Petrichor #atozchallenge

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Petrichor; the pleasant smell of the earth after rain. 

Everything smells better after it’s rained. There’s a cleanness in air which my ma said was God washing and cleansing everyone. I use to believe that without a doubt. Now though, I’m not sure. There’s so much I believed in as a child which has faded now I’m adult.

It’s strange how different things are after the rain. You notice the pools and reflections of things more. The sounds of splashing wheels and feet. The dripping of drops off things. I randomly remember a boy once telling me that the rain was actually a leak from Heaven’s showers.

I wondered for ages how that was possible and pictured angels having showers all together. Or God having a bath and all the water overflowing. Maybe that was the real reason behind a flood?

When you’re a child it’s easier to believe in these things. As an adult you are more logic and less imaginative. You know how rain is made and why it falls. The novelty of it has worn off too, like snow. I use to love snow! Now, it’s just a pain.

Even though, I know the truth behind things now, it doesn’t take the pleasure away from them. During the rainfall and afterwards, I open my window to let all the smells and sounds in. I sit on the ledge and take deep breaths till I feel calmer. I try to think of nothing at all, but sometimes like today, my mind wonders.

I look up at the sky, where the dark clouds roam and a few rain drops still linger. Are God and the angels up there right now having a bath and cleansing the poor below?

Mellifluous (Part 2) #atozchallenge

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Mellifluous; sweet and smoothly flowing sound.

I nudged the white headphones with the tip of my walking boot and tried to figure out why someone might have left them on the footpath. They looked new, but perhaps they were broken. Not wanting to crush them, I picked them up and inspected them.

My dogs were off playing somewhere and I could hear distant voices. The canal pathway was empty though. The sounds of the water lapping against moored boats and the birds singing made for a pleasant background sound track.

I half wondered if that was why someone had abandoned their headphones. Had they suddenly decided that the song of nature was much more interesting then whatever they had been listening too?

That was a fleeting thought though. Why would anyone do that? Maybe the headphones had been stolen or just dropped?

I looked around, searching the rough ground that edged the canal path and the line of short trees that led off into the woods. There seemed to be nothing more.

I placed the headphones back down. Leaving them for someone else to find. My thoughts lingered though and I couldn’t help but think of someone taking the headphones off, dropping them and embracing the sweet sounds of nature.

Kenopsia #atozchallenge

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Kenopsia; the eerie, forlorn atmosphere of a place that’s usually bustling with people but is now abandoned and quiet. 

 It was a strange apocalyptic feeling that crept slowly over Georgina as they walked through the abandoned prison.

‘We shouldn’t be here,’ she whispered.

Bayo shot her a look over his shoulder then paused as her saw the cringing expression crossing over Georgina’s face.

Her voice had sounded louder and had echoed more then she had meant it too. Georgina felt like she had broken the second spell that hung over the building by being the first to speak. The first spell had been when they had entered the grounds, ignoring all the warning signs and sneaking under the two wired fences.

 ‘What is it?’ Bayo hissed.

‘This place is gross,’ Georgina said back.

Bayo give a small shrug of his broad shoulders and carried on walking. He was dressed far better for this place then Georgina was. He was wearing high work boots with his jeans tucked into them, a tight t-shirt and a padded coat. His skin was as dark as the shadows around them and his short black hair was a mass of small weaves.

Georgina watched him duck through a rusted twisted metal door then followed him, careful not to snag her blue designer coat, teal coloured mini skirt and matching tights on the sticking out wires. Her low pumps were covered by so much mud and dirt, it was hard to know what colour they were.

Judging from what was now around them, they had entered the first male block of the prison. The other three teenagers had come to stop in the main space and were shining their torches about. Bayo and Georgina joined them and began looking around too. On this floor, tables and chairs had been dotted round. There had been a TV, a snooker table and a table tennis table, giving the inmates downtime. Above rose four floors of cells, many of which had their doors wide open.

Nature had long taken over what had once been a loud and bustling scene. Patches of green and yellow moss covered the floor. Weeds grew in clumps through cracks and black mould coated the ceiling. Water was dripping heavily from somewhere close by. Rust covered everything metal and the paint was peeled.

