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A Lady in Red [Halloween 2015]

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posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 11:56 AM
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Of all the nights in the year, Darkness wears her sheerest veil on this night. As the seams slowly split the diaphanous fabric, the Dead can come through – or we can go to meet with them...



A pot of water began to bubble on the stove, the kindling began to take light, but Aine did not feel rested. After a hard day at the hospital, she had been keen to come home and close the curtains, block out the dusk and forget about her work. Lock herself away in her quiet home, where her nearest neighbour was half a mile away, and leave the cruelties and iniquities of our frantic world behind her for a full weekend.

For over an hour now she had thought she heard footsteps outside. Sometimes stopping, sometimes starting, but only ever a hint of a sound. The dogs from McAllister’s farm, her closest neighbour, had been barking furiously when she had driven past on her way home from work. The dogs were usually asleep by 6, having worked hard all day, but she had thought little of it at the time.

Again a crunch of gravel, this time outside the kitchen window. The little pot on the stove quickened its pace as the water inside began to dance and swirl.

‘There is someone there’ thought Aine, and reached for a kitchen knife. Dropping it again, she looked at herself in the mirror above the little bookcase.
‘What is wrong with you, girl?’ she chided herself. ‘You would take a knife to a visitor?’

A slow knock on the wooden front door startled her, and despite herself, she gasped. Telling herself to calm down, and to stop being ridiculous, she headed out into the hall.
‘It’ll be McAllister’s boys, looking for apples and sweeties’ she realised aloud – and not without relief.

She opened the door with a smile, expecting false faces and costumes but surprised to see instead two women. A tall, slim woman in a long, green coat and a shorter, older woman in grey. Behind them, she noticed a solitary magpie sitting on the rim of a metal bucket. It watched her with its onyx eye, then flew off into the murk. She watched it vanish in the gloom, without a sound.

‘Hello’, said Aine, trying hard to keep the surprise from showing on her face. The night had fallen quickly, and the fog had come down from the hills where it spent its days aloft.
‘Hello’, replied the woman in green. ‘I hope you don’t mind us disturbing you this evening. Our car is very low on petrol – very low – and we hoped that we might buy some from you.’
‘Oh, I see,’ said Aine. ‘Of course, that’s not a problem. I’ve got some cans in the byre. I can give you enough to get you into town, but I’m afraid I’ve been lazy and I haven’t stocked up for winter yet.’
‘We only need a little’, said the lady in the coat.
‘Yes, of course, ‘ said Aine. ‘Where is your car? I didn’t hear you drive up.’
‘Nearby’, replied the lady in the coat.
In the awkward silence that followed, Aine began to feel the cold from the fog seeping into her clothes, its damp tendrils caressing her face, and reaching up, up along her spine.

‘Come in,’ she said brightly. ‘This fog is getting quite bad – are you sure you want to drive in this weather?’
‘It makes no difference to us’ said the older woman, and smiled.
She was beautiful once, thought Aine, but now she just looks...wicked. Maybe beautiful woman do become wicked when their looks are gone.
Aware that she was staring as she mulled over this point, Aine drew her eyes away and smiled shyly. ‘Please, come in. The fire should be going by now, you can wait by it while I go for the petrol.’
‘You are inviting us in?’ asked the younger woman.
‘Well....yes?’ replied Aine, confused by this strange question.

Neither of the visitors spoke, but they followed Aine through the narrow hall and into the kitchen, where they both sat by the fire.
‘I’m boiling water for tea. Would you like some?’
The strangers glanced at each other.
‘Yes’, replied the old woman.
‘No,’ replied the younger woman.
‘Are you sure?’ Aine asked the woman in the green coat. ‘It’s no trouble.’
‘No, thank you. I can’t drink tea.’

Aine reached for a cup from the rack, and then watched helplessly as it slipped from her fingers and smashed on the flagstone floor. The old woman in grey stooped from her chair, and handed the larger pieces to Aine. The flames reflected in the broken glaze and for a moment she held a burning kaleidoscope, burning in another realm but feeling as cold as silver on her palm in this one.
‘Thank you,’ said Aine.
‘Don’t thank me,’ replied the old woman cryptically.

As she began to sweep the smaller fragments up into her dustpan, she wished they would leave. She felt nervous around them, and decided to forget about the tea and go straight for their petrol. The sooner they had it, the sooner they could go.

The pot boiled furiously on the stove.



edit on 3-10-2015 by beansidhe because: sp




posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 11:58 AM
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Outside the fog was thick and cloying; Aine could barely see the byre ahead. As the black walls slowly disentangled themselves from the fog and from the night, she saw the door frame, and the door and then the door handle floated into view. A crude dolly woven from twigs hung by its throat from a frayed piece of twine, hanging deadly still in the thick air.

She reached for it, wondering who had put it there, but drew her hand back. It looked eery in the gloom; she had no desire to explore it just now. As she stepped back from the dolly on the door handle, her foot knocked over an object on the ground. She bent to see what was where it shouldn’t be, to discover she had kicked over her petrol can. Four of them stood in line outside the byre, one now lay on its side.

‘I didn’t leave these here,’ mumbled Aine to herself. She picked up the nearest can but it was empty. She tried the second, which felt half full.
‘That’ll do,’ she thought, and turned back to the house.

