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Writing Challenges Chronicles Writing Challenges including the popular '75 word challenge' and the new '300 word challenge'.

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Old 29th September 2011, 09:54 PM   #1 (permalink)
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300 WORD CHALLENGE -- number 3 — READ FIRST POST!!

THE CHALLENGE:

To write a story in 300 words or less

Inspired by the image provided below, and in the genre of
Science Fiction, Fantasy, or other Speculative fiction


Only one entry per person

All stories Copyright 2011 by their respective authors, who grant the Chronicles Network the non-exclusive right to publish them here.

This thread will be closed until October 10 -- as soon as the thread is unlocked, you may post your story

Entries may be posted no later than October 31, 2011 at 11:59 pm GMT

Voting will close November 15, 2011 at 11:59 pm GMT
(unless moderators choose to make an extension based on the number of stories)

You do not have to enter a story to vote. In fact, we encourage all Chronicles members to read the stories and vote for their favorites.

You may cast three votes

For a further explanation of the rules see here:
Rules for the Writing Challenges

THE MAGNIFICENT PRIZE:

Three months of Glory and Adulation!
Your story posted on the SFFChronicles home page and added to the
300 WORD WRITING CHALLENGE Roll of Honor
A book of Your choice, up to the price of £10 GBP, from The Book Depository




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Photograph provided by Culhwch
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Last edited by Teresa Edgerton; 1st October 2011 at 05:49 AM.
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Old 10th October 2011, 10:27 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

FINDING MACNEICE

I came to see the man who brought Snow to Ulster. It's everywhere, if you know where to look; in his poem, in tributes, in a rock band's name. Snow. An undercurrent of belonging exuded in our language.

I read about him and it brought me here to where his house no longer stands, but where the visions which haunted his childhood remain, agelessly.

Two tracks lie ahead; I take the smaller one, mossy and less trodden.

It takes me to his graveyard, where the boy watched statues loom over his childhood garden, infecting his dreams. I see them lining the break between graveyard and garden; crosses, madonnas and angels.

Behind me, I hear the sound of children at the municipal pond. Turning to the sound my eye is caught by a cobweb-drawn angel, adorned with fallen leaves and sense the lingering magic of the place.

Respectfully, I move to the mausoleum in the centre. I push it's half-height gate open, the rust staining my fingers. Here, I can feel the cemetary's power, and I set my device.

I turn the dial back to one hundred, hoping it works. It should, the theory is sound.

I watch the angel as the cobwebs fall away, the leaves breaking free like soft butterflies emerging into the light. I hear the voices from the pond fading, the sound of traffic vanishing.

As I return along the path, all has changed; the road ahead is now a track; the house is now in place. As I watch the house a mother is taken out, a boy child crying at her leaving.

I watch the defining moment of a life and know I have witnessed the moment which led to the snow.

Last edited by springs; 10th October 2011 at 10:40 AM.
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Old 10th October 2011, 12:30 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

A Grimm kind of prison



Such an innocent, sweet face. Beatific even, but then, she was an angel. Yet her face hid a secret, in a village that held many.


Sequestered from the world they had once known, there was a single night on which they might be able to sneak back into the realm of reality. If they could draw in but one child on this most special of nights, the spell that kept them imprisoned would be broken. With the leaves turning, falling, the time was close at hand.

'I have the candles ready,' said the candle maker.

The kind-faced old lady looked up. 'Are they...?'

He nodded. 'Nothing but the fat of plump children. I have only a few left.'

'And I have the apples to lure them in,' said the Countess.


The hour was upon them. They gathered in the place between worlds: a graveyard, so ancient nobody knew when it had first been dug. On the edge of the village, it was enclosed by a wall with two arched gateways; one to the village and one to The World.

'Listen,' the old lady ordered, her face transformed with lust for the human flesh that she could now almost smell.

'Help me to set up,' rasped the chandler. 'There is little time.'

The Countess stepped forwards, placing her enchanted apples close to the gate, illuminated by candle light.


The angel atop the arch stepped down, blocking the thin curtain that separated them from the other world with her sword.

And their moment passed.

They were still within their village prison, deep inside the impenetrable forest. Kept from the freedom they had once known. Not forgotten, but cast into memory only as dimly remembered parts of folklore, transformed into nothing more than fairy tales.

Their gaoler wore a child's face.
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Old 10th October 2011, 02:56 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

Devotion

A spider scuttled across her cheek, but she scarcely noticed it. She simply knelt by his grave, waiting, just another statue.

