What happened to this book?
It’s just vanished, like it was never there to begin with.
But I know it was there before, once long ago.
What happened to this book?
It’s just vanished, like it was never there to begin with.
But I know it was there before, once long ago.
Werifesteria; to wander longingly through the forest in search of mystery
Walking through the trees in the dimming daylight I was careful to stay as quiet as possible. There was a beast hiding in this forest and I was determined to gather enough evidence to prove it’s existence. My heart knew it was here and my head went along with it because of all the reported sightings throughout the years.
Having done my research, I’d found the records went back to 1809. The first report had been by a miller owner. He’d been passing through the forest in the early afternoon on a autumn day to delivery flour to the next village.
He was attacked by a beast which he described later as having long brown fur, kind of like a bear but not. It was standing on two feet and had long claws and sharp teeth, both stained with blood. The beast had thrown his cart over then killed his horse and carried it off into the trees.
Of course, the surrounding village men had all searched the forest but nothing had been found. Perhaps the miller was mistake? Or lying?
I had double checked him, like I had done with all those who’d claimed attacks. He’d been a very religious man with a wife and two children, they’d been more but they had died, he earned a good enough income and had respect from many. There was no reason for his account to be wrong.
I stopped by the river and took a long drink. I also filled up both canteens that I was carrying. Looking at the sky, I knew I’d have to set up camp soon. I’d been out here for almost a week now. I hadn’t found much; a few broken trees, a large footprint that I’d dismissed as an actual bear’s and an abandoned rusting car which had been so far gone it was hard to make out what make it had once been.
I knew I was getting closer though. It had been hard to map the points of the beast’s attacks. They were scattered across the whole of the forest and of course over the years the forest had grown, shrink and moved place. The river though which was a constant feature on all maps helped.
Pulling out my map of the forest which I had written across and made dots were the attacks had happen in a colour key, I worked out where I was.
A few miles ahead was one of the areas were most of the attacks had happened. If I could make it before the light faded I could camp there and perhaps I’d see the beast! Rushing off, I crossed the river on some slippy stones and carried on walking forward.
The trees were dense and the blocked the weak light from the setting sun. I stumbled over roots and clumps of bushes. The calls of animals began to fade and the wind dropped.
Twice I checked the map and saw I was still on the right route. Night came on too fast though and I didn’t make it to the centre of the attacks, instead I had to stop on the edge. Disappointed, I set up my tent and built a small fire to warm up some soup. Then siting in the tent doorway with my lantern, I read through photocopies of the most recent beast reports.
The latest one had been only a week ago; Miss Ivy Jameson, twenty-four, had been coming home from a friend’s house and had cut through the forest to enter her back door which faced the edge of the treeline. She had heard growling but thought it only a dog.
Then something had knocked her off her feet and as she rolled, she describe a creature with long shaggy brown fur, standing on two legs with large claws. It seemed to be like a human dressed in an ape costume. Only, it wasn’t.
Ivy had survived only because she had thrown a rock at the beast eyes and dashed off towards her house. There her family and the police had searched, however nothing had been found.
I suspected the chief police officer had covered it up though. I’d heard within hours on the radio of the attack and I came straight out to it.
I found broken tree branches which made a trail away from Ivy’s house. The ground had been really disturbed, almost as if someone had tried to remove something and there were jeep tracks too.
Going further into the forest, I found that police had given up a few miles in. There were the reminds of their tape clinging to a tree trunk and fluttering in the breezy. I had walked on and found undisturbed evidence; more broken tree limbs and trodden dirt. Following that on had led me to the path I was now walking. Luckily, I had been prepared for this hunt.
I settled down for the night and as normal it took my ages to sleep. I didn’t want to waste any power though, so I lay in the dark and just listened. I like the sound of the owls and other birds, the howling and yowling of other animals and the scampering of the small rodents. I had never heard the beast nor any strange sound that could be it.
How many more days could I last? I began tallying things and came to about three days. Maybe five at a push but then I’d have to return home after. That was a disheartening thought! To be so close and to have to give up….I couldn’t do that. Suddenly feeling well awake. I got up and went outside the tent.
It was cold and damp outside now, it was drizzling and also pitch black. Not great hunting weather. Looking around, I couldn’t see anything. Ignoring the urges to grab some light, I just stood there and listened.
