Monastery #WhatPegmanSaw

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There were so many Buddhist monasteries in Bhutan it had been hard to decide which ones to visit. I marked them on my map and tried to fit one in everyday.

No matter how calm being there made me as soon as I left the darkness crept back in. Heat would prickle my skin, thoughts and voices would crowd my mind. I felt taken over and no longer in control.

My only choice was to remain in a monastery but I didn’t want to be trapped. That’s how the darkness wanted me to be though; one way or another.

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/07/27/what-pegman-saw-bhutan/ with thanks).

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Past Voices

Living Room, Man, Woman, Children, Cat, Toys, Old

The museum was silent as the last of the lights clicked off and the caretaker left. The old building, that had once been a grand country house settled to sleep. As the darkness spread and the full moon rose, the sound of small bare footsteps sounded across wooden boards in a hallway. Followed by a soft giggling then everything went still again.

In the large room which held the toy collection, things started to move. An old bear’s paw was gently dipped downwards, a book was half pulled out from a shelf and a tin fire engine moved in it’s glass case.

Two sets of children’s running footsteps sounded on the creaking boards then the worn rugs covering the middle of the room. A soft humming echoed then faded.

Inside the doll’s house, the small china dolls began to move as the ghost children began playing.

Church (Chapter 4, Part 1)

Continued from Church Chapter 3

Make sure you’ve read the other chapters. They can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in an abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon and a Demigod Bear. He is rescued by Rain, a Reaper. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk. After which, she tricks him into combat then she revels some of her story and dismisses Blaze.

Chapter 4

‘On this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’

Matthew 16:18

I walked away from the ruined remains of the cathedral and didn’t look back. I was seriously tempted too, but a part of me knew if I even caught a glimpse of those stones I would retrace my footsteps, find Rain and hold her tightly to me. I climbed the hill and unfurled my golden red wings at the top. I flapped them, feeling the rush of air around my body before I jumped up and took to the sky.

The time hadn’t changed, I noted as dawn was just touching the horizon like it had been doing when I stepped under the cathedral archway. I was feeling extremely awake and calm, though it was probably a lingering effect from the garden. I raced the coming dawn home and landed next to the lichgate. I watched the sun completely rise above me. Warm light brushed me then hurried in further to light up the clinging shadows.

Taking in a deep breath, I turned back and cast my eyes over the graveyard. Small headstones poked out of the grass and I know what awaited me. Climbing over the gate, my boots hit the grass and the almost lost path underneath. I pulled my robe tighter around me, hunched my shoulders and walked up to the church. I can feel them, the diminishing ghosts. They watched from their burial places and whispered to themselves and each other. A soft crying child wisp brushed my ears and I tried to block it out.

I kept my pace as I began to climb the slope, expecting at any second to be assaulted by the spirits. Ever since I had moved into the church, they had reached out to me when I passed though the graveyard. Their almost faded voices constantly pleaded with me to help them pass over and escape this place. At first, I had been sympathetic with them, who couldn’t be? But I didn’t know how to help them, it wasn’t my job or place to ferry them over. I had countlessly explained this to them, but they didn’t get it and still clutched to my Heavenly light. Now, I had lost my patience with them all and I automatically put up the barriers and ignored them.

I reached the church porch and turned in confusion. I could just about see the spirits, though in the morning glow their forms were fading fast. There was a small girl in a too large white dress, an elderly couple clutching both of each other’s hands, a teenage boy laying in the grass looking bored. There was a young woman clutching a new born to one side and a two year old to the other, she was stood next to a World War One soldier boy. Beyond them was an ancient hobbling woman, an old man with a missing arm and small dog at his feet, a ten year old girl in a summer dress and finally, a middle aged farmer’s wife.

I waited and watched them all vanish as the sunlight finally settled on the graveyard and church. Thoughts tumbled through my mind. This had never happened before. Had they sensed the lingering evil touch from my fight with the Demigod bear and other daemons? Or had my Heavenly light finally faded? I reached for my great sword and slowly eased it out of the sheath at my hip. The weapon still looked normal and though it was heavy, I couldn’t feel its true weight in my hand. Placing the blade back, I ruffled my wings, reassuring myself that they too were still there and working.

For a few seconds, I wondered what else I could do to prove that nothing had changed. I didn’t feel anything different, just the circling puzzlement over the spirits’ reactions. With nothing coming to my mind, I looked out over the graveyard and decided that maybe the ghosts had finally given up on me. Somehow, that thought didn’t make me happier. They had always been active and determined.

