“you’re trying to duck the issue, what can that stuff actually do?”
“Look It’s just a simple compound. It can’t do anything.”
She held up a sealed phial of liquid between her blue latex gloved fingers. The look on her lovely face was calm and composed but there was a light of something in her eyes. A certain fervour, determination and a detachment from reality. It was a scary combination.
The committee for the regulation of dangerous substances was in full session. The committee consisted of some of the brightest minds in science and a few politicians who were the ones who sounded like they knew the most.
The Minister for public health asked his question again.
“We know you have been working on this for some time. What is your purpose? What do you hope to achieve?”
“I hope to achieve peace” she replied in her soft, light voice.
Yesterday evening was my final creative writing class…
The exercise was to write a story or poem about the ‘Last’ of something.
I bravely decided to write a Pantoum about the last day of Winter.
If you are not familiar with that form of poetry, it is quite restrictive and complicated.
The rhyming pattern is ABAB and the second and fourth line of the first stanza become the first and third of the second stanza, then the final stanza also has the first and third lines of the first stanza repeated as the second and last lines. I said it was complicated, didn’t I?
I wrote this story last year, but it fits today’s Word of the Day prompt so I thought I would share it again with you.
Down at the bottom of the garden, where the Ivy and brambles are all overgrown and the little patch of nettles is getting a bit out of hand, there lived a fairy called Aera. A pretty little thing she was, no bigger than a monarch butterfly, with tiny hands and delicate feet, encased in little boots made from bluebell flowers. Her dress is made from two daffodil flowers sewn together with thread. She has transparent wings that glimmer with a silvery blue gleam when the sun shines on them just so.
She was friends with most things in the garden. She would fly with the bees and have a little chat to them. They didn’t stop for long though. Bees are very hard-working and don’t stop work for idle chatter, at least not for long. They did stop to give Aera the time of day because she was so lovely and often told them where the best flowers were. They, in turn, would give her a cup of their honey to say thank you. Aera also flitted with the butterflies. She’d known them since they were little caterpillars and she loved to see them grow into beautiful butterflies.
Aera chatted to the small birds, the Robin and the Wren. Mrs Wren was a particularly close friend. Mrs Wren has so many little babies to feed that sometimes Aera would help her find little seeds and worms.
There was a Magpie that came into the garden and Aera was not so fond of him. He was noisy and mischievous and often played too rough.
“Come out to play Aera. Let’s play who can shout the loudest? I bet I Can? CAW CAW CAW.” The Magpie would say.
“No thank you, Mr Magpie, I would rather just listen to the wind in the trees rather than your noise. Please go away.” Aera was always as polite as she could be but Mr Magpie made her cross.
If he wouldn’t go away, Aera would use some of her Magic and then the Magpie would fly far away and leave her alone.
The people who owned the house didn’t go into their garden very much and so she knew she could fly around and not be seen.
One day the family moved out and sold the house to a young couple. Aera heard them talking.
“Oh Darling, look at that mess the garden is in, all the weeds and the overgrown Ivy and nettles. You must do something about it.”
“OK Love. I will chop down the shrubs, pull up the weeds and concrete over the lawn. We can have a barbecue and invite our friends around.”
Aera was very upset. If they chopped down the shrubs and pulled up the weeds it would destroy her house. She wouldn’t be able to fly around, they would see her.
“Aera, what are we going to do?” Said Mrs Wren. “I have my nest in the shrub they are going to chop down, and I am just about to raise another family too.”
“Aera, if they pull up all the flowers, we won’t be able to make our honey.” Said the bees. “What are we going to do?”
Aera decided that she was going to see the great Owl who lived in the Oak tree in the park.
He was so wise, he will know what to do.
“Mr Owl, Mr Owl, can I speak with you?”
It was still daylight and Owls sleep during the day and catch their food at night.
“Yes, Yes, Who is it? I’m awake now. I hope it’s important, I need my beauty sleep don’t you know?” Said the Wise Owl, rather grumpily.
“Oh it’s you Aera; I haven’t seen you in the longest time. How are you, my dear?”
“Oh Mr Owl, I need your help. New owners have bought the house and are going to chop down the shrubs and pull up the weeds and concrete over the lawn. The bees will not have enough flowers to make their honey and Mrs Wren and I with both lose our homes. What can we do?”
“I hear this sort of thing is happening more and more. Don’t they know the damage they are doing to nature? Hmmm, let me think.”
