Turrets #writephoto

It was one of those moments that had seemed a good idea at the time but as we arrived at the crumbling castle doubt set into my mind. Breathless from our climb up the jagged hill, we collected around the tall, rusted iron gates which were bent inwards.

Through the bars, I could see the remains of a drive poking through the nature that had taken over. I couldn’t see much of the castle from this view, the trees were too high but I could just make out some turrets and roof sticking out. The sky above was cold stony grey, threatening more heavy rain and though we were a bit sheltered from the wind, I could still feel the chilly sting on my face.

‘Here,’ Duncan’s voice brought me back.

He was handing me an open bottle of water. I took a few sips whilst watching him dig around in the side pockets of his bag.

‘I know it’s in here somewhere,’ he muttered.

My other friend, Wyatt went over to the gate and tried to rattle it but the gate didn’t move. Instead one of the bars snapped in his hand. He backed away, dropping both halves as he did so. The broken bar hit the ground with a cushioned thud.

‘Oops,’ Wyatt said, ‘it’s really rusted right through.’

‘I wanted a photo of that,’ Duncan snapped.

‘Take it quick. It’s raining again,’ I pointed out a few drops fell.

Duncan shoved a small paper thing in my hand, snatched up his huge professional camera and began setting it up. Wyatt moved out of the way, into the cover of some trees, tracking the iron fence. I looked down at the paper and realised it was the photograph that had brought us here.

It was a square, black and white photo of what seemed to be castle turrets, roofs and chimneys rising up out trees. I looked around, trying to see what I could on the photo around us. Whoever had taken this about fifty years ago had really been standing back. There seemed to be a rocky outcrop that could be the same in the photo a few feet away. And thinking that the trees had been smaller and the area clearer it could be the same place but it was hard to know for sure.

I heard Duncan’s camera clicking away. I had no interest in taking photos of the abandoned places we visited nor did Wyatt, we just liked walking around and looking, sometimes taking stuff. Just small things, that wouldn’t really be missed and we could sell on to carry on funding these trips.

The rain and wind picked up turning into a storm which seemed fitting for our location. I shoved the photo into my leather jacket and ignoring Duncan’s unhappy cries, forced my way through the bent gate and along the drive. I heard them both following me as I broke into a run. The quickly darkening sky made it hard to see and we all stumbled about and swore.

As we reached the cracked stone steps leading up to the broken wooden doors, there was a rumble of thunder. The rain start pelting it down, drenching us through and forcing us to dash inside. I cut myself scrambling over the door which was almost falling off it’s hinges and wedge at an high angle.

Swearing loudly and repeatedly, I clutched my left arm. My feet shuffling and crunching on the stone floor. Pain was shooting along my skin and my other hand was becoming wet with blood.

A bright light flickered on and I stumbled blindly away like a wounded animal. I bumped into something taller then me but not solid, knocking the thing over. There was an awful clattering sound and I fell in the middle of it as a suit of armour tumbled around me.

‘Jay? Are you okay Jay?’ Duncan’s voice high with panic echoed in my ears.

‘Jay, mate?’ Wyatt spoke right next to me.

I opened my eyes. My body felt numbed with pain and weighed down. There was a ringing sound in my ears and a stinging pain my left arm. I groaned and tried to move.

‘Lift that end,’ Wyatt said.

I felt a piece of the armour lift off me and I pulled myself out and then along the wall. Cold stone scrapped across my jacket, I propped myself up, pressing my cut arm to my chest. I realised, I couldn’t feel my fingers and there was so much more pain there now.

Wyatt shone the torch on me and give a low whistle.

I was struggling to breath and so couldn’t get the words out to ask what the deal was.

They both clustered around me, looking down and concerned but not saying anything.

‘Have some water,’ Duncan uttered handing me his bottle again.

I took it with my right. My left arm didn’t feel like it belong to me anymore. Sipping the water, helped make me feel less sick and dizzy. I shut my eyes and calmed down for a few moments. My mind thought about another time I had felt like this; a fall on a school football pitch.

