Saturday, 24 September 2016

The Swings

It's been two weeks since our last prompt from Chuck... oh well. I had this idea tonight - just spur of the moment kinda thing thought to write it. 


It was always the same time of day – after lunch – when the park filled with children. They all raced towards the long line of swings to play the same game: to see who would go the highest!

Their squeals were the best.

I could hear them from the gazebo where I read my book.

But then, I watched one day when a mother came to collect her child from the swings, and found that her daughter was gone. Her little girl’s swing was empty and still.
She started looking around, called out her name, panic in her voice rising as she fumbled with her phone, tears muffling her request for the police to ‘come quickly! My daughter’s gone… she’s gone from the park!’

The next week, it happened again.

This time, I brought my book, but put it next to me the moment the children arrived and watched from my seat to see what was happening.
I didn’t want anyone suspecting me of kidnapping any of the children; so I stayed put.
“So, are you here every week the children come?” a woman’s voice asked to my right.
Glancing away for a split second, I nodded, “Yes… I normally read here waiting for my time to go and see my Grandmother at the hospital across the road. It’s nap time now… so the two hours I’m here gives me time to read – well, until recently.”
“I’m Senior…”
“You’re a cop… I get it.” I kept my eyes on the children – all ten swings of them, “That’s a great swing set the council put in. But they’ve been going missing for about a month – however nobody’s been noticing.”
“Not until now.” She said.
“Yeah, it only takes one Mum who goes looking for her six-year-old and, hey bang, everyone’s in on the case.” A smile tugged at the corners of my mouth, a chuckle escaped my throat.
“True.” She nodded, “Can I see some I.D? I need to run it past the hospital.”
“Oh… sure.” I pulled out my wallet, felt for my license and handed it over. She quickly did a check on me and I came back clean – I was indeed waiting for the time to pass to visit Granny in the hospital; to read to her the works of Wordsworth – again. Yes, my Grandmother had Dementia, so rereading the same passages to her again and again was something I was becoming used to; but in my bag I had other books with me as well, just in case she remember other authors. As I looked down to push my I.D away, a scream cut the air, “Dammit! I missed it!”
We both stood and walked to the front of the gazebo as the mother raced into the brilliant sunshine, towards the empty swing where her son used to be; as its pendulum-like sway reduced quickly to nothing.
The police looked up, around and began searching…
“Damn… he vanished into…”
“…Thin air.” I finished.
I looked at my watch, “I must go… it’s time to visit my Grandmother.”
“Mind if I tag along?” she asked.
“If you want… she wouldn’t mind another voice.” I shouldered my bag of books and walked across the park, across the road, up the stone stairs to the old hospital on the hill.

Today, Grandma May was sitting in her recliner, all rugged up and looking outside at the sunny afternoon, frowning at the goings-on across the road, “What are they doing out there?” she turned, “Oh, Elizabeth, it’s so nice to see you again.”
She had mistaken the cop for my late wife, and I dumped the bag on the lounge near the rest room, “Grandma, this isn’t Lizzy, this is a cop. She’s working with the people across the road.” I walked over and looked at her, “You know who I am, don’t you?”
“Richard, you are my Grandson. You’re going to read me Shakespeare today. The Sonnets.” She smiled.
“Right… you’re lucky I have a bag of books on almost everything.” I smiled and turned to grab the bag as her hand gripped mine hard, and she started singing in a lilting tune “Don’t use the swings, don’t use swings, gobble-gobble… goes your soul… don’t use the swings, don’t swing too high…” she blinked, smiling at me, “Well, are you going to read me Shakespeare or not?”
I nodded, “Yeah… of course.”
Walking to the cop, I opened the bag and pulled out the sonnets of Shakespeare – a well-thumbed book I studied in uni – and shuddered at what my Grandmother had just done, “I have no idea what Grandma May has just said to me.”
“It’s an old myth of the park, which is older than the city itself.” She said, “I’ll look into it.”

