Not There #writephoto

There was someone on the stairs. I pointed at the strange dark shape and said one of the few words I could, ‘ogog!’ Look!

Nanny didn’t pause but carried on taking me upstairs in her arms.

I pointed again, waving my hand more and wiggling against her. I had a bad feeling about the dark figure that was coming out before us. I cried  and tried saying whatever I could but Nanny hushed me and held my waving hand.

We passed the ‘shadow man’ and I felt a cold wave like a winter wind brushing against me. I think I saw a smile on the face, but it was hard to make out. Then the coldness and the man was gone. I twisted and looked over Nanny’s shoulder but there was nothing on the stairs.

And that was how it all began.

It was strange for a child to avoid their nursery but I always tried too. I hated going up the stone staircase to the attic at the top where my toys were because I knew on the tenth step lived the shadow man. It always felt icy cold on that step, day or night, summer or winter.

Nobody believed me about him. Nanny said it was my imagination. My maid, Martha, told me it was just shadows. The housekeeper, Mrs Williams, claimed it was a drift coming from the window. My father declared it was a trick of the light. My mother scoffed then ignored me again as she always did.

So, I stopped talking about him and tried to ignore him too. It was hard because he always seemed to be there. I would have to climb the staircase at some point during each day; after lunch or after my lessons or when my mother had a party and she didn’t want me to be seen.

Pausing at the bottom, I gather the long puffy skirt of my dress and the white underskirt up to reveal the matching colour satin or silk slippers before climbing. Sometimes someone else would be with me; Nanny, Martha or Mrs Williams but as I got older they would send me alone.

On the ninth step, I would stop and look at the tenth. There was nothing making it different from all the other twenty-one steps but in the shadows next to the banister a darker shape lingered there. If I stayed long enough, I’d be able to make out the figure of a man. He was taller then father, dressed in a suit and had long hair tied back with a ribbon. His other features were harder to make out; his face was blurred by black mist but he had eyes, a nose and a mouth that always smiled at me.

I plunged through the coldness, holding my breath then raced up the rest of the stairs. At the top, I would peer down but there was never anything there. I would go into the nursery, close the door and try to play with my dolls, rocking horse, tea-set and jigsaw puzzles. When I grew bored or tried, I would climb into the window box and read one of my many books. Until Nanny or Martha would come up to either lit the lamps or take me to bed.

He would be there, awaiting on the tenth step. Stronger outlined in the night but still blurred and blending with the shadows. He would watch me and smile. I tried not to look but I knew what he was doing all the same. He never did anything else but I think that’s what made me most afraid of him. I hoped he was just stuck there with no power, but who was to really know?

Long after I left my parents house, got married, moved into a new house and had children of my own, the shadow man still haunted me. Who was he? What did he want? When I could not sleep or was bored, I would try to find out but I never got any answers.

Then one day my daughter pointed something out on the stairs leading to the nursery. I looked and saw the shadow man standing on the tenth step, awaiting us.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2018/05/03/thursday-photo-prompt-ascent-writephoto with thanks).

Soul Stealer

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The shadows were gathering across the room, they were waiting till I fell asleep then they were going to take my soul. I couldn’t let that happen. Under the other pillow, my hand tightened round my small gun. I knew it was useless against them, but it give me comfort.

Keeping my eyes away from the dim light coming from the lamp, I tracked the shadows movements. They kept their distance but only sunlight banished them which meant I could only sleep at then.

I couldn’t take my eyes off them as I knew any chance I give them they’d take it and if they did then the rest of the world was doomed.

 

Shadow

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There’s a shadow on my wall and no matter what I do it won’t go away.

Escape

nature, person, woman

Uma started running through the forest, letting the small house and the twinkling light from the open back door disappear into the growing night. With a quick glance behind her, Uma saw the shadows detaching themselves from the trunks of the trees. She fixed her eyes on the path ahead and tried not to think about it.

Fallen branches and old leaves crunched under her feet, but it sounded so loud in her ears. Her breathing too had already spiked and Uma tried to keep it steady, a part of her knowing she would never out run them like this. A low tree branch whipped against her and Uma cried out as she was pinged backwards.

