The Figures In The Fog (Part 4)

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I felt frozen and I knew I wasn’t alone. Things were moving in the fog and it had nothing to do with the wind. I stayed still, listening but not hearing anything else. Suddenly, I felt angry and frustrated, I was tried of being the source of a joke.

‘I’ve had enough,’ I uttered and strolled forward.

The dog trailed after me, tail behind her legs and head down.

‘Rufina,’ came from the whisper from behind me.

‘No, I won’t turn around,’ I spoke, ‘I won’t let you scare me.’

I stomped my boots for a few steps and then tried to calm down. Perhaps, they were trying to make me more angry then scared? That had always been a part of my brothers’ fun. The twins had been the worse, taking my toys and books, trying to get me into play fights, pulling out my red hair and also blaming me for many of their naughty doings.

The dog growled and tried to twist around me. I walked into her and stumbled over, unable to stop myself, I landed spread across the road. I tasted blood and felt bruises blooming.

I turned my head and pressed my cheek to the icy road. Blinking, I looked across and saw a figure leaning against the tree. It looked like a man smoking a pipe.

Turning my head the other way, my eyes picked out another figure. The man with the riding hat. He was standing on the edge of the road, the fog curled like white smoke around him, distorting his features.

I got to my knees and wiped my face then noticed my hands were dirty. Pushing up, I got to my feet and reached back down for the dog. She pushed her nose into my hand then growled a warning.

Looking over my shoulder, I saw the tall man behind me coming out of the fog. I couldn’t make out much of him but I saw his mouth open and heard my name whispered.

Fear rushed through me, I turned and ran. The dog was at my heels, chasing after me and my chest hurt with the cold air. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to stop. I knew it wasn’t real men out here nor was it my imagination, it was something else. Something no one living could explain.

A few times, I tripped and fell over a stick or my skirts or the dog but I didn’t care. Each time I got up and ran on because that voice started whispering my name in my ear again. I hated the way the letters sounded, long and curling like a never ending song note.

I tasted blood, felt wetness on my legs and arms. My feet, hips and chest ached. The house felt so far away and the idea that I wouldn’t reach it before the men grabbed me pushed me further on.

I broke through the trees, the road widen and I knew home wasn’t far away now. Stopping, I felt tugging on my cloak and thought it only the dog. I looked down and saw she wasn’t at my heels but ahead of me.

The tugging grew harder, I felt the collar and ribbon against my throat. I twisted, thinking maybe a branch had snagged me. There was nothing there. The cloak was pulled tight out as if someone was holding it.

My next breath chocked. I strained against the force but only felt the pressure more on my throat. I undid the ribbon and clasp, letting the cloak fall behind me. I walked quickly away, trying to run again but my energy was gone.

‘Rufina,’ the voice whispered, ‘Rufina.’

‘Go away!’ I screamed back at the forest.

I saw my cloak fluttering in mid-air, the fog filling it like a living form.

I couldn’t scream, my voice was gone. I turned again and broke into a run, my only thought to make it to the safety of my home.

Yellow glowing lights broke the fog and it seemed less dense along the driveway. The dog barked and another dog answered back. Gasping, I pressed on, trying to get the imagine of my floating cloak out of my mind.

A man’s screamed shocked through me. I twisted around, expecting to see someone behind me but my boots hit something hard and I tumbled down. I landed heavily on something solid, the scream still in my ears.

Dazed, it took me a few moments to figure out I had fallen into the fountain. The water was turned off for winter and damp leaves had gathered into the bottom. I reached for the stone edge and pulled myself up.

Ahead of me the house rose, lights blazing out of the windows.

Standing, I climbed out and wobbled up the front steps. I reached the double wooden doors and struggled to turn one of the heavy iron door knobs. I pushed the door open but couldn’t stop myself from falling into the hallway.

‘Rufina! What happened?’

