The Town that Time Forgot

There is a street and there is a shop, and they have always been here as long as time can remember. Time fears the street so old and undying she visits here no more. Though centuries have past the streets remain a medieval thing; always constant, never changing. Its ways are cruel and its living simple, it is cut off from the world outside and only few dare venture in or out.

 

In the shadows there is a figure tall and willowy, she paces the streets and keeps herself to its dark side lines. She waits impatiently on the cobbled steps. A stranger here, she brings with her a cruel darkness, so the city remains cold and unwelcoming to her. This only makes the woman laugh. The neighbourhood lights switch off quite abruptly. It is eleven o’clock. She pulls from the inside of her coat a small pocket watch and checks the time, her mouth turns up at its sides; eleven exactly.

Under her coat is a fantastic satin dress, a deep royal purple; the shade of elegance and supremacy. It is a colour not to be trusted and a colour that is verboten here. Mhaex smoothes the material and remains un-thwarted. She is watching a small shop on the opposite side of the street. She has been looking at it for some time now and watches as the sign is flipped to ‘closed’. She stops and her eyes pierce down the long blackened street; there’s something there, though you or I would not sense it yet. She waits for the young boy on the bike to come into view and emerge from the perfect darkness that has consumed him. So young and far away from home and at this time of the night, this will never do. But there is no room to lose sight of her goal now, she is too close. This mortal shell of hers is breaking and she no longer belongs to this world. She curses herself for not having the components already to make it end. She lets the boy pass and smiles somewhat welcomingly at him as he passes by.

This woman has no humanity left since it was stolen from her centuries ago, yet she has learnt to live with the emptiness and it bothers her no more. It is the power however, the power that she refuses to give up and which binds her to this world. Tonight she will get it back and those in her way will be punished like those many centuries before. Even in her weakened state they are no match for her. She looks through the store window at the two young girls inside; the fear in their rushed movements shows they know it too.

 

They would be fools to keep it from her they know this; Mhaex already knows it is here. But they must try. If they cannot stop her from getting the stone they must use all they have to ensure she cannot use it to its full potential. Mhaex is cruel and narcissistic, she would not dwell to think two witches of little experience could even attempt such a curse, but while years are few, their power and purpose is stronger; they place a jinx upon the stone and hide it in the floorboards. As they whisper sweet words onto the stone; in a tongue almost forgotten like the streets, it glows an ember as if its entrapped soul is burning to be free. The doors fly open with great force; a gush of wind knocking them almost off their hinges. They swing back and forth, back and forth.

“Where is it?” It is not a question but a demand; a demand that a sensible person would answer quickly and with truth. But May is not sensible and she will not bend to Mhaex if it costs her her life.

“It is not here!” Young May is feisty and speaks with confidence, but they all know she is not telling the truth. Centuries old Mhaex can feel the power of the stone from worlds away; it is what draws her here into such a quiet neighbourhood in the middle of the night. She has been searching for it, like her mother before her and her ancestors before them.

“You think you can hide the stone from me!” She laughs and the walls tremble as they echo. “You think I cannot see past your lies and into the floorboards where you have hidden it!” Her voice is sharp and her rage twists their insides, yet still they move to block her way. She can hear their heartbeats fasten; she feels their fear and weakness, it is a sweet sensation in her mouth.

“If we return it to you, you must promise to not hurt another living thing. You must…”

“If, you return it to me…Do not mistake me for a fool. MOVE!” She throws her hands forward and flips the boards up from the floor; the fronts peel up as though they are no more solid than skin. The nails claw themselves out from the floor and remain in the boards like jagged teeth allowing the panels to separate themselves from the rafters. The pendant no longer safely hidden has risen ten feet and is hovering in the air, untied from its satin pouch it hangs alone. All eyes are now on the necklace as it holds itself in mid-air.

“You have what you want, now what?”

Mhaex grabs the necklace and puts it around her neck where it glows once again and violently shakes about; she closes her eyes and waits for her strength to return. It can sense its origin. She fiddles with the chain and jumps abruptly, moving her hand away in pain. The stone is a fierce blood red. She rips it from her throat and throws it to the ground.

“What have you done?!” Mhaex stumbles back against the wall. Upon her chest a searing red burn is forming in the shape of the stone. It lies above her heart. It is a gateway to her soul and as the stone violently cracks open it is not her power but her soul that is returned to her. A neglected soul that Mhaex has forgotten, it fits uneasily in her chest as it sees the horrors she’s committed. She screams to take it back as it tears the evil from her fighting limbs, every last horrible violent act of hers burning fiercely in her memory.

A Far Way from Home

The windows need cleaning. Green-brown filth has streaked itself horizontally across the window pane. Dashes of unrecognisable muck, sprayed, flicked and dotted across the countryside view. The landscape blurred by foliage, thorns, fences, all transforming into beautiful colourful streaks. Like strokes of paint, a contemporary artists need to loosen his focus on the world.

The day is young and unfamiliarly bright. The sun burns brightly through the moving trees, the strokes of white light causing my eyes to squint and quiver in discomfort. Like channel hopping, the images flicker through my eyes, failing to commit themselves to memory. I doze softly, my head banging rhythmically against the glass as the train picks up speed along its bumpy tracks.

I remove an earphone and it sounds like a plane accelerating, getting ready for take off. I hate flying. Every minute passing by gives another tightening tug to the knot in my stomach, as if preparing the noose for a suicide jump. I won’t be flying today. But I don’t care for trains either. I turn my head away from the window, a scruffy man has taken the seat beside me. He has with him a tatty backpack and numerous carrier bags which keep falling sideward on my legs. I shrink away from the stranger who is staring at me, oblivious to the social norms of personal space. I can see dirt under his nails and can smell lager on his breath.

I do not want to engage in conversation, but he starts one up just the same. I force a smile and reluctantly take out an earplug.

“Eleanor.” I say holding out my hand and shaking his grubby outstretched palm. Eleanor is actually my real name; I failed to think of an alternative on the spot.

“Russell.” He says widening his mouth into a toothy convincing smile. I smile back distracting the man from my dress where I am currently wiping my hand. I should feel bad but at the same time I feel it would be unhygienic not to. He asks me where I’m from, what I do and a million other questions that frankly I do not feel like answering to a complete stranger. Many stops have passed by now and I realise I have not asked him a single question back, yet he has continued with his own nonetheless.

“What’s in there?” he asks point to the luggage I’m hugging tightly on my lap. I’ve been nervously checking the whereabouts of a very important document for the last two hours.

“Nothing.” I reply defensively, drawing it closer, as if accusing the poor man of attempting to steal it.

“How comes a young thing like you is travelling by yourself anyhow? Where’s your mummy or daddy?” he asks condescendingly at my apparent wealth and upbringing. He has a strong twang to his voice, a country bumpkin if I ever did see one.

“I’m 15.” I tell him with a finality to my voice much older than my years. He doesn’t know me or my business. I wish he would just stop talking. I put an earphone back in and fidget in the heat. The sun blaring in through the window is cooking me in my layers, I remove my grey cardigan as though it were the tinfoil on a Sunday roast. Not that I would know about roasts, my family doesn’t do roasts, or cooking more correctly, not since they came into money and certainly not since my mother married again. ‘Why do it yourself when someone else can do it and so much better,’ Ted would tell us.

“Because Ted,” I had shouted at him when he’d emptied my saucepans spitefully in the bin. “Because I am more than capable of cooking and unlike you I am not too pretentious to do it myself!” Not the wisest retort I realise now. I check the bruised handprint on my bare forearm; it matches the purple marks on my shoulder and back. It clashes terribly with my elegant cream assemble.

I know Russell has noticed the markings on my arm, I can see him looking although he is trying to look anywhere else. I can see him putting the pieces together. He has the common sense to keep quiet this time. I watch him carefully waiting for the silence to be broken by more questions. It isn’t, he stays silent.

“Where are you going?” I ask, the words bounding from my lips before they have politely registered with my brain first. He looks surprised by the sudden interest. I too am startled by it.

“I’m going to Lettfield Farm.”

“Farm?” I say with a tone of repulsion to my voice which I cannot help.

“Yes, farm.” He laughs looking at me kindly. “My mother’s unwell and can’t look after the place by herself.” He pauses and sighs. “I always new one day I’d come back here. Come back home.”

“I’m running away.” I reply.

A City on Fire

Streets alive, decorated with ruin and burning with the desperate acts of a handful of survivors. Fallen trades, buildings, hope; this is what lines the city and fuels the fire.

The broken store windows and raided family homes do not seem to shock the town’s inhabitants anymore. They go about their daily routines as if they’re living in place of peace and order. A beggar man watches me watch the world. “We don’t belong here anymore.” He shakes, rambling and raising his voice, speaking desperately, spitting as he goes. Afraid and defeated, the old man has given up just like the town. “It’s their town now,” he laughs crazily. “Their town.”

I look across the pavement; two kids sit playing Rock, Paper, Scissors in the shade. I haven’t seen this game for years. I guess it must have disappeared along with the rest of us, packing up our traditions and minivans. The boy in the red and mud smeared t-shirt wins and leans across the other, reaching over he picks up a small slice of pie. The last piece of pie I realise as he shoves it hungrily into his mouth. The younger of the two kids is looking terribly sad and is desperately thin. They’re starving and no-one can do anything about it. The thought of food makes me feel quite queasy and sends a ripple through my stomach; I wonder when it was I last ate.

17:38pm. It’s unbearably hot. The sun is burning down on me, I’ve tried to stick to the shadows but the heat is too much even in the shelter of the shade. I think I’ve just woken up; I’m leaning against a sizzling rock wall. I must’ve fainted. The throbbing pain down my right hand side and the grazes on my knees and legs support this. I feel weak and sickly and can feel the skin blistering on my arms and face. I grab a bottle from my bag and throw the last of the water down my throat. The last of the liquid trickles down and soothes slightly, giving me a new stretch of life. I check my watch; I’ve left it too close. I’m still a mile or two away from home, I’m out of water and the sun is beginning its descent. Curfew is beginning. I hear the dull horn sound.

I begin to panic; I need to find some place to stay fast. But people do not just let anyone into their homes, they don’t take chances anymore. Compassion and charity left with the peoples trust in their survival. I think hard, rushed and nervously. Sam! My only hope is Sam. He lives on the outskirts of town if I remember correctly, well what’s left of it anyhow.We used to holiday as kids some twenty years ago, he used to pull my hair and we would hide his grandma’s shoes. I pick myself up and speedily start walking, then running. The outskirts have long since blurred with the boundaries of town. There is no safeland now, even the churches proved futile when the people fled to them for protection. I haven’t seen Sam since his wife died five years ago, the terrible circumstances that forced him to become a recluse and hide himself away. He wouldn’t leave this place no matter how much his family pleaded.

People move quickly into their homes with rushed movements and hurried steps, forcing children inside, bolting doors, click, then again, click, click. I press on as my heart beats frantically, fluttering like a moth. The streets begin to slip in darkness. I can’t outrun the sun. The shadows creep through the gaps between building and the branches through scarce trees; blurring details and plunging the city into an unnaturally still place. Deserted all except those that lurk in the shadows. Out of sight but ever present.

A prickling chill takes life in the perspiration droplets that trickle down my back. I am not in complete darkness. I can feel eyes on me, sense a heavy breathing that is not my own. I see the familiar entrance to the farm up ahead, its splintered gate hanging from its hinges, its animals long slaughtered. The farms purpose quite forgotten. I throw myself at the gate grabbing hold of thorny branches pulling myself up desperately and over.

 

Little Dragon

Drink from the lake little dragon, with your stooped back

jagged and gawky like your brother’s,

your muscles disrupt the scales in your rushed teenage movements

I watch as they flex from each bottomless yawn

or from those large mouthfuls of salty lake water which

sprays itself coolingly across your face.

You lay writhing on the grass

in the broken sunlight-

through the broken trees                                         (which you single handed-ly brought down).

With scattered leaves and shredded oak

the age old giant tore like newspaper

falling violently where no tape can fix its wounds.

Ripped down its ancient trunk

grains of life splinter into splinters

its tired arms collapsing exhausted next to the creature below

thudding and rippling the water

flailing into the shallow pool.

The forest is left throbbing -its ancestry in tatters.

No more stories to be passed down

or whispered through the talk of the trees

on the dancing breeze- a melancholic song

our kamacosy dragon brought it to its knees

and lays upon its wreckage mischievously-

lazy little dragon

lapping at the water-

let it wash away your strep throat

let it cool the fire burning within your youthful limbs.

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