The Convent

As I secured my concealed weapons and got ready to leave site, an echo of footsteps came toward me.

“Ready then?” a familiar voice called out.

My CO has always seen me as the baby of the group, and I guess in a way I am if you count my being the only female in his team. I simply nod a turn to face what’s left of my team.

“Be careful – no man who has gone in there has ever come back alive.”

That last part brought back memories and images of David; the first of our team to go in. The first of six. We managed to find his head on surveillance one day, the others we’ve found nothing. I pulled myself from the images and locked the memories up tight. I can’t afford any sort of weakness in the hours coming.

“Good thing I’m not a man.” I bite out bravely as I can muster. I can see my CO’s lip quirk at that before I turn and leave the site. After all, why send a man to do a woman’s job.  It’s not like they could blend into the Convent.

The details of my mission are simple: infiltrate, recon, extraction. I wish I could say it’s just the latter I’m worried about considering the lack of success from my teammates, but they also got to go in for their recon with high tech surveillance and satellite equipment along with weapons. I have two weapons, thankfully, but knives wouldn’t be my pick if I had a choice, although that is it apart from the clothes on my back.

On approach to the large, old building, and eerie sense of silence settles over me. Our intel had the population of the convent around 300 hundred give or take but I get the impression of abandonment.

Though most Convents would be shut out from the rest of the world, the tall gates I pass through are wide open, though hardly inviting. I come to a stop in the courtyard and turn on my heel to study my surroundings. The silence continues and I can’t help but feel the ball of foreboding grow in the pit of my stomach.

I start to wander through the outside pathways, reasonable fear keeps me from trespassing any further inside. It takes almost an hour, but I am finally found by someone. Though she wears the clothes of a nun, something about it isn’t right.

As she takes me to another room and undresses me, confiscating my lesser of the two concealed weapons, I focus on trying to put my finger on it. By the time I’m redressed the same as she and lead to a large hall, my mind has failed me and instead I take in everything I can of the journey.

The room is filled with what I’d equate to the 300 nuns we’d accounted for in our intel. I read my vows and pledged myself to the convent and the divine cause in a daze before being led to dinner.

Every little detail of the events and rooms etch themselves into my memory and yet my mind continues to work tirelessly to find the fault in it all. Though I can’t see it, I can feel it and I know it is there.

During dinner, the hall is silent. It remains that way as the room begins to file out. I’m gestured to to follow and I do so silently. We travel to the far side of the lot and descend down a vast network of staircases. My mind begins to formulate exit strategies but I keep coming to the same conclusion: one way in, one way out.

We finally enter a vastly cavernous room at what seems to be the front. It is very old world, all stone with braziers alight. not too far in front of me there is a raised stage and at the center is a dais.

I’m huddled into the masses like cattle but take a moment to turn and survey the back half of the chamber. We were wrong. Our information was so very wrong. Before my eyes the population of 300 exploded in excess of a thousand.

Whilst my brain tries to process this my attention is pulled back to the front of the room where a small group of nuns are mounting the stage. One addresses us all and welcomes those of us who are knew, but I don’t hear anything else she says. Instead my focus is drawn to the two men being dragged out behind her to the dais.

Steve and Carter.

The last two men we sent here.

I stand rooted to the ground and force my eyes to stay open as the woman around me abuse and destroy my friend’s bodies. I force my stomach not to betray me as they begin to partake in their flesh. And I will myself to stay standing, for my face to not betray emotion as a cup of their blood is sent along the line of women in my direction.

I have five more days here without extraction. And extraction only comes once I’m outside of these walls. So far, I haven’t seen how that will happen.

Prompt: “Be careful – no man who has gone in there has ever come back alive.”
“Good thing I’m not a man.”

Ummm. Idk? Lol.

X.H.

I grew up never knowing my father. I can honestly say that I never missed that aspect of my life and I only remember a wonderful childhood with my single Mother. I was a little confused as to why she never dated anyone else, but it never concerned me until I was about nineteen. In the year leading up to my eighteenth birthday, Mum started getting increasingly skittish and paranoid, also pushing me to apply to universities and get my life onto a good path after high school. I just assumed she was being a normal, over protective Mum. That was until I found the boxes of postcards in the attic.

