out in the midday sun | 1

 

For the last 52 weeks, each Thursday, I’ve been publishing a chapter in a serial story which I called dark | side | thursday. Each chapter comprised exactly 500 words (and yes, I’ve checked), usually accompanied by a photograph. Well, that story reached its climax today, although actually there was little climactic about it. At various times my story was referred to as Dickensian in scale and even, to my utter delight, a brief comparison was made to the frankly incomparable, in my view at least, Stephen King. I was also variously accused of going round in endless circles and irritating my readers with too much ambiguity, and a scantily clad plot.

The reality is that when I kicked off the project I doubted that it would last a month, never mind be completed and on time to boot. And yes, it was, both. Despite, well, despite a lot.

Continue reading

dark | side | thursday | twentyseven

Do you need, desire or crave a new challenge?  Are you open to sharing your dark side?   Then read on.

2015_10_02_04376-Edit


Do you have a dark side?

Or, think you may have one. Or indeed worry that you might have one. Or, for that matter, worry that you don’t and would like one? If so,  join me here each week for dark | side | thursday.

Over a period of 52 weeks, I am writing a story. A dark story that will unfold as the weeks pass. Each Thursday, at 13:00 UTC, I will post a new chapter. Each chapter will be exactly 500 words long, and will be accompanied by a photograph. You can catch up on the story so far by clicking here on dark | side | thursday

Share your dark side?

I invite you to join me either by writing your own dark story, week by week, or, if that is too much, by dropping by, now and then, perhaps when the mood suits you or, perhaps, when it doesn’t, and by sharing a photograph, poem or a suitably dark piece of prose. To cross over to dark | side | thursday create your post, tag it dark side thursday and link to it by clicking on the dark | side | thursday badge below, where you can also find all the contributions so far. Or you can simply share your link in the comments section of my weekly post. And, should the mood take you, you can add the badge to your post.

AJT_6650-Edit


This post is submitted both as 27 : 52 of my dark | side | thursday (yes, I know it’s late) which is a milestone in itself as it marks the opening of the second half of the story, and even includes a minor revelation, but it is also my response to Day 13 of the WordPress Writing 101 course in which we are invited to ‘play with word count’. For my own ‘constant readers’ you will know that this story is being told in 52 instalments each of 500 words. So I think it qualifies, you tell me. Or not.


dark | side | thursday | twentyseven

No. He was. Not. Dead.

He remembered it all.

The first day he had walked in that place, how he had felt, misty ambiguity, the strangeness of that place, the feeling of calm he felt there. And yet. Those plastic flowers. The faded photographs.

That hole, in the ground.

Her empty eyes. Dead inside.

Her hand in that of the man in black.

He screamed out loud. A scream from the darkest part of hell. He screamed. In the name of ‘hid. He screamed and screamed until his throat was sore and grating. He screamed as he remembered the snow, snow, on snow, on snow, his way blocked, the cold, the fear, the loneliness. His hopes smashed, pulverised under all that snow, the heavy burden that smothered his mind. Cut off the very air to his bursting lungs.

He screamed.

And no one. Not a soul.

No one heard.

Him.

But. Then. He thought. No. Not like this. No.

He tried to open his eyes. Tried to push his body up, his fingers numb, his mind more so.

The man in black.

A knife sliced through him. His stomach turned to water. His head pounded. He could not breathe.

What was it, about the man in black?

Who was the man in black?

He knew.

He had always known. Right from when it first started.

His eyes would not / could not see. Would not see what was there to see.

His fingers gripped the key. His body, mind, spirit (he had no soul, not now, maybe he never had) would not give up. He was not ready to move on yet. Not yet. Maybe never. The spectre of the man in black would not leave him. She would not leave him.

Or maybe he, he could not let her go. Not yet. Not after all this. All they had lived (or died?) through. Together.

His fingers tightened around the key.

This bloody key would yet save him.

If only he could bloody remember.

