The Paper Mill (Part 3)

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I went home, got my college stuff and caught the bus. Resting my head against the wet window, my thoughts drifted and before I knew it, the bus was stopping outside the college’s gates. Getting off, I headed straight for the library which was either going to be packed or….empty.

There was no one in the lobby, not even a librarian at the desk. I turned back, checked the open sign in the window then with a shrug walked though. The tables and sofas running down the left side were strangely empty. Tall bookcases set up like dominoes were on the other side. There was a staircase straight to my right which I went up.

Pushing through the double doors, I heard whispers of voices and saw two woman at a table with books scattered around them. Feeling better that I wasn’t alone, I went to the section of books I needed and starting gathering more research for my essay. It did take a little while but soon, I was totally focused on my studies.

By the time I left the library, due to the fact it was closing early, the sky was so dark it seemed to be the middle of the night. I huddled in the bus shelter with three other people- a girl and two guys- who held a mixture of conversions. My bag was heavy with books as I’d taken out so I had some more to get through the weekend with. I kept switching shoulders with it then finally give up and set it down my feet.

It was raining lightly now but the wind had really picked up and I could feel the cold through my winter coat. I looked at the bus time table again and noticed the bus was late. I hope they hadn’t cancelled. If the weather and the darkness had been better I would have walked again. The paper mill came back into my head and I hoped the girl was okay.

The bus emerged from the black road and came to a stop before us. I hurried on and took a seat close to the front. There were a few other people on the bus and they all looked as wet and cold as us students did. During the drive, I thought about getting off at the stop close to the mill, but I decided I was too tried and hungry to do that. Plus, I’d have to walk back too.

Arriving at home, I showered and got changed, so I was warmer, then I heated up a can of soup. Eating before the glow of the TV, I blocked out the loneliness of the house. My grandparents had gone for a month and wouldn’t be back for another week. Perhaps, that was why I was so desperate about the homeless girl? I was too tried to think any more.

Leaving the hall light on, I went up to bed. I read for bit before laying in the dimly lit room. The wind was still howling outside and the rain was hitting the window. I thought it would take me awhile to sleep but it came on my quickly. I didn’t have any dreams and I felt refreshed.

Getting up and ready, I saw it had stopped raining. I made breakfast and decided I had to go back to the abandoned mill. I packed up some more food- things that were going out of date from the fridge, some fruit and more tins. This time I also went into the attic and found an old but still good sleeping bag and a pillow.

Walking over, the sky threatened more rain and I past a few cars driving about. At the rows of houses there was more activity as children played outside and parents unloaded shopping. I got a look off an older man and it took me a few moments to realise he was wondering where I was going with a sleeping bag in one hand and a pillow poking out of a carry bag in the other. He’d did’t say anything though.

The paper mill looked the same though in the morning light I could see more of the decay and nature taking over. I crept in, across the courtyard and inside the main building. There was water dripping somewhere and the creaking of wood. I didn’t need my torch this time and I was able to got the right way too!

The girl was still in the room and as I entered the doorway, I saw her piling damp wood closer to the fire pit. She was wearing the coat, bobble hat and a pair of trousers that I had given her. My heart leaped and I felt better.

‘Hello,’ I called.

She stopped, give me a nod and set the wooden planks down.

‘Do the clothes fit?’ I asked walking in.

She give a shrug and said something that I missed.

‘I thought maybe you’d like this too,’ I said and held out the sleeping bag and pillow.

She came and took them from me and whilst she was looking at them, I took the rucksack off and began emptying it. I set all the food down then zipped up the rucksack and slipped it on again. I smiled at her.

‘Why…do you keep doing this?’ she said slowly.

‘I guess because….’ I frowned and really thought about why.

‘Are you sorry for me? Is that why?’ she demanded.

‘No!’ Well, maybe a little…’

‘I don’t need your pity,’ she snapped.

She crossed her arms over her chest and turned her head away.

I pressed my lips together and replied, ‘I’d have been throwing all this away anyway…’

She didn’t responded. I shifted around on my feet and decided it was time I admitted the truth to her and myself.

‘I’m lonely. I guess that’s why…’ I said.

Our eyes meet then she looked me up and down.

‘I don’t believe you,’ she answered.

Sighing, I spoke, ‘guess that is bit odd but it’s the truth.’

