The Chamber #3 – #writephoto

The following piece of creative writing forms the final part of a three-part series that I have been writing over the past week. I have today managed to finish this mini-series with the help of another of Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompts. You can read part one of this story here, and part two here. Thank you for reading and I very much hope that you enjoy!


A sigh slipped through Danny’s cracked lips as he leaned back against the dense hedgerow behind him. He was sat atop a small hill that overlooked Alice’s street. From here, he could see her parents. They were still calling out to their daughter, still screaming her name as if there was any chance that she had not heard them; as if there was any chance that she would still come home.

Danny had decided that he was never going to see Alice again. He had searched for too long, asking almost every member of the neighbourhood whether they had glimpsed his little girl. No one had known anything. No one had seen anything. The surrounding security cameras had come up empty and now Danny sat, completely alone.

There was no ray of sunshine to light his grey clouds anymore. Alice was gone, and he was on his own again. He watched Alice’ mother sobbing on the grass below and, with a heavy sigh, he pulled himself to his feet. There was no point feeling sorry for himself. Alice was still out there somewhere, and even if he doubted that there was any chance that she could still be alive… well, he couldn’t give up.

He had just reached the house below when the noise of an approaching vehicle made him turn. A silky black car drew up to the house and the passenger door opened just a tiny slither. Something small and dark was flung onto the grass in front of Danny, and then the door was slammed shut and the car was driving away.

Danny watched it go, his mouth hanging slightly open.

“Did you get the number plate?”

It was Alice’s father, Mr. Mckenzie. He marched past Danny, not looking at him, and reached down to examine the object that had been thrown from the car.

“No,” Danny murmured, resenting his helplessness. Mr. Mckenzie sighed, still not looking at Danny. Then Mrs. Mckenzie was beside him and he revealed to her the object which he held in his hand. It was a small flip phone, the like of which Danny hadn’t seen in years.

Danny had just opened his mouth to speak when the phone in Mr. Mckenzie’s hand beeped loudly. He drew closer to read the message over the couple’s shoulders.

IF U WANT 2 C HER AGAIN, SEND £1MIL.

Beneath the message, bank details had been listed. Yet Danny had barely glanced at them when the phone beeped again, and they glimpsed a terrified image of Alice.

Alice.

Alive.

Alice was alive.

Danny didn’t seem able to focus on the couple’s conversation. He had turned around to stare into the setting sunlight. It wasn’t over yet. He was going to see her again.

He was brought back to reality by the shrieks of Mrs. Mckenzie. Danny turned to see her pulling on her husband’s arm, her eyes wide.

“That’s her, Greg. That’s really her… we have to pay!”

“We go to the police,” Mr. Mckenzie said shortly. “I don’t give into blackmail.”

“But we have the money!” his wife protested, her eyes growing wider still. “Greg, it’s Alice. It’s our daughter.” Mr. Mckenzie smiled a cool, dry smile, and Danny felt a shiver shoot down the back of his neck. He had glimpsed this darker side of Mr. Mckenzie once before, and he could tell that it was now rearing to the surface of his emotions as he looked straight into his wife’s eyes.

You don’t have anything,” he said softly. “have the money.” His eyes were fixed on the distant horizon as he smiled. “And Alice is your daughter.”

Mrs. Mckenzie’s mouth fell open, but her husband’s chain had finally snapped. He turned his back on her, marching back into the house.

“I have work to do,” he called as he slammed the door behind him.

Mrs. Mckenzie then turned, as Danny had always known that she would, to him. He merely shook his head sadly. He was barely managing to pay his own rent. Money was the one thing that Mr. Mckenzie had always had over him, and now he was gone.

Wanting something to do, he took the flip phone from Mrs. Mckenzie’s limp hands. He had to grit his teeth as he stared at the picture of Alice, taking in her small mouth and bright, wide eyes. Her hair had fallen in front of her face as the flash had gone off. It was getting in the way, just like it had when she was little… before she had found her feather.

Danny brought the camera closer to his eyes, squinting at the pixilated image. Then he felt his heart freeze in his chest as he turned on the spot and began to run.

