What Pegman Saw : Ghost Smiles

 

‘… here we go round the mulberry bush on a cold and frosty morning …’

Francis watched his cousins: Ivy’s primrose hair tumbled from its ribbon; Johnny’s  socks were wrinkled, scuffed white from the gravel path. As the oldest, Francis would be in trouble for the grass stains, for the smudges of dirt on rosy cheeks.

‘It’s a box hedge,’ he muttered. ‘And it’s June. No frost in June.’ They didn’t hear, just kept on laughing and skipping.

He could write his name in perfect copperplate scrolls by the time he was four; had known his times tables by six. At each fresh achievement his parents had shown ghost smiles, eyes soon drawn back to the morning paper. No ghost smiles for the twins. Everyone adored them.

Almost everyone.

‘Let’s go into the maze,’ called Francis.

His pocket felt heavy and he smiled.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a writing prompt using Google Street View. This week, we visit the Palace of Versailles. Pop along here to join in and to read the other stories.

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What Pegman Saw : A storm at Slaughter Bay

 

‘Hello? I don’t know if anyone can hear this broadcast – the signal’s terrible, a stormhead’s gathering, causing interference. I know you’re out there, Stephen, that you might be monitoring this wavelength –

‘I heard something … hold on.

‘I had to look, I thought I heard … The sun’s setting. I don’t have much time.

‘Stephen – anyone – if you’re listening, this is Rodney Statham, Professor Rodney Statham of the Imperial College research team. We were recording the flora and fauna of Slaughter Bay. We arrived seven days ago, a group of five research scientists, two local guides – Burnum and Daku … They were brothers, Stephen. Their poor mother –

‘There! I’m certain this time. Something outside the hut –

‘Stephen, if you hear this, if a rescue party is coming from the mainland – you must stop them!

‘God, that awful smell! Hawthorn and corpses. One’s coming under the door! Another! They’re on me, they -‘

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, a prompt using Google Streetview. To join in and to read the other stories, visit here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where she walks

 

I always knew when she’d passed by.

A mound of flies for each footfall, iridescent bodies and soap bubble wings rocking with every puff of breeze, a salute from the recent dead.

It’s been like that for years, the glistening footprints, the absence of her. She seemed forever round the next corner, bluebottles the only sign of her presence as other women leave their scent.

This evening she came clawing at the door, a ghost at my last feast. And now she waits. And now she watches. And the flies fall about us like jewels.

 

 

 

Three Line Tales : The dragons take York

three line tales week 80: a blue old school VW camper van

photo by Annie Theby via Unsplash


For some context … The VW reminded me of Trixie, a red campervan that plays an important role in my urban fantasy work in progress. Below is an extract in which our heroes are being chased through the streets of York by a huge and terrifying creature – all bat wings, claws and fangs. If they can only reach the VW and safety …


 

The shadow of King’s Court was coming closer and closer and below the pound and slap of their footsteps he heard something — the thrum of a VW engine.

‘We’re going to do it,’ shouted Neil. ‘We’re nearly safe.’

Suddenly there was another loud screech and it was all the movie sound effects he’d ever heard, every terrifying alien bug mother, every nameless horror – angry, frustrated, on the attack. There was a loud crash. The ground rocked beneath his feet, throwing him down. On his knees on the cobbles, Neil dared to look behind him.

The creature that had been caught up in the shop sign was free, the bracket piercing the membrane hanging from its wing, plaster clinging to the metal.

Dipping its head, it plodded towards him.

 


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Line Tales. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

What pegman saw : Mystified Cottage

 

 

 

Mystified Cottage it was called, a stocky one storey building snuggled in the lap of the Dales.

In the parlour two Carver chairs scuffed their backs against a worn sideboard, in the kitchen a Welsh dresser wore a motley of grease from generations of braised brisket and pigs head pies, gifts from the blackened range.

Tom Dunty the coalman would chuckle under the slick collar of his backing hat that the cottage was so called because all were mystified as to how the Crofts raised seven children inside. Though as Tom signed the register on his wedding day with an X, I’d guess he was parroting his snippish wife Mary.

He was wrong of course.

The name was no riddle to any who stayed a night beneath its eaves, any who dreamed of oily black feathers, of straw dollies swinging from dusty beams. Who heard The Lady call their name …

 


Written for What pegman saw, a weekly prompt using Google Streetview as its inspiration. See here to join in and to read the other stories.

The ‘backing hat’ Tom Dunty wears was a cap with a strip of leather sewn to hang from the back in order to protect a coalman’s neck and shoulders. See here to learn more.

What pegman saw : The Whisperers

 

It’s after the museum closes for the day, after the last tourist has shuffled out onto Nassau’s sweating streets, that the Whisperers come.

Jalen takes his time locking doors, scooping dropped tickets from the floor. The dust slowly settles, a powdery gauze slipping over the displays.

When he’s done he stops, lets the thump of car stereos, the calls of passersby drift like silt to the bottom of his mind as They float to the surface.

They’re shy at first, hugging the shadows, but then one will step forward, whisper a name – Efe, Temitope, Abena – then another comes and another, name after name, countless names. Jalen feels the manacles cinch his own ankles, the sea water swell his lungs as he sinks below the waves, as the sun slips away and green night falls.

Some days he wonders if he’ll join them, whispering in the darkness.

 


Written for What pegman saw, a prompt using Google Streetview. See here to join in and to read the other tales. Inspired by the Slavery and Emancipation Museum in Nassau.

I’m still in Mothers Day recovery mode, brain still frizzed and frazzled, so my usual Monday instalment of The Devil of Moravia will be tomorrow instead.

If I have some brain cells back by then.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three Line Tales : Up in the air

three line tales week 59: Happy St. Patrick's Day

photo by Brian Gaid via Unsplash


 

Watching the sun rise rosy over the cloud plains, he felt her lay a warming hand over his.

On the ground, weighed down by the hissed pressures of work, by the thick walls and dim corners of the house, she never found him.

Up in the air, where the light shine clearer, freer, she always snuck in beside him, wriggling her fingers through his. He liked to fly.

 


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Words’ Three Lines Tales. See the photo and write a tale, why don’t you? See here to join in and to read the other stories.