Toxic Thunder

pexels-photo-67102

It had been raining forever. At least it felt that way. I liked the rain, but I wanted to feel the sun on my face as I had done as a child. I remembered the yellow warmth, just about. The rain was always cold and wet, sometimes it would be a different colour too. When that happened people stayed inside for fear they might become contaminated. Though really, all water was toxic.

They claimed there was nothing they could do about it. It was a world wide disaster and the predicated death levels were higher then the War. That was the price we were paying for chemical warfare, the government said. Still, scientists and others were working around the clock for solutions whilst there was hope left. Everywhere warning signs stated not to drink unfiltered water, to stay inside as much as possible and report all health problems to a doctor.

Today, the rain was a lime green colour which was why I wasn’t allowed outside. Sitting in the window seat of the second floor landing, I watched a few brave people walking the street below me. They held their umbrellas up high and huddled in thick coats, as if that would protect them.

The book I had picked from our small library lay opened but unread in my lap. Since there was no going to school today, father had insisted we self-educate. My two brothers had taken over the library with their historical debates. Father was in the study and Mother had gone to lay down as as the lime rain had given her a headache, or so she had claimed. I could have gone to my day room, the family lounge or the parlour, instead I went to the best spot in the house to see the outside world.

I pressed the side of my head to the wet glass, knowing I’d be told off for getting my curled blonde hair damp. I didn’t care. I watched guards in red uniforms appear and began clearing people from the street. They must have been told that the toxic level had reached a high. A siren began to wail, confirming that. The street quickly cleared and just in time too as the lime rain picked up and started to change colour.

Black rain began falling and in the distance came a rumble of thunder. I tightened my grip on the book. The page corners curling under my fingers. I had always feared storms, but they were worse now. They said sometime toxic rain conducted lightening and exploded. Fires were common during storms and deaths.

I tried to relax my hands, the hard corners of the cover were digging into me. The thunder growled louder, sounding so close. The street before me went dark with only a few dots of light peering out. The lightening flashed, yellow red, capturing the street in that moment. I heard a popping sound and the lights around me all started to flicker.

The smell of gas and burning electricity filled the air. An emergency bell rang though the house, backed by the siren’s call. There was a rush of footsteps and voices. The clatter of things being dropped and doors moving echoed throughout the house.

‘To the shelter, quickly!’ my father bellowed.

‘I’ll get Madam,’ a maid spoke.

‘Where is Miss Victoria?’ another voice asked.

A flash of lighting hit the sky making me jump as it crackled away. I stood up, clutching my book and hurried two flights of downstairs. In the grand hallway, everyone was rushing into the kitchen, shouting at each other. I joined them hurrying into the cellars. My shoulders and skirts brushing maids and kitchen staff.

I tripped down the stone steps, losing a shoe, and my one of my brothers caught me at the bottom. He had to move me out of the way as the last people flew down and the metal door slammed shut. My brother rushed me down the corridors, through the wine and food cellars. My legs and feet hurt as we went further down. Finally, we arrived with everyone else in the last and deepest cellar. My brother hushed me into a corner and left me breathing in the damp air.

Huddling in the dim light with my family and servants, I caught my breath. My mother looking dazed was sitting on a small bed, half hidden by  a curtain. My father was sat comforting her and my brothers were giving orders to some of the servants. I tucked myself into a alcove, hugging my book and praying we would survived.

Horizon #writephoto

horizon

The horizon didn’t look like anything Peaches had imagined it to be. She had thought it was going to bright and colourful, like in the old photos and film reals she had seen, instead though it was a dull blue-grey.

‘Not the promises I was led to believe,’ she muttered.

She lent her too thin body forward and rested her chin on her knees. Her arms were tightly wrapped behind her knees, keeping the long wool skirt in place and stopping the strong breeze from getting in.

