I’m particularly fascinated with clouds and trees, but these are a few pictures I’ve taken that I deem fit for this week’s prompt. 🙂
By reluctant huff the light goes ‘dim’,
and in darkness
the world becomes fascination.
Shadow hovers on the brim,
in stiletto heels,
and falls into revelation.
A bat inspires flitting grin.
Flick, flick, gone it goes
without screaming invitation.
Darkling tingle funnily grim
as it takes our eyes
and chuckles in exploration.
“It’s opening! It’s happening, people! Into positions, please, and listen carefully – time is of the essence! Firstly, make sure to keep the theoretic maps you’re about to receive on your persons at all times lest you lose your way after expulsion! Food and drink are not permitted inside the Hall of Heroes! Anyone caught disobeying this rule shall be forced to remain behind to wait for the Great Flush! As for the assigned headgear, under no circumstances are you allowed to remove it during The Search. Disregarding safety regulations, or making bad choices, for that matter, will result in bringing great dishonour upon the name of the Factory House you represent along with the certainty of a horrible death! As for the object of your quest: the Netherport is an elusive portal that only appears once every few weeks and has a window period lasting exactly twenty-four hours. Your propulsion gear has enough fuel to last four times as long, so work quick, work smart, and do not forget to consult the map! Before you go, remember this: only one will find this portal – only one will be able to enter and infiltrate the Netherplace. We strongly advise against aiding fellow Searchers, for it, too, will bring only shame upon your house.”
A rumbling sound, clearly originating from the Red Delta that flows to and from the Factory Houses to merge with the horizon where, as myth has it, it joins to form the Grand River and giver of life, slowly starts to build on its noise until it becomes a thunderous roar. A sense of restless anticipation ripples through the crowd as the Delta gains a monstrous life of its own, signalling that adventure is upon them.
“The time has come, Searchers, for you to leave your Houses in order to fulfil the one true purpose given to our kind since the beginning of ten years ago when the first Searchers were born to confront the unknown journey ahead, only to reach an unfortunate end when the first territory they entered were of Light instead of Darkness, which houses the Netherport. Go, brave warriors, go forth and follow the road that leads to the Hall of Heroes, and make peace with your fate.”
Two crowds, each representing their own Factory House, merge as one upon reaching the Hall of Heroes, crowding around the entrance while the thunder around them seems to grow in degree, adding to the Red Delta a steady, rhythmic pulse of light. Propulsion gear at the ready, maps safely tucked away, the crowd quivers as one when–
–complete silence descends upon the Red Delta with incredible strength, an entity of no substance wielding the might of nonexistence, enveloping the entire crowd within a powerful vacuum while pushing them forward and into the Hall of Heroes. The crowd surges through a magnificent tunnel that seems to close in around them whilst adding to the vacuum enough weight to increase their pace, faster and faster, the speed of their passage felt underneath the sturdy headgear. The pressure multiplies and threatens to compress them into an amorphous–
–millions of Searchers, their bodies exuding a surprisingly faint luminescent glow, explode into gear as a collective instinct drive them into motion following the initial shock of weightlessness upon entering the abyssal space that is Darkness. Their objective becomes a singular, driving impulse that finally sets in action the race against time.
Some almost immediately succumbs to cerebral deterioration and mislays the ability to operate their propulsion gear, inspiring a horde of slack bodies aimlessly drifting through space, seemingly dead. Some misplaces the memory regarding their maps and ends up circling one another in an endless loop. Some even surrenders to violence and starts attacking those closest by ramming into them, the headgear strong enough to kill or maim. Some find relief by staying in a group, the leader guiding them downward, downward, into oblivion and out of existence.
Three quarters of the crowd is dead or dying. The rest are lost.
Warmth, laced with a soft, soothing vibration, spreads across the cavern and seems to shake the very darkness in an act to draw in the sentient individuals still struggling to find its way to or from anything. Gaining explosive awareness of the change as well as the allure, the few Searchers still alive recover their sense of purpose and actively go about seeking out the source of the unseen attraction. Stretching their propulsion gear to its limit, they follow the overwhelming presence across the void, fearless, passing through dense masses of fallen comrades, reaching a soft barrier along which they find their way closer to their objective, sensing their quest nearing an end.
