I love the smell of stinging nettles in the rain…
A collection of five ‘really dreadful’ pieces of poetry …
– With some mediocre photography thrown in to make the page look pretty
Their books stood tall and proud.
Colours danced upon their spines.
Words promised delights within pages,
musty or new.
Amongst the books of fantasy, magic & history,
there lived a collection of curious characters.
Friends to the books.
Family to the earth.
Their dance was one of internal light.
Hiding secrets amongst their edges,
their knowledge as vast as the books they live with.
(or more so)
Reflecting sunbeams, moonbeams alike,
in the settled dust of an old cover.
Figures stand, entwined between tomes and crystals.
Characters created through the vivid imagination
of their crafter.
Wood and coins.
Cock and shells.
Random collection, upon the shelves…
Not knowing which way to go
I know love and I know hate
I know life passes at it’s own rate
Days Months Weeks Years
What to be done is neglected I fear
New dreams obstruct old
New goals drive me forth
Away from where I want to go
So I stand sitting on the fence
Watching waiting for life to make sense
To see my dreams come into range
Though as bizarre as I feel my life maybe
I am the only person who is me
I do what I want it’s my choice
I have freedom will power a voice
Yet here I stand in limbo still
for now this moment is full of thoughts of thrill
I see in my eyes a change fall over me
Order in an organised mind
The plan firm and as clear as light
Get on and try as thy might
Not yet, Not then,
What are you doing?
Are you always planning ahead?
… worrying about what could be?
… worrying about what has past?
Mind locked in future or distant thoughts…
Now. It’s all the time you’ve ever got,
Past is past
Future, a collection of maybes…
Now is all we are
Too much attention to detail & need to be neat
Lead things to a halt
A standstill created by fear of scribbles
When in reality the fluid words flow easier without precise design
Words flow freely from my mind & from my pen
With an ease I find comfortable & relaxed without force
Just a scribble from the mind to the page
From the heart & with inspiration
Fuelling the need for freedom of expression
Travel beyond what I can dream
I’ve seen amazing wonders
So many different scenesMy very form has changed shape
My astral self transformed
Guided along my way
Even being reborn
My lessons are gifts
My soul awake & focused
I’m starting to see beyond…
… the frame of the picture
To a limitless boundless realm
With lifetimes to explore it’s infinite wisdom
I keep my feet firmly on the ground…
I am absolutely responsible for all questionable attempts at poetry and snapped the pictures on my humble point-and-press camera – any links will take you to my DeviantArt page – that I set up in the ridiculous name ‘Nikihix’ – for some obscure reason that escapes me now – I’m updating this old page so there isn’t much on there currently, so I wouldn’t really bother to visit because I have moved all my embarrassing attempts at photography over to flickr…I’m not ashamed to share my initial attempts at poetry, basically because everyone needs to start somewhere, I have learnt (through my course at University) where I fucked up with these pieces and why they are considered no good. It’s a painful lesson to learn and one which will linger… So why am I sharing something so dreadful?… Because I can …
Have you ever looked back upon your life & remembered an event (or series of events) which, when reflected upon, may have helped your journey on whichever path you have found?
These memories may lay hidden in the back of your mind until something or someone triggers off a chain of events, taking you back to reawaken forgotten experiences.
Many, many moons ago, when I was a young child, before I questioned the teaching of my Sunday school. I met a man, a friend of the family& a giant of a man! A powerful character with a gentle soul. He is dead now; I regret to say I did not know him so well. Yet this kind Gentleman, who I hardly knew, left such an impact on my child like mind!
He used to work at the school where my mother was a dinner lady.
Sometimes I used to help my mother at work & that is how I met Bob.
I remember this one time I had a thumping headache & Bob introduced me as a mere child, to what he called ‘Hands On’ healing.
Though he never laid his hands upon my physical form, put my aura!
He taught me what your aura was & how, even simple things like headaches may be relieved by smoothing out the impurities within the aura.
Indeed my headache subsided.
But that is not all I remember learning from this giant kind man, he lead me deep within my own mind.
It was as clear as day within my memory…
His voice muffled slightly as he was hard of hearing.
When I complained of my headache he sat me down cupped his great hands around the aura of my head. Almost instantly I felt my ears start to ‘glow’ instinctively I closed my eyes.
“Picture rolling hills…” I heard him say & out of the darkness, in my minds eye, fresh green hills & lush bright colours filled my inner sight.
He didn’t need to tell me to picture myself there…
I already stood at the top of the hill, not to steep a lazy slanting roll of the earth.
He continued to talk me through the scene, though my mind built up the patterns he wove.
The hill became a valley & flowing through the centre of the valley nestled between the slight hills & fresh grass.
Was a shallow, cool clear, running stream.
You have to remember that I think I was about six at the time, so instead of strolling calmly down to the waters edge. I lied on my side & rolled down the grass!
I must have laughed out loud!
And I remember daisies….
He continued… though I needed little prompting to explore the stream…
I was looking for fish!
With bare feet I tiptoed into the chilly water & over slimy stones.
I never did see any fish!
