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Havelock Writes

03 – Lemonade

“Thanks again for letting me letting me stay,” said Mark, accepting the glass of lemonade Wesley gave him and drinking it thirstily.

“It’s no trouble at all my dear boy, I’m glad I could help,” Wesley said, sitting down next to Mark. “Dreadful business, just dreadful. A saboteur, you say? Who would have guessed? Do you have any idea as to who it is?”

“I have a few leads,” Mark replied, pulling out a handkerchief to cover a brief fit of coughing. “I plan to investigate further within the next several weeks.”

“Could it be connected to your recent visit to Europe? I know that was a dangerous trip.”

“Europe?” Mark coughed harder, spots of blood splattering on the handkerchief. “I wasn’t aware you knew about the Europe connection.”

“No? Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter now.” He watched as Mark began to choke. “My dear boy, did you really think that was just lemonade?”

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02 – The Box

The day started with a box outside her front door.

Mels nearly tripped over it when bringing the milk in, and spent several moments examining it; corrugated cardboard, tightly sealed with tape, about the height of her ankle. Mels couldn’t remember ordering anything lately, but then again she had spent several nights last month drunk-browsing the internet after parties.

Once all the milk was safely put away, she bought the box inside and started cutting away the tape. This took several minutes; whoever sent the box had used way too much. She finally managed to get it open, pulling the flaps away to reveal… another box, corrugated cardboard, slightly smaller, wrapped in too much sellotape.

Mels sighed, raising the scissors again. She knew there was probably nothing exiting in the bottom of the package, but she also knew she wouldn’t be able to focus on anything unless she found out what it was.

At the very least, her cats would have some more boxes for their fort.

01 – Perfectly Normal

The knitting shop was on the edge of town, and was easy to miss if you didn’t know to look for it.

There was a stand of knitting needles and crochet hooks by the door, a few pre-made hats and cardigans on display and patterns behind the counter. But most of the shop was taken up by shelf upon shelf of yarn, all neatly stacked and organised by shade.

To the undiscerning eye, it was a perfectly normal shop. It was true that the yarn was much better quality than anywhere else and would never unravel or fray, and it was true that you could always find the exact colour you were looking for, even if that colour hadn’t been there the day before, but that was simply good service. And it was true that the shelves stretched back further than the outside suggested, but that was surely just a quirk of architecture.

The shop’s proprietor was a woman who looked around fifty. She would sit by the counter and ask about your project, help you pick out colours and talk you through the basics, her hands working away at her own knitting without her having to look down. She’d show you how to pick up dropped stitches, how to purl, how to crochet, how to turn a heel.

To most, it was a perfectly ordinary shop, run by a perfectly ordinary woman. But to those who were more magically inclined, there was nothing ordinary about it.

For November, I’m gonna try doing the 60 short stories in 30 days thing I did back in April, so hopefully we’ll have lots of new stuff here starting Wednesday.

The Cave

Cassandra began her hike up Acre Hill the second day after the rain stopped. The ground was still muddy and she slipped down the path more than once, but she was making good progress up, resting each day at noon when it was too hot to climb.

She arrived at the cave’s entrance on the third day of her journey, when the afternoon was slowly turning into evening. She set up her bed roll and built a fire nearby, and collected enough wood to keep it burning for several hours. Then she studied the cave’s entrance.

The day was still light, but the light didn’t make it past the cave’s mouth. No light ever did. Travellers would tell stories of fire being extinguished inside, of groping around for days before finding their way out.

It was marked on maps as the Cave of Knowledge, but to those nearby it was simply called the cave. A spirit was known to live inside who would gift humans certain abilities or knowledge in exchange for offerings.

Not everyone visited it, and those who had were not always happy with what they had asked for, but Cassandra thought it would be her best shot for what she wanted.

Her roll unfurled and her fire lit, Cassandra pulled out three balls of her grandmother’s yarn and tied the end of one to a bush near the cave. Then, taking a deep breath to steady herself, walked into the cave, letting the wool unravel behind her.

The darkness inside pressed against her eyes, covering her like a second cloak. She walked and she walked, time and distance becoming meaningless in the all-encompassing darkness, but it was when she was nearing the end of her third ball that she heard the voice.

“And what,” said the voice, its whisper surrounding her like a cobweb, “have you come to offer me?”

Cassandra trembled, and fought to keep her voice steady as she answered. “I offer you my name.”

“And which name would that be?” asked the voice. “You go by several names.”

“The name given to me by my parents,” Cassandra replied.

“And what do you ask for in return?”

“That you will come to me in a time of need.”

There was an inaudible whisper at the edge of Cassandra’s hearing; was the spirit thinking the trade over? Then she felt a wind stir around her, softly at first but quickly growing stronger, tugging at her clothes, her hair, pulling the warmth from her skin, faster, faster, before dropping as quick as it had started. She slumped against the wall dizzy and disorientated, feeling as though there was something missing, a gap in her mind.

