Elysian Postcard Story #atozchallenge

mountains-1645078_1920

Elysian; beautiful or creative; divinely inspired; peaceful and perfect.  

Dearest Papa,

Giuseppe took us high into the mountains, promising ‘spettacolare’ views and he wasn’t wrong! I was worried the poor donkeys would collapse under the weight of the supplies. Giuseppe said ‘they are use to it, signora.’

It was the most perfect spot to paint the mountains. There was a lake below that was so clear and reflective. We spent all day there, it was like being in God’s Eden.

My painting did not do the landscape justice but I’m proud of it all the same. I have sent it you in the late post.

Yours, Victoria. X

 

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Onward #WritePhoto

The people of what had been Kirby town had been traveling for months, walking on the hard rocky animal tracks through the foggy and rain soaked mountain range. There seemed to be no end in sight and it was like they had been cursed to walk forever.

Wearily and hungrily, they followed their prince on his bedraggled white stallion and his surviving guards in their tattered livery. No one was sure where they were going but the wizard kept claiming the Gods would tell the prince soon enough.

A fine rain was falling and the wind kept driving into the people and animals. There was little shelter and half delirious some of the people started to believe the mountains were judging them.

But what would mountains know of having to flee your burning town? Of trying to save women from rape and murder at the hands of an army from a distant land? Of there being no help, no hope, nothing left but charred reminds of what had been?

‘Is that a cave or a gap?’ the prince muttered.

He was exhausted and finding it hard to keep the strength his people needed of him. Steering his horse off of the track and up a small ledge. He saw that a gaping hole opened inside the nearest mountain, like mouth that had been punched in.

The prince slide off his horse and lead the stallion over. The cave seemed back enough for everyone and it was also dry inside.

Prays were said to the Gods and a few people suggested that perhaps their fate was turning. Maybe tonight the prince would be told where to lead them too. Everyone settled into the cave, finding a large chamber for twelve horses, seven ponies, five goats, four dogs, two cows, one ox, one kitten and a crate full of chickens. There was also other chambers which the hundred odd humans scattered themselves about in.

No fires could be lit, there was no dry wood. The people ate whatever they had foraged, got as comfortable as they could and tried to sleep.

The prince woke early, feeling uneasy. He looked at the ceiling of the cave and wondered what to do.

‘My prince?’ ask the wizard, ‘any new thoughts?’

‘None,’ the prince uttered.

The wizard nodded and taking up his gnarled staff went out into the misty, rainy morning.

‘Shall we move on?’ the captain of the guards asked.

The prince looked around, taking in the closest children who were so tried and hungry they could no longer cry.

‘No. It seems safe enough here. We shall rest as long as we can.’

A few days passed and the people had made the best of things. Wood had been dried for a fire big enough to cook and dry clothes upon. The animals were providing milk and eggs now they were rested and grazing often. Everyone felt less hungry and tried.

On the four day, the wizard came back.

‘I have been seeing what there is to be seen,’ he announced, ‘and it looks like we must continue. The weather is turning and I fear we shall face greater hardships.’

The prince was fell silent in thought. A few voices give suggestions but at last the prince spoke, ‘tomorrow we leave. Go and find food, wood and prepare. We can’t stay here and must make it to some other town or city for the winter.’

Onward, the people of Kirby town traveled though a gap between two mountains where it stopped raining and began snowing. Some regretted leaving the cave but they knew if they had stayed they would have died, at least this way they had a chance.

On and on they pushed as winter bit in and heaped more harshness on them like never before. Some did not make it, but other weeks later, on the eve of the winter festival stood and looked down upon a valley and a town within.

Spirits soared and the people head forward. The prince feared they would be rejected or find the town in ruined but they were welcome in. A great hall lay at the heart of the town, heated by many fires and decorated with evergreen plants. The Lord welcomed them from his high seat and the prince counseled with him.

Dawn arose on the winter festival morning, crisp snow covered everything and a fine mist hung over the mountains. The people of Kirby all slept peacefully for the first time, warmed by the fires of the great hall, knowing they were safe for the time being.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/12/06/thursday-photo-prompt-onward-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

Turning #WritePhoto

The seasons where turning, Rachel noticed. The mountain which had been green all spring and summer was becoming a dull brown. In two or three months, Rachel knew it would turn white with snow. A foreshadowing for the other mountains, valleys and the towns within them.

