Ancient Circles #WeeklyWritingPrompt

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Not much can stop a werewolf. Sliver bullets traditional can but that’s about all. Werewolves don’t fear religion or other supernatural creatures. Perhaps, a daemon could stop a werewolf but why would they want to as they are often on the same side? Maybe, an angel could help then? But I’ve never meet a full one which is saying a lot for me.

Placing the moldering book back on the library desk, I wonder what to do. The sounds around me had long become background noises; people walking, coughing, whispering, the flickering of paper, the sliding of books, the harpy librarians flying at anyone whom they disliked. I put my head down into my arms and tried to collected myself.

‘Neona?’

I looked up and turned at the person who had said my name. Ransom, my boyfriend was standing there, looking ruggedly handsome as ever. His black hair was long down his back, his dark brown eyes deep set and his proud jaw strained with tension. He was dressed in dark blue jeans, a black Iron Maiden t-shirt and a studded leather biker jacket.

‘Any luck?’ he asked.

I turned back to the three hundred year old book that was laying open at a page showing drawings of over lapping circles with squiggly symbols depicted around and in them.

‘This Ancient Circles of Holding and Constricting could work,’ I responded, pointing it out to him.

Ransom lent over to look and I breathed deeply, he smelt of leather and his motorbike’s oil but underneath that was the scent of summer nights and nature; earth, trees, water. I could feel the wild, pure power surrounding him. It was what had first attracted me to him at the Academy and I had known he was a werewolf. It had taken a whole year after we started dating, for him to tell me and now he wanted my help controlling the change.

‘Can you make this?’ Ransom asked.

I glanced down at the drawing and shrugged, ‘it doesn’t look too hard but it’s powerful old magic. I’m not sure I could get it totally right. Some of the symbols look hard to draw.’

Ransom took in a deep breath, ‘I trust you, Neona, we are bonded together,’ he said quietly.

I nodded and closed the book. I checked it out, though the harpy at the desk was reluctant to let me have it, then we went to Ransom’s house.

We made space in the basement for me to draw big enough Circles. I avoided looking at the remains of a twisted iron cage in the far corner. Last full moon, Ransom had escaped from it. The rampage had been bad and taken awhile for the Academy to clean up.

I took some chalk from a new box, opened the old book to the right page and began drawing on the floor. I had together my black witch’s dress about me to make sure I didn’t smear the three overlapping circles as I went. Then, almost pressing the book to my face, I began to draw each squiggly symbol, chatting as I did so to awake the magic.

Finally it was done. I sat back on my legs and looked down at the now shimmering three circles before me. I could feel the ancient magic in the air just waiting to be used. From my bag, I took out a few things and placed them at different points; crystals for more energy, candles for the fire element, silver coins for more power over the curse, holy water to keep evil beings away, sage for purity and my wand, in case I had to use my magic to defend myself.

I stepped away and looked at the time, the night of the full moon would be here soon.

‘It’s done. Get in,’ I told Ransom.

With a nod, he did so and I noticed how hard he was trying to control himself. He was shaking and balling his fists, his shoulders were heaving and his body seemed racked with pain already.

‘Leave,’ Ransom forced out of his chattering mouth.

‘I have to close it around you now,’ I said with a quick look at the book.

‘After get out. I don’t want to risk you,’ he explained.

I nodded and using my wand to help channel my magic through, I closed the Ancient Circles of Holding and Constricting around him. A three cylinder barrier now surround him, glowing faintly red. The runes on the floor glowed either blue or green and I sensed the old magic taking hold and gathering to the height of it’s power.

Ransom let out a painful scream and I stumbled away, thinking I had hurt him. I saw though, his body began to twist and shift into the beast that lay underneath.

A part of me wanted to stay but another part knew there was nothing I could do. I hurried out, closing and magically sealing the new steel door behind me. Hoping that the Ancient Circles held, I raced back to the Academy which was the only safe place to be on full moon nights.

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/06/04/weekly-writing-prompt-144/ with thanks).

