Category Archives: Folklore

Quoth The Riven: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Quoth The Riven

 The Abysmal Dollhouse

Victor was weak, weary, the dreary night neverending. He leaned against tombstone, almost falling over, carved name and dates faded away. Resting over this forgotten soul Victor thought he might stop for a moment, maybe sit down, maybe close his eyes, maybe refresh himself. He was halfway down, already starting to nod off.

The noise came from a short distance behind him, snapping his head up from his chin. That damned tapping, again. Metal on stone. Tap, tap, tapping, until it became a pounding in his skull. Gritting his teeth, eyes ablaze, he screamed out that devil’s name: “Victoria!” Only that, and nothing more.

Harried, he hurried off, jumping o’er a downed sign. If Victor had time, or care, he would still have been able to make out what the sign read: “Westminister Baptist Churchyard.” Even if he had stopped to read it, it would have meant nothing to him, especially being chased. That infernal tap, tap, tapping. The sound propelled him to his feet. He ran.

Pools of light were scattered throughout the yard, lampposts here and there, lit lanterns once in a while. The moonlight leaked through breaks in the clouds then vanished behind the murky sky. The lanterns cast a twisted light, an off yellow hue, giving the grassy ground a look of velvet, the green giving way to a purple haze. Victor’s heart beat faster, more than his exertions demanded. Peering back, the true darkness ate away at what light he left behind him.

Victor cursed as he ran. “Victoria. Victoria. Victoria!” spat out, counterpoints to the tap, tap, tapping. Crashing through the brush, skipping over broken stone, he ran pell-mell, occasionally tripping, falling, scurrying to his feet to try to escape what was coming after him. This last bout of tripping brought him to his knees, panting.

Looking up, gasping for air, was a backlit shadow of a figure. The lamplight was behind it.

“Victoria?” he asked.

The figure stepped into the light, appearing for the first time this go around. Instantly, Victor froze. Instantly, he realized the mistake he’d been making, forgetting it was not Victoria, it was this…thing. Instantly, he saw the gleaming knife.

“No more!” Yelling, he bolted upright, wheeled around, and bolted.

The Unfolding Doll gave chase. The dense air cut by its pursuit. The scent of Victor’s sweat wafted behind him, leaving a trail something sour. The Unfolding Doll did not breathe in, did not smell what her prey produced. What sent it forward, what drove it, was his unbridled fear. It was pouring out of him.

“No more!” he yelled into the darkness in front of him as he raced on. “No more!” His energy, fed more by his fear than anything, began to waver. He drooped. He dropped, eventually, landing on his knees again, hands on the ground.

“Let me be! Let me be. You’ve sliced me apart, dug your blade into me so many times. No more. Please. No more.” Tears brimmed and fell.

The Unfolding Doll came forward. First a jab, then a slice, continuously flitting about him. It stabbed and punctured, skewered and speared, struck and carved. All the while, Victor’s voice pleading “No more, no more, no more”, trailing off into dead silence.

A few aisles over, at the Waverly Hills Sanitorium, a woman screamed out “VICTOR!” In her padded room, on her padded floor, smacking her head into the padded wall, Victoria repeated his name until she fell unconscious.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Edgar Allen Poe‘s grave resides in Baltimore. The place is supposedly haunted.

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Penitentiary Sin: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Penitentiary Sin

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The blood, it splattered, high and wideThe Vorpal blade went deep inside
Jabbing thrice; no more, no less;
Still, the body is left a mess.
The casting of the waning sun
Four p.m.; shadows on the run
The first of this run of demands
The Vorpal knife in his command.

Cleansing the blade of its gore
Rejuvenated, to his core
The Jabber stands and walks away
Day two will come, as will his prey.

The Shopkeeper was well aware that the Unfolding Doll was there, just barely, glaring at her. Her dusting was not enough to keep her mind solely focused on the task. Sighing, she turned and faced the shadowy corner.

“Yes. Come out.”

The shadows rippled. Bit by bit the Unfolding Doll undulated into the light. The Shopkeeper saw that its knife was not in evidence, for now. The doll took a few steps away from the shadow, turning its head towards the front of the shoppe. The light from outside was less glaring at this hour.

It stood like that for a short while. The Shopkeeper waiting, watching. Whatever had been holding the doll in place let it go. Turning towards the back, The Unfolding Doll walked silently over to the Carousel. The Shopkeeper met it there, opposite sides facing each other.

“I know what you want,” the Shopkeeper, blunt-edged said. “I want the same thing. But, I want it done here. Here, where I can…partake in this…need. I need it done here.”