‘Where are you beast?’ I whispered.
The cold and rain woke me up further. I felt I was so close to seeing the beast that I almost walked off into the trees. Standing my ground, I let the minutes tick by. Then I was too wet and cold, so I went back in the tent and changed my clothes.
Getting into my sleeping bag, I lay there once again again and listened to the night. Slowly, I fall asleep, hoping that tomorrow I’d see the beast.
Somnambulist; a person who sleepwalks.
As soon as they were done eating, Chase tidied up and Faith dug a paperback romance novel out and began reading it. The camping lanterns glowed softly, casting just enough light to see by. The night was growing cold though and Chase wished they had matches.
‘I’m going to check again,’ he announced as he left things to dry.
Faith looked up at him, slight confusion on her face.
‘For the matches,’ Chase explained, ‘maybe I just missed them?’
‘Okay. I’m going into my sleeping bag. To get warm,’ Faith spoke.
Chase nodded and went over to the tent. He unzipped it and began looking through the bags again. Faith brushed past him, wiggling out of her boots as she did so. Chase heard her moving things around and the air bed squeaking.
‘I know I packed them,’ he muttered.
Faith sighed and said, ‘forget it. Come to bed. We’ll keep each other warm.’
‘It’s still early,’ Chase pointed out.
‘You got any better ideas?’ she snapped.
Biting his tongue to keep silent, Chase grabbed the other lantern and arranged it next to the one Faith had brought inside, so that they had a large pool of light. He zipped up the tent and took his trainers off.
Not being a reader, he hadn’t brought anything to do and he felt too awake to sleep. He changed clothes, noticing that Faith hadn’t bothered to get out of her jeans and hoodie. Chase put on some PJs pants and an old Star Wars t-shirt then got into his sleeping bag.
‘I guess we are going home tomorrow, then?’ he asked slowly.
Faith glared at him over the top of her book, ‘Looks that way,’ she answered.
‘I’m sorry, okay? I wanted to have a break from things and money is so tight right now, I thought this would be a good idea. If I’d remembered the matches it would be fine. What else can I do?’ Chase demand.
Faith was silent for a few moments. She turned a page then put down her book to look at him, ‘I don’t know what you can do, Chase. I knew this was a bad idea from the start. What’s wrong with another weekend in anyway? I’m too tried to fight about this now. I’m going to sleep.’
‘Well, I can’t!’
‘Here then, read this,’ Faith stated and handed him her book.
She turned off the lantern next to her and rolled over.
Chase took the hint and began flicking through the book. It was a simple romance story of a lonely girl meeting a heart throb man and the two of them slowly falling in love. Chase turned back to the began and read the first few pages.
‘This is boring. How can you read this?’ Chase muttered.
Faith hushed him and snuggled more down in the sleeping bag.
‘Guess I got nothing better to do.’
Chase turned another page and read a good few chapters. The story still not grabbing him, but at least it had made him tried enough to try and sleep. Putting the book down close to Faith, he turned out the lantern and drew her into a hug.
Faith, who had been dozing on and off, shuffled about so they could be comfy together. She sighed into his arm and fell asleep soon after. It took longer for Chase, but being warm and comfy helped and he dozed off.
Chase came slowly too, fighting to stay asleep, but he didn’t make it. Opening his eyes, he looked into pitch blackness. He wondered what had awoken him then realised he had to go. Growling, he fumbled in the dark for his trainers, put them on and felt for the tent zip.
Letting himself out of the tent, Chase grabbed a lantern and went out into the woods. He turned the light on and found the nearest tree. A cold wind blew around him, stealing away the warmth from the tent. Setting the lantern down, so the light pooled around the tree roots, he relieved himself.
Collecting the lantern, he headed back into the tent. Pulling his trainers off, he turned the light off and snuggled back down with Faith. His hands sank through her empty sleeping bag.
Puzzled, he felt further to the side, but he found nothing. Chase grabbed and turned on the lantern again. Light shone down, showing him that Faith wasn’t inside the tent.
Maybe, she went out too? he thought.
Looking around, he spotted the other lantern and her boots which she clearly hadn’t taken. Chase unzipped the tent and standing on the edge, shone the lantern around. Faith wouldn’t have gone far. She clearly, trusted herself to find the way back more then he had.