I turned, pushed open the door with some force and squeezed inside the church. Nothing looked out of place and it didn’t look like anybody had wondered in. I wedged the door back in place, shutting out the glorious yellow daylight. I let my eyes adjust to the darkness, then set my boots crunching along the floor, just like they always did over the fallen plaster and bricks. The dilapidated pews rose up on either side of me as I walked towards the altar.

For the first time in what felt like awhile, I looked over at the matching four arched windows, two on either side. They were empty of what once had been colourful stained glass depicting famous scenes from the Bible. The fragile remains of the frames now lent against old wooden boards, which were showing signs of rot. I wondered which Biblical scenes they had chosen and how many times the congregation mused over them.

Stepping up to the stone altar, I paused. There should have been a large divided window behind the grey rectangle block. Now there was only another wooden board, which banished the light and allowed darkness to rule. In the walls on either side of the window were etched out crosses. I knelt, put my hands together and cleared my mind. I fell into saying the Lord’s Pray aloud, ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…’ my voice echoed in the dead church.

Afterwards, I slipped into silence, not sure what else to say. I thought about a number of things, but decided that I just couldn’t word anything right. I let my hands fall and lent back, looking up at the window. I should say thank you, I thought, but somehow I just couldn’t do it. What did I have to be thankful for right now? Shelter, I guess. The fact I was still alive. I clenched my fists. I wasn’t thankful for being trapped here though.

I relaxed my hands and got up. I went to the hidden alcove. Pushing open the door, I climbed the spiral staircase upwards and into my room. I light the candle out of habit, swung my sheath sword into place against the desk and stripped out of my clothes. The notebooks I had taken tumbled out and slapped the floor hard. I gathered them up and placed them on the desk.

Once naked, I picked them up again and took them into bed with me. Though it seemed like I had all ready slept, I felt exhausted. My wings wrapped around protectively around me, but I shimmered them away, so I could feel the cold wooden walls on my back.  Arranging the mass of blankets and pillows, I settled back and shut my eyes. I did some deep breathing exercises and succumbed to a meditate like state.

She came to me right away. Rain. She was standing in her Paradise Garden. Her mismatched green and blue eyes were looking out over the railing whilst the animals and stream sing to her. The air was thick with lavender, midnight jasmine and lilies. She had her arms resting on the rail, her light brown hair loose and wind swept. She was wearing the black pants and a white vest top from the training room. I couldn’t see her expression.

I sighed and said her name aloud. It was sweet on my lips like forbidden fruit. Would I ever see her again, like she had promised? Sleep rolled across me and I welcomed it with open arms.

To Be Continued…..

Church (Chapter 2, Part 2)

Continued from Church chapter 2, part 1 and also the first chapter of Church in the November archive. https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/2014/11/19/church-part-1/

I stepped from under the archway and into a paradise garden. Five long stone steps led down to a rolling landscape covered in a carpet of lush emerald grass, sprinkled with brightly coloured English meadow flowers. A few small red and yellow acre trees were spread out, creating another level of colour at the eye line.

Cutting its way through the centre, a babbling stream twisted like a serpent with the water rushing over or around shiny stones. The stream came close to the steps, then turned a sharp right and rushed off to the side. Also dotted about where large moss rocks, which I quickly realised were actually fallen and displaced parts of the cathedral.

Glancing up, I saw shafts yellow sunlight flooding through the high arched empty window frames. Above them, the roof stretched up in classic gothic ribbed vaults, which were painted to look like a summer day’s sky. Further along to the right side was a balcony, which seemed to run the length of the room. On the other side, I could see empty niches and towering columns.

My other senses became assaulted too, as I suddenly noticed that the garden was teeming with life. Small birds, butterflies and bees roamed the air, their voices and wings rang in my ears alongside the stream’s bubbling. The wondrous scents of midnight jasmine and lavender filled my nose, mingling with other flowers and fresh air. I just couldn’t take it all in and yet…the more I looked the more it seemed to be unrealistic.

I stepped down into the soft grass and swept my fingers over the top of the blades. They felt real enough to me. Moving to the stream, I did the same and dipped my fingers into the clear water. They came back wet and I pressed them to my lips and tasted a few drops of cool sweet water. I walked slowly through it all and found Rain waiting for me on a small wooden bridge going over the stream.

‘Is all this real?’ I asked as I joined her and waved my arm around.

‘Yes and no,’ she replied with a little smile darting on her lips, ‘we are on a different plane and I created this area, but it’s not truly real.’

‘But it seems it,’ I replied.

She nodded, ‘because I will it to be so.’

I looked around again and watched two brown rabbits appear from behind a rock and start nibbling at the grass. I felt oddly relaxed and calm, all my worries had slipped away and I had this faint recall of being back home. I turned to Rain and found her removing her black mask.