My eighteenth was just Mum and I. It was a perfect and quite day at home; but when morning came, she was gone.

It wasn’t until a year later when I was cleaning out the house of clutter that I found the postcards from a X.H. There was never anything written explicitly, but it was easy to tell he was bad news. Especially when most of the contents contained demands – one being that she join him once I was eighteen, no questions.

I showed the cards to the police but they did nothing, so I changed courses at university to give me more skills and resources to look into my Mother’s dangerous contact and disappearance. A year and a half later, I was still hitting dead ends but apparently, my digging had caught someone’s attention. Or rather, a whole lot of someones.

Which is how I came to be 26, and working for the NSA with my heart torn between bringing my Mother home alive and putting a stop to a man third on the most wanted list.

Prompt: Cleaning out your parents’ attic, you find a shoebox full of postcards from a person signed X.H. addressed to your mother that date back from the day of your birth to your 18th birthday.

Falling Apart (Part One)

I hug my thick, leather coat tighter to me as the wind lashes at my uncovered skin. My eyes stinging and barely a gleam of light from the night sky make it hard to see where I’m going. It is a path I’ve travelled many times before, though not any time recently, so I know my way well enough to continue trudging toward my destination. I hear the creaking of old wood and reckon I must be getting close. My pace slows as the gusts of wind increase, the surrounding trees offer me no protection from the harsh weather.

The creaking continues to grow in volume though no more than a mere whisper over the wind and I surge forward into the modest safety of a porch. I had made it, finally. The house, if you could still call it that, seemed to have retained it’s main structure from what I see of it’s faint silhouette. Though the real carnage lay waiting inside the old building. Walking carefully on the weak and flexing boards beneath me, I headed for the front door and pulled it open.

I trod very carefully as I make my way through the front room into the second. I hope that everything is the same as I last remember it and that there would be no surprises. As I feel the walls to guide me into the house, familiar textures greet me amongst many that I do not know. My fingers press against a cold, metal surface and I know I’ve found the fire. Although I don’t know if it is still functional, I take and risk and pull matches from my pocket, setting the mantel alight. The heat from the flames instantly seeped into my skin, releasing and relaxing my tired muscles and letting me feel every ache in my body. I empty out a couple more pockets beside the fire and turn to warm my backside. Forgetting that the room was now lit, however dully, I had not prepared myself to see contents of the room.

There was little left in the way of furniture; it was either destroyed by animals or looted by wanderers or thieves. Either way, it was not missed. Now there was nothing left to conceal the evidence of a life lived here. No darkness, no obstacles. I walked over to the wall opposite where a few pieces of paper flapped wildly, still attached to the wall. Pulling them down gently I brought them back to the fire where I could see them clearly. The first was a child’s drawing: a roughly scribbled portrait of a boy and his parents. The next piece of paper held yet another drawing but this time of the woods. The last one was very faded and ripped in many places, but when I brought it to the fire I saw a family portrait. A beautiful young woman holding a chubby, little baby boy who were both enveloped in the arms of a much younger and less weathered me. I remember the day the photo was taken.

It had been a rough night for my wife and I with the baby waking every couple of hours; he was only a few months old. By the time morning came, all three of us were tired and grumpy and really not in the best of moods for a family photo. It was too late to cancel though because the cameraman was already on his way by the time we crawled out of bed. Our boy simply refused to eat breakfast that morning and by the time the cameraman arrived, we were all flustered. He set up the camera anyway and asked us to stand how we wanted. For some strange reason, that’s when our baby boy decided to perk up.

I don’t know if he thought the new man was funny looking or if he knew he was getting a photo, but he was incredibly happy and kept giggling at what seemed nothing. My wife and I just ran with and and before long we were smiling as well. I think in our case we were more suffering from delirium. Our photo ended up going fast and turned out wonderfully.

Before a single tear dropped from my welled eyes, I carefully folded up the portrait and buried it deep into one of my pockets so as not to lose it. I leant against the wall next to the fire and slid to the ground next to my things. There was precious little else left in the room and I didn’t think I could look at any other rooms tonight. I curled myself into a protective stance, holding anything as a weapon and let myself drift off for a quick nap.