Stupid.

He was so damn stupid.

There was no feather in Alice’s hair. She had lost her feather, and hadn’t he found a feather, just hours ago? He had assumed that it was another feather from another bird.

Stupid.

Within minutes, Danny was back at the entrance to the tunnel. He pummelled down it, his breaths coming out in heavy gasps as he rushed through the darkness, oblivious to his own fear, and oblivious to the fact that there could be a fearsome kidnapper waiting for him at the other end of the tunnel.

When he reached the chamber, he came to an abrupt halt, his heart banging wildly. Then, by complete chance, he happened to glance down at his feet. Threaded between them was a dirt-spattered, red ribbon. His heart seemed to beat faster still and he was urged on by his own certainty that he was seconds away from finding his daughter.

He stumbled forwards, quite forgetting about the pile of mangled skeletons stacked in the centre of the room. He fell into them, landing face first onto something soft.

“Danny?”

It was as though Danny’s consciousness had left his body. He watched, as if he was no longer inside of himself, as the person who had fallen into the bone pile reached down and picked up their six-year-old daughter. He watched him whirl her around, tears in his eyes, as he kissed her all over.

Then he was running again, out of the tunnel and into the dying light of the sunset. It didn’t matter that he had failed to find her the first time. Alice was safe. She was in his arms, and he was never, ever going to let her go again.


Word Count: 1079.

Well, you asked for a happier ending, and there it is! Thank you so, so much to everyone who has followed this story. You are greatly appreciated.

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The Chamber #2

After ending my response to this week’s #writephoto prompt on a bit of a cliffhanger, I decided to turn the story into a little mini-series. You can check out part one here, and I will be posting the third and final part of the story within the next few days.


Alice’s eyes were half closed as she curled up on the stone floor, cocooned by the dead. She could see Danny’s blurred back disappearing up the tunnel that led outside and, for the hundredth time, she tried to call out to him. A small croaking sound slipped from her throat, but he was too far away now. He would never hear her.

Even as she watched his silhouette disappear from sight, Alice felt the little energy that she had left slip slowly away from her, as though it was following Danny out of the chamber. She allowed her eyelids to fall shut over her eyes and welcomed the darkness that flooded out to meet her.

When she next awoke, she knew that something was different. She was still trapped under the pile of bones in the centre of the chamber, and blood still coated her neck and shoulders, but the darkness in the chamber seemed to have lessened slightly.

A torch was being shone around the chamber walls and, from somewhere behind its light, Alice could hear footsteps.

She tensed her body, listening hard. The footsteps were heavy – too heavy to match Danny’s light tread. Yet if they didn’t belong to him, and they were too confident to belong to either of her parents, then surely there was only one other option.

Her kidnapper had returned.

Just as that thought reached her mind, a hand plunged into her rotting cocoon and grabbed her by the collar of her dress. It then dragged her through the sharp bones, throwing her into an empty space on the hard floor.

Her hand flew instinctively to her neck, as a sharp pain told her that the wound that the kidnapper’s blade had made in her flesh had been torn open once more.

He bent down to her level and shoved the back of a smartphone into her face. Then there was a white flash of light, and she was hurled back into her skeleton prison.

There was a sound of receding footsteps, and then her kidnapper was gone.

Alice was left sitting alone in the dark, her hand still pressed against her neck as tears began to stream down her cheeks.


Word Count: 367

The Chamber #writephoto

An unwelcome breeze whipped past his hair, cold and intrusive, as though invisible hands were brushing through it. He allowed himself a glance back up the tunnel, his eyes searching for the square of light through which he had come, and which was now far, far behind him.

He had not wanted to go anywhere near this tunnel. Every shadowy movement made his skin crawl and he kept jumping at the silence, its ringing depth seeming deeply unnatural.

Yet how could he not step into the shadows? How could he not make this long, dark journey, after discovering what he had done at the tunnel’s entrance? No person alive could have just walked away… well he couldn’t, anyway, because he’d seen her feather.

