Someone had taken off the plaster and replaced the bricks, you could see it, new mortar holding them in place. The house had been bought at auction, half refurbished, needing plasterboard and plaster. It wouldn’t take much to tidy it up ready for the rental market.
But Sam was nosey, she liked riddles, and as the wallwas double thickness and she wanted to fit an extra window, well why not put a lintle in and add the bathroom window here?
She decided to get her brother to help. They would support the top of the hole with a metal beam and then knock out the hole afterwards. They managed to get the beam in but it was late so they stopped.
Early next morning she went to the house. Picking up a sledge hammer she hit the wall where the new bricks were a couple of times, there was a crack and half a brick fell out. She could see, what? Plastic behind it. Someone had wrapped a package up and stuffed it into the gap between the layers of bricks. She hit the wall again, the bricks shattered and fell to the floor. She reached in…. A bag full of ten and twenty pound notes! What were they doing there. They were new style notes, the ones that look like plastic not paper.
Should she keep them? Should she hand them in? The phrase ‘finders keepers’ came into her mind…. Should she?
Looking out from the hotel over the Channel she worried about her son. Where was he? Anxiety weighed like a heavy stone on her heart. What if she never saw him again?
The dinghy had not been seen since sunset, when it had been out on the sandbar fishing for mackerel, but no one had called the lifeboat and they were not that overdue. Still, a mother can have a sense about these things. She knew in her bones… Something was wrong.
A shadow fell across her as the sun started to set again. She turned her head to look. She heard his voice…
I saw the twins again today, she said. They are getting older, but they still look the same. Craggy, serious, hard.
Yes, I know, he said, they were never cute, but they certainly have character.
I think I will ask them if I can draw their portraits she said. It would be interesting to chat with them and find out a bit about them.
So three weeks later she say down with a pen and paper and started to draw Kim and Jen. She started slowly, trying to find their differences and their similarities. Chatting with them she found they finished each others sentences. Kim was a Chemist, Jen was a Jeweler. Both had problems with their lives. The world couldn’t get its head around identical sisters. Well, not exactly that, she could see what they meant.
Wooden puppets! Who knew they could be alive and walking round the world. Pinnochio had a lot to answer for!
The trees sat in a thin mist rising up from the pools. Moss making the paths slippery. Branches and twigs had broken off in the winds of the night before.
What walked out of that wood was not alive. It had risen during the darkness, disturbed by the roots of the trees. It looked out through the mist and watched for anyone passing close by. It waited without thought. Without intelligence, but with quiet patience. Darkness had started to fall again when it heard the sound of steps. Steady and strong. The steps of a man walking home through the wood. Taking a shortcut. As the moon brightened the pathway a figure lurched in front of him. And then they both sank down into the pool. Together forever.
A cold wind blew across the lake, finding gaps in my coat and blowing my hair around. The branches and fronds of the willow trees streamed like ribbons on a kite, lifting and waving. The ducks ruffled up their feathers against the cold. We had walked out of sunshine into shade and the temperature had dropped noticeably.
The man and his dog walked towards us. It was muzzled with a band of leather round it’s mouth, but it still pulled the man along. It was a big dog. A hound of some sort. It was difficult to see in the gloom. As we came level with them the dog jumped up. It’s paws landing on my shoulders. I was knocked over by its weight. I sat down hard in a puddle. The weight of the dog pushing against me.
The man looked alarmed. Shocked. He tugged the dog away. All he said was ‘sorry’ and walked off! I sat there freezing and wet….. What a day!
Who shall I speak to? Will they listen to me? So many questions to ask.
She stood in front of the microphone and wished she had written the thoughts down. She had known she would have to speak at the funeral, but had shied away from her obligation. The death of her friend had been a shock. He was only 60 when he passed away. She remembered an old boss of hers telling her off. They don’t pass away or pass on, they die said the woman.
No, she would say pass on. She would say sadly missed. She would say that his passing had left a hole in many lives. She had not seen much of him recently. Things had been bleak, people were not going out as much as they had. A cough could be enough to panic friends into staying away.
