Stone #WritePhoto

It was growing dark in the woods and everyone was locking themselves inside their homes. Candles and fires burned brightly, keeping the worse of the shadows away but the villagers knew it would not protect them. Nothing would if the monsters who dwelled underneath the trees decided to eat them.

Kissa led her lame nag pony around the moss covered trees, newly lit lantern held high in her small hand. The brown and white pony whined in pain but there was nothing Kissa could do. She was too busy trying to fight down the guilt of causing the pony to stumble because she had been running the poor thing too hard to try and get home before it was dark.

Now, it was too late. Kissa toyed with the idea of leaving the pony behind. The nag was slowing her down and Kissa could run, she wasn’t wearing skirts but dressed in boys’ clothes to help hide her identity. It was safer, her parents said to pretend to be a boy when traveling to see granny because girls were likely to be kidnapped on the roads.

Kissa looked at the pony. The animal was weary, pained and sad, it would be so easy to let go of the reins and walk away but she couldn’t, Bramble was her childhood friend. So, Kissa clutched the reins tighter and patted the pony’s neck whilst muttering soothing words. She also lowered the lantern to giving them more light to see where they were walking.

‘We’ll be home soon enough now,’ Kissa spoke, ‘look, there’s the stone marker ahead.’

Bramble neighed and limped on. Her hoofs tripping over fallen branches and pebbles.

‘We’ll rest there a bit,’ Kissa added, ‘even though I know we shouldn’t stop. It’s dangerous in the dark but we’ll look after each other right?’

They reached the stone pillar which was covered in green moss and surrounded by stones in a circle. No one alive now knew what the stones had originally been placed for but they were now used to mark the miles between places even though nothing was written upon them. Many people couldn’t read anyway.

Kissa sat on one of the stones, dropping the reins and placing the lantern down. She took the cloth bag off her back, pulled out a waterskin and a wrapped packet. She drink and ate the hard bread and cheese that granny had given her. Bramble stood still, right foot slightly raised off the ground, dozing.

A wind rocked the trees above them, an owl hooted and a fox cried out, the long sound taking awhile to fade away. Kissa huddled into her cloak, trying not to let fear get to her but it was hard as she was just a child of ten years. She finished eating, saving some just in case and took a few sips of water then packed everything away.

There was a rustle in the tall bushes close by and Kissa stood up, clutching for the lantern and the reins of the pony. She shone the light in the direction and waited. Perhaps, it was just the wind or a normal animal? Or it could be….

The breathe caught in Kissa’s throat as images of monsters flooded her mind. She had never seen one before but there was enough stories and drawings around for her imagination to create them. They came in all different forms and colours but the most famous ones were black and red, had huge horns on their heads, faces and bodies of beasts, cloven hoofs, human hands and a taste for human flesh.

Kissa was stuck between running and staying, she felt the tug of fleeing more strongly but she knew Bramble wouldn’t be able to move fast. Staying still and hoping the beast passed by was the best thing to do.

Kissa wasn’t sure it would make any difference though, she had seen dogs hunting rabbits and fox out of hiding by smell and sound. The stories said the beasts had great senses; they could see in the dark, hear and scent twice as better then any dog.

The rustling stopped and the bushes that had been swaying before came still. Kissa bit her lip and slowly moved. She put on the cloth bag and started to led the pony away. It was difficult to soften her footsteps and the hoofs of Bramble. There were too many crunchy leaves and snappy branches.

‘Come on,’ Kissa urged Bramble on, ‘We’re almost home, just try a little harder.’

Before they could get out of the stone circle, a tree next to them, give off a  loud crack, branches snapped and showered down on them. A large beast let out a roar so loud it shook the ground and a huge weight swung down to land before them.

Kissa screamed and threw her arms up to protect herself. The lantern banged against her arms, the candle inside wildly flickered, almost going out. The pony cried in fear and more pain as Kissa had suddenly pulled the reins upwards. Bramble twisted hard away, causing Kissa to drop the reins then using whatever energy the nag had been saving, she ran away.

‘Bramble, come back!’ Kissa shouted, spinning and getting ready to chase after the pony.

A massive, heavy, hairy hand hit her shoulder and Kissa fell to the ground. She dropped the lantern and there was a tinkling of glass. Gasping, she picked it up before the candle could go out. Breathing deeply, she stayed on the ground, tasting rotting leaves and soil whilst staring into the flickering flame. Kissa couldn’t move nor bare to look behind her.

She could hear the monster breathing heavily and sniffing around. Hoofs clomped about and the tree was still making snapping sounds. There came a smell of wet fur, dung and the stink of animals that remembered Kissa of the long haired cows some of the villagers kept.

‘Don’t eat me,’ Kissa mumbled.

