Down Under There #WriteNowPrompt

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I hurried to work as snow began to fall and passed another dug up road in my way. Wondering if it was some kind of London law that roadworks always had to be going on, I squeezed passed the plastic barrier.

The vibration of a drill going through tarmac went straight into me. Heavy, grubby men in yellow high visibility vests and hideous matching hard hats crowded the scene. They were calling to each other then one turned to me before I could escape.

‘Can’t ya see the signs there, mate?’ he shouted.

‘I’m late,’ I yelled back.

‘It’s there for a reason!’ he spat.

‘You tell him, Jack!’ one of his colleagues cut in.

Trying to ignore them, I walked quickly but the lights at the cross road change to red and I had to stop. Looking back as cars whizzed by before me, I saw the man pushing the barrier tighter into place but nothing could stop a Londoner in a hurry.

The drill stopped, my ears continued to ring and I turned my back on the diggers. Concentrating for a gap in the cars that I could run through, I felt the ground began to shake. It was just the drill starting up again or that claw plough scooping soil.

The shaking carried on then there were mighty rumblings and rocking motions which almost threw me to the floor. Everything felt tilted and unstable as if an earthquake was happening. I somehow saved myself by spinning and grabbing some nearby railings.

Deafness and dizziness flood me. My legs didn’t want to work and they didn’t seem to belong to me anymore. Panic was controlling me but I couldn’t do anything other then cling onto the railings and shut my eyes.

The earthquake subsided and I heard the distant voices’ of people crying, screaming and shouting as all hell had broken loose. I felt wobbly as if I had just got off an extreme roller coaster. My legs felt numb but I found them again and stood up. I kept my fingers weaved through the railings, just in case.

In the middle of the road, pushing outwards from the hole the workmen had been creating was a huge crater. Torn up tarmac created a jagged line around the edge and dust was spiralling upwards.

A back cab was teetering on the lip of the crater and a dazed cyclist was sitting on the road wondering where his bike had gone. Crowds of people were pushed back on both sides of the pavement and all the morning rush hour traffic had halted.

‘Did anyone fall in?’ a workman questioned.

There was an unsure mumbled from the crowds.

‘Help us!’ a woman cried in a French accent from the back of the taxi.

A human chain was made and the cab was pulled back from the edge. The doors opened and a family tumbled out alongside the Muslin taxi driver, they were all in shock but glad to have escaped.

‘What you got there’s a sinkhole!’ a fat, red faced America man called out.

The word echoed in my head and I just had to get a closer look. Creeping forward, I looked down into the huge hole that was almost taking up all of the road. Through the dust and debris there seemed to something down there. Was it the London Underground? Or some other forgotten Victorian structure?

‘Stand back there,’ said a man and I turned to see the worker, Jack, who had told me off before.

‘There something down there,’ I pointed dumbly out.

‘We’ll take care of it. We are experts. Stand back there,’ Jack add as some other curious people came towards the edge.

I set my briefcase down and despite my expensive suit, I knelt tried to see what had been revealed. I saw a ceiling and wall of a cavern and it didn’t look man made. Things were still settling so it looked fogging. I could hear rubble falling and perhaps running water but there was the echo of other traffic from the surrounding roads.

‘Mate!’ Jack shouted, ‘I won’t tell ya again! get back!’

He grabbed my shoulder and tried to haul me back but I twisted out of his grip.

‘I cave explore for a hobby,’ I said, angrily, ‘and I’m telling you there’s something down there.’

‘All right, let’s take a look,’ Jack said and knelt down beside me.

He took out a torch. I grabbed my phone and put the torch app on. Together we used the light to show what was below us. At first it seemed to be hard, discolour brown walls but then we saw stalactites and stalagmites, growing up and down in what seemed to be a vast cavern.

‘How can this be under London and no one know about it?’ I muttered.

‘There’s lots underground that people don’t know of,’ Jack explained, ‘but I never seen anything like this before!’

