There is A House

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The house sit in the middle of the woods looking out of place and yet there something about it that made it seem like it had always been there.

Vines and climbing flowers covered the white stone walls whilst weeds grew out of the cracks in the brown roof tiles. Flowers grew at the doors and windows, masking holes and dirt. The trees surrounding made the house look like it was playing hide and seek. The sun just got through to the house and made dapples of light and shadow on the walls and windows.

They called her a witch, a crazy animal lady, a mad woman, someone to void because she wasn’t ‘one of us.’ The children teased each other to go visit her house, maybe knock on the door. The teenagers threw things at her, broke into her house, spread dirty rumours about her. The adults ignored her, muttered about her to their neighbours, shunned her from their society.

I knew different though. She wasn’t some crazy old hippy, hermit lady or a witch making potions and casting curses. She wasn’t mean or in league with daemons nor was she an outcast of society or someone to be feared and hated.

She was a nun, Sister Benedicta.

I visited her about once or twice or a month after we had first met and she had saved my life when I had been ten years old. It had been a stupid dare by my older step-sister and I had eaten poisonous berries. My step-sister had left me there in the woods, being sick and crippled by stomach cramps.

Sister Benedicta or Benny as she liked to be called, heard me crying and thought me a sick animal. I was too ill to escape her and far too sick to worry about her killing me and cooking me in a pot.

She nursed me back to health and told me her stories.

‘But why does everyone make stuff up about you? They fear and hate you but they are nothing like what they said,’ I had asked.

‘Because when I first came here to spread the word of God and help the sick, a man fell in love with me. I rejected him because I was all ready married to God. He spread rumours about me. Called me a witch and made everyone question my nature,’ Benny replied.

‘Was there nothing you could do?’ I asked.

‘No. He was a Lord and everyone knew his power and they trusted him. He was handsome and could have any woman he wanted. Not being able to have me, made him bitter. The villagers cast me out and I found this abandoned woodman’s cottage and made it my own.’

‘And the Lord?’ I questioned.

‘I don’t know. Who rules this land now, Child?’

I told her and with a nod, Sister Benedicta said, ‘that must be his son then.’

‘If he’s gone, why don’t you come out and tell everyone that you are a nun?’ I suggested.

Benny shook her head, ‘I’m too old for that and I am happy enough to end my days like this soon.’

‘The perhaps, I can do something….’

‘Bring me food when you can and books, paper and ink, perhaps wool to knit with and cloth to sew.’

Ten years later, I was still bring things to Sister Benedicta. I was married with two children and had a little farm to run. I brought Benny whatever was in season, wood for her fire in the cold months and crafts to fill her days with.

I tried to get her to move in with me and my family but she refused.

‘I like to be with nature. I like to pray in quietness. Your farm sounds so pleasant but also so busy. I would only be in the way. I’m better here, living out my days until God calls me home.’

‘As long as you are happy.’

‘I forever am.’

Another Life #CCC

Jo had forgotten all about the house. During a ramble, she came across the place and memories bloomed. It was a warm summer’s day with a breeze ruffling the trees and the wild flowers making the air so fragrant. Jo had been walking without thinking, listening to music and enjoying wandering about.

She came across a fallen barb wire fence and thought it was just some old farming boarder. Then came more discarded fencing and overgrowth of nature. From behind tall bushes and trees, a building poked out.

Frowning, Jo came closer and slipped her headphones off. She looked up at the house and she remembered once living there with her other parents before the nice lady and grinning man had taken her away.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2020/06/03/crimsons-creative-challenge-82/ with thanks).

The Grey Causeway To Brierwell Manor (Part 4)

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We stood inside the entrance hall of Brierwell Manor, water dripping off us and pooling at our feet. We were both shivering with cold and shock.

It was hard to make much out in the gloom but the hall seemed vast. I could heard the wind driving the rain against the windows and plants moving wildly outside. In the close distance the sea was mounting an attack on the island. Large, powerful waves were hitting against the rocky sides and splashing up into the gardens.

I slide off King’s back and took him to the first open door along the right wall. He followed me slowly, perhaps limping a little. It was too dark for me to see if he was hurt or if he was just tried.

