Passing Time

“The Devil’s pocket watch had no hands.” Parson Dubois whispers to the pale breeze.

His eyes look for the passage of time or life…Or anything. His wooden bench testament of a barn no longer in use. Much like the rest of the dozen buildings long abandoned that make up Destiny. His world of three dusty rows mistaken for streets.

His mind places people about the store fronts. Ghosts of days gone by. Horses tied to posts. A wagon left half way between coming and going. Sounds of children ring out. Ladies in long dresses meander past lost in conversation about their neighbors.

The church bell clangs behind him. He jumps up to answer. His hands part the brown faded doors. The empty rows of pews lay sleeping. A simple dias with an open book holds service to a lost cause. Yet behind a partial wall there seems to be life.

His stands fast in the middle to gaze out among his missing flock. He knows no-one should have gone past him. His company creates a mystery. Even the ghosts have departed these parts.

From a corner jumps a ten treat old Reggie Whitener. His Amish hat just about swallows his head. His smile lights up the room.

“I waited till I seen Mr Miller..just like you ask of me!” Reggie stands like he is ready to run and chase the wind.

“Well, that’s a good young man.” He speaks faintly while his eyes look upon someone gone to his reward several years earlier. “Now light us a candle and take your place near your momma.”

He gives into the scene. Voices fill a previously empty church. Parson Dubois wipes his eyes of the flow of tears. He is smiling for first time in a long time. His back remains to the church. His pulse kicks up a notch causing a hot flash.

He turns to hear an angel’s voice calling the assembly toward the light. Standing together six and thirty begin to sing. Each face lights up with a soft glow. They all gently sway side to side in rhythm of the hymn. One last beacon of hope from the ashes blown around for a generation.

“You have all come back to me!” he leaves a careless laugh to his words.

The breezes blow past. Through the windows a world grows dark. The faces smile brighter.

“It’s time you came home with us.” They collectively sing.

Parson Dubois falls sidewise on the bench. His pocket watch no longer needs hands either.

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Spirits – Beginnings

“Do you think he can help us, Pa?” Her voice trails off. Her left foot steps on the porch of Elijah Brooks, seer of things. 

“Well Ma. We prayed for three nights. The good Lord sent us here… ” his voice loses its baritone sound. “She’s lost. He finds things. We need to do this Ma.”

He stands on the ground. His face worn more than his years. Those eyes are dark by misfortune and loss. The black hair turned mostly white. His Sunday best clothes appear to have seen better days. If you draw a picture of forlorn, you’ll see Samuel Grey.

Bessie Grey stands at the door. She is a rail of a woman. Her dark clothes make her look ghost white. Waves of hair sag beneath a yellowed bonnet. Her bright blue eyes sparkle as only hope can.  Her face is drawn. Her heart is slow. The door might as well be a wall. It seems an immovable force as hand shaky hand tries the latch.

“Ma, move aside. It’s an old house. Door sticks. The man’s in the spirit business. Not much use for tools in his work.” Samuel makes quick work of the door ” There we go. After you Ma.”

Samuel steps back to let Bessie by. They enter a parlor. Bookshelves crowd the room. Darkness seems misplaced by hurricane lamps. The smoke cascades out the door as if it waited for the chance to escape. 
“Is there anyone… at home? We need to talk with Mr Brooks. Kinda important.” Samuel’s call seems to echo down unseen distant halls.

Bessie looks over the old books, boxes, and skulls that fill the shelves that hide every visible wall.  

Her hand finds a coyote skull.  She turns it to face her.  It’s eyes still seem to gaze at her.  She can feel a presence.

A hand suddenly slides over hers and captures the skull. 

“These are finely tuned spiritual devices. We musn’t get too many feelings added to them.”  Emma sings a soft song with words. “Mr Brooks expected a visit, but more than one.  If you’ll find a rest here on the ough, he’ll be here shortly. And whom is calling and the item we need to find please?”

The couple stands silent. It’s as if this woman suddenly appeared out of the blue. Her smile angelic. Her hair bright red, tight curls that sway as she stands still. Green eyes that holds you captive. The accent far from these hills.

“Please sit, sit. I really have to prepare him. He’s in a tempered mood. Hates surprises. So your business is…?” Emma smiles with dimples on fill display.

