Tohubohu#AtoZChallenge #FridayFictioneers

Tohubohu; choas, disorder, confusion

Over night the world froze. Thick snow fell, covering everything in a deep blanket of white. The weather forecast had predicated it but no one could have guessed how bad it would be.

‘It’s the middle of spring, it’ll be a light dusting,’ people said.

When they woke, it was like being in the grip of a bad winter. The only way to get to places was by walking and most cities ground to a halt.

‘It’ll pass,’ people said.

More and more snow fell and soon the big freeze of everyone’s nightmares arrived.

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/04/17/19-april-2019/ with thanks).

Pillars #WritePhoto

It started out as a game of hide and seek which turned into a nightmare none of them could ever escape from.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/09/20/thursday-photo-prompt-pillars-writephoto/ with thanks).

Turning #WritePhoto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

The Repeating Dark

Man's Hand in Shallow Focus and Grayscale Photography

Most people don’t really know they are dreaming. They just wake up realise they’ve had a dream and then get on with their day. Me though, I always know when I’m dreaming. I guess it’s because for years I’ve had the same dream. I’ve never really told anyone about it fully. When I was younger, I told my parents a few times about it but they just said it was a nightmare and it would go away.

The dream never has though.

So why now do I want to share it with you? I guess it’s because we know that by the time you read this I’ll be dead. So, it really won’t matter anymore. I’m worried though that this dream won’t die with me and it might get passed on to you. So, I thought I better write everything down and if the dream ever does come for you then you’d be more prepared and maybe do what I could never figure out; break the cycle.

The dream is the same all the time. Nothing, not even the tiniest detail changes nor does the events. I’ve tried many times to change something, but it has never worked. Also, I’ve never found a pattern for the occurrences. Nothing seems to bring them on or makes them stay away for long. The dream seems like a ghost; appearing and disappearing when it wants to.

The dream begins when you wake up in a dark room. For a few moments, you think you really have awoken and it’s the middle of the night. Then though you began to see things and the realisation that this is not your room dawns. You see a table, an empty bookcase, a tall leather armchair and a window.

As you began moving around, you’ll notice other things; the smell of flowers even though there’s none in the room, the breeze of fresh air though the window isn’t open and there seems to be no door. Soft sounds that you are not sure what they are; voices whispering maybe? Faint footsteps, the patter of animal paws. You feel the furniture, it’s solid and cold.

You study the bookcase and see that it’s not actually empty. There is a book in the bottom corner. Pulling it out, the book is thin and black, you open the pages and see a language that is beyond you. The letters seem to move across the page, twisting and transforming, but still you can’t read them. You put the book back.

Unsure what to do, you go to the window and look out. There is no curtain or netting and the window is sealed. No matter what angle and how far you look, you can never see out of the window. A blackness masks the glass, leaving you no hint of where you are.

You can continue to inspect the room, but you’ll find nothing else. Time might then began to pass but sometimes he appears quickly. Once again, I have found no pattern to his appearance. Sometimes you feel you’ve been waiting mere moments, other times it’s hours or days trapped within that room.

The man always appears though. He seems to come from the window, shifting out of the darkness. Taking the form of a shadow at first, but then becoming more solid. He is a dark man; black from toe tips to the fine strands of hair. Backed by the window as he always is, you can never make out any of his features and often he seems to be one with the darkness.

You can try talking to him, but he’ll never answer back. For years, I have questioned him, but not once has he uttered a word. Perhaps, things might be different for you and maybe he will break his vow of silence. I have also tried different things; standing or hiding in different places, giving him the book etc. But nothing works.

Then he holds his hand out and waits for you to take it. I’ve tried not to. I have fought hard to ignore him and often I have stood facing a corner with my back to him. No matter what, somehow my hand always ends up in his! Then his hand closes on mine, holding it tightly and I feel a strange coolness.

He begins to fade back through the glass slowly. You can’t take your hand out of his. I’ve tried but found no solution. He vanishes totally and you see your hand has gone to and the darkness is creeping up your arm. Even if you panic and scream, nothing can be done. The fear is so over-welling that you get dragged down with it.

Then you are surrounded by total blackness and nothing else can be done.

When you awake because despite everything you always do, the dream will seem gone but it never really does. It lingers at the back of your mind and you’ll catch yourself questioning the dream though you might have been thinking of something else. Nothing will resolve though and the memory of the dream will stay with you like a scar.

I really hope that you don’t have it. I hope it dies with me. But since I can’t be sure, I hope you can find some comfort in this letter and know that you weren’t alone.

