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Waking Dreams 2014

Title: Blood Moon
Prompts: Trance & Alert
Author's Note: Revisiting a place and people I've missed. And a scene that's been in my head since a challenge here many moons ago.

~ * ~

It wasn’t real.

It couldn’t be real.

It shouldn’t be real.

Ainsley sat, propped up against the wall of the crypt. She’d been motionless for so long that she’d forgotten why, exactly, she was sitting in the chamber. It was safer to remain as she was – mired in a place between unaware and unwilling.

The marble floor gleamed in front of Ainsley. It glowed almost like moonlight dancing on water. Ainsley thought the waves she was seeing might be all in her head because the cold, solid marble felt nothing like the gentle waters of the river nearby.

As she swam slowly back to conscious thought, Ainsley brushed her hair way from her face. Her fingers left wet trails from her forehead, across her right eye and down her cheek. She shrank backwards at the scent of something metallic and coppery. As Ainsley set her hands on the floor to steady herself, she felt something viscous and sticky.

It might as well have been the klaxon horn of a ship. Instantly alert, Ainsley lifted her hands.

And began to scream.

Blood. So much blood.

On her hands. On her thighs. Pooling on the crypt floor near the body.

Ainsley’s screams reverberated off the crypt walls and slipped out into the night.

It came back to her in flashes.

Running through the marsh with Thomas steps behind.

Thomas following her into the Ford family crypt.

Thomas pinning her against one of the coffins of a long dead Ford relative, yanking down her shorts and stabbing into her repeatedly.

Ainsley clenched and unclenched her hands, remembering the feel of the stone figure she’d grabbed. She remembered the shockwave that ran up her arm as she brought the figure down on Thomas’ head. The way he’d crumpled to the floor and howled with rage as she struck him over and over. The silence that filled the tomb as she scrabbled backwards out of his reach and watched as his chest stopped rising. The blood that flowed and pooled as she frantically moved away.

It wasn’t real.

It couldn’t be real.

It shouldn’t be real.

But it was. And the proof lay right in front of her.

She was free. And she was a murderer.

Ainsley turned rapidly towards the door of the tomb. She’d heard someone call her name. Thinking it was Thomas, she grabbed the stone figure again and gathered herself to leap.


Not Thomas. The voice was low, gentle and familiar. It sounded like the breeze that drifted through the marsh on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Ainsley’s hand shook so much that she nearly dropped the stone figure. She tried to speak, but her tongue was so badly tied in knots she could only stutter a single word.


“She’s in here,” Matt called outside. “Put it down, baby. You’re safe now. It’s over.”

Ainsley dropped the stone figure and shuffled forward. The cool night air rippled across her skin. She held out her hands and waited for the inevitable.

Waking Dreams 2014

Long waves of cobras and whips of adders wrinkled the sand of the tomb floor. Rats ran the gauntlet in a torrent of squealing terror. A brown hood struck, gulped hairy, squirming rodent down its gullet. Another victim went stiff from adder bite. Eyes wide, the doomed one followed its tail below sand.

“Clear them out so we can work,” the one-eared tomb robber told Esmé. His skinny brother thrust notched stick and torch into her hands. She held the torch toward symbols ringing the threshold. A spell she couldn’t read kept snakes trapped in the tomb.

Both robbers thought Esmé a boy. She used the disguising spell when they found her stealing eggs from their hens this morning. Earless raised a furious fist, but Skinny stopped him by announcing, “We’ve found our new snake boy.”

Esmé spotted the last snake boy beyond the living sea. Rag and bone protruded from sand.

Hissing loud as Apophis, god of snakes, made everyone turn, look up. A globe bound with ropes to a basket sank from the sky. Sliding down an anchor rope, a man grounded the floating thing, opened a gate in the basket and handed out a woman in northern clothes—round hat, tight jacket, wide skirts. Ordinary skin brown as Nile water revealed her as one of their own despite the fantastic clothes. The copper collar of Ptah marked her as slave to the god.

She approached. “I need your snake boy.”

Earless gripped Esmé. “He has value to us.”

“So does the wine merchant’s treasure. I’ll give you tomb for child.”

To Esmé she said, “Raise the light to the spells.” Ignoring ripples closing on her skirts, the woman plucked a needle from her wristband. A quick stab drew blood from her hand, blood to wet the tip she touched to the carvings. The needle went white. Esmé smelled singed flesh, but the woman held fast. Only tight lips showed pain. When white turned black, she slipped the needle into the band, telling Earless, “Tomorrow, these snakes will follow the rats to hunt the night while you steal. Be gone before daybreak when they return.”

Skinny peered into the tomb. He jumped back when a black head lifted above sand to taste freedom with flicking tongue.

The slave of Ptah held out her undamaged hand. “Come along, child.”

“Not so fast,” Earless objected, looking down on the woman. “I think we will keep the boy. The tomb may have traps.”

She touched her collar. “Lord Ptah makes sure rats never go hungry. A robber who challenges my lord will feed his servants.”

Snarling, Earless ripped Esme’s torch from her hand, shoving her toward the woman and her flying craft. The waiting attendant settled them inside, and then cast off.

Esmé watched valley grow small, moonlit clouds grow large. The woman said, “It’s good you’re brave, Lady Esmé. You’ll need great courage for this journey.”

“Where are we going?”

“To a grim and fearsome place. We go to Amerika.”

Prompt: Ordinary/Fantastic

Waking Dreams 2014

Author’s notes: My prompts were hallucinatory – cognizant. I decided to play with a recurrent event in my life: being awakened by the song of a killdeer that circles the field outside my bedroom window. Her song is so mournful, so pained, that it almost brings me to tears when I awaken to hear it. To hear the killdeer’s song, click here.

Never satedCollapse )

Waking Dreams 2014

Waking Dreams Challenge 2014

mind_spark is roused by Autumn. The Vernal Equinox and its consequences can inspire or dismay writers, depending on their disposition. Take whatever Autumn is stirring in your mind and imagination, and take this challenge.

For this challenge, I want you to take the theme, waking dreams, to heart. I want surreal, dream-state imagery. The impossible should coalesce in front of me. Horror should make my skin prickle and heart race. I want the pieces to bother the reader to the core. The second half to this challenge addresses the content of many dreams: conflict. Within your piece, I want to see struggles between two sides that could never coexist; it’s up to you to make them, or, alternatively, to render one the victor at the demise of the other.

Challenge Guidelines

1. Writers are asked to choose one prompt pair from the table behind the cut. Once a prompt is claimed, the writer will be noted on the table. Each prompt can only be claimed by one author. To claim a prompt, simply respond to this post.

2. A 500 word (exactly) story will be written incorporating the writer's prompts AND the concept of a waking dream with conflict.

3. Stories MUST have a beginning, middle, and ending, and they may be from any genre.

3. Please post with the words "Waking Dreams 2014" in the subject line.

4. Once a story is posted, a writer may claim another prompt.

5. Stories are due by midnight, October 31, 2014.
Have fun!

Prompt TableCollapse )


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