“We are the Greys. We need to find our daughter. She’s just 17 and left without notice. And we just need to find her….” Bessie reaches out her right arm with her palm turned up. “My baby… I need her back at hoooome.”

Her head crashes into Samuel’ s shoulder.

“Please ma’am. You can help us?” Samuel covers Bessie with his left arm.

Emma heads down a long hall. She stops and opens a double set of doors.  The room is dark. Curtains of dark wool cling to the windows thet look held up by cobwebs. Shadows give way to hallway light.  Three round tables and a handful of highbacked chairs clutter about. Each has a collection of globes, candles, books, bright colored scarves, and two hurricane lamps.  

She lights the lamps from back to front.  She chooses a smaller table near the door to clear all but the scarves and lamp from.  A quick glance about the room finds the rug beater.  The curtains need cleared of the spider webs and dust.  It has been awhile since she has been in this room.

Emma stands at the doorway. A chill catches her.  A side to side view reveals nothing. As usual, something can always be there in this house, near him. 

She straightens the cotton dress with both hands. Her eyes catch the green color in the folds of aged black dye material.  The dress was her first gift back when Elijah was a Magician only needing a model to tour.  The miles and years have sank long below the horizon.

Low voices of the Greys murmur in the parlor.  It’s time to get to work.  The process follows a pattern.  Each step brings them closure and provides until the next mystery.

Her pace down the hall quickens. The floorboards give slight squeaks and occasional creak to tell of the journey.  A black door marks the library. It holds the deepest secret of all. Elijah Brooks.  Emma takes a deep breath before entering.

The room is just as cluttered as every other here. Books and trinkets scatter through the room. Ivory sheers cover the windows. Tapestries of dark battles and unicorns frame the lone chair. A bunch of tables make a maze to protect the solitary figure.

Elijah sits on a black wooden chair.  Rust colored velvet and lion head handrests fight with gilded spidlings for attention. His long pale face is sunken and accented by black goatee. The dark cropped hair could be made of coal spikes.  He looks more dead than alive and too young to be this way.

“Woman! What is the meaning of barging into my meditation and divining?! We have company coming… Big journeys.. I sense things a stir in the spirit world.” Elijah pulls himself toward standing.

Elijah runs his bony fingers through his hair.  His gaze fixes on the crystal chandelier filled with long lost candles.

“Yes, we will be working again.”  he coughs 

“Elijah, we have the Greys in the parlor. The daughter is missing.  Rumor is she left with a coal miner from next town over. So says Mildred down at the Dry Goods.  It’s been a couple of days.  They are here.  Get you act together! They await you.” Emma gets tired of the drama when he wakes up. Her job is to collect and set the mood.

“Why yes. Girls run off.  I’ll give them a spirit read with rattling chairs.  Did they bring anything with them? I can’t work without props! Simply does not look good. Make sure and allow me a brief pause. The decanter of spirits is the first passage to another world.” Elijah moves his hands in circular pattern. “Why are you still here?! Before they leave Emma!”

“Oh… You!  Get it together. This could be big.” She snaps her heels to the floor.  It echoes to and fro.

Emma walls slowly down the hall.  The gloomy path has a soft glow coming from the parlor.  It loosens her heart.  Comfort brings a smile.

“Mr and Mrs Grey, please come with me.  You must think of your daughter.” Emma motions back down the hall. “You do have something personal to her.  It should identify her.”

Emma turns around shepherding the Greys into the double doors of the reading room. The few steps are dragged out to fit a ritual of mystic proportions.

“Pa, maybe we should get more of her things.  I hope the necklace is enough.” Bessie touches her right eye with a handkerchief.

“She wore it for years. Until last month. Nothing better to fit her.” Samuel puts his hand on the small of her back.  There’s a nervousness about him. 

“There are a few things to discuss.  Any stray thoughts change how the spirits work with us.  Elijah is a bridge. Sometimes..” Emma explains

“We brought what we could… I don’t know how much.” Samuel jumps in.

“The gift is we share.  Never is what you can give questioned!  We help to find things.  You will know what is right.” Emma reaches to touch his forearm with a slight grab. “Let’s find her.” 