I looked up at my eldest brother, Thomas, and groaned. He and someone else picked me up, their questions washing over me. I was sat in a chair where I looked around and realised my family, guests and some of the servants had prepared themselves into a search party.

‘Cook told us you had come out to find us,’ Thomas picked up.

‘When Melody came back without you, I knew something must have happened,’ my father said.

‘Did you fall off and hit a tree?’ one of the twins asked with a hint of laughter in his voice.

‘Then stumble into a fox hole?’ the other one added.

I shook my head and dragged in breath enough to speak, ‘there are three men out there and they chased me. They stole my cloak and they tried to…take me too!’

‘Men? But we are all here. There should be no one out there, ‘ my father explained.

‘Been here all the time?’ I questioned.

‘We’ve all stayed together. When the fog fell we came back. We were waiting for you but when you didn’t arrive we were about to go and find you.’

I looked at the floor, fighting myself. Could I have imagined the figures and what happened?

‘Do you want us to go and look for these men?’ Thomas inquired.

I bunched up my damp and mud covered skirts in my fists before responding, ‘no. It’s too dangerous out there.’

‘But if there are trespassers!’

I stood up and grab Thomas’ arm, ‘please, stay here.’

Arguments broke out and it took a lot of convincing to make them all stay inside. I don’t know how I knew but I couldn’t let any of them go out. Whatever those men were it wasn’t good and I knew entering the fog meant no return.

We sat down for lunch begrudgingly but there was no more talk of it again.

As for my black cloak, it was never found.

The End

The Figures In The Fog (Part 3)

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A wet pink tongue slobbered my face and heavy paws tangled in my skirts. I pushed the warm, soft, furry body away from me then brushed away the tears that clouded my eyes.

In my lap was one of this spring’s pups. A small bitch with white and tan coat, long ears and lean body. She licked my hands and whined.

I sighed and lay down on the road. The pup jumped about me, sticking her black wet nose into me and tongue licking bare skin. She pawed at me and nipped me when I didn’t move.

‘Did you get lost too?’ I finally asked.

I pulled myself up and climbed to my feet. I petted the dog, feeling relieved.

‘As everyone else still out here? Do you think you can find them for me?’

The pup licked my fingers and bounced around me.

‘You are better then nothing,’ I uttered.

I set off again, muddy paw prints on my skirts and my boots scuffed up. The dog followed me, tail held high and nose sniffing the air. I thought once or twice she was tracking the rest of the pack but actually she was chasing rabbit in the undergrowth.

Giving up on her, I followed my feet and soon felt the dip in the track. At least I knew where I was but I was far from home now.

On a normal day, walking here was a joy but in this thick fog, strong wind and cold air it was unpleasant. I wished for a horse or for my father’s car.

Somewhere to my left was a fallen tree that made a good seat to rest on. Without thinking much about it, I headed over there and felt the rough bark under my fingers. I sat for a few minutes and the dog joined me. She lay down, panting heavily at my feet.

The wind shifted the trees and stirred up the leaves. I looked up at the path and saw the fog seeming to part. A figure emerged dressed in dark clothes and a black riding hat.

‘Hello?’ I called out.

The dog growled and stood up defensively in front of me.

The figure shifted, moving between the trees slowly, staying just out of clear sight and using the fog as a mask.

‘Stop playing games!’ I snapped, ‘it’s not funny.’

My brothers had always teased me and played tricks on me. Was this them doing so again? It would have been easy enough for them to scare me in this fog.

‘Go and get him,’ I said to the dog and give her little shove forward.

The dog didn’t move. She stood her ground and carried on growling at the figure.

If it had been one of my brothers she wouldn’t be reacting that way. She knew all the family and servants well, like any of the hunting pack dogs. One of the guests then? but why would they want to scare me? They were all old men from my father’s army days, they had fought together in The Great War.

The figure vanished behind a thick tree, the fog rolling back around to claim the space.

‘I didn’t imagine that,’ I muttered, ‘you saw it too, girl.’