Her head lowered just a touch, her will holding back the tears welling.

“I’m doing what I can, bound as I am. Bound, as you are. I’ve steered… potentials away from Muirhouse. It is teetering on its hunger, its dissatisfaction. Instead of growing weaker, it wants what it feels is owed it.”

The Shopkeeper’s voice had grown sharper as she continued. Her words sliced through the shoppe, sending emotional spasms across the enclosed space. The dollhouses internally vibrated, and heated calls of “Mine, Mine, MINE!” echoed all around her.

“STOP! QUIET!”

Silence immediately swept over the two.

The Shopkeeper breathed deeply, held her breath, let it out slowly.

“I’m duty bound to this shoppe, as are you. I’m bound to you,” she said, this time unable to hold back some tears, “for what happened to you. What my negligence did to you. This is my penance, but it’s also my duty. To you.”

Neither moved. The doll’s button eyes fixated on the watery eyes of the Shopkeeper. They could have remained thus for a long time. Except.

Except, someone, outside, was being drawn to the window. Both heads turned. The Shopkeeper went and retrieved her duster and moved to her counter. The Unfolding Doll just wasn’t.

The door opened. The door chime tinkled. The Shopkeeper smoothed down her clothing.

To be continued…along the way

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Nonviolence In Action: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Nonviolence In Action

The Abysmal Dollhouse

She walked carefully past the Muirhouse, taking her time, placing her feet just so, making sure nothing was underfoot. Her robe brushed just above her ankles, wound so it would disturb nothing but the air she passed through. There had been no conscious thought that brought her through the door of this place, nothing that she needed, for she needed nothing. The feeling pulled her in; being Jainist, peace was her only reason, doing no harm to others. Her Satyagraha, her truth-force, was strong. It was right to be here, otherwise she would not have taken the path that led her here.

The Shopkeeper had had her broom in her hands, ending her sweeping just as the door chime tinkled. She had felt nothing stirring before the sound, and turning she uttered a simple “Oh” at the figure before her. The woman’s mouth was covered, her hands tucked in fabric folds, small brushes hanging from delicate hooks around her waist. The Shopkeeper simply stood straighter, bowed her head slightly towards the woman, and remained silent. Her hands stayed on the broom, leaving the state of her dress as it was.

The woman had begun a circuitous wending through the shoppe. She deftly avoided some of the dollhouses, her brow furrowed at those times. The Muirhouse caused one such reaction. The movie palace another. She veered away completely from The Wall of Death behind the glass cabinet doors.

It was the Shopkeeper’s norm to offer assistance, but she knew it was not necessary. The woman practiced ahimsa; the Shopkeeper did not know this. She just knew this woman posed no threat to her or her inventory. Looking over to the far corner, she did wonder what the doll was feeling if anything at all.

The woman made her way around the shoppe, observing the many decors, the many feelings emanating all around her. Passing of the counter, where the Shopkeeper waited, that the woman, she took three steps and stopped. She lowered herself to her knees, balancing so that the contact she made with the floor was minimal. She reached out her right hand towards the lowest shelf and stopped. Her head turned towards the Shopkeeper. Their eyes meeting, the Shopkeeper again bowed her head, this time in a nod of consent.

Turning back to the shelving, she gently moved The Singleton House out of her way. Behind it was a structure that caused the woman to gently gasp behind her mouth covering. She reverently pulled it closer to the front of the shelf, letting the light of the shoppe dispel any darkness from falling on it.

A Derasar, her Derasar, left so far behind. It was exactly like the temple she left, winged arches over curved roofing. Her shrine had been small, a one-room structure, servicing a small grouping. Rice paper doors open, beckoning all to come and commit to the peace that is inside, the temple and the people.

Her hand went to her waist and detached her oldest, softest brush. The brush tip, after a silent prayer, was lightly placed in front of the open door. She began her gratitude for cleansing. Her mind was focused, as were her hands with the brush.

Forgotten were the cruelties she encountered on her journeys. The meaning of her life and faith had been tested often, and often harsher than she had thought possible. She visited places of contemplation along the way, taking the inner sustenance. she needed to go on. She did no harm in her actions or inactions.

Brushed inside and out, she crossed her legs underneath, placed her palms up, and closed her eyes. She valued the ideal of perfection that the Tirthankaras have achieved. It brought her peace. It calmed, it soothed, it became her.

She fell asleep, her dreams floated with her. When she awoke, there was a warm presence by her side. She felt no alarm as she raised herself into a sitting position. Malcanisen was asleep, a soft snuffling snore leaving his drool covered lips. She had been so tired she had not been aware of the dog creeping in while she slept. She placed her hands on his dark gray fur, smoothing out the matting as best she could.

