The Grey Causeway To Brierwell Manor (Part 2)

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We arrived at  the proper driveway to the manor. The Grey Causeway turning from rough stone to flat smooth bricks as it led up towards the gates. King launched into a tot, happy to have a solid road to go on when though it was still damp.

The sea was still on either side of us but I could see it was only three inches or so high. Other rocks stuck out like tiny islands and a seagull had landed on one and was busy eating a dead crab. Waves broke on the rocky low cliffs just ahead of us, the tide didn’t go out further then this.

I slowed down King as we reached some fallen wire fencing. The grass was quickly cover it up and worried that more wire could lay hidden which he might step on. There was loads of fencing around, fallen or cast aside. Half hidden metal signs poked out of a bushes and the grass, rust splashed through the white paint.

Last time, the signs had read things like; keep out, guards on duty, beware loose dogs,  CCTV and private property. I could remember seeing them scattered around the down fencing, abandoned like the manor once more. 

King went up to two towering stone pillars that had been the original gate posts and keep to a nervous stop. I saw, picked out on the stone faded words which read; Brierwell Manor. The name of the Victorian family who had built and lived in the manor. Seaweed wrapped around the bottoms of the pillars whilst climbing plants and moss covered the rest of the stones. There was nothing left of the fancy gates that must have once been here.

‘Good boy, King,’ I said gently.

King flicked his ears back to show he was listening.

‘Walk on then,’ I added.

He hesitated, taking a step back and flicking his tail. His muscles bunched and he turned his head to the side. He went to turn around.

I squeezed my legs against into his side and tightened my grip on the reins., ‘go on!’ I encouraged.

King snorted and tossed his head but he stepped forward.

Pushing again, I got King to walk on. We passed under tall trees and bushes, spring flowering plants filled the air was a heavy scent, it was like entering a secret garden. The ground was all soil and grass from now on. The plants were wild and King had to watch his step.

We had been here before but it looked so different each time. Where once there had been clean and neat front garden there was nothing but a tangle of nature. I had seen a photo of a fountain in a circle driveway before the manor but you couldn’t see anything of that. It was all soil with plants pushing their way up.

Abandoned building materials lay scattered about; huge bags of sand, an orange mixer machine, rusting tools, a ladder half buried in a tangle of vines. There had been builders preparing to work on the manor but their job of turning the place into a hotel had fallen though because it was going to cost too much.

Brierwell Manor now rose up before us. A flight of four deep stone steps led up to a porch area with thick Roman columns and also two broken stone lions lay on either side. The house was a square shape and there only two floors. Most of the windows had been board up but a few were open and broken glass clung to the frames. There was double front door made out of heavy oak and one of the doors was half open in an inviting way.  

King stopped, sniffing and snorting. Coming here always made him quiet as if he sensed it wasn’t a good place to be. I had to agree with him, their was an unnatural sense to the place. No birds sung, no animals moved in the scrub and the wind moved through the trees in such a quiet manner that it seemed as if it was trying not to disturb anything.

Without any prompting, King started walking along the edge of the driveway. I let him go where he was more comfortable. He brushed passed all the nature. Sure-footed on the damp soil ground. I knew where he was heading, around the side of the house and down towards the small church and graveyard where sweet grass grew.

I admired the view from King’s back and took the time to further calm myself after our run. I knew some history of the manor and something of the Brierwell family. In 1856 the building of the manor had started and after some difficult years, Lord Brierwell, his second wife, three daughters and baby son moved in.

The manor had been passed down through the family until 1902 when a massive storm caused the sea to flood the island. The lower floor and cellar were swept out, the gardens destroyed and the spring where the manor got fresh water from was contaminated by salt water. The damage was too much for Lord Brierwell’s descendants, so they sold up.

The new owners fixed up the manor and stayed until the end of the second world war. After that, an investor did things up again and rented out the rooms but there were rumours about the manor becoming a drug den and a brothel. A girl was said to have been kidnapped and murdered in the cellar. That started a train of ghost sights and stories. What Victorian manor wasn’t haunted?

In 1960, Brierwell Manor was abandoned and despite the place passing through many hands and people trying to turn it into a number of different things like; an artists’ retreat, a bed and breakfast, a museum and finally the idea of a hotel, nothing had developed and now the manor had been empty for sixty years.