I called the dog back to me and she sat on my feet, staring around as if waiting for the figure to come back.

We had no choice but to continue. Hoping there were no more figures and we arrived home quickly, I sort out the road again and carried on. The dog padded at my side and I felt better for my companion.

We hadn’t gone far when the wind picked up and forcefully swept around us. Leaves flew up and scratched against me. The dog jumped and chased them as they went by. The trees rubbed together, creaking and cracking threateningly. A voice spoke something, a single word which I didn’t catch.

‘Hello!’ I screamed.

The wind snatched my voice away and wrapped my skirts and cloak around my legs. I struggled for breath, feeling like I had ice in my lungs. The dog started barking sharply then switched to growling.

The voice came again, it sounded like a whisper of my name.

The dog backed away and pressed against my boots. She curled around me, cowering and starting to shake.

‘I’m not afraid,’ I called out.

‘Rufina,’ a voice breathed in my ear.

 To Be Continued…

The Figures In the Fog (Part 2)

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I stumbled around on the track, calling and calling Melody back to me. The mare was long gone, lost somewhere in the bank of fog.  I gathered myself and checked for injures, just a few cuts and bruises. My skirts, red velvet jacket and black cloak were damp and covered with mud, leaves and grass.

Breathing the frozen air, I got my bearings and decided it would be faster to continue walking forward then try to go back. My father had planned the road out so that it circled to the house no matter which way you went.

Wrapping my cloak tightly around me and putting the hood up, I set off. The fog parted as I went into it then rolled back behind me. The toes of my boots tapped against fallen branches and I crunched over brittle leaves.

I shouldn’t have bothered to come out here to find my father, brothers and guests. I should have stayed in the warm kitchen overseeing lunch being made and listening to the gossip of the servants. I should have brought my dog with me. Jess could have sniffed out my father faster then my eyes could have spotted him.

It had been, I don’t know, instinct? A whispering voice at the back of my head? That had brought me out here telling me something bad was going to happen. I trusted that voice and my mother had always encouraged me to do so.

I heard footsteps ahead. I stopped and called out, ‘Hello?’

No voice replied but the footsteps continued. Had someone else been thrown off their horse and were lost like myself in the forest?

‘Hello! It’s Rufina. I came to find you,’ I spoke.

The footsteps stopped.

My breathing was harsh in my ears and I thought I heard a rustle in the distance but it could have been anything as the fog muffled all sounds. Then, had it really been footsteps I had heard?

Unsure, I walked on, feeling my way more then anything. When the path didn’t feel solid under my feet, I stepped about till I found it again. It felt like being in a dim light, like it was evening time instead of late morning. Branches and leaves brushed me, heightening my senses.

I spotted movement ahead and thought a figure was coming out of the fog. Was it my father? One of my brothers? Or one of the guests? It was hard to tell but it looked like a tall man.

‘Hello? Who’s there?’ I shouted., ‘It’s me, Rufina!’

No reply came.

I picked up my pace and approached the figure but as the fog parted, there was no one there.

I turned around, peering as if I could see the figure somewhere else but there was only the fog and the shape of the close by trees.

‘Is there anybody there?’ I shouted, ‘please come to me! No playing games, it’s too dangerous out here for that!’

The wind shook the trees, there was a rattle of dry leaves and I felt a few brush against my legs as my skirts was whipped up. I pushed things down and straightened my cloak out. I tied the ribbon of my hood tighter and ordinate myself.

I did have a big imagination thanks to all the books I read but I couldn’t have really conjured someone just being there on the road?

Shaking the thoughts out of my head, I carried on and tried to work out how far away I was from home. I knew the road looped down to the edge of the forest before going back up. I must be close to that dip now.

A howling echoed through the forest. My all ready cold skin chilled further and I tripped a step. I held my breath and tried to listen. Where had the howl come from and what creature had made it?