I nodded, ‘it looks like a Yorkshire cave or something like that…’

‘Well, nothing can be done about it right now,’ Jack spoke, ‘have to be investigations and all that. I’ve got things to do now, got to make sure no one gets hurt and sues us.’

Jack left and got busy with securing the scene. More barriers were being set out and people were slowly moving on. Car horns were beeping loudly as was typical of road rage London drivers who had been stopped for more then five seconds. Ignoring everything else, I carried on staring down into the cavern.

I wanted desperately to go down there. The urge to explore put fire in my veins but I had no equipment, no map of the layout and who knew what dangerous were hidden in there?

I couldn’t help myself! I got up and searched for Jack. Picking his form out from a group of yellow jacketed men. I went over and waited till they stopped talking and noticed me.

‘Jack? A word?’ I said.

We stepped away from the others, our backs to them and our eyes looked towards the crater.

‘I want to go down there,’ I said in a low voice, ‘I need to see what’s there. Please, help me.’

‘I can’t, mate,’ Jack said and scratched his dark hair under his hard hat, ‘regulations and all that.’

‘I know, I know,’ I hissed back, ‘but please? This would mean so much to me. Like a dream come true! The first person to explore under there, it would be just…just…’

‘No. It’s not happening!’ Jack snapped back.

I licked my lips, thinking hard, ‘all right,’ I said, ‘I can give you money. As much as you want. I’m a rich businessman. I own companies here and in China. I could give you a million pounds right now if you let me go down there.’

Expressions began to cross Jack’s face and a fight seemed to happen as he battled to do the right thing. He balled up his fists, shuffled his feet and was trying to weigh everything up.

‘I shall write you a cheque and a contract write now,’ I said and sort out my briefcase.

I went over, opened it and withdrew papers and a fountain pen. Kneeling on the floor again – my suit was ruined anyway- I began writing things out, using my briefcase as a makeshift desk.

‘I don’t know about this…’ Jack said.

‘Don’t worry about it. I can sort out any problems later. Here’s my details on this card. Here’s the million pound cheque and this is a basic contract, saying you have agreed to let me down there for payment. My life is in my own hands, you have no responsibility for what happenings down there etc, etc.. I shall sign it here and you, sir, sign there.’

I held the fountain pen out to Jack. He took it with a shaking hand and signed his name. Then I folded the contract with my business card and the cheque in the middle and handed the lot to him.

‘Now, do you have any spare clothes and equipment I can have?’

‘Yeah…put what do I tell ’em?’ Jack said and nodded to the other workers.

‘Tell them, you know me and I was your boss on other job,’ I said quickly, thinking on the spot, ‘tell them, I have all the training, clearance and expertise needed to go down and take a look. Say isn’t it lucky, that Doctor Gideon Charles was passing! We’ll have this mess cleared up faster now!’

‘Doctor?’ Jack muttered and looked at the paperwork in his hand.

‘Of science,’ I explained, ‘not the medical kind. Now, can we get down there?’

‘Sure thing, boss,’ Jack said with a huge smile and I guessed he had just seen all the numbers on the cheque.

Soon enough, I was dressed in some spare blue overalls, a high visibility vest, a white hard hat, a powerful torch and was rigged up to go down on a harness and rope.

‘I’ll be coming with ya,’ Jack said.

I nodded, ‘best thing to do.’

Slowly we descended whilst the other workers peered down at us and also shone torches to guide us. They created spotlights along the wall and the cut away edges of the ceiling above. The rock face was rough, natural with stains of hundreds of years of water and built up of features.

Stalactites hung from the ceiling, some looking thick and strong, others appeared thin and fragile. Growing up from the floor were the stalagmites, looking like sharp spikes. Here and there, the two had actually met and formed a pillar.

We landed and I looked around in awe. It was breathtaking, so natural and fresh.

‘We could be the first ever people to see this,’ I whispered, ‘and to think it’s been undisturbed under London all this time…’

 

(Inspired by; https://todaysauthor.com/2020/01/21/write-now-prompt-for-january-21-2020 with thanks).