‘We need to get warm and dry,’ I said quietly but still my voice echoed in the abandoned manor, ‘let’s try in here and hope we can find some blankets. Or something…’

I went through the large door and King squeezed himself in behind me. I let go of the reins and felt across the walls either side of the door frame. I guess this was more of an automatic response on entering a dark room.

My fingers came across the switch and I flicked it up. Surprisingly, light flicked on above. It was a dim glow as if the bulb was going but at least we were no longer in darkness. The room was  large parlour, suitable for greeting a big family of guests. The windows were mucky glass and boarded from the outside so I couldn’t see through them. The walls were bare dirty plaster and there was a scattering of dust covered rugs on the floor.

A number of armchairs and tables were placed before a fireplace in the wall to my left opposite the windows. Rubbish was piled about; some of it from the builders, others from people who had been staying here. There were food and drink containers and other items that people had abandoned here.

Squatters were unlikely to have been camping here because it was too far out so it must have been local teenagers or adults. Maybe, they had become homeless or they had just used this place as a break from normal life?

‘We can make a fire,’ I pointed out to King.

I dropped his reins and hurried to the fireplace. Taking off the riding helmet and protective vest, I got busy stacking wood on top of the ash pile all ready there. The wood looked like it was broken from furniture and there was paper torn out of books to help start the flames.

‘We need matches or….’

An orange lighter was on the rug before me as if someone had tossed it to me from the shadowy corner. I scooped it up, pulled open the lid then flicked my thumb over the little metal wheels. Praying a spark and flame would appear, I kept at it.

‘No, it wouldn’t work,’ I cried and threw the lighter away.

I heard King stamp his foot and moved around the room as the sound of the lighter bouncing off the wall spooked him a little.

Scrambling around, I searched for anything else that would help me. There was a lot of rubbish, butts of cigarettes and half burnt things. I found another lighter but it was metal and mostly rusted.

My breath misted before me, I was shaking like crazy and I could feel the cold in my bones. I took off my wet clothes, stripping to just my vest and underwear. I hung my clothes, boots and socks across two armchairs, in the hopes they would dry out a bit. It would help I released on many levels not to having anything on.

I recalled my mobile phone out of the blue and swearing, scrambled for the inside pocket of my fleece. Pulling out the small phone, I saw it was off and and tried to turn it on.

‘I guess it got too wet. I need to dry it out,’ I uttered, trying to hold back tears.

Putting the phone of the seat of the chair with my clothes on, I stared at it as I tried to think what to do. Maybe, there’d be no signal here anyway? Perhaps, a rescue team was all ready on the way? My parents must have seen the time and the arriving storm. When they released I hadn’t come back they must have gone and do something to help me.

A blast of wind sent a chill through me and I needed to move again.

I went over to King and took his saddle off. The rug underneath was dripping wet and like me, I knew he’d be more comfortable not to have any of the tack on. I placed the saddle and rug on the back of another chair and then took his reins off. The leather was all wet and dark.

Once free, King seemed lighter. He stood for a few moments then moved around the room, brushing against everything as if he was looking for something.

‘We need some towels or blankets or curtains….anything dry we can cover up in.’

I didn’t want to tug my boot back on, so I went barefooted out of the room. The sense that it was dangerous to do so filled me. What if I stepped on something sharp or cut my foot open on broken glass?

With shuffling steps, I searched the entrance walls for a light switch and found a panel full. I flipped up all the switches and some of the lights came on. The space was has large as I had first thought with a grand staircase before me. It was all made of wood with tall pillars topped with pine cone statues or something very close to it.

I could see many doors leading away and as I moved over to them, I almost stumbled over a pair of worn and plaster covered workmen’s boots.

‘That’s lucky!’ I cried and easy put them on.

I was a size seven and these must have been tens or elevens. They were like clown shoes on my feet and I had to be careful not to trip but at least my feet were safe now.

I explored the rooms and found that like the parlour, some of them had been lived in. Others though were totally blank and waiting like an artist’s canvas to be decorated upon. It was hard to know what each room’s intention had been but I had little time to think about such things.

I found some sleeping bags and took the ones that looked clearer and less damp. I dumped them back in the parlour, unzipped two of them and used the first to dry down King.