‘I’m going to get changed. There are rooms up there,’ she said, pointing to the balcony.

From this angle, I could now see four white doors and as Rain moved off, I followed her to an almost hidden staircase which was joined to the wall.

‘So, the ruins of the cathedral are not real?’ I questioned.

‘They are real. I wouldn’t have been able to make it so stable otherwise. Tourists sometimes stubble on here, but they normally can’t see any of this. I made it well protect from everything and only those I let in with me can stepped through the portal.’

We had climbed the stairs and come to the top. I looked out and saw an even better view then before. Rain turned her back on it and indicated to each of the doors as she told me what lay behind them.

‘The first is my room, the second is the bathroom, the third can be yours’ for now if you want and the four is locked. So, you can’t go in there and don’t ask what’s there because if you thought all this was a bit mind blowing, well!’

Rain tossed her hair over her shoulder and smirked. I nodded, never having been one to probe further into such matters. Rain straightened from her slight lean on the railing and walked to the first door.

‘Do whatever you like and we’ll talk whenever you want. Time is permanently frozen here,’ she called over shoulder as she opened the door and stepped in.

I nodded as it closed behind her and stealing a last look at the view, I walked to the third door and stepped inside. The room was large, with bare stone walls, dim lighting from a small modern chandelier and no windows. A double bed was before me, freshly made and there was a desk opposite with a wardrobe beside that. I walked over, opened the doors and saw an array of clothing neatly hung up.  I pulled out a simple, long white cotton robe and got changed into it.

Leaving my other clothes, armour and my sword on the bed, I inspect the bedroom more closely, but there was nothing else. Leaving, I went into the bathroom and found it very modern with its bright white and sliver sink, toilet and shower. I ran the sink tap and water gushed out. I drink deeply, before turning it off and drying my hands and face on a soft white towel. The idea that none of this could be real was far from my mind.

Walking out, I went and looked over the rail. Resting my arms across the cool marble, I tried to get my mind thinking about Rain. I really wanted to know who and what she was. However, I didn’t seem able to grasp or follow any trains of thought. It seemed that every few moments, no matter what I had been thinking, my mind went blank and the paradise garden filled my thoughts. Shaking my head, I wondered if she was a powerful witch, or else something along those lines that I’d just not heard about before. That didn’t feel right though and as I struggle to think deeper, the garden rolled across it and I couldn’t help but admire it again.

I went down the staircase and wondered through the area. The beauty of the flowers and animals was beyond description as well as the aromas, which were sometimes different in certain areas due to the clustering of the flowers. I have no idea how much time passed before I saw Rain again, but as I walked up a spiral staircase at the far end, I came on to a platform and there she was.

She was sat in a large chair that had been shaped inside the trunk of a living oak tree and there was another one opposite. A table gently shaped into that form from a very low oak lay between them, with a large basket of fruit on it, which Rain was eating strawberries from. She indicted to me with her head and hand to help myself and I gladly selected a red apple. I sunk into the other tree chair, finding it soft and cosy, then began eating.

‘How is everything?’ Rain broke into conversation and it seemed to dispel my constant thought problems.

‘Fine, thank you,’ I replied.

‘There’s a spell on the garden. I forgot to tell you before, though you’ve probably been feeling the effects all ready.’

I nodded and bid her to carry on.

‘It doesn’t affect inside the rooms or in this spot. I come here to clean my mind and soul, so part of the spell so to stop thoughts and memories from developing,’ Rain explained, she rubbed her left wrist on the edge of the table, ‘this is the only place I can find peace now,’ she sighed softly.

‘What?’ I asked.

‘No. I want to hear your story first.’

‘My story?’

‘Yes. Who are you and want are you doing here?’

‘Well…I’m Blaze,’ I answered then stopped, realising she hadn’t known my name this whole time, ‘I probably should have told you that before.’

‘You were districted and sometimes withholding your name is a good thing. Your enemies could use it against you,’ Rain said, pointing a watermelon slice at me, ‘it’s nice to meet you Blaze. I’m Rain,’ she added and held her hand out.

I went to give her mine then realised the table was too long for our hands to meet and shake. Rain laughed and threw a grape at me. It struck my chest and bounced on the floor. I looked down in shock at where it had hit and then back at her.

‘Saving your life makes us best friends,’ she responded in-between giggles.

‘The Demigod bear,’ I muttered as it all came back to me.

Rain fell silent and nodded.

‘I don’t think I thanked you probably for that…’

‘It’s fine. Go on, I really do want to hear all about you.’

‘All right,’ I replied and finished off the apple in a few quick bites, ‘I guess we should start at the beginning.’

To Be Continued…