Giving morning gratitude to her gods, she left Malcanisen in his slumber, took her brush in hand, and began the cleaning process once again.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

Liebster Award Sunday: not lobster; Abysmal Dollhouse/AtoZ Blog Challenge

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.
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“Share, Discover, and Enjoy!” That is the underlying mission of Shari Marshall’s blog, Writing is Communication. We discovered our mutual blogs through the 2018 AtoZ Blog Challenge. It has been a pleasure discovering her work: focusing on a fantasy world continuing story through a drabble (100-word complete flash fiction). It’s not easy to par down all you want to say in just 100 words, make the post complete, AND have it tell an engaging ongoing narrative…well, Shari accomplishes it, and does so very, very well. I’ve linked the title to her blog: go check it out. Now. Shoo. Do it. I’ll stick around for the nonce.

As to the Leibster Award: AtoZ and other blog challenges are two-fold. (1) The most obvious is that they are challenges for the blogger to meet the requirements in whatever they are tasked to do; not always the easiest thing to accomplish, but the reward is in making a go of it and hoping you can see it through to the end. (2) The most important element (to me, anyways) is to discover new blogs and their creators. I’ve come across some amazing sites, followed & continue to follow most, became online friends with a lot of them, and one more intense crossing of paths.

Nominating blogs you admire is tied into the blogging community. It shows appreciation for what you’ve produced beyond hitting a like button, or stars ratings; even beyond leaving a gushing comment or three. While there are many “rules” for the Leibster Award, here are the

RULES OF THE LIEBSTER AWARD 2018
The rules are:

1. Acknowledge the blogger who nominated you and display the award logo.
2. Answer 11 questions that the blogger sets for you.
3. Nominate blogs that you think are deserving of the award.
4. Create 11 questions for your nominees to answer.
5. Let your nominees know about their nomination!

Hey Shari: I acknowledge you. Phew. That one was easy peasy.

I shall now endeavor to answer her eleven questions, sorta like a magical quest:

  1. Do you think that a writer has to be defined by one genre?

Absolutely not. I do my darndest not to. I believe a writer should move beyond what becomes their comfort zone.  Write what moves you that day. I’ve attempted a lot of genres and styles. Some more successful than others. My blog is an open…blog. The list of the last 50 or so is to the right. Scroll down. Discover. I have favorites that went nowhere.

2. What is your favourite writing topic?

Paranormal stuff. Horror, lately, it seems.

3. Do you have a book that you recommend to other readers on a regular occasion? What and why?

Knots, by RD Laing. It blew my mind wide open at 17. I suggest that if you tackle it, you must read it in one sitting, late at night. If you do, I think you’ll also get a good insight of the mess that is my thinking process.

4. Book version or movie version?

Depends on the book and the movie. Each is its own animal. Caveat: If the movie is trying to be a “faithful adaptation” of the book, then you better damn well be faithful. Loose adaptations, where the director is adding her/his voice (which is the majority) I’ll try and take it as a separate entity. Please note: I wrote “try.” Just be good. Don’t suck.

5. If I gave you the word “vellichor” as a writing jump off point where might you jump?

The Last Used Bookstore In The Known Worlds

6. What would be your dream setting to write in?

THE comfy chair, headrest perfectly aligned (with massage system embedded and  attuned to every ache). THE perfectly brewed Black Cherry Iced Tea. THE best snack at hand: sweet or savory, as needed. THE well-trained puppy and kitten, needing attention; being perfect momentary distractions. Last, but definitely not least, THE love of my life, for fuller distraction and attention, cuddles, kisses, massages (who need the comfy chair, then?), and other things only she can provide.

7. What is your favourite season?

Fall. Cool, breezy weather. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh

8. Who is your favourite villain? Why?

Catwoman. Meow. Does one really need to ask?

9. Who is your favourite hero? Why?

I’m Batman, Damnit.

10. What does writing mean to you?

Release. Distraction. Creativity. Justification. Acknowledgement. Appreciation. Love.

11. How would you respond to either of these quotes from Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there” or “No wise fish would go anywhere without a porpoise.”

I’ll take “The Road Less Traveled” for $2000, Alex.

Phew. All done. Wait? That was only #2 on the Liebster rules????? OY…I’m dying!!! Ok, here are my TOP OF THE POPS:

Fiction Can Be Fun   Yes, both of you!!!

