Ancient Circles #WeeklyWritingPrompt

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Not much can stop a werewolf. Sliver bullets traditional can but that’s about all. Werewolves don’t fear religion or other supernatural creatures. Perhaps, a daemon could stop a werewolf but why would they want to as they are often on the same side? Maybe, an angel could help then? But I’ve never meet a full one which is saying a lot for me.

Placing the moldering book back on the library desk, I wonder what to do. The sounds around me had long become background noises; people walking, coughing, whispering, the flickering of paper, the sliding of books, the harpy librarians flying at anyone whom they disliked. I put my head down into my arms and tried to collected myself.

‘Neona?’

I looked up and turned at the person who had said my name. Ransom, my boyfriend was standing there, looking ruggedly handsome as ever. His black hair was long down his back, his dark brown eyes deep set and his proud jaw strained with tension. He was dressed in dark blue jeans, a black Iron Maiden t-shirt and a studded leather biker jacket.

‘Any luck?’ he asked.

I turned back to the three hundred year old book that was laying open at a page showing drawings of over lapping circles with squiggly symbols depicted around and in them.

‘This Ancient Circles of Holding and Constricting could work,’ I responded, pointing it out to him.

Ransom lent over to look and I breathed deeply, he smelt of leather and his motorbike’s oil but underneath that was the scent of summer nights and nature; earth, trees, water. I could feel the wild, pure power surrounding him. It was what had first attracted me to him at the Academy and I had known he was a werewolf. It had taken a whole year after we started dating, for him to tell me and now he wanted my help controlling the change.

‘Can you make this?’ Ransom asked.

I glanced down at the drawing and shrugged, ‘it doesn’t look too hard but it’s powerful old magic. I’m not sure I could get it totally right. Some of the symbols look hard to draw.’

Ransom took in a deep breath, ‘I trust you, Neona, we are bonded together,’ he said quietly.

I nodded and closed the book. I checked it out, though the harpy at the desk was reluctant to let me have it, then we went to Ransom’s house.

We made space in the basement for me to draw big enough Circles. I avoided looking at the remains of a twisted iron cage in the far corner. Last full moon, Ransom had escaped from it. The rampage had been bad and taken awhile for the Academy to clean up.

I took some chalk from a new box, opened the old book to the right page and began drawing on the floor. I had together my black witch’s dress about me to make sure I didn’t smear the three overlapping circles as I went. Then, almost pressing the book to my face, I began to draw each squiggly symbol, chatting as I did so to awake the magic.

Finally it was done. I sat back on my legs and looked down at the now shimmering three circles before me. I could feel the ancient magic in the air just waiting to be used. From my bag, I took out a few things and placed them at different points; crystals for more energy, candles for the fire element, silver coins for more power over the curse, holy water to keep evil beings away, sage for purity and my wand, in case I had to use my magic to defend myself.

I stepped away and looked at the time, the night of the full moon would be here soon.

‘It’s done. Get in,’ I told Ransom.

With a nod, he did so and I noticed how hard he was trying to control himself. He was shaking and balling his fists, his shoulders were heaving and his body seemed racked with pain already.

‘Leave,’ Ransom forced out of his chattering mouth.

‘I have to close it around you now,’ I said with a quick look at the book.

‘After get out. I don’t want to risk you,’ he explained.

I nodded and using my wand to help channel my magic through, I closed the Ancient Circles of Holding and Constricting around him. A three cylinder barrier now surround him, glowing faintly red. The runes on the floor glowed either blue or green and I sensed the old magic taking hold and gathering to the height of it’s power.

Ransom let out a painful scream and I stumbled away, thinking I had hurt him. I saw though, his body began to twist and shift into the beast that lay underneath.

A part of me wanted to stay but another part knew there was nothing I could do. I hurried out, closing and magically sealing the new steel door behind me. Hoping that the Ancient Circles held, I raced back to the Academy which was the only safe place to be on full moon nights.

 

(Inspired by; https://secretkeeper.net/2018/06/04/weekly-writing-prompt-144/ with thanks).