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The Library #TaleWeaver

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Poetry knew it as a fine-able offence to take off her breathing mask whilst on the surface. But that was only if the Constables caught you and you were still alive afterwards to pay. Plus, Poetry reasoned there were green trees here, so the air must be okay. Taking a last deep breath of filtered air and oxygen, she pulled off the heavy mask and held that breath till she couldn’t anymore.

The next breath she took in was clean enough though it was tinted with the nuclear poisons that made the earth’s surface uninhabitable. Things weren’t so bad this far away from the core but Poetry knew she’d have to put her mask back on soon to avoid getting sick.

Being careful, where she placed her feet, Poetry edged into the building. A strange sight met her eyes; there were trees growing from the floor out of the roof of the room before her. The tree trunks were white and flaky as if they were wrapped in crumbing bandages but Poetry knew that was how those kind of trees looked naturally. Along the walls of the room were bookcases and most of the books were still in place.

Poetry tipped her head back and looked up at the balcony which formed a second floor. There was a staircase on either side leading up there. More bookcases and books filled the space and she breathed deeply in the old papers. On the floor there were broken tables and chairs, rotted by the incoming weather and time.

She was just about to step down when a voice called her name and she felt the brush of a gloved hand on her shoulder.

‘Where’s your mask?’ a muffled and gruff man’s voice asked her.

Poetry turned fully to her older cousin, Legend. It was thanks to him that she had been able to come on this surface run. He and his work colleagues were collecting salvageable items and also anything edible which could be decontaminated when they got back to the Hive then sold on.

‘Here. It’s fine,’ she added quickly, ‘there are alive trees in here and I just wanted to breath probably for a moment.’

‘And leave me to have to explain to your mother why you died?’ Legend cut back in.

He grab Poetry’s mask and shoved it back on her face. She tried to stop him but he was stronger and it was painful. She wrestled his hands away and put the mask back on herself.

‘There’s nothing good here,’ Legend spoke, ‘we’ve all ready been through.’

‘But the books,’ Poetry pointed out, shocked that her cousin couldn’t see the value in them.

He shrugged broad shoulders, ‘hard to decontaminated and only a few buyers.’

‘Hey!’ a man’s voice yelled and they both turned to look back, ‘Over here. I’ve shot a deer!’

Legend took off, jogging over to where two other men where heading into a clump of trees. Poetry watched him go then seized her chance. She rushed in and pulled a few books off the closest shelf. They were heavy, weighted down with damp and mould.

Unhappily, Poetry dropped them to the floor and went to seek any shelves that were sheltered from when light and rain come inside. Her heart was racing and she knew at any moment Legend would come back and drag her away. She only wanted a few books though, something new to read that wasn’t like the other stories she had.

There were bookcases at the back in corner which were in shadows. Poetry pulled a few books out and found they were drier. Not bothering to read the titles, she put her rucksack on the floor and stuffed as many inside as she could.

‘Poetry!’ Legend’s voice called from the distant doorway.

Poetry swung her bag back on, almost toppling under the weight of it. Then grabbing two last books, that were the biggest ones of the shelf and hurried back to him.

‘They are dry! Please!’ She gasped, her voice rasping through the mask.

‘If they don’t get through it’s not my fault,’ Legend huffed.

Poetry grinned, ‘they will,’ she said, ‘Conner the guard really likes me.’

Legend shook his head and turned away.

With a last glance at the library, Poetry followed him back into the long abandoned city.

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2018/05/24/tale-weaver-172-libraries-24-may-2018/ with thanks).

Globe

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I stood before my old high school, looking up at the massive building whilst a mixture of thoughts and feelings raged inside of me. It had only been three years since I’d last gone up the stone steps, through a set of the wooden double doors and down the corridor to my last day here.

The next day, the school had shut down and workmen had built a tall chain link fence around everything. Signs warning of closer, danger and demolishing in progress hung down. My friends and I were not put off by them though. The six of us had returned for one night to have a last wander though the halls and classrooms before they were gone forever.

‘There’s a way in around the back,’ Edison’s voice whispered.

‘Let’s go then,’ Hunter answered back.

We set off quickly and followed the fence all the way around the back to where the gym and sport fields where. There wasn’t anyone around on this warm spring evening, the workmen building the new housing estate across the way, had gone home and since the roads around here had been blocked off, there was no reason to drive around here.