Their first meeting had been strange, but wonderful. His pale spirit, dwelling in neither life nor death, had found itself at the gates of Heaven, where she had welcomed him warmly. As time passed, they grew close, and were happy.

Until he had disappeared.

She later learned that, by magick or science, his soul had been returned to his body: whole, if not healthy. She missed him terribly, but was content to wait until they would be reunited at the end of his natural life. That was enough.

And so, she waited, but when he didn’t appear, she worried. Her investigations eventually revealed that he had died in violence, and that his soul had been lost. As the enforcers who took unworthy ones to the Lower Realms hadn’t seen him either, she resolved to descend to the mortal world and find him, risking Heaven’s anger.

For centuries, she searched fruitlessly. There was no trace of his spirit, only an unmarked grave on an island to the north. Here, she chose to wait for him, in case he returned to his final resting place.

The dust of ages blew around her as the years rolled by, settling on her like a shell. She didn’t care, even though it made her visible to human eyes. Civilizations rose and fell, but she stayed, still hoping to find his soul, until the end of time itself.

The ground cracked open beneath her, and as her shell shattered she felt the net that draws all souls to Heaven being cast one last time. As she rose in its embrace, she felt a very familiar presence next to her, and she wept in joy.
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Old 10th October 2011, 06:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

Time
The great changer, the mover and shaper of our universe.

A soft spring breeze danced tendrils of my, then, raven hair ticklingly beside my cheek. Flowers dappled the ground and air with their fragrant rejoicing in the season. Laughter rang over our little corner of the world, skipping down the lanes and sneaking into the hearts of those too old to participate in such revelry. Life was perfect.

God and Time conspire against perfection in mortals I think.

Sitting as I often did this time of year on the lawn, where I could watch over those I loved. The bright sun caressing my back while I worked, I could almost wish the day would last forever.

Gretchen was muddying up her new boots, while Anna scolded jealously at such wonton delight. Peter was just coming back with his father when it happened. A flash of thunder and a bolt of pain and our idyllic world collapsed. Too fast to give warning, too sudden to intervene, I remained frozen in place. Flash again and 3rd and a 4th time, all those I loved were stolen beyond my reach, my heart rendered to pieces. Immobilized by the suddenness of the attack, the beauty of the day now so incongrutous with the turmoil in my soul.

Silence is my punishment for silence. Turned to stone by a pain too great to bear, and left to witness times dance across all I once knew. Meadows turned to forests, Pastures to row houses. Villages swell and are striped of inhabitants. All under my watchful care, all beyond my reach.

Time can be so cruel. Time does not cure all wounds, centuries later my pain is as fresh as it was that distant spring day
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Old 10th October 2011, 09:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

Angel, Please Watch Over Me



Angel please watch over me, as I travel sea to sea. The sun will not rise for me, oh Angel, please watch over me.


Kira awoke, breathing heavily. This had been the fourth night in a row in which those words had bound across her dreaming mind, whispering from all directions. The voices came from invisible sources, but the blackness of sleep. What was strange was the mention of the sea; she had never been on a ship.

Next to her, her girlfriend groaned and rolled over in her sleep, but appeared to be sleeping much better than she had been. Kira glanced at the clock and groaned; it was only three a.m. She sighed and closed her eyes.


“Is this her?” Detective Mason glanced over at the young blonde woman.

“Yes, that’s her,” she answered, tears in her eyes. “She left one night, climbed out of bed, sleepwalking. It was like she were being controlled by a separate entity. I tried going after her but she had already fallen into the river and was being swept away by the time I caught up to her.” She burst into tears and the detective held her, comforting her.

“It wasn’t your fault,” he told her.

“I know,” the woman answered, sniffling. “But I feel guilty about not trying.” She pushed away and wiped her eyes. “I need some time to think about things now, detective…”

The detective smiled. “Of course.”


The funeral was held early the next week. The ceremony was short; Kira had no surviving family and only a couple of friends, so the church was mostly empty.

She was buried in a nearby cemetery, her grave marked by a stone cherub stone, overlooking the sea she had never visited, but had always dreamed of crossing over.
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Old 12th October 2011, 11:35 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

The Graveyard

Those gossamer lines are the work of a spider. Trying to catch prey, but he just has dead leaves. How are the spiders? When is the last time I saw one?

I can’t say.

My thoughts become more disorganised, elusive, over time. Without company, without that reciprocal contingency, my mind wanders, as do I, from local to locale. If I look inward I see my mind is tarnished, abraded, like the stone surface of this angel. I sense the façade becoming stained, broken.

Like the buildings I see each day.

Such a beautiful face.

