Outside #writephoto

He was lost and scared as he walked through the darkness in the rain. There were lights ahead, but he couldn’t be sure what they were. He thought he felt rough stone under his fingers. He carried on walking till there was enough light to see by.

Now, he knew were he was; the back area of his home. He could see the south tower, though it was wrapped heavily in shadows. Running over, he tried not to think about how much trouble he’d be in. Maybe, he hoped, no one had missed him yet.

How many times had he been told not to play on the roof? Yet, still tonight he had gone out there and he wasn’t even sure why. Trying only to think of getting back inside and to bed, he began trying to reach the third window of the tower. It was the only way back in from this side.

He climbed up, finding it easy to hold on to the worn stones. He pressed against the window. Thankfully, it hadn’t be latched back fully. Climbing through and wiggling over the ledge he entered the staircase, leaving behind him small puddles of water on the window sill.

(https://scvincent.com/2017/05/18/thursday-photo-prompt-inside-out-writephoto/)

Werifesteria #atozchallenge

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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 (Part 2) #atozchallenge

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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.

Somnambulist (Part 1) #atozchallenge

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Somnambulist; a person who sleepwalks.  

Hammering the last of the tent pegs into the soft ground, Chase felt glad to finally have put up the four man tent. Sitting back on on his heels, he made sure the tent wire was tight and the peg firmly in. The thin rope give off a high pitch twang as he flicked it. Nodding, he got up, mallet slowly swinging in an arm that had gone numb with the strain of working.

‘Tent’s up!’ he called cheerfully.

He walked back around and saw his girlfriend building a fire a good few meters away. She had made a rock circle and was now building up a pyramid of branches. An range of camping things were around her as if she been searching through them.

‘You okay, Faith?’ Chase asked.

‘I can’t find the matches. You did pack them right?’ she said over her shoulder.

‘Yes. They were on your list.’

Faith pulled a face and turned to carry on building the fire, ‘You better find them.’

Chase put the mallet back in the tent bag and came to her side. He began searching through the bags. Everything had been in order, but Faith had messed things up. He found the pots and pans, the BBQ stuff, beach towels, tins of cola and clothes.

‘They’re not there are they?’ Faith said, sounding smug.

‘They might be in the car,’ Chase answered.

Leaving things more of a mess, he walked back to the  small red car, which they had parked just out of view in the shade of the trees. The clearing they where in was a jagged circle shape, boarded by tall trees. It was a sheltered spot but very accessible by the little road that ran straight through it from the main one. The clearing was a well known camping area, but most people came in summer or the warm nights of autumn.

Chase had decided that April would be warm and dry enough for this little get away. As he opened the car door though, he had his third doubting moment.

If there are no matches, we’ll have go home. Sure we can do without them, but cold meals? And if it gets colder later? Faith won’t like that. Maybe we could stay the night? I don’t want to take the tent down now I just got it up, thought Chase.

He began rummaging in the car. Hoping that the matches had fallen out or he’d put them somewhere safe before they left. Finding nothing, he double checked everywhere. Maybe, they had slipped down the seats? Maybe, they had gotten to the back of the glove box? Under the foot mats?

Nothing. Sighing, he stood up. Closing everything and locking the car, he went back to Faith.

‘I can’t find them,’ he announced.

Faith sighed deeply and tossed the last of the wood down. She got to her feet, cleaning her hands on the knees of her jeans.

‘You better get rubbing two sticks together then,’ she stated.

Chase shrugged and replied, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’

‘I’ll sort and put things away,’ Faith added.

Chase sat down and began looking for two sticks that would be suitable. Faith collected the bags and began moving stuff into the tent. Around them, a gentle breeze shook the newly leafing trees, birds sing the last songs of the day and the sky was turning dusky. Hardly anything else could be heard, even if a car drove past, the road was a good few miles away so the sound was faint.

After a good few minutes of rubbing sticks and trying to make sparks with stones, Chase give up. He sprawled out over the just dry grass, exhausted. He shut his eyes and tried to think of what to do.

It’s not the end of the world. We have camping lights and cold food we can eat. Can’t cook meat though…or heat up marshmallows. 

‘Have you given up?’ Faith’s voice cut into his thoughts, ‘I’m going to the stream to get water. It’s all ready going dark. So decided what we are eating.’

Chase opened his eyes and raised himself on his elbows. Faith was framed nicely by the dusky pink sky. She looked dirty and tried though.

‘Fine…This isn’t the romantic weekend I had planned,’ Chase responded.

‘That would have been a hotel,’ Faith uttered.

Chase heard her, but he let it go. It was an on going argument, he had given up on.

‘Want a hand?’ he said instead.

‘No,’ Faith declared.

She grabbed the things she needed and stalked off. Chase flopped back on the grass and watched the sky turn into twilight. After a few minutes, he got up and dusted himself down. He walked over to the tent and saw that Faith had all ready pumped up the double air bed. She had put the sleeping bags and pillows on too, making the bed look inviting. 

At the foot of bed, Faith had put the other bags and suitcases. Chase started looking through them then remember that all the food was in the car. Grabbing a tin of cola, he opened it and walked over to the tree line. 

The wind picked up, shaking the trees and the bird song died. Chase paused, feeling a chill across his bare arms. He frowned and glanced around, but he couldn’t spot anything. 

Night has arrived, he thought. 

He went to the car and got out things to make sandwiches and the picnic snacks. He went back to the tent and picked up the camping lanterns. He turned them on and set them by both sides of the tent door. He got making sandwiches. By the time he had put things together for a simple cold meal, Faith arrived back with a bucket of water and another bucket filled with water bottles. 

‘Dinner’s ready,’ Chase declared. 

‘Thanks,’ Faith said, she placed the buckets down next to the abandoned stack of wood and joined him. 

