Getting Ready

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It was getting to the end of the year again and the orders were mounting up. Kate owed a small online pampering productions business. It was her most busiest time for making things and it also meant she had no time for herself. The small house smelt like an any famous bath and beauty shop, the air heavy with essential oils, soaps and baking powers.

Even though it was cold, she sometimes had to leave the kitchen and dinning room windows open to get rid of the overpowering smell. Kate had grown use to it over the years she had been making things, but it did get too much. She also had to keep the cat shut up in the living room or her bedroom. The cat was old and had spend most of her life inside, so she didn’t mind.

Every day it felt the same; get up check the new incoming orders, note them down on her list. Then carry on with making orders. The ones she finished, got packed up and ready for posting. Once a week, on Monday, she checked stock and ordered more as well as her bank account to make sure payments were correct. Sometimes, she would work late into the night or get up early to make sure a product was made in good time or an order ready to post the next day.

It was hard and sometimes she wondered why she was doing this but then she would think back. All the jobs she had done after uni had been dull and not tested her enough. Plus, she had hated working under other people and the struggle to the top always felt out of reach. So, one day she had packed it all in and decided to be self-employed and her own boss.

The going had been tough and a few times she had given up but then things had slowly turned around and every year she had gone from strength to strength. Now, she couldn’t be happier.

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Backwards Time

stress-2883648_1920She was just so far behind with everything that she might as well be time travelling back into the past. The work was piled meters high on her desk, so that it looked like paper sculptures and her computer calendar chimed every minute with another reminder about something.

She did all she could in the work time then went home to a dysfunctional house. At least her husband had remembered to pick up the kids from their after school clubs today. There was still a meal to be made, clothes washing to do, tidying up and from out of the chatter of her ten year old, a school project that was due in tomorrow and he hadn’t started yet.

There was no escaping the lack of time here either but she couldn’t easily stop like at work. Somehow and with family help, she got everything done and went to bed at midnight. The dream she had though was strange. She was walking somewhere, the colours were all washed together and she could hear a loud clock ticking in the distance.

There was a town but all the people in it had clocks instead of faces. She could hear them speaking to each other and they didn’t find it as bazaar as she did. Still that loud ticking continued. She entered a city and found all the buildings made of clocks and the noise they created was deafening. The people they didn’t seem to care because they were totally clocks themselves.

She watched them hurrying past. They had long thin black legs with shoes at the end and long black hands with black gloves and the clock face was the body and the head together. They seemed to talk in a tick tock language which she couldn’t understand. Then she saw a clock dog being walked by a clock person and it was all just too much to handle.

Hurrying away, she left the city and found herself in the colour washed landscape once more. There was a mirror before her, standing alone and seemingly waiting for her. She went up and looked at her reflection…but a clock face looked back at her instead. Screaming, she awoke from the dream and sat in the darkness wrapped in twisted sheets.

Her husband shifted beside her and awoke, questioning what was wrong.

‘Look at my face!’ she demanded.

‘I can’t, it’s dark,’ he replied.

She got up went into the bathroom and slowly stepped before the mirror. Her own face looked back at her. Breathing deeply, she shook off the dream but decided that tomorrow she was going to ask for some help and perhaps then she could live in the now and not in the past.

Lost Wings

Angel, Wing, Angel Wings, Heaven

I often went to sulk in the cemetery. It was my go to place if I was feeling upset or angry and wanted to be away from the world. No one really visited this unimportant corner which was mostly hidden in a small wooded area. There were maybe about sixty headstones and the little chapel which had been forever abandoned.

Plucking at the long grass growing in-between the treeline and edge of the cemetery,  I recalled why I was here today. It was because Minnie and I had fallen out again. Perhaps this time for good. She had been secretly dating Dalton Walton, who I had a huge crush on and had wanted to date for an age. Minnie had always known that and still she had….

I ripped the grass up and threw it away. I felt like screaming and crying, stomping around and throwing myself dramatically over a gravestone. I didn’t though. I walked into the cemetery and began reading the names off. It always helped to calm and distracted me.

The only statue was of an angel and it stood in the middle row. The angel was short, made of grey stone and was crying. She watched over the grave of Annabelle Leyton, born 6th October 1887 and died 6th October 1903, on her 16th birthday. Rest Sweetest Angel. Annabelle’s parents and still born brother were in the grave to her left. On the right side; Annabelle’s older sister, Bethany, her husband James and there three children.