They arrive at the doors. Their eyes try to make sense of it all. Rainbow talisman catches Bessie’ s eye.  

“We can use that one.” Emma whispers to her.

Bessie nods her approval.

“Please we will use the back table by the window.  I’ll light some candles. Elijah Brooks seats nearest the window.” Emma stays back by the door while the Grey’s work through the collection filling the room.

“One moment, I’ll return with the seer.” Emma bows 

The footsteps creep down the hall. Elijah appears outside.

“Use the rainbow talisman.  She stared at it. I’ll attach the left table to the harness.  Are the electric lights to be used tonite?” Emma whispers to Elijah.

“Yes, woman. Give me three minutes. Shake the chair twice.  If you hear my voice raise, move the table. Are they believers?” Elijah peers in the room

“They will be.” Emma smiles and heads down to a small room next door. 

Elijah watches the older couple. Bessie is fidgety.  Her eyes looking at every trinket. Her hands constantly wring themselves. Samuel sits still. A thin sculpture of simple man.  No feeling gets out of him either.  Samuel stares toward a sign that reads ‘Do Not Ask the Bridge The Price of the Toll.

“Bessie and Samuel! Welcome to my place of Spirits. I can not tell you what we shall see. I can tell you the more you believe, the more the spirits will provide.” Elijah spreads his hands out like a bird taking flight.  “I will be reducing these lamps some.  We need to watch for even weakest spirits.  They all speak in different tongues.  Some move to communicate.”

Elijah pauses at the door.  He looks about the room. His right pointer finger lifted to his lips then points to the rainbow talisman “We will draw from this, Pendant of Roybiv.”

Bessie draws a quick breath.  Her left hand finds Samuel’s right thigh. 

Elijah smiles and walks to sit at the table. “You approve Mrs Grey! Excellent!” 

Elijah sits and adjusts the position of his chair several times.  His eyes watch the angle of the candle light. The room seems to dim slightly.

“Mr Brooks.  Our daughter is gone. Three days have we waited for her return. What ever can you do to find her. Please.” Samuel extends his hand to Elijah.

“Sir.  I will exhaust my abilities to your wishes. I cannot touch anything but what is hers.  Clear vision is most important.” Elijah drops his smile.  His lips tighten and almost disappear. 

“Ooooohhhh. Aaaaaahhhhh. Descend to do our bidding.  We call amongst the blessed and unmitigated among you.” Elijah raises his voice and slightly in his chair. His arms drop to the table.  He extends those arms with open hands toward the couple.

Both Grey’s look a bit lost.  Both see the hands before them.   Both unsure of what has begun here.

Elijah opens and closes his hands.  Bessie clasps his left hand and reaches for Samuel right hand.  Samuel notices Bessie’s moves and grabs the others hands.

Elijah jerks upright with his eyes wide open. Then falls back to the chair. The lamps near the door flicker and go dark.

“Your object please.  Focus on the candle in the middle.  That is the doorway.  Visions will dance.  Voices will talk.  Speak only to me!  The spirits can draw from you if you engage them.  I neeeeedd to feel.  Her. Her. Her.” Elijah rocks forward and back.

Bessie tries to release her hand from Elijah. She uses her other hand to find the pocket with the Blue necklace. She temples at its feel.  It is warm like skin not the metalits made from.

“Here it is, Mr Brooks.” Bessie uses as little voice as possible. Placing it next to the pillar candle

“I must ask please talk only to me.  With my name.” Elijah looks at the other tables hidden in the dark.  

Behind Samuel the sound of a chair sliding against the floorboards fills the room. The couple jerks their hands free.

“Samuel! Samuel! Look!” Bessie’s voice echoes.

“Circle! Circle! Never break the circle! I can’t protect us without it! Your hands now!” Elijah roars in a deep voice.

“Spirit! Join us.  The Holy spirit watches all assembled here.  Spirit of pure heart tell me your name!” Elijah leans and stands partial up.  His eyes blazing in the candlelight.

“You sense her.  I can tell by your vibrations.” Elijah lowers his tone to reassuring. “We seek a path to her.  Lend us a light.”

A soft glow appears above the table.  A glass globe spills a pale yellow light. The couple eyes move like a moth to the light.