She disturbed me going out, Chase thought, maybe she was so desperate she didn’t have time to grab her things? She’ll be back any moment now.
Watching out for her, Chase studied the shadows that the light was casting over the grass and trees. Trying not to think what was further out there in the darkness, he debated what to do.
Shrugging, he placed the lantern down outside of the tent, left the half unzipped and climbed back into bed. At least, Faith would be able to see the light now. Settling down, Chase fell into fitful dozing. An hour or so later, he awoke and saw Faith’s sleeping bag was still empty.
Panic floored him.
‘Faith?’ he cried out.
Scrambling, Chase put on his trainers and grabbed the other lantern. He unzipped the tent and got out. Leaving the first light as a beacon, he scouted the edge of the clearing calling his girlfriend’s name.
He heard and saw nothing.
Ploughing further into the woods, he roamed a large area. Low branches scrapped his face and arms, he stumbled over half hidden tree roots and startled small animals. He switched from shouting her name to screaming it. He tripped through a patch of brambles, feeling thorns snag on his pants. He tugged himself loose and hurried down to the river.
In the lantern light, he could see the shallow water slowly moving over large rocks. He walked downwards for a few minutes then turned and walked back up. He looked as far as he could and checked the other side of the river too. There was no sign of her or anything else that indicted she had been here.
‘Faith,’ he yelled, his voice growing horse, ‘where are you?’
Pausing, he caught his breath and tried to calm himself. Ideas about what had happened raced through his mind. Had she fallen and gotten hurt? Had someone kidnapped her? Had she really got lost in the woods?
Chase wiped his face, feeling his cheek wet with tears. He calmed himself and decided to check back at the tent. If Faith wasn’t there, he could take the car until he got signal on his phone then he could call the police. Heading back, he kept a look out, but tiredness had hit him.
Half way back to the tent, he heard the sound of voices and laughter. He stopped and listened hard. Turning to his right, he walked slowly over. The voices grew then as he got closer they fell silent. He paused then heard Faith’s voice saying something.
Crying out her name, he pushed through the undergrowth and saw Faith sit on the floor, with her back to a tree.
‘Faith? What happened? Are you okay? I’ve been looking everywhere for you!’ Chase gushed.
He knelt down before her and began checking her out. She seemed unhurt. There was a dreamily look on her face and her eyes were shut.
Chase shook her, but she didn’t respond.
‘Faith?’ he called.
He pulled her into a hard hug, feeling at a total loss. Barely holding back tears, he tried to figure things out, but he couldn’t.
‘Chase?’ a breathy voice whispered in his ear.
‘Yes?’ he said, pulling back from Faith.
‘Where are we?’
Chase looked at her. Faith’s eyes were half opening and she was struggling to stay awake and move.
‘In the woods. You left the tent and I’ve been looking for you,’ he explained.
‘I don’t remember….I was having this strange dream about fairies…’ Faith uttered.
She shut her eyes and lent against him, exhausted.
‘It’s okay. I got you now. Do you think you can get up?’
Faith mumbled something and Chase pulled her up.
‘Let’s go back to the tent. You’ll feel better soon,’ he added.
Grabbing the lantern, they slowly made their way back and once there, Chase put Faith to bed and spent the rest of the night watching over her.
He loved words. They were his passion, life, work and ultimately his untimely death.
Eldritch; Eerie, weird, spooky.
As night came to settle in the woods, the trees fell dark and the shadows vanished. The half moon and stars above were the only light for miles. The nocturnal animals came out to hunt, their voices more eerier then their daytime opposites.
From somewhere rose a crying. At first it was hard to tell what could be making it. The more the sound grew and ears listened, the crying became that of a human child.
A lost child, wondering around the nighttime woods, all alone.
The crying was enough to make the people in the nearest villages at the edges of the woods pay attention. However, they knew better and it wasn’t a real child that was out there. It was a demon.
The stories were different and wide spread, but it was claimed the demon acted like a lost child to led people away and eat them. A few villagers claimed to have seen him, but the descriptions were so wildly different, it was hard to pin down.
They said he was blood red skinned or bright blue or else he was deep black. He had large horns, small horns or none at all. He had a massive tail or a short stubby one. He spoke in a deep gravel voice or else he didn’t say anything at all. He had sharp red teeth and a mouth that was massive which swallowed a person whole.