She shut her eyes and lay still, waiting to feel that hand again picking her up and placing her inside a wet mouth, full of sharp teeth. She held her breath and prayed, for someone or something to save her, anything that would keep her safe and Bramble too, wherever the poor nag had ended up.

The hands and claws never came though, the monster was still walking around, letting out snorting and growling sounds. It seemed to be keeping it’s distance.

Kissa slowly pulled herself up and sat next to the lantern. She saw the monster; a towering, hairy beast with twisted horns growing on either side of his head, black and red fur, stood on two legs like a man, only the feet were cloven and the long fingers curled up. The face was made up of a large snout, with a wet black nose and a snarling mouth where white fangs were stained black, the monster had deep red eyes that were staring at her.

‘What do you want?’ Kissa spoke as she curled up into a tight ball.

The monster roared and leaped towards her but before it could touch her, the monster was thrown back. A tree trunk broken under it’s weight and the tree fell with a crash.

Kissa shuffled and hit the stone. She cried out then stopped as the monster ambled towards her again. The beast paced around the edge of the stone circle, staring at her and snarling.

‘It can’t get in….’ Kissa mumbled.

Kissa got more comfy and moved the lantern to be at her feet. She hugged herself and hopped that Bramble has made it home. Not sure what to do, Kissa put her head onto her knees and despite the danger she was in, began to doze off.

Three times, Kissa woke herself with a start and the second and third times, she found the monster gone and the woods quiet. She thought about leaving the circle and trying to follow the path home but the candle was getting low and the night was still pressing down.

Finally, she lay down and gave into sleep. Sometime later, the candle gutted and went out. A curl of smoke drifted upwards then the darkness fully settled. The monster crept forward two times and tried to break the protective circle with all his might but nothing would make the strong ancient magic give.

As dawn approached, the monsters faded into the shadows of the trees, going underneath them into the cold, darkness. Sunlight touched everything, birds burst into morning song and Kissa awoke.

Rubbing her face, she looked around and saw no monsters. She prayed her thanks, gathered the lantern and with a deep breathe stepped out of the stone circle. Nothing rushed towards her and she felt the sunlight warm on her face.

Sticking to the path, Kissa walked home, feeling weary with lack of sleep and fading fear. Soon the path wove down into her village and she saw most of the villagers standing around getting ready to head out into the woods. Kissa spotted Bramble standing by her house, her brother holding the reins and she rushed forward to hug the pony.

‘bramble! You’re safe! I’m glad you didn’t get eaten!’ Kissa cried.

Then her parents were sweeping her up and fussy and asking where she had been and what had happened.

Kissa told them everything and when she was exhausted, she fell sleep on her father’s shoulder, truly safe once again.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/10/25/thursday-photo-prompt-way-stone-writephoto/ for thanks).

 

 

 

Stone Circles (Part 4)

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It started to rain more and it turned into drizzle. The stone did not offer much shelter but I was too tried and growing scared to move. The deepening darkness made it harder for me to see and for some reason I began thinking about ghost stories governess had told me over the years. You could hear children crying on windy nights and women wailing when it rained, ghost horses pulling carriages during storms and also the howling of the devil’s dog.

‘Rosy! Rosy!’ I cried, ‘please come back to me! I want to go home!’

I started weeping, knowing it was not gentleman or boy like, but unable to stop myself. The wind began whistling around the stones and half thought I could make it whispering voices. Was that the neighing of a horse? I pushed back my head and got to my feet. It sounded like it could be but it was hard to tell where the sound was coming from.

I shouted for Rosy with the last of my strength then listened hard. There was more neighing and above the wind and rain, hoofs racing across the moors. I heard my breath and stared through the gloom. There was something brown coming towards me, was it Rosy or something else?

Leaving the stone circle, I cross the short grass and went towards the growing shape. It was a pony for sure but was it Rosy? I called her name again and made my way over. It was her! Galloping over, reins loose about her neck.

‘Rosy! Where have you been!’ I cried and rushed to embrace her.

I wrapped my arms around her warm, damp neck and cried hard into her fur. Rosy nuzzled me and whined softly. The drizzle dripping off her. She seemed unhurt and just as glad to see me.

‘Do you know the way home from here?’ I asked her, ‘can you get us back?’

I stroked her and climbed up on her back. The saddle was still tight in place but wet with the rain. I clutched the reins and told her to go on. Rosy turned away from the stones and walked into the gathering darkness.

I had no idea where she was taking me but I had to trust her. She had come to find me, had she not? Surly, she would take me home now? I shivered with the cold and tried not think so much. I wonder if Molly had lit the fire in my room and what would be for supper instead.

Rosy sometimes walked or trotted and I let her go. The rain turned heavy, the wind stronger and the moors darker. I lay down against her mane, dozing on and off. The flickering of lights in the distance called my attention and I looked upwards. It was hard to tell what was growing ahead of us at first. Perhaps it was lightening?