Another week passed by and I never heard from the cop again. In fact, she vanished from the face of the Earth as though nobody had heard of her. I had a hard time getting anyone in the department talking about her because they were close-knit and wouldn’t tell me anything about her – not until I went to the hospital. This was where I found her in the room next to my Grandma May’s, sitting by the window watching what was going on.
I walked in, looked at her, “Hey. I know you.”
She looked up at me and started to sing: “Don’t use the swings, don’t use swings, gobble-gobble… goes your soul… don’t use the swings, don’t swing too high…”
“Yeah, what does that mean?”
She giggled like a little girl and pointed out the window, “Gobble-gobble by the goblin in the tree!” she blushed, whispering, “He steals your soul when you fly too high.”
“Thank you.” I patted her arm, gently.
“No! No touching!” she screamed, “Strange man! Strange man!” her arm swung around! I never saw the backhander coming!

I came to in Grandma May’s room. She was sitting in her recliner shaking her head, “There’s a new one in the next room.”
“I noticed.” I sat up wincing at my sore head, “My God – goodness, she hits hard.”
“It was Elizabeth… she swung on the swings late last night and the Goblin in the trees took her… her soul. They found her on the swing this morning; the same swing.”
Looking over, forgetting my pain, I watched her, “She came back?”
Grandma May nodded, “Like me, she was too old.The goblin likes young souls. But when he finds old ones, he… makes us get sick like this.” She tapped the side of her head.
“I could get the better of him.” I said.
“Grandma… I’m already sick… I have a brain disease. I’ll end up killing him – if not, I’ll get him out of the trees.” I smiled, “Which swing is it?”
“Four… four seasons in a year… four quarters in an hour…” she said, “Poe today?”
“Poe… ‘The Raven’?” I smiled.
“My favourite.” She smiled back.

I was there before the children… in the fourth swing, waiting for them to arrive. I had left my bookbag at home today and looked up at the large Oak Tree above me as I moved my legs out in front, then tucked them under – making the swing go higher and higher!
Up to the front! Wind in my hair, sun on my face!
Back, back! My hair pulling into my eyes and the sound of the breeze in my ears!
Aahh, the freedom of how it feels to be a child again!
I had to let myself reconnect with my inner child so I could overcome my fear of heights and just let go of how they made me feel so completely helpless and out of control…
Rough, smelly hands grabbed me around the chest,“Got you! Hey! You’re not a child!” A guttural voice spat in my face, “The second one this week!”
“No I’m not a child. But you made my Grandmother the way she is now… and that means it’s personal.” I snapped.
“Really? Well, you’re in my kingdom, sonny boy, and you will do as I tell you.” He long, spindly fingers clicked and crackled, readying themselves to wrap around my head – to turn me into what the cop had turned into, to what my Grandmother had turned into, “Get ready to be sucked dry of all of who you are! You’re going back as a vegetable!”
“Do your worst.” I grinned, knowing that my medication was about to kick in – the overdose was about to happen; I could feel it.
His right hand wrapped around my head like a weeded helmet and roots of his ‘fingers’ invaded into my ears, beginning to suck on my brain’s nutrients. But they didn’t stay long as he too felt what I had done to myself, it was too late by that time. I began to have a seizure from the overdose and wrapped my arms around him, crushing him as I convulsed and rolled onto my side.
“No!” he grunted as we fell from his dimension and out of the highest branches of the tree and onto the ground.
Time had passed by quickly as it was night-time and police were waiting nearby with an ambulance. As we both hit the ground, the emergency services were in attendance at once to assist me, making me throw up all the medications I had taken as soon as possible – or so I was told. The hideous thing that had fallen out of the tree I was attached to? Well, they didn’t know what it was, but they knew it was the ‘thing’ that had been stealing the children.

The following week, the swing set was dismantled and shifted to another part of the park – just to be safe.

