Microfiction: No turning back

Three more lines to add to yesterday’s three line tale, Gone.

Across the night time fields they floated, following the half-seen friend who turned and smiled through pale lips when they looked back longingly at the lighted window.

Go home, the fox called, but the children didn’t hear, and the wind’s laughter carried the warning into the dusk, carried them closer to the lakeside.

The hand, so light, so pale tugged at the elder child’s arm when she hung back, and, reluctantly now, but knowing it was too late to go back, the pair of them followed the friend into the misty, cold, rippling waters of the bottomless lake.

 

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200 word story: Grain

This is for the Daily Post prompt.

1024px-Irrigated_Wheat_field

The wheat field stretched forever. Before me, its golden mass trembled in the light breeze like the thick fur of a sleeping animal, lying in the sun. Behind, my shadow cast a long, dark smear and where it ended, the mists began. No sound disturbed the silence. I strained my ears and heard only the rattling of ripe grains and the faint brushing of the whiskery heads. No birds sang; no rodents scuttled unseen among the stalks.

I took a step forward, and my shadow followed, dragging the mists behind it. Although I hated the idea of crushing the ripe wheat, the oppression of the misty wall at my back left me no choice. I strode out, confidence rising as the sound of cracking stalks broke the silence. I hummed a tune, my eyes fixed on the bright horizon, until another sound insinuated itself between the vibrating notes of the tune and the crunching underfoot. The tune faltered and died.

Low at first, but gaining in volume, the mist was growling. The golden light dimmed and tendrils of smoke were curling around my shadow, pulling it into the swirling obscurity and the arms of the sinister forms taking shape within.

 

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Flash fiction: The attic

A short story written for Margo Roby’s photo prompt

abandoned-house-with-doll

We’d visited all of the house except the attic. We’d admired the old beams, run our fingers through the soot around the fireplaces, picked at the flaking paintwork and prodded the woodwormy window frames. We smiled inwardly. Nothing serious. Cosmetic. We loved the house. The estate agent turned in the doorway, the eager light in his eyes betraying his hopes that we’d be signing without too much fuss. I too turned for one last look at the kitchen, the homely beams, the red tiles on the floor, the small wooden door in the corner, and I hesitated, the warm feeling faltering.

“The attic. We ought really to visit it, you know.”

The estate agent had opened that door briefly, pushed his overfed bulk into the narrow opening and declared.

“No, that staircase really is too rickety.” He backed out, a determined smile plastered across his face. “Next time, maybe. No electric light up there. The beams are perfectly sound. There’s a certificate in the file. Nothing to worry about from the roof either. It had a thorough revision two years ago. In the file.” He smiled again without warmth, and they’d moved on to visit the other rooms.

“I’d like to see.”

The estate agent began to bluster, which made me even more adamant. As a species they have a bad press, and I wouldn’t trust this one as far as I could throw him, which, given his girth, was not far.

Tom caught my eye. “I brought a flashlight for emergencies,” he said, producing it from his pocket like the piece of evidence that clinched the case.

The estate agent sighed and opened the door with an obvious bad grace. He led the way, grumbling about the dust, the ominous creaks, the broken handrail. At the top another door. Behind, the light was pale, thin. One dusty window let in light that I had the distinct impression came from another time. The day we had left was sunny, cheerful. The attic was full of winter.

The estate agent stomped about on the boards, his shoes leaving prints. He stomped, chuntered, broke the silence that had hung like cobwebs for how long?

“How long did you say the house has been empty?”

“Not long. The owners moved out in the spring.”

Tom flashed light into the dim corners. I rubbed a hole in the grime of the window. The garden was there, but I couldn’t see the flowers. I was certain I’d seen a clump of hydrangeas by the wall, a splash of dawn sky colour. I frowned, shivering. It was cold in the attic though outside the sun was warm. The estate agent carried on stamping his feet and slapping his hands together. It was almost as if he was trying to make as much noise as possible. Tom’s flashlight lingered on an old pram with a mouldering doll sitting inside. The pram was a relic from a bygone age. The fabric of the doll’s dress and the lining of the pram were the colour of dust, fragile, and trembling on the brink of becoming dust like the rest of the attic. I listened to the papery rustling behind the estate agent’s elephantine blunderings, the patter of voices.

“They didn’t come up here often, did they?” Tom let the light wander right to the back where the roof was lowest and the shadows deepest. A bed, a child’s bed. He started towards it. I grabbed his arm. The air was so cold. The estate agent was shuffling nervously by the stairs. Maybe he could hear them too, the voices.

“They never came up here,” I said.

Tom looked at me and I could see that he understood too. Something touched the back of my neck.

“Let’s go,” I said. “Please.”

The air moved and the rags that hung over the window fluttered. The thin light dimmed. The estate agent’s bulk disappeared surprisingly quickly, and the sound of his steps hurrying across the room came up from the kitchen.

I turned and peered one last time into the darkness of the farthest wall beneath the eaves. The shadows stirred, laboriously, and Tom pushed me down, away, and pulled the door shut behind him. The rickety stairs shook and shuddered, and the voices whispered,

Please,

Please,

Please.

Outside, the sunshine that dried the damp tears on my face beamed down on the sky blue and pink flowers of hydrangeas by the wall.

 

Book review: The Séance by Tricia Drammeh

Looking for likely books to plug for Halloween I immediately thought of this one and realized I have never posted a review here. My youngest is reading it today. Haven’t heard a peep out of her for a while.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Seance-Dark-Summons-Book-ebook/dp/B00EV84CGA

This is a book that is hard to put down for an adult. For teenagers it must be riveting.
Abby is an ‘original,’ and her best friend, if not the prettiest girl in the class, is up there with them. There are class bullies, and there is the gorgeous hunk floating just out of reach, the object of desire. But this is not the standard high school drama. Abby manages her problems—absent, uninterested parents, and loneliness—in an out of the ordinary way—by indulging her interest in the paranormal.
The séance goes horribly wrong and the unwelcome presence Abby summons grows from irritating to seriously, worryingly dangerous. Tricia Drammeh builds up the tension so admirably I was hiding behind the sofa much of the time, and there are several scenes that still give me the shivers.
Interwoven with the straight horror story are two other aspects that neatly balance up the emotions: friendship and family. As Abby grows in maturity, she learns about the meaning of friendship and love, and she is the catalyst that helps her strangely dysfunctional family gets its act together. Both of these stories are deftly set out, the subjects of discrimination, bullying, teenage self-awareness, and loneliness are treated with sensitivity. One of the achievements of this book for me is that Tricia Drammeh portrays a bunch of children that I would actually like to meet. At no time did I feel that I would like to slap any of the characters—except possibly Abby’s parents—and that is no mean feat in a story involving young adolescents.

Amazon UK link