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Conflagration #WritePhoto

The sky was the colour of fire; red and orange flames with grey smoke which blocked out what should have been a pretty blue afternoon. Below was the dark green mix of nature that made up the countryside raising around me.

I had stopped on the little road in the seemingly middle of nowhere, at first believing the sun was setting. Then I had double checked the time and saw it was a little after four PM. The wind carried the scent of smoke to me and my brain connected the dots.

I got back in my unmarked car, knowing it was too late all ready but continuing to drive all the same. Soft classical music whispered from the radio but it did little to calm down the spikes of tension I was now feeling. I thought about trying to trick my mind into thinking it wasn’t a fire, maybe the summer sun that normally set around eight or nine had decided to have a very early night today? I couldn’t live with that denial.

The road weaved like all country tracks did, following the flow of the land like a river would do. A few miles later, I passed a sign; Lachandra Manor, private house, no entry. Tall trees blocked my view for awhile then a towering black gates with stone pillars emerged. The same sign hung below one of the pillar tops on which sat a stone lion with a single paw resting on a ball, facing it’s companion on the other pillar.

The gates were open and I drove through. Had they been open on my previous visits? I couldn’t remember expect for the first two times when they had been closed. I had had to get out of my car and open them myself. Thinking about that give me something to do as I drove along the long straight driveway.

Towering trees lined up either side of me like giant guards silently judging me. I knew that behind them were farming fields and woodland. They also blocked the view to the house but I knew it was actually the road that caused the manor to appear and disappear. The road dipped unknowingly and at first you didn’t feel it but then you saw the road rising ahead of you and you realised the slope.

My car handled it well enough and after the climb of the hill, another set of gates and the stone monster archway came into view. Behind that, the fake castle gatehouse stood looming and beyond it Lachandra Manor was heavily a blaze with fire.

A chill went up my back and there was no point in trying to focus on anything else. I carried on driving and saw the second gates where closed. I flung open my car door, yanked the hand brake on and got out. The gate wasn’t locked and I easily swung them open. The smell of smoke was thicker here and I thought I head the distant screams of sirens.

Getting back in my car, I drove through and up to the fake gatehouse. I stopped and parked a meter or so away from the looming stone archway. Opening the door this time, I could smell the smoke right under my nose and also hear distance voices and the roaring of the fire.

I hurried through the gatehouse and found chaos on the other side. A huge black horse was rearing up and a small boy on the ground was trying to control the beast by loose reins. Two teenage maids were off to the other side, standing and screaming, their clothes soot stained and faces flushed. Male servants were dashing about with water and sand buckets, shouting at each other. Thick smoke billowed all around, the sounds of crackling and snapping echoing loudly. And the heat….it was as hot as I imagined the surface of the sun to be.

I grabbed the maids, they resisted at first but when they saw who I was, they let me shove them under the gatehouse. Next, I grabbed the boy who refused to let go of the horse but his hands were sweaty, so I was able to tug the reins out easily enough and take them. I half carried the boy and led the horse to the gatehouse. Once there, the black beast shot off down the driveway and the boy give chase after it.

‘The Lady is still inside!’ one of the maids shouted and pointed upwards, behind me.

I turned and saw through one of the broken windows, a woman dressed in blue. Some of the men were trying to save her. I knew it was too late and their efforts in vein, just as it was to put out the raging fire. The woman disappeared and flames licked at the window. Wood popped and hissed, blackening under the heat and crumbling away.

‘Do something, Detective!’ the same maid cried.

But what could I do? It was all my fault anyway. I had solved the case and been on my way to arrest her for the murder of her husband and son. She would have been found guilty and hanged. Lady Ellis had known it last time we had met. She didn’t want to die like that so had chosen this instead.

I looked up at Lachandra Manor engulfed in fire and knew that nothing would be saved.   

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/31/thursday-photo-prompt-conflagration-writephoto with thanks).

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).

Green #FridayFictioneers

Hannah stared at the new plant. It looked like ivy, just jazzed up by great-auntie’s crystal bowl which it sit in.

‘I don’t like it,’ Hannah declared, ‘it’s giving me a funny feeling.’