‘I don’t need friends. They only stab you in the back,’ she explained, ‘I’m happy alone.’

Nodding, there was nothing else to say. I began to leave.

‘Don’t come back again,’ she said quietly, ‘I won’t be here.’

I glanced over my shoulder at her. The dirt on her child-like face and her unkempt dark hair stuck in my mind. Going home, I reflected on our conversion and decided I need to make more effort in class to make some friends.

I managed to stay away from the old paper mill for a week but then I had to go back again. I went empty handed this time because I just needed to know if she had left or not.

When I arrived, there was a new metal fence around the mill and signs warning people not to trespass and beware dangerous building. I pressed myself to the gate, looking at the mill and I saw that the doors and lower windows had been boarded up.

‘I hope you found somewhere else to go,’ I whispered.

Turning away, I went to catch the bus to meet my new friends for lunch.

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The Paper Mill (Part 2)

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Laying in bed, the bedside lamp on to keep the dark at bay, my thoughts kept going back to that girl. She had either run away from home or just didn’t have a home to go back to. I tried to imagine living like her; no family or college, no money or food, no bed or clean clothes. It would be hard. Tossing about, I finally settled down but my mind still wouldn’t turn off.

Tomorrow, I told myself, I’ll get somethings together and take them to her. Maybe she’ll talk to me then and perhaps I can help. Or maybe, the other side of my mind thought, I should just let it go. It’s none of my business. But by seeing and talking to her I had made it my business.

In the morning after a shower and breakfast, I should have sat down to work on one of my essays. I didn’t have classes today and tomorrow was Saturday, so I should have been thinking about going back to the library. Instead, that homeless girl was still in my mind, so I set about finding things she could have.

My parents had died when I was ten, so my grandparents had took me in. They were currently away on holiday, visiting their other daughter and grandchildren in America. There was still a lot of my parents’ things in the attic but I didn’t have time to look through all that. What if the girl had left the mill because I’d scared her? I needed to get there as soon as possible. Luckily, close to the front door was a bag of clothes my gran was putting out for charity collection.

There were a few of my tops that were too small now, but might fit her. I also selected an old green jumper and two pairs of my grandpa’s trousers. There was my old winter coat in the closet, a bobble hat and matching gloves. Taking everything back upstairs, I put the clothes in a rucksack then brought that down. In the kitchen, I took some tins of beans and soup that had ring pulls. Some cans of fizzy drink, bottles of water, a packet of biscuits that no one of liked and a bag of dried fruit.

With those in the bag, I wondered what else would a homeless girl need. Perhaps; sanitary towels, painkillers, matches, candles  and a few other bits of pieces. the rucksack was heavy but it would be worth it. I got ready to go, saw it was raining and decided on my wellington boots and an umbrella. Was there a spare one to take her? My grandpa liked to collect useful things, so at the back of the closet were a few spare umbrellas. I chose a small pink one then set off.

The day was dull and it must have been raining to awhile because there were large puddles and everything was dripping wet. I walked slowly, weighted down with the rucksack. Some of the streetlamps were still on but they didn’t seem to be doing a good job. I hoped it wouldn’t get any darker. Following the country lanes around and to the bridge I didn’t see anybody or cars.

Going over the river, I picked up my pace and hurried through the rows of houses to the mill. I squeezed the gap in the fence and made my way over. In the gloom and rain, the paper mill looked darker and more dirtier. I could hear the rain falling into holes in the roof and dripping off metal.

In through the door and I had to get my phone’s torch out to see. There was no keeping quiet with my wellingtons and heavy rucksack on the debris covered floor. I thought I went to the room she had been in, but I must have taken a wrong turn because I ended up at a metal staircase. At the top of which was a void of darkness. Shivering, I turned away and weaved my way back again. All the rooms looked the same but at last I found the right one.

‘Hello?’ I called, ‘It’s me Darcy.’

The fire wasn’t lit but there was enough dim light from the tall windows to see that she was still there. She was sat on the floor, huddled in dirty blankets with a sleeping bag wrapped around her. She turned and realised it was me.

‘I thought maybe….I could bring you somethings,’ I spoke, not sure what really to say.

She turned away from me without saying anything.

I walked over and placed the bag down.