I felt Rosy speed up under me and I held the reins and saddle tighter. Had she heard thunder? I could not hear anything and the yellow lights ahead were becoming more stable. Could it really be Trenworth Manor at last?

And then it was! I saw the manor looming against the darkness, a solid shape against the sky.

‘Go, Rosy! Go!’ I urged the pony.

Rosy stepped onto the narrow road which made it easier for her to gallop on. The archway door still stood open and we went through. Rosy tottered across the gardens and went towards a small cottage and a stables that stood in the shadows of the manor. Mr Marsh had left the stable doors open and Rosy went in.

There was no light inside, so I climbed off her in the dark and hurried to knock on the cottage’s door. I banged loudly on the wood, the door opened before I stopped. Mrs Marsh stood in the doorway, famed by the glow of fire and with the scent of hot food drifting out.

‘Master Dunnington! What an earth-‘

‘I got lost on the moors!’ I cried, ‘Rosy wondered off without me but then we found each other again and she brought me home.’

‘Oh well, now, we did wonder where you had gone…’

‘I’ll take him back to the house,’ Mr Marsh said coming to the door with a lit lantern.

‘Thank you!’ I said.

He walked ahead of me and I followed the lantern light to the back door of the manor. Mr Marsh had borrowed the key, so he let me in to the kitchen. There was still some warmth in the air from the dying fire.

‘I will go to see to Rosy. You should get to bed now,’ Mr Marsh said.

He lit me a candle then left. Locking the door behind him. I hurried through the dark quiet house to my rooms. Once there, I lit a few more of the candles and also the fire. It should have been Molly’s job to do this but she was not round and I was not use to calling upon her.

I got out of my wet clothes and into something else then warmed myself by the crackling fire. A linger of fear was still going through me but I put that down to being cold. Once I was feeling better, I got up and went into the next room, hoping that Molly had remembered to leave supper on the light table for me.

Lighting more candles, I saw there was something. It seemed to be soup but it had all ready gone cold. I ate it anyway and the bread because I was hungry. Tiredness wrapped itself around me and I barely blew out all the candles and crawled into bed before I fell into a deep sleep.

I dreamt of the moor and being lost. I kept calling for Rosy and for help. The wind howled around me, deafening me and the rain fell, blinding me. I could hear children and women crying and wailing, their fingers brushing me, trying to keep me back. I stumbled onward and almost walked into a tall stone. I felt my way around and realised I was inside one of the stone circles.

Was I still there now? Had my return home been the real dream?

I tried to leave the stone circle but I seemed unable to get out. The stones closed around me, blocking the moor off. They rose above my head, making a roof as they touched together. I think I scream and bashed my hands against the stones.

The sense of falling and spinning took me, I was flying and the stones were scrapping against me. I hit the floor of my bedroom hard and struggled to untangle myself from the bed clothes. Dim morning light crept around the room and somewhere I could hear a servant’s bell ringing.

I got up, looking around dazed. Was I really back? Had it all been a dream after all? I went to the window and looked out. The moors were still there, looking welcoming in the light. I watched a flock of sheep going past, chased by a dog and two men. I looked down at my hands and saw the faint scars left by the cane. Everything looked normal but I did not feel it.

Something had changed and if it was due to that nightmare or my time being lost on the moors, I was never sure. Maybe, it had something to do with the stone circles? But I always felt less confident after that and I never wander Bodmin Moor alone again.

Stone Circles (Part 3)

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I rode Rosy the pony across Bodmin Moor. The breeze in my hair and in her mane and tail. I let her go where she wanted. Rosy had been born on the moor and found as a foal by Mr Marsh. He had taken her in, like he did with any young or hurt creature he found. She was fully tamed but also spent nearly all of her time out here, so she knew her way around better then I did. She was also more sure-footed then I ever could be.

We passed sheep, cows and other ponies – wild and tame- that roamed the land. Only once or twice did I see another person; a farmer rounding up sheep and a gentleman riding a big black horse. We heard the sounds of the quarries and saw the tall stone towers rising upwards, wheels turning. Rosy kept her distant and I agreed with her, those places were not for a gentleman to visit, unless he had urgent business there.

Some time a lot later, Rosy found a small stream and lowered her head to drink. I slipped off her back, feeling aches in my legs, back and arms. I stretched and knelt down beside the stream. The water was so clear! I cupped some in my hand and took a few sips. It was pleasant and refreshing. I drink some more then settled down to eat what Mrs Marsh and Margret had given me for lunch.

There was a hunk of fresh bread, slightly warm to the touch still, a lump of cheese, cut offs of the cooked ham, two apples, a sweet cake and a carrot. As if they had know that Rosy would be with me! I give her the carrot and one of the apples. The pony seemed grateful then wandered off to nibble at the moor grasses.

