i missed The WW Challenge last week, due to just being back from our travels (part three of that coming up, by the way).  however, i am back and, amazingly, managed to pull a little fiction out of the dice.  thank the gods that fecking alien face didn’t come up again – i hate that little bastard!  XD  at a suggestion from the lovely Rosie over at Drifting Astray (and i seem to remember Aisling liking the idea too – there were more ppl in the discussion, i’m sure, but i will have to ask them to forgive my flawed memory) i’m trying to keep loosely to the theme of monsters, beasts and general demons.  both physical and metaphorical.

here, for anyone who missed it, is the explanation of what’s going on from the instigator of this challenge, Aisling Weaver:

Your challenge…to write a piece that encompasses the nine elements shown on the dice.  Once completed, please link yourself in the comments and crow your success on twitter under the hashtag #WeekendWriter!  If you don’t have a blog to post to, please feel free to post it in the comments!

So…without further due…here’s the challenge!

please go check out the others over at www.swirlingcurrents.com (though, at the time of writing, it looks like only me so far…  i guess the others are crafting their contributions with far more care than i ever do… *shame*)

and here is my contribution:


There was a crunch and a rustle, and then a nervous giggle.

“Jeezus, Ash!” hissed a response to the giggle, “Look where you’re putting your bloody feet, will you?”

“Fucking daffodils!” came the equally hissed response.  “Always thought it was a bloody stupid place to put them.  Right where people want to walk.  And anyway,” Ash’s voice turned petulant, now, “How am I supposed to look where I’m putting my feet if you won’t let me use the frigging torch?”  She shook the offending item at her friend.

Not that her friend could see, since the darkness under the surrounding trees was near complete.

A sigh.  “Ash, mate, we’ve been through this.  The place is deserted, right?  And the windows are all boarded up.  So we can use them once we’re inside.  But if someone sees a couple of torches bobbing about in the grounds, we’re in deep shit, innit?”

An answering sigh.  “Yeah, yeah.  Well let’s get in there quick, then, yeah?”

Just then, they broke from the trees, and caught sight of the big old house.  Both prowlers stopped in their tracks, and swallowed nervously.

“‘Trace,” came Ash’s suddenly small and trembling voice, “I’m scared.”

Trace put her arm around Ash’s stiff shoulders comfortingly, as she had done so, so many times before.

“Trace, I’m really, really scared.  I…  I’m not sure I can do this…”

“Sssh,” soothed Trace, squeezing Ash’s shoulders tighter.  “I’m here, babe – I’m right here.  It’s all gone, now.  All done.  Over.  And now we’ve just gotta do this one little thing, and we can start getting a bit better, yeah?  We can put it behind us, and start fresh, yeah?”

Ash wiped the incipient tears from her lower lashes and nodded mutely.  Sniffed a bit.

“Come on, girl.  You’re strong, innit?  We gonna let this fucking bastard place beat us?  Now?  After all this time?”

Ash’s chin came up at that, and Trace saw the gleam of defiance, even in the faint starlight.  Her lips tightened in a small, proud smile for her friend’s courage.

“Fuck no!” snarled Ash, fiercely.  “Let’s do it!”  She broke away from her friend’s embrace and marched across the overgrown and weedy lawn towards the looming, crumbling building that was such a weight on the space/time of their own personal continuum.  “I’ve been counting the fucking days since we came up with this plan,” continued Ash, as she ploughed her way through the vegetation of years, “You’re right – it’s time to end this.”

Trace’s smile grew broader.  She’d had a pretty shit time of it, just like all of them.  But Ash, well…  before Trace took Ash under her wing…  she shuddered.  Girls are bad enough, in packs.  But scared, damaged girls?  Pure. Fucking. Evil.  And it was always the weakest that they preyed on.  Ash needed closure on this far more than Trace.  And Trace was keen to help her get it.

They reached the back of the house that still featured in both of their nightmares, and looked at each other.  Then they surveyed the boarded up windows and doors.  “Right, okay.  How do we get in, babe?”

Trace grinned.  Swinging her faintly clanking rucksack from her back, she reached into it, and produced a small crowbar.

Ash’s answering grin lit her face.  “Nice one, babe!”

Trace applied the bar to the nearest wooden boarding.  Once the window was uncovered, it was the work of a moment to force the crowbar between the rotten wood of the sill and the old sash window.  They both thanked their lucky stars that the bars that had formerly covered the windows had been removed for scrap before the boards had been put in place.  With a dull thud, the catch gave and, with a little grunting and shoving, the sash was lifted enough to let them both slither inside.

Finding themselves in a small store room, they made their way out of it and carefully closed the door before they finally, thankfully, turned the torches on.  It was as black as the inside of a black cat inside that place, so their pupils were enormous when they turned them on.

“Ow, fuck!  Jeezus!”  Both covered their torches with their fingers to mute the light, until their eyes adjusted.  They quickly went to work.

Knowing this place as well as they did, they split up, Ash concentrating with all of her being on what she was doing.  No past, no future, just the here-and-now.  Just the task in hand.  And nothing else existed in the world.  She took out the first can of lighter fluid and got to work.

Ten minutes later, Trace came back from her half of the task to find Ash standing, stock still, her face contorted with…  Fear?  Anger?  Loathing?  Despair?  Yes – all of those.  And terrifyingly blank eyes.  She stepped up to the friend who was more dear to her than a little sister, stroking her hair gently, and saying, “Ash, babe.  C’mon ash – come back to me, sweetheart.”  Murmuring soothing words, stroking, and eventually hugging, until the muscles of Ash’s face gradually relaxed.  A single tear trickled down her cheek, and her eyes remained blank.

“Trace…” she whispered.

Sparing a glance for the door that Ash was facing, suppressing the memory of that fat, twisted cunt that squatted like a toad behind it.  Sometimes not alone, either.  She turned back to Ash.  “Come on, Babe.  Come back to me.  It’s nearly over, girl – you know it is, but we need to move quick, now.  Come on…come on…”

Gradually, Trace coaxed Ash back to the here-and-now, back to the task in hand.  And truly, there was only one thing left to do.

They each started in the far end of one wing of the house, working their way back towards the main staircase, the faint “whoomph”, “whoomph” following them, as they tossed a lighted match into each room, on to lighter-fluid soaked beds, rotten curtains, tinder-dry floorboards.  Moving faster, they repeated the action downstairs, until they finally met in the main hall, smoke already thickening the air near the ceilings.

Coughing, eyes watering, they scrambled out of the window they had entered by, setting light to the frame of that, too, before stumbling as quickly as they could, deeper and deeper into the black woods at the back of the property.  Their refuge in times past when things had got too bad.  To wrong.  Too scary.

As they reached the place they’d left the car, Trace pulled her phone from her pocket, and dialled.  “Hi, it’s me.  How are the kids?  Yeah?  Good.  Okay, yeah.  All sorted.  Don’t think there’ll be much left.”  A small silence.  A glance at Ash, who had turned to watch the first glimmers of a roaring blaze twinkling cheerily through the trees.  She had a faint, but very definite smile on her face, and a new look in her eye.  A fraction more peace that showed promise to grow.  “Yeah.  Yeah…  I reckon she’s got a bit more of a chance, now.”

Ash raised her hand in farewell, before climbing into the car beside Trace.

There was a thoughtful, contented and companionable silence between them as Trace turned the car and headed for home.