Thinking it was one of them who had grabbed her, memories flashed before her eyes like photos. Uma saw the Ouija board blood splattered, black shapes forming across the basement walls and the bodies of her friends laying about. Screaming, crying and that God awful wailing filled her ears. She had gotten out somehow, the wooden stairs biting hands as long black fingers reached for her….

Coming back to, Uma saw the tree above her. Desperately, she fought to untangle the hood of her blue coat. Twisting this way and that, she saw over her shoulders the black mist becoming more solid. Finally stopping, she claimed back her hood and thought about taking her coat off. Her breath misting in front of her made her pause. It was the height of summer and yet the forest was freezing.

A wailing sounded behind her and Uma turned. The shadows had taken on the form of humans, only if the bodies and limbs had been stretched totally out of proportion. There long arms reached out for her, see through hands with trailing claw like fingers waving in the air. Their faces were empty, just black balls on stick necks and yet the sound was coming from somewhere.

Uma screamed without meaning too. The fear bursting out of her as if a balloon had been popped. She spun around, but too fast and lost her footing. She fell to the forest floor, tasting dirt and blood in her mouth. As she tried to scramble upwards, icy fingers wrapped around her foot.

Another scream ripped through her, startling some birds from a tree. Uma tried to kick away and get up, but the ground was slippy and she was now unbalanced. Uma flopped over and began madly kicking to try and free herself, but the ghosts were upon her and they had no intentions of letting her go now.

Family Secrets (Part 2)

Pedestrian, Walking, Shadow, Night, Evening, Street

It was late when he returned home. She felt her husband getting into bed, but decided to stay quiet. He was soon snoring loudly and after listening for a few moments, she got up and used her phone as a torch. Creeping around the bed, she inspected his clothes which he had abandoned on the floor.

She picked up his trousers and felt through the pockets. They were empty. She sniffed his shirt, trying to pick up a hint of the other woman. It seemed though her husband had been careful. Dropping his clothes, she got back into bed and lay there wondering again before she drifted off to sleep.

The dream she had was only slightly different from one she had many times before. She was following her husband. He was walking quickly down a dark street where the lamps seemed not to be working. There were houses on either side with cars parked out front and the sound of drippy rain. She watched her husband go up to one of the houses and inside.

She stood before the curtain-less window and watched as a light came on displaying a small front living room. There her husband stood holding another woman in his arms and kissing her. She couldn’t make out the other woman as she seemed to be made out of shadows.

She rushed forward, going for the front door but a large black panther jumped in the way. It’s bright eye yellows flashed with anger as it hissed loudly at her. It’s tail swished and it prepared to pounce. She screamed and tumbled back. Instead of hitting the ground though she carried on falling. Her screaming echoed, blocking out all other sounds.

She awoke, rolled over and sat up. The bedroom was still dark, so she turned on the lamp. The dim glow didn’t seem enough to chase away the heavy shadows and she couldn’t help but look around the room for the panther. Taking a few deep breaths, she calmed herself and shook off the dream.

A warm hard touched her shoulder and she cried out.

‘It’s me, are you okay, Em?’

She relaxed and sighed deeply, ‘I’m fine, Rick. Just another bad dream.’

‘Again?’ her husband uttered.

‘I’ve got a lot on my mind, I guess. What time is it?’

Her husband removed his hand and she heard him roll over. At the same time she tried to read the alarm clock. It was almost six in the morning. She sighed and slipped back on to the pillow.

‘Ten to six,’ Rick voiced.

Em hummed and curled up again. She felt her husband shifting behind her and drawing her into a tight hug. He wrapped an arm around her and placed the other underneath her head. He nuzzled into her hair then rested his chin on top of her head.She stayed stiff in his arms, her mind racing.

Did he hold the other woman like this too? she wondered.

Biting her lip, she almost voiced her thoughts. Instead she said, ‘where did you go last night?’

‘What?’ Rick questioned sleepy.

‘I thought you went outside last night,’ she asked, nervously.

‘I didn’t,’ he replied.

Em pressed her lips together, carefully pondering how to rephrase her questioning.

‘You must have heard a neighbor or something,’ Rick suggested.

‘Yes, maybe,’ Em uttered.

She let herself relax, finding joy in the feel of his arms and body against her’s, despite everything. Slowly, she dozed off again.