‘It’s not much just some food and clothes,’ I added.

There was a large piece of cardboard next to my feet, so I sat down. I opened the bag and took anything out. She kept her head turned away from me as if I wasn’t there. Whatever I had been thinking might happen, it hadn’t been like this. But why would a teenage girl suddenly gush out her life story to a stranger she’d never meet over some old clothes and food? Had I really thought we’re going to become best friends?

I waited a few minutes, listening to the rain falling and feeling the cold stiffen my limbs. She was quiet, ignoring me and because she was keeping away from me, I couldn’t make out her face. I wanted to catch her eye so at least I could try and say something else, but she didn’t move.

‘Fine,’ I sighed, ‘I’ll go.’

I picked up the rucksack and slowly walked away. Every now and then I glanced over my shoulder, but the girl hadn’t moved. At the doorway, I stopped and thought about saying something else to her, reminding her of her manners maybe? Get angry and yelling out my disgust at her? Perhaps hoping her the best?

The words, whatever they were, wouldn’t come out so I turned away and walked back through. Even though my mind was still on her, I couldn’t help but think about what the paper mill would have been like in the past. It would have been loud with machines cutting up the trees and making the paper. The air would have been heavy with wood dust and chemicals. People would have been everywhere too.

I made it out in one go, only to find the rain had got heavier and the wind had picked up. I opened my umbrella and hurried home, my heart and thoughts weighed down.

 

To Be Continued…

The Paper Mill (Part 1)

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The worse thing about autumn was it got dark far too soon and I’d always been scared of the dark. I hadn’t meant for it to be so late when I left the college library but I’d been doing research for my last two essays of the year. I hadn’t notice the time until I’d left and gone to the bus stop. I’d missed the last bus home.

So either, I walked the half an hour into town and got another bus or I walked the forty minutes home. If it had been raining which made it darker, I might have gotten the bus but I decided that I could make walking home. Most of the way would be well lit by street lamps and I had gone this way lots of times in the last year.

Drawing up all my bravery, I set off at a hurried pace. My heavy rucksack almost dragging me back whilst making my shoulders ache, distracted me as I went. My college was on a limbo boarder of just being outside a village and on the edge of countryside. The fastest way home was to half walk through the village then go up some country lanes.

I was about halfway home and just about to walk over a small bridge. Behind me an abandoned 1800’s paper mill ruled over the little houses that had once been home to it’s workers. The village had sprung up around the mill but once they had cleared all the trees, it started to get expensive importing more, sales had dropped too and the mill had closed it’s doors.

I stopped and faced off with the darkness before me. A single street lamp on the bridge was the only barrier between us. Beyond that the quiet countryside seemed to stretch endlessly away. I could hear the faint flow of the low river going under the bridge and something else in the distance behind me.

I listened harder, half turning to the sound which was like a muffled crying. I looked back at a row of houses, most had dim lights in the windows and others were draped in black. The paper mill looked eerie, like a silent empty watchman. I tried to tell myself the noise was just a cat or a baby but this feeling of strangeness grew in my stomach.

What if someone was hurt and only I could help them?

Glancing at the bridge, my mind made a choice that I didn’t get a chance to think about. I turned away and walked back towards the houses. I followed the sound along those small well lit pavements, thinking at any moment I’d find the source. Arriving at the gates of the mill and peering though the towering bars, I spotted the flicker of a fire in a ground floor window.

A voice in my head told me to go and my feet began to move away but the rest of me stayed at the gate. The crying was coming from the mill. Thoughts ran though my head; it’s a trick of the darkness, it’s an echo from something else, it’s a ghost, a homeless person, an animal. Why am I here? Go home!

I couldn’t though…

Looking further along the metal fence, I found a hole large enough to fit through and I stepped into the cobbled courtyard of the mill. Trying to walk in a hurried but quiet way didn’t work, so instead I give up trying to hide my presence and just went over to the steps. Looking up, I could make out how run down the mill was now but there was too much darkness to see further.

I went to the window the fire was coming from. I couldn’t see in though as the wall was too tall. My hands touched the cold damp stone and quickly withdrew as if something had bitten me. Coming away, I crept around for a bit, trying not to let the deep darkness creep me out more. Every shadow was a good hiding place for someone and I was just waiting for something to happen. My throat got dry, my heartbeat was loud and fear was making me sweat despite the cold evening.

