Short Shocktober Day 2: Bones

Content Warning: Bones, gore.

The Lost Parisian Ossuary

‘Don’t you think it’s weird that all records of this place were destroyed, though?’ The questioned echoed in the tunnel’s narrow walls and arched ceiling. Taylor’s torch roved over gaping side tunnels, barely chasing back the black as he hurried along. His broad silhouette cut a manly, roguish figure in the torchlight, and I finally saw in him the Indiana Jones he always saw in himself.

               ‘Of course, someone wanted to hide it; it’s rumoured to hold a stash of gems. What fool would leave directions to their hidden treasure in the public record? Le Chat Noir was wise to scrub it from the plans after the renovations.’ I kicked a pebble and it clattered down the corridor at Taylor’s feet. I  let out a little involuntary squeak at the sound. Taylor sighed.

               ‘Pull yourself together,’ he demanded.  ‘There’s nothing down here but rats and bones. And cave dwelling crabs, apparently.’

               ‘I don’t think those gems exist,’ I confessed, as we hesitated at another cross roads. Taylor stopped to play his light over a yellowing map in his hand. The humid air was thick, faintly mouldy. ‘If this jewel thief existed, why didn’t he go back for his stash?’

               ‘Here,’ Taylor pointed, and plunged off to the right. ‘I told you; he dropped dead in the street. It was only the gendarme’s search of his apartment that revealed that he was La Chat Noir. It was only my little stroke of luck – and a dose of genius –‘ he said this bit under his breath, barely audible over the march of our feet, ‘that led to my  discovery.’

               ‘I think someone destroyed those records to stop people finding this place,’ I said, bumping into Taylor. Our tunnel had stopped as abruptly as Taylor, opening into a circular room.

               The walls were lined with bones, a regular repeating pattern of tibias alternating with skulls. Their empty eye sockets stared at us in surprise, as Taylor washed the room in the torch’s sterile light.

               ‘I can’t believe I found it,’ he whispered.

               He stepped into the room and a chill wind blew out of it. I could have sworn I heard someone whisper something in French, but I couldn’t make it out.

               ‘Come out of there,’ I told him quietly, but he just glanced back, rolled his eyes and took another step.

               There was a cracking noise, and Taylor jerked, frozen on the spot. The wind blew again. I definitely heard a whisper this time, but not loud enough to discern. He staggered forward one last step, and there was the crack once more, and the spectral voice. I finally understood it.

               ‘Join us.’

               Taylor jerked in agony. His torch clattered to the floor. He held up his hands in wretched horror, the bones exposed as the flesh peeled itself away. His eyes grew wide, his face of agony growing into a rictus as the flesh shrank and sloughed away, a soundless scream trapped between his skeletal jaws.

               I ran.


Prompt: Bones

Word Count: 498

Shocktober Day Two down! I think this one’s better. I did some brain storming and research and got some good non-fiction details, with some fascinating history. The Paris Catacombs are a real place! There’s probably not any curses or hidden treasure or anything down there, tho’. Probably….

Old man climbs a mountain with the New Weird

Good lord, it’s the twenty-fourth of February, already. I hate it when people do that, ‘WOW! It’s [INSERT TODAY’S DATE] already!’ but I do it myself all the time – the passage of time might be linear but our experience of it is so relative that it sneaks up on me all the time. Days might pass slowly, but weeks seem to flood past. One day you’re starting university and someone sneezes and you’re close to a year away from your thirtieth birthday, wondering if you’re really not that bothered about all the things you ‘should’ have done by now. I always have taken my time with things. My mother’s name for me when I was a child was ‘Hurry up!’ and my middle names were ‘we’ll be late!’ What I’m saying is, thirty or forty or fifty, I’ll get there when I get there. ‘Whether it’s writing,’ he said, stroking an invisible, long, white beard, ‘or relationships, or self-actualization, it can take time, but it’s time worth taking.’

Continue reading “Old man climbs a mountain with the New Weird”

In November last year, I entered the Terry Hetherington Young Writers Award. Whilst I didn’t win, I’m pleased to say that my short story, Flood Pain, scored highly enough to make it into the prize’s anthology, Cheval 12.