To Be Continued…

 

Being Followed (Part 3)

Ghost, Gespenstig, Shadow, Silhouettes, Mystical

It was late Monday night when Briony returned home. She had spent Friday and the weekend at her parents before making up her hours at work. Pulling along the side the house, she turned off the car’s engine and looked over. The lights she had left on were still on and to anyone passing by the place looked occupied.

Briony gathered her things and the Chinese takeaway she had brought. Getting out, she was sure to lock the car before making her way boldly up to the front door. Dismissing all thoughts, she unlocked and opened the door.

There were letters and a small parcel waiting for her. She stepped over them, closed the door and went into the living room. Beside from looking slightly rummaged in, the room was clean. Briony placed her stuff on the coffee table and went back to pick up the mail. She checked the front door was locked then went into the kitchen, shuffling through the letters as she went.

Turning on the light, she had to place everything down to grab a plate, cutlery and a coke from the fridge. She checked the back door and looked out. The garden lay in darkness and she couldn’t see anything. Pushing her thoughts away again, she picked everything up and went back into the living room. There, she turned on the TV and ate her food.

After, curled up on the sofa, she opened the letters and the parcel. There as a bill, a bank statement, a reminder about her car insurance and claim for a prize draw she had never entered. Scrunching that up, she tossed it in the takeaway bag and grabbed the parcel. A thin book slide out and she looked at the title; How To Get Anywhere With Your Life; A Self Help Book For Those Stuck In A Rut.

Flipping it over, she read the back then flicked through the pages. A blur of words flashed by and a small breezy fluttered her face. Briony yawned and closed the book. Turning off the TV, she sorted stuff out then went upstairs with her bags, the book and letters. Slowly, opening her bedroom door, she poked her head in before entering.

The light showed the normality of the unmade made bed, wardrobe, desk, chest of drawers and bedside tables. She closed the door with her foot and dumped everything on the floor next to the desk. Moving the curtains, she looked down at her car and street. Everything was quiet and still. She opened the window a little and got ready for bed.

Getting under the duvet and blankets, she turned off the main light then turned it back on again. Glancing around, she wondered if she could sleep with it on. Laughing at herself, she turned it off again and put the lamp on instead. Settling down, she felt herself drifting off as soon as her head hit the pillow.

Something disturbed Briony’s pleasant dream.

Coming too, she lay still and kept her eyes shut. Her ears prickled at a rasping sound like a blanket being rubbed across another. She felt the bed dip slightly as if someone was sitting on the other edge. Her breath caught, panic wheeled in her mind and desperately she squeezed her eyes shut.

It’s nothing, nothing. You’re just dreaming and if not it’s the bed bouncing back after you rolled over or something. There’s nothing there…Briony’s inner voice rambled.

Moving her head ever so slightly, she opened her eyes and glanced over. There was nothing, but the top comforter on the other side of the bed.

Easing herself up and blinking away the soft lamp light, she reached out a hand and touched the edge of the purple silk. A drift of coldness brushed her fingers. She tugged the comforter slowly, sliding it back towards her. The thing fell off all the time, it was nothing to worry about.

Settling back, she let go of a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling. She listened, but heard nothing unusual. Shutting her eyes, she tried to recall the dream, but it was long gone. Sleep crept over, but just as she was on the cusp, a scratching sound broke the silence.

Briony shot up, clutching the duvet to her chest. Footsteps in the hall had her eyes shooting to the door. What seemed like long nails clawed along the wall and the soft squeaking of picture frames being moved trailed after it.

Frozen in bed, Briony could only stare as her bedroom door cracked open. The wood screamed as it was pushed all the way and something seemed to be manifesting from the dark hallway.

Briony tasted blood. She sucked her lip, eyes never leaving the shadow figure that was forming in the doorway. She could make him out more clearly now. He was tall with long legs and arms, his body was stick thin, so were his shoulders and he had a large round head. Red eyes stared at her and there was an oval shaped mouth underneath them.

Briony swallowed, somehow unfroze herself and reached up for the main light switch. Clicking it on, she prepared to be blinded, but it didn’t come on. She flicked the switch up and down a few times, but nothing happened.

Letting her hand drop, she reached for her phone, refusing to take her eyes off the solidifying figure. Her fingers tapped the top of the bedside table and came back empty. Her phone was in her handbag, beside the desk. Too far away.

