A Penguin, Random House Prompt
‘You run after someone who left a strange book on the bus and they go into a house. through the window you see………’
by John Yeo
The air conditioning had broken down in the block at midday. Swirls of hot air swished through the office as Stephen was attempting to contact his opposite number in Sydney, Australia. The team had been battling through regardless and tempers were fraying visibly by the second.
Stephen Hobbs, the manager of this successful advertising company, quickly got in touch with the buildings maintenance department.
‘Bludgers! What’s going on? How come the air con. is off? We are suffering from overpowering heat up here on the seventh floor.’
‘Sorry, Mr. Hobbs we are doing everything in our power to rectify the fault. One of our team is at this moment flying to the manufacturers in the North to purchase an important part. I’m not sure we’ll be able to get it fixed until tomorrow.’
Sam Bludgers, had been the superintendent of these luxury offices for ten years now and he had seen many situations of dire emergency in the past. However, he had never had to inform clients that the building would have to close for a while. There had always been a temporary solution to every unforeseen emergency in the past.
Stephen Hobbs was close to blowing his mind with worries about the business and the last thing he needed was to lose a day’s work because of the frailty of the buildings infrastructure. Unfortunately, he could see no way out of this situation.
‘OK Bludgers, We’ll have to call it a day and close the office. There’s no way we can continue working under these conditions. I will obviously be taking further advice on this loss of income. I realize it’s not your fault.’
Stephen and Marina, his hardworking personal assistant, made their way to the bus stop and boarded the bus together. Marina Manners had worked with him for about a year now and by sheer coincidence, they found they lived within a couple of bus stops of each other in the city suburbs.
An elderly lady was seated opposite them on the bus. The lady was conspicuous in her appearance by her huge hooked nose. This large nose was even more noticeable by the large brown mole protruding on her left nostril. Stephen couldn’t help noticing the tuft of tiny black hairs protruding from the centre of this mole. ‘Certainly needs a close encounter with a razor.’ He thought.
Marina got, off the bus at her stop and waved goodbye to her boss. Stephen smiled as he waved back, he admired this attractive young lady immensely and he planned to promote her to a higher position in the company at the end of the month.
The elderly lady got off at the next stop.
Stephen was about to settle back, in his seat when he noticed a brown paper carrier bag lying on the seat, obviously left behind by the elderly lady. He grabbed the bag and followed the lady off the bus, she had walked quickly away and he could just see her disappearing around a corner. Stephen shouted as loud as he could to try to attract her attention without any response, and he quickened his pace to try to catch up with her.
‘Damn it, this is going to make me late getting home. Feels like a large book in this carrier bag. I’ll just take a peek. Wow! Look at this gold lettering. I can’t make head or tail of it, seems to be written in a foreign language. I’d better try to catch up with the old dear, this seems to be a valuable book.’ About 100 yards ahead, Stephen watched the elderly lady enter a large detached, tumbledown house. Oddly enough the house had a thatched roof with wooden beams running across the front. This was quite unusual in this sector of the city.
‘Phew, thought Stephen, this ancient property must date right back to the reign of Henry the eighth, and the period of the inquisition. I have heard somewhere nearby is the site where countless so-called witches lost their lives.’
Stephen reached the front door and banged loudly on the door using a quirky door knocker in the shape of the head of a fearsome black cat. There wasn’t a reply even after several loud continuous knocks. The fearsome black cat on the door knocker appeared to be laughing, or was it just his imagination?
Stephen entered the property through an unlocked side gate, overgrown by brambles and nettles. Making his way around to the back of the house he came upon a large grimy window covered on the inside by grubby lace curtains. Stephen peeked through the window and to his horror he saw about six figures all wearing black cloaks with black pointed hats. There were black cats and a large metal cauldron in the centre of the room hanging over a purpose-built, soot-stained fireplace.
Strangely there wasn’t any movement in the room, except for one large black cat who suddenly stretched and balefully regarded him with large intelligent eyes.
‘Can I help you?’ A crackly voice from behind him enquired.
Stephen visibly jumped, startled and turned to see the elderly lady from the bus.
Oh! Sorry, you made me jump, I wasn’t expecting you to come up behind me like that. I followed you here to return this book you left on the bus.’ stuttered Stephen still shaken by what he had seen.
‘Thanks, dearie, I wondered what had happened to that, it’s my magical book of spells. I knew it would find its way home and bring me some interesting company. Would you like to come inside for a brew? I am all alone here and I would love a little chat.’
Stephen declined this kind offer, and said, ‘Sorry I peeked in your window and I couldn’t help noticing you have company already. I really must be getting along, I have several appointments to keep. Thanks all the same though.’