Faceless

anonymous, bokeh, creepy

I have dreams every night of a crowd of faceless people. The dreams began the same way. I am walking on the street in the middle of a busy city. There are people all around me and I can hear voices, but not words. I come to the end of the street and stop to wait at the lights. It is there I notice that the people around me are faceless. Where there should be faces are just black, empty spaces. As I try to figure out why this is, the lights change. The people move off. I should go with them, but I can’t. All I can think about is why. Then I wake up.

I lie in bed and think about it. What does this dream mean? Why are the people faceless? It fades and I get up. I go about my day and don’t think about it anymore. When I go to bed though, it returns. Once again, I’m in the city. I walk down the street and around me are all these people. I can hear them talking, but can’t fully make out the words. The street ends and I wait for the lights to change. I look at the people close by me. They are faceless. Where the faces should be are black spaces. I wonder about this as the lights change and the people move off. I wake up soon after.

In the morning, I lie there and instead of thinking about the missing faces, I wonder why I keep having this dream. What is it trying to tell me? Good job, it’s a Sunday morning. I internet search the dream to get answers. Dreaming of faceless people could be associated with identity and the loss or inability of accepting that person. Also, linked to the desire to deepen your knowledge of someone’s personality.   

No, it did help. I looked more, but don’t find much difference. Of course, if I could figure out who these people might be that would help. There are sub-headings like faceless lover, you being faceless, blurring out face of person you know. I tell myself next time I sleep to try hard to look at the people and put more into memory.

I go to bed early, but when I wake up, my dreams were totally different.

Haunted Pumpkin

jack-o-lantern-1126916_1280

Charlie arrived breathlessly home from school and went to head up to his room.

‘Charlie?’ his mum called from the kitchen.

His foot touched the bottom of the staircase and he almost broke into another run.

The kitchen door squeaked open and his mum appeared in the hallway. She was dressed in her office clothes; a black pencil skirt, white blouse and black jacket.

‘Are you okay?’

He nodded, not trusting himself to speak.

‘Come in the kitchen. I’ll get you a drink,’ she suggested.

Charlie looked longingly up the stairs and almost told her no. It was best just to get it over and done with though. Slowly, he followed her into the kitchen and sat down at the table.

There was a bright orange pumpkin opposite him. It was mostly round, but a bit bumpy. He reached a finger out and poked the soft flesh.

‘Here you go,’ his mum spoke and put a glass of milk before him.

Charlie picked it up, his eyes still drawn to the pumpkin.

‘How was school?’

‘Okay…Can I go now?’ Charlie said in a low voice.

His mum sighed, ‘I suppose. Dinner will be soon.’

Charlie nodded, took a sip of his milk and went upstairs with it. There in his bedroom, he turned his TV and game console on. He loaded his fantasy game and began playing.

‘Charlie!’ his mum called a few minutes.

He rolled his eyes and tutted.

‘I need to nip out. I forgot something. Do you want to come?’

‘No!’ he yelled back.

‘I’ll be back soon then.’

‘Fine!’ Charlie called back then under his breath, ‘I just want to be left alone.’

He heard the front door close and turned his focus back to his game. A boss battle was coming up. He charged head into the fantasy game, forgetting everything else. Until a loud thumping sound came from the kitchen.

Charlie paused, shrugged and carried on playing.

The sound came again as if someone was knocking on the back door.

Charlie finally paused the game and got up. Growling, he went downstairs and into the kitchen. There was no one at the back door, but the pumpkin had gone from the table. Puzzled, he looked around for it and saw a flash of orange on the floor. He looked under the table and saw the pumpkin there against the wall.

‘What the….?’

He reached out for it. Changed his mind and went back upstairs with a shake of his head. The pumpkin had just rolled off. It hadn’t looked stable anyway. Charlie rushed back upstairs and to his game. Settling down again, he carried on playing.

He just about heard his mum come home and start tea. Later on, She had to call him down for it three times, before he give in and went.

‘What were you doing up there?’ she asked, as he sat down.

‘Playing my game…’ Charlie answered.

‘Did you do your homework?’

‘It’s half term. I got time now,’ he responded.

He ate quickly and before his mum could say anything further, Charlie had gone upstairs again. Loading his game, he fall back into completing his mission to find a magic sword. Sometime later, he heard his dad come home then his parents coming to say good night to him.

Charlie pretended to go to bed, but really he waited till he was sure his parents had fallen sleep and got up again. He went to turn on his TV when a he heard something moving downstairs. He stopped and listened. It sounded like a heavy ball rolling down the hallway.

Frowning, Charlie crept to his door and looked out. The hallway was dark and he couldn’t see. He walked out. Turned on the light and tried to listen for the sound again. He couldn’t hear anything. He made to turn back into his room, but then there was a creak. He went to the edge of the stairs looked down.

