Mask #writephoto

The orange and yellow flames rose, licking the red smoke which billowed into the night. Ewqor stared down at the burning wood and breathed in deeply through his mask. There was a heavy sweet scent mixed within the smoke, almost as if a meadow of flowers was burning.

He shut his eyes and let the magic take over. A tingling feeling shot all over his body then he was flying and the smoke was dancing all around him. Ewqor opened his eyes and saw the near future playing out before him.

There was the King on his throne, grey with age and worn down by the country’s responsibilities. At his side was the empty throne of his Queen, recently dead and standing next to there his eight daughters. The oldest four were married, Queens to other Kingdoms and with their own children. The other three were engaged to Princes far away but the youngest, in her early teens wasn’t ready yet.

It was her, that Ewqor focused on. The late flower from the Gods, as she was known as. The King and Queen had been too old to have any more children, but they had been blessed with Morning Lily. She was smaller then her sisters, with light pink hair and violet eyes but she hadn’t followed in anyone’s footsteps.

Living in the shadows of her mother and sisters, should have made Morning Lily nothing. Instead though, the people loved her unusually beauty and kindness. It was unlikely she’d sit on a throne, so her other nickname had become the Eternal Princess. Morning Lily seemed to have accepted this but through the vision, Ewqor could see is it wasn’t to be her fate.

He shut his eyes, controlling himself back and letting the smoke cover the future throne room. Ewqor gasped as he was slammed back into his body. He stumbled but quickly gained his footing. He raised his head and pulled off his mask. A light rain fell on to face and he felt refreshed.

Leaving his servants to put out the magic fire, Ewqor went to see the King. They had a lot to talk about.

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/07/20/thursday-photo-prompt-mask-writephoto/ with thanks)

Car #fridayfictioneers

To keep the kids quiet during the six hour drive down to Cornwall, I put together activity bags for them. Of all the things to pick from first, they selected car bingo. So there was a lot of shouting as we all spotted things on the list.

That was until my husband yelled out, ‘dead rabbit!’

Silence fell. I shot him a look and turned to the kids. They were upset.

‘Who want’s a sweet?’ I asked loudly and grabbed a packet.

That quickly helped everyone to forget about dead things.

 

(Inspired from: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/07/19/21-july-2017/ with thanks)

Glitter #fridayfictoneers

 

Placing the large, sliver glittery jar on the window sill, Ola stood back to admire it. She had loved how in the shop the jar had glowed in the sunlight as if fireflies where inside it. Now as the sun hit it again, light danced across her walls like a disco ball.

Slightly moving the gold candlestick that had been her great-grandma’s, till it was in a better position to catch the light bouncing off the jar, Ola’s couldn’t help but think what the candlestick represented. Originally, one of a pair, it had survived the Second World War and the long journey out of Germany to Sweden. It was hope and freedom in one as well as a piece of her family’s history.

Finally happy, Ola moved away and went off to unpack the rest of her shopping. Afterwards, she got a late lunch and settled in the living room to watch TV. A loud tapping on a window caused her to pause. Glass of water and plate of food still in hand, she looked around. The tapping came again.

Maybe, it was someone at the door? Placing things down, she walked over and opened the cottage’s small door. There was no one there. Confused, she closed the door and went to the back one but there was no one their either. Wondering what was going on, she went from window to window and peered out.

The lane and rolling countryside looked like it always did at the height of summer; trees in full green leave, flowers in their bright colours, the fields in patchworks of greens and yellows against the bright blue sky. The other cottages were covered in climbing flowers and plants underneath their whitewash walls and thatched roofs added to that picture perfect look.

There didn’t seem to be anyone around. Ola went back to her lunch but as soon as she’d sat down the tapping started up again. Frowning, she arose and went quickly to both doors. Peering out of the windows, she saw there was no one there. Perhaps, it was children playing about? Going back, she began her lunch, ignoring the tapping when it started up again.

Finally though, she’d had enough. Getting up and heading in the direction of the tapping which seemed to be coming from the landing window where she had placed the glittering jar, Ola stood for a few moments. Then she saw it. A huge black and white magpie was flying at the window and tapping on the glass.

Ola laughed. The bird was attracted to the jar! The sunlight sparkling off the surface must have caught it’s attention. She watched for a few more moments as the magpie kept trying to get at the jar, then not sure what else to do, Ola rolled the blind down. The jar and window sill fell dark. Ola felt a wave of unhappiness but as she listened the magpie’s tapping slowed then stopped.

