Scattered #writephoto

The top floor corridor was foreboding and forever in darkness since my father had died. With my bare toes pressed against the bottom of the first wooden step of the staircase, I looked upwards into the blackness. Of course, I couldn’t see anything, but I could hear them.

They moved with shuffling, dragging footsteps and whispered so you could only catch one or two words. Sometimes one of them would wail or moan in a low undertone. My mother and the servants would blame it on the wind or an animal.

I knew differently.

A chill crept around my bare ankles and began to make it’s up, under my white nightdress. I whacked the dress down, stepping backwards then I collected the edges in my hands, wrapping them around me for protection.

‘Stay away!’ I hissed.

A low chuckle came from the darkness in the middle of the stairs and a man’s voice whispered, ‘stay.’

Scrunching up my face, I tried to make his shadowy form out. I wasn’t scared of them and as long as I kept my distance they couldn’t do no harm. I made out the shape of two long legs on the step and a hand just above the banister.

‘Who are you?’ I asked.

He just laughed and began making his way downstairs. A panic and fleeing notion came over me. He didn’t feel like the others, he was stronger… I backed away and I did think about running, but I was determined to stand my ground.

Father had had control over them and I did too, even though I wasn’t very good at it. I shut my eyes and calmed myself. Rising my left arm, I put my fingers to my neck and clutched the silver cross there. I emptied my mind then imagined light washing over me.

I heard heavy boots hitting the stairs and a soft growling. I didn’t open my eyes nor move. Icy cold fingers brushed past me, but I ignored it. I pictured a bright ball of white light coming out and hovering above me.

‘Not scared?’ the shadow man asked.

I opened my eyes, feeling the power of the light swelling within me. I could see him more clearly now. He was a tall man, dressed all in black, his face was narrow with bright red eyes and a slashed mouth which was grinning.

‘Daemon,’ I uttered.

He let out a rippling laugh which echoed through the still house. He came to the bottom of the stairs and reached out for me. His arms stretched longer then they should have and once again I felt his touch. His icy grip bit into my other arm and he breathed harshly into my ear.

‘Mine. Little girl,’ he uttered.

‘No! Daemon!’ I yelled and pushed against him.

Blinding brightness shot out from me, throwing us both back. I hit the wall hard then scrambled upwards. A wild howl filled my ears and I saw the top floor corridor bursting with scattered light. Many shadows were fleeing before it and wails echoed in the distance.

I watched the light dancing on the ceiling and walls, dazed by the patterns. It was like sunlight through a prism. The light began to fade and so did their cries. Looking down at my hands, I wondered if I had really done that. The sound of running footsteps broke me out of my thoughts. The rest of my light faded but they didn’t gather back, instead the corridor took on a peaceful darkness.

‘What happened?’ my mother gushed.

I turned and saw her in the dim lamp light. She had her maid and mine behind her.

‘I don’t know,’ I answered sulkily.

‘Where you sleep walking again?’ My mother pressed.

I faked a pause as if thinking then nodding went over and pressed myself into her nightdress. I made sobbing sounds.

My mother patted my head, whispering calming things and led me off to my bedroom. I glanced back as we moved off. I couldn’t sense them up there but I knew they would gather again soon.

 I looked down at my hands, in wonder.  Did I really now have the power to defeat them…?        

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/09/14/thursday-photo-prompt-scattered-writephoto/ with thanks).

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Fading #writephoto

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.)

Craked #writephoto

The egg lay broken open on the ground. It was a dirty white, almost light grey color, with just one side missing.  It was a strange thing to find in the middle of the footpath but I was walking through a patch of trees which might explain it. I didn’t know anything about eggs though, but it didn’t look like any hen egg I’d eaten or used in cooking. It was probably a bird’s egg that had fallen out of the nest.

I frowned as an urge to pick it up grew. The egg shell looked normal enough to me and there was no sign of the baby that might have been inside. Why would I want to touch it though? I guess because I liked to collect unusual items I find on my walks. As far as I knew I didn’t have any egg shell in my box.

Picking it up gingerly, because I just knew it was going to further crack, I held the reminds loosely. The egg shell felt light, like I was holding nothing in my palms. Cradling the shell, so I didn’t look silly holding it out before me, I began to walk back home.

By the time I arrived which was about an hour later, my arms were aching. I looked around for a place to put the empty egg down; there was no way I could juggle it and my keys at the same time. Resting the delicate thing in the plant pot of one of the miniature cone tree that flanked the door, I was able to dig my keys out.

Then it was a simple case of gently picking the egg shell back up and taking it up to the attic to my study. Long had my wife and children complained about the hours I spent up here, but now I was all alone it still didn’t matter to me. I shuffled the egg on to my desk and dug out the large filing box which lived at the bottom of one of the many bookcases.

