The Tunnels of Tad-Dlam – Part 1

Sara had only ever heard of snippets about the caves. The area around them was called Tad-Dlam but it wasn’t until her teens that she had found out that meant “Of The Dark”. Of course, the locals told stories, secrets and whispers about the dark underground hollows that ran below their feet and the spirits that thrived in them. Not being considered an “authentic local” despite her parents arriving before she was born, so Sara was never included in these conversations. Whenever she enquired regardless of if it was at school, shops, post office the people of the town hushed up. She was not one of them.

“Sara…” The voice started when her mother passed away.

“Sara…” It was quiet to begin with, more of a whisper than a voice but increasingly it was more and more insistent.

“Sara. Find me”, it hissed at her in the darkness late at night when no one was around. Grief, Sara told herself. The voice would leave her when she had stopped grieving but did a daughter ever really stop grieving for her mother? She didn’t think so.

Time passed and the whispering, hissing voice became part of normality. It whispered in the darkness until she fell asleep and then it invaded her dreams. As winter approached and the days contained more dark than light, the voice spent more and more time inside her head. “Find me. Sara. Find me.”

pexels-photo-89517.jpeg

Winter came and went and spring began its inviting chorus. Each day Sara walked down the little path that led through the garden to the gate. The garden had been her mother’s pride and joy she had spent hours pottering around, clipping, trimming and planting. They had often joked the Greenhouse was her second home.

As the anniversary of her mother’s passing approached Sara took to the garden. At first, it was little bits trimming the trees, and hedges and cutting the grass. Sara had never been green fingered. As the little garden responded to her attentions Sara’s confidence grew and soon she decided it was time to take the next step in tackling the Greenhouse. At first, the sight of her mother’s apron and gardening gloves caused a lump to rise in Sara’s throat and she had just grabbed the first tools she needed and headed back to the garden. Steeling herself she decided it was time to evict the cobwebs that now consumed all the equipment her mother had treasured so much.

The Greenhouse seemed to encourage the voices. “Find me, find me Sara”, they whispered into the enclosed space. Ignoring them Sara began to pull each item out into the garden. Giving some things a clean and wipe down others stacking in a ‘to be discarded’ pile. The work was hard and the light began to fade but it had taken so much strength to get to this stage so Sara was determined to continue. As she heaved and lifted and cleaned and sorted the voice spoke to her continuously almost like a rhythm to the tasks.

“Sara. Find me, Sara…

Sara. Find me, Sara. ..”

As Sara emptied the bottom racks of the shelves her eye was caught by a crack extending out under them. She pulled the cabinet out and saw it extended under the wall to outside. Climbing from her knees she walked outside to the greenhouse. This side of the garden hadn’t yet been touched. Nettles and bramble bushes grew far and wide. Sara thought and scratched her way through until surprisingly she came to a large opening. The earth had fallen in just outside her greenhouse. Yet the way the ground opened appeared to slope downwards.

Sara’s curiosity got the better of her and she found herself ignoring the cuts and the scrapes of the gnarled bushes snagging at her skin as she pushed her way back to the greenhouse to go in search of a torch. Dusk provided a warning red glow in the sky but she was oblivious. She had to get a torch. The voice no longer whispered it championed her. “Find me, Sara. Find me.”

Relieved she found the tool she needed and returned to the opening, enticing her in like a venus fly trap to a spider.  Flicking on the torch she began to descend.

Waiting - Tunnel - cavern - image by Sue Vincent


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. KL ❤

 

 

Advertisements

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.

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 Jilted Bride – #writephoto

Her veil fluttered in the breeze and she let out a wail into the dawn sky. The sun was coming and her presence would be hindered in the daylight. She prayed for winter, foggy days and dreary weather helped her stay around for longer.

 

Arch Image by Sue Vincent

Arch – Image by Sue Vincent

 

One of her favourite things to do was to follow one step behind a person, see if they felt her presence. Occasionally she would inhale deeply beside their ear-catching the scents of the sweet perfumes of the modern day. This often made them shudder and she could not deny the shadow of joy that gave to her wandering soul.

Occasionally she would get the chance to enact her true calling, her reason for being. She would watch the young couples strolling around the site hand in hand, or linked arm in arm, giggling merrily to themselves. She watched them captivated by their young naivety. She would watch and she would wait.

As the time approached, and the young man got down on one knee she would summon all her strength and push him over. She would whip the young woman’s scarf or hair or whatever she would grasp. As they regained composure she would scream. A high-pitched piercing scream. She enjoyed that, generally, they began to stumble and run as fast as they could. Sometimes she wondered if they heard her deep chuckling that followed but ultimately she didn’t care. She would be the only jilted bride to haunt these ruins.



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 – Arch – and join in the prompt. KL ❤

The Watcher – #writephoto

Perched in the tree line the watcher waited.

Sometimes it took weeks, others it took days but recently the frequency had increased and the watcher sensed in the air that the time would be coming soon.

The woodland was unusually quiet as the darkness descended.

Occasionally a rabbit or a mouse would make a run for it but the watcher had no interest – there was much bigger game coming their way.

Sure enough, as the clock chimed the hour on the distant town a shadow emerged on the mound.

The shadows steps were slow, his heavy burden reducing his mobility yet the pace remained steady moving ever closer to the watcher.

Arriving at the woodland edge, the dark form moved towards the embankment and tossed the burden down it.

crow image by sue vincent

The servant of the night nodded to the watcher, then left, his movements now much more agile as he headed back to the village.

The watcher swooped down and tore at the meat then returned to the branches, a ring from the shredded finger placed carefully in his nest.

The watcher raised his head and let his cry carry out into the night, the woodland came alive, ready to devour their prize.


