Hopeful Rest (Part 2)

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I came back around to the start of the graveyard and looked out once again. I could see the tracks I’d made in the long grass. My brain puzzled over that same last line and I tried to shrug it off as nothing but there was something here! There had to be a reason why it said ‘we hope they have gone to rest’ on all the headstones.

A rumble of thunder sounded over head, blocking out the music from my headphones for a few seconds. I looked up at the sky and saw it darkening with thick clouds. Time to go home. Going back the way I’d come, I put the route into my mind map. Rain began to fall and I pulled up my hood and hurried on.

Luckily, the storm held off until I had reached a place to shelter. I’m not a fan of rain or storms. I entered the little cafe and sat down at an empty table. It was busy as it seemed other walkers had been caught out by the rain too and huddled inside. I looked over to the small pocket like window and saw a flash of lightening.

I got a cup of tea and a slice of cake. My mind worrying that they might ask me to leave if I didn’t order something. I moved tables to this little one in in a back corner which had a huge bookcase towering over it. I watched other people looking out of the windows and heard them commenting on the sudden storm. The thunder was super loud and I’d kept my music on but I could hear the rumbles over the techno beats.

Forty minutes later and the storm still hadn’t stopped. The rain was now lashing at the windows and the wind threatening to blow the place down. I sighed and hating myself, I call my mum to pick me up and drive me home. At least, I got home safe and dry and had a chance to ask her about the graveyard.

‘I think once there’d been a village there,’ she replied, ‘but I don’t really remember. Gran would know.’

The storm raged most of the night. Highly unusual for England. I slept on and off, my thoughts drifting back to the gravestone and that inscription. Finally at around midnight, I got up and turned on my computer. With just the noise of the storm and the PC fans in the background, I researched the place.

There was little to be found. There had been a village, built for the servants and their families who worked in a manor house close by in the mid 1800’s but it had been bombed in World War 2 by a lost German plane.

Disappointed, I went back to bed and next morning got up and went to see my gran. She lived a few doors down from us. She had been born in this town and never left. If anyone knew about the graveyard and lost village it would be her.

I used my key to her house and let myself in, calling out to her as I opened the door. The smell that hit me was a strong reminder of childhood; mints, faded tobacco smoke, dying flowers, coal fire and old things. I walked into the living room and found her there, in her favorite arm chair, watching TV.

‘Hello, gran,’ I said and hugged her.

She patted my arm, ‘hello, Neil. It’s so nice to see you. Cup of tea?’

‘Sure.’

I helped her up and give her my arm as we walked into the kitchen. Once the tea was made and the biscuits gotten out, we went back into the living room and I started with my questions.

‘I found an old graveyard yesterday, out in the moors and all the headstones had the same last line on them; We hope they have gone to rest. Mum said there was once a village up there. Do you remember it?’

Gran thought for a good few minutes before replying, ‘yes. I never want there. Only heard about it.’

‘It got blown up in the war,’ I added.

‘Yes. That’s what all the stories said but we always thought differently.’

I paused and waited for her to go on.

‘There was some kind of disease, more like a plague, that everyone in the village had. No one knows where it came from. Some say the manor family had it and passed it on to the servants, who then passed it on to their families. Or perhaps, one of the servant’s families had it. It was called The Restless Plague.’

‘The internet said nothing about that,’ I said aloud.

‘No one said anything about it,’ Gran cut in, ‘we were not allowed too, but everyone knew not to go to the village or the manor house.’

‘So everyone died of this plague?’ I asked thoughtfully.

‘That was always the story. You see, it wasn’t a normal plague. Once a person had it they carried on living but they were different. They weren’t all together there,’ she said with a tap to her head, ‘when they weren’t working or sleeping, they would wander around a lot.’

I frowned, not fully understanding. I had another biscuit and a few more sips of hot tea.

‘I saw some of ’em a few times. They’d just be standing, staring at nothing or shuffling along not going anywhere. Everyone was told to keep away, lest you caught the plague too. I saw this one man, once, dressed up like a farmer and he was just moaning at a tree. Another time, there was this child screaming and screaming, until she was carted away,’ Gran said with a shake of her head.

