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).

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Dear Diary

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Dear diary,

October is finally here and the weather is turning autumnal. I’ve all ready started decorating the house with Halloween things! Just little things; my colourful maple leave with fairy lights wrapped around the staircase, a few of the pot pumpkins on the tables and the autumn wreath hanging off the door. More decorations will follow over the next few days.

I’ve started shopping online and in the stores now too. Most have their Halloween stuff out and it’s interesting to see what’s ‘in fashion’ this year. Clowns are still popular – recent movies to blame for that! Famous slash films are also still in but at least this year things seem little less shock horror.

I’ve brought to much to list but I’ve got all the candy for the children and most of the decorations I liked. Then I’ll raid the discounted things when that begins, I end up with my best things after Halloween!

Oh, I got to open the first window on my Halloween countdown calendar this morning. I know the 31st isn’t that far away but it still feels that way to me. It’ll come soon enough and then…Well, I need to keep some surprise for later!

Harbinger #Writephoto

It was the last day of September and a Monday which meant that Sadie had been super hectic at work. Finally, she was free to go home and though she was tried, she had a busy evening ahead.

As the bus engine vibrated underneath her, Sadie listed off her plans; home to eat and shower, then off to the coven meeting. There the practising witches would welcoming the coming of October at midnight. Afterwards she could go home to sleep.

Getting off the bus, she hurried down the road to her small house. The sky above was almost dark and Sadie hoped it wouldn’t rain. She opened the gate to her house and went up the path. On either side, Sadie’s front garden grew wild with a mix of things she used in cooking and magic.

Something rustled close by the front door. Sadie paused and looked down. There was something black and white sticking out of a clump of rosemary. Sadie peered further and saw a magpie trying to hide.

‘What are you doing down there?’ Sadie asked.

The magpie let out a soft, distressed cry. One of his wings was sticking out strangely and there was dried blood.

‘You are hurt!’ Sadie spoke, ‘wait a minute.’

She dug out her keys, let herself in and rushed into the kitchen. Getting a clean towel, Sadie went outside again and scooped up the magpie.

The weak bird allowed himself to be wrapped up and taken in without a fight.

Sadie placed him inside an old wicker basket then wondered what to do.

‘I’ll take you to the coven,’ she said aloud, ‘someone there will know what to do with you. A few of the witches have bird familiars.’

Sadie kept the magpie warm, give him little bit of cooked chicken and some water. When he seemed settled, Sadie got something to eat herself. After, she showered and changed in her black dress and purple hooded cloak.

Tucking the magpie carefully into the basket, she carried him to the basement of the abandoned factory where the coven meet.

Candles light all the walls and corners of the room. Chairs and tables were dotted around, some with witches sitting on them. Other figures moved across the centre, making markings on the floor.

Sadie found a male witch, Alex, who had a raven familiar, to help the magpie.

‘Looks like he’s been hit by a car,’ Alex told her, ‘this wing is broken and he’s in shock. You did the right thing. I’ll look after him.’

‘Thank you,’ Sadie replied, ‘I knew I couldn’t leave him to die.’

The welcoming of October began and they joined the others in the nighttime celebrations.

Hours later, the witches closed things and said their farewells. Sadie was too tried to give the magpie anymore thought and went home to bed.

 

Days later, there was a knock at Sadie’s door. She opened it, thinking it was the postman or a neighbour but it was Alex.

‘Oh, my basket!’ Sadie cried, ‘I’d forgot all about it!’

Alex smiled and added, ‘and your new familiar too!’

‘Familiar?’

Said looked into the basket and saw the magpie. He was looking healthy, his broken wing fixed and he had been well fed.

‘Yes,’ Alex replied, ‘I asked him if he wanted to be released or stay with you. He decided to thank you for saving his life by becoming your familiar. His name is Harbinger.’

Puzzlement crossed Sadie’s face and she looked from the magpie to Alex, ‘I don’t know anything about birds or having a familiar…’

Alex laughed and replied, ‘Harbinger and I will teach you all you need to know.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/09/26/thursday-photo-prompt-harbinger-writephoto/ with thanks).

Bike

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Granny said ‘be careful’ but it was her first time on two wheels and keeping balance wasn’t easy. She hit a tree and spent the rest of the day in hospital.

