Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Knock at the Door

Rose jerked awake from where she had been dozing.  The knock on the door had sounded like thunder in her dreams.  She rushed to the window and peered through the dusty nets.
Ellen joined her at the window.  They both looked out at the slim young man.  "Is this it?" Ellen asked.  "Have they found Mary?"
Ruby stood at the entrance to the room, too nervous to join them at the window.   "Does it look like good news or bad news?"
The door knocker sounded again.  "We should answer the door." Rose said, sounding braver than she felt.
"What if it's bad news?" Ellen asked.  "What if they haven't found Mary?  What if she can never come home with us?"
"Is it a man or a woman at the door?" Ruby asked, edging a little closer to the window.
"It's a man." Rose said, peering a little further then darting back against the cobwebs as their visitor looked up at the window.  "He's wearing a suit."
"Does he have anyone with him?" Ruby clenched her hands into fists.
Rose shook her head.  "He's got a box, though, all draped with a silk cloth."
"Is that good news or bad news?" Ruby asked.
"It has to be news about Mary." Ellen said.  "We should answer the door."
"What if it is another 'favour'." Ruby said flatly.  "We've worn ourselves to shreds doing 'favours' for those who should have helped us.  Perhaps they think we need to do more."
The knocker thundered again.  "We have to answer the door." Rose said.  "We should all go."  The man was looking around curiously.  An expensive car stood at the end of the weed covered drive.  "He may leave and then we will never know."
The sisters tiptoed into the hall.  "We can't ignore this." Rose said.  "We have to take courage and think of Mary."

It was Ellen who finally slid open the chain and turned the stiff lock.  The neglected door creaked a little as she dragged it open.  It was a cold, late autumn day with damp in the air but the man did not rush.  He nodded politely and stepped in.  He looked around, and, without saying a word, pulled the dusty hall table to the centre of the hall.  Then he placed the box reverentially on the table.  The sisters didn't speak as he carefully pulled off the black cloth and folded it neatly, tucking it inside his heavy, expensive overcoat.  The sisters could barely move, transfixed by black, lacquered box.  The man deftly removed the lid and removed an urn.  He checked that it was safe and centred.  Then he looked around the hall.  The sisters did not make a sound.  The man bowed politely again and left, closing the door behind him.

The sisters finally relaxed as they listened for the old gate creaking shut and the car purring away.  Then they crowded around the urn.  The three ghosts, finally reunited with the ashes of their beloved sister, faded away.  

This has been written in response to the Light and Shade prompt, and is actually part of the Steve Adderson story.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Exchange of Post

Steve took a suspiciously large bag from Lord Marius.  "What's changed?"
Lord Marius looked at him thoughtfully.  He was looking casual in a slim fitting t-shirt and immaculate jeans.  "Nothing has changed yet." He said coolly.
Steve kept his cool.  Elfen could feed off human emotions and some of the older ones, like Lord Marius, were connoisseurs.  Lord Marius would find his frustration far too amusing.  "So what is going to change?"
Lord Marius shrugged casually but Steve was not fooled.  Lord Marius looked at his slim watch.  "The Leeds train is due to arrive.  I must not miss it."
"The Leeds train is not due for ten minutes, and Huddersfield station is small enough that you won't miss it.  What do I need to know?"
Lord Marius looked carefully at Steve.  "You are becoming remarkably competent at dealing with the non normal community.  What you need to know is that I cannot tell you everything, at least not for a while.  But I do think you should take over some of my tasks."
"Are you employing me?" Steve asked carefully.
"Not as such, no." Lord Marius peered carefully down the track.  "It is remarkable how the trains work, is it not?  One minute in Manchester and the next minute in Leeds.  I remember the first time I saw a train - I thought one of the devils had appeared again."
"This bag is full of messages." Steve said.  "You've put notes on all of them, and they're all places I've been.  Are you training me to be your replacement?"
"I bought a ticket once." Lord Marius craned his neck.  "I put it in a frame, I thought it was so wonderful, a small piece of paper to allow me such liberty to travel and at such speed."
"What are you up to, Lord Marius?"
"There are..." Lord Marius paused and waved his hands as he searched for the right words.  "Lord Lothar warned you to never go with me into Leeds, did he not?"
Steve nodded.  "You've never asked me to go there."
"And I am still not asking you to go there.  I am asking you to..." Lord Marius once again scratched for the right words.  "You are not as good as I but you are adequate to take the messages from lord to lord." He glared at Steve.  "You are barely adequate, but you will do.  You will find many opportunities for business."
Steve knew better than to risk the fragile ego of an elfen.  "I can't do all that you do, but you have given me enough training to manage a shadow of your skills."
Lord Marius looked at Steve for long, long minutes.  His face was entirely expressionless.  "You have different skills.  It is of particular interest that your skills with magic are starting to outstrip all but the most skilled elfen.  You search for your father.  I advise you to stop looking."