I couldn’t think of any straight questions to ask, my brain was trying to process all of this.

‘Thank goodness they’ve all gone now,’ Gran spoke out, ‘more tea, pet?’

‘No, thanks. What about the headstones, gran?’

‘They all had to be buried in another place. No one wanted them at our church.’

‘And those words? We hope they have gone to rest?’ I pressed.

‘They had no rest in life so maybe they’d find it in death? Who knows…..I’ve some angel cake left,’ gran said getting up,’ You want some? You love angel cake, just like your mum.’

She hobbled to the door then paused and said, ‘there’s a good boy. No more talk about this now.’

I nodded and sipped more tea. My brain felt better that the puzzle had now been solved. I part of me was eager to find out more but what else was there to say?

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Thundersnow

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From his window, safe and warm in his house, Peter watched a mixture of hailstone and snow falling. In a few blinks, everything was icy white as if someone had dropped lots of tins of paint. Cars slide across the road and people tried to battle against the snow storm.

A bright flash of light nearly blinded him and Peter looked up, confused. Had that been lightening? He listened, but could hardly hear the rumble of thunder that followed. Two storms at once? he wondered. Searching, he soon saw another lightening strike but this time he didn’t hear the thunder.

He searched his mind and recalled something, he had once heard on the news in another country; thundersnow. It happened in winter, during a snow storm and the lightening was brighter then normal due to reflection off the snow and the thunder was quieter. Was this what he was seeing now? Peter wasn’t sure, but it seemed possible.

Clouds

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The sky changed from light to dark in a minute, banishing the calm evening. Slate grey clouds seemingly weighed down, drifted in and blocked everything. Lights flickered on but they were only dots against the approaching storm. There was a whisper against the windows as the first flakes fell. They melted on warm surfaces but collected on cold metal and ground. The clouds broke open, blinding all with a thick, fast flurry of snow which none could escape from.

Yellow Day

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It was an overcast morning. The sky was blanketed with heavy strange orange-yellow-grey glowing clouds. Watching them from my study window, I could tell it was going to rain soon. I had been so engrossed in my work on my latest historical book for the last two hours that I hadn’t bothered to turn on the overhead lights or even to look up from my computer screen. If I had done maybe I would have noticed the odd clouds sooner or maybe I wouldn’t have noticed them at all.

Standing up from my chair, slowly so that my old body could take the movement and weight. I hobbled over to the window, leaving my walking stick by my desk. My view changed and I saw those yellow-orange-grey clouds above the roofs of houses and tree tops. Everything looked damp as it had rained before but I’d not noticed. A light wind was blowing the tree branches and the fallen leaves about in a lazy manner. Beside from that everything else looked still.

I frowned at the sky and wonder what was with those clouds. I’d never seen such a strange color. It was if they had been tinted by washed out sunlight or some poisonous toxin. They give off a depressing doom feeling, not like in a horror movie but more a tragic play. Little flecks of rain began to fall, like tiny snowflakes, almost invisible.

A chill went over my skin, rising the flesh in knobbly bumps. Feeling the stiffness growing in my legs, I moved and walked around my small study. The two walls either side were lined with bookcases, holding God only knew how many books. My desk was in the middle and the closed door in the wall opposite the window. Reaching the desk, I lent on it, feeling the aches I had come to know so well ebbing into my limbs.

The phone rang. The shrill crying breaking through my thoughts and pain. I answered it with a shaking hand and breathed deeply down the line.

‘Dad? It’s Emerald. Are you okay?’ my daughter’s voice echoed over the phone.

‘Yes,’ I answered, ‘just the arthritis again. I was sat too long,’ I replied.

Emerald tutted loudly as I shuffled over and sank into my chair. She was daughter number four and always the one who’d been most concerned about me out of the six. I could picture her rolling those sparkling green eyes which my late wife, Pearl, had named her after and fretting with her angel blonde hair. In the background, there were voices; the TV and her two children playing.

