Choice #WritePhoto

I don’t know what had driven me outside in this weather. Maybe, the argument with my wife was to blame? Still, it was the choice I had made and now I was paying for it.

Laying on the hillside just above the small river, I tried to get a grip on things. Pain was shooting through my left leg in only the way a broken bone can do. Somehow I had slipped on the wet grass, tumbled down the slope and hit some rocks. My head hummed with confusion and the pain was also making it hard for me to think.

I took in some deep breaths and contracted on the flow of the water. The small river seemed so loud as it bumped and splashed against the moss covered rocks. It was higher then normal because the bad weather and the snow from the higher land.

A few minutes later, my head cleared and I got on to the emergency services. Search and Rescue were on their way. It took them over an hour and whilst I waited, I watched the river and the wind in the trees. I was cold and wet, though my waterproof and winter hiking clothes helped.

I thought about how things might have been different. What if I had died out here?

I phoned my wife and told her. She flew into a panic and it took me an age to calm her down.

‘I’m fine. Everything is going to be okay,’ I spoke, ‘I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean it, you know that. I love you.’

Through the sobbing, I heard her reply, ‘I love you too.’

‘The rescue team is here now. I see the search dog!’ I cried out then added, ‘Darling, meet me at the hospital as soon as you can.’

‘Yes, yes,’ she burbled into the phone, ‘see you soon.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/02/06/thursday-photo-prompt-choice-writephoto/ with thanks.)

Sea Mist #FFftPP

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Cati looked for a place to sit. A soft, almost invisible drizzle was falling, masked by mist that hung above the sea and cliffs. From up here, the view was like a window onto nature.

Cati rested on a rough rock. She was wearing waterproofs and covered in beads of water. She took off the hiking bag and searched for her thermal of tea and packet of trail mix.

Having heard rustling, Teddy, a Bernese mountain dog, appeared. He was big, fluffy with a tricolour coat and looked like his name. He loved exploring and walking as much as Cati did which made them best friends.

Cati give Teddy some dried chicken and poured him a bowl of water. Then, she drank tea and ate her snack. Wondering if she should make camp early, Cati packed up. The weather didn’t seem to be clearing and cliffs, like mountains, shouldn’t be walked at night.

‘Let’s go,’ Cati said and rubbed Teddy’s head.

They continued hiking; Cati looking for a sheltered spot and Teddy tracking rabbits. Soon, she found a place under tall pine trees and the sea, rain and a campfire became the background to their evening.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2020/01/24/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-2020-week-04/ with thanks).

 

Hitchhiker #CCC

Marsh Road

Rose stopped at the crossroads and looked, her hands wrapped around the shoulder straps of her army rucksack. She wasn’t sure which way to go. Countryside green fields lay all around with no direction signs.

Warm sun touched her and Rose turned her face up to the sky. Shutting her eyes, she breathed clean air and heard birds singing nearby. Rose signed, glad that the chill of winter was almost over.

Shrugging, she picked one of the roads and started walked. It would led her somewhere and Rose would face whatever she found on arriving.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/02/13/crimsons-creative-challenge-14/ with thanks).

Fall #WritePhoto

Out here there was nothing but peace. There were no stresses because nature had nothing to worry about. She just got on with things, like She had for centuries. I envied that.

Hiking had become my only escape, everything else -books, TV, therapy -had stopped working. I worried though, that soon enough I’d loss this too and that was heavy on my mind.

Trekking up the hill to the noisy waterfall, I let all that go. A drizzle rain was falling, making the rocks and plants slick. I had to watch my footing and not look around as much. The chilly air was causing my lungs to burn. I took that feeling and forced it to push everything else away as I climbed.

I reached the blockage of tumbled rocks that marked the foot of the waterfall and stop. The loudness of the rushing water was enough to block close by bird song. Finding a place to stand in-between the mossy, wet stones, I reached out into the waterfall and cupped water. It was a cold shock! I drink from my hands, feeling like ice was traveling inside me.

And I felt more alive then I had done in weeks.

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/09/27/thursday-photo-prompt-fall-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

 

The Misty Way

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She preferred hiking in the autumn because there where less people around. The empty single road disappeared into the mists ahead whilst the hills and peaks rose on either side. She breathed the damp, earthy air deeply, thinking that there was nothing else like this. Looking into the mists, she wondered what was on the other side. The excitement at being lost filled her and she just had to know. Picking up pace, she smiled and turned the corner. Nothing but the greens and greys of the middle of nowhere stretched before her but that was just how she liked it.

 

(Inspired from; https://allaboutwritingandmore.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/daily-picture-prompt-256 with thanks).

Book Tunnel

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We hadn’t been walking in the forest for long when we came across it. In a small clearing, jutting out of the ground was a metal framed window.

‘You go look,’ my girlfriend whispered.

She had hooked her fingers in the straps of her hiking rucksack and was looking so cute in blue shorts and a cream vest top.