Her mum who was making fried eggs and chips for dinner, tutted and replied, ‘it was a gift and it’s just a harmless plant.’

The feeling that something wasn’t right lingered. At midnight, Hannah crept downstairs and saw the plant no longer on the table but by the back door.

‘Let me out,’ an eerie voice spoke as the leaves of the plant shook.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2018/05/23/25-may-2018/ with thanks).

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).

Yestreen #atozchallenge (Part 2)

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Yestreen; during yesterday evening. 

Finishing the washing up, I moved on to drying. I heard my wife moving around and it sounded like she was tidying the dinning room. I really hoped she was going to go out soon, I needed to phone Bob, Bill and Jim. My memory from yesterday evening was hazy and I needed them to confide in.

Putting the dried plates, cutlery and tea things away, I chased down the idea to question my wife about today’s activities. She was suspicious about me enough. I turned off the radio and went into the dinning room to get my newspaper, I hadn’t finished reading it. My wife had moved it and herself into the sitting room.

I settled into my favourite armchair and took the newspaper from the side table where she had placed it. The TV was on some drama show my wife liked and she was looking through her small diary. I turned the newspaper pages loudly and buried myself once more in the articles.

‘Perhaps,’ my wife said slowly, ‘I’ll go and visit the vicar’s wife. Though, everyone else is probably doing that. Their daughter was in my school, you know and I am a key member of the village council now.’

I nodded, tried of her reminding me about that.

‘Are you going to the allotment?’ she asked sharply.

‘What, darling?’ I asked, lowering the paper.

‘The allotment, dear. Are going today?’ my wife pressed.

‘Yes, yes!’ I cried, she had just given me a great idea and the perfect cover.

‘I’m not deaf,’ she tutted.

‘No, sorry, love. I had forgotten you see…I was going to show the lads my…erm…lettuces! I should give ’em a bell and remind them,’ I added.

Tossing my newspaper down, I hurried to the phone and called them one after the other. Bill, Bob and Jim were all confused at first but I talked them into it without giving away anything. Then I hurried to change and gather my things whilst trying to keep yesterday evening out of my head.

‘I’m off then, dear,’ I called from the front door.

‘Here,’ my wife called from the kitchen before hurrying down the hallway.

She give me a thermos of tea and a plastic box containing sandwiches.

‘Remember, be back before five. I’m cooking lamb chops,’ she stated.

We kissed goodbye and I left quickly. I hurried down the street, caught the local bus and went to the edge of the village. Getting off, I walked down the lane to the allotments’ gate. It was unlocked and as I walked to my patch, I could see a few other people moving about. Luckily, they were all too far away to over hear me.

I unlocked the wooden garden gate and stepped into my fenced allotment. In neat rows where growing all kinds of veg. I walked up down, checking them in the glowing sunny day.

‘Just a little water,’ I mused.

Soon after I’d done, that my friends arrived. We greeted each other and showed them the few things that were really coming up now.

‘What is that about really, Gerald?’ Bob asked.

‘The news this morning,’ I whispered, ‘did you see it?’

‘Of course! The whole village knows about the murdered vicar!’ Bill said loudly.

‘Hush!’ I hissed, ‘look, I don’t remember much, so I wanted to know if any of you saw anything in the church.’

They fall silent in thought.

‘We heard a scream, a thud and someone running out the other door,’ I said to jog their minds.

‘Yes, then we ran the other way,’ Bill put in with a shrugged.

‘We thought we’d be caught too, remember,’ Jim added.

‘I was too drunk,’ Bob announced with a scrunched up face.

‘And we didn’t…None of us saw the vicar?’ I asked.

They shook their heads.

‘We going to the police?’ Bill questioned.

We all looked shiftily at each other.

‘Why? What can we tell them?’ Bob cut in.

‘I don’t know….That we heard something and saw a figure but we didn’t know what had happened?’ I suggested.

‘Then they’ll want to know why we didn’t check the place out,’ Jim replied.

‘And what we were doing there,’ Bill tagged on.

‘Maybe, we should keep mum,’ Bob spoke out.

There was a muttering of agreements.

‘If they ask though…?’ I broke in.