No wolves roamed here. Was it a wild dog? Perhaps, it was the gardener’s pet dog? Or one of the hunting pack hounds?

‘I’m over here!’ I cried then realised how silly that was surrounded by this fog.

The howl sounded again. It was just a single one and it wasn’t answered by another. Not a good sign as the hounds would have been making a lot of noise. There must have been fifteen to twenty dogs all together, so there was no way they could be quiet.

I fretted, unsure what to do. Should I call the dog to me and risk it being a stray or wild dog that could bite me? Or it could be a friendly dog who would guide me back home?

Before I could decided there was a ruckus close by and something jumped out. I screamed and tried to run but something hit into me and I fell.

To Be Continued….

The Figures in The Fog (Part 1)

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I shivered in my black woollen cloak and urged my white mare, Melody, on wards into the forest. It had been a bad idea for my father, my brothers and our guests to go a hunting this morning. I had told them at dinner last night and again this morning but men won’t listen to women like they should.

‘If it had been mother telling them they might have done,’ I muttered aloud.

No one had ever argued with mother. She had had a fiery temper and battles with her were like fighting with a demon. Father had blamed her nature on her thick, bright red hair which I had inherited. That was the only thing I took after her, my manner was soft, bookish and shy.

My mare let out a snort and her breathe misted in front of her. Her hoof beats rang out on the stone covered road which was newly laid for father’s latest pride and joy – an automobile. I couldn’t hear anything else but I knew father, brothers, the four other men, their horses and pack of hounds where close by.

The land we owed wasn’t very big and it was mainly this forest and two small fields. Most of the other clear land had been sold off when money was needed after the 1885 fire which had burnt all but the main part of the house down.

I was born in 1902 and didn’t know how much my family had lost. It wouldn’t come to me anyway, my older brother and twin brothers would be left the estate and I would have money to insure a comfortable life.

My plan was to buy a cottage by the sea and spend my days in peace, far from the stress my father and brothers made for me.

I pulled Melody to a stop and looked around. I couldn’t hear the sound of voices or the popping of gun shots. No birds sung from the half bare tree branches, no deer darted from behind the trunks, no running horses’ hoofs sounded and barking dogs broke out.

‘Where are they?’ I spoke.

From up ahead, a silent fog rolled in, covering the single track way in a thick white coat. The wind whispered through the trees like soft voices as the disturbed autumn leaves floated down. The morning frost covered the grass like a cake’s icing powered and made a crunching sound like a horse eating an apple when stepped upon.

A deer would hear you coming from miles.

The fog wrapped around and the wind chilled me. I couldn’t see and nor could my mare. I felt panic in my stomach and my mouth went dry. The idea of finding the men fled from me and the urge to race home spurred me to slap the reins down and kicked my mare.

She walked on, unsure blinded by the fog just as I was.

‘It’s all right girl. You know the way home,’ I said and patted her neck.

Melody whined as if saying she wasn’t so sure. I encouraged her on but her pace was slowed, the fog clearly spooking her.

There was a snapping of branches to the right. I tried to look but could only see the dense white fog and shadows of trees. I went to pull Melody to a stop in case it was the hunting party instead Melody reared, front legs pounding the air and her neigh loud with fear.

I cried out and clung tight to her neck but my fingers slipped on her damp coat. My skirts offered my legs no extra grip on the sides of the saddle and I struggled to stay on. I knew I wasn’t going to be able too, so I loosed my boots from the stirrups.

Melody threw me, I tumbled down to the wet grass and bumped into a tree trunk. Dizzy and gasping for breath, I tried to hurry up to my feet but my skirts tangled and I tripped back down. I tugged at the grass, feeling the icy cold touch of the frost. I got back up and onto the road again but it was too late, my horse had ran off.

 

To Be Continued…..

Copper #WritePhoto

Autumn leaves stuck to my boots, a drizzle rainfall patted the trees. The sky was a dusky blue-grey-black, night was coming fast. Birds tweeted their last songs and somewhere a woodpecker knocked. 

