What Pegman Saw : The many in the one

 

I tell Mammy, “The church speaks to me.”

I don’t expect tears of joy, the kisses and blessings. I don’t expect to be trussed in my coat, my hat with the ear flaps, my scarf, my mittens and heavy boots until I’m muffled and leaden, a deep sea diver wading among the coral.

Mammy’s heels clip-clop on the cobbles, the sound echoing between staring houses.

It speaks again as we enter the churchyard. At first it’s like one voice, a wind sighing through narrow gaps. But then I hear the many in the one – crying, whispering, calling for help that never comes.

The rectory door bell rings. I shuffle on the step, aching to run but held by Mammy’s joy, her fierce pride that the Lord has chosen to speak to me.

The door swings wide. There’s the black shirt, the white collar.

One look and it’s clear – he knows.


Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we are in Stockholm, Sweden. See here to join in, to share, read and comment.

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What Pegman Saw : Take me to the water

 

 

The faithful lined the banks of the river all year, churning the water to a thick brown soup of mud and prayer leaves.

The winters were the busiest now, as if God was more likely to grant relief from pain and suffering if the pilgrim had to crunch barefoot through frosted grass and stiff fringes of reed.

Prime didn’t want to believe in a god like that, but then he knew the secret. He knew the discarded crutches, the lives reborn, renewed, weren’t due to God at all.

Sometimes the knowledge made him flinch under the grateful tears, the blessings of the cured as he helped them, sodden, from the water.

He would lie awake wondering – did it matter? Was a cure any less a cure, however it happened?

Still, he crept to the water under cover of night to feed Them, to hear Their true voices.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the grand writing prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. This week we’re in the Grand Canyon, Arizona. See here to join in, to share, read and comment.

FFfAW : The beat of a tin heart

This week’s photo prompt is provided by Jade M. Wong. Thank you Jade!


 

She’s there again, the bobbin head at the window, slashes of blonde hair warping with the faults in the window pane. Her face is a pale oval, the grey of over-washed sheets.

As I mount the steps of the smoky block that was once our home, I sense her approach the glass, peer at my crunching path along the shingle drive. I listen for the tap of her nails – tick-tick, tick-tick, like a tiny metal heart beat – but it doesn’t come. There is only the wind soughing in my ears and the groan of the door swinging wide.

‘Daddy’s home,’ I call.

But she won’t come down from her attic room. She’ll stay at the window, with her grey face paling, her mouth a blur of silent pleas and prayers, hoping that someone will come.

Someone who isn’t me.

 


Written for FFfAW. See the pic and share a tale.

As it’s the eve of Halloween and Jade’s photograph took me in that direction, I thought a tale of ghostly presences and seen things that aren’t quite seen would be fitting.

 

What Pegman Saw : The cupboard at the top of the stairs

 

Grandma’s house had no carpets, just bare floor boards that scratched at your feet like cat claws, windows that rattled in the frames at night as if the glass was tapped by invisible fingers.

At home, Bren would lie in front of the fire, read her Beano till her eyes felt prickly from the heat. Here, the cold knifed under every door, made you tuck your feet up on the hard wooden seats.

Then there was the cupboard at the top of the stairs.

No higher than her waist, each door had a round window with slots in, eyes to see in through. Or out of.

Her sister Tally had dared her to look inside but the doors seemed impossible to open, the little catches always slipping and jiggling under her fingers.

Then one day as she was passing she heard a click, a sigh of well oiled hinges.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt inspired by Google Street View. This week we are in Castle Bran in Romania. See here to join in and write your own tale.

Note

For those outside the UK, The Beano is the longest running children’s magazine in the country, its first edition being published before the Second World War in July 1938.

What Pegman Saw : The City of the Dead

 

 

Mayor Leopold Hare sunk to his haunches, ran slender fingers over the gouges in the concrete. ‘And this happened last night? Where were your Watchmen, Captain Hopkins?’

Hopkins heard the accusation in Hare’s chilly tone but ignored it. ‘On a call. Domestic over on Lafeyette and Third.’

Hare creaked to his feet, turning hollow eyes along the road, to the broken stone slab of the Grandjean Mausoleum. ‘What is that smell?’

He’d noticed it when he arrived – like spent matches and fireworks … Like Hell. ‘Sulphur,’ he said.

Bone dry leaves spiralled in the wind, drifting around Hare’s feet.

The Mayor nodded. ‘I thought so too.’ He tapped a bony finger against his lip. ‘A daemon then? Stealing our citizens? To what end?’

Hopkins could only shiver, only think of the other bodies ripped from their Endless Sleep over the previous days.

Something evil had come to Necropolis.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a writing prompt inspired by Google Street View. Visit here to join in the fun and pen a tale of your own.

Now, who could resist a creepy tale when faced with the Lafayette Cemetery, New Orleans? The sight of those amazing graves – resembling so many small stone houses – had my mind wandering to a City of the Dead where something very bad is happening. A bit off the wall, but Halloween is fast approaching.

Notes

The Mayor’s surname was robbed from the ‘Resurrectionist’ William Hare – see here to acquaint yourself with his grisly story.

And the Captain’s name was spirited away from Matthew Hopkins, the 17th Century Witch Finder General. See here to learn more.

 

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : What remained

 

‘Ever feel you’re being watched?’ said Rudy.

The path ahead was quiet except for the papery rustle of leaves, the creak and batter of crows in the dark canopy.

Dom leaned his rifle on a mossy wall, reached for his tobacco pouch. ‘Who’d you think’s watching?’ A spark, a pop of gas, a pool of light cupped in his palms.

Rudy shrugged, staring at the ground.

The kid had been quiet since illness struck the town, since the night of the pyre and the burying of what remained. Little wonder – the stink had caught in their clothes, formed a greasy coating on their skin. He’d feared it might never wash off.

‘There’s no one watching,’ he flicked the spent butt over the wall into the lake, ‘cos there ain’t no one left ‘cept you and me.’

Dom took up his rifle, cradling it close on the trudge home.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the cracking writing prompt using Google Street View as its jumping off point. Today we are at Coniston Water in the Lake District. See here to join in, to read and comment.

 

 

 

 

 

What Pegman Saw : Take me with you

 

‘What do you remember, Casey?’ asked Donaldson.

A bluebottle tapped at the blanked-out window, tangling in the curtain. Decorating the facility like a home had been Donaldson’s idea – better for the children, she thought – but the recycled air still smelt like plastic and singed hair.

Casey smoothed her doll’s skirt, straightened the plaits of golden wool. ‘A stone path,’ she said, ‘the colour of dirty sand. It’s bendy.’ She made a shape in the air with her hand. ‘The trees are black with branches like fingers.’

Zeb’s description had been identical. And Sunny Lo’s.

‘And it smells funny,’ said the little girl frowning. ‘Of the Big River after the flood. And of the day my bunny died.’

Donaldson crouched down, took the doll from Casey’s unwilling hands. ‘Can you go back?’ she said, eyes flicking to the surveillance camera.

The girl nodded.

‘Next time, take me with you.’

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View. This week, we visit Texas, I’ve used a photo sphere of Wildcat Bluff Nature Centre. See here to join in and to read the other tales.