The leaves on the trees were switching colours; the reds, yellows and browns like a dappled painting, framed by windows. Soon, those trees would be bare and Rachel disliked looking at them then. Maybe, someone would hang Christmas fairy lights in them like last year and make them pretty again?

Rachel really hoped that did happen as she spent yet another morning looking out of her bedroom window. It had become something of a habit for the eight am to twelve pm nurse to wheel the chair there and leave.

‘You have a lovely view here! You should enjoy it!’ the nurse might say or else it was, ‘Here, look at the rain,’ or ‘watch the sun light up the mountain this morning.’

Then the nurse would go off to do the tasks on her or his list; changing the bed, preparing the medication, cleaning the equipment etc. Sometimes they would come back to check Rachel was okay, do some vital checks, take some blood, change her tubes if needed.

Most of the time though, Rachel was left staring at the mountain, not being able to move herself or ask the nurse to. And how she wished she could! She hated that mountain and wanted never to see it again but it haunted her.

At night, Rachel would dream of the accident. She was climbing with friends, they were laughing, enjoying the first spring hike up the side. They were camping, cooking, singing, drinking, friends being together. They did this every year, it was normal but this time something was different. The snow hadn’t melted all the way, there was an avalanche. Everyone was screaming, running, falling, flying, dying.

The doctors said Rachel was lucky, she alone had survived somehow but she would never move again.

What kind of life is this? Rachel always thought, I’d be better off dead. I wish I’d died too. God, how I hate that mountain! I can’t bare to see it any more!

 

She would shut her eyes and try to moan. Sometimes that work and the chair would be wheeled away to another part of her bedroom or other part of the house.

The image of the mountain was burned into her eyelids and just like the sounds and sights of the accident, she could never escape.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/09/06/thursday-photo-prompt-turning-writephoto/ with thanks).

The Village #TwitteringTales

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Gunther looked out his window, shaking his head. This was the worse snow fall the mountain village had ever seen. People could barely get out of their homes but worse no one could save them. Gunther eyed his axe in the corner and knew he had to do something.

(Inspired by; https://katmyrman.com/2018/01/23/twittering-tales-68-23-january-2018/ with thanks).

Junk Bus

Bus, Tram, Transport, City, Town, Seating, Seat, Bench

Ace put his boots on the dashboard of the pickup truck and lowered his cowboy hat over his face. Soft, sad county music was whispering out of the radio speakers, but it was barely audible over the cold air con, engine rumble and wheels crunching over stones and red sand. He breathed deeply and started daydreaming about the curvy blonde waitress at the last diner they had stopped at.

Red, who was at the wheel, shot his cousin a dirty look. The truck wasn’t new, but even so there was just something about Ace relaxing that got to him. Maybe it was because Red had done all the driving today? Glancing over again, Red could easily see why that waitress at the diner had thought they were twins. They did look so alike with their short black hair, wide jaw line and broad shoulders. The fact they were both wearing leather cowboy boots, jeans, dark t-shirts, brown leather jackets and hats also did not help.

Trying not to grind his teeth, Red looked further down the desert road and towards the mountains. Something glinted in the burning sunlight to his right. Wondering what it was, Red eased back on the gas and watched the object take form. In the shimmering heat it looked like a mirage and he wondered if he had been driving for too long.

‘Hey, Ace. Look,’ Red said loudly.

Ace shifted, grumbled something and pulled his hat off. He looked at Red questionably and slightly angrily, ‘what’s it?’

‘Something’s over there,’ Red answered and pointed at the object.

Ace looked over, taking his boots of the dashboard as he did so. At first he was not sure what it was growing out of the otherwise desert landscape, but then he recognised the long yellow rectangle shape.

‘It’s a school bus,’ he cried.

‘A school bus? Out here in the middle of nowhere?’ Red asked, puzzlement filling his voice.

‘Let’s take a look,’ Ace added as if he had not heard his cousin.

Red nodded and drove the truck over. He parked just off the road and cut the engine. Looking out, he saw that Ace had been right and there was a school bus seemly abandoned in the sand. Wondering how long it had been there for, Red opened his door and got out. Straight away the desert heat hit him like a baseball bat and he began to have second thoughts.

Ace though had flung open his door and was already quickly walking over. Dust trailing in his awake and the sound of his boots the only noise to be heard.