‘Then…we weren’t there,’ Bill declared, ‘we were in the pub and everyone there can confirm that. When we left we dropped Bob off then went our separate ways.’

I flashed back to this morning. I’d rather face down a policeman then my wife.

‘So we agree then?’ Jim said.

We agreed.

‘Look at those clouds,’ Bob spoke, ‘don’t like the look of ’em.’

Looking up, I saw there was a bank of dark grey clouds rolling in. The sun seemed to have dimmed too. There wasn’t meant to be any rain today, but it seemed no one had told the clouds that.

‘I’m off,’ Bill said, ‘I’ve left Molly with the grandkids.’

‘I should mow the lawn before it rains,’ Jim spoke next, ‘Anne’s been getting on my nerves about it.’

‘I..got…’ Bob trailed with a scratch of his head.

‘It’s fine. See you all later,’ I said and waved everyone off.

Watching them all leave, I wondered if we had done the right thing. But what would we really told the police? And surely, because we all intoxicated they couldn’t really take our word? I shuffled around the bed where my carrots were, debating what to do.

‘Did we really witness a murder?’ I muttered.

I tried hard to recall what I’d seen but it was all shadows and dust. Deciding to go home, I finished my tea and packed everything up. As I waited for the bus, spots of rain fell. It seemed I had left just in time. My thoughts were still stormy like the sky when I got on the bus then off it at home.

My wife wasn’t in, I guessed she was still out visiting the poor vicar’s wife. I put the TV and lamps on then sit in my armchair. I couldn’t settle though. Finally, I reached for the phone and called the local police station.

‘Hello, I’d like talk to someone about the vicar’s murder….I have some information.’

Yestreen #atozchallenge (Part 1)

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Yestreen; during yesterday evening. 

‘This says he was killed yesterday evening,’ came my wife’s voice from, behind the newspaper.

I grunted, shuffled my own paper and turned the page.

‘Up at that old church in the glen!’ she added.

Grunting again, I reached around and felt for my teacup. My fingers clinked against the bone china and I groped for the handle. Finding it, I raised the cup and brought it to my lips, taking a few mouthfuls of tea.

‘Dear? Weren’t you up there the other night?’ my wife asked in a pondering voice.

I chocked on my tea little then coughed loudly to cover it up. Setting my teacup back on it’s saucer and my newspaper down beside it, I looked at my wife. She was looking fine in her Sunday best dress which she had worn to church earlier. Her grey hair was curled tightly and pinned up. There was a puzzled expression on her wrinkled face and a demanding look in her blue eyes.

‘What? Er, no. Course not. No where near!’ I spluttered.

Her face hardened, turning into the pinched and knowing look she had been famous for as the headmistress of the girl’s high school years ago.

I felt a wave of guilty school boy in my belly. There was no lying to my wife. I had to be careful now.

‘Oh, maybe we did a little,’ I said, trying to wave it all a way.

‘What did you do?’ she asked sharply.

I shrugged before replying, ‘just stayed at The Woodsman pub, talking and drinking. Played some darts, arranged that golf rematch with Bill. Then four of us went for some fresh air and we took Bob home. You know, he lives close to there…’

I smiled and picked up my teacup again. Dropping my eyes to the small table as I drank, I saw the reminds of our Sunday breakfast; greasy plates, empty toast rack, jar of jam, bottle of brown sauce, the teapot with it’s knitted cosy on, the small jug of milk and the sugar bowl.

My wife ruffled her newspaper again and looked down at it, ‘no details of how he died,’ she muttered under her breath, ‘police still investigating and asking for witness….Who would kill a vicar?’ she said loudly.

‘No idea,’ I answered and got to my feet.

I began cleaning the table, avoiding my wife’s staring eyes. Gathering up the plates and other things on the tray, I went into the kitchen. I put things away then began washing up. My wife had left the radio on and there was some song from the sixties playing. I hoped she didn’t come in here and went out instead. I tried to remember if she was visiting anyone today.

Washing the plates, my thoughts turned to yesterday evening. I hadn’t told her the whole truth. We had been up in the church, we had all been drunk and fancied a laugh. It had been Bob’s idea really, he had a spare key to the door but it had been Ernie who’d come up with the ‘joke’.

