What Pegman Saw : The Last Freeway

Mads was getting tired now, her boots tearing up the fallen leaves and twigs like miniature bulldozers.

At first Col had scolded her, worried they were leaving tracks the Militia might follow.  But as the sun bottomed on the horizon the forest grew quiet and still, every branch snap making him jump, smothering his whispers. 

He tried to focus on the plan. 

Everyone in HomeState knew the stories. If you cross the Last Freeway and scale the Wall, the Grey City authorities put you in a holding camp until you’re shipped back across the border. 

But in the camps they fed you, give you clean clothes … medicine.

Mads coughed, skinny limbs shivering. The rattle was worse. He’d seen the red in her spit, the stuff she’d tried to stamp into the forest floor so he didn’t worry.

One more day, he thought. Just one more.

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as it’s starting point. This week, we visit Frankfurt, Germany. See here to join in.

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Crimson’s Creative Challenge #4 : The old school house

CCC4

It’s quiet now, that clock, that bell that chimed the hours of our young lives away, that ticked the minutes off and struck the hours dead.

Ivy blinkers the windows, clogs the door that swallowed us each morning, that spewed us out just as the best of the day was done.

Here we learned of times tables and the alphabet, of continents and rivers, of brash kings and silent queens. Here too we learned of friendship, of power, of kind words and harsh words, the meaning of betrayal.

The world moves on and the pupils are grown, gone to practice what they learned within school’s rough walls.

***

What a great pleasure it is to join in Crimson Prose’s Creative Challenge #4. A wonderfully inspiring photograph. See here to learn how to join in.

What Pegman Saw : Always so cold …

Image : Google Street View 

‘They can’t be grave markers.’ Dr Stephanie Grayling crouched by the nearest stone.

‘Nonsense,’ said Professor Hill. ‘How many burial sites have you excavated in Ethiopia with the same style of carving, the same themes of weaponry and plant life?’ 

Grayling ran a finger over the grainy stone, felt the grooves mesh with the whorls in her skin. Always so cold, even on the hottest days … 

Hill must have heard the rumours circulating the dig team, but she’d worked with him often enough to know he never listened to chatter, only ever focusing on the facts as they presented themselves.

She stood beside him. ‘There are just too many, Craig.’ Thousands of markers sticking from the scrubby grass, accusing fingers of stone in every direction. She tried to fight off the panic, the feeling some had subtly shifted position since the day before.

‘We should never have come here.’

***

Written for What Pegman Saw, the writing prompt that uses Google Street View as a jumping off point. This week we visit a fascinating archaeological site in Ethiopia. See here to join in, share, read and comment.

FFfAW : Waiting to drown


This week’s photo prompt is provided by Yarnspinnerr. Thank you Yarnspinnerr!

***

It’s just me and dad now, two left out of the five that once made our family. Susie and Jess left within months of Mum dying.

Susie told me it was Dad’s drinking that finally made her leave, the cycle of alcohol and anger and self-recrimination.

Jess never told me why, only that she was going and that she would never return. I remember her expression as she boarded the ferry for the mainland, that mix of shame and sorrow. And relief.

I’ve never blamed my sisters for leaving but I can’t. Dad and I circle each other like boats caught in a whirlpool, pulled by the same forces, unable to separate. Without me he’d sink and without him I’d have to rejoin the world.

Here we drift, trying to stay afloat, wondering when we’ll grow too tired to paddle, waiting to drown.

***

Written for FFfAW. See the pic, write a tale but don’t forget to read and comment on others. See here to join in.

What Pegman Saw : Ghost girl

‘Why did we have to meet here?’

The leaves have long fallen, the creek’s fringed with ice. A wind cuts along the path, sneaking beneath my sweater, raising my skin to pimples.

‘You know why,’ snaps Flick, checking her phone signal.

There are still ribbons of police tape further along the track, tangled in the twigs like black and yellow bunting, the only sign remaining that anything happened here.

Madison and Lily are silent, Lily trailing behind as always. Madison’s gained weight since we last met – she always eats when she’s worried. And Lily … she’s a ghost girl. Silent, bony, big eyes staring like she’s seeing things that aren’t there. Maybe she’s sneaking some of her mom’s sleeping pills. I’m old enough to buy my own.

We’re together in this, a bond unbreakable.

Though I wish with all my heart I never had to lay eyes on these bitches again.

*******

Written for What Pegman Saw, the fantastic prompt that uses Google Street View as its starting point. Today, we are at Bridal Veil Falls, Utah. See here to join in, share, read and comment on others.

FFfAW : The Great Black Bird


This week’s photo prompt is provided by Yinglan. Thank you Yinglan!

Another two inches of snow had fallen overnight, a frost following close behind. When Lou finally ventured out, the wooden sledge she used to haul firewood skidded waywardly behind her over the hard surface, while she cracked the ice and sank ankle deep, the snow holding her every footfall.

The cold wants me, she thought, her thigh muscles burning, skirts growing heavier, stiffer. 

Not for the first time, she was tempted just to stop, let the snow take her. Take the arthritis swelling knuckles, knees and wrists, take the knocking in her left lung, the ulcer on her ankle that wouldn’t heal no matter how many hawthorn poultices she made. 

She stopped a moment, breathless from the wind and effort. The crows were arguing in the tree canopy, great black wings flapping like huge sheets of paper. Somewhere in the future, a black bird waited for her.

But not today.

Tugging the sledge, she headed on. 

***

Written for FFfAW. See the prompt picture, write a tale and share with others. See here for the full rules and to join in.

 

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.