The water ran over my toes cool & rapid, over stones slick with spray…
He continued… the sun was high in the sky, bright & clear, I lifted my face & I must have moved my head, as I felt the warm ‘glow’ shift from my ears…
Yet my face felt warm & refreshed from the bright blessing of the sun & my toes were feeling cold now.
He continued… On the far side of the stream was a huge old twisted tree. Under this I rested, wet feet tickled by sweet grass.
Lying under the tree I watched the sun make lazy shadows through the dark green leaves, which shifted & danced in a slight breeze…
Sound now accompanied my inner vision… the clear babble of the constantly flowing stream, the odd pop as one of those elusive fish disturbed the waters surface.
The sound of the wind rummaging through the trees leaves…
But peace & tranquillity can only last so long in the mind of a child…
He continued… The adventure began…
There is a hole at the base of the roots…
Well the first thing to pop into my head was the opening line in a story book I had my Mabel Lucy Attwell. “Brownie Bean the gay little elf lived under the roots of the old oak tree.”
I ventured under the tree roots pretending to be a bunny…
Yet I found myself wondering along a dark almost black tunnel, taking me down deeper into the earth.
The smell of soil filled my nose & almost blindly I followed the passage.
Hands on each side of the wall, the earth moist against my feet.
Don’t be afraid, I heard him say. But I wasn’t, I was too curious.
The light from the tunnels entrance hit thousands of tiny shards of multi-coloured crystals. Blinking, embedded in the earth’s walls…
I almost fancied that I would turn a corner & find myself in a fairy kingdom.
But like those elusive fish, no such sight presented itself in my vision.
And I found myself standing within a cave lit the same way as the tunnel, yet hard stone now replaced the soft turf.
He left me there, fell silent.
Within those silent moments a figure of a dark man made himself known to me, I was no longer alone in my cave. He spoke in a language I was unfamiliar with. Yet I knew I should know. He handed me a gift, which I didn’t look at instantly.
I turned to thank him, but he had already gone.
The guiding voice began again, leading me back to the bright sunlight.
Strangely enough once I was back from under the tree roots, He said I could look at my gift.
A small pale blue feather lay in the palm of my hand, and it made me smile.
I was lead back, bidding farewell to the strong tree from the earth, the subtle wind in its branches, to the water that nurtured it & the sun that lifted its leaves in awe.
Lead back out of my journey back to the school kitchen, with warm ears, sleepy eyes & a clear head!
Free from any previous pain.
I almost expected that blue feather to be in my hand, as I felt strangely reunited.
Naturally with no headache to hinder me I tore about to terrorise the boys!!
Though now I was not alone…
Facebook – love it or hate it – it lingers on the internet with its soft edged blue ‘f’ – just another popular social network – a place to share your thoughts, photos, rants or dinner. You really don’t need me to expand on this fact… However one of its features is the ‘time hop’ – which can be rather cringe-worthy or amusing if you bother to check it… Some days I do, some days I forget or just cant be bothered… Today was one of those days where I was just absently scrolling through such memories, re-posted a couple of silly Deadpool or Harley cartoons on Tumblr (because I can) …
… Then I found an open letter I had written and posted three years ago – This was a real smack in the face, as I read my own words again and the replies I received… A wake up call, if you like… So along with silly cartoons, I have decided to share my words again – NOT on Facebook, but here in a blog, I’m afraid it’s more for my own selfish reason, I’m afraid, so that I can recall these words and remember them, so I can see how far I have come and accept how much difference a simple three years can make…
… Apologies for a break in fiction – Usual nonsense will resume next week…
Anne Harrison 19.08.16
This is the hardest post I’ve ever written!
An open letter to my friends,
If you’ve noticed that I’ve not quite been myself this year, or even vanished into obscurity a little, personally withdrawing from social events.
(but not from posting silly jokes on facebook)
I need to be honest, with myself, more than anyone else, but also with friends who may have thought I have abonended them this year. For that I am dreadfully sorry.
However, in March I had a Stroke… Not a full on major stroke, a minor stroke… But a stroke is still a stroke and it’s effects are quite drastic.
I’ve been left with some numbness/tingling in my left hand, trouble with my head, neck and vision. My memory is scatty and I’ve had suicidal thoughts with depression.
Mainly I’ve been trying to pretend that nothing is wrong and ignoring pain. I’ve kept working and kept on trying to put on a ‘normal’ face and mask pain and sight loss with ignorance.
Though, please don’t think this is a ‘woo-is-me’ letter, I’m not writing for sympathy, what I honestly desire is forgiveness, for not being there for you when you needed me. For being absent from an event or meeting. For hiding away from the world at times and for being a fool to myself.
I’ve had 6 months now to recover and I’m nearly there, it’s made me look at my life in a different way and realise how lucky I am to be alive. I’ve applied to go to Uni, I’ve quit drinking (100%) and I’ve learnt how to cry.
A recent conversation made me realise how foolish I’ve been to hide this like a ‘dirty secret’ if it was someone I adored, I’d want to know, even if it was just to supply hugs…
Everyone loves hugs!
So there you have it, my written confession for the world to know… Tomorrow is a new day and the wheel turns on, just as it will do when I’m dead and gone.
Life is a precious gift, love your life, be at peace with yourself and make each day count!
