The Dead Will Always Outnumber The Living – #DVerse Prosery

There was a sign propped up against the empty doorframe which read “If you are a dreamer, come in” except the paint had chipped, and instead of dreamer it read dream.
‘So?’ asked his wife. ‘Are you going in or not?’
She stood on tiptoes and tried to peer through one of the windows. Graham thought he saw her shiver, and for a moment started to shrug the jacket from his shoulders.
‘It looks abandoned.’ She stepped away and scowled. ‘You copied out the right address, didn’t you?’
Graham nodded, then felt his heart sink. An old lady stepped into the hall, the edges of her body blurring against the peeling wallpaper.
‘Oh,’ said his wife, now stood behind him. ‘She’s like me!’
She grinned and poked him in the ribs.
‘Poor Graham, can’t even find a living physic to help with your ghosts.’

If you are a dreamer, come in.

Shel Silverstein’s poem, Invitation, Where The Sidewalk Ends

For someone who doesn’t read a lot of horror/ghost stories, and can’t really watch the genre either, I seem to write a fair bit of it. I find I really adore these monthly Prosery prompts as there a great way to stretch the creative writing muscles when my focus has drifted away from flash fiction. It helps that Lillian picked a cracking line of poetry for tonight’s prompt as well.

In some exciting poetry news however, this week I’ve got two poems coming out, in two seperate magazines. The first was published on Sunday in the second issue of The Riverbed Review which is available to read for free on their site. The second is my poem ‘Overgrowth’, which I originally wrote for a Dverse prompt and is being published Wednesday, (with a couple of edits) in the first issue of Hencroft. A lot of journals and magazines do not accept poems that have appeared on blogs or social media previously, so I’m ecstatic to have the chance to publish with a magazine that didn’t mind.

#NaPoWriMo 2021 – Day Four – Midnight Rivers

At some point in the empty hours of a night,
the motorway tarmac softens into a sea,
allowing broken ships to slip upwards
their ghost ragged rigging thick and slack with mist
yet sailing steadily beneath these walkways,
beneath these sleeping midnight travellers,
watching through the steam of their coffees
not so much as blinking while spectres leap
from mast to mast,
all colours bleached down to canvas
and a single bone white skulls screaming
at the heart of every flag.

I’ve not posted a response to the Day Three prompt as I’m still working on my deck of words. I decided to use Caroline Taggart’s book ‘500 Beautiful Words You Should Know’ as inspiration for my deck so I’ve only got around 20-odd words picked out at the moment. I still wrote a poem yesterday as I took part in the Weekend Writing Prompt, so I’m still on track for 30 poems in 30 days.

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt was to write a poem inspired by one of the images from the Space Liminal Bot twitter account. After a bit of scrolling I came across the image above and it sparked the idea for today’s poem.

In The Dark Of Things #DVersePoets #Prosery

‘Eddie! Stay awake!’

‘Ah- what the’ Eddie flinched forward, the back of his skull throbbing where it had cracked against heating pipes. ‘Come on Gripes,’ he groaned. ‘What’s your problem.’

‘You know what!,’ Gripes scowled. He was crouched down in front of Eddie, his phone light throwing his shadow along the length of the corridor.. ‘His shadow shouts on a nightmare scream, remember! You go to sleep and we’re both in big trouble.’

‘That’s just a story Gripes. No one believes it.’

The torch on Gripes phone flickered. Eddie plucked it out of his hands and switched it off.

Darkness swallowed Gripes’ face, but Eddie could smell his breath.

‘Erg mate, you need to lay off the cheese and onion.’

The darkness stayed quite but Gripes’ breathing picked up. He placed his hand on Eddie’s knee.

‘Ed,’ he whispered. ‘You need to wake up!’

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After The Lights Go Out #FridayFlashFiction

‘The council started turning the light off after twelve,’ she tells me, head tipped back as she squints towards the spot above us where a bulb should be blazing. The dark means we can’t see chewing gum stuck to the pavement beneath us, or worse the dog shit stains clinging to the concrete slabs.