 

 

 

Moon Fall #3LineTales

four boys playing football in a lush green meadow

The moon fell from space and broke up as it entered earth, sending fire across the sky.

The children walking in the forest, found a chunk of it, not knowing what it was and seeing only a strange coloured ball, they played with it, throwing and kicking until the moon piece began to break up.

Each with a moon rock, the children decided to take their unusual find home, whilst unaware of the turmoil and terror that had befallen their world.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/09/26/three-line-tales-week-191/ with thanks).

 

Fall #CCC

The leaves were getting their autumn colours and falling. We walked through the woods and I loved the smells drifting in the air; damp soil, rooty plants, wood smoke and…. aftershave?

I turned to my boyfriend. He was a few steps behind, disappointment on his face.

‘Did you just put on aftershave?’ I asked.

He nodded, ‘just a bit. It smell musty in here. Like my nana’s house.’

I crossed my arms and give him an angry face.

‘Sorry, babe. I just don’t like nature as much as you do.’

‘Well, maybe you need a new girlfriend then,’ I snapped and stormed off.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2019/09/25/crimsons-creative-challenge-46/ with thanks).

 

 

Murmur #WritePhoto

The sky began to fill with light. The world murmured itself awake. Birds sing the first songs and other animals stirred themselves.

I watched from my bedroom window before I shut the black out curtains. The day was for people who could cope being outside. For me, even the slightest touch of the sun could burn my skin due to a rare allergic reaction I had been born with.

Closing the curtains, I got into bed. Thoughts of being a vampire filling my head. It was a laughable joke but it wasn’t true. I was no more a supernatural creature of the night then my boss was a pig. – Though he probably shared some of their DNA!

I snuggled into the coolness of the fresh sheets and reflected on my night shift at the open all hours petrol station. It had been quiet and I had been bored for a few hours but that was more capable then being rushed off my feet.

Dozing off, I started to dream of the day I was cured and could finally go out in the sun.

 

 

 

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/09/19/thursday-photo-prompt-murmur-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

Trunk #TwitteringTales

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The train station was busy and steam filled the air. The tall man glanced back as the porter struggled with the large trunk.

‘What have you got in here!’ the porter cried.

‘My sister,’ the tall man replied simply.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/09/17/twittering-tales-154-17-september-2019/ with thanks).

The Butterfly Princess – A Children’s Story

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Once upon a time, a young Princess lived in a vast kingdom and her home was the mighty castle that stood at the heart of the country.

She lived with her parents; the King and Queen, nine siblings, many uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents, other relatives and an army servants. The family were extreme close and enjoy being together.

One early autumn day, the young Princess and some of the other children were playing outside in the castle’s huge maze of gardens. The girls were catching butterflies and dragonflies whilst the boys hunted for beetles, worms and bugs.

The young Princess caught a very pretty butterfly that had many different reds, oranges and yellows on the wings.

‘I wish I could be like you, butterfly and know what it’s like the fly,’ the Princess whispered.

When the Princess went to bed that evening, her back hurt and she couldn’t settle to sleep. Her skin felt itchy and burning. She called for her Nanny – who was one of many in the castle- by ringing the bell by her bed.

Nanny came at once and looked at the Princess’ back.

‘Nettle rash? Or ivy? Perhaps something else?’ Nanny pondered, ‘well, whatever it is, here is some of Nanny’s magic lotion. It will cool and soothe and make that rash gone!’

The Princess nodded and let Nanny cover her upper back in a sweet smelling lotion.

That night the Princess hardly slept. She tossed and turned, not able to get comfy because her back hurt too much. She felt like her skin was on fire and began crying. The Princess rang the bell for Nanny and a maid then sat wailing till they arrived.

Nanny came and looked again at the Princess back. The skin was bright red and looked like it was bubbling.

‘Not a rash then. Sunburn?’ Nanny wondered, ‘don’t worry, Princess! Nanny has something for everything.’

Turning to the maid, Nanny asked for, ‘cold water, clean cloths and some warm milk.’

They washed the Princess back, put on a different lotion then wrapped her up. The princess sipped the warm milk then lay on her stomach and finally fell to sleep.

In the morning, the young Princess was running a fever and her back was worse. The King and Queen came to see her then sent for a doctor- the best in the kingdom. When he arrived, he was puzzled and declared that the Princess must have sat too close to a fire and had burnt her back.

