#Three Line Tales: Gothic

Microfiction for Sonya’s weekly photo prompt.

photo by Watari via Unsplash

tltweek194

 

Inspired by the stories of Walter Scott, he built the house, mimicking the Gothic he never really appreciated or understood, believing vaulted ceilings and cloisters created a ‘sophisticated’ atmosphere.

When his cruelty to the womenfolk of his household shaped Gothic horrors that haunted the nights of the mock-up castle, his line dried up, faded, and he died screaming in a straitjacket.

Now junkies haunt the lonely rooms and fake cloister, weaving their own horrors, painting the walls with their own madness.

#writephoto: The unknown

This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo prompt. The standing stone looked eerily familiar to me. There has to be a link somewhere.

Screen Shot 2019-02-22 at 14.28.30.png

The house has gone now, burned, pulled down, the stones scattered, the park reverted to wilderness and the gate walled up. There is nothing left of the people who once lived and died there, and no living memories of their persecutor. But there is a strange stone on the hill that casts a shadow even when there is no sun, where no grass grows and where frost glitters even in August. And in the local museum there is a painting with no name and no date that is fixed to the wall and cannot be moved.

Strange cries are sometimes heard in the park at night, cries that no bird ever made, and the room where the painting hangs is locked now, the other exhibits removed and displayed elsewhere.

*

In the big house that stands alone beyond the last bend in the lane, the electricity has become erratic, doors and windows stick and locked doors open. There was a guard dog, but after a couple of weeks of howling, the dog has fallen silent. Its kennel is empty. The owners pass, fleeting and white-faced as ghosts. In the village, we watch and wait, and wonder how long before it happens again.

Odilon_Redon_-_The_Monster

 

Flash fiction: Harbingers

Here’s a taste of the next series, Angel Haven. Also YA fantasy it follows on from The Green Woman. It’s jumping the gun a bit (a lot) but it’s what I’m reading and writing at the moment.

Harbingers

The last rays skimmed the oak grove while shadows swallowed up the forest paths. Scyld stared down the mountain, across the treetops, his gaze unfocused. Deep in thought he did not hear the creaking of the ropes, the sighing of the branches beneath the dead weights. He did not hear the noise of his feasting thegns or the raucous cry of the birds.
Scyld was reliving his blood dream. His fists clenched and his lips parted as he watched himself splash across the ford, a war cry in his throat. His thegns were about him, axes and swords swirling, throwing up great fountains of river water. In the dream the river ran red, red blood splashed and fountained, and the warcry in his throat was the death knell for the fools in the unguarded settlement.
The dull thunk of a heavy blade slicing through human flesh, the screams and shrieks of the villagers taken by surprise filled his dream ears. The river ran red, and the earth was black with blood. His parted lips curled into a smile. Donar was with them; the god sang in the sweep of the axe stroke, laughed in the whistle of arrows, and roared in the sacking of the wattle huts.
At his back the bodies twisted in the breeze. Sacrifices to Donar. He stepped closer, and peered with cold curiosity at the swollen tongues and bulging eyes, his nostrils flaring in distaste at the smell from the soiled breeches. A price well worth paying, he thought as he pushed the redheaded corpse, setting it twisting slowly.
The sound of feasting reached him at last, and a sudden thirst dried his throat, a desire to be with company to celebrate the sacrifice that would bring certain victory in the coming raid. He licked his lips and turned towards the fort. Deep in the grove yellow eyes stared, unblinking. Scyld looked from the yellow eyes to the twisting redhead.
The god comes for you, Hrothgar. He grinned, almost laughed, but that would have been unseemly in the holy place, and left the wolves to their own feast.
Feasting, he heard, and the raucous sound of birds. Scyld raised his head. Against the fire-streaked sky above the fort two black birds flapped with ragged wings.
More guests for the feast, Osmund.
This time he laughed out loud. The blood dream had shown him war and slaughter, he had made two sacrifices from among his finest warriors. Donar would be pleased with his offering; he would be in Scyld’s right arm on the morrow.
The raucous cry of carrion birds broke into his thoughts of massacres and bloodletting. Scyld paused at the gates of his fort and frowned. Two ravens. Flapping with their steady, powerful wing strokes they flew over the fort, then turned and back they came again. Scyld followed them with his eyes, waiting for them to reach the sacred grove. Suddenly uneasy, he started back; anxious to see them settle on the god’s feast. Before he could move they turned about, not reaching the grove, ignoring the enticing smell of dead men. Against the fiery sky they turned about, gracelessly, flying low, back through the open gates of the fort.
Fear gripped Scyld as the harbingers circled the houses, passed over the huts of wattles, and the finer halls of the wealthy thegns, circled once and settled on the roof of the big hall. Scyld’s hall. Cold settled in Scyld’s stomach. Harbingers.
The blood dream came rushing back. In consternation he saw the fording of the river, the bloody water splashing before his face, heard the war cries, the screams and shrieks as blades sliced through flesh. He heard the whistling of arrows. Cold turned to ice. He heard the whistling of arrows growing to a whine. The whine grew to a shriek, and he heard at last the death song the air crooned in his ears. Silhouetted against the blood red sky, two birds waited. Harbingers.