‘There’s the gap,’ Edison pointed out.

We all stopped and looked. I would have missed the small cut in the links if he hadn’t pointed it out. Edison was small and chubby, really geeky looking with large glasses and longish brown hair. He was our guide, having come last week with his older brother.

Edison pulled apart the links quickly, the sound was loud and echoing, then he duck down and wiggled through. He held one side and the rest of us followed him; Hunter, Dusty, Spencer, Marci – the only girl- and me, Corey. We all had rucksacks and since we were all eighteen or over, we hadn’t really had to explain to anyone what we were going to do.

Keeping in the shadows of the building, Edison took us through a broken in fire door and we entered the main building. The familiar smells of wood vanish, lemon cleaning spray, books and sweat hit me and took me straight back to being fifteen again. It was like I was hurrying to my class again and going off to meet my friends for lunch.

It felt different though; the halls and classrooms were empty. The walls looked duller and most of the posters had been taken down. There was an eerie sense of loss to the place, like at a funeral. Our footsteps echoed too loudly as we peered into classrooms, looking for things.

‘Let’s go to the library,’ Marci whispered, though her voice carried.

‘I heard they’d got rid of all the books,’ Spencer muttered back.

‘I want to go and tag some stuff,’ Hunter said, ‘let’s split up.’

I went with Edison and Marci whilst Dusty choice to go with the other two. We heard them a few moments later smashing a door window and shaking cans of paint spray.

‘Hooligans,’ Marci said under her breath.

I had to agree. The whole point of coming here was to say goodbye to the place. Though I doubt anyone would care what we did. On the approached to the library we found torn pages and books scattered around, someone had been here before us.

Marci toed a few of the books, looking very unhappy in the low light. She had always been the bookworm of the group, though we all liked books, expect for Hunter. Marci went to the door and opened it. Edison and I followed and I saw that Spencer had almost been right.

All the bookcases were empty, but there were a few piles of books on the tables and floors. Marci and Edison began pouring over them, taking the ones they wanted. I went the counter and flipped through a dusty history book. Nothing took my fancy so after a few minutes, I got bored and decided to leave.

Walking down the corridors, I entered a few classrooms and saw that only a few had their desks and chairs piled up against the back wall. I guess they must have sold a lot of stuff off. On the blackboards, the people that had broken in before us had written rude things and draw interesting pictures. There was graffiti on the walls too that added to the sense of abandonment.

Opening the door of my old geography classroom, I walked in and saw a globe on the teacher’s desk. I touched the old paper map and give it a spin, there was nothing wrong with it. I looked and saw on the walls old posters of different countries. There was also a bookcase a quarter filled with atlas and guide books to different places. I collected them all, Marci would like them then with a shrug, I picked up the globe and left.

We all meet back some hours later, our rucksacks and arms full of gathered stuff. There was the scent of smoke in the air and I guessed that some of the others had been up to more then just tagging and looting.

‘What you want that old thing for?’ Hunter asked me.

Everyone turned to look. The globe was too big for my rucksack which had a few books, rolled posters and other stuff inside, so I was holding it instead.

‘It’s kinda cool. What are going to do with all those wires?’ I counted back.

‘Sell them,’ he replied.

There was some swapping of items and talking over things. Then we left. The sky was inky black with a handful of stars and the street was quiet. We walked together for awhile then went our different ways home.

Once there, I put the globe on my desk and spun it again. It felt a strange thing to take from an about to be demolished place but I felt oddly drawn to it. Leaving the stuff in my bag till later, I studied the world, mapping my way across it as I had never done in geography lessons.

Tiredness caught up with me and I saw it was nearly midnight. Giving the globe a final spin I went to bed, my head full of memories from my old high school.

Potterphile #atozchallenge

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Potterphile; a person who loves the Harry Potter books and films. 

I came down to breakfast, feeling like my brain was still in bed. Sitting at the table, I pulled the box of cereal over to me, grunting a reply back to mum who had just said, ‘good morning,’ to me.