The nature began to clear as I felt King start to go down hill. We passed the moss covered, tumble down stone wall then we were into something like a clearing. Tall grass some of which had open into wheat like heads of seeds lay thick in a field dotted with headstones with a small stone church at the end.

King went to a stack of stones which I had placed there myself, four or five years back when we had discovered this area. I had never known there was a church and graveyard till I had seen a photo of it in a local history book I had found in the newly opened museum shop. Since then, this had become a favourite place of ours. 

‘You like it here, don’t you, King?’ I said.

I dismounted. Using the stone stack like a ladder to get down. I tied the reins to the saddle so they wouldn’t get in King’s way then he moved off to eat the grass. I watched him as I sat down on the stones and began taking off my helmet and protection vest. 

I took in deep breaths, feeling lighter and it easier to fill my lungs all the way. A breeze blew through my hair and I saw flashing of purple out of the corner of my eyes. I took off my body warmer next then my fleece jacket but it was too cold to sit for long without it back on. 

‘Don’t wander too far,’ I called after King’s moving form.

Sitting down on the grass, I looked at the headstones and church whilst rubbing my chest. I had a feeling of tingles of pain around my heart, like the start of pains and needles. These would passed soon, they came and went, sometimes I just thought the pain was in my mind, like a physical memory of what I had been through. 

I pulled off my long sleeved thermal top and moved my vest top around to check the scars along my torso. Some of them were fine and faded, others rises and white outline. I looked like Frankenstein’s Monster. None of them should ache but sometimes they did.

I was a mirror twin and whilst my sister, Pearl, had been born normally, I, Paige, had been born with backwards organs. Most things could work fine but I’d had a few operations as a baby and child to insure that. Then around the age of ten, I had developed heart complications and from then until now; eight years later, I had been in and out of hospital, on bed rest and home schooled. 

That’s why I craved freedom and normality and also why I had connected with King. He’d been born soon after my complications and having such a pretty foal to focus on had helped me. I had always wished he wasn’t strong headed with a wild streak and dangerous recorded. My family had wanted to me to pick a calmer horse – a mare that was King’s older step-sister but totally the opposite of him. 

I just couldn’t though. I helped to hand rear King when his mother abandoned him a month later. He was my goal to get better, to ride and be free, my best friend who made me feel wild and not in pain for a time.     

I put my fleece back on and lay down in the grass. It felt damp and smelled so sweetly of hot summer days. The grass hide me and I felt protected here. The sky was masking over with rolling grey clouds and I knew soon we’d have to head back. I shut my eyes and felt the tiredness that never seemed to leave me.

Just a few minutes of resting then I’ll feel better.

To Be Continued…

 

 

 

The Grey Causeway To Brierwell Manor (Part 1)

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We were flying across the beach, girl and horse, with the wind rushing through us. The coolness of the spring afternoon air chilled my skin despite the layers of clothes I had brought on. The waves breaking on the sand were nothing but a blur of colour like a melting painting.

The sense of freedom beat into me and the thrill tingled in my blood. My heart was thudding in my chest the rhythm controlled by the pacemaker. This was my escape from all of that pain, treatment and medication. All of my heart problems were gone in the hurricane of wind and the excitement of sitting on the back of a running horse.

I could feel every movement made by King, my massive black stallion I was riding, as he raced on wards. King was all powerful muscle and sped thanks to him being a strange mix of mighty shire horse and fast racehorse. Shires were well known for their calm and gentle nature, but King was the opposite of that and acted untameable.

King was pure black all over, with a long mane and tail which I loved to braid. Today, his hair was flying free and adding to the magnificent sight he made racing along the soft sand. King was well over six feet high. I was five-seven and he seemed to dwarf me.

I sat low on his back, almost bent over so that I was aiding him to gain speed, which was an achievement in the black, bulky, protective body suit I was wearing. On impact with the ground the whole thing would inflate like a car airbag, hopefully save me from more broken bones due to falling off King. My hard riding helmet felt like it was glued to my head and shoulder length, purple dyed stuck out from underneath it. The helmet was another life safer in riding a dangerous horse.