It has been a while since my last one, but here we have another piece written from one of Kellie’s FWF Prompts! Thanks for the ever inspiring prompts, Kellie. I’m certainly not done with this one. (:

A Thief in the Night

The thief stumbled down the steep forest slope, his lamp barely lighting his path. Envelope clutched in hand, he looked back towards the building he’s just escaped. Hearing enraged voices echoing down into the valley, he urged his legs on and headed straight for the river below. Reaching the water’s edge, he leapt into the boat he’d tied off earlier and pushed himself into the South running current. As he dropped his oar into water, he could see thirty-odd guards chasing after him. Little too late they reached the waters edge and the man slowly paddled his way downstream.

Once out of view, he pulled his oar into the boat and lay on his back, letting the current rock him gently onwards. He studied the shapes carved into the rock face that now lined his small vessel’s path; their familiar forms bringing him comfort.

Finally he released the envelope from his tight grip and began to read the contents in his lamp’s warm light. As the moon appeared from behind a cloud, a single tear escaped the thief’s blue eyes and when left to darkness again, the boat continued gently on it’s lonely journey to it’s destination unknown.

Prompt: Thief, envelope, forest, desk, and lamp.

It’s been a while since I’ve uploaded anything, so here’s a quick little piece I wrote up while in class. I have a feeling I’m not finished with it yet, but this is all I’m writing for now. :3
Amber. xx

Diary of Secrets

FOUR YEARS AGO.

12th of February.
Dear Diary,
Last night I had the most unusual dream. It felt so real, yet I woke up in the middle of it so I knew it wasn’t. It started off as a blur of images as though I was walking down a corridor of endless moving pictures. I felt the need to stop at one point so I did and then a door appeared beside me. I opened the door and walked into my step-mother’s study; she was talking to one of the guards. They were talking about the kingdom and some changes that she wanted to make to it. I walked over to the window realising that they either couldn’t see me or just didn’t notice me. The flowers were gone from the blossom trees below and the only colour left in the garden were those of the evergreens and step-mother’s personal flower garden that she kept flowering with her magic. I tuned back into the conversation just in time to hear the guard mention me. I looked at my step-mother and startlingly, she looked straight back at me with an icy glare and said, “well deal with her later”. I woke up covered in sweat and couldn’t go back to sleep. I didn’t know what to think of it – still don’t actually. I just hope I never have a dream like that again.

15th of February.
Dear Diary,
I’ve had that same dream again every night since the first. I don’t know what it means, but it feels so real and it scares me! I keep hearing more and more details of the conversation as each night goes by and I can’t unsee it. Every time I look at my step-mother I just see the hard stare she gives me in the dream. I don’t know what’s going on or what to do. Perhaps I should tell Father?

17th of February.
Dear Diary,
I had that dream again the night before last so I decided to tell Father yesterday. I told him everything I heard and saw in the dream and waited for him to respond. He was quite for a few moments staring off in the distance before he looked at me and asked if I’d told anyone. I said no, and he was adamant that I keep it that way. I especially needed to keep the information away from my step-mother. He said he’d explain why in a couple of days but for now I just needed to keep it to myself.

18th of February.
Dear Diary,
Today my step-mother wanted me to join her for tea. It was a somewhat odd request seeing as she usually didn’t acknowledge me these days more than was necessary. She asked about my studies and Father and then asked a lot about my magic such as: whether I’d been practising, if I’d developed any more gifts and many more questions like that. I remembered Father’s warnings and I didn’t tell her anything about my dreams but I’m so very confused.

19th of February.
Dear Diary,
I talked to Father today about Step-Mother’s little tea party with me and he seemed upset or worried. I assured him that I told her nothing about my dreams which seems to calm him a bit, but not entirely. I pressed him to tell me what was going on and he finally told me something. Only one little detail, but at least it was a start. He said my gifts were expanding and that I’m just coming into a new one. He wouldn’t tell me what it was – instead telling me once again that he’ll let me know soon. And also that I must keep this a secret from my Step-Mother at all costs.

20th of February.
Dear Diary,
Today the trees lost the last of their flowers and the wind turned cold.
Today I found out my Father died.
Today I was kidnapped.
And today I found out that with my new gift, I’d seen my Step-Mother plotting my Father’s death in my dreams days before it happened.

