The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper : Creepy quote of the day

Crow caught in a spider's web

Image: Pixabay

 

Young Will Stanton has discovered he is one of the Old Ones, defenders of the Light against the forces of Darkness. It’s Christmas Day and the service has just ended at the local country church. Snow has the land in an icy grip, sinister black birds lurk in every tree and as the congregation fades away, the Dark pins Will and other Old Ones inside the church …

The Old Ones stood in the doorway of the church, their arms linked together. None spoke a word to another. Wild noise and turbulence rose outside; the light darkened, the wind howled and whined, the snow whirled in and whipped their faces with white chips of ice. And suddenly the rooks were in the snow, hundreds of them, black flurries of malevolence, cawing and croaking, diving down at the porch in shrieking attack and then swooping up, away. They could not come close enough to claw and tear; it was as if an invisible wall made them fall back within inches of their targets. But that would be only for as long as the Old Ones’ strength could hold. In a wild storm of black and white the Dark attacked, beating at their minds as at their bodies, and above all driving hard at the Sign-seeker, Will.

 


The lovely Mandibelle 16 has nominated me for the Three Quotes, Three Days – thanks Amanda – which is a lovely thread where bloggers post edifying quotes to inspire and encourage others.

Sadly, I find I am not the inspiring and encouraging type. So I thought I’d spin the prompt into something more ‘me’ and (it being the season for the scary) post some favourite quotes from crackingly terrifying books instead.

I can’t talk about Susan Cooper’s criminally underrated* The Dark is Rising without, quite frankly, coming across as a bit weird. 

It is without doubt the book that has shaped me the most so far as taste in literature and my own writing is concerned. It’s the mix of Christmas and the snow covered English countryside and pagan, Celtic and Arthurian myth, magic and danger and good versus evil. I’ve basically been looking all my life for a book that will take hold of me the way this book did. Still searching.


*I only say this because so many people haven’t heard of or read these books. Which should be a criminal offence – no exceptions.

P.S I have not watched the film adaptation made in 2007 where all pagan elements were removed along with most of the back story and several major characters and our hero became American. With apologies to my lovely blogging cousins across the Atlantic, but that’s like adapting The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and having Tom Sawyer come from a council estate in Central London. Poor show! 

The Woman in Black by Susan Hill: Creepy Quote of the Day

Ancient graveyard

Image: Pixabay

 

Arthur Kipps is alone at the isolated Eel Marsh House, with only the plucky Jack Russell Spider for company. It’s November, the light is fading, and Arthur spies The Woman in Black, standing amid jumbled gravestones … 

 … Now, however, as I stared at her, stared until my eyes ached in their sockets, stared in surprise and bewilderment at her presence, now I saw that her face did wear an expression. It was one of what I can only describe – and the words seem hopelessly inadequate to express what I saw – as a desperate, yearning malevolence; it was as though she was searching for something she wanted, needed – must have, more than life itself, and which had been taken from her. And towards whoever had taken it, she directed the purest evil and hatred and loathing, with all the force that was available to her …

 


The lovely Mandibelle 16 has nominated me for the Three Quotes, Three Days – thanks Amanda – which is a lovely thread where bloggers post edifying quotes to inspire and encourage others.

Sadly, I find I am not the inspiring and encouraging type. So I thought I’d spin the prompt into something more ‘me’ and (it being the season for the scary) post some favourite quotes from crackingly terrifying books instead.

This quote is from the creepy The Woman in Black by Susan Hill, actually not an easy novel to quote from successfully, as the atmosphere of dread and impending horror is built subtly over chapters, not in quotable chunks. You’ll just have to read the whole book to appreciate the full effect …  

The Graveyard Book: Neil Gaiman : Creepy Quote of the Day

Dagger with silver hilt

Image: Pixabay


 

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.

The knife had a handle of polished black bone, and a blade finer and sharper than any razor. If it sliced you, you might not even now you had been cut, not immediately.

The knife had done almost everything it was brought to that house to do, and both the blade and the handle were wet …

 


The lovely Mandibelle 16 has nominated me for the Three Quotes, Three Days – thanks Amanda – which is a lovely thread where bloggers post edifying quotes to inspire and encourage others.

Sadly, I find I am not the inspiring and encouraging type. So I thought I’d spin the prompt into something more ‘me’ and (it being the season for the scary) post some favourite quotes from crackingly terrifying books instead.

Today’s quote opens with one of the most arresting first lines I’ve read, from the wonderful The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I won’t be officially nominating anyone else to take up the mantle, but if you fancy a go…

Three Line Tales: Big Yellow Taxi

three line tales, week 34: yellow car in Havana

photo by Wolf Schram – here’s the full size version


 

‘It’s quite a collection you have there.’ Dr Hobson leafed through the last pages of the scrapbook, knowing they would be the same as the first – photos ripped from magazines, from books, downloaded from the internet, the images striped light and dark where the printer must have run low on ink.