Faded photographs. Her photographs. Moments in (their) time.

The man in black. Yes, and him.

Her.

So much to remember, so bloody much to forget. Or not.

And then, his freezing, numb, fingers, found it. A narrow crevice in the unyielding stone floor.

Her, again, he remembered her. Again.

Not unyielding. Oh. So, not.

Pushing that to the back of (what was left of) his mind, he grasped the key in his freezing fingers. Pressed it deep into the yawning crack in the floor.

He pushed it deep, deeper, pressing it into the folds of the earth, he felt the floor vibrate as the key penetrated the folds of the crevice his fingers had opened in the floor.

He felt the ground beneath him move. Heard the ground below him moan as it was violated, torn asunder.

He heard her cry.

‘Don’t let him…’

And then. At that precise point in time. With no doubt.

He realised that he, no one else, was the man.

In black.


The portal to dark | side | thursday opened on the twenty first day of may in the year twenty hundred and fifteen and will remain open for fifty two weeks.

twentyseven | fiftytwo


WordPress Writing 101 (November 2015): Day 13

dark | side | thursday | twentysix

Do you need, desire or crave a new challenge?  Are you open to sharing your dark side?   Then read on.

2015_11_15_05962-Edit


Do you have a dark side?

Or, think you may have one. Or indeed worry that you might have one. Or, for that matter, worry that you don’t and would like one? If so,  join me here each week for dark | side | thursday.

Over a period of 52 weeks, I am writing a story. A dark story that will unfold as the weeks pass. Each Thursday, at 13:00 UTC, I will post a new chapter. Each chapter will be exactly 500 words long, and will be accompanied by a photograph. You can catch up on the story so far by clicking here on dark | side | thursday

Share your dark side?

I invite you to join me either by writing your own dark story, week by week, or, if that is too much, by dropping by, now and then, perhaps when the mood suits you or, perhaps, when it doesn’t, and by sharing a photograph, poem or a suitably dark piece of prose. To cross over to dark | side | thursday create your post, tag it dark side thursday and link to it by clicking on the dark | side | thursday badge below, where you can also find all the contributions so far. Or you can simply share your link in the comments section of my weekly post. And, should the mood take you, you can add the badge to your post.

AJT_6650-Edit


dark | side | thursday | twentysix

He was soaking wet.

Every fibre of his clothing was dark, wet, cold and clinging to his shivering body. The place in which he had awoken seemed pitch black. He could see nothing. He could feel nothing.

For a moment, a moment of pure terror, he imagined that he was blind. Those few seconds, fractions of seconds, seemed to stretch into eternity. The prospect of a life of eternal darkness took his breath away, his mind froze.

Then, slowly, he began to remember.

First, there had been a key. When he had opened his eyes, he remembered finding a key. His mind wandered as he mulled over how he could possibly remember having opened his eyes if he could not see. He pushed that thought to the back of his mind.

Something told him that he had no time for such thoughts.

Oh, how he longed for the short, sharp, internal warming of a shot of slivovitz. The feeling of the viscous liquid covering his tongue and flowing freely down his throat, warming and calming as it filled his aching belly.

His mind wandered. Memories of plastic flowers, faded photographs, a walk on a spring day. Memories of taking photographs. Memories of searching for something. Something special. Those memories haunted him.

And, of course. She, haunted him.

He recalled how, on that warm spring day, a day filled with hope, he had first found that (or was it now, this) hole in the ground. Recalled how they had walked around it, wondering about its history. Wondering about those rough hewn boards pulled across the opening.

And then, of course, he had returned.

Alone.

And, in doing so, he had found the key.

His memories were blurred, confused and contradictory. He found it hard to make sense of the fragments of recollection that engulfed his mind. Driving snow, ice and an endless road, a journey filled with hope and expectation. A large, empty square, a tower with a clock that had changed over the ages, some felt it boring, out of place, its figures changed over the ages by tyranny. A column, a column that somehow made him think of plague, of death and horror.