Taking out my phone and putting the torch app on, give me some more light and helped to keep the shadows at bay. I found a half open metal door and slipped into the building. There was a maze of rooms and a musty smell. Carefully walking, I spent a good few minutes figuring out where the fire was burning. Trying to convince myself it was just kids messing around and perhaps one had got left behind, helped make me feel better.

Standing in the doorway of the right room, I saw a small fire on the floor and next to it was a small humped over person shape.

‘Hello?’ I called out.

The shape moved, twisting around to look at me whilst gasping. I couldn’t make anything out as my phone light didn’t reach so far and there wasn’t enough light coming from the fire. I heard scrambling and the person getting up and moving.

‘I’m not going to hurt you,’ I spoke in a shaky voice, ‘I think I heard you crying. Do you need help?’

‘No,’ the voice of a girl sounded back.

I sighed, glad the person wasn’t a man nor hurt. I waved in the door, wanting to move closer but then not moving as there might be danger.

‘What do you want?’ the girl demanded.

‘Nothing,’ I replied, ‘what are you doing here?’

‘This is my home!’

‘Your…?’ I trailed and looked at what I could see.

Then I stepped inside the room. It was bare but for the fire and small pile of stuff on the floor. I got closer to the fire, drawn by the heat and I saw a girl in her late teens, just like me. She was wearing layers of ripped clothes, her hair and face were dirty but she was standing defensively, ready to fight.

‘I’m Darcy,’ I spoke to break up the tension.

She shook her head at me.

‘How did you end up here? Where are your parents?’

‘None of your business. Go away,’ she snapped.

I frowned and thought about saying more. I had the urge to help her but what could I do? Turning away, I walked back to the doorway. Then with a glance at her went through and tried to remember the way out.

 

To Be Continued…

Out There #Fridayfictioneers

Rusty had no idea what was there but he planned to find out. Following want once had been a dirt track through the almost barren landscape towards the rising hills, he wished he’d brought his jeep. Inside, the Harley Davidson underneath him grumbled over the rocky road.

As soon as he made it over the hill, Rusty stopped and cut the engine. He looked out and saw a ramshackle of wooden houses below; an abandoned mining village. He had mixed feelings over it but for now it didn’t matter. He now owned the land and there was plenty of time.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/09/06/8-september-2017/ with thanks.)

Lost Wings

Angel, Wing, Angel Wings, Heaven

I often went to sulk in the cemetery. It was my go to place if I was feeling upset or angry and wanted to be away from the world. No one really visited this unimportant corner which was mostly hidden in a small wooded area. There were maybe about sixty headstones and the little chapel which had been forever abandoned.

Plucking at the long grass growing in-between the treeline and edge of the cemetery,  I recalled why I was here today. It was because Minnie and I had fallen out again. Perhaps this time for good. She had been secretly dating Dalton Walton, who I had a huge crush on and had wanted to date for an age. Minnie had always known that and still she had….

I ripped the grass up and threw it away. I felt like screaming and crying, stomping around and throwing myself dramatically over a gravestone. I didn’t though. I walked into the cemetery and began reading the names off. It always helped to calm and distracted me.

The only statue was of an angel and it stood in the middle row. The angel was short, made of grey stone and was crying. She watched over the grave of Annabelle Leyton, born 6th October 1887 and died 6th October 1903, on her 16th birthday. Rest Sweetest Angel. Annabelle’s parents and still born brother were in the grave to her left. On the right side; Annabelle’s older sister, Bethany, her husband James and there three children.

I felt a strange connection to Annabelle because we were the same age. Today though as I stood before the angel, I noticed something odd. Her wings were missing! Looking, I saw they were laying on the ground, having snapped off from her back. How had this happened? I nudged one with my toe whilst I wondered what to do.

The wings were too heavy to lift back up and even if I did that, how would I get them to stay again? I walked to the back of the statue and looked. It was an odd sight seeing the large marks were the wings had cracked away from. I couldn’t tell if they had fallen off natural or if someone had cut them off. But why would you do that and just leave them?

Feeling sadder, I sighed and knelt down in the grass. I touched the wings. They were cold, solid stone but the feathers were raised and I could feel each outline against my finger tip. I didn’t know much about angels but I was sure when they wings got cut off bad things happened to them.