After a short time, Mr Owl spoke again.
“I think you should find out more about the new people who have moved in. They might not know much about nature and how important a garden is for the wildlife. Find out if they are the type of people who recycle their rubbish. If they are then they might change their minds if you can convince them how important it is to have a garden, for the bees and birds and the environment.”
Aera flew back to her garden and decided to listen at the window of the house. Normally it wasn’t polite to listen at doors and windows, Aera’s Mother had taught her very good manners. This time though, there was too much at stake. Aera heard the lady speaking to the man.
“Have you finished with the newspaper; I want to stick it in the recycling. We’ve got to do our bit for the environment”
“OK Dear. I was thinking, I read the other day that people use too much water, watering their gardens in the hot weather. Maybe we should get a water-butt. That way we can store the rainwater and that would be better for the environment too.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t bother with that dear. When you concrete it over, we won’t need to water it anymore.”
Aera had heard enough. They obviously cared a bit about the environment because they were recycling their newspaper but they still didn’t have a clue about how important gardens were for wildlife.
Then she had a good idea. She had a little magic she’d stored away for a rainy day. She decided she would use her magic to help everyone.
When she got back to her little home, hidden away amongst the Ivy and the brambles, behind the nettle patch, she took out her magic pouch.
It was full of magic fairy dust that she had been saving for something special. That night, when most people were asleep in their warm beds, Aera flew out of her house and started sprinkling her magic dust over the garden. She sprinkled some over the house too. As it was a warm night, the bedroom window was open, so she flew in and sprinkled her sparkly dust all over the two people sleeping and snoring in their bed. Aera said her magic words; they are in fairy language so you wouldn’t understand them. Then she went to her bed, knowing she had done all she could.
The next day the postman was delivering the letters on his round, just like he normally did. He was surprised to see a large golden envelope addressed to the house at the end of the street. The one with the overgrown garden. He posted it through the letterbox and continued on his way.
“Dear, look at this letter we have received. It’s from the Natural Garden Club; we’ve apparently won a garden makeover in their competition. Did you enter us for this competition?”
“No, I don’t remember. Maybe it was your Mother, you know she enters lots of competitions now she’s retired.”
“Well someone is going to come round next week and talk to us about it.”
“That’s nice dear.”
The following week, a garden designer in a purple suit came round to talk to them about their garden.
“Well we had plans to chop down the shrubs and pull up all the weeds and concrete over the lawn and turn it into an entertainment area,” Said the lady.
“Goodness Me!” Exclaimed the garden designer. “Don’t you realise how important these little gardens are to our wildlife?” He said. “We need to do all we can for the environment. When people concrete over their gardens, it makes flooding much more likely. The bees need all the flowers they can get to make their honey. If the bees die then our crops will fail. The wildlife really needs a small patch of weeds at the bottom of the garden so it can thrive. I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I will tidy up the garden and trim back the shrubs. I will reduce the weed patch, so it’s just a small bit at the very bottom and I’ll build a patio by the house so you can have your barbecue. How does that sound?”
“OK, we didn’t realise how important having a garden and a weed patch was for the environment we are happy to do our bit, aren’t we dear?” Said the owner to his wife.
Now the garden is neat and tidy but it still has the flowers, the lawn and the shrubs. At the very bottom of the garden is a very small patch of nettles and some Ivy and brambles, and just inside, just out of sight, you can still catch a glimmer of a very tiny house. A small fairy called Aera lives there and she’s very happy.
I keep hearing people say
I’ve gotta kill my wild ways
but I’m a wild kind of guy
with no chance to change
better keep outta my way
if you think me strange
I am what I am
and that’s the way I’ll stay.
Everywhere I go, I hear
Talk of the Devil
Wherever I appear
It’s Talk of the Devil
But I’m no satan’s spawn
I just won’t be a pawn
In this society.
People say I’m just so weird
My evil image means I’m feared
but see beneath the look
and I’m just as scared
Whatever I did or said
It’s hard when no one cared
I just couldn’t conform
and the crowds just jeered.
Everywhere I go, I hear
Talk of the Devil
Wherever I appear
It’s Talk of the Devil
But I’m no satan’s spawn
I just won’t be a pawn
In this society.
Let all the crowds jeer,
I don’t care anymore
Let them say what they say
I don’t care anymore
In all their gossip, I just revel.
I don’t care, let them say
Talk of the devil
But I’m no satan’s spawn
I just won’t be a pawn
In this society.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty, written 26th March 2005.