I felt a strange connection to Annabelle because we were the same age. Today though as I stood before the angel, I noticed something odd. Her wings were missing! Looking, I saw they were laying on the ground, having snapped off from her back. How had this happened? I nudged one with my toe whilst I wondered what to do.

The wings were too heavy to lift back up and even if I did that, how would I get them to stay again? I walked to the back of the statue and looked. It was an odd sight seeing the large marks were the wings had cracked away from. I couldn’t tell if they had fallen off natural or if someone had cut them off. But why would you do that and just leave them?

Feeling sadder, I sighed and knelt down in the grass. I touched the wings. They were cold, solid stone but the feathers were raised and I could feel each outline against my finger tip. I didn’t know much about angels but I was sure when they wings got cut off bad things happened to them.

Looking up at Annabelle’s angel, I decided that she just didn’t look right anymore. It seemed up to me to fix that. I went home, did some research on my phone and came up with a plan. The next day, a Saturday, and whilst my parents were busy with their own lives, I went out and brought from an arts and crafts shop some white plastic sheeting, wires, metal tags and pliers.

I took all of this to the cemetery and there in the late summer sun, I built angel wings. I made the frame out of the wire, shaping it and joining it with clips. I used the old stone wings as a guide. Then I covered the white plastic over it, shaping the ends to try and look like the feathers. I wasn’t an arty person and it didn’t look very good, but it would have to do.

Using more wire, I fixed the wings in place to the back of the angel. That took awhile, as I didn’t get it straight the first few times. Finally, I felt I had done the best I could. I was tried, hungry and thirsty too. Stepping away, I looked at the angel and her new wings. The contrasted of the grey stone and bright white plastic wings didn’t look good. It was too childish.

I felt disheartened. We had read Frankenstein for English Lit last year and that’s totally want the angel now reminded me off. I wanted to go over and rip the wings off. She would look far better without them but I didn’t. I was too tried. Tears rolled down my cheeks and I wiped them away.

I clenched my fists and told myself to stop. The wings would do for now and maybe in the future I’d find a way to fix the original ones. It was time to go home now. That night I had a strange dream. I was walking in the cemetery and it was snowing. I went to the angel statue but it was missing. Looking around, I couldn’t spot her anywhere and then I heard the fluttering of plastic.

The angel appeared before me. She held out her arms, a large smile on her face and behind her the wings I had made glowed white.

‘Thank you,’ she said in a soft, clear voice.

I nodded, too shocked to speak.

Then she took to the air again, disappearing into the snow and I woke up feeling a lot better.

 

(Inspired by; https://janedougherty.wordpress.com/2017/08/09/flash-fiction-challenge-lost-wings/ with thanks).

Time

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Time is ticking normally as you sit at your desk in the too hot office. You longingly look at the window, which is open all the way but barely lets in any fresh air. You feel bored and sleepy, even though there’s lots of work to do.

You shut your eyes just for a few minutes. The background noises start to fade and you feel like you are floating upwards. The window opens wider and you drift outside. You fly, rising higher and soaring over the city. Cool air rushes all round you, making you feel refreshed.

Perhaps, it’s only a dream but it feels so real.

Dear Diary #33

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Dear Diary,

Well, today’s the day! I’m going to get my first car! I’m so excited, I can’t wait. I feel like I could burst or fly or just something! It’s so hard to capture this feeling. There are so many thoughts going through my head and some of them are so fleeting that I don’t really know them.

All I can think about it just how much better life is going to be. I can just get in the car and drive, instead of having to wait for a bus and having to put up with other people and having to be late because the bus driver had to have a break. I won’t have to wait in the rain either, or feet for a seat.

I can blast music so loud and I can eat without being stared at. It’s going to be far fat better. Okay, so there are going to be something that will be downers. But I can deal with that like everyone else!

No one is taking this dream about to be reality away from me!

It’s time now. I’m going to go and bring my new car home!