Whatever the demon looked though, the villagers were sure to stay away from the spooky woods at night.
It had been raining forever. At least it felt that way. I liked the rain, but I wanted to feel the sun on my face as I had done as a child. I remembered the yellow warmth, just about. The rain was always cold and wet, sometimes it would be a different colour too. When that happened people stayed inside for fear they might become contaminated. Though really, all water was toxic.
They claimed there was nothing they could do about it. It was a world wide disaster and the predicated death levels were higher then the War. That was the price we were paying for chemical warfare, the government said. Still, scientists and others were working around the clock for solutions whilst there was hope left. Everywhere warning signs stated not to drink unfiltered water, to stay inside as much as possible and report all health problems to a doctor.
Today, the rain was a lime green colour which was why I wasn’t allowed outside. Sitting in the window seat of the second floor landing, I watched a few brave people walking the street below me. They held their umbrellas up high and huddled in thick coats, as if that would protect them.
The book I had picked from our small library lay opened but unread in my lap. Since there was no going to school today, father had insisted we self-educate. My two brothers had taken over the library with their historical debates. Father was in the study and Mother had gone to lay down as as the lime rain had given her a headache, or so she had claimed. I could have gone to my day room, the family lounge or the parlour, instead I went to the best spot in the house to see the outside world.
I pressed the side of my head to the wet glass, knowing I’d be told off for getting my curled blonde hair damp. I didn’t care. I watched guards in red uniforms appear and began clearing people from the street. They must have been told that the toxic level had reached a high. A siren began to wail, confirming that. The street quickly cleared and just in time too as the lime rain picked up and started to change colour.
Black rain began falling and in the distance came a rumble of thunder. I tightened my grip on the book. The page corners curling under my fingers. I had always feared storms, but they were worse now. They said sometime toxic rain conducted lightening and exploded. Fires were common during storms and deaths.
I tried to relax my hands, the hard corners of the cover were digging into me. The thunder growled louder, sounding so close. The street before me went dark with only a few dots of light peering out. The lightening flashed, yellow red, capturing the street in that moment. I heard a popping sound and the lights around me all started to flicker.
The smell of gas and burning electricity filled the air. An emergency bell rang though the house, backed by the siren’s call. There was a rush of footsteps and voices. The clatter of things being dropped and doors moving echoed throughout the house.
‘To the shelter, quickly!’ my father bellowed.
‘I’ll get Madam,’ a maid spoke.
‘Where is Miss Victoria?’ another voice asked.
A flash of lighting hit the sky making me jump as it crackled away. I stood up, clutching my book and hurried two flights of downstairs. In the grand hallway, everyone was rushing into the kitchen, shouting at each other. I joined them hurrying into the cellars. My shoulders and skirts brushing maids and kitchen staff.
I tripped down the stone steps, losing a shoe, and my one of my brothers caught me at the bottom. He had to move me out of the way as the last people flew down and the metal door slammed shut. My brother rushed me down the corridors, through the wine and food cellars. My legs and feet hurt as we went further down. Finally, we arrived with everyone else in the last and deepest cellar. My brother hushed me into a corner and left me breathing in the damp air.
Huddling in the dim light with my family and servants, I caught my breath. My mother looking dazed was sitting on a small bed, half hidden by a curtain. My father was sat comforting her and my brothers were giving orders to some of the servants. I tucked myself into a alcove, hugging my book and praying we would survived.
I looked up and there she was staring down at me again. My breath caught and I chocked on a bit of water I hadn’t swallowed. A coughing fit hit my chest and I had to turn away whilst it felt like I was coughing up a lung. I couldn’t breath and panic shot through me.
I sat down, luckily landing on Harriet’s bean bag or else I would have been on the floor. I rubbed my chest and calmed myself. Most of the coughing subsided and I was able to think again. I took a few depth breaths and tried not to think about anything other then my breathing.
Reaching up to the small desk, I took down the bottle of water I’d brought upstairs with me. Unscrewing the cap, I took a sip, testing my throat. It seemed okay. I took a few more and shut my eyes. Music was still rocking through my headphones. I slipped them off, wanting a few moments without Meat Loaf singing his love to me.
The coughing stopped and I took a mouthful of water. Feeling better, I put the cap back on and tried not to look up again. I scanned my ten year old daughter’s bedroom. Taking in the bright pink princess wallpaper, Harriet’s collection of unicorn teddies, all her books, the doll’s house and all her fake looking dollies.
