Fortune Teller

The fairground is nearly empty when you arrive. You pass tired children, drooped in their parents’ arms and insisting (between yawns) that they’re not tired and they can do just five more minutes. You step over candyfloss wrappers and coffee cups. It smells like burnt popcorn and roasted almonds. Some of the rides have shut down already and you can hear the rest slowing down around you.

The neon lights on the carnival rides and around the tented roofs of game stalls and food stands show you the way, like a convoy of fireflies. They lead you to the door of the Fortune Teller’s tent.

The door is, of course, already open and he has stood to greet you.

“I need-” you begin.

“I know,” he nods and the tent door swings shut, silently. He puts a gentle hand on either side of your face. He tells you this will hurt, but not for long and then he reaches in to the back of your throat, down in to your chest and scoops out your heart.

It is excruciating. But not for long.

When he puts it down on the table you feel so much lighter. You sit across from him and you both stare at your heavy heart on the table.

It does not look the way that you thought it would. You were prepared for something heart-shaped, or at worst some blood and gore, but what sits in front of you is more like a large, matted bundle of string. It’s like when you pull a clump of hair from a shower drain, except every strand is a different colour. You had no idea there were so many colours.

The Fortune Teller tuts. “My, my,” he says. “I haven’t seen a heart in this much of a tangle for a while. You’ve tied yourself in knots.”

He spends some time untangling them and shows you every one. Each heartstring is tied to a different person- a friend, a family member, an acquaintance, a colleague- people you’d known your whole life and people you’d only met for a day. The strings are all different thicknesses, different lengths.

You see the threads of your life laid out in front of you with perfect clarity. You can see the people who love you. You can see the ones who don’t. And you can see how significant each thread is.

“Now,” the Fortune Teller smiles a small smile. “Now that you can see it all, you have a choice. You can piece yourself back together. Or you can restart.”

Restart.

It sounds so easy. Like a reboot. A chance to do better the next time round. To fix all the things that went wrong now, but you know that’s not true. You know that restarting means a new life. New people. New ways to mess up. You know that it means the end of this life. Goodbyes. Tears. And funeral costs.

You look back up at the Fortune Teller. He smiles because he already knew what you would say and then you start to weave your life back together.

Via Daily Prompt: Restart

Lighthouse Keeper

At night the sea matches the sky. Clear midnight skies mean calm inky waters, a still blanket of stars beneath the heavens. Stormy skies mean turbulent seas, high winds tussling with high waves.

The Lighthouse Keeper sees it all.

She lives in circular walls. In the evenings she sets a mug down on her round kitchen table and pours herself a cup of tea. She then carries it up the long staircase that spirals up the inside of her lighthouse. On the side closest to the wall she has chipped away at the brickwork and now a small alcove runs parallel to the banister. She has partially filled it with hand-written notebooks.

It is her library.

Every now and then the sea and the sky will present her with a lost soul. She takes them in and make them cocoa. In return, they will give her their stories and she will write them down. Then, as they sleep, she would use the stories to judge where they should go- to the depths or to the heavens.

As she runs past them, she hears the pages whisper secrets and it sends a shiver up her spine.

She reaches the top, where her bed sits underneath a round trap-door. She stands on it and pushes it open with her free hand. Her other hand reaches up and sets the mug down on the floor above her. Then she pulls herself through. The glass dome opens up the world around her- sky, sea and land. They all circle her. They are all stormy, but the inside of the lighthouse is still.

The light spins in the centre. It is dim tonight. She knows this means the sea and sky will giver her a new soul and her spine tingles again. She is ready for more stories.

She watches the waves until she sees a ship being tossed in the swell. She sets down her cup of tea and makes her way back down the staircase. By the time she has reached the bottom and run barefoot into storm, a woman has washed up on her shore. She is cold. She is soaked through and slipping in and out of consciousness. The Lighthouse Keeper picks her up.

The woman’s eyes flicker open as she is carried back to the shelter of the Lighthouse. The Lighthouse Keeper smiles down at the woman in her and feels her soul flutter in her chest.

The light in the lighthouse burns brighter.

Via Daily Prompt: Dim

The Middle of a Vanishing Act

A wisp of smoke in the pitch black. It rises up from the ground and curls, like a incandescent snake climbing towards the moonlight. From its base, cracks of crimson shoot out towards you.

You stop… in case the ground is about to fall apart. You know you should run, but your hammering, awe-filled heart keeps you to rooted to the ground.

A sound in the silence. A faint, melodic hum and a perfectly in-time drum. It grows so loud that the cracks in ground pulse. They widen.

You can smell caramel apples. And freshly-made popcorn.

The wisp of smoke starts to move like a drawing on a chalkboard. The outline of a person in a top hat and a slightly billowing jacket. Applause leaks through the cracks in the ground. The dark space between the outline grows more solid and then there she is.

The applause is gone. The music stops. The cracks are sealed without a trace. The smoke disperses in to the night. And her surprised face stares at you from under her top hat. Her suit is midnight black. Her eyes a bright and piercing green.

“Where the hell did you come from?” she asks. And you almost laugh because you feel like you could ask her the same thing.