I’ll stay here awhile, among these buried dead. It feels peaceful. I’ll eat one of these stale cereal bars.

The girl’s face, or the angel’s face, is a picture of innocent loss. Without pretence or guile. Perhaps a real girl modelled for the sculpture. An artist or a mason made it. Someone installed it. A group of mourners attended the funeral. A priest. So many people the thought makes my head spin.

So quiet not a sound.

The angel looks like she has accepted something. An unimaginable loss? Her own death? Not happy, but resigned.

I wonder if I will ever accept that way. I think I still mostly deny.

The sun breaks from clouds, the light lifts, I feel the warmth on my skin. I recline on this lichen covered stone slab. It feels good after all that walking, all that searching for food, clues and signs.

I wake with an anguished groan. Sitting up, reaching out to save her. But it is just a dream. Just the angel’s face. The sun has gone. Overcast. A darkling twilight. Colder. So quiet. Not a sound. Just me and the angel alone in a graveyard of nine billion souls.
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Old 12th October 2011, 12:37 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

The Statue
‘Stay here’ they told her. They’d be back soon. She just had to wait.
The untended gravestones made her sad. No-one was looking after them. She knelt in front of one particularly overgrown grave and started tugging at the weeds. ‘It’s not right’ she muttered, pulling them out of the ground. ‘Someone should be looking after you.’
Finally, the grave was clear. She sat back, pleased.
‘Now, let’s see who you are.’
She peered at the stone. Years of wind and rain and neglect had weathered it so much that it was hard to make out.
‘M…o…lly …S…a…nders……’
She froze.
‘So now you realise’ came a voice. ‘We’ve waited for this moment. Are you ready to come with us?’
She turned towards the voice, tears running down her cheeks. A figure stood beside her, wreathed in light. She squinted, shielding her eyes with her hand. ‘Go? I can’t g…go, they t…told me to wait h…here for them.’
The figure sighed, squatting down next to her. The light dimmed until she could make out the figure of a woman with kind eyes, surrounded by a halo of light.
‘Molly, they didn’t come back. It’s time for you to come with us now.’
Molly sniffed, and wiped her nose.
‘Where?’
The woman smiled.
‘Somewhere you’ll never be alone again. You’ll never be cold, or hungry ever again.’
‘You promise?’
‘I promise.’
Molly stood, and so did the woman. She held out her hand to Molly. Molly took it.

A man walked into the graveyard. Stopping in front of his wife’s grave he laid a bunch of flowers down.
‘Hi honey, it’s me. I really missed you today.’ The man looked up, taking a deep breath. He frowned. ‘Honey, is it just me or was that angel statue there last time I came?’
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Old 12th October 2011, 10:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

Firestone


The sky was a beautiful shade of blue, a perfect day for a fight. Her element was fire; versatile, powerful and beautiful. Fiery red hair danced across her armor as she rushed her opponent from the air.

A battle of magi was commonplace to her and her guild, and she took this quest willingly. Her flaming fists smashed into the earth below. The man dodged, sprinting away from the blast, and from the fist made crater.
His fists came together and summoned a boulder to his hands. Her next attack smashed it to dust. An earth powered kicked knocked her aside as she recoiled, and then another boulder was hurtling towards her. Flames erupted from the metal wings in her armor and she was airborne once more.

His anger raged. She could see it clearly from above, the rocks and earth literally rising from the ground as he screamed to the heavens. His muscles tightened, and then he was shooting into the sky with a tremendous leap. Too fast. His fist connected and drove her down. The ground exploded from the impact, and as she staggered to her feet, he fell upon her again driving her deeper into the earth.

Ignited by fury, she rose from the earth and cast a lance of fire through the earth wizard scorching his upper body to cinders. Somehow though she had never risen above the hole she’d created. The horrid truth slowly fell over her remarkable features. By the time she realized the situation her legs had already turned to stone. Slowly the gray overtook her, taking her armor, taking her wings. She was alive, embedded in stone.

The sky was blue; a blue so beautiful, cold, and indifferent. She hung her head in shame as the transformation locked her in stone. Forever.
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Old 13th October 2011, 08:10 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

.

One Dastardly Plan

This is madness. Sheer madness!!

Oh do be quiet. The mothership wouldn’t have sent us into these hosts unless we had a minimum 70% chance of success. And we could have made out much worse. We have fangs. FANGS! And they come with poison. Not to mention eight appendages. We can even produce flexible steel out our butts. You have to admit that is pretty cool.

It would be if things would stop getting stuck to it.