The Repeating Dark

Man's Hand in Shallow Focus and Grayscale Photography

Most people don’t really know they are dreaming. They just wake up realise they’ve had a dream and then get on with their day. Me though, I always know when I’m dreaming. I guess it’s because for years I’ve had the same dream. I’ve never really told anyone about it fully. When I was younger, I told my parents a few times about it but they just said it was a nightmare and it would go away.

The dream never has though.

So why now do I want to share it with you? I guess it’s because we know that by the time you read this I’ll be dead. So, it really won’t matter anymore. I’m worried though that this dream won’t die with me and it might get passed on to you. So, I thought I better write everything down and if the dream ever does come for you then you’d be more prepared and maybe do what I could never figure out; break the cycle.

The dream is the same all the time. Nothing, not even the tiniest detail changes nor does the events. I’ve tried many times to change something, but it has never worked. Also, I’ve never found a pattern for the occurrences. Nothing seems to bring them on or makes them stay away for long. The dream seems like a ghost; appearing and disappearing when it wants to.

The dream begins when you wake up in a dark room. For a few moments, you think you really have awoken and it’s the middle of the night. Then though you began to see things and the realisation that this is not your room dawns. You see a table, an empty bookcase, a tall leather armchair and a window.

As you began moving around, you’ll notice other things; the smell of flowers even though there’s none in the room, the breeze of fresh air though the window isn’t open and there seems to be no door. Soft sounds that you are not sure what they are; voices whispering maybe? Faint footsteps, the patter of animal paws. You feel the furniture, it’s solid and cold.

You study the bookcase and see that it’s not actually empty. There is a book in the bottom corner. Pulling it out, the book is thin and black, you open the pages and see a language that is beyond you. The letters seem to move across the page, twisting and transforming, but still you can’t read them. You put the book back.

Unsure what to do, you go to the window and look out. There is no curtain or netting and the window is sealed. No matter what angle and how far you look, you can never see out of the window. A blackness masks the glass, leaving you no hint of where you are.

You can continue to inspect the room, but you’ll find nothing else. Time might then began to pass but sometimes he appears quickly. Once again, I have found no pattern to his appearance. Sometimes you feel you’ve been waiting mere moments, other times it’s hours or days trapped within that room.

The man always appears though. He seems to come from the window, shifting out of the darkness. Taking the form of a shadow at first, but then becoming more solid. He is a dark man; black from toe tips to the fine strands of hair. Backed by the window as he always is, you can never make out any of his features and often he seems to be one with the darkness.

You can try talking to him, but he’ll never answer back. For years, I have questioned him, but not once has he uttered a word. Perhaps, things might be different for you and maybe he will break his vow of silence. I have also tried different things; standing or hiding in different places, giving him the book etc. But nothing works.

Then he holds his hand out and waits for you to take it. I’ve tried not to. I have fought hard to ignore him and often I have stood facing a corner with my back to him. No matter what, somehow my hand always ends up in his! Then his hand closes on mine, holding it tightly and I feel a strange coolness.

He begins to fade back through the glass slowly. You can’t take your hand out of his. I’ve tried but found no solution. He vanishes totally and you see your hand has gone to and the darkness is creeping up your arm. Even if you panic and scream, nothing can be done. The fear is so over-welling that you get dragged down with it.

Then you are surrounded by total blackness and nothing else can be done.

When you awake because despite everything you always do, the dream will seem gone but it never really does. It lingers at the back of your mind and you’ll catch yourself questioning the dream though you might have been thinking of something else. Nothing will resolve though and the memory of the dream will stay with you like a scar.

I really hope that you don’t have it. I hope it dies with me. But since I can’t be sure, I hope you can find some comfort in this letter and know that you weren’t alone.

In A Corner Of The World

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I’ve no idea how I ended up walking through this field. But here I am surrounded by long grass, wild flowers and the calling of birds. It’s a warm afternoon, but I can’t see the sun above me and the sky is a strange off blue color.

There’s a cottage ahead. The yellow thatch roof rising through the green leafy trees and tall bushes. There’s nothing else to do but go over and see if anybody is home. The field leads me to a small brown fence over which is a short carpet of grass. Bright flowers dot around the cottage and a wire washing line is stretched in the garden.

I go to climb over then stop. There’s an old woman beating a green rug on the washing line with a wooden tennis racket looking thing. Her white hair is piled up on top of her head and she’s wearing many skirts, a grey blouse and a pale blue apron. I can just about hear the thwacking sounds.