Georgina shivered and felt like she was being watched. She touched her loose golden blonde hair nervously and making sure it was tucked safely into the hood of her coat. She double checked the coat was zipped up before putting her hands in the warm pockets. Then she turned away and took in her friends. They all looked deeply fascinated.

The only other girl in the group, Phoebe, had her head thrown back and was looking up at the ceiling as if it was covered in precious  gem stones. She didn’t seem at all concerned about what was around them. Her dark brown hair was plaited back and she was wearing hiking boots, old jeans and a thick grey jacket. Her torch light reflected off the grimy walls.

The three boys, including Bayo, seemed interested in exploring the cells. There were a few on this floor, but it was a certain one that they were eager to find. They shone their torches around, trying to figure out the numbers on the doors so they could plan their route.

Georgina moved closer to her boyfriend, Alex. He was the tallest of the boys and had dark spiky hair. His face was rounded and baby like but had a handsomeness to it that Georgina enjoyed staring at. He was wearing black trainers, ripped up dark jeans, a loose t-shirt and a leather jacket. She slipped her hand against his and wormed her fingers in between his so that they were holding hands.

‘I don’t like it,’ she muttered like a tried child being forced into bed.

‘It’s cool,’ Alex answered back.

‘It’s not. It’s creepy and unhygienic. I want to leave!’ Georgina snapped.

‘Go ahead then,’  Tiger sneered.

Georgina looked at him and pulled a face. It was Tiger’s fault they were here in the first place. He was the oldest of the group and Phoebe’s boyfriend. He had short brown hair, sharp eyes and model’s face. He was old boots, tight jeans and a long sleeved top.

Georgina turned away and pressed her face into Alex’s shoulder.

Tiger snorted as if he had expected her not to reply to him.

‘Which one is it?’ Phoebe asked.

‘It’s on the second floor. I remember that much,’ Tiger answered.

He walked over to the unstable looking concrete stairs and began climbing them. Phoebe and Bayo followed, their footsteps ringing out in the quietness.

‘Alex, I really want to leave. There’s something off about this place,’ Georgina whispered.

‘It’s fine,’ Alex responded and drew her into a hug, ‘I really want to see where one of the most famous murderers of all time was locked away.’

‘Why?’ Georgina asked into his jacket, her voice muffled

‘Let’s go,’ Alex spoke, having not heard her.

He took her hand and they walked up the stairs then across to another set and up those. Georgina tried not to look further ahead then the next steps. The open cell doors didn’t seem inviting at all and they reminded her of animal mouths, just waiting for something to walk in before snapping shut.

‘This is it, I think. Number thirty-eight,’ Tiger pointed out.

Alex and Georgina joined Tiger, Phoebe and Bayo at the open cell door.

‘Yeah, they say he drew pictures of his victims with his own blood on these very walls,’ Tiger continued.

He walked into the cell and flashed his torch around. It was empty of furniture, pipes were sticking out were a toilet and sink had once been and the walls were a dark grey and peeling badly.

Phoebe squeezed her way in and touched the wall. She inspected the floor and began looking for something.

‘We’ve seen it now, can we please go?’ Georgina cut in.

She tugged the sleeve of Alex’s jacket.

‘There’s other cells to see on this tour,’ Tiger declared, ‘the hanging cell, the gun shot cell….the showers. Do you fancy a trip to the showers, Georgie?’

‘No!’ Georgina cried as Tiger leered at her.

‘That’s enough,’ Alex growled and moved between them.

Tiger shrugged, letting the whole thing slide.

‘I can’t find the blood pictures,’ Phoebe said disappointingly.

‘It’s okay, babe. There’s more to see,’ Tiger answered.

Georgina looked behind her. There was a wire fence securing the edge and below was the main room. She thought she saw a flicker of movement down there in the shadows. It was nothing though, right?

She tugged Alex’s jacket sleeve again.

‘Okay, we’ll leave,’ he huffed.