“Miners lady?! I understand none of this. Please spirit.  I close my eyes to welcome youe vision.” Elijah elevates and drops his tone.  His body falls deep in his chair. He jerks forward.

His mind sees an image.  His body isn’t comfortable with it.  His hands squeeze the others hard.  

“I see a figure. It’s a lake… so very blue.  Darkness surrounds… Cave? Mine? Dark but sound off waves.  Tell me spirit.” Elijah takes a reverence to his words.

The girl is fuzzy in his mind.  The lake creates a mist that spirals clockwise.  Her arms make her a spinning cross.  The left arm spilts the haze.  Her eyes glow deep blue like the water. 

“Desmond, Desmond” unmoving lips speak

The vision goes black

“Drummond! Emma lights! Emma lights!” Elijah throws off their hands.

He stands up. His body is shaky.  His elongated features look like they have changed. “I had a clear vision!  You are lucky parents.  Love and belief have brought forth this glorious vision.”

“You found her! She’s in Drummond!” Bessie jumps out of her seat.

“We still don’t know about this lake.  How do we get there?” Samuel asks of Elijah

“Spirits have their own timescale.  The vision faded.  It may take more than one or two.  I’m exhausted.  Please tomorrow… We will do more.” Elijah lowers his head.  He wipes a damp cloth across his forehead.

Emma opens the doors. “Elijah! You called.”

“Show them the way home. I had clear vision but someone severed it.” Elijah doesn’t look at Emma.

Emma looks blank at him.  She never been called so quickly to the session. 

“Mr and Mrs Grey, this way. There’s a black bag in parlor. Fell free to leave what you wish there for Mr Brooks. Please return tomorrow. These sessions withdrawal his energy. He had a contact… that’s what we need for a beginning.” Emma walks backwards facing them the whole time.

Confused faces stare back at her.

“Emma, he seen her. Why, oh why do we wait.  We need her back! Please it’s been four days since our baby was home.” Bessie drops yo her knees holding Emma’s hand.

“Ma, we should go home. We’ll be right back next evening.” Samuel digs for silver to pay for the reading.

“I need to know she is well. I need to know shee.” Bessie’s voice fails her.  She drops her eyes. Her eyes rise as Samuel reaches for her. 

“He told us tomorrow. We don’t know the spirits. She will be home soon.” Samuel holds his wife. His word extrude calm.

“Good evening folks” Emma holds the front door for the Grey’s.

Samuel places a handful of silver dollars in the black bag with a sigh.

Elijah watches from the down the hall.

Emma closes the front door and leans against it.

“I saw her. Emma, I saw her floating in deep blue water! I actually saw her.” Elijah stands white as a ghost in a dim hall.

“I don’t understand. You are really worked up.  You used to see things before.  Details told by spirits.” Emma tries not to laugh.

“Don’t! This one is real. I mean… not the pomp and circumstance.  Real vision. She said Desmond twice. It was clear. I let go of her. Of course, I told them Drummond.  Your washer women talk.  Running to the next town makes sense.” Elijah comes out of the shadows. ” This is different.”

Geoffrey’s Rounds

Geoffrey watches the morning light turn to harsh noon.  The shadows fade away fron the stately halls.  Tapestries with rich colors retreat to washed out halls.  Distance voices race down halls. The tours are starting again.

His pale face and hollow eyes dim.  The children bring a challenge to his type.  The adults look past him and sometimes walk through him.  Time changes things for the living.  Today will be tomorrow for Geoffrey again.

“Hey, I think I see a ghost!” a high-pitched voice rises above the crowd.

Geoffrey waves and smiles. The adults never understand the kids reaction of wonder and fright.

Written as part of a challenge called flash fiction for aspiring writers . Details are available at https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2017/06/12/fffaw-challenge-week-of-june-13-2017-2/

Thank you MajesticGoldenRose for our photo prompt this week!

Collage – Visitor From Beyond

“Be grateful for whover comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” My voice fades.  

The window seems to bring the flaked paint.  A strange grayish tint mixes with the earliest sunset.  A warbler jumps on the branch closer to me.  His orange nape takes me away from his searching eyes.  He is the visitor from beyond.  Beyond his season.  Beyond his range.  Her glares through my person.  He shrills a call out.