It had been in her hair. It had always in her hair, tied up with a long, red ribbon, ever since the day that she had first found it. She had been so delighted, picking it up out of the grass with a broad smile stretched across her face.

“Look! Look, Danny,” she’d cooed. “It’s blue… a blue feather, how pretty.”

He had only smiled dryly at her, wanting to whirl her around in his arms, but knowing his place. She knew him only as Danny, and that was all she would ever call him. Yet that other man – the one with the tight suits and the slicked back hair – it was he who she called Daddy.

Daddy bought all her presents, of course, but he hadn’t paid her enough attention. He hadn’t been watching her as closely as he should have done, or he would have noticed when she had wandered off, out of the garden and into the nothingness.

They had all been searching for her since the early hours of the morning. There had been no sign – nothing – and then Danny had thought to look around the old burial grounds. He had ignored them at first because she had always been afraid of them, but then he had gotten desperate… and then he had found the feather.

He had never before been into this particular tunnel. It was the longest, supposedly leading to a mass burial site set underneath the church in the centre of their little town. He never would have believed that she would have gone anywhere near it if it had not been for that feather.

The darkness was growing thicker. He was beginning to wish that he had brought a torch with him; he had his phone, but it was old, and the backlight was cracked. He was instead pointing the unlocked screen in front of him as he walked, using it to direct his cautious footsteps as he finally felt the floor levelling out.

He moved towards the nearest wall as the chamber opened outwards, feeling his way forwards. He was starting to see things now – dead things. They were all stacked up against the wall, propped against shelves and hanging onto the ground, twisted into gruesome shapes.

His eyes were beginning to adjust now, and he could make out a large pile of them in the centre of the chamber. They belonged to the poor souls who had been executed in the town. Some had been burned, whilst others had been hanged. Then they’d all been carted off to the graveyard where the trapdoor had been opened and their remains had been thrown through it unceremoniously.

No one had thought to move them since. No one seemed to care.

Danny hated to think about what the sight of these things would do to her. He didn’t want to think about it… yet he couldn’t not. Surely, surely, she hadn’t come down here? She was usually a timid child, never able to sleep without the light on in the corner of her room. Danny shivered. He knew that he should call out to her, but it was as if his throat had been blocked. He tried to clear his throat, but he was afraid of breaking the silence.

It was as if the dead were listening to him.

“A-Alice?” he croaked, his eyes on the tunnel, from which a distant glint of light still shone.

The silence was still ringing in his ears and his head was starting to spin. He staggered towards the tunnel. She was not down here. Of course she was not down here. She never would have come down here. The feather must have blown across the fields from somewhere else, or perhaps it wasn’t even the same feather; what did he know?

He felt angry with himself – furious, in fact. He was now certain that, by the time he had trudged back to the house, her Daddy would have found her.

He threw back his head and, as he stormed back up the tunnel to the outside world, he failed, once more, to shine his light on the ground. If he had done, he would have seen the long, red ribbon that was stretched across the grey slabs, its end pointing towards the very centre of the chamber.


Word Count: 829.

This (admittedly rather dark) tale was inspired by the weekly #writephoto prompt challenge hosted by Sue Vincent. I feel like it could have a second part, but I’m not quite decided about that, so let me know if you want to hear more of the story!

Edit: I decided to turn this story into a three-part mini-series! Click here to read part two.

Pryon #6 – Déjà Vu

Here we are with the next part of “Pyron”, a short story I have been writing across a series of blog posts. To read part one, please click here, or to see the whole story so far, click here. Thank you so much for reading this story, and I hope you enjoy this next part!


It took Linyeve a few moments to realise that the ropes which had bound her to the kitchen stool had now fallen away. Kanalin mustn’t have tied them properly, and it had been Ana, not the ropes, holding her there.

She got shakily to her feet, heart pounding. She didn’t particularly want to look at the family that had been slammed against the back wall of the cottage, but she could hear a sniffling sound, which surely meant that at least one of them had survived.

10729399_588407701288852_670404928_n.jpgTurning slowly on the spot, she saw Jakob, Kanalin’s five-year-old son, crawling towards her.