I ate everything, the moor air making me extremely hungry. I drink from the stream with I needed too. Rosy came over once more and I give her the rest of my apple. After, I folded the cloth carefully away and splashed water on my hands and face. It was a warm in the sun and waves of tiredness floated over me.

I laid down, watching the clouds going by. Rosy nudged me then carried on grazing. She would not wander far whilst I slept, she was a loyal friend, the only one I had in Cornwall. I shut my eyes, breathed in the moor deeply and let it carry me away.

It was hard to till how much time had passed when I woke up. There were more clouds in the sky and some of them had turned dark grey. The air had got chiller and the sun was struggling to get around the clouds. The weather had turned as it often does on the moors.

I rubbed sleep away, drank some more cool stream water and splashed some on my face. I climbed to my feet and looked around for Rosy.  The chestnut moor pony was no where to be seen.

‘Rosy! Rosy!’ I shouted.

Scanning the rolling landscape, I expected at any moment for her to reappear, trotting over to me. The only thing that moved through was the heather and rough grasses. I gathered my things, thinking that she had started home with it me. Perhaps, if I kept calling, she would come back?

Shouting as loud as I could, I set off in the direction I thought we had come from. After a few minutes though, I was not sure. Stopping, I looked around, trying to recall anything that would be familiar but the moor all looked the same. I felt fear growing in the bottom of my belly.

I looked back towards the stream, trying to think if Rosy had walked in a straight line towards it. There was a good possibility. Walking off again, I tried to look for anything that might be pony shaped or house shaped or even person shaped. Convincing myself, I was going the right way, I quickened my pace.

Above the blue sky was turning dark with grey clouds. The idea of being lost out here in the dark made the fear grow. I tried not to think about it. I would find Rosy again and she would take me home, she knew the way well. I felt a rain drop splatter on my hand.

‘Rosy! Rosy! Come here, girl! Rosy!’ I screamed.

I was not a young gentleman any more but a lost child. I ran, half tripping over spiky bushes and long plants. I prayed that Trenworth Manor would appear over the next rise but every time there was just more moorland.

How far had Rosy and I travelled? Why hadn’t I paid more attention to where she was going? Why hadn’t I tied her up before I fell asleep? Because I had not thought she would wander away from me, she had never done before. What if she was hurt?

I stopped, my body aching and my breath painful. I tried to gather my thoughts. It was not likely that Rosy had tripped or got tangled in something, she was so surefooted and built for being on the moors. Maybe, she had heard some wild ponies and gone to see them?  Or perhaps, sensing the change of weather and not being able to wake me, she had trotted off home.

I wiped my face, not realising I had been crying. A few more drops of rain fell. Trying to stay calm, I carried on walking. Perhaps, I would find the road back to the manor or something else that would set me on the right path? If it got darker and wetter before though, I could find a hollow somewhere and rest there.

Something that was not a normal part of the moor was growing in the distance. It did not look like a pony or a house though, it was something tall and grey. Hurrying over, I got closer and saw it a large stone. Then there was more, a number of them making a circle, no, three stone circles almost touching each other. They stood in a huge patch of moorland that had been cleared away so there was only light green grass around.

I stopped on the edge, starting in wonder. What where they doing here and who had put them like that? Stones do not stand naturally in a circle. Had they once been enclosures for animals? Maybe the layout for houses of the past? I went forward and looked closely. The stones were old, weathered with some moss growing at the base. The circles were incomplete; some stones had fallen over and there were gaps were some should have been.

I had no memory of the stones and surely, if Rosy had brought me this way I would have seen them in the distance? I walked around the outside of them, looking this way and that. I called Rosy a few times but all I heard was the gathering wind and sheep bleating somewhere.

Getting cold, I stepped inside the first stone circle and rested against the biggest stone. Too many thoughts ran through my mind so that I could not think clearly. I kept coming back to the same problem though; how was I going to get home?

To be Continued…

Stone Circles (Part 2)

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Early morning light woke me. I rolled over, rubbing my eyes then sat up. Someone had undressed me, leaving me in just shirt and underwear. I paused, a strange tuneful humming coming from the next room. I got up, saw fresh clothes laid out on the bedding box, my trunk open and half unpacked.

I dressed then went to the corner and moved the faded tapestry there to reveal a small door. Opening this, I entered a room that was trying to be too many things at once. There was a circle tea table under the window with two chairs, a small writing desk in the corner next to it. Along the next wall was a fireplace, another hidden door to the left and a bookcase to the right.

The other side of the room was a nursery; a large wooden trunk sat closed against the wall, there was another bookcase holding a few toys; a wooden boat, balls, tennis rackets, dolls. There was a dolls house, a tiny table laid with a tea set and in the corner, my favourite thing of all; a dappled grey rocking horse. His mane and tail were real grey horse hair, his black eyes were wide and his mouth open showing teeth and red lips around the metal bit.

I was not alone in the room. A young woman, dressed in black with a white pinafore and cap was by the first bookcase, putting away books that she had taken out of my trunk.  I could see bright red hair poking out of the caps edges and a hint of flat black shoes under her skirts. She was humming loudly and had not heard me enter.

‘Hello,’ I said.

She jumped, a book flying from her hand and spun around to me. More loose strands of red hair framed her flushed pink face which had a covering of freckles. Her nose was upturned, her eyebrows raised in shock and her bright blue eyes fixed on me.

‘Sir! You startled me!’ she cried.

‘Sorry…’

She bent, picked the book up and shoved it on to the shelf, ‘I was worried you would not awake,’ she said, her voice sounding very Cornish, ‘I came up after Mrs Bennett told me too but you were all ready sleeping. The trip from London was tiring?’

I nodded.

‘I have never left the village. My cousin works here as the gardener’s hand, he recommended me when Mrs Whitley enquired. This is my first job, would sir please be understanding of that?’

I was use to that being the case at Trenworth Manor. Seemed my aunt found it hard to hire more experienced servants. Or perhaps, she was more understanding of the younger ones now having me in her life.

‘How old are you?’ I asked.

‘Seventeen,’ the maid replied.

‘And you name?’

‘Molly Pickworth, sir,’ she answered and give a little curtsy.

‘I am Master William Dunnington.’

‘I know,’ she uttered, her cheeks flushing deeper red.

I looked away from her as was gentleman like to save her more blushing. My glance ended over at the table and I saw it was set out for a meal. There was a silver tray with a covered dish, milk jug, sugar bowl, jam pot, a teapot and tea cup on a saucer. My stomach growled loudly, breaking the silence that was growing.

‘Excuse me,’ I said.

‘I believe it is porridge, sir,’ Molly voiced, ‘Mrs Marsh sent it up an hour or so ago. It should still be warm.’

Nodding, I went over to the table and helped myself. Molly carried on unpacking, trying to be as quiet as possible. The porridge was good, still warm and nice with sugar and jam. The tea was also nice and comforting. I felt better after eating and drinking it all and turned to look out of the window whilst I rested.

Surprising, it was nice day outside. Sunlight was pouring across Bodmin Moor from a really blue sky, the grass and bushes were a wash of green and I could just see little colours of flowers. Bird song was drifting through the air and I could just hear the calling of cows from a nearby farmer’s field.

‘Have you finished, sir?’ Molly asked.

I nodded and stretched out as she gathered everything up.

‘I think I’ll go outside,’ I spoke.

‘As you wish, sir. If there is anything else….’

‘No, that’ll be all,’ I said as if I was the lord of the manor.

I got up off the chair and went back into my bedroom. I went out the door and back the way I had come last night. I should have sought Mrs Bennett and asked her if my aunt wished to see me, but I knew my aunt would not want too, she rarely give me an audience.

The smell of freshly baked bread and something sweet, hint my nose at the bottom of the main staircase and I walked towards the kitchen. Opening the door, I saw the back of the elderly cook, Mrs Marsh removing bread from the oven. Her granddaughter assistant, Margret who was almost twice my age was at the sink washing something. There was a fire burning in the stove and a kettle boiling on top. The scrubbed, wooden table was piled with a mixture of different foods and the back door was half open, suggesting a delivery of things from the village had just arrived.

I coughed and walked in, making sure I was heard, Mrs Marsh was partly deaf.

‘Oh, it’s the young master,’ Margret said, turning around.

She was tall and curvy, wearing a simple dark green dress with a peek of white underskirt showing at the bottom. Her arms were going thick with muscles from carrying and working hard in the kitchen. Her face was pleasing with rounded cheeks, plump lips, blue eyes and dusty blonde hair poking out of a too small white cap. I noticed too the gold band on her ring finger and the growing bump of her stomach.

‘I sent his porridge up,’ Mrs Marsh half shouted as she tipped a loaf of bread out on the counter.

Steam curled upwards, trying to mix with Mrs Marsh’s white hair that was held back in a tight bun under her cap. The old woman had dark blue eyes which were slowly failing her and her face was all wrinkled and worn. Her skin was darkened by the sun and I recalled she liked to doze outside. She was wearing a dark blue dress, covered in flour and other stains.

‘Thank you for that, it was most needed,’ I said.

I walked in and inspected the items on the table; there were fresh fruits and vegetables, cooked ham, cheese, butter, two dead chickens, three dead rabbits, a pot of jam and another of sugar. There was also a jug of milk, a bottle of sherry and larger bottle of Cornish cider.  My aunt had ordered Mrs Bennett and Mrs Marsh to buy more food in as usual during my stay.