‘I think my arms broken,’ I muttered.

There was a pause of silence. I could hear the storm raging outside and a flash of lightening came though the broken door, capturing the scene like a camera; me on the floor, Wyatt and Duncan before me and the suit of armour scattered across the floor.

‘No. You’re just in shock,’ Duncan rushed, ‘it’s just bruised and cut.’

I shook my head, ‘I broke this arm before, in high school. I know how it feels.’

‘What can we do?’ Duncan replied, he was casting around as if expecting to see something or someone of use.

We were all alone though, in an abandoned castle with no idea what was actually around us. But I knew the chance of a first aid kit was slim.

‘We find something to keep his arm stable,’ Wyatt cut in, ‘ next, we find a good place to hole up in till the storm is over. Then we get the hell out of here.’

Duncan nodded, ‘I’m sorry. This is all my fault,’ his voice cracked.

‘No,’ I said sharply, ‘stuff happens. Help me up.’

Wyatt took my hand and Duncan grip me as I got to my feet.

‘Guess he’s not going to be guarding anything again!’ I joked as I kicked a leg brace away.

It clattered across the floor and the sound vibrated around us.

Excited and nervous, we searched the castle. The small grand hall lead off to a few ground floor rooms and also a stone staircase. There were some mould and collapsed furniture in the rooms. Nothing worth taking but I could see Duncan itching to take some photos.

Upstairs where some bedrooms though the roof had caved in on the left side so all the rooms there were dripping water. The wind was also howling through adding to the unfriendliness of the place.

‘This will do,’ Wyatt said finally.

We settled in a small room that had once been a pretty girl’s bedroom. There was still strips of patterned wallpaper and a rug on the floor. I sank onto the bed and pulled a mouldy blanket over me and a pillow under my arm. I stayed there, hissing in a pain, whilst the other two made a make-shift split from the bottom of a wooden draw and some cotton strips from what once might have been a night dress.

Once my arm was strapped up and Wyatt had cut up some of the thick bed curtain with his penknife and made a sling for me, I felt a little better.  I rested back against the other pillow, my body going stiff with cold and bruises. I listened to the rain drumming against the window, the wind battering things around and the thunder rumbling as if this was a horror movie.

‘We are going to explore more and find something to start a fire,’ Wyatt’s distant voice told me.

I hummed a reply, feeling suddenly sleepy.

They were still gone when I came back and for a few moments, I was disorientated. It was gloomy dark but I felt a torch at my side and went to click it on.

‘It’s cold,’ a voice whispered.

I stilled. The voice had been soft and a female’s. I couldn’t tell where it had come from.

‘So cold,’ the same voice uttered.

There was a soft ruffling sound like a skirt moving.

‘Hello? Wyatt? Duncan?’ I called after a few seconds.

From beside the small fire place were the shadows seemed to be thicker, a dim spot of white light seemed to flicker. I tried to blink it away, but the light grew bigger and brighter.

I turned on the torch, aiming it over but there was nothing there. I looked around the room it was empty. I was torn between staying and going, after a few moments though, I concluded it was best to stay as I had no idea where the other two were and wondering around the castle looking for them seemed a bad idea.

Telling myself it was my imagination, I lay back. Clicking the torch off to save the battery and letting darkness settle again.

‘Hello-oh?’ the soft girl’s voice a came again.

There was slow creak as if someone had just stepped on a loose floorboard.

I swallowed and barely got my greeting past my lips. Then it felt like a ice cube had been dropped on to my right hand was working up my arm. Turning on the torch, I looked and saw all the hair on my arm was up and goosebumps were rising. I don’t know why, but I had the feeling of a hand trying to touch my wrist.

I withdrew quickly, shoving myself against the headboard of the bed. Pain hit my shoulders were I bumped into the wall. A scrapping sound, like someone moving a book or a light object over a table tickled my ears. I shone the torch around again, looking for mice or rats, this place was probably full of animals. My breath caught in my throat, had that end bed curtain just moved?