Thanks to a friend for this character development type prompt! These diary entries are in direct response to an older post of mine – the beginnings of a story that I’ve now decided to work on. In discussions about whether to write a novel or create a tv/web series. Amber. xx

SS: The Island – A Deal Struck With Pride

Cayn was lonely on the island. He lost his mother a few years ago and never really got along with his sister, so he’d lived the last few years in solitude. It was one of the reasons he volunteered to come to the island, no one would miss him and there wasn’t anything keeping him where he was. He didn’t think he could get any lonelier than he was already, but being on an isolated island with only six other researchers was in fact lonelier than sitting by himself in his old three-bedroom house.

He often wondered if the seven of them were chosen not only for their skills in the field, but also for their varying personalities. As though they were sent to the island not only to study the effects of global warming, but as an experiment. Each of the seven researchers had such different personalities that it was a wonder they managed to stay sain at all. In fact, Cayn thought, you could probably match everyone with one of the seven deadly sins. Clara, the oldest, would fit neatly under Pride; Kevin would definitely be filed under Greed; Mark can be quite unpredictable and he has quite a temper that would mark him as Wrath; Ingrid would be Lust for she is quite amorous and wouldn’t fit under any other sin; Nolan is the hardest to place, but he would best suited with Gluttony; Traiss for Sloth, purely because of how messy he is; and then there’s Cayn, who is definitely one of Envy.

No matter their flaws, they each had something Cayn didn’t: family, friends and love. Each time he watched his colleagues read their letters for the first or even the fiftieth time he would get an ache in his chest of both jealously and longing. They had been on the island for some time now and the deliveries every two weeks seemed to isolate the young researcher even more each time.

The day came when Cayn had just simply had enough. He couldn’t just sit there and watch their faces light up anymore, not for however much longer they were going to be on the island. So he hatched a plan. A plan that would hopefully bring him some happiness for once.

After dinner than evening he visited each Traiss, Nolan and Ingrid, thinking that out of the six researchers they would be the most giving, and offered to pay them absolutely anything if they would let him have one of their letters, randomly selected, and correspond with the sender from that day forth. The two men just laughed in his face and Ingrid, though she wanted to help him, just couldn’t bare to part with corresponding to one of her loved ones.

Cayn retreated to his room and collapsed on his bed, upset and devoid of any hope. Thoughts of loneliness filled his mind until a quite rap at the door brought him to. He opened it to find Clara standing there. He let her in and she started talking before he’d even closed the door.

“I heard you talking to Ingrid about this little deal you want to make. As far as I’ve heard from the others, your negotiating didn’t go so well.” Cayn made as face at this, they’d all been talking about him. “Oh, come now, I’m not here to make fun. In fact, I’m here to take you up on the deal. That is, if the offer still stands.” His eyes lit up.

“Yes, yes, of course! How much do you want?” He asked, excitedly.

“It is not money I seek. How about we just say that you’ll owe me? So the terms are these, you may choose one unopened letter of mine and from that day forth you are the correspondent and I am to see no further letters from that person, correct?” Cayn nodded. “I see. Well, meet me at the mail post when the boat arrives tomorrow and you may choose your letter then.” Clara started towards the door.

“Thank you, Clara.” Cayn said just as she was almost out the door. Clara simply turned to him with no expression on her face and then left.

Tomorrow. I will no longer be lonely as of tomorrow, Cayn thought as he sat on his bed, too excited to sleep.

In response to the new challenge, Story Spinners, on Chris Donner’s blog!

A Pixar Story

Once upon a time there was a princess, or a young girl. Or both.

Every day it was the same routine, it wasnt’ a bad life, but it was hardly interesting and she longed for change, for adventure.

One day, everything did change! Somehow she was taken out of her usual environment, generally thanks to an evil of some kind.

Because of that, the young girl had to adapt to the new atmosphere and her new location at the same time as trying to get back home or rescue someone.

Because of that, the young girl faced challenges to both her mind and her morals and ends up becoming a changed person, always for the better.