Climbing the fence, I walk slowly over, hoping that she spots me before I have to call out. Luckily, she does and she stops her work long before I reach her.

‘Hallo!’ she calls out and waves the tennis racket thing.

‘Hi,’ I answer back with a wave too.

‘Nice day for a walk,’ she adds.

‘Yes,’ I reply.

I come to the end of the washing line and look up. There are many green rugs hanging down…actually….they are strips of grass….

Puzzled, I look across the garden and see strips of dirt close by. There’s also a small red wheelbarrow, a spade and a large black bucket.

‘I’m just dusting my lawn,’ the old woman says, cheerily and as if that’s a perfectly normal thing to do.

I open my mouth, questions popping, but no words come out.

‘It can get quite dusty you know. And yes, there are other ways to do it but I prefer the good old fashioned method!’

She shows me how by beating a strip of grass. Only, she does it lighter then before.

I nod and slowly say, ‘how does it get dusty?’

‘Oh! Heaven knows!’ she cries and throws her hands up to the sky.

I glance up, half expecting to see a pig flying by.

‘Do you some time to spare? I’d be ever so grateful if you could help me,’ she asks and nods towards the dirt strips.

I look around, shrug and reply, ‘why not?’

‘Good. Then start digging, deary!’

Still puzzled, I walk to where the last dirt strip is as the old woman takes up beating the grass again. Looking down, I see how she’s cut the strips out and then I pick up the spade and start with the next one.

It’s actually easier then it seems as it appears the grass is use to being cut up. I slice the spade in and make my way around. It’s like a knife through butter. The smell of fresh cut grass and unearthed soil floods my nose. The grass strip comes up and I put it into the wheelbarrow. I start on another and quickly cut that strip loose too.

I look up as I place it into the wheelbarrow and I see the old woman taking down the first strip of grass. I watch her replace it into the lawn then return for the second piece.

‘This is so weird,’ I mumble.

Returning to my task, I dig up more pieces of grass and when the wheelbarrow is full I drive it over. I help the old woman take them out and hang them up. She begins beating the first one and dust raises off it.

‘How long does this take you?’ I ask her.

‘A few days,’ she answers.

‘And how many times do you do this?’

‘Oh, three or four times a year!’

‘Really?’

‘Grass gets very dusty in the summer, deary,’ she explains.

I look at her, but her face is just that of a plain woman in her early seventies. Her cheeks are fat and wrinkled like the rest of her skin. Her eyes are a warm blue, shinning with knowledge and happiness. Her white hair is long and tightly held back in a bun. Around her neck is a string of white pearls and there’s an old wedding ring on her finger.

‘Don’t you have anyone to help you?’ I ask aloud.

‘Sometimes, I do,’ she replies with a mysterious tone to her words, ‘it’s mostly just me though. I don’t mind. Keeps me busy.’

I nod and hear a shrill whistle sounding. Looking, it seems to be coming from the cottage and there’s smoke now rising out of the chimney.

‘It’s time for tea. Do you want to join me?’ the old woman asks.

‘Okay…’

She hurries off, leaving the grass strips on the washing line but taking the tennis racket with her. I follow and go through the small blue door after her. It leads straight into a kitchen. I stand in the doorway and look around.

It’s a very old fashioned farmer’s wife like kitchen. There’s a huge black wood burning stove against the far wall. A large oak table and chairs in the middle, a metal sink and draining board under a netted curtain window. Sky blue cupboards and work surfaces line another wall.

The old woman rattles around cups and things. Humming to herself. I pull out a chair and look down to see a fat old ginger cat curled up on it. I pull out another chair instead and sit down. I hear a clock ticking somewhere and the warmth of the kitchen hugging me like a old friend.

‘Here we are,’ the old woman says and sets down a tea tray.

There’s a tea pot wearing a tea cosy, milk jug, sugar cube bowl, a plate of biscuits, two pattern flower china cups and matching saucers.

‘Thanks,’ I reply.

We have tea and it’s good. I nibble at a biscuit and look around the kitchen. There’s not much else to see though. I want to talk, but I don’t really know what to say. Finally, the old woman breaks the silence.

‘I must get back to keeping my corner of the world tidied now and you should be getting home.’