I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be home in front of the TV, eating snacks, being normal. My mind wouldn’t let that happen. I was going though so much therapy and techniques it was hard to keep up with it all. None of it was working. 

Being in the forest helped, somewhat. The hour or two of walking in the evenings, no matter the weather, helped to tire me. If not, the all night gym did.

No pills, cognitive therapy or other practises lasted long. The voices and thoughts came still. They whispered for me to do harm to myself and others. They laughed, taunted, demand, said there was no getting rid of them. I was mad.

I should have stayed locked up in the clinic but I wasn’t ill enough; my problems could be controlled. What did the doctors really know? They didn’t have all these demons inside. I didn’t trust myself, no one could, it was only a matter of time until…I did what the voices wanted and killed the next person I saw.

Looking up at the copper coloured leaves, I tried to relax and clear my head but all I could think about was the flow of blood. Red and pooling on the ground, the taste of it in my mouth, the feel of it on my skin.

Footsteps behind me. I turned hoping it was no one but along the path came a man with his dog.

They were my first victims.    

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/10/03/thursday-photo-prompt-copper-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

Moon Fall #3LineTales

four boys playing football in a lush green meadow

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

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

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

 

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

 

Into the Forest

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He wasn’t afraid because there was nothing to fear. He tucked up his hiking rucksack and carried on walking. Dry leaves and stones crunched under his boots and tall trees loomed on either side of him. A thick fog was rolling in and he felt a chill up his back.

The legends of the haunted forest filled his head. He didn’t believe them nor the recent stories of ghosts and demons. However, it was getting harder for him not feel like he was being watched. Were those footsteps in the distance? Was the creaking of the branches only the wind?

Wait….What was that fast moving shadow coming out of the fog?

 

 

Spikes #SundayPhotoFiction

Lakshmi Bhat

Hog built the spiky fence to keep the bears out. It was easy enough to do, he took some tall logs, hammered bits of wood in which he then shaped into spikes. Finally, Hog dug holes and stuck the logs in around his cabin.

He didn’t mind the bears, but they could be dangerous and bothersome. Hog didn’t want to hurt them but he had to defend himself. This idea of training them to stay away with the pain of the spikes, had come to him one afternoon when he had seen a bear stealing honey from a beehive and getting stung but the angry bees.

Days of work later, the fence complete and with a gate so he could get by, was done. Hog admired his hard work then went into the forest to check his rabbit traps.

When Hog came back, he saw a bear sniffing the new logs. He held his breath and watched as the bear brushed up against the spikes, felt the pain and stumbled away.

Hog smiled, his fence had worked! Feeling happier then he had in the last few months, he went inside and had a good meal of rabbits and vegetables.

 

(Inspired by; https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2019/06/15/sunday-photo-fiction-june-16-2019/ with thanks).

 

Xylophile (Part 2) #AtoZChallenge

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Xylophile; Someone who loves forests.

The cold river water rushes over my bare feet and legs. I feel small stones against my toes and move slightly to be more comfortable. My hand are flat on the rock I’m sitting on and I can feel the slightly damp moss brushing against me. I shut my eyes and just listen to the sounds of the water, the trees and everything else around me.

A few minute later, I feel the natural energy gathering. It’s hard to describe, but it feels like a warm wind wrapping around me then sinking into me. I feel little electric charges dancing across my skin, they go and I feel calmness, sleepy almost. I drift, dozing on and off, letting the wind and water carry me away.

Time passes, I’m aware and not aware of it at the same time. I just feel the magic filling me up and the sense of the river against my feet and the mossy rock under my hands are not there anymore. Dizziness makes my head swim and I lay down on the rock to make sure I don’t fall. I don’t sleep but I’m not fully awake either. I’m just drifting in and out, around the energy that takes over.