The elderly lady began to chuckle and cackle with laughter as Stephen’s words became clear to her. She continued to laugh out loud and finally, wiping tears of laughter from her eyes with the back of her hand, she said.
‘Oh, those are only the exhibits. Didn’t you see the notice over the front door, this is a waxworks exhibition. I’m Betty Humble the museum curator, I have to dress for the part. I’m only 25 years of age under all this makeup, come inside and have a nice cup of tea.’
Stephen hesitated for just seconds before he entered the house laughing at his stupidity for jumping to conclusions.
Oddly Stephen Hobbs disappeared from that day and he has never been seen since.
Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
In response to a prompt from The Writer’s Academy Penguin, Random House
A woman starts a job in a psychiatric unit and is transported into the clients’ hallucinations. Can she get back?
SUCKED INTO A DREAM
By John Yeo
Tanya woke with a start, shaking her auburn curls, she sat up suddenly. A harsh wind rattled the television aerial on the roof of the maisonette she shared with her husband Tom. A loud snore indicated that Tom was still fast asleep on the other side of their king-sized bed. A film of perspiration covered her forehead, she vaguely remembered being frightened to death in a dream. Yet in spite of the feeling of abject fear and the lingering odour of perspiration, she could never remember what her dream had been about. ‘Happens all the time lately.’ She thought.
Tanya turned and nudged Tom who woke up suddenly with a grunt.
‘Whassermarrer?’ he grumbled, ‘I was enjoying a dream of a tropical paradise then.’
‘Good for you,’ responded Tara, ‘I can never remember what I dream about. C’mon, get up! I have to start my new job in the hospital today, and it’s important I get there on time,’
An hour later Tanya, having experienced the harassment of an uncomfortable journey to work by public transport, reported for duty on Clement Ward at the Eastchester general hospital.
Her new colleagues on the Ward were welcoming and friendly, there was one exception, an overweight young lady with a short mousy brown haircut who abruptly introduced herself as Brenda. It was later she found out she was replacing Brenda’s best friend who had left under strange circumstances.
Tanya took an instant shine to the Ward Clerk Jane, who welcomed her with an invitation to lunch in the hospital cafeteria. Jane was the same age as Tanya, also a Mum of a daughter, who was looked after by Grandma during the working day. Jane was a bubbly medium height blonde haired young lady and the two women hit it off with each other immediately.
The morning passed quickly on the busy ward for Tanya, she was introduced to the six high dependency patients, her predecessor had been responsible for looking after. The hardest patient to get any response from was Ruth, a young lady who remained asleep for most of the morning, regardless of the efforts of everyone to wake her. Yet somehow there was a flicker of interest in her eyes whenever Tanya came close to her bedside. At one point Ruth actually opened her eyes, but quickly appeared to drift back into a deep sleep.
Tanya was relieved when it came to lunchtime, and she eagerly made her way to the restaurant to keep her lunch date with Jane.
‘How are you getting on?’ Asked Jane after the two women had exchanged some warm small talk as they began to build on the instant rapport that had occurred between them.
‘Fine!’ replied Tanya. ‘I’m a bit puzzled as to why my predecessor left and why I got such a negative reaction from Nurse Brenda.’
‘Well it’s an easy question to answer as far as Brenda is concerned, they were close friends and Brenda was hoping to be recruited for the job you are doing. I heard a strange story about one of the patients who seemed to have a hold over your predecessor. Something to do with dream interpretation, I think.’
‘Oh!’ exclaimed Tanya, ‘I bet you are going to say the patient was Ruth. I’ve had some strange effects whenever I went near to her this morning.’
‘You’d better inform Sister Griffiths about those effects, I would hate to see you experiencing any untoward effects, especially now I have got to know you.’
Tanya nodded assent and shrugged off the mysterious implications of this conversation. The two women enjoyed a pleasant lunch together and arranged to meet again.
Tanya was shaken later that afternoon as she was administering medication through an intravenous drip, to Ruth who was fast asleep, A sudden flood of images filled her mind as she seemed to be transported to another dimension. Strange ethereal shapes were floating around Ruth, seeming to draw Tanya into their mysterious world. Tanya was being inculcated into a strange dream world deeper and deeper into this hallucinatory place. Tanya was aware Ruth was present and seemed to be drawing her closer laughing wildly with an invisible strong presence.
Tanya felt raw fear coursing through her brain as she began to try to shake herself free from this dream world. Tanya realised Ruth was dreaming and somehow she would have to try to wake her up. How do you wake someone when you are a part of their dream?