Love, Ayn xxx
…There are roughly three hundred people who control the world, these elite force from various families operate from behind governments to manipulate and suppress the general public into a state of obedience. There is no such thing as free will, no freedom, no choice. People are numbered, cataloged, observed, controlled, sedated. Actions monitored, words recorded, DNA genetically altered. The word is a sugar coated brutal cage, people are cogs in a bitter machine, fed drugs, kept in a…
Paul looked up from his journal, the room was darker now that dusk had fallen, he blinked to adjust his sight to the dim light, relying on his keen ears to catch any sound, something had disturbed his flow. A scratch, match head against striker, flickering yellow flame by the window, fat glowing red tip, a face barely illuminated.
“Father.” He was familiar with the cigar scent.
Paul screwed the lid back onto his fountain pen, watching the mature figure step out of the gloom to stand over his prodigy. There was no point closing the journal.
“It never ceases to amaze me, your fascination with these people.”
“To know your enemy you must become your enemy.”
“The supreme art of war is to subdue your enemy without fighting.”
Both men quoted Sun Tzu.
There was a moment of silence between them as his father read Paul’s words but he made no comment, simply placed a strong hand upon his sons shoulder.
“They are here; we are gathered in the grand hall.” He spoke between puffs upon the expensive cigar. “Can you be ready within the hour?” It was less of a question and more of a demand.
His father patted his shoulder several times before leaving the room in silence, trailing behind him a faint wisp of smoke.
Paul closed the journal once his father had left, carefully placing the engraved fountain pen diagonally across the leather cover before heading to his quarters. Rachmaninov’s ‘allegro ma non tanto’ filled the lavish rooms from an unseen sound system as Paul slowly changed from his casual attire and into an impeccably tailored tuxedo. Although it fitted like a glove, Paul felt uncomfortable.
His Gentleman-in-waiting gave an approving nod and assisted with the claret coloured cravat. Paul smiled at the young German, blonde, blue eyed, tall, strong, handsome, immaculate. Everything that Hitler had decreed as perfection for his master race.
“Rudi, a brandy if you please?” Paul requested, his outfit complete.
The concerto flowed through the apartment, the rise and flow of the intricate musical pattern, scales chasing after swift notes. As Paul watched Rudi pour two drinks, he changed the music over to the Pet Shop Boys ‘It’s a Sin’.
It was over an hour later when Paul arrived in the grand hall, guests were still arriving, the tall ceiling rang out with the collective sounds of light laughter and chatter. A string quartet provided delicate background music for those gathered. Identical maids in immaculate uniforms served fine champagne in crystal flutes or hors d’oeuvres from silver platters. A perfect cliché.
“How deliciously stereotypical.” Paul remarked to his younger sister.
The child looked up and smiled, Paul did not return the smile. The overdose of make-up and finery gave the eleven year old girl the illusion of teenage ripeness, an image Paul found disturbing.
“Are you not excited?” She chirped, blissfully unaware of his dark thoughts.
“But you’re getting married.” Her tone contained all the enthusiasm which continued to elude Paul.
“Aren’t you even excited to see what your bride looks like?”
“I expect she will be perfect.” His reply was cold.
At 9pm exactly, a vision of pure beauty descended the marble stairs, clad in fine silks and delicate lace. An audible gasp issued forth from the gathered host, scattered whispered comments could scarcely be heard yet each word was uttered in awe. The bride glided with effortless grace to take her place by Paul’s side.
There was no music, no traditional march; the string quartet had fallen silent. That silence allowed the scene of visual perfection to capture the attention of the whole audience. Paul mentally congratulated his father, for the effect was dramatic, his chosen bride angelic. Nervous demure expression, deep pools of unique violet eyes glanced up at her husband-to-be from under long tinted lashes.
Indeed Paul’s father had excelled himself with this treasure, Paul watched him smiling smugly, cigar unusually absent from the corner of his mouth, as the guest Rabbi lead the couple through their vows. Carefully rehearsed lines, expressed with fake emotions, all participants professionally trained none had ever met before.
The whole service an Oscar winning performance.
Paul kissed his blushing bride admit cheers, applause and blooms of champagne coloured confetti; the musicians took up their instruments again with Beethoven’s ‘Ode to joy’. She tasted delicious, like sweet apples and honey. Perfect, just like the rest of the charade. However, the Rabbi, the marriage and the service were very real and therefore very legal.
Once all the guests had left, the estate in silence, save for the discrete army of servants which would regain the immaculate perfection of the manor before dawn.
Paul was summoned to his father’s study. It was supposed to be his wedding night, yet they sat, chatting, reflecting over the events of that evening. Rudi poured the two gentleman brandy from a cut crystal decanter, he handed Paul a thick based tumbler with a thin secret smile and Paul’s father calmly shot the hansom German in the back of the head, continuing the conversation.
Paul hid his emotions behind a static mask. Blood, brandy and shattered crystal decanter decorated the expensive carpet, which would easily be replaced. Everything… Everyone was expendable.
“I should let you return to your bride.”
Paul finished his brandy with a nod.
“Make me proud son.”
Paul met his father’s cold gaze and set his jaw square.