Opening the lid, I saw all the random objects I had collected. There were things like pressed flowers and leaves, small twisty twigs, beach shells, snail shells.  Scraps of newspaper, handwritten notes, leaflets. Pine comes, acorns, bird feathers, weirdly shaped stones. From a river had come; a shard of blue glass and a quarter of a broken porcelain sugar bowl. I had a rusted key, a dog’s name tag, a plastic key ring heart and the skull of a mouse.

Most of the items were in small plastic or glass jars and containers, or wrapped in tissue. I decided to put the egg shell in bubble wrap. That seemed the best way to protect it as well as putting it in a clear tub. Placing the egg safely in the box, I closed the lid.

(Inspire from; https://scvincent.com/2017/08/24/thursday-photo-prompt-cracked-writephoto/ with thanks.)

Wisp #writephoto

Some days, it was nice just to sit back and watched the clouds go by. Laying on the beach, I looked up and watched the thin clouds drifting across the ice blue sky. When I was a child my parents had played a game with me were we had taken it in turns to call out the shapes we saw within the clouds.

I smiled and began to play, trying to come up with all kinds of animals and objects that the wispy clouds could be. I got things like; horses, birds, people and a three legged crocodile. Then though all the clouds seemed to move away leaving just the bright sun above.

I sighed and shut my eyes, glad that the shade of the sun umbrella was keeping the glare off me. My mind wondered off and I thought about how much easier life had been as a child.

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/08/17/thursday-photo-prompt-wisp-writephoto with thanks).

Alone #writephoto

I knew I shouldn’t be alone but I was. Sitting on the edge of the cliff, I looked out. I could see an endless stretch of darkening blue sea, the waves bobbing gently and the sunset lit sky which tonight was a strange amber orange colour. I didn’t know why and I didn’t care. Listening to the waves, I was grateful there were no seagulls or other noises. It was just me, the sea, sky and this cliff.

I swung my legs and looked down at the sheer drop. I wasn’t sure how high I was, maybe two hundred meters? Perhaps more. I wondered how long it would take me to fall. I shuffled closer, so I was almost hanging off the edge. I thought about all the other times I’d seen people fall from great heights – mostly in movies. They had seemed to kinda enjoy the experience.

Tightening my grip on the rock, the urge to just let go and fall grew. I tried not to think about it nor how it would solve so many problems. I thought about what they say about attempts that it was a split second that made you change your mind and also the more time you thought about doing it the less the chance was.

The body wanted to survive but my unconscious didn’t. I shut my eyes and imagined the rush of air, the sense of flying and freedom. I wanted it so badly. Just for there to be nothing and to not have to think anymore. To be done with it all.

The sounds of the waves sounded louder now and there seemed to be less cliff under me. I knew it had been a bad idea to be alone.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/08/10/thursday-photo-prompt-alone-writephoto/ with thanks)

 

Watchers #writephoto

Pausing on the footpath before the tall jagged rock faces, I got an odd feeling that I was being watched. Looking around, I couldn’t see anyone. The normal sounds of birds singing, the warm breeze shifting leaves and the water from the stream lapping still surrounded me.

I raised my head, noticing the small trees growing straight out of the rock alongside the grass clumps and moss. It was hard to tell if anyone was up there. I thought about shouting out, but that seemed pointless. Finding a boulder to rest on, I took out my drink bottle and phone. I took a few photos of the fantasy setting likes scenery and sipped my tepid water.

I had originally planned to walk the path between the two rocks and head further into the woods but now I was here, doubts were setting in. There didn’t seem to be much of a path and a lot of fast growing plants made the gap look smaller. Still, though it would take too long to walk around.

Feeling a little like Red Riding Hood, I set off again and past between the rocks. My rucksack scrapped against the sticking out stones and my boots chomped down on the undergrowth. Pressing my hands, against the rough sides for balance, I eased my way through.

The abrupt cries of two crows startled me. Stopping, I looked up and saw one of them -an old scrawny bird, on an rocky outcrop far above me. My breath caught in my throat as I realised the crows was rising an alarm. A gust of wind whipped up around me, pressing cold fingers against my legs. I felt a shiver run up my spine and my fingers began to claw into the passageway as if the rocks were moving into suffocate me.

I started to feel on the edge of a panic attack. I dropped my head and took in deep breaths, willing away the urge to get out and be far away from here. I tried to convince myself this was nothing but my feelings were telling me different. I needed to sit down but I couldn’t. Letting my hands slide, I felt then becoming grazed but I didn’t care.

The crows was screaming above me and I couldn’t hear anything but their shrill cries. I thought some wild tribesmen are going to appear and cart me off or a witch pop up and casting a curse on me. I tried to laugh it away, telling myself how silly I was being. Nothing was going to happen!

