Category Archives: legend

Philomel, with Melody: #Friday Fictioneers, A Different Take

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dadsshoesPHOTO PROMPT submitted by Courtney Wright. © Photographer prefers to remain anonymous.

Philomel, with Melody

“Will you look at this? Look at these boots! How darest he leave us a pair in such disgusting shape?”

“Yea. How darest he?”

“Look at that! How in Titania’s Tits are we supposed to fix…those?”

“Yea, Titania’s titties. HeHe.”

“Oh, do shut up.”

“Me lips are sealed.”

“And yer still yapping your yap. Damn me for a hobgoblin! This is beyond my ken.”

“You haint no hobgoblin.”

“Oh, double do shut up! Spit and a prayer; they’re falling apart! The soles! Look at the soles!”

“Back to the mushroom fields, then?”

“Ay. No cobbling tonight. Daft shoemaker. Daft boots.”

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So, I look at the picture prompt, and methinks to myself: “Thar be different stories one can tell from a picture of boots.” I thought I just thought it to myself, but when I got strange looks from the other coffee house patrons, I realized I said it out loud, in full Pirate voice. My timbers were shivered.

Yesterday, the picture prompt led to Boots in Distress. Today, the above.
As to the challenge: The above was a prompt from Addicted to Purple by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields that she calls Friday Fictioneers . The rules for this prompt are simple:

    1. Use the photo on Addicted to Purple as your prompt.
    2. Write a 100 word story, complete with beginning, middle, and end.
    3. Make every word count.
    4. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor of the photo credit.

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White Plague: 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.

waverly-hills-sanatorium

White Plague

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The screaming came from the dark end fo the body chute. Victoria stopped dead in her tracks. She clutched her head with both hands and screamed; a counterbalance to the wailing coming up the passageway. She collapses, wracked with fear, tears pouring one the floor that was pressed against her face. Victoria continued screaming until her vocal cords gave out, leaving only a rasping sound. The shrieking echoed up the body chute until it, too, faded away.

Panting on the floor, Victoria’s mind was in a vortex of thoughts and emotions. Pain overwhelmed her, body and mind. The scream came first to her, scrambling around until she began to fixate on being afraid. Fear turned to hatred. Hatred morphed into Victor, then anger, then pity, then loneliness, then anger again. Fear hit her hard, sending her head slamming into the floor. Fear. Slam. Escape. Slam. Victor. Slam. Knives. Slam. Pain. Slam. Hatred. Slam. Victor. Fear. Slam. Victor. Victor. Victor.

Slam. Slam. Slam.

Woozily, she staggered to her feet. Victoria had to wipe away the blood that was dripping into her eyes; the drool that was escaping from her open mouth. She wanted to cry, to scream. Instead, bouts of coughing shook her, hurting her throat even more. As they subsided, she stood, listening. With a sudden jerk to the left, she heard the sound that had been chasing her. That damned thing…still after her. Still that tap, tap, tapping.

Victoria ran. The coughing resumed.

The Unfolding Doll, knife in hand, moved down the hallways of the sanitorium. It passed the many wraiths that wafted around, in and out of rooms, through floors and ceilings. The doll went after the woman with the bleeding wrists, but it pulled away through the floor. Its knife flashed out in front of it as a leather ball came flying toward its head. The Unfolding Doll lashed out. The ball went through the knife, losing velocity, and fell to the floor behind the doll. Turning, it saw the outline of a child pick up the ball and take off down the hallway, only to pass through one of the closed doors.

These were not the things to pursue. The Unfolding Doll had other prey. Continuing down the hall, floor to floor, it tapped it’s blade, announcing its passing. Knife on the walls. Tap. Kife on doors. Tap. Knife on everything that came its way. Tap, tap, tapping.

It approached room 502 and stopped. The doll did not tap on or near this door. It moved away to the other side of the hall, button eyes fixed on the closed door. Giving it a wide berth, the Unfolding Doll made its way to the staircase, black plastic eyes locked onto room 502 until it couldn’t be seen anymore.

Bleeding badly from the head laceration, Victoria’s strength was ebbing as her voice had. Her throat was even rawer from the constant hacking coughing.  She had tried to staunch the blood flow, tearing part of her hospital gown to make a bandage, but the blood seeped through. When she wasn’t coughing, she heard the tap, tap, tapping as it grew closer. Door after door was locked. There was nothing she could find to jimmy open a lock, no keys to be found.