‘Whatever,’ Tiger scoffed, ‘we’ll carry on then.’

‘Some other time,’ Alex added to show there was no hard feeling between them.

Tiger shrugged, not caring either way. He took Phoebe’s hand and led her out of the cell. Bayo trailed after them like a guard dog.

‘You okay?’ Alex asked Georgina.

She nodded, her eyes still watching below. There was a figure down there for sure now. He was a massive man with tattoos and he was just wearing shorts. He didn’t appear to be doing anything, just waiting.

Georgina held her breath and watched the man blending back into the shadows. The urge to get out reached it’s peak and she fought back a scream. Biting her lip, she looked up at Alex, he was watching the others head to the next floor.

‘We need to go,’ Georgina forced out.

‘Sure,’ Alex sighed.

Holding hands, they began to head out towards the sunny afternoon whilst behind them their friends walked further into the darkness of the jail.

Empty #writephoto

When the moors were empty, it made them far better to walk upon, Wish decided. There weren’t noisy children running around or dogs barking or horses clopping everywhere. There was just the wind blowing through the dry grasses and heather. The sweet smell of just flowering plants and spring. Birds singing off in the distance and nothing more.

Wish came to a stop and looked around. She spread her arms out and threw back her head. The sky above was a lovely pale morning blue. Not a cloud insight, she noticed. Smiling, Wish dropped her head and arms, she got back to walking, feeling totally calm and satisfied.

 

(Prompt from: https://scvincent.com/2017/03/23/thursday-photo-prompt-empty-writephoto/ With thanks).

What The Trees Knew

How the car had ended up rusting there was anyone’s guess. If only the trees could talk, they’d tell what happened.

 

(Inspired from: https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/03/13/fffaw-challenge-week-of-march-14-2017/ Photo by and copyright to Tim Livingston, with thanks.)

The Perfect Photo

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Sitting underneath the gazebo in a camping chair, Martin watched the snow falling. He was wrapped up heavily in woollen clothes and insulating underwear, but he could still feel the chill of the frozen air. In his hands and resting in his lap was a massive digital camera. It was currently off as a result of his frustrations.

From where he was sat, Martin could see very little of the park and gardens that surrounded him. He had picked this quiet corner to set up so that he would get the best photographs. Small trees covered with a thin layer of snow and bushes give him a good background. Whilst the patch of snow dusted grass give a good foreground. However, the centre of the photo was missing.

Martin sighed and checked his watch. He had been waiting three hours now and he had not even seen a flicker of a red squirrel. All that had been to the food he had scattered about was a few birds. And though the robin, blackbird and blue tits had been nice photos, it really was the main star he wanted.

Martin let his thoughts drift and of all the memories to select, he recalled one of his grandma and him watching birds in her garden from her greenhouse. He was about ten and all ready a keen photographer. That afternoon though, he was just watching and looking through a large book on birds.

‘There’s the robin,’ his grandma had pointed out.

He had looked up to the bird table and watched the robin hopping around. Then he had gone back to the book and flipped the pages. There were large drawings of British birds in full colour and close ups of wing markings. Detailed descriptions followed in small writing.

‘He out shines all other garden birds, you know,’ grandma added.

‘Why?’ his younger self had asked.

‘Because of his nature,’ grandma had replied.

Martin coming back from the memory wondered what he had replied and what else grandma had said. He could not think of it, though he was sure there was more to that memory.

Looking out on the patch of grass, he saw more birds pecking at the peanuts he had placed down. He turned on his camera and took a few photos. Then the birds took flight, battling against a flurry of large snowflakes.

It’s too cold today, Martin thought, probably the reason why I’ve had no luck.

Sighing, he looked up at the snow falling and decided to pack up and go home.

The Bear

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Deep inside the cave the bear slept winter away. He dreamed of spring when the snow would melt, the grass would be green and the air warm. He splashed through the great river chasing salmon and searching for fruits. He meet other bears, fought them and found a mate. He had father cubs, but he’d never met any of them. He roamed the forest, searching for more food and avoiding the humans. Then he felt the season’s change and knew it was time to get ready for the long sleep. The dream slipped away and the bear dreamt of other things deep within his cave.

