Ritual #FirstLineFridays

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They congregated up in the hills, far away from judging eyes. The ground was soft and wet under their bare feet. A warm breeze blew their simple robes about their ankles and wrists. The sky was blocked by a low hanging fog that hugged the hills in a chilly embrace.

They gathered around the huge standing stone who’s jagged edges pierced the sky. Strange symbols and patterns covered the stones surface, darkened by dried blood and faded blue paint.

Around that hill top, smaller standing stones raising up out of the long grass formed a circle Each had a symbol on that had once been painted green. Perhaps they were a warning? Or protection for those inside?

The people took off their robes, felt the chill of the air and fog on their skin. Tattoos covered their bodies, matching the symbols on the standing stones. Everyone joined hands and began singing in a language that was hardly heard today.

Before their voices died away, a wizened old man, bent almost double and leaning on a gnarled old walking stick came forward. He touched the stone and began chanting. Other voices rose and fell around him.

The ritual had begun.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2019/07/19/first-line-friday-july-19th-2019/ with thanks).

 

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Timeless #WritePhoto

It was a silly idea but it stuck in my head and what did I have to lose anyway? An afternoon getting lost, back tracking lots then finally finding the correct field. Though, it’s hard to say those hours were wasted because I actually enjoyed getting out of town and into the countryside for awhile.

I’m NOT going to start at the beginning, I’m sick of doing that with the doctors, nurses, support workers etc. I sound like a broken record in my head, stuck repeating the same lyrics over and over. Sorry for the use of cliche, but as I’ve found out things put plainly get more understood then some hyped up analogy.

To all those people and everyone else – family, friends, colleagues- they need to hear it to understand it, no matter how many times it takes. Also, they like to hear me being positive; ‘I’m okay,’ ‘I’m doing fine,’ ‘No, I don’t need help,’ ‘Thanks for your concern, I appreciation it.’

And all the while I’m just screaming in my head; ‘Can everyone just F off and leave me alone!!’

It’s strange how we are sort of programmed to hold everything in, to stay ‘normal’ when everything is anything but and just carry on.

I thought about this the other day, when I saw a boy having a tantrum in the shop because his mum wouldn’t buy him a toy. He was full on getting all his emotions out for everyone to see and though people didn’t like it, we all understood what was going on.

That’s what I want to do! Just scream to the world that I’m not happy and I didn’t get what I wanted in life and now I’ve been told not much can be done about it. As an adult, I can’t seem to do that. It’s not the to do action when you are mid-thirties.

The action is to accept and move on.

Or else you go out and try silly things like this!

Now, I’m walking across short, wet grass, heading to the almost center of the field. Ahead the massive standing stone looms, it’s a strange twisting shape and a total blot in the flat landscape. It’s a mystery how it got here but legend says it’s an ancient healing stone and has cured millions.

I come to a stop beside the stone. It’s covered in dark moss and bits have been chipped away which is why it has an odd shape. I guess people were so desperate for healing they removed bits. I wonder if that worked for them or if the bits lost power? Does it actually matter?

I touch the stone like I’m meant too. It’s freezing and wet, not a surprise there. I feel foolish. I breath and hope no one is seeing this right now!

Do I believe the stone will heal me? I’m not sure. Common sense says no but common sense also says drugs are meant to but when the drugs stop working what then?

When you lose belief in one thing how can you find it in another?

Tears roll down my cheeks, hot and salty, I don’t wipe them away. I’m too tried.

I move closer to the stone and hug it. My arms don’t reach all away around and there’s a large gap my fingers try to bridge but don’t. Dampness and coldness sink into me like the starting up of a shower before it gets hot. The stone is smooth, worn over the years. I press my cheek to it and just let everything go.

I cry, scream, shout, punch, kick, I bash my head against the stone.

Dizziness sweeps me. Sobbing, I slip down to the ground, press my back against the stone and turn my face skyward. Shutting my eyes, I listen to my hammer heart, my ragged breaths and a headache building.

It starts raining softly.

The stone feels warm.

And for the first time in a long time, I feel little bit of peace.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/02/21/thursday-photo-prompt-timeless-writephoto/ with thanks).

Green

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I had never seen a stone like it before on the beach. With the waves and wind whipping around me and Betty, my cocker spaniel whining, I bent and picked it up. The coat of my hood and loose hair strands got in my face, I blinked them away then looked in my hand. The stone was there. Sparkling wet, but perfectly round and a clear lime green colour.

I turned it over and it was the same on the back. Slipping it into my pocket, I straightened and began battling the storm back to my house. When I arrived, cold and dripping wet. I took my coat off and forgot about the strange stone. I had Betty to dry, myself to dry and though it was the height of summer, a fire to make up.