Looking up at Annabelle’s angel, I decided that she just didn’t look right anymore. It seemed up to me to fix that. I went home, did some research on my phone and came up with a plan. The next day, a Saturday, and whilst my parents were busy with their own lives, I went out and brought from an arts and crafts shop some white plastic sheeting, wires, metal tags and pliers.

I took all of this to the cemetery and there in the late summer sun, I built angel wings. I made the frame out of the wire, shaping it and joining it with clips. I used the old stone wings as a guide. Then I covered the white plastic over it, shaping the ends to try and look like the feathers. I wasn’t an arty person and it didn’t look very good, but it would have to do.

Using more wire, I fixed the wings in place to the back of the angel. That took awhile, as I didn’t get it straight the first few times. Finally, I felt I had done the best I could. I was tried, hungry and thirsty too. Stepping away, I looked at the angel and her new wings. The contrasted of the grey stone and bright white plastic wings didn’t look good. It was too childish.

I felt disheartened. We had read Frankenstein for English Lit last year and that’s totally want the angel now reminded me off. I wanted to go over and rip the wings off. She would look far better without them but I didn’t. I was too tried. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I wiped them away.

I clenched my fists and told myself to stop. The wings would do for now and maybe in the future I’d find a way to fix the original ones. It was time to go home now. That night I had a strange dream. I was walking in the cemetery and it was snowing. I went to the angel statue but it was missing. Looking around, I couldn’t spot her anywhere and then I heard the fluttering of plastic.

The angel appeared before me. She held out her arms, a large smile on her face and behind her the wings I had made glowed white.

‘Thank you,’ she said in a soft, clear voice.

I nodded, too shocked to speak.

Then she took to the air again, disappearing into the snow and I woke up feeling a lot better.

 

(Inspired by; https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/flash-fiction-challenge-lost-wings/ with thanks).

Beached Boat

It was surreal seeing the wreaked boat on the beach still. I had thought they’d have removed it by now. A rush of childhood memories came back to me. I remembered that we had made a den there and spent many hours playing. Later on, it had been where my first girlfriend and I had spent alone time. Reaching up, I patted the boat’s side and had a fantasy of fixing her up and taking her out to sea. She was far too gone for that but I still liked the idea and maybe one day I could make it come true.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/fffaw-challenge-week-of-july-25-2017/ with thanks. Word count:102)

Flying No More

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I was so lucky that my step-cousin part-owned a hot air balloon and was a member of a club. As we drifted upwards, I lend out of the basket and looked down at the field we were leaving. About four other balloons bobbed around us and there was twelve still on the ground waiting to take off.

The thought that always comes to mind at this moment popped into my head; this looks like a giant’s birthday party. I giggled then looked around at the other brightly coloured hot air balloons. They filled the blue sky and white clouds with a patch work of multi-colours, making them noticeable for miles. My step-cousin’s hot air balloon was purple, pink and yellow with lighter shades in between to blend the colours.

I had never been in the area we were travelling over today and my step-cousin had said there was something interesting he wanted me to see. Rising higher, the sound of the hot air balloon’s flame and the wind in my ears, I saw the world as I imagined birds do. The green, yellow and brown fields, patches of trees, the town with it’s mix of buildings and toy like cars and people.

‘We should be high enough now, Hanna!’ my step-cousin shouted.

I turned to look at him. He was an average looking thirty-odd year old, with a mane of light brown hair, a thin face and body. He wore glasses, a plain t-shirt and old jeans and boots. He wasn’t married, didn’t have any kids, bu he and his girlfriend were pretty steady. She had a fear of heights though which was why I was here and not her.

‘Where is this thing you wanted me to see, Alex?’ I called back.

He cut the large flame and most of the noise faded away.

‘Few miles west,’ he replied, ‘luckily it’s on the flight path today. Do you want to have a go?’

‘Sure!’

I had practised a few times now at flying the balloon. Alex made it look so easy and you’d think that would be the case, but sometimes it was hard to fight against the wind or to get the right balance when landing. I was happy enough to learn and carry on improving. Though I did get distracted by the wonderful landscape below.