The Netherport is the single most beautiful thing they have ever seen. It appears as if from the very line that separates everywhere from nowhere, a dainty orb of warm shades floating by with an air of immortality, encircled by smaller specks of light that forces one Searcher to repeatedly drive his head into surrounding walls. The last two Searchers push their way after the orb, sensing the Netherworld hiding within its bosom and awaiting their company. Guided by immense pride they push themselves over the limit, further, the stronger of the two gaining distance, pushing harder, until finally it enters the film of light that seems to surround the portal, through it, hitting its outer wall and driving its head clean through with a determination unknown to any other form of life.
The world within is warm, and kind. Having driven her body as hard as she could in order to reach the future that was hers from the very start, she touches upon fading memories of birth, her Factory House, her home, the Hall of Heroes, Searchers lost in order to pave the road to success, diverting her thoughts back to the nurturing aspect of the Netherworld allowing her respite for the journey ahead, although unable to give consent to her keeping the headgear.
With or without, a new quest awaits.
The kitchen is redolent of a sickly yet tantalising sweet aroma of warm syrup covering a batch of fresh flapjacks, adding torture to an empty tummy.
Little Girl sits by the table, tongue in cheek, feet swinging back and forth, fingers drumming on the tabletop, watching her mother stir the contents of Father’s coffee before carrying the mug out of the room without so much as a backward glance.
Little Girl takes this chance to dash from her chair, stacking a few syrupy flapjacks onto an empty plate before rushing off along the hallway toward the door that leads down into the belly of a smelly basement. For a moment, Little Girl just stands there watching the door, seemingly undecided as she listens to Mother and Father exchanging pleasantries upstairs.
Without so much as a touch, the door suddenly swings open, eerily quiet, revealing a thick, coiling darkness swallowing the stairs further down. The soft hair on the back of her neck and along the length of her arms rises to accentuate sudden apprehension. Except for the man watching her from the depths, no one else is present to witness fine pearls of sweat running down her tender temples. Her eyes widen as her vision adjusts, and as always, finally bringing forth the darker shape of a large man just standing there in silent approval.
“Just put it down on the second step, Little Girl.”
His voice sounds like the wind. His breathe is cold and slams into her body like a roving glacier.
She does what she is told, turns around and closes the door behind her, just in time to see Mother looking at her questioningly, approaching her, asking all kinds of questions Little Girl is not allowed to answer, in turn met with a scowl that contorts her lovely face into that of motherly rage.
At that moment, as Mother angrily pushes past her to open the basement door, Little Girl realises with childish surety that her life will henceforth know no peace.
0 0 0
CJ Mallark wakes from the dream, smothered with the urge to bolt.
He’s here! He’s found me! Run!
Prizing herself on the fact that she’s a born fighter, she cannot express her surprise when she finds that accompanied by the strong will to flee, a debilitating anxiety locks her body into a frozen set of limbs that leaves her stranded in a tangle of sheets and a darkness beyond blindness.
Instead, she listens.
Groaning pipes; creaking floorboards; a leaking faucet; a sculling heartbeat.
Apart from the usual noises true to old houses, there is no other discernible sound to give an explanation to her sudden anxiety except risking laying blame upon the dream.
Run! He’s here! He’s back!
Her limbs finally unlock, giving her opportunity to dash from the bed and make for the bathroom, throwing the door shut behind her and turning the key with a sigh of relief. Pressing her weight against the door, uncertain if her strength is sufficient to deter unwanted malice, she reaches with her hand toward the light switch and flicks it upward with an audible snap.
Darkness remains constant, unmoving.
Deprived of vision apart from the aid of weak moonlight filtering through dust-covered windows, she pricks her ears for any sound that deviates from the norm, unsure whether or not she is able to trust her own ears.
Above the fast-paced beating inside her head, she imagines hearing the sound of heavy feet on wooden floorboards interspaced by short clips of silence. He, depending on the assumption that the intruder is actually male, sure that her instincts are trustworthy, nonetheless, must be climbing the stairs. In a few seconds, he’ll reach her bedroom. A few seconds more and he’ll know she’s locked herself in the bathroom.
