Wish #first50words

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I wish we hadn’t gone to the woods that night. It had been fun at first, playing hide and seek.

In the dark everything was more hyped, thrilling and dangerous.

Hiding under a dead tree, trying not to laugh, I heard something whisper my name then felt hands around my neck.

 

(Inspired by; https://first50.wordpress.com/2019/10/14/i-wish-4/ with thanks).

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Unstuck #TwitteringTales

It had taken ages to get the positive canvas wall complete in my studio. Now. every time I came in one or more of the canvas would be on the floor. I blamed it on the sticky strips but something more was going on, somebody that wasn’t keen on happy messages.

 

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2019/10/15/twittering-tales-158-15-october-2019/ with thanks).

Photos Speak Louder #FridayFictioneers

Photos have always drawn me in. I’m no good at taking them and I’m not interested in photography. I like to think about why someone took a photo, the landscape and people in them. The capturing of the moment, the memory.

There are some that believe photos capture the soul. I’ve not come across anything like that, just a lot of nameless faces and changed places.

What I believe is that each photo holds a story within. It’s my destiny to uncover these stories, no matter what they might be.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/10/09/4-october-2019/ with thanks).

Unknown (Part 2)

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Macy woke close to lunchtime and almost rolled back over to sleep again. She forced herself to get up and have a shower. After, she dressed warmly and went down to get something to eat.

It was still raining outside.

Macy passed the afternoon watching TV, reading, doing some arts and crafts which her therapist said was good for her to keep up and drinking cups of tea.

She listened often for the crying but didn’t hear it.

After having an evening meal, she tidied the house, which was really clean all ready but since she couldn’t go for a walk she need to make herself tried. Then she took a bath.

Relaxing in the hot water scented with lavender, Macy listened to the tap dripping and the rain tapping on the window. Everything else seemed quiet. Not that it bothered her.

Letting herself drift, she cleared her head of everything.

At first, Macy thought it was the wind but then the crying became more pronounced.

Macy frowned and wondered what was going on. Maybe, she needed to go see her neighbours? It wasn’t very good to complain though. Sometimes there wasn’t much you could do when a baby was sick and crying. Still though…she felt she needed to know for her own piece of mind.

The night passed like the last one; she didn’t sleep and often she heard the crying.

In the morning, she went around to her neighbours – both middle aged couples- and asked them about the crying.

Shockingly, they knew nothing about it and the pregnant woman wasn’t due till next month.

Puzzled, Macy spoke to more neighbours, even though she didn’t really know them. She did find out that an old woman, Mrs Kettle, on the corner had a number of cats and some of them were feral which she was trying to tame.

‘Could it have been one of them?’ Macy had questioned.

‘Maybe,’ Mrs Kettle had replied, ‘but perhaps it’s her…’

‘Excuse me?’

‘Do you fancy a cup of tea? I’ve some nice ginger cake in.’

‘Sure,’ Macy replied.

Mrs Kettle was a short, stooping woman, with white hair in a bun and many wrinkles across her skin. Once she had a nice curvy and plumb figure but old age had made her look compact and fat. She was wearing a wool skirt, grey blouse and a knitted pink cardigan. She had a friendly and pleasant, mothering nature.

Mrs Kettle’s house reminded Macy her step-aunt’s before Macy had began to make it her own. The wall paper and furniture looked 1960’s and there was fading smell of moth balls and cats.

Macy took the second armchair and shared a pot of tea and a plate of sliced cakes with Mrs Kettle.

‘How long have you lived here?’ Macy asked.

‘I was born in this house a few years after the war ended,’ came the reply.

‘You’ve been here all your life?’

Mrs Kettle nodded.

‘So, who were you referring to? Who is she?’

Mrs Kettle stroked a ginger tom cat that had come to curl into her lap.

Macy eyed a skinny white cat with no ears that was warming it’s back by the gas fire. So far she had counted eight cats but she suspected there were more.

‘I was about twelve and it was this time of year -October,’ Mr Kettle spoke, ‘back then no matter the weather children always played out. I was skipping alone, waiting for my friends when I heard it.’

‘The crying?’ Macy jumped in.

Mrs Kettle nodded, ‘it was coming from your alleyway. I went to look and found in one of the bins a wrapped up bundle. Inside was a tiny, tiny baby still bloody. I didn’t know what to do. So, I took the baby to my mother.’