She’s continues staring upwards, but tips her head to the leg slightly, angling herself my way.

‘He’s dating again. Met her at the village green when he went to try his hand at bowls. He’s crap, but on Wednesdays she’s always there to make him a cup of tea and sneak him a bourbon from the club tin.’

The street light splutters into life and we both frown.

‘Strange…’ she hums. ‘I was sure the papers said… oh well never mind.’ She drops her head and her neat, grey perm stays exactly as it should. ‘Are you busy these days?’

‘Busy?’ I repeat. I think about it for a moment, then shrug. ‘I suppose I’m busier than I was, but I’ve been working on getting some help to handle the bigger cases. That makes things easier.’

She hums again, and nods her head.

Across the road a light comes on in the bungalow with a gravel driveway. The curtains twitch, then settle, and the light goes out. 

‘Her name’s Edith, or Edna I think. Not many of those left these days, though I hear the old names are coming back into fashion.’ She brushes her hands down her trousers and fiddles with a loose thread. ‘He might even love her.’

‘That’s good isn’t it?’ I ask, and know it’s a mistake as soon as the words are out. She shivers and closes her eyes.

‘It’s good,’ she replies eventually, but her voice quivers. ‘It will cut me-‘

‘Free?’ I suggest.

‘Loose,’ she finishes. ‘There will be no more anchor for me here.’  

‘There’s no such thing as un-tethered souls,’ I remind her. ‘Once he moves on you will find your place.’

She laughs and the bulb above us hisses and flickers.

‘The stories always tell us that it’s the dead who move on to another place and leave the living behind. I didn’t think it would be the other way round.’

‘Life is often back to front and upside down,’ I say. ‘Why should death be anything different?’

‘Why indeed.’ She bites her lip and presses the back of her hand to her mouth.

‘I hate all this watching,’ she admits and scowls at the little bungalow with the gravel drive. ‘I hope she gets him to weed a bit more often, the place is starting to look like a jungle.’

I squint at the single dandelion near the drive’s edge, then feel her take my hand in her own.

‘Thank you,’ she says, squeezing my palm. Her’s are warm, and soft, mine not so much but she holds onto it anyway.

‘It’s no trouble,’ I tell her. ‘You are my responsibility after all.’

She smiles and pats our hands with her spare one.

‘Soon,’ she promises. ‘You will take me home soon.’

Ghosts don’t haunt us. That’s not how it works. They’re present among us because we won’t let go of them.

Sue Grafton

I stumbled onto the quote above on Paul Vincent Cannon’s site. He’s written a lovely poem bases on it, and after I read the poem I went back to the quote and thought ‘there’s a story here.’ So I decided it was time for some Friday Flash Fiction. It’s mostly free-write, with the odd tweak and typo fix here and there, but it was a fun little exercise sparked by a fantastic quote.

Who says inspiration is a myth.

 

Pass Or Play – #DVersePoets #Prosery

When far away, an interrupted cry is not something you need concern yourself with.

Catherine repeated her grandmother’s words softly enough that the room wouldn’t hear them.

‘Pah!’

Her father threw his cards on the coffee table.

‘You cheated!’ He jabbed a fat finger towards his wife.

She shrugged and gathered his cards in again.

Outside the cry echoed.

‘Catherine! You play the witch, God knows she already has all my money.’

Catherine nodded and slid from the widow seat.

It doesn’t do to dwell on lost souls. Her grandmother had said that too.

The cards were split and dealt.

Two queens and a knave. A house leaking secrets. Another cry. Closer. Louder.

‘Pass or play?’

Catherine shook her head.

‘Pass,’ she whispered.

Shadows gathered by the fireplace.

She could ignore them, but the play would continue.

‘Pass,’ she whispered.

But ghosts never listen.

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If you would like to join in the dVerse Poets Pub new link up ‘Prosery’ then click the badge above to visit their site.

The challenge is to write a piece of flash fiction, a maximum of 144 words, using the line ‘when far away an interrupted cry’ somewhere in your work.