Ola pulled the blind halfway up. Thinking that if there wasn’t so much light on the jar then the magpie might stay away. It was a shame not to let the jar glow as it should. Stepping back, she stood by the window for a few minutes. Admiring the movement of the light on the jar, candlestick and walls. The magpie didn’t come back.

(Inspired from: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/07/12/14-july-2017/ with thanks)

Fleeing Eternal Darkness

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It was hard to go back there but I had to do it. Sinking into one of the church pews which looked still stable though it creaked loudly under me, I looked around. Surprisingly, the place wasn’t in bad shape for having been abandoned for forty-seven years. Yes, the roof had let water in so there was dampness and rot. People had taken a lot of things to salvage, but the colored glass windows with their biblical scenes were still intact.

Resting against my walking stick, I knew breathing the air in here would be bad but I had to stay as long as it took. Ignoring the shaking of my body, I cast my mind back and plunged myself into that first Sunday of July 1970.

My family had been coming to this little village church for generations and this seemed like any normal Sunday service. I had my wife with me and our two boys, who were longing to be playing about outside. Then the priest announced a special moment in the history of our church; the first exorcism to take place here! Everyone who had been dozing or daydream began to pay attention again.

A thirteen year old girl, wearing only a white dress, was dragged on by two burly men, I knew to be brothers. She was screaming and crying, her loose red hair flying everywhere. I didn’t recognise her and being a doctor I knew every child in the village. I frowned and half rose from my pew, my gut saying something wasn’t right.

‘This girl,’ the priest began having to yell over the child, ‘has been possessed by demons and I shall end her suffering by removing them from her body and mind!’

The congregation gasped and began muttering. I caught the glare of my wife but it was too late, I was on my feet and challenging.

‘Who is this girl?’ I cried out ‘and how do you know she is possessed? She seems nothing more then a frighted child to me!’

Eyes turned towards me and a few people joined my line of questioning.

‘This is beyond your medications, Doctor!’ the priest roared back at me.

I felt a tug on my sleeve and knew it was my wife, but I ignored her and carried on, ‘You know that for a fact do you? Let me see her!’

I stepped out of the pew and strolled up towards them. The girl was still screaming and crying, struggling to get away from the massive hands holding her down. The priest moved aside, hand gesturing me to inspect the child.

Reaching for her, she tried to bite me, but the brothers held her back. I felt her forehead, looked into her eyes and mouth as much as I could. She was drenched in sweat and looked very unwell now that she had fallen silent.

‘She is feverish,’ I declared, ‘she’s merely ill.’

‘No!’ the priest snapped.

He rushed at me, sweeping me aside and I tumbled to the floor. I heard him chanting loudly in Latin and the girl screaming. Looking up, I saw the girl fling her head back and open her mouth. A red mist poured out of her and forms seemed to take shape.

I scrambled up off the floor and back to my wife and boys. The congregation were crying and shouting things out, but no one could hear each other because the scream now coming from the girl was deafening. I tried to scoop up my family and get them out of the church but it was too late. The demons flew at us all, forcing their way inside of everyone and taking over.

I don’t remember much after that. Everyone was stumbling out of the church, feeling like they had to get far away from everything that was Holy. I walked my wife and boys back home, hoping the fresh air would help, but we all felt sick when we arrived. We spent days resting, whatever had happened seemed to become like a faded dream.

But we were cursed now. Everyone in the village had a demon inside of them and we found it harder to control ourselves and remain good. I moved my family away a year later, my wife was seriously ill and my boys were running wild. It helped a little, but it wasn’t enough and no one seemed able to heal us.

(Inspired from: https://thewriteedgewritingworkshop.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/writing-prompts-for-monday-july-10-2017/ with thanks)

The Secret

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My mother had been buried under the gardeners’ compost heap just like my step-great-uncle had always told me. I could see bits of creamy bone and scraps of dark red dress coated with damp soil and roots. Her death wasn’t a secret any longer but now I was about to join her.