Around her all the children and some of the adults from the Church Of The Redeemed Evangelists were splashing in the salty water or playing in the sand or exploring the rocks and caves. Cries of delight but also screams of pain could be heard amongst the babble of voices.

Peaches ignored them all, feeling tried and empty of the hope she had been holding in for so long.

‘What’s wrong with you?’ a sharp female voice asked.

With only moving her eyes, Peaches looked up and realised she wasn’t the one being addressed. Before her was a small woman, wearing the clothes of a Senior Sister; a long black dress which completely covered her body and a black head dress with a grey trim. Next to her was a small girl with blonde hair in a blue wool dress who was crying and rubbing her face.

‘My eyes hurt!’ the girl cried.

‘I knew this trip to the surface world would bring nothing but troubles,’ the Senior Sister spoke loudly, ‘and what have you learnt out here? Nothing. It would have been better to remain in the Temple. Come along, child. We shall wash your face.’

Peaches watched the Senior Sister taking the girl’s hand and leading her away to the little camp set up in a sheltered spot. There were two other Sisters sat there and from their clothes Peaches could tell they were Mothers, the highest of the female order.

‘I don’t want that to be my fate,’ Peaches whispered.

She looked at the horizon again, it still seemed bleak. However, there could only be freedom on the other side.

Peaches cast a long look around then slowly got up. She made as if she was just walking along the rough sand. Finally, though she was out of sight and trying to figure out how she could reach her horizon.

 

 

(Inspired by a prompt from; https://scvincent.com/2017/03/09/thursday-photo-prompt-horizon-writephoto. With thanks).

Still Alive

PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

Gift wasn’t sure how long the town had been abandoned as the records only went back fifty years. Crunching glass and fallen plaster under her boots, she entered what had once been a living room.

Looking through the breathing mask’s visor, she spotted the white flowering plant on the window sill. Smiling, she walked over and picked the plant pot up gingerly.

You’re safe now, she thought, clutching the plant, but you’ve got a big job ahead, flower.

Gift stepped outside and back into the war torn grey landscape. Hurrying towards the safety of the underground city, she hoped that one day she would be able to see the green surface world that she only knew from the legends.

 

(Inspired from Friday Fictioneers prompt; https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/3-february-2017/ photo by Roger Bultot thanks)

Anomaly

colours

Anomaly; something that deviates from what is standard, normal, or expected.

What was that thing in the sky? Dream paused and stared harder across the vast, empty landscape. Against the pale blue sky was a beam of multicolored light. She frowned then pulled out her telescope from her belt and had a closer look. Still though, she could make out nothing further, but the colors looked brighter now.

‘What is that?’ she spoke aloud.

‘Your big butt!’ a voice shouted at her.

Dream rolled her eyes and tutted. Putting the telescope away, she twisted her head, so she was looking back down the ladder. A glow of light showed the way and at the bottom waiting was a figure grinning up at her. Dream snatched a small rock from the surface and dropped it down.

‘Ouch! Watch it!’

Swallowing a laugh, Dream pulled herself out of the pipe and climbed down. Her feet hit the sand and rose a dust cloud around her. Making sure her mask and goggles were secure, she began walking in the direction of the strange light beam.

Minutes later, she was joined by a tall, red haired young man. He punched her in the shoulder then raced off. Dream stopped and rubbed the spot, though her leather padded jacket had taken much of the impact. Muttering revenge, Dream watched him slow down as he saw the thing in the sky too.

‘What do you think that is?’ he called over his shoulder.

‘No idea, Link,’ she replied, ‘I was on my way to check it out when you interrupted me,’ Dream answered.

‘I’m sorry your Royal Highness. Please continue!’ Link mocked and give a fancy bow.

Dream stormed passed him, trying not to hit him as she went. He came to her side moments later and in a awe silence, they walked towards the beam of colors. The landscape rose and fall around them, the yellow sand all that could be seen for miles. The only sound was their footsteps and the wind shifting the fine grains against each other.

