Candle Light

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It was about two in the morning and Bell hadn’t been able to sleep. She had been reading a Gothic horror novel, lost within it’s pages and words. The candle by her bedside was low, the wax dripping away and the flame dropping.

Bell knew she should get a fresh candle but once out of the armchair and woollen blanket, it would be freezing. The fire in the wall next to her had long gone out and the chill from the autumn moor had crept into the house.

She looked at the candle and decided if she didn’t want to end up in the dark within a few minutes she had to move.

Placing the book down, she wrapped the blanket around her and got up. There was a candle by her bedside which she took and carefully lit the new wick from the dying candle. She blew out the first flame then took the new candle and her book to bed.

It was a grand four poster thing and she wasn’t use to sleeping in luxury. She had been brought up in a simple house with simple things. Her father had educated her which had helped Bell learn that her family had fallen on hard times. She couldn’t remember not being happy and her parents had tried to give her anything she needed.

The turn had come when she was fourteen. Her father, ill of health for years, passed. The money ran out. Her mother lost everything.

In the poorhouse, the beds had been straw. They had been surround by people making lots of noise for three years. You would think you couldn’t sleep in such a place but the twelve hours of work a day made you so exhausted that sleep came as a blessing.

Now, Bell was alone in this large room, in this huge house owned by a uncle of her father’s whom she had never known but had somehow found her. Bell was grateful to have been saved after her mother had become ill and died three months ago. It was the answer to her prayers.

Some nights though, she wished to be back with her mother on that floor. Comforted and loved. No longer feeling the loneliness and sadness that consumed her.

Bell got into bed. The sheets were cold against her. She opened her book again and began reading. Her concentration was broken and the chill was making her shake. Putting the book down again, she curled up and thought about trying to sleep.

There was a window across and the curtains were half drawn. She could see the night sky and the full moon. It was too dark to see the raising moorland that surround this house but she could picture the current barren landscape well enough.

The candle wick cracked and the flame flickering against the wall. There were too many shadows in this room for Bell’s liking. The words of the old maid came back to her and Bell remembered the warning of falling asleep with candles lit. That’s how the west wing burnt down.

Bell’s head turned towards the door as footsteps sounded in the hallway. The boards squeaked and a door handle rattled.

It was just her uncle or a servant, restless like herself and walking around the house.

A door opened, the loud creaking wail further broke the silence.

Bell felt a drift of air. The candle flame flickered violently and black smoke trailed up the wall. Bell sat up and looked towards her door.

It was wide open.

She clutched the sheets to her chest. Thoughts racing through her head; it’s just my uncle or servant checking on me because they saw the light. 

No figure seemed to fill the doorway and nothing else moved.

Bell couldn’t find the words to speak.

The candle went out.

Plunged into darkness, Bell let out a cry and threw the sheet over head. She curled up, fear driving everything. Her breathing was harsh in her ears so she didn’t hear the soft footsteps crossing the floor.

The bedding began to slip down, gathering on the floor.

Bell clung to what she could but the bedding began to drag her with it. She let it go and dug her nails into the woollen blanket still around her instead.

‘Who is there?’ Bell cried in a shaky voice.

There was a low whistling like wind through a gap. The dying candle came back to life. The glow of the yellow and orange flame so bright in the room.

‘What do you want?’ Bell shouted.

There was a hand by the flame. It first it seemed nothing more then a wisp of smoke from the candle but it grew and turned shape, became more solid and took the form of a figure.

Bell wanted to scream but couldn’t. She was stiff with fear and yet she couldn’t turn away from what was forming beside the candle flame. She had never seen a ghost before but this one was for sure.

It seemed to be a woman in a flowing dress like a shadow against the wall.

‘I can see you,’ Bell whispered, ‘do not hurt me.’

The ghost moved, gliding to the bed and Bell saw the features of a face. The eyes and mouth expressed sadness and longing with familiarity.

‘Mother?’ Bell breathed.

 

 

Monster Book

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Joy wasn’t sure how she’d found the book, it must have been fate! She had known the minute her fingers had touched the skin cover and the scent of two hundred year old pages filled her lungs. She had looked closely just be sure then with a quick glance around the storeroom, put the book into her bag.

Hurrying home as a storm ripped across the sky, Joy was glad she only lived streets away from where she worked at Rare Eager, Secondhand and Antiques shop. She stumbled into the hallway of the two bedroom terrace house, dripping wet like she had just got out of a swimming pool.