(Inspired from; http://sachablack.co.uk/2017/07/05/writespiration-123-52-weeks-in-52-words-week-27/ with thanks)

 

Ferry

It had been a long wait but finally we was driving onto the ferry. My car wheels click-clacked over the metal bridge and I parked as the man in the neon yellow vest directed me to. As soon as everyone else had squeezed on, there was a rumble of engine and whirl of propellers which sent vibrations juddering through everything.  Then we were off to the island and the adventures that awaited us there.

 

(Inspired from: https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/06/21/23-june-2017, PHOTO PROMPT © Ted Strutz with thanks)

Knock #writephoto

My great-grandfather, Bill, told me this story and tonight I want to tell you it.

In his time, the mines were all over Cornwall and almost all the men worked in one. They did long hard shifts, digging underground in small, dimly light tunnels. The sounds of pickaxes, shovels and carts filled the air so loudly they could hardly hear each other. And the coal dust! It got everywhere and clogged the air right up. They said if you cut a miner up the only thing inside of him would be black coal dust.

Now one day, great-grandfather Bill was down in a new tunnel having a quick walk through to make sure the wooden support beams had been put in place before any real digging started. He had with him an old friend called Tom and as they stood in the middle of the tunnel, they heard a loud sharp knock.

Puzzled they listened harder. They were far from the other miners and the noise couldn’t have travelled that long and clear as it had been. They looked at each other and listened again. There was another knock then no more.

‘It’s the Knockers,’ Tom whispered.

Bill shot Tom a look and replied, ‘it’s just the echos of someone digging. This beam is fine. On to the next.’

The moved on and inspected a few more beams before they heard another knock. The sound travelled through the tunnel and it was much like heavy knuckles rapping at a wooden door. No way could that have been the sound of someone mining coal.

‘Hello!’ Bill shouted.

His voice echoed but there was no reply. He flashed his lantern round and the candle flame flickered then became still. Bill couldn’t make anything out and it didn’t help that the light was only a small pool.

‘Let’s go,’ Tom muttered and started to head back.

‘No. We need to finish this…’

‘I’m going back! When a Knocker starts a knocking you get out!’ Tom stated.

Bill watched him walk away in the glow of the candle light. My great-granddad wasn’t afraid of the little folk who lived underground. He carried on with his work, taking the time to check each beam would hold the tunnel roof up.

A shuffling of footsteps drew his attention and he shone his light down. There was nothing in front or behind him on the solid rock ground he could see. A chuckling noise snapped Bill’s head right up and he spun around, knowing now he wasn’t alone.

‘Tom that you! Come on, show yourself!’ Bill shouted.

A spot of light glowed against the tunnel wall and Bill started to track it. The flames was ahead of him. Thinking that his men were playing a trick on him, Bill decided to ignore it. They weren’t going to get the satisfaction from scaring him.

Bill walked towards the light, but it seemed to fade and move away the closer he got. Growling, he stopped and wiped the sweat from his head. He was tried, hot and wanting to go home to his wife.

He swore and turned around to head back.

The tinkling of metal and the sound of someone hammering with a pickaxe made Bill turn back. He saw there before him, in the gloomy light, a small figure no bigger then a very small child. The figure, appeared to be a male and wearing a miner’s clothes. His face was that of an old man with wrinkles and a long grey beard. He had a lantern in one hand and pickaxe in the other.

‘Are you a Knocker?’ Bill asked in shock.

The figure nodded, ‘aye.’

‘What do you want?’ Bill demanded.

‘You didn’t seem to get our warning about this tunnel. It’s not safe. So I thought I’d come and tell you myself. Since you are alone now,’ the Knocker replied in a gravelly voice.

Now, Bill wasn’t sure what else to say and he was trying hard to remember what people said about Knockers. They were little folk who liked to cause mischief, steal tools and food. Some of the men tossed their pasty crusts to them in the hopes it would keep them away.

‘You should go,’ the Knocker said sharply.

Bill nodded and turned around, he walked a few steps then twisted about again. The tunnel before him was empty. He walked out and a few moments later a giant rumble echoed through the tunnel. Bill turned and saw the entrance clouded in thick smoke. When it cleared, the tunnel had collapsed.

When he came up from the mine that evening, Bill went straight home and didn’t tell anyone what had happened.

It was only when I was a kid and he liked telling tales that one day that story slipped out of him. I asked him many times to tell me about it, but he only told it one other time and that was right before he died.

You see, it was just too unbelievable for him to deal with what he saw and now he’s taken the full story to his grave.