Anne’s Final Essay … First Draft …
A personal reflection on Creative Writing
Once upon a time (for that really is the best way to start such tales) there was this crazy lady, who, following a life threatening illness, decided in her ultimate wisdom to do something she had never done before in her life. Enrolled at University.
Little did she know that this impulsive decision would throw her headlong into an academic adventure that would last two years and result in gaining some very good friends. Along the way her little brain was subjected to rather some baffling use of language and a vast array of information, which she wasn’t sure would fit inside her head. At first it felt like she had found a platform where she could unleash all the lovely twisted little characters which lived in her imagination upon the world, but soon came to learn that there was a lot more involved than simply scribbling on paper.
For a while she felt totally out of her depths, struggling to tread water and keep her head above the surface, each word, each sentence was finely constructed in order to keep with the daunting rules and regulations which were slowly smothering artistic desire. But she was determined to soldier forth, sometimes burying the need to scream (for that would have been most noisy) but mostly because of stubbornness, no one expected her to succeed and she had to subdue her own self-doubts.
However, there was an amazing abundance of inspiration. Little characters in different genres came out to play and she ventured forth into different styles and all new exciting writing experiences. As well as reading a vast quantity of literature that was totally out of her comfort zone.
Yet this inspiration blasted her world wide open, beyond the classroom, beyond books. These lessons inspired our shy heroine to explore the theatre, dance, poetry, art, screenplay and local events. How exciting it was to find a trail of breadcrumbs that lead from one subject to another and how these all in turn slowly began to influence her own writing, going full circle.
Though this point of the adventure may have drawn to a sad closure, this has been a starting place for a wider range of experiences and the journey continues.
The Curious Case of the Scandinavian Ballet Dancer
Mr Declan Robinson listened carefully as his companions spoke in awe, yet also fear, of the situation that it fell upon them to resolve. These were dire times and his learned fellows pondered late into the evening, poring over dusty old tomes, seeking a reasonable solution to prevent calamity.
He was the most recent gentleman to join the ‘Council’ having been selected by an anonymous letter, which curiously arrived on his desk one morning, hand written with a wax seal, a fleur-de-lis within a pentagram, which he chose to research before opening…
A naturally curious gentleman, Mr Robinson was a young American scholar who travelled with his mother to England at an early age and was educated at Oxford. His accent was all but lost with the proud Queens English he developed during his years at University. He chose to remain at the University’s Library following his graduation, where he researched ancient languages, signs, symbols, arcane alphabets and esoteric history, which fascinated this young man.
Therefore when this letter arrived, the seal turning out to be a regal crest from a French Nobel Household ‘Rutan’ which was reported to have been wiped out in the French revolution, Declan’s curiosity was instantly ignited. The letter itself consisted of a series of instructions, leading to a secluded location in London.
That was three months ago and those directions resulted in the discovery of a room, the tall ceiling was elegantly fashioned with alabaster reliefs, pillars circled the walls, high columns which held bookcases of solid old English oak between them. Heavy books adorned the shelves from various authors, upon many subjects. This was the library of ‘Et Consilium eiusdem duodecim’ and the room where he was now seated, nursing a brandy and listening to his companions.
Within those three months he was hired as a translator and as such was granted access to many an ancient document. Though only segments, at first, another man, Doctor Vincent Croft, grey and bearded, confined to a wicker wheel chair, took every other page and watched over the younger man’s progress, looking down his beak like nose. He was not in attendance that night and there was no indication regarding the cause of his absence.
Mr Robinson may have been the most recent to join the ‘Council’ yet he was not the youngest. His eyes flickered over to the silent Gypsy looking girl, whose green eyes instantly flashed up to meet his gaze. A fierce stare he felt could bore into his very soul if he kept eye contact too long.
Declan once pondered upon the notion that this collection of mature, well-educated gentlemen were Freemasons, though the inclusion of this young woman, simply known as Julieta, had ruined that notion and Declan was still mystified by the ‘Et Consilium eiusdem duodecim’.
Julieta tilted her head slightly to one side, yet her expression remained cold, the movement made him realise that he had been staring at her and he swiftly glanced away, blinking rapidly a little flustered by his own discourtesy.
Apart from the immaculately uniformed maid who was always fluttering through the library like a hummingbird, gathering glasses and replenishing beverages, Julieta was the only woman he had observed at the estate, she hardly ever spoke and always seated herself in the window chair, away from the main bustle of conversations, always watching with those incredible green eyes.
Declan was gazing once again. He recalled stumbling across Doctor Croft and Julieta engaged in a vicious yet low toned argument, she ranted in Spanish, so swiftly, her words rolling off her tongue as she argued with passion against the old man, who just as rapidly responded in a firm tone.
They both fell silent when they had noticed Mr Robinson cross the hallway, Spanish was not one of Declan’s strong languages and the theme of the conflict escaped him.
At that point he was posed a question and was drawn back into the conversation and away from his silent pondering.
Petra Rutan dances the lead role in the ballet ‘Giselle’ at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. Originally from Scandinavia, it is said that she left her home country at an early age, following a family tragedy, moving to France where she took up the art of ballet and changed her name to Perette, or Petra for stage.
