THE SECRET QUEST OF SIR JOHN

 

Photo Copyright: Al Forbes

This story was written for Sunday Photo Fiction–January 7, 2018. Each week the host, Al Forbes provides a picture prompt taken by himself or sent in by one of the other participants in the group of writers. The challenge for each member of the group is to write an original story or poem with no more than 200 words, not including the title and inspired by the prompt. This week’s prompt was taken by Al himself. Thanks, Al.

To read the other stories written by group members, just click on the link below, then on the little blue frog in the blue box.

The link to the other stories this week is as follows:

https://sundayphotofictioner.wordpress.com/2018/01/07/sunday-photo-fiction-january-7th-2018/

Genre: Historical Fiction

Word Count: 200 Words

THE SECRET QUEST OF SIR JOHN by P.S. Joshi

Sir John and his page sat high on their coursers as they rode from the castle. They required speed. From the heights of the trail leading down, he viewed the surrounding city.

The queen had given him a message to take to her husband near the battlefield. He knew he might not survive. If he was shot down, his page would take over. The message must arrive.

The cold had gone and the horses slipped on the muddy path. The city was skirted.

Behind the lines, John found the king’s tent, quickly dismounted, and entered.

“Sire,” he said as he knelt, “the queen has sent an urgent message.”

“Arise,” said the ruler. “Give it me.” A look of surprise and dismay came on the monarch’s face as he read.

“Sir John do you know the contents of this missal?”

“No Your Majesty.”

“This is indeed serious news. My brother, Sir Henry has turned traitor. The enemy knows some of our battle plans. We must fight all the harder. May God in His mercy be with us this day. Let us pray.”

Heads bowed.

“Almighty God look upon and protect your servants. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MEMORY

 

Ice-on-the-window--Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Photo Copyright: Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Here we all are for another week. Today we’re standing on the virtual porch of an old Victorian house. There’s a beautiful virtual frosted window in the door. Our hostess for this weekly gathering is the talented and gracious author and artist, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. We’re the Friday Fictioneers group. Our challenge this week and every week is to write an original story with no more than 100 words not including the title. It’s supposed to have a beginning, middle, end, and follow the picture prompt for the week. This week’s prompt was requested by Kent Colby and supplied by Rochelle herself. Thanks, Kent, and Rochelle.

To read the other stories by the group members, just click on the link given below, then on the little blue frog in the blue box.

The link for this week’s stories is as follows:

https://rochellewisofffields.wordpress.com/2016/06/29/1-july-2016/

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Word Count: 100 Words

THE MEMORY by P.S. Joshi

Many nights 10-year-old Maggie Wright had a recurring dream. She saw a frosted window in a Victorian door. she had no idea where the house was.

There were holes in her memory. She’d gone to live with her grandmother in Boston when she was three years old and couldn’t remember her parents.

She’d told her grandmother about the dream but the old woman just said, “Some things are better left alone.”

One night she opened the door in her dream. On the floor were the bodies of a man and woman. They’d been shot. Then she remembered.

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THE WOLF OF BANDERVILLE MOOR

I wrote this flash fiction story for the flash fiction challenge on Chuck Wendig’s blog, Terrible Minds. The title I chose was written by Matthew J. Daniels. The link to the Terrible Minds challenge blog is as follows:

https://terribleminds.com/ramble/2015/09/25/flash-fiction-challenge-now-choose-your-title/

THE WOLF OF BANDERVILLE MOOR

by P.S. Joshi

Not having witnessed it as I did, people would think I’m crazy. I know I’m as sane as the next man. Of course, the next man might be crazy for all I know. I’m not much of a judge.

It was late September, and I’d decided to spend my two-week vacation writing at my cousin Laura’s small cottage in the moors of eastern England. She said it was quiet and peaceful, but to be careful and stick to the paths. People had disappeared walking at night. Some of the boggy spots were like quicksand. The small village of Banderville was within walking distance, so I could take the local road there and back. It’d make a good walk for exercise.