In stead, you ask, “Who are you?” Because that feels more polite.

“I’m a conjurer,” she says, conjuring up a caramel apple and handing it to you. “I usually disappear for a break during my vanishing act… I’ve never vanished to in front of a person before.”

“Don’t they notice you’re gone?” you ask.

“I can chose the moment of time I re-appear to. It’ll be seconds to them, but I could spend a few hours here. If you wouldn’t mind?”

You don’t know what to say, so you take a bite of the apple. Warm, sweet and delicious. It has a caramel core too.

She watches you and smiles so brightly it puts stars in the sky.

via Daily Prompt: Conjure

NaNoWriMo Eve

‘Twas the night before NaNoWriMo and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The writing desk by the window was tidied with care,
In hopes that inspiration soon would be there;
Characters were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of plotlines danced in their heads.

 

So, I’m attempting NaNoWriMo this year- if anyone else is doing it let me know and we can be buddies 🙂

 

 

Author: Clara Ross

Lunar Express

She got to the station at 11.58 PM. She realised as she blinked at the electronic clock on the wall that she hadn’t even considered the possibility that there wouldn’t be any trains running at this time of night. She’d just packed up and stormed out. There was nobody around for her to ask, the station was empty- too small and too rural to bother staffing at this time of night.The station was poorly light and darker than usual, due to tonight’s Blood Moon that had turned the full moon red and stolen it’s light.

She sat down on a cold bench and considered going back to her boyfriend’s. She checked her phone. No call. No text. She wasn’t going back to him without at least one of those. Perhaps she’d have to sleep here. At least there was a vending machine nearby if she got peckish.

The clock ticked closer to midnight and she heard the sound of wheels on the track. A bright light in the darkness grew bigger as the train approached the station platform. She stood and picked up her bags. The train came to a stop as somewhere, deep in the village, a clock began to strike midnight. It was dark grey, with tinted windows that meant she couldn’t see inside. Perhaps because it was a night train? On the side the words “Lunar Express” were written in silver. It puzzled her that an express train would come to somewhere so remote.

She opened the door and stepped up in to the carriage, the gap between the train and the platform was higher than she was used to. The light inside the carriage inside was low, with a slightly orange hue. It was surprisingly full, but incredibly quiet. She sat down in the first seat she came to at the back and rummaged in her bag for her money.

The train pulled out of the station as the last of the clock chimes faded to nothing.

She didn’t know where she wanted to go- or even where the train was heading, but she hoped she had enough for at least one stop. That would be far enough to prove her point. She checked her phone again. Still nothing.

No call.

No text.

Oh wait – no signal. No Wi-Fi.

Maybe he was trying to call her and couldn’t get through. Were they in a tunnel?

She looked up. She could still see the full moon in the sky. It caught her off guard. It looked bigger, closer… and no longer red…?

She could no longer feel the judder of the trains on the track. It was too dark outside to see anything but the moon. Something felt wrong. She sat up a little straighter. The interior of this train was older than she had expected. and turned her attention to her fellow passengers. They all faced away from her in silence. She opened her mouth to clear her throat, but before she could make a sound they all turned to look at her at once. Old, faded faces with blank, dead eyes.

“I need to get off the train,” she heard herself say, standing up.

“You can’t do that, dear,” a voice behind her made her jump. “Not for a few hundred years at least. We only stop once in a Blood Red Moon.”

The clock in the village struck 12.01. A man arrived at the station to look for his girlfriend. In the distance he heard a train whistle that sounded like a scream.

via Daily Prompt: Express


 

Author: Clara Ross

First Sight

Throwback to an older post because I’m too tired and full of the cold to write a new one today.

Fragments of Fiction

He emerged from the shadows. A streetlight shone down on him, turning his blonde hair into a halo and forming a pool of ethereal light at his feet. His piercing green eyes spoke directly to her heart. She was instantly enamoured. Love at first sight.

He smiled and she felt warm. He beckoned her over, towards the light. She went without question, amazed he’d noticed her at all.

She stepped in to the light around him. His outstretched hand turned in to a claw. He scooped out her eyes. And love at first sight became the last thing she ever saw.

via Daily Prompt: Enamored

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The Lost City

There is a city that can only be found by those who are truly lost.

It starts in your soul, a tiny pin-prick of pain that you don’t notice until it spreads through your veins into your heart. Your body feels wrong and your thoughts are heavy, numb. Everything around you is hazy- like a dream- and you start to walk.

There is a tugging in your chest, an invisible thread has grown from that pin-prick and it’s pulling you somewhere.

You don’t know how you get there, but you stand on the shore of a city that’s shrouded in mist. This is where the lost things are. Buildings tower above you. When you look more closely you see that they are made from old hairpins and forgotten car keys. They have umbrella roofs. Worn glasses surround the windows and as you peer through you see that the room beyond is carpeted with odd socks. Misplaced watches hang on the walls, still ticking in different time zones. There are many phones- and even more phone chargers.

A cat runs past you. You think it looks familiar- one that lived on your street when you were a child, perhaps?

Deeper in to the City you walk past boats and planes, too rusty to leave here now. An engagement ring lies in a gutter and you feel too sad to pick it up. You start to forget which direction you came from. The tops of the buildings are now lost in the thick mist.