She turned the lights on, locked the front door then took off her soaked shoes and coat. Going upstairs, she took the rest of her clothes off- blue blouse and black trousers- and changed into fleece PJs. She dried her short blonde hair and took her makeup off.

Pausing, Joy listened but the house was almost silent; just the hum of the fridge and heaters. Outside, rain and wind battered everything, Thunder rumbled and lightening forked across the sky like the bolts of an angry God.

‘Autumn weather for sure,’ Joy said aloud and closed the curtains.

Having all ready eaten before and feeling fine that she was now dry, Joy got into bed. She glanced at the alarm clock and saw the hands were on quarter to nine. She sighed, tiredness sinking in. She had worked late tonight with the re-stocking of the shop and was ready to sleep but first….

Joy pulled the book from her bag.

The skin cover was like worn leather, paled and roughed over the years and there were no markers anywhere upon it to say what the contains were or who by. Joy ran her fingers over it and thought she could just feel were letter might once have been.

Without opening the book, she looked at the hand cut pages. They were not straight but jagged and hard against her fingers. They were a dark yellow colour and tempted a reader in.

Joy went to open the book but her boss, the shop’s owner, Mr. Eager, came into her head. He was old, mid-sixties with a bald head, wrinkles like a walnut and strange odd colored eyes.  From his mouth came the words, ‘…it’s a book full of such disturbing horror stories it was banned! Most of the copies were burnt back then….There’s one around here somewhere. I brought it years ago in London.’

‘Have you ever read it?’ Joy had asked.

‘The first page and that was enough for me!’

‘And where is it now?’

Mr. Eager shrugged and answered, ‘lost in here someplace!’

Joy had taken in the stuffed shop which one could barely move around in let alone find anything they actually wanted! But wasn’t that the look and draw of secondhand and antique places?

With a shake of her head, Joy told herself, ‘I’ll return it tomorrow and show Mr Eager. Pretend I ‘just’ found it and ask if I can have it.’

Letting her fingers rest on the cover about to open it and began reading, Joy wondered why she had taken it in the first place.

She had stole before, little things, like; her childhood friend’s pencil case, a poster from school, a pot horse from her aunt’s house and once in desperate need after a night out, clothes from a washing line.

‘Why did I take this book?’ Joy wondered.

She looked down and felt drawn to forget everything and just open the cover. Were the stories inside as scary as Mr. Eager had said?

Opening the book, Joy saw there were no other publisher and introduction pages like at the start of other books, there was the begin of the first story instead. Shrugging and deciding she didn’t care, Joy curled up and began reading.

It seemed standard 1800s’ horror story telling, a little gross in parts but an interesting read. The stories were short and Joy read three or four of them before she started to doze off.

Putting the book under her bed, she vowed to take it back in the morning and fell asleep.

 

A soft thud and scraping noise disturbed her. Joy rolled over and still half-asleep listened. The noise didn’t come again and she drifted off.

Three more thuds, louder this time and more scraping like something was being dragged echoed through the house. Joy woke almost fully, she turned on the light and looked around. The storm had died down now and it was just a rain tapping against the window.

The noises didn’t come again as she wondered what they were; perhaps, it was an animal or a neighbour. Maybe, apart of my dream! What was that about anyway?

Joy turned off the light and settled back down. A creeping feeling came over her and sleep didn’t want to come back. She lay in the darkness, thinking and listening.

The sounds stared again. Someone was dragging something on a carpet and thumping it about. Then there was a different sound, like a chomp and a heave as if the person doing the dragging before was now trying to pull something up whilst eating an apple.

Joy almost giggled at that thought but realised the noise was too close, all most like it’s in my bedroom!  

She turned on the light, scowled herself for being silly, it’s just something outside….What’s that on my bedside table? 

It was the book!

Confused because she knew she had put it under her bed, Joy went to pick it up. Before her hands could touch it the book began to open!

The cover raised slowly. The pages had become long sharp triangle teeth. They moved, opening like they were in a mouth and a long, two forked tongue began to reel out, sensing the air like a snake’s.

Joy moved backwards across the bed and put her hands to her mouth to cover a scream.

‘It’s just a dream!’ she cried.

The book’s ‘tongue’ went back in and the covers opened further like a shark’s jaw. The book let out a monstrous growl and jumped at Joy’s face.

The scream erupted out of her and Joy threw her hands upwards to defend her face and fight off the book, but the book had grown so wide that it just swallowed her whole.

With the scratching and ruffling sounds of tumbling pages, the book fell closed on Joy’s bed, right were she’d been a few seconds ago.

 

 

(Based in part on a dream I had).