A Creatvie PTSD Gal

A Bit To Read

Iain Kelly

Swerve Strikes Again

WordDreams

I’m exhausted. But wait…there’s more.

OK. Here are MY elven…um…I mean eleven questions that the six nominees (well, 7) NEED to answer. There will be a quiz. BONUS POINTS: answer any of the questions with WHY you answered that way. Up to you. No pressure. ::::Unfolding Doll sharpening its knife::::

  1. If you could write in any writers voice besides your own, whose would it be?
  2. What literary genre holds NO interest for you?
  3. What song with a strong narrative still touches you?
  4. What fictional character do you wish you were?
  5. Savory or Sweet?
  6. What are “The Stuff Dreams Are Made Of?”
  7. You stumble upon a magic rock. Picking it up, you discover something underneath. What is it?
  8. Have you had an inexplicable experience? What was it?
  9. What fiction book would you recommend to me?
  10. What movie or TV show do you love but hate to admit it?
  11. What does writing mean to you? (yes, I’m stealing it from Shari. Deal).

Have fun kiddos.

I’m done. Lunch and nap.

Tomorrow: N is for…

Keening At The Bell and Ram: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Keening At The Bell and Ram

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Disappointment did not settle long on the Shopkeeper’s shoulders. The ache inside was a sizeable force that moved her along, binding her to her duties. The sudden unfolding of that horrible memory brought to visual life, did its damage. As it had done before, and she feared it would do so again. She had lit every light, tied back or moved anything that would hinder even the slightest bit of light, all in the effort to dispel as much of shadow as she could in the shoppe. At least, for now.

The far right corner fought her. It wasn’t a lost cause, but it was a strain to contain.

For a short while, things were uneventful. She tidied and dusted, swept and mopped, moved dollhouses around, adjusted displays to her best. There were grumbling sounds coming from all around her; the commotion was a disturbance that put off the houses. They were much settled in their place. Let others come to them. The claiming was the satisfaction.

She placed dollhouse after another in the window, but nothing was feeling right. Ten times she fussed; ten times she returned them to their resting place within the shoppe. The eleventh attempt felt right. Making sure it was just so, the Shopkeeper rummaged in the cabinet underneath the display window, looking for the things that would best showcase its new charge.

Creating this display gave her a focus. A green mat, the color of fresh, healthy grass, was laid down. The piece was next, and she outfitted it with wooden benches that sat along the outside wall. She anchored a tree and some bushes to the mat, creating a path of gravel, from a jar kept for just so,  that led to its door. She fussed a bit more but felt it was right as it was. Brushing her hands together set off a small cloud of earthy dust.

With a “tsk,” she went to retrieve her duster and bin.

An old man had been watching from the street. He had been shuffling along, tan cap pulled down over his forehead, still squinting from the sunlight. The movement in the window caught his eye and slowed him down, and then to a stop when he noticed what was placed in the window. He watched as the details came together, so intent was his attention he barely noticed the Shopkeeper after the first moments.

“Well, I’ll be,” he muttered to hisself, as it all came together. “Well, I’ll be.”

He stood for awhile just staring, losing hisself in what stood before him, and what was dredged up from inside. It was the rolling in of the clouds overhead, cutting some of the sun glare, that caused him to shuffle along again, but this time into the shoppe.

“Howdedo,” he said, noticing the Shopkeeper and doffing his cap. Turning away from her, he looked at the other side of what caught his attention. “Looks like rain. It’s not raining yet. It looks like rain,” more of a mutter than a statement. No answer required.

The Shopkeeper smiled. “May I be of any assistance?” she said to his back.

“Well, I’ll be. It’s the spittin’ image of The Bell and Ram. The Bell and Ram.” He turned his head slightly towards her. “I spent a good part of my youth there.” Turning back, his entrancement caused him to forget her, the shoppe, the weather. Behind the pub is where he and his mates would sneak smokes, drain glasses of beer that were snuck out to them by Tom’s older brother. That bench is where he first kissed Jenny, she kissing him back so hard they fell off of it and laughed on the ground.

Sitting under the tree, telling all the ghost stories that slithered about the B&R: devil worship and child sacrifices. The Lady in Gray who would sip from your mug and whisk you away, keening and wailing loud enough to wake the dead, from the basement and through the walls. The stories only became chilling when they were finally old enough to be inside on storm laden nights, with the wind tearing around and down the chimney, sounding like the Lady was just waiting to sip and take.

The first peal of thunder sent him shuffling inside, more scurry than a shuffle. He had been cold and moved himself to sit near the fireplace. The old man noticed, rounded the bar, and brought him a pint.