‘It died didn’t it?’ Macy asked, cutting in, though she had a feeling she knew.

‘Yes. Within an hour,’ Mrs Kettle said in a low voice.

‘And the mother?’

‘We never found her. No one seemed to know where the baby had come from.’

‘Wasn’t there an investigation?’ Macy questioned.

‘In the fifties?’ Mrs Kettle replied with a laugh, ‘around here? No one cared. It happened all the time. A young woman, out of marriage, getting into trouble and abandoning the baby.’

‘Oh,’ Macy breathed.

‘From then on, people would hear the baby crying in the alley and find nothing. Then came the rumours of a woman carrying a bundle running and wailing down the street. Us children came up with ghost stories and believed the baby and her mother had taken to haunting the alley. I stayed away after that.’

Macy finished her tea and hugged herself, not being able to believe this. Was the crying she kept hearing a ghost baby?

There was thump next to her and Macy turned to see a small, tortoise shell cat on the arm of the chair. The cat stepped into her lap and brushed against her crossed arms. Macy stroked the cat, feeling the warmth of the fur and the slight dig of claws into her jeans.

‘Would you like another piece of cake?’ Mrs Kettle asked.

Macy shook her head.

‘You live alone don’t you, love?’

Macy looked up and saw the old woman staring kindly at her.

‘I knew your aunt well. She was a dear friend.’

Step-aunt,’ Macy automatically corrected.

‘A young woman shouldn’t be alone.’

‘I like it that way. It’s easier.’

Macy looked down and saw the tortoise shell had curled in her lap was purring. She hadn’t stopped stroking the cat and Macy realised how calm she felt.

‘Her name is Precious,’ Mrs Kettle explained, ‘I found her when she about a week old. Her mother had abandoned the litter and only Precious was still alive. I hand reared her.’

‘She seems a nice cat,’ Macy responded.

‘Yes. Snow there,’ Mrs Kettle pointed to the white cat with no ears, ‘is deaf and some teenager cut her ears off. A friend saved her and give her to me to look after. And this is Toby,’ Mrs Kettle patted the ginger tom in her lap, ‘he was a farm cat who wouldn’t hunt the mice and rats! He’s a big softy.’

Macy laughed.

‘Do want some more tea?’

‘I should…Actually, yes,’ Macy said with a smile.

She hadn’t liked other peoples’ company for years but Mrs Kettle so reminded her of step-aunt and Macy felt safe here. Plus, if she got up she would wake Precious and the cat was a nice warm and heavy spot on her lap.

Mrs Kettle brought more tea and cake. They talked some more then watched quiz shows on the old TV.

Finally, Macy decided it was time to leave.

‘Take care out there,’ Mrs Kettle said, ‘a storm is coming.’

Macy nodded as she looked out of the frosted front door windows which were dripping with rain.

‘It’s been so nice to have company. Please come back anytime.’

‘I shall,’ Macy replied and stepped outside to battle the weather.

To Be Continued…

Unknown (Part 1)

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Macy lay in bed, the insomnia keeping her awake again. She listened to the rain hammering down and hitting the window like a handfuls of gravel. In the distance, the wind was shaking the autumn trees and evergreen bushes along the narrow road.

She thought about going outside and letting the weather sweep her thoughts away. Deciding she couldn’t be bothered, Macy went to turn the lamp on, her thoughts turning to reading or messing around on her phone.

The crying stilled her hand.

Macy wasn’t sure what it was; the weather? A cat? A child crying?

Maybe I’m dreaming? she wondered.

Turning on the lamp, she watched the light pooling around the bedside table and the edge of the bed. It was comforting.

The crying continued. It was a dim wailing sound like that of a sick baby. It sounded almost as if it was inside her house.

Didn’t the next door neighbour just have a baby? Macy thought then added, I need the bathroom now, unfair! 

Sighing, she got up and went to the bathroom. She turned the light on, did what she needed to do then washed her hands. Catching herself in the mirror, she noticed that the dark bags under her eyes were worse. Her thin cheeks were flushed but her skin looked pale and unwell. Her short, dyed blue hair was sticking out, mused by her tossing round in bed.

Macy stuck her tongue out at her reflection and went back to bed.

There was no point even trying to sleep, so she got warm in bed and debated what to do.

‘Where is that noise coming from?’ Macy said aloud.

The crying sounded worse now. It was still feeble but it was louder.