Roy

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Roy walked the corridors of the asylum which had been his home since his twelfth birthday. He had faint memories of another home with father and mother but doctors, nurses and other patients had replaced them.

Sometimes, he heard the other patients in the distance as they screamed and shouted. In one room the cry for a nurse often echoed. Running footsteps of the staff would send Roy in the opposite direction and sometimes he would see the white tails of a doctor’s jacket as they rushed by.

Roy wondered in and out rooms. Sometimes, he found someone to talk to but most of the time that other person was trapped in crying or beating the walls. Two people he could talk to were Hattie and Alice, they were nice old ladies. He could also play with the children, even though they teased him about his height. ‘Giant,’ they called him even though he told them his name was Roy.

Sometimes strangers would come and they would bring new medical equipment with them. Roy didn’t mind them as long as they were quiet and didn’t insult the more angry patients who then went on a rampage. He would watch shyly from around corners and when he felt brave, try to talk to them but the strangers didn’t seem to hear him.

Though sometimes they would look at their cameras and get excited over shadow shapes or they would play back his voice on their recorders and act like that was the first time they had heard him.

What he didn’t like were those strangers that came to vandal the asylum. Roy would make a lot of noise, show his massive form and scare them away. He didn’t understand why those people were allowed here, they weren’t new inmates because they seemed able to leave. Perhaps, they enjoyed mocking and upsetting the patients and that’s why they came?

Roy had long taken it upon himself to defend his home and those with in it. There were people with physical and/or mental problems, children, elders who couldn’t look after themselves. The angry patients helped too and Roy didn’t get in their way when they decided to start howling and throwing things about.

It wasn’t in his nature to be like that and beside from the one embarrassing deformity which was his towering height, Roy was a normal, quiet man who enjoyed walking the corridors of the asylum and keeping an eye on things.

(Photo of Roy the giant from a google search)

Partly based on a real story and inspired by Ghost Adventures season 4, episode 2,  Rolling Hills Sanitarium. 

 

Further Information;

https://www.rollinghillsasylum.com/

https://weirdnj.com/stories/rolling-hills-asylum/

https://articles.ghostwalks.com/rolling-hills-asylum/

Postcard Story

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Dear Alma,

Very cold, snow keeps coming. We are in old church, trying to keep warm. It feels wrong to burn fire inside but if we don’t we’ll die. There is little food and water, we are trying best to survive. Must hold out till support and supplies arrive.

It’s wrong to go war with Russia in winter. The people are use to it and know how to survive. We don’t and are badly equipped. I fear I never see you again and this church will become my grave. I hold tight to memory of you and pray all time for saviour.

love, Viktor

Sea Mist #FFftPP

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Cati looked for a place to sit. A soft, almost invisible drizzle was falling, masked by mist that hung above the sea and cliffs. From up here, the view was like a window onto nature.

Cati rested on a rough rock. She was wearing waterproofs and covered in beads of water. She took off the hiking bag and searched for her thermal of tea and packet of trail mix.

Having heard rustling, Teddy, a Bernese mountain dog, appeared. He was big, fluffy with a tricolour coat and looked like his name. He loved exploring and walking as much as Cati did which made them best friends.

Cati give Teddy some dried chicken and poured him a bowl of water. Then, she drank tea and ate her snack. Wondering if she should make camp early, Cati packed up. The weather didn’t seem to be clearing and cliffs, like mountains, shouldn’t be walked at night.

‘Let’s go,’ Cati said and rubbed Teddy’s head.

They continued hiking; Cati looking for a sheltered spot and Teddy tracking rabbits. Soon, she found a place under tall pine trees and the sea, rain and a campfire became the background to their evening.

 

(Inspired by; https://flashfictionforthepracticalpractitioner.wordpress.com/2020/01/24/flash-fiction-for-the-purposeful-practitioner-2020-week-04/ with thanks).

