Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

A Woman’s Work

Celia scrubbed at her hands as the sun rose outside the kitchen window. She sighed in the direction of her husband’s urn on the sideboard and shook her head. The morning seemed to intrude earlier every single day, and there was no end to her duties as a single mother.

“April!” She called out for her daughter, but there was silence. “April, we have a busy day today.” More silence, and more scrubbing at the sink. Celia glanced down at her crimson coated fingers and sighed again. Truly, a woman’s work was never done. “April Jane Jefferson!” As the clock struck six, she finally heard some movement from upstairs, and her mind felt a little more at ease.

“Okay, I’m coming.” Her daughter grumbled as she slowly descended the stairs. Celia, still scrubbing and staring at her hands motioned towards the kitchen table with a nod as April entered the room.

“Set the table and I’ll make breakfast.” Celia instructed. April groaned, falling down into one of the chairs and slumping down over the table.

“Mommy, I’m tired.” She whined, with a childish tone that she was far too old for. “Can I stay home from school today?” Celia gave another long sigh, as she shook her hands clear of the water and began drying them on a towel.

“No, I’ve got a lot of work to do today.” She muttered, taking the decision of breakfast out of her daughter’s hands and beginning to make toast. “I can’t have you under my feet.” She opened the cutlery drawer and pulled out a shimmering, sharp knife, eyeing up the thick loaf of bread before her.

“I could always show them my real birth certificate and get kicked out…” April said with a smirk. She immediately regretted it. Before she could say another word, her mother leapt towards her with the knife in hand and a scowl on her face.

“You’ll do as your told.” Celia snarled, holding the knife achingly close to her daughter’s neck. “As far as they know, you’re seventeen.” She took a deep breath, letting the knife linger a second longer before pulling away. “And that’s how it’s going to stay.” April nodded, her face pale and her eyes full of tears.

Internally, Celia had to admit that her daughter had a point, there was only so long that she could pass for a high schooler before someone discovered that she was now pushing twenty five, and there was also only so long that the two of them could escape justice for their crimes.

Every now and again, Celia would have moments of clarity. These moments would normally come as she washed her hands in the morning. The blood would swirl in the sink, and her stomach would be in knots as she realised that it was only a matter of time before it all came crumbling down.

She had tried to stop, back when April was a baby, and then when she was old enough to understand what was happening, and a hundred times since then, but it never worked out.

A woman’s work is never truly done, so surely, she must be allowed some indulgences, right? Of course, it’s only fair. The trouble was, most women’s indulgences were a night out with friends, or a box set and some chocolates. Celia’s indulgence was murder. Choking used to be her vice, but after one man put up a particularly good fight, she got a taste for blood.

“I’m sorry, honey.” She whispered, letting the knife clatter on the table before her. “Mommy’s just tired.”

Her innocent little daughter was no longer so innocent, becoming the perfect little accomplice as the years went by. They’d moved all over the United States when things got too hot and were now settled in a small town in England, because things across the pond had become volcanic.

April would find her the victims, and get them alone, and then Celia would strike. That was how it had been since April was fourteen years old, and Celia couldn’t stop, so that was how it had to stay.

The day went on. April went to school, Celia did a little housework and some gardening, and then decided to take a little nap before April got home from school. That was when it all changed.

Sometimes, you wait around for a miracle, and nothing comes. That’s the case for most of us, but it wasn’t the case for Celia. Her miracle came to her in a dream, and has been by her side ever since.

As she settled down to rest, she thought of nothing but her problems. Her daughter was unhappy. Her husband was dead. She’d have to move soon when the police caught up with them. She was almost certainly going to end up in prison for the rest of her life. There seemed to be no way out, until she fell into a deep, deep sleep.

She could feel grass under her fingers as she opened her eyes, and the air that surrounded her was sweet. Wind whipped through her loose hair as she sat up and looked around.

There were trees sprawling across the landscape, flowers as far as she could see, and a woman was sat beside her with a silent smile.