The fog descended thick and fast over the harbour.
Within moments the boats and the jetty had soon disappeared out of sight and memory, evanescent.
It was a fog like none of the locals had seen before. Mists and fogs were not rare in Winter or Spring. Whenever the weather brought a change in temperature, the lake gave off a mist that often didn’t burn away until lunchtime. This was different. For starters, it was Summertime. In addition, it was much thicker than usual and it brought with it a kind of ghostlysilence, a mysterioushush. It felt that time itself had frozen.
In addition to the ominouslack of sound, there was a scent in the air. It reminded her of something from her childhood. Something that she had long forgotten but dwelled within the darkest recesses of her mind. It filled her with emotions. That longing for the past that people call nostalgia, a sense of comfort that came with it, but was tinged with anxiety. Her heartbegan to race, she felt an upwelling sense of adventure. She was going on a journey. She knew this fact as sure as anything, but she did not know how.
This experience was like a witch had cast a spell over the area, an enchantment. Then she remembered her parents warning to her when she’d told them she wanted to move away into this quiet, primitive part of the world. They’d warned her that strange things happened up in the ‘boondocks’, that was her Mother’s colourful way of describing anywhere wild.
She’d ignored her Mother’s warning, but until this moment, had not regretted it. She’d felt somehow like she’d come home. Away from the busy city and bustling towns, this was where her spirit felt she belonged.
Suddenly she remembered what the smell reminded her of. Her Grandmother, who disappeared nearly twenty years ago. She had only been a child then, not more than six or seven. She remembered her Grandmother’s perfume, a mix of Eau de Cologne, lavender and rose petals, tinged with cinnamon and freshly baked bread. This exact same smell came to her through the mist.
She recalled then, her Grandmother’s confession to her before departing.
“I am a Witch, child, not a wicked witch. I have been no more naughty, or nice, than anyone else. We are, all of us, flawed with imperfection, but I have strived to walk in the light. You too have inherited the gift. It skips generations. Your Mother, my dear daughter, has not got the skill and therefore I have been forced to keep it a secret from her. I must leave soon, but One day you will remember this, and then we will undertake our journey together.”
After her Grandmother disappeared, they had mourned the loss of her. She’d felt a forlornmelancholy for weeks. Her Mother had been distraught. The emotional scarsburned deep.
How could she have forgotten this, until now? Upon reflection, she realised that it must be part of the spell. The forgetting and the remembering.
Now it felt that she had only been waiting for this moment.
A figure stepped out of the fog in front of her. Still wrapped in the black woollen shawl, worn whatever the weather, her glowing white hair still cascaded down to her shoulders, with that hint of pale gold that was a remnant of her once sultrybeauty. This was her Grandmother looking as if she’d just stepped out from her memory.
The lined face beamed a smile and she reached out a hand to clasp her own.
To her surprise, the hand was as warm as the smile.
“There you are, my precious. It is time to make this journey. Be strong, I will guide you.”
The fog began to lift. The scene had changed. Where the lake once stood, with its jetty and boats, there was now a deep chasm. Where the log cabins once clung to the side of the hill as it gently descended to the water, there was nothing but rocks and trees.
On the other side of the chasm stood a castle, a grand and shining fortress of light and splendour. The sun shone resplendently on that mighty castle, yet around it, darkness billowed like a deadly storm.
The sight of the fortress filled her with reverence, she wanted to cry out and rejoice.
At the same time, the darkness, like a poison, injected her with dread and fear.
Her grandmother must have felt her hand tense in hers, because again she spoke, in reassuring, gentle tones.
“Don’t be afraid, my dear. The journey is a difficult one. We must pass through the valley, filled with the souls of the damned, harvested by the Reaper. They call out in their eternal torment. Be stoic and do not fear them. I have you, and together we will walk over the bridge. Keep to the light, and we will be safe.”
All around them, she saw wreckedand shattered souls, surrounded by darkness, but she stepped onwards, guided by her grandmother’s hand, she kept to the path and made it to the gates of the castle.
The Gates opened and she was engulfed in the glorious light that shone from within.
Back in the hospital, her life support machine rang out a single note, like a dirge, but on her face was a smile of peace.
Copyright: Kristian Fogarty 25/January/2019
Well, what did you think? Did the story take you on a journey? Did it conjure up any feeling within you? Let me know in the comments.