“Looks like rain,” he said, receiving the drink with both hands. “Looks like rain, and a lot more.” He took a swallow as the keep went back to tend his station.

Staring into the roaring fire, listening to the wind’s keening,  he repeated: “Looks like rain, and a lot more.”

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

*I’ve decided to reblog past Abysmal Dollhouse stories on Sundays since we’re not required to write those days. The reblog will not correspond to any specific letter. Just thought you might enjoy some of the previous entries that I’m fond of.

The Ancient Ram’s Inn can be found in Gloucestershire, England. Built in 1145, it has many stories of devil worship, murders, child sacrifices, and the good old Lady in Gray.  Like anything with that age, it has a very colorful history.

A follower of this blog might recognize the old man, The Weatherman, from another AtoZ series I wrote. He just felt right for this.

Behind A Thousand Doors: The Abysmal Dollhouse (AtoZ Blog Challenge)

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** New Readers to this challenge: This is a serialized, continuous work. Please start with the first piece, Abysmally Yours. The AtoZ Blog Challenge began April 1st; ends April 30th. Thank you.

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Behind A Thousand Doors

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The sweat ran out of Roger’s body, soaking his once crisp white shirt, black slacks, black socks, black shoes. His wispy hair was plastered down as salty drippings ran into his eyes, irritating and momentarily disrupting his eyesight. Wipe, drip, blink, repeat. Roger’s breath rasped loudly; the combination of the extreme muggy heat did not mix well with his pell-mell running. Roger ran. He had to. The sound of thumping footsteps followed, closer and closer still.

Bursting through a door, Roger found himself in another long hallway, dotted with more doors. He’d lost count of how many doors he’s opened, how many similar halls he’s raced through. Straightaways, T-sections, dead-ends. Pausing for a moment, the noise behind him grew. He pushed on, stirred when he heard a woman’s voice call out “mijn, mijn, mijn…”. His heart accelerated before his running began again.

Patches of red bricks shone through areas of decayed and dingy white plastered walls. Roger barely noticed them, passing them by in his haste, leaving hallways behind, closing doors to discover more of the same. Stained glass windows sporadically broke up the passages, filtered colored light barely illuminating his way.  Still, the thumping followed him. Still, the echo of  “mijn, mijn, mijn…”

A grand staircase stopped Roger: one stairway leading up, the other down. Its complexity in marble and iron railings, its vast size placed underneath a huge stained glass ceiling,  startled him momentarily.  Up, or down. Roger knew he could not stay where he was. He wanted out of this place, whatever it was. He had no idea where he was, how he got there, or what was after him; he only knew that going on was all that mattered. He only knew his life depended on it. It was that primal.

The noise of a door slamming echoed in the atrium. Roger took off, choosing a downward flight, hoping one of the bloody doors would take him out of this place. Tripping in his haste, he tumbled down the remaining 14 marble steps, falling hard on the landing. His head hurt, his arms and legs were banged up, and his back arched as he lay there, staring upwards. His chest rose and fell with each sharp gasp for air.

Silence. Silence forced his eyes to the top of the stairway.

A woman. The woman. Tall. Her long blonde hair fell below her hunched shoulders, her head tilted down, her dead eyes staring into his. The red dripping from the jagged tear in her throat, staining down her torso, her skirt,  joining the red dripping off of the long butcher’s knife clenched in her right hand, spilling red onto the top stairs. Watching it cascade down one marble step after another.

“Mijn,” she said.

“I killed you. I killed you. I killed you!” Roger screamed as he raised himself from the landing.  He whimpered: “A suicide…I made it look like…”

Roger, wincing, trudged down the remaining flight of stairs. The woman followed, slower now, matching his rate of descent. He reached the floor, finding himself in ankle deep water. The humidity level had been rising, combining with Roger’s exertions, drawing more moisture out of his pores. His internal cooling system was not working against the overwhelming heat and the unbearable fear.

He slipped. She grew closer, stepping into the stagnant pooling water. Looking around, looking for an escape, Roger saw a line of doors surrounding doors surrounding doors. Each one he went to was locked; each one solid, thick.  With each one tried, Roger heard splashing footsteps, heard a gravely “Mijn.”

On the twenty-fourth door…or was it the seventy-ninth…or the two hundredth…or one thousandth…he stopped and turned. She was there, knife raised, still dripping, as she said “Mijn!”

*** *** ***

The lock to The Abysmal Dollhouse’s door quietly repaired itself. The Shopkeeper busied herself cleaning up the bits of broken glass that had been left in the wake of her furtive guest. He had slammed the door so forcefully after rushing in. Ashen, the man barely apologized as he stumbled along the aisleways, brushing against one dollhouse after another.