Closing his door then going around and closing the passenger door, Red followed Ace over. He looked at the desert floor as they went, but could not see any tire tracks or other trails. It was possible the bus had been there weeks or months, but he also knew how fast things could change out here, so maybe it had only recently been left?

Ace reached the bus before he did and started looking around it. Red headed straight for the door and found it open. Sand was piled against the steps, indicating that it had been abandoned. He stepped in, knowing he might find more clues inside. He noticed dust on the mirror and wheel. There were no keys though. The seats all had a layer of red sand dust on them too. The air smelt hot and musty.

‘Been here awhile then?’ Ace called from the doorway.

‘Couple of months maybe? It still looks okay in here,’ Red replied over his shoulder.

He walked further down, minding his head and looking for anything else that would help pin down the time or suggest why the bus was here. Red heard Ace getting on board and start messing with the driving wheel and wires.

Then something caught Red’s eye and he stopped. It was a kid’s denim jacket. He picked it up, but there was no name on the label and the pockets were empty. Putting it back, he then found a lunch pack a few seats down. It was also empty, but he was grateful for that as any food would not have lasted long in this heat.

‘Think we can strip it?’ Ace called over.

‘Someone still might come back for it,’ Red answered as he reached the end of the bus.

He picked up a book that had been left on the back seat. It was a children’s horror story and he remembered the series from his own childhood. He flipped through the pages then pocket it.

‘Na, I don’t think they are,’ Ace spoke out.

Red made his way back to his cousin and looked out of the grime covered window. He could just see the red mountains and a tall cactus. The heat was still raising and he felt like he was baking in the bus. Wiping his forehead, he wondered if it was worth the effort to remove things they could easily sell.

‘I’m going to get the tool box,’ Ace declared.

He slide off the driver’s seat and went out of the door. Red watched him disappear out and around the side of the bus. He moved to get off too and something crunched under his boot. He looked down and saw it was an M&M.

Bus Trip

School Bus, Road, Pavement, Desert, Sand, Plants, Rural

Rubbing her temples, Miss Quine fell into questioning why she had agreed to this trip. Behind her, the bus full of shouting eight and nine year olds was reaching it’s peak. Trying to ignore her school class, she looked out of the window and saw the same scene that she had seen half an hour ago; the desert. The dark yellow, red sand stretched all around them, sometimes tufts of green poked up breaking it up, but she could not name the plants. Ahead of them appeared some mountains, but they looked long off in the distance.

She glanced across at her teaching assistant, Miss Pointer, who was busy trying to stop Timmy from throwing M&Ms at Becky. Stepping in, Miss Quine quickly defused things and took the rest of the candy off him. Timmy sat down in a huff and began blowing bubbles with his saliva. Miss Pointer helped the crying Becky settle back down again.

Miss Quine shoved the packet into her bag then looked for the other four adults amongst the twenty-five children. Mr Seale and Mr Greene were roughly in the middle and singing along with the wheels on the bus song that some demon child had started up. Mrs Fisher and Mr Bennet were at the back and looked so deep in conversation that they had not notice William wiping his nose pickings on the window.

Miss Quine sighed and decided she didn’t have the energy to deal with that. She turned to face the front of the bus again and caught a worried look flash across the driver’s face. Before she had time to ask, she heard the engine make a weird sound and the bus suddenly jerked off the road as if it was a dog being pulled on a leash.

They bounced and skid across the desert. Sand and stones peppered and rattled off the bus as the brakes give a loud squeal. The children started screaming and crying whilst the adults hurried to calm them. The bus spun into a stop and the engine cut out.

Miss Quine snatched a few breaths then stood shaky up. Stepping over to the bus driver she saw he was tightly gripping the wheel. She patted him on the shoulder, called his name and asked if he was okay. After a few moments he came to life and nodded, ‘is everyone okay?’ he shouted.

A half-hearted reply muttered back to him, mingled with sobs and sniffs.

‘I’ll see what’s up,’ he answered, ‘everyone stay on the bus.’

The driver opened the doors and got out. Miss Quine watched him inspecting the bus then felt a tug on her jumper. She looked down and Roy was standing directly there.

‘Miss, I got to go,’ he said quietly.

Miss Quine rolled her eyes and looked up to see if one of the gentlemen was free. They all seemed busy though and she was unable to catch any of their eyes.

‘Okay, Roy,’ she said.

Miss Quine stepped off the bus and he followed her. The earth felt hot under her feet and the air seemed to shimmer around them.