And, of course, he remembered her. The feel of her hand in his. He remembered it all. The hospital cell, that small hard, narrow bed. What they had done there, what he had done to her. He remembered the cries as she submitted to it all. He remembered the box.

He remembered the end.

Her hands, those fingers that he had held in his. Entwined in those of the man in black.

Her eyes, lifeless, cold. Her gaze fixed on him but with no emotion, no feeling.

Whatever had been there. Gone.

He needed that shot, needed it more than ever. His fingers reached down to his pocket, blind instinct reaching out.

And he knew then. What he had always known.

Bad things happen.

Then, something inside him shivered, stirred.

He was not quite dead yet.


The portal to dark | side | thursday opened on the twenty first day of may in the year twenty hundred and fifteen and will remain open for fifty two weeks.

twentysix | fiftytwo

dark | side | thursday | twentyfive

Do you need, desire or crave a new challenge?  Are you open to sharing your dark side?   Then read on.

atownend_2015_02_15_00270-Edit


Do you have a dark side?

Or, think you may have one. Or indeed worry that you might have one. Or, for that matter, worry that you don’t and would like one? If so,  join me here each week for dark | side | thursday.

Over a period of 52 weeks, I am writing a story. A dark story that will unfold as the weeks pass. Each Thursday, at 13:00 UTC, I will post a new chapter. Each chapter will be exactly 500 words long, and will be accompanied by a photograph. You can catch up on the story so far by clicking here on dark | side | thursday

Share your dark side?

I invite you to join me either by writing your own dark story, week by week, or, if that is too much, by dropping by, now and then, perhaps when the mood suits you or, perhaps, when it doesn’t, and by sharing a photograph, poem or a suitably dark piece of prose. To cross over to dark | side | thursday create your post, tag it dark side thursday and link to it by clicking on the dark | side | thursday badge below, where you can also find all the contributions so far. Or you can simply share your link in the comments section of my weekly post. And, should the mood take you, you can add the badge to your post.

AJT_6650-Edit


dark | side | thursday | twentyfive

His eyes closed.

His inert body sank below the surface of the back water, coming to rest on the submerged floor of the tomb.  Face down.

Ripples splayed out on the surface of the water, enlarging concentric circles the only trace of his passage from the ground above.  Soon, even those petered out. The black water still, impenetrable.

Had he been able to look up, from the place his body rested, and been able to see through the dark water, he would have seen a small whiskered face gazing down into the water below. Cold blue eyes, pupils dark slits, revealing nothing. Two clawed paws gripping the edge of the hole.

And, had he continued to look, he would have seen another pair of eyes join those of the whiskered sentinel at the portal of death. These eyes, dark, unmoving.

Her eyes.

She stood there, the creature at her feet. The ripped white shift she wore still clinging to the curves of her body. Stained and shredded by the horrors she had suffered.   Her hair ragged and dirty, pasted to her face, a face covered in the filth of the night.

She bent down, the shift rising up as she did, revealing her emaciated and bruised body. She lifted the creature up, cradling it in her hands, raised it to her lips and pressed her thin cold lips to those of her familiar. The kiss was long and deep, her body shuddered, the fur on the back of the creature erect, it’s claws digging into the soft skin of her hands.

The dark kiss ended.

She placed the creature back on the floor.

Behind her, another moved. The man in black. He moved toward the hole in the ground. Stooped, reaching toward the rough hewn boards that lay partly covering the water filled tomb. He pulled them across the hole, covering it. Blocking the light. He continued his work, placing heavy stones on the boards. Sealing the opening.

He turned to her. His lips a thin dark slash in the darkness of his face. His voice harsh, grating, “He will trouble you no more”.

She turned. Walked away.

Reaching the plot next to the stopped up hole she knelt. She lay down on the cold stone, her arms reaching out, seeking comfort in the cold stone.  Her body stiff, bruised, her breast pressed hard against the harsh stone. Her empty dark eyes closed.