So it wasn’t until I put my coat on days later, to protect me from a miserable drizzly morning, that I rediscovered the stone. Taking it out of my pocket, I looked and felt it’s smooth edges. Betty was bouncing at my feet, eager to go out and wondering what was keeping her master from getting a move on.

I looked more closely at the stone and realised it wasn’t a stone at all. It was a piece of glass which the ocean had worn smooth and softened the edges of. It wasn’t unusually to find glass fragments on the beach, it was the fact the piece was so green that got to me. Wondering were it came from, I placed it safely on the little sill next to the front window. I took Betty out and once again forgot all about the green glass.

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…

The Devil is Watching You (Part 2)

Ray let Shane through the second he heard the intercom buzz. Letting his finger drop from the button, he paced the space in front of the door and waited for his best friend to come up to the twelfth floor in the old lift. Ray rubbed his hands together and tried not to let his thoughts gush out of his mouth. His stomach withered and he felt like he had swallowed a live snake.

A tap, tap, tap, came from the door and Ray hurriedly unlocked it and threw it open. Shane’s massive bulk stood before him and Ray felt some relief at seeing the former heavier weight boxer before him.

‘You have to see this,’ Ray blurted and let him in.

Shane inched through the doorway, keeping his meaty hands by his side whilst his dark blue eyes flickered around the hallway. He was wearing black steel capped boots, dirty jeans and a scruffy t-shirt which his body bulged out of. Faded tattoos ran up both his arms and his heavy beaten up face looked concerned.

‘The bedroom,’ Ray added.

Shane cocked an eyebrow, ‘some whore you found?’

‘No, no,’ Ray shook his head quickly, ‘just look.’

He guided Shane to the bedroom door and swung it open. They both looked in and saw the devil gargoyle still on the bed. Shane walked in slowly, the floorboards creaking a little under him. Ray wringing his hands followed him like a guilty old dog until they were both stood by the edge of the bed.

‘What is it?’ Shane whispered having taken in the massive curved shape of the gargoyle’s naked buttocks.

‘A stone statue…I woke up next to it. I’ve no idea how it got here…what happened last night?’ Ray replied in a hushed voice.

‘You got pissed. That’s what happened. And somehow you must a taken this….’

‘How? It’s pure stone. It’s heavy.’

Shane shrugged his enormous shoulders and ran his fingers down his hairless chin.

‘Look, forget it,’ Ray snapped, ‘just help me to get rid of it.’

‘All right,’ Shane responded and moved around the bed.

‘We’ll lift it between us and get it outside. Find a place to dump it…maybe take it to that old graveyard. Did you bring your van?’ Ray added.

‘Yeah, o’ course. But look, this has to be worth something…’

Shane reached out a hand and touched the cold stone. It felt smooth under his fingers though he could feel flecks brushing off it. He looked at the deep set forever watching eyes and the mighty curling horns placed either side oblong ears. He felt himself oddly drawn to the statue. He wrapped his fingers around one of the legs and found that he couldn’t get his hand all the way around.

‘What?’ Ray mumbled back.

‘I mean, you’d have to find the right person…but I’ve seen these things. They can sell for hundreds o’ pounds. And this one…we could do it…I’d just need to find someone.’

‘Are you serious? No way, no way! We are dumping that shit right now. Come on, help me lift it,’ Ray yelled and went to grab the gargoyle.

Shane slapped as hands away and lent over the bed like a lion with a fresh kill.

‘Stay away!’ he roared.

Ray recoiled, his back hitting the wall as he clutched both his hands together, ‘what the fuck mate?’ he spit. ‘Are you crazy? Please, Shane, please!’

‘It’s all right. I’m good,’ Shane said and got backwards off the bed. The springs creaked loudly, the only other sound in the room beside from their laboured breathing.

Shane, hands out walked around to Ray and joined him against the wall.

‘I need a drink,’ he said.

‘Me too, but something stronger then coffee,’ Ray pointed out.

He walked out of the bedroom and into the kitchen, aware that Shane had followed him and closed the doors between them and the statue. Ray searched the fridge then the cupboards and came up with some cheap Russian vodka and Morgan’s rum. He placed them on the counter and found some tumbler glasses.

‘That all you got?’ Shane asked.

‘Yeah. Sorry,’ Ray answered.

‘No beer?’

‘No. I’ve not been shopping in a while. Pay cut ‘n’ all.’

‘Even more reason to sell that thing.’

Ray shook his head and poured some vodka into the glasses, ‘no. We need to dump it. I won’t be locked away because of stolen goods again.’

Shane rolled his eyes and grabbed a glass. The vodka sloshed around then was gone into his large mouth. He swallowed loudly and pulled a disgusted face.