‘We’re never going to get there!’ Link broke in after awhile.

Dream came to a stop on top of a large dune and looked across at the beam. She could see it better now, but it seemed to be fading.  The colors were arching up from the ground to the sky were they disappeared into the blue.

‘It looks like a path into the sky,’ she mused.

‘Don’t be stupid!’ Link snapped, ‘I don’t care what it is. Let’s go back. It’s getting too hot.’

‘You go back if you want. I’m going to find where it meets the ground,’ Dream responded.

‘Are you crazy?’

Dream didn’t reply, but walked off. The loose sand give way under her and she half skidded down the side of the dune. At the bottom, she found her feet and carried on walking. From behind her came the sound of Link half running half tumbling to join her.

‘Dream! Stop!’ he shouted.

She ignored him and picked up her pace. Breaking into a jog, she went around another dune and found herself in a maze of sand hills. Taking in a few deep breaths, she scrambled up the first one and looked down.

There below her was the source of the multi-colored light beam. Thanking her luck, she went down and towards it.

‘Dream! Where are you!’ Link yelled.

‘Over here!’ she shouted back, ‘I’ve found it. It’s some kind of crystal!’

Dream knelt down and looked closely at the clear cut rock that was half buried in the ground. Beams of light were shinning off it as the sunlight was touching it. Dream slowly reached out to touch it.

‘Don’t!’ Link gasped as he came to join her.

She looked at him, but couldn’t fully read his expression behind his mask.

‘It’s just a crystal. Like the ones you dig up all the time,’ she said.

‘It might be from the World Before. We shouldn’t touch it. We know what it is now, let’s go,’ Link spoke.

Dream looked at the crystal, tempted by it’s beauty. Link was right though.

‘It could be important,’ she thought aloud, ‘and if we leave it, it might not be here later.’

‘I don’t like it,’ Link muttered.

Dream shrugged and put her gloved hand onto of the crystal. The beam of light disappeared. Dream curled her fingers around the rock and picked it up. It was smaller and lighter then it had looked. She opened her hand and straight away the colors came back and danced around the surface of the crystal.

‘How weird,’ Dream uttered.

‘Can we go now?’ Link demanded.

Dream closed her fingers over the crystal again and got up,’sure. Maybe someone back home will know what this is,’ she added.

 

Story inspired by Sue’s prompt at https://scvincent.com/2016/11/03/thursday-photo-prompt-anomaly-writephoto/ – click to read the other stories.

The Season of Change

autumn, fall, forest

The colorful leaves fall from the trees, dancing to the ground.

I walk through them, admiring the feel of the misty morning on my skin.

Though, it’s just a vision of what once was long ago before the finally war.

 

Here We Stand (Part 6)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

I walked back through the graveyard, avoiding the nearly hidden headstones. Once the grass would have been cut short and and the names would have been readable. I had never seen an old graveyard like that. People didn’t have time to care anymore and the way of dealing with bodies now had to be fast. The mass burning and burying in cemeteries and parks was easier and better to stop the spread of disease.

My boots hit what had been the pathway to the church. I could smell the motorbikes’oil and petrol  as well as something else. The biker gang had been smoking something powerful and disgusting. I wrinkled my nose at the possible homemade drug and looked into the church doorway. I couldn’t see anything.

Stepping in, I wondered where she had hidden. The church looked the same as when I had fled from it. Rumble was still on the floor, light was peeking through the window and silence had returned. I started walking to the altar and halfway there give up trying to be quiet. There was just too much shifting rumble.

Climbing on to the altar, I stopped and looked left and right. I could hear the dripping water from the sink and settling stones. If she was still here and alive, she would have heard me by now. There was no way she would come out of hiding unless I called out as she probably thought I was one of the biker gang.

What was I even doing here anyway? Why was I making this matter? I hitched up my rucksack and turned to look down the church. I still felt torn for some reason, but finally I convinced myself to start leaving. Maybe the girl was armed and unfriendly? What if this was some kinda trap?