Two weeks later, I visited Grandma May to find her sitting on the edge of her bed, dressed, her carpet bag packed, smiling at me, “Richard! It’s so good to see you! Are you here to take me home?”
I turned to see the doctor standing there, “It happened three days ago. She sat up in bed asking what she was doing in hospital and how long she’d been here. We had to explain she had been here for the past five years after an incident in the park across the road involving the swings.”
“So, that’s how she knew the nursery rhyme.” I whispered, “What about the cop?”
“What cop?”
“Elizabeth? She was in the room next door.”
“Oh… two weeks ago, she suffered a huge medical problem. She started convulsing, throwing up and overdosing on Epilum, Topamax and Tegitrol… these drugs weren’t in her system. Her organs shut down immediately and she died. But when the M.E looked at her, she also had a shattered ribcage and a huge head fracture which is in line with falling from about five metres. She had also had suffered a stroke. We don’t know how she suffered all this from being in a room on her own.” He shrugged, “She also has no family either and put you down as her husband.”
“Husband? Oh… my Grandma did keep saying she looked like my late wife, Elizabeth. As for the medical overdoses, I know how all that happened, but you wouldn’t believe me.” I turned, picked up Grandma’s carpet bag, “Are you ready to go, Grandma May?”
“Isn’t Elizabeth with you?”
“No. You know she died five years ago.”

“Oh that’s right… in the park across the road…”

Sunday, 11 September 2016

The Composting Passages of Star Wars

Woah! Chuck has us twisting things around this week! Okay... think of a famous scene in Star Wars of Lord of the Rings or Die Hard and twist it around in a different way, but have it play out the same. Yep, it's same, same - but different! I put two into mine: LOTR's and Star Wars. Dunno if it worked... but it turned out funny I think.


He stood before the massive iron dragon as it was welded by the giant and more of the mountains were removed. The mage shouted above the thundering sounds of everything collapsing around the group of them, “You shall not pass!” has he raised his crooked staff high and struck the only piece of solid ground before him.
“I don’t think they will listen.” Mondo touched his wing gently, “Come, there must be another way.”
The mage half-turned, “No, Mondo, you are our only chance. With that ring, you must make sure it arrives at Mount Doomsdale and destroy it!” he pointed to the piece of foil wrapped tightly around the blue termite’s neck, “You are our only hope.”
He reached up to the foil with two of his feet and stroked it gently, “Yes, it’s my precious… um… yes of course, I must get rid of it.” He turned and regarded his oldest friend – Fargo – the only other blue termite who he’s known since they were larva in the nursery in the older part of The Shire. However, they can no longer go back there because the Old Shire has been destroyed and by the Almighty Humans and replaced with the New Shire – this will take many years to settle again, “Are you with me Fargo?”
“I shall go where you go, Mondo, as far as our feet take us.”
The cavern around them shuddered yet again as the huge iron dragon destroyed yet another section of the Passages of Composting Moira – which weren’t as old as many first thought.
The mage turned back to his task, as the stone in the top of his staff shone brightly at his incantation: “You shall not…” and the huge iron dragon came down and ended his life in a split second!
Mondo and Fargo turned in the other direction as more of the Passages of Composting Moira were destroyed in that last fatal blow by that sweating giant above them all!

It was the last time Mondo or Fargo saw the Mage alive.

Months passed as Mondo and Fargo hid in the pipe next to the large garden ornaments the Sweating Giant had placed around the New Surrounding Middle Earth.
Mondo unrolled the map Fargo brought with him in the moonlight, “I have never seen any of this.”
“Neither have I.”
They looked at each other and realised they may either be charting new territory or … they may be lost!
“Let’s keep on walking and see where it leads us.” Mondo suggested.

It wasn’t long before they came across The Desert Paved. It was named this on the map because from a distance, it looked like flagstones all set up side by side – but up close, it seemed to go on forever.
“Anyone who has attempted to cross this desert has never come back, Mondo.” Fargo touched his friend’s shoulder.
“I know, but I must be rid of this horrid ring before it destroys me forever… please be by my side and help me through this.” Mondo said.
“Of course, why else are we on this quest?”
They set across The Desert Paved side by side.