The pumpkin was in the hallway.

Frowning and wondering how it got there, Charlie went downstairs. The pumpkin was in the middle of the hallway, on it’s side. He touched it with his barefoot but it didn’t move. Shrugging, he went back upstairs, turning off the light and shutting the door. Charlie went to his TV again and turned it on.

He reached for the button on his game console. A dull thump, stopped his hand. Charlie looked over his shoulder.

‘What’s going on?’ he muttered, ‘Whatever.’

He pressed the button and settled down. As the game loaded, he heard what sounded like someone walking up the stairs. Only it sounded more hollow and with large gaps in between each step. Charlie ignored it and started playing his game. He was in the middle of another quest now.

He heard the loose board on the landing creak.

Charlie stopped his game and turned off the TV. He scrambled into his bed and pulled the duvet over his head. He quieten his breathing and stilled himself. He listened hard. It was just his mum or dad getting up to go the bathroom or something.

There was a knock at his door.

Charlie faked sleep as best as he could.

His door opened, but instead of footsteps the carpet, something very heavy rolled across his floor.

Frowning, under the duvet, he wondered what was going on. He almost pulled the bedding down to see, but nervous had gotten to him. He held his breath and waited.

Something knocked into his bed and he felt vibrations through him.

Taking a deep breath, Charlie threw the duvet back and clicked on the lamp. He looked down and saw the pumpkin at the foot of his bed. A crude mouth and two eyes had been craved in the surface out of which yellow light was coming out. The pumpkin was grinning evil up at him.

A scream ripped out of Charlie’s mouth and echoing in his ears. He tried to get out of the bed, but the bedding was tangled around him. He fell to the floor and the pumpkin rolled towards him. Charlie screamed again and scuttled across the floor to the door. He reached it at the same time his mum appeared in the doorway.

He grabbed her legs and pressed his face against her. He felt her arms around him then heard her scream as she saw the pumpkin.

She pulled Charlie to his feet and they ran into her bedroom. Slamming the door, they both looked at Charlie’s dad getting out of the bed.

‘What is it?’ he asked.

‘The pumpkin….did you do that?’ Charlie’s mother gasped.

‘What?’

‘The pumpkin had a face on it and it was next to Charlie’s bed.’

‘It came into my room by itself!’ Charlie cried.

‘Don’t be silly!’ his dad snapped.

Pushing past them, his dad opened the door and looked out. They looked too and they all saw the pumpkin sat in the hallway. Light from it’s eyes and mouth pooling on the floor and casting an eerie glow around it.

‘Charlie, did you do that?’ his dad asked.

Charlie shook his head and backed away.

‘Why would he?’ his mum shot in, ‘he’s been in his room all day.’

‘Right, well someone’s having a laugh aren’t they?’ his dad said.

He went out into the hallway, picked the pumpkin up and they heard him carry it downstairs.

‘Honestly, Charlie, did you do that?’ his mum asked.

‘No. Why would I?’ Charlie shouted.

Shaking off the last of his fear, he went back to his room and closed his door softly. Charlie turned the TV back on, but before he sat down to play his game again, he went to the window. His bedroom looked over the side of the house. He couldn’t see anything out there other then the glow of a streetlamp and the side of the neighboring house. He went back to his game and after a few moments heard his dad come back in and to bed.

He heard the hush voices of his parents, but couldn’t make their words out. No doubt they were talking about him though. Ignoring all of that, he started to play his game again. However, he couldn’t help but think about what had just happened. Who had done that to the pumpkin and why? It had seemed so real, but of course it couldn’t have been….

Soon tiredness crept on him and Charlie went to bed. Just as he was falling asleep though, he heard something moving in the downstairs hallway. Pulling a face, he listened and tried to decided what that was. Then he heard something rolling up the stairs…

He clutched the duvet then throwing it back, he got out of bed and rushed to his desk. Grabbing his chair, he dragged it to his bedroom door and wedged the top of the chair under the door knob. He stepped back just as something heavy banged into his door. Charlie looked around his room, wondering what else he could do. But there was nothing here that would help.

The bang came against his door again and carried on.

He wanted to scream, but couldn’t.

Then the banging stopped.

He waited for what felt like an age, but was only a few minutes. He took the chair away and opened his door. He turned the hallway light on and saw it was empty. Then he noticed his parents bedroom door was open.

His mum’s scream ripped through the house and Charlie bolted over.

He turned on the light as he entered and his feet stumbled to a stop.

