The door between sleep and waking

Here is my monthly story, submitted for Sonia’s August Challenge.

A weight is falling; a world on my back. Under the bed I lie pinioned, face down as from the open door slides an alien presence, green as emerald. Servants of the Seleste, I guess; their masters dead as Moondust.

Yes…it is good that you fear us, comes a sibilant whisper. It is right you may not turn and look upon us, says the voice as I strain to see. For we are all you cannot permit to exist, all you cannot solve, all you cannot cow with intellect, but only grope at with sudden intuition and cold sweat. We make life unsafe. But rest with us now, lay with and accept us.

Unable to do anything else I acquiesce, but in the recesses and deep groves of stubborn thought I struggle and at last slip sideways, through the door between sleep and the blissful arms of waking.

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And the moon looked on…

Another inspiring challenge from Sonia – Moonstruck, another little story…Actually its not as little as it should be  – but at 564 words its my best effort at brevity! I hope you enjoy…

The raggedy face of the moon loomed large over warm night’s happy revelry. Lovers coiled and blood red wine sloshed noisily among the swaying trees.  They danced to celebrate the passing sun in shadowed time with hidden sins, becoming by night what day would judge with too much black and white.

Michael the pock faced boy darts amongst the drunken hoard. His quick fingers harvest fearlessly. The lord has opened his gates to all and Michael means to take his due from those of better birth. They won’t keep him down tonight, not whilst the moon is crowned with the smoke of a passing squall, in from the sea like a hungry crew out for mischief. He is out for mischief too, if only Sofia the pretty barmaid would return his stare.  But Sofia looks to that pleasant copse where the blacksmith’s son followed like a man possessed the redheaded stable-girl. If only that were me she sighs, between these thighs I’d make him happy. Her dimpled smile briefly dazzles a passing guardsman.

‘Ho there pretty!’ he cries. ‘I do find myself in love…’ his eyes drop, ‘with one of your finest ales!’

No love for me tonight, Sofia sighs, unless you count the thief who moons so long he almost drops his ill gained wares.

‘Come pretty wench,’ the soldier drawls,’ Serve me a beer, and if you’ll sit on my lap, I’ll give you a child to bounce on yours!’

His companions laugh as she grows pink. Let him have his frothy beer, she’ll not crawl.

‘Leave her alone!’ the thief boy declares, ‘Sofia is made for better.’

‘Is that so?’ retorts the soldier, one arm snaking around her waist as his sword snakes for the boy’s throat.

‘I’ll cut you to ribbons man. I’ll paint you red with your own blood.’ His point draws aside the thief’s shirt, ‘A haul to make a rich man blush. Get him boys!’

And so the fox bounds from baying hounds, through dancing trees and frozen humans. Time suspends its next tick. The boy rounds laden tables and pitches into the forest, floor all adorned with lovers. Shouts startle the redheaded girl from encircling arms.

‘What’s that?’ she cries as a pale shape passes by.

‘It’s just the moon’ says the blacksmith’s son.

‘Only if it’s on two legs,’ she replies, ‘and fleeing swords of dawn.’

The moon looks on with a crooked smile. The night’s entertainment has her in good cheer even as she surrenders the sky hated sister bright.  Let her have the day, when night’s in such wondrous disarray!

The prince of thieves, pock faced as the moon herself, springs free from the sheltered copse, soldiers cursing in his wake, and jumps, falling, flailing over the cliff side all in gloom. Past gloaming waves he crashes, beyond fierce rocks, and into the sea’s cold embrace.  He struggles in the deep dark. These coins will kill me, he thinks as they fall like sand beneath his kicks. Lightened, he rises like a bubble. A little skiff, white as his love and cunningly harbored, meets his drenched, desperate hands. He slithers aboard the little ship, catching breath. In his pockets nothing remains, the sea has taken all…save a single gold coin. He holds it up – this King’s ransom, this sun bright coin, and with it all thoughts of moon and night are put away.

No more does the bell toll

And now for something a little different…

I’ve been inspired once more into storytelling by Sonia at Doing the Write Thing. June’s challenge: a flash fiction piece about ‘mythical’ creatures. Here’s my take on a favorite creature of hers…

Newsflash:

‘It’s Sunday 26th June and I’m Jenny Beaker with this breaking news. Police patrols have clashed with large groups of people roaming the streets. Our science correspondent Robert Raiman reports from central London. ‘

‘Thanks Jenny. Since the advent of fully immersive VR life chambers the sight of large crowds on the streets has become a rarity. But now, with a new condition scientists are calling ‘vacant life syndrome’ crowds of apparently mindless people have begun to congregate into roving packs. I have with me Dr Rubecker. Doctor what is causing this?’

‘Well Robert it seems that in advanced cases of mental detachment, such as when a subject is plugged into an immersive reality for long periods, the unconscious begins to reassert control of the body, following the basic of urges: to establish territory, to seek out a mate and to eat…’

Screaming interrupts the interview.

‘Does this explain the violence we have seen?’

The Doctor glances nervously over his shoulder. ‘Well yes Robert. You have to understand that in the absence of conscious control the laws and conventions of society cease to have meaning.’

‘You can see it in their eyes! Oh god you can see it in their eyes.’

‘Excuse me young lady, I am trying to conduct an interview here.’

‘They bit me, they bit me!’ the girl frantically waves her bloodied arm and missing fingers.

‘Back to you in the studio Jenny…Jenny?’

‘They’re coming for us!’ screams the girl as an animal roar builds and crashes down the street.

‘Where’s your car Robert?’ asks the Doctor.

‘Robert!’

The good doctor spins just in time to see the empty eyes of the horde, all clutching hands and bloody, broken teeth, before the wave of what was once humanity sweeps over them.