Doing a few glancing between the shadow figure and her handbag, Briony decided she could make it. Throwing back the bedding, she darted out and flung herself across the floor. She seized her handbag, but before she could put her hand in she felt icy fingers grabbing her.

Briony looked. Long black fingers were wrapped around the top of her hand and curling underneath, whilst a wide black hand lay across her wrist. She followed the arm upwards and towards the pitch black face and huge red glowing eyes.

Screams ripped out of her throat.

 

To Be Continued…

Being Followed

Ghost, Gespenstig, Shadow, Silhouettes, Mystical

Something had been following Briony all day. It was there when she woke up in the morning, clinging to the bed post and staring down at her. Getting up, had caused the thing to move away and she had tried to put it out of her mind. Claiming it was the lingering effects of a bad dream, she got in the shower and ready for the day.

It left the house with her.

Briony closed the door and walked down the path, juggling her car keys, coffee, handbag and large folder. Something brushed past her at the gate. Stopping, she looked down at her ankles where she had felt movement. There was nothing but the edge of her pants against her high heels. Glancing around, there didn’t seem to be any sign of an animal or even a gust of wind.

Puzzled, she got into her car and locked the doors. Setting off, Briony shook her head and blamed it on the dream. What had that been about anyway? She couldn’t remember the shower had washed it away. Glancing in the rear view mirror she saw a flash of black. Actually turning around, she looked at the back seats and out of the back window. The strange black dot was nowhere to be seen.

Telling herself, she wasn’t going insane, she drove to work.

Even there it seemed to have followed her. Out of the corner of her eyes, she kept catching black dots, shadows and shapes which on closer inspection weren’t there. The feeling of being watched grew and distracted her. Briony couldn’t help shake the feeling of eyes on the back of her head. She stayed in during lunchtime and let her work consume her in the afternoon.

At home time, she lurked as long as she could, but then had to leave as the building was locked up. Sitting in her car, she didn’t feel safe. Something was in the back seat, watching and breathing into her hair. Starting the car, Briony blasted the radio and drove home on the edge of having a panic attack.

Parking up, she got out and inside her house quickly, hoping to catch the thing out and trap it either in the car or outside the house. Dumping her stuff, she hurried to the bathroom and locked the door. Trying to control her heavy ragged breathing, she listened. Was that a creak on the stairs? A tap on the glass? A rattle of the letter box?

Sighing, she ran a bath. Pouring in lots of relaxing bubbles, she undressed and stepped gingerly in. The hot water licked against her skin and ignoring the heat, Briony fully got in. Letting out a deep moan, she settled back. Water sloshed and dripped in the background, calming her further. Letting everything go in the tub, she tried to laugh off the experience. She was just having one of those days, that was all and there was nothing, nothing following her.

An hour later and after sorting herself out, Briony went downstairs to fix something to eat. Turning the TV on, she let the noise fill the house as she cooked. She ate in front of the news channel, but hardly took any of it in. From somewhere behind her, came a mix of tapings, scratchings and breaths.

‘Whatever, you are, please go away,’ Briony whispered.

She put her things down and slowly turned around. The shadows crossing the wall seemed to be looking back at her. She looked harder, trying to pick anything solid out. There only seemed to be a mass of darkness.

‘Go away, she muttered, ‘quit following me.’

Glad, there’d been no response, she got up and went back into the kitchen. Tidying up, she went to bed, hoping she was going to feel safer. Getting warm under duvet and blankets, she pulled a book into her lap and began reading.

Her bedroom door creaked open.

Briony’s eyes shot up. The breath caught in her throat and she waited.

Nothing emerged and the door didn’t open anymore.

‘Leave me alone!’ she shouted.

Clutching the book to her chest, her eyes scanned the room. She heard nothing further or saw anything move. Shakely, she opened the book and began reading again, but she couldn’t concentrate. What was that flicking out of the corner of her eye? She looked up and saw a shadow detach itself from the wall. It floated over to the bed and wrapped itself around the bed post.

Briony swallowed and watched it. She bit her lip, fighting down words that burned her throat. Her eyes flicked back to the book and the lines blurred together. Then in the darkness she heard a scream.

Trust (Part 24)

The blood was all consuming. Fern felt it tinging through her body, warming her and calming the growling hunger. Swallowing mouthful after a mouthful, she wondered how she’d been able to resist the blood’s lure before. Perhaps, I didn’t know how hungry I was? So much has happened over the last forty-eight hours. The thought faded from her mind, replaced with the dancing red swirls in a lava lamp like imagery.