“Help,” he said thickly, eyes wide.

As she looked into the boy’s eyes, Linyeve couldn’t not go to Kanalin and her daughter, but with every step she took, thoughts of the black storm clouds above flashed before her eyes. There wasn’t enough time; if she wanted to escape, she needed to leave – now.

Jakob started to wail.

Linyeve decided not to waste any more time; she ducked down and placed two fingers against his mother’s neck, whilst probing her daughter, Kyla, with her other hand. The girl didn’t move; her small head had taken the full force of the blow, and Linyeve could see a dark, sticky substance trickling down the back of her head. She bit back her cry of horror as she pressed her fingers down harder on Kanalin’s neck. Please, she thought desperately. Just one of them. Let one of them live.

There was a pulse.

It was faint, but it undeniable. Linyeve took a few calming breaths and detached Kyla from her mother, laying her gently on the kitchen table.

“We’re going to leave,” She said to Jakob. “I’ll bring your mumma, but I need you to come with me, okay?” Eyes wide, the boy nodded, and Linyeve, gritting her teeth, began to drag Kanalin from the room. She was surprisingly light for a girl of her age, and Linyeve managed to drag her from the cottage without too much effort.

Outside, she saw the full might of the storm clouds. From this angle, she was even able to see a deep, crimson glow burning in their midst. She quickened her pace, hauling Kanalin across the cobblestones with every ounce of strength that she possessed.

“Why’s the sky like that?” Jakob was asking as he bobbed along at Linyeve’s side, but she didn’t have the breath to answer him.

guille-pozzi-435747-unsplash.jpgThey were just reaching the outskirts of the village when they heard the first screams. Linyeve didn’t stop or turn around, but she sensed Jakob’s hesitation and called out to him.

“Fire!” he was shouting. “There’s fire!”

“Jakob, move!” She shouted, and there was something in the tone of her voice that made the boy run out in front of her, leading the way out of the village.

Linyeve could feel a heat at her ankles and, before she could stop herself, she glanced over her shoulder. The fire was licking through the streets, long, scarlet flames reaching down alleyways and straight through homes. She wasn’t imagining the screams this time; she could hear them quite clearly as they rang through her ears and poured into her mind. Then, quite suddenly, she was back in Little Bringleton, and she was watching her home burn. Her grandmother was still asleep in her armchair, her knitting left idle on her lap. She didn’t even notice the flames; she was too deaf for the screams to wake her, and then it was too late – for her, for the village, and for Linyeve, too.

“Help!”

Linyeve was jerked back to the present by Jakob’s scream, and she pulled his mother a little further across the stones. The fire was reaching out to them, though, and it was then that Linyeve finally accepted what she had always known: it was too late. The fire was already upon them, scorching the backs of her ankles and tearing through her hair. She closed her eyes against the heat, swallowing back the horror that threatened to engulf her. There wasn’t enough time. They were never going to make it. She’d hesitated for too long, and now she was going to die.


Thanks for reading! The next part of “Pyron” should be with you in the next few days.

Picture Credit: Photo #2 was by guille pozzi (Unsplash).

Pryon #5 – Prisoner

“Pyron” is a new story that I’ve been writing, told through a series of separate blog posts. To read part one, please click here. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this next instalment!


“Just tell me what you want!” Linyeve shouted as she struggled against the thick ropes than Kanalin had used to bind her to the kitchen stool. “You don’t even need rope!” she cried, gesturing towards Ana. “That girl of yours is as good as any ropes. How is she doing that?”

saskia-van-manen-567430-unsplash.jpgKanalin wasn’t looking at her. She was sat on the other side of the table, a twin on each of her knees. She stroked their blonde curls, letting them brush through her fingers, before she let out an abrupt sigh.

“She’s not mine,” she said, not looking at Ana. It was as if she was afraid of her.

Linyeve struggled a little harder against her ropes, rage and confusion pounding inside her head. Surely Kanalin had nothing to gain from keeping her there? She couldn’t think of any possible reason for it. A few scrambled images involving a possible solution to the family’s starvation flashed in front of her, and she resumed her shouting.