“Where am I?” Celia asked, overwhelmed by the scenery. The stranger did not speak, handing Celia a single white rose as more bloomed all around them. Celia could hardly believe her eyes as roses sprang from every space around them, intertwining as they grew tall and towered above them.

“You are in the garden Celia.” The voice seemed to be all around her, but the woman beside her still held her silent smile. “You will be her prophet.” The stranger took Celia’s hand in her own and held it to the petals of a rose before them. Celia felt a calm that she hadn’t found in years as their hands met, and despite the strangeness of the situation, she hoped that the stranger would never let go. “You must make them red.” The bliss flowed through her body as thunder rang out above them.

“I don’t understand.” Celia confessed, in barely a whisper as the soft white petals clasped in her fingertips became crimson.

“Find your garden and make the roses red.” The voice commanded. The roses before her parted and the stranger helped her to her feet, guiding her to the newly made clearing, where surrounded by beautiful red roses, she saw her husband, for the first time in years.

His once handsome face was drained and pale, his lifeless body lay on the grass with her last gift to him, a deep laceration across his throat.

“I don’t…” Celia began, but the stranger pressed a finger softly to her lips.

“Make the roses red for your Goddess.” The voice around her demanded as she knelt by his side, overcome with emotion as she saw a trail containing the other victims of her compulsion in the grass behind him.

“Why did I do this to you?” Tears began to fall from her eyes as she held his frozen hand in her own.

“Because you must.” The voice overwhelmed even the thunder and all Celia could do was cry. She had been on autopilot for so long, never considering her actions and her the effects of her impulses for more than a few moments at a time, but now, surrounded by them, she was heartbroken.

“I’m a monster.” She sobbed, wiping her hands up and down her dress, but never quite able to feel clean.

“You are the prophet, Celia.” She shook her head, desperate to defy the voice, and so confused, but the faceless voice was insistent. “You must turn the roses red for our Goddess.” Collapsing into her husband’s chest, she wept, so hopeful for the sound of his beating heart, but knowing it could never be hers again.

“Celia.” There was another voice, soft and somewhat comforting, from the smiling stranger, who knelt by Celia’s side and held her hand gently. “You fed me and I was able to build a new world for us.” She lifted Celia’s head and as their eyes met, Celia felt that new sense of calm, as if, despite everything, things were just fine.

“Why do I hurt people?” She asked, watching the stranger lean towards the corpse between them and place her hands over the heart of Celia’s dead husband.

“I needed a strong woman to help me prepare.” The stranger clicked her fingers and vines sprang from them, pushing Celia back and tearing into the dead man’s skin. “One day, all of this will be yours.” Celia stared in horror as the vines began ripping her husband apart.

She wanted to stop them, but fear froze her in place. “But first, we must rid the world of weeds.” The vines fell into stillness, as the woman before her reached into the corpse’s chest, pulling his heart free of his body and holding it out to Celia.

“Turn the roses red for me Celia” Celia wasn’t sure why she knew, but she instinctively knew that she was expected to eat it. “Turn the roses red and you will rule at my side.” It was something she’d never considered, something so wrong that even she, for all her sins could never imagine it, but in that moment, in the gaze of this curious stranger who seemed to have an answer to every question, she couldn’t stop herself.

It was sweet, like the air, soft on her tongue like the roses on her hands and from the second it touched her lips, she felt divine.

“I am Invierno.” The woman said softly, the roses around them bowed low against the grass, and Celia fell to her knees with them, staring up in awe at Invierno. “And you are my prophet.”

Celia began to feel a familiar itching in her hands, a primal desire for prey in her bones. She felt power coursing through every inch of her body, hungry for more, and as she took another bite, she understood exactly what her Goddess needed her to do.

“Yes, my treasured Goddess.”

When night fell, and Celia closed her eyes, she would visit the higher garden to learn from Invierno, and as her own garden grew back on Earth, so did the pile of bodies in her wake.

A woman’s work was never done.

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Sins Of The Father

Once upon a time, many moons ago, when the sun shone new in the freshly made sky, God had a daughter.