She strains to hear more, but groaning silence.
He must’ve reached the landing on which she’s spread the old rug that was leaning against the baluster when she first bought the place. In hindsight, it would’ve been productive to dispose of the damn thing when she had the chance, given the fact that muffled footsteps won’t allow her to track his progress.
Does it make her a fool to believe that the world is still a safe place?
What would he want in a dilapidated house such as this?
She shakes her head when the thought of other possible motives enters her head, filling her mind with gruesome images.
Outside, the bedroom door slams shut.
She clasps her hand over her mouth to stifle a scream and realises the futility of that act. It doesn’t matter what she does, the intruder must already know where she’s hiding. Except, by sealing her mouth and keeping ghost, it gives her the vain hope of him ultimately deciding that the house was empty, after all. He will leave. He will take her purse, probably, and run, wouldn’t he?
He’s come for you!
The thought sends shivers up and down her spine.
Taking a deep, slow breath, keeping it, ignoring the throb in her head, she imagines him walking up to the bathroom door, standing there, raising a hand to touch the doorknob.
He hesitates with the darkness that surrounds him.
A slow, hard knock instead.
CJ expels her breath for a fresh one, and retreats further into the bathroom. She makes contact with the big bathtub, almost falls into it, and remembers the razor blade she keeps inside her toiletry bag. Ignoring the presence of danger, ignoring the second series of slow knocks, she stoops down to where she remembers having left the bag, only to grope at nothing.
The intruder, having lost his patience, no doubt, suddenly bangs on the door with what might just be all his might, the sound reverberating through the room in a cacophonous rhythm, the idea of the door giving way under all that pressure making CJ lose all her current fears. She dives onto her hands and knees, scurrying about the cold floor in search of the damn toiletry bag. The banging doesn’t stop, the noise almost overpowering all her senses, leaving her feeling pummelled and dazed instead. Just before losing all hope, she finally touches the elusive bag, fumbles with the zipper, tears it open and plunges her hand inside, searching for the razor.
She finds it and pulls it out of the bag.
The edge of the razor blade catches on the zipper-track. She loses her grip on it, and faintly, just under the incessant banging, she can hear the musical clinking as it falls from her reach. She almost screams.
At that moment, the banging stops.
The silence is so menacing that she catches herself wishing the banging to resume.
She sits there, listening, the basement door swinging open within her mind, a razor blade of her own making cleaving at the walls of suppressed memories that threaten to drown all thought.
He stands there, listening, opening the basement door while watching her facial expressions morph from one to the other, smelling her sweat as both a girl and woman, his overall demeanor that of approval.
In her neck, a soft exhale as cold as arctic gales. In her ear, a faint whisper.
“I found you, Little Girl.”
Dense skeins of silvery snow covers a range of low hills aglitter within bright, jocund moonlight, as if what is about to transpire has the means to bring a wilted Queen of the Night back into instant bloom.
Across the vast, icy tundra an eddy of wind brings tufts of snow wafting through the air in whorls of flaky lint, folding and tearing itself into non-existence against the gnarled trunk of a lone, dead tree that still manages to sway its naked limbs in retaliation against the cold, as if death has no influence against the strength of such discomfort.
Rising up from the edges of the soon-to-be battlefield, a dead forest holds within its company the enemy of my people, coils of steam and snow rising from its skeletal canopy as if expelling hot breath.
Apart from a low keening sound as traitorous wind brings emphasis to our objective, lamenting the cause of our prerogative, we wait in what is otherwise complete silence. Between the numerous legs of trees that house them, we strain to listen as our enemy listens. We patiently scour the inky black skies for the Sign, waiting, watching, our vigilant hearts set upon the cursed moon to deliver from its lunar shroud the sovereign of our fate.
Silence tests our patience as much as our bravery.
With an almost inaudible introductory hoot, its vermeil-edged silhouette stark against the argent glare beyond, its arrival finally rewards our patience by gliding down from the heavens in a graceful swoop before alighting on a low branch jutting out from the lone tree, its weight making the tender limb creak in hollow despair.