You lose track of time when you were flying, so I wasn’t sure how long it had been when Alex told me we’d soon be passing over what he wanted me to see. He told me which side would be best and so I went over to look.

At first there was just pale green fields but then I saw something and even though it was far away, I could see it was a large part of a plane. I lend over to get a closer view, my hands gripping the worn leather edge of the wicker basket. It was clear the plane had crashed long ago and just been left there.

‘It’s a plane, Alex!’ I yelled then asked quieter, ‘what happened?’

‘No idea, Hanna,’ Alex called back.

I looked down again, keeping my eyes fixed on the plane as we flew over. It was a strange sight. Here we were in the sky where the plane should have been and yet it was forever grounded. My mind began racing, what had happened to that husk of metal? How can people just leave it there?

We drifted by and a strange silence sat on me. I tried to get my mind to turn away from the abandoned plane but I couldn’t. I had to know the truth of what happened.

 

No More

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The theme park had stood empty for years. The rides rusting away, nature slowly reclaiming the land back. Animals came and went, making their homes in the now forever dark Haunted House and the infamous Hall Of Mirrors. The wind played through the Big Wheel, making it rock and creak eerily. Water lapped in the lake and against the sides of the Swan Boats  and the Bumper Boats.

People sometimes came still. They vandalised what they could, took things they could sell and did dodgy dealings. Other people were more respectful. They looked, took photos and memories before leaving in peace.

The demons didn’t enjoy when the mortals invaded their space. In the daytime, they were weak and busy working to do anything about it. At night though, the demons came together and did whatever they could to make people stay away from the abandoned theme park.

To the demons this land was now theirs. People had left it, so way should they be allowed back on it? There weren’t many places left the demons could linger safely together. However, the humans kept arriving in greater numbers since the location of the place had gotten out on the internet. And now someone was bound to see one of the demons and freak out as mortals often do.

The demons decided they weren’t going to take from the humans ever again. If they banded together and made a plan to take over then it would solve a lot of their issues. Slowly, all the demons began together. Their hour was near.

The Stenham House

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Everyone has heard of the haunted house at the end of the street and the one at the end of mine was no different. The Stenham House looked ancient and nothing returned there expect for crows. Though the place couldn’t have been older then any of the other houses around. Neglect and abuse had caused it to age a hundred plus years and the fact it had been abandoned for twenty of those years now didn’t help.

Standing before it, I took the place in for the last time. Nature had pretty much taken over and it was hard to see a red brick and white wood frame under all that green. There was no fence and the wild front garden came right up to the pavement. The reminds of a driveway poked through the tall grass. As far as I could tell all the doors and windows were locked and still intact.

I had lived next door to the place all my life and could just about remember the last family who had lived there. Somewhere, I have a photo of me and the three children, all older then myself standing in front of the house. I was about five and wearing a horrible red and white polka dress. The two boys had been in jeans and t-shirts whilst their sister was in a white dress. As an only child, it had felt nice to be accepted into a bigger family.

Then one day they had vanished, left in the middle of the night never to return. No one knew what had happened nor did anyone try to find out. I guess I’d asked about it and my parents had probably told me they had moved away, but I had no memory of it. What I did know was that no for sale sign had ever appeared and the Stenham house had been left to finish rotting away.

I walked around the back, the grass and flowers crunching under my boots. There seemed nothing menacing about the place in the bright summer sunshine. At night though the house became something else…Alive was the only way to describe it. Lights flashed on and off in windows, things were moved about, voices and crying could be heard but never fully made out.

A crow called out loudly, startling me. I looked up, saw flash of black on a window ledge and heard a flapping of wings. Not stopping, I rounded the corner. The back garden stretched like an unexplored jungle. Bees and other insects were buzzing about and a ginger cat was lurking in the shade of a tall bush. I walked into the middle, feeling a touch of dampness against my legs.

The roof had caved in and I could see slices of the rooms on the upper two floors. A thin curtain was fluttering in the breeze and a piece of pattern wallpaper was also moving in the first room. There was the edge of a wardrobe in the second window and the possible grey frame of a bed in the third. On the next floor, I could see children’s wallpaper peeling away and the edge of a wooden bed frame.