Another Monday

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The alarm went off. She rolled and turned it off. There was no need to get up. The alarm was set to indict it was morning. Not that it mattered because she fell back to sleep and didn’t get up till lunch time.

It was a strange curse of insomnia; she didn’t sleep at night but in the day she had no problems.

She blamed it on the six months of working night shifts at a warehouse. That had been  two years ago but being ill had thrown her body clock out of the window.

Time was of no importance now. She did things when her body and brain said to. It was like being on autopilot. She didn’t care, it was easier this way.

Afternoon TV helped to keep the demon thoughts at bay. Some days if she was up to it she would go out for a walk or to the shops but most of the time she’d order stuff on the internet.

Laying in bed, she realised it was a Monday. Adults would be going to work and children to school. She would be here, tried from her sleepless night and illness, wondering how many more Monday mornings she would wake up on.

Lil’ Horror #FridayFictioneers

It looked like something out of that musical about hungry plants. Trust her half blind grandmother to have brought and given it to her as a leaving gift.

Looking around her small uni student bedroom, Ruby decided to place the ‘IT’ on a tall bookcase. The plant trailed down and for a few moments Ruby imagined those vines growing, crawling across the floor and strangling her as she slept….

Shaking her head, Ruby broke into laughter and started to unpack. Those kind of things didn’t happen in the real world! The plant’s only horror was it’s ugliness.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/09/04/6-september-2019/ with thanks).

Too Many Books

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I went into my old bedroom which had become a storage room after I had moved into my brothers’ bigger room last year. It was hard to imagine how I had filled this room, floor to ceiling with things and that about seventy percent of the items were books.

I had always wanted my own library and without realising it over the years that had seemed to have happened! Looking around, I knew to a stranger that my book organisation would seem random but there was an actual order.

I knew where most of the titles could be found but it was times like now when I wanted a certain book and wasn’t sure where it was that problems started. First off, I had to decided if I actually owned this book and if it was in here. Had I lent the book to someone? Had I given it to a charity shop? Or was it one I had lent from somewhere?

Being sure, I had the book, I began my search. The two top shelves of my room had books that were my favourites and wanted to read. The ones on my bookcase were either series I had only half read and other books I wanted to read in the future. Under my bunk bed, were books I had read and discarded.

I knew the title of the book and had looked it up online to remind me of the author and cover. I had recognised it and knew it was in my old bedroom somewhere. The problem was, amongst the stacks of other books it could be anywhere!

Moonbroch #AtozChallenge

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Moonbroch; a halo around the moon which presages an approaching storm. 

Lottie threw the duvet back and got out of bed, giving in to her insomnia. Without fumbling around trying to light a candle, she crossed the bedroom in darkness. She went to the window box and moved the heavy curtains away from the window itself. A cold draft raised the hairs on her skin that wasn’t covered by the long, sweeping white nightdress.

She sat down, comfortable against the plump cushions and quilted seat underneath her. Pulling all of her long, golden hair over to her right shoulder, Lottie played with the gentle curls. First, she straightened them, then twisted the ends around her fingers before throwing the whole lot back over her shoulder.

Lottie looked out of the window into the night which stretched like a never ending sea. Below, the  gas lamps that normally lit the short driveway and gate were out. The moorland beyond, which she couldn’t see, was quiet. It was rare anyone travelled after sunset but on nights of the full moon as it was tonight, nobody left their homes.

The clouds in the sky parted, the moon shone down, casting a dim light which was just enough for Lottie to see by. She watched the moon, noticing the halo of light that surrounded it and how the clouds were lit by the glow. It was a magnificent sight.

An echoing wolf howl broke the stillness. A shiver, that had nothing to do with the cold, ran through Lottie. She reached out to clutch the side of a cushion then tried to move away from the window. Another howl, closer this time stopped her movement and she looked out again.

There was something moving in the darkness of the moor.

Lottie told herself they were just shadows cast by the moon and that the howling only seemed nearby because it had echoed. She put the cushion into her lap and played with the tassels to help calm herself down.

I should go back to bed. Light the candle and read my book until I feel sleepy, Lottie thought.

A movement made Lottie turn her head. Down, next to the gate, a huge grey-black shaggy furred werewolf was standing there in the moonlight, looking up at her with massive yellow eyes. The breathe caught in Lottie’s throat, she became still, frozen by fear that was racing through her blood.

The werewolf threw his head back and let out a mighty, long howl.