She also said, “Be sure to lock yourself in at night. Don’t go out from twilight until sunrise.”

That sounded like reasonable advice so I didn’t think much about it at the time.

I stopped in the town, introducing myself to the grocery store owner. I bought a few food items I’d need, then drove to the cottage. The first thing I noticed were the heavy iron bars on the windows, and the metal guard door that could be bolted on the inside. I had to unlock a padlock on the outside to get in.

I wondered what on earth made those extra precautions necessary.

I spread enough of my belongings about the inside of the cottage to make it feel like home. I put my laptop on a table near a large window. Paper was in a package nearby, and I’d brought pens, pencils, and erasers.

That first night I was tired so decided to take a nap before dinner. I overslept and woke up in the dark. There was a full moon beaming through the living room window.

Getting up, I rinsed by face with cold water, and heated a simple dinner of canned baked beans, toast, and tea on the small electric stove. As I began eating, a tremendous howl broke the silence.

My hand shook, and I dropped the spoon. Laura hadn’t mentioned anything about wolves in the area. The thought hit me I’d chosen the wrong place to vacation.

I’d heard wolves before when on camping trips. This didn’t sound like an ordinary wolf. Its cry pierced the air, throbbing like it was experiencing deep, severe pain. Several times the horrific sound repeated. I broke out in a cold sweat and felt weak and sick.

I came to, finding myself on the floor by the chair. I hadn’t fainted in years.

It was now completely quiet, too quiet.

I slept well that night. The next morning the sun was shining, and I felt like the night before was a bad dream.

I got up, dressed, and ate a quick breakfast. I took my tea to the table near the window and began working.

I’d been working about half an hour when there was a knock on the metal door. I opened the inside door. Through the metal grill, I saw a man about my age. He smiled and introduced himself as a nearby neighbor, George Turnbull.

I unbolted the metal door and let him in, happy to meet someone else I could talk to.

“George, I heard a wolf howling last night. It sounded huge. What do you know about it? You must have heard it.”

He lowered his eyes and shifted in his chair. He had a slight tick in his right eye. It seemed to worsen by the second. I also noticed dark circles under his eyes.

“Yes, I’ve heard it. I just don’t go out at night. At twilight I make sure I’m behind a heavy, locked door.” Farmers around here have had sheep killed. No wolf pack has been noticed though. I heard the sheep were torn apart.”

I felt better knowing I wasn’t alone in my fear. We visited for a short time, then he made excuses and left.

I didn’t feel like writing just then, so decided to walk to the town grocery store. The moor was beautiful with the heather in full bloom. I relaxed and enjoyed the fresh air and exercise. I had worn a jacket against the autumn chill. I warmed up as I walked.

The town was quiet as it was a work day. I entered the grocery and looked for a few things I needed. At the check-out, the clerk looked me over. He was a tall, thin young man with a bad complexion and dark circles under his eyes like George. He shifted from one foot to the other.

“You’re a stranger,” he said with interest. “You living at the Morgan cottage? I been past there. Nice place. Small though. I didn’t notice you parking. You walk to town?”

“Yes.” I started to resent the many questions, but decided he was just friendly.

“I deliver groceries in my truck for those who want the service. I know your cousin. She don’t spend much time here around Banderville. Too busy I guess.”

“Yes, you’re right.”

“I’m about to close for a couple hours. Not much business this afternoon. Want a lift home?”

“No thanks, I’d rather walk. I need the exercise.”

“Okay. See you around.”

When I got home, I locked up again. No way was I going to go out the rest of the day. I didn’t even feel safe in the late afternoon.

I managed to write about a thousand words that afternoon, and felt good about it. This was an excellent place to write.

The sun was going down now, and there was going to be another full moon. I decided to begin dinner. I took the rest of the beans from the fridge, heated them, and made toast and tea.

I had just began to eat when the howling started again. It completely unnerved me. I began to shake again, but also had an impulse to look out the window. I wish I hadn’t.