Victoria went down a side hallway, through a pair of swinging doors. Ahead there was a nurses station, fixed in place. Rounding a corner, Victoria searched the drawers and cabinets for anything she could use: for the blood or for protection, whatever. The station was emptied. Not even dust.

The thing that killed Victor, that drew into this horrible place, was close. She could hear it. Near, too fucking near. She shoved her mouth full of the sleeve of her gown to muffle the coughing. Crouching, she went into the space where a chair would be pushed into. She made herself as small as she could, tried to blend into the shadow underneath. Tried to calm her cough.

Tap, tap, tap. On the top of the station desk.

Tap, tap, tap. Running down the counter.

Tap, tap, tap. Rounding the corner.

Victoria, fetal position, turned her head slightly, enough for one eye to see beyond. There, at the edge, were two black shoes. White linen legs, stitches running up and down. The edge of the knife, glinting in the darkness.

One step forward. Then another. Then…

The Unfolding Doll’s head snapped up and out. It twirled its knife back and forth, rising it towards the ceiling. An inner thrumming sang through its linen body. No decisions were to be made. One moment it wanted Victoria to dance with its blade. The next, it stepped into a shadowed corner and was gone.

Relief washed over Victoria when she realized she was alone. Pulling the material out of her mouth, she gasped for air, reawakening the whooping cough. Spent, she slipped down, laying on the cold tile floor. As she was drifting away, she heard the screaming, again. It was coming from the body chute.

To be continued…

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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 Waverly Hill Sanatorium is in Kentucky. Built in 1910, 40 to 50 patients were supposed to be housed there to deal with the White Plague: Turberculosis. Many people died there of all ages. The link will give you more info on the hauntings and stories surrounding the building. The body chute is one of the more disturbing aspects of the place. For some of the more gruesome facts, click HERE.

Sigurd The Mighty: 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.

Skull

Sigurd The Mighty

The Abysmal Dollhouse

Shadows edged their way throughout the shoppe,  pockets that swalowed light. The Shopkeeper would try to rearrange the lighting, add more fixtures, but nothing stuck: what was in the light remained so; the rest was shadows’ realm. The far corner held a shadow so complete that nothing affected it for more than a few moments. The Shopkeeper normally kept her distance, her peripherial vision always alert.

She made her rounds, dusting dollhouses, counters, display cases, and cabinets, in a grid pattern. She was careful in her dusting normally, but her experience with the woman whose mouth was covered, the devout way she used her personal brush on her temple, made an impression on the Shopkeeper.

Time passed. The shopkeeper stood at the side wall, off the left of her workstation, and realized she had not cleaned inside the largely locked cabinet in quite some time. Searching her apron pockets, the could not find the key that would unlock the door. She left the floor, positive she had hung it from the key hook in her back room. She walked behind her counter, hung up her duster, and went in search of the key.

Yes, the key was hung by its own ring, on top of a series of keys that unlocked other things. Taking it down and placing it in her pocket, the Shopkeeper heard a noise just outside of her room. A tap, tap, tapping against the glass. “Not now,” she muttered, knowing what it was, knowing she had not heard the front door open nor the door chime tinkle.

Stepping over the threshold, she turned and saw that the Unfolding Doll was leaning against the glass of the large curio cabinet. Its knife was making the sound, the tap, tap, tapping.  The hand of fine linen clutched the handle, letting the tip of the blade make the noise. The doll was all in white this time, delicate lace enclosed wrists led to the white sleeves, attached to a white lace bodice, finished off with a white linen skirt that fell almost to its ankles. The black buttons in the place where eyes would have been being fixed on one thing in particular in the locked display.  Its black ringlets were tossled, adding a wild contrast to the rest of its attire. Yet, it suited the blade.

The Unfolding Doll turned its head in the direction of The Shopkeeper, the tapping continuing. “Please, stop,” the Shopkeeper asked, reaching to her right where her broom was propped against the wall. Surprisingly, the noise did cease. The Shopkeeper sighed, took the key out of her pocket and waited until the knife was gone.

Walking forward, key in hand, the Unfolding Doll took a step away. Its button eyes did not move from what it was fixated on. The Shopkeeper inserted the key, turned and unlocked the large glass door, and gently opened it.

Inside stood the multi-tiered Wall of Death, a miniature presentation of the Conservatoire d’épouvante Maison De Poupée. Skull after skull adorned the replica wall, each with its placard, in tiny print, the matter of death that was the story of each individual whose brainpan was showcased. At present, there were seven shelves with six neurocraniums displayed, most of them complete, a few with cranial abrasions or missing pieces. 