From the darkness, another werewolf, slightly smaller and with a light grey fur coat padded towards the gate and joined the first werewolf. They howled together and another werewolf, shorter this time, with a red-grey mixed coat appeared. Then it seemed, more and more werewolves kept coming forward, till at least a pack of twelve stood by the gate.

The first werewolf moved, rising on it’s long, twisted hind legs to stand taller then a man and let out a short howl. He launched himself, trying to get through the gate. He’s long front legs and muzzle fell through the bars, the rest of his body slammed against the metal frame. The gate violently shook but held. The werewolf tried repeatedly, hitting the gate harder and harder as his frustrations rose.

The other werewolves had been pacing around, waiting for the first to break through the gate. They moved in and out of the moonlight, like black ghosts. However, they soon got bored of waiting and began throwing themselves at the gate too. Jaws snapping, claws scrapping, legs flaying and their desperate snarling and howls crying out.

Lottie, fear totally over coming her, screamed and threw herself down to the floor. She tried to get up, but the nightdress was twisted around her legs. Tears of pain and fear wet her eyes. Lottie screamed again louder then before, knowing the noise would awake someone in the house.

Outside, Lottie heard the gate continue to shake and the werewolves, snarling and trying to scramble through.

Finding her feet, Lottie crossed the rug covered floor and opened the door. Light from a left on gas lamp in the hallway stung her eyes and she took a moment. Going over, she stood in the glow and tried to calm herself down.

The swinging of a door opening made her jump and Lottie looked up the corridor to see a bobbing candle in the darkness.

‘Who’s that? Lottie?’ her older brother’s voice asked.

‘Yes. It’s me, John,’ Lottie answered, her voice sounding breathless, ‘there’s werewolves at the front gate!’

‘What?’ John cried and he hurried over to her.

‘I couldn’t sleep, so I looked outside and they saw me!’ Lottie explained.

John rushed into her bedroom, his bare footsteps loud.

Lottie peered around the door frame after him and watched as her brother came to a stop at the window and swore loudly.

Turning away, John came back to her, ‘go to mother’s room. Lock the door and stay there together.’

Lottie nodded and hurried away. She ran along the corridors, her night dress flying out behind her. A few gas lamps lit her way but Lottie knew how to get to her mother’s room without being able to see the way. Up a small staircase and she was there, knocking on her mother’s door, declaring herself and begging entrance.

Her mother, Isabella, opened the door, candle in hand and the light dancing off her loose, long golden hair. Lottie rushed in, closing and locking the heavy wooden door behind her.

‘There’s werewolves outside!’ Lottie shouted.

‘Do your father and brothers know?’ her mother questioned.

Lottie shook her head, ‘Just John knows. He told me to come here, tell you and for us to stay here together.’

‘We should prepare for attack,’ Isabella said, ‘Let’s light candles and the fire. Then get dressed.’

They moved away from the door. Lottie went to the fireplace and began stacking coal and wood on top of the ashes all ready there. Her mother began lighting candles around the room. 

‘Shouldn’t we go to the cellar?’ Lottie asked.

‘There is a passageway from here to there, under the trapdoor by the window.’ 

‘Like in my bedroom?’

‘Yes. Your grandfather’s idea after that horrible night when werewolves got in and roamed through the house,’ Isabella spoke.

‘They killed grandma, uncle William who was only four years old and two maids,’ Lottie picked up, the story having been burned into her memory from the countless retelling of it, ‘the butler’s son, dad’s butler now, has bad scars from trying to protect the other servants.’

‘And it’s how your father lost his  left foot,’ Isabella finished.

Lottie nodded, ‘they trapped all the werewolves in the East wing and burnt it to the ground.’

‘And ever since then, your grandfather and father have trained everyone how to prepare and defend themselves from werewolf attacks; how to fire a gun and fight with a knife. Even you, my only daughter, despite my wishes, have been taught all of that too.’

‘I know,’ Lottie said quietly as she finished setting up the firewood.

She lit a match, placed it into the fireplace and watched the flames quickly beginning to burn the wood. Lottie stood up and joined her mother in the middle of the room. They hugged tightly and her mother kissed her forehead.

A gun shot rang out, followed by shouting men’s voices.

Lottie jumped, gasping and turning towards the door.

‘Let’s get dressed,’ her mother cried as she grabbed Lottie’s hand and pulled her towards the wardrobe.

Yanking open the doors, Isabella pushed through all her dresses and to the back of the wardrobe. She pulled out two sets of men’s clothing; shirts, large travelling jackets, trousers, long woollen socks and knee length leather boots.

Helping each other, they dressed quickly then tied their long hair up in buns.