‘I’m going out to the moors. Can I take some of this with me?’ I asked.

‘Boys, always hungry,’ Mrs Marsh said with a hint of a smile.

A few minutes later, I was handed a cloth wrapped package of food and sent out the kitchen door. Unable to keep the excitement within me down, I broke into a small run and dashed through the little patches of gardens. There was a tall wall with an arched doorway at the back which led out onto a small road. I took this way to the moors.

There is nothing like the sense of freedom you get from the moors. There’s this vast spread of rough land as far as the eye can see and it’s empty of people. The smell of the heather and wild flowers flooded me and a realisation that I had truly missed this hit me hard.

I was about to run and spend the day explore the moor when the clop clop of hoofs and the stomping of boots from behind stopped me. I turned and saw the old gardener, Mr Marsh – Mrs Marsh’s husband- coming towards me leading a stoat chestnut moor pony, her mane and tail a mixture of dark brown turning black.

‘Hello, young master!’ he called to me with a wave.

I walked back through the arch and towards him. Mr Marsh looked like a gardener should; large boots covering his lower legs, baggy trousers and a loose dirty white shirt with rolled up sleeves. He had white hair, kind green eyes and a less wrinkled face then his wife. Soil was ingrained to his hands and other places. His skin was dark – the sign he spent all his time outside and his back was bent forward, another sign of all his hard work.

My eyes fixed on the pony beside him.

‘Rosy!’ I shouted and dashed over. I threw my arms around the pony’s neck and hugged her tightly. She smelt of fresh hay and warm fur.

Mr Marsh chuckled, ‘heard you were back, Master William. Thought I’d get her ready for you to ride.’

‘Thank you,’ I said, my voice muffled.

‘There you go, then,’ Mr Marsh said and handed me the reins.

A little spark of fear quivered in my stomach. I had not ridden a horse in a year, what if I had forgotten? Rosy nudged me with her pink nose and I patted her. She had always been a quiet and patient pony, unlike her wild cousins that roamed the moor.

I climbed into the saddle with only a little help from Mr Marsh, who then walked us to the arched door.

‘Looks a good day for it,’ Mr Marsh spoke and he give me the reins again.

I nodded, seeing the blue of the sky against the greens of the moor. Then Rosy was walking on, sure footed across uneven ground that was half hidden by the heather, mosses and grasses.

To Be Continued…

Pony Present #ThreeLineTales

three line tales week 96: an Iceland pony in the snow

She’d been asking and asking for her own pony till we’d finally given in. The problem was that the animal shelter didn’t let you adopt anything mid-December through till early January as they knew the pet was likely going to be a present. So, we had to get the pony now and with no where really to hide him, we celebrated Christmas early.

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2017/11/30/three-line-tales-week-96/ with thanks).

Winter Field

PHOTO PROMPT © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Alicia looked out of the window and across to the field. Four horses and two ponies were tucking into a bale of hay whilst the snow fell around them.

They need their rugs on, she thought.

Picking up her phone, she called the stables. It ring for a few seconds then an old man’s voice answered.

‘The snow’s not stopping. Please, put their coats on,’ Alicia spoke.

‘Right away,’ Tom answered and hung up.

Alicia ended the call too and put the phone back into her lap. A few minutes later, she saw Tom weighted down by coats going over to the horses. When he had put them all on and she was satisfied. She turned her chair from the window and wheeled herself back to her desk.

 

(From photo prompt by https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/tag/friday-fictioneers/ With thanks. Copyright of photo with her).

The Arcana Of Dreams (Part 5)

I stared down, watching us leave the mine behind. The people and ponies below become smaller then faded as we ascended through natural rock. At some points there were spot lights of gas lamps, but I couldn’t see very far out. I was pressed against the wire mesh, the laboured breathing of the other eight people, including Dean harsh against my skin. I shut my eyes and tried to remain calm. I was also reminded myself that this was only a dream and nothing was going to happen.

The cage lift juddered under me and I had to open my eyes to look up. The mechanism was so simple; just two strands of thick cable and an even thicker rope were hauling us up. My mind wheeled, what if it all snapped? We’d plumage straight back down and crash to death. I hurriedly looked away and tried not to think about it anymore. I looked to my right and saw into the other lift cage. The men, for they were all seemed to be men, looked exhausted and covered in coal dust. A few had shut their eyes and seemed to be resting standing up. Two of them were swapping yellowed cards and another was pulling out a harmonica.

Turning my head to the left, I saw the ropes for the first cage, they were moving downwards but we’d yet to pass each other.  I refocused on the natural yellow, dark brown rock surrounding us. I could see chisel marks in some places, small pools of water and the glitter of natural minerals.

‘How’s your head?’ Dean whispered to me.