‘Listen. Please don’t go outside today,’ she pressed.

‘It does look little odd out there…’ I cut in, eyeing the window and the clouds.

‘The news said it was sand the hurricane winds are bring over from the Sahara. That’s why everything looks so orange-yellow and the air tastes strange,’ Emerald explained as if she was talking to a child.

‘Well, I guess they know more about this then I do. I didn’t have any plans to go out anyway,’ I added.

‘Do you need anything, dad? Do you have enough bottled water and food?’

I glanced around the study as if it could tell me.

‘I’ll go to the shops as soon as I’ve dropped the kids at school and get you somethings,’ Emerald spoke.

‘I guess that would be good of you, sweetheart.’

‘Okay. See you soon. I love you dad, bye.’

‘Bye, Emerald.’

We hung up and after a few seconds of staring at the phone, I got up and went to the window again. This time I took my stick and lent on it. Easing some of the pressure. I opened the window little and looked harder outside. What I thought had been rain before was actually bits of sand and Emerald hadn’t been wrong about the smell. It was hot and dry, like a beach only without the salty sea.

I had been to Egypt once with my parents when I was a child and as that memory came back to me, I decided that there were similarities between today and what it had been like there. I didn’t want to think about that anymore though, so I went back to my desk and found some news stories about storm.

After reading them, I put the PC to sleep and went downstairs, using the chair lift, I hated so much to get there. In the living room, I turned on the TV and opened the curtains. The same sky that had been upstairs greeted me. I turned on the two lamps then watched the news reports. I dozed off for a bit, feeling calm and warm in my favorite chair.

When Emerald arrived, she brought the storm in with her. I must have fully fallen asleep because the heavy rain beating down like fists and the whipping wind hadn’t disturbed me. It was Emerald’s voice shouting out to me above all of that and the creeping autumn cold, like Death’s fingers wrapping around my throat that woke me.

‘Dad? Dad? where are you?’

‘In here, pet,’ I answered.

There was a rustle of bags then she stuck her head around the door.

‘I’m fine,’ I waved her off then began to get up.

Emerald had made a second trip to her car and back to into the kitchen by the time I made it up and in there. She was already unpacking things and placing important items within easy reach.

‘It’s getting worse out there and everyone has gone crazy!’ Emerald said.

I nodded and pulled out a chair to sit down.

‘I got you some more soup and noddles. Theses dried fruits were on offer and two small loafs of bread. I’ll put one in the freezer for you.’

‘Your mother hated frozen bread,’ I muttered.

‘She also hated to be without a loaf,’ Emerald shot back then smiled at me, ‘do you want some tea and lunch?’

‘Yes. That would be nice.’

‘I asked Ruby and Sapphire to check in with you later. If they can’t drop in they’ll phone. Okay?’ Emerald asked.

I nodded, my thoughts going straight to daughters number two and five. It had been a week since I’d seen and spoken to Ruby and three days since Sapphire had called me. One of their birthdays was coming up soon, but I couldn’t remember which. Emerald would know. She had taken over her mother’s place in fussing over me and her sisters.

‘That’s all sorted now. Kettle on and cups, soup in and bread.’ Emerald said to herself.

‘Have you heard from Jade? Didn’t she go to the Sahara?’ I spoke out as the idea came to me. I hadn’t seen my oldest daughter in five years now since my wife’s funeral.

‘I think she did…’ Emerald paused then shrugged, ‘and it’s been a month now. I sent her a few emails and tried to call but she says signal is bad in that part of Australia.’

‘Or maybe that was Topaz,’ I thought aloud.

My third daughter, who lived in America with her husband and five children. They had come to visit two months ago.

‘Well, it wouldn’t have been Opal!’ Emerald came in with as she set two mugs of tea and a plate of toast on the table, ‘I went to see her the other day and she’s doing a lot better now. The doctors said she should be able to go home soon. Though to what I don’t know!’