Then from underneath her bed, Isabella pulled out a rifle, two pistols, ammunition; sliver bullets, and four daggers. They were just like the ones Lottie had under her bed.

Isabella handed her daughter the two pistols and two of the daggers, without saying anything but with a determined look set on her face.

Lottie put one of the daggers in each boot then loaded the pistols and placed them with the rest of the ammunition in the deep pockets of the jacket. Her mother did everything the same.

Ready for anything, they sat down on the bed facing the door and listened to the sounds of fighting raising from the front of the house. Gun shots, male cries and shouts mingled with the howling, snarling and painful cries of the werewolves.

A few minutes later, they heard the clattering of claws across bare floorboards, snarling, snapping of jaws and sniffing from underneath the door. Then the door shook as something huge hit it.

‘Get behind the bed,’ Isabella whispered, nudging Lottie.

The girl did as she was told, drawing the pistols and the ammo from her pockets. Whilst her mother stood up, cocked the rifle and aimed it at the door which was badly shaking as the werewolf tried to get in. The wood began splitting, cracking around a hole in the middle and a large black nose followed by a grey muzzle poked through.

Isabella stood her ground, the butt of the rifle against her shoulder, her eyes fixed along the top of the barrel. Her finger brushed the trigger, waiting for the right moment to fire.

The first werewolf from before burst through the door, using the force of it’s body to break through the hole. Bits of wood flew everywhere and the chaos, Isabella fired.

The shot was loud, deafening herself and Lottie, there was a burst of flame followed by smoke and the werewolf let out a painful cry but didn’t go down. Instead, he leapt through the air and before she could get away, the werewolf landed on Isabella pinning her to the bed.

Lottie screamed, got up and fired at the werewolf without aiming. Both bullets hit the werewolf’s bent neck and sank in deep. The werewolf growled deeply, showing off blood stained teeth, froth dripped from it’s mouth and the werewolf moved up onto of Isabella, trying to reach over to snap at Lottie.

Isabella punched the werewolf’s stomach, grappled the beast and rolled onto the floor with him. Disappearing out of Lottie’s sight. Snarls and her mother’s cries rose, claws and boots scrapped across the floor. Isabella tried to grab one the daggers in her boots but her hands were full of fur as she tried to keep the werewolf’s mouth away from her face.

Shaking, Lottie dashed around the bed and aimed the pistols again. However, she realised that she couldn’t fire as her mother was wrestling with the werewolf and the risk of shooting her was too great. Lottie held her ground, her mind running through everything she could possible do.

Lottie dropped the pistols, pulled the daggers from her boots and waited until the werewolf was on top of her mother. Then Lottie jumped on top of the werewolf, bring the sliver daggers down into the werewolf’s fur. The blades slide into the skin then the body of the beast, going right up to the hilt.

The werewolf let out an anguish cry and twisted to the side. Lottie didn’t let go of the daggers in time and the werewolf fell on top of her. Lottie kicked with both legs, used the force to pull the daggers free then plunged them down to the side of the werewolf before he could get up again. There was a crack of rib bones as the blades drove in and the werewolf’s head snapped around and he’s teeth closed around Lottie’s lower leg.

Lottie screamed in pain then gun shots from the pistols rang out. The werewolf twitched then became still, the jaws loosing on Lottie’s leg. The werewolf’s blood pooled across the floor.

Isabella dragged Lottie away and towards the trap door then down the hidden passageway and into the cellar. Lamps and candles were all ready burning down here and all the female servants were gathered around makeshift beds or the old dinning room table.

Upon seeing their mistresses, the servants hurried to help and hear the tale of the fight. The leather boot and woollen socks had saved Lottie’s leg which was badly bruised but thankfully the skin hadn’t been broken. Once it had been cleaned and treated, Lottie rested in one of the beds and fell asleep.

Voices woke her later and Lottie found that all the men had joined them in the cellar. she listened to some of their talk but finally, she rose and asked, ‘what happened?’

Her mother, father and three brothers turned towards her.

‘It’s over,’ her father replied, ‘we killed them all.’

‘Thank God,’ Lottie answered.

‘And you,’ John spoke, ‘if you hadn’t been awake and seen them at the gate we wouldn’t have had enough time to fight them.’

‘And you fought so bravely against the werewolf that attack us,’ Isabella added.

‘Yes. All the training paid off,’ Lottie said, ‘I’m glad it’s over now.’

 

 

FooFaraw (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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FooFaraw; a great fuss or disturbance about something very insignificant.