“Please, just let me go! I’ll leave Wrenstead and I won’t bother you again. I’m just passing through, anyway. I don’t want any troub-”

“-Don’t bother,” Kanalin snapped. “I know exactly who you are and where you’ve come from. I know all about your storm, too, although that wouldn’t be the word that I’d use to describe it.”

“Who are you?”

“You know who I am,” Kanalin sighed. “I’m no one special: just a poor widow, but I love my children.” She hugged the twins tighter to her, tears beginning to streak down her face. “I really love them, you see, and I couldn’t bare to lose them…” she broke off, bursting into a fit of sobs that momentarily distracted Linyeve.

“Tell me what’s going on and I can help you,” she hissed, shooting a nervous glance at Ana, who was now twirling a piece of hay between her fingers.

“You can’t help,” Kanalin snapped. “I had to help myself… because, you see, they said that whilst I had to stay, and you had to stay, my babies… my babies could…” she started sobbing again, joined this time by her little boy, who was looking up at his mother with wide, fearful eyes. She hushed him gently, looking towards the ceiling as she attempted to wipe away her tears.

928601_310122635821996_1935418722_n“It’s too dark to see them,” she sniffed, looking at Linyeve. “Out there,” and she pointed at the small window. Night had completely fallen now, and Linyeve could see nothing but darkness outside the cottage. “That doesn’t mean that they’re not there, though,” her eyes widened. “They’re outside, those black clouds.”

Panic rushed through Linyeve. She resumed her attempts to escape her bindings, even though she knew she could do nothing with Ana sat on the floor beside her. It was going to happen again. Wrenstead was going to be lit up by the same flames that had consumed Little Bringleton, only, this time, Linyeve would be right in the middle of it all.

“Please,” she repeated, her voice shaking slightly. “Let me go – tell her to let me go – and we can all just leave. We can find somewhere safe before it’s too late!” Kanalin sniffed, glancing nervously towards the door.

“They’ll be here soon,” she said, and kissed her two children. “I love you,” she whispered to them as fresh tears sprung from her eyes. “Please, darlings, always remember that your Mumma loves you.”

“Who’s coming?” Linyeve demanded furiously. “What’s happening?”

Just then, however, there came a knock at the door, and Kanalin, still clutching the twins, went to answer it. Two hooded figures with bright white cloaks swept into the room, their faces concealed beneath the hoods. They seemed to be eyeing Linyeve curiously, and she looked away, nervous.

“Here they are,” Kanalin was saying, holding her children out to the figures. “They’re ready.”

The figures, who Linyeve understood to be men from their broad shoulders and thick statures, took no notice of her, not even turning to glance at her. One of them – the taller of the two – reached down and scooped up Ana from the floor, and then they turned to leave.

dakota-corbin-492737-unsplash.jpgNo!” Kanalin screamed, standing in front of the door and thrusting the twins towards the men. “Take them. We made a deal.”

Linyeve thought she heard one of the men laugh, before Kanalin was flung into the air, the children still pinned against her chest. She hit the wall with an almighty crash and slid down to the floor, limp.

Without a word, the men threw open the door and disappeared into the darkness, Ana staring at Linyeve as she bobbed away over the taller man’s shoulder.


Picture credit: Photo #1 was by Saskia van Manen (Unsplash). Photo #3 was by Dakota Corbin (Unsplash).

Thanks for reading! You can click the link here to read the next part of “Pyron”!

That Sad Smile

This piece of creative writing is for the purposes of the Creative Writing Ink writing challenge. With weekly photo prompts and no word limits, this challenge offers a fun, interactive way of encouraging new writers.


A cool, bitter wind swept through the tunnels, whipping back my hair and threatening to extinguish my precious candles. I leant over the flame before me, protective, as I fiddled with the matches I held in my sweaty palms. Lighting them was proving uncannily difficult, for, with every new flame that I placed about the circumference of the small, little cave, the more violently my hands began to shake.

