As she wandered through the parterre the neatly clipped box barely caught her eye and the lavender with its perfume failed to penetrate the thoughts that kept her occupied. She paused to admire the bronze statue, a paragonof manly virtue. Her eye took in each curve of muscle. She’d led a sheltered life, staring at this statue had been the extent to her experience of the carnal. She had just turned forty and a lonely spinster who had inherited a fortune but had no one to enjoy life with. Despite her birthday, she was in no mood for celebration. Instead, she stared longingly at the familiar statue and made a wish.
Suddenly there was a flash that temporarily blinded her and a loud metallic noise like the sounding of a gong. Her heart raced and she was afraid that something momentous had happened. The statue had come to life its dark bronze patina replaced by tanned flesh.
It is a puzzle, How can life go on its stupid course on such a day?
As the man climbed down from his plinth, she caught sight of something and realised that despite huge muscles other things appeared to be quite diminutive.
I grew up on the coast but it wasn’t a popular stretch of beach, the weather was far too changeable. The waves were too rough for swimming. Sometimes a group of surfers would come and use the beach, but mostly it was just dog walkers who trod that lonely stretch of sand.
It was commonly said that the beach was haunted. Everyone in that part of the world knew the tale of a woman found strangled on the beach but how her ghost still walked the shore on quiet nights calling out the name of her lover. It had been nearly a hundred years ago, but still, that legend haunted me. I felt some strange connection to the story, possibly because the name the people heard her call out was the same name given to me at birth, Lawrence.
It was my Uncle who gave me the opportunity to explore the past. He was a mad scientist who had discovered the secret of time travel, although you could only go backward through time never forward.
Sending me back to find out what had happened to that woman murdered on the beach had seemed the only way to stop thinking about it.
However, I found out more than I could cope with.
I could never share what I had discovered, sometimes it’s not your secret to tell, but it had been my fault. It was me who was responsible for that woman’s death and why her ghost called out my name.
There were a few of us in the wedding party and we decided to make the most of our time together before we all went our separate ways.
It seemed apt to take them to the quiet spot where Alice and I had met, on a walking tour. This was where it had started.
The gorge, normally dry had been transformed by the recent rains into a watering hole.
Alice enjoyed swimming and I knew she could not resist the sight of that cool water on that gloriously hot day.
It was two days after our wedding and already I had begun to think it wasn’t worth it. Sure, she was an heiress and was simply rolling in money, but she was one of those clingy types.
My cousin, his wife, my friends John and Laura and Alice’s Uncle George made up the rest of the gathering. We all looked on as Alice waded into the inviting waters.
There is no honouramongst thieves, so the old adage goes, and I have the distinction of being one of the best. Up to that point, I’d only indulged in the odd bit of bribery and blackmail, but if this paid off, I’d get my hands on a goldmine. My Allegiance was to myself alone.
I remember we were tucking into some cooked chicken when Alice started screaming, needless to say, we were too late.
Nobody can be held responsible for the pranks of destiny,at least that’s what the Judge said.
I have also incorporated the following word prompts:
I didn’t know what had happened. Not at first. And then I knew.
It had started so innocently, the sun shone through the chink in the bedroom curtains almost like a nagging partner informing me that I should have been out of bed hours ago.
I untangled myself from the duvet that as usual, I’d wrapped myself up in for comfort.
Time to start another day. Another day like all the others, and yet how wrong I was.
This was not like any other. This was unique.
I went downstairs and turned on the kettle to make my morning beverage, slave to my caffeine fix, to give me some motivation that I could not conjure up without.
With a touch of shame, I drew back the curtains in the front room almost expecting a neighbourhood committee standing there tutting at the late hour, but there was no one.
Not a soul.
Not one of the many dog walkers who usually used the road as a cut-through on the way to the park. Not one of the usual joggers, skaters, cyclists or other keep-fit fanatics taking their daily exercise, making me feel like I should be joining them. No one enjoying this sunnyday.
A wave of intuition came over me. I felt the compulsion to switch on the television and in doing so I joined the rest of the world who were already glued to the screen watching the events unfold.