I touched it automatically and rubbed my hair under the helmet. My fingers came back tipped with soot and I rubbed my hands together to get it off.

‘Well?’ Dean pressed.

‘Okay. I think. I’m still struggling to remember though…’ I paused.

‘You’ll be okay when we get out. The fresh air will help.’

‘Girls,’ a hard voice growled from behind us.

Dean and I both looked around, but we couldn’t see the speaker amongst all the tried faces.

I bit my lip and turned to carry on looking out. I felt Dean put a hand to my back for a brief moment. I part of me wanted to turn and hug him tightly, but my feet wouldn’t obey. Instead, my hand reached to secure the satchel and feel the reassuring weight of The Arcana.

‘Two hundred meters,’ Dean muttered

I looked up and saw a metal sign attached to wall with a light shining on it. The numbers flashed before me then we went passed and into a large opening. I breathed more freely, feeling better now we were not so close to the walls. Water dripped heavily from somewhere and I heard the muttering of voices growing louder. I looked to my left and saw the bottom of the other cage lift coming down. Keeping my eyes fixed, I watched us draw level and saw inside ten men and women. They were a lot cleaner than us and carrying a range of mining tools – hammers, axes, picks and I saw a dagger strapped to someone’s belt. A few had small leather rucksacks on and they were all wearing yellow helmets and carrying lanterns.

I listened and tried to pick out their conversations, but could only make out a few words as we passed them. Their cage disappeared below and I turned my head up to look were they had descended from. I couldn’t see very much.

‘A hundred and fifty,’ Dean’s voice blew into my ears and I saw another sign going by.

‘Are we almost there?’ I whispered, trying not to be over heard.

Dean nodded and I resisted grabbing his hand. I shut my eyes and breathed again. A few minutes later a heard, ‘a hundred,’ and felt the air fully change for the first time. It became easier to breath and I felt a cold wind on my face. I wrapped my fingers around the satchel’s strap and waited for the life cage to stop.

‘Fifty meters,’ Dean uttered, a hint of excitement in his voice.

I breathed in and out, keeping my mind empty and waiting.

‘Twenty-five meters.’

The lift began to slow and I heard the full whirl and turning of the gears. We shuddered to a stop and I opened my eyes. We were still in the mine. Dean opened the door and stepped out. I followed him, clocking the queue of people waiting to get in. We went off to the side and I touched the natural cave wall then pressed my back to the hard, wet surface. Everyone else was getting out of the cage, walking passed the queue and into a wide tunnel.

Having caught my breath, I looked more closely at the people before us and saw that some of them were wearing red jackets. They were weaving around the lines of people, sometimes stopping to talk to them and check the items they were carrying. Also, I noticed a large red painted hut that had the word Foremen written on the sign above.

‘Let’s go,’ Dean said out of the side of his mouth as we both spotted a small man in a red jacket eyeing us.

We set off, walking up the slightly sloping tunnel and out into the early evening. I filled my lungs with late autumn air and looked up at the sky above us. It was dark grey with some puffy clouds and dots of stars. Something else caught my eye and I fully looked at it. A large airship was drifting across us, it’s white gas bag stark against the sky and it’s twin circler propellers whirling, though I couldn’t hear them.

‘Dean, look,’ I said and pointed up to it.

He glanced, ‘its fine. Come on.’

Struggling to look away, I wondered what year it was and where we were. Dean had gone towards a large three story building that had a large red cross painted over the front of it. I stole a few moments to look further around and saw that we were standing in the middle of a large town. There were wooden cabins stretching in countless rows across from me. Some had lights in the misty windows, other smoke coming out of chimneys whilst more lay in darkness.

To my right, was another red painted Foremen’s hut but beyond that were some low stables and fenced paddocks. A few gas lamps were flicking above thin grassy scrubland and I saw two brown ponies nuzzling each other against the fence. A few abandoned wooden carts sat off to one side as well as some bent railing next to them. I looked further out and saw a tall wired fence and gate behind the cabins. Above the top of which, I could make out tall towers, maybe skyscrapers? Just poking out of the sky.

‘Abs? Come on!’ Dean shouted

I hurried away, almost tripping on some large stones.

‘This is a waste of time,’ Dean mumbled to himself.

‘My head’s feeling fine, actually,’ I broke in.

We stopped in the shadow of the AID building and Dean looked me over.

‘So about the escape plan-’

Dean’s hand flew around my mouth and I chocked on the words.

‘No, no,’ he hissed, ‘not here!’

He grabbed my arm and marched me away. We went over to one of the cabins and still holding me, he opened the door and led me in. The cabin was long and filled with bunk beds along both the walls. All the beds were occupied with sleeping men and women. Dean led me right to the back then spun me to the left and down into an empty bed.

‘No talking,’ he breathed, ‘now get some sleep.’

