Ploughing. Raking. Toiling. Burning, wiping, smearing.

Looking up through sweat soaked eyebrows and blinking roughly against the salty stinging  in his eyes. The heat hazed in the distance, the trees rustled, or seemed to, because they didn’t move and from where he stood, the sun scorching his scalp, they looked like a painting. Lined up at the top of the fields in the distance, the sky a lazy blue, not quite burgeoning into the deep colour of summer, almost as though the sun was so bright that the sky paled in comparison. So still. Was the world even real?

Midday. A bird chirped quietly somewhere nearby, too tired to break into song. A pickup truck trundled slowly down the dusty road just outside his garden. A face, browned and hardened from heat, stared at him, turning as the truck drove past. He stared back.

The truck slowed, it seemed, creeping along now. He gripped his shovel tighter, aware his fingers were slick with sweat under his gloves.

‘Hey,’ he said to the man. The truck was level with his now, and the man’s eyes were piercing. They reflected the light like a pair of sapphire beacons under the shadow of the truck.

The man said nothing, and the truck slowed to a halt.

‘Can I help you?’ he tried again, shifting to his other foot. He was aware of his own pulse in his neck. The world was so still around them, even the solitary bird nearby ceased to chirp.


Then the wheels spun viciously in the dusty road, and a brown cloud rose behind the car and it roared into being and started off, engine rattling loud enough that birds flew up into the sky in alarm. He watched as it sped off along the road, growing smaller in the distance.

As the dust settled, and the birds swooped back into the cool shadows once more, the heat of the day took over again, blanketing the world in hot, tired silence.

The trees in the distance didn’t move a branch. The summer haze lay languidly over the earth. The silence was vast, universal.

Was the world even real?







It was for the first time in many years that she found herself facing the old grey building again, and she didn’t quite understand the tumult of feelings that overwhelmed her at that particular point.
The sky hung low with heavy clouds, warning of the impending storm that seemed to be rushing closer even as the seconds passed. A strange wailing wind came whistling towards her over the moor, and if she hadn’t known better, she would have supposed it to be the anguished howling of some accursed spirit. She stood where she was, however, for several more minutes, her clear hazel eyes passing slowly over the magnificent structure of such talented architecture. The stone carvings in the walls seemed to be, despite their expert glory, hung over with a dark cloak of foreshadowing doom.

Presently the young girl sighed, shifted her handbag a little higher from its slipping position on her shoulder, and stepped up to the massive front door. Her arm rose hesitantly, fingers curled as though to knock. Her eyes flitted towards the great knocker and that piece of information seemed to abate her hesitation for she jerked her arm quickly and lifted the knocker, dropping it as suddenly as she had lifted it, the loud sound that was produced echoing dismally about the empty courtyard around her.
She then stepped back quickly, almost fearfully, awaiting the outcome.

The wait seemed to drag a very long time, during which she was forced to accommodate rushing memories of a disturbing nature…
Flashes of what she knew awaited her behind those doors flitted across her line of vision; A dark, eerie corridor, the smell of strong disinfectant which couldn’t quite mask the metallic, sickly stench of the blood, a hand dragging her by the scruff of her neck, gnawing pain in her feet, the hat stand, with feet carved like a lion’s paws…
She shook her head quickly, blinking repeatedly, trying to block those memories from her brain. She wasn’t prepared for this; she wanted to back away..She was going to back away! She had to!

Her blood ran cold, suddenly, when she heard the slow deliberate footsteps echoing through that corridor…there was a rattling at the door..
And then it opened.