Rubatosis #atozchallenge

delicate-arch-night-stars-landscape

Rubatosis; the unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.

The silence was deafening. There was nothing for miles, the desert was seemingly empty of life. And yet, I was here, driving my jeep over dunes, around or through rock formations, heading for a place that always seemed just out of reach like a mirage.

The Archway to Heaven, the locals called it. I had come out all this way to see if it was true. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to find anything but it would be nice if there was an angel waiting for me or if a flight of stairs shimmed up towards the sky.

Finally, I made it to the arch! I cut the engine, got out and climbed up the dune. I stood under the arch and listened. I could hear my heartbeat hammering away and once I’d stilled my feet on the shifting sand, my heart was the only thing I could hear. I felt disturbed and the knowledge that I was alone out here weighed down on me heavily.

The last of the daylight left the sky, the dim gold colours giving over to total darkness. I looked and above me, I saw Heaven.

When You Are Alone At Home

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I hated being all by myself at home. It was too quiet and there never seemed to be anything to do. Most people would like that, I guess. They’d see it as a chance to do those odd jobs or hobbies or watch TV which they couldn’t do when parents and kids were around. Yes, I could do all that, but I didn’t feel in the mood for any of it.

Maybe it was the lack of motivation? The pressure that I must do something! I had the space, the time, the chances, so yes, I must do some kind of activity which I couldn’t do other wise.

Nothing was coming to my mind though. I listened to the ticking of the kitchen clock, the dripping of the rain outside and the cat purring around my legs. I put the TV on, but only for background noise and just to hear voices so I wouldn’t be lonely.

I wondered if this was how it was when you got old and housebound. Would I just watch TV all day and doze? Would I reflect on my past and wonder what the rest of my future would be like?

I hope I’d lived a good past.

The cat jumped up and snuggled into my lap. We’re not friends, but with my parents gone for a few days, she was attention seeking. I petted her and listened to her purring more loudly.

I’ve have to get a cat when I was old and stuck inside. It would have to be a nice cat though. One who’d sit in my lap all the time and not be so wild. An indoor cat. Maybe, one of those with a really long coat and bright blue eyes. I hope I’ll be able to brush it though….

I channel flicked, but didn’t find anything worth watching. A nagging voice in my head told me to do something. ANYTHING!

Picking the cat up, I placed her on the floor. Disgruntled, she looked at me then trotted off. I went into the kitchen, though I was hungry and began looking around. Finally, I decided to do some baking.

I wasn’t that good to be honest, but at least it would kill time until the evening. Then there’d be soaps on and quiz shows and murder mystery dramas. I could get snacks and chill out, maybe the cat would come to me again?

I pulled one of my favourite cooking books off the shelf and flipped through it. What could I make? Something simple, easy and tasty. Cake? Cupcakes? Yes, that would do…chocolate cupcakes!

I set to work and found my mind better now it had something to focus on.

Out There

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The sound of beeping woke her from her coma like sleep. Rising her head, she looked up and after a few moments realised she didn’t have a clue where she was. Sitting up fully, she found herself to be on the floor of a long straight corridor. There was a bright blue carpet underneath her and the walls were white and arching in shape.

She stood up, using the wall to support herself as her legs were numb and shaking. Wiping her hands on the blue jumpsuit she was wearing, she looked right and left. The sound of the beeping filled the air and the light was dim. Taking in deep breaths she smelt only smoke.

Where am I? In an old building? What’s happened? She thought.

Patting herself down, she checked to make sure she was fine and also what she had on her. In one side pocket she found a small fabric case containing an incomplete tool kit. In a front pocket was a thin rectangle of glass, which reminded her of a tablet screen. In a long pocket by her right leg, she found a sheathed dagger and a square white device that looked like a mini taser gun. It had a black wrist strap and a red button on the side.

She slipped the device on to her right wrist, even though she wasn’t sure how to use it, but feeling comforted by it’s presence. The dagger she put carefully back. Double checking she had nothing else on her, she looked about again. The beeping and smell of smoke continued, but she couldn’t tell which way it was coming from.

Deciding to go to the right, she set off and followed the corridor to the end. Along the way, she passed closed doors that seemed to have no way to open them. Coming to a stop at the double doors, she looked for a way to open them. There were no buttons anywhere. Then without knowing why, she touched her fingers to a small section of the wall and it came off to reveal a hidden circuit board.