Soon, they Fargo glanced up and found the thin lines of webs lining the skies. Mondo whispered, “Don’t look up.”
“But the webs…”
“I know.”
“The webs aren’t your only problem.” A dark voice said behind them. Turning, the two termites found two large, black Green Ants had been following them, “You two are not supposed to be here.”
“We just wish to cross The Desert Paved and be on our way.” Mondo said.
“This is our territory and Saucer wants to see you. Guards!”
Mondo and Fargo were soon surrounded by other Green Ants with nowhere to go, but with them as their prisoners.

The small dark room wasn’t underground. The two termites were taken along – forced to walk at a swift pace – to a fence post and pushed to travel up to the top where there was a Green Ants’ Nest in the branches of a tree.
So, the room wasn’t comfortable, as Mondo and Fargo sat on a leaf together in a tiny room awaiting their punishment quietly. The foil ring had been removed from Mondo’s neck and handed to the Queen of this colony - also known as Saucer - and they could hear whispers that she had wanted to see the two immediately.
The door was pulled opened and the large guard grabbed them roughly, shoving them out the door, down the hall and into the Queen’s throne room, where she sat inspecting the ring, “Exactly where do you have to take this?”
“Mount Doomsdale… from what I understand it’s not far from here… a large deep ravine where two mountains meet in a corner, Your Grace.” Mondo said, “So, if I could have that back, we’ll be out of your way.”
“Very well.” She stood and walked to him smiling, “You do look familiar. Have our families met?”
“I believe not.” He shook his head.
“Oh well… never mind.” She looked over at the guard, “Allow them safe passage to Mount Doomsdale, then leave them alone. They may be termites, but they mean no harm.”
“Yes, Your Grace.” The guard bowed.

Soon Mondo and Fargo were outside again with a couple of Green Ants and the Queen’s Guard walking them to the edge of the property line. Mondo had the foil ring about his neck again and Fargo hadn’t said anything since their capture – too terrified to speak in case these ants were hungry for termites (a delicacy to them).
The Queen’s Guard turned as they were about to cross the property line, “I do believe I have visited your Old Shire once – before it was destroyed by The Almighty Humans.” He grinned, “I had me some fun there – you know, in the way of the female termites?” he looked at them both with the blue hue, “It’s the only way a white termite would have blue colour – to be cross-bred with a Green Ant. But then, you wouldn’t know who your father is would you?”
“No. None of us do.” Mondo shook his head.
“How about we walk you most of the way to Mount Doomsdale – just to keep you two safe?” the Queen’s Guard offered.
“Okay.” Fargo whispered.

The group of five had almost arrived at the huge first wall when the Queen’s Guard attacked his own people – killing them in cold blood, mercilessly – and then turned on Mondo and Fargo. As he turned, he found the two termites had armed themselves with Bindi’s – these were prickly and not the nicest things to be shoved with. But the Guard ripped the green prickles from their hands, attacking Fargo, ripping him to shreds in front of Mondo!
“NO!” the blue termite screamed as he found purchase up the vertical surface of the first mountain and started climbing.
The Green Ant guard was faster than him by far, reaching the top by a few seconds and grabbing his first two hands, pulling him up by them… throwing him across the plateau!
“You thought you were going to get away, Mondo! You thought you were special and you could do this without me knowing!” he thundered as rain began to fall through the tree branches above, landing in large spots around them.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I mean getting rid of the ring.” He leaned into his face has he reached for the ring, and yet didn’t touch it, whispering softly – almost personally – to it, “The precious.” It was then that Mondo realised that this guard had touched the ring and it was time to get rid of it. He moved back a little, scrambled a little, but the guard pinned him by his hand hard, “And just where do you think you’re going?”
“Away from you.” He said.
“I want that ring.”
“I’d rather die first before you go anywhere near it.”
At that the Guard winced and backed off, allowing Mondo up, “No. I don’t wish that.”
“Why not? You killed my best friend…”
“Because, Mondo… he wasn’t just your friend… he was your brother.”
This made what the guard did worse, “My God… who are you?”
“I am your father, Mondo.”
“Join me… help me overthrow the Queen. We will rule that colony together! I will never be a lowly guard ever again.”
“Don’t call me that! You are not my father. My father is dead!”
“…come to the dark side with me…”

Friday, 9 September 2016

Shared Accommodation?

