Each week Romantic Friday Writers hold a themed challenge for romance writers. This week, because it's Hallowe'en coming up, this challenge is open to all! So why not kick the dusts of time, look through the mirror at what's beyond and let your imagination take flight.
The remit is to post up a flash-fiction piece or a poem and max 400 word count. It's a tough thing to do but it's a great way to practise honing one's work by making every word, every sentence count, yet convey a complete story/cameo within those 400 words.
Last week was my last week in the role of admin for RFW. I simply have too much going on in my writing life at the moment, but I'm staying on as a member and will post up pieces as and when I can.
As this week's theme centres around Hallowe'en, I'm breaking all the rules. Note (((cackle of laughter))) and the Devil's mark. I'm way over word count 666: code MPA.
I give you: Haunting!
“Don’t be silly, it can’t possibly have disappeared,” said Amy, kneading dough. “Who in their right mind would stop by to pinch an axe?” She paused, looked her husband in the eye, a glare of accusation. “I bet if I go out there, I’ll find it lying in the long grass somewhere.”
Jake threw his hands in the air, frustration evident. “I tell you I left it in the wood shed.”
Mattie glanced up from her homework. “Dad’s right, mum. I saw him plunge it in the chopping block as I came back from feeding Jupiter.”
Once again dough received a good pummel. “Then the chopping block is where it’s at.”
“Was at,” snarled Jake. “O.K., fess up. Who moved it?”
Amy's hand thumped the dough with zest. “You think I have time to waste playing shuffle the axe?”
Jake watched as Amy panned her eyes around the kitchen, air of desperation about her. A grin spread across his face. “Lost some thing?”
“I swear I left a damp tea towel, on the end of the table.” She glanced at her husband, hands behind his back. “Give it here.”
He bared his hands. “Not guilty.” Laughter then rumbled from the depths. “Don’t look at me like that, I swear I haven’t got it.”
Mattie laughed. “He hasn’t moved, mum, not an inch.”
There was a loud thump and sound of splintered wood and the door swung open. There, in the door frame an embedded axe and blood seeming to drip from the blade.
Jake stepped forward to shield his wife and child from a potential intruder, but none came forth. With bated breath, he wrenched the axe free and glanced back at Amy cradling Mattie to her breast. “Stay here.”
It took but a moment to check outside, and Jake’s first thought that of Jupiter in the paddock. Much to his relief the pony momentarily looked his way and carried on grazing. He checked all around the house, and then it struck him. Smoke. He could smell smoke. He dashed back to the farmyard, an unbelievable scene before him. It could not be, could not be happening.
He shut his eyes, prayed it was some strange vision. But no, there were horsemen circling the yard, animal furs about their shoulders. They were warriors from another time, another place. He yelled at them. Threw stones, anything to distract them. He had to lure them away from the house, away from the burning hay barn, away from his wife and child. Not one of the horsemen noticed him, each stone falling short of its target.
Oh no, Mattie with a tea towel in her hand. What was Mattie doing?
“Go back, Go back inside.”
He ran forward protesting, shouting her name, but a warrior scooped her up, cradled her to chest and before he could reach Mattie the horseman turned about and rode off at the trot the other horsemen surrounding the lead horse.
There was nothing for it but to get the shotgun. He lunged himself through the doorway, and there stood Amy kneading dough, Mattie at the table absorbed in homework.
What the hell had just happened?
He glanced back at the hay barn. No smoke. No fire.
“What day is it?”
“All saints eve,” replied Amy.
He kissed Mattie’s head in passing, moved to stand behind Amy and wrapped his arms about her waist. “Have I told you lately that I love you?”
“Yesterday, I think.” She turned in his arms, floured hands about his neck and leaned into him. Their lips met in a familiar and lingering caress, until, “I love you, too.” She smiled, and whispered, “They come every tenth year.”
“You saw them too?”
“It’s my second time of seeing them.”
“And you never thought to tell me when we moved here?”
“The last time I saw them I was ten years old.”
He glanced at Mattie. “She’s ten.”Mattie suddenly said, “It’s all right, dad. I belong, here.”
That's all folks. Hope this caused a spine tingling sensation.
To see entries by other participants please go here.