The man in black walked away, along the path toward the iron gates. He did not turn back. He did not touch her, did not speak to her. Walked away. Walked toward the waiting red tram. The bell rang three times, the door opened. He climbed aboard. The door slammed shut. The tram moved away slowly.

It was dark. So cold. So very cold.  His eyes opened. He saw nothing. He was soaking wet. Feeling returning to his aching fingers and arms. He reached out. Fingers clawing along the cold floor.

His fingers touched metal. A key.


The portal to dark | side | thursday opened on the twenty first day of may in the year twenty hundred and fifteen and will remain open for fifty two weeks.

twentyfive | fiftytwo

dark | side | thursday | twentyfour

Do you need, desire or crave a new challenge?  Are you open to sharing your dark side?   Then read on.

atownend_2015_05_17_7416-Edit-Edit


Do you have a dark side?

Or, think you may have one. Or indeed worry that you might have one. Or, for that matter, worry that you don’t and would like one? If so,  join me here each week for dark | side | thursday.

Over a period of 52 weeks, I am writing a story. A dark story that will unfold as the weeks pass. Each Thursday, at 13:00 UTC, I will post a new chapter. Each chapter will be exactly 500 words long, and will be accompanied by a photograph. You can catch up on the story so far by clicking here on dark | side | thursday

Share your dark side?

I invite you to join me either by writing your own dark story, week by week, or, if that is too much, by dropping by, now and then, perhaps when the mood suits you or, perhaps, when it doesn’t, and by sharing a photograph, poem or a suitably dark piece of prose. To cross over to dark | side | thursday create your post, tag it dark side thursday and link to it by clicking on the dark | side | thursday badge below, where you can also find all the contributions so far. Or you can simply share your link in the comments section of my weekly post. And, should the mood take you, you can add the badge to your post.

AJT_6650-Edit


dark | side | thursday | twentyfour

The empty tomb lay open before him.

Here he was again. It would all start again. Or not. He had no idea. No idea at all.

Back then, it had been warm, he remembered the caress of the soft wind in his thinning hair. He remembered the sound of the shutter as he captured image after image. What had happened since then, why had it all changed?

This time, snow piled thick on the stones, the hole in the ground remained open, a dark pit. Rough boards pulled across the opening did not cover the hole entirely.

He fell to his knees, in the snow and ice. He put his head in his hands and tears streamed down his face, through his fingers. His chest heaved as the grief poured out of him. He cried out her name, his voice ragged and desperate. He collapsed to the floor, his face pressed in the snow. Huge sobs wracked his body, his eyes burned.

Then the bells.

Again.

Those damned bells.

Clanging, crashing, a crescendo from the circle of hell, from the forsaken, the lost ones, erupted around him. His body pierced and pummelled by the sound. His thoughts suspended as the sound of the bilious bells blasted him. The sound seemed to spew up from the ground, from the pit, a sinful shattering sound.

He pressed his hands to the sides of his skull, pushing his fingers deep into his ears to try to keep the terrible sound at bay.

The ground below him shook, blood seeped between his fingers, oozing from his ears as the sound slammed into him.

He crawled along the icy ground toward the pit.

His fingers grasped the edge of the dark hole. A vague memory shifted inside him, a memory of reaching into the pit, and finding that journal.

He pulled himself to the edge. The ice numbing him, his belly frozen, his fingers dead and lifeless.

He looked into the pit.

There, below him, dark, cold emptiness.

The pit was full of water, black water.  Black death, black hell, black despair.

And then the surface rippled. His excoriated eyes saw shapes shifting, rising to the surface and fading.

Row upon row upon row of slabs, cold still slabs, all that was left of them, the ones who had gone before. Each slab ornamented by a cold flickering light, a face in a faded photograph, captured in a frame forever⁠1. Words echoed in his mind, words that meant nothing to him now, but which once had. His mind dissolving, dissociating.

