The pursuit -for the Secret Keeper.

Eve hadn’t been told much at the briefing, but in fact, there wasn’t much to tell. She’d been issued with one gilt-edged invitation card, one standard issue revolver with (check them) 6 silver bullets, and a chitty to hand over at Maison Amande in return for one pink and cream ball gown. Mandy (sole prop. of Maison Amande), adjusted the waist and hem herself, added a cascade of rosebuds and demonstrated the pocket where Eve should keep the revolver hidden – well disguised by the voluminous skirt.

They both rolled their eyes at the sight of Eve’s reflection in the mirror. Bright eyed and innocent – perfect prey.

“Try not to rip it this time”, Mandy advised. “Bring something back within 48 hours and they won’t be able to dock your pay. And hope that next time you get assigned to a century you can run in.”

That was eight hours ago. Now Eve was standing on the terrace, breathing pure night air into her lungs. The ballroom smelled of sweat, perfume and hothouse flowers, and she’d done her best to dance and flirt and make polite conversation. Out here the sky was clear and the moon was rising over the woodland that marked the edge of the formal garden.

She heard a noise and leaned forward to catch a glimpse of a young woman sitting on the ground, struggling to get up. An elegantly dressed man bent over her, to tend to her exposed ankle. The woman whimpered, and Eve heard him reassure her.

“That’s my brave girl. There, how’s that?”

And then she saw him take her hand and lead her towards the woodland. The girl was giggling now, and hardly limping at all.

Eve barely hesitated. She glanced quickly round to make sure she wasn’t observed, then threw herself over the parapet, landing in a soft flower bed. She gathered up her massive skirt, cursing softly as it ripped on a rosebush, and set off in pursuit.

Even that short time had been too long. They were lost in the shadows. She stood still, holding her breath and listening. Then she heard it – a scream of pure terror – and was off at a run, heading towards the woods.

She realised she was too late when she found the body, and cursed more loudly looking at it. Still elegantly dressed, but with his throat ripped open, and a great jagged wound from breastbone to pelvis, the man lay lifeless across the herbaceous border.  And there was no sign of the werewolf – she had got away.

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Microfiction Challenge #16 – monsters and maidens – for Jane Dougherty

lovers_1928There is always a monster in the tower. There is always a maiden to be rescued. These are the rules of stories.

Look at her, then, leaning into him, so fearfully. He has his arm around her, protecting her. She’s beautiful and delicate in her white dress. See how they turn, looking back to the tower. It’s alright. Nothing is following you – no wicked witch, no angry ogre, no fiery dragon.You’re free.

When he climbed up here, torch in hand, it was obvious who the monster was. Everyone had heard the story of the beautiful girl brought here by night, all those years ago, and the foul witch who kept her imprisoned. And just as everyone had said, there was the girl – long hair still shining gold, blue eyes swimming with tears. And just as everyone had said, there was the vile thing that kept her there, that wizened, ugly creature cowering in the corner, afraid of the flame. Too ugly to pity, too pathetic to kill.

So he led her out into the twilight, as the first stars appeared, not questioning anything. Not asking the obvious question – why was it so easy? Why didn’t that wrinkled wicked creature fight back?

Not asking which of us was really the monster.

 

This is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. The image is The Lovers, by Felix Nussbaum. I’m not sure I’ve got this right. I might have another go at some point. 

 

 

Microfiction for Jane Dougherty – Spring

799px-Harald_Slott-Møller_-_Spring_-_Google_Art_Project

My mum thought they were blessings. She told me the story often enough – the three fairies darting through the window, waving their wands over me. The three blessings:

“May birds always flit about her and fill her days with song”.

“May flowers spring wherever she walks”.

“May her life be filled with laughter”.

See? I know them off by heart. They don’t seem much like blessings to me, though.

I was politely asked to leave school after the first day. Lily says there are still hollyhocks growing where my desk was, and they have to mow the dining hall once a week to keep the daisies down.

Even if I was in school, nobody would want to play with me. It’s those stupid birds, flapping and pooping and standing on people’s heads. It’s OK when it’s blue-tits, not so great when it’s pigeons. And once it was a flock of geese.

Lots of laughter, though. Who wouldn’t laugh at the girl who leaves a trail of honeysuckle up the High Street?

So this is where I come most days. I sit with my feet in the water and watch the water lilies flower and float away, like little boats off on an adventure. It’s quite boring, really. But I have a good view of the road here, and I’m waiting, because one day someone will come – a fairy queen, or a witch in disguise, or a handsome prince. Someone who can lift these stupid spells.

This is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge. Number 14 – unbelievable. She’s given us this intriguing image, and some words that I’ve chosen to ignore. The picture is Spring by Harald Slott-Moller. I hope it all works out for her. 

The Woman in the Sun – modified for Jane Dougherty.

The first rays of sunlight would bring her transformation. She waited, breathless, at the window for the first glimmer of fire to appear above the horizon.

Behind her, the Prince lay sleeping, tumbled across his golden bed. She had played her part well. He would always remember her, she told herself, and smiled grimly.

In her left hand she held her prize, the emerald that contained the kingdom’s soul. With her right hand she pulled her robe tightly round her slim body, and stepped forward. This body irked her and she longed for flight.

A sudden noise behind her made her turn, startled as a wild bird. The Prince had woken and was smiling at her. He dangled a chain between his fingers: the diamond swinging from it sparked as the first light of sunrise hit it.

Her hand flew to her throat. Did he know? He held her power there, so casually, leaving her trapped and wingless, in this fragile body.

The sunlight that spilt around her mocked her now. She reached out to him, involuntarily, but the Prince just smiled more widely and closed his hand around his trophy.

“Come here, my love”, he whispered.

Jane suggested a little re-working here and there…