I turned the handle and opened my bedroom door, feeling a slight prickly of fear. Would it look like I had left it when I was eighteen? Or had my great-aunt Dorothy thrown everything I’d had to leave behind away?

The door creaked loudly then bumped against the wall. I let go of the breathe I’d been holding. My bedroom was just like it was. The walls were a pale blue with nothing on them – Dorothy had banned me from putting anything on them- the curtains were drawn over the small window and the ceiling was covered in spiderwebs.

My childhood bed was made, the desk and chair tidy, the single wardrobe was open and empty and the bookcase held a few kiddie books. It was like the room had given up waiting for my return and just settled into a life of abandonment.

I sat down on the bed, the springs squealing. I had hated it here. Dorothy had never loved me or been kind to me. She had repeatedly told me she should never have taken me in and should have given me to the children’s home. The only reason why she didn’t was because my parents had left her money in their will for her to look after me.

Dorothy had physically, mentally and emotionally abused me. Letting all her angry out for her sister’s – my mum’s- happy life before she had passed away and also the fact that Dorothy now had to take care of me. I had no happy memories here. On my eighteen birthday, I had left and the trust fund my parents had left me opened up a whole new world for me.

I hadn’t wanted to keep in touch with Dorothy but we had sometimes over the years. Later it had been nurses and care home staff writing and phoning me. Till the last day and the news she was finally gone, having left everything to me.

But I didn’t want it. I didn’t want to go back to that life. I was different now, free of all of that. There was nothing here for me. I had taken all I wanted before, so why I had come back here?

Because I had wanted to prove it didn’t matter? That everything she had done and said had only made me stronger? That the past was just that and I had escaped from it?

I didn’t know. It didn’t matter. I was making a fuss over something that meant nothing to me. I wasn’t that child anymore. I was a businessman, a husband, a gentle father, a millionaire.

I got up, closed the door behind me and went downstairs. I took nothing from the house. I closed and locked the front door behind me for the very last time.

I got back into the car. My wife looked at me put I avoided her questioning eyes. We were silent until Alexandra couldn’t take it no more and had to ask; ‘what was in there?’

‘Nothing but dust and spiders,’ I said.

‘So, it wasn’t worth you dragging me out here then?’

I shook my head.

‘I’m hungry, let’s go,’ Alexandra snapped.

‘All right. On the way we’ll drop the keys at the housing agency and let them take care of everything,’ I added.

Starting the sports car’s engine, I took a finally look at the house, a sense of complete freedom ran through me.

Dear Diary

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Dear Diary,

Trust me to become sick when I have a day full of meetings and important happenings! I felt rubbish last night but I thought it was just tiredness and stress, maybe it was but then this morning, rising with the sun just before six, I felt so nauseous and I was violent sick.

My first thought was am I pregnant? As it felt just as bad as when I was carrying Lola and I had been so ill then it felt like I was dying all the time. I really hope I’m not, don’t think I can go through all of that again!

So, I had to phone in sick and go through all the ‘can’t you really make it? We really need you to pitch the nine o’clock meeting.’

Well, maybe if I’d thrown up just the once but I’ve not stopped all morning. I’m so exhausted too and I had to have a nap before just because I could rise my head off the pillow. My stomach feels like it got hit by a whale and become crushed. Add to that a blinding migraine.

Sleep and pills help, but I couldn’t keep anything down, only a few sips of water. When I wasn’t in the bathroom and I was curled in bed, wishing whatever it was would go away.

Some of it has now but I still feel ill. Hopefully, it will all pass in the next few days, if not I’ll be off to the doctors, hoping it is a virus and not something more.

Counting #TwitteringTales

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The new pills were causing sleepless nights. Kim tried the traditional counting method; a wooden gate and sheep jumping over. Then a wolf, huge and grey, mouth red. Kim’s eyes snapped open, she heard a loud growling within her bedroom. She turned on the light and knew she wasn’t alone.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/11/13/twittering-tales-110-13-november-2018/ with thanks).

Turrets #writephoto

It was one of those moments that had seemed a good idea at the time but as we arrived at the crumbling castle doubt set into my mind. Breathless from our climb up the jagged hill, we collected around the tall, rusted iron gates which were bent inwards.

Through the bars, I could see the remains of a drive poking through the nature that had taken over. I couldn’t see much of the castle from this view, the trees were too high but I could just make out some turrets and roof sticking out. The sky above was cold stony grey, threatening more heavy rain and though we were a bit sheltered from the wind, I could still feel the chilly sting on my face.

‘Here,’ Duncan’s voice brought me back.