She felt a hand pressing into her shoulder and a distance voice telling her to stop. She pressed her teeth and mouth over the bite mark more, determined to ignore the voice. Fern’s arms had wrapped themselves around the woman seconds after the first taste and now she couldn’t really feel them. Thinking about that, she couldn’t really feel anything other than the warm blood filling her.

‘Fern. Stop,’ Brook hissed into her ear.

I don’t want to, she answered back in her head.

Tough luck, Brook’s voice sounded within her thoughts.

Surprised, she slightly broke her grip on the woman. Brook noticing it, peeled her away quickly and pushed her towards the wall. Fern took the shuffle backwards caused by Brook’s shove before standing perfectly still in the middle of the room. She watched Brook lick her bite marks then set the woman down on the floor amongst the cardboard boxes.

‘How did you do that?’ Fern whispered.

Brook rubbed his hands on jeans then collected the backpack.

‘You said we couldn’t talk in our heads,’ she pressed.

‘We can now. We’ve shared the same human blood at the same time,’ Brook responded.

Fern looked at the woman and saw a fast healing bite mark on her left arm. Brook hadn’t bothered to arrange her as he had put her down, instead going for a just collapsed look. Fern tiled her head and really studied the woman.

‘I can sense things about her…’ Fern muttered aloud.

Brook, bag now swung over his shoulder was having a quick look through the boxes he hadn’t been able to before. He shot Fern a look over his shoulder, but didn’t answer. The sounds of him rummaging echoed loudly in Fern’s ears and she found it odd that she could detect each sound down to the movement that made it, even though she wasn’t looking. There were Brook’s sleeves and hands against the cardboard, the rustle of paper, plastic, the tiny tears of packing tape, the movement of items.

‘Her name is Nola,’ Fern spoke again.

‘Good to know. There’s nothing else here. Take this,’ Brook said and handed her the backpack then grabbed an empty one from the box. This bag was completely light blue and larger.

Fern didn’t move to take her bag, but continued, ‘she’s twenty-eight. An orphan and the only thing she ever wanted was for God to give her a family. He never did, so she made him her only family and became a nun.’

‘Fern. Here,’ Brook urged crossing the room and pressing the straps of the school bag into her hands.

She took the bag, not feeling the weight of it, ‘I didn’t know there were still nuns.’

‘Sure there is and monks, Pagans, Satanists…’

‘Satan?’

‘Yeah, you know, devil worshippers. We still need clothes…’

‘She is going to be okay?’ Fern asked in a small voice.

‘Yes. She’ll sleep it off and be fine. We need to go.’

‘Maybe I should stay here and make sure…’

‘No. The blood will lure you back and you’ll kill her. I can’t risk it and nor can you…I’ll explain more later. You’ll understand when the blood isn’t so fresh in your head,’ Brook clarified.

He opened the door and looked out. The soft voices and gently snoring of people reached out to them. Fern became painfully aware of how many sources of blood were around her. She licked her lips and thought about taking them all like the grim reaper. Their sleeping bodies would never know…it’d be so easy, she thought in a voice that wasn’t her own.

We’ll find someone else before we leave, Brook’s voice poked into her head, right now, the mission needs completing.

With a deep sigh of regret, Fern followed Brook out of the room and to the next door. She watched him open it, look inside and close it again. He crossed over and opened the two doors opposite them. Fern lent against the wall, her senses of hearing, sight, smell soaring and seemingly rushing everywhere to bring information back to her.

‘I feel…’ she looked down at her hands and dropped the backpack to the floor as she raised her hands to look at the crazy lines on her palms, ‘invincible.’

Brook bent before her, the bag’s handle tight within his three fingers, looked up at her.

‘It’s…strange…I feel able to do so much and there’s the wanting to do it. Nothing else matters…how can it?’

‘Here, put it on,’ Brook said rudely and shoved the bag into her arms again.

‘I want to fly, Brook. Let’s go outside! I want to fly to the moon!’

Fern tried to throw the bag away, but he held on to it. With a roll of his eyes, Brook pulled Fern off the wall and put the backpack onto her shoulders and back. Fern smiled, for the first time actually witnessing the fast movements of a vampire.

