Kreative Kue 281 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
“Here, take these binoculars and tell me what you see.”
“Lord, it looks like a castle.”
“My thought exactly.”
“I had no idea that we would be tackling something this big.”
“Nor I. When I got the orders, I simply thought it was going to be a two-person job.”
“Not likely. You and I would be quickly overwhelmed if we tried to do this alone.”
“How many people do you think are inside.”
“Oh, who knows? There could be a hundred given the size of that building. You know how much mayhem a bunch of people cause.”
“My thought exactly. Should we move in closer, or do you think we know enough to walk away?”
“We can’t walk away. We have a responsibility and even took an oath.”
“Yeah, you would have to remind me about the oath. So what do you recommend?”
“I say if we walk away now, we will never be able to live with ourselves. We should do our duty.”
“Even if its the last thing we do?”
“Without a doubt.”
“Okay, I’m with you. Do you have the paperwork?”
“Yup, right here in the rucksack.”
“Should we say a prayer?”
“I don’t think so. You’ve made your peace, right?”
“Yes, I have.”
“Let’s just go. How about we hum the Battle Hymn of the Republic. It will give us comfort.”
“Good idea. OMG, I’m not sure I have a pen.”
“Not to worry. I have one in my rucksack.”
“Do you have the listing agreement?”
“Yup. All filled out.”
“Okay, then. Let’s go forth and list this sucker in the name of MLS.”
“Mine eyes have seen the glory. . . . ”
Akshaya Bobale, who blogs at The Quiet Reader, offered this short fictional story:
“Walk fast, run if you can!” Vibha urged Anu as she took a glance at the sky. The clouds were hurrying above their heads. It could start raining anytime soon. Trudging through the chocolate coloured mud, both girls sighed at the scene of an old castle. The rains of previous night had turned their trek into a disaster. They had some food and basic trekking equipments, but they needed a strong shelter above their heads. Last night was a great lesson for them.
“How far is the railway station from here?” asked Anu.
Vibha checked the paper map, “It was about 4-5 kilometres from the base camp. And we have been walking from past one hour which means it should be around 3 kilometres from our present location. We are pretty close to it.”
“And what’s our present location? Hey! There isn’t any castle on the map!!” Anu exclaimed.
Vibha checked the map thoroughly. Nowhere on the map there were any markings indicating the presence of a castle. No one ever mentioned about it at any point of time during their trek. The girls didn’t had the slightest hint of the presence of a castle on their way back home.
“We started the journey from national highway no.36 and here we are on the opposite side of national highway no.35, I guess this is the reason we didn’t come across the castle while heading towards the base camp.” Vibha tried to reason out. “I hope we are not lost!”, gulped Anu.
In a matter of seconds the rains started pelting down. Heavy rains washed every rock and pebble. Both the girls rushed towards the castle for shelter.
The castle was in ruins. The Keep was partially shattered into pieces. The stone bricks laid scattered around. The moat just looked like any other trench. The curtain walls however looked pretty intact. The girls took shelter under one of the wooden roofs. The wooden roofs were suspended from the main entrance of the castle with the help of iron chains. It was puzzling to see those wooden roofs at the entrance. This arrangement didn’t bother the girls as long as they stopped them from getting drenched. It seemed as if the castle was never completed in its time.
“Should we go inside?” Anu asked. Vibha tried to pump in some false courage and blurted, “Yes sure, we could light a small bonfire below the gatehouse!”
The moment they stepped a foot inside the castle, a ferocious sound of thunder caused a shudder in their bodies. It was an absolutely scary moment.
They had some twigs, old newspapers and matchsticks. The matchsticks were safe in a plastic box but the twigs and newspapers had dampened. The rains had darkened the atmosphere. They still had four more hours of daylight. For now they could survive without a bonfire, unless they were planning to spend their night at the spooky castle.
Half hour passed and the rains continued to pour with all their strength. Excitement replaced by anxiety. Anxiety was soon replaced by hunger. They gobbled down some roasted peanuts and some leftover sandwiches. Quenched their thirst with some lukewarm water they had filled with at the base camp.
“Did you hear that sound?” Anu asked.
“Yes I did” Vibha acknowledged.
The sound came from the woods. It seemed like someone was cutting logs from trees. The voice of the axe lashing on the trees was audible even in the torrential rains. The girls wondered who would want to cut logs in such heavy rains?
“A man with an axe” said Anu.
“There could be more than one man” concluded Vibha in a warning tone.
“I think it’s time for us to leave this place”
“Yeah it’s better to get drenched then get in trouble.”
The girls packed their bags, put on their raincoats and begun leaving the gatehouse in a jiffy. The spine chilling sound of the axe grew faster and louder. As if the axe was aimed at the girls! They ran faster. They ran for their lives. Their gumboots were not helping them in any way. And yet they ran in those incredibly heavy rains. As if the sound of axe was not petrifying enough, the girls heard one more sound. Sound of the falling trees.
“Don’t look behind” Anu warned Vibha.
“I can hear the sound of trees falling on the ground.” replied Vibha.
“Yes they are falling indeed, I hope they don’t fall on us”.
