A Spring Enchantment

Fera had been looking forward to the Spring Fair since the end of the Winter Market.  Beneath clear blue skies, the sun shone bright and strong, making it feel unseasonably warm for this time of year, but who was going to complain that the weather was better than it should have been?

As Fera moved in and around the crowd, she couldn’t help but smile; she was mesmerised by the noise and bustle of activity wherever she looked.  Then, above the calls of traders and the chattering of gossips, she heard it, soft and distant at first, but as she pushed her way through the throng, it became louder and louder until suddenly she found herself at the front of semi circle of people.  Before her a man a few years older than herself was strumming on a harp.

It was as if the world had stopped.  There was nothing except the music, nothing except the musician’s fingers strumming the harp strings.  Time faded away, lost all importance.

Was this magic? she wondered, before the very thought disappeared, chased away by the enchanting melody.

When the music finally stopped, she realised she was the only one still there with the musician.  The market traders had packed away and gone, the crowd too, though they would no doubt return for the evening entertain.  But just as that thought crossed her mind, she noticed that it was dark, day having given way to night many hours before.

Naturally, the young woman began to feel self-conscious.  Why should she remain when others had not?  Instead, all she could ask was, ‘Why did you stop playing?’

The musician smiled.  ‘Because the spell is at an end.  The charm is cast.  There is no more music left to play.’


 

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A Half-Memory of Somewhere

 

The rain came down in sheets, but that didn’t stop me from walking out of the door with no coat on, my feet bare.  It only took a few seconds before I was drenched.  And yet I didn’t care.  I couldn’t feel a thing.

There I stood, in the middle of the lawn, in the dark, in the rain, looking up at the night sky.  If anyone was to see me they would think me mad, though I was pretty certain I wasn’t.

As the rain lashed my face and plastered my hair to my scalp, I remembered a time before.  I’m not exactly sure when, but before now.  Before this.  Before everything I knew with certainty.  When things were less distinct and more blurred.  Imprecise and ill-defined.  You understand me?

I had a strange memory – a half-memory – of the darkness and of the rain and this overwhelming sense of peace.  That, coupled with the knowledge that I knew of a place beyond the clouds, near the stars.  A place I had been.  Out there.

So what do you make of that?

Maybe I was mad, but that wouldn’t stop me from searching for it.  Just in case…

One Turn of The Wheel

I have some really exciting news that I want to share with you all today.  My first little book, One Turn of The Wheel, has just been published by Three Drops Press.

Isn’t the cover beautiful…

Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn – so the wheel turns. 
As they journey through the seasons, readers of all ages are invited to meet nature deities, a bewildered changeling, loving families who stick together, so-called friends who cannot be trusted, goblins, wizards, vengeful witches, helpful witches, and many others besides. Right at home in the long folk and fairy tale tradition, these are stories for enjoying year after year, and in all weathers.

You can learn more about One Turn of The Wheel, by following this link to the publisher’s website, where you can also read one of the stories from the collection, The Goblin Dance.  (If perchance you do, please, please, please let me know what you think!)

I can’t thank Kate from Three Drops Press enough for all her hard work.  This has been such a fun and exciting experience.

I shall have to think how to celebrate – maybe with a book launch right here on the blog?  If you have any ideas, please let me know!

One Turn of The Wheel can be purchased through Lulu.

The Attic Room

Beautiful cover, isn’t it…

I’m so happy to share that one of my short stories has been included in another of Fantasia Divinity’s anthologies, See Through My Eyes. The anthology brings together a collection of ghost stories; my own offering is entitled, The Attic Room. 

Summary (from Goodreads)

A scream slashes through the quiet night, a chill pierces your skin. The shimmering image of a woman forms in the mist, singing a haunting lullaby. She beckons. Will you go? Featuring 25 haunting stories, SEE THROUGH MY EYES is certain to chill you to the bone and make you wonder who is real and who is not. The Living? Or the dead? Join us as the dead seek to claim their revenge upon the living!

The Attic Room

Bryony Thompson is driving to see friends who live in the middle of rural nowhere.  When her car breaks down on the way, she is forced to stop over at The Blacksmith’s Arms, an isolated country pub offering bed and breakfast.  But the ancient inn is not as quaint as it may first appear…


Useful links:

Goodreads | Amazon UK | Amazon US

The Frozen City

I had never seen anything like it.  A city made of crystal, that shimmered in the light of the sun, moon and stars. So different and bizarre to my eyes was it, that I could have been on another planet.  Perhaps I was.  Or perhaps it was the same planet, but a different time; a different reality.  I could not say.  I was puzzled by many things, the chief of which was how I came to be here, a mystery I had yet to find the answer to.

To look at it from a distance – and I did, for I was so taken by its beauty – you would see a collection of upside down icicles.  Some ended in sharp points.  Others appeared as if they had been broken, their tops snapped off, leaving either strange jagged protrusions or else being weathered smooth by the passage of time.