The Doll stepped up and gazed solely on one skull, second shelf from the top, first one to the left. The Shopkeeper quietly moved behind and to its side. She pointed at it, reading the sign: Sigurd the Mighty. The Unfolding Doll appeared to relax, enough so that the Shopkeeper knew it was this that drew the doll’s attention.

Focussing solely on Sigurd, the Shopkeeper channeled her emotional energy on the object, as she had done before with other skulls. For her, it was the only way to unlock its story.

A deep male voice came from the cabinet.

40 men fought with me; 40 fought against. Their leader, Mael Brigte the Bucktoothed, refused to bend knee to me and my king, my brother, the rightful ruler of Norway. I had conquered all of this northern land of the Britains, this pissant of a leader being the last to stand in my way. He and his fought for his land; I and mine fought for our King.

Both sides were able, I will give Bucktooth that. Yet, his men had not fought battle after battle, did not have the true knowledge of those they fought with and their capabilities. My 40 cut down them all to a man. Mael put up a great fight, but he was still no match; I had not been called Riki, The Mighty. 

Shattering his knees with my mace, I drew my long sword, releasing his life force with blow after blow. Down went Mael Brigte, down the Bucktoothed, and the remainder of his men still standing lost hope, and they followed him down, to let the ground feed off of their blood.

While my men took their spoils, I took Mael’s head, tying it up to hang off my horses’ saddle. This was a trophy for my king, a show that this northern land was mine, and in its way, the king’s as well. We rode away from the slaughter, making our way back, knowing many days were still ahead of us. At nightfall, around the fire, it was made notice that I had a series of large scratch marks on the outer part of my leg. I had felt some pain, ignoring it as we rode having just left a battle. We passed around the skins of wine and none feeling anything after a while.

As I made to mount in the morning, I found Mael Brigte’s head looking at me. It seemed it was smiling, but it was only his buckteeth sticking out, his mouth frozen in an open grimace. The mouth and teeth were red, but I would be damned if cleaning the head was going to happen.

The road back was uneven, and my horse stumbled now and then. Each time it did, the head of Mael banged into my leg, a few of those times I felt pain. I kept one eye on the path, one eye on the head. A hole in the ground almost caused the horse to drop, but it righted itself well. Yet, eye on the trophy, I saw that the buckteeth of my foe had bounced far away and returned, scoring my leg. Blood pooled down my calf and was soaking my footwear.

When we finally stopped, the pain in my leg was so wretched that I at first limped to the campsite, nearly falling into the fire. I tried to sleep, but the pain was absolute. I was sweating, shaking, and when one of my men tried to help he touched the area where it hurt the most. He drew his hand away sharply, saying that the leg felt like a winter stove. He rubbed his hand in the dirt. I had been going in and out of being awake. I thought he said that there was something slimy coming from that spot on my leg, and there was a horrible smell being emitted. I passed out and remained so until the morning.

My men had to bring me to my horse and saddle me. I heard the complaints of a smell, and evil looks were given to my leg but the glances were swift. Everyone mounted, and we continued on. The path remained uneven, the head of Mael Brigte scored my leg again and again. Towards the setting of the sun, a day and a half away from our home, I fell off my horse, already dead before I left the saddle.

My son, Gottorm, buried me at Sigurðar-haugr.

This is my story told. Leave me be.

The Shopkeeper revived herself, awareness flooding back into the shoppe. The Unfolding Doll was not there. It was walking down the aisleway, tapping every now and then with its knife. The doll headed to the far right corner and the shadow. Stopping just before it, the Unfolding Doll turned to look in the Shopkeeper’s direction. Walking backward, it folded itself into the shadow and was gone.

Dusting the skulls was needed, and dust she did. A few of the skulls reached out to her, wanting to tell their story.

“Hush. Not now, please,” she gently quieted them down. “There is always time for more.” Finished, she took the key out of her pocket, locked the cabinet door, and returned to her back room. She hung the key back on the hook with all the other keys.

She smelled something. On the small dining table was a freshly baked scone, clotted cream, and raspberry jam. Next to it was a steaming cup of tea. She picked it up to take a sip: yes. She “mmmmmm”‘d as she folded herself into her padded chair. Thai High Mountain Oolong, a fresh scone. The Shopkeeper sipped, nibbled, and smiled.