I picked up my mug with a slight nod of my head. Opal’s life had been nothing but hell. The youngest of my girls she had set herself on a different path from the rest of them and became a drug addict and prostitute. I had written a book about her and it had done quiet well.

‘Maybe, she could move back in with you?’

I shook my head, ‘I like my space and my peace and quiet.’

‘But I worry about you. This house is too big for just you and you need someone to look after you more then ever now,’ Emerald pressed.

This was a conversation I was tried of and I had found it was best just to ignore the topic every time it was brought up. I drink my tea and ate my soup. Emerald filled the silence with chatter about her kids, husband, other family members. I sat in my other thoughts, often looking at the storm building up behind the kitchen window.

When my daughter left, I went back to the living room and put the gas fire on. It was too cold to sit without some warmth. I found a big book to read on Greek myths and legends and with the news on to keep me company and the storm trying to get my attention with it’s rage, I lost myself for awhile.

I must have fallen asleep because I woke slowly into a darken room. Blinking away the dim glow of the lamps, I looked about and checked I was still in the living room. The book was in my lap, the news was still on though the time had changed dramatically and outside I couldn’t see the storm because it was early evening and the rain was too splattered on the glass.

My body groaned and creaked with stiffness and pain, as I got up and went over to the fire place. Turning up the heat, I went around felt the radiators which were all on and warm. I went upstairs, struggled to put on another jumper over my first but managed to do it then went back downstairs. I made myself a large mug of tea and debated what to have for dinner.

Life has to go on in some way, storm or no storm.

 

(Inspired from; http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/orange-sky-storm-ophelia-sahara-13767164)

The Day Before

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The day before the apocalypse happened the weather went crazy. We woke up to dark as night skies and heavy clouds. Rain poured down like I had never seen before and it was like a huge waterfall. Many places were flooded. There was a massive thunderstorm which had people staying inside and those that went out regret it and came home again.

The hailstone fell in sharp bursts, large balls of ice hitting metal like it was dough. Glass smashed, car alarms went off and animals fled underground. The storm rumbled on; bright heavenly flashes of light going off like all the time and the thunder was deafening. The rain turned to snow. Huge flakes sweeping down on gale force winds and covering everything in a white blanket.

People peered out of windows, wondering what was going on. The news was a blur of reports as countries all over the world reported the wildness of storms and weather conditions. The warnings flashed by too; Stay inside! Await rescue! Whole cities swept by freak waves, whole towns buried in snow and the raising death toll.

And I stood by the shelter’s plastic windows, knowing what all this bad weather meant and the fact I couldn’t do anything to stop tomorrow’s rapture sitting heavy on my shoulders.

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The storm was fading and the sky looked peaceful once more. Casey had her doubts though. This suddenly burst of autumn weather wasn’t to be trusted. She pressed her head against the wall and looked through the collection of rain drops on the window. She could see a hazy outline of the sea and the docks. Working boats rocked on the still violent waves.

Casey’s fingers curled the corners of the book resting against her drawn up knees. It had been a day like this, five years ago, that she had lost her family on. They had taken their boats out to drag in their nets before a storm had hit. Casey had been ill and had to stay home which had saved her life. Though some days, she wished things had been different.

Turning away from the window, she looked up above the fireplace in which a fire was burning brightly and wrapping warmth around her. A painted portrait of her family hung there, dating back eight years or so ago. There was her mother and father, dressed in their Sunday best clothes and not their working clothes which Casey always remembered them in.

Mother was smiling, happy to be doing something exciting. Her curling blonde hair was down and she looked years younger. She was also holding a blanket wrapped baby in her arms which if Casey recalled was her sister Rose who had died at a few months old. Father looked the opposite of mother, he looked stern, proud and a lot older then he actually was because of the hard life he led.

Four children stood in front of them; three boys and a girl, all dressed in their Sunday clothes too. Casey avoided looking at her eight year old self and focused on her brothers. She whispered their names under their breath, ‘Will, Luke and Tom.’ They looked excited and trying to stay still, though it was hard. They had pretty much grown up into young men the last day she had seen them.