Héctor Martínez.jpg

Credit: Héctor Martínez

At long last, however, the flame leapt greedily from wick to match, and I scurried off around the circle to the next open space, guarding the flame with my hand. Before I could reach my destination, however, another gust of wind swept through the cave and my little flame withered, and then died.

Sighing, I turned back to the nearest candle, heart beating wildly. If I took much longer, I might miss my opportunity altogether. I only had tonight, for this moon would not wait forever. In a few hours, it would dip below the mountain ridges behind the northern plains, and it would be too late. I’d have failed.

A new kind of determination gripped me as I plunged my match into the flame and withdrew it sharply, watching the flame quiver, and then separate in two. I rushed back over to the space along the wall, dipping the flame towards the unlit candle waiting there. Grinning with relief, I then turned to the last, and final space along the wall. With the flame still clinging to the match in my hand, I forced it down and watched as, finally, the last candle was lit.

I got to my feet, looking around at the twelve lights gleaming at me from the edges of the circle. Then I paused, hesitating. I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that I should just walk out of the cave, leaving my little circle and abandoning my hopes. I’d waited too long for this, though; I couldn’t let it slip past me when I was this close.

I marched resolutely to the entrance of the cave, where I stripped off my shoes and socks, shrugged off my jacket and lifted a hand to let my dark hair fall about my shoulders. I had to do this. It wasn’t a choice anymore. Making sure that my clothes were outside of the ring of candles, I swallowed, let out a long breath, and then scurried back to the centre of the circle.

The stone was cold on my bare feet as I sat there, cross-legged. It was distracting, but I was glad that I’d made them bare; I felt so much closer to the ground now, as if the stone itself was providing me with its own strength. I gritted my teeth, focussing my mind.

I reached out with my thoughts, finding each burning flame and watching it crackle. Then, I wandered further. I left the circle, and then the cave. I carried on right past the labyrinthine tunnels and the moonlit fields beyond. I searched further and further, until I saw her. I opened my eyes.

My mother sat opposite me, eyes wide and mouth smiling. She reached out to me instinctively, but I backed away, grimacing slightly.

“I’m sorry,” she murmured, sitting back immediately. “I- how am I here?” I smiled, but didn’t answer. She was very pretty, with her dark hair and long, curled lashes. That had never quite come through from the photographs. I wondered what she would look like now, if her life hadn’t been halted so abruptly. I supposed there would be flecks of grey in that dark hair now, and lines bordering that smile. The eyes would stay the same, though; she would have the same eyes, and she would have the same smile.

“I miss you,” my mother whispered, her eyes looking rather watery. “Thank you for bringing me here.” I nodded, but I still couldn’t speak. My throat felt strangely constricted. I’d spent so many years writing my mother letters that I could never send, dreaming of speaking to her, or even looking at her, but now, when she was right in front of me, I couldn’t say a word. Something was wrong. It was as if the world knew she shouldn’t be here; whilst she was smiling, her arms slightly outstretched, I couldn’t help from noticing that she was pale and ghostly, her smile tainted by a flicker of sadness.

I was almost glad when a gust of wind blew out half the candles. As their smoke rose into the air, my mother faded, that sad smile disappearing into nothing.

Riverbank Guardian

This is my third attempt at Sammi Cox’s weekly writing challenges! Each weekend, she posts both a word and a picture for writers to attempt either her prose or poetry prompt. This week, the word was “guardian” and the prose challenge was to write a fairy tale story in 150 words or less!


Wandering along the riverbank, the basket of flowers at her side, she smiled to herself. There were monsters in these parts, twisted beasts that liked to leap from the milky waters to drag unsuspecting victims under the surface. There were bat-like creatures that lurked in the trees, too; creatures whose bites would be fatal to a little girl like her. She had nothing to fear, though, for, as she trotted onward, she sang.

Sammi Cox.jpg

Credit: Sammi Cox

It was a simple tune: a melody that went up and down with each footfall. She knew it as the song of the grotesque, the strange, phantom-like creature that existed only to protect those in need.

Way up above her, a shadow swept along in her wake. It followed her music, answering its call.

Snarling at the monsters as it passed, it knew that it would protect the little girl as if she were its own.