Happy Monday! Here’s a little challenge for you:
Write a story or poem on the theme of darkness. How you interpret the theme is up to you.
Last week, your challenge was to write about the cold. Here are your interesting and entertaining pieces:
Jason Moody‘s story is superb:
Jessica woke with a start and snorted, as the bus pulled away from the lights. An old man sat next to her tutted loudly for no reason at all, but his moment of grumpiness would not infect her mood today.
She hurriedly wiped the window to her right with her coat sleeve. The amount of bodies on the bus that morning would have made health and safety blush. It felt less like a bus, and more like a sauna with all the bodies wrapped in their winter clothes and pressed in like sardines.
With the condensation cleared, she now had a misty window to the outside world. The people outside, pushing through the morning rain all moved as one huddled, shuffling swarm. She was glad, in some small way, to be on the bus. She sweated in places she didn’t know she could, but at least she was dry.
But it wasn’t the outside world she was interested in. Her mind was elsewhere. Her mind was on Gary. Oh, Gary.
From the second she had woken that morning, the events of last night begun playing in earnest. She recounted, in crystal clear detail, every conversation, every subtle, unintentional brush of his hand on hers. She pictured his laugh, his soft, Northern accent, and the way he seemed to hang on every word she had uttered. She had – unless she was sorely mistaken – had the perfect date.
A smile crept across her face, which was completely at odds with the lifeless, near death expressions of most around her. Her cheeks warmed and her heart sang. If she had the room, she would have danced, and revelled in the delicious afterglow of the night before, in her own private bubble of giddy, gut-wrenching floatiness.
Her mind wandered to the prospect of a second date. A second date that was a formality. She thought about what she might wear, how she might act. Would they kiss?
Jessica was jolted from her whimsy by the sudden breaking of the bus and a persistent hissing sound. The driver opened his cabin and peered down the bus.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, this bus is no longer in service, please alight here.”
The bus, already filled with hot air, become more noxious as a rousing sea of groans and sighs filled what little space there was left to fill.
Jessica’s expressions remained unchanged. She quite fancied a walk, she thought.
The bus emptied onto the high-street and Jessica skipped along, blissfully ignorant of the rain and cold, biting wind.
She could feel a small vibration in her coat pocket. Was it him? Had he text? Was this an invitation to meet up again? She so hoped this would be the case. Her heart fluttered and her palms were a little sweaty as she fished the phone out of her pocket.
She wiped the rain from her face, which was now falling quite hard.
She scanned the text.
‘Had a great night last night, I just don’t think there was any spark. Sorry.’
No kiss. No nothing.
In that instant, her stomach was set to spin, her heart felt like a stone, and the joyous, almost child-like thrill that gripped her being was sucked out of her.
The rain and cold compounded her mood. All the colour and the songs had been packed away and padlocked.
She forced the phone back into her pocket and huffed her way back up the crowded high-street. The weight of utter disappointment kept her gaze shoe wards. This resulted in a collison with a young man.
“Oh, sorry,” he chirped, smiling.
“Watch where you’re bloody going,” she snapped.
The rain continued to pour.
Geoff Le Pard has written a stunning poem. Please visit his site to read it:
Due to personal circumstances, Rajiv Chopra missed last week’s slot, so he has treated us to two instalments in his Mary Jane series this week. The challenge a fortnight ago was to write a story on the theme of autumn, with the words red, goldfish and mustard in them somewhere. I wasn’t sure if Rajiv could do it but he did!:
Red. Blood red lipstick adorned their faces as they left that morning. At the start of their relationship, they had considered adopting a signature look, and then they decided against it. Too easy to identify, they figured. So, they compromised a bit. They would wear the same costume each time, but would vary the colour combination each time.
“To the market!” cried Mary Jane.
“Why the market?” queried Harley.
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe, the market will drum up some surprised. I do love markets sometimes. Always full of the most interesting people, and smells and colours. And, of course, things to choose from.’ She added the last, with a meaningful pause.
“Then, let’s go to the Gypsy Market!” squealed Harley. “I do love the gypsies. Always so mysterious. Always exotic, always singing strange songs, and selling some of the most quirky stuff.
“Oh, but we don’t want to buy things, do we?” asked Mary Jane, with a mischievous smile. “We just want things, and we just want to have fun today. Because, that is what girls want!”
Laughing in the happiest manner, the two of them sauntered off. Harley Quinn was wearing her favourite shorts, a tight T-Shirt, and was sucking on a lollipop. She looked the very essence of a fun-loving college girl, as she danced and skipped her way around the market.
