Hungry

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He sat at a table in the food court of the shopping mall, trying to blend in. Around him, people were talking and eating a range of fast foods and he could smell the hot grease, salt and mixed aromas of meals.

He looked down at his hands and waited. He couldn’t bear to watch people eating or breathe in the smells anymore. His stomach was growling loudly and twinging with pains.

Two young Muslin women at the table next to him got up and left, chattering in a different language.

He eyed their left tray, piled with rubbish. Slowly, he got up, picked up the tray and sat back down with it at his own table.

He had been seen, of course, too many eyes around but he didn’t care.

He opened the first box and saw the remains of chicken thighs inside. He took out a piece and eat what he could, nibbling the bone.

There were no fries, just a pot of gravy. He’d never been a fan and the pot felt cold when he picked it up. Placing it back, he got up and left.

He felt eyes on him once more and questions on lips, but no one stopped him.

I don’t care, he thought.

He walked around the food court. Looking at the rubbish left on the tables. Sometimes he reached out and touched something to see if there was anything left inside. He moved on to more tables, aiming for ones recently left where the food might still be warm. He ate whatever scraps were left trying to hide his actions out of habit but it was still impossible in such a busy place.

He found a quarter of a taco in a discarded wrapper and swallowed it. The cup beside had water from melted ice cubes at the bottom which he gulped down.

He found another table with children’s box meals stacked up. He sat down and looked through each box. He found an unopened bag of fruit and slipped it into his pocket for later. Desperate his starvation now, he knew the important of saving something for another day.

At the bottom of another box was a few cold fries. He ate them then found a small bottle of orange juice with some left inside which he drink.

He felt into other box and pulled out a plastic wrapped toy. He sighed but unwrapped the toy car anyway. He ran the car across the table, remembering another time.

He become aware of two people flanking him. He looked up and saw security guards of the mall staring down at him.

‘You need to leave,’ one of them said.

He thought about arguing; I’m was just sitting here, what’s the harm in that?

There was no point.

He got up and security walked him to the exit only stairs. He knew people were watching and whispering, what had he done?  

I just wanted some food.

He went down the steps and out on to the snowy, icy streets. Snowflakes melted on his warm skin and busy shoppers hurried by eager to get back to their homes.

He hunched his shoulders against the wind and walked back to his things tucked into the doorway of a closed down shop. There he huddled against the cold, abandoned by the world.

(Partly based on a real story).

Money Tree

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Standing under the first apple tree in the row of twenty at the end of my field, I thought about what my granddad had told me when we had been planting these trees thirty years ago.

‘Money grows on trees, you know. And these trees are very special. They are going to make you lots of money, Abbey.’

He hadn’t been wrong. The trees produced a large amount of sweet apples which were good for eating and cider making. The extra money had always been useful and the harvest had never failed.

Staring up through the branches at slices of sky, I wondered what was going to happen now.

‘I wish you did grow money,’ I said.

The wind gently shook the trees, rustling the green leaves and I breathed in the heavy fragrant scent of spring.

 I shut my eyes and though it was childish, pretended that the trees were answering me.

‘Perhaps, we can’t grow real money. But haven’t we provided you with more?’ the trees whispered to me.

‘And I’m grateful, but now…I’m at a loss. I don’t want to give you up but what else can I do?’ I asked.

The trees seemed to sigh.

Money isn’t a thing that bothers trees; they didn’t value it. Life however is something they need.

‘You could be cut down….’ I mutter and picture this bright meadow gone and replaced by houses.

‘Whatever will be will be,’ the trees tell me, ‘if you have the power to change it then try. Life’s cycle will continue no matter what.’

‘Then, I’ll try and change it…Everything in my power I’ll do and I’ll save you trees!’ I yell.

Birds startle into the sky flapping loudly and the wind shakes the trees as if they are cheering me on. The field becomes quiet again and I know what I must do.

Imbroglio #atozchallenge

 

pexels-photo-89820.jpegImbroglio: an extremely confusing and embarrassing situation.

I wanted to hide my shame, but I couldn’t, the best I could do was get up and leave. Even though that didn’t feel right. I had always been one to stand my ground just like my mother had told me. She had been too headstrong and modern for this tiny Irish village in the middle of nowhere. She had never been accepted by the locals and many were happy that she was now dead.

Wrapping my shawl tighter around me, I walked across hilly ground. Not really going anywhere because sometimes you just had to walk away. The wind twisted my loose hair about and though I felt the chill, I was warm enough. My hands dropped to my rounded stomach that was no longer concealable.

