Microfiction: #writephoto The meeting

For Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt.


Beneath the church was the crypt. The entrance lay behind a small door that she had passed many times but never seen opened. The steps were broad and well-hewn, and there were torches in the sconces. She lit one and carried it with her. Low arches held up the vaulted roof above a pavement where lay the ranked tombs of worthy, forgotten bishops and noblemen. Go to the east end, beneath the altar, he’d said, and go down, deeper. Her steps echoed though she tried to walk silently among the dust and the dead. In the silence, even her breath made a sound.

There was no door at the east end of the crypt, just an opening like the open mouth of something toothless and dead. The steps were rough and uneven and there were no torches, no sconces, defying the day-sighted to enter. The torch flickered and she hoped it would last the time it took to get what she wanted.

She entered the darkness and the shadows swallowed her. Cold gripped. The torch cast only a feeble halo of light and the descent, the curling, corkscrew descent, seemed to last for hours. At last, she reached the lower level, a narrow passageway hewn through the rock, punctuated by arches, some worked in the Gothic style, others round and unadorned, and the oldest of all, mere stone lintels. Passages led off to left and right, all dead and dark except the way ahead that was lit by the pale light of distant torches.

The texture of the air changed, grew thick and greasy like burning fat, and the smell increased, the damp and unwholesome stench of fungus and corruption. Her steps slowed, the torch held aloft guttered and died. In a distance measured by the unequal roof supports, a figure appeared, dark and uncertain against the flickering light. Suddenly she wished she had never come.

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Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

22 thoughts on “Microfiction: #writephoto The meeting”

  1. You bet. She did not listen to the time-honored admonition: Don’t go into the basement! (or its equivalent). But I’m glad she did because this story is so full of buildup and details. You really have the touch for this kind of suspense. Love it.

    1. Thank you! Yes, going into the basement is a big no no. I can get this far, but never know what comes next. These tiny stories suit me best. I admire writers who can think out a whole plot.

      1. Me too, but – I think the art of implying subsequent action is not as easy as it may seem.

        My inclination is to realize that she found her boyfriend there with the girl she most hated in high school. Now, I leave it up to you to write what comes next.!!!

      2. Well, if you mention high school for me that means somebody or everybody has to be a vampire. I really really really don’t do vampires so I think she’s just going to have to back up very slowly and then race up those stairs before he catches her.

  2. Great response Jane, you had me engaged. I loved this line: “In the silence, even her breath made a sound.”
    My only criticism might be why did the person didn’t have a proper torch but then again I did learn a new word, ‘sconces’, I knew there had to be a meaning to describe such things. I really like endings where we are meant to speculate what happened, such as the character becoming another body in the crypt?

    1. Thanks Michael! Interesting that you assumed the story was set in the present day. It was a feeling I had too, and I wrote it! It was supposed to take place centuries ago. To be perfectly honest, with these tiny snippets of thriller/mystery/horror stories, I really have no idea what happens next. A real thriller writer would!

    1. I half-imagined it was to ask a favour of some kind, a way out of a bad situation. And she realised when it was too late (maybe?) that she couldn’t trust the one she’d arranged to meet.

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