Day of the Dead

She covered her arms, her face and her chest in the luminescent paint.

 

Day of the Dead Image - Google

Day of the Dead image courtesy of Google Images

 

Quiet and unassuming, normally no-one noticed her. Today was different. Today was the day of the dead. Her heart beat fast at the thoughts of the festivities that would unfold over the next two days in an explosion of colour and life-affirming joy.

More importantly, she would see him again. Each year she made the offering to the dead and each year he had stayed a little longer. This year she was finally prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice. Herself. He would be hers for eternity.


Written in response to Daily Posts daily prompt. You can join in this challenge or have a gander through the many interesting posts by clicking here.

I hope you enjoyed my 100-word story.

If you want to find out a bit more about Day of the dead – this National Geographic article is really interesting – http://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel-and-adventure/top-10-things-know-about-day-dead

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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 ❤

Fate – #writephoto

He looked into the lake. He didn’t believe in fate, fairytales and all that other nonsense but if the sword was in there he was going to get it. Temptation was all he needed, and he was a man fuelled if by nothing else by the chance of an easy reward. He had heard many stories that the sword had been tossed in this water and was now guarded by some lady.

Dark - Lake - Image by Sue Vincent

Dark – Image by Sue Vincent

 

He donned the aqua gear that he had “borrowed” from the museum he worked. It had weighed a tonne and he had started to regret his plan but now that he was in the water the stupid old suit might just prove its worth. He might return it, then again if he was loaded after cashing in on the sword it might be better to keep it as a memento of his genius. Further and further out he waded until the depths of the water surrounded him. It felt like the world was getting darker and darker then, at last, he saw the glint of the gold hilt.

He made his way towards it but as he raised the arm of the suit the water moved and pushed him back a few steps. Once again, he made his way forward and again the water sent the heavy suit away from the sword. He approached again and this time kneeled (as best as he could) in the suit and although the water moved around it seemed to have stopped pushing him away from the sword. He lifted his arm up to grasp the sword but try as he could he could not get the suit to perform a handgrip on the handle. He tried again and again but without success. By now everything around him was pitch black. He would have to somehow modify the suit and come back again for the sword. As a final act to display his disgust he kicked at the sword in it’s resting place, but the movement caused a tear in the ancient leather and ice-cold water quickly began to enter.vintage-historical-old-diver.jpg

As fast as he could he made his way back to land the suit getting heavier and heavier as water poured in the tiny slit in his heel. Eventually, he was at the edge and he pulled the lumbering helmet gasping for air. He started to pull the rest of the outfit off as he made his way up the silty water’s edge onto land. Water had filled almost the entirety of one leg of the suit now and he was more than aware if he had been much further out he might not have made it.

He threw the helmet and rest of the suit down and sat down on the lakeside edge, looking back over the water, he now knew it was there, he had to formulate a plan to get it. He was about to stand up and leave when he heard footsteps and a bark coming from behind him. Turning to face it he could see two officers one holding rather a mean looking dog. He glanced quickly to his right to see if he could escape into the trees.

“I wouldn’t do that, sonny. Believe me, she can run a damn sight faster than you can.” The dog barked in agreement with the officer. As the officer drew closer there was nothing else he could do but bow his head in acceptance of the fate.


My response to Sue’s wonderful photo prompt. If you want to give Sue’s prompt a go too, head over to Sue’s Page Thursday Photo Prompt – Dark – 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 ❤