He dumped his stuff on the floor, pulled off his boots and climbed onto the bed above me. I looked down, noticing I still had the lit lantern in my hand and the pickaxe and sack in my other. I put everything down, took off my helmet and thought about taking off my boots, then decided against it.

As Dean settled on to the bed, I curled up then pulled out The Arcana and flipped through the pages, unsure what to look up. Keywords began to enter my mind as if the book itself was suggesting them and maybe it was. I looked up whatever came then pieced it together as I had done in the forest.

To be in a mine means you are getting to the core of an issue and your subconscious is coming to the surface. Alternatively; a metaphor for claiming something.  Seeing coal represents wealth and prosperity, a well as your used potential.  Walking across it means you will overcome adversity and nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. Then again it could mean you have been caught doing wrong. A cave symbolizes the womb, refuge, protection and concealment as well as an exploration of your subconscious mind.

Seeing a burning candle signifies that good luck and hope is coming. You are at a comfortable life stage, but seek spiritual enlightenment. Candles represent intellect, awareness and a search for the truth. To carry a lantern represents the feelings and wisdom coming from you that will guide you in the life’s journey.

To dream you are American or from, symbolizes independence and freedom. Also, commercialism, riches, abundance and political views are represented. A pony signifies your playful side and your unexplored, underdeveloped power.  To see or dream of a wood cabin indicates you will succeed via your own means and that you are self-reliant, independent and prefer a humble, simple life. (For airship see dirigible) A dirigible symbolizes your ambition and determination to achieve your goals, but it can also mean your inflates sense of self.

I pondered over that, my fingers sticking to the page. Finally, I closed the book quietly and lay down. Most of what The Arcana was telling me made sense and I could even link back some of it to the stuff in the forest. I shut my eyes and listened to the soft snoring around me.

‘Hey, wake up. Abs!’ Dean’s voice broke through my thoughts.

I opened my eyes and saw him in the dim light coming from a slit in the curtains. He was wearing a white buttoned up shirt, dark blue trousers, a long matching blazer and a blue and white stripy tie. He had also washed and was no longer cover in coal dust. His face was clean, fresh and more handsome then I had realised. I frowned at his clothes and wondered what was going on, was this now a new dream?

‘I got you some water,’ he whispered, ‘wash up then change. Be quiet, we don’t want to wake anyone. Here’s your clothes,’ he added and put on the bed a hessian sack.

I got up and saw there was a large bowl of water on the table next to me. I washed my hands and face then peeked out of the window. The sky was turning to dawn and I could see the front of another cabin behind us. I heard Dean putting on some shoes and scrambling around.

Turning, I opened the sack and took out the same uniform he had on, only instead of trousers I had a long skirt. The clothes were big enough to put over the ones I had on and I quickly did that. Smoothing out the skirt, I fixed the tie around my neck then picked up my bag again.

‘Why-’ I started.

‘Hush,’ he hissed back with a finger pressed to his lips.

I clamped my mouth shut and watched him put a small leather rucksack on one shoulder. Around us everyone else was still sleeping and a pre-dawn stillness hung in the air. Dean gave me a nod and crept towards the door. I followed closely behind and matched his footsteps to avoid to loose floorboards. He reached the door, opened it and peered out. He slipped through and I followed him. A cold breeze felt nice on my face and I could also smell hay and warm oats.

Dean eased the door back into place and we set off towards the gate, sticking to the shadows of the other cabins. Desperately, I wanted to talk to him, but the risk felt too great. We reached the gate and I saw a large padlock and chain looping the gates together. There was also two small watch towers above us, which I hadn’t noticed before. I gulped my questions about us being prisoners and this some kind of camp down. Dean pressed himself against the fence and I did the same behind him.

Hiding in the shadows, we watched a man in a red jacket come up to the gates and unlocked them. He swung both of them open and on the other side we saw a line of horses and large carts. The man waved the first through and as the line began moving in, Dean slipped out. I was right behind him, chasing down my fear and trying not to be noticed. We squeezed passed a cart containing barrels and other containing wooden boxes full of chickens.

Dean went off to the side and along the fence. I joined him, feeling the wire shaking behind me. Stupidly, I shot a look back and saw a hooded figure on top of the chicken cart. I held my breath and almost stopped, panicked I’d been seen. Dean grabbed my hand as my legs went to jelly and he tugged on me sharply. He yanked me away, forcing my legs into a run as we raced down the street. The sound of a whistle blasted in my ears and bitterly, I told myself off.

‘I’m sorry!’ I gasped.

Dean shot me a look, but didn’t stop running. The pavement slammed under our feet and the small houses opposite us and over an empty tarmac road flashed by. Tears started in my eyes and I was crying before I knew it. My vision blurred and I lost all sense of where we were going.

To Be Continued…