The pumpkin was on the bed eating his dad’ head. There was blood everywhere and his mum was fleeing into a corner. Charlie looked around and spotted a pair of small scissors on top of a cupboard. He grabbed them, charged in and stabbed the pumpkin with them.

The pumpkin turned to him, blood dripping from sharp fang teeth which tried to bite his fingers.

Charlie stabbed down again and again.

The pumpkin tried to move out of the way, but Charlie was faster. He stuck the scissors deep in, grabbed the pumpkin and threw it to the floor.

The pumpkin smashed and the yellow light went out.

Charlie looked at the mess, trying to catch his breath. Behind him, he heard his mum scrambling around on the bed. She was speaking, but he couldn’t hear her. Then her words sunk in and Charlie reached for a mobile phone and called an ambulance.

Camp Fire Story (Part 2)

People, Children, Child, Kids, Girls, Women, Woman, Man

Just as Cody was settling into his sleeping bag again, he heard the crying. He stopped and tried to look through the side of the tent, but he could see nothing but darkness. He clutched the edge of the sleeping bag and shivered. There seemed to be a sudden chill in the air. Listening harder, Cody decided that it was a girl crying, but it didn’t sound like Connie or Luna.

His thoughts tumbled and Luke’s ghost story came back to him. Was it the girl who drowned in the lake? Cody gasped and scrambled into his sleeping bag. He pulled it up over his head and lay there listening to his rushed breathing. What was that sound? Something scratching the side of the tent…trying to get in…trying to get to him?

‘Luke? Wake up,’ Cody said quietly.

Wiggling out of the sleeping bag, he poked his cousin and said his name again.

‘What?’ Luke muttered.

‘There something outside…’ Cody trailed off.

‘It’s nothing. The wind, a raccoon. Go back to sleep.’

But I think it’s her! The shadow girl,’ Cody hissed.

He heard Luke scrambling around then the torch came on. The light beam shone along the side of the tent, before moving upwards as Luke rolled over. Cody shut his eyes as the light hit him.

‘I don’t see anything. Maybe it was Connie or Luna?’ Luke suggested.

Cody shook his head, ‘I went out before and checked. It’s not them, it doesn’t sound like them either.’

‘Then it’s the wind.’

Cody sighed, ‘I really don’t think it is.’

‘Whatever,’ Luke said and turned off the torch.

Cody blinked fast, trying to get use to the darkness once more. He heard Luke turn over and the torch clattering against something. Luke mumbled something and his sleeping bag shifted nosily. Cody rolled over too and focused on the shadows settling back along the side of the tent.

Finally, silence crept back in, but Cody couldn’t hear anything. The crying had stopped. Shutting his eyes, he tried to get back to sleep, but he just couldn’t. He felt wide awake and his mind was too busy thinking about the ghost story. Really hoping Luke was right, Cody rolled over again. His sleeping bag rustled loudly and Cody pulled it up, wrapping it around him.

He listened to Luke’s steady breathing, but quickly grew bored. Realizing he was thirsty, Cody slipped out his sleeping bag and crawled to the first of the tent. His head felt for the zip and once the metal was against his fingers he stopped. Swallowing and telling himself that nothing was out there, Cody unzipped the tent and scrambled out.

The cold night air, hit him fully and Cody’s skin pricked with goosebumps. Fighting away the shivering, Cody hurried up to the porch and pushed the back door. The creaking wood give easily and he walked into the cabin. Thankfully, his parents had left a lamp on in the living room and in the kitchen beyond the spotlights.

Heading over, he got some water and drink it in the kitchen. Feeling better, he washed the glass and left it on the side. Going back into the living room, he stopped and looked up the stairs. It would be so nice to go up and into the bedroom Luke and he were sharing. He pictured getting into the soft bed and snuggling down. He’d feel safe, but come morning what would he say?

I had a nightmare?  he thought.

He pulled a face, but then Luke was going to get in trouble again and the whole idea of this camping vacation was for Luke and his sister to escape their splitting up parents. Cody shook his head and went back outside. As he went down the steps of the porch, he saw an odd shadow shimmering close to the end of the lake just behind the tents.

To be Continued…

The Devil is Watching You (Part 4)

Ray scrambled from the van with Shane’s gruff ‘bye’ slapping him in the face. He grabbed his things before trailing mud like slug slime all the way into his apartment. Ray dropped the box of beer and the plastic bag on the floor. Then kicking his door shut, stormed into the bathroom. The sounds of rushing water and clothes being ripped off followed.

He stepped into the shower and let the hot water pour down over him as if he was receiving a blessing from God. Sighs and moans escaped him, mingling with the rushing water. Ray washed quickly, scrubbing at his skin as if the mud would never come off. He half drowned himself, before deciding to get out.