I got this cool idea from FB where there's a funny quote: 'What if the spider you just killed has been living in your house thinking you're flatmates?' It took me a little while to get in and write this very short piece, and I don't know if it'll work, but it's worth a try. 


I didn’t mean for her to find me, but it was really late and I didn’t know she was awake.

Yet the lights were on.

That should have been my first guess. She never leaves lights on late at night.

I’d been living here for my whole life and she never noticed me around. I mean, I’ve been in her office reading the books on her shelves and enjoying reading her FB page over her shoulder without her knowing it for about three months now and still, all I wanted to do is go downstairs and take off out of the place.

You see, there’s no real food here.

Sheena has gotten rid of all the silverfish, cockroaches and ants from the house… yep, being a typical female human being, she doesn’t like anything with more legs than herself.

So, after I got a little too big, I thought to see myself out the door without bothering her.

But her life has been anything but quiet lately. With her next door neighbours splitting up – and ex-boyfriend not wanting to leave quietly – she’s been the supportive friend for the woman next door. It’s been good but also very stressful for her as she’s not really into this kind of thing; but it’s good she wants to help her neighbour so much.

Anyway, it’s been long enough that her life is just getting back to anything looking like normal again. Nobody’s knocking her door at oddly early hours of the morning and she’s changed her settings back to normal on her FB page (after she blocked and unfriended the ex-boyfriend)… she’s only thankful Sheena didn’t give him her mobile number; then he’d never leave her alone!

Anyway, she’s been busily pulling together some art stuff lately, and she didn’t really notice me in the corner of her lovely little home office enjoying my latest read (which I knocked off the shelf really late the other night and she didn’t wake up to the horrible noise – I know because I ventured into her room and checked! Man! Her room stunk of mothballs and the walls – exactly what had she done to the walls? – burned my feet!). But it was well worth checking if she was awake. I really wanted to finish the book… but how could I if it was on the floor all closed up and I had opened it up on the shelf up here on the top only moments before?

So, it was time for me to leave.

I knew this and – well – she didn’t know I existed.

But then, as she was coming up the stairs, and I was going down them, our paths crossed… and she took off her slip-!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

The Source

Chuck has us having fun with all kinds of links and this week is no different. This link is great! I was given 'My character is a fucking: modest tiefling wizard from a pompous wizard school who parties hard, way too hard.'

Now it went in a totally different direction than I expected.


“Wake up, Zoltar!”
His head throbbed as his world spun, “Oh… crap in a Fire Drakes dungeon, what in Orhan’s name happened?”
“Phew! You stink! And to think you attend the best Wizard School around… if your parents were alive today, they’d – I don’t know what they’d do, but it wouldn’t be good.” Rake groaned, “Come now. I would not be your best friend if I didn’t pull you back onto your feet and take you home.”
“Where am I?”
“Prison.” He threw his cloak at him and turned, “Come now, Largos the Great commands your attendance  in the Great Hall. This time it’s going to be a public humiliation.”
“It’s not going to be that bad is it?”
Rake turned and showed him the guards from the Royal Baltic Wizard Scholarship standing in wait outside the cell, “Yes it is.”

The whole class of the R.B.W.S. was in attendance for this special assembly. Nobody was permitted to their classes until Zoltar was dealt with – and yes, he was being treated as an example to the rest of the class.
Rake stood by his best friend in front of Largos the Great – the owner, Dean and Head Wizard of the Royal Baltic Wizard Scholarship – and the guards were at attention around the two. Zoltar wondered what he was in for, because he had never had this kind of treatment before, normally he was taken into the office and reprimanded then sent away to ‘think about what he had done’ with a few of his powers reduced for two weeks or so.