‘Home?’ I say aloud.

‘Yes. It’ll be dark soon and the woods can be a dangerous place. Even for yourself.’

She pats my arm and gets up.

‘But….I don’t know the way…I found myself in that field. I don’t even know where I am!’ I cry.

The old woman tuts at me, ‘just head back the way you came, deary.’

I move my tea cup away and get up.

‘Goodbye,’ she says and gives me a little wave.

I don’t wave back, but go straight out the door, too confused to speak.

In the garden, the grass is still hanging on the washing line and there are dirt strips in the lawn. The sky is turning a dark blue and the birds are still singing. I walk off, feeling like that’s the only thing I can do. I go back over the fence and through the field. I look back at the cottage, smoke is still coming out of the chimney and the old woman has gone back to beating the grass again.

I turn, take a step and stumble. My legs go out from under me and I land face first in the grass. My eyes shut. I take a deep breath and open then again…And I am no longer in the field.

My study comes to life before my eyes. I blink and the rest of the long grass is gone, replaced by the bookcases, my desk and a fire crackling of the fireplace. I sit up in the deep plush chair, disturbing the book that’s slipped down on to my lap. I pick it up and read the title; Maps Of The Old Worlds.

Kitchen

Kitchen, Decoration, Kitchen Equipment

Nickie lived in kitchens because food was her passion and her dream was to be a top chief. Though some days when she was chatting away to whoever, she came across more like Cinderella or some old fashioned housewife.

Opal Tide (Part 2)

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Lori closed the door against the raging wind and paused to get her breath back. She turned on the hallway light and dropped her keys into the plastic bowl. Behind her Jink shook himself then began padding away.

‘Wait. Stop!’ Lori shouted as she spun around, ‘heel.’

Jink whinged, but turned around and came to stand in front of her.

‘Good dog,’ she spoke, giving him a pat then snagging his towel from the coat hook.

She rubbed him dry, clipped off his lead and waved him away. Jink wandered down the hallway and into the kitchen as Lori began sorting herself out. She unzipped and took off her coat first. Hanging it up, she dug the gloves out and laid them to dry. She took off her boots next then decided she was too wet and cold to remain in her clothes.

Going up the narrow staircase, she went to the first room at the top and changed into fleece PJ’s and slippers. Coming down again, she heard Jink scratching around his basket which was under the stairs. She went to check on him then remembered the object she had found on the beach.

Lori pulled the ring out of her pocket and took it into the kitchen. Hitting the lights, she walked to the counter and clicked on the kettle. She went to the sink and running the tap, washed the ring. The sand fell off, collecting in the metal sink before the water flushed it away. She removed the ring and looked at it. The sliver band was topped with a patterned setting which held a large opal. The crystal was speckled light blue and green though it was reflecting red and orange from the kitchen. Lori inspected it closely but couldn’t see anything else.

She dried the ring on some paper towel as the kettle boiled. Placing the set opal on the kitchen window sill, she made a cup of tea. A rumbled of thunder made her jump and Lori laughed at herself. Holding her mug, she listened to the wind and rain rattling against the back door and window. Lightening forked across the sky and before it could fade another bolt struck.

‘Wow, that’s a really big storm. Looks close too,’ Lori said.

Blowing on her tea, she picked up the ring and walked into the living room. She checked on Jink as she walked past. The black lab had curled into his basket and was staring to snooze. Shaking her head and wondering how he could switch from sheer panic to relax so quickly, she switched on the living room light and sat down on the sofa. The curtains were open and she could see the rain beating against the glass.

‘Glad we got back when we did,’ she uttered, ‘I’d so not like to be outside right now. Hope there’s no one out there on a boat.’

She placed her mug and the ring down on the coffee table then grabbed the TV control. Pressing the on button, her eyes dropped to the ring and she picked it up. The news came up on the screen, but her attention was diverted. Lori rocked the ring slowly and watched the opal changing colour as it reflected the different light in the room.

She hummed and slipped it onto the second finger of her left hand. The ring fit her perfectly. Pulling a face, she held it up and looked at it as the opal glowed on her finger. She went to take it off and found with a small twist and a tug, it easily slipped off. She placed it back on to the coffee table and picked up her mug of tea.