Wrapping himself in towels, he stepped out in a bank of mist and went into his bedroom. Turning on the light, he looked at the bed and saw that it was badly sunken in one side. Wondering what to do, he stripped the bed and inspected the mattress. He pressed down, but the springs seemed locked into place.

Swatting grains of stone off the surface, Ray pressed up and down on the mattress a few times. Destressing squeals signalled around him, but the springs wouldn’t ping up. Sighing, he flipped it over and spun it around on the metal framed bed. The other side didn’t look any better. He tried again and this time the springs give away a little bit. Gritting his teeth, he tried harder and got the mattress into something of a normal, if not more bump shape.

‘That thing ruined my bed,’ Ray muttered.

He dressed then threw his clothes into the washer/dryer and made himself a large cup of tea. He put the TV on and watched a car show, noticing all the aches his body was now curling around. During the ad break, he got up and brought the plastic bag over to the sofa. Inside was a mix of bottled water, soft drink cans and snacks. He had snatched it without even thinking as he had gotten out of the van.

Shane had been less eager to hand over the beers and actually, as Ray sat there thinking about, Shane had been really edgy and wanting to leave fast. Probably all that mud and hard work, Ray thought before opening a packet of pork pies and dipping in. He stuffed his face for another few minutes then found an old James Bond movie to watch.

Sprawling out on the sofa, he tried hard not to fall asleep, but it tugged at him too much and soon he was dreaming of falling down a fire filled tunnel. He could feel white hot flames sizzling against his skin and his screams were so deafening they could no longer be heard. He plummeted into a lava pit, burning red and orange oozing around him and swallowing him. He scrambled to get out and to call for help, but the lava filled his mouth and throat and he felt himself burning from the instead out.

Ray awoke in a sweaty heap, almost falling off the sofa. He struggled up and got to his feet. Looking around nothing seemed out of place. He went to the sink, filled a mug with water and drank it down. Feeling better, he saw that his clothes were ready. He opened the door and spent the rest of the day cleaning and tidying. Yet, his mind still spun like a spider making a web and he couldn’t get the devil gargoyle away from him.

As night began fully settling in, Ray turned on all the lights and put the volume of the TV up. His skin was crawling with a creepy feeling and he felt like someone was hanging over his shoulder watching him. He shot a few quick glances around, but he was completely alone. He called for Chinese takeout, hoping the food would settle him. When it arrived, he didn’t feel as hungry and left half of it in the fridge for later.

He went to bed, relaxing across nice clean sheets and telling himself he was being silly. The day had been a strange one, but tomorrow would be fine and normal. Sleep refused to come and he tossed and turned so much that the bed looked as unmade as ever. He gave in at last and spent an hour looking at random crap on the internet via his phone.

Trying to settle again, he rested back on the pillows and thought about the statue. It was out there, resting in the abandoned graveyard with rain dripping off its crudely craved muscles. He imaged it half sinking into the muddy ground and joining the collection of old bones tangled in gnarled tree roots and black earth. Shaking his head and trying to get rid of those thoughts, sleep silent crept up. However, it didn’t give him any rest bite.

The nightmares grew worse and circled around the same things; Hell and the Devil. He couldn’t pull himself away, even though he begged to awake up and towards the end he started to believe that it was real. He was trapped in the fiery inferno forever to be tortured by daemons.

‘It’s my eternal punishment,’ he muttered over and over again through bleeding lips.

The night broke late and the morning light had to struggle through murky blackness. Ray’s alarm went off, the noise cutting through everything and jerking him awake. Scrambling up, he sat in the damp bed and drew deep shaky breaths. He touched himself, gingerly then got up and let his fingers trail across a few other things.

‘I’m still here. It was all nightmares…’

He grabbed his phone and called up Shane, who answered on the fourth ring.

‘Mate, we’ve got to put it back,’ Ray rambled into the phone, ‘we’ve got to find out where it came from and put it back. We’re cursed!’

‘What are you…?’

‘The statue! We need to return it or else….’

‘Who is that?’ a sleepy, female voice echoed down the line.

‘Ray. It’s nothing, Love. I’ll sort it,’ Shane’s voice crackled.

‘Look, we need to…’

‘Calm down, pal. Give me a sec.’

Ray hopped up and down as he listened to the muffled movements of bedding and doors. Shane came back on the phone with ‘now, what do you want?’

‘We need to return the statue. It won’t leave me alone! I had the worst nightmares last night and before that I felt something was here with me. Don’t you feel it?’

‘Well, I didn’t sleep, but that doesn’t…

‘Stop!’ Ray shouted, ‘we need to do this. Get over here!’