Small cries of “Mine! Mine” came from her assemblage as he passed them by.

“Hush, now,” she gently said, to none in particular.

Emptying her dustpan of the last of the door debris, she placed it back on its hook and settled her broom of straw and wood in its place in the corner. She heard a distant, tiny cry coming from one of the grander display houses.

The Lawang Sewu, detail exquisite, she felt, was slightly ajar. She walked over to this landmark of Indonesia and marveled, again, and the detail of its many doors and marvelous stained glasswork.

Gently, she brought the two halves of the cabinet house together. She noticed that there was some water leakage coming from its base. Off the Shopkeeper went, to fetch a rag, to wipe up the excess moisture. Doing so, she turned off the overhead display light.

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The AtoZ Blog Challenge

During the month of April, 2018, the challenge requires that we write 26 posts, starting with the letter A on April 1st (yes, it’s not an April Fool’s Day joke) and ending with Z on Monday, April 30th. A week or so later, there will be a reflection post that will wrap up this experience, for me as well as my readers.

The Lawang Sewu (the Thousand Doors) is an actual landmark building in Indonesia. It has a long and varied history, and if you’d like to know more about it, click HERE.

There stories of hauntings in the building, with the spirit of a Dutch woman-a suicide-seen by many. Care for a visit?

From the case files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

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Darkness suited ex-Inspector Khazarian Rovas. He liked the quiet it normally brought, a certain breeze that drifted through most nights except for the height of the summer months. Then he was usually drenched, having trouble breathing during the ofttimes stiffing still air. Early spring, now, and the insufferable weather was still to come. Tonight, he could enjoy sitting by his open window, lights off, breathing the coolness in, and allowing his out breath fog up the lowest corner of the window pane. Waiting.

But for the wishes of his wife, Berrak, Rovas would still be on the job. He never thought he would retire, that one way or the other the job would be where he would part this life. Berrak thought differently, and although she never demanded, he saw the clarity of her spoken thoughts. He loved her, she him, and it was that love that carried him to hand in his resignation. Forty-four years, the ups and downs of any job, acknowledgments and failures, all reduced to farewell handshakes, some drinks, rehashing of spectacular cases-solved or unsolved-and the drive home, with the few personal items from his desk in the boot.

It was the rehashing of cases that brought Rovas to his study, to his window, at 4:10 in the morning. Eight days had passed, but those memories of cases that were not, to him, satisfactorily closed, haunted his waking hours. He thought of the cases, twenty six in all, that still niggled at the back of his mind. He owed Berrak time that she was excluded from during his career, and he vowed to himself he would do his best to give her what she needed from him.

But those cases…those cases…

Outside his window Khazarian Rovas noticed a silhouette of a man briskly walking, back to Rovas, down the street, hands in his pockets, head cast down, fading down the street horizon. Ruminating, Rovas had not noticed the man until now. He had no idea where he came from, just observing this figure in darkness fading smaller and further away, until only a haze of an outline was visible. In a blink, the walking man was gone.

Rovas got up from his chair, turning it around to face his desk. Turning on the table lamb, he stared down at the pile of folders on the right side of his desk. Twenty six folders.

Sitting, he took the top file, placed it in front of him, opened it, and began to review this troublesome case file.

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Hi everyone. I’m sure you’ve noticed I have been away for quite awhile on any regular basis. Things happened in my life that took me out of the mood. I’m trying to see what I can do to mend that break within me.

I just rejoined the Blogging from A to Z challenge. Lots of positive things changed for me with the first one I was part of in 2011. Sadly, that did not last the lifetime I had hoped it would be. In either case, I am back.

“The case files of Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Twenty six case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve from this list of cold cases. My plan is to use a variety of genres within this overarching theme to allow me to play and, of course, challenge myself. Some cases might bleed into another case. Most will be stand alone. We’ll see, won’t we?

As to the Blogging from A to Z challenge, I’ll let the words of Arlee Bird (founder of said challenge) tell you what this is all about:

The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 4 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day.

The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends.

 So, join me (and the over 1600 other blogs involved) starting on April 1, 2016. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got planned.

Chromatic Labyrinth

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Piano-Wallpaper-music-24173621-1280-800Carlo, Prince and Count, imagined his wife in bed with another man. Not just any man, but his friend, the Duke of Andria.  Carlo noticed the Duke’s eyes always found the figure of Donna Maria more than pleasing. He noticed this look too often from the Duke, and he felt that the looks were too often returned . While Donna Maria protested her innocence, Carlo knew, in his heart, that she had already betrayed him…and would continue, this most vile of betrayals.