The walls were pasted with the same pictures – endless chrome hub caps, flat bonnets and voluptuously curved bumpers, a clamour of yellow. ‘Sammy,’ she said, then, ‘Sammy,’ dragging his stare away from the few spots in the room naked of picures. ‘Sammy, why do you collect taxi cabs? Do you think you can tell me?’ At the word ‘taxi’ she had his full attention for the first time since the guard had unlocked the cell door.

He levelled that gaze at her – blank, icy – the one spread across every tabloid front page around the globe. ‘Because at some point in life we all have to leave, Dr Hobson,’ he said.

 


Written for Sonya at Only 100 Word’s Three Line Tales – and yes, I know I’ve technically disqualified myself by using three paragraphs instead of lines, but I’ll tag along just for fun. See here to join in and to read the other, wonderful stories.

The Daily Prompt:Melody:The polite men

Van on the horizon

Image: Pixabay

 

‘Can’t you hear it too?’ she says.

Her face is so pained, lines of worry scoring her forehead, deepening her wrinkles, that I’m tempted to lie for her sake.

Tempted to take her hand –  shrivelled, soft skin and long yellowed nails, a mole’s paw of a hand – and smile and laugh and say Fooled you. Of course I can hear it. 

But even though I open my mouth the words won’t come. Terror seals my throat shut, as if it’s plugged with cooling candle wax.

Because there is only ever one outcome for those who hear the Melody.

One day when you’re at work or walking the dog or eating fish and chips in front of the fire, a black van filled with polite men in dark suits will pull up outside your house. And they will knock at your door – a light knock, meek as a spinster. And they will invite you to go with them. And they will always be polite even as you protest you can’t hear, even as you scream, even as you’re dragged away, feet kicking, heels catching on the kerb.

Even as the van door slams your protests shut.

I take her hand and say, ‘No, Grandma. I can’t hear anything.’

And in my heart I say goodbye.

 


Written for The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt MELODY. See here to join in and to read the other posts.

Sitting down for tea

Victorian dolls house

Image : Pixabay

 

Kate’s limbs feel stiff. She tries to stretch her spine, flex her calves, the soles of her feet, but her body will not move from its rigid pose. She sits at the table, tea set before her, though she doesn’t remember boiling the kettle, fetching the pot, the tin with its green scented leaves.

She doesn’t recall sitting down. Where was she before this?

There was a dark room, heavy red curtains and beads the colour of rubies and sapphires, her father’s mill pond after heavy rain. There was the smell of dust and snuffed candles, the dim glow of a lamp.

The old woman. There was an old woman, swathed in shawls, heavy with gold jewellery and hanging at her neck a doll with chain link joints that made the limbs dance with every breath and Kate had so wanted the doll, so wanted to touch it.

But more, she’d wanted it for herself, the need so bad it bit harder than any she’d felt for men she’d fought over, any pair of boots she’d snatched from a display or feathered nonsense to decorate her hair. There had been a row – a fight – a shard of broken glass. Then … Nothing.

And now she sees her.

Dressed in black, the old woman stands by the window, staring from beneath her bonnet, face part hidden by the crepe frills, hand outstretched, reaching, reaching.

A scream bulges in Kate’s throat, pressing at her  lips, forever trapped.

 

 

 

#tuesdayuseitinasentence: A ballpoint pen in her hair

Skelton trees

Image: Pixabay

‘Are you ready, Doctor Collins?’ said the attractive young lady with the clipboard.

Her sleek brown hair was piled on her head, somehow twisted up with a ballpoint pen. Stephen wondered how it defied gravity but knew asking would make the situation awkward. He’d never learned much about women really. Suddenly embarrassed by his own inexperience, he stared down at his hands.

Straightening his prompt cards, he said, ‘It’s time, is it?’

He was starting to wish he hadn’t shaved. Not because of the half dozen nicks on his neck and chin or the razor burn that made him feel like he’d been sunbathing, but because of the trickle of moisture on his top lip.

The girl laid a hand on his arm. ‘Nervous? Is it your first keynote speech? They say you should imagine the audience naked.’

Stephen couldn’t help but laugh. ‘Naked? I’m struggling not to imagine them all dead.’

Her hand slipped away, eyes changing from warm concern to something colder.

She cleared her throat. ‘Professor Allen is just finishing your introduction.’ She forced a smile, but that spark of connection was gone.

It didn’t matter. None of it mattered now. If he couldn’t persuade his fellow scientists to listen today, in a few months the lovely girl would be dust. The thought was suddenly horribly upsetting, much more so than the prospect of his own destruction or the billions of others who would lose their lives.

‘… can I welcome your keynote speaker for today, Doctor Stephen Collins.’

Stephen licked the salt water from his lip and walked onstage.

 


Written for Stephanie at Word Adventure’s #tuesdayuseitinasentence. The word today is KEYNOTE. See here to play along.