A cloaked figure at the end of a dark alleyway hands you a playing card. They walk past. You try to get a better look at them and think you see your own eyes glance back at you, but you can’t be sure.

On the card is written the date you die.

You now have two options- you go home and forget, or you play cards against those who live here. You win- you get more time on Earth and the date on the card changes. You lose- you gain an eternity, but you stay lost forever.


(Vaguely influence by Cecelia Ahern’s “A Place Called Here.”- which is a much more beautiful story about where missing things go and it’s not as weird or creepy.)

via Daily Prompt: Cloaked

The Reflection of You

There’s a parasite that lives behind mirrors. A detailed shadow that stares back at you when you clean your teeth or get caught in the dark screen between episodes of a Netflix show. It watches the way you walk past shop windows. It studies you from reflective surfaces at times when you think nobody is watching. It knows you better than anyone.

If you get too close it will climb through the image of itself in the reflection of your eye.

It won’t kill you right away. It will paralyse your first and take control. You will watch it live your life. Watch it do things you never wanted to. Watch destroy your relationships with people who don’t know it’s not really you. Because why would they?

It looks like you. It talks like you, walks like you. It fixes your hair like you do.

You will die and nobody will know there is a fraud living on in your skin.

via Daily Prompt: Fraud

Planet B

Pictures sent back from early probes had only partially prepared her for how much the new planet looked like Earth. Well… how much it looked like Earth before they’d all fucked it up.

Planet B had been hailed by many back home as a miracle. It had been discovered by an expedition that had run in to technically difficulties and drifted off course, so Sarah saw it as more of a happy accident. They had spotted a small planet that looked a lot like Earth from a distance. Later investigations found that it was a lot smaller, but it had water and a similar atmosphere and that was all most people on Earth had needed to hear. We were saved. Old planet be damned.

The landing was smooth, as if the new earth had been waiting to cradle their shuttle. There was cheering inside the craft and all the way back home in the NASA base. Sarah wondered if this was being broadcast to everyone like the moonlandings. Would there be someone watching from the comfort of a sofa, thinking it was all a hoax and that she was an actor?

The doors opened. She saw grass. And trees, much smaller than the ones back home. They had landed next to a large cliff face that cast a shadow over the land. But above them, two suns were shining in an almost cloudless sky. Everything looked still, with only a little breeze to rustle branches.

Isaac leaped out in front of her. He leaped too enthusiastically and tumbled down the steps. “Fucking hell,” he said over her radio. “Can confirm gravity is the exact fucking same here.”

Fucking hell?” she repeated. “Is that really what you just said stepping on to a new planet? Is that really going to be our ‘One small step for man…’?”

“Hadn’t thought of that,” he admitted. “Sorry.”

She shrugged it off and stepped out to join him.

They walked away from their shuttle for the first time in years. Sarah ran. It felt good to run again. She reached the bottom of the cliff face. She looked up. There were a series of vines, growing like a large web all over it. They moved in the wind, but everything was perfectly still.

“Don’t see many animals here,” she heard Isaac over the radio. “Wonder why that is.”

“Haven’t evolved yet?” she suggested.

And then she looked to her left and saw someone staring back at her. Isaac heard her gasp. “You alright? Sarah? You alright?”

“Yeah,” her heart was in her mouth. “Isaac there are people here…”

Another face appeared in a well-concealed hole in the rock. And then another one. They had large, dark eyes and what appeared to be a kind of beak. Their skin looked a lot like human skin, except it was leafy-green in colour. The one she had made eye contact with let out a screech that set the rest of them off. She jumped back.

Were they trying to scare her off? Were they threatening her?

It sounded more like screams of terror… were they afraid of her?

Leafy-green arms shot out of the cliff.

“Sarah!” Isaac’s voice was panicked. “Run.

She looked back. Their ship was gone, devoured by the earth while she wasn’t looking. Isaac was sinking down into it. He screamed. She could hear his bones crunch. She ran towards the cliff. Something bit her foot. She jumped. A hand grabbed hers and helped her scramble up until she was balancing on the cliff.

She climbed up the precipice, the vines making a kind of ladder for her. The ground rumbled underneath her, digesting its latest snack. Worried faces peered out at her until she reached a hole in the rock that was big enough for her to fit through.

The people native to this planet had built an entire civilisation in this rock and now she was trapped here. She sat down and stared at the place her ship and her crew mate had been. It was now just flat and peaceful ground. Like they’d never even landed.

How could she send a message back home? How could warn them that Planet B was ready to swallow up anyone who set foot on it?

via Daily Prompt:Planet

On Repeat

The music crackles and he takes my hand for the very first time. The record spins, he spins me with it. We laugh. We dance. We kiss. His song is on repeat.

It becomes our song.

It plays at our wedding.

It plays our daughter to sleep. She plays it herself when she is sad. When she leaves home the house feels empty so we fill the rooms with music.

It plays as we grow old.

It plays when he is ill.

It plays at his funeral.

It plays when I get sick too.

The music crackles and he takes my hand for the very last time.

via Daily Prompt: Record