The vacuum and cleaning bucket stood in the middle of the room like intruders. I should get back to cleaning. Harriet hated anyone cleaning her room, luckily she was a very organised and her bedroom was always tidy. Still though, there were things a child couldn’t clean.
I went to stand up and my eyes began drifting up to the top shelf again. I stopped myself, not wanting to look at her again. Those piecing blue-grey eyes were a death trap and all that blonde curly hair wasn’t as innocent as it looked. I focused on the floor and the vacuum, planning what I was going to do next.
I couldn’t escape her though and I lifted my eyes upwards. She was sat on the corner of the highest shelf above Harriet’s bed, where all the precious things Harriet was too young yet to play with sat. There were things like pot ponies, glass teddy bears, a paper weight with a real flower inside and the doll.
My breath caught again and I was taken in by her as if she held power over me. Her china face was snow white and perfectly heart shaped. Her red painted lips were a tight bow as she faked a smile. Her glass eyes had little black eyelashes brushed on which give a frame to her glaring gaze. Her face was framed by all that blonde hair which there appeared to be far too much of. She was wearing a pale blue dress, trimmed with white lace at all the edges. Her limbs had been arranged so that her arms and hands rested on the shelf and her feet hung down. She had on tiny white lacy socks and blue leather shoes.
‘It’s just a doll,’ I said aloud, breaking the spell.
I took a deep breath and looked away. I got up and went over to the vacuum. I plugged it in and turned it on. I cleaned the carpet and I tried to let the noise of the vacuum drown out my thoughts, but it didn’t work.
The doll had only been here two weeks. A late birthday present from Harriet’s grandmother. The woman was almost a hundred and in a care home down south, near the coast. The doll was probably around the same age as her. Harriet had only meet her twice, as a baby, so Harriet wouldn’t remember. Mrs. Perkins did though! And every birthday and Christmas Harriet would get something in the post from her. Normally, they were suitable gifts, but that china doll totally wasn’t.
Even though, Harriet had cried and moaned, I had put the doll on the shelf and told her could have it when she was older. It hadn’t worked though. I had been hearing Harriet talking to the doll as if it was her best friend. Also, I kept finding the doll about the place. Yesterday, it had been in the bathroom, on Saturday it had been on the sofa and this morning, I swear the doll was in the kitchen, but then I hadn’t been able to find it.
Now, the doll was staring me down.
Ignoring it, I finished my cleaning. Then as I was leaving the room, I reached up and pulled the doll off the shelf. She slide easily enough down. Stuffing her in my cleaning bucket, I took that and the vacuum downstairs again. I put anything away then debated what to do with the doll.
Finally, I got a plastic bag from the cupboard and wrapped her in that. Her creepy face didn’t seem to happy about that. I didn’t care! Then I went up into the attic and left the doll on an old wooden chair that had belong to my great-granddad.
The rest of the day was normal and I had this strange peace of mind. However, when Harriet came home the world collapsed.
‘Where is she? Where is Esme?’ Harriet wailed.
‘Who?’ I asked.
I was in the kitchen, sorting out dinner and my husband was in the living room. I’d picked Harriet up from school two hours or so ago and she’d only now just noticed her doll was missing.
‘Grandma’s doll,’ Harriet clarified.
‘I’ve not seen her. Did you leave her laying around some place again? I’ve told you not to play with her, remember? She’s a special doll,’ I replied.
Harriet puffed out her cheeks, trying to hold back tears as she thought.
‘Why don’t you ask you dad to help you look?’ I suggested.
With a huff, Harriet stormed off.
For the next few minutes, I heard my husband and daughter searching the whole house. I busied myself with making the meal. When I called them both to eat, Harriet declared the doll was still missing.
‘I’m sure she’ll turn up,’ I said.
I woke up suddenly from a collection of bad thoughts that had leaked into my mind. The pale peach ceiling which I had always hated, met my eyes and my nose was so close to it. Realising this, I had drifted upwards again, I rolled over and floated back down.
Hovering above the bed, I tried to make my floating form conform to the curled up position I had always liked to be in. I couldn’t feel the blankets or pillows under me, yet with a lot of contraction, I could move them around with my energy.