I’m chuffed (understatement). This is the first time I’ll be published as an adult, and I think I’ll be in some very good company.

I haven’t read the winning entries yet, but if previous years’ are any indication, they’re excellent. Congratulations to Eleanor Howe, whose poetry won over all, and Nathan Munday and Cynan Llwyd who won runner up prizes for poetry and fiction, respectively. There’s more info about the prize and the winners, here.

The anthology launches on the 31st May 2019.

 

Sunday Blues, Atmospheric Photos and Space-flight Inspiration

I usually hate Sundays.  They’re glum end stops that mark a potentially monotonous metre; the passing of weeks, made all the more blue if you’re not in love with your daily nine to five.

This Sunday has been a good one, though. I’ve been writing a lot lately, necessitated by the assignment deadline that’s bearing down on me. I hammered out 2,000 words on the first draft of a 17th century tragedy with some fantasy stuff thrown in, which will also be what I’m submitting for my assignment, or at least part of it, anyway. Continue reading “Sunday Blues, Atmospheric Photos and Space-flight Inspiration”

Mare Ridden

The moonlight that filtered through the tangled branches of the nightmare pines was tainted by their boughs, and where it touched the snowclad ground, black twins of the twisted branches lay. In the still night a single draught slid across the moonlight snow towards the peacefully slumbering farm. It slipped over a snow drift and gently tipped a latch on the stable door, creeping inside. In the gloom of the stable, something in the draught watched the black horse’s nostrils flare as it sensed the presence, whickering in fear. The draught swept across the hay-strewn floor, towards its prey.

 *

               At the horse’s scream, Karl jerked from his sleep, breathless and sweating. The house was silent but the scream still quivered in his ears, worming its way into his brain, thundering through his heart and racing in his breath. It shivered down his spine. Around him his dark bedroom loomed, and the formerly safe room, his day-time sanctuary from the arduous work of the farm, leaned in close as though waiting for its moment. Continue reading “Mare Ridden”

White Is Red

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Frankie pulls up in her dad’s car, wearing white. She hops out of the black-green ’63 Mustang and leaves the engine running, glancing nervously at the house looming behind Cameron.

“Get the fuck in.” She growls, running around the hood. Cameron trots around the trunk and stuffs his black sports bag in the back, as Frankie slides gracefully into the passenger side. She’s 5’6” and sixteen, short, black hair, shaved to a quarter inch fuzz down the right hand side. There’s a tiny, round, silver stud high up in her ear that glints in the sunset as she gets in. She’s gorgeous. Cameron puts it in first and tries to pull off innocuously and quickly, but fails. The engine is loud. Frankie slides nervously down the seat, crinkling her white summer dress. She watches her mirror in silence until they hit the highway.

“Why am I driving?” Cameron asks after a while, quietly breaking the engine filled silence.

“No licence.” She says shortly.

The silent-tide rolls back in and they follow the curving asphalt through the pine trees as the sun goes down. There are few cars on the road, but Frankie still tenses visibly when they pass one. Cameron’s a year older than she is and has no more experience of law-breaking, but is able to hide his nervousness better. He grips the wheel white-knuckled and pretends that his guts don’t feel like they’re trying to escape.

“Nice dress,” he says, trying to take his mind off things. They curve right into a canyon lined with firs and unforgiving rock faces. “I’ve never seen you wear something like that before.” She normally wore jeans, t-shirts and half laced Doc-Martins. Sometimes her bottom half was obscured by overalls whose upper-half was tied around her waist. Frankie shrugs.

“New life, new start… new clothes seemed appropriate. My mother never grubbed around in jeans like me.” It gets darker and Cameron flicks on the Mustang’s lights, illuminating the twisting path in front of them. The double yellow line stretches for winding miles, its white twins following closely, gripping the canyon-side.

“Just don’t change too much, right?” Cameron smiles, trying to lighten the mood that has settled on them heavily, like the dark. “I quite like you how you are.”

Frankie scowls.

Continue reading “White Is Red”