It looked cold, a city of winter in the heart of a forest that stretched for thousands of miles in every direction.  But looks can be deceiving.  There was warmth there and much jollity to be found.  The people were quick to laugh and slow to anger.

It was a pleasant place to stay, but I wasn’t from there.  I wasn’t one of them and this wasn’t my home.  I was stuck here, unable to return, no different from being stranded on another planet…but I could imagine worse places…


Written for Day 13 of A Month of Mini Writing Challenges 2017: The prompt is “another planet”.  Format and length are your choice.

On the Run

This is for Emily’s Sunday Scrawl #1 photo prompt over at A Writer’s Beginning.  And, I think it might be the start of a serial, but we’ll see.


It wasn’t far to go.  And yet it was too far to get to.  The weather made it harder, of course.  It had begun to snow heavily some time in the night.

I sighed with frustration, and my breath frosted in the air before me. Even inside the shelter it was freezing.  But there was nothing for it; I would have to do my best because this was the only chance I had.

I screwed up the message outlining the where and when, and thanked my lucky stars that someone was willing to help me get out of the city.  Then, as quickly as I could, I packed up my meagre belongings and was on my way.

I crossed the settlement, and exited through a secret door in the town’s walls as per my instructions. On the other side was the forest.

I moved cautiously around the trees, careful to avoid any rabbit holes or sticking up roots that had been concealed by the snow.  If I fell and twisted my ankle or broke my leg, well…that didn’t bear thinking about.

The going was slow.  I tried to pick up the pace, conscious of the distance I had to go and the short time in which to do it.  Panic and fear was never far away.

But then, through the leafless trees I glimpsed the railway line.  I sighed with relief, though it was short-lived as the forest echoed with the sound of the approaching locomotive.

If I didn’t make the tunnel, I would miss the train.  And if I didn’t make the train, I was as good as dead.

I broke out into a run, oblivious to all obstacles in my path.  I had to make it.  I had to.

But the question was, even if I managed to get on the train, was it fast enough to out run my past?

Excavating the Archives: In The Hall of Two Truths

(picture credit: wikipedia)

The funeral was over, the door to the tomb, which had been filled with all that I could possibly need in the afterlife, sealed.  The opening of the mouth ceremony had been accomplished and I had made my way from the tomb through Duat, the underworld, passing all trials I met along the way.  The protective amulets and spells I had been given ensured success, at least this far.

And now I found myself here, in the Hall of Two Truths, met at the doorway by the jackal-headed god, Anubis, his ears alert, his face grave.  He took my hand and led me into the chamber, at the head of which Osiris, holding his crook and flail, sat upon his throne, Isis and Nephthys standing to either side.  I felt the eyes of the forty-two divine judges who resided in the Hall, on me as we moved along the magnificent pillared walkway, the only sound to be heard coming from the scribe-god, Thoth, who had already started to etch a permanent record of events here in stone.

Torches and braziers lit up the vast space, shining light on to the largest set of scales I had ever seen.  I swallowed hard as my eye was drawn to Ammit the Devourer, who waited patiently close by.  The thought of what was to happen should I be founding wanting at the final test was terrifying.

We stopped before the throne, so that I could make my supplications to the Lord of Duat.  As I began to speak, Anubis moved away and left me standing there alone, but my voice didn’t fail me.  When I next laid eyes upon the jackal-headed god, he was holding my heart in his hands.  Ma’at, the Lady of Truth was standing next to him, her ostrich feather standing proudly in her headdress.

At some imperceptible signal, Ma’at slowly, reverently, removed the feather and placed it on one side of the scales.  Nothing happened, for truth, justice, harmony and honesty carried no weight. Then Anubis stepped forward.  It was time to see how my heart would fare, to see how pure was my conscience.  Would I be admitted into the afterlife?  Would I attain transformation into an akh, or would the Devourer of the Dead have her way?

I put my back to the scales and turned my attention to the rest of the assembly, for it was time to begin my negative confession.  Addressing each of the judges by name, I started reciting the forty-two statements, silently imploring that my heart would not betray me, that my conscience would be found pure and unblemished and light against the feather…

I have not committed sin…

…I have not uttered curses…

…I have not been angry without just cause…

…I have wronged none, I have done no evil…

…I have not slain the cattle belonging to the gods.*

The time passed quickly and soon my confession was at an end.  I could not tell what my heart, if anything, had told those who looked on, but I would soon find out.

Slowly, I turned back around to face Osiris and my fate, hoping against hope that I was about to be declared “true of voice”.  The alternative didn’t bear thinking about…


* These statements are taken from those listed in the Papyrus of Ani, translated by E.A.Wallis Budge


This piece of flash fiction was originally posted on this blog in July 2015, here:

https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/in-the-hall-of-two-truths/