The Shelter of the Shepherd – #writephoto

They had heard the planes before they had seen them. The hum distant at first, then getting louder and louder, a thunderous roar approaching. At first, the villagers did not understand. The village was made up of farmers, market traders and weavers. Those that took the village produce to the big town markets knew of the war, but they were not soldiers, they had no reason to be involved in the war, so, they presumed, no reason for the war to come to them. They were wrong.

A few of the men recognised the planes as they came into sight. Their dark shadows and flight formation now looked so similar to the photographs printed in the paper. Panic filled the men and they began to shout orders to those around them. Others did the same and soon the village woman had grabbed the children and headed for the church but as they approached the priest came running through the doors. He had assessed the simple structure and knew that it would not do to protect his people.

As hysteria began to surface amongst the group, a man stepped forward. A strangled hush came across the group with the thundering plane engines providing most of the noise. Few of the villagers recognised the man, he was a shepherd who usually followed his herd amongst the mountains, it was rare he stepped foot into town. Today the villagers were lucky.

He said only one word, “There”. Pointing his hand towards the mountainside. Then he quickly began to walk.

 

Shelter-Mountain-Cave-Image by Sue Vincent

Shelter Image by Sue Vincent

 

The villagers followed his gaze and although few could see what he was talking about all immediately followed his quick step. They made it to the trees and some of the agitations dispersed as the group huddled and walked, step after step. They were not in the treeline long when they heard the first bomb drop on their town. The ground below them shook and immediately cries escaped them. The priest shushed them gently, as they gathered themselves, they noticed the shepherd kept walking. They scrambled to keep up with him and soon once again the huddle was moving this time, each member of the village was on full alert.

Several more bombs made their way to the ground until the noise was no longer as shocking to the villagers. A few times the shepherd stop and held up his hand to stop the travelling group. As the priest moved towards the man he saw the reason for stopping. Flying low above the trees the planes seemed to be searching. Only once the shepherd moved again did the villagers follow suit. It was pitch black by the time the villagers made the mountain. They all crammed to get inside the cave first, whilst the priest instructed some of the stronger men to begin to gather wood to make fires.

“No”, said the shepherd whilst the priest was mid-way through the instruction. The priest tried to question but the man only shook his head and continued past him into the cave. Reluctantly the priest followed.

After several hours the majority of the group fell into a restless slumber, the planes had left but the shepherd sitting near the entrance and had given no hint that the villagers should leave. The priest was unaware that he too had fallen into an exhausted sleep until he found himself shaken awake by the shepherd. He waved his hand towards the entrance beckoning the priest to follow him. Understanding dawning on him, the priest made his way to the cave opening. The shepherd pointed down into the town and sure enough in the pitch darkness, lights could be seen moving amongst the town.

“Soldiers?” the priest questioned, and the shepherd nodded in response. To back up his point random gunshots filled the night air and the priest squirmed knowing that it was probably a sick or elderly villager whom in their haste they had left behind.

The shepherd pointed along the treeline surrounding the village and the priest once again followed his instruction. Lights were entering the treeline and the priest gasped.

“Are we safe here?” the shepherd shrugged non-committedly in response.

“Well, what should we do?” the priest gasped exasperated.

“Pray”, the shepherd finally provided the priest before he walked back into the cave and returned to his place, from his shirt he pulled a beaded necklace, a cross dangling from it. The beads clicked together as the man continued to move the item around his idle hands.

The priest looked out into the darkness, following the lights moving in the deep night. Reluctantly he turned to the cave once again. This time he dropped to his knees, closed his eyes and prayed, not only for those in the cave but for the poor souls who had already been lost to a war they did not understand and had never wished to be part of.

The priest found himself being shaken awake once more, this time by one of the men from the village. Light flowed into the opening of the cave and as he came around he noticed more and more faces looking at him. He turned around looking for the shepherd but could not see him.

“He left at daybreak,” the man from the village provided. Stiffly the priest got to his feet and emerging from the cave he looked out towards the village. He gasped when he saw the charred remains of what had been his beloved church. Then he shunned himself as his eyes continued finding where homes had once stood only burnt out skeletons of the structures remained. He crossed himself when he remembered the sounds of the gunshots that had penetrated the night. He nodded to the men that surrounded him and slowly they made their descent back into the woodland.

As they entered the village, cries of despair broke out amongst the villagers as they looked around at the carnage of what had been their homes. The priest continued to walk up to where the church once stood. The remains of the stone baptismal font seemed to rise from the wreckage and the priest stepped around the rubble towards it. He reached his hands into the bowl and pulled out a beaded necklace with a cross from it. To the villagers, he may have seemed mad as he dropped to his knee, pulled his hands together in a gesture of prayer and thanked the lord.


Written in response to Sue Vincent’s prompt – #writephoto. You can join in this weeks image or have a gander through the many interesting posts inspired by this wonderful photo by clicking here.

Just a quick note, although this feels like a religious post, I am not overly certain why this post took on a religious storyline. I am from a mixed religious background with both my parents and grandparents coming from different religions, also my family spans both Scotland and Ireland so I tend to shy away from any religious involvement having seen so much arrogance, hatred and unnecessary arguments that seem to stem from religious beliefs. However, I cannot deny the comfort religion provides people or the fact that unexplainable miracles happen all the time.

The stem of this story for me, I think, was inspired not only by Sue’s wonderful photo but a recent visit to Malta, (which indeed is a very religious island). Despite being a tiny island of only 246 square kilometres (95 sq mi), Malta was of huge importance during the war due to its strategic position. On 10 June 1940, Mussolini declared war on the United Kingdom and France. Upon declaring war, Mussolini called for an offensive throughout the Mediterranean and within hours, the first bombs had dropped on Malta. It is so sad to think that within hours this island of vineyards, farming, caves and catacombs was transformed instantly from a place of peace to an island of turmoil.

Anyway, I am no war historian or any kind of historian for that matter and I am sure there are loads of accuracy plotholes within my tall tale (men with rifles following a few hours behind planes with bombs, probably not?) but I liked the story and I hope I may have shared just a little bit of my inspiration with you and even that you may have championed (even just for a second) the shepherd and his cave.

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What is Ahead? – #writephoto

They had observed the rock formation from miles away, with each step closer to it, it seemed to grow more intriguing.

ahead - rock image by Sue Vincent

“It looks like a house”, Josie said to her exasperated husband John who was trailing behind her with a heavily laden backpack. He made a harrumph sound in response but she ignored it and clicked happily on her camera before setting off again.

As they grew closer and closer her excitement to explore the rocks grew.

“Do you think it was a caveman’s home?” Josie wondered once they had reached the opening in the rocks.

“Maybe,” John said, giving in to her excitement. “It could be our lodgings for the weekend, save us on that hotel you booked”. He said smirking at his own joke.

“I WOULD live here”, Josie smiled at him, “look at that view.”

As they made their way inside it grew darker and darker, eventually, John rummaged in the backpack and pulled out their torch. As he clicked it on they both inhaled sharply.

“Wow! This is so beautiful.” Josie said. John nodded in agreement. The swirling text that filled the walls, floor and roof of the cave was unlike anything they had ever seen before.

“What do you think it says?” John asked.

“No idea. Oh, look there are numbers there.” She pointed to the area she had spotted.

They both moved closer and focussed the torchlight.

“Is that a date?” Jane’s brow wrinkled with concentration. They both looked at each other in the dull torchlight.

If it was a date, that meant it was one week from today…


My response to Sue’s wonderful photo prompt combined with the Captivating daily post. If you want to give Sue’s prompt a go too, head over to Sue’s Page Thursday Photo Prompt – ahead – and join in the prompt. KL ❤

The Cave – #Writephoto

It had taken all I had to keep running. I hadn’t dared look back. The fear, if I had of done so, would have stopped me from running, and I had to run.

Spotting the cave, I made straight for it then crawled in, my breathing heavy, my heart pounding. I glanced left to right to make sure I was not an unwelcome guest in some creatures home.

I pulled my knees up to my chest and stared out towards the light but the sounds I had dreaded echoed towards me in the tiny space. The crunch of the gravel, the heavy breathing, and then the monstrous roar.

I shivered as darkness filled the cave, the creature was covering the entrance. I buried my face into my knees and tried not to whimper, tried not to breathe. Instead, I focussed on counting. 1..2..3..4..5..

Although my eyelids were closed I felt the light reappear in the cave. I dared not to look, I wasn’t ready, I continued to count.

I reached fifty and heard the sounds of retreat. Could that be possible? Unsure I crawled on my hands and knees towards the light.

Seeing the creature’s shadow move down the hillside I knew I was lucky. I didn’t know why but the gods had let me go free.

 

Look Out Cave Image by Sue Vincent

Cave Photo Courtesy of Sue Vincent

 

 

Originally written in response to Sue Vincent’s #Writephoto challenge using the above inspiring image. 🙂