He was handing me an open bottle of water. I took a few sips whilst watching him dig around in the side pockets of his bag.

‘I know it’s in here somewhere,’ he muttered.

My other friend, Wyatt went over to the gate and tried to rattle it but the gate didn’t move. Instead one of the bars snapped in his hand. He backed away, dropping both halves as he did so. The broken bar hit the ground with a cushioned thud.

‘Oops,’ Wyatt said, ‘it’s really rusted right through.’

‘I wanted a photo of that,’ Duncan snapped.

‘Take it quick. It’s raining again,’ I pointed out a few drops fell.

Duncan shoved a small paper thing in my hand, snatched up his huge professional camera and began setting it up. Wyatt moved out of the way, into the cover of some trees, tracking the iron fence. I looked down at the paper and realised it was the photograph that had brought us here.

It was a square, black and white photo of what seemed to be castle turrets, roofs and chimneys rising up out trees. I looked around, trying to see what I could on the photo around us. Whoever had taken this about fifty years ago had really been standing back. There seemed to be a rocky outcrop that could be the same in the photo a few feet away. And thinking that the trees had been smaller and the area clearer it could be the same place but it was hard to know for sure.

I heard Duncan’s camera clicking away. I had no interest in taking photos of the abandoned places we visited nor did Wyatt, we just liked walking around and looking, sometimes taking stuff. Just small things, that wouldn’t really be missed and we could sell on to carry on funding these trips.

The rain and wind picked up turning into a storm which seemed fitting for our location. I shoved the photo into my leather jacket and ignoring Duncan’s unhappy cries, forced my way through the bent gate and along the drive. I heard them both following me as I broke into a run. The quickly darkening sky made it hard to see and we all stumbled about and swore.

As we reached the cracked stone steps leading up to the broken wooden doors, there was a rumble of thunder. The rain start pelting it down, drenching us through and forcing us to dash inside. I cut myself scrambling over the door which was almost falling off it’s hinges and wedge at an high angle.

Swearing loudly and repeatedly, I clutched my left arm. My feet shuffling and crunching on the stone floor. Pain was shooting along my skin and my other hand was becoming wet with blood.

A bright light flickered on and I stumbled blindly away like a wounded animal. I bumped into something taller then me but not solid, knocking the thing over. There was an awful clattering sound and I fell in the middle of it as a suit of armour tumbled around me.

‘Jay? Are you okay Jay?’ Duncan’s voice high with panic echoed in my ears.

‘Jay, mate?’ Wyatt spoke right next to me.

I opened my eyes. My body felt numbed with pain and weighed down. There was a ringing sound in my ears and a stinging pain my left arm. I groaned and tried to move.

‘Lift that end,’ Wyatt said.

I felt a piece of the armour lift off me and I pulled myself out and then along the wall. Cold stone scrapped across my jacket, I propped myself up, pressing my cut arm to my chest. I realised, I couldn’t feel my fingers and there was so much more pain there now.

Wyatt shone the torch on me and give a low whistle.

I was struggling to breath and so couldn’t get the words out to ask what the deal was.

They both clustered around me, looking down and concerned but not saying anything.

‘Have some water,’ Duncan uttered handing me his bottle again.

I took it with my right. My left arm didn’t feel like it belong to me anymore. Sipping the water, helped make me feel less sick and dizzy. I shut my eyes and calmed down for a few moments. My mind thought about another time I had felt like this; a fall on a school football pitch.

‘I think my arms broken,’ I muttered.

There was a pause of silence. I could hear the storm raging outside and a flash of lightening came though the broken door, capturing the scene like a camera; me on the floor, Wyatt and Duncan before me and the suit of armour scattered across the floor.

‘No. You’re just in shock,’ Duncan rushed, ‘it’s just bruised and cut.’

I shook my head, ‘I broke this arm before, in high school. I know how it feels.’

‘What can we do?’ Duncan replied, he was casting around as if expecting to see something or someone of use.

We were all alone though, in an abandoned castle with no idea what was actually around us. But I knew the chance of a first aid kit was slim.

‘We find something to keep his arm stable,’ Wyatt cut in, ‘ next, we find a good place to hole up in till the storm is over. Then we get the hell out of here.’

Duncan nodded, ‘I’m sorry. This is all my fault,’ his voice cracked.

‘No,’ I said sharply, ‘stuff happens. Help me up.’

Wyatt took my hand and Duncan grip me as I got to my feet.

‘Guess he’s not going to be guarding anything again!’ I joked as I kicked a leg brace away.