Throwing the duvet away, Macy got up and walked though the small house. It was mostly her own now but somethings of her late step-aunt remind. An old arm chair, coffee table, TV stand, bookcases, photographs and ornaments. There was still a feel that an old woman lived here and not a twenty-something person.

It was a simple two up two down 1940’s terrace house. The front room and a kitchen with a two seater table downstairs, one bedroom and a bathroom upstairs. There was a tiny square back garden and not one on the front as the door open straight onto the street. A joint sheltered alleyway where the bins lived was on the left side between the house and the one next door. A gate into her garden was at the end.

Nothing here, Macy realised.

She looked out of the kitchen window and decided to go outside after all. She put on wellington boots, feeling the chill of the rubber on her bare feet and legs. From the drying line she took a hoodie and put it over the night dress. She couldn’t be bothered to go and get a coat from the hallway.

Unlocking the door and stepping out, the rain hit her like cold water in a shower and the wind whipped around her too skinny frame. She could barely see a thing. The light from the kitchen window wasn’t enough to get through the darkness of the early hour. Still though, she could make out the empty flower beds on the left and the muddy vegetable patch on the right.

Macy looked up at the back of her neighbours’ houses on both sides and could see no lights on.

They are sleeping, like I should be! 

Stomping back inside, Macy shut and locked the back door. She went to take the wet hoodie off but paused as she picked up the crying once more. It sounded a little echoey….

An imagine filled her head; someone had abandoned a baby in the joint alleyway!

Macy ran to the front door, opened it and dashed into the alley. There was no light and she couldn’t see. Cursing, Macy went back inside and dug around for a torch or something. She found a candle, decided it would do and returned to the alleyway.

The small flame almost went out in the wind and rain. Macy waited for the candle to stop guttering then looked around the dripping walls. Her bins were lined up against one wall and her neighbour’s on the other. There was nothing on the floor and her back gate was locked.

She couldn’t hear the crying now, the rain and wind were too loud. Turning back, she took the lid off the bins and looked in, just to clear her mind. Nothing.

Maybe, it’s just a cat left out and crying to be let in? Cats can sound like babies and with this weather the cat could be streets away. 

Macy went inside once again. She stripped off the hoodie and the boots. Blowing out the candle and locking the door, she went back to bed.

The clock said it was almost four in the morning. Macy felt cold and tried. She settled back down and rested, feeling sleepy for the first time that night.

To Be Continued…

Brisk

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Autumn’s carpet lay at my feet. The trees above were almost bare having been forced to shed their coats by the strong winds. The sky was grey with rain promising clouds which would add to the water all ready on the ground.

It was the kind of brisked day I liked to go walking through the woods on. The cold reddened my skin, making me feel more alive then the summer’s heat had done. There was also so many different smells to be enjoyed; earth, wood, nut, rot, fire, damp and pine. There was nothing like the scents of autumn!

I could imagine my old dog going crazy through the crisp and crunchy leaves, chasing birds and squirrels. She would also find conkers and acorns to chew up then the biggest sticks to demanded me to throw.

My wife too would have loved this. Autumn was her favourite kind of year and she would cook the most wonderful of foods; stews, soups, hotpots, apple pies, pumpkin pies, fruit pies, ginger biscuits and so much more. She said autumn was her season and you couldn’t beat it.

Alone I now wandered, walking paths once filled with happiness. Autumn makes me both happy and sad, able to forget the hurt and remember more deeply. Out here, I can pretend my wife and dog are just over there, playing in the leaves and laughing amongst the trees.

 

(This story was inspired by the below ASMR sound video)

Postcard Story

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Dear B,

I know it’s been while but a lot has happened at the ‘haunted hotel’. Everything is ready for open day which should have been days ago but set backs.

I have experienced a few things; doors closing, cold spots, lights flickering and once a moving shadow!

More ‘sensitive’ people have seen the ghost of a child and a skinny man. I hope one day to see them too.

Looking forward to your visit. I will give you our best room where everyone says they’ve see a ghost in. I just know that’ll thrill you!

From X.

Monster Book

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Joy wasn’t sure how she’d found the book, it must have been fate! She had known the minute her fingers had touched the skin cover and the scent of two hundred year old pages filled her lungs. She had looked closely just be sure then with a quick glance around the storeroom, put the book into her bag.

Hurrying home as a storm ripped across the sky, Joy was glad she only lived streets away from where she worked at Rare Eager, Secondhand and Antiques shop. She stumbled into the hallway of the two bedroom terrace house, dripping wet like she had just got out of a swimming pool.