‘Hello?’

The voice was soft and wispy, yet it me like a bullet. I spun, my hand reaching down my leg to the hunting knife in my boot. I never made it, because one look at her made me freeze again.

She was pretty, yet her skin was very pale and sick looking. She had bright blue eyes that looked tried and puzzled. Her lips were making a little frown. The blue dress hung loosely off her, that was why it was more floaty then it seemed. It reached down to the floor and pooled around her feet.

I could see the bones in her neck and shoulders starkly. She was wearing a necklace; a small gold cross. Her really light yellow, almost white hair was swept back, away from her face and trailing down her back. Then there were the tops of large breasts, framed by blue lace which did nothing to hide them.

‘I’m not going to hurt you,’ I forced out as I slowly straightened, ‘unless you’re going to hurt me…’

She shook her head and showed me her empty hands. Then dropped them to her side again. I looked her up and down, my eyes lingering on her moving cleavage. She could have concealed something in the dress, even if it was a baby kitchen knife or a needle.

‘Were they after you?’I asked and nodded to the doorway as if the biker gang was still there.

‘In a way,’ she uttered, ‘They like to bully, but they are all talk really.’

‘What are you doing here?’ Now I had opened my mouth I couldn’t stop.

‘Praying.’

She looked up at the large glass stained window and the hollows. I looked too, but couldn’t see anything there. The window was dark as the sun hadn’t moved around yet. I could make the pictures though; an angel, a man on a cross, people crying.

I looked at her, the next question pressing against my tongue and yet I was worried to ask it. I couldn’t see anything strange about her though, so maybe she was just a normal girl. Still though…

‘Are you an angel or a ghost?’ I asked.

She looked at me sharply, ‘are you?’

I shook my head.

‘Me neither.’

We both stared up again.

‘Why are you here?’ she asked suddenly, ‘I saw you before running from the staircase when the roof give a little.’

‘Oh…I thought there was a cave in…’ I trailed into a shrug.

She looked at me, trying to see the truth in my words and waiting for me to go on.

‘It seemed a safe place to spend the night,’ I added.

She hummed, her eyes going back to the window and though I thought she had further questions to ask me, she kept them to herself.

‘I should go,’ I spoke out.

I made to move, but my eyes met her’s and I stopped.

‘Why did you come back in?’ she asked, her voice still a quiet.

‘I…thought I’d forgotten something, but I hadn’t,’ I answered.

She turned her head and nodded.

I waited a few moments then walked down the altar. I did half want her to call me back, but then I knew the urge to rip the dress off her would be too hard to resisted. I shook my head and tried to clear the images of her away, but they were locked in my memory now. She had stirred me awake.

I reached the door, stepped out and went into the graveyard. Not heading in an actual direction, I walked back through and towards the line of trees.

‘Wait!’

I spun so fast the weight of my hiking bag almost threw me to the ground.

She was standing at the edge of the headstones, her shoulders moving with the fast breaths she was taking. Her dress and hair settled around her, but seemed to move with a life force of their own. Her hands were balled into fist and there was this indecisive look on her face.

I walked back over. Feeling like I didn’t have much of a choice, but at the same time knowing I could easily carry on walking away. Coming to a stop, my eyes dropped to her breasts. They were heaving against the dress and looking like they were eager to escape. I licked my lips and pulled my attention away and back to her face.

‘What?’ I asked gruffly, sounding meaner then I had intended.

‘I want to go with you,’ she cried out.

 

To Be Continued…

Here We Stand (Part 5)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

She stood framed by the arch of the church doorway, looking at me. She was wearing a light blue, long floaty dress. The likes of which I had never seen as girls really didn’t wear dresses anymore. I guess because it made them stand out too much and was not suitable for running. Skirts were okay though, the short the better, but most stuck to shorts and pants. Her hair was long and loose, very light blonde, made even more so by the sunlight.

My exhausted mind tried to trick me into thinking she was a ghost or an angel. Either wouldn’t have surprised me. Too many people were now claiming to have seen so many different things that it was becoming normal. Even if it wasn’t real…

I should go. I need to just stop staring and leave. But I couldn’t. My feet were stuck to the ground and my body felt frozen in place. I couldn’t even feel the ache in my back, shoulders and arms. I swallowed and tried to look away, maybe that would break the spell? Perhaps, she was actually a witch and was holding me in place?

She turned her head, looking towards a clump of trees then darted back inside. Her blue dress trailed after her.

I heard the sound then, the roaring of motorbikes. With a quick glance around, I dived behind one of the largest headstones. My hiking bag scrapped nosily against the stone and for a few seconds I thought about grabbing my hunting knife. The motorbikes arrived before I could though.

I risked peering around the gravestone, keeping my head next to the top of the grass. I couldn’t see much. A number of people on four bikes were pulling up close to the church. I could hear voices shouting and laughing, but I couldn’t make out their words. Was the girl in the blue dress okay? What were these guys doing? Where they searching for her or just passing through?

So many more questions flowed in my mind and I couldn’t stop them. I tried to listen, but they were entering the church. I kept still in case they glanced across the graveyard. I lent back, pressing my head to the cold stone. A part of me wanted to flee, but I desperately wanted to make sure that girl was okay. If she was supernatural, she could take care of herself right? But what if she wasn’t?

I eased my rucksack off and unzipped a side pocket. Slowly, I drew out my sheathed hunting knife. I tugged her into the top of boot, hoping I didn’t actually need to use her. I wiped my hands on my jeans, already feeling a slight shake in my fingers. I shut my eyes and counted backwards.

My thoughts whirled with a plan, but luckily it didn’t come to anything. The sound of laughter drew me and I risked twisting my head around to look. They were coming out of the church; four huge men and two girls, who looked just as mean. One of the men threw a flicker of light into the grass and they all began climbing on their motorbike.

The sound of engines broke through the serenity of the graveyard and woods. I felt my breathe leave in one big swoosh as I watched them spin and leave. Relaxing back, I listened to the sound fading off. I felt sweat on my forehead and under my arms. I wiped it away, adding more to the edge of my t-shirt.

I counted two minutes before I moved. Checking and double checking the area I got up slowly. Collecting my hiking bag, I almost turned and left, but the thought of that girl stopped me.

Be To Continued…

Here We Stand (Part 4)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

The voices were whispering so it was hard to tell where and how many there were. It was the echo that had carried the sounds to my ears. Fighting down the urge to get out of the suffocating darkness, I kept still and tried to quieten my breathing. From above came shuffled footsteps and the sound of shifting rumble.

A voice said something, but the words were too faint. I gritted my teeth and hoped they’d move on soon. What had they come for? There was nothing here that anyone would want. Unless, they were looking for things to burn or to salvage. Though they’d see pretty quickly that there wasn’t much here.

Maybe they were hiding?

My thoughts flashed back and my breathing quickened. The pitch darkness made it easier for my mind to start playing images. I crouched down, hugging myself and pressing my forehead to my knees. I was back in that moment and they were coming for me. There were six of them, wearing mostly leather clothes and carrying weapons; knifes, cricket bats and homemade glass blades.

I could hear their voices taunting me to come out, followed by laughter. I put my hands over my ears and tried to block it out, I thought about other things, anything whilst also begging that they didn’t find me. I knew if they did I was dead. My breathing was so loud and I was sure they would hear me.

A loud sound broke through the past. I dropped my hands and listened. Stone and wood seemed to be falling. Without thinking about it, I swung on my hiking bag and scrambled for the stairs. My toes hit the first step and I tumbled down. My knees and hands taking blows of pain. Ignoring that and the taste of blood in my mouth, I crawled up the stairs. At the doorway, I squeezed through and surveyed the scene.

If there had been people in the church they were gone now. The small space was just like I remembered it minutes ago, beside from a new hole in the roof which was noticeable by the dust cloud. Deciding not to waste time figuring out what had happened, I hurried across the rubble and out of the door.

Morning light washed over me and I had to wait till my eyes had refocused. Breathing in clean, woodland scented air, I moved away from the church and into the graveyard. Long grass wrapped around, but a ploughed through it. Dew soaked my jeans as I become more aware of my painful knees.

Avoiding the gravestones, I made it into the trees and stopped. I half turned, making sure no one was following me. From the corner of my eyes, I saw a little flutter of blue from the church doorway. Looking over, I saw a figure emerging.

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

Here We Stand (Part 3)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

I had a tent but there was nowhere safe to put it up. Plus, if I had to escape it’d get left behind. I stopped in front of the large window and looked up. The drizzle was falling against a still light evening sky. There was still time for me to go and camp in the woods.

The effort of popping up my two-men tent was too much through. I choice the dry-ish corner next to the blocked up door and began nudging around the rubble with my boots. It was a surprisingly deep pile of wood and plaster. I slipped off my hiking bag and could almost hear my back and shoulders begging me not to but it back on again.

I cleared a wide space on the floor. The work using the rest of my energy to do so. Juggling the glow stick so I could see in growing darkness, from my bag, I took out a sleeping mat, sleeping bag, my water bottle and a zip lock bag of dried fruit. I sat down and rested my head against the cold wall of the church. It was the first time in about six hours that I had sat down.

I sipped some of the nearly clear water that I’d gathered from a trickle of a steam in the woods. Then ate a handful of the dried fruit by putting each piece into my mouth and chewing as many times as I could. Lastly, I sipped some more water and put my stuff away. I settled down, keeping all my clothes on and my hiking bag close to my side.I threw the unzipped sleeping bag over my lower body and shuffled down. I put my hands behind my head and rested against the wall again.

In the background, I could hear the drip drip of the water from the sink. What sounded like an owl screeched and a dog started barking. I put the glow stick under my bag which left me in darkness but meant I couldn’t be so easily seen if someone walked in. Shutting my eyes, I tried to rest. I knew sleep wouldn’t come, my mind was still on alert even though the rest of me was crying out for a solid night’s sleep. I tried to think about other things, especially mapping out the town I was now in.

The dozing came over me in fits. I would fall into a light sleep than jerk awake. Each time, my eyes would snap open and I’d be transfixed with finding the danger that had to be near by. I listened carefully each time, but could hear nothing other the normal night sounds. Sometimes, I would watch the rain falling in through the holes in the roof or coming in through the windows. It seemed to grew heavier each time and everything but my spot became wet.

Waking for the final time, I watched light creeping into the church like a beggar. The rain had stopped for the moment to let dawn in, but drops were still falling. I stretched out, feeling just as exhausted as when I had lay down. My body creaked like an old man’s and for a few minutes I stared up at the ceiling. There was nothing special about it. Not like I had seen in some other churches were the ceiling was nicely boned and sometimes painted.

Even though I was running on little food, water and sleep, my body still demand a normal release. I gathered my things; folding my sleeping bag and sleeping mat up and into my hiking bag. Then I spent a few moments moving some of the rubble back to hide my tracks. the now useless glow stick I hid at the bottom. I picked up my bag and tried to get it on my back, but my arms were too stiff and I couldn’t left it.

I tried again, despite my protesting back and shoulders. Heaving the hiking bag on, I walked like a hunchback to the other side of the altar. The spiral staircase was dark, but I couldn’t waste another light source. I felt my way down, listening to my bag scrapping the walls. Reaching the bottom, I felt out the bathroom and did what I had to do. Strangely the toilet still flushed.

I turned the tap on and washed my hands in what I guessed to be still iron red water. I washed my mouth out then drink a few handfuls. It tasted as it had done yesterday, earthy and rotten, but still sweet. I turned the tap off and wiped my mouth. Walking sideways out I came to a sudden stop as I hear voices above me.

Here We Stand (Part 2)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

I peered through the arched doorway and saw the stone spiral steps leading downwards but also upwards. I squeezed inside and found it was a tight fit between the staircase column and opposite wall. Going downwards, I felt the rough wall with my hand and listened to my hiking bag scrapping along behind me.

It took me a moment to realise the steps had ended. I shuffled on, hoping to find a light switch or to see another source. The air was cold, almost crypt like, but I could smell no rotting bodies, it was just the scent of dampness still. My hand flew into an empty gap and I stopped. There was a hole in the wall.

Deciding there was nothing else for it, I swung off my hiking bag and put it down. My shoulders and back burned whilst a cold air rushed under my t-shirt and danced on my sweaty skin. I rubbed my back and listened to the dripping of water somewhere close by. Fumbling with straps, zips and buckle clips, I opened a side pocket and pulled out a glow stick.

Dim green light filled my vision as I cracked and shook the stick about. I blinked, refocused and took in my surroundings. Large flagstones covered in dirt lined the floor and just above my head was the ceiling. The doorway next to me led into a bathroom. The dripping water was coming from a sink beside a toilet.

Grabbing my hiking bag, I walked sideward then let the straps go as I inspected the sink. It was hard to tell what colour it had been as rust had now taken over. I shone the glow stick close to the water and watched as a red coloured drop ran passed. I turned the tap. It was stuck fast, but after a few tugs, it come loose and iron stained water rushed forth.

The sound blasted around me, unlocking the silence that had been weighing against my ears. I stole some glances over my shoulder, but could see nothing forming out of the shadows that had claimed their space back. I turned and waited for the water to change colour. When nothing happened after a few second, I placed the glow stick down and saw a shard of mirror had been left against the sink.

Cupping my hands, I put them under the water then took a careful sip. It tasted like old soil in which veg had rotted, but it was strangely sweet. Shrugging I had some more then went back for a few more handfuls. The water filled my empty belly and left a tangy, metallic taste in my mouth.

Picking up the glow stick, I bent and tried to catch my reflection in the mirror shard. I could just see the growing beard on my face and my long ragged hair drooping on my too thin cheeks. Standing up, I patted my stomach through my damp baggy t-shirt and carried on.

There was nothing else down here. Or if there was it had long been sealed up.

Returning to the staircase, the full weight of my hiking bag on again pulling me down, I trudged upstairs. There were more steps going up, but finally I found myself in a decrepit bell tower. The wooden floorboards looked okay, but there was a trap door in the centre that had been under the bell. Looking up into the roof, I could not really tell where the bell had once been attached too. There was no doubt in my mind though that it had been taken away to be used somewhere else or melted down.

The tower was open on all three sides, so cold and now rain could come in. I went to the nearest opening and looked out. In the fast building evening light, I could see the tops of trees and houses. A fire was burning a few miles to my left. I could see the smoke rising and perhaps a flicker of orange. It was hard to tell if it was a beacon or some vandals.

The rain peppered my skin, making me feel more refreshed as I went to the next opening. This one looked over more trees and houses. Chimneys reached to the cloudy, gunmetal grey sky, their bricks darkened by the rain. Was that the railway station? Maybe not, but it looked big enough. My thoughts darted back to last night when I had slept fitfully in a storage room.

Stepping away, I went to the third opening. This one looked out on a small graveyard. The headstones stuck up through the tall grass as if demanding still to be seen. A few trees grew on the edge then spread to create woodland. Most of the trees had to be evergreen because all the others were slowly surrounding to autumn. I could see no further as evening settled in.

Not giving into dropping my hiking bag, I went back downstairs. Coming into the church’s altar again, I looked round and tried to decide where the best place to sleep was.

 

To Be Continued…