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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.

Sigurd the Mighty is part of Bizarre Viking Deaths. No joke. I came across his story years ago and always wanted to do something with it. Well, here you go.

As to the Wall of Death, if you ever go to Philadelphia, there is the Mutter Museum of the College of Physicians. A very bizarre place to have a first date, but it’s what she wanted to do. There is a wall of skulls. I just took it a step further. I always thought this was an appendix to the “normal” Abysmal Dollhouse tales, but I’m glad I wrote this one for the AtoZ. Hope you enjoyed.

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.

headstones

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.

Listen…: 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.

Sound-Waves

Listen…

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The Unfolding Doll slouched in shadow, the darkness punctured by pinpricks of from out there. It wasn’t photophobic, fear not an emotion that it took in but rather exuded. Its prey reeked of fear, drawing the doll along. Emotions were not a foundation it drew upon. Instead, it was attuned to severe emotional states of those out there; the heartbeats projecting as they quickened; the mental waves that crashed upon each other in disarray; the breathes coming in short, jagged waves. Anger. Sorrow. Guilt. Greed. Menace. Fear.

If the Unfolding Doll could relish anything, fear would top its list. Fear was a calling from the shadow.

Out there, the Unfolding Doll sensed the excitement from the houses. Not the complacent ones. The others, whose hunger was always throbbing, fed or not. It sensed more than heard the plaintive peals of “mine, mine, mine” that ran along the edges. The greedy ones, always wanting more. The doll was in tune with these; there were always more to be made “mine.” Symbiotic yearning, melting together in want. Its blade ached for action.

The Shopkeeper steered the man away from the corners of the shoppe. Upon entering, his “harumph” made evident what he thought. He brusquely told her about his twin daughters upcoming birthday. They wanted a dollhouse, “of all things.” He was busy, needing to get back to his office, his wife nagging him to get their present.

His cell rang and he answered it, talking finances at a rapid clip, ending the call as abruptly as he took it. “I don’t have all day. What’s good for two seven-year-old dreamers?”

He spat the word “dreamers” out.

“Mine, mine, mine,” were insistent calls from the back wall. He wasn’t listening beyond his own head, his plans, and meetings, the deal to broker, the way his assistant bent over his desk. The Shopkeeper guided him to where the calls were hungriest.

“Hush,” she subvocalized.

A lighthouse stood on the shelf; it towered over the surrounding replicas. The white and red painting was pristine as it wound its way around the cylinder form. The deck at the top extended from the watchtower; all looking as if it had just been produced. The tiny house at the bottom was made of the same material. He touched it with some force.

“It’s solid, I’ll give you that. But, I said dollhouse, not..”

The Shopkeeper unclasped the latch and the lighthouse and dwelling below swung open.

He noticed the details in the living quarters, the bedding and rugs, the table and chairs, and miniature toys scattered on the floor. In the lighthouse itself, he admired the spiral staircase. “Metal?” he inquired. She nodded her head.

She left him, returning to her counter.

Having no preconceptions, nor any real care when he entered the shoppe, the man was fascinated. He had lived in Florida most of his childhood. The beaches were his playground and the lighthouses he saw were always in the distance. His father would tell ghost stories about them, the mysterious deaths and hauntings, the shipwrecks and the ghostly crews seeking revenge. His father delighted in scaring him.

Some sound caught his attention. It came again, closer. Seagulls. Seagulls were flying around the lighthouse, landing on the deck so high above, taking off and swooping down. One splattered its last meal on the sleeve of his suit. In disgust he tried wiping it off, only making it worse.

The door to the residence was open. Walking inside, he called out. No response, but he saw the sink with a towel draped over its edge. It was still damp. Blotting his sleeve, he called out again. Again, no answer. He kicked a toy boat out of his way as he advanced further in.

The staircase loomed over him. Sweat began to form on his brow, his hands were clammy, and his heartbeat skipped along a little bit harder. His father’s stories swept through his mind but he brushed them away, uneasy that he would allow that man to upset him still after all these years.

He began the climb. Success wouldn’t have been his all these years if he didn’t meet every challenge and conquer it. He climbed, 219 steps, each one presenting, in his mind, deals he had made, enemies he had tossed away, people he had screwed over, women he had screwed with, those he had crushed on his way to the top.