The dresser with its fading burgundy Gerbera lies waiting to crumble away.  The ancient house groans and pops as the evening chill gathers.  Timeless ritual of the night collapsing the days work is fine fashion.  It’s tender cool fingers run down my spine.  

I feint a move to warmer rooms.  I like the faded room.  Comfort in its condition.  An orange glow climbs past the metal frame toward me.   I’m glued by the scene of an ancient city catching it’s nightly fire before fading to black.

In the stillness moments rush by.  More fingers of cool reach across my back.  Reluctantly, I move toward a more festive place with strangers called family.

In the hall, laughing.  Tender as if calling a lover to gather.  Intimate details promise desires fulfilled.  

I stop in mid stride.  

A door open to the left.   A room with a tub and candles surrounding her watery grave.  I long for  her still.   I can sense the scent of her.  My eyes touch flesh that is no longer of this Earth.  I’m waiting for her to turn. …. she always does right before fading away.   Back under the water into which she left. 

I sigh.   My guilt is a pleasure.  Then glass silvers into my soul.  I gave up reaching out to her.  My trance shatters.

“Hey, are you going on there?”  The nephew points at the bathroom.

“No, I just thought I heard something  in there.”  I speak slowly like I’m learning the language.

“No ghosts! I hope.”  He jumps in the room closing the door.

“Not any more.” I’m telling myself this as I retreat to the rest of the people I escaped from 30 minutes ago

Scratching at the Door 

Faint sounds crawls down the hallway.

The cold air causes the house to Creek.  The sound persists. Light scratching upon a wooden door.  A whistling wind calls along the window panes.  A draft rushes to see its cousin outside. 

Four paws stretch out.   With a flip of a tail, Whiskers trots to investigate the sound.  

The scratching of nails on wood grows.  A sense of impatience in its tone.

The wind kicks up its heels and howls a bit.   Dancing trees paint shadows upon the windows.  Dim lights of a rustic living room hold them bsck from entering the house.

Whiskers sits in front of the door.  His eyes fixed about a foot from the floor.   His tail twitches with each scratch.  The sound deepens and adds a thud before the scratch continues. 

The wind dies quickly.   The trees freeze in place.  The thud becomes a knock.  it ends with a deep scratch.   Then repeats.

Whiskers scurries back to the hall.  He turns back to listen.   Watch, just in case. 

The wind howls again.   Trees dance their dance silently bare of leaves.  The windows rattle.

The bang on the door commands attention.  It’s tell tale scratch seems to come through the door now.

A muffled scream of low deep origin rumbles against the door.  It emerges as a whail.  Angry against the ears, sullen in the brain.  It carries the weight of burdens and suffering.  Cringing is the nature reaction. 

Once more the knock comes with a sorrid scratch running down a larger chunk of door than ever before. 

A flash of light drowns the porch.  Shadows form and scatter.  Long pointed fingers cling to the banister as they fade back into the night.

Tomorrow, or the next day yet may return. 

Ward

Photo credit: Joy Pixley

An old man peers down a stairwell.   His tiny flashlight meets the modem convenience of motion detector controlled lighting.  His aged eyes claw at shadows to make out figures.  Nothing comes into focus. 

From stories up his castle has keep him safe.  From the outside, it’s well worn weathered face shows little of value here.  The floors creak and moan.   Walls pop and the day time heat leaves through  the roof.   Much like the old man, it lies in perpetual half awake mode. 

A small boy scurried across the floor.   A bouncing ball leads him.  

“Mommy ate the ghosts here?” A fragile voice of innocence carries. 

“No, darling! Ghosts are just for scary stories.” Mommy replies from an unseen place.

Ward looks down.   “Sonny, look up and you’ll see one!”

The old man smiles. Another family to occupy his time at last. 
Written as part of a challenge called Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers; details are available at https://flashfictionforaspiringwriters.wordpress.com/2016/09/19/fffaw-challenge-week-of-september-20-2016/

Photo Prompt # 127 Maiden of the Cove

Her glowing lantern guides her way.  The gentle waters raise and fall giving her a dance across the seabed. She would float despite the tides anyway.  It’s her full moon tradition to visit the shallow wrecks.  Their hulls and beams strattle sandbags the reach out to the in coming season.  Gentle bar of unspeakable horror.  