‘Go over there, where no one can see,’ Miss Quine directed as she pointed the child across the road and towards a large cactus, ‘keep away from that though,’ she added.

Roy nodded and took off. Miss Quine turned to the bus driver, who had opened the bonnet and was looking inside.

‘What’s the problem?’ she asked.

‘I think it over heated….not sure…might have to go and get some help,’ the bus driver replied.

‘Help? Out here?!’

‘Don’t worry. There’s a little shop a few miles down this road. We can walk there, be good for the kids.’

Miss Quine looked down the road, but could not see anything. She clicked her tongue and decided there was no choice. Getting back on the bus, she rounded up her class, told them what was going on and after a brief argument with some of them, they all got off the bus and walked down the road.

Staying in their seat arrangements with their buddy, the row of children and adults started walking with the bus driver leading the way. The children talked loudly, pointing out all kinds of things and seemly happy they were now free of the confinement of the bus. Miss Quine took off her jumper, already feeling warm then paused as some of the kids darted off to look at a lizard.

Walking on and the sun shone down, making everyone hot and grumpy. A few times the kids asked if they where there yet and if they were lost and if they could stop. Miss Quine forced them all on whilst she prayed the shop was close. Telling them to sing a song, she whispered to the bus driver, ‘how much further?’

‘Couldn’t tell you,’ he replied.

Miss Quine gritted her teeth and decided this wasn’t the time to give him a piece of her mind.

Finally, a small white building appeared at the side of the road. The kids cried out and pointed at it. Those that had the energy started running whilst the rest tried to get the adults to move faster. Miss Quine sank onto the porch, her feet sore, her t-shirt soaked in sweat and her face bright red. Someone give her a bottle of water and she gulped it down.

The voices of the children faded into the background for a few moments and Miss Quine sorted herself out. The bus driver came up to her as the last of the children vanished into the shop, which Miss Quine guessed had never had so many people in it before.

‘It’s not far to the town. I’ll leave you here now and go and get some help. Should be back soon,’ the driver said.

Miss Quine nodded, thanked him then watched him walk off down the road. Behind her she heard a fight break out and she stormed into the shop.

View

Lake Riessersee & Zugspitze Mountain - Germany.

He turned the corner and slowed the boat down to behold the view that was before him. Pine trees lined the way to a small patch of grassy land and raising proudly above was a dark grey mountain half shrouded by low hanging clouds. He brought his oar into the boat and rested for a few moments. The wide river splashed gently around his small wooden vessel and singing birds echoed each other in the trees. He noted the burning colour of the sky and decided that he had finally reached a place that had only been touched by God.

Empty Door

surreal door to nowhere spotted in the Alps

Mish saw the door when he reached the top of the mountain. Catching his breath, he shrugged off his rucksack and sat on a rocky ledge. The half open door, he noticed, was standing in a frame which had been strapped in place by rotting ropes. Wondering why it was there, he pulled out a bottle of water and chugged it down. The cold liquid felt good on his parched throat and he felt a little better. Screwing the lid back on, Mish wiped his lips, then swept away strands of his long black hair.

With his breathing steadying, he took stock of the view. The German Alps stretched in all directions with their ragged tops cutting into the sky. Banks of grey clouds charged above them as if to stop their attack. A lazy breeze was waving the short grass, causing a constant change of colour. Foreign bird songs repeated themselves in the distance and the door stood out like a broken window.

Mish went to inspect it. He pushed the door fully open without a problem or a sound. The view captured within the frame was breath taking. The mountain slopped bumpily and dipped out of view as the next peak rose up, with another range shadowed behind. They reminded Mish of ocean waves. He took a hold of the latch handle, which was the only thing on the door, and pulled it shut. He faced the weathered wood for a few moments and then opened the door again. The view hadn’t changed.

He searched the ground, but couldn’t see the remains of a house. Someone had put the door frame here deliberately. Probably an artist or a photographer, he thought. Mish closed the door and put the latch down. He walked to the other side, careful of the loose stones and stood in front of it. This side looks the same, he decided. He lifted the latch and released the door.

A different view was now before him. He recognised it from the glances over his shoulder as he’d walked here. The dirt track he had followed faded away around a curve going downwards. Other peaks towered up alongside and with the low clouds blocked the way. Mish eased the door to and walked back to his rucksack. Putting it on, he set off following the track once more. However, as he looked back he saw that the door had disappeared.