Trying not to think about it, she looked at the flashing red light and the wires snaking around. Gentle, she reached out and and touched a few things. The red light went out, changing to green and the doors before her opened.

How did I know how to do that? she pondered.

She looked at the circuits again, but couldn’t figure it out. Stepping into what was a lift, she searched for a panel of buttons and something tell her where she was. There was nothing though and the oval pale white walls were bare. The doors closed and the lift moved silently up. She felt a flutter of butterflies in her stomach.

When the lift stopped and the doors opened again a few moments later, she peered around them. There was a short corridor ahead of her, ending in a control room.

‘Hello?’ she called out.

Her voice didn’t even echo. Stepping out of the lift, she walked into the room and paused. There were two large chairs in front of four joined together panels which were covered in buttons, lights, switches, screens, dials and English words.

‘A plane cockpit?’ she muttered aloud.

She slotted in between the chairs and looked down at the largest of the screens. Her fingers reached out and she tapped it lightly. The screen came on at the same time the view before her changed. Windows that had been blacked out opened and she gasped loudly.

Wherever she had thought she was got wiped away, as her brain realised what she was seeing. Before her in a vast darkness were pin points of white that could only be distant stars.

‘Space? I’m in space!’ she cried.

She took in a few deep breaths and tried to think.

‘How? Why? Who am I?’

That questioned buzzed around her head like a fly. Sinking into the pilot’s seat, she looked for any clues, but found nothing. Remembering the main screen she looked back at it. There was a blueprint of the spaceship and sections of it were flashing red for damaged. After a few minutes of studying the map, her brain decided that the ship wasn’t that badly damaged. Also, the fire that started in a storage area had been put out by the automatic system.

She looked at the controls again and debating what to do. A few of the buttons were flashing different colors, including one that said engine autopilot which was flashing red. She touched it. tThe light turned green and she felt the rumbling of engines coming to life.

‘What do I do now?’ she uttered.

‘Destination: Raydon,’ a female computer voice cut in, ‘route set.’

‘Oh…Where is that?’ she asked.

The large screen glowed and a 3D model image of a space system appeared before her. There were a few different round planets, stars and some other strange shapes. One of the planets was flashing.

‘I guess there’ll be someone there who might be able to help me figure out what’s happened. And I can’t think of anything else to do right now. Let’s go there,’ she spoke.

‘Course inlaid. Arrival time four hours,’ the computer informed her.

‘Four hours? Isn’t there anyone else on this ship?’ she cried.

‘No. Everyone evacuated,’ the computer responded.

‘Why?’

‘Hull breach. It’s been temporary sealed.’

‘Will it be alright?’ she asked.

The computer fell silent and she watched on a smaller screen as ship blueprints and calculations went by.

‘Seal will fail in six hours,’ the computer announced.

‘We should be okay then….’

She trailed off and looked out of the window again. Stars were going by and she could just see the burning edges of a planet. She shut her eyes and tried hard to recall who she was. For a few moments, she felt it on the edge of her tongue then it was gone.

Someone out there will know who I am, she thought and then she settled back to watch space going by.

Broken

Brown Shell Egg and Silver Hand Whisk

I felt the break deep within me. Only back then I didn’t really understand it. Now though, older and wiser, I’ve many things to liken it to. Take this egg for example. It’s whole but once suddenly dropped it breaks into pieces and reveals what’s inside. Granted the egg is not alive and can’t display nothing of what has happen to it. Imagine if that egg was a child though.

That was how I felt with Ocean died. We were whole, we were one, we were mirror images of each other. Ocean and Haven, Haven and Ocean, sea and harbour, together forever.

It’s twenty years ago today. We were eight years old and troublemakers, but in the nicest of ways. A storm had hit our seaside village. The wind and rain had been raging all day and I remember seeing and hearing the sea look so wild and scary. I don’t think I cried, but I made my fear plain enough. I recall Ocean saying she wouldn’t leave me as she put a comforting arm around me.

We shared a room that had two single beds in it, but that night we settled into one. I think it might have been mine. It didn’t matter anyway as both beds were either side of the window. Ocean and I had often shared a bed, seeking the comfort and warmth of each other.

I had to go the bathroom. I remember that so clearly. Getting out of the bed, I left Ocean sleeping, thinking I’d be back soon. There was a massive crash and the sound of glass breaking. Everything shook around me and I fall to the floor. Things were rattling and all I could hear was the storm roaring in my ears.