It clattered across the floor and the sound vibrated around us.

Excited and nervous, we searched the castle. The small grand hall lead off to a few ground floor rooms and also a stone staircase. There were some mould and collapsed furniture in the rooms. Nothing worth taking but I could see Duncan itching to take some photos.

Upstairs where some bedrooms though the roof had caved in on the left side so all the rooms there were dripping water. The wind was also howling through adding to the unfriendliness of the place.

‘This will do,’ Wyatt said finally.

We settled in a small room that had once been a pretty girl’s bedroom. There was still strips of patterned wallpaper and a rug on the floor. I sank onto the bed and pulled a mouldy blanket over me and a pillow under my arm. I stayed there, hissing in a pain, whilst the other two made a make-shift split from the bottom of a wooden draw and some cotton strips from what once might have been a night dress.

Once my arm was strapped up and Wyatt had cut up some of the thick bed curtain with his penknife and made a sling for me, I felt a little better.  I rested back against the other pillow, my body going stiff with cold and bruises. I listened to the rain drumming against the window, the wind battering things around and the thunder rumbling as if this was a horror movie.

‘We are going to explore more and find something to start a fire,’ Wyatt’s distant voice told me.

I hummed a reply, feeling suddenly sleepy.

They were still gone when I came back and for a few moments, I was disorientated. It was gloomy dark but I felt a torch at my side and went to click it on.

‘It’s cold,’ a voice whispered.

I stilled. The voice had been soft and a female’s. I couldn’t tell where it had come from.

‘So cold,’ the same voice uttered.

There was a soft ruffling sound like a skirt moving.

‘Hello? Wyatt? Duncan?’ I called after a few seconds.

From beside the small fire place were the shadows seemed to be thicker, a dim spot of white light seemed to flicker. I tried to blink it away, but the light grew bigger and brighter.

I turned on the torch, aiming it over but there was nothing there. I looked around the room it was empty. I was torn between staying and going, after a few moments though, I concluded it was best to stay as I had no idea where the other two were and wondering around the castle looking for them seemed a bad idea.

Telling myself it was my imagination, I lay back. Clicking the torch off to save the battery and letting darkness settle again.

‘Hello-oh?’ the soft girl’s voice a came again.

There was slow creak as if someone had just stepped on a loose floorboard.

I swallowed and barely got my greeting past my lips. Then it felt like a ice cube had been dropped on to my right hand was working up my arm. Turning on the torch, I looked and saw all the hair on my arm was up and goosebumps were rising. I don’t know why, but I had the feeling of a hand trying to touch my wrist.

I withdrew quickly, shoving myself against the headboard of the bed. Pain hit my shoulders were I bumped into the wall. A scrapping sound, like someone moving a book or a light object over a table tickled my ears. I shone the torch around again, looking for mice or rats, this place was probably full of animals. My breath caught in my throat, had that end bed curtain just moved?

‘No,’ I muttered then shouted, ‘Wyatt! Duncan!’

My voice carried, echoed slightly then faded. I hoped they had heard me. I pushed myself up and slide of the the bed. I had a creepy feeling that I wasn’t alone and something was watching me from the shadows.

‘I’m not afraid of you!’ I yelled, ‘come out! Show yourself,’

I flashed the light around, hoping to catch them but there still nobody there. I went to the door of the room but something caused me to look back before I stepped into the hallway.

I saw the shape of a person next to the window. I had the impress it was a woman in a long white dress. I shone the torch beam over but of course the light showed me nothing but the window sill and pane glass.

Running footsteps came to me and I walked out of the room and towards them. Wyatt and Duncan were at the top of the stairs as I joined them.

‘I woke up and didn’t know where you guys where,’ I explained, ‘did you find anything?’

‘Not much,’ Wyatt said disappointingly.

‘I got enough,’ Duncan said tapping his camera which hung around his neck.

‘Let’s go then,’ I said hurriedly.

We had to go back to the room to get our bags. I didn’t saw anything about what I’d thought or heard though. Wyatt would laugh at me and call me a chicken whilst Duncan would want to stay and investigate. I though was so ready to leave.

The storm had quietened down as we stepped outside. It was still rainy and windy though but I didn’t care. We started walking away. Duncan taking a few quick photos. I looked back up at the windows without knowing why and saw in one of them a face peering down at us.

I knew then, even though he showed me days later, that Duncan had taken a photo of the ghost I’d seen. I still never admitted it to him or Wyatt, I still didn’t want to believe what had happened was true.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/24/thursday-photo-prompt-turrets-writephoto/ with thanks).