Unless…

These thoughts assailed Carlo as he pushed himself to compose. Music was his life-he knew that-but it, too, betrayed him.  His madrigals were politely received in court but ultimately…they were misunderstood by most and dismissed, mostly behind his back, but oh, how gossip reaches even the most closed off of ears!

He locked himself in his music room, the only living space he would occupy until he had finished this composition. Receiving food intermittently from his servant,  barely touching any of it, Carlo would not lie down to sleep, only dozing at his piano.  Nothing came out of his demand on the keys, tinkering, chords splitting into discordance instead of magnificence. Four days, and his mind wandered away from the task he set for himself.

Exhausted and light headed, it was on the latter part of the fourth day (although that was later told to him, as time had lost all meaning to him inside his cell) that the visions came. Donna Maria, nude, appeared to him. He stared across the room where she stood, and all his feelings for her rose to a grand level: lust, hatred, love, agony, pain, ecstasy…and rage. Word-paintings came to him. She sprawled, ever  so close, just beyond his reach. He used the keys of his instrument as knives, slashing down, sliding, pounding down until his fingers nails cracked and broke, leaving droplets of red on the ivory.

During all this, Donna Maria cavorted around the piano. She laughed in his face, touching herself, gliding across the room, behind him, leaping over or crawling under his piano. She would reach out to him, then pull away, her long black hair fanning out over the keyboard where he would try to grab a hold, only to have it whisked away. She twirled, and he played, and lost himself in his fury.

Every path he took drew him in deeper. He would sidle into a melody that would change, taking him in a new direction: most of them ending in a frustrating blockage, where he would only be able to retrace what he did, and go another way. And another. And another. Lost, in a place where meter and structure had no more sense, no meaning, and left him more desperate with each stroke of the keys.

Carlo was later told he unbarred the lock on his room and flung himself into the main foyer. Glassy eyed, he stalked past his ever waiting servant. Down the hall he  went, banging open the door to the armory, coming out with a saber in one hand and a gun in the other. The servant tried to talk to his master but was gutted, as witnessed by one of the maids who had come out to the main hall at the noise being made.

Cowering behind one of the marble columns, the maid heard her master rush up the stairs, a door bang open, and then another series of bangs as the gun went off, and screams from her mistress. She recounted that she heard sharp swishing noises, too many to count, her mistress’s cries loud and piercing, then fading, and then nothing.

Someone had summoned the constables, and the Sargent Major, known to all as a stable and strong man, could not report what he witnessed without feeling ill for quite awhile. Yes, he had seen battlefields, but the frenzy of the Count was like unto a butcher’s den. The Countess Donna Maria, and the Duke of Andria…

Carlo, Prince and Count, would stand trial for what he had done, but, in the end, he was freed. Money and ranking took care of that. He exiled himself from the city, trying to leave blood feuds and vendettas behind him. He withdrew more into his music, more into himself, and while he was lost in a complex labyrinth of creative madness, he composed.

And Donna Maria…she twirled around him for a very, very long time.

Papers of Pain

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Amidst the debris of clutter, among the years of things piled upon, chaotic shoving in of spaces, of things of little to no importance due to the distance of time, papers of pain were uncovered. A history unfolded in short passages, messages, of people passed on, most forgotten or unknown to the one riffling through the quagmire of emotions that the refuse brings.

Losing one’s parents is hard enough; uncovering aspects of them that you only thought you knew becomes the harder part to take in.

“Please forgive me…” began way too many letters, or messages in holiday/birthday cards, found among the leavings. Reading what he did was painful enough, so Bill only skimmed along, tossing, tossing, tossing…keeping a short pile that he knew he would confront at another time. Not now, not so soon, and maybe…maybe never.  Private thoughts that now are laid bare, never for his eyes in the first place. He thought: Do I have the right/need to know any of this?

Short words of “Love,…,” saying so little, punctuated by messages that left messages of hope and caring, of hurt, pain, and an end to suffering. Is that how they lived for so long, Bill thought, even as he knew the answer. He hoped to escape the yelling, the push and pull games, the neediness from such a young age, and he ran out as fast as he could when he was younger. He knew, though, he could not just abandon, for their world crashed down upon them, and with that crashing he became one of the broken pieces, held together with glue and tape, shattered enough, strong enough. At times.