Her performance is immaculately exquisite and she receives a standing ovation from the audience and several generous bouquets. Exhausted yet exhilarated Petra carefully arranges the flowers within her dressing room once she has changed from her costume, when a card tumbles free from a collection of perfect blood red roses onto her lap.
A smile graced her fine features as she recognized the handwriting of a persistent admirer, one Professor Demetris Tagtgren. A mature gentleman, greying, who walks with a cane, yet charming and sophisticated perhaps too aged to be a suitor, though that would not cease his relentless adoration. The card was an invite to dine at the London Strand, that very evening, a table had been booked and the invitation indicated that he would remain waiting for her. Petra shook her head and smiled at her own reflection, applying a pale blush, slipping into heels too uncomfortable but fashionable, she wrapped a mink stole around her shoulders and left for a short stroll to The Strand and her waiting loyal Professor.
As Professor of Antiquities at the London Natural History Museum, Demetris Tagtgren spared no expense on their lavish late supper; they exchanged polite conversation over the fine meal, with a hint of flirting. Only at the end of the evening as Petra stood to leave did the Professor startle his beloved dancer with a gift.
Petra took her seat once more, startled and curious as she opened the carefully wrapped package to behold a delicate tiara, so finely crafted from an unusual black metal, adorned with semi-precious stones and ancient coral, carved and set into a unique alien design. Astounded and in total admiration, Petra rewarded her besotted Professor with a feather like kiss upon his grizzled features, promising to wear the treasure at her next performance.
It was late, after the meal the Professor walked Petra to The Savoy Hotel and bid her goodnight, however, instead of heading home the Professor went to his study at the museum. With a heavy heart he seated himself at the solid old desk and poured himself a large brandy from a hip flask he kept in the top drawer, he downed the strong spirit in a single gulp and slumped, his head in his hands his mind poring over with guilt and consequences to his actions…
“Is it done?” A voice cut through his racing thoughts, the professor turned, but saw only the glimpse of a shadow in the darkness. Reluctantly he nodded.
“Good…” it hissed or laughed, he could not tell which it was to be sure, only that the sound sent a chill through his very soul, there was no turning back now.
Silently the Professor cursed the day he had set that one free from its Arabic tomb, yet they were bound together now, their fates intertwined. It watched, he knew, as he poured another brandy and opened a file. He turned up the flame on the gas lamp and started with the translation, the silent shadow watching over his shoulder in eager anticipation, its acrid breath fouling the air in the study.
The Professor was not the only one who suffered from mental turmoil and lack of sleep that night, Declan had finished the translation from the latest document he was researching and the facts it revealed had shook him to his very core.
First thing the following morning he gathered up all his papers and headed directly to the estate, insisting upon an audience with Doctor Croft. The Doctor looked up at the unkempt image of his young companion, his hair dishevelled and unshaven, evidence of little sleep and urgency.
“What is it my good man?” The Doctor asked, guiding Declan to a chair and ordering a strong coffee from the maid.
“The translation…” Declan stuttered, unable to verbalise his disturbing findings.
Slowly The Doctor nodded “It is true.” He spoke softly, yet the ease of his tone did little to soothe Declan’s rattled nerves.
“How can this be?” He asked.
“My good man, did you not stop to consider the fables in which you have spent so many long hours researching were more than humble Folklore? That our ancestors lived alongside supernatural beings, creatures of nightmares that in this day and age are dismissed fairy tales?”
Declan blinked as he mused over the Doctors question, he took the coffee from the maid in trembling hands. “But I assumed…”
“Never assume anything in this profession Mr Robinson.” Doctor Croft smiled warmly. “I understand this was discussed in my absence yesterday?”
“Yes Sir, though I was under the impression that was a theological debate?” Declan frowned, recalling the stern mannerisms in which the topic was discussed. This was no hypothetical deliberation, their plan was an actual solution of this otherworldly event occurring. He sipped at the coffee, pleasantly surprised to find it had been laced with brandy to ease his nerves, looking up to thank the thoughtful maid, she had gone again, fluttering along the corridor humming a little tune to herself.
“What form of twisted mind would seek to unleash such horror?” Declan finally asked, the reality of the situation and their responsibility slowly sunk in.
“We have a few suspects, the Germans have been meddling with occult curiosities for some time, mark my words, we shall have to keep an eye on that Nation over the next few years, there are some troubling stirrings. However I think in this case our main antagonist is closer to home and I suspect he is little more than a puppet himself, manipulated by higher powers.”
“Demons my good man, Demons.”
The following day Petra is bubbling with glee and displaying her treasure to her fellow dancers.
However it is only when she is in the privacy of her own dressing room does she adorn the tiara in her rich dark curls. An instant change befalls the talented dancer, a dizzy sensation disturbs her vision and she reluctantly removes her gift. Forced to lie down to recover, her companions will notice her absence at the rehearsal. Petra herself is plagued with vivid dreams during her unnatural induced slumber.
Shadow holding shadow
Creeping tongues and stares of horror
Words never spoken
Secrets sealed in fear
Crowned with signs of death
A night wraps the altar
Spectators made of stone
“Thirty minutes Miss Rutan!” The call to performance startled her from the bizarre visions, disorientated by the missing time and haunting images Petra splashed cool water upon her face refresh herself before changing into her costume.