I think we lucked out. This could be the perfect organism for planetary subjugation.
Our people will hail us as heroes.

Well I heard over my comm implant some groups get to try out raptors. That has to be a possibility. Beaks and claws are to die for. And flying! All I can do is dangle in the wind from my butt cable. And it’s not like we figured out how the poison actually works.

But look what we are on! It turned this biped into stone. And it was one with wings. That’s powerful stuff. We were lucky to get these two specimens. You could have been a penguin that can’t fly, or a platypus (**shudders**).

We haven’t figured out how to turn anything to stone yet. All we’ve managed to do is liquefy some bugs.

There were tasty though, once we figured out how to slurp the stuff out with our fangs. They make perfect straws. Hey, there’s that chubby kid again!

Why do you think he keeps coming back to the cemetery every night?

I think it’s that stuff he likes to smoke. And he did say something to his friends about “getting stoned”.

Well let’s go bite him and see if it works.

But what if it doesn’t?

Then tonight, we shall dine like conquerors.


.
.
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Old 13th October 2011, 09:33 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

The last Messenger

The boat hit the shore and Kosmas tumbled out. He wiped away the taste of sand and leaned back into the vessel to help out Erastus, who groaned in protest.

‘This is not Thule, brother,’ he said, propping himself up against the bow and stealing a glance back at the burning ship behind them.

‘It’s the Isle of Kasiterides. It’ll do.’ Kosmas grabbed his spear. ‘Day is failing. We can get inland before they arrive.’ He spat and held out his left hand. Index and little finger pointing out to sea. ‘A curse upon Perdiccas,’ he muttered and looped his arm around his wounded comrade.

‘Go.’ Erastus grimaced. ‘I fought through Persia and India, only to be outdone by a Macedonian arrow.’

Night was falling and for the first time Kosmas felt the weight of exhaustion heavy upon his frame.

‘I’ll get moss. I can staunch it.’

‘Don’t waste any more time. They will come. They saw us escape. Take her and go, please!’ He moaned again.

Kosmas cast away his spear and stooped to pick up the statue. He staggered with it up the beach and into woodland before resting.

A cough?

He turned and saw a child. Bow in hand. The boy was sullen, eyes fixed upon her stone face.

Malakh.’ Kosmas pointed. ‘The winged messenger of Ahura Mazda. She was petrified by a gorgon and saved by Alexander when he captured Gordium. After his death we were to take her to the frozen North. To hide her until she could be cured, but we were ambushed.’

There was a gentle slap of oars upon water amongst the darkness and Kosmas rose. ‘Man will need to hear her words one day,’ he said, and with that lurched into the mist, heading back towards his fate.

Last edited by Aun Doorback; 13th October 2011 at 10:04 PM.
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Old 13th October 2011, 09:40 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

A Date With Destiny


Hi, the name's Percy. I was always a bit of a lady's man, a chip off the old block as my father used to say. That was until I met my match; let me tell you my story:

I saw the advert in the 'lonely hearts' section of the local rag: 'Classically stunning female seeks male companion; strong silent type preferred, but must like animals'. Well, I'd always considered myself physically attractive with chiselled good looks, and I didn't have a problem with cats or dogs; on reflection perhaps I should have read the warning signs. Nevertheless, I prepared to pursue my latest quarry.

We arranged to meet at a little Greek restaurant I know some way from the centre of town; it was becoming a concrete jungle these days, and I was glad to be away from the hustle and bustle of city life. I arrived shortly before the arranged time and wandered over to the bar; scotch on the rocks being my poison of choice.

Glancing over to the table I had booked, to my surprise I saw my date already sat waiting with her back to me. She had long, flowing locks with an odd greenish tinge to it, and the way she occasionally flung her hair from side to side made it seem vibrant; almost as if it had a life of it's own.

Nervously I made my way over to where she sat, and hesitantly touched her on the shoulder. Normally I was a confident, self assured individual but tonight was different for some reason that I couldn't quite put my finger on. As she slowly turned her face towards me, I caught my first and only glimpse of her glowing, mesmerising eyes. Did I say I was nervous? I was absolutely petrified!
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Old 14th October 2011, 08:54 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

A Soldiers Memory

The statue was from Old Earth. The surrounding garden was propagated from Old Earth flora. They had created this garden to remember the times when humans were confined to one planet. The First Planet. Essentially we all came from Earth. But nobody could go back.

I never set foot on Earth. I saw it once. So blue, like nothing I had ever seen. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to look around, I had laser fire scorching around my fighter. I was a soldier and we were in a war.