My response to Sue’s wonderful photo prompt combined with today’s Daily Post challenge. If you want to give Sue’s prompt a go too, head over to Sue’s Page Thursday Photo Prompt – Crow – and join in the prompt. KL ❤

The Message – #Writephoto

I followed the waterline not knowing where it would take me. My mind was ignorant to the goose bumps that covered my body tortured by the cold sea breeze. I swallowed the rage, but in doing so tears brimmed, then in the wind trickled their way down my cheek. I twisted my sleeves then swiped at the wetness. The one tortured word echoing over and over… Why!

 

blue image by Sue Vincent

Blue – Image by Sue Vincent

 

Ten years. Our life together had been ten years. Ups and downs like everyone but ten years strong… or so I had thought. How could I have been treated this way? Rage flashed once more. I looked at the pebbles of the beach. Kicked at one, squatted down and picked up another launching it far into the ocean. The force caused my body to twist until I realised a little further along the coast someone stood watching. They carried a small light barely visible in the gloomy sky. I couldn’t make out the face but I had no doubt the eyes were watching me.

As I stared the stranger raised a gloved hand and beckoned me towards him. Without thinking I started to cover the distance between us. Within a few steps, the stranger had turned and walked further away. I put my head down against the wind and hurried my steps to catch up but the stranger always managed to remain a few steps ahead. Eventually, the sand gave way to a grassy embankment that the locals had put a bench atop of. The stranger seemed to be making his way towards that marker. I ran as fast as I could with the wind whipping against me, finally reaching the bench exhausted. I glanced around to see if the stranger was anywhere nearby but there was nothing.

Exhausted I threw myself down onto the bench. The wind whipped about me chasing a shiver down my spine and I turned around still searching. Looking back out towards the brilliant blue sky, something rustled against my feet. I bent down and picked it up, it was a crumpled up note. I unfolded it and inside were the words “I love you. I miss you. Come home.” Looking out at the blue my hands unconsciously followed the folds of the paper, smoothing them over and over. Then with a heave, I levered myself off the bench and headed home.

 


My response to Sue’s wonderful photo prompt combined with Daily Posts treat challenge. If you want to give Sue’s prompt a go too, head over to Sue’s Page Thursday Photo Prompt – Blue – and join in the prompt. KL ❤

Mask of the Gods – #Writephoto

Griffin stared at the dancing fire. Allowing its constant energised movement to fill his soul. He required as much energy as he could consume before the ceremony would begin. The mask in the pocket of the ceremonial robe felt like it was pulsing. Or was that the music? Or his pulse? It didn’t matter all sights and sounds merged to this one heightened moment.

Slowly those around him began to sing. Their voices low merged with the throbbing pulse that seemed to fill the air. Griffin tried to make out the words but nothing was coming through clear. It didn’t matter he only had to know his own words, the words that would change his life, the words that would bring his wife back to him. Even the thought of her made his entire body ache, he was desperate to bring her soul back to the earthly plane. He had traded empires to find the powers to do it, to find the Mask of the Gods. Mask fire image by Sue Vincent

He had never had faith in religion before, not in this day and age, when the zest for life, for living, was too strong to stop and thank some unknown God for it all, that hadn’t seemed to make sense. That all changed when his wife passed, he needed to understand, he needed a reason why he had survived when she hadn’t. He had been so lost in his sorrows he had hardly registered the stranger who had helped him home from the bar and told him of an ancient relic, a relic that had the power to bring back the dead.

Griffin had started to research, started to follow, started to obsess, maybe the world worked slightly differently than he had suspected, and maybe there wasn’t just the one god but the many, and maybe the gods made mistakes, just like humans? Griffin began to wonder if he was chasing the mask or if the mask was coming to him, but little by little the chances unfolded and he had grasped them. At first, it had seemed so unbelievable, the mask was in his hands. Then the agony began, waiting for the blood moon to perform the traditional ritual.

Suddenly the night filled with silence, the others voices had stopped and leader of the group lifted his arm and pointed at Griffin. Griffin froze to the spot. Now? He took the mask from his pocket lifting it slowly to his face and placing it on. He found the words slowly building inside him.

revertetur a morte, uxorem, audi vocem meam, veni ad me

                       Griffin closed his eyes behind the mask and repeated the words louder and louder. The crowd once again began to chant in a low voice. The throbbing sound grew and grew in the night. It felt like the forest around him had joined in the chant, birds singing, bats screeching, frogs croaking. All sending their summons out into the night.

All at once the sound of silence filled the air and only Griffin’s voice was now permeating the darkness. He hesitated to open his eyes but the group leader nodded into the night and with a little more confidence Griffin repeated the summons.

revertetur a morte, uxorem, audi vocem meam, veni ad me

        The flame grew higher, the light blinding, Griffin could no longer see the others in the circle. It was just him and the fire. It seemed to grow hotter and hotter until it was a burning white flame. Griffin’s throat grew so dry he had to break the chant to swallow. The light became so intense he had to shield his eyes. In that moment of solace, he heard a gasp from the crowd followed by an uncomfortable silence. He opened his eyes to see the form of his wife standing where there had just been flames.

He ran to her but she retracted before he could embrace her.

“Oh no, Griffin… What have you done?” her gasp filled the silence of the forest.


My response to Sue’s wonderful photo prompt. Couldn’t resist toying around with this photo, definitely something mysterious about it! I loved it. Managed to combine it with the daily prompt of traditions too. Obviously, all these ancient traditions, I made up! For those that want to know the bit in the thing Griffin chants is a bit of googled latin – “Return from the dead, My Wife, hear my summons, come to me” – or something along those lines. 🙂

If you want to give the prompt a go too, head over to Sue’s Page Thursday Photo Prompt – Mask – and join in the prompt. KL ❤