As it settles onto its precarious perch, its enormous wings creating hoary tendrils of dancing eidolons swaying in glacial frenzy, as one entity we all keep onto our drawn breath. As one entity, we fix our gaze upon the magnificent creature of the night, watching as it shakes its lithe neck to dispel unwanted snowflakes.
A single hoot escapes its beak and our ears ache with the sculling beat of our hearts.
The moment is upon us, its verdict to change the outcome of this meaningful battle.
All remains quiet as the Owl stares into unknown distances, ignoring our anticipatory breath upon its feathery cloak.
In a swift flick of its head, so fast it remained hidden underneath the blink of an eye, twin orbs of large, iridescent eyes suddenly burn upon my men and me, giving the enemy immediate incentive to discard their refuge and charge as if their lives depended on it.
Humbled by its worldly judgment, I bow before the Psychopomp and relinquish the fears I may have cradled deep inside, before my men and I charge with excited shout, as our enemy’s lives depended on it.
A line from one of the songs in one of my favourite musicals based on Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream: Were the World Mine.
Hiding in brooding darkness, unseen by everything.
Hidden from the beautiful world a mask of hideous character, nurturing hunger pangs that rip through its stomach in vehement scores. Clutching at this bulk to bear the pain of societal strain, it drops its gaze into darkness once more, afraid to venture outside this haven of black satin – its touch soothing to a soul riddled with sadness.
On this day a maiden as beautiful and fair as gilded sunrise and valiant as all the king’s men happens to prance about its darkness and stumbles upon the dying beast balled into the farthest corner, its eyes aglow with fright. Scorned by how petty beast must cower against the brutal arms of those who thrive in mockery, she leaves with it an apple red lest he succumb to the tender hands of death, and promises her swift return bearing the hearty feast of men.
It waits a wink until fair maiden returns with light and human fare, a bucket of water, soap and brush. Awhile the beast consume its contender’s meal with blissful glee, and revel in the hardened wisps of brush against its mangy fur, listening to the sweet melody of her smiling lips.
She backs away with sheer delight and brings the beast into the light where all manner of folk stand unwilling near, their eyes fallen to the autumn floor, their arms across their front, their faces tapestries of shy apology.
A tear then treads a path down its cheek as beast accepts their amity with a heart now set aflutter. Maiden claims its paw and leads him to and fro, and speaks a truth to those that will hear:
“Be not miserable to the face of this beast nor need you worry about its disparity. Please be kind, please be ungrudging, for all be as thou wast wont to be.”
I’ve grown up without a computer. I’ve only known how to work a computer in the later stage of high school. I’ve never progressed further than the most basic details after discovering a keyboard and Microsoft Word. After that, I knew everything I needed to keep me happy.
As writing is all I do on a computer, and the occasional web search, of course, I have no other need for it. Even pen an paper had me content as a child and young adult. I won’t say it will be easy reverting back from what I’ve known for ten years, yet change is always as good as opening a new book. Just think about those who published books and stories without the use of computers. It might have been more exciting then as opposed to the copy and paste we know today. Challenge before plain sailing.
I think we all need that change to bring life back into perspective.
I had a favourite person in the world. Emphasis on the ‘had’.
We’ve been together three years. The relationship we shared was the most sacred thing in this world, as I’m sure any love is to anyone else. And I can truthfully say that leaving his side for even a moment was heartbreaking. We did everything together: Shopping, work, travel, even bathing. For three years.
So after that time I somehow grew more distant even though I still couldn’t leave his side. Physically he had to be there, emotionally I still loved him, but it became harder for me to express. He grew distant in his own way, became angry, and we decided to break up. It’s been more than four years since and I’ve never seen nor spoken to him again.
So even one day was more time spent away from him in a continuous three years.
After that I’ve never had a favourite person again. Too strenuous. 🙂
1850 – Ireland:
I am somewhere, anywhere, alone and hungry as sin.