They said it had been a freak accident. The tree had fallen into the house and taken half of it down. They said it would have killed us both, but for the fact that the bathroom was on the other side of the hallway.  I hardly remember it, but for the image of the house torn in two and the fact that the other back seat in the car next to me was empty.

I asked after her often, ‘where is Ocean, ma?’ ‘When is Ocean coming back, da?’ ‘I miss Ocean.’ Of course, I knew the child version of death, but to me Ocean had said we’d always be together and that surely meant she was going to come back. Didn’t it?

My new bedroom only had a one bed and actually thinking about it from then on there was only one of everything. For ages, my parents let me set out another place at the table, buy two teddies or dolls or toys and doubled the presents at Christmas.

The years passed and passed, but I’ve never felt the same since that night. It’s always seems like a piece of me is missing and no matter what I do I can’t find it.

I’m broken.

Walking Away

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She walked away from him and it was as simple as that to leave it all behind. She felt better, like a wild bird that been trapped in a cage but was now free. The control was all her own again and she could live as she wanted, not as he had made her believe she should. She told her friends it was better to be alone then in a relationship where you couldn’t be yourself and you fell into being a lie.

So what if her road was now lonely? Wasn’t it better to be like that then to find that you had no life at all? Her purpose shouldn’t have to be to please others or to be the perfect girlfriend. The purpose should be what she wanted and why should she care if other people judged her? She was living how she wanted to now and was a lot more happier.

Here We Stand (Part 3)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

I had a tent but there was nowhere safe to put it up. Plus, if I had to escape it’d get left behind. I stopped in front of the large window and looked up. The drizzle was falling against a still light evening sky. There was still time for me to go and camp in the woods.

The effort of popping up my two-men tent was too much through. I choice the dry-ish corner next to the blocked up door and began nudging around the rubble with my boots. It was a surprisingly deep pile of wood and plaster. I slipped off my hiking bag and could almost hear my back and shoulders begging me not to but it back on again.

I cleared a wide space on the floor. The work using the rest of my energy to do so. Juggling the glow stick so I could see in growing darkness, from my bag, I took out a sleeping mat, sleeping bag, my water bottle and a zip lock bag of dried fruit. I sat down and rested my head against the cold wall of the church. It was the first time in about six hours that I had sat down.

I sipped some of the nearly clear water that I’d gathered from a trickle of a steam in the woods. Then ate a handful of the dried fruit by putting each piece into my mouth and chewing as many times as I could. Lastly, I sipped some more water and put my stuff away. I settled down, keeping all my clothes on and my hiking bag close to my side.I threw the unzipped sleeping bag over my lower body and shuffled down. I put my hands behind my head and rested against the wall again.

In the background, I could hear the drip drip of the water from the sink. What sounded like an owl screeched and a dog started barking. I put the glow stick under my bag which left me in darkness but meant I couldn’t be so easily seen if someone walked in. Shutting my eyes, I tried to rest. I knew sleep wouldn’t come, my mind was still on alert even though the rest of me was crying out for a solid night’s sleep. I tried to think about other things, especially mapping out the town I was now in.

The dozing came over me in fits. I would fall into a light sleep than jerk awake. Each time, my eyes would snap open and I’d be transfixed with finding the danger that had to be near by. I listened carefully each time, but could hear nothing other the normal night sounds. Sometimes, I would watch the rain falling in through the holes in the roof or coming in through the windows. It seemed to grew heavier each time and everything but my spot became wet.

Waking for the final time, I watched light creeping into the church like a beggar. The rain had stopped for the moment to let dawn in, but drops were still falling. I stretched out, feeling just as exhausted as when I had lay down. My body creaked like an old man’s and for a few minutes I stared up at the ceiling. There was nothing special about it. Not like I had seen in some other churches were the ceiling was nicely boned and sometimes painted.

Even though I was running on little food, water and sleep, my body still demand a normal release. I gathered my things; folding my sleeping bag and sleeping mat up and into my hiking bag. Then I spent a few moments moving some of the rubble back to hide my tracks. the now useless glow stick I hid at the bottom. I picked up my bag and tried to get it on my back, but my arms were too stiff and I couldn’t left it.