Her eyes flickered up to the TV screen and of a few seconds she watched a summary of the daily news. Feeling drawn to the ring, she looked down at it again. She took a sip of her tea then deciding why not, put her mug down and slide the ring on again. It felt strangely comfortable and as if she had always worn it.

Shrugging, she settled back on the sofa and drank her tea. Her thoughts drifted and soon she wasn’t paying attention to anything. She thought about her walk along the beach. The sand was soft under her bare feet and the sea gently rolling close by. Sometimes, the white tip of the wave would reach her and she would feel the coldness of the sea. A warm breeze played with the long white skirt of the dress she wore and her fingers would occasionally bunch up the cotton fabric to keep it from blowing up.

Lori made her way across the beach, enjoying the heat from the golden sun in a too blue sky. She glanced up, but due to the combination it hurt to look directly upwards. Sighing and breathing in a deep breath of fresh sea salt air, she shut her eyes for a moment. Opening them again, the scene around had changed.

A wooden ship was rocking under her. Three large white bellowing sails rose on huge masts above her and there was a flag top of them. She tried to make it out, but the wind was whipping it around too much. Turning about, she saw a small deck with a large wheel behind her. Pulling a face, Lori went to walk up the small staircase, but a splash of cold water stopped her.

Lori snapped open her eyes and her living room came into focus with Jink before her. The dog’s tongue was hanging out and he licked it across her face. Crying out, Lori shoved him away and sat up. She wiped her face and made loud disgusted noises. Jink barked and with a sigh she rubbed his ears.

‘That dream was weird,’ she started, ‘I was on the beach then a ship.’

Jink barked, interrupting her.

‘You want food, huh?’

He barked again and Lori got up off the sofa.

 

To Be Continued…

The Devil is Watching You (Part 3)

It was a miracle that they made out of the building and into the car park. As they slide the devil gargoyle along the corrugated iron flooring of the van, Ray thought his body was going to burst. They slammed the doors shut and lent against the cold metal, breathing raggedly whilst sweat pooled off them.

‘We did it,’ Shane gasped; he bent over and grabbed his knees.

‘Yeah, just,’ Ray breathed back.

‘I need a shower.’

‘Not before we get rid of this thing.’

‘A drink then, water,’ Shane suggested.

Ray nodded and eyed the sightless windows of the apartment block. He thought he saw a net curtain fluttering back into place. Shaking his head, he patted Shane on the back and said he’d go back up and get them some water.

‘Let’s just go to the shop,’ Shane cut in, ‘we can get some beer too. I think we’re going to need it later.’

‘My wallet’s…’ Ray started and patted himself down.

‘I’ll cover it, but you own me, mate.’

‘Yeah, sure thing. Let’s go.’

Shane walked around and opening the driver’s door got his things. He locked the van behind him and they set off on the few minutes’ walk to a row of six tried looking shops. The small attached buildings sat in a semi-circle of pavement that at one time the council had tried to dress up with benches and flower pots. Now, though the area looked too run down to bother with and it was made even more so by the abandoned bedsits that hung like dead cows above the shop fronts.

Ray and Shane walked past the empty chippy with the closed sign on the door then what had once been a farmer’s market shop but was now white washed and for sale. Passed, Home Helpers, with its’ collection of brightly coloured house and garden cleaning supplies littering the space just outside, to Booze Bonanza. Shane led the way in and a small bell tinkled above his head.

They headed straight for the beer shelves then, arms wrapped two large cardboard boxes, went to the till. Shane paid without a word and they left as quickly as they had entered. After putting the beer into the van, they went to the next shop along which was a small convince shop. As they stepped in, Ray glanced at the next and last shop along; Fat Chu’s Chinese Takeaway.

‘Hey, let’s get a Chinese later. Go nice with the beer,’ Ray called over.

‘Maybe,’ Shane muttered, ‘not sure what time my missus gets off work. Have to see.’

‘All right. What we getting?’

‘More food and water, I’m starving. Those noodles didn’t even touch the sides.’

Ray shook his head and followed Shane around the narrow aisle as he picked up a few snacks, bottled water and soft drinks. Ray grabbed somethings too, thinking it would be useful if they didn’t get food later and he had to return to his place alone.