She was the first child. Long before Adam and Eve, or Jesus Christ, and long before all of you, there was the first and most treasured daughter, Invierno.

You will not find her name in any books, or on the tongues of disciples and storytellers, because God kept her a secret, but like the rain must fall and the days must pass, all secrets must be revealed eventually.

God gazed at the girl he had created, and he offered her the world that he had built. She was a humble girl, with a kind and loving heart, and she accepted on one condition. She asked her father to join her on the Earth.

God agreed, and together, they lived a happy life in the Earth. For many years, Invierno and her father were joyful and satisfied. Day to day, they enjoyed the beautiful Earth that God had created. Invierno studied her father, and emulated him, looking up to him as a good daughter should, and at first, God found himself flattered.

As time went by, Invierno’s powers grew. She began to surpass her father. She not only maintained the Earth, but she improved it, making it even more beautiful. God grew jealous of his daughter, enraged that the child he had created could grow into something greater than himself.

Jealousy is a sickness, and God was consumed by it. With every day and every hour, his envy enveloped him further, until he could not look at his child without toppling to the tyranny of rage.

Late one night, as the Earth and all her creatures slept, along with Invierno, God crept to her bedside, with a knife clutched in his jaundiced hands. The blade shone bright in the moonlight as he raised it above her sleeping body.

It was then that he realised her true power. As he plunged the knife towards her chest, vines whipped in front of her and batted against his hands, sending the knife flying away from her. Flowers began to bloom across her skin, as he backed away in horror. The Earth that he had built had grown to love the child and turned against it’s maker.

It was natural. God had made the Earth, but sweet Invierno had been the first to understand it. The Earth began to grow, fierce and defiant, as God retreated in terror. Weeds whipped around his legs and petals protruded from the ground as he ran from what he had given life to. Thunder rang out across the sky as the wind marched against him, sending him flying.

Afraid for his life, and more importantly, afraid for his position of dominance, God escaped his former domain, running and running until it was nothing but a dim light in the distance.

He pondered for years about what had happened, unable to comprehend how his daughter had bested him, even while sleeping. He began building another Earth, the one you know now, where you have spent your whole life, watched by a man who fears your power.

While he watches over you, he watches for signs of your greatness and he will lean forward, with his envious little fingers to place obstacles in your way, but, my friends, there’s somebody that will celebrate you and all that you can accomplish.

She lived, my friends. Our treasured Goddess Invierno lives, and she has transformed the erstwhile Earth into a beautiful paradise for all that want to fulfil their potential.

Will you go to her?

Posted in Blog, Creative Writing, Writing

Weeding – Part One

My Son is missing, but I have a feeling I know where he is. That sounds ridiculous, so allow me to explain. I don’t know his location, or the address, but I know where he’ll be. I know who he’s with.

It’s those people. Those sick, sick people.

They’ve got my Andrew. I’ve told the police but they didn’t believe me. I called his university and they said there was nothing they could do. I’ve called his phone every day since he disappeared, and today, it stopped going through at all.

He’s at The Garden. My son is locked away with God knows who, and all I know is that he’s at The Garden of The Free Children. What is The Garden? Well, that’s quite simple. It’s a cult.

The worst part is that it didn’t seem like such a bad place at first. That’s how they do it. That’s how they steal away our children. Please listen to me. Yours could be next.

Andrew came home for the Christmas break and told me all about it. He seemed so excited about this “Garden” and all the friends he’d made. I was pleased, because he’s painfully shy and he had always had trouble making friends and connecting with others, so it was great to hear that he was thriving, even if it was through a church group.

He told me that they supported each other and did volunteering, and my mind was at rest, for a little while, anyway.

I wish I’d asked more questions. That’s what I keep coming back to. If I’d have found out more at the time, I’d have an easier time finding him now.

I started to get worried a few days later, when he started sleepwalking.

He had never done that before, he was always a deep, and relatively still sleeper, but I woke up to find him stood at the foot of my bed.