The young woman uncurled, like some soft Siamese cat and silently set up a small round table. Declan was sceptical about the decision of the ‘Council’ to hold a Séance that evening to seek answers, all ten members were present that evening for the sitting. Naturally he had read about such events, yet never witnessed one first hand; he was even more startled when Julieta selected him to be one of the sitters with her. She chose three of the men to join her, Declan, Doctor Vincent Croft and the young cockney Daniel Randall who appeared just as astounded as Declan; they stepped forwards and took their place with Julieta.
As the rest of the distinguished gentleman from the ‘Council’ took seats around the room at a respectful distance the gas lamps were lowered and the curtains drawn. A still silence fell over the room as Julieta instructed the three companions seated with her to place their hands flat on the table, finger tips lightly touching.
After a very long twenty minutes absolutely nothing had happened! Her companions surrounding the table were starting to get restless.
“I do not understand?” She spoke out loud, yet her words were not directed to any one in particular. Never before had her guide failed her so.
“Something is ‘blocking’ him, I can feel it. It’s like a brick wall and I can hear him calling to me, but he cannot get through…” Sweat beaded on her worried brow, her concern creeping into her tone of voice.
“This is poppy-cock!” Daniel huffed, his patience wearing through finally he removed his hands away from the circle on the table…
…it was then that ‘it’ broke through… A sudden chilling wind shot through the room, tossing Julieta’s raven hair wildly about her face.
The words that flew from her mouth were totally alien to their ears, sounds and pitch more than any familiar language. Julieta rose slightly from her chair as though swept up by the wind and noise.
“For heaven’s sake man!” Vincent shouted at the stunned Daniel. “Put your hands back into place!” Daniel hesitated… But finally obeyed.
There was a moment of almost unbearable noise that screeched and echoed around the room, before almost silence abruptly returned to the room. Each of the four stared at each other in disbelief and not a little panic at what had just occurred.
Then Julieta spoke, her voice distorted by the spirit guide which communicated through her:
When the Mirror Shatters
Then all Hope is Lost
A Fallen God – A Mortals Fight
A Lover’s Loss – A Demons Flight
All Fates are Intertwined
Old Enemies – New Friends
Will Fight Again – To What End
Life from Death
The Sacrifice to a Lost Cause
Snare the Dancing Temptress
The missing Piece of the Puzzle
Holds the Key
To an Uncertain Future
Beware Ignorant People
Beware Demons take Flight
Darkness will Fall upon Thee
When the Mirror Shatters
Leaving Eternal Plight
Declan was pale, visibly shaken following the séance. “How can this be? His question pierced the silence, drawing the attention of his companions, who eagerly awaited an explanation.
With no time to ponder over the peculiar visualization, Petra prepared herself for the show; swiftly the images left her mind as she focused on her footwork, pouring her heart and soul into the role of ‘Giselle’ a cruelly betrayed peasant girl, who returns from the grave. The Professor watched from his box in total adoration, yet he was not the only one who observed this performance with intense expectation.
The dark host awaited in the wings. The unique tiara complimented her delicate costume and caught the limelight glistening with an innate shimmer, however it became tighter as she danced increasing pressure on her brow, Petra became dizzy and disorientated she swooned and collapsed onto the boards.
An audible gasp issued forth from the audience as the performance was halted; a stage hand called for a doctor and a very pale frail Petra was carried from the stage. Professor Demetris Tagtgren stood yet found himself frozen to the spot, by his own fear or supernatural forces he could not tell, only that he watched helpless as his delicate dancer was removed from sight.
“What have I done?!”
Eventually he fought back his fear and found the courage to move, he lied his way back stage on the pretence of being a medical doctor to get to his precious Petra. Frantically arguing with staff, though his mind was plagued by the dreadful scene he witnessed, his beloved stumbling and collapsing mid-performance, that wretched tiara shimmering like a morbid token of his betrayal.
Finally he persuaded staff to allow him to the stricken woman, however, as the dressing room door swung open unaided, a cold spear of reality struck him hard – the dressing room was empty – Petra was gone and this was entirely his fault.
Declan fumbled with his briefcase pulling papers free from their neat order.
“The Poem! That rhyme!” He exclaimed as he detangled his journal from the ‘Evening Standard’ discarding the newspaper to one side as he searched through this notes – Finally finding the translation he had been working on – an exact replica to the words issued forth from the spirit world.
“My dear boy!” Doctor Croft read through Declan’s detailed notes, there was no discrepancies, the translation and the psychic message were perfectly identical and furthermore, there was no way for Julieta to have read his journal, his briefcase had been within his sight all day.
“The passage is taken from the Arabic scrolls I had been working on last night.” Declan explained, referring to the documents which had caused him to call upon Doctor Croft that very morning in such a state of distress.
Daniel casually picked up the newspaper as they spoke, the conversation causing ripples of speculation amongst the gentlemen who huddled in to bear witness to any more revelations. Julieta sat back sipping her water, exhausted yet intrigued by the turn of events.