I fell into thinking whilst I took this all in. Everyone knew the story of the Stenham house, it was something of a legend in my town. Though really, no one was sure of the whole truth. The house had been built for Doctor James Stenham who had moved from the city with his wife who was also a doctor and their four children in the late 1800’s. They had held clinic in the house and offered illegal services, like abortions.

Across the next ten years, first the children one after the other then his wife died. Stenham tried to save them all though experiments which often involved other dying people, corpses and animals. He went insane, convinced he could bring them all back if he could just discover how to do it. He kept pet crows for company and barely talked to anyone.

Thirty years later, he was found dead at the bottom of the staircase. It had been made to look like he had fallen but he had been murdered. The rumour was Stenham had been killed by a man avenging his lover’s the death after the illegal abortion the doctor had given her.

From then on, only a few people had lived in the house and they had reported the place as being haunted. It had never seemed to be bother me expected for finding it harder to make friends and children telling me strange stories about the house next door. I had never heard the babies crying, the woman wailing or the screams in the dead of night. Nor had I seen the lights flashing in the windows, the sounds of furniture being moved or the footsteps. Perhaps, though I hadn’t been listening hard enough.

Coming back the front, I spotted a crow watching me from the collapsing porch. The black of it’s feathers and eyes looked out of place against all the green. The crow called loudly at me as if warning me to stay away. Keeping to the edge of the grass, I walked back to the pavement. When I reached it, I turned and saw that the crow had been joined by eight others. They were silently watching me.

Hurrying away, I went to say goodbye to the old woman who lived opposite the Stenham house. She had been a good neighbour and my babysitter for many years. I knocked on the door of her nicely kept house and waited for her to answer. I stole a few glances over my shoulder and saw the crows were still there.

 

(Inspired from: https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2017/05/26/first-line-friday-26-05-17 with thanks)

Derelict #writephoto

There was no telling what the small abandoned building had been used for over the years. Still though something drew me towards it every morning as I was running with my four dogs. It was a small sunken old fashioned pile of stones with a red tile and wooden frame roof. It sat at the end of a field which seemed abandoned too.

My dogs; a breeding pair of yellow labs called Peaches and Teddy, a husky mix named Dakota and a lopping great dane who had come with the name Frankenstein – Frankie for short, avoided the place as if there was something nasty inside. If I went too close they’d bark and howl for me to come back to them.

Today, the abandoned building was looking more forbidding. It also looked like some youths had taken to hanging out there. I slowed my pace and came to a stop, catching my breath. I bent over, putting my hands on my knees and dragging in deep warm breathes of summer.

Peaches came over to me, whining a little as she lay down at my feet. This was her first long run in awhile. She had five pups, who were almost twelve weeks old at home. They didn’t really need her any more, but she was a super good mother. I reached down and stroked her soft head.

‘We’ll go back home now,’ I told her.

Behind us, the other three dogs were having a tussle in the long grass. I whistled and they all began racing back to me. I glanced at the abandoned building and with a shrugged decided to check it out.

Walking over, I could see that someone had made a fire. There was a small circle of black ashes on the ground and the grass nearby had been burnt and flattened. There was a little graffiti on the side of the building, but that could have been there for ages. A beer can crunched under me and I stepped back in slight alarm. Nudging the can out of the way I went closer.

An unhappy barking came from Dakota and I turned to look at the husky. He was pacing, low in the grass watching me, his body language showing he was afraid. I looked for the others; Peaches was where I had left her, Teddy now sat at her side and Frankie was sniffing something far to my left.

There was a strange smell in the air as I got closer. The remains of the fire and wood which was understandable, but there was a sour stinging note as if something shouldn’t have been burnt. A feeling inside of me told me to get away, but I pressed on. What was so scary about a small tumbled down building with a funny smell to a fully grown man with protective dogs?

I peered through the doorway and heard a low moan. The wind? A person?

‘Hello?’ I called.

Teddy started barking loudly behind me. I ignored him and stared harder into the gloom. There was a little light coming in from the half open roof but not enough to fully see the inside of. What I could see was a mess of bricks and wood which might have been apart of the roof.

Horror movies began filling my mind out of the blue. I shook them off. There was nothing here and that sound had just been the wind. Stepping away, I went back to my dogs and made sure they were okay.

That’s when I noticed that there was no wind and the abandoned field was silent.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/05/25/thursday-photo-prompt-derelict-writephoto with thanks)