She felt something drop into the pocket of her cloak. “Take this,” said the voice. “You may use it once if you have need of me.”

The only sounds left was the occasional drip of water and her own breathing. Turning, Cassandra slowly made her way out of the cave, using the yarn as her guide.

Upon exiting the cave, she studied the object in her pocket. It was a glass ornament, small and delicate, and filled with a swirling mist. Cassandra carefully stowed it away in her bag before settling down in her roll. The ornament might prove useful, or it might not, and though she was glad to have it, it wasn’t the reason for her journey.

She stared up at the darkening sky and thought about her future with a smile. With her birth name now gone, her family would have no choice but to call her Cassandra.

inspired by this

The paperweight sat on a ledge by the window and sent rainbows across the room on sunny days. Linda had found it in a charity shop for five quid and thought it was beautiful.

It was heavy, but apparently more fragile than it looked; when Linda’s cat knocked it off by accident, it cracked, and from the crack rose a tall, translucent figure.

Linda sighed and returned the paperweight to the ledge; this was her third haunted one so far. “Sorry for breaking your home.”

“Not to worry,” said the ghost, grinning. “I’ve been looking forward to doing some haunting.”

Welcome

based off this post

Valerie’s day hadn’t gone well. She had spilt coffee down her shirt at the start of her shift, been yelled at by three customers, and her bus was twenty minutes late. So when she got home to find a vampire in her flat, it was just the cherry on top of the sundae of shittiness.

“I didn’t invite you,” Valerie said, tossing her coat over a chair and heading to the kitchen. “I don’t want vampires in here.”

“In that case, you shouldn’t have a welcome mat,” the vampire replied. She was sprawled out on the floor, looking through the DVD collection. “Hey, do you have Netflix?”

“Yep,” Valerie said. She rummaged through her fridge until she found the remaining garlic bread from last night’s dinner, and brandished it at the vampire. “And I’ll be watching it once you leave.”

“Don’t be like that.”

“There’s a priest upstairs. Do you want me to go get holy water as well?”

“Alright alright, I’m going.” The vampire stretched and got up. Valerie shooed her out with the garlic bread and closed the door in the vampire’s face.

Several seconds later, she reopened the door, pulled the welcome mat inside, and closed it.

Damn vampires.

Horoscopes: October Feelings

CAPRICORN

A feeling of nostalgia for something you have never experienced, for something you will never experience.

AQUARIUS

Déjà vu. You will wake each day feeling like you’ve already lived through it, like you can predict every event. This will last until 00:01 on November 1st, which will finally feel new.

PICIES

A chill contained entirely within the little finger in your left hand.

ARIES

Bursts of joy that occur when you wake from dreams.

TAURUS

A phantom itch that will seem to move throughout your body, never satisfied.

GEMMINI

Déjà vu. Each day will feel the same, like you’ve already lived through it, like you could predict things if you tried. This will last until November 1st; finally, something new.

CANCER

Pins and needles across your hands, along your arms, down your spine. Do not worry. Magic always feels like this in the beginning.

LEO

The feeling there is someone standing right behind you.

VIRGO

Random bursts of sorrow that will occur during random activities; when doing the dishes, when riding your bike, when reaching for the plates on the top shelf. There for a few moments and then gone.

LIBRA

A continuous feeling of déjà vu, of having lived this day before. Everything seems familiar, each event predictable. You could map out the whole day, if only you could remember. This will end on November 1st: finally, you will think, finally something new.

SCORPIO

A feeling of being watched by the ghost of a long-dead butterfly.

SAGITARIUS

A feeling of warmth emanating from your right foot.

Cubert Lane

Mary Wilson was afraid of a lot of things.

She was afraid of spiders, and worms, and things that crawled. She was afraid of wasps, and bee stings, and insect bites. She was afraid of getting bed bugs in her bedroom and ants in her kitchen.

She was afraid of driving in bad weather. She was afraid of falling asleep in public. She was afraid of getting hit when riding her bike.

She was afraid of loneliness, and sadness, and not getting enough exercise.

But most of all, Mary was afraid the ghost of Cubert Lane.

The ghost had haunted the street since the late 1800s, and would appear suddenly inside a room, motionless and staring endlessly into the abyss for hours on end before vanishing. Mary dreaded the thought of waking up with the ghost standing over her bed, or being in the shower and having the ghost appear behind her. She avoided relationships lest the ghost watch her have sex.

Mary had tried several times to move, but it was difficult selling property in a known ghost location. She was also afraid of estate agents, which certainly didn’t help.

Through therapy, she was slowly learning how to confront her fears, but the mere thought of the ghost’s dead stare was still enough to have Mary’s heart racing unpleasantly.

 

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