Settling as best I could, I looked across at my husband, he was resting soundlessly. I wondered what he was thinking about. Listening, I couldn’t hear the children, so I guess they were resting too. The blinds were down on the windows so I couldn’t see what it was like outside. There was a clock on the bedside table, but I disliked looking at it. Time was meaningless.
However, we couldn’t do much in the daytime. An energy reversal seemed to have happened. Once we had gotten energy from sleep, food and the sun, now we could only get energy from darkness and live animals. Though there wasn’t a lot we could do with the energy. Yes, we could move things and make noises, but I couldn’t clean or leave the house!
I don’t know how we’d all ended up like this to be honest. Maybe, it was a curse or punishment? I didn’t like to spend a lot of time thinking about it. Instead, I tried to carry on as normal, even though that was impossible, but still we had to keep going somehow.
My husband stirred then sat up. He drifted to the bathroom and I listened to him swearing as he remembered he couldn’t do anything.
I got up and tried to straighten the bed though it was in vain. In the background, the children’s voices could be heard and the sound of the clockwork lullaby played. The floor creaked with their footsteps and laughter drifted down the hall. They went downstairs and tested their energy on whatever they could.
Some nights we were stronger and other nights we were weaker. The oldest child had been keeping a record of this, but it she’d long forgotten it now. I heard them turning on and off the TV and radio. There was also the flicking of the hallway light switch and the ping of the microwave. All sounds that had once filled our house and been so normal to us all.
My husband came back in and defeated, lay on the bed again.
‘What will happen when a new family move in?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know,’ he sighed, ‘maybe they won’t.’
‘Someone’s bound to!’ I cried.
He mumbled something and curled up tighter into a ball.
Grumpily, I left him to it and want down to join the children. They were in the living room, messing with the TV. I drifted on to the sofa and watched then turning the channels. They were exhausted soon enough and settled around me to watch cartoons.
I couldn’t stop thinking about what would happen when someone brought the house. Surely someone knew what had happened to us. What if they didn’t though? I tried not to think about that. It didn’t make sense, someone – a family member, friend or neighbour had sorted things out now. Too much time had passed for it not too.
The children went outside to play. Though it was very little play, just the moving of a ball back and forth and the rocking of the swing set. I watched them from the kitchen window, just like I use to. Then I went up to see my husband. He was still as I had left him.
‘Why don’t you go outside and play with the kids?’ I suggested.
He uttered something, then got up and drifted through the floor as if it wasn’t there.
I potted around the bedroom, touching things I had once loved; jewellery, books, dresses, DVDs. Things I missed so much and never really taken for granted. I sighed and looked out of the window. I couldn’t see anything. Just the blackness that seemed to have engulfed us.
I knew it was going to happen one day. It happens to us all, I just didn’t expect it to be like this.
There was one swing in the playground that no one ever sat on. Sometimes flowers, teddy bears and cards decorated the swing then were gone. Despite all the stories, one stood out the most; a little girl fell off the swing to her death. But no one knew the truth for sure.
The wooden back of a huge pocket watch had stood in the corner of the town’s park for hundreds of years. The origins of it had long been lost, but the myth was that the pocket watch had once belonged to a giant.
The giant Haldor was running late for the yearly Giants Together meeting. As he trod over a village, ignoring the fleeing of little people far below him, he drew out his pocket watch and checked the time. Seeing, he was going to be very late indeed, he hurriedly put the watch back into his pocket.
However, he missed and the watch hit the floor. Angrily, he bent to pick it up and swiped down two cottages as he did so. Hurrying on, he didn’t notice that his pocket watch had broken in the fall.
Years later, a shepherd lad was searching for a lost lamb when he came across the back of the pocket watch. He stared up in awe at the huge wooden circle then spotting his lamb nearby, he hurried to collect her. When he returned home, he told his father about what he had seen, for the lad was too young to remember the giant Haldor. His father clearly recalled the day though.
And that was how the myth of the giant’s pocket watch began.
(Inspired from a prompt from; https://rochellewisoff.com/2017/03/15/17-march-2017/ with thanks. PHOTO PROMPT © Jennifer Pendergast)
A dose of fetish. Good friends. An incomparable muse.
The Author Blog of Jason H. Abbott
Welcome to my Blog of short and long stories.
Learning and teaching the art of composition.