He was too quiet for my liking but I could see no blood, cuts or bruises. It was properly cold and shock. I talked softly to him, words tripping out of my mouth till I didn’t know what I saying. King calmed under my hands and voice and the gentle padded sleeping bag towel. I made sure he was as dry as possible before putting the second sleeping bag on top of him as I would his own quilted horse coat.

Unzipping a third sleeping bag, I wrapped it around me and sat on the edge of an armchair until I felt warm again and no longer numb.

‘At lest we have shelter and are getting warmer,’ I said aloud, ‘I’m hungry though….’

I hugged my stomach and listened to it growling. I doubted there was anything edible here but I wanted to look anyway.

Keeping wrapped in the open sleeping bag, I searched the room. I cleared all the rubbish into a corner, giving King a safe place to be in. The last thing we need was him to step on anything sharp.

Next, I carried on explore the manor. In the kitchen which had been turned into something like a 1940’s farmhouse style set up, I found a wicker basket which would be good for carrying things in. There were some rust tins that I didn’t like the look of but maybe the food would still be okay? I put them, a bakelite tin opener and a metal fork and spoon into the basket.

I searched around the fireplace which had been used to burn what looked like a table. There was a box of matches with three left inside on the floor next to a poker. I picked both of this up and went back to the room I had claimed.

Striking one of the matches, I carefully held it against a crumbled book page and once it took, placed that against some smaller bits of wood. It took the longest few minutes ever but then a steady fire appeared. I warmed myself close to the flames, feeling the tingle of coldness leaving my fingers.

I added some more wood in the fireplace then calculated I’d need to find more. I went back to the kitchen took the remains of the table out of that fireplace and brought it to my one. Then taking the wicker basket once more, I searched for more wood and paper or anything else to burn.

I found some books but didn’t have the heart to burn them. Perhaps, they’d help to pass the time? I found a pan to either cook food in or collect water. As that thought came to me I realised how thirsty I was.

Turning on the kitchen tap I listened to the gargling and pumping of pipes. There was a splutter and brown water dropped out. I turned the tap fuller, hoping it would clear. The water came from a natural spring and hopefully it was still safe to drink.

Leaving the tap and trying not to think about how thirsty I now was, I searched the rest of the kitchen and found a few rusty knifes and a broken chair which I could add to my firewood pile. Then I turned back to the water and saw it was clear. Crying out in happiness, I rushed over and put my face under the small waterfall.

I scooped handfuls into my mouth and felt so much better. The ting of sea salt lingered against the insides of my cheeks and my throat. A small cut on my bottom lip stung. The cold, fresh water cleaned the salt and dryness way. I washed my face and hands then used the edge of the sleeping bag to dry off on.

In any large containers I could find, I collected water for King and myself then went back to the parlour.

  To Be Continued…

Slide #CCC

The abandoned theme park was where we hung out. I loved the creepy feeling of the dilapidated buildings. All my friends were daring each other to do stupid things and I got picked to slide down the helter-skelter.

I climbed the rusty steps and held on to the blue painted chipped handrail. I made it to the top and hurried into the dark mouth. I felt the helter skelter shaking as I shuffled downwards.

There was a snapping and groaning of plastic and metal. I tried to run but my head hit the tunnel top and stumbling down my belly I blacked out.

Screaming from the girls outside brought me back to then all sound faded as I shook the pain from my head.

I carried on sliding down, feeling all the bumps of the joints underneath me.

Finally, I reached the end and slide out into a dirty puddle topped with leaves. Breathing deeply, I waited for the cheers of my friends but none came. Instead, other voices crowded the air welcoming me to Fun Land.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2020/05/13/crimsons-creative-challenge-79/ with thanks).

Home #WWP

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I kept dreaming of a house I could never go back to. Each time, the house was the setting for a different story; a fire in which my friends died, a place of safety from a invisible monster or a brothel where I had to work to survive.

It was my great-grandfather’s home. The place I had lived in for ten years after my mother give me up. She was only fifteen, I forgive her. Nothing bad happened to me there so why was it in my dreams?