I tried again, despite my protesting back and shoulders. Heaving the hiking bag on, I walked like a hunchback to the other side of the altar. The spiral staircase was dark, but I couldn’t waste another light source. I felt my way down, listening to my bag scrapping the walls. Reaching the bottom, I felt out the bathroom and did what I had to do. Strangely the toilet still flushed.

I turned the tap on and washed my hands in what I guessed to be still iron red water. I washed my mouth out then drink a few handfuls. It tasted as it had done yesterday, earthy and rotten, but still sweet. I turned the tap off and wiped my mouth. Walking sideways out I came to a sudden stop as I hear voices above me.

Dear Diary #23

Dear Diary,

Tomorrow is my birthday and for the first time ever I’m spending it alone! Okay well, not so alone because I have the three dogs, two cats, the rabbits, the hens, chicks and the two baby lambs. It didn’t dawn until this morning when I saw the date, realized it was my birthday tomorrow and thought I’ve made no plans!

I guess though the more older you get the more birthday’s lose their excitement. When I was little birthdays and Christmas were always big and the only times of the year when you could really ask for a lot of stuff and get most of it. The parties seemed so much fun, even if they were simple and easily forgettable.

Getting older having my own money meant  could just buy whatever I wanted when I felt like it. No more waiting for my birthday and Christmas to role around! I could have it now with a click of the PC mouse and scan of a card. But I miss those special presents. The ones you hadn’t even thought to ask about but your parents and friends knew you’d love. I do kinda wish to re-live those times again.

I guess I should figure out what to do, see if anyone is around. I can’t be alone for my birthday! I don’t think anybody should be.

 

***

(Side note; with it actually being my birthday tomorrow, I thought I’d have a theme of ‘birthday’ this month. Just thought I’d announce that. Also, planning to get the first short story collection out by the end of this month! Thanks for reading and please like and share. Hayley)

Boots (Part 3)

Silhouette, Bokeh, Man, Out Of Focus, Fig, Bent, Black

Faith stepped down from the small buggie, feeling grateful that the Rector had offered it and his valet for her short trip home. Originally, she had been perfectly happy to walk home, but then the rain had started and the Rector had said he simply could not allow his guest to walk in such bad weather.

As the valet urged the chestnut horse on and the animal broke into a trot, Faith opened her front gate and walked up the path to her cottage. The night wrapped around her like a heavy wet blanket. The rain dripping off her hat and ruining her hair. She unlocked and opened the door, pitch darkness met her.

Stepping inside, Faith search for the candle and matches she knew Mary had left for her. She had dismissed the maid before she had gone for dinner and no doubt Mary had rushed home to her ill mother and five younger siblings, who Mary was now the soul provider of. Faith had taken the maid with the house, only because it had saved her the trouble of finding a new one.

Faith lit the candle and straight away the shadows thinned. She shut the door, making sure it was locked then went up the stairs. In her bedroom, she touched the flickering flame to the other candles and banished most of the darkness. She undressed, put on a night gown, then sat at her small dressing table and brushed out her hair.

The sound of boot steps echoed along the hallway.

Faith paused, brush stuck in her hair. She turned and looked at her bedroom door. The latch was lifting slowly upwards. The breathe caught in her throat and desperately she wanted to cry out, but she couldn’t force the words through her lips. A tiny click, which seemed earth shattering loud, came from the door and it eased open.

‘Who is it? What do you want?’ Faith suddenly shouted.

The door swung fully opened to reveal the empty hallway. Faith thought she saw a flicker of the shadows then she heard the man’s boots going downstairs. Each step sounded like a doom bell ringing out.

Somehow coming back to her senses, Faith placed her hairbrush down, grab a candle and hurried out of the room. She shone the flame about the hallway and the stairs, but there was no one to be seen.

‘I am not afraid of you!’ she cried, ‘this is some school boy trick is it? Well, it is not funny and I shall catch you, mark my words. There is no such thing as ghosts!’

Faith stormed back in her room and slammed the door shut. She locked it and got into bed, her hair only half brushed and still wet. Arranging the bed clothes and the candle, Faith picked up her Bible and began reading from it. The rain rattled against the windows and the sound calmed her nerves.

Soon, sleep came for her and Faith gladly went to it. She rested fitfully and as the grandmother clocked chimed two, she awoke. Turning over, she listened to the chimes fading then the boot steps sounded in the hallway. Frowning and muttering to herself. She got up as quietly as possible, snatched one of the bed sheets up and without a candle went to the bedroom door.