At the wooden front door though, we had heard voices shouting, a scream then a thudding noise from within. Bob had flung open the door and we had piled in to see a shadowy figure fleeing through the back door.

To be continued…

Hopeful Rest (Part 2)

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I came back around to the start of the graveyard and looked out once again. I could see the tracks I’d made in the long grass. My brain puzzled over that same last line and I tried to shrug it off as nothing but there was something here! There had to be a reason why it said ‘we hope they have gone to rest’ on all the headstones.

A rumble of thunder sounded over head, blocking out the music from my headphones for a few seconds. I looked up at the sky and saw it darkening with thick clouds. Time to go home. Going back the way I’d come, I put the route into my mind map. Rain began to fall and I pulled up my hood and hurried on.

Luckily, the storm held off until I had reached a place to shelter. I’m not a fan of rain or storms. I entered the little cafe and sat down at an empty table. It was busy as it seemed other walkers had been caught out by the rain too and huddled inside. I looked over to the small pocket like window and saw a flash of lightening.

I got a cup of tea and a slice of cake. My mind worrying that they might ask me to leave if I didn’t order something. I moved tables to this little one in in a back corner which had a huge bookcase towering over it. I watched other people looking out of the windows and heard them commenting on the sudden storm. The thunder was super loud and I’d kept my music on but I could hear the rumbles over the techno beats.

Forty minutes later and the storm still hadn’t stopped. The rain was now lashing at the windows and the wind threatening to blow the place down. I sighed and hating myself, I call my mum to pick me up and drive me home. At least, I got home safe and dry and had a chance to ask her about the graveyard.

‘I think once there’d been a village there,’ she replied, ‘but I don’t really remember. Gran would know.’

The storm raged most of the night. Highly unusual for England. I slept on and off, my thoughts drifting back to the gravestone and that inscription. Finally at around midnight, I got up and turned on my computer. With just the noise of the storm and the PC fans in the background, I researched the place.

There was little to be found. There had been a village, built for the servants and their families who worked in a manor house close by in the mid 1800’s but it had been bombed in World War 2 by a lost German plane.

Disappointed, I went back to bed and next morning got up and went to see my gran. She lived a few doors down from us. She had been born in this town and never left. If anyone knew about the graveyard and lost village it would be her.

I used my key to her house and let myself in, calling out to her as I opened the door. The smell that hit me was a strong reminder of childhood; mints, faded tobacco smoke, dying flowers, coal fire and old things. I walked into the living room and found her there, in her favorite arm chair, watching TV.

‘Hello, gran,’ I said and hugged her.

She patted my arm, ‘hello, Neil. It’s so nice to see you. Cup of tea?’

‘Sure.’

I helped her up and give her my arm as we walked into the kitchen. Once the tea was made and the biscuits gotten out, we went back into the living room and I started with my questions.

‘I found an old graveyard yesterday, out in the moors and all the headstones had the same last line on them; We hope they have gone to rest. Mum said there was once a village up there. Do you remember it?’

Gran thought for a good few minutes before replying, ‘yes. I never want there. Only heard about it.’

‘It got blown up in the war,’ I added.

‘Yes. That’s what all the stories said but we always thought differently.’

I paused and waited for her to go on.

‘There was some kind of disease, more like a plague, that everyone in the village had. No one knows where it came from. Some say the manor family had it and passed it on to the servants, who then passed it on to their families. Or perhaps, one of the servant’s families had it. It was called The Restless Plague.’

‘The internet said nothing about that,’ I said aloud.

‘No one said anything about it,’ Gran cut in, ‘we were not allowed too, but everyone knew not to go to the village or the manor house.’

‘So everyone died of this plague?’ I asked thoughtfully.

‘That was always the story. You see, it wasn’t a normal plague. Once a person had it they carried on living but they were different. They weren’t all together there,’ she said with a tap to her head, ‘when they weren’t working or sleeping, they would wander around a lot.’

I frowned, not fully understanding. I had another biscuit and a few more sips of hot tea.