I bet I could do that too now, she thought.

Brook took her hand and led her back a door. He opened it and inside where racks and plastic boxes of clothes. They slipped inside and Brook closed the door as footsteps sounded in the corridor. There was a loud coughing and Fern saw the old man from before in her mind’s eye. Suddenly her vison was out in the corridor with him and she watched as he looked around. He moved off and out of the door, heading for the bathrooms, his clutched hand tight against his chest and thoughts wondering where the kids had gotten too.

‘You should watch out for the busy bodies,’ Brook whispered as they both heard the bathroom door close.

Fern nodded.

‘Clothes. Okay. We need….’

Brook moved off and began looking for underwear in the boxes.

Fern, trying not to giggle, looked through the racks of clothes. There wasn’t a great deal of choice and nearly everything was second or third hand. Quickly though, they gathered a selection of autumn and winter things and packed most of them in the backpacks.

‘Sorted,’ Brook stated and helped Fern slip into a long black faux suede coat.

Fern fixed the large hood and let Brook help her put on the now heavier bag. Fixing the straps, she watched Brook putting on the other bag.

‘Now what?’ Fern asked.

‘Now, I teach you how to be shadow and we nip someone on the way out,’ Brook answered.

Fern nodded, ‘a shadow. Do I just image being my own?’

‘If you want. Firstly, call the darkness in this room to you,’ Brook instructed.

Fern glanced around and realised they were in the dark for the first time, with just a crack of light coming in under the door. Wiggling her fingers against her side, she emptied her mind and focused at the wall.

‘What do I say?’ she breathed.

‘Nothing,’ Brook chuckled. ‘Think of nothing but the shadow in front of you and draw it into you. It’s a blanket and you are cloaking yourself with it.’

Fern bite her lip and did has he suggested. Something cool brushed against her skin and began creeping around her. A slight wave of panic then nothing but calm filled her. She had become the shadow. She looked down and saw her hands covered in a misty blackness, it seemed to be everywhere. Shooting a look over at Brook, she saw he was wearing the darkness too.

‘You made that look easy,’ Brook said, his voice high in awe.

‘Shouldn’t it have been?’ Fern asked.

‘Well…learning all these tricks can be difficult…’

Fern shrugged, ‘beginner’s luck? Oh, that man came back again…’

They stopped and listened to the man opening the first door then the one leading into the overflow room. He went into the corner again and folded himself up on the floor. Fern listened to his thoughts and grew worried by them.

Let’s move. We can’t be seen like this by humans, Brook’s command came.

Brook opened the door, Fern sticking behind him and they walked out of the room. Fern drew some more darkness to her as the corridor lights flickered above them. Brook was striding to the door and she hurried to catch up with him, thinking only of staying in her shadow cloak. Brook opened and slipped through the door. Fern did the same and as she surveyed the shelter’s main room this time, she didn’t react to the human suffering. Instead, she was filled with the urge to feed. She could hear so much blood pumping beneath skin and hearts making that motion possible.

Isn’t there a child or young innocent woman I could take? No one would notice, the vampire’s voice questioned in her mind.

There’ll be a night watch person we can take in the front hall, Brook’s mind whispered.

She nodded, feeling a slight flicker of disappointment at that, but falling into step behind him anyway. Brook led them to the double doors, opening one halfway and they easily went through. Fern guided the door back into place and tried to ignore the finger like tugs of the blood drawing her back. Instead as the door slotted into place, she looked up the hallway and saw a man sitting in a chair.

Brook went up to him and Fern followed. The man was dozing, his arms crossed against his chest and a torch slowly slipping from the fingers of his right hand. He was wearing a dark blue night guard’s suit and had the matching cap pulled down over his eyes. Brook stepped over his out stretched crossed legs and signalled to Fern to stay where she was on the man’s other side.

You try and take him, Brook spoke loudly into her head.

But I…What if he wakes? She called back.

I’ll take care of it. But you are strong enough now…go on.

I…don’t think I can…can’t we find a child or someone younger? Wouldn’t that be easier?

No. just do it. I need to see you can take them, Brook stated, do it now. We need to go.

Fern pressed her lips together and slightly bend down to try and see the man’s neck. She felt the shadow cloak slipping from her and hurriedly tugged it back up. The man’s neck wasn’t visible.