Cracked Ice

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Mark threw a stone into the iced over lake. There was a loud cracking sound followed by a few smaller ones. He moved closer to the edge, crunching over the frosted grass.

The other six children gathered around too and looked at what had happened to the smooth white surface. Large lines cut there jagged way across and small sections had broken away. Water bubbled slowly upwards and over the ice chucks.

‘It’s not safe to skate on,’ Mark declared.

The children groaned. They had hurried out of school, gone home to get their ice skates then rushed to the lake. Their were cheeks were flushed red with the cold and they were all eager to have some fun. Now their hopes had been dashed.

Mark dropped his shoulders and looked further out across the lake. Being the oldest he felt he should come up with an idea of what to do now. However, nothing came to him. He looked up at the already darkening sky.

‘Maybe tomorrow,’ he said in a quiet voice, ‘it looks like it might snow properly.’

‘Then we can skate?’ one of the youngest girls called out.

‘Maybe,’ Mark answered.

He turned away from the lake and led the children back to the bridge. From there they could see the large cracks the stone had made more fully. Water was now lapping around the tiny ice floats and making them bump together.

‘Everyone should go home,’ Mark spoke.

With loud mutterings, all the children turned and began heading off to their houses. Mark lingered. He looked over the bridge once more, watching the sky changing color. Giggling voices drew his attention away and he watched as two teenage girls appeared at the edge of the lake.

Without really knowing why, he ducked down and watched them putting on their ice skates. A part of him knew he should shout over that it wasn’t safe, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The girls went on the ice and began skating and Mark spied on them, but even if they had noticed him they were too busy.

The girls’ scarfs and loose hair flew about as they spun. They laughter rose and fell. Mark recognised them from school, not that he had ever been as close to them as he was right now. He liked the red-head the best, Rose was her name, but her friend, Beth, with the darker hair was also pretty.

Mark heard a massive crack and before his eyes the girls disappeared. A large hole appeared in the middle of the lake and water was splashing up from it. Without thinking, he ran over the bridge and down on to the lake. The ice held his weight, but he was slipping everywhere.

He reached the hole, even though the ice was breaking up around him. He tried to reach out for the girls as they hands were reaching up from the water. He could hear them both struggling to breath and stay a float. He grabbed hold of one of them and tried to pull her out, but she was too heavy.

Fighting down panic that he would fall in too , he tried harder and managed to drag Rose out. She lay face down on the still cracking ice then tried to get up. Mark moved on to help her friend, but as he reached out for that hand, it slipped from his and down into the water.

‘Beth can’t swim!’ Rose cried.

Rose joined Mark and their hands both dipped into the freezing water in search of the other girl. Mark’s hand only meet water. From underneath them came more cracking sounds and instinct kicked in.

‘We have to get off!’ Mark yelled.

‘No! We can’t leave her!’ Rose gasped, water dripping off her.

‘We have no choice!’ Mark answered back.

He grabbed Rose and started pulling her away. She tried resist, but her ice skates made it easier for Mark to move her forward. They reached the bank as a handful of adults arrived and came to meet them.

‘There’s a girl still in there!’ Mark shouted and pointed across the lake.

The adults rushed into action, Mark turned his attention fully to Rose, who knelt on the snow crying and shaking. He helped wrap her in a blanket and get her to her feet.

As they were walked away by two adults, Mark looked back over his shoulder. The other adults were pulling the girl from the lake. He could see them trying to help her, but it was too late.

 

Story prompt from: https://scvincent.com/2016/12/01/thursday-photo-prompt-cracked-ice-writephoto/ with thanks.

Northern Lights

Person Standing on White and Black Field Under Green and Black Sky during Twilight

Enar looked up at the sky, searching the star dotted blackness for any signs. As of yet he couldn’t see any lights, but he knew it must be soon. His breath misted before him, rising in puffy little clouds. It was bitterly cold, way below freezing, but he barely felt it in his long reindeer fur coat, gloves and boots.