As he climbed, the light through the glass dome receeded. It was replaced by the rolling of the lighthouse lens. He stopped so near the top. He hadn’t heard it turn on. No one had answered his call. Thinking about it, he hadn’t heard the seagulls either for a while. Standing still for a moment, he was about to turn around and go back down.

Steel scraping on steel from below. One long, continuous squealing sound of metal on metal circled up the staircase, echoing off the inside of the lighthouse. He was about to call out, demand an answer, but his father had buried too many nightmare tales in his memories. He had scoffed at horror films: why did they always call out “is anyone there?” just before…

Running. The metal staircase reverberated with the sound and vibrations of something running upwards. The strident metal sound grew more discordant as it got closer. Turning, he bolted up the remaining steps.

At the top were two shadowed figures, hand in hand. Small, they reminded him of his daughters. Shadow outlines of long hair, dresses, a hint of washed out colors as the light came around, blinding him momentarily, not giving him a chance to focus clearly.

The noise from below made him move towards the figures. They drifted away as he advanced. Reaching the door to the deck, it flew open as the figures disappeared. He made it onto the deck and tried to shut the door.

A hand blocked the way. When the light came around, he saw it was clothlike. He screamed, backing away. The Unfolding Doll stepped out after him, knife in hand, honed to perfection on its journey up the staircase.

He turned for a moment, realizing the height they were at. He listened to the crashing of the waves below, the return of the gulls cries, and they stabbed through whatever reserve he had left, as the Unfolding Doll completed the job.

***

Far away, it was 4:00 p.m.

To be continued…

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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 St. Augustine Lighthouse in Florida is also a very haunted place to visit. There are many tales told of ghostly happenings. Supposedly, the ghosts of two young girls who mysteriously died during construction still can be seen.

Be careful if they beckon.

Forever F(r)iend: 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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Forever F(r)iend

The Abysmal Dollhouse

The echoing bleating of “mine, mine, mine” continued long enough to draw the Shopkeeper’s attention. The dollhouses clammored until she shushed them, stern look to one and all. As usual, she had been making her rounds, dusting in a grid pattern, excavating the settled floating particles from her charges. She stood and faced the door, knowing.

The chime above the door tinkled as the door opened. Standing in the doorway, looking left to right, the man in the green cardigan sweater adjusted his sleeves, pushed the middle of his black framed glasses up his nose, and finally completed his entrence. The Shopkeeper had noticed him pass by a number of times, occasionally stopping and squinting at the display window.

He waited.

“If you need any assistance, please don’t hesitate to ask,” she said, taking her place by the counter, hanging up her duster, and placing herself so that her broom was at her back. She had felt him staring at her as he stood there, and knew he had been squinting at her the few times he had peered in. Her feelings were correct, as always. So many of the dollhouses felt it too, long before he touched the doorknob. She glanced at the shadowed corner, but it remained still, vanquishing the sparse streaks of light that came its way.

There were aisles of dollhouses between them, various archetectural styles; some so very plain, while others reeked of the overdone. The man looked around, walked over to a few, bent over, inspected, stood and moved, ever closer to where she stood. He had not said a word. She noticed that even as he looked at a replica of Hill House, then The Emperor’s Pagoda,  moving onto the Waverly Hill Sanitarium,  no discernable hint of interest crossed his mein. His gaze might have been on the shoppes’ ware, but his attention appeared to be solely on her.

She broke the silence. “I think I have something that might be of interest to you. It has received avid interest, from time to time. The description on the display card is as fascinating as the dollhouse itself.”

For the first time, his face changed: a small curve of the lips, a mini smirk that froze in place. He bent over and read out loud “Akershus Festing: The Fortified House of Aker.” Straightening up, the smirk was gone. “So? What of it? It looks it’s made of stone, with arrow-slits in place of windows.”

“Notice anything else?” she asked.

His eyes narrowed and creases formed on his brow above his nose. “It has a fence, som..”

“A battlement,” she interrupted. “It is called a battlement.”

Glaring at her, he noticed the stone…battlement created a wall around the house. There was something else written, on a smaller card that was just beyond the wall.

“Read the card.”

“Look, enough of this playing around.” He backed up a step from the house, beginning to turn towards where she stood.

“Read the card!” It was not a request.

It went beyond him that he did so. “Beware of Malcanisen? What…”

The front gates of the battlement groaned open at the same time as the door to the house did, equally grating. Finding himself in front of the door, he heard the gate forcibly shut behind him. He turned to look; as he did so, a deeply aggressive sounding growling came from inside the house.