Ray took a large gulp of his own, tasted fire and had to take another mouthful to try and chase it away. The heat flared through him. He finished off the vodka and went to pour himself another. He felt Shane’s hand pressing against his own as he reached for the bottle.

‘We can get drunk later,’ Shane rumbled. ‘Let’s move that thing.’

Ray nodded and they headed back to the bedroom, stomachs hot with vodka and fear.

Shane opened the door with his boot and strolled in like he owned the place.

‘You go around and push him off,’ Shane suggested, ‘I’ll take most of the weight.’

‘Sure, sure,’ Ray rushed and ran around the bed.

He knelt down and waited till Shane had got in a lowered position, before he tried to shove the statue off the bed. He felt cold, gritty stone bite into his skin and the weight of the thing was unmoveable. Ray gasped and really threw his back into it. He heard Shane grunting and felt a small tremble of movement.

‘How’d you lift this thing yourself?’ Shane growled.

‘No idea,’ Ray puffed back, ‘are you ready? I’m really going for it this time!’ Move you fucking piece of-’

The gargoyle slide off the bed and Shane barely caught it. Ray saw his friend’s face and arm muscles straining and sweat breaking on his forehead. Quickly, he swung off of the bed and took the other side, his hands almost laying on top of Shane’s. Together and speechlessly, they heaved the statue up and crab like walked to the bedroom door.

‘Fucking Hell,’ Shane gasped.

‘Go backwards, like a sofa,’ Ray suggested.

He tried to peer over the bulky stone body, but could only see Shane’s red folded wrinkle brow and more beads of sweat. Ray heard Shane’s feet rasping across the carpet and the tug of weight in his hands. He followed slowly behind, trying to get his hands to keep their grip. They made it out of the bedroom door and along the hallway.

‘I got to… I needed too…’ Shane’s voice came out of the heavy breathing.

‘We can’t…’ Ray responded then his eyes flicked to the door, ‘Oh, shit the door. Okay, Okay. Let’s put it down.’

‘Where?’

‘The floor?’

‘We’ll never get it up again.’

‘I’ll think of something!’ Ray shouted.

‘Lower it then,’ Shane countered back,

Slowly, they lowered the gargoyle to the floor then collapsed along with it. Ray sprawled out, loving the coldness against his hot sweaty back. He put his arms up, stretching them and feeling achy pains running like rats under his skin. He shut his eyes and drew in the deepest breaths he had ever taken in. He could hear Shane doing the same on the other side of the statue and guessed they were having the same thoughts worming into their minds.

After a good few minutes, Ray pulled himself up and moved across the floor to check on Shane. The man looked asleep, but his eyes crept open as Ray hung over him.

‘I think we’re going to need more help,’ Shane’s dry voice muttered.

‘No one else can know,’ Ray replied in a low voice, ‘We can’t trust anyone. Look, let’s have some more vodka and get something to eat.’

Shane nodded and eased himself up.

Ray got to his feet and walked painfully into the kitchen, ‘I got some pot noodles, soup, left over curry,’ he called over his shoulder. ‘I’ll make us some coffee too.’

‘Sounds good to me,’ Shane answered back.

Ray made two pot noodles and two large mugs of coffee. They sat together on the sofa, watching mid-afternoon TV shows and staying silent. When they were done, Ray dumped everything in the kitchen then came back with the tumblers of vodka. This time he had filled them to the top. They tapped glasses and drink the acid like liquid in large gulps.

‘Okay,’ Ray said into his glass, ‘Here’s the plan. I’ll open the door and call the lift. Then we get the statue out of here and into there and then take it down and out of here.’

Shane nodded.

Ray placed his glass down, opened his door and walked out into the empty short corridor. He pressed the lift’s cracked plastic button and hurried back again. He took his place by the statue, thankful to see Shane standing on the other side.

‘On three, lift?’ Shane asked.

‘Yep.’

They bent down, keeping their backs straight and locked their hands against the gargoyle once more. They lifted, both feeling the weight like they hadn’t before and believing the stone had become glued to the floor. Somehow, they were able to balance it between them and carry the devil into the lift.

‘Oh God, there’s no space to put it down!’ Shane exclaimed.

‘It’s crushing my ribs,’ Ray almost screamed back. ‘Hit the button.’

With a swift movement, Shane hit the large ‘G’ labelled disc and the doors shut.

‘Can’t you just move it?’

‘Where too? There’s no space,’ Shane snapped back.

Ray shuffled his feet and tried to get the corner away from him, but he was wedged against the lift wall and the side of the statue. He shut his eyes and tried to stay calm. At last, he heard a warning ping and the doors sliding open.

To Be Continued…