Opening it slowly, she ventured out and down the stairs. At the bottom she waited and listened to the footsteps made their way to the front door. Then holding the sheet out, she jumped around the corner and threw the sheet in the direction of the sound. Her arms followed and she wrapped them around a small wiggling body.

‘I have you!’ she cried.

‘Quick! run!’ a young boy’s voice cried.

Faith heard the sound of laughter and running footsteps from the kitchen. The back door shut with a bang. Left to struggle with the one she had captured, Faith shoved him into the parlour and fumbled with the second candle by the front door. On lighting it, she re-opened the door and saw standing there the Rector’s youngest son, who she had meet that evening.

‘James? What are you doing here?’ she asked.

The boy looked down and Faith followed his gaze. Huge army boots were strapped to his feet and he looked ridicules in them.

‘That explains all the noise, but why?’ Faith asked.

The boy shrugged and Faith noticed how wet his clothes and hair were.

‘How did you get in?’ she pressed.

The boy shook his head.

‘Well, you’ll have to stay here for the rest of the night. It is too wet and dark to be going back to your father now. What will he say about all of this?’ Faith spoke.

‘Oh! Miss please do not tell him! We only meant to scare you a little! Please, Miss!’ the boy cried, he fell to his knees and wrapped his arms around her legs. He started to cry into her nightdress.

‘Now, please young man, get up. Tell me, why did you want to scare me?’

He turned his tear stained face up to her’s and said, ‘it was just a game.’

Faith sighed, ‘let’s get you out of these wet things. You shall catch a cold.’

‘I know how to lit a fire, Miss,’ the boy piped up.

He went over to the fireplace and though it had not been used in awhile, the coal, kindling and paper were stacked to one side. Faith watch the child building then lighting the fire. A soft, warm glow cast it’s way over the room.

‘I suppose, we should stay up and wait for dawn. Then I shall take you home,’ Faith said.

James nodded, ‘but what will you tell father?’

‘I shall think about it,’ Faith said, ‘in the meantime we shall read the Bible together.’

 

As soon as dawn broke, Faith and James went out. The boy had fallen asleep and Faith had had to wake him. It was a slow walk up through the village to the church and by the time they got there the Rector’s house was awake and searching for the missing child all ready.

Whilst he was whisked away by the nanny, Faith had a quiet word with his father. Upon leaving, she prayed the other children were not to troublesome. She walked back home and headed into the parlour, where she found a pair of man’s boots abandoned by the fire place.

 

(Inspired byhttps://wordpress.com/read/feeds/34771988/posts/1062669023)

Boots (Part 1)

Silhouette, Bokeh, Man, Out Of Focus, Fig, Bent, Black

The grandmother clock chimed two as Faith started to climb the cottage’s stairs. She held the candle holder away from her, so that the small flickering light offered more guidance.   Her other hand rested on the heavily polished banister and she felt the smoothness of the wood against her fingers. With her slippers muffled by the thick carpet she made her way up to the dimly lit first floor.

The chimes faded and silence settled once more. Without knowing why, Faith glanced behind her. The hallway below her was empty, expect for the sound of footsteps. She twisted, aiming the candle downwards and trying to peer through the shadows. Nothing seemed to be moving and yet, the sound of a man’s heavy boots echoed along the hallway carpet.

‘Hello?’ she called out, her voice steady.

She listened for a reply, but no words came back to her. Faith glanced upstairs and the calling of her bed then carefully turning around and hitching up her skirts, she stepped down. As soon as she came to the bottom the walking boots stopped.

‘Who’s there?’ Faith shouted, ‘My husband is upstairs and it will not take much to rise him!’

Dropping her skirts, she waved the candle light about and prayed that whoever was in her new house did not know that she actually lived alone. Some of the light bounced off the stained glass windows in the front door then splashed along the wall. Her eyes followed the glow along the hallway and passed the first doorway.

Faith moved slowly and inspected the small living room, dinning room and kitchen. Nothing was disturbed. In the living room the embers of the fire burnt dark orange, but they do not cast enough light. Faith closed all the doors and went back to the stairs, there was one more room she had to check. As her hand reached for the doorknob of the parlour door, she realised that was the first room she should have looked in.