Where shall I bite? She asked.

Her eyes flicked to the man’s wrists and hands, which were the only bare skin she could see, other than the lower half of his face.

Brook?

She glanced at him, but Brook was just standing there watching her. He had crossed his arms and ankles as he lent on the wall.

Has the telepathy ended already? Wow, it picked a crap time. Okay…the wrist…it’ll do.

Fern lowered herself slowly to the man’s wrists then gently touch his hand. Feeling like she was playing that tense game Operation and removing the most difficult bone, Fern eased the guard’s arm away. Quickly she unleased her fangs and sank them into the soft skin. Blood welled up and she gulped it down. Her eyes tried to flicker up to Brook to read him, but they fell shut beforehand.

The blood slipped through her and Fern tasted the difference from the nun’s straight away. The man’s was thicker, older, more salty and laced with something else….tobacco and whisky, she decided. She swallowed and went back for a second mouthful. A notion of movement above made her eyes snap open.

Had he awaken? No, it’s just Brook feeding too….

She shut her eyes again and took another few mouthfuls before stopping. Letting the man go, she pulled back and took in a deep breath of air. She wiped her mouth and got up off her bended knees. She spotted Brook back against the wall and stepped over to him.

‘You stopped yourself too…’ Brook whispered.

He reached for her and she moved into his arms, pressing her cheek against his chest. Brook wrapped his arms around her and put his chin on top of her hair.

‘You did good,’ he added.

‘I need some air…’ Fern mumbled.

Brook gave her a squeeze then led her to the door. He pressed a hand to it and Fern heard the turning of locks and drawing of bolts. Making a mental note to ask him about that later, she stepped outside. The rain and wind hit her, but she felt far above them now. She took a few deep breaths and cleared herself of the smell and noise of the shelter.

Brook closed the door behind them and took her hand. They walked down the steps, went a few meters away then turned into a narrow empty passageway down the side of the building. Brook took her right to the high wall end.

‘Now, we are going to fly home,’ he said quietly.

Fern’s eyes lit up and she almost began jumping up and down.

Brook put his hands on her shoulders, his face breaking into a smile.

‘Can we really?’ Fern gushed.

‘Yes. Just think about it. Think about going up and home,’ Brook described, ‘think about leaving the ground here and landing on the grass outside home. Concentrate.’

He took both her hands and shut his eyes. Fern did the same and tried to control the gigged feeling brimming inside of her. She thought about flying and home, about leaving the ground far behind and touching the clouds, the moon.

She felt Brook dropping her hands and hugging her again. His breathing was soft, warm and blood scented in her ear. She wiggled her toes and really thought about lifting off. How silly does this seem? The thought rocked through and she lost it. Fighting down a cry, she scrambled to try again.

However, she felt a rush of cold air and jumping motion as if Brook had thrown her upwards. The wind and rain hammered around them and she pressed herself tighter into Brook. Her mind declared they were flying, but she didn’t believe it. Maybe the weather had got worse? The wind howled in her ears and she felt the rain pouring into her hair. Why can I feel this icy coldness when I couldn’t before?

Her feet hit a soft but solid surface and she eased off Brook. She looked around, fully expecting them to be still in the passageway next to the shelter, but they weren’t. The sight of the woodland filled her vision and head. She smiled and let go of Brook. She stepped away and looked at the wind torn trees and bushes.

‘We did it!’ she yelled.

‘Just about,’ Brook spoke from behind her as he unlocked the door.

Fern laughed, unable to stop smiling, ‘we really flew…I can’t believe it!’

‘Come in out of the storm,’ Brook shouted.

Fern laughed loudly and was about to turn to him with something caught the corner of her eye. She stopped and looked harder into the patch of woodland. The shadow of a figure was stepping out from behind a tree.   

Trust will continue next month.

************

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Lost One

I watched the spider crawling across the ceiling, needing a distraction from the empty top bunk bed. How strange that he had decided to make his home in this room. My wife was always immaculate with her cleaning in here. Still, she had other things on her mind right now.

Lewis had settled down again. His breathing was soft and across his face was that angelic expression that only young children have. It was hard for me, a first time father, to stop staring at him. Leaving him to his dreams, I half closed the door behind me and went back to my own room.  My wife curled up in bed, had left the lamps on. The soft light circled her face and I could make the worry lines on her forehead.