She turned the lights on, locked the front door then took off her soaked shoes and coat. Going upstairs, she took the rest of her clothes off- blue blouse and black trousers- and changed into fleece PJs. She dried her short blonde hair and took her makeup off.

Pausing, Joy listened but the house was almost silent; just the hum of the fridge and heaters. Outside, rain and wind battered everything, Thunder rumbled and lightening forked across the sky like the bolts of an angry God.

‘Autumn weather for sure,’ Joy said aloud and closed the curtains.

Having all ready eaten before and feeling fine that she was now dry, Joy got into bed. She glanced at the alarm clock and saw the hands were on quarter to nine. She sighed, tiredness sinking in. She had worked late tonight with the re-stocking of the shop and was ready to sleep but first….

Joy pulled the book from her bag.

The skin cover was like worn leather, paled and roughed over the years and there were no markers anywhere upon it to say what the contains were or who by. Joy ran her fingers over it and thought she could just feel were letter might once have been.

Without opening the book, she looked at the hand cut pages. They were not straight but jagged and hard against her fingers. They were a dark yellow colour and tempted a reader in.

Joy went to open the book but her boss, the shop’s owner, Mr. Eager, came into her head. He was old, mid-sixties with a bald head, wrinkles like a walnut and strange odd colored eyes.  From his mouth came the words, ‘…it’s a book full of such disturbing horror stories it was banned! Most of the copies were burnt back then….There’s one around here somewhere. I brought it years ago in London.’

‘Have you ever read it?’ Joy had asked.

‘The first page and that was enough for me!’

‘And where is it now?’

Mr. Eager shrugged and answered, ‘lost in here someplace!’

Joy had taken in the stuffed shop which one could barely move around in let alone find anything they actually wanted! But wasn’t that the look and draw of secondhand and antique places?

With a shake of her head, Joy told herself, ‘I’ll return it tomorrow and show Mr Eager. Pretend I ‘just’ found it and ask if I can have it.’

Letting her fingers rest on the cover about to open it and began reading, Joy wondered why she had taken it in the first place.

She had stole before, little things, like; her childhood friend’s pencil case, a poster from school, a pot horse from her aunt’s house and once in desperate need after a night out, clothes from a washing line.

‘Why did I take this book?’ Joy wondered.

She looked down and felt drawn to forget everything and just open the cover. Were the stories inside as scary as Mr. Eager had said?

Opening the book, Joy saw there were no other publisher and introduction pages like at the start of other books, there was the begin of the first story instead. Shrugging and deciding she didn’t care, Joy curled up and began reading.

It seemed standard 1800s’ horror story telling, a little gross in parts but an interesting read. The stories were short and Joy read three or four of them before she started to doze off.

Putting the book under her bed, she vowed to take it back in the morning and fell asleep.

 

A soft thud and scraping noise disturbed her. Joy rolled over and still half-asleep listened. The noise didn’t come again and she drifted off.

Three more thuds, louder this time and more scraping like something was being dragged echoed through the house. Joy woke almost fully, she turned on the light and looked around. The storm had died down now and it was just a rain tapping against the window.

The noises didn’t come again as she wondered what they were; perhaps, it was an animal or a neighbour. Maybe, apart of my dream! What was that about anyway?

Joy turned off the light and settled back down. A creeping feeling came over her and sleep didn’t want to come back. She lay in the darkness, thinking and listening.

The sounds stared again. Someone was dragging something on a carpet and thumping it about. Then there was a different sound, like a chomp and a heave as if the person doing the dragging before was now trying to pull something up whilst eating an apple.

Joy almost giggled at that thought but realised the noise was too close, all most like it’s in my bedroom!  

She turned on the light, scowled herself for being silly, it’s just something outside….What’s that on my bedside table? 

It was the book!

Confused because she knew she had put it under her bed, Joy went to pick it up. Before her hands could touch it the book began to open!

The cover raised slowly. The pages had become long sharp triangle teeth. They moved, opening like they were in a mouth and a long, two forked tongue began to reel out, sensing the air like a snake’s.

Joy moved backwards across the bed and put her hands to her mouth to cover a scream.

‘It’s just a dream!’ she cried.

The book’s ‘tongue’ went back in and the covers opened further like a shark’s jaw. The book let out a monstrous growl and jumped at Joy’s face.