“Hey,” he shouted, “what the hell is…oh my god.”

In the doorway was Malcanisen. Dark gray matted hair covered the huge dog’s body. Its lips were pulled back, displaying the sharp pointed teeth. Saliva drooled down, its eyes were blazing, and Malcanisen advanced.

The man tried to run, but Malcanisen lept and brought him down. With fangs deeply embedded in his prey’s upper left thigh and groin. Dragging the man through the door of the house, the screams and rending sound diminished and went silent as the door closed tightly shut.

During the process, the Shopkeeper had moved to her back room. Her timing was perfect, the sound of the door sealing shut just as she returned to the floor. In her hand were two miniature bowls: one filled with dark ale, the other with special biscuit treats. She placed both by the front of Aker’s Fortified House and gently tapped on the door.

“Thank you, Mal. I left something for you.”

Returning to her counter, she picked up her duster and waited. The Shopkeeper heard the lapping of the ale and the crunching of the treats. She smiled.

“Who’s a good vicious dog, hmm? Who’s a good evil dog? You are. Yes, you are!”

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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 Akershus Festing (Castle) resides in Oslo, Norway. It has been around since the 13th century and, as you could imagine, has a rich and varied history. It also has tales of hauntings and other assorted bumps in the night. Malcanisen is one of them: the name translates to either “The Vicious Dog” or “Evil Dog”, and if he was to advance upon you while you were traipsing around the castle, you would face a horrible death within three months of the encounter. Basically, Mal was supposed to be guarding the premises.

Who’s a good doggy?

Conversation Inquisitive (A to Z Blog Challenge)

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“Conversation Inquisitive”

The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas

The waiter dropped off their drinks, took their lunch orders, and left the table.

Rovas watched him walk off before turning to his lunch mate, Sargent Detective  Gil Katsaros. “Again, thank you for joining me.” He sipped his coffee. Bitter. “They over-roasted the beans. Again. I think I will join you in sharing this bottle of wine.” He pushed his cup aside, wishing Berrak, his wife, could teach these people how to make a proper cup of coffee. He poured himself half a glass of the red.

“Salute!” Katsaros offered. They clinked their glasses and sipped the wine. “It is a pleasure, Inspector. Far better to meet here than in the squad room. Too much death, too many egos.” He paused, looking at his former commander. “If you don’t mind my asking, what is troubling you? I’ve seen that look on your face before.”

Rovas studied the glass in his hands. Katsaros waited, this process well familiar to him. “It’s the “Old Lace” murders. It is still bothering me.”

“It’s solved, Inspector.”

“Yes, Gil. It’s solved.” Katsaros was taken slightly aback. Rovas rarely called him by his first name.

“The problem is not that we have the murderer in hand, case closed. Fait accompli.” Rovas shook his head.  “It was how it was accomplished. I don’t believe in coincidences, as you well know, yet…here we are. With all that I put into this case twelve years and ago, and then last month, and in the end the damning evidence that solidified the closure was…given to us, by chance. If Micheal Avgoustidis had left his flooring alone, or done the work as the previous owners had set out to do, we would never have had Maria’s diary. Her killer would still be walking around, free.”

“Inspector..”

“Khazarian, please. I am no longer an inspector, nor your chief,
Gil.”

“Sir, I…” Katsaros stopped, noticing the moue on the face across the table. “Khazarian, then. You know more so than I that luck, a perpetrators mistake, sometimes these things and more plays as important a part in solving a case as the amount of investigating we do.”

Rovas nodded. 

“Is there something else that is troubling you? This should be a celebratory lunch.”

Before he could answer, the waiter returned with their food: Salade Niçoise for him, liver and onions for Katsaros. “You’ll die of clogged arteries, the liver swimming in butter like that,” he said, pointing with his knife. 

“Better that then a bullet or a slit throat, I always say. Better to die from pleasure, no?” A large smile appeared after a good sized chunk of his lunch was consumed.

“So you’ve always said” Smiling in turn, Rovas stared at his salad.

“Inspec…Khazarian. Eat. Why is this bothering you so?”

How could Rovas put into words his feelings of inadequacy in the way the case was tied up? He fought the idea of retirement, but at the back of it all, were his better days behind him? Did he retire not just for Berrak’s sake, but deep down he felt that he was not at his best any longer? The fear that his usefulness was truly at an end?

Gil put his fork and knife down, his attention solely on the Inspector. The Inspector. No matter what he wanted to be called, that is what he was.

“Sir, you have solved more cases, been integral to putting away so many monsters. You have given closure to so many families of victims. The others,  and I,  were proud of serving with you. Are proud. We are still proud of that, and nothing can take that away.” He waved the approaching waiter away. “You deserve this time to spend with your wife, deserve the time to finally relax. So much has happened over the years. You need it. She needs it.”

“You know me that well, eh?” Pausing, Rovas made a decision.  “What if I told you that my working on this case was not a fluke? That I have this need to examine some of my cold cases, that I hope to put them to rest? That I feel I must do this?

And..yes, yes. You are right. Things do fall into our laps, at times, or scurry out of the way just as we need them most. I just have always been more satisfied knowing I had more than a passing hand in it all. I hope to do so while I am still here.”

Picking up his knife and fork, the Sargent Detective smiled and answered: “It will be a pleasure “working” with you again. Sir.”

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“The Case Files of Inspector Khazarian Rovas” is my theme for this year. Cold case files for the good inspector to delve into, trying to make sense &/or solve. 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 1800 other blogs involved) starting on Friday, April 1, 2016 and ending on Saturday, April 30th. Comments and such are always welcome. I hope you enjoy what I’ve got planned.

Migrating Bears (SIGNS: #AtoZChallenge)

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Migrating BearsKallisto was lost. From the moment she gave into her feelings, and his, she knew she was lost. Did she not vow chastity until death? Did she not mourn what she gave up, while she hugged the swelling, enlarged now for all to notice?

Shunned, shunned, Kallisto ran far from her sisters. Their wrath was still so present in her mind.

She had traveled so far and dropped to her knees, exhausted. Resting, night fell,

Kallisto lay on her back, looking up at the darkened sky overhead. As the twinkling patterns emerged, she wished she could join the stars above.

 

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For the April 2014 A to Z Blog Challenge, you will find a story a day (except Sundays) from me. A to Z: Staring with A on Tuesday, April 1st and ending with Z on Wednesday, April 30th.

Signs is my theme for this year’s outing. Road signs, building signs, warning signs…Signs alert us to a multitude of messages. My plan is to use the alphabet through Signage, but not to stick to what the sign was originally intended to convey. So, the genre of story writing, and styles, of the posts will vary as my mood and interpretation sees fit. Possibly a poem or two. We’ll see.

I’m also trying something more of a challenge: each post will be a Drabble. A Drabble is 100 Words Exactly.

Hope you enjoy the stories.

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.

Nyctophilia: #defythedark contest

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Well, I’ve been away for over a month. During that time, I’ve started writing a number of things, but all of it was working towards story ideas I’ve had rolling around for a bit. All of them are in different stages…and almost every piece is for a future novel, or novella. Hence, not for Tale Spinning.

My SO brought a Figment contest to my attention that actually intrigued the two of us: the Defy the Dark New Author Contest. I had given up on submitting anything to Figment because of the usual  “heart (like) my story & I’ll like yours” mentality, which rarely ever translated into the merit of the story. Yes, I did that last year with Birdsongs: The Virtuous War. I learned my lesson and stayed clear of that type of “whoring” for votes.

What’s different about Defy the Dark New Author Contest? The likes/hearts don’t mean a thing: there is an actual YA editor (Ms. Saundra Mitchell)  who will read and judge the work on its merits. This is for eventual publication in an anthology by HarperCollins. Combined, the two things got me writing a just under 4,000 word short story entitled Nyctophilia.

FYI: Nyctophilia, as defined by Dictionary.com, is: a love or preference for night, darkness.

My description/”blurb”:

On the coast of the British Isles lies beautiful Bournemouth. At the turn of the 20th Century, it is a quiet, peaceful destination. A retired London Chief Inspector makes his home there with his wife, their house cared for by a local towns girl, Miranda. By day, most agree that the views of Bournemouth are spectacular. By night, the Spectacular views Bournemouth in an unsavory way…an old “friend” of the inspector comes to visit, and he  very much prefers all that the night has to offer.

Please CLICK HERE to take you to my newest story, Nyctophilia. If you with to leave comments, you can do so either at Figment or here on Tale Spinning.

Lisa Vooght entered the same contest with an extremely compelling tale called Rain’s Gonna Come.  Very powerful, a story you will be glad you read.

Thanks one and all for sticking with Tale Spinning. I hope I’m not gone another month before posting something new.