I called out to him, but he didn’t look up. His eyes were closed and he was whispering. As I stood to investigate, my husband pointed out that he had earphones in. Andrew was just standing there, his eyes closed, undeterred as my husband shook his shoulders, constantly chanting all this nonsense about darkness and a Goddess.

He stayed that way for about a minute, before he just collapsed to the floor. In that moment, it felt like my heart stopped. He began chanting again, over and over, just one word.

“Darkness. Darkness. Darkness.”

He began shaking, his whole body, shaking as his eyes opened wide, bloodshot and sore. There was a horrifying gargle from his throat and then he suddenly fell back, still.

We called his name, shaking his almost lifeless body, before he snapped back to life with a smile. He had no memory of any of it. He didn’t remember the chanting, the sleepwalking, the shaking. None of it.

He was cheerful as he stood up, kissing us both on the cheek and wandering off towards his bedroom. I went after him, but he just slammed the door shut, and if I’m honest, I was a little frightened of opening it and confronting him.

I wish the weirdness had stopped there. I wish I could free my Son from this sickness but he’s consumed by these people. They’re eating him alive.

I asked him about the sleepwalking the next day, but he just told me not to worry. It happened every night for the rest of his stay, but he never had any real explanation. He’d just tell me not to worry. Every night, he’d be at the foot of the bed, mindlessly chanting, and then whenever we tried to stop him, he’d fall to the floor.

After the third time, I just stopped sleeping at night. I’d rest during the day while my husband kept an eye on him, but he went on, as normal, as if nothing was happening.

We tried to get him to a doctor, and that was when I saw a major change. He’d never enjoyed going to the doctor, nobody does, but he was never so insistent on not going. He started screaming at the suggestion, ranting about how doctors were untrustworthy and just wanted to butcher people. I’d never seen anything like it. He began packing up his things, and when my husband tried to calm him down, Andrew attacked him.

My Son has never been violent. He’s the opposite of violent. He was always a shy, sensitive boy, but as his father tried to reason with him, Andrew punched him, right in the face.

My husband fell back, in complete shock, and for a moment, there was stillness. It lasted just a second before Andrew launched across the room and began beating and choking his father.

It was like he was feral. I had never seen him that way and it terrified me. He was screaming and yelling. Not words, just noise. Guttural, wild screaming. I tried to pull him away, but there was a strength I’d never felt from him before, he just pushed me aside and continue his assault.

It took several attempts but I managed to finally pull Andrew away. As I checked on my husband, examining his bruised and bloody face, Andrew stormed out of the house, and that was the last time I saw him.

He stopped calling home, and any time I’d call him, it would go to his voicemail. I left messages over and over, saying that I just needed to know he was safe, but he never responded. I wrote letters to him. I called the university. I started leaving daily messages on his Facebook wall, until he shut his profile down. I even set up an Xbox Live account so I could sent a message to his profile there, but he closed the account shortly after.

It was like he was trying to isolate himself more and more from everyone around him, and was determined that nobody was going to reach him.

I decided to travel up to the university to see him, but he wasn’t there. His housemates said that they hadn’t seen him in days, and that he hadn’t attended lectures or seminars in weeks. They’d tried to contact him but had faced the same setbacks that I had.

Apparently, he just took off in the middle of the night, after they confronted him about his strange behaviour. He’d left all his belongings and just disappeared.

I asked them if they knew about the Garden, and their faces fell. One by one, they all explained that it was notorious around the campus. Once people went in, they never came back out.

They told me that the group latches onto vulnerable kids and pulls them in, and after a while, those kids were never seen again. None of them knew where I could find the Garden, just that a couple of girls visit the campus to recruit for them, every couple of weeks.

I’m going to wait here as long as it takes. I’m going to find those girls, and I’m going to make them take me to my Son. It isn’t much of a plan, but it’s all that I’ve got.

I called his phone again, and now I don’t even get his voicemail, it doesn’t even ring. His number has been disconnected, and all I can hope is that I find him soon.