Casey turned back to the window as she heard a low rumble of thunder. A new storm was starting up and the sky was becoming dark once more. Rain splattered the window then began falling down in sweeping pattern. The lighting flashed and Casey’s fingers tightened on the book so that the corners and edge left an imprint in her palms.

There was a knock at her door. She let the book fall from her hands then closed it and slide it under a cushion of the window box. The door opened before she had time to invite the person in. Her uncle’s large framed filled the doorway, his stomach almost bursting out of his white shirt and green waist coat. He smiled at her but then began frowning as he walked across the room.

Casey stood, smoothing out any folds or wrinkles in her long blue and white dress. She clasped her hands and tried to look calm but nervous were over welling her. She give her uncle a bob of respected then avoided looking at him. Not because she feared him or was embarrassed, it was because over the last year her attitude towards him had changed.

‘I hope this dreadful weather clears for your wedding tomorrow,’ he spoke in a gruff voice.

‘I hope so to, uncle,’ Casey uttered.

‘The final preparations will be done this afternoon.’

Casey stole a few glances at him, he seemed to want to say more but was holding back.

He would still rather have wed me off to someone else instead of his son, Casey realised.

‘You will join us for dinner,’ her uncle spoke, ‘some of the guests have already started arriving. Your lack of presence will be noticed if you don’t.’

He shot her a disappointed look then with a sweep of his long black jacket, he turned and left the room. The door clicking shut behind him.

Casey folded into the window box. Holding herself and trying not to cry. Outside the wind howled and threw rain at the window whilst sea waves bashed into boats and the shore. She looked out trying to distract herself but her eyes were drawn somewhere else.

‘This is all your fault,’ Casey whispered looking up at her family portrait, ‘if you had not all died then I would not have to marry my cousin.’

Casey pressed her head into her knees and took some deep breaths. Even though her life was about to change dramatically from fisherman’s daughter to middle class man’s wife, she refused to let her true self fade away.

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2017/09/07/thursday-photo-prompt-fading-writephoto/ with thanks.)

Hurricane

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It was coming. Atlanta could hear the gale force winds rattling the storm shutters and the rain pelting the roof. She held her breath and hugged her dog, Greg, tighter. He didn’t seem to mind but then he was old and deaf.

They was sat in a small yellow tent set up in the far corner of the cellar. Dim amber fairy lights in the shape stars cast some light down, but it wasn’t enough to do anything by. Atlanta’s didn’t really mind though as long as she wasn’t in the dark.

‘I’m safe. Everything is fine,’ Atlanta muttered.

Every since she had heard about the high chance of the hurricane last week, she had be preparing. All the kitchen and basement cupboards were stocked with bottled water, long life food, matches and extra gas canisters for the camping stove. She had double or triple camping equipment items and a whole range of lighting; battery and candle lanterns, torches and spare candles.

Atlanta picked up her headphones which were top of the range noise cancelling and selected some loud classic music from her ipod.

‘There’s nothing else to do now it’s here,’ she said aloud.

She rubbed Greg’s ears then wrapped herself in a thermal sleeping bag and began waiting out the hurricane.

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.

Storm

It had been threatening for days but now a summer storm was here. We’d picked the worse day for a funeral as the rain was lashing down, the wind whipping and lightening cracking across the doom grey sky. Sitting in the back seat of the car watching this all go by, I thought that actually uncle Arnold would have loved this. It was just the type of thing that would happen to an adventurous man like him.

(Inspired from; https://katmyrman.com/2017/07/18/twittering-tale-41-18-july-2017/ with thanks)

Storm

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It was the worse storm anyone had ever seen. Hurricane winds tore up everything. The rain raged down like an angry heavy metal drummer. Flash floods turned the streets into rivers, sweeping away what the wind had been unable to move. The sea swelled and roared as if Poseidon himself was raising upwards towards the sky. The thunder and lightening clapped together making the very clouds shake, perhaps Zeus was fighting to keep Poseidon down. Whatever was happening, People were sure the Apocalypse had just arrived.