“There is more!” Declan continued, pausing to nod briefly to thank the maid, who had presented him with a welcome brandy. “A banishment!”
The ‘Council’ erupted into a mass debate…
“Could it be free?”
“How? It would need aid, it cannot just break forth.”
“We need to find it.”
“And do what?”
“The banishment needs to be performed by a medium.”
“Poppycock that is just heresy.”
“Where would we find it?”
“This is no evidence.”
“We need to find it before it can complete the ritual!”
The deliberation continued amongst the men, raised voices and speculation.
Julieta regarded Daniel who appeared absorbed in the newspaper.
“You have nothing to input? That is unlike you.” She smiled against the rim of her glass.
“Just puzzled over a name I reckon I ought to know.”
She listened to him, even as the rest continued their urgent discussion.
Daniel handed her the paper to display an advertisement for the ballet Giselle at The Royal Opera House.
“Petra Rutan.” He indicated to the illustration of the French dancer, “Where have I heard the name ‘Rutan before?” Daniel mused; Julieta shook her head, unfamiliar with the name.
“Rutan?” Declan turned his attention to Daniel, who nodded in affirmation.
“What a coincidence.” Declan chuckled “Rutan, why that is the very same name which was on my invitation to join the ‘Council’.”
His companions fell silent, each looking from one to the other with total confusion.
Finally Doctor Croft placed a firm hand upon Declan’s shoulder.
“My dear Mr Robinson, we sent you no invitation.”
The Professor knew exactly where to go, for he had foolishly shown the access way through to a closed wing of the museum, where the former tomb of the dark entity was stored in an unfinished Arabic display. He was trembling with anxiety so badly that he could barely get his keys from his pocket – though it was a redundant act – the lock savagely broken and the door swung slowly open upon its own accord.
A resounding hissing laughter filled him with dread, yet somehow he forced himself to move forth towards the unfinished display area and the awaiting fiend.
“Where is she?” He demanded, with as much gusto as he could summon.
“You’re too late Professor!” It slithered towards him – stealing the light – forever encased in shadows. Demetris looked around the display frantically seeking any sign of the demure Petra, spying nought but a torn strip from her costume, the professor lunged forwards towards the entity – anger replacing his fear – yet he was forced to his knees by the overwhelming evil emanating from the otherworldly creature.
“Soon Professor, your failure will be absolute!” It hissed, venom dripping with every word.
It tore away a soiled dust sheet from a heavy ornate mirror, the glass dark, the frame created from the same alien metal as the tiara – the tiara which was now merged into the frame, crowning the arching apex of the demonic design – the two items appearing melted into each other.
The Professor groaned in despair as the reality of the situation tipped the fragile scales of sanity in his mind towards madness.
“You know the incantation Professor; you personally desired to wield the power that I can bestow upon you!” It seethed with pure evil, its words perfectly true. “You were a fool to fall in love with The Dancing Temptress, there needs to be a beacon. I need to be whole again!” it roared.
Declan sat down and sipped his brandy. “If you did not send me an invitation, why was I so easily accepted into the ‘Council’?” He asked.
“There was a letter, indication to expect you and that you were highly recommended by…” Doctor Croft halted mid-sentence to seek out the letter and Declan once again shuffled through the paperwork in his briefcase.
Finally both documents were placed side by side.
One invitation – One recommendation.
Same handwriting – Same wax seal.
Same signature – Same crest.
Same name – Rutan!
“Well this is a conundrum.” Daniel mused.
“Maybe it would help if we understood the context of the rhyme?” Julieta asked.
Declan nodded, “Around ten to twelve thousand years ago, the Mahabharata Ramayana and other sacred texts recorded a terrible war between Rama and…”
“The short version please!” Daniel sighed; this really was no time for a history lesson.
“Oh… Oh of cause…” Declan thought quickly to explain the whole story as simply as possible. “An ancient Indian demon was trapped by an ancient Arabic magician. This creature’s physical form was trapped and bound magically in a sarcophagus, then its spirit, or essence as it were, was banished into limbo.” He paused pondering over recent events and discussions the ‘Council’ engaged in the previous evening.
Julieta tilted her head to one side, waiting for Declan to continue, yet it was Doctor Croft who picked up the thread. “I believe this sarcophagus has been discovered and is destined for display in the London Natural History Museum.”
There were gasps and mumbles of concern amongst the gentlemen…
He continued “My research has lead me to believe that it has broken free with some foolish aid, which is why I have had Declan engaged in the Arabic translation for the banishment, without its ‘spirit’ it is weak, if both parts were unified, then it could unleash devastation equal to events recorded in the Mahabharata Ramayana.”
The ‘Council’ fell silent as the enormousness of the situation dawned upon them; the hypothetical theological debates they had discussed were suddenly a very real course of action the supernatural was encroaching upon the mundane with possible catastrophe.
“There is but one part of the translation which continues to perplex me.” Declan admitted, “It is said this demonic spirit may be unleashed from limbo to reunite with its physical being upon a ‘Black Moon’ … I’m aware that the new moon may also be referred to as a dark moon, yet the translation is clearly Black, not Dark.” He sighed and shook his head.