‘No,’ I muttered then shouted, ‘Wyatt! Duncan!’

My voice carried, echoed slightly then faded. I hoped they had heard me. I pushed myself up and slide of the the bed. I had a creepy feeling that I wasn’t alone and something was watching me from the shadows.

‘I’m not afraid of you!’ I yelled, ‘come out! Show yourself,’

I flashed the light around, hoping to catch them but there still nobody there. I went to the door of the room but something caused me to look back before I stepped into the hallway.

I saw the shape of a person next to the window. I had the impress it was a woman in a long white dress. I shone the torch beam over but of course the light showed me nothing but the window sill and pane glass.

Running footsteps came to me and I walked out of the room and towards them. Wyatt and Duncan were at the top of the stairs as I joined them.

‘I woke up and didn’t know where you guys where,’ I explained, ‘did you find anything?’

‘Not much,’ Wyatt said disappointingly.

‘I got enough,’ Duncan said tapping his camera which hung around his neck.

‘Let’s go then,’ I said hurriedly.

We had to go back to the room to get our bags. I didn’t saw anything about what I’d thought or heard though. Wyatt would laugh at me and call me a chicken whilst Duncan would want to stay and investigate. I though was so ready to leave.

The storm had quietened down as we stepped outside. It was still rainy and windy though but I didn’t care. We started walking away. Duncan taking a few quick photos. I looked back up at the windows without knowing why and saw in one of them a face peering down at us.

I knew then, even though he showed me days later, that Duncan had taken a photo of the ghost I’d seen. I still never admitted it to him or Wyatt, I still didn’t want to believe what had happened was true.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/24/thursday-photo-prompt-turrets-writephoto/ with thanks).

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Not There #writephoto

There was someone on the stairs. I pointed at the strange dark shape and said one of the few words I could, ‘ogog!’ Look!

Nanny didn’t pause but carried on taking me upstairs in her arms.

I pointed again, waving my hand more and wiggling against her. I had a bad feeling about the dark figure that was coming out before us. I cried  and tried saying whatever I could but Nanny hushed me and held my waving hand.

We passed the ‘shadow man’ and I felt a cold wave like a winter wind brushing against me. I think I saw a smile on the face, but it was hard to make out. Then the coldness and the man was gone. I twisted and looked over Nanny’s shoulder but there was nothing on the stairs.

And that was how it all began.

It was strange for a child to avoid their nursery but I always tried too. I hated going up the stone staircase to the attic at the top where my toys were because I knew on the tenth step lived the shadow man. It always felt icy cold on that step, day or night, summer or winter.

Nobody believed me about him. Nanny said it was my imagination. My maid, Martha, told me it was just shadows. The housekeeper, Mrs Williams, claimed it was a drift coming from the window. My father declared it was a trick of the light. My mother scoffed then ignored me again as she always did.

So, I stopped talking about him and tried to ignore him too. It was hard because he always seemed to be there. I would have to climb the staircase at some point during each day; after lunch or after my lessons or when my mother had a party and she didn’t want me to be seen.

Pausing at the bottom, I gather the long puffy skirt of my dress and the white underskirt up to reveal the matching colour satin or silk slippers before climbing. Sometimes someone else would be with me; Nanny, Martha or Mrs Williams but as I got older they would send me alone.

On the ninth step, I would stop and look at the tenth. There was nothing making it different from all the other twenty-one steps but in the shadows next to the banister a darker shape lingered there. If I stayed long enough, I’d be able to make out the figure of a man. He was taller then father, dressed in a suit and had long hair tied back with a ribbon. His other features were harder to make out; his face was blurred by black mist but he had eyes, a nose and a mouth that always smiled at me.

I plunged through the coldness, holding my breath then raced up the rest of the stairs. At the top, I would peer down but there was never anything there. I would go into the nursery, close the door and try to play with my dolls, rocking horse, tea-set and jigsaw puzzles. When I grew bored or tried, I would climb into the window box and read one of my many books. Until Nanny or Martha would come up to either lit the lamps or take me to bed.