The door swung open and she stuck the candle inside. Not being able to see very far, she was forced to go into the hardly used room. Two sofas faced each other over a low circle table, the curtains were drawn at the windows and the fireplace was empty. There was nothing else in the room and no place for anyone to hide.

Faith walked out, shutting the door behind her. Frowning, she looked down the hallway again. She could hear her own hard breathing and slight wheeze caused by being in her corset and tight evening dress for too long. Her heart pumped in her ears, seemly too calm and normal for the current situation.

Perhaps though, she had been wrong? Faith puzzled, she had never had a good imagination thanks to her strict up bring and she believed everything had a logical explanation. However, the sound of the boots had been so real. She looked upstairs and wonder if it was possible the invader had sneaked up whilst she had been going through the other rooms.

Slowly climbing the stairs, Faith stopped at the top and looked first to the left then to the right. The layout was the same as below; three doors to the left and one to the right. Faith went to there first and opened the door on to a small room that was meant for the maid. The candle flickered violently and Faith paused to give it time to stop. The circle of light showed her a bed frame against the wall, a wardrobe and desk against the other, whilst a small square curtained window was in the wall opposite.

Stepping out and securing the door behind her. Faith looked into the other rooms. The first was her dressing room and wardrobe, which held a large table and mirror, an old oak wardrobe and a number of trunks and boxes. The second room was her library and study which was still being unpacked, whilst the third was her bedroom. All the rooms were empty.

Faith sighed deeply and closed her bedroom door behind her. She lent against it then moved to light the other candles that were dotted around. The once dark room quickly became bright and she felt safer. Placing the originally candle by her bedside, Faith began the difficult task of undressing herself. Luckily she had had a lot of practice of the years, but it still took awhile.

Finally standing in her under things with her abandoned other clothes on the floor, she blew out all but one candle and climbed into bed, too tried to put the night dress on. Pulling the blankets up, she put her head on the pillow and felt sleep stealing over her.

The sound of a man’s boot steps in the hallway again made her shoot up right. Faith froze, clutching the blanks to her chest and listening hard. The steps were steady and seemed to be making their way to the front door. She counted, trying to remember how many steps the hallway was. The noise went on long past her counting.

‘What should I do?’ Faith muttered, ‘perhaps, I should just lock the door and stay in here. If it’s a thief there’s not much he can take anyway.’

Faith pulled the blankets back and got out of the bed. As quietly and quickly as she could she crossed the rug covered floor and locked the bedroom door. For a few moments she listened there, but all she could hear were the boots which she decided were now pacing the hallway.

‘Oh odd!’ she cried under her breath, ‘maybe, he’s waiting for me to come down again? I shall not fall for any tricks!’

Faith got back into bed and sat there listening to the footsteps until sleep claimed her.

To Be Continued…

 (Inspired by https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/34771988/posts/1062669023)

Alive

Jurassic Coast, Climbing, Sea

Rick couldn’t believe he was doing this, clinging to the side of the cliff like a limpet whilst the sea turned stormy below him. Taking a deep breath, he reached up and felt rock cutting into his hand through his gloves. Gritting his teeth, he pulled himself up and started to climb again.

Suddenly his hand hit empty space. Panic rocketed through him and Rick quickly dropped his hand on to the next stone he could see. It give way, coming off the wall like chewing gum. It tumbled from his hand and fall down into the sea. He twisted to see it go and watched as a small plume of spray rose then vanished under a large wave.

Rick scrambled for another strong hold. Found one and pressed himself against the cliff face. He breathed in sea salt soaked stones, which reminded him of the taste of dried seaweed. He shut his eyes and from somewhere deep inside of himself found the will to go on.

He reached up again, felt the top of the cliff under his fingers and began pulling himself over. Grunting loudly, Rick reached the top and came to rest on his knees. Dragging in deep breaths, he twisted around and sat down. His feet dangled over the edge and he looked across the sea.

The waves were raging now in a mix of inky greens, blues and creams. They crashed loudly against the bottom of the cliffs, blocking all other sounds. Rick looked at the sky, which was as dark as a fresh bruise then he felt water drops against his face.

He laughed, the sound carried and echoed around him.

The rain huddled down, soaking him straight through and cleaning him of all the rock dust. Out across the now tempest ocean, the thunder rumbled.  Rick laughed harder, loving the feel the cold rain against his skin and feeling truly alive for the first time in ages.