It was still light enough to see objects nearby, and the moon was ascending. I then saw it clearly. A man was changing into a wolf. His bones were reforming under his skin, fingers lengthening, nails growing into claws. I couldn’t see his teeth, but my imagination filled in. He lifted what was now a muzzle into the evening sky. Agonized howls cut through me like a knife. He slowly became a gigantic wolf.

It seemed he sensed me watching; he might have smelled my fear. At that moment, he swung his body and faced me. I couldn’t move. An even more terrifying thing then happened.

I lost sight of him for a moment. There was a scratching and sniffing at the metal door. I prayed silently, “God, help me.”

Something, no doubt the wolf, seemed to be trying to dig under the metal door, but couldn’t. Another howl split the air. There was heavy breathing gradually fading away. Silence finally came.

I had, without being aware of it, dug my fingernails into my palms. I was bleeding. I got some strength back, and went for the first aid box.

I decided the next morning to walk over to George’s house and see if he knew anything. He took some time to come to the door. He looked sick.

“Sorry, I took so long. I wasn’t feeling well this morning. Come in. I apologize for how rough I look. I suffer from migraines.”

“That’s okay. I won’t stay long. I guess you heard the wolf last night. Would you believe I saw it, and it tried to get in my door?”

I didn’t mention werewolf, but he got the idea. I could tell by the slight shade of green he turned.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said, holding his head.

His eye began to twitch, and I decided he couldn’t take any more.

The rest of the day was uneventful, but we were headed for another full moon.

When  it became twilight, fear crept though me again. There was no howling though.

The next day I walked to town. The friendly clerk was nowhere to be seen. The store owner was behind the counter. I decided to see if I could get information from him.

“Any wolf trouble around here yesterday?” I asked.

“Was there!” he said. “We shot a huge wolf attacking Reg Martin’s sheep. I guess there’ll be no more trouble from that one.”

“Where’s your delivery man?”

He dropped a can he was packing. “Oh, ah, he went to London to visit family there. He talked like he might decide to stay. Why?”

“Just wondered,” I said. “I talked to him the last time I was in here. He seemed friendly.”

“Yeah, friendly guy,” he said, avoiding my eyes.

For the rest of my time at the cottage it was peaceful. When I got back to London, I called my cousin. She had some news.

“You know the town near my cottage? The grocery clerk there was reported missing by family in London, and the local police in Banderville started checking. They found a hastily dug grave. His body was in it. He’d been shot. There’s an investigation going on. Your neighbor, George, called me. He’s a nice guy.”

“Yeah, he is,” I said. “Nervous though, and suffers from migraines.”

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THE ROBBERY

 

Black Hawk helicopter lifting off

This is my contribution to Mondays Finish the Story for this week. Every Monday a new picture prompt is given along with the first sentence to be used for the story. The story is to be written with only 100-150 additional words. I’ve bolded the first sentence given with the picture prompt.

The link for all other stories is as follows. Be sure to click on the little blue frog in the blue box:

http://mondaysfinishthestory.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/mondays-finish-the-story-jan-5th-2015/

Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Word Count:  147+15+2=164

THE ROBBERY By P.S. Joshi

Silently as the people watched, the Black Hawk helicopter lifted into the air.

Half an hour before, two men had robbed the First Savings Bank in Morristown. The sheriff had called Vern Richmond for help. Vern owned an old Black Hawk helicopter.

He’d bought it back in 1999 in a government auction and had a special building built on his property to house it.

The robbers were seen heading down Evanstown Road. Both were reported to have been shot by the bank guard.

Two deputies were directed to follow in the cruiser while the sheriff flew with Vern to locate the car.

They soon spotted it on the Evanstown Road near where it branched off to Pinkerton. It was pulled off to the side, and both men were lying on the ground. When they heard the helicopter, one got up and raised his hands. Vern landed, and the sheriff raised his gun and climbed out. “End of the line boys,”  he said.

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