Nanny disagreed with him but what else could it be?

The doctor give some medicines, instructions and left to see the King’s father who had come down with a bad cold.

By that night the Princess felt little better but her back was still bad and she couldn’t lay down on it. As she tried to get some rest, she felt something moving over her shoulder blades.

Ringing for Nanny, the Princess crawled out of bed and made it across her bedroom to a big mirror. She looked at her back but it was wrapped up and she couldn’t see it.

When Nanny arrived, the Princess told her but Nanny thought she was still feverish.

However, when the Princess awoke in the morning, her back felt like someone was cutting into it and she took the bandages off to see.

There on her back, growing out of her shoulder blades were a tiny pair of black wings!

The Princess gasped and called for Nanny and maid.

‘Look at my back!’ the Princess cried to them, ‘I have wings!’

‘Go and get the King and Queen at once!’ Nanny snapped at the maid, who hurried off to do so.

‘They are real!’ the Princess cried and she tried to move them.

‘How did this happened?’ Nanny muttered.

The King and Queen came and when they saw the wings they wondered if their daughter had been cursed by an evil witch. They decided they would have to seek magical help and the Princess would have to stay in her bedroom and no one would be allowed near her.

The Princess wasn’t happy but no one would listen to her.

Over the next few days and nights the wings carried on growing until they were almost as tall as the Princess was. They were very pretty and brightly coloured in reds, oranges and yellows.

Lonely and bored, the Princess learned how to control the wings and when Nanny and maid were not around, the Princess would try to fly!

This took a lot of time but she began to get the hang of the wings.

Then one beautiful, full moon lit night, the princess decided she wanted to go and fly outside. She crept through the castle using many secret passages and servant corridors. Finally, she made it out into the kitchen gardens and without looked back, she hurried to one of the other gardens furthest from the castle.

There she felt the breeze tug on her wings and she knew what to do.

The Princess stepped up onto a stone bench, she fluttered her wings, closed her eyes,  concentrated and jumped into the air.

She opened her eyes and looked down, her feet were off the ground!

She flapped the wings and rose higher and higher! Soon she was flying over the gardens then over the castle, over the city and towards the moon.

The Princess felt thrilled, she had gotten her wish to fly!

She yawed and decided it was time to return to bed. The Princess flew back to the castle, landed in a garden and sneaked back to her bedroom. No one could ever know what she had just done!

For the first night in a month the Princess slept well.

When she woke in the morning, her back felt different, lighter. The Princess looked down and saw on either side her butterfly wings! They had fallen off in the night. She was a normal girl again.

The End.

Reaching #WritePhoto

The five adventurers had been walking towards their quest for weeks now. They had across woodland, swamps and moorland, through sun, rain, snow and darkness, fighting goblin night raids, giant raven attacks and other monsters.

Stepping through a clump of wild brush that had been sneakily trying to ensnare them, the group saw they were at the base of sweeping hills as far as the eye could see. Weak sunlight fell through the cloud cover, causing beams of light to touch the hills.

In the dim light and under a dead tree, they gathered and talked quietly.

The elf ranger was certain this was the right way. The two men- one an aged wizard and the other a hardened solider- agreed with him for the elf had yet to lead them wrong. The dwarf cleric and the halfling thief weren’t so sure.

Nobody really knew what was beyond The Reaching Hills, those that went there didn’t often come back and when they did their minds were lost. It was said that evil ghosts and outcast Gods walked the hills, snatching souls and murdering. The hills were always cast in gloom and no normal light could break though the darkness that lay in patches providing perfect cover for enemies.

‘We must go on and see,’ the wizard spoke, ‘I can give us the magical light we need to see by and stop anything sneaking upon us.’

‘We don’t need to go through The Reaching Hills!’ the halfling cried, ‘we can go around them. To the west they only go as far as the Red River. We can cross the Long bridge there and go around!’

The elf shook his head, white hair spilling around his shoulders, ‘it would take too long.’

‘We could die!’

‘We could have died back there!’ the dwarf shouted, ‘we barely got out of that poisonous man-eating plant patch!’

‘We go forward then,’ the solider said and he started walking up the first of the hills.

The rest of the party followed, wondering if the tales of The Reaching Hills were true and what they would encounter there.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/09/12/thursday-photo-prompt-reaching-writephoto/ with thanks).