He would be there, awaiting on the tenth step. Stronger outlined in the night but still blurred and blending with the shadows. He would watch me and smile. I tried not to look but I knew what he was doing all the same. He never did anything else but I think that’s what made me most afraid of him. I hoped he was just stuck there with no power, but who was to really know?

Long after I left my parents house, got married, moved into a new house and had children of my own, the shadow man still haunted me. Who was he? What did he want? When I could not sleep or was bored, I would try to find out but I never got any answers.

Then one day my daughter pointed something out on the stairs leading to the nursery. I looked and saw the shadow man standing on the tenth step, awaiting us.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/03/thursday-photo-prompt-ascent-writephoto with thanks).

The Town That Was Lost To Time

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The small mining town had been built by hard working men for themselves and their families. Prosperity filled the buildings, laughter filled the streets and everything was just like any other town for many years. Then the coal and money began to run out, forcing people to find work else where and leave their homes.

With time, all the buildings become empty. For years, they sat alone until explorers came to see them. The new people found things pretty much as they had been left, as if the owners had just gone on holiday. Though, it was clear those people were never coming back.

The explorers’ photos and word of mouth spread and more people came to view the abandoned town. Things long untouched gotten taken, people left their different marks and the buildings deteriorated further. That though just made interested parties visit more often but they too added to the destruction.

At last, the ghost town crumbled and nature reclaimed the land. Visitors stopped coming and what little reminded of the buildings was left alone. And where once a happy, working town had stood there become nothing but the passage of time.

Chop #FridayFictioneers

As evening arrived, the sound of an axe chopping wood could be heard. The echoing noise carried throughout the night and only fade as first light touched the trees. For months, the chop chop sounds continued and no one could find the source.

In whispers, the rumors started about a woodsman who murdered his family then himself. As punishment the Devil had him cutting down trees to make firewood for Hell.

It’s now said, that if you walk into that forest you would see the remains of the trees the woodsman’s ghost has cut down.

 

(Inspired from; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/01/31/2-february-2018/ with thanks).

Ghost Ship

214 10 October 15th 2017

Officer James had laughed off the stories about the ghost ship. Drunk sailors and ill tourists were always full of these kind of tales. That was until he was woken rudely from his sleep and hurried on to the deck by a junior officer. James looked over the side and saw bobbing on the calm waves the outline of an early 1900’s ship.

‘It’s the ghost ship!’ someone shouted.

‘I don’t believe it, binoculars!’ James snapped back.

A hand passed him them and James looked through. It was hard in the dim light, but the ship was glowing which made it easier. He couldn’t believe his eyes and though he tried not to believe it, the ghost ship was too hard to dismiss.

 

(Insipre by: https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2017/10/15/sunday-photo-fiction-october-15th-2017/ with thanks).

Believe

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I wanted to believe my daughter but how could there really be a ghost living under the kitchen sink? Opening the lime green cupboard doors slowly, I peered inside, knowing nothing was going to spring out at me but wanting to be careful for my daughter.

Glancing at Sasha as she sat at the table, watching me with large brown eyes which were like my own, I knew she was holding her breath. She lent forward on the chair, trying to see under the sink around me.

I opened the doors fully and looked inside. There was the normal collection of cleaning supplies and pipes. I moved things around as if searching for the ‘ghost’ and the plastic bottles splashed their toxic contents around. Making a mental note to put wood varnish on the shopping list, I came out.

‘No, ghost in there,’ I spoke.

Sasha had her hands over her mouth. She shook her head at me then quickly pointed into the top right corner of the cupboard.

Sighing, I checked again. There was just a small empty cobweb. I closed the doors and went over to her. My mind turning  what I should say to her. She was only five and knew of ghosts from Halloween and stories but that was it. What had now made her think they were real?

Sitting down, I said, ‘what does the ghost look like?’

‘Like me, only see through and he’s a boy,’ she answered.

‘Does he have a name?’