King’s mane tickled my face and in a few snatched moments, it seemed we were one. I breathed in his thick, sweaty horse smell and felt the rocking of his body echoing through my own. I watched sand and sea zooming by then in the distance I spotted something out at sea.

I raised myself up and slowed King down which took a good few minutes because he didn’t want to and I didn’t want to anger him. He stepped first into a canter then into a trot. King clearer didn’t want to stop and it took me a lot to make him get into a walk.

By that time, we were coming upon something that looked like an avalanche of cliff. Lots of rocks and rubble worn smooth by the constant touch of the sea were jumbled over the sand. This maze continued into the distance, raising up out of the waves as it went.

The reinforced rock sides were slowly tumbling away and exposing more of the flattened stones. In some parts there seemed nothing left to support the stones and the sea was happily consuming them. Sand, crushed shells and dead sea creatures lay thick on what, a hundred years or so ago, had been a straight road towards a distant island.

King, unhappy his run had ended nodded his large head forward and snorted. He tried to pick up pace again, his muscles rippling underneath me and his huge hooves kicking up sand. King loved to run and could probably go on forever.

Breathing hard to get my breath back, I held the reins tighter, said gentle words and patted his long neck. King came to a stop but his towering, thick legs jigged about. King had so much pent in energy after the winter months because I had been unwell and winter conditions weren’t good to ride in.

Now, spring was here and the best place to let King run was the beach which stretched for miles. Hardly anyone came here because was this the middle of nowhere and access wasn’t easy because of cliffs and sand dunes. Also, the beaches around here with private, owned by the people who’s lone houses stood like dead giants on the edges of the cliffs.

The Grey Causeway, for that was the name of the remains of the road before me, only became visible at low tide on a calm day. The sea waves swept aside and dropped whilst red crabs scuttled over the exposed rocks. Seaweed and moss started to dry out but were still slimy to the touch. Pools of water lingered in between the stones, trapping fish until the tide rose again.

The afternoon sun was half covered by white and grey clouds growing heavy with rain. A few birds wheeled in the sky searching for fish to take back to their nests on the cliffs. The waves were lapping quietly for a change as it was known to all ways been rough here. There was little breeze and the air was cool with the lingering of winter.

‘Let’s do some exploring,’ I said and directed King to turn onto the remains of the road.

King refused with a stamp of his right hoof and a loud neigh. He tossed his head right up, his black mane almost whipping against me and the reins tugging hard. His shoulders bunched and the rest of his body began to fall back on itself. His tail hit the back of his legs in anger, setting loose sand that had become caught. He was getting ready to rear.

King was stubborn and hated to feel like he wasn’t in control all the time. It was his way or no way at all which made riding him difficult. He was well known for throwing riders off and causing other horse to join him in a stampede. No one trusted King and he would have been moved on from my family’s riding school and breeding stables, if I hadn’t taken a liking to him.

I had lost count of the number of times I had fallen off King. Mostly it had be because he had reared and or bucked. Others, it had been because he had refused to jump a gate or go through a gap. A few times, he had moved whilst I was mounting and thrown me off balance. Once, King had physical pulled me off his back by biting into my leather boot and yanking me down from the saddle.

Still though, I couldn’t give him up. We had a strange bond; both craving a freedom that was hard to get.

I eased my grip on the reins and lowered them against his broad shoulders. I took my feet out of the stirrups and relaxed myself as much as possible. I shut my eyes and breathed in the sea salt and sandy air. I counted to ten and tried not to let myself tense up as I felt King’s back doing so underneath me.

It was an unusual tacit but letting King know he had control was the best way to deal with his anger. To try and push him now and be hard on him would result in him rebelling. His mighty body would rear and buck, he would throw me and race off, gaining the freedom he was all ways craving.

‘Hey there, King,’ I whispered, ‘it’s okay. Good boy, King. You’re all right.’

I touched him gently and give him a small pat. King nodded his head, the reins shaking as he did so. He give a grumbling sound that I felt vibrating into me.

‘I know you want to run and we shall. But the tide is low today and I want to go on The Grey Causeway and see what’s left on the island.’

King grinded his teeth against the metal bit and turned his head towards the causeway.

I took my chance, pulling the reins to the right side and giving King a small kick with my left foot, I told him, ‘walk on’ and clicked my tongue.