‘And if I don’t?’ Shane’s cold voice answered back.

‘Then you are damned to Hell.’

Ray hung up, tossed his phone away and got dressed. He grabbed something to eat and drink, then picking up the rest of his things, put on his boots. He went to the door and put on a rain mac before hurrying out. He paced the carpark as he waited for Shane to arrive, muttering to himself like a mad man.

A squeal of tires and brakes announced his friend’s arrival and Ray swung open the door and hopped in, before Shane could do anything else.

‘We need to get it and return it. It’s the only way,’ Ray explained.

‘I don’t believe in Hell,’ Shane countered back, ‘I’m doing this for you and you are going to owe me big time, pal.’

Ray nodded, ‘drive then.’

The van screamed as it turned around and shot away. Shane pushed the speed limit all the way to the layby and once there braked suddenly to a stop. They got out and tracked through the woodland, hunched shoulders and shifty eyed. They entered the graveyard and saw the gargoyle lying on its side where they had left it.

‘Should’ve brought something to lift it with,’ Shane muttered.

Ray shook his head and went up to inspect the statue. It had sunk a few inches into the mud, which had only added to its grotesqueness. He rubbed his hands together, the urge not to touch the stone filling him like a balloon.

‘We’ve got to…Got to…Come on,’ he spoke.

He bent down and slid his hands under the statue. The surface was cold, damp and rough, but he tried not to think about it. Ray heard Shane growling then moving to the bottom corners. They counted to three then lifted. There was a loud mud sucking smacking noise and for a few moments they teetered on not being able to move. However, their strength paid off once more and the wet soil let them raise the devil.

Slowly and painfully, they crawled back to the van. Thin tree branches cracking around them and the mud ruts threating to trip them up. They put the statue down close to the van doors and as Shane opened them, Ray took in lungful’s of chilly autumn air. The second lifting was the worse, but once again they got the thing into the van and slammed the doors.

‘Now what?’ Shane asked as they lent against the doors, doubled over.

‘Now, we drive around till we find out where it came from.’

‘I want petrol money,’ Shane stated.

‘Okay, whatever.’

They got back into the van, scrapping and brushing off as much mud as possible. Then for the next two hours they drove around in an icy silence with only the radio to break up the rumbles of the engine. Shane turned down a dead end street, meaning to U-turn but was forced due to a number of parked cars to drive further down.

Ray wiggling in his seat, shooting looks at the houses on both sides. None of them looked different from the other semi-detached ones in this richer, better built area. However, their front gardens were different and as they passed one with a large very red brick wall something popped in Ray’s memory.

‘That house…turn around, I need to see it,’ he called out.

Shane did just that and pulled the van up on the curb. Ray climbed out of the van. He walked up to the wall and saw that it ran up a short front pathway before ending with pillars close to the front door. On each pillar sat a small gargoyle facing off with each other. Ray noticed that the one of the right had a shield and the left one had a sword. He looked to the right, across a neatly flag stoned driveway and saw another pillar ending the wall there.

The pillar was empty.

‘This is it!’ he yelled.

He rushed back to the van and flew open the door, ‘this is it. Come on.’

‘Are you sure?’ Shane shouted back.

‘Yes,’ Ray responded and hit the side of the van as he hurried around back.

Shane got out and joined him to open the van doors.

‘I don’t like this,’ he added, glancing around the street, ‘anyone could see us. What do we say?’

Ray shrugged, ‘we are delivering it. We found it and are returning it. It doesn’t matter.’

‘Still…’

‘It doesn’t matter. Just help me put it back.’

After a few seconds of planning, they heaved the statue up again and carried it over to the pillar. Sliding it on there with their muscles pumping and throbbing, they replaced the statue. Letting go, Shane lent over, grapping his knees and squeezing his eyes shut. Ray sink down to the driveway and looked at his hands. He had slight cuts in his palms and his skin was red-grey. He caught his breath then stood up again.

‘Let’s get out of here,’ Shane said in a low voice.

They ambled back to the van and got in.

‘You still sure?’

Ray nodded, ‘yeah. It looks like it fits.’

‘I’ll take your word on it.’

Shane started the engine and made to pull away. As he did so, Ray’s eyes lingered on the gargoyle. Mud was still coating the bottom parts and one side with the wall underneath smeared too. It didn’t seem any worse for wear though. Ray let out the breath he had been holding and prayed it was over with.

They drove off, leaving the devil grinning a mud caked smile.