One after another the trees started falling over each other. Tall trees fell straight on the ground. Shorter trees were uprooted from the soil. The creepers had begun foraying through the uprooted trees. Trying to block the girls’ way back to home. Greenery begun showing up all around. But it wasn’t a pleasant one. It seemed like the soul of the trees turned dark and cold. The trunks of the trees transformed into human face like structures. Their eyes conveyed ill intentions. The branches were transforming into greedy hands made of bark. Trying to get hold of the girls. The branches intertwined with the roots to form a cage around the girls. It seemed like the woodland would end either in heaven or hell. The sound of the axe intensified.
“I can’t run anymore!” said Vibha breathlessly.
“We either run or we die!” Anu fumed with anger and courage at the same time.
“I would prefer death over this endless running! Anu we are caught!”
“Vibha just stop it! Less words and more run!”
The terrain was completely covered with growing creepers and roots. It made running more difficult.
They were approaching the narrow escape created by the sprawling branches. The ghostly branches could trap the girls inside the woodland if they didn’t run faster. Just as the girls were about to make it through the narrow escape, a sudden strong beam of light passed through it, hitting straight in their eyes. Tumbling upon the maze of roots and creepers, the girls got trapped into the cage of branches.
The world around them stopped at once. The narrow escape was gone forever. The branches ruled all over the woodland in solidarity with a creepy and misty silence.
After some time…
“Wake up Anu, it’s time to leave.” Anu heard a familiar whispering voice. “Wake up princess we have a long way to go.” she heard once more. Anu thought, to go where? Heaven or hell? She slowly tried to open her eyes. But the sunlight wouldn’t allow her to open at once. She flipped her body on the other side and tried opening her eyes. She saw her friend Vibha backpacking. Anu was still inside her tent, in her sleeping bag. Sunlight passed through the tent flap. The woods on the outside stayed silent.
“We might have to start the journey from highway no.36”, Vibha informed Anu.
It was a dream, Anu hoped that wouldn’t come true.
My effort was
Week four, and I found myself on a path in woodland near an old castle. It was late afternoon, there was an unseasonable chill in the air and the sky above me looked as far from friendly as a sky can without depositing its cargo of rain or worse on my head. I heard a rustling noise close behind me and turned towards it. An elderly man looked up at me, touched the peak of his flat cap and said hi. Dressed in an old and dirty greatcoat, trousers that, if new would be called distressed but were, in fact, badly worn, and boots that had clearly covered a lot of miles since they were new. Under his cap with wisps of silver hair attempting to escape into the breeze he had the wizened expression of someone who had lived a lot, seen a lot, done a lot.
“Sorry, do I know you?” I asked.
“You surely do, Sir,” the man replied, “I am Desmond.”
“Desmond? I can see a vague similarity, but aren’t you… that is weren’t you African?”
“I was when I needed to be. Now I need to be English, like you.”
“What makes you so sure I’m English? I could be – I don’t know – Scottish, Welsh, Irish, American, Australian…”
“What was your first word to me?”
“Sorry, Desmond. I wasn’t keeping notes.”
“I’ll tell you, Barry. Your first word to me was sorry. As far as I’m concerned that tells me you’re English. No other group of people routinely start a conversation with a stranger by apologising when they’ve done nothing to apologise for.”
“Sorry. We do a bit, don’t we?” I said with a chuckle, “So, if you are who you say you are, what’s the story this week?”
“This week, young Master, you are going to visit what is said to be the most haunted chateau in the area — maybe even in the country.”
“But I don’t believe in any of that rubbish.”
“Have you ever seen a ghost?”
“Of course I haven’t.”
“Of course you haven’t. That’s why you don’t believe in them. It’s a well-known fact that the only people who don’t believe in ghosts are those who have never seen one. Do you think you’d believe in them if you saw one?”
“No, I wouldn’t. Read my lips: There. is. no. such. thing. as. ghosts.”
“Do you know that or do you believe that?”
“Okay, I’ll play along for a while. I believe ghosts to be a myth. How’s that?”
“Better. And you are sure you’ve never seen one?”
“What if you’re wrong?”
“What are you saying?”
“I’m not saying anything. I’m just asking whether you are certain you have never seen a spectre, a phantom, a wraith, a spirit, a wandering soul, an inexplicable presence or apparition; you have never experienced a sudden chill for no apparent reason or anything else that you can’t explain rationally.”
“I think I’d know if I had!”
Desmond looked at me with an intensity I’d not seen in him before. It was a look that I imagine people like hypnotists and other charlatans use to trap their victims. Or that some snakes use to mesmerise their prey. A look I was not about to fall for.
“Would you?” he asked, “Would you know for sure if you were face-to-face with someone who was not solid, not corporeal, not physical?”
“Are you saying…?”
“I told you, I’m not saying, Barry. I’m asking, is all.”
“Look. We spent last week together. I think I’d know if you weren’t what you appear to be.”
“And what do I appear to be?”
This was beginning to try my patience to breaking point and I felt the need to take control.
“Enough of this nonsense,” I said sharply, “You are solid, living, human flesh and blood. I can see you; I can hear you; I can feel your breath on me. If I choose, I can reach out and touch you.”
“Can you?” he asked from behind me…
On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at email@example.com before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.
Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.