‘Sammy.’

I nodded, trying to keep my expression blank though my emotions were flashing on. She’s just making it up….there’s no way she could have found out.

‘Can you really not see him, mummy?’ Sasha asked.

I looked over at the sink cupboard.

‘He says he misses you…’

‘That’s enough now! Ghosts are not real!’ I snapped and stood up.

Sasha let out a little gasp and bit her lip. Sadness crossed her face and her eyes grew wet.

‘Let’s go to the park,’ I said as a distraction.

For the rest of the day I couldn’t stop thinking about the ghost. It was just too strange that she had called him Sammy and said he was about her age. There was no way I could ask her more though but there was some else who I could demand answers from.

That night as Sasha slept and my husband and I got ready for bed, I turned to him and told him, ‘Sasha says there’s a ghost living under the kitchen sink.’

‘Really? Where there? Don’t ghosts like attics, basements and old places?’ he put in.

‘She also said the ghost was like her, but a boy and is name was Sammy.’

My husband took in sharp breath as he got into bed. He looked at me then turned his attention fully to pulling back the duvet and plumping the pillows. I knew his thoughts and mine were one.

‘I didn’t tel her anything,’ he said to break the silence between us.

I sighed and we both got into bed, ‘I knew you didn’t,’ I replied, ‘but it’s just…’

My husband took my hand, ‘It’ll pass. it’s just make believe.’

I nodded and tried to get it out of my head but it stuck at the back of my mind.

 

A few days later, whilst I was making dinner and Sasha was colouring at the table, she asked me suddenly, ‘Sammy wants to know why you don’t talk about him any more.’

I dropped the knife I was chopping onions with and spun to her.

‘What?’

Sasha looked up from her colouring, waiting for an answer with a determined face.

I picked up the knife, giving myself time to think.

‘He’s not real,’ I answered slowly.

Sasha got down from the table and went to the sink. She opened the cupboard and looked inside.

I had to come over and wash the knife, so I came to her side and after doing that, I looked under the sink again. I still couldn’t see anything. I felt Sasha watching me.

‘Sammy wants to know why you don’t love him anymore, mummy,’ she said.

‘I do…love him…Do you know who Sammy is, Sasha?’ I asked her with a bubble in my throat and pain circling my heart.

‘He’s my twin brother,’ she answered.

I gasped and knelt down, a hand on her shoulder as I looked into the cupboard.

Of course, there was nothing there.

Tears clouded my vision and I couldn’t stop myself as I cried hard on the kitchen floor.

 

(Inspired from; https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/believe/ with thanks).

Hand

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She woke to find a handprint on the bed. Smiling, she pressed her own over it, noticing how her smaller hand fitted within it. She breathed in deeply and knew within her heart that her husband was watching over her.

Outside #writephoto

He was lost and scared as he walked through the darkness in the rain. There were lights ahead, but he couldn’t be sure what they were. He thought he felt rough stone under his fingers. He carried on walking till there was enough light to see by.

Now, he knew were he was; the back area of his home. He could see the south tower, though it was wrapped heavily in shadows. Running over, he tried not to think about how much trouble he’d be in. Maybe, he hoped, no one had missed him yet.

How many times had he been told not to play on the roof? Yet, still tonight he had gone out there and he wasn’t even sure why. Trying only to think of getting back inside and to bed, he began trying to reach the third window of the tower. It was the only way back in from this side.

He climbed up, finding it easy to hold on to the worn stones. He pressed against the window. Thankfully, it hadn’t be latched back fully. Climbing through and wiggling over the ledge he entered the staircase, leaving behind him small puddles of water on the window sill.

(https://scvincent.com/2017/05/18/thursday-photo-prompt-inside-out-writephoto/)

Inside #writephoto

The maid frowned in her cleaning of the grand staircase as her sharp eyes spotted the water on the stone window sill opposite. Shuffling over, she looked and tried to figure out where the water had come from.