Perhaps, it was because the house had long been knocked down and was now haunting me? Can that happen? Can you have a ghost house?

 

(Inspired by; https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2020/05/09/weekend-writing-prompt-156-home/ with thanks).

 

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 Records Office (Part 1)

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Elisa unlocked the main hospital’s back door and stepped inside. Rain dripped off her umbrella and coat. Named storm Jorge was building up out there, the rain was heavy coming down on all ready flooded ground and the wind was blowing like a speeding car.

Turning on the lights, Elisa shook her umbrella out and caught her breath. She could hear the rain dripping inside somewhere close by and the wind working it’s way through the broken windows. Hoping it wasn’t too cold in her office today, Elisa walked down the quiet hospital corridors towards the basement.

She was dressed in her relaxed Friday office clothes; grey trousers, flat black shoes, lime green long sleeve blouse and a woollen black jumper. She carried her heavy backpack on one shoulder which held all she needed, plus more to get her through the working day.

Choosing the two flights of stairs inside of the elevator, Elisa watched her step and recalled how only five years, this back staircase would have been busy with office staff and hospital workers. Now, like the rest of the place, they were still. For the past year and a half, Elisa and three security guards were the only people left at the recently closed grounds.

Reaching the basement, Elisa walked to the fourth door which was labelled as The Patients’ Records Office. The other rooms down here were a mixture of supply, storage, other paperwork, a large staff break room and other offices. Sometimes, Elisa would have to go in these other rooms to find things but mostly, she stuck to her desk.

Unlocking the door with one with the keys from a massive bunch of them, Elisa went in and put her umbrella into the stand. Wiggling out of her coat, she hung that up on a peg then put her rucksack at the leg of her desk.

The office was too quiet, she could feel the pressure on her ears. Elisa turned the small TV on which was on the far wall above the handful of abandoned desks and cabinets. The news came on, the sound breaking the quietness and making her feel like she was no longer alone.

Her desk was in the middle of the room, facing the door but she had turned the angle of it so she could see the TV as well. Eliza put her rucksack down, turned on her computer and both screens. Next, she put the heaters on and the kettle too. She made a coffee and sat down on her old chair.

Of all the staff to stay employed to complete the final tasks of the hospital, she was now the last one. Perhaps, she had been chosen because she had been here for over twenty years and had been the manager of the patients’ records for six of those? Maybe, it was because she had been close to retirement and her boss had felt sorry for her?

‘I don’t mind,’ Elisa had said at the deciding meeting, ‘I can’t imagine retiring and having nothing to do. I’ve been applying for jobs and got some interviews.’

‘The board would like you to stay awhile and finish up things,’ her boss had spoken, ‘would that be okay? Your pay and hours won’t change but you may find yourself working alone for a bit. I’m not sure who else will be staying on.’

Without thinking, Elisa had replied, ‘that’s fine. I don’t mind.’

Her job was simple enough; putting paper records onto the computer system. Checking things had been filed correctly, searching for information when contacted by medical staff or the public and disposing of documents as needed.

It was eerie being here alone but Elisa had grown use to it and didn’t mind as much now. She found she could watch whatever TV or listen to whichever radio station she wanted. There was no waiting around in the break room, no one distracting her and she didn’t mind being a bit lonely.

Sometimes, the phone would ring and it would be security checking  up on her or was medical person from another hospital wanting information. Elisa’s boss would call make sure anything was okay and maybe asking her to do something. Once or twice, a person had phoned who was tracing their family history and Elisa had been happy to help see if there was any records of that surname. 

Occasionally, the back door bell would ring and Elisa would answer the phone to find her boss was outside having come on a visit or it would be a PA from someone from the board wanting to pick something up or a security guard come for a chat.

More often then not, the working day would pass without Elisa having contact from anyone. It didn’t worry her though because she knew there wasn’t much of a need for a closed down hospital’s paperwork.

Recently, Elisa had stated hearing and noticing odd things. She didn’t believe in ghosts, she was a religious Roman Catholic and trusted that everyone went to Heaven or Hell. However, things that didn’t have an explanation happened were happening.

The sounds of doors opening and closing, though there was no wind that day. Voices whispering when Elisa knew she was alone. The phone ringing and no one being there or another phone ringing somewhere else which shouldn’t happen because all other phones were disconnected. Equipment being moved or knocked over, footstep above her or outside the records office door and two or three times, the feeling she was being watched.

Elisa had rung the security team and the police a few times and told them, ‘I think someone is in the building, can you check?’ or ‘I’m just seeing if a security guard is close by as there was a big banging sound and a door slamming.’

It was better to be save then sorry and Elisa was just sure it was animals or the natural movement of things. She got on with her work, filling her mind with her tasks and home plans. Perhaps, soon her employment would come to the end and she would get a new job where she had to work surrounded by people again.

I think I’d like that, to have colleagues again, Elisa thought, to chat with someone and get help with tasks. To make new friends and share cooking tips.

Elisa smiled and carried on typing up records whilst above the hospital buildings lay in silence. That didn’t last long because somewhere a door creaked open and a voice called out.

Pausing, Elisa looked up and listened. Blaming the wind, she turned off the TV and put the radio on instead. A pop song filled the room. Frowning, Elisa moved the dial back to the classical station she preferred and went back to work once more.

Lunchtime arrived. Stretching, Eliza got up and went into the break room. Her back and limbs felt stiff but some light exercises whilst she waited for her ready-meal to heat up would help.

‘It’s hotpot today,’ she said to herself, putting it in the microwave.

She filled the kettle and made another coffee.

Heavy footsteps sounded in the hall and approached the door.

Thinking it was one of the security guards, Elisa called out, ‘hi, come and have some lunch with me. I could do with the company today. Fridays drag so much don’t they?’

She turned, expecting to see someone but there was no one in the room. Puzzled, Elisa stepped out into the corridor and saw she was quite alone.

 

To Be Continued…

 

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).

Bootlegged

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The alley was getting darker as the sunset. I lent against the wall and watched the streetlamps flickering on. The rain had stopped a few minutes ago, water dripped off the broken guttering and the overfilling bins. I had no idea how long or how much longer I’d have to wait but it was going to be worth it.

I tried to look casual, perhaps acted like I was looking for a lost kitten or something but it was hard to be so normal in a place like this. I hadn’t seen any police or soldiers or anyone else who looked suspicious. The only other sounds were from the cramped houses either side of me; babies crying, children talking, adults shouting and a lone dog barking.

A rattling of the broken wire fence at the back of the alley and the shuffling of feet drew my attention. It could be him or it could be someone else… I cast about and made clicking noises as if I was looking for a lost pet.

A hacking coughing stopped me and I looked up at the small man standing in the shadows. He was wearing a massive coat that covered him from head to floor, a floppy hat that covered the top of his head and give his face more cover. He might also have been wearing a woollen mask but it was hard to tell.

I walked over to him nervously but trying not to show any fear. There was enough light from the streetlamp to aid us and I tried not to stand in front of it. We both looked and listened, giving enough time for anybody watching us to jump out. Everything seemed normal.

Slowly, the small man opened his coat and there was a soft rustling sound. Light flashed across something shinny. He held his arms wide and coat high to reveal the many pockets sew inside which were stuffed full of bootlegged products.

I licked my lips and stepped even closer. Forgetting for a moment that we had to be careful. Someone could still be watching us, waiting for either the handover or the completion.

‘What you got?’ I whispered.

‘Whatever you want,’ the man hushed back, flashing a smile that showed off his golden teeth.

‘Nonpareils?’

‘Left side, down.’

I looked then pulled out a small grey packet. I felt the weight in my hand and decided that was fine. I put it in the secret pocket in my jeans.

‘Belgian Sea?’

‘Right, top.’

I pulled out a small box and looked quickly inside. I nodded and slipped the box into a pocket inside of my coat.

‘Cow Solid?’

‘Right middle. I got dark, white or milk.’

I selected a small paper wrapped bar of milk and eased it down the side of my left boot.

‘How much?’ I uttered.

He named his price and I handed over a few packets of cigarettes, painkillers and ketchup.

Satisfied we both walked away as it started raining again.

 

(This story was inspired by my fiance wondering what it would be like if chocolate was banned. This scene came into my head and I had to write a short story about it!)