realised. He shot up, his body that had been laying like a scarecrow coming to life and with the grace of a dancer moving through the darkness. His katana swooshed through the air like falling cherry blossom caught on the wind and the head of the cart man went flying through the air.

Hiki let out the breath he had been holding. The horse cried out, reared in fight and shot down the road. The body of his master slide off the cart’s seat and tumbled into a ditch. Blood dripped down the katana as Hiki lowered it and listened to the sound of the running horse and trundling cart fade.

Slowly, Hiki walked over to the cart man’s head and picked it up by the top knot. The head swung, dripping blood and trails of the inside. Hiki inspected the katana’s work in the dim light and he was satisfied by the cleanness and sharpness of the cut.

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

Spaghettification #AtoZChallenge

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Spaghettification – the process by which an object would be stretched and ripped apart by gravitational forces on falling into a black hole.

The engines of the spaceship let out a desperate sound of straining and Colbert put more pressure on them. He was determined not loss this gravity fight with the black hole. The lives of his crew were in his hands and they had been through so much all ready.

Colbert shook his head to get rid of the sweat dripping into his eyes. His knuckles had turned white on the control sticks and his hands were numb because of the tight grip. He gritted his teeth and kept his eyes on the front windows ahead of him.

Space was endless, dotted with planets and stars, wormholes, asteroid fields and so much more undiscovered. It was rare for a black hole to appear as normally they were find and carefully mapped but this one that Colbert had found his spaceship in hadn’t been plotted.

‘I won’t give up,’ Colbert hissed, ‘come on, baby,’

A crackling voice came over the speaker, ‘boz, the engines are over heating!’

‘It’s fine, Linger! They can take it!’ Colbert barked back.

Linger answered but the intercom crackled over it.

Colbert puffed out and shut his eyes. His whole body was shaking and he felt dizzy.

The engines give out a churning noise then cut. Colbert smelt smoke. He let out a scream of defeat and everything began stretching as if they were warp jumping. Then the spaceship began ripping apart and groaning under the buckling stress.

More screams and yells echoed through the ship. Colbert listened to them over the intercom, his heart pounding. The front window smashed and he was sucked out, tumbling into a grave of unknown blackness.

(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)

Noyade #AtoZChallenge

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Noyade – an execution carried out by drowning.

The ropes bit deeply into her wrists but she held her head high. Around her, villagers chanted, ‘witch, witch, witch!’ She ignored their cries and walked bare footed to the edge of the pond.

Everything was already set up, the witch hunter hadn’t delayed. He pushed her into a chair and she was tied into it. More ropes cut into her skin and cold prickled through the under dress she had been stripped too.

She said nothing. Knowing there was no sense in talking to anyone. They all believed what they wanted to believe and how could the single voice of the accused sway a crowd like this?

A crank handle was turned and slowly she rose up. Men pulled her out over the surface of the water. The villagers started yelling and waving their farming tools or whatever else had been to hand before they had come storming to her hovel.

The witch hunter called for silence and spoke out, ‘if she floats she is a witch. If she sinks she is not!’

‘Witch! Witch!’ the villagers yelled.

She felt the cold swirl of the pond water against her toes then her whole body was plunged into the water as the rope holding her snapped. She heard the screams of the villagers then nothing as the water closed over her.

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

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)

Lycanthropy #AtoZChallenge

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Lycanthropy – supernatural transformation of a person into a wolf

The full moon was rising in a squid ink sky. Dakota could sense it, his skin was crawling and the creature shifted his muscles and bones as it got ready to realise.

Dakota drove out to the forest were rain still dripped off the spring tree leaves. He followed an old hunters’ track and parked in front of the long abandoned cabin. He got out, took his clothes off and left everything in the truck.

Dakota walked deep into the forest, not worried about getting lost as his keen smell would led him back to the truck. The creature was always with him and he could use its’ supernatural senses anytime Dakota wanted. Unfortunately, there was a price to pay and that was what the creature always demanded – freedom.

He didn’t know what it was about the cycle of the moon that the creature seemed to follow. He guessed it was part of the curse. Dakota had tried everything to keep the creature in but every full moon the creature took total control and there was nothing he could do.

Out here in the forest was the safest place to be. There was space for the creature to roam and to not come across anybody. Dakota felt a twist in his gut, he remembered everything about these nights like he was watching a live movie. So far he hadn’t killed a person but he dreaded doing so.

Pain raced through his body and Dakota dropped to the ground. Everything in his body was on fire. He gritted his teeth and tried not to cry out in pain as the transformation happened. He felt his spine changing first then his limbs and head. It took seconds but it felt like years.

Dakota slummed on the damp soil, breathing deeply and felt the numbness kicking in. It was a relief. Darkness cover his sight and he feel unconscious.

When he stirred, he had fully changed. The creature’s eyes were sharp and able to see in the dark. His tall ears pricked to all sounds of the forest which had the same volume as a heavy metal concert. The creature’s nose sniffed deeply the so many wonderful smells of live. The creature shook it’s body and felt the mass covering of fur fly then settle back into place.

The creature shifted soil beneath its paws. The urge to hunt and kill growing. Throwing a massive head back, the creature let rip a monster’s howl.

It was free once more.

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

Keif #FridayFictioneers #AtoZChallenge

Keif – the spirit of joy

A rainbow lit up the dark sky as I watched from my dad’s new boat. He had always wanted to live on a boat and travel around. No attachments, an easy life. It suited him and he was doing much better.

I smiled and spoke the colours of the rainbow. When I was younger, mum and I had always said them together. Now, all rainbows reminded me of her. She had passed away four years ago but it still felt like yesterday to me.

‘What you calling your boat, dad?’

‘The Spirit of Joy,’ he replied and chuckled, ‘seemed fitting.’

‘Of course! Mum’s name,’ I laughed, ‘she’d have liked that.’

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/04/08/10-april-2020/ and http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com with thanks.)

 

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)