Opening the box, I poured some cornflakes into the already waiting bowl. Placing the box back again, I glanced over at my little sister. All I could see was her violent red hair over the top of a thick book.

I wonder for a moment what she was reading. She was a total bookworm and hardly had her face out of a book. I lost count of how much she had read and most of the time I only half recognised some of the titles from school.

I splashed some milk on top of the bowl and started eating. I wasn’t even hungry but the wrath of mum wasn’t worth it. I glanced up at her as she put some toast down and fussed over a few things. Mum buttered the toast and nibbled on a slice. She looked tried and frustrated. Her hair which was the same color as my sister’s, was super fizzy as if it had been electrocuted.

If I could manged the words, I’d ask her how work last night was. She’d told us things were tough at the nursing home at the moment. Most of the old people had flu and they were dropping like flies. For the past two weeks, someone had died every second or third night. There seemed to be no end in sight for it clearing up.

I couldn’t get everything out of my mouth just yet, so I shoveled in some more wet cornflakes. Then I drank some orange juice, hoping that would wake me up. I felt like a zombie with a headache who was hungover.

‘Time for school,’ mum cut in.

She hurried up from the table and began clearing away. She was eager to go to bed and get some sleep. I wished I could do the same. Instead though, my day was going to be full of boring lessons and detention for not doing my science project.

I abandoned the rest of my breakfast and went to get my things. Behind me, I heard mum telling my sister to put Harry Potter down and get her stuff. Ah, that’s what she was reading! Shaking my head, I finished off getting ready then went downstairs again.

‘Here’s you lunch,’ mum said, handing me my plastic lunch box.

She reached up and tried to flatten down my hair which was doing it’s normal just out of bed sticking up everywhere look. I had red hair too, only it was much lighter then theirs, which I was thankfully for.

‘Thanks,’ I muttered and tried to shove the box into my bag whilst attempting to avoid her hands.

‘Lily! Come on!’ mum called upstairs.

My sister appeared, school bag on her back and that huge book hugged to her chest.

‘Lunch,’ mum said and handed her a pink fabric bag with a unicorn flying over a rainbow on it.

‘Did you put the fairy cakes in?’ Lily asked.

‘No, you know the school doesn’t like unhealthy food. You can eat them when you get back. Have a good day,’ mum added.

She kissed Lily’s forehead, opened the door and pushed us both out. The door rattled shut behind us. We started walking, it was a strangely bright sunny day and it felt like spring had finally arrived. In the front gardens of neighbors, flowers were starting to grow.

Lily fell behind and I reached the bus stop first. There were a few other people waiting there; two younger girls from my high school, a postman, a man in a high visibility vest and an harassed like young mum with three kids one of whom was in a pushchair. I glanced back for Lily and saw her walking slowly over, her face buried in her book.

There was no point in telling her to put it down. She was into nearly all books but there was something about the Harry Potter ones that really made her addicted. She must have read each one a hundred times and watched the movies just as much.

Lily came to a stop close to me, the book totally blocking out her face. Her fingers were wrapped so tightly around the thick spine that her knuckles were turning white. It must be hurting her little hands to carry something so big like that. I saw the page turn.

‘Which one’s that?’ I asked her.

‘The fifth,’ she spoke, ‘The Order Of The Phoenix.’

I pulled a face as if trying to remember which one that was. Lily had dragged mum and I to all of the movies and she must have made me watch each one a few times at home too.

‘Where you up to?’ I uttered.

Lily was quiet for a few seconds then she said, ‘they are at the starting feast.’

‘Here’s the bus. Stop reading whilst you get on,’ I added.

Lily had a habit of tripping up and down stairs and over things whilst she walked with her head in some fictional world. With a sigh and a nudge from me, she lowered the book and got on the bus behind everyone else.

The bus was packed as normal and I pushed Lily into a seat before the young mum could get one of her kids into it. I lent against the plastic panel leading up to the stairs, looming over Lily like an evil step-brother. Lily pulled up the book again and turned to her marked page.

‘What is about those books?’ I spoke loud without meaning too.

Lily glanced at me, ‘they are good,’ she replied.

‘So are many others,’ I put in.