Mary Jane. She was wearing a tight mini skirt. Blood red, to match her lipstick. It almost seemed as though there was nothing below the dress, but she was always just a little bit demure.
They walked around the market, hand in hand. Sometimes, they would eat a sweet, and sometimes would grab another lollipop. The two girls sipped some juice – they were very careful. They ate some salad from time to time.
They were on their best behavior. No explosions or hitting innocent people on the head. Just a hand finding its way to the delights of the morning.
Just around lunchtime, Harley stopped and said, “I am hungry. Let’s eat.”
They walked into a little restaurant, where they were greeted by the most incredibly odd looking little man.
Dressed in somewhat outlandish clothes, with a huge mustache that covered most of his small face, he ushered them in. Smiling in the most ingratiating manner possible, he led them to their table, and produced the largest menu that they had ever seen. It resembled a large, thick school book.
“What would you have, this fine day?” he asked, a sly little smile on his face.
“What do you suggest?” asked Harley Quinn, smiling innocently, and leaning forward slightly. “Tell me, my friend, what should we eat this fine day?”
“If my ladies would allow me,” he said, “I would like to suggest some lightly fried goldfish, topped with some mustard sauce. Ah, and what mustard we have for you. It is indeed, a special mustard, called ‘kasundi’, from the exotic land of Bengal in faraway India.”
Throwing back her head in laughter, Harley said, “Okay, my little friend, let’s have this.”
“I seem to have seen him before” said Mary Jane, with a frown. “But…… where?”
Soon enough, another little man came by, with a huge plate of steaming hot goldfish, with a golden yellow mustard sauce liberally poured over it.
“Smell the aroma, my ladies,” he smiled. Or, did he smirk? Mary Jane was convinced that he had smirked, and she was suspicious. Was something afoot?
Harley leaned forward to take a deep breath, and at that instant, a huge explosion of gas seemed to erupt from the fish.
“Mustard gas…” she seemed to hear, as a hand grabbed her.
Her senses reeling, she was losing consciousness rapidly, and the last thing that she thought she heard, was a manic cackle; a cacophony of insane laughter that she had thought she would never hear again in her life.
Now for this week’s instalment:
Unnoticed by people on the ground, bats had been circling in the air for a long while, and soon enough they returned to the Bat Cave. The Bat had read about magicians in the Third Age, and how they had used crows, ravens and other birds as spies. He had trained bats to be his loyal spies.
He had always congratulated himself on reading a lot of history, especially of the times before The Fourth Age – the Age of Man. He drew much inspiration from these times, and prided himself on being much more than a grim-faced man in a cloak, with a bag of tricks and fancy gadgets.
The news left him cold. He sat alone in his chamber for a while, his blood turning to ice. It hardly seemed to move in his blood vessels, and his face looked silvery blue, almost translucent. He sat there for hours, contemplating his next move, and then abruptly got up.
In their bedroom, Poison Ivy was pacing up and down, wondering where he was, when the door opened. Quietly, every so quietly, it opened, and she stood facing the man who had become her partner, accomplice and lover. He seemed to give off a silvery aura, and she froze at his touch. Looking deep into his eyes, she seemed to fall into the depths of Hell.
Hell, was not just a place of eternal flame. A correction, if you please – Hell was not just a place of eternal, scorching flame. It was also a place of cold, barbaric ice.
She looked deep into his eyes, out her hands on his shoulders, and then closed her eyes. After a long while, she quietened her mind, and stood there in silence. They seemed to stand there a long time, and then suddenly they both opened their eyes at the same time.
Flecks of blue danced in his black eyes, and flecks of red danced in her green ones. Hers was the Hell of the scorching flame, a perfect counterpart to his icy, bitter, cold Hell. They were now were the perfect partners.
Until this moment, they had been joined together in body, and in their passion for crime. They were now joined in their hearts and souls. Their souls joined together in harmony, and seemed to twist around each other – a coiled rope, if you may – ice and fire running up and down the length of it.
“It is time,” he said, “for us to leave.”
“Where to?” she asked.
“We need to teach some errant young boys, who is the master of it all,” he said.
She stepped back, and looked deep into his eyes.
“Do you still love Harley?” she asked
“No,” said the Bat. “Love for her died a long while ago, but I do have a fondness for her. I love you.”
“I love you too,” she replied with a smile. “Let’s go.”
There was a moment of silence, and then she giggled. “Let’s unleash some hell…”
The Bat smiled. “I will freeze that cackling laugh.”