King obeyed and walked on to the remains of the road. I let the reins and my legs relax again. It had to seem like King had made the choice, not me. It wasn’t safe for him to run along the tumbled, slippy rocks, so I let him pick his own way.

The Grey Causeway was about a mile long and led to an island. Once, it might have been taller and bigger but now it was medium size rocky outcrop and at high tide the sea flooded the lowest parts. Greenery crowded the island and as we got closer the structure of a manor house could be made out clearly against the sky.

To Be Continued….

 

 

(Please note; this story was originally inspired by https://scvincent.com/2020/05/07/thursday-photo-prompt-causeway-writephoto. I made the choice to not use this story for my submission to this prompt because I wanted to further explore where this story was going and spend time creating a more polished narrative.

I decided not to use the imagine that came with the prompt but to find my own from a free to use photo site; https://pixabay.com/photos/st-michael-s-mount-cornwall-causeway-4394648.

I have actually visited St. Michael’s Mount in Cornwall on holiday and have on past holidays gone horse riding on beaches and coastal tracks which further inspired this setting of this story. 

The photographs below are some I took of my visit to St. Michael’s Mount in 2012. All these photos are copyright to me. To find out more about the history go to https://www.stmichaelsmount.co.uk/).

 

 

Phantasmagoria #AtoZChallenge (Part 2)

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Phantasmagoria – a sequence of real or imaginary images like that seen in a dream.

The mushrooms were strange. They looked like white toadstools. I picked one up and it carried on glowing in my hand. I sniffed it but it didn’t smell of anything other than damp soil. I put the mushroom back and watched it grow as if I had never touched it.

I looked up at the ceiling and it was empty. The blue butterflies had all gone. Frowning,  I turned back to the window and saw it was open and rain was dripping until the mushrooms.

I shut the window and decided it was time to have something to eat. There was no sign of the butterflies and I had a quiet evening. I sprawled out on the sofa and read my book before watching a late night movie. I wrapped the duvet around myself again and kept glancing at the windowsill.

The mushrooms were still there, letting off a candle flame like light. They had stopped growing now but the soil around them had sprouted grass as if it was a window box.

The thunder and lightening finally arrived. I watched the sky as a few white flashes went off and I counted like a child the gaps before the thunder rumbled. The rain was still coming down and the wind was whipping. The weather seemed more interesting to watch then the movie.

I dozed, warm and sleepy and not caring about the strange mushrooms or the blue butterflies, they weren’t doing any harm.

The lightening cracked, flashing like a bomb going off. I half jumped up by the sudden noise then the electricity cut. Darkness filled the house as the lights, TV and everything else went off.

I clutched the duvet, feeling like a character in one of my horror novels. Was the serial killer going to smash down my door, blood dripping axe held high and ready for it’s next victim?

I laughed and relaxed. Nothing was going to happen. A faint glow drew my eyes and I saw the mushrooms, they were casting a soft glow and there was enough light for me to see clearly by.

I rested my head back and watched them. A blue butterfly appeared and touched down on top of one of the mushrooms. Soon, it was joined by more. They appeared gently out of the darkness, landing and circling the glowing mushrooms, attracted to them like moths.

I listened and heard the whisper of their wings. I felt one brush my cheek. How many more were they? How had they been in my house all this time and I hadn’t known. Looking at the window, I saw it open once again and the rain was dripping in. Had I opened the window? I didn’t remember.

I was too warm to get up, so I shut my eyes and rested. If sleep came then it came. I felt soft feather likeness touch my face, I stirred and struggled to open my eyes. I felt something crawling on me. Dark blue met my eyes and put a hand to my face and felt a wiggling mass of butterflies upon me.

Crying out, I leaped up and tried to wipe them off me. I was half blinded by them, panicking because I didn’t know what was going on and it was dark. I fell and expected to hit the carpet or the coffee table or the windowsill. But I didn’t. I was falling and falling into blackness, the butterflies all around me and sounding so loud and brushing against me harshly.

I arrived at the bottom of wherever it was. Landing lightly on the ground. I smelt damp soil, rotting leaves and flowers. It was still dark, so I sit for a moment and got use to it. The butterflies were still around me, their wings fluttering and sometimes touching me.