She shot me a dirty look, ‘and what would you know? You hate books.’

The lady next to Lily throw me a disgruntled look then stare down at her Kindle again. Another woman behind her peered at me in horror before turning to the window. A few other people had raised their eyes too and I felt like Lily had just said a swear word.

‘I don’t’ I muttered.

Lily shot me a smug look then put Harry Potter between us. I pressed my lips together before turning away from her. The rest of the bus drive felt like it took forever but finally we made it to the stop outside of the high school and we got off in a crowd of people.

I had to drop Lily off at her primary school around the corner first. I took her arm, not caring that she cried out and almost drop her book.

‘We’re late!’ I snapped and broke into a jog, dragging her behind me.

‘Let go!’ Lily shouted.

She tried to wiggle free but I was too strong and was able to force her onwards. Only when we got to the gates and I pushed her inside, did I let go. She looked disheveled and grumpy.

I turned to go then remembered. I grabbed her shoulder, spinning her towards me then lowered my face to her’s and whispered, ‘wait for me in the library, okay?’

Her eyes got wide, ‘you got detention again?’ she asked then giggled.

‘Just do it,’ I growled and stalked off.

I was late to home room and the excuse of having to drop Lily off wasn’t working anymore. School was as dull as I thought it was going to be. Time seemed to have slowed too and the droning of the teacher’s voices remind me of bees buzzing in the summer heat.

At lunchtime after I had eaten, I crept off to one of my favorite hiding places; the English teachers’ stockroom. There in a back corner, hidden behind all the towering shelves filled with fiction and text books, I sat down. From the bottom shelf next to me I pulled out one of books; Harry Potter and The Order Of The Phoenix. 

Smiling, I turned to the page I’d marked last time. I was far ahead of Lily. But I wasn’t about to tell her or anyone else that.

Noctuary #atozchallenge

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Noctuary; the record of a single night’s events, thoughts or dreams. 

I had the dream again last night. I was in the library, there were the hushed sounds of voices and pages being turned. The smell of old leather, paper, ink, wax and dust drifted like a strong perfume. I was at an old desk, candles in lamps flickering around me and I was wearing a long white dress with a black corset.

Books were piled around me and I was reading one, open on a stand and the writing seemed to be in Latin. I was looking for something but I couldn’t seem to find the answers in any of these volumes. There was an ink pot and feather quill in a stand on my right side with some sheets of yellow paper.

Closing the book, I selected another one and flipped through it. Stopping at a page with a coloured drawing on one side and tiny writing on the other, I looked at the picture. There was a girl, older then me and she was wearing a white dress too! Her’s was tied with a large black bow at the back. She was going up some stone stairs in the middle of a forest. There were tall, green pine trees fading in the distance and lines of sunlight pouring through them.

I tried to read what the picture was about, but the book was written in a language I didn’t know. I studied the girl, noticing how her hair was the same brown colour as mine but it was straight and not curly. I blinked and the girl’s head had moved! Her face had turned to look over her shoulder and out of the page!

Gasping, I tried to convince myself it wasn’t true but I knew the girl was watching me. Her eyes were the same colour as my own and her face though on the edge of adulthood was mine too. I pressed my face closer to the book, my hands trembling as I clutched the edges. I saw a wind playfully blowing the girl’s dress about.

She was saying something! I lent closer in, trying to hear what the girl was saying.

‘It’s not here, what you seek,’ she whispered.

‘It’s not?’ I uttered back.

‘It’s here,’ she said and waved her hand at the forest in the picture.

‘Where?’ I pressed, desperately.

‘You know,’ she hissed back.

The wind played with her hair and the tails of the long black ribbon then everything became still. The girl’s head turned back and the picture was still again.

The book slipped through my fingers and hit the table top hard. The noise rang through the library then the dream was swirling away.

Next moment, I saw myself standing as the older version of me had done. I was on the steps leading up the forest. I could smell the pines and the green bushes. Birds were twitting and the wind was waving the tree tops. I looked down and saw myself in the same white dress with the black ribbon as she had worn them.

And I as walking through the trees, looking for what I knew to be there; the answers I had been seeking to life itself.

