London #WhatPegmanSaw

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London was everything and nothing like I had believed. The city was constantly moving like the Thames river that divided it. There were always lights, smells and noises, it was so easy to get lost.

I tapped my stick on the pavement and held onto Bonny’s guiding harness. My senses told me that my husband Zak was still walking by my side. All around me were other people moving with great hurry and excitement.

I was scared as was natural in an unknown city but also embracing the new experience. Being blind wasn’t going to stop me from seeing London.

 

(Inspired by; https://whatpegmansaw.com/2019/06/08/london-england with thanks).

Alive

Jurassic Coast, Climbing, Sea

Rick couldn’t believe he was doing this, clinging to the side of the cliff like a limpet whilst the sea turned stormy below him. Taking a deep breath, he reached up and felt rock cutting into his hand through his gloves. Gritting his teeth, he pulled himself up and started to climb again.

Suddenly his hand hit empty space. Panic rocketed through him and Rick quickly dropped his hand on to the next stone he could see. It give way, coming off the wall like chewing gum. It tumbled from his hand and fall down into the sea. He twisted to see it go and watched as a small plume of spray rose then vanished under a large wave.

Rick scrambled for another strong hold. Found one and pressed himself against the cliff face. He breathed in sea salt soaked stones, which reminded him of the taste of dried seaweed. He shut his eyes and from somewhere deep inside of himself found the will to go on.

He reached up again, felt the top of the cliff under his fingers and began pulling himself over. Grunting loudly, Rick reached the top and came to rest on his knees. Dragging in deep breaths, he twisted around and sat down. His feet dangled over the edge and he looked across the sea.

The waves were raging now in a mix of inky greens, blues and creams. They crashed loudly against the bottom of the cliffs, blocking all other sounds. Rick looked at the sky, which was as dark as a fresh bruise then he felt water drops against his face.

He laughed, the sound carried and echoed around him.

The rain huddled down, soaking him straight through and cleaning him of all the rock dust. Out across the now tempest ocean, the thunder rumbled.  Rick laughed harder, loving the feel the cold rain against his skin and feeling truly alive for the first time in ages.

Out There

Roy stood on  a large slippery moss covered boulder and looked at the raging river water threatening to splash against his hiking boots and pants. He could see nothing below the foaming white tops and dark blue rapids. He rose his head and took in the scene before him, his eyes and mind still not able to fully take in the magical beauty that surrounded him.

A gentle wind was blowing the early morning mist through the tops of the pine trees, making the landscape before him seem taller then it actually was. Roy could just make out the faint outline of the rising cliffs he had climbed through yesterday as they shadowed out of the low grey clouds.

Roy bent down and dipped his first canteen below the waves. His skin pricked at the cold water’s touch before growing use to it once more. Raising the leather bottle out again, he screwed on the lid and grabbed for his second. A low growling brushed his ears and he froze.

Ever so slowly, Roy eased his head up to looked. Directly across from him, having appeared out of the too close pine trees and scrub was a brown mother bear and her cub. Roy’s breath caught and his heart skipped a beat. The bear was large, but looking thin and her coat was damp with the dew and brush off from the leaves. Her cub couldn’t have been older the two months, he was tiny yet looked identical to her as he nestled against her front leg.

Roy gradually lowed himself to the floor. A few times he paused to stop the rattling of the three canteens at his side and pull up the straps on his shoulder. He felt the splatter of water against him and was thankful for his water proofs. He felt the hard stone against his knees then risked another look up.

The mother bear was still there, watching and judging him, deciding if he was a threat or not. Her cub was yowling, his voice carrying even above the sounds of the raging river. He clearly was not happy to stand still for long.

Roy looked away again, trying to keep his breathing steady and the eddies of panic in his stomach down. A part of him desperately wanted to flee and he weighed up the option of doing that carefully. Would the river make her think twice about chasing me?  It wouldn’t stop her if she decided to. Her cub would be swept away though, there’s no way he’d make it through there. No. It’s best just to stay and wait. If I don’t move, she’ll know I’m no threat. She probably only came down for a drink. The water looks too rough for fishing.

Roy flowed the cresting waves over to the rocky shore and saw the massive claws and paws of the mother bear. The cub was skittering around, playing with the loose stones he was now kicking up. The mother started to move, her black nose sniffing the air greedily. She reached the water’s edge and her cub charged up beside her and almost into the water. The shock of cold against his face brought him to a halt and cried wildly out then snuggled into her leg.

A small smile curled on to Roy’s lips and he wished he had his camera to hand. It was back with his tent and other gear on the grassy nook he had set camp up on last night. He had feeling though, this would stay in his memory a long time. Without warning, the mother bear turned away and began lumbering up the rocky shore. Her cub scrambled after her, crying his dismay loudly.