And all those fake plastic flowers.

And all those fake hopes in a false fanciful future. They had never believed. None of them.

He pulled himself toward the edge.

He felt his balance shift, the slabs blurred in front of his face. He reached down, his fingers stretching out.

He fell forward, plunging down into the dark.

The icy cold waters engulfed his head, his mouth open, dark water filled his lungs.

His eyes closed.

1 Based on lyrics to ‘Uncertain Weather’ by Genesis.


The portal to dark | side | thursday opened on the twenty first day of may in the year twenty hundred and fifteen and will remain open for fifty two weeks.

twentyfour | fiftytwo

dark | side | thursday | twentythree

Do you need, desire or crave a new challenge?  Are you open to sharing your dark side?   Then read on.

atownend_2015_01_31_00165-Edit-Edit


Do you have a dark side?

Or, think you may have one. Or indeed worry that you might have one. Or, for that matter, worry that you don’t and would like one? If so,  join me here each week for dark | side | thursday.

Over a period of 52 weeks, I am writing a story. A dark story that will unfold as the weeks pass. Each Thursday, at 13:00 UTC, I will post a new chapter. Each chapter will be exactly 500 words long, and will be accompanied by a photograph. You can catch up on the story so far by clicking here on dark | side | thursday

Share your dark side?

I invite you to join me either by writing your own dark story, week by week, or, if that is too much, by dropping by, now and then, perhaps when the mood suits you or, perhaps, when it doesn’t, and by sharing a photograph, poem or a suitably dark piece of prose. To cross over to dark | side | thursday create your post, tag it dark side thursday and link to it by clicking on the dark | side | thursday badge below, where you can also find all the contributions so far. Or you can simply share your link in the comments section of my weekly post. And, should the mood take you, you can add the badge to your post.

AJT_6650-Edit


dark | side | thursday | twentythree

In front of him, dead eyes gazing back at him, stood the stone figure.

The stone figure which for the briefest of fleeting moments had given him once again, a taste of her.

Then, slowly, those dead eyes faded away and the figure’s face became a blank canvas, waiting for the fingers of an artist to bring it alive. Or something worse.

He was exhausted, disorientated, spent.

Snow was falling all around him. A heavy white blanket, suffocating and covering him. The pain in his arm intensified, the pain in his heart, his soul (if, as he often wondered, he had one) unbearable.

His loss threatening to engulf him.

The stone figure began to blur in the snow, it’s features receding until it vanished, merging with the swirling particles of ice in the air.

He pushed himself up, began to walk again along the street, cold cobbles unforgiving as he stumbled along, in what direction he had no idea, nor care.

A clattering noise behind him, and a strident ringing of a harsh bell, tore through his torpor.

A tram pulled up alongside him, it’s windows opaque and dirty, red painted sides battered and worn. The number three could just be discerned on the snow covered board fastened to its side. The door cranked open, he stepped up, climbed aboard, the door slammed to behind him.

The tram was empty.

The air cold, damp. Like a tomb. Echoes of long gone passengers hanging in the air.

The tram rushed ahead, swaying, bumping, increasing in speed, twisting, following iron rails laid in the road. The cabin at the front of the carriage empty, driverless.

Rows of seats lay empty, like the spaces in his heart.

Not for the first time, he felt fear building inside him, his chest tightening, the tips of his fingers growing numb.

The bell clanged again, three times.

The tram stopped. It’s wheels sliding on the icy surface. A screaming noise filling the air, as the brakes gripped and forced the tram to a halt.

The snow outside piling up, obscuring everything.

The door at the front of the tram opened, he moved toward it, stepped down through the narrow exit on to the paved surface. Walked away, the door of the tram remained open, the tram, empty, standing still by the roadside.

Ahead of him, through the swirling snow, he saw a long stone wall and a pair of rough iron gates.

He approached the gates.

As he did, they slowly opened, inwards, away from him, inviting him.