Tanya screamed as loudly as she could manage in this strange environment. ‘Ruth, wake up, Ruth please wake up now!’
There was no response of course just wild laughter, and Ruth began to realise this wasn’t going to be easy.
The strange shapes became clearer and suddenly an outside force seemed to be taking over.
‘Ruth please wake up!’ Yelled Tanya.
There was still no reply, just the subvocal sound of wild laughter.
‘Ruth!’ suddenly Tanya felt a shaking of everything in her consciousness, hard vigorous shaking as if a sudden earthquake had erupted in the dream world.
‘Ruth, what’s happening?’ Tanya yelled.
A strong vigorous shake shook her body as a separate voice shouted. ‘Tanya wake up, Tanya!’
As her eyes opened, Tanya met the worried gaze of Sister Griffiths who was shaking her roughly to wake her up.
‘Wake up Nurse, you seemed to have passed out, drink some of this water. What happened?’ Sister Griffiths looked kindly at Tanya as she led her into her office.
‘Would you like to tell me what happened just before you passed out Nurse?’
Sister Griffiths picked up a pen from her desk and began to fill out a form her greying hair was cut quite severely short, but in spite of this, her face radiated kindness and understanding.
Tanya proceeded to relate the events that had overtaken her since she had come on duty.
‘I must have been dreaming, but it’s funny I can remember everything, I never usually can bring dreams back into my head.’
Sister Griffiths said, ‘Don’t worry Nurse, I think this is exactly what I expected you to remember. I’m going to authorise a few days off for you and I want you to go home and rest. I will be talking to the Psychiatrist and I’m sure when you return Ruth will have been transferred to an isolation ward, where she will receive special care.’
‘Thanks, Sister Griffiths!’
Tanya left the hospital, still slightly bewildered at the unusual events of her first day at Eastchester hospital and was soon on her way home.
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
Copyright ©️ Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.
Image courtesy of pixabay.com
“Choking on ash I watched helplessly as the great tree Yggdrasil burned.”
Hmm! Well here goes…
by John Yeo
First of all, I had better introduce myself. My name is Dumbmetheus. I live in the shadow of my heroic older brother Prometheus.
I was not in the picture when he stole that amazingly useful substance, fire, from the Gods. I was away practicing throwing the discus for the fun of it.
When Prometheus quietly showed me this amazing substance, I could see he was onto a winner instantly.
‘Look here Dumby! This will change the direction of the whole of humanity. I can see the many uses these flames can be put to. I intend to introduce it to the mortals slowly and let them find some methods of using fire.’
‘Wow, Prom! Surely the Gods will realise it was you who stole it!’
‘It’ll be too late then Dumb. Mankind will have the fire by then and it will improve life enormously.’
Well, I ask you, here he was with an outright miracle and he was prepared to hand it over to the crowd for nothing. How stupid can you get? Suddenly a plan began to form in my thinking. Why don’t I steal some of this fire and sell it off to the highest bidder?
I took my chances and quietly took a burning flame in the shape of a torch and speedily made my way to hide among the branches of the great tree, Yggdrasil.
Suddenly a flame leaped from the torch and to my horror the huge tree caught fire. I picked up the torch and ran for my life.
Choking on ash I watched helplessly as the great tree Yggdrasil burned. I dumped the torch into a fast flowing river and began to run. Wherever I ran the fire followed me as if it was chasing me. I jumped into a lake and swam to the middle. The fire was everywhere, there was no escape as the great tree roots went under the lake.
Suddenly I heard a shout. ‘Hold on Dumbmetheus!’
To my great relief, I could see Prometheus in a gilded winged chariot. He reached down and snatched me out of the water, just in time. We flew high into the upper heavens and escaped the fiery inferno.
Sometime later tiny shoots appeared on the charred remains of the great tree Yggdrasil. Regrowth was speedy.
Prometheus guessed how his gift had escaped and dumped me on an isolated planet before he returned to face the music.
Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved
When I first caught sight of this prompt, my first thought was… Who or what is Yggdrasil? Fortunately, Wikipedia came to my rescue along with a couple of other online sites.
This is what I came up with…..
Yggdrasil is an immense mythical tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse cosmology. Yggdrasil is attested in the Poetic Edda, compiled in the 13th century from earlier traditional sources, and the …
Yggdrasil is the tree of life, and it is an eternal green Ash tree; the branches stretch out over all of the nine worlds in Norse mythology, and extend up and above the heavens.
Yggdrasil is carried by three enormous roots, the first root from Yggdrasil is in Asgard, the home of the Gods.