Dear Diary #42

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Dear Diary,

February is here at last! January seems to have lasted forever, probably because I spent most of it being ill. I would like to say I’m feeling better today but it seems I have a cold – been sneezing, coughing and got a sore throat again. I blame the weather! Last night it snowed again and it wasn’t meant too.

I stayed up waiting to see the super blue moon and it wasn’t until 1am that the clouds cleared enough. I then wasn’t impressed! I thought the moon was going to be huge and bright, well it was bright but not as much as I thought it would be. Maybe the bad weather had something to do with that. The photos from America of the added Luna eclipse looked really good and the moon was so massive!

It’s almost 5pm now and I should start making dinner, but I’m not hungry. My new diet is basically not eating which I hear is the wrong way to go about it but on the other hand the book I’m reading says to eat only when you are hungry….So, its a Catch 22. I should really read the novel at some point. Everyone knows that saying but not may know where it comes from.

But I’m on a book buying ban this year! Promised hubby I wouldn’t and the flat is bursting at the seams with everything. This year we should be able to get a house. Thinking that looking in the next few months is a good idea. Our own real place finally! Then maybe I could suggest the ‘b’ word again….Oh, to be like all my other friends and have a little spawn!

I get ahead of myself diary. New job first – I’m so tried of being everyone’s slave at the office. I’ve been applying for lots of things and I get interviews for a three places next week. Hopefully one of them will work out. Perhaps, I’d then find the time to start doing some writing again. Finally get that novel idea into reality?

I’m far too dreamy today! Must be this cold and the weather, though there’s no snow outside now and it’s sunny for a change! Hubby will be home soon, so I must figure out what we can eat. Or at least him…

Till tomorrow then!

Super Blue Blood Moon

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The full moon rose above the Earth, twice the size it normally was and red sand coloured. Humans watched in wonder but I stared in horror. The prophesy the warlock hundred and fifty years ago had uttered with his dying breath was coming true!

I glanced at the gold, designer watch on my left wrist, the thin hands were almost at two AM. A long wolf howl rose from the almost silent night. I gripped the balcony railing and lend out. Below me stretched the ever green pine forest, lit by the glow of the super moon. Another howl from a different direction sounded and even though I couldn’t seen them, I knew the werewolf pack were gathering.

I stepped back into my manor house, closing and locking the balcony doors as if they alone could keep out the cursed prophesy. I went to my vast library, where an unseen servant had light the fire and the gas lamps I still loved so much. Pacing, I tried to think of anything that I could change to stop the full force of what was about to happen.

From one of the hidden drawers in my Victorian writing desk, I pulled out a small leather bound and yellow page book. I had to turn the electrical light on to read my tiny feather quill handwriting. The prophesy was written in full;

On the night when the full moon appears twice in the same month and is monstrous in size and blood red in colour, shall all the evil arise. The world will be consumed, mankind will be over thrown and a new age will begin. Darkness will rule over everything and there’ll be no stopping it. 

I closed the book and pressed it between both my palms. The words; no stopping the evil, spun in my head. I couldn’t sit back and watch this happen! It was partly my fault… I sat down heavily on the leather padded chair and slipped the book away. It’s dark secrets would be safely locked again but my own secrets would be harder to put away.

Leaving the comfort of the library, I thought through all the possibilities as I went to the front door. There was only one way to stop the prophesy and that was to gather all the good forces together to fight this evil. Snagging my cloak and whipping it around me, I stepped into the night and became nothing more then a shadow across the lawn.

The Last Letter

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Dear Lucy,

The sickness is growing, I can feel it and if you’ve found this letter it means the time has finally come. I’m now too sick to sick to talk to you. I’ve gone to my bedroom and will die in my bed. Don’t bother coming to see me, there’s no point. My life has been so empty from the beginning that it only seems fitting that I should die alone now.

I’m trusting everything to you. Underneath this letter is the envelope containing my will. Only you and I know about how I live and that what people say about me isn’t true. I want you to up hold that imagine of me though; the quiet, yet social writer and artist. Who attend a different party or grand opening or some other important event every evening. Who’s house was always full with friends and he slept with different women each night. The too kind, mysterious, rich young man I wish I’d been in my youth.