I focused on the ground, counting all the stones until they merged into one. There came the sound of something heavy shifting and groaning. I looked up, picturing a giant emerging from the rock face. Instead though, I saw a few small rocks tumbling down. Frowning, I turned my attention to that and saw a chuck of crag cracking away.

Rumbling vibrations came through the ground, shaking through me. Movement re-entered my body like water bursting through a dam. I spun and fled, pain shooting into my right ankle. Branches scrapped at me as if trying to hold me back, but I broke free and stumbled out of the pass. Landing heavily on sharp grass, I twisted and looked back.

A rock slide was happening! Close to where I had been bits of crag were falling and whacking the plants. The sounds were a mixture of rock on rock, crunching and snapping of greenery and groaning. Dust plumed, forming a creamy-yellowy cloud that puffed itself into the sky.

I lent back, breathing deeply and tasting grit in my mouth. When the echoing noises had faded, I eased up and inspected the now blocked passage. It was hard to tell and maybe I was being too dramatic, but that had been a close call.

A ruffing of wings drew me away and I saw two crows land on the boulder and stare at me.

‘Thank you,’ I said aloud, ‘you were trying to warn me, weren’t you?’

The crows eyed me, clicked their beaks and took off again, flying away over the treetops.

With a final glance at the pass which now seemed harmless once more, I turned away and took the longer route into the woods.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/08/03/thursday-photo-prompt-watchers-writephoto/ with thanks.)

Sails #writephoto

windmill at sunset, Brill, Buckinghamshire. Image: Sue Vincent

The world was nothing like it had been in the past. Not that I remember the Before but I’d heard all the hand-me-down stories. Growing, up I had dreamed of living in that ‘magical’ time where everything seemed so easy but having heard the truth now, I was happy enough staying in my own time.

As the sun fully rose over the war torn grasslands, I felt the heat brushing against my skin. I was draped over the edge of the truck bed, dozing and thinking only of my home. The wheels of the truck bounced over the rough ground and my position was uncomfy but I was to tried to move. Also, we were squashed in pretty tight.

A loud banging on the roof of the trunk cab brought me around and the others fully awake. I turned my head up and saw our look out guy pointing at something ahead.

‘Structure up! ‘Bout few miles!’ he yelled.

Everyone began peering out of the truck, wanting to see what he had seen. It had been a day and a night since our last structure. We had gotten luckily there too because it had been an untouched farm. The dream of every surface missioner! I hoped this structure was another good one.

Getting to my feet, I balanced in the rocking truck and looked over the cab. I could see a single building, tall and thin with something attached to the front. It looked strange. As we got closer, I couldn’t really see much else other then it was wooden and the attached seemed to be moving. A radar, maybe?

Right before we pulled alongside, I climbed out of the still moving, but slowing down truck. Landing with a bump on the grass, I broke into a run. My protective mask and bag which were strapped around my chest, bounced of my hip. I knew a few of the others would be sneering and shaking their heads at me, but I didn’t care. Despite the tiredness, I had to see everything as this could be my last trip to the surface.

I stood before the building and looked. I had been right, it was made out of wood and was cylinder in shape. The attachment was wooden panels that had lattice pattern in the centre. It looked like the building was made for flying but instead of sails there was a wood propeller. I wondered how it worked.

Seeing a short doorway, I went in and found a control room. There were lots of wooden beams and bits of metal and stone but they were dismantled and just laying about. I slipped my gloves on and searched around. Dust rose, clouding around me. I wasn’t expecting to find any more then what I could already see.

‘What ya got?’ the gruff voice belong to Pal asked from behind me.

‘Not much. We could take the better pieces. There’s some interesting metal bits. Look at these massive stones!’ I added.

My work had uncovered, two grey rocks that were rounded in shape and had a hole in the middle. My touched them with my glove covered fingers but of course couldn’t feel anything.

‘What are they used for for?’ I muttered.

‘Grinding, perhaps,’ Pal suggested, ‘too heavy for us to take.’

I nodded. It was clear he was right. Casting around, I didn’t see anything else. Which was a shame. I rubbed my face and turned back to Pal. He was standing in the doorway, having just replied back to the team. He stepped out and I followed him.

‘What is it?’ I asked, once again looking upwards.

‘A windmill,’ Pal replied, with a shrugged.

It seemed a shame to destroy a relic of the past but needs must.

 

(Inspired from: https://scvincent.com/2017/07/27/thursday-photo-prompt-sails-writephoto/ with thanks)

Mask #writephoto

The orange and yellow flames rose, licking the red smoke which billowed into the night. Ewqor stared down at the burning wood and breathed in deeply through his mask. There was a heavy sweet scent mixed within the smoke, almost as if a meadow of flowers was burning.

He shut his eyes and let the magic take over. A tingling feeling shot all over his body then he was flying and the smoke was dancing all around him. Ewqor opened his eyes and saw the near future playing out before him.