I had been oblivious, wrapped up in my own self, a symptom of my mental state but the world had been busy while I wasn’t looking.
There was an expression on the news announcers face that told far more than her words could. The talks had broken down. Those peace summits that people cling to like the man hanging off a cliff reaching out for a blade of grass. He knows the grass will not save him, yet he reaches out for it anyway, desperate. No one had expected them to work and yet now those expectations had been fulfilled, it was like a hammer blow.
It was the smell of the burnt toast that broke me from my entranced staring at the screen.
I was on the way to the kitchen when it had happened. The blinding flash and the force of air that knocked me flat on my back.
As I came to, I didn’t know what had happened. Not at first. And then I knew.
As my consciousness began to fade, I knew.
This was the day it happened. The button had been pressed.
It was a typical day in the medieval re-enactment village. We were standing in line waiting to be dressed up and assume one of various characters. The man in front of me was given a chain mail shirt, a sword and a shield emblazoned with a lion rampant.
When It was my turn, I stood before a buxom lady dressed as a tavern wench, I couldn’t help but make a comment about her heaving bosomthat brought a bloom of colour to her cheeks. I made reference to a nice pear, which is my favourite kind of innuendo. Apart from her blush, she didn’t react to my joke but treated it like plain blather. I suppose she’d heard it many times before.
‘So which one am I supposed to be?’ I said. ‘The shooter, the maniac or the idiot who hid the body?’ Asking about what character I was to be assigned.
The lady looked me up and down and tapped her lip with an impatient finger.
“Well, the role of the village idiot is still available, I think you’re more than qualified,” she said and handed me a cap with bells on and an inflated bladder on a stick.
He’d been wandering through the woods for hours now and was beginning to feel the full heft of the backpack on his shoulders. His stomach grumbled and called out for sustenance, the acidchurning as he recalled the meagre breakfast he’d had such a long time ago. The campsite should have been around here somewhere but he’d passed up the opportunity to ask the few people that he’d encountered. Now he had to admit that he was lost.
The fog had descended before nightfall, initially, gossamer threads illuminate by the light of the setting sun had become a dense mist that had made the isolation of being lost in the woods feel even more foreboding.
Why did he decide to take that shortcut through the woods? If he’d kept to the road he would have probably been there by now, warm and cosy in his tent.
Just then, he saw a light in the distance, a beacon of hope. He scrambled through the trees and found a path heading straight to this golden beam.
Stumbling over the last few steps, he saw the wooden house nestled in a clearing, it looked derelict and empty but the light from the upper window shone brightly like the morning sun.
Desperation took hold and he didn’t even stop to think what type of person would choose to live in such a secluded location.
As he opened the door, the sight of row upon row of empty backpacks lining the hallway made him realise he’d made the biggest mistake of his life.
The door behind him swung shut and he heard a click of the lock.
The shining light from upstairs suddenly extinguished and he was alone, the sound of his quickening breaths echoed through the silent blackness.
This was not the kind of place Inspector Tanner usually frequented. In a city renowned for it’s high level of crime, this district was particularly notorious. It was funny how things had changed so dramatically in just over two decades. This area was once a prestigious university but now, crime gangs roamed the campus and the university building itself had long since been burned to the ground. Arson was a common here as thievery. In the centre of the old university grounds was the Black Jack tavern. It was said that you could find out anything there, who murdered who, who had stolen what, for the right price.
Inspector Tanner was dressed as inconspicuously as possible. Rather than his usual smart trench coat and trilby, he now wore a rather shabby afghan coat over a pair of denim jeans. He was here to meet an informant, but not someone he had ever met in person before.
As the inspector pushed open the black painted door, the fumes of smoke emerged in fine tendrils into the clear night air. Not tobacco smoke, the smell was far too pungent for that, not even pipe smoke was that foul. The tavern was not particularly well lit. Electric lights buzzed and flickered from various points around the room, making pools of light that the many bodies standing around seemed to avoid, preferring to linger in the dark recesses and corners instead.