Please carry on writing my ideas and books for me. You were always so good with new technology. I made it so in my will that you were able to write under my pseudonym, that way you can carry on perfecting your craft. You’ll make a great writer someday and finally be able to step out of my shadow.

I’m sorry to have to leave you like this. You have been like the wife and daughter, I daydreamed about having. I feel I should give you more but you already have my name and career in your hands, so what else can there be?

Good luck.

Postcard #39

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Saw this postcard at the last car boot sale of the year and it so reminded me of you. I was hoping it would reach you before Halloween but doubtful with the village post! Found this book too and it seemed interesting, something about a vampire virus. Anyway, hope to see you around Christmas.

Ben.

Yellow Day

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It was an overcast morning. The sky was blanketed with heavy strange orange-yellow-grey glowing clouds. Watching them from my study window, I could tell it was going to rain soon. I had been so engrossed in my work on my latest historical book for the last two hours that I hadn’t bothered to turn on the overhead lights or even to look up from my computer screen. If I had done maybe I would have noticed the odd clouds sooner or maybe I wouldn’t have noticed them at all.

Standing up from my chair, slowly so that my old body could take the movement and weight. I hobbled over to the window, leaving my walking stick by my desk. My view changed and I saw those yellow-orange-grey clouds above the roofs of houses and tree tops. Everything looked damp as it had rained before but I’d not noticed. A light wind was blowing the tree branches and the fallen leaves about in a lazy manner. Beside from that everything else looked still.

I frowned at the sky and wonder what was with those clouds. I’d never seen such a strange color. It was if they had been tinted by washed out sunlight or some poisonous toxin. They give off a depressing doom feeling, not like in a horror movie but more a tragic play. Little flecks of rain began to fall, like tiny snowflakes, almost invisible.

A chill went over my skin, rising the flesh in knobbly bumps. Feeling the stiffness growing in my legs, I moved and walked around my small study. The two walls either side were lined with bookcases, holding God only knew how many books. My desk was in the middle and the closed door in the wall opposite the window. Reaching the desk, I lent on it, feeling the aches I had come to know so well ebbing into my limbs.

The phone rang. The shrill crying breaking through my thoughts and pain. I answered it with a shaking hand and breathed deeply down the line.

‘Dad? It’s Emerald. Are you okay?’ my daughter’s voice echoed over the phone.

‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘just the arthritis again. I was sat too long,’ I replied.

Emerald tutted loudly as I shuffled over and sank into my chair. She was daughter number four and always the one who’d been most concerned about me out of the six. I could picture her rolling those sparkling green eyes which my late wife, Pearl, had named her after and fretting with her angel blonde hair. In the background, there were voices; the TV and her two children playing.

‘Listen. Please don’t go outside today,’ she pressed.

‘It does look little odd out there…’ I cut in, eyeing the window and the clouds.

‘The news said it was sand the hurricane winds are bring over from the Sahara. That’s why everything looks so orange-yellow and the air tastes strange,’ Emerald explained as if she was talking to a child.

‘Well, I guess they know more about this then I do. I didn’t have any plans to go out anyway,’ I added.

‘Do you need anything, dad? Do you have enough bottled water and food?’

I glanced around the study as if it could tell me.

‘I’ll go to the shops as soon as I’ve dropped the kids at school and get you somethings,’ Emerald spoke.

‘I guess that would be good of you, sweetheart.’

‘Okay. See you soon. I love you dad, bye.’

‘Bye, Emerald.’

We hung up and after a few seconds of staring at the phone, I got up and went to the window again. This time I took my stick and lent on it. Easing some of the pressure. I opened the window little and looked harder outside. What I thought had been rain before was actually bits of sand and Emerald hadn’t been wrong about the smell. It was hot and dry, like a beach only without the salty sea.

I had been to Egypt once with my parents when I was a child and as that memory came back to me, I decided that there were similarities between today and what it had been like there. I didn’t want to think about that anymore though, so I went back to my desk and found some news stories about storm.