Roy finally took a deep enough breathe the fill his lungs completely. He stretched his stiff and now aching limbs as he stood. His eyes tracked across the river and he saw the fleeting end of the bears. He took another few breathes, feeling himself becoming totally calm again.

He turned and got halfway back up the boulders when he he suddenly remembered what had been doing. He turned back again and hurried down to the river, his canteens rattling loudly at his side.

Abandoned (Part 2)

Pripyat, Ukraine, Chernobyl, Disaster, Abandoned

It was hard to see what the first building they came across was. April tried to peer through the mass of green and brown plants. Perhaps it had been a house? It looked small enough. The crew moved on, Gun reminding them about not touching stuff and that there mission was just to document the environment and air.

‘What does the reader say?’ April asked, falling into step behind Trigg.

He shot her look, which of course she missed due to the mask and helmet, then looked down at the needle.

April tried to see over his shoulder, but she still couldn’t make it out.

‘It’s got a little higher,’ Trigg explained.

Feeling uneasy, April looked around them. More buildings were growing up out of the vegetation and trees. It was hard to imagine that the city had once looked very different. Fallen branches, leaves and rumble crunched underneath their heavy feet. They walked slowly, each member of the group, but April, seemly getting on with their individual tasks.

After a few minutes, they came to a very large building that must have once been a high school. Whilst the others gathered on what once had been steps, but was now a level carpet of green moss and grass, April walked closer to the front of the building. She could make out no letters or signs, just the empty windows and was that sound beyond dripping water?

Deciding, she was wrong, April turned back and watched the men, digging around in their rucksacks for equipment. In her head set she heard Gun giving orders.

‘We need soil samples from these spots,’ he declared as he waved a plastic map in the air, ‘and air tests alongside them. If we find any water, we take samples of that too.’

‘What about animals or…humans?’ someone asked.

April guessed from the slightly nervous tone it was Babble. She picked him out, standing slightly away from the others on the left, in a faded blue suit with big baggy arms and a slightly wonky helmet. The glass visor on his mask looked slightly misty.

‘There shouldn’t be anything but us here,’ Gun spoke, ‘and if there is note it, but leave it alone. That’s not we are here for.’

‘Are we going to spilt up?’ Joe asked.

‘Not this time. Too easy to get lost and too dangerous,’ Gun explained, ‘we’ll start here, head towards the centre then come out again and go back.’

‘Sounds like a plan, boss,’ Nook cut in.

Gun carried on giving orders and make sure everyone knew they jobs. Finally, he got around to Nook and April. She had been walking back and forth in front of the building, trying to see further inside. However, the walls and roofs had fallen in blocking off what might have been classrooms and offices.

‘April get over here!’ Gun snapped.

April jumped and hurried over as fast as the heavy boots and difficult body suit would allow. Coming to stop between Nook and Gun, April thought she heard soft sniggering in her ears.

‘Guard duty here is extremely important. You need to stay visual at all times and report anything you see. Don’t just shot it. Remember the Code,’ Gun said in a low serous voice.

‘Right Boss,’ Nook rumbled back.

‘Don’t go wandering. There’s nothing worth salvaging here. It’s still all contaminated and we can’t risk bring any of that back.’

‘No problem,’ April put in.

Gun turned and addressed the rest of the crew with that statement. He ended with, ‘let’s get to work!’

Nook moved and began patrolling the area, drawing his gun as he did so.

April reached for her’s, finding it against her hip in one of her belt’s pouches. She took it out, barely feeling the weight of it in her leather gloved hands. She checked it then felt for her knife at her other hip. Feeling it there, she dropped her arms and began pacing in front of the building, her eyes darting everywhere and her ears listening for any other noises.

The minutes ticked by and April felt like they had been there a long time, though really it had only been about ten minutes. Gun hustled the crew along and they moved to the next marked spot on the map.

Coming to stand at what might have been a supermarket once, April clutched her gun tighter. The lack of bird sounds was really getting it her. It was well known that animals would go nowhere near the worse effected areas long after the third world war ended. Even now that was proving to still be the case.

She tried to recall things she had read and heard in the briefing about Pripyat. Beside from a little history about the original nuclear disaster and then the second one triggered by the war, she couldn’t remember anything else. She shivered and decided she had lost her interested in the place and wanted to go home.

The crew moved, leaving little green flags behind them at the marked spots, so anyone who came again could see where they had been. They arrived at the centre and April felt better that their mission was almost complete. Tall buildings rose on all side of them, battling with the trees to be seen. April felt a slight tugged to explore some of the buildings, the eagerness of seeing what lay within, but she stood her ground. She watched the four men taking all the samples. Gun and Trigg looking at the reader and talking softly about it whilst further away Nook walked slowly around them all, eyes glued to the ghost buildings.

‘We’ve got everything,’ Joe’s voice came loudly through.