The Devil is Watching You (Part 3)

It was a miracle that they made out of the building and into the car park. As they slide the devil gargoyle along the corrugated iron flooring of the van, Ray thought his body was going to burst. They slammed the doors shut and lent against the cold metal, breathing raggedly whilst sweat pooled off them.

‘We did it,’ Shane gasped; he bent over and grabbed his knees.

‘Yeah, just,’ Ray breathed back.

‘I need a shower.’

‘Not before we get rid of this thing.’

‘A drink then, water,’ Shane suggested.

Ray nodded and eyed the sightless windows of the apartment block. He thought he saw a net curtain fluttering back into place. Shaking his head, he patted Shane on the back and said he’d go back up and get them some water.

‘Let’s just go to the shop,’ Shane cut in, ‘we can get some beer too. I think we’re going to need it later.’

‘My wallet’s…’ Ray started and patted himself down.

‘I’ll cover it, but you own me, mate.’

‘Yeah, sure thing. Let’s go.’

Shane walked around and opening the driver’s door got his things. He locked the van behind him and they set off on the few minutes’ walk to a row of six tried looking shops. The small attached buildings sat in a semi-circle of pavement that at one time the council had tried to dress up with benches and flower pots. Now, though the area looked too run down to bother with and it was made even more so by the abandoned bedsits that hung like dead cows above the shop fronts.

Ray and Shane walked past the empty chippy with the closed sign on the door then what had once been a farmer’s market shop but was now white washed and for sale. Passed, Home Helpers, with its’ collection of brightly coloured house and garden cleaning supplies littering the space just outside, to Booze Bonanza. Shane led the way in and a small bell tinkled above his head.

They headed straight for the beer shelves then, arms wrapped two large cardboard boxes, went to the till. Shane paid without a word and they left as quickly as they had entered. After putting the beer into the van, they went to the next shop along which was a small convince shop. As they stepped in, Ray glanced at the next and last shop along; Fat Chu’s Chinese Takeaway.

‘Hey, let’s get a Chinese later. Go nice with the beer,’ Ray called over.

‘Maybe,’ Shane muttered, ‘not sure what time my missus gets off work. Have to see.’

‘All right. What we getting?’

‘More food and water, I’m starving. Those noodles didn’t even touch the sides.’

Ray shook his head and followed Shane around the narrow aisle as he picked up a few snacks, bottled water and soft drinks. Ray grabbed somethings too, thinking it would be useful if they didn’t get food later and he had to return to his place alone.

At the till, a dusty blonde, spotty teenage girl gave them a wary eye then started to scan their things. She sighed deeply and smacked chewing gum against her lip gloss lips. She packed their things in a carry bag and with a monotone voice mumbled the total.

Shane shoved a note at her, fisted his change as she handed that over and with a huffed ‘bye, grabbed the bag and left. Ray tried to shot her grin, but the girl had already turned back to the crappy gossip mag tucked down the counter’s side.

‘What was that about?’ Ray asked as they climbed back into the van.

Shane dumped the bag on the seat between them then dug out a bottle of water. He cracked the lid and took huge gulps. Twisting the top, he handed it to Ray and started up the engine. ‘Nothing. Let’s get this shit taken care of.’

Ray pulled a face, but settled back into the faded, rough chair. He opened the bottle, wiped the top and took a few sips. Afterwards, he looked out of the window and watched the council estate flowing by. Most of the houses were boarded up and those that weren’t looked like they should be. A handful of autumn trees, looking like they’d rather give up and die added nothing to the scene. They sped pass the flat wasteland reminds of an old war airport base, which the council had tried hard to turn into a nature reserve, but then had given up after losing too much money.

The van bounced along, onto the estate edges and around into a patch of woodland. Rain drops pattered the window and letting out a long winded breath, Shane put the wipers on.

‘It’s around here, I think,’ Ray mumbled.

‘Yeah. That layby,’ Shane pointed out then pulled in off the single track road.

Ray looked and saw spiny wind swept trees kept back by a broken wooden fence.

Shane turned off the engine and looked around too. ‘Do you know whereabouts?’

Keeping his face to the window, Ray answered, ‘yep. Its right through there then up a bit. Not far. Not far at all. We’ll be fine.’ He opened the door and got out.

Ray heard Shane do the same and they meet around the back of the van. Shane opened the doors and together they looked in on the statue. Dread filled them both.

‘We’ll just do what we did before and everything will be okay,’ Ray stated, ‘do you want to walk backwards or shall I?’

‘I’ll do it. Grab that end.’