Through the haze, he could see the bar and the barman. The man was tall and thin, with lank dark hair that fell to his shoulders, yet the crown of his head was bare. He wore no shirt, but a black leather vest, unbuttoned showing a hairy chest with more grey in it than it’s original black. His bare arms were covered in tattoos, mainly flaming skulls. He knew of the barman by reputation, they had a file three inches thick on him back at the station. Jack Peel had a record of petty larceny and aggravated assault with intent to cause harm. He used to like collecting ears too, an unpleasant habit that had sent him to prison for twelve years. On his release he had opened this establishment, which had hardly given much assurance that he had decided to go straight, but they had not been able to catch him at anything lately.
He was told to buy a drink and then walk over to the pool table. Grasping the bottle of beer, he wandered over to find two people sitting by the pool table. In one corner, a small, smartly dressed man, in a striped suit and blue tie, with mousy blond hair neatly trimmed. He had black round rimmed spectacles. As he looked in his direction, the man smiled slightly, his eyes remained devoid of emotion. In the other corner sat a large ugly man. His face was covered in small scars, a nose that looked like it had been broken several times sat above a grimacing mouth filled with gold fillings. This man was dressed in denim, head to toe, but his left sleeve appeared to have been ripped away, displaying an arm that was decorated with a snake tattoo that wound around it from his shoulder, with the snakes head, complete with fangs, tattooed on the back of his hand.
The Inspector turned back to the suited man and sat next to him.
The man smiled again and leaned towards him. “Can I help you?” he whispered.
This had to be who he was sent to speak to. “I understand you can tell me about the recent murders in Market Street. Was it the Armstrong gang?”
The man jumped up and practically ran out of the bar.
Suddenly, he felt a tap on his shoulder. The ugly brute of a man was sitting close enough for him to smell his after shave and his foul breath.
“Why did you speak to him for? He’s the man I was going to tell you about. He’s probably gone to tell his boss you’re here now. You had better follow me, if you value your life, quick, out the back way.”
It was blustery as Nancy walked along the seafront, the smell of sea salt wafting over her.
The University was in the distance and so was St Hilda’s church where she was supposed to be, at that moment.
A gust blew the lace veil from her head and she saw it float away out of reach.
A pink blob was running towards her from the church. It was her Bridesmaid, Carol, wearing the dress that her Mother-in-Law had chosen. That Woman had completely taken over. It was her choice of Bridesmaid dresses, her choice of venue, and instead of Barbados, Margaret had insisted they go to their country house in Scotland as it was a family tradition. What made her really mad was that her fiancé sided against her. The two would convergeon her and before she knew it she’d given in.
Carol called out “Nance, what’s wrong? They’re waiting, you know?”
“I can’t go through with it. It’s not my wedding, it’s Margaret’s.”
“But what about Gav? You can’t just leave him there. You don’t want to go through life a nomad, all empty?”
“Oh dear, a marriage specialist,” says Nancy, to herself.
Carol was carrying the rucksack she’d given her with her comfy shoes in it.
“let me have those shoes.”
Taking off the white stiletto’s she rubbed her feet and put the other shoes on.
“But you can’t just walk off” Carol whined.
Hurling the stiletto’s into the sea, she turned and shouted: “Just Watch me!”
“I took a deep breath, put my hand on the doorknob and unlocked the door.” – Christiana Miller – Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She’s Dead
The lighthouse had been a beacon of hope for many years for those adrifton the rough seas. It had guided vessels to safe harbour and prevented many a sailor from ending up in an obituary.
People had become dependenton the light and for that reason, I have sacrificed my life for the greater good. I have remained in the lighthouse ensuring the beacon remained lit, for ten years I have toiled and seen no one. I have lived a life of solitude and now my tenure has ended and I can leave, my place was taken by a new victim.
I found myself feeling scared, vulnerable and delicate. My heart raced and my breath turned shallow and fast as panic threatened to overwhelm me like a tidal wave.
Then, I took a deep breath, put my hand on the doorknob and unlocked the door and ran towards freedom.
This story was written for the 50 Word Thursday Challenge, This week hosted by Deb Whittam, click on the link below to see her post: