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Everything is black. I am aware of movement.  I am moving, or rather, I am on a moving vehicle going at a rather fast pace.

With a sudden woosh I have entered into light.  The tunnel quickly forgotten.  My eyes water and my head hurts from the blinding surprise. 

My eyes seem to take longer than usual to adjust.  It’s as if there are some supercharged spotlights outside, like the kind you see at the footy stadium, and it seeps in like glue. I’m confused, but before I can give it any more thought, a slight clearing of a throat catches my attention and I realize I’m not alone. 

I squint my eyes and turn my head slowly. Shapes start to form around me.  Human shaped holes poke through the bright golden white glow. An old man with silver chin stubble is sitting to my right.  He seems to be smiling at nothing. I hear clacking and a horn and realize I’m on a train. I turn to my left. A mangy dog is licking its hind leg, drool trickling down the seat.

I close my eyes and relax into the hum.  A feeling of peace and contentment gradually washes over me, it feels nice.  But then I start to realize that I don’t know where I am, or where I’m going. I must have hit my head, because I can’t remember anything. I fight the peaceful feeling and panic wells up from my stomach. Something isn’t right. Perhaps I should ask someone where I am.  I start to feel as if I’m not meant to be here.

I open my eyes.  The light is a little less bright.  I can make out people, and more animals on the train.  Most of the people are elderly, but there are others too.  I get out of my seat.  I start moving, holding onto bars as I walk unsteadily.  I’m not sure why I don’t stop.  I could ask anyone, but I keep going, I pass row after row of passengers, cats, dogs, birds, and a kangaroo. My feet propelling me forwards.  I open a door and enter a new carriage.  Before the door shuts behind me I feel it. It hits me hard in the gut, and I stop and nearly topple over from the intensity of it combined with the movement of the train. The only word I can find to describe it is love. Pure unconditional love.  It’s sweet smell fills my nostrils. I never knew that love had a scent.  I look around to find the source and I spot her. 

She glows brighter than the rest, her features hard to make out and yet she’s beautiful.  I sense her smile and it makes my heart melt.

She faces a sandy blonde haired man sitting next to her.  They are conversing. She places a delicate hand on his knee. It’s as if his skin is translucent as light shoots through his entire being causing him to glow brighter. I gather my courage and I take a wobbly step towards her.  My knees are shaking.  I inch closer and closer, holding onto whatever I can for support.

I am standing in front of her.  She turns to face me.  Her eyes meet mine yet somehow travel through to the very core of my being. In that moment she sees and knows everything about me. She nods slightly, her eyes not leaving mine and I feel a strange energy gather me into it’s arms. All the hairs on my body stand up and I’m covered in goose pimples.  A shiver runs through my body. My mouth feels pasty. I open it to speak. Suddenly I feel a jolt and I collapse. I reach for her but all has gone dark. 

I hear voices, beeping, a shrill siren far off in the distance.  I open my eyes. Two uniformed men are standing over me looking relieved. Everything is still swaying, but I’m no longer on a train. Medical equipment surrounds me. The taller man speaks: “We lost you there for a few minutes mate, welcome back to the land of the living.”  

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I wrote flash fiction.  A year long bout of baby brains severely zapped my creativity.  This was written for The Tsuroka Files Midweek Blues Buster.  The prompt a song: Beautiful by James Blunt.  If you haven’t heard the song you can watch the video here.

Part 4 Collaboration Challenge – The Half-Ling Escape

This is my second time to join in Carrie’s Collaboration challenges.  It really is a different way of writing.  You have no control over what has happened, or how the characters have developed.  What you get is what you’ve got.  All you can do is move the story forward, add in some of your own bits whilst leaving it open enough for others to be able to do the same.  

Nicole Pyles is well known for her whopper finalies, and I look forward to reading how she ends this.   

If you are just learning about this for the first time, I recommend you read Parts 1-3 of the story:

Part 1 – For What It’s Worth

Part 2 – Bridges Burned

Part 3 – By Gavril Mikhailovich 

And now for the second last chapter of our story:

Part 4 Collaboration Challenge – The Half-Ling Escape

Anika was shivering so badly her jaw seered with pain and with clenched shoulders she ran through the woods. Running would warm her, and she needed to get as far away as possible. The faster she moved the clearer her head felt. She felt alive, her vision brighter, and the muscles in her legs moved her forward effortlessly as if she’d run a marathon a hundred times before.

She was alone now, truly alone. No Xav to watch over her, no security camera preventing her from a moment of privacy. She felt invigorated by the thought, and yet she felt afraid. Afraid of what could happen if she found herself in a sticky situation again.

It had happened again, and she suspected this time many innocent lives had been lost. She couldn’t even save Xav had she tried. It just didn’t work that way. Outnumbered and surrounded by police, all guns were on her. What could she do. As an intense fear for her life took over, all the men around her started collapsing. Before the last gun smashed onto the concrete, she had leapt off the bridge, plunging into the icy river, and she swam, and then she ran, and she kept running using the energy she had acquired to find someplace safe. She hoped no one had died this time.

She needed to get her hands on that amulet. It was the key to stop all this, she knew it. She just wasn’t sure how it was all going to happen. If Jasper had the fake, this was bad news. It meant the real amulet was still out there and she needed to get it fast, especially now that whatever kept the Vamprye seperate from the human world no longer seemed to exist.

Only Jasper knew the truth about her, or so she hoped, and she suspected this was only because he himself was just like her, and if Xav actually survived, he would possibly now know too. But Jasper had his own agenda, this she knew in her gut, his heart was that of steel. She suspected it was a result of being backed into a corner too many times, too many years of living with a Vamprye mother who was a bitter resentful woman, but luckily for the world, she only took it out on her son, and was thus able to live in the human world without raising suspicion.

Anika had heard a story from her father about another, one like her, an angry boy, whose Vamprye mother was bitter and abusive, the boy grew up and became a member of an underground gang no one had heard of. She suspected Jasper had heard about her the same way she had heard about him. Vampyres had their connections, and weren’t exactly forthcoming about them either.

Regardless, he found her, and he told her straight what she was, he even knew what she had done. He claimed others knew about her too. No one other than her parents knew the truth about her, or so she thought, and at the time with her future looking so bright, she would do anything to keep her secrets safe.

Jasper offered her protection, he also offered hope. The amulet was the hope. It may have seemed like any other old artifact to the musuem when it anonamously turned up on its doorstep one morning and happened to be valued in the millions had it gone to auction, but it was so much more than that. It had a power, a special power to keep humans safe. Safe from half-lings like her and Jasper that sucked energy from humans only when their fear and adrenaline was activated in life threatening situations, and of course, safe from the Vamprye. It acted as a shield of sorts, but was it enough to keep all Vamprye seperate from the world of humans permanently? Anika had more questions than answers. She did learn from Jasper however that it needed to be activated properly to work. Jasper claimed to know how, and so for the greater good of the world, she entrusted Jasper with the task.

Now that the Vamprye had been freed from the barrier that seperated them from humans, and somehow she was responsible, Anika knew now more than ever, the world needed protecting. She needed a plan.

……

It had been exactly two weeks since Anika had been broken out of prison. Not much had happened in that time. She had been reunited with Razors Edge, although she still hadn’t heard if Xav had made it or not. No one mentioned anything about the Vamprye or strange sightings of horrible creatures that seem to drain energy and freeze time, not even the news. Everyone seemed to eye her suspiciously, and they kept their distance, cautious in case she had ratted them out whilst imprisoned. Anika didn’t really care. A plan had slowly been formulating in her mind.

She wondered why she and Xav were the only ones to see the Vamprye that day on the bridge. She knew what they were capable of, and hoped they would not come back, though deep down, she knew it was just wishful thinking. The gateway between the world of Vamprye and humans had been opened somehow.

Anika had known about the Vamprye from a young age, her father being one himself, but little more was said about them beyond what they were capable of, and how those who chose to live peacefully amongst humans coped. Perhaps her father could tell her more, but she was too afraid to show up at home, or call as she knew the police would be monitoring her parents in case she attempted to contact them. She would need to be careful, the plan had to be perfect.

As the first rays of sun entered the morning sky, Anika set out in an old Ford pick up truck, her hands wrapped tightly around the steering wheel.

Part 6 – The Secret Letter – A Blog Collaboration Story

Have you been following Gnat’s story?  If you haven’t, it’s best you go back to the beginning to find out what’s happened so far.  None of us have discussed this story with each other, so each week is a new surprise for everyone.

Part 1 – by Carrie Sorensen

Part 2 – by Nicole Piles

Part 3 – by Myself

Part 4 – by Tena Carr

Part 5 – by Leonard Suskin

Buckle your seat belts and get ready for a ride, Gnat is about to find a secret letter which reveals who originally discovered the key to time travel, what needs to be done, a little bit about her future self, and a surprising piece of advice for the journey ahead.

And now – Part 6 – The Secret Letter

Gnat looked up at Tyler’s face.  His skin was sagging, and his eyes drooped downwards like his shoulders.  Tyler looked so exhausted Gnat wondered if he’d fall asleep standing if he didn’t get any rest soon.  She wondered how long it had been since he had had a proper nights sleep.

Looking at Tyler’s worn features Gnat felt tiredness creep into her arms, her legs, and she rubbed her face with her hands.  She had no idea how much time had passed and her stomach was rumbling again.  She could ignore the hunger pains, but sleep was a different story.  Tiredness slowed her down and dumbed her senses.   Perhaps it was the stress of everything, the years of having to always watch her back, it all made her feel very tired.

“Tyler, you look exhausted, I am tired too.  I think we should rest.  Can we figure out what to do next in the morning?”  A perfectly timed yawn stretched her mouth open to prove her point.

“Yes, let’s talk more in the morning.”  Tyler turned as he spoke and started to shuffle down the hall after passing the snowglobe back to Freddy.  He didn’t turn back as he continued to speak “Freddy, please bring Naomi something to eat and then let her get some rest.”  I’ll see you both in the morning.  He shuffled into a room and shut the door behind him.

Naomi thought perhaps she should stay in the bedroom where she found the snow globe, perhaps it might help make Freddy believe her more, at least long enough so she could have some time alone with the notebook.  “Ill take that last room, if that’s ok with you Freddy. Who knows, I might find something more in there”

“Certainly Miss Naomi, I’ll bring you some tea and dinner.  I’ll be back soon.”

Naomi walked into the room and shut the door behind her.  She pulled back the covers of the bed and crawled in without taking off her clothes.  Freddy’s footsteps had already faded down the corridor.

Under the covers she pulled out the notebook with the torn cover that she had found.  She started flipping through the pages.  She knew she was in the future, but she couldn’t quite figure out how this exact copy of the notebook in her pocket was in her possession.  As she carefully flipped the yellowed pages she was surprised to find the contents of the pages all matched up perfectly.  The last page she had entered in the notebook she carried ended at the exact same page this yellowed version did.

The sound of Freddy’s footsteps approaching was her cue to hide it again which she did quickly and carefully.  Freddy knocked two quick knocks and then started to turn the knob.

“Come in Freddy” she said with a weathered tone.  Freddy entered with a steaming tray which he sat down on the table next to the bed.

“Good night Miss Naomi.” was all he said as he turned and walked out of the room shutting the door behind him.  Naomi didn’t move until she heard his footsteps slowly fade, then stop.  She heard the squeaking sound of a door opening and then closing firmly.  Freddy was staying upstairs too, and thankfully chose a room with a noisy door.  Naomi finally had some time alone to gather her thoughts.

She pulled out the notebook and began to eat the vegetables and grains piled neatly on her plate while flipping through the pages again looking for a clue as to why this notebook was here after all these years.  Why did it end where her notebook ended, and why was it left with unfinished pages?  Naomi began to flip through the blank pages when she noticed two pages felt stuck together.  She held the pages up to the light and saw the faintest tracing of letters between the pages.  Her heart started to beat in anticipation.  She carefully tried to pry apart the two pages without ripping them and realized they were glued shut.  Thinking quickly she grabbed the steaming mug of tea and pulled it closer.  Using the steam from the tea she ran the glued pages back and forth across the top of the mug until she could feel the glue loosen.

After 5 minutes she was finally able to pry the two pages open where she immediately recognized her own hand writing, except that she didn’t remember ever writing this.  She was surprised to find it was a letter to herself.  She instantly recognized her own scratchy barely legible hand writing.

When Gnat received her first notebook, so afraid was she of having her private thoughts read by snooping foster parents, or snotty nosed kids she so often had to share a bedroom with that she had invented a code of messy symbols in place of letters of the alphabet.  It was like her own language that she and only she could understand thus further making the notebook and all it contained hers and hers alone.

She lay the book down on the pillow, took hold of the mug of tea and began to read and translate the tiny faint hand writing.

Gnat,

I write this from approximately 38 years after the dreadful fire that changed our life at 14.  I have placed this notebook here in this house knowing you would come to this place with Freddy and Tyler and find it.  I knew that something was going to go wrong with Tyler, and that he would seek you out and bring you to this place.  I know this because all of this has happened before.

I expect that by now Tyler has had the chance to tell you that I am the one who found the key to time travel.  I found it because I wanted answers, and to go back, even if for a moment, to the way it all was before the fire, because the pain was too great.  I needed someone to share my secret with, and Tyler was the man I loved and trusted more than anyone in this world.  But I never should have given it to him.  I should have destroyed it instead.  Humans are not strong enough to resist the temptation to change what has come to pass. Time and history is fractured each time someone travels away from their present moment, and this causes so much damage. 

Tyler left with my gift, and it was only after he had disappeared into time did I find the flaw which would eventually get him stuck.  I searched for him, and he for I but we couldn’t quite find each other in the same moment of time. 

After I discovered the flaw in time travel, I found a way to fix it, and I hid the information in our secret place.  You must go there alone and retrieve it.  It is the only way to save Tyler.

I have made a terrible mistake and Tyler has paid the price for it.  I have placed this notebook here to warn you so that you will not make the same mistakes that I did, and Tyler will live.

One last word of advice: DO NOT TRUST FREDDY!

Good luck Gnat.  Don’t ever lose your street sense.

Noami Johnson   

Gnat had so many questions running through her mind, but her eyes grew heavy, so she did her best to stick the pages back together and tucked the notebook into her pocket and finally closed her eyes.  Sleep met her quickly.

She felt like she had only just fallen asleep when a few sharp knocks on the door bolted her awake.

“Miss Naomi, please come, Mister Tyler has news.”

Gnat lay there for a moment while she tried to will her brain awake.  She slowly pushed back the blanket crawled out of bed, and followed Freddy who was now walking down the corridor.

She followed Freddy into the room that Tyler had gone into what felt like only a few hours ago.  The room was brightly lit but Tyler was still lying in bed.  She walked over and sat down on the edge.  Freddy left the room but  did not shut the door behind him and she could hear his footsteps move down the corridor, stop and then continue.

Tyler looked as if he hadn’t slept at all.  His skin was ashen and the bags under his eyes had grown darker.  Sitting this close Gnat could see how thin his hair was, and the dark liver spots that freckled his skin, little dark blobs where there was once creamy white skin.  Tyler tried to reach for Gnat but his shaking hand stopped and fell back onto the blanket.  Gnat reached out and softly held his hand.  Tyler clearly was not well.

“Tyler, are you ok?”  said Gnat in a worried tone.

“Naomi, I’m running out of time.  This body is too old, it doesn’t have much strength left.”  said Tyler in a faint voice, a cough escaping half way through his words.  “But I just got word.  Whoever stole the secret to time travel just got sloppy.  She has been spotted. You and Freddy need to go and get it from her”

“She?” said Gnat, her eyebrow rising up.  Tyler never mentioned before that it was a she.

“Yes, I have just learned it was a woman.  You are strong, you are clever, you know…” Tyler coughed again, this time a little harder.  Gnat reached over and handed him the glass of water on the table next to the bed.  Tyler took it with shaking hands, taking a small sip before continuing.

“Go with Freddy, please, before it’s too late.   Find her.  I will wait here.  I have given Freddy the exact time and location she was spotted.”

Gnat said nothing.  She was getting a bit tired of all this running around without fully knowing all the reasons.  She really wanted to know more, but she wasn’t sure after reading her message to herself if going to yet another unknown place and time with Freddy was the best idea.  Plus she really wanted to return to her own time so she could go back to her secret place and find what her future self had left there.  But how could she do that without Freddy tagging along, or becoming suspicious?

Tyler seemed to sense her reluctance and opened his mouth to speak again, this time his words came out a little slower.  “Naomi, please, will you do this for me?  I promise, I will tell you more when you come back.  Be fast, I don’t know how much time I have left.”

Gnat didn’t move.  She sat there holding Tyler’s hand.  Tyler slid his hand away and slowly pointed towards the door.  “Please GO!” he said in a loud pleading whisper before sinking further into the pillow.  Naomi turned towards the door.  Freddy was now standing in the room next to the doorway.  She noticed Freddy had already put on his jacket, and was holding the black shawl and glasses she had worn the night before.  A bag was hanging down from Freddy’s shoulder, which was not completely buckled up.  The top flap hung slightly to the side, it’s clasps dangling lazily.  Naomi spotted the snow globe through the open crack.