And then…then, buried snatches of the other. There were the messages of love he now found. They were concealed among the many non-meaning platitudes. They were not long, snippets only, words of caring, of hope, of praise, of cleansing. Bill read these, everyone of them, in full, sometimes again and again. He weighed these few against the pile of pain, and while his own heart was heavy, his chest tight, his stomach roiling…he weighed the messages of love against those of suffering.

Shaking his head to clear the conflict inside, Bill put them all together in one bag, sealing it for now. They could lay still and silent, or battle amongst themselves in the bag.  He held his parents in his hands, their words, their wounds,  and their care and concern for each other. It was one weight, one mass, and he felt it was equal, balanced enough, as he carried it away with him.

Yesterday, Memories (non-fiction)

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In Memory
1926-2012

My mother passed away on October 14th, 2012. One major reason I haven’t been writing, or that my meager attempts have been sombre. My father died on October 15th, 1999, which has still sent shivers through me, that they parted this earth one calendar day apart (although thirteen years passed).

It’s Halloween, a holiday she did enjoy, seeing all the children in their costumes, playing like she was afraid of the “scary” ones, cooing over the very cute tots and babies coming out for their first Trick or Treating, and giving out bags of candy (each bag had to be the same, piece by piece, number by number, so she felt no child felt cheated).  It’s been one of my favorite holidays as well…not so much this year.

She was “known” in our family as the “family historian,” being able to recall all the family stories, connections, etc. This she did orally, rarely writing anything down. Which is a shame: those stories now only reside in the memories of those who listened, and if we don’t write them down, they’ll be gone.

I did find her beginning attempts to write some of the history down, colored through her lens. I’m posting it here where I normally write my own fiction. Not sure when/if I’ll really come back to this blog with any real attention. I hope you enjoy her early memories.

Yesterday, Memories…by

Edith A. Nager: 1926-2012

(1)          My mother and father met and married in Odessa, Russia. Papa had served in the Russian Army for five years and then was discharged. I have a picture of him in his uniform. He was quite dashing. He came to America first and then sent for my mother. This was before the First World War

(2)          The day I was born my father declared it a holiday. He kept my three oldest brothers home from school. The other two were too young for school. There were five boys and now me. The truant officer came to the house and asked why they were home, and Papa said: “After five boys, a girl was born!” That fine gentleman stayed and helped Papa celebrate.

                Mama said, and I quote her: “This is it! If it’s another boy, no more!” Papa ran through the building knocking on doors to tell them the good news. He finally had a daughter.

 

(3)          Saturdays, my mother did not cook. Papa said it was Mama’s time off. He went to the kosher deli and bought Pastrami, Corned Beef, Specials (knockwursts), Salami, Knobelwurst (very garlicky salami), and rye bread. The mustard came in paper cones. Oh my, how delicious it all was. Mama made the potato salad.

                Saturday evening after sundown was the time to turn on the radio and listen to station WEVD. It was Jewish music and singing. It was OK, but Sunday morning was better. Same station, but it was all about “Troubles of People” and “The Bintel Brief,” as well as more music and singing.

                The “Troubles of People” were some of the saddest tales you could hear. Husbands came to the Promised Land first and became Americanized. They met other women, forgetting about the wives and children back home. Sometimes it was a three hankie story.

 

(4)          Sunday brunch was out of this world. Bagels, bialys, pumpernickel bread, sweet butter, cream cheese, Muenster & farmer cheese; Belly lox, a large smoked white fish, and pickled herring in cream sauce with onions. Of course, a large salad: lettuce, tomato, cucumber, radishes and green pepper. We ate and talked. Everyone showed up for this feast. My brothers: Lou, Phil, Ezra, Sam, Bernie and me…and of course, Mama and Papa.

 

(5)          My brother Bernie gave me a lot of grief. He was the youngest of the boys. He used to tell me I smelled like a flower: it was called a stink weed. One day, he came home from school and went to the medicine cabinet. He took out a box of Feenamint. He got a box of Chicklet’s Gum and replaced it with the laxative. Some of the boys in school were giving him a hard time, so he got even. They never bothered him again. We gave him a new name: we called him “Dr. Fleckel.”

 

(6)          Walking with a group of girls and boys along the Gran Concourse to Fordham Road you could window shop. The stores stayed open till 9:00 p.m. We went to Rushmyers on University Avenue for Ice Cream in the summer and hot chocolate in the winter. We’d also go to 161st Street to Addie Valin’s and the Roxey Deli.

                Trolley cars in the summer, the sides were heavy metal mesh so you would feel cool. It cost five cents each way and some of us would take a ride in the evening. We went all the way to Throgs Neck and back. This was before A.C.