Until finally, the day came where the young girl makes her way home, completing a quest or escaping her captors and of course, eradicating whatever the evil was in the story. She may at this point also be in love with a prince or a very handsome and brave man that she met along the way. Not to mention her best friend/s who may or may not be human.
And of course: THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

Or perhaps I’ve just watched too many Barbie films with my sisters.. Either way! This is pretty much how I see the basic structure of any animated movie. Hahaha! (Code word for: yes, too many Barbie movies) Sorry this isn’t an actual story, but I couldn’t think of a story that wasn’t already created by either Pixar or Disney. :3

Thanks, as always, to Kellie Elmore for the FWF prompt!

FWF: [Image Prompt] Tell This Story…

I was hard getting to sleep lately, all I could think about was when I’d see my brother again.

About a year ago, I lost both of my parents in a tragic accident which left my older brother to care for me. We got along well and he was able to look after us both until a month ago when he dropped me of at our grandparent’s house and told me there was something he had to do. That he’d be back soon. A month ago today he’d told me that yet still, there was no sign of him. No phone calls, no nothing. His whereabouts plagued my thoughts everyday and here I was now, like every other night since then, trying in vain to fall asleep.

Finally I drifted off…

I was walking through a dense jungle, a stick ablaze in my hand to shed light on my path on such a dark night. I didn’t know where I was going, nor where I’d come from, but I kept walking. After about 10 minutes of mindless walking I started to hear whispers. There were voices coming from somewhere up ahead. At least, I hoped it was in that direction. The jungle plays tricks on ones mind at nighttime.

The voices grew louder the further I walked until I was stopped short by a fence of tall, thick wild grass. I doused my torch in a near by pool, scared of setting fire to the grass, before slowly pushing my way through the dense brush.

It took me a while, but I finally managed to push myself free of the grass to be greeted by a bright light that caused me to wince in pain and force my eyes shut. After a few moments, I reopened my eyes andadjusted to the light cast by the two braziers either side of me. I took a few tentative steps forward for a better view of the scene before me and was both shocked and rather scared by what I saw.

A narrow river that stretched as far left and as far right as I could see, consumed by the jungle on either side, lay a few metres infront of me with a few hippos and some very large and very hungry looking crocodiles. Quickly turning my attention away from them, I noticed the array of animals of the far bank of the river. Monkeys, zebras, rhinos and deer, all staring at me. The trees surrounding this circular sort of oasis were filled with so many different birds and directly opposite me on the other side of the river sat a mighty-looking tiger atop a massive pile of boulders.

“Don’t be afraid, young one,” a beautiful, large tigeress came up beside me. Her eyes seem to smile at me. “Come,” she said. I followed her to the edge of the river where she left me to return to the jungle. It was there that I really got a good look at the animals around me. They were bigger that I’d originally thought they were. Much bigger than they should be. I looked over all the animals, trying to make sense of it before settling my eyes on the tiger infront of me. The tigeress had been large; larger than any tiger I’d seen before, but this tiger, he was even larger than her. He would have to be at least two times, probably more, than the tigers I’d seen at the zoo.

“Michael Alexander Morgan. Welcome, at last,” the tiger startled me, how did he know my name? It was then that I realised that animals were talking to me, and I could understand them. Not growling, not hissing, not squawking, talking! Bringing me back to my sense, the tiger spoke again,”we have waited a long time for you. I am Ariki, leader of this council.”

To this my only response was, “Uh, hi.” He already knew my name, so I didn’t know what else to say. This seemed to amuse him because he let forth a throaty laugh as said, ” Do not be afraid you one, we are not here to hurt you. We are here to help you, just as you are here to help us.” I was so confused, and I was still not over how large he was.

“I don’t understand.”

“Not yet perhaps, but soon, you will.” My mind was reeling. “Do not dispair for your brother. Like you, he has a destiny to live out as you must also do soon. You will see him again.”

Still confused, the scene began to drift away from me, as though I was being pulled back from it. As I drifted further away from the animals, the tiger’s voice whispered in my head, “Go, rest, for your time is coming. We will see you soon enough”.

I woke with a start, my body covered in a thin layer of sweat. What a strange dream, I thought. Never before have I had a dream like that. So vivid. And the things the tiger was saying.. about my brother; about me. Strange. It was just a dream, I told myself. It was just a dream.

But I had an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.. Was it just a dream?

Amber. xx

Another post for a Kellie Elmore prompt. This is a free-write piece written at 3am. So not only is it unedited, it is written on lack of sleep. Haha. ;D