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Message on the Wind

The wind rattled the ends of branches against Steve's window  A patter of raindrops hit the glass.
Armani grumbled in his sleep.  He had claimed the corner of the mantelpiece as his, a small, fetid corner of a neat room, but Steve could live with that.  The wind, though, was getting on his nerves.
He leafed through his notebooks.  He had a stack of notebooks, a folder on his laptop and his iPad and phone were stacked with note after note.  He wasn't getting anywhere.
The wind rattled again, moaning outside.  Armani stirred and turned over.  Steve could hear the rattle of autumn leaves being bowled down the path and whirled around the garden. 
Armani sat up and scratched his crotch, knocking against a picture of Steve and Elaine on the mantelpiece next to him.  His ex girlfriend looked so full of life in the picture, taken as they had been joking on the steps of York Minster.  Steve remembered that day.  He had had the ring in his pocket ready to propose but they had had a few glasses of wine by the river and he had worried that she wouldn't take him seriously. 
Armani coughed and stretched.  "Are you going to do something about that wind, boss?" he grumbled. 
Steve looked back at his notebooks.  He was getting very good at elfen magic but he was still hitting a wall.  He had been offered the love of Elaine by an elfen as a bargaining tool.  It wasn't what he really wanted, though, and the elfen had known it.  That chapter had closed.  He had forced magic to bend to his will, pushed back barriers that had been thought impregnable, he had fought and fought and fought.  But he still did not know the name of his father.  He did not know who was the one night stand who had left his mother unexpectedly with him. 
The wind rattled again and Steve could hear something bouncing noisily off the kerb and rattling down the street.  He pulled back the curtains.    In the evening light everything was still.  A few streets away the smoke from a chimney drifted straight up and there would be a cold dew by morning.  Steve tapped his fingers thoughtfully on the sill.  Then he closed the curtains.  Once again the noise of the wind started up, howling and rising. 
Steve opened the front door and looked out into the quiet street.  "Lord Gwill Mawr, thank you for your presence.  However I am interested only in things I can trade fairly.  There are two weeks before Halloween.  The earlier I get a trade, the earlier I can get your fripperies at a good price."  Steve shut the door. 
In the living room Armani was watchful at the window, but when Steve looked at him he shrugged.  "They're still here, boss, but at least it's gone quiet.  At least for now." And he started rolling another of his foul cigarettes. 

I just want to say thank to to Sarah Head and Witch Hazel for their incredibly kind words of encouragement.  After dipping back in to look at some of the Steve Adderson, it seemed a shame not to write some more. 

Witch Hazel - there are a lot of ideas about the characters in The Forgotten Village.  After all, Darren is still single, and Carl is far too nice to be left on the shelf.  As an author I have a duty to give them complicated love lives!

Sarah Head - thank you so much, especially for the comment about structure.  It is really kind. 

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Frost on the Moon

Frost on the Moon

There's a frost on the Moon

The cold, shivery light is tumbling down and the frost comes with it
It gleams as it slides over the twiggy trees

There's a frost on the Moon

I rest my hot, hot face against the cold, cold bedroom window glass
The heat of the argument ebbs out into the cool, clear night

There's a frost on the Moon

The street is silent and pools left from this morning's rain
Reflect back at the empty sky and the falling frost edges them

There's a frost on the Moon

The silence is scattered by a strolling cat
As the knocked can rattles into the empty street

There's a frost on the Moon

The frost is falling and slipping down the street
My hot heart's pain fades and drains as I watch

There's a frost on the Moon