After reading them, I put the PC to sleep and went downstairs, using the chair lift, I hated so much to get there. In the living room, I turned on the TV and opened the curtains. The same sky that had been upstairs greeted me. I turned on the two lamps then watched the news reports. I dozed off for a bit, feeling calm and warm in my favorite chair.

When Emerald arrived, she brought the storm in with her. I must have fully fallen asleep because the heavy rain beating down like fists and the whipping wind hadn’t disturbed me. It was Emerald’s voice shouting out to me above all of that and the creeping autumn cold, like Death’s fingers wrapping around my throat that woke me.

‘Dad? Dad? where are you?’

‘In here, pet,’ I answered.

There was a rustle of bags then she stuck her head around the door.

‘I’m fine,’ I waved her off then began to get up.

Emerald had made a second trip to her car and back to into the kitchen by the time I made it up and in there. She was already unpacking things and placing important items within easy reach.

‘It’s getting worse out there and everyone has gone crazy!’ Emerald said.

I nodded and pulled out a chair to sit down.

‘I got you some more soup and noddles. Theses dried fruits were on offer and two small loafs of bread. I’ll put one in the freezer for you.’

‘Your mother hated frozen bread,’ I muttered.

‘She also hated to be without a loaf,’ Emerald shot back then smiled at me, ‘do you want some tea and lunch?’

‘Yes. That would be nice.’

‘I asked Ruby and Sapphire to check in with you later. If they can’t drop in they’ll phone. Okay?’ Emerald asked.

I nodded, my thoughts going straight to daughters number two and five. It had been a week since I’d seen and spoken to Ruby and three days since Sapphire had called me. One of their birthdays was coming up soon, but I couldn’t remember which. Emerald would know. She had taken over her mother’s place in fussing over me and her sisters.

‘That’s all sorted now. Kettle on and cups, soup in and bread.’ Emerald said to herself.

‘Have you heard from Jade? Didn’t she go to the Sahara?’ I spoke out as the idea came to me. I hadn’t seen my oldest daughter in five years now since my wife’s funeral.

‘I think she did…’ Emerald paused then shrugged, ‘and it’s been a month now. I sent her a few emails and tried to call but she says signal is bad in that part of Australia.’

‘Or maybe that was Topaz,’ I thought aloud.

My third daughter, who lived in America with her husband and five children. They had come to visit two months ago.

‘Well, it wouldn’t have been Opal!’ Emerald came in with as she set two mugs of tea and a plate of toast on the table, ‘I went to see her the other day and she’s doing a lot better now. The doctors said she should be able to go home soon. Though to what I don’t know!’

I picked up my mug with a slight nod of my head. Opal’s life had been nothing but hell. The youngest of my girls she had set herself on a different path from the rest of them and became a drug addict and prostitute. I had written a book about her and it had done quiet well.

‘Maybe, she could move back in with you?’

I shook my head, ‘I like my space and my peace and quiet.’

‘But I worry about you. This house is too big for just you and you need someone to look after you more then ever now,’ Emerald pressed.

This was a conversation I was tried of and I had found it was best just to ignore the topic every time it was brought up. I drink my tea and ate my soup. Emerald filled the silence with chatter about her kids, husband, other family members. I sat in my other thoughts, often looking at the storm building up behind the kitchen window.

When my daughter left, I went back to the living room and put the gas fire on. It was too cold to sit without some warmth. I found a big book to read on Greek myths and legends and with the news on to keep me company and the storm trying to get my attention with it’s rage, I lost myself for awhile.

I must have fallen asleep because I woke slowly into a darken room. Blinking away the dim glow of the lamps, I looked about and checked I was still in the living room. The book was in my lap, the news was still on though the time had changed dramatically and outside I couldn’t see the storm because it was early evening and the rain was too splattered on the glass.

My body groaned and creaked with stiffness and pain, as I got up and went over to the fire place. Turning up the heat, I went around felt the radiators which were all on and warm. I went upstairs, struggled to put on another jumper over my first but managed to do it then went back downstairs. I made myself a large mug of tea and debated what to have for dinner.

Life has to go on in some way, storm or no storm.

 

(Inspired from; http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/orange-sky-storm-ophelia-sahara-13767164)