He saw the path winding away from him, away from the iron gates. A vague sense of déjà vue twisting in his belly. He had been here before. Then, back then when things had been so different, it had been Spring then, no snow, warm sunlight, not harsh cold emptiness.

Shapes loomed around him, cold stone figures, slabs of stone. Fading photographs of those whose memories were long gone.

And there, in front of him.

The empty tomb.


The portal to dark | side | thursday opened on the twenty first day of may in the year twenty hundred and fifteen and will remain open for fifty two weeks.

twentythree | fiftytwo

dark | side | thursday | twentytwo

Do you need, desire or crave a new challenge?  Are you open to sharing your dark side?   Then read on.

2015_07_05_03208-Edit-Edit


Do you have a dark side?

Or, think you may have one. Or indeed worry that you might have one. Or, for that matter, worry that you don’t and would like one? If so,  join me here each week for dark | side | thursday.

Over a period of 52 weeks, I am writing a story. A dark story that will unfold as the weeks pass. Each Thursday, at 13:00 UTC, I will post a new chapter. Each chapter will be exactly 500 words long, and will be accompanied by a photograph. You can catch up on the story so far by clicking here on dark | side | thursday

Share your dark side?

I invite you to join me either by writing your own dark story, week by week, or, if that is too much, by dropping by, now and then, perhaps when the mood suits you or, perhaps, when it doesn’t, and by sharing a photograph, poem or a suitably dark piece of prose. To cross over to dark | side | thursday create your post, tag it dark side thursday and link to it by clicking on the dark | side | thursday badge below, where you can also find all the contributions so far. Or you can simply share your link in the comments section of my weekly post. And, should the mood take you, you can add the badge to your post.

AJT_6650-Edit


dark | side | thursday | twentytwo

The harsh clanging of the bells filled the chamber, filled the chambers of his mind. Drove all other thoughts from his mind. What little remained of his mind.

If he still had one.

He was no longer sure. How could he be?

About anything. Or anyone, least of all himself.

Or her.

After all that had happened.

It had all become too much, too overwhelming, too intense, too many competing, conflicting emotions.

He felt her arms slip away from him. Leaving an empty space where there had been passion and warmth. And hope.

Hope that had again been dashed.

The soft tender warmth of her lips, the feel, the urgent burning heat of her body, her leg entwined around his, began to fade. His hope, his love, held on.

It was all he had. That, he knew, that, he could not let go.

The sweet taste of her mouth, her soft lips, her love, her desire, replaced by the taste of bitter smoke and death, stone and dust, a hole in space, a place that had vanished. Changed.

The clanging of the bells ceased.

Abruptly.

He fell to the stone floor of the chamber. He was alone. The stone figure, the woman he loved, the woman he had hurt, gone. He could not breath, the tips of his fingers had become numb, his chest tightened, his vision blurred. All that had passed before clouded his mind, his pulse raced, his heart stuttered.

He turned.

Walked out of the chamber.

Back out to the staircase, the one he had climbed inside the tower.

It was gone.

The stone staircase had gone.

In front of him, the door to a lift slid open. In a daze, unthinking, he stepped in, saw it in the mirror. He saw, but could not see. Glass, the smell of fresh paint, instructions in case of emergency. It all meant little to him.

Not now. Why would it?

Clouds enveloped him. She, enveloped him, absorbed him. Her shade. Her hand in the hand of the man in black, her eyes cold, the taste of smoke and death and despair.

The lift dropped down. Inexorably. Taking him away from her. From the stone cold figure, the taste of smoke and death.

The door slid open.

He stumbled forward, he pulled the heavy door open.

Walked out into emptiness. The square empty, the people gone, the clock continued to mark the passage of time, for what purpose he no longer knew nor cared.

He walked, one foot in front of the other, no longer aware of his surroundings, just walked. It was so cold. So very cold.

He remembered.

The cold.

