Three Line Tales: That house

This short story is for Sonya’s Three Line Tales photo prompt.

photo by Thomas Shellberg via Unsplash

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“All the years I’ve driven past that creepy house,” she says, stopping the car and opening the door, “now I have you to protect me,” she throws him a cheesy smile, “I’m going to have a look inside—coming?”

The doors and windows yawn and wind moans in the hollow rooms as he hangs back on the threshold, glancing uneasily at the way the house seems to crouch, waiting for them to…to what?

“Come on—you’re not chicken, are you?” she says, tugging at his hand, as the house gives a great sigh, slips, slides, and swallows them up.

Once there was a castle

A cascade poem for Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt. I know it isn’t flash fiction, but this is the way the story came out.

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Once there was a castle by the sea,

With steps where lapped the glassy ocean waves,

Now only ghosts walk these forgotten stones.

 

When forests covered hills and rivers ran,

Lush grew the pasture in the meadowlands,

Once there was a castle by the sea.

 

The ringfort stood upon a grassy hill,

Carved gables, marble pavement graced the hall,

With steps where lapped the glassy ocean waves.

 

We chased the heroes from their marble halls,

With cross and fear of everlasting death,

Now only ghosts walk these forgotten stones.

Microfiction #writephoto: Children

This is for Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo prompt.

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The little girl backed out of the nursery with a frown on her face and shook her head.

“Go on, Dawn, have a look! This is the kind of playroom children had in the olden days.”

The child shook her head again. “Don’t like it.”

Her grandmother sighed in exaggerated exasperation and rolled her eyes for the benefit of Dawn’s mother. “I don’t know why you make such a fuss of her. You should have made her go with Tony to the zoo. She only says she doesn’t like to see animals in cages. All children like zoos.”

Dawn’s mother bristled. Her mother-in-law had been spoiling for a fight since she got into the car that morning. Since she and Darren had been married, come to that.

“Museums aren’t suitable for four-year-olds.” She ploughed on relentlessly. “You spoil her. I was only telling Darren this morning—”

“Fine. Come on Dawn, let’s go and see if we can find an ice cream somewhere.”

She took the child’s hand and turned on her heel. The older woman followed, her mouth pinched and puckered as if she’d been sucking lemons. Dawn looked back, just once, and narrowed her eyes. The doll in the cot stared back, coldly.

 

Later, when the last visitors had left, the gift shop was closed, and the hall locked up for the night, something stirred. Two cats, the mousers, prowled cautiously around the cafeteria area and hesitated at the bottom of the stairs. Fur bristled and bushed, and they slunk back into the smooth-tiled, plastic-chaired section, leaving the upper floors to the shadows.

In the nursery, a regular creak-creak began as the rocking horse swayed into movement. And from the bed in the far corner of the room, came the faint, hiccoughing sound of a child weeping.

Microfiction #writephoto: Long ships

This is a short story for Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt. The subject matter is very much in my mind at the moment, so get ready for a book plug.

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The sentinel watched the last light reflected on the water and tried to see beyond the sand banks and tidal pools to the receding tide line. He could hear, but only just, the gentle sound of waves breaking. There was no wind, the winter night would be cold, and though the gathering cloud announced rain, there would be no storm, more’s the pity.

In the shelter of the rocks, a beacon fire was waiting. He had checked the wood was dry enough to burn, checked his tinder was dry and his steel sharp. But he knew he would see nothing if cloud obscured the moon and the rain began to fall. They were there, in their dragon ships; there could be no doubt. The raiders had been driven off further down the coast. They would not return over the bitter sea empty handed.

There was nowhere to run to in the empty winter landscape, no haven, no stone fortress to hide within. He had a bow and a quiver full of new arrows. He would defend his home until there were none left. His throat tightened as he thought of Halla still in childbed and the new bairn.

He could see nothing beyond the sands, and would see nothing later when the tide turned and the sea flowed back into the firth. He would see nothing and hear nothing unless the cloud broke, until the long ships were in the bay. Then he would light the beacon, and as soon as he saw an answering light on the next hill, he would run for home to be with Halla when the wolves came.

If you like this kind of thing, there are more Tales from the Northlands here:

Amazon.com

Amazon.uk

Étain and Midir

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He took her for his second wife

as if she wouldn’t care,

that second wife would be enough,

as if first wife would shrug and turn

back to her broideries and her bairns.

He told her that he loved her,

and when first wife, in her jealousy

as was surely only right and just,

cast the spell that sent her fluttering,

bright butterfly-wings beating,

over the stormy sea,

beyond the reach of prince and druid,

he followed her, or at least he tried,

or at least he said he tried.

And when he took her back again,

years later when she had a life

as someone he had never met,

and found a love who cherished her

and kept her by his side,

he never saw how many lives

by his golden hand lay blighted,

never a frown creased his golden brow.

She followed him with backward glances,

leaving husband and her child,

because her prince would have it so,

and being golden and beautiful,

that is how the story fell out.

 

Such has ever been the way of the world,

and probably always will be.

Waves

The Daily Post prompt is: saga.

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Waves curl green upon the glassy sea,

Wind blows the pearly foam across the strand,

And murmurs low the tale of you and me.

Waves curl green upon the glassy sea,

Crashing round my ears—let me be free!

As light and love seep dark into the sand,

Waves curl green upon the glassy sea,

Wind blows the pearly foam across the strand.

Three line tales: One second

Three lines to caption Sonya’s photo prompt

Photo ©Moritz Schmidt

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They lie so still, draped over the kerb, arms outflung or curled around leaking life.

Smoke and sirens, weeping and wailing, and the numbness of horror follow the echoes of the explosion.

Wherever they are, those still, draped, once warm, living people, the roaring has ceased, and quiet has fallen.

Three line tales: Fionn IX

Last episode, appropriately enough, the ninth.

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“No closer, Fionn,” the druid called from the boat where the Fianna were crowded with sullen faces. “I have brought you back to your time, but I cannot bring you back to your place. The Isles of Bliss must be your home forever.”

Fionn watched as the currach disappeared through a wall of mist. The chief of the Fianna would no more lead his men into battle or hunt the white stag. As he turned from the strand the druid’s voice floated to him across the waves.

“When we have need of you, Fionn, we will call, and you will answer.” He knew the meaning of the words. When the world of the otherworld woman met his, the final battle would begin. Fionn would be ready, and he was satisfied.