Julieta scoffed, causing her fellows to turn to regard her.
“A ‘Black Moon’ gentlemen, is when there are two dark moons within one calendar month, the second dark moon, is referred to as a ‘Black Moon’… and that is tonight!”
“I refuse! I no longer care for power nor will I aid you!” The Professor mustered up some frail courage in the face of extreme horror.
“Free me!” It bellowed, shaking the walls, causing dust to fall from fresh cracks in the tall ceiling. “Free me and I will save your precious Petra.” It promised.
Demetris turned to face the dark mirror, catching his own reflection in the black glass, eyes wild, corrupted by the degenerate force. He fancied that he could see a light snow falling within the surface, a pale hand reaching out with hope. The illusion caused him to chuckle, as he felt his own sanity slipping away, to free the beast from the void was madness! “You will free Petra?” He heard himself say, hardly believing that the words came from his very lips.
“Yes….” It whispered, stepping up behind the Professor. “I need her only as a beacon in the dark and then she will be free.” It lied. “To be with you.”
She spent a while trying to remember events up to this point and all she could focus on were the voices in the darkness… Indeed they were still there, whispering around in her. If she concentrated Petra found that she could hone in on one single voice at a time.
And there was something more disturbing… But she dare not focus on that…
It was then she slowly realised that she had no corporeal form, she was simply thought. A wisp of smoke drifting in void, unable to comprehend the situation, she found herself trying to tell herself it was nought more than another vivid dream. If she had a form it would have shivered, but as it was she closed her non-existent eyes and shed invisible tears.
The Professor felt detached from reality as he started to utter the ancient arcane incantation that would unite the fiend with its banished spirit – making it whole again – darkness fell across the room as the evocation stirred up entities within the ether. Petra’s life force shone like a bright silver beacon to the corrupt forces locked in limbo the words awoke them and the light of a pure soul guided them, yet the chant could only summon one, they only needed one to free them all…
It awoke; it felt the presence of its physical form beyond the glass illuminated by the frightened woman in a ruined costume. Shaking away fragments of a bored slumber it slithered forth, the sea of maundering evil parted, creating a path for this one, as it approached the ritual reached its crescendo.
With Declan, Julieta and Daniel being the youngest members of the ‘Council’ they sprinted ahead towards the Museum upon arrival it was Daniel and his questionable skills with locks which allowed them to gain entrance. Julieta near fainted as she crossed the threshold the immense energy unleashed by the demonic entity clouded her psychic mind and darkness threatened to overwhelm her thoughts. Declan swiftly caught the swooning woman and held her to her feet which she regained control of herself, focusing her abilities to guide the two men towards the Arabic display.
As the Professor threw his head back pitch rising as the bizarre language spilled forth from his lips with surprising ease. Tears of pure fear ran down his face as the wretched spawn at his back giggled manically.
Declan instantly knew the words, but froze in fear, astounded by the sight before him. Julieta clung to his arm and Daniel issued forth a colourful profanity.
“You have to stop him!” Julieta shook Declan’s arm, but Declan found his mind had gone blank.
That was when the demon turned to confront the intruders, it sneered at the three companions. “Fools!” It jeered, “You’re too late!” its laughter was enough to chill the soul.
The Professor blinked, startled by the arrival of the strangers, he stuttered over his words and fell silent.
“No! Finish the incantation! You cannot cease now!”
More cracks fractured the ceiling as the floor trembled from the dreadful outcry.
“Finish!” Dust fell around them, “Finish or the darling Petra remains trapped!”
Declan started to recite the words of the banishment, he could not risk everything for the sake of one soul, it was dreadfully regrettable, but there was no choice.
With a resigned nod the broken professor joined in with Declan, giving strength to the charm of exile. Both men chanted the ancient words in unison, diluting the creatures’ energy, sealing the mirror and preventing the foul union.
The mirror frame and the crowning tiara rejected themselves from one another, the frame ejecting the tiara from their former bond; it fell with a light tinkle as the final words completed the ritual. Silence fell, dust fell and the dark entity had fled.
The Professor collapsed gibbering, cackling… “Let the screams in your head be the last thing you hear.” Daniel said, as he hoisted the insane man to his feet…
Julieta picked up the tiara and looked into the mirror with deep regret.
Several days later on a sunny afternoon Doctor Croft was seated by the French windows of the library. “Blanche?” He called over to the silent maid. She blinked startled by his use of her actual name and curiously approached the elderly man. He handed her a silken swathed gift, confused she carefully unwrapped the material to reveal the ancient tiara.
“We will find your sister.” He promised.
“Blimey!” One workman exclaimed to the other. “This’s bloody heavy!”
“’ere watch yer tongue.” His companion scolded as the two men hoisted the cumbersome relic up the final flight of stairs to a store room on the top floor at the ‘Et Consilium eiusdem duodecim’ estate.
Left in silence the artefact stood alone encased in thick sheets and a wooden case, yet the jarring movement had caused a single crack across the corner of the black glass, the mirror split and a small shard fell free from the frame… Fluttering leather like wings pressed hard against the damaged surface; however it was frail pale fingers that breached the gap frantically seeking freedom…