When I next open my eyes, I lay there and listen. I can hear the trees whispering to each other. They are having conversations and telling stories but I can’t make out their words clearly enough to understand.

The river laughs and tickles my feet. The water is happy to tumble down the waterfall and around the rocks. The river asks me to give it sticks and leaves to race with.

I slowly get up, make my way back to the grass bank and in a daze, I find anything that will float. I collect a few sticks, leaves, bits of things and place them into the river, above the waterfall. I watch the river play with the things, turning them and making them race through the tumbling water. The river laughs loudly like a child enjoying a good game.

Going to a near by tree, I sit down. I hear the tree talking, the leaves above moving not by the wind but by the energy of the tree itself. The tree tells about the owl that lives in a hallow high above and the two baby owls inside the nest. The tree says it is happy to give the owl and her babies a home.

I touch the bare earth, my name sake, that the tree has disturbed with it roots. The earth tells me to take it’s energy and to use some of them to anchor myself down, like the earth does to everything.

I breath deeply, filling my lungs with the energy. I hear then feel a spring rain began to fall. The drops patter onto the trees and plants before reaching my skin. It feels like warm, soft kisses on my skin.

Getting up, I walk out from under the tree and stand in the rain. It’s soft and warm. I let the rainfall wash me and from it I take more energy; the elements of air and water.

I feel better and like I can face my problems again. It’s hard to leave the forest, the place of my birth and where I feel most like myself, but I must do. I have to get back to things but I’ll keep returning, drawing the energy and making the magic until the day I return to nature and am buried under the soil here to await re-birth.

Xylophile (Part 1) #AtoZChallenge

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Xylophile; Someone who loves forests.

I was born in this forest, like most of the coven members. It’s a centuries old tradition for babies to arrive out here. It’s said to be the most natural channel of magic in the area and also gives a connection to life, death and rebirth just like the cycle of the forest.

My love for the forest and it’s magic comes from that moment. I’m in tune with the nature around and can use that energy to create magic. But these are not the fantasy or supernatural magics of books and movies, this is a neutral magic that can be used in help me or others or to cause negativity towards others.

Nature’s magic doesn’t always work though and we can only ask so much of it. I guess that’s why so many people have stopped believing in it. They have turned to the world of technology and forgot how to ask the different energies to help them.

A few years back, magic users got away with saying they didn’t have phones, computers or TVs but now the world relays on all of those so much, we can’t avoid them. I don’t spent a lot of time with technology, I’d rather be reading books or walking in the forest.

My mother called me Ela which means earth. She never told me who my father was and the coven members don’t know either. My story is that my mother desperate for a daughter ask Mother Nature to give her one. My mother created a spell which involved swallowing an acorn – the seed- to make her pregnant. I’ve always believed it to be a true story.

And this story isn’t going to be about my search for truth to that tale because I’m happy with that knowledge. Today, I want to tell you about my current situation. Things haven’t been great for me lately, lots of stuff has gone wrong in my life all at once. It’s the normal young adult stuff; the struggling to find a job, the break up with the boyfriend, the falling out of the best friend. You know, the normal life problems.

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the forest, getting away from all of that and trying to use the magic to fix things. There’s a favourite spot of mine which I always go to and spend a good few hours there. It’s next to the river and a rushing waterfall. There was lots of rocks around which the water has to make its way over or around. These rocks make good places to sit and dip my bare feet into the cool water.

I let the water take the negativity away and draw from it clean energy to help me get through things. The sound of the water calms me and adds to the wind shaking the trees and the animals playing about.

Dear, Nature I draw energy from you. Today, I wish to make magic to help my life and others around me. Please, give me the energy I need to cast those spells.

I call upon the elements to aid me. Water, I take energy from you to help cleanse and heal me. Air, I take energy to speak my spell and to cast it out. Fire, I take energy for heat and passion. Earth, I take the energy of life force you give us all.

Mother Nature, hear my request and grant me what I need.

 

To Be Continued…