‘A child’s imaginary friend needs to convince the child he’s real so he doesn’t disappear.’
by John Yeo
The Murgaltree quietly moved in the wafts of the imaginary breezes in Teresa’s mind. He had been rehearsing an important piece of information in the depths of his voluminous trunk.
‘I know I’m unique, talking trees are not accepted by the rootless ones. Teresa’s parents must learn to accept our existence or we are nothing.’
Teresa broke into his thought stream. ‘How can we go about that? No one will ever believe us.’
The tree’s branches trembled visibly as he replied. ‘I have no idea, Tess. Perhaps if we can find another sensitive mind, we will be able to convince them.’
Teresa smiled and suddenly thought, ‘What about my Uncle Peter? I swear he is the same, he has been in and out of hospitals because he hears strange words.’
‘We must try Tess! Bring him tomorrow and we will let him in on our secret. We must do something or I will disappear.’
‘Are you sure Murgy? What if he doesn’t understand?’
‘We must give it a try Tess bring him tomorrow.’
That evening Tess and her Uncle were walking in the large gardens at the back of their house.
‘Uncle, do you believe trees could ever talk?’
‘Anything is possible Tess, Why do you ask?’
‘Will you come to meet someone with me tomorrow please Uncle?’
‘Of course Tess! Who will we be meeting?’
‘It’s a surprise Uncle!’
The next day, a brilliant Sun was shining from a blue sky. Birds were singing and flying to and fro in the woods as Teresa led her Uncle Peter to the lake where the Murgaltree was located.
Teresa stopped under the tree and thought loudly,
‘Hello Tess!’ replied the tree using the power of thought.
Uncle Peter looked startled but he never said a word.
‘Did you hear that Uncle Peter?’
‘No Tess! What do you mean? Did I hear what?’
Teresa looked sad and disappointed.
‘What can you hear Tess?’ Asked her Uncle. ‘Please don’t say you hear voices. They will never understand. I know.’
‘OK Uncle Peter, I think we should go home now.’
A few days later Tess arrived home,
broken-hearted, in tears.
‘Someone has cut down and killed the Murgaltree,’ she wailed.
Uncle Peter looked away and looking unhappy he said. ‘Perhaps it’s for the best Tess? Talking trees can get people into a lot of trouble. No one seems to take it seriously, I know!’
Tess never recovered from her sadness and she became known as the lady of the woods. Ever hunting and haunting the glades searching for another friend to replace the Murgaltree.
Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.
FLASH FICTION ~CRESCENDO
A Prompt response to the daily Prompt on WordPress. September 8th 2017
by John Yeo
Kelly was restless, the reason was beyond her, she couldn’t make it out. What was happening? Why did she feel so uneasy?
There was nothing that could be pinned down to a concrete reason for this strange unease that seemed to be flooding throughout her being. Kelly rose from her bed, shook her mass of blonde hair and switched on the television. She grabbed the remote and pressed the volume button. Hard. Without any effect. There was no sound, there has got to be a fault with my TV set, she thought, She went over and punched the button to turn on the radio. Still no sound from there either.
It took a moment or two to register on her consciousness. Then with a scream…”I can’t hear anything…I’ve gone deaf overnight. What can I do? I can’t phone anyone up because I won’t be able to hear anything!”
The silence that seemed to descend and flood her being, was like nothing she had experienced before. Just absolute silence; nothing could be heard by her at all.
‘I must get some help!’ she thought to herself and she rushed out into the street without thinking, then she suddenly realised she was in a shortie nightie.
A passing builders labourer, a stocky man with a shock of red hair, suddenly emitted a piercing wolf whistle. He was with two friends and they all curled up with laughter.
Kelly was angry about this. “Help me you dirty swine! I can’t hear anything!”
They continued to laugh and one said. “You heard that whistle because you angrily reacted.”
Kelly suddenly realised she could hear every word and every noise was getting louder and louder. She suddenly became embarrassed and aware she was on a busy street with next to nothing on. The traffic noise became overwhelming and just got louder and louder, deafening her mind with an unbelievable intensity. Now scared out of her wits, she raced back into her flat. There the television was on at full volume and the radio was blasting out a crescendo of deafening music. Kelly rushed to switch them off, she was soon lost in silence again.
There was a knock at the door. Mrs. Jones her nosey neighbour stood on the doorstep. “Are you alright love? I heard your loud music blasting out when the lights came back on. We had a general power cut and everything went off.”
Kelly dried her eyes on the back of her hand, and screamed with relieved laughter, she gave Mrs. Jones a massive hug as she mumbled her thanks.
Copyright © Written by John Yeo ~ All rights reserved.