In the houses and living rooms across the country there is no-one to see the television stations falling one by one into fizzing chaos, only doors banging in the wind and in the distance, the occasional sound of screaming. Solemn Big Ben rings out once, twice, three times as if this were any other Sunday. Then no more does the bell toll.

Paper Towns

In a break from my usual poetry, here’s an attempt at Flash Fiction inspired by the generous prompt ‘Paper towns’ from Stephanie’s blog, be kind rewrite. Stay with me on this one, its heavily dream influenced, but I’m hoping it slides off the paper as easily as poetry…We’ll see!

Paper Towns

William is playing with his toys on the landing again. The room drove me out here he thinks, it’s so full of books. Books with covers as lifelike as a movie set. Books full of worlds that could suck you in. Reading just one could leave you an old man. And the painting on the wall: houses with twisted faces peering down at the street far below, and the boy huddled in his bed, throwing off the covers and scampering for the landing. The painted yellow moon follows him with its crushed witch’s face and its beady eyes.

‘I’ll put your dinner in your room,’ says mum coming up the stairs, but she can’t be here she’s dead. Mum places the tray down just inside the threshold. ‘Have you spilt something in here?’ she asks suspiciously but her tone is soft, like she’s feeling guilty. Maybe she’s just been away a long time and is feeling bad.

William splashes cold water in his face but sleep is still holding tight. Last night’s dreams still overlay the morning sky, dim behind the steamy kitchen windows. His coffee has no potency today. He kisses his girlfriend absently, ‘I’m all right’ he says, waving her away. I wonder what’s up with William, she thinks, it could be the flu, lots of people at the office have it.

Like a wraith William’s coat settles on his shoulders as he tiptoes down the path, encroaching lawn wet with last night’s rain. His car key misses the lock as he spots the low, yellow moon, slow to yield the sky to the bloated sun. He shivers. Roads sail by with the hum of the engine rocking William’s head softly as he takes the corners. As the car chugs into town the little buildings seem far away, their walls thin and brittle.

‘Morning William,’ says his boss, all bulk beneath straining white shirt and black moustache ready to pounce off his face. William nods back weakly. ‘You look like shit!’ his boss exclaims as he takes a closer look. William shakes his head. I’m fine, I’m fine. But suddenly he’s looking up at a circle of faces gathered round, empty eyes all looking down at him like polished windows.

‘You’re not fine, get home at once!’ The words are far away. ‘Better still I’ll take you myself, where’s your car?’

William’s head lolls to and fro as the car chugs out of the car park, the office block folding up behind them in the car’s exhaust, the buildings of the town blowing away in the rear view mirror like paper houses. The sun has beaten the moon and is busy bleaching out the sky.

‘That’s right son, you close your eyes’, says his boss. ‘Mum will be back soon and she’ll bring you something to eat in bed.’

‘What?’

There’s a terrible noise in his ears. William’s girlfriend reaches out of the blinding sunlight to turn off the alarm clock.

‘Its morning time, sweetie,’ she says fastening the curtains back. ‘You look a little pale today. Are you sure you want to go in?’

‘I’ll go in,’ William says dizzily, and more forcefully than he had intended, and throws the blanket to one side.

Through the window everything is sharp and crisp with strong lines defining light from dark, real from dream. He kisses his girlfriend and her lips feel soft and warm. She looks at him quizzically. Its solid, my life is solid, William thinks as he takes a deep breath. His heels clip something wrapped beneath the bed. In the gathering dust is an old painting with faces for houses, and sailing above them all a grinning yellow moon.

I must throw that out, he thinks retrieving a snatch of poetry written on the back.

Paper houses are the first to fall,

When flood is rising, deep and cold,

And the yellow moon looks on laughing,

‘Nothing is real, nothing at all!’

A time for thank-yous

You do so capture me with words,
As if I were nought but clouds about the moon,
Smoke breathed out from your cigar.
Still I would be flattered to be penned by such a poet,
As life made you,
The old dowager sighed before she died.
Did he ever write of her;
A fresh bloom briefly laid upon the world,
Before greying fall from Summer’s bright regard?
She never knew.
 
 

I would like to give my heartfelt thanks to Sonia at Doing the Write Thing for awarding me the Versatile Blogger Award!

It has meant a great deal to me to be read by writers I respect. Sonia is one of those like-minded spirits and a generous and talented writer to boot. Call me extraverted but the feedback I have received since blogging has given me a whole new reason to put pen to paper.

In accord with the rules of the award here are seven hereto (possibly) unknown facts about myself:

  1. I used to want to be a musketeer until my best friend at the time, a six year old called Dorothy, told me they didn’t exist anymore. Needless to say I was very upset.
  2. As a child I had a cat called Albert. He was black as midnight apart from bright green eyes, had fur as soft as silk, and used to bring us headless birds as gifts. He is buried in the garden now, but sometimes I still catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye.
  3. I now live in a thatched cottage in the middle of the countryside. At night I can’t hear…anything at all! It’s amazing.
  4. My most precious possession is a Katana (a Japanese Sword). But I rarely practice with it outside, in case I frighten the old lady next door.
  5. I think my life really turned around when I was twenty-five and started practicing the martial arts seriously. Since then I’ve never had to use my fists and rarely 🙂 wanted to.
  6. My girlfriend is very beautiful, refined and organised, but when she laughs she looks like a little girl and sounds like an old woman. It cracks me up every time.
  7. In personality I am most like my mother. When she was dying of cancer I wrote her a poem thanking her for everything she had done for me. The last thing she said to me was ‘thank-you for my poem’.

As I have already said being read by other bloggers has made a great difference to me. It has also been inspiring reading work by other writers. Here are fifteen of my favourites. Check them out and give them all the encouragement you can and they will do the same for you.

(C) Copyright Mark B Williams 2014
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