‘He’s a sleep again now,’ I whispered.

She moaned softly and muttered, ‘Thanks.’

I got under the duvet as she rolled over and sighed deeply.

‘You okay?’

She shook her head, ‘I don’t think I’ll ever feel ‘okay’ again.’

‘I’m sorry.’

‘I’m a bad mother.’

‘No. No, you’re not.’

She squeezed my hand, tears forming at the corners of her eyes. I couldn’t think. My throat had closed and there were only echoes of images in my head. I put my arms around her. She put her head to my chest. We held each other, listening to our breathing and heartbeats.

‘I don’t want any more children,’ she whispered.

I kissed her head, ‘Alright.’

‘I mean it, Neil. It’s just heartbreaking all the time….’ she faded, chocking on a sob.

I hugged her. It made no sense to argue, it would only make us both worse. She started to cry softly, her hands clung to my shoulders and her body shook against mine. I rubbed her back and told her it was going to be okay. Though I knew it never would be again.

It was early in the morning as I padded down the hallway to check on Lewis. There was urgency in my chest to complete my task, but it was taking me forever to there. The dark was pressing, but I could still make out the cream walls and the cluster of framed photographs.

There was a dim light shining from under Lewis’ bedroom door. It was only the nightlight, I thought, though I don’t remember it being so bright. I turned the door handle and poked my head inside.

Strands of cobwebs met my eyes. The whole room had been taken over by the thick, white strands, making it look like someone had decorated the room for Halloween, but had gone overboard. I pushed through the nearest webs and began searching the room.

‘Lewis? Where are you?’ I cried.

There was no reply and the panic rose in my stomach. I fought my way through the webs, feeling their stickiness brush against my skin. I began to tear them down, but they stuck on my clothes.

I reached the bunk bed and found it empty.

‘Lewis?’ I shouted.

I tore webs from my face and looked around the room. I could see nothing, but a slight dint in the cobwebs where I had entered the room from. I turned and fought my way to the bookcase, but Lewis wasn’t there. Fighting back a scream, I ran out of the room, the cobwebs trailing out behind me and falling into the hallway. I went back into my bedroom, my breathing deep in my panic tight chest. The bed was made and my wife was sitting in the middle of it. My mouth dropped as her head turned towards me.

She was wearing a massive black dress; with frills of delicate lace falling around her white skin and a matching veil over her face. In her left hand was a bouquet of black roses and in the other was a teddy bear. She looked like a gothic bride.

‘What happened?’ I asked, snapping out of my shock, ‘Where is Lewis?’

‘He’s gone….they are both gone now…’ she replied sadly.

‘I don’t….’

‘It was the best thing really….a half life is not a full one.’

‘Half life? What are you talking about, Beth?’

She shook her head causing the black dress to scratch against her skin. ‘They were beautiful, my boys and exactly the same. It wasn’t fair….how can one survive without the other?’

‘They can do!’ I yelled, ‘Where is he? What did you do to my son, Beth?’

She shook her head again and then dabbed at her eyes with a black lacy hanky.

I grabbed the bed railing hard and screamed.

I awoke in a tangle of sheets. The sweat was bubbling on my forehead and my lungs gasping for breath. I threw the covers back and raced for Lewis’ room in a blind panic, fearful of what I’d find behind the door and praying that the nightmare was left behind me.

Opening the door, I found the room tidy. The night lamp beside the bunk bed showed me that Lewis was still there. Sound asleep in his bed. I went to him, wanting to touch his soft blond hair, to make sure he was real.

‘Neil? What’s wrong?’ Beth whispered from the doorway.

I didn’t reply, but knelt down beside Lewis and touched him. He stirred a little and turned his face towards my hand.

‘He’s okay, isn’t he?’

‘Yes.’

Lewis opened his eyes against my hand and pulled a face.

‘Hi,’ I breathed.

My wife came to my side and put her hand on my shoulder.

‘Leo’s gone now,’ Lewis whispered.

‘Yes, he is, but he’s not really gone,’ I answered him.

‘I miss him, daddy.’

‘We do too, sweetheart,’ Beth replied.

‘It’ll be all right. Go back to sleep now,’ I said and kissed his forehead.

Then I took Beth’s hand and led her out of the room.

‘I believe you,’ she said, ‘It’ll be all right.’