‘I saw some of ’em a few times. They’d just be standing, staring at nothing or shuffling along not going anywhere. Everyone was told to keep away, lest you caught the plague too. I saw this one man, once, dressed up like a farmer and he was just moaning at a tree. Another time, there was this child screaming and screaming, until she was carted away,’ Gran said with a shake of her head.

I couldn’t think of any straight questions to ask, my brain was trying to process all of this.

‘Thank goodness they’ve all gone now,’ Gran spoke out, ‘more tea, pet?’

‘No, thanks. What about the headstones, gran?’

‘They all had to be buried in another place. No one wanted them at our church.’

‘And those words? We hope they have gone to rest?’ I pressed.

‘They had no rest in life so maybe they’d find it in death? Who knows…..I’ve some angel cake left,’ gran said getting up,’ You want some? You love angel cake, just like your mum.’

She hobbled to the door then paused and said, ‘there’s a good boy. No more talk about this now.’

I nodded and sipped more tea. My brain felt better that the puzzle had now been solved. I part of me was eager to find out more but what else was there to say?

Hopeful Rest (Part 1)

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Some days, I just mindless walk whilst listening to music. It’s a habit that comes from when I was a teenager and just had to get away from my family. I was so anger and upset all the time back then and I couldn’t talk properly to anyone about it because I didn’t know how to. Being autistic didn’t help either.

It still doesn’t, but at least things have become a little easier. I like my job as an IT assistant at a large office. People come to me with their PC problems and I fix it. Though the world still has a habit of getting on top of me.

I was wandering to cool off after a bad day at work, listening to classic Linkin Park albums on my phone when I came across the old stone gate and fence. I stopped and checked for any signs telling me not to trespass etc, it’s important to pay attention to those things. There didn’t seem to be any and now I had stopped, I realised I wasn’t sure where I was.

Around me, thick trees and bushes blocked out most of the light. The path I was on was overgrown and it seemed nothing had been here recently. I was far from any road or house, in the middle of the moors. There had been something man-made here once and nature had claimed it back.

Getting lost had never scared me, my autistic brain didn’t really understand emotions or feelings. I get them sure, but not on the same level as everyone else. Also, if you wanted to be away from people you had to get lost sometimes.

I went through the gap were a wooden gate once had been and found myself on a fading path heading upwards. There were piles of stones dotted around, all of which had fallen off the wall. Past the trees lay an open, tangled snarl of a clearing and popping up from the super long grass and trails of ivy were headstones.

Counting them slowly, I came to about thirty in total, though there was probably more hidden in the grass. So, a graveyard then. I couldn’t see a church poking above the treeline, maybe if there’d been one it was long since gone. I didn’t give much other thought to the hows and the whys. I liked burial places, they were often quiet and didn’t have that many living people about.

I walked to the first row of headstones and tried to read them. Weather, age and moss made it difficult. I traced some letters and numbers with my fingers and got a few of them. I tried to clear the stone, interested to see the date on it. 1879 seemed to be it. The last line on the stone was clear to read, as if someone had gone to great lengths to make it stand out; We hope they have gone to rest.

I moved on to the next which like the first was a plain arched shape. The inscription once again was faded but at the end were those same words again. I went down the row, looking at each headstone carefully, but they were all too hard to read expect for that repeating last line.

There was an odd sound to those words my brain realised. I had seen many epitaphs but that was just different. Who was ‘we’ ? The family? and why ‘hope’ for something that was true? I don’t really get why people do things sometimes.

I walked around the other gravestones. Some of them were clearer then others and I got the sense this resting place was for members of a small village that might now be lost to history. The earliest date I found was mid 1800’s and the most recent 1930’s close to the start of the Second World War. On all of them though were the same last words; We hope they have gone to rest.

To Be Continued…

Trail #TwitteringTales

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I peered through the Halloween Maze’s boarder and saw the deep woods beyond. A small scream rose in the distance followed by laughter. I was so bored, this place was for babies. I wanted a real scare! Ignoring the sign, I forced my way out and I’m still regretting it to this day.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/03/06/twittering-tales-74-please-stay-on-the-trail-6-march-2018/ with thanks).