 

(Inspired from a prompt by; https://scvincent.com/2017/06/01/thursday-photo-prompt-knock-writephoto/ with thanks).

Shelter

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It was the only place he could find to get out of the rain. Huddling into a corner, he made himself as warm and comfy as possible. He had already checked out the place and made sure no one else was in residence. The corner he had picked was also the best one. It was a large dry spot and he had clear views of the two doorways into the house.

He looked up and watched the rain falling in. The roof had long ago tumbled in, though the attic and floor above, creating a massive hole in the middle of the house. There were bits of roof tile, bricks, plaster and rubbish scattered around. He hadn’t seen any furniture and guessed the house had been well cleared out over the years.

He rested his head down and listened to the patter of the rain. Oddly he felt like an intruder. This had been someone’s home once. A place of love and safety. It had seemed nice too, a good place to bring up a family. Where had they gone though? What had made them move out?

Trying to dispel those thoughts- what did he care?- He settled for sleep. He began counting sheep jumping over a fence as was habit. He pictured each sheep differently as an individual as his father had taught him. Something about how that helps you fall asleep better.

With the lullaby of the rain, he fell asleep and dreamed of his childhood which he hadn’t thought about in years.

Voices

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I had always know my son, Caleb was different. How often had I stood at the kitchen window watching him talking and playing with someone who wasn’t there? I had blamed it on imagination. He was an adventurous child, forever wanting to do things and chatting away.

He had a normal up bring. Yes, he was an only child but his father and I were happily married. We did lots of family things together and with both of us being teachers, we had Caleb embrace education. He was perfectly fine in school too, always getting high grades and having lots of friends. He was healthy and loved sports.

Under that though, there had always just been something…

When he was twelve he still had imaginary friends. He could be playing in his bedroom, the garden or at the park and you could hear him talking aloud. It would seem at first he was talking to someone, an adult or another child, but then you just knew he was talking to himself.

‘Who is it you are talking too?’ I asked him one summer’s day.

Caleb was sitting on the lawn, a few toys scattered around him and I was hanging out the washing. It was the summer holidays and though we normally send him to a summer school or camp to be with other children, he had refused to go this year.

He turned to me, a toy tank in his hand and looked up through his choppy fringe which needed cutting.

‘No one,’ he replied.

‘You’re too old for imaginary friends now,’ I pointed out.

‘They’re not imaginary,’ he muttered and went back to playing.

‘Oh, then who are they? Are you on the phone?’ I asked.

‘No. I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink please, mum?’

‘Okay,’ I said slowly.

Pegging the last sock on the line, I walked back into the house. From behind me, I heard Caleb whisper, ‘she’s going now. Tell me more about the War.’

I almost turned around but I didn’t. I made him a glass of orange squash and took it outside. He was playing like a normal child, rolling his tank over the grass and making gun like noises as he reacted a battle with his toy soldiers.

Of course, I then spoke to his father, his teachers, the parents of his friends and they had for years noticed the same thing that I had; Caleb was seemingly talking to someone all the time. The idea that he should’ve grown out of that by now stuck with me and I became determined to figure out what was wrong with him.

Finally two years later, I got him in to see someone from the mental health, but Caleb wouldn’t talk. We had maybe four sessions then that was it. For awhile after, I thought it had worked, he was quiet and sullen, a typical fourteen year old most would say. It wasn’t the truth though.

Instead of finding hidden adult materiel in his room, I began finding notebooks filled with what seemed to be stories and conversations. There was no title or dates, just a run on of writing. The stories covered lots of different time periods. There was one about a WW2 fighter pilot, who was blown out of his plane over Germany spent the rest of the War as a POW. Another, told of a little boy who was tricked into going down into a well and died there when he became trapped.

I put the notebooks back every time and I tried to bring them up in conventions without reveling I knew about them. Caleb shrugged it off, ignoring my suggests that he was interested in writing and journalism.  I had to let it go in the end.

Caleb made it through high school and college. He got top of the class grades and he went on to a good university to study to be a teacher. We were both proud of him. When he moved out though, the house became empty, almost sad like. We got by though. Work kept us both busy and we were looking into fostering and maybe adoption.

The news hit out of no where, almost three years after that, just as Caleb was doing his finals. I was sat in my headmistress’ office, reading emails when the phone rang. I picked it up like normal, thinking it a call from a parent or teacher etc, but it was Caleb’s university tutor telling me that Caleb had been found dead in his student room. He had hung himself three days ago.