Her eyes moved past Freddy to the doorway where instead of seeing the corridor, she saw what appeared to be a dark narrow alley way, lit from above only by the light of day that managed to stream in from the small open space above.  Gnat reached for Tyler’s hand and gave it a light squeeze.  “I’ll be back soon Tyler.”

If her future self loved Tyler, and wanted her to save him, she decided she would do whatever it took.   Seeing Tyler in this state melted a hard black corner of her heart, and she didn’t want him to die.  She realized he still meant something to her, even if that part of her was scarred forever by a fire, and her years on the street.

She got up from the bed and Freddy handed her the black shawl and sunglasses she had been wearing the night before and she wrapped herself in them.  Freddy then turned and stepped through the doorway.  Gnat took one last look back at Tyler.   Just as she was about to turn back to walk through the door Tyler opened his mouth and whispered so quietly Gnat barely made out the words “I love you Naomi, everything I have done, I did it for you.”  A small tear ran out of the corner of his eye and dove into the pillow, as if to escape from the grief.

She turned and with determination in her step she walked into the alleyway.

Stay tuned next week as Tena Carr takes over for Part 7.

Dreams Lived & Forgotten

Train Tracks

I

Each day she followed these train tracks on her long walk to and from town.  Her young daughter would complain about the distance, her small legs struggling to keep going.  Sure, she could have taken the road, and she did when it rained, or when the snow was too deep to walk through.  But out here she was left alone with her adult memories of secret childhood dreams of exploring the world.

“Mommy, how far do these tracks go?” Her daughter asked one day.

“They go very very far stretching from sea to sea.   In that direction the train goes to Vancouver at the Pacific Ocean.”  She turned and pointed in the opposite direction.  “In that direction, it goes very very far.  Past the Rocky Mountains, past the prairies filled with so many wheat fields, past the Great Lakes and eventually it ends at the Atlantic Ocean.”

“Can we go to the Atlantic Ocean too Mommy?”

“No sweetheart, it is too far.”

Her daughter was only momentarily disappointed, still a young kid, and too little to understand the enormity of the distance.

She wasn’t surprised, even she had no idea how far it actually was.  She’d lived her whole life in this small town, and hadn’t ventured too far away.

II

Five years passed, and she still walked with her daughter along these tracks whenever she could, though she was usually alone as her daughter now attended school.

She had hoped things would get easier, but they never did.  So she continued her walks along these tracks and nursed her dreams that were slowly drifting away like a melting ice flow.

“Mommy, wouldn’t it be fun to climb onto an empty train car like the littlest hobo on TV and explore the country, stop in new towns and meet new people?” Her daughter said one day after they had stopped to watch a long cargo train pass.”

“Yes it would be, but you know we can’t do that.”

“Why not?”  said her daughter in a demanding tone.  “It would be fun to see new places, travel around like a circus.  We never get to go anywhere.”

III

Her daughter was now a teenager and preferred trips into town with older boys who had cars.  She never knew where her daughter was half the time anymore, or got a straight answer when she tried to find out, so each day she walked along the tracks into town alone.  Her husband had started drinking and she found her walks seemed to drag out longer and longer as she stopped more often to feel sorry for herself and the life she’d wasted.  If only… But it was too late now.

It was summer holidays and her daughter was home and looked bored so she knocked on her bedroom door and said.  “Let’s go for a walk into town just you and me, we can stop for coffee.”

“Sure” said her daughter.

They walked alone in silence.  The bright sun was at it’s fullest point in the sky, and they stopped in a patch of shade to rest.

“Mom, did you ever want to leave this town?”

“Sure I did.”

“So why didn’t you?  Why did you stay in this hole?”

“Well, sometimes things don’t happen the way we’d like them to, and we have to just accept what we’ve got.”

“That’s not going to happen to me.  As soon as I graduate, I’m leaving this stupid town.”

IV

Her daughter had moved to Vancouver two years ago.  She hardly ever came home.  She called every now and then, talked about all the exciting city things she was doing, but she didn’t understand half of what her daughter was talking about.

“Why don’t you catch a bus and come stay with me for ahwile?”  her daughter asked.

“No, no, it’s too crowded there for me, too noisy.  I’d just get lost! Why don’t you come home for a visit instead?”

Her daughter seemed frustrated by her response.  She couldn’t figure out why.

V

Her daughter was moving again, this time to New Zealand, it seemed she had grown tired of her job on the cruise ship.  She couldn’t understand why she kept moving.  It seemed like with each move she was sliding further and further away from her.  Her daughter had no intentions of coming home it seemed.

Two and a half years ago when she was living in Taiwan her daughter offered to pay for a plane ticket to fly her out for a visit.  Taiwan was so far away, she was too scared to make the trip alone.  She politely declined and asked her daughter if she was coming home for Christmas this year.  She no longer reacted in surprise when her daughter said no.

She put on her coat, grabbed her wallet and walked to town, her usual way along the tracks, stepping out of the way for the train to pass, barely acknowledging the direction it was headed.  The snow had long since melted.

Written for World of My Imagination Weekly Blog Hop

The Estate – A Blog Collaboration Story

This is Part 3 of a Collaboration story that is taking place.  Before you read it, make sure you read Part 1: Two Doors by Carrie Sorensen, and then Part 2: Shall I turn on the Lights by Nicole Pyles.  Stay tuned to this space.  I shall be posting the links to Part 4 & 5 as they are posted down at the bottom, then I’ll be writing Part 6.

And so begins Part 3…

Part 3: The Estate

Tyler’s face turned serious just then.

He slowly turned to face Freddy “Who is it?”

“It’s a Miss Chan from the estate agency in the city,” said Freddy, uncertainty in his voice.  It was clear to Gnat they weren’t expecting any visitors.

“Freddy, please take Naomi into the kitchen, she is not to leave until our visitor has left the premises.”

Gnat’s face hardened.  He had just confirmed her deeper suspicions that all this was one big lie, said with gentle face and a voice that was just a little too easy to believe.  She should have known better.  Tyler said he trusted only her and Freddy.  But then if he trusted her so much why would he want her tucked away out of earshot?  What is really going on here? She opened her mouth to speak, to demand, but Tyler interrupted her before a sound emerged.

“It’s for your own safety Naomi, please, no one is to know you are here.  Your life would be in danger if anyone found out.  I can’t let anything happen to you, you are too valuable.”

In a voice that was firm but with a hint of desperation he said  to Gnat while looking deep into her eyes “Please just follow Freddy into the kitchen.”  The creases on his aged face had changed from serious to pleading as he spoke.

One thing Gnat had learned from her years on the streets was when someone was being genuinely honest,  telling a half truth, or outright lying.   Tyler definitely had some explaining to do, but she knew from the look in his eyes at that moment he meant every word that he said.

She stood up to follow Freddy.  “Freddy, can you please take Naomi’s cup, we wouldn’t want anyone questioning things now would we.”

Freddy quickly walked over and snatched up the cup before Gnat had the opportunity to pick it up herself.  “This way please Miss Naomi, ” and he pointed the way towards the kitchen.  She followed Freddy around the corner, and down a dark corridor lined with closed doors.  The kitchen was the door at the very end.

Once inside, the warm kitchen was softly lit and felt more like a sitting room than a typical kitchen.  “Have a seat Miss Naomi, hopefully this won’t take too long,” said Freddy with a reassuring face.  He then turned and walked out of the kitchen and shut the door behind him.

The kitchen was not so large, but other than a small sink, a counter top, a few cupboards below,  and a small round table in the center, not much else in the room implied it was a kitchen at all.  There was no stove, oven, or refrigerator, and no pots or pans hung from the ceiling.  A distant shuffling noise and the voice of a woman caused her to stop exploring the room with her eyes and perk up her ears while focusing on the door.  She barely made out the words “Hello Mister Ross, my name is Elisabeth Chan, from the estate agency.”

Gnat had learned from living in her little spot on Second Street that not only could she not ever be seen, but she could also never be heard for fear of losing the one thing she had.  If she wanted to know what was really going on, she needed to hear that conversation.  With Freddy’s footsteps now still, she walked silently and steadily to the wooden kitchen door.  She had already decided she was going to sneak out, and hide in a dark crevice closer to Tyler so that she could hear the conversation better.  She slowly turned the knob while putting the slightest pressure on the door.  It opened without a squeak.   She tiptoed down the hall, quieter than a cat, slipped into a darkened crevice, and became one with the blackness.

Dark Hallway

She wasn’t there long before she heard Tyler’s voice sounding old and tired, “Thank you for coming to see me about this in person, I do appreciate it.  In my condition it’s very hard to get around as you can see.  Freddy, can you please go into the kitchen and bring Miss Chan and I some refreshments?”

“Certainly Mister Tyler.”

Gnat ran on tip toe back to the kitchen, quietly shutting the door behind her, and sat down on a chair at the table for fear of being caught listening in.  She sunk back into her chair and turned her attention towards the sink just as Freddy walked in and shut the door firmly behind him.

“Freddy, who is that lady?” whispered Gnat, her words coming out more of a hiss.  Freddy put a finger to his lips, smiled, and whispered “shhh, we’ll tell you later.”  He was still wearing the laser blue stripe tie and Gnat wondered if he actually lived here.  He started humming a little tune, a song she recognized, but couldn’t quite remember where from.

Freddy opened a box near the sink and took out 3 pastries and placed them on little plates that he pulled out of the cupboard.  He was careful not to get any sugar on his tie or black jacket.  He moved through the kitchen swiftly yet gracefully as he carried the three small plates balancing them gently between his hands.  He pulled on a small handle attached to the wall near the sink and a cube like contraption emerged from the wall.  Freddy lifted the top and placed the 3 plates carefully inside and placed the top back on.  Freddy’s voice then rang out clear which made Gnat jump in her seat “3 Pastries, hot.”  As soon as he had finished saying the words, he lifted the top open, took out the three plates, placed them on the counter, put the top back down and pushed the cube contraption back into the wall.

He put two plates on a square black tray he had brought in with him, and then put the third plate down in front of Gnat. She noticed her pastry was steaming hot.  He walked over to a square gap in the wall.  Pressed a button and said “3 Cups of tea.  Earl grey.  2 cream, 1 sugar.”  In the time it took to blink, three steaming mugs of tea had materialized in the gap in the wall.  Gnat’s jaw dropped slightly in surprise.  Freddy placed one steaming mug in front of Gnat, and the other two on the tray with the pastries.  It all smelled delicious.  Gnats tummy grumbled slightly in agreement.  How long had it been since she’d last eaten back at the hotel?  He gave Gnat a big smile and carried the tray out of the room and shut the door behind him once again.

The food wasn’t about to be snatched away on her here, this she knew, so once Freddy’s footsteps had faded, Gnat tiptoed back to the door, opened it and slipped back into her dark hiding place where she could resume her listening into the conversation.

“As you know she died 20 years ago…” came the woman’s voice.

“Oh yes, I am aware of that.”  Tyler said calmly.

“Some tea and pastries”  Cut in Freddy.

“Thank you Freddy.”  Said Tyler warmly.

Miss Chan continued, “The estate has been owned these past twenty years by a Dr Emily Robertson.  It seems she was a friend and colleague of Dr. Johnsons, and the estate was left to her when Dr. Johnston passed away.   Dr. Robertson is now retired from the University and has agreed to your generous offer and has already vacated the premises.  It seems the house was becoming a bit too much for her to take care of anyway.”

“That’s wonderful news Miss Chan,”  said Tyler, in a relieved tone.

“Mister Ross if you could please allow me to confirm a DNA sample, I will hand over the keys, and security details to you.”  Miss Chan said in her professional voice.

“Certainly Miss Chan.  Freddy, can you please assist me?  I’m getting too old to do these things myself.”

A minute later Miss Chan’s voice rang out in delight.  “A perfect match Mister Ross.  Congratulations the ownership of the estate has now been transferred to you.  While the transfer of the security details of the estate is being arranged by my office, I’ll give you the set of keys for the estate.  It seems Dr. Johnson and Dr. Robertson were very careful women.  Security was of the upmost priority for them, and you will find the house is impossible to penetrate.  You shall feel very safe there.”

“Yes, I heard Dr. Johnson was the type of woman who trusted only a few.”  Said Tyler a hint of annoyance in his voice.

“I’ll say” said Miss Chan, “I mean, who uses old fashioned keys and security cards these days?  The woman used practically every means of security invented save from building a moat and hiring an army.  She was a very gifted woman, the extra precaution probably aided her success don’t you think?”

“Most certainly, after all, some of the things that we discover can be very dangerous when it falls in the hands of others.  We have seen this time and again in recent history haven’t we Miss Chan.”  said Tyler.

“Yes indeed”  agreed Miss Chan “The world is not a safe place at the moment for anyone. Oh, I just received word, the transfer of the security details has been complete.  You now have full access to the estate. ”

“Wonderful news.  Thank you again for coming here.  I do appreciate it Miss Chan.  As it is getting late I shall get Freddy to see you out.”  said Tyler, his voice suddenly sounding even older than he was, a hint of impatience crept out as he spoke the last few words.  Gnat wondered what time it actually was, for she hadn’t seen any clocks since she arrived.  The house was dark, and blackness crept in from the cracks around the thick curtain covered windows.

As the conversation seemed to have come to an end, Gnat quickly tiptoed back to her chair in the kitchen.  She shoved down the now luke warm pastry barely tasting it before drinking back all the tea.  She had just finished wiping all the crumbs from her mouth with the back of her hand when she heard Freddy’s feet approach the kitchen door.

Freddy entered with a sweet smile on his face.  “She has gone now Miss Naomi, and it’s time to go.  But we must go quickly, there is no time. ”    Freddy turned and started to walk out of the kitchen.  Gnat leapt out of her seat and followed closely behind.  She needed to know more.  Who was Dr. Johnson and Dr. Robertson, and why did Tyler buy an estate?  Tyler seemed to hold all the answers and since he was the reason she was here, she needed those answers if she was ever going to get back to her old life.

She was small, quiet and seemingly fragile, but underneath she was incredibly strong willed.

She would get those answers.   She was clever enough, she’d find a way to wiggle them out of Tyler someway or another.

When Freddy and Gnat entered the main room with the fireplace and the large bookshelf.  Tyler was buttoning up his coat.   Freddy opened a nearby closet door and pulled out a hat which he passed to Tyler, and a long black shall, scarf and thick framed glasses which he passed to Gnat.  “Please put this on Miss Naomi.  It is not safe for anyone to see who you are, or know that you are here.  Cover your face and hair with it.”

Tyler bent down, picked up a large ring of different shaped keys, with several cards attached and put it in his coat pocket.  Once she was wrapped up and covered Tyler looped his free arm around hers protectively, but also for support.   “Where are we going Tyler?”

With a hint of impatience in his tone Tyler said “There is no time Naomi, I’ll explain more when we get there.  There is something very important I need you to find, you are the only person who knows where it is.  I believe it is the only thing that can help us locate whoever stole my secret.”

Freddy, now adorned in a navy blue button up jacket walked towards the dark corridor, opened a door on the right and walked inside.  Tyler held onto Gnat and they followed him into the room.  Other than a few buttons on a wall, and candles for light, it was completely bare.

“What is it that I’m supposed to find, and how am I supposed to know where it is?  We are in the future Tyler,”  Gnat said with certainty in her voice after having witnessed Freddy in the kitchen “and, I’ve never been here before!  I don’t think you understand what little I actually know.”

The look on Tyler’s face softened slightly, “You know so much more than you think you do Naomi, that I know for certain.”

“Miss Naomi, this is a transporter.  Technology has changed significantly over the years, and the methods of transport which you are used to are rarely used. ” said Freddy. ” We will be there in a moment.”

Before Gnat could say anything more she suddenly felt the sensation that she was in a fast moving elevator, she felt the whole room move, but she was not sure which direction they were going in.  Her stomach lurched upwards unsettling it’s contents.  Thirty seconds later the movement stopped.  There was a small beep and the door to the room opened.   A draft of cold air filled the room.  Freddy walked out into the cold night air.  Tyler with his arm still linked around Gnat’s, strengthened his grip as they slowly stepped outside.  The sky was littered with tiny dazzling specs of stars, ahead of them loomed the dark outline of a large building.

Stay tuned next week as Tena Carr shares part 4 of the story. 

A Sign

I think I had completely lost my mind, for I don’t even remember the events which have led me to this dark drab place so far away from anything normal.

Her death was so sudden, so instantly painful, and felt like a warship had blasted a cannon through my heart.  I remember getting a phone call at work, and then my memory went blank.  That was also the last time I saw colour.  The stamp on my passport says I arrived here two weeks after her death.   The Qantas ticket stub says I’m in Tokyo.  I guess shock has a way of royally screwing a person up by taking over their mind, their body, and then waking them up sometime later in a whacky black and white foreign film.

We had plans, lots of them, and we were working our asses off to afford them.  Plans to have kids, travel to Europe, and buy a cottage in the North part of the city.  She wanted a country style kitchen and a little veggie patch out back. I wanted a decent sized garage so I could tinker with my motorcycle.

She was so pretty, always smiling and smelling like the ocean.  She always dressed up nice, and never minded me going off and watching a footy game with my mates.  She was going places too, her paintings of rainbows hung in galleries all over the country.  I still can’t believe she’s gone, everything has gone so dark.  She brought colour into my life.  I’m so messed up right now, I don’t know what the hell I’m supposed to do.

Each day I question why here?  Why Japan?  And yet I don’t leave.  Day after day well into the night for a month I walked the grey streets alone, numb, wondering, stumbling,  passing one concrete building after another, uncaring which way I went, often getting so lost I would sit down on a park bench and cry.  I stopped all that walking last week though, or was it the week before?  The soles in my shoes started cracking so I walked into a shoe store and learned my Australian feet are too big for Japanese shoes.  So I went back to my dodgey closet hotel apartment, lay down on the hard futon and went to sleep.  I feel like I slept for two weeks.   I’ve been such a zombie, God only knows what I’ve actually done.   I need to snap out of this, I need to get my sh*t together.

The weirdest thing happened to me yesterday.  I walked into this Irish pub sometime in the morning, one with a sign on street level, but was actually located in a windowless basement.  A soccer game was airing on a big screen TV in the centre of the pub.  I sat in a dark corner and tried to pay attention but  I could barely focus.  The pub was mostly empty save for a few older foreign blokes, and a couple of Japanese men in black suits.  So I ordered another frothy beer and willed the drunkness to come take away the pain.

There was this guy sitting not far away.  He had long white hair tied back in a pony tale.     He saw me, picked up his lunch  and sat down in front of me.  I was not in the mood for company, but there was something about this mans face.  Was it the lines, the odd grey colour, or the fact that he was a foreigner like me? I couldn’t quite figure it out.  I decided to humour him.  He said his name was Jim, came from the UK.  He said he hadn’t been in Tokyo very long, just a few weeks.  He bought me another beer, and that seemed to loosen me up a bit.

For the first time since she died, I actually remember talking about it.  Once I started talking, the words started tumbling out.   I told him about the car accident, how I found myself here and don’t even remember arriving.  I told him how broken I am, how I miss her, how I can’t seem to live without her, and now she’s gone forever and taken all the colour in this world with her.

Jim sat back and listened, then when I was done talking he said, “Tom, what you need is a sign,  a sign that she’s not gone, she’s still here with you, just not physically.  You need to get your life back together, you need to start moving on and you won’t be able to without a sign.”

“You really believe that?”  I asked

“I do!” Jim said. “The sign is different for everyone, it has meaning to you, and only you, and you’ll know it when you see it.  Go on, ask for it, call to her in your mind, tell her to send you a sign.”

I looked at him still a little unsure.

“Go on, give it a go, right here, come on!”  coaxed Jim.

I decided I had nothing to lose.  I closed my eyes and I said in my mind “Babe, if you can hear me, send me a sign that you are not gone for ever, and that I’ll be ok.”

Jim had to go but I sat at that pub until the game was over.  I climbed up the steps into the bright afternoon light.  The ground was glistening like diamonds in the sun.  It must have just rained.  I turned the corner onto a bigger street, looked up and stopped dead in my tracks.  There ahead arched over the street was the most beautiful rainbow I had ever seen.  After having seen so much darkness, the colours were absolutely stunning.

Photo taken by Kristoffer Sorensen

Photo taken by Kristoffer Sorensen

Written for Writer Wednesday Blog Hop over at Chasing Revelry & World of My Imagination

The prompt was the photo above & 5 words which have been written in Bold in the story.  🙂

Guiseppe’s House

Guiseppes House

This is a story about a haunted house. 

And although most stories about haunted houses are scary or creepy, this story begs to differ.

Once upon a time, back in 2012, Guiseppe Moretti, 45 year old builder and lover of all things old and antique had found the most perfect house in Melbourne’s inner city suburbs.  He had been saving hard over the years building or renovating other peoples houses and finally had saved enough money to buy his own dream home.  His mates all thought he was silly looking for the oldest most dilapidated Victorian house to restore to it’s former beauty, but Guiseppe wanted something to restore that was his, and his alone.  Knowing how much Guiseppe wanted a wife and kids his friends remarked “Mate, you are never going to find a woman to knock up living in that house, especially seeing how much time it’s going to take you to fix it!”

Guiseppe had been looking around for a house to restore for the past few years and had found several suitable places,  but those mainland Chinese developers seemed to always outbid him everytime, much to his annoyance.  But Chinese were afraid of Ghosts, and perhaps that was the reason the interest in this particular house was next to nil.  It also helped that the house was in an area of the city where houses new, old, or restored had to keep the period feel to it, and Chinese just so happen to be lovers of modernity.

David the property agent being Chinese himself wondered how on Earth he would manage to sell this house that he secretly worried would collapse on his head if he stuck around too long, especially since he had to tell potential buyers that two children had died in the house, albeit years ago, and that the house was renowned for it’s ghosts.   David learned first hand that the rumours were true  after one freaky evening whilst showing the property to a middle-aged couple who couldn’t seem to agree on anything.  The two ghosts of the children decided to make a show of their dislike of this couple intruding their unwelcomed unhappiness upon them by slamming all the doors shut at once and giving them a nasty fright.

So it came as a surprise to David when Guiseppe put in an offer after viewing the property early on a bright sunny Saturday morning.  The ghosts were up to their usual ghostly mischief that day.  Guiseppe marched through the house whistling a tune, the biggest grin on his face, his false teeth glistening from the light shining through from the windows.  Much to David’s surprise, Guiseppe didn’t seem the least bit phased as closet doors opened, just long enough for Guiseppe to have a good look, and then closed again as his eyes drifted to another part of the room.  It was as if the two children were trying to give Guiseppe a tour of the house.  David believed it was a sign that the ghosts were as happy with Guiseppe as he was with the house.

Once all the details had been sorted out and the property was his, Guiseppe moved in on a rainy autumn Sunday morning.  While standing in the middle of the sitting room with it’s bluish green wall paper spotted with white patches like a peacock where the paper had peeled off,  dust bunnies hiding in all the corners,  Guiseppe said in a loud booming voice that reverberated through the entire house  “Good morning children, nice to meet you both, I’m Guiseppe, I’m sure we will get along just fine!”  The half opened door to the sitting room creaked as it opened fully.

Guiseppe would tell the children stories as he worked on the house, some his Nonna had told him about Italy before the war, and other times about his own life, and how he could never meet the right woman to give him the kids he’d always dreamed of having.  At night he would sing them an old Italian hymn to help them sleep.  The children grew all the more fond of Guiseppe and did their best to help him, bringing him more nails,  a particular tool he was after that was just out of reach, and once even zipping up his jumper when he told them he was feeling a bit cold.  As the restorations progressed, Guiseppe realized he had grown quite fond of his little helpers as well and he wished they could walk, talk and play like children who are alive.  Guiseppe enjoyed their company so much he found himself meeting up with his mates less and less and instead stayed home and had a fun evening at home playing a board game with the ghost kids.  His mates in-turn scratched their bottoms and started to question his sanity.

He told the invisible children one day that he wished they were able to talk back to him.  Later that week while watching The Block, his favourite home restoration reality show on Channel 9, one of the children grabbed ahold of the remote and started flicking through the channels.  “Hey,  I was watching that, silly kids, there are no cartoons on at this time of the night!”  The channels flicked and flicked and then stopped on a channel airing the Twilight Zone.  Guiseppe hadn’t seen that show in years, but loved watching it as a child.   The episode was about a little girl who brings home a talking doll.  The doll winked, and spoke as if possessed by a ghost.  So engrossed in the show was he, that it took a good 15 minutes for the lightbulb in his head to switch on.  “A talking ghost doll, that’s brilliant, kids you are genuises!”

Without further ado, Guiseppe turned on his computer, Googled antique dolls and found the perfect thing.  An antique dealer in Adelaide was selling some old life sized puppets from the 1950s, like the puppet from the Howdy Doody show, with a mouth that opened and closed as it spoke.  One puppet was a boy with dark curly hair and a V-Neck jumper, and the other was a girl with perfect golden locks in a dark green dress.  Although well worn, the dolls were in tact and apparently still worked.  With a few clicks of the mouse the dolls were his.

Two weeks later a tall lanky Indian man in a DHL uniform knocked on the door.  The dolls had arrived.  No sooner had the courier driven off when the two kids were ripping open the package like it was Christmas morning.  Paper and wrapping materials flew in all directions in the stale breeze-less hot summer room.  The dolls lay still for 5 minutes and just as Guiseppe started to wonder if the kids had finally met their object moving match, an arm jerked upwards, followed by a foot.  It took another 10 minutes for the kids to fully get the hang of possessing the dolls, and within 20 minutes they were dancing around the room in them.   Mastering the speech seemed to be a little more challenging.  That first day all that came out were a series of mouse like squeaks.   Within a week however he had learned that the two children were called Albert and Emma.  Their own alcoholic abusive father had died in the last World War, and their unhappy mother lost her mind and poisoned Albert and Emma to death with arsenic.   After their mother was sent to a mental institution, the house was sold to a cranky childless couple who ignored them no matter how much noise they made.  They had felt unwanted and unloved.  Guiseppe was the loving father they had always wanted and never had until now.

Come winter, so accustomed to possessing the dolls and being like real children again Albert and Emma took to following Guiseppe everywhere, sometimes even when he left the house. When the neighbors weren’t looking,  they would climb into his old Ford and buckle themselves in the backseat and demand to hear another story as they drove around town.    The more he got to know the two kids, the more difficult he found being apart from them.  He found a job with a company that restored antiques and did all the restorations from his garage.  His friends gave up on him eventually but it didn’t matter to Guiseppe.  He had everything he wanted, two kids of his own that never aged, a beautifully restored house, and all the time in the world to spend there with them.

As the years past by, the neighbours came to see him as a somewhat deluded recluse who talked to himself all day, and thus they all avoided him.  They believed the haunted house had made him crazy.  His friends had stopped calling ages ago.  Rather than feel alone, Guiseppe was content and truly happy for the first time in his life.

Twenty years after buying the house,  Guiseppe suffered a stroke and died, so heartbroken were Albert and Emma, that they decided to shed their battered and several times repaired puppet shell and cross over to the other side together with him.

That was the last time a ghost lived in that house.

The end.

I wrote this story for World of My Imagination weekly Wednesday blog hop, where they invite everyone to write a story using a picture and include 5 particular words in the story (false-teeth, peacock, zip, hymn, computer).  They also prefer a 500 word limit, but I have this habit of letting a story run away with its words and it only stopped to catch it’s breath when it hit 1500.  I decided to post it on this blog anyway.  

The photo of the house at the top is an old home I pass each day too and from work.  It’s been for sale for several months now.  The house never ceases to catch my attention each time I walk past and I wonder what stories it holds.  My friend David is a Chinese property agent here in Melbourne.  Although he primarily deals with rental properties, he told me a story once about the challenges he had renting out a property after someone committed suicide in it.  I saw the second photo on World of My Imagination’s blog as I passed this house today with it’s bright yellow for-sale sign and I thought it would be fun to write a story this week about this old house.  

Disclaimer – as I do not want to discourage any potential buyer from buying this house, I would like to reiterate the fact that this story is 100% fiction.