Her hand in the cold. He held her hand so tight, too tight, he knew. Even then, before it happened.

He fell to the floor, the pain in his arm ripping through him. Snow piled on snow, his way blocked yet he continued. What else could he do?

And then.

In front of him.

Her eyes. Dead inside.


The portal to dark | side | thursday opened on the twenty first day of may in the year twenty hundred and fifteen and will remain open for fifty two weeks.

twentytwo | fiftytwo

dark | side | thursday | twentyone

Do you need, desire or crave a new challenge?  Are you open to sharing your dark side?   Then read on.

atownend_2015_05_17_7388-Edit-Edit


Do you have a dark side?

Or, think you may have one. Or indeed worry that you might have one. Or, for that matter, worry that you don’t and would like one? If so,  join me here each week for dark | side | thursday.

Over a period of 52 weeks, I am writing a story. A dark story that will unfold as the weeks pass. Each Thursday, at 13:00 UTC, I will post a new chapter. Each chapter will be exactly 500 words long, and will be accompanied by a photograph. You can catch up on the story so far by clicking here on dark | side | thursday

Share your dark side?

I invite you to join me either by writing your own dark story, week by week, or, if that is too much, by dropping by, now and then, perhaps when the mood suits you or, perhaps, when it doesn’t, and by sharing a photograph, poem or a suitably dark piece of prose. To cross over to dark | side | thursday create your post, tag it dark side thursday and link to it by clicking on the dark | side | thursday badge below, where you can also find all the contributions so far. Or you can simply share your link in the comments section of my weekly post. And, should the mood take you, you can add the badge to your post.

AJT_6650-Edit


dark | side | thursday | twentyone

The voice filled his mind, throbbing, pulsating, the words torturing his soul, as his eyes burned.

The voice continued, pleading and crying out.

‘Only you can stop the pain. Don’t leave me out in the cold. Don’t leave me out to die’⁠1

The creature at his feet circled as he stood transfixed, head splitting, tears running unheeded from the corners of his reddened eyes. He felt the creature brush against him, a shiver running down his spine as it gazed up at him, sparkling blue eyes unblinking, its tail curling around his ankle as its purring mixed with the noise in his head.

Then the noise stopped. Abruptly. The faceless stone figure stood still, staring into his tear-streaked face inside the bubble. The voice had gone now, all he could hear was air hissing inside his helmet. And his breathing, which was thready. Like the erratic beating of his heart. The pain in his arm returning, searing up toward his shoulder, taking his breath away.

He moved painfully toward the stone figure, reached out his hand and with his fingers traced the cold stone face. As he did so he felt a vibration within the stone. A vibration that seemed to stem from the very heart of the stone figure, from its cold and silent heart.

The stone began to shake and tremble. And again he heard a voice in his head.

This time a voice he knew, and one that he had believed he would never hear again.

“Don’t let him, don’t let him take it, not now, it’s so close. Please…hear me…”

Words he had heard before. Her words. The words of a dead woman. A dead woman he had loved. A dead woman he had hurt. A woman whose body he had held in his arms until he had dropped her out of exhaustion at his feet. A woman whose shade had appeared to stand before him, her hand enclosed in that of the man in black. Her eyes cold and lacking in feeling as they gazed at him, as he had sat broken and in despair on the cold hard floor of that terrible chamber.

Her voice faded away again.

His pulse was racing, his breathing erratic. As he looked at the face of the stone figure it seemed to swirl in front of him, the blank face changing, features seeming to rise from the cold stone.

It was her face.

Without thinking he tore the bubble away from his face. Stepped toward the stone figure. Her eyes seemed to be emerging from the cold stone, her eyes and the soft gentle curve of her moist lips. His eyes closed, he felt those warm lips gently touch his, pull away quickly, then touch again harder. He moved his arms around the stone figure, feeling her soft warm body as it pressed against his. Their lips touching again, he pulled her tight against him.

And then, the chamber filled with the harsh clanging of bells.