The funeral was only sparsely attended. The few people that were there were well separated. Women wore veils over dark coloured masks, the men wore cravats and masks. Good old fashion design getting involved in the workings of life and death. Things had to be chic.
So many questions to ask and then try and answer. She would struggle for words. But she would manage it.
‘Nah’ he said, ‘it’s not going to snow on Christmas day!’
His daughter looked upset, but her mum said ‘Dad is always right about the weather.’
She went upstairs to bed, it was Christmas Eve and she was 7. She believed her Dad but really truly wished for the snow to come. She wanted to get up and see if Santa had been yet, but it was only ten o’clock and Santa didn’t arrive till midnight. The stairs light was on and she tried to stare at it to keep awake. But she couldn’t keep her eyes open…
Suddenly she woke. The stairs light was off and she didn’t know the time, but there was a strange silence outside except for.. A scrabbling sound on the roof. A slithering sound, a tap and a rattle. What was it? And the sky was a funny orange colour. She had never seen it like that before? Soft noises tickled her ears again. She had a chimney in her room but the hole where there used to be a fire was boarded up. But she could hear something..
She looked out of the window, moving the net curtain to one side. The sky was still orangey grey and what looked like feathers were floating down… Was it? Snow? She put on her slippers and silently went downstairs. She saw it was five o’clock in the morning. Still dark and far too early for her parents to be up. Instead of looking in the lounge to find out if she had presents she walked through the kitchen and stepped out of the back door. Snow! Yes!
Suddenly a trickle of snow fell from the roof above her. Then a little avalanche. She heard scrabbling again so she looked up…. Just as the reindeer and sleigh leapt up from the roof and flew into the sky!
A thicket, overgrown, a hedge tall and wide hiding the house behind it. Who lives there? No sign of movement. The gate locked shut. Curtains and boards up at the windows. Abandoned? Hidden, a haven for birds and wildlife. The smell and calls of foxes. But a house in need of care.
He looked through the hedge and wondered. Where had his family gone? Inheritance had finally happened and he was the only person found. He would start by cutting back the trees and hedges, but gently. He wanted to keep the wildness, but with some flowers and vegetables. It would take time.
He looked for a long time. Yes he could do it. Nature and garden would be in harmony. Life would be preserved and given its chance.
Not a Triffid, more mobile and intelligent. The plants are spreading. Faster than a bird in flight. Trapping creatures and absorbing them. Think intelligent pitcher plant. The larger they grow the bigger their prey. Human victims have been caught out in the open, trapped in cars, trains and buses. Now the plants are surrounding our homes. Green walls with sinister intentions.
Against it? Nothing at the moment. Television and satellite signals have been cut. All countries are separate. Where the climate is warming the aliens grow faster. Only in the far north and south are possibilities of a fight back. Who will survive?
Walking round the back of the old house, looking for a way in. The rain was cold and icy, falling hard and freezing on the ground and branches as it touched them….
She needed somewhere warm to dry out. No-one in at home and she had lost her keys? But next door was empty, if she could find shelter she could be OK till the morning?
She pushed on a soggy back door, it gave slightly under the pressure. Then the catch slipped and it flew open into a dusty hallway. Cobwebs hung down from dirty bannisters and old bedsheets covered the victorian furniture. She stepped further in. Moonlight and the sodium coloured streetlights filtered through the grubby windows.
A black cat rushed past her, fleeing out of the open doorway. Somewhere in the distance she heard the distant sound of an old fashioned phone.
Stumbling across the old parquet flooring in the darkness, she started to look for a doorway into a living room or reception room. Anywhere that would be walmer. She gently pushed on a old oak door, it opened a crack, it started to creak so she held her breath and waited. Nothing happened. She pushed again and could see light, orange candlelight. A glow coming from a carved pumpkin, almost out, flickering in the slight breeze from the doorway.
Quickly she stepped in, pushing the door behind her. A covered sofa looked like a good place to hunker down for the night…. She slowly sat down, gently, to make as little noise as possible. She felt something slither across her feet. She looked down, and saw to her horror, a dark gloved hand extending through the floor and reaching up to grab her ankle. A flash, so bright and blue lit the room for an instant. In a second she had disappeared. Gone.