There was the King on his throne, grey with age and worn down by the country’s responsibilities. At his side was the empty throne of his Queen, recently dead and standing next to there his eight daughters. The oldest four were married, Queens to other Kingdoms and with their own children. The other three were engaged to Princes far away but the youngest, in her early teens wasn’t ready yet.

It was her, that Ewqor focused on. The late flower from the Gods, as she was known as. The King and Queen had been too old to have any more children, but they had been blessed with Morning Lily. She was smaller then her sisters, with light pink hair and violet eyes but she hadn’t followed in anyone’s footsteps.

Living in the shadows of her mother and sisters, should have made Morning Lily nothing. Instead though, the people loved her unusually beauty and kindness. It was unlikely she’d sit on a throne, so her other nickname had become the Eternal Princess. Morning Lily seemed to have accepted this but through the vision, Ewqor could see is it wasn’t to be her fate.

He shut his eyes, controlling himself back and letting the smoke cover the future throne room. Ewqor gasped as he was slammed back into his body. He stumbled but quickly gained his footing. He raised his head and pulled off his mask. A light rain fell on to face and he felt refreshed.

Leaving his servants to put out the magic fire, Ewqor went to see the King. They had a lot to talk about.

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/07/20/thursday-photo-prompt-mask-writephoto/ with thanks)

Messenger #writephoto

corvid in flight - Sue Vincent

Picking up the football which Micheal had kicked across the road, I looked up and saw a huge black bird in an nearby tree. I wasn’t sure what the bird was so I thought about the arrow diagram poster at school. Black and yellow and smallish; blackbird. All black with a grey beak; rook. Sooty black and cries loudly; crow.

‘It’s a raven that is,’ Michael said over my shoulder.

I jumped because I didn’t know he was there. I turned and pulled a face at him.

‘How do you know?’ I pouted.

‘Because I’ve seen them at the Tower of London,’ he replied.

I stuck my tongue out at him. He didn’t seem to notice and carried on talking.

‘They say if all the ravens leave the tower then England falls.’

‘What does this mean?’ I asked.

‘Don’t know,’ Michael shrugged.

We both watched the raven then with a large caw sound, it flapped its large wings and took off.

‘My granny says ravens are the messengers of witches,’ Michael added.

‘Messengers of witches?’ I repeated to myself.

He looked at me as if he knew I didn’t believe what his granny said.

‘It’s true,’ he snapped, ‘a witch tells a raven to bring her ingredients for potions and to communicate with other witches.’

‘I thought they had cats,’ I answered slowly.

‘They do, but ravens are better. They are ancient and know old magic,’ Micheal added.

I wanted to ask him if he really believed in all of this. We were too old for fairy tales but still young enough to think that supernatural people were real.

‘Maybe he’s come to take you away,’ Michael spoke in a ghoulish voice.

I shivered. hating how he stretchered the words and made his voice drip with creepiness.

‘Ravens can’t kidnap people!’ I snapped.

‘No, but they can find people who have the potential to become witches and led the head witch to them.’ Michael explained.

I pushed the ball into his chest, shoving him backwards. He was bigger and older then me but he wasn’t expecting it so stumbled back.

‘That’s so not true! A bird is just a bird And there are no witches!’ I shouted and stormed off.

I ran home which was only a few streets away. I didn’t know why I suddenly felt upset about what he had said until I saw the raven again. He was sitting on the left gate post of my house fence.

‘Hi,’ I said shyly.

He was a huge bird up close and his beak looked sharp. He put his head to one side, cawed more softly then before and jumped into my front garden. I opened the gate and watched him hopping up the path to the front door.

And that was the day my life changed…

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/07/13/thursday-photo-prompt-messenger-writephoto/ with thanks.)

Peace #writephoto

I had been wandering around for a few weeks looking for a quiet spot where I’d be undisturbed to finish editing my latest novel. All my normal places; my study, my bedroom, the library, the park, the coffee shops and pubs I haunted, hadn’t allowed me to complete my work.

It wasn’t lack of motivation, determination or inspiration that was stopping me, it was more the background distractions. So, I had come out here to the middle of the woods to find the peace I needed. It was a bright hot day, unusual English summer time weather but also a week day so most people were trapped in work and school.

It had been awhile since I had last strolled or ran through the woods, so I was surprised to come across the wooden sculpture of a bed. It was made out of thick, but smoothed down tree trunk cut in half with a smaller part of the trunk shaped into a pillow.

I sat down, thinking it would be too hard to sit for long, but actually it was quite comfy. Settling back against the pillow, I set up myself to work and some good hours later I had finished editing my novel and was napping in the dappled shade.

 

(Inspired from; https://scvincent.com/2017/07/06/thursday-photo-prompt-peace-writephoto/ with thanks)