At the till, a dusty blonde, spotty teenage girl gave them a wary eye then started to scan their things. She sighed deeply and smacked chewing gum against her lip gloss lips. She packed their things in a carry bag and with a monotone voice mumbled the total.

Shane shoved a note at her, fisted his change as she handed that over and with a huffed ‘bye, grabbed the bag and left. Ray tried to shot her grin, but the girl had already turned back to the crappy gossip mag tucked down the counter’s side.

‘What was that about?’ Ray asked as they climbed back into the van.

Shane dumped the bag on the seat between them then dug out a bottle of water. He cracked the lid and took huge gulps. Twisting the top, he handed it to Ray and started up the engine. ‘Nothing. Let’s get this shit taken care of.’

Ray pulled a face, but settled back into the faded, rough chair. He opened the bottle, wiped the top and took a few sips. Afterwards, he looked out of the window and watched the council estate flowing by. Most of the houses were boarded up and those that weren’t looked like they should be. A handful of autumn trees, looking like they’d rather give up and die added nothing to the scene. They sped pass the flat wasteland reminds of an old war airport base, which the council had tried hard to turn into a nature reserve, but then had given up after losing too much money.

The van bounced along, onto the estate edges and around into a patch of woodland. Rain drops pattered the window and letting out a long winded breath, Shane put the wipers on.

‘It’s around here, I think,’ Ray mumbled.

‘Yeah. That layby,’ Shane pointed out then pulled in off the single track road.

Ray looked and saw spiny wind swept trees kept back by a broken wooden fence.

Shane turned off the engine and looked around too. ‘Do you know whereabouts?’

Keeping his face to the window, Ray answered, ‘yep. Its right through there then up a bit. Not far. Not far at all. We’ll be fine.’ He opened the door and got out.

Ray heard Shane do the same and they meet around the back of the van. Shane opened the doors and together they looked in on the statue. Dread filled them both.

‘We’ll just do what we did before and everything will be okay,’ Ray stated, ‘do you want to walk backwards or shall I?’

‘I’ll do it. Grab that end.’

Ray nodded and quickly they got into the same position as before and lifted the gargoyle out. Straining and sweating once more, they carried the monstrous stone into the trees. Ray felt his feet slipping on the soft mud and his back pain spiralling out of control. Shane, holding out a little bit better, tried to rush through the cluster of pointy branches and felt long wicked scraps across his skin. Swearing loudly and muttering a torrent of other things, they hauled the devil into a patch of abandoned headstones.

Dropping the thing down, they fall on other side of it, struggling to breath and hearts racing. Ray submerged in the wet soil, feeling as if it could fix all of his problems. He lay face down then when the pressure on his chest became too much, flopped over and stayed on his back. He shut his eyes against a darkening; tree topped edge sky and let the rain wash over him. He listened to his breathing and was dimly aware that he wasn’t alone.

Exhaustion dragged him into sleep and felt himself spinning down into eternal blackness. He was plagued by nightmares. The devil gargoyle danced around him, fire spurted up and unimaginable pain gripped his beaten body. Ray tried to call out, to run away, but he seemed unable to escape. Finally, he felt strong hands grabbing his shoulders and yanking him up. He tried to fight the hands, but he was shaken too much.

Ray snapped his eyes open and looked up at Shane. His friend was covered in mud and was shouting at him to pull himself together. Ray pressed his hands on top of Shane’s and drew in a ragged couple of breaths.

‘I’m fine. Thanks,’ he slurred.

‘You were screaming like a mad man,’ Shane explained.

‘I was having a nightmare…the devil…’

They both looked over at the toppled statue.

‘I had one too,’ Shane muttered, ‘Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough of this!’

‘Me too. Me too,’ Ray added as he patted Shane’s hand.

They helped each other up and tried to wipe some of the mud off. It clung to them thickly and in the end they give up and walked back to the van. Behind them, the rain fell heavily on the forgotten gravestones and their new companion.

Safely back in the van, Shane started the engine and turned on the heating. He drove back to Ray’s apartment and both men were silent all the way. However, they couldn’t turn their thoughts away from the nightmares or the task they had just undertaken. Ray shut his eyes and lent against the cold damp window, but he quickly opened them again as he saw the devil looming over him. He shot a look at Shane and saw he was concerning on the road so hard that his knuckles were turning white under all the mud.

To Be Continued…