The world is cool as the morning presents the new day in vibrant colours reminiscent to that which I’m accustomed back home, pressing it’s expansive bosom against the rolling countryside. Witnessing the skies has me yearning for familiarity. However, thinking of home only makes my stomach grumble and twist, and I make a point of containing my thoughts. Of course, without fail, my mind wanders to those I’ve left behind to brave the Great Hunger.
I shake my head and alter my thoughts to the good it will bring leaving them now, but spending an eternity with them later.
With that thought in mind, the morning starts to look inviting as does it start to seem pregnant with new possibilities towards an uncertain future, and a future of the purest darkness.
By midday the burning hills have started to come apart at the seams, throwing tufts of elongated shadows across the fields, turning once green vibrance into black despondency, and with it, my mood.
I am hungry.
Of the food my mother packed, only crumbs remain. My waterskin is almost empty. I haven’t eaten all day, and I can actually feel my energy seeping into the ground as I place one onerous footfall after the other.
My mind is foggy now, and it is not without difficulty when I try to discern a small bivouac from the rounded heads of a few large boulders, an unseen fire pushing smoke up into the air along with the tantalising smell of roasting pig.
What happens next, even after I got my family into the new world with me, remains a mystery amongst my descendents and to this very day.
Feral with hunger and thirst and disillusioned by the prospect of finding wonderland, my body starts to take me towards the encampment – and even if I were of mind to calculate my actions, my body simply takes over and carries me towards possible hostile territory in search of vital sustenance.
Unable to control my feet, I wander into a circle framed by small tents now merging with the afternoon shadows. I approach the fire smack in the middle of the clearing around which a dozen or more haggard brutes are sitting drinking beer, speaking in sombre tones or singing sad songs led by haunting Uilleann pipes. Above the fire, skewered with a rotating rod, is a colossal, golden, gleaming pig, its fat hissing softly as it drips into the fire.
Without a sound, I make my way through the group and is baffled by their inability to react to my invading presence. Withdrawing a knife from the satchel slung over my shoulder, I start cutting the meat, pushing chunks of steaming flesh into my satchel to bursting, all the time wondering when one of them will take notice. Sure that there are enough left for all of them to last a week, and enough for me to last until I can find a ship, I ghost myself away from the fire as I watch their unseeing eyes blink in the dancing firelight.
Even at a considerable distance, I hear no raucous shouting, and I perceive no single individual following me, demanding the return of their stolen meat.
It’s as if I was invisible.
If there is beauty, there is denial.
If there is change, then there is fear.
If there is love in different shapes and forms, there is unfair dismissal.
I’ve seen yearning in slanted eyes as much as I’ve heard it in countless lies; ridicules; phantom comparisons. Walls have been built to keep Enemy out, yet in such doing, also to keep allies help build a stronger fort. I have seen blinkers fastened to faces with lips drawn downwards, eyes wide and pupils dilated, keeping pace with a one-track life.
I’ve heard numerous comments about badly written literature where the Bigger Picture is lost on grammatical errors – thus annulling a good, innocent, disarming story into something far worse.
There is more than just black or white. There is a whole spectrum of colour, including GREY. Grey is a lovely colour, and a colour I’d love to dwell on – if that’s okay with the neighbours, of course. God forbid I step out of line and cause an apocalypse to rain down on their perfect little monochromatic life. However, even colours are limited. There is no comparison to convey the enormity of how open a mind can be. Infinitum?
In spite of myself, I feel angry. I feel hurt. I FEEL, and I feel a lot. I feel and see unhappiness everywhere, and it’s like corrosive acid thrown in my face every time. I am saddened that everyone tend to be masochistic liars. Clearly, with my beliefs to what life should be like in sheer contrast to the norm, I have no say. Majority speaks. I will have to accept this defeat if I choose not to listen.
As a selfish creature as much the same as the rest of humankind, I can live with the decision of being happy – and utterly alone. Like a ghost. Happiness is my greatest goal, even if I have to shun my kind in order to be so.
Even though I’m a ghost, I allow beauty, the idea of Love, camaraderie, smiles and kind words to fill me up. I allow it to fill me with buoyancy even though the world is a murderous cesspool lined with flawless silver.