Light bloomed and I saw all over the ground the glowing mushrooms. They lit up the forest scene before me. There were thick, tall dark tree trunks and a canopy of black leaves. Long grass and flowers made a soft bed for me to walk on.

The blue butterflies stayed with me, surrounding me as I walked. There was no path and the mushrooms didn’t lead anywhere but I wasn’t going to sit on the ground and do nothing.

The scene didn’t change, I walked and walked and it was like going around in a circle. I sat on a large tree root to rest. Though I didn’t feel tried. There was a wide hollow at the base of the tree. I crawled inside and found a nest of dried leaves and mosses. I lay down and watched the mushrooms glowing outside and the butterflies playing above them.

I slept and dreamt. I had weird dreams of over coloured worlds where fairies and other creatures lived. I rode unicorns and whales. I flew with dragons and spoke riddles with a Sphinx. I climbed trees and watched giants moving rocks. Colours ran and mingled together, like a water colour that someone had dropped.

I laughed in the sun, I splashed in the sea, I collected oranges the size of beach balls and drink from them with a bamboo straw. The sky was a wash of a sunset forever and I was finally free of worry. Free of pain.

 

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

Phantasmagoria #AtoZChallenge (Part 1)

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Phantasmagoria – a sequence of real or imaginary images like that seen in a dream.

They said the drugs might effect my mind. I may see things that are not real; hallucinations. I wasn’t to worry and if needed I should go somewhere where I felt safe to let whatever I was experiencing pass.

I was fine for the first few weeks then one afternoon whilst it was raining outside I saw a blue butterfly on the window. It was on the inside, so I opened the window and hoped it would go free.

It was the middle of Spring and I’d seen lots of butterflies about. They had been white, black with red patches and the other day I swore I saw a peacock one. So, I didn’t think about the blue butterfly too much, other then I hadn’t seen one like it before.

The phone rang as I studying the butterfly and I went to pick it up. It was a friend calling to see if I was okay and up for coffee tomorrow. We chatted for a bit then I went back to watching TV and resting.

A flash of blue caught my eye and I turned my head. There were two blue butterflies fluttering against the window now.

‘You’ve got a friend,’ I spoke as I got up, ‘you should be outside though…looks like it’s really coming down.’

The rain really was. The sky was a rolling wave of black clouds and the rain was like a large waterfall, everything was being covered in water. The wind was getting up too. Looked like a storm was coming in.

‘You can stay there,’ I told the butterflies, ‘it’s rough out there. I’ll leave the window open for you.’

I turned on the lamp, turned the TV off and picked up the current horror novel I was reading. I should have picked something lighter, maybe a supernatural romance to read but I got the same experience that riding roller coasters had when I read horror; the high of being alive.

A read for an hour or so, the rain a fitting background sound. Slipping the bookmark into a chapter page, I stretched and decided it was time for a hot drink. I looked over at the window and saw there were three blue butterflies resting on the sill, their wings moving up and down gentle.

‘Where do you all keep coming from?’ I muttered, ‘do I have an infestation? Surely, I’d have noticed before. Maybe, I should shut the window?’

I got up and carefully did that then I went into the kitchen and made a hot drink and something to eat. Afterwards, I went to bed for a nap. I couldn’t sleep all the way through the night due to the illness and the other pills which caused insomnia. I felt tried a lot and getting little sleep often helped this.

Two hours later, I got up and it was as dark as the middle of the night. Grateful I had left the lamp on, I looked to see the time, it was almost four. I had pulled my curtains to, I got up and parted them. A storm was making itself known outside. I watched and listened for thunder and lightening but it was too distant yet. The rain splattered against the window, driven by the rain and I felt cold.

Wrapping up in a jumper, I went downstairs, leaving lights on behind me. I made a cup of tea and got out a tin of of soup to eat later. The house was too quiet, despite the sound of the storm so I went into the living room and turned on the TV. There were afternoon game shows on to watch.

A chill caused me to turn my head to the window and I saw the window open. Frowning, I got up and closed it, though I was sure I had shut it before I went upstairs. Sitting down, again I looked for the blue butterflies but they weren’t there. Maybe, they had left? But why go out into a storm?