I remember when I was a kid, my Dad told me old stories they used to tell on Earth. Science fiction they called it. Aliens and Rocket Ships. Landing on the Moon was a big deal. I was amazed at how un-advanced they all had been.

Everybody knew there was life on other Planets, it was common knowledge. We were fighting another species, after-all. The same species that invaded Earth and ultimately conquered it. Conquered us. Centuries ago the human race spread out amongst the stars. We colonised Planets, we advanced. Then we met another Species. They were immediately hostile. Our foe had larger numbers and better technology. We were babies when it came to Space exploration.

All that had happened years ago though, now the human race was hiding. I spend my life living in fear, nursing my aging body and hoping our foe doesn’t find us.

I enjoy this garden. The sights, the smells and the statue. The biologists even cloned insects. It’s the only time I smile. I imagine life on Earth was peaceful. Everybody worked together. Families lived in a blue oasis and nobody experienced fear. Life was simpler. I think about the brief moment I glimpsed Earth and most of the time my eyes mist up.
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Old 14th October 2011, 11:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!


Picnic in a Graveyard



Don't wander in the graveyard...

...you're not safe...
...blah blah blah...




Boring grown up ****. As if I was little red riding hood -- '
don't stray from the path...'

There are no lurking paedophiles around here. No wolves to gobble me up. Nothing but cigarette ends and drink cans and condoms. In the middle of all the crap and the rubbish, there she is. She looks like me, only she's pure and good -- like I'd look if I hadn't chopped my hair off, got the spider tattoo on my cheek.


Mum
loved that.

'What's
WRONG with you? Why are you punishing me?'

Well, duh, Mum. You shouldn't have started seeing Mike right after Dad died, you silly cow.


I found my angel when they buried Dad. She's just down the path from him, under the trees so I can look out but no one can see in.

One of these days I'll go up the path.


Tell Dad what Mum's up to.


Tell him goodbye.


Not yet, though. Right now, I'll light another cigarette and look at her -- at my might-have-been face.


#

Closer, little one... come closer... blow your nasty smoke away and look at me properly.


So sweet and pure and innocent.


Closer... just a little... and... oh.


Oh yes.


Yes.


The struggling stops after a moment. Shame. I love that bit. When they still think they might get away.


The filthy cigarette slips down my chin, falls onto the pile by my pretty bare feet. Smoking -- it's a disgusting habit, putting that filth into your body.


I, by contrast, am lovely and innocent and child-like.


I would be, of course. I'm fussy about what I consume. I have to be.

After all, you are what you eat.



Last edited by Hex; 14th October 2011 at 11:59 PM. Reason: horrifying realisation about hyphens
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Old 15th October 2011, 12:22 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: THREE HUNDRED WORD WRITING CHALLENGE #3 — Read First Post!!

EARTH TO EARTH


Reverend Wilkes stared at the panting, floridly dressed woman who’d burst into the vestry. ‘Mrs Pennington?’

She looked pale. ‘You must come!’

He followed her through the dusk to the churchyard wall, where a stone angel lay in pieces.

‘I heard noises,’ Mrs Pennington said. ‘Thought it might be vandals. But look!’

The grave the angel had guarded was broken open — as though from within.

Wilkes shuddered. So, it begins.


* * *


Descending the crypt stairs, he reflected on the Order of Evil Vicars whose work he’d uncovered. Over centuries and generations, they had corrupted certain burials by blaspheming the resurrection. Wilkes had never discovered to what ultimate end their work was directed, but fearing the worst, had placed stone angels at the heads of those graves. And no ordinary statues.

His trembling candlelight failed to penetrate the crypt’s far corner. ‘The first has risen.’

‘And the guardian?’ grated the reply.

‘Smashed.’

‘But it awakened?’

‘The wings were extended. My parishioner didn’t notice.’

The form of Shurifael dragged its feet into the faltering light. ‘Then the Exhumanations are more powerful than ever we imagined.’


* * *


Up the bell-tower stairs, Wilkes led the impossible being, the chief of the angelic spirits he’d summoned into his occult mixture of cement powder and holy water. They stood together by the roof parapet, overlooking the night-shrouded world.

‘I shall hunt the Exhumanation.’ Shurifael raised his sword, spread his wings in a display of holy magnificence. Great pinions gleamed beneath the moon. He sprang into flight —

And screamed, flapping frantically, as his stone weight plunged him to a shattering impact with the ground.

As the fog of cement dust settled below, Wilkes wondered if he should have used carbon fibre. No, he decided, the Exhumanation’s first victims now distantly screaming. His congregation hated church modernisers.
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