A strange feeling went though me, it was like sand slipping through my fingers in slow motion. The tutor’s voice sounded dim and everything around me had begun to fade. I couldn’t think clearly. I dropped the phone and just sat there.

We had to go and pack up his student room. I was running on automatic and so we just moved his stuff back into his bedroom. I just kept thinking that Caleb had moved back in and he was out with his friends. It was months, maybe close to a year before we actually went through all of his things.

Sitting on Caleb’s bedroom floor, sorting things out into piles, my husband and I worked in silence. It was raining heavily outside and the wind was rattling the windows. A storm was on its’ way. I dug through a cardboard box and began pulling things out.

In a handful of notebooks and even in between his uni notes, he had written strange stories and conversations which so reminded me of the notebooks I had found when he was younger. These were not like any stories he had written before though. They were horrible, filled with violence and death.

I found a diary. It was a fake black leather covered A5 size with lined pages for each date. I had never known him to keep one before and as I flipped through the pages, I saw he had written about hearing voices in his head. Some days were blank or he’d simple put;

I didn’t hear any voices today. 

On other days he had written things like;

A voice told me a new story today. I wrote it down, like I do with all of them. These voices are more then just those of fiction characters. They are so real. Maybe they are ghosts? I’ve never believed in that though. But how else can they be explained? 

Then about four months before his death, I found this;

The voices were bad today. I have one at the moment that keeps telling me to kill myself. I’m fighting it like I do with all the others but it’s so strong. It doesn’t seem to have a story or talk to me like the others. It questions if I’m good enough and what’s the point and that every will be better if I just pick up the knife and bleed.

I shall try to contain it. I know what the voice is saying is wrong.

Two months later, Caleb had wrote;

The “suicidal voice” has gotten worse. I can’t sleep and I’m not eating much. The voice has taken over and it’s constantly whispering to me. It tells me over and over to kill myself. It says pain is good and so is blood. My life is pointless, I’m useless, nobody loves me or wants me. I can’t think of anything else but that voice.

All the other voices have gone now. They have vanished and even if I try to think about them and speak to them, I can’t. The “suicidal voice” blocks them all. I don’t know what to do. I need to tell someone. I need help. But what can I say? I’ve been hearing voices all my life, Doctor and now I’ve got this voice repeatedly telling me to kill myself. No one will believe me!

I felt tears running down my face. My husband was saying my name but I ignored him and turned to the last page my son had written on. He had put;

I can’t cope any more! Everything I’ve tried hasn’t worked! Listening to the voice is the only choice I’ve got now. I’m going to do it tonight. 

I pressed the pages to my face and burst into tears. My son had been a schizophrenic and no one had ever known about it.

(Story inspired by local research into hearing voices at Manchester University  https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/research/projectdetails/?ID=3083)

Child

It was time. Elisabeth knew she had to do it, but she just didn’t know if she’d find the strength. Standing just inside the nursery room, she looked around and took in all the bright and pretty toys. There were so many things!

In pride of place was the dappled rocking horse with all his red leather tack. The doll’s house took up the left far corner, under the curtained window. The red bricked front tightly shut away, but inside was wonderful collection of fully fitted rooms for the china dolls to roam through.

There were soft toys and wooden toys gathered about. Books on a small bookshelf and other child size furniture; a desk, a chair, a sofa. A tea set all laid out on a circle table and dolls seated at the chairs as if they were really about to take tea. Everything was ready to be played with and you could almost hear the voices and laughter of children on the air.

Elisabeth sigh and thought about what should have been. She dropped her head and turned from the room. Her dark blue dress rustling about her. Her eyes caught those of the elderly housekeeper, who was waiting with dust sheets and the ring of house keys.

‘My Lady,’ the housekeeper spoke, ‘it will be open again before you know it.’

Elisabeth held her head high, trying not to show any of her grief. She swept passed the woman and went along the corridor and up the next flight of stairs to her room. Once there and with the door locked behind her, Elisabeth sank onto the bed and crumpled a child’s nightdress into her lap.

Tears began falling, thick and fast. Elisabeth buried her face into the nightdress and cried until exhausted, she lay down in bed and fell asleep.

 

(Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2017/04/27/thursday-photo-prompt-child-writephoto/ with thanks)