They walked down the main street in the city. People were bustling and wrapped up in lots of layers to protect them from the winter chill. The air was clean and fresh, despite all the large trucks and cars buzzing down the central avenue. Things had been so much better since they’d made electric vehicles compulsory. He remembered when he was little finding it very hard to breath when walking next to the traffic. Many people had had to wear gas masks. Almost everyone who lived in the city had some form of asthma or lung condition. Now you could breathe in deeply. Why had it taken them so long to make those changes? Why did half the world have to sink beneath the rising sea levels before finally they had accepted the indubitable truth?
The world was now recovering slowly, but it had taken forty years for those boiling hot summers and freezing cold winters to subside. So many people had died in famines, floods and droughts when the technology had been there all along.
Looking down at his grandson playing at his feet. He smiled. At least now, things will be better for him.
Copy the story as it appears when you receive it (and the rules please)
Add somehow to the story in which ever style and length you choose
Be sure to pingback or comment on the original post (here) please
Tag only 1 person to continue the story
Part one – by The Haunted Wordsmith
Harold’s father, Trevor, travelled the world looking for antiques for the family store in Boston. “One day you’ll get to come with me, Harold,” his father would say, but that day never came. And it probably would never come. Especially now. Two weeks ago, his father disappeared. His plane landed safely, he checked into his hotel, then disappeared. He never showed up for the appointment at the Owl Emporium in London. The family has not given up though, that’s not like them. Megan and Harold run the shop together just as they had when he was away. It was best to convince themselves that he would be back shortly, then never at all.
The door to the shop clanged early one Saturday afternoon. Harold was manning the shop while his mother bought lunch.
A short man with a grey, Herringbone jacket and a black homburg hat entered the store carrying a long tube under his arm. “Good day, young man.”
Harold was perplexed, but hey, a customer was a customer. “Hi. Can’t I help you find something?”
The man chuckled lightly. “Ah, it is I that can help you find something. It is Harold? Harold Glade is it not?”
Harold searched his memory, but couldn’t find this strange man. The look on his face made the customer chuckle.
“We have never met, young man. You can put your mind to rest. However, I have met your father, and he needs your help.”
“My father?” Harold stiffened and gasped. “How do you know my father?”
“There is no time for that. He is in danger. This map and time compass will help you. You have no time to lose. That’s all I can do to help.”
The customer put the tube on the counter, looked around quickly as if he expected some masked assassin to jump out from behind a set of armor, and ran out the door.
Harold stood there with his mouth agape and opened the tube. Inside was an ancient map and what appeared to be a compass, but neither the map nor the compass looked right. For starters, the compass not only had the four points, it had a dial with numbers on it that ranged from zero to current year. The map shifted and changed place names as Harold turned the time dial on the compass.
“What is going on?”
Just as Harold asked, the door to the shop burst open and three men in black suits stood in the doorway. Without thinking what he was doing, Harold grabbed the map, turned the time dial, and pushed a tiny button on the side of the compass.
His stomach lurched and he shut his eyes until the sudden rush of wind had stopped. When he opened his eyes, he couldn’t believe it. Instead of being in his family’s antique shop, he was …
Here is my addition…
Part Two – Tales from the Mind of Kristian
… in a beautiful garden. He gaped amazed at all the trees and flowers. The fresh, clean air was nothing like his poor polluted lungs were used to, living in a huge sprawling metropolis. If this was Boston, it was one he was not familiar with, Boston from many years ago.
There were no buildings or people. It was incredibly peaceful, the kind of atmosphere that makes you want to whisper.
Harold wandered around and heard the sound of running water, off in the distance. As he got nearer the trees thinned and he saw a littlelake with a fountain gushing in its centre. This was evidence that whatever time this was, there were people around somewhere.
He continued walking around the lake and saw a sundial on a plinth. It wasn’t much good as the sun was behind a thick layer of cloud, but carved on the stone plinth was a year. 1773! Something about that date tickled the back of his mind. He was a Bostonian, born and bred but he had little love of history. The fact that his father owned an antique shop had rather tainted any love of history he may have had.
He took the map out of his pocket and examined it. America was only roughly drawn, it was clear that whoever drew the map knew of the existence of the Americas but didn’t really have any idea what they looked like. It was also clear that whatever this map was meant to help find, he was on the wrong side of the Atlantic to find it. He had to go to the old world, not the new one.