‘Let’s pack up and move out. This place gives me the creeps,’ Gun added.

A muttering of agreement followed.

April sighed deeply and went to put her gun away, but a disturbing noise from behind her stilled her movements.

Abandoned (part 1)

Pripyat, Ukraine, Chernobyl, Disaster, Abandoned

The first thing April noticed was the lack of sound. It felt unsettling. She looked around taking in the tall green leaf trees and bushes that almost hid city. Breathing heavily through her mask, she wondered if the communication system had broken again. She reached her gloved hands up and felt for the mic at her throat.

A crackling stopped her searching fingers and she heard Trigg’s voice muttering. She turned and looked over her shoulder, frowning. He was only a few steps behind her, looking through his rucksack. He pulled out a toxin reader and then announced he had found it.

Turning fully, April watched the rest of the crew preparing to move on again. The six large men who had either been standing or sitting, seemed to move as one and gather their rucksacks up.

April patched herself through to Trigg.

‘I can’t hear anything,’ she said.

Trigg looked up at her, ‘did you get sand in your speakers again?’

‘No. I cleaned my mask before we left. Come over here.’

Trigg pulled on his bag and went over to her. Together they stood on the ridge looking down at the city once known as Pripyat. They could just make out the collapsed roof tops of the tallest buildings and what seemed to be a Ferris wheel in the distance. A gentle wind ruffled the trees and above them the dark blue sky was growing with grey clouds.

‘There’s nothing to hear,’ Trigg said in a low voice.

‘I know there’s been a lack of animals since we got here…but I thought with all this green we’d at least hear birds,’ April responded.

Trigg looked down at the device in his palm and pointed a finger from his other hand at the screen. A small red arrow was waving between an arch of numbers. April’s eyes read it, but her brain didn’t understand it.

‘There’s still radiation. It’s low here, but further on it’ll get higher,’ Trigg explained.

‘Is everyone ready?’ Gun’s voice called through both their headsets.

A rattle of positive voices replied from the rest of the crew and with a wave of his hand, Gun started walking. The other men fell into place behind him. Their metal boots easily making work of the rough nature taken over ground.

‘Don’t take your helmet off,’ Trigg hissed.

‘Huh?’ April replied.

‘You didn’t all ready did you?’

‘Of course, I didn’t. And I won’t. How dumb do you think I am?’

‘Very,’ Trigg muttered.

April whacked him on the shoulder, ‘I’m not!’

‘Hey! You can have your lovers tiff later, come on,’ Nook cut in.

They both glanced at him, taking in his big grey body suit and black mask, then looking away.

Trigg moved first and walked passed him to catch up with the others.

‘Knew bring a girl would cause trouble,’ Nook added, ‘you gonna stay there or come?’

April tried to shake her head, but the mask and helmet made it difficult to. With a sign, she gripped a last look at the long abandoned city below and trudged over.

Nook pushed her in front of him and April began struggling her way through the jungle like scene. Keeping focus on Trigg’s rucksack with the bright neon orange stripes, she wished she could pull her knife and cut back some of the foliage. The rules which she knew off by heart, rang in head and she started muttering them under her breath.

‘Always wear your mask, gloves, suit and boots. Plan everything down to the last detail and know what you are doing. Keep someone in sight of you at all times and make sure someone can see you. Take only what you must. Leave everything else untouched. Note all discoveries. Don’t cut, damage or kill plants and animals on the surface. Don’t look directly at the sun.’

‘Do you really believe that?’ Nook scoffed in her ear.

Ignoring him, April switched off her mic. She then stepped over a fallen tree and found herself on what once had been a road. She stopped looking both ways and saw to the left the burnt remains of a small car.

‘Document that,’ Gun’s voice sounded in her ears, though it wasn’t directed at her.

She started walking over, but Nook grabbed and spun her. April slammed into Trigg’s side.

‘Keep a hold of your little lady, hey,’ Nook rumbled.

‘She’s not mine!’ Trigg snapped back and pushed April passed him.

‘What’s going on? Quit it. This isn’t a place for messin’ around in,’ Gun growled.

He came in-between them, but Nook and Trigg had already stepped away from each other. Quietly, he gave them both different tasks then went back over to Len who was jotting notes down on a crumpled pad of paper. He totally ignored April.

Leaving the men to it, April walked down the road. The stillness of the place still unnerving her.

 

To be Continued…

 

*These characters were originally from the story Obsolate and Plane, published last month; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/2016/04/18/obsolete/ I really like them and am seriously thinking about writing a dystopia novel with them.

**This story was inspired by The Daily Post’s daily prompt: Abandoned

 

Obsolete

Aerospace Storage, B-52'S, Bombers, Military, Jets

April pulled the mask down from her face and took a deep breath of dry, hot air. Small, loose strands of her dark blonde hair escaped and brushed against her red round cheeks. Her sharp blue eyes scanned the abandon desert scape, taking in the metal shells that had once been aeroplanes. She heard the sound of sand grains gritting across each other and the plane hulks, but beside from that there was nothing else.