In the background, he could hear the wind gently playing with the loose snow and his team of husky sled dogs barking. They had been on edge since seeing that polar bear and her cub. It had been a tense situation, saved only by him firing his gun. Enar hadn’t wanted to, especially after hearing the story of another man who was attacked by a male polar bear the other week. Still though as the bullet had shattered through all the growling, the mother had taken fright and run off, her cub in tow.

Enar came back to the now and looked more closely. There was green light growing in the distance. From his pocket, he took his camera and begin setting it up to take photos. He was clicking away before he knew it, watching more through the lens then anything else as the lights danced across the sky.

The dogs stopped barking almost as if they knew this mysterious force was now surrounding them. Silence fell, well beside from the snow shifting, Enar’s camera clicking and his deep breathing. His lungs were already burning the cold and he knew he’d have to start moving again soon.

He took a last photo, even though the light display was far from over. Rising his head, Enar admired the view above. Even though he knew the scientific reasoning behind it all he couldn’t help but think of the multi-coloured lights as being pure magic. He knew his ancestors had thought the lights to be departed souls and even further back in Norse myth, the lights were believed to be Valkyries and a bridge to Valhalla.

Enar put his camera away, having to fumble with it due to the thickness of his gloves and coat. He turned and walked back down to the dogs. They started barking at him, welcoming him back and seeming eager to be off again. He patted the first dog and made his way to the sled. He hadn’t bothered tying the dogs up. Shouting out, ‘mush,’ he gve the dogs some help then they were cutting their way through the snow once more, the aurora borealis dancing above them.

Secrets

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Who knew what was locked away in the tower? Everyday life carried on as normal and no one give the crumbling structure a thought. It stood alone in the middle of the forest. Raising up over the top of the green pine trees and looking across at the village.

Maybe the tower had once been a part of a fort or a castle? A building now lost to time and the nature. Perhaps it had always been a watch tower, built to keep the village on the edge of the forest safe and warn them of coming danger?

Whatever it’s original purpose had been the tower was long abandoned now. And it would have slipped from history if not for a single story that involved it. Two brothers traveling across the country discovered the tower and made inquires about it.

‘Why do you wish to know?’ the oldest member of the village asked them.

‘It is so unusual out there by itself,’ the first brother answered.

‘We were think it might have a good story connected to it for the book we are writing,’ the second brother replied.

The old woman looked them up and down in the firelight of her wooden shack. They were young men; handsome and strong, yet tried from their travels.

‘Here, have some broth and I shall tell you the story I know of the tower,’ the old woman answered.

Gratefully, the brothers accepted the warm bowls of broth and settled down to listen to the old woman’s tale.

‘It was a long, long time ago and the king had just had a baby daughter. There was a big celebration as the kingdom now had an heir. The next day his wife died and an old hag, claiming to be a witch came to the king and demand his daughter. She showed him a contract his wife had signed in which the queen had brought a spell to make her pregnant.’

“By rights,” the witch said, “The child is mine!”

‘The king fought hard, but that night the witch kidnapped the baby and fled to the tower. Everyone searched high and low, but they could not find the old hag or the baby. Heartbroken the king died and his kingdom fell into war then ruin.’

‘And the child?’ the first brother interrupted.

‘Was locked in the tower,’ the old woman stated, ‘the witch raised her there and taught her how to spin and make things. Later, the lost Princess learnt about herself from books. She begged the witch to release her and the witch told her that could only happen when the Princess’ true love came to rescue her.’

‘And did he?’ the second brother asked.

‘No. Of course he did not!’ the old woman snapped, ‘they say to this day the Princess’ bones are still resting on the floor of the tower. The door magically locked so no one can get in.’

The brothers fell silent and finished their broth. They thanked the old woman and left. As they headed out of the village the first brother turned to the second, ‘I want that story,’ he declared, ‘but I’m going to change the ending.’

 

Inspired by: https://scvincent.com/2016/11/10/thursday-photo-prompt-secrets-writephoto/ with thanks.