The scream erupted out of her and Joy threw her hands upwards to defend her face and fight off the book, but the book had grown so wide that it just swallowed her whole.

With the scratching and ruffling sounds of tumbling pages, the book fell closed on Joy’s bed, right were she’d been a few seconds ago.

 

 

(Based in part on a dream I had).

Dear Diary

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Dear diary,

October is finally here and the weather is turning autumnal. I’ve all ready started decorating the house with Halloween things! Just little things; my colourful maple leave with fairy lights wrapped around the staircase, a few of the pot pumpkins on the tables and the autumn wreath hanging off the door. More decorations will follow over the next few days.

I’ve started shopping online and in the stores now too. Most have their Halloween stuff out and it’s interesting to see what’s ‘in fashion’ this year. Clowns are still popular – recent movies to blame for that! Famous slash films are also still in but at least this year things seem little less shock horror.

I’ve brought to much to list but I’ve got all the candy for the children and most of the decorations I liked. Then I’ll raid the discounted things when that begins, I end up with my best things after Halloween!

Oh, I got to open the first window on my Halloween countdown calendar this morning. I know the 31st isn’t that far away but it still feels that way to me. It’ll come soon enough and then…Well, I need to keep some surprise for later!

Harbinger #Writephoto

It was the last day of September and a Monday which meant that Sadie had been super hectic at work. Finally, she was free to go home and though she was tried, she had a busy evening ahead.

As the bus engine vibrated underneath her, Sadie listed off her plans; home to eat and shower, then off to the coven meeting. There the practising witches would welcoming the coming of October at midnight. Afterwards she could go home to sleep.

Getting off the bus, she hurried down the road to her small house. The sky above was almost dark and Sadie hoped it wouldn’t rain. She opened the gate to her house and went up the path. On either side, Sadie’s front garden grew wild with a mix of things she used in cooking and magic.

Something rustled close by the front door. Sadie paused and looked down. There was something black and white sticking out of a clump of rosemary. Sadie peered further and saw a magpie trying to hide.

‘What are you doing down there?’ Sadie asked.

The magpie let out a soft, distressed cry. One of his wings was sticking out strangely and there was dried blood.

‘You are hurt!’ Sadie spoke, ‘wait a minute.’

She dug out her keys, let herself in and rushed into the kitchen. Getting a clean towel, Sadie went outside again and scooped up the magpie.

The weak bird allowed himself to be wrapped up and taken in without a fight.

Sadie placed him inside an old wicker basket then wondered what to do.

‘I’ll take you to the coven,’ she said aloud, ‘someone there will know what to do with you. A few of the witches have bird familiars.’

Sadie kept the magpie warm, give him little bit of cooked chicken and some water. When he seemed settled, Sadie got something to eat herself. After, she showered and changed in her black dress and purple hooded cloak.

Tucking the magpie carefully into the basket, she carried him to the basement of the abandoned factory where the coven meet.

Candles light all the walls and corners of the room. Chairs and tables were dotted around, some with witches sitting on them. Other figures moved across the centre, making markings on the floor.

Sadie found a male witch, Alex, who had a raven familiar, to help the magpie.

‘Looks like he’s been hit by a car,’ Alex told her, ‘this wing is broken and he’s in shock. You did the right thing. I’ll look after him.’

‘Thank you,’ Sadie replied, ‘I knew I couldn’t leave him to die.’

The welcoming of October began and they joined the others in the nighttime celebrations.

Hours later, the witches closed things and said their farewells. Sadie was too tried to give the magpie anymore thought and went home to bed.

 

Days later, there was a knock at Sadie’s door. She opened it, thinking it was the postman or a neighbour but it was Alex.

‘Oh, my basket!’ Sadie cried, ‘I’d forgot all about it!’

Alex smiled and added, ‘and your new familiar too!’

‘Familiar?’

Said looked into the basket and saw the magpie. He was looking healthy, his broken wing fixed and he had been well fed.

‘Yes,’ Alex replied, ‘I asked him if he wanted to be released or stay with you. He decided to thank you for saving his life by becoming your familiar. His name is Harbinger.’

Puzzlement crossed Sadie’s face and she looked from the magpie to Alex, ‘I don’t know anything about birds or having a familiar…’

Alex laughed and replied, ‘Harbinger and I will teach you all you need to know.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/09/26/thursday-photo-prompt-harbinger-writephoto/ with thanks).