Ray nodded and quickly they got into the same position as before and lifted the gargoyle out. Straining and sweating once more, they carried the monstrous stone into the trees. Ray felt his feet slipping on the soft mud and his back pain spiralling out of control. Shane, holding out a little bit better, tried to rush through the cluster of pointy branches and felt long wicked scraps across his skin. Swearing loudly and muttering a torrent of other things, they hauled the devil into a patch of abandoned headstones.

Dropping the thing down, they fall on other side of it, struggling to breath and hearts racing. Ray submerged in the wet soil, feeling as if it could fix all of his problems. He lay face down then when the pressure on his chest became too much, flopped over and stayed on his back. He shut his eyes against a darkening; tree topped edge sky and let the rain wash over him. He listened to his breathing and was dimly aware that he wasn’t alone.

Exhaustion dragged him into sleep and felt himself spinning down into eternal blackness. He was plagued by nightmares. The devil gargoyle danced around him, fire spurted up and unimaginable pain gripped his beaten body. Ray tried to call out, to run away, but he seemed unable to escape. Finally, he felt strong hands grabbing his shoulders and yanking him up. He tried to fight the hands, but he was shaken too much.

Ray snapped his eyes open and looked up at Shane. His friend was covered in mud and was shouting at him to pull himself together. Ray pressed his hands on top of Shane’s and drew in a ragged couple of breaths.

‘I’m fine. Thanks,’ he slurred.

‘You were screaming like a mad man,’ Shane explained.

‘I was having a nightmare…the devil…’

They both looked over at the toppled statue.

‘I had one too,’ Shane muttered, ‘Let’s get out of here. I’ve had enough of this!’

‘Me too. Me too,’ Ray added as he patted Shane’s hand.

They helped each other up and tried to wipe some of the mud off. It clung to them thickly and in the end they give up and walked back to the van. Behind them, the rain fell heavily on the forgotten gravestones and their new companion.

Safely back in the van, Shane started the engine and turned on the heating. He drove back to Ray’s apartment and both men were silent all the way. However, they couldn’t turn their thoughts away from the nightmares or the task they had just undertaken. Ray shut his eyes and lent against the cold damp window, but he quickly opened them again as he saw the devil looming over him. He shot a look at Shane and saw he was concerning on the road so hard that his knuckles were turning white under all the mud.

To Be Continued…

Apocalypse

Post Apocalyptic

The apocalypse had happened. I wasn’t sure how or why. I was with a group of looters, who were breaking into peoples’ abandoned homes. I should have been looking for a safe place to hide and trying my best to survive. Instead, I was being the lookout.

I heard them breaking down the door of a tall town house, but kept my eyes fixed down the road. I was aware of hurried movements and could only guess that they were now ransacking the house. I wondered what had happened to the people who lived on this street. A hand touched my shoulder. I glanced over and looked into the grubby face of a girl I didn’t know.

‘Nobody’s coming,’ she said.

I shrugged and continued with my task. She skipped off, her torn dress flapping around her. I slipped my hands into my warm jean pockets. I was a girl too, I realised as if I had never given it any thought before.

I looked around and saw a dark smoky sky with lines of burnt orange and red streaked into it. A number of cars were still parked up and the streetlights were flicking. Sirens and shouting could be heard in the distance. I could smell burning and taste acid in my mouth.

‘Let’s move on!’ the voice of the leader shouted.

We ran down the street as one. Our footsteps too loud in the quietness. We reached the end of the street and came to a rapid halt. There was a massive dinosaur standing in front of us. As it swung a large green-brown head towards us, I thought it looked like a diplodocus. It opened its mouth, revealing rows of sharp teeth and roared.

I was deafened and pressed my hands to my ears. I saw the dinosaur’s tail whipping around and noticed that there were others behind it. The diplodocus charged and we scattered. Its long neck swing out like a baseball bat from side to side. A girl screamed and I saw her flying through the air.

‘We have to kill them!’ the leader’s voice called out.

Someone pressed a long spear into my hand, but instead of rushing forward, I just stood there. The looters gathered in smaller groups and began jabbing spears into the dinosaurs. The diplodocuses were swinging their tails and heads around. Their teeth snapping at everything and mighty roars filled the air.

The first one fixed me in its sights and came forward. I readied my spear and tried to aim for the eye as it came closer. Instead, someone else caught its attention with a rock and its head twisted away. The girl from earlier collided into me and we both tumbled to the floor. I scrambled of my spear and to my feet again as the diplodocus came back.

I jabbed my spear out, not bothering to aim for anything. Teeth closed around the weapon, snapping it in half and at the same time pulling me in. I stumbled forward. Screaming echoed in my ears as I fell in-between those same sharp teeth. Everything went black.

I woke and found myself in bed. Shaking, I pulled off the duvet and looked at the window. It looked like a normal spring day.