The window couldn’t be opened for it was just a single panel of glass fitted into a thick stone wall so the rain from last night couldn’t have got in. Plus, this section of the castle was currently closed and she was the first person to come in for a few weeks now.

Deciding there must be a leak somewhere above, the maid mopped up the water and give the window a quick clean. Then getting back to her main tasks, her mind forgot all about reporting the problem.

A month later, the maid came back to that section again to keep on top of things. Once again she noticed the small puddles of water on the window sill. This time she checked to make sure there was no holes in the glass and that the other window sills were dry.

Satisfied, she made a note in her little notebook and went back to work. It had to be a little leak somewhere. The castle was late thirteen century so it was to be expected that some of the old lead lining was fading.

At the end of the shift, the maid reported the leak and detailed where it was; south tower, third window on staircase.  

However, every time she went into that section the water puddles were still on the window still. She mopped them up and tried to find a source for them which even on rainy days seemed a mystery. Then she would report the problem.

Finally, one afternoon the maid complained to her manager.

‘The leak I keep reporting isn’t getting fixed,’ she said, ‘it was there again this morning.’

‘The third window in the south tower?’ her manager said straight away.

The maid looked at her from over the top of a very cluttered desk. The manager’s office was a big space that had once been a part of the servant’s ground floor rooms. It had been converted ages ago and was filled with office furniture.

‘It’s been looked at every time you have reported it and no leaks have been found,’ the manager replied with a serious look on her face.

‘But there must be something….’ the maid uttered.

‘It’s the ghost,’ the manager responded with a shrug.

‘Ghost?’

‘The story goes that a young boy fell from the tower. It was raining and he slipped. The servants believed that the boy’s ghost keeps trying to get back inside because he’s trapped on the outside. The third window use to be the only one you could open…’

The maid pulled a face and answered, ‘I don’t believe in ghosts…’

‘Nor do I or anyone else who works here, but for the groundskeeper and the two old gardeners. They use to work here when this place was a stately home, before it got handed over to the Trust. They’d tell you the story better then I can,’ the manager added.

‘No, thanks,’ the maid replied and saying goodbye left to get on with her other tasks.

The water puddles remind still and once a month when the maid was there cleaning, she would wipe them away. She really didn’t believe in ghosts and thought that it must still be a leak somewhere.

 

(https://scvincent.com/2017/05/18/thursday-photo-prompt-inside-out-writephoto/)

Little Boy

black-and-white, playing, happy

Emmy woke hours before the alarm went off. Coming to the familiarity of her bedroom, she wondered what had disturbed her. Laying in the early morning light, Emmy’s dark hair spread across the empty pillow next to her, she realised she was not alone.

‘Mummy?’

A soft child’s voice whispered in her ear.

A shiver rushed up her spine and Emmy felt frozen to the bed.

‘Mummy?’ the voice repeated.

‘Hello?’ she finally breathed.

‘Are you awake?’

‘Yes,’ Emmy answered.

‘Me too. I couldn’t sleep anymore.’

Emmy squeezed eyes shut and took a shuddering breath. She felt a small, cold hand on her bare shoulder and a breath against her face.

‘Can I stay with you?’ the voice whispered.

‘I wish you could,’ Emmy gasped, feeling tears in her eyes.

‘Why not, Mummy?’ her son asked.

‘Because you’re gone,’ Emmy chocked out.

‘Gone where?’ the small voice quivered.

‘To heaven.’

‘Oh.’

‘But it’s okay…’ Emmy trailed off as the tears consumed her.

‘Don’t cry, mummy!’

Emmy felt small arms wrapping around her and a head, pushing against her shoulder blade. She brought her hand up and patted the space were she felt the hands interlocked around her throat.

‘I have to go now,’ her son muttered.

Emmy fought back her words and bit her dry lip.

‘I’ll come back. They don’t mind sometimes. Goodbye, Mummy.’

‘Goodbye sweetie,’ Emmy burbled.

She felt the duvet move slightly to the side and the arms around her go. Emmy blinked away tears and finally rolled over. The other side of the bed was empty.