Shrugging, I pulled a duvet around me which I left on the sofa in case I needed it down here. Snuggling, down I watched TV. After the two game shows was the news and then it was time to eat. I was too warm and comfy though to move. I thought about how hungry I was and decided not much, so I didn’t have to move. I found something else on TV to watch and carried on laying there.

There was a tapping on the window that I thought was the rain. I glanced to look and saw a blue butterfly trying to get through the glass. At least one of them hadn’t left. I felt sorry for the poor thing and I knew I should try and help but I couldn’t move. I watched the butterfly flapping about and then there were two.

‘None of you left then,’ I said then yawed.

Being cocooned was making me sleepy again. I shut my eyes but then opening then soon after, thinking I should open the window and give the butterflies a chance of escaping. I looked over the window and saw there was a cluster of blue butterflies there, about ten or so. Also, growing up from the sill were cream coloured mushrooms.

‘This doesn’t make sense,’ I mumbled and got up.

Stumbling over, I disturbed the butterflies and they took the air and circled the room like startled birds. They curled around the ceiling light and landed up there. I turned back to the windowsill and saw the mushrooms were sporting up from soil and the they were glowing white.

To Be Continued…

(Inspired by; http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com)

The Safest Place #3LineTales

three line tales, week 217: an astronaut in space

‘Space station to control? Can you hear me, over?’

‘Hearing you loud and clear, space station. How are things today?’

‘Everything is great. No problems and we are all well. What about there?’

‘That’s good to hear. Well, things are not going well at the moment, The virus pandemic is really spreading. We are having to work with a skeleton crew only and have stopped or scaled back a lot of things.’

‘That’s tough. Is there nothing to be done?’

‘Not much. Accepting joining you out there. You guys are the safest people right now.’

‘Haha, Rodger that!’

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2020/03/26/three-line-tales-week-217/ with thanks).

Plague Mask

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I was hurrying home after a quick run to the shops, not that there was much left on the shelves as everyone was panic buying but I had got as much on my list as I could.

Passing the costume shop on the corner of the high street, the window display caught my eye. Normally, there were bright colourful costumes, sometimes children’s character themed or old pop/rock stars, their Halloween and Christmas displays were great.

However today, there was a huge head to foot black cloaked figure with a 1600’s grey plague doctor’s mask covering the face. It looked scary, threatening and close to an imagine of Death himself.

I frowned and noticed the other three manikins were dressed as a mad scientist, a doctor and a sexy nurse.

Someone was really trying to get into fun of the health pandemic mode.

Lambent #WritePhoto

Isolation. Everyone was recommending it, everything into lock down and slowing.

Crowded streets and places were empty. Traffic lights changed colour but no one stopped and started before them. Signs hung in shops declaring the stock that was no longer available though most of those shops were shut for good. Life continued from behind closed doors.

On the research island it little mattered. I was the only one here, researching the puffins as they made nests and mated. I had two months worth of extra supplies in case of emergency as standard. Though, I had ordered more, as much as they could send me as I heard that panic buying was causing shortages.

I was far too busy outside, distracted enough with my recordings to eat or drink much. It was keeping warm at night that was the problem because even though it was spring, it was still cold and sometimes a bit of snow glittered in the morning light.

My boss had suggested I return home. Be with my family and stay safe because if anything happened to me out here there might not be no one to my rescue me.

I had thought carefully then answered, ‘no. I’m not at much risk here. The delivery people can leave the supplies and I can disinfect things. If I go home to the mainland I’m bound to catch the virus. We should keep in regular touch though. Two to four times a day fine with you?’

Laying on my stomach, I watched the sun rising and the puffins waking up. I couldn’t help but think about that idea of isolation. I imagined everyone complaining about it, becoming restless and fed up. I though, thrived on solitude. It was needed to become one with nature, to do the work I loved and never did the sense of boredom creep into my mind.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2020/03/12/thursday-photo-prompt-lambent-writephoto/ with thanks).

The B Virus

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The experts said the virus transferred from an animal and though it was contiguous, it was a mild bug that would soon go.

He knew differently but was sworn by the Secrets Act not to say anything. Bats were the contaminated animals but they hadn’t been captured from the wild. They had been born and lived in the lab to be the test subjects of a biological warfare drug.