Turning over the map, he saw scrawled in tiny writing on one corner a few words in a familiar hand. It was his fathers writing, written with what appeared to be an old-fashioned quill pen, judging by the scratchy marks.
The writing gave the location of a city in Europe and a date. The date wasn’t 1773 it was even earlier than that. Harold took out the compass and turned the dial to show the coordinates and the date but before he could press the tiny button……..
to be continued……
I have also included the word prompts from another of The Haunted Wordsmiths Challenges:
Although Bonfire night is actually on the 5th, because that is a Monday and it’s isn’t a Bank Holiday/Public holiday, it is usually celebrated on the nearest Saturday, Today.
Although we often have to endure fireworks for the next couple of weeks, much to the pets terror and anguish. Many pet dogs and cats are traumatised by loud bangs and fireworks and so it is a terrible time for them. Thankfully my chickens seem to be oblivious.
Here are the three words for 15 June 2018: Jolly Roger, guitar, iceberg
Flag Flying Fervour
Winston Pickle was a typical English gentleman. He tried his best not to be rude to people. He stood out of other people’s way on the street and always opened the door for a lady. He thought of himself as typical, but actually, he was a dying breed.
That day he opened a letter from his local council. As he read it, he could feel himself becoming overwhelmed with emotion.
Dear Mr Pickle,
I am sorry to have to write to you concerning your decision to fly a flag in your front garden. It is against our all-inclusive policy at the council to allow such flags to be flown and as such I must ask you, before it causes offence, to remove it forthwith.
Others who wished to fly flags have elected to fly a Pirate flag. You may consider this option.
Senior Council Secretary.
Winston was taken aback. The flag in question was the flag of his country, the one he was living in and he flew this flag out of a sense of national pride and patriotism. Young men, including his dear Father whom he never knew, died to defend that flag. He had a patriotic fervour, but like many like-minded people, he was not an extremist who went about being rude to people of different cultures. He didn’t want to start wars or invade anyone.
He just couldn’t understand the council’s attitude in this. They even suggested he fly the Jolly Roger, a flag flown by murderous criminals and that would be less offensive to people than his own flag!
Winston decided to speak to his neighbours and see how they felt about this. If any of them were offended by the flag he was flying, then he would take heed.
He started with his neighbours across the road, who had lived in the area the longest.
Mr and Mrs Khan were a very nice couple who had brought up four children in that house but all had moved out years ago. Like Winston, they were now retired.
They invited him in and offered him a cup of tea. Mrs Khan had made a lovely fruit cake which he devoured eagerly.
“So my old friend, what is it you wanted to ask me?” asked Mr Khan.
Winston showed him his letter. Mr Khan had to get out his reading glasses, he had a cataract in his right eye and was still waiting for his appointment with the NHS to remove it.
After he read it he looked at his neighbour of the past thirty years with sad eyes.
“I have heard this is happening a lot at the moment. It is so sad. Of course, your flag is not at all offensive to me. It is a flag. The fact that some nasty thugs decide to do horrible things while wearing it or spray it on walls with swastikas doesn’t discredit the flag. People love their country, I respect that. You have always been a good neighbour to us. I will write to the council and let them know you are a good man.”
Winston went to his other neighbours, ones that he didn’t know as well. They all listened to what he had to say and agreed with him that he should not be made to take down his flag.
In a way, this sad event had resulted in something really positive. Winston Pickle had gone round and met all his neighbours. He was surprised at how nice they all were. He felt slightly ashamed he hadn’t made more effort to get to know them earlier but then you’re never too old to make a change.
He was so happy at how kind and benevolent his neighbours had been to him, he decided to host a garden party and invite all the neighbours to it. His back garden was only a little courtyard but his front garden was huge. Big enough to have a marquis tent put up. He sent round invitations for a weekend in August.
The day of his party, he was making a salad with some of his homegrown tomatoes and some iceberglettuce, when people started to arrive.
Mr and Mrs Khan had brought with them some pakora’s and pani puri that they had made and their son Sanjay had come along too. Sanjay was a musician and had brought his guitar with him.
As they were all sitting in the garden watching Sanjay playing the guitar and singing folk songs leaning against the flagpole, the postman came by and handed Winston a letter.
It was from the council again. It had been six weeks since the last letter.
It told him that due to the number of letters they had received concerning him and his flag, they have decided to revoke their original order. He could keep his flag flying.
Winston was overjoyed, looking at his neighbours he felt an overpowering love for all of them that went beyond mere fervour. They were family now.