 

Post It Note Short Story

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Holiday needed. Tired of cold weather, book somewhere hot and sunny. Cocktails on a beach with palm trees for shade.

Dear Diary

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Dear diary, it’s snowing!

I woke up this morning, confused as normal about the darkness and what time it was but then I saw it was after nine and time to get up. I drew back the curtains and saw huge flakes of snow that were falling quickly to an all ready snow covered garden.

It made me happy. Snow always has that effect on me. I guess because it reminds me of being a child and all those winters spent in snow covered countries skiing with my dad. I’ve not been on a slope, real or fake since his death four years ago.

It still hurts too much because that was our thing. The one activity that my mum couldn’t take away from us. I’ve not actually spoke to her since his funeral. I want to forgive her, I really do but it’s just so hard. She ruined my childhood with all her venom for dad.

I know though that in the next few months she wants to a solid part of my life again because of the baby. I’m hoping that might help fix things between us. She has repeatedly told me how sorry she is and how she’s moved on. I know things weren’t all her fault and it’s not like dad caused their marriage breakdown.

They were just teenagers, first time lovers, when mum got pregnant with me. They married because that’s what mum’s dad wanted. Granddad was old fashioned and wanted right done by his only child. Eight years or so later, they decided they couldn’t be together anymore.

Mum said dad ruined her, if she hadn’t got pregnant, if she hadn’t married, she could have had a life, a better career and met someone like her current second husband who was far more suitable for her then dad had ever been. And that’s what I heard all throughout my life even when I had grown up and left, the little contact I had with mum she would always have to bring stuff up like this.

Lately though, mum’s contact has all been remorseful and calm. She said she felt I was old enough to understand her position better now that I was married and pregnant myself. She hoped I’d have sympathy for her, be able to let everything go and we could start again because she did want to be a grandmother.

I would like that. I would like to fully trust her and for us to have a relationship. I know dad would want that too, he was always telling me not to blame him or mum for them hating each other. They were young, they were forced into things. Everyone makes bad choices, it’s the way of the world.

 

Snow Night #FridayFictioneers

Joel knew it was too cold to spend the night in the park but he had nowhere else to go. The homeless shelter and the church were both full. Perhaps, there were other places out there but he was too tried and cold.

Joel cleared snow off a bench and sat down. A little flurry of flakes were falling and he hoped it wouldn’t get heavier. Shivering, he wrapped himself in his sleeping bag and tried to stay warm. Laying down to rest, he tried not to imagine someone finding his frozen body in the morning.

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2020/01/29/31-january-2020/ with thanks).

Smoke #Photochallenge

first cigarette

She took the pills and washed them down with strawberry vodka. Laying on floor with the empty bottles, she lit one last cigarette.

Dozing and watching the exhaled smoke, she imagined that soon she would be floating away and fading into nothingness.

 

(Inspired by; https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/photo-challenge-300/ with thanks).

Little guard dog #3LineTales

three line tales, five year anniversary edition: beware of the dog

I never had a problem with dogs until I started a newspaper and magazine delivery job. I tried to make things easier by introducing myself to the dogs and giving them treats, most accepted me and so when I came to their doors the dogs would calm down when they saw it was only me.

One dog I just couldn’t get near and that was a black and white terrier that would go nuts when it saw anyone. That little monster was the bane of my life and I was forever in fear of being attacked.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2020/01/23/three-line-tales-week-208/ with thanks).

Alpacas #CCC

Everything had been slow lately; the farm and money included. Brent needed a new edged, something that would increase things. He heard about farmers who were rearing alpacas and selling their wool because it was more expensive then sheep’s wool.

Brent thought he’d give it ago. How difficult could it be to look after six or so alpacas? They were like big sheep, right? He brought some from another farm and also from a rescue centre.

Things improved. There was a good market for luxury wool and Brent knew he had made the right choice.

 

(Inspired by; https://crispinakemp.com/2020/01/22/crimsons-creative-challenge-63/ with thanks).