‘I don’t know…’ I trailed, casting my eyes over the strange structure.

‘It could be a secret hatch to an old war bunker or a nuclear shelter. There might be something interesting down there,’ she spoke.

‘Then you go look,’ I suggested.

She shook her head and turned away, looking at the trees that surrounded us. The forest was just awakening after being a sleep all winter. Leaves were budding on branches and flower shoots were coming up. Birds were singing and calling to each other in the distance.

Sighing, I walked forward to the edge of the metal frame and looked though the window. Straight down into a walled hole I stared. Then slowly, I saw that the walls were made of books! Books and books stacked in a spiral going down into the darkness.

‘What is it?’ my girlfriend called.

‘Come see,’ I answered, ‘it’s strange. Nothing scary.’

‘I’m not scared,’ she snapped back then came over.

She came to my side and looked through the window.

‘Oh! It’s books!’ she cried.

‘Yep. Must be some art project or something,’ I added.

‘Wondered where they go. Does this open?’ my girlfriend asked.

We both looked around the edge of the metal frame but found no way to open it.

‘Guess not,’ I said.

My girlfriend pouted, ‘but I want to see the books.’

I rolled my eyes hearing the childish tone of her words.

‘You can see them,’ I pointed out, ‘here I’ll take a few photos.’

I dug out my camera and began taking photos from different angles. Some images included my girlfriend and two of the photos I took with me next to her looking down the window hatch. Most though showed the books spiralling into the darkness.

‘It looks like the hole to Wonderland,’ my girlfriend announced afterwards.

‘Huh?’

‘You know, the book; Alice In Wonderland. Alice fell down a hole lined with all kinds of things. This reminds me of that story,’ she explained.

‘Oh. I guess so,’ I replied.

We give the book tunnel one last look then left to carry on our hike, both of us wondering about the window.

Here We Stand (Part 4)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

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

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

Maybe they were hiding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

Here We Stand (Part 3)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here We Stand (Part 2)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

To Be Continued…

Here We Stand (Part 1)

Religious Statue in Greyscale Photo

The church seemed too quiet. I paused in the doorway and peered in. A lot of broken wood, plaster and stone covered the floor, making it look highly dangerous. A quick look up and ceiling was holding strong, even though there where a few holes. The place smelt bad; damp, mouldy and animal like. There was no telling what had or was living here.

‘Hello?’ I shouted.

My voice echoed slightly then fade. I didn’t recognise it as it reached my ears. I sounded like some other twenty year old man who was rough and tried from illness and lack of sleep. Well, that was sort of true. The world was now too dangerous to sleep soundly anymore.

I stepped in. Something crunched under my boots. The sounded echoed softer then my voice had. I looked down and saw a pile of yellow bones. They looked too small to be human, but until I’d seen the skull I wouldn’t know for sure. Nudging them with my foot, I couldn’t detect anything further, other then it wasn’t a complete skeleton.

I looked up and around again. Most of the stain glass windows were gone. In their place were loose boards made up wood and metal, however that was only for the lucky few. Weak sunlight was pouring through the rest, causing there to be rectangles topped with arches across the floor. The largest amount of light was coming from the three biggest windows that looked down upon the altar space.

‘Hello? Is anyone here? I come in peace!’ I yelled and held up my empty hands out.

I shuffled into the first patch of light, with my arms up. My shoulders and back ached with the weight of my hiking bag. Some wisps of my too long black hair fell into my eyes and I blew them away with a hot breath. Sweat dampened my dirty t-shirt, not that any more staining would matter. I listened, holding my breath so I could hear more. The church stayed quiet as if it was holding it’s breath too.

I dropped my arms, deciding it was okay for now. Walking slowly towards the altar where I knew there might be some doors leading to backrooms or a basement, my alertness didn’t drop. It was hard walking over the ever shifting rubble, especially because I didn’t want to keep my eyes down all the time.

I reached the first step of the altar which was just visible. There was a dead bird next to my left foot. It looked like a fresh skeleton as it was fully laid out with feathers circling it like a halo. Leaving it, I walked up the rest of the steps and tried to make sense of the space before me.

Churches were apart of the old world now. Though the generation before me had desperately tried to hang on to them and religion, they had been unsuccessful. My generation didn’t care and these ‘holy places’ were just empty meaningless shells now, just liked all the other places.

I craned my neck upwards. Maybe statues had once stood in the hallows above me. Their stony eyes staring blindly down at me in silent judgement. And what would they see? A scruffy, exhausted kid just trying to survive from one moment to the next in a world now gone to hell. Perhaps, their faces would plead with me to save humanity? And I would turn my back on that request, knowing it was an impossible task.

Turning from the wall, knowing I didn’t have to worry about that today, I checked left and right. There was a small blocked up wooden door to my left, possibly an emergency escape. To my right was an open passageway and what looked to be a stone spiral staircase.

 

To Be Continued….