It had been his project until the funding had fallen though. It was his task to destroy the bats but instead, short on money, he had sold them to a market vendor. He hadn’t given it much thought, the virus hadn’t worked and all the bats were fine.

He was slummed on the sofa, having fallen asleep in front the TV when the first reports came in. He awoke, stirred by the noise and saw that a new virus had been declared and the source seemed to be around a market area close to his town.

Perhaps, it was nothing? Just a coincidence. He went back to work; another month, another project, just enough money to get by on.

This thing will all blow over, he thought, the news likes to scare people and make it worse then it is.

But it didn’t go away. Day after day and months later, the virus had spread world wide. A pandemic was declared, people were dying and industry was at crawling speed. Streets and places like cinemas and shops were empty as people tried not to get ill. Everyday reports came in of rising confirmed cases.

He went to his bosses and told them he wanted to help make a vaccine. It seemed every scientists’ responsibility. It was agreed. He went to the archived biological warfare drug project, breed some new bats and got to work.

 

(Please note this is a fiction story and contains no true facts).

At Year’s End

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She sat in the waiting room, hands twisting in her lap and eyes watching the clock tick away. There was only a few other people around which was unusual for a Tuesday morning but it was Christmas and New Year holiday time after all.

She had wanted to come alone. Most of her family and friends had offered to come with her. It was a big day after all. She had shook them all off, needing to face the test results alone. Everybody had been with her throughout this whole thing but today, she had wanted to reflect quietly, whatever was said.

The doctor called her in and she felt her heart skip a beat and her breath freeze in her lungs. Somehow, she got her body working and stood up to go into the room. Nothing had changed since her last visit. The blinds were still down on the window, the computer was hot and humming away. The shelves were filled with medical stuff and a poster about getting the flu vaccination was trying to peel itself off the wall.

‘Your results are back,’ the doctor spoke, ‘I’m pleased to tell you, you are clear of cancer.’

Stormy Day

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I could feel the damp coldness on the window and hear the gale force wind driving the rain. Sighing, I pressed my fevered forehead to the glass. I had wanted to go out today, get some fresh air and pick up a few things. Instead, an open window and rummage through the kitchen cupboards would have to do.

Something warm and furry brushed my fingers then a cool wet tongue licked my hand. My guide dog, Hope, had come to my side. I could hear her tail wagging as I reached out and stroked her head and ears.

‘Looks like another day inside for me,’ I said, ‘though Bob should be around soon to take you out.’

Bob was my next door neighbour, he had a guide dog also and another Labrador. He was only blind in one eye but did have some blurred vision in his left. He liked walks and use to do a lot of hiking.

With having the flu, I had asked him to take Hope out for me. She enjoyed being with the other dogs and having some down time from her job of guiding me places.

I crossed the living room and Hope followed at my side.

‘Alexa,’ I called to the device, ‘what’s the weather like today?’

‘Currently it’s forty degrees, heavy rain, strong winds and cloudy. Tonight, there will be more rain.’

‘Alexa, what’s the weather like tomorrow?’

‘Tomorrow it will be forty-three degrees, scattered showers and heavy clouds.’

‘Thanks. I’ll try and go out tomorrow.’

There was a knocking on the door. Hope barked and guided me over, though I knew well enough were my front door was.

‘Kat, it’s Bob,’ he called through the door.

I unlocked things and let him in.

‘Hi,’ I said, ‘is the weather as bad as it seems?’

‘Yes,’ Bob replied, ‘I’m in my waterproofs and wellies. Hello Hope. How’s the flu doing?’

‘Bit better. I wanted to go shopping but might be best if I don’t.’

‘Oh? I can go and get you somethings. I climbed mountains so this weather doesn’t bother me!’ Bob replied and laughed.

‘No, it’s okay. I’ll try later,’ I answered.

‘Well, if you can’t, I really don’t mind.’

‘I know but it’s fine honest. Here’s Hope’s lead. Have fun, girl.’

We said goodbye and I went back into my apartment and to the window again. I opened the window and felt the almost freezing air on my face and arms. The wind was strong and water droplets hit my face.

I was glad Bob was heading outside instead of me, it sure felt horrible out there today.