Disorientated by lack of vision and lack of sound, she shuffled gingerly along the path until the light from the kitchen window came softly to meet her. She could hear muffled laughter and felt an urge to get back inside, back to the safety of her home. A home which had two unwelcome visitors, but she was sure they would leave with their fuel. Could she really send them out in this weather? The crone had seemed not to care, so why should she? Torn between a duty to help and a desire to expel her visitors, she reached for the back door knob and went into the house.

‘Hello,’ she called. The house fell quiet a she entered the kitchen.
‘I have your petrol,’ she said ‘but I’ll warn you, the fog is too thick to drive in just now.’
‘We don’t need to drive,’ said the young woman, taking the can from Aine’s hand.
‘Sorry? I thought you said that you had run out of petrol? I thought....’

‘Did you?’ asked the old woman. ‘Did you think we wanted to drive tonight? We came for something else, Aine. We came for you.’

Aine stood alone on the rug, watching her reflection in the mirror above the bookcase. She saw the woman in the green coat open the petrol can, and she saw herself open her own mouth to scream. She saw the woman in the green coat raise the can and let the putrid liquid flow out, and she saw her own clothes darken as the fluid soaked into them. She saw the old woman in an ash grey cloak strike a match and she saw a flash of blue light before the blackness engulfed her.

And the pot on the stove burned dry.

Whenever anyone asked about the ruined cottage on the road into town, McAllister told the story for many years to come. And when he died the new owner of the farm told the same tale. A burnt pot on a burnt stove – so easily done. The silly girl had probably gone for a bath and forgotten all about it. But three ladies, not one, were seen running from the blazing home and nobody knew who they were.

A tall slim woman in a green coat, an old woman in grey and a lady in a cloak the colour of red embers.



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:10 PM
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a reply to: beansidhe

You build such tension and your attention to detail is wonderful! Well told and raised the hair on my neck.



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:15 PM
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Very good read, I read this earlier but got sidetracked before I replied.

I like your style a lot!



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:16 PM
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I love your writing style, and this was a very good story!



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:20 PM
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a reply to: beansidhe

This should come as a lesson: kids, don't play with petrol.

Nice, colourful writing! It is not every day I get the chance to read a story with a good scottish flare and with such colour.




posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:26 PM
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a reply to: beansidhe

As always beansidhe it's a pleasure, well done



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:37 PM
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a reply to: grayeagle

Thank you for taking the time to read, grayeagle. It's always nice to hear from you, and your words do mean a lot.


B x



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:39 PM
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a reply to: valiant

Well I like yours too! Thank you for reading valiant and as a self confessed Mr Gore...do we get to read one from you too?
I hope so,

B x



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:43 PM
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a reply to: AccessDenied

2 typos.
Too late to fix them.

Thank you so much for your kind words, and I'll admit I'm really looking forwards to reading your entry! I've missed these contests, this one is getting really, really good!



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 03:44 PM
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a reply to: TechniXcality

Likewise Tech, and thank you very much, sir!



B x



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 04:36 PM
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a reply to: swanne

Aaw, thanks swanne! I did something strange there and answered you all in the wrong order - why, I do not know. I'm glad you stopped by to read and even gladder you took the time to write such kind words!
Hope all is good with you.


B x



posted on Oct, 3 2015 @ 05:31 PM
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Huh... you are possessed of many talents, apparently. Anyone who can pull off the use of "cloying" gets my respect.

And if you ever want to re-purpose the narrative, you could place it in the American Midwest and make it a methamphetamine lab... but that would lose some of the arcane, Gaelic atmosphere.

Ya done writ good, Beanside....



posted on Oct, 4 2015 @ 04:33 AM
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a reply to: Baddogma

Hello there, and thank you very much for the compliment! I'm glad you stopped by to read.
I might struggle with the accents in a Midwest kitchen, but I could do an erratic Gael in a desert cartel sting?


Big hugs to you, hope all is good today.

B x



posted on Oct, 4 2015 @ 04:45 AM
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a reply to: beansidhe

Sorry, am afraid not, I just write poems every now and then, usually about myself, so I don't post them.



posted on Oct, 5 2015 @ 02:03 PM
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a reply to: beansidhe

You've done it again Beans!
Had me hooked right in from the start to the finish. Lovely piece of work!

WELL DONE YOU!



BigG



posted on Oct, 5 2015 @ 02:06 PM
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originally posted by: beansidhe
a reply to: AccessDenied

2 typos.
Too late to fix them.

Thank you so much for your kind words, and I'll admit I'm really looking forwards to reading your entry! I've missed these contests, this one is getting really, really good!

To be honest, I was so engulfed in your story, I didn't notice errors! No worries Beans. Working on mine as I type. This one will be fashionably late.



posted on Oct, 5 2015 @ 02:25 PM
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a reply to: Gordi The Drummer

Thank you, Gordi! I'm delighted to see you've written one too, so I'm heading straight over to read it now. If it's got that clown-squirrel combo in it, warn me now and I'll give it a bodyswerve.


B xxx



posted on Oct, 5 2015 @ 02:27 PM
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a reply to: AccessDenied

Phew!
But now I've drawn attention to them...grr.


Really looking forward to reading yours, and fashionably late suggests a story of impeccable taste!

B x



posted on Oct, 5 2015 @ 02:45 PM
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originally posted by: beansidhe
a reply to: Gordi The Drummer

Thank you, Gordi! I'm delighted to see you've written one too, so I'm heading straight over to read it now. If it's got that clown-squirrel combo in it, warn me now and I'll give it a bodyswerve.


B xxx


You mean, like......



BigG x







 
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