Her trip is a necessary one.  She roams these coasts on those clear moon filled nights .  Back to where she entered the water.  Over and over again.  Maybe this time she will find the family that floated off.  Maybe they lived.  She’ll never know unless they cross paths in these moon filled nights. 

Written as part of a challenge, details are available at: https://mindlovemiserysmenagerie.wordpress.com/2016/08/23/photo-challenge-127/

Senses

I tasted you this morning

Sweet as ove ripe pear

Metallic like a bad tooth 

Bitter like swallowing pride 

I washed away your shadow 

Darkness hides your sinews

Light reveals your nothingness 

Rasping points gouge skin.

Lost lost caresses of crushed glass

I long to feel the velvet you hid in

Whispers of perfume call out

Excitement dares me closer

Carrion with rose petals

White noise voices tickle the ear

If I listen again,  I grow deaf 

Empty words fill out your form

Soothsayer

Indigo looks at a long rainbow sun dress.  Her bargain shopping on sidewalk sales followed her to the beach.  She picks it up holding it to her neck, kicking up on everything leg to check it against her tan legs. “Twenty five…..I don’t know.” She mumbles

“Child in three nights you will wear this in the moonlight.” An ancient woman look out from under a,giant straw hat, her eyes, cloaked by sunglasses.  Her skin wrinkled, furrowed deeply from time.  White hair rushes out from the hat, past shoulders. “Derrick, his name is Derrick.  You will know him, by another name.  Be wary.  You will sparkle, lightness draws the darkest ones.  He must be refused.  His other family awaits him.”

Indigo stands stunned.  Her world is swirling.  How the hell did she know Derrick’s name?  Other family? Could it be true?  He travels,but she goes with him often….not always, but that’s her job.  Lost in thought,she never notices the ancient woman is gone.

She breaks her focus.  And is alone suddenly.  “Now what?  Well, she is right about the dress…”

More Ghosts

“Are you ok?” Her little voice has an echo to it. The little girl had pigtails that start blonde and end uneven with charred clumps.  The sweet face is hollow.  Her figure is twisted.  She hides a second child behind her.   A even smaller face peers out from above waist height.  It’s spiked hair singed and face covered in soot.

Cecilia clears her tear stained eyes. She had been crying all night.  She wasn’t sure if it was night or day.  Hell did it even matter.  But her eyes behold these two little ones.  

Her mind tries to grab a hold of the scene.  The grey black had become more blue black.   Shadows stir  in the distance.   Some shadows
drag across what looks like ground.   Voices mutter in a language made of gibberish and underwater sounds.

“Sally, is she ok?”  The little head asks as he looks up at the girl.

“I think she’s scared. Tucker, she’ll come around.  I bet Dark man already saw her.”  Sally stares at Cecelia.  Her dark eyes are cold.  She holds no expression.  The face seems to go in and out of focus.

“Dark man! He’s the Dark man! What does that even mean?   How did both of you get here….your just little children.    I don’t…understand….it makes no….sense.  I. . ” Cecelia finds words harder to come by.

“He comes to pull you away.   That tree, or this place means something to you.   If you leave, you will drift.   You may find it again.  But we lost our way home!   The Dark man did it to us.   He’s mean.”  Sally looks at her like Cecelia should know that already.

“He took us.   We heard then calling us back.   But the Dark man said we being to him now!”  Tucker talks into his sister’s back.

“What are these voices?   I hear strange voices…it’s like a speaker…They are so distant.  Does the Dark man come by everyday?” Cecelia is shaking.   Anxiety chops at words.  Headless thoughts parade down memory lane. She is the adult and her grip on reality tells her the children need to help her.   Afraid is knowing why to fear.  Fear is worrying about what you should be afraid of.  The play volleyball with her mind.

A loud banging noise rings to her left.   The children let out a quiet “Oh, no!”

“We have to go.   He already knows we saw you!  It could be trouble.   Bye, lady!”  Sally no more then gets the words out and they are gone.

Part 1 in case you missed it is below…
https://any1mark66.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/ghosts/?preview=true