Taking in another forbidden breath, April began to climb down the outside of the tunnel shaft. Gripping tightly on with her gloved hands and focusing on the pale grey concrete surface framed between the rungs, she went down, slowly. The rusty ladder creaked, but held her too small nineteen year old body weight as she placed foot after a foot on each rung. She glanced down at the last few steps and thought about jumping. The image of Cal twisting his ankle last time quickly changed her mind.

Her heavy metal and leather boots hit the sand, causing a small dust cloud. She turned and pulled her mask back on. The planes, which hadn’t seem so daunting from ten foot above, now took on a different form. They rose above her and April felt threatened by their giant emptiness. She sidestepped and wiggled out of the rucksack that was too tight on her back. Holding it, she looked through it and checked the items inside.

Above her, came the sound of more boots clumping on metal. April looked up and saw through the cloudy protective screen, two people standing on top of the shaft. One waved to her then began descending. April waved back. Dropping her eyes back to the inside of her rucksack, she made sure, for what had to be the hundredth time that the tops of her water canteens were on. Feeling they were, she fastened the straps and slung the backpack on again.

Not wanting to look at the decaying planes, April watched Trigg, who was the same age as her, came down the ladder. He was fast then she had been, more confident in his feet. Soon, he was beside her and they were staring at each other through the cumbersome masks. She watched him press the mic button and heard his voice hissing in her ear.

‘You took your mask off, didn’t you?’

‘Just for a few seconds,’ April responded back, ‘it doesn’t do any harm.’

Trigg shook his head, ‘beside from the fact that everyone is going to know. I can see it fogging up from here!’

She sighed deeply and looked away as he tugged off his rucksack.

‘I’ve a got demister…somewhere,’ Trigg muttered.

‘Joe’s almost here,’ April pointed out, watching the older man coming down the ladder.

Trigg held out a small plastic bottle with a spray top on it. April quickly took off her mask and let him spray it. She held her breath.

‘Problem?’ a voice crackled through the speaker.

‘No,’ Trigg replied back, ‘just condensation. April was breathing too hard.’

April bit her lip and held back a nasty reply. She put the mask on and took a deep breath of filtered air. Looking out her vision was now clear. She focused on the planes, disliking herself for it, but knowing she couldn’t meet Trigg’s or Joe’s eyes now.

‘You okay?’ Joe asked.

‘Yes. It was nothing,’ April said quickly.

Trigg reached out to pat her shoulder, but April dodged him and began striding across the sand. She left deep footprints behind as she approached the first plane. It was a small two person craft and looked like it had been over salvaged all ready. April remembered it from last time and walked past it.

Over the intercom, Trigg called for her to slow down, but she ignored him. Gun was the leader on this mission and the only person April planned to fully listen too. However, he had been late and so was the last to come up. Plus, she was the only woman on this eight man crew. So, she had to stay strong.

Coming to stop beside a discarded plane wing, April turned and saw Trigg and Jo trailing behind her. In the distant, there were two figures standing at the bottom of the ladder, another two at the top and one man climbing down. She looked away, out across the plane graveyard and wondered what they’d find today.

 

To Be Continued…

Solitude

 :

She wanted to find the solitude that had always been denied to her.

Postcard #16

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Wild

Vintage velvet beauties in the wild, what a wonderful scene - via Roomed

It was a surreal moment. One second, she was walking in-between the trees with her hiking boots crunching over dried leaves, twigs and pinecones. The next she was standing on a twisting pathway lined with armchairs and chandeliers dangling down from the trees. She paused and hooked her fingers around the straps of her hiking rucksack. Catching her breath, she wondered what was going on.

Slowly, she walked forward and went to the first chair. There was nothing unusually about the patterned fabric, though it did reminder of grandma’s old parlour chair. With steady fingers, she reached out and touched the arm. It felt damp and as she sniffed, she smelt the mildew and pine of the forest.

Frowning, she started to walk down the line and noticed how the armchairs were placed at different angles. Above the third on, a chandelier was hung. She stopped and looked up at the weak sunlight reflecting off the cut glass and creating a rainbow on the ground. A lazy breeze twirled the glass shapes around. Abruptly, she noticed the lights were on in the chandelier. Thinking it was just her, she backed up and looked more closely, but the candle shaped bulbs were defiantly lit.

Without knowing what else to do, she took her mobile phone from her pocket and began taking photographs. At least, she would have some visual proof when she got back to the B and B. Keeping her phone out, she walked up to the first chair and took a photo of everything together. Carefully, she looked around and listened, but she couldn’t see or hear anything different. Slipping her phone back into her pocket, she turned her back on the strange display and ahead back down the path.