Chase handed her a plastic plate filled with tasty things then started to eat his sandwich. 

‘Chase, have you been here this whole time?’ Faith asked slowly.

‘Yep,’ he replied around a chunk of sandwich, ‘why?’

‘Whilst I was getting the water, I felt like someone was watching me and then after, when I went to….I heard whispering.’ 

Chase paused and looked at her. Faith’s face was full of puzzlement and she hadn’t touched her food. 

‘I called out and there was nothing. I looked around, but I didn’t find anything,’ Faith added. 

‘It wasn’t me and nothing happened here,’ Chase pointed out. 

Faith nodded and began eating. 

To Be Continued…

Rubatosis #atozchallenge

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Rubatosis; the unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat.

The silence was deafening. There was nothing for miles, the desert was seemingly empty of life. And yet, I was here, driving my jeep over dunes, around or through rock formations, heading for a place that always seemed just out of reach like a mirage.

The Archway to Heaven, the locals called it. I had come out all this way to see if it was true. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to find anything but it would be nice if there was an angel waiting for me or if a flight of stairs shimmed up towards the sky.

Finally, I made it to the arch! I cut the engine, got out and climbed up the dune. I stood under the arch and listened. I could hear my heartbeat hammering away and once I’d stilled my feet on the shifting sand, my heart was the only thing I could hear. I felt disturbed and the knowledge that I was alone out here weighed down on me heavily.

The last of the daylight left the sky, the dim gold colours giving over to total darkness. I looked and above me, I saw Heaven.

Eldritch #atozchallenge

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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.

The Gold Family

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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.

Cat Life

Black and White Cat in a Tree

In the mornings, he would sit in the tree and watch the village. At lunchtime he would come down, visit three houses for lunch then curl up somewhere warm and quiet for the afternoon. In the evenings, he strolled around till late then mewed at doors till someone let him in.

 

(Story inspired from: https://first50.wordpress.com)

 

 

Rain on the Bus

Water Droplets on Clear Glass

The empty bus pulled smoothly to a stop and the doors opened. The bus driver peered out and watched the old lady getting on with the aid of the handrail.

‘Hello, Doreen!’ he said cheerfully as he recognised her, ‘terrible evening.’

‘Oh, no, Terry!’ Doreen cried with a little wave of her walking stick, ‘it’s quiet perfect!’

She pressed her pensioner’s bus pass to the ticket machine. There was a beep and some words flashed up.

‘For ducks maybe,’ Terry muttered with a glance out of his window.

The rain was coming down heavily and the wind was whipping up into a storm.

Terry closed the bus’s door to contain some heat. Then he waited for Doreen to shuffle off and sit down at the back, like she always did. Checking she was settled, he started up the bus and smoothly drove off.

Doreen smiled and watched the rain hitting the window next to her. She turned up her hearing aids and listen to the rain splashing and the wind howling. Under her, the bus’s engine rumbled away and waves of gentle heat brushed her.

She took off her big pink flowers decorated hat which she always wore on her rainy evening bus rides and set it to dry out next to her. Doreen placed her small red handbag flat next to it, then took off her bright pink rain mac. She was wearing a huge, fluffy green jumper that she had knitted herself.

Turning back to the window, Doreen relaxed into the ride.

There’s nothing, she thought, quite like a drive in the rain to make you fall asleep. 

Street Ducks

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The streets were cold and wet. Not a place anybody would want to spend the night on. The homeless though had no other place to go.

T settled down in the doorway of what once had been a large Woolworths shop. Somehow, he had remembered that, despite the place being closed and boarded up years ago. Making sure to tuck his sleeping bag in to try and slow the cold from sipping underneath him, T lent back.

The pattering of the rain started to lull him to sleep, but a soft quacking awoke him. T opened his eyes and looked down at the large cardboard box by his feet. One of the two pet ducks inside the box was staring over the top at him with black beedy eyes.

‘There’s no more bread, Petal,’ T said gently.

The duck quacked and retreated back into the box.

T settled down again. He was just falling asleep when the sounds of police sirens cut through the quiet night. T awoke with a start. He looked around and saw a police car and van pulling up on the edge of the street. Uniform officers were getting out and coming towards him.

Sighing, T slowly began gathering his stuff.

‘Just give me a few minutes and I’ll be gone,’ T said as the first police person reached him.

‘It’s not about that,’ the man answered.

T paused and looked up. Rain was dripping off the policeman’s hat and shoulders of his jacket.

‘Do you have any ducks in there?’ the officer asked nodding to the box.

‘Yeah…’ T trailed as five more police people joined the first one.

‘I’m sorry, but we are going to have to remove them from you,’ the policeman said.

‘But why? I’ve done nothing wrong!’ T cried, ‘they were dumped and I’ve been looking after ’em. They is fancy birds, not wild ones. They’re my pets now.’

T reached defensively for the box and placed his head inside. He began stroking the ducks, who eagerly pushed against his hand.

‘There’s be concerns about their health. We have to take them,’ a female officer said.

‘I can look after ’em! I’ve been doing so for the last month,’ T declared, ‘you can’t take ’em there’re my friends.’

‘We have to. They don’t belong to you,’ a second policeman cut in, ‘just hand them over and won’t move you tonight.’

T shook his head, words failing him.

The female officer reached over and patted his arm. She guided T’s hand away from the ducks and before he could reach out again the first policeman had swooped in and picked up the box.

‘What will ya do with ’em?’ T shouted.

‘They will be fine. The RSPCA will look after them. Don’t worry. Why don’t I get you a cup of tea?’

‘Alright,’ T huffed as he watched the policeman hurrying away with his ducks.

The other officers began to disperses.

A sad hole sank into T’s chest that even the warmth of the tea couldn’t fix.