Behind me, I could still hear the villagers’ voices and laughter, even though the pub was miles away now. I blamed my mind and the fact that their harsh words would always linger with me. I wanted it not to be true, but it was hard not to believe them when I myself didn’t know.

I came to a sheltered nook and gratefully sat down. The thin grass was dry and so was the soil below. I curled up as best I could, wanting to feel safe. I tried switching my mind to other things, but I couldn’t let it go.

Sighing, I wondered why love had to be so confusing. Even the most simple love could be, but in my case it was far from simple. My hand rubbed my stomach in circles as I fell into more deeper thinking.

Was the man I had fallen in love with and grown to know for two years really lying to me?

The locals said he wasn’t American like he claimed to be, but a born and bred Irish man. He’d gone to America to be an actor, but that hadn’t lasted long. Now, he was working where he could and he was married with a family too.

I just couldn’t picture my dashing boyfriend being like that. For a start, when I’d announced my news he’d been delighted. Surely if I was his mistress he’d have recoiled? And he’s away so much because he’s an actor and he has to travel to filming locations.

Rattling my mind, I tried to think if I had ever noticed anything that might have suggested other wise. Had their been papers about? A call or text on his phone? Reminders on his fridge?

There seemed to be nothing. I had to know though! I got up, struggling to do so then under a darkening sky, I walked back to the village.

I needed to hear the truth, not just for my piece of mind but for the baby’s too.

Empty Swing

There was one swing in the playground that no one ever sat on. Sometimes flowers, teddy bears and cards decorated the swing then were gone. Despite all the stories, one stood out the most; a little girl fell off the swing to her death. But no one knew the truth for sure.

Church (Chapter 6, part 2)

Nestled at the foot of Errigal (the highest mountain(2,464ft) in County Donegal) and overlooking the beautiful Poisoned Glen is the ruins of Dunlewy Church.

I had the urge to confront her and demand the truth. She was high ranking and had never once hinted it. That would make us equals, I noted. Unless, the Reapers had a different organisational structure to Angels? Why would they, though? I shook the questions away, knowing they were unanswerable at present. I steadied the book and looked at the line again. Something else made me paused, RR. I had seen that somewhere before…

Frowning, I closed the diary and picked up the notebook with the drawings in. Under a sketch of a Tawney owl were the two R’s. Could it be the same person? My mind questioned as if solving a great riddle. I opened the diary again and looked at both the initials side by side. They didn’t look to be the same hand. Could it just a coincidence?

A growl escaped me and I closed both notebooks. What difference did it make? I lay back, sprawling out on the bed and put an arm over my eyes. I heard an owl hooting, the half-whispering voices of the graveyard spirits and my own quickened breathing. I should go out, I told myself, do some fighting and stop thinking about her. But if she comes back…?

I snapped myself out of it picked up the diary once again. Skimming through the pages, I caught a few more lines about the garden, Rain displaying her powers and fighting skills, training that Lucius had completed, discusses about other people and their plans. Finally, on a page dated 8th August 2009 was something that stilled my fingers. The handwriting seemed rushed, desperate. A tale spilled out across the page;

We had our first real fight as Company 9 today. Captain Rain sensed something very early on into our nightly hunt, but she didn’t let on, until everyone had had a go at sensing it. The tracking of the evil soul was exciting, especially amongst the younger one. Though what we would find worried me. My job as Lieutenant really came out. I had no time for self-doubt, but found I handled anything fine.

The soul had taken the form of a giant boar. Which was a surprise to all of us- though Captain never showed it-. The boar was dark grey with bristled fur, beside from its face and tusks which were red. It howled as if in agonising pain and charged at us.

 I stopped, having been reminded of the Demi-God bear that had brought Rain and me together. For some reason, that first image I had of her had stayed close to me. I refocused my eyes back on the page and tried to picture how the next few paragraphs had planned out with my limited imagination.

I was afraid that Captain would take over and completely forget about us. Instead, she hung back and watched everyone else trying to plunge their swords into the soul. Despite the boar’s size, he was fast and avoided must of the jabs. We, or the Company members to be exact, because I hung back to, made the mistake of crowding around the boar. I do not think there had been any plans to overwhelm the soul, it was just that they were all excited and wanted to be the victor.

The boar started to get angry and with a bust of power, it speared Durell. Everyone backed off as he was thrown in the air and rushed to him as he landed. I glanced over at Captain Rain and she didn’t do anything, but there was a look pain on her face. I went forward and the boar and I fought quickly. His taste of blood had given him the scent of victory and I was no match for him.

I heard everyone call me away. Durell was hurt badly. I stole a glance at Captain, then did something which I still and will forever regret. I went to Durell. He was laying gasping on the ground, blood frothing at his mouth. The tusk had broken a number of ribs and pierced his lung. I abandoned my sword and starting to perform the Healing Ritual.

It was the look on the closest Reapers’ faces that made me glance over my shoulder. I saw in a flash of grey and red the boar racing towards us. I reached for my sword and aimed it at the soul’s face. There was an all mighty half cry-half roar from the boar’s mouth, then it did a sharp turn which caused it to fall to on its side and slide the rest of the way towards us. I heard the swooshing of a sword, a crack of sharp laughter then Captain Rain sliced the boar’s head flawless off.

 I had stopped breathing. I turned the page eager for more and noticed my hand slightly trembling on the page corner. Setting the book down, I linked my fingers together and took a few deep breaths. I snatched the notebook up again and with my heart pounding in my ears, I read the last the record.

The evil soul began to fade. Captain stood in-between the head and neck, her expression unreadable. I tried once again to perform the Healing Ritual, but Durell was coughing up too much blood. The others called Captain over and she did join us a few moments later, slotting her katana away. Someone begged her to save him. She knelt down beside me and put her hand over his chest. I saw white electrical pulses then Durell stopped coughing. His head flopped to the side and he was still.

We watched more healing soaking into him and listened to his gasping breathe become normal. Captain Rain took her hand away and placed both her hands in her lap, she fell into pray. The rest of us joined her and I could hear the wispy voices of the younger ones reciting.

The boar had all but gone when we finished. Captain give instructions for us to head back, she would stay a few minutes and do a cleansing. We left silently, four of us carrying Durell and each coming to terms that the path before us was a lot harder than it had seemed.

We made it back and waited for Captain to arrive. A soft, clean rain was falling and I felt it washing away the tint that the evil had left upon us. She arrived at last and took us into the Garden. There Durell was attended to as his needs dictated and we all rested. Captain, after checking in with me, went to her room and no one has seen her since.

I am grateful that we all survived, but it is cleaner now that we need more training.

 I glanced at the next page and saw a new date. I closed the book and placed it on a pillow. I wondered if Rain knew what had been recorded. If she did, why would she leave a window into her past like this? Or maybe she didn’t know? The questions bloated my mind. I lay back, feeling twinges of a headache coming on. I had to go out and fight. I had to purge myself.

To Be Continued…     

Church (Chapter 6, Part 1)

Nestled at the foot of Errigal (the highest mountain(2,464ft) in County Donegal) and overlooking the beautiful Poisoned Glen is the ruins of Dunlewy Church.

Continued from Church Chapter 5

Make sure you’ve read the other chapters. They can be found here; https://thestoryfiles.wordpress.com/category/church-novella/

Previously;

Blaze, a warrior angel, who is trapped on earth has made his home in an abandoned church. He fights a taunting daemon and a Demigod Bear. He is rescued by Rain, a Reaper. She takes him back to her ‘home’, a Paradise Garden seemingly inside the remains of a cathedral and encourages Blaze to talk. After which, she tricks him into combat then she revels some of her story and dismisses Blaze. He goes back to the church and reflects on Rain. Then he goes out and tries to rescue a human woman who is being attacked. Failing to save her, Blaze returns home to find that Rain has followed him. Their conversation leads to Blaze finding out that Rain’s sword is cursed and that he does remember his task of the daemon he has to find and kill.

Chapter 6

‘You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’

John 8:32

I awoke to Rain shifting slightly next to me. I took a deep breath and smelt sweat as well as a faint touch of midnight jasmine. I eased my arm out from under her and sat up. A little moan came from Rain then the soft sounds of her breathing. I got up, trying not to disturb her. The floor was cold under my feet and it caused me to become more awake.

Going to the desk, I dug out the notebooks and looked around for a better place to hide them. There seemed no good place, so I put on my boots and went downstairs. With a quick glanced back up the steps as I reached the bottom, I scanned the church. Water was dripping steadily from somewhere and a pair of rats was scuttling over a piece of wood. I walked to the organ and found a gap between two of the smaller pipes. The notebooks fitted snuggly and hardly seemed noticeable.

I went back upstairs and found Rain stirring in the mass of bedding.

‘Where’d you go?’ she muttered sleepily.

‘There’s a small washroom downstairs,’ I replied.

She hummed and tossed her head back down. Her eyes shut and seemed to fall asleep again. Leaving her to it, I went to the wardrobe and found a grey robe. I switched it with the one I was wearing then went over to my food store and tried to figure what we could have for breakfast.

I heard Rain tossing and turning then finally getting up. Selecting a bottle of water two cans of fruit salad, I placed them on the desk.

‘Hungry? I got some tinned fruit,’ I pointed out.

‘Sure,’ she answered and pulled on her black top.

I went back and dug out the tin open whilst she helped herself to some water. She offered it to me and I took the bottle. I watched her eyes slide over to the tins as I drink. She seemed distant and still sleepy.

‘I’ve got some other-’ I started.

‘No. This is fine,’ she said and took the tin opener from me, ‘I didn’t sleep very well. I had this dream…’

‘Oh?’

Rain opened the tin of fruit, ‘do you have spoon?’ she asked.

I nodded and dug some plastic spoons out of a bag. I handed her one and took another mouthful of water. Rain began eating the fruit and avoiding me. I placed the bottle down and opened the other tin. As I began to eat the too sweet syrupy fruit, my mind reflected on the conversations we had last night. A question popped into my head, but Rain’s sharp warning of not talking here echoed over it.

‘I’ve to go,’ Rain spoke suddenly.

‘What?’

She shook her head and quickly shoved the rest of the fruit pieces into her mouth.

‘But, we have to talk…’ I stated.

‘I’ll come back,’ she mumbled and put the tin to her lips. She drank the syrup, wiped her mouth and loudly put the tin down on the desk.

‘When?’ And why do you to go?’ I pressed.

‘There’s an evil soul,’ she responded as she put on the rest of her clothes.

I stopped and tried hard to sense what she was talking about. Nothing came to me other than the dim ghosts in the graveyard.

‘Wait for me,’ she added.

‘But, Rain…’

I twisted as she walked passed me and to the trunk. She lifted the lid and took Haku out. She strapped him to her back and went to the doorway. My mind turned over ever reason I could think of in those moments, but a part of me knew it would make no difference. She had a job to do and who was I to keep her from doing it?

She left. I listened to her feet and cape on the stairs then at the bottom she must have vanished. I sat in the chair and finished off the water and fruit. Rain had left an icy emptiness behind her and I felt the burden of being alone.

Looking around, I decided there was only one thing I could do. I went down into the church and took out the notebooks again. I carried them back up stairs and tidied up the bed. I could still smell her. I lit a few candles and cracked the wooden board to let in some fresh air. I took off my boots and sat on the bed.

I selected the first leather book and put the others down. Turning the pages, I was faced with what I had seen the last time I had opened it. I turned back remembering that there was something on the seemingly blank first page.

Lucius Canus. Company 9, Mestemalum

 It was written in tiny print, almost as if the writer hadn’t wanted to write his name and position. Yet, he had still felt the need to claim this book as his own. I turned the pages and started reading from the beginning again. The handwriting was smooth and neat, the pen was a black fountain one which added a flourish to the letters.

June 2009

My Tribunus brought me to her secret plane today. It is a Paradise beyond paradises! I could not bring many ‘physical items’, as some don’t work here, so knowing my love for recording, she give me this special book, which allows the writing to pass through the time freeze and be stable. This place is full of power! I knew she was an element wielder, that is no great secret, but to be able to do all of this with it, I didn’t know that was even possible!

 It was easy to decipher. I’d never heard of ‘an element wielder’ before though. I wonder what element Rain can control? Maybe Earth? That would seem very likely with the Garden. I turned back to the book and the next paragraph.

She has created on the surface a world unto itself, but frozen in time. Out in the Garden, the flowers and trees are at their peak of beauty. The animals – for there are a great number of them- are trapped as adults or babies. The river that flows through the garden has no start or end, though it is as natural as any body of water. Also, there is a day and night rotation, with a real feeling –for you cannot see it- of the sun raising and setting. I do not know if it follows the Earth’s cycles or not, more likely it has a cycle of its’ own. Even more fascinating, is the weather phases. I thought it would stay the same all the time, but no. There is rainfall in all forms, storms, wind changes and cloudy days. Yesterday, to prove a point to RR, Captain Rain made it snow!

 I stopped or rather I forced myself too. Captain Rain? The two words swirled in my head and I realised once again that I didn’t know the true Rain.

To Be Continued…

The Elite

For the past few months, Sora had felt guilty. Pushing her half-eaten porridge away and getting up from the stool, she left the morning meal bar and walked over to one of the circler front windows. Behind her, the voices of her parents and the whirling of machines whispered softly. Sora hugged herself, desperately wanting comfort and an escape from the guilt. It was new to her this nagging feeling and she wasn’t doing well at hiding it or the other feelings the guilt brought on.

‘I’m not feeling well. I’m going back to bed,’ she called over her shoulder then fled to her room.

The voices of her parents and their breakfast clattering rose behind her, but she shut it out with her bedroom door. Laying on her messed up bed, she looked up at the solar system projected on her ceiling, whose light glowed gently down. Her parents thought she was too old for it now, but Sora found tranquillity in the ever moving planets, stars and asteroids. Snuggling into the large pillows and pulling a microfleece blanket half over her, Sora shut her eyes and tried not to sink lower into the guilt.

She heard her parents leave, no doubt believing that because she was nearly an adult she could take care of herself. She wondered what their schedules were like today. Maybe her mother would go to the saloon and get her hair and nails done, then she might visit some friends and go shopping. Her father would make his normal mid-week tour of his business, have lunch with some business partners, then go to the gym or to play golf. It was all too predictable.

Sora put a decorative cushion on her face and breathed in the faint traces of synthetic vanilla. A light tapping, almost made her remove the cushion, but her arm flopped to the side instead. The door opened silently and soft footsteps entered. Sora knew who it was instantly, the android housekeeper, who’s soul function was to clean and cook.

‘Can I tidy in here, please?’ a female like voice asked.

‘No. I’m sleeping,’ Sora answered and tried to stay still.

‘But won’t you be late for lessons?’

‘I’m not feeling well,’ Sora counted back already getting bored with the questions.

‘Shall I get the Doctor?’ the android questioned.

Sora pulled the cushion off her face and half sit up, ‘I found out something,’ she started, ‘something I don’t think I should know and I don’t know who to talk to about it.’

The housekeeper didn’t move and continued to stare at her with lifeless eyes. From a distance any android could pass off as human, but up close they just looked like good imitations. Sora didn’t really know or care, how much the androids understood human emotions or if they even knew the differences between them.

‘I read this old book and I found out that once there were different societies of people and they could be divided into a number of categories, but most of the time they’d be divided into how much money they had,’ Sora paused and tried to judge the android’s reaction to this, but of course it didn’t have one.

‘There were three classes of people; rich, middle and poor. The rich have everything and got to do little work, just like how we all live now. The middle classes had to work, but they had comfortable lives and could have most things they wanted. The poor class, well, they had nothing or very little. They lives were all about surviving and not much else. Can you understand that?’

‘No,’ the housekeeper replied, ‘shall I get the Sympathiser? I have not been programmed to connect with humans on this level.’

Sora shook her head, ‘nor has he, it, look it doesn’t matter. Just clean,’ she waved her hand then got up and left.

In the lounge, she turned on the InterFace and giving into the whims she looked up more about the different classes and what had happened to the population. Oddly, all the information she could want was easy enough to access, though she doubted it should be so. The 2101 Freedom Information Act had seen to that and what Sora found made her feel guiltier then before.

When her parents came home and they sat to have the evening meal, Sora told them everything she had discovered and watched their expressions closely. However, if her words affected them in any way they kept it hidden and they seemed non-interested in the matter.

‘Don’t you get it?’ Sora pressed.

‘Yes, of course,’ her mother snapped.

‘It had to be done,’ her father answered solemnly and nodding at his half-eaten steak.

‘Don’t you think it’s wrong? Who decided it was okay to wipe out most of the population? And how did they decided who to keep?’ Sora demanded.

‘Didn’t you find that out?’ came a delayed response from her father.

‘Somewhat. But no real names. I just…I…’ Sora trailed off and looked down at her hands folded into her lap.

‘It doesn’t matter. You can’t change it,’ her mother cut in, ‘if it hadn’t of happened you might not have been born and we wouldn’t have be living like this.’

‘The world was too pollute, we were the cause and we were going to die out,’ her father clarified, ‘so the Tops got together and thus decided only the most important genes could stay in the pool.’

‘And everyone else?’ Sora spit.

‘Scarified to save the human race,’ her father explained, ‘it had to be done. Now, let’s not have any more of this and just enjoy the evening.’

‘I’m not hungry,’ Sora pushed her plate away and got up.

She went to her room and curled up on her bed. Above her the solar system glowed and a comet shot across the inky blackness, Sora let her thoughts go with it.