#writephoto: In ancient times

I haven’t even looked at Sue’s photo prompt for ages because I’ve been very strict with myself about keeping my head down and meeting word counts. Although I’ve started a new story, I’m not pushing myself so hard. I’m still feeling my way with this one anyway. So, I’m taking a break, and writing a short story that is really inspired by what I’m writing. Not such a break after all.

summer

 

There is such peace here, she thinks, sitting on the stone and gazing across the landscape of rolling meadow scattered with the white flowers of hundreds of thousands of daisies. Day’s eye, they used to call them, and she imagines them all, gazing up at the sky. Peace, she tells herself when the hawk screams and stoops after something unseen, peace when the wind blows cold, and clouds throw shadows across the vast plain.

She shivers and still thinks, peace, though the setting sun fills the sky with blood, and only crows flap homeward. The wind mutters as it rattles through the trees that line the road behind her, and flattens the white flowers beneath its heavy hand. She begins to think, perhaps it is time to go. She rises, dusts off the seat of her jeans and her eye is caught by the lichen, the yellow, grey and dull green that covers the stone where she was sitting. Looking closer, she sees marks in the stone.

A pattern? Design?

She traces the scratches with her finger, peeling off the lichen, revealing a rough carved image. Horseman, raised sword, heads rolling. She listens, and finds she can hear voices in the wind that races across the daisy heads, voices screaming, crying, moaning, keening. Faces turn to the sky in despair as a rain of steel falls.

Not all the massacres of ancient times are documented. No names remain, no dates or reasons. Just the voices of the dead.

Microfiction: Lost temple VIII

Final episode.

Ruine_Oybin_bei_Mondschein

Tears of rage and of sorrow blinded the acolyte. He knelt at the edge of the pit and wept until the images faded and he became aware of the whispering of hundreds of voices.

I hear.

He wiped his eyes on his sleeve and got to his feet. The pavement rippled, and the monk’s body slid into the pit. The acolyte watched, and, full of shame for all it represented, he undid the beads about his own waist and tossed the rosary after Brother Constantine. The shadows returned, soft as doves’ wings, to fill the space. The ravens wheeled, sending the darkness swirling, like giant wings, and departed, their silhouettes black against the moon. He took the amulet and hung it around his neck. The amulet spoke.

Go now and keep the secret. This is a holy place. Let not the barbarians return to profane it.

The acolyte nodded, his face set, a cold glitter in his eye. The dove wings, children’s hands, touched his hands, his robes. Older hands stroked his face, gentle as a summer breeze. Moonlight filled the ruins, softening the rough edges, washing the pavement with silver.

The acolyte made his way back to the waiting horses and turned their heads towards a new life.

Microfiction: Lost temple VII

Ruine_Oybin_bei_Mondschein

Shadows rolled back from the high windows, and moonlight flooded the ruins, pale and silvery. There was no altar. Only a pit where it had stood. Fragments of white marble littered the pavement, and among the shards lay the crumpled body of Brother Constantine. His outflung right hand still clutched part of a broken crucifix, and even in the moonlight, the acolyte could see that it was a seething mass of burns. The air was still. The light pure and unwavering, but the young man knew they were there and waited for them to speak.

The amulet grew hotter and agitated in his fingers. He had no need to press it to his brow to see the images, the awful bloody images of the brown-robed priests cutting down the worshipers with their steel swords, snatching children and babies from their mothers, smashing skulls, splitting and slicing and gouging until the marble pavement was awash in blood. He saw the old images of the earth tree and the generous curves of the earth mother dashed to the ground and the terrible stark crucifix dressed above the bloody sea.