Somehow, he thought, this was going to be different.

“Zoltar, son of Fouad the Miner of the Coal and of Gretle of the Princess of the Lands Across the Horizon – which I’ve never heard of – brother to Stormester, the greatest Witch this side of the Western Junction of the Darkness Ranges, I understand you have been out for the last three nights without permission.” Largos’ voice thundered around the Great Hall, echoing around the place, causing him to feel alone, even though it was full of students, staff and guards.
“Three nights? Has it been that long?” he asked, “Um… it seems so.”
“You came to this wizard school on a recommendation by your friend, Rake, who told me you were a natural wizard – just as your sister has her powers from the Gods.” Largos said, “You didn’t buy them, you didn’t barter with the Devil, nor did you make a deal with anyone of Power to obtain them… they were naturally instilled within you.”
“Yes, Great Wizard.” He answered.
“Seeing you cannot control your … urges… I have no other choice but to take your powers from you until you can control yourself.”
Zoltar’s gut turned into a knot, “No!” then he remembered where he was, “If that is your wish.” Tears blurred his vision as he glanced at Rake, whose expression was the same as his – shock – then he was led away into the back chamber where he would be relinquished of his powers.

He woke in his bed with Rake laying a cool cloth over his head and horns. Pain racked his body as he shook, “Why am I in so much pain?”
“It’s the withdrawal of having your powers stripped of you.” Rake said, “You’re being suspended from this place. I have been placed as your carer and you must leave; so I have packed all of your things and your wagon is waiting outside. Once you’re healthy enough to leave, we will.”
“I don’t know any other home than here.”
“Not so far.” Rake said, “This is a test… let’s see how far you can go.”

One of the guards handed Rake a map and a pouch of money, “My old house is a few miles from here. You can have it as I live here now. It should be in good shape for you both to live in. It’s near a stream and it’s around good hunting grounds.”
“Thank you, Fouad.” He pushed the map and money into his vest and climbed into the driver’s seat, then urged the horses on.

The first month wasn’t easy.
Zoltar was sick all the time. He caught a cold, which turned nasty and he almost died. But Rake promised Largos not to use magic unless it was absolutely necessary. And in the end, he went outside and found herbs in the forest to make a tea to help Zoltar with his illness. It took a while, but his friend drank a large mug of it every night and he kept him warm by the fireplace, cooked all the right foods and made sure he ate more than once a day. Eventually, Zoltar got better, just as the first leaves were turning amber for Autumn; and this caused Rake some doubts, thinking that his friend’s illness might come back.
Instead, he found Zoltar looking around outside working on talking to nature. He caught him moving rocks from one side of the path to their cabin to the other.
“Are you okay?”
“Yes I am. I am stronger than I ever have been.” Zoltar smiled, “This is good.” He dipped his bread into the pheasant stew and ate it, “Really good, Rake.”
“Thank you. Glad you like it.” He watched him, “But I watched you today moving rocks.”
“Yes… I know Largos took my Powers from me. But you see, my Powers aren’t his to take. They are mine – deep down inside – and always have been. The pain I felt was from him trying to take them. I was weak from the fighting.” Zoltar smiled.
“Yes. When I was out the back of the Great Hall, Largos tried to take my Powers from me. But as he said, they are natural. I didn’t buy them, make a deal or bargain with anyone to have them… they were with me when I was born. Nobody can take them from me.”
“So, why did you party so hard?”
Zoltar grinned, “Because he expected me to. That place was too…” he rubbed his fingertips of his left hand together, trying to find the right word, “…pompous and rich for me, just as it is for you. We need to use nature like it is now, out here to make our Powers work properly.” He looked around the cabin, “I still don’t know how you found this place.”
“One of the guards gave it to us.”
“Which one?”

“Oh… my father’s name was Frouad.”