1 Lyrics from Dead Inside, by Muse


The portal to dark | side | thursday opened on the twenty first day of may in the year twenty hundred and fifteen and will remain open for fifty two weeks.

twentyone | fiftytwo

dark | side | thursday | twenty

Do you need, desire or crave a new challenge?  Are you open to sharing your dark side?   Then read on.

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Do you have a dark side?

Or, think you may have one. Or indeed worry that you might have one. Or, for that matter, worry that you don’t and would like one? If so,  join me here each week for dark | side | thursday.

Over a period of 52 weeks, I am writing a story. A dark story that will unfold as the weeks pass. Each Thursday, at 13:00 UTC, I will post a new chapter. Each chapter will be exactly 500 words long, and will be accompanied by a photograph. You can catch up on the story so far by clicking here on dark | side | thursday

Share your dark side?

I invite you to join me either by writing your own dark story, week by week, or, if that is too much, by dropping by, now and then, perhaps when the mood suits you or, perhaps, when it doesn’t, and by sharing a photograph, poem or a suitably dark piece of prose. To cross over to dark | side | thursday create your post, tag it dark side thursday and link to it by clicking on the dark | side | thursday badge below, where you can also find all the contributions so far. Or you can simply share your link in the comments section of my weekly post. And, should the mood take you, you can add the badge to your post.

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dark | side | thursday | twenty

As the helmet tightened around his head he felt light-headed for a moment. He could hear a low hissing sound as air circulated inside the transparent bubble that encased him. And yet, still he sensed a whisper of warm spring air, although somewhere deeper a chill permeated his body. He shivered.

The ground beneath his feet was unforgiving, hard grey stone cobbles lined the large square. He slowly turned his head, taking in his new surroundings.  The square sloped gently downhill, at its centre a large building with a tall tower, at the base of the tower, an ornate clock stood marking the passage of time, strange figures marching to its unearthly beat. Impassive faces, contorted figures, bodies bent out of shape.

Surrounding the square stood rows of ornate buildings, their facades brightly coloured, yellow, pink, orange. Empty windows gazing across an equally empty space.

And, that is when he realised.

He was alone.

The large square was empty. The sun was high in the sky. And yet, the terraces, the tables, the bars and cafes that were scattered around and across the square were empty. Quiet. Lifeless.

There was no sound, only the hissing susurration of the air inside his helmet.

At his feet, the creature. It looked up at him, large sparkling blue eyes. Left eye slightly closed, blinking as if if something had irritated it. The creature snaked around his ankles and then darted away across the square.

It ran towards the pillar that rose from the lower part of the square. A dark structure, rising up to the blue sky, at its base stone carved bodies twisted in pain struggled to be free from some terror, a pit of despair.

He followed.

And still, there was silence. Not a movement. Not a sound.

The creature had stopped at the base of the pillar, an iron door, sealed tight, blocked its path.

Sliding his hand in his pocket he once more found the key, the same key he had last used when he opened the casket, the casket that had contained her lifeless body.

Once more he felt the key slide deep into the oiled slot in the door, felt it vibrate as it turned, felt the mechanism groan as it responded, and opened.

He reached out and pushed the door inwards, the creature shot through the crack as it widened, a dark mewling sound spilling from its throat, its tail still, tense.

The air inside his bubble turned colder, the hissing intensified. Ahead of him a stone staircase ascended, the steps worn and marked with the years. The walls dark, dripping.

He stepped on to the first step, and began to ascend.

The staircase spiralled around the inside of the pillar. There were no windows.

Exhausted, he reached the summit.

A circular chamber, and there, once more stood the stone faceless figure.

As he gazed at the impassive face, the creature at his feet.

He heard the figure’s voice. Inside his mind.

You’re dead inside


The portal to dark | side | thursday opened on the twenty first day of may in the year twenty hundred and fifteen and will remain open for fifty two weeks.

twenty | fiftytwo