The King #writephoto | Short Story

The grey clouds above us had begun to churn, rumbling and rocking over one another as we shivered. They were an omen, I thought, my knees knocking together in the air. They were an omen for our future.

The King.jpgUp ahead of us, our captors were murmuring to each other, gesturing first at us, and then over the hill to a point that we could not see. I shifted slightly, my chains grating painfully against my ankles, and glanced at the boy behind me. He must have been only nine or ten, his skinny arms limp at his sides and his face tinged with blue.

I wanted to offer some words of comfort to him, but I couldn’t find any to give. Then I heard the sound of approaching footsteps and I turned back to the front to see one of the guards marching down our ranks.

He was a tall man with a thick, black moustache that did not entirely hide his twisted smile. In his hand, he held the dreaded whip and was stroking it gently – almost lovingly.

“Walk,” he croaked, and I felt a tug on my chains as the prisoners at the front of the party began to march forwards. Again, I felt an excruciating pain against my raw ankles, and then it was my turn and I, too, was climbing the steep hill towards – or so it seemed – the clouds themselves.

At the top of the path, our party began to turn. Then I heard sighs and stifled sobs from the front, and the guard with the whip darted forwards to silence them. When I reached the top, I didn’t cry or gasp. My eyelids drooped slightly over the eyes that had become hard and stony. It wasn’t anything worse than I had been expecting, but it was eerie. There was no denying that.

the deadThe process was a long one. They led us into the gallows three at a time and, for every prisoner, they read out our shared sentence: this party has been found guilty of treason in the highest degree. Having plotted against our Lord the King, they are to hang by the neck until dead.

I thought of the King then. I hadn’t considered him since the day of my capture, but it all came back to me as I watched the guards toss away the bodies of my fellow prisoners. I thought of his malice and his demands, remembering how, on the day of his coronation, he had asked for a gift from each household. I remembered watching my daughter being dragged away from me, screaming as she was hoisted into the back of a van.

Back then, they had told us that she was to be made a slave, but I had never really believed that. My daughter was dead. They were all dead.

More bodies were being removed from the grass now and I took a couple of steps forward as the next three prisoners approached the gallows. What about the boy that now stood behind me? What could he have possibly done to insult the King? Perhaps he had thrown a stone at one of the guards as they had slaughtered his parents, or perhaps he hadn’t done anything at all. Perhaps he had been taken as a punishment to his family. It didn’t matter, though. Guilty or not, he didn’t stand a chance. There were to be no trials and no inquisitions. The King’s word was the law, and he had decided that we were to die.

I was at the front of the line now. I closed my eyes as the guard at my side thrust me forwards, leading me up some rough, wooden steps towards the gallows.

I did not resist. I only looked at the boy behind me, watching as the guards lowered the rope to his level. I didn’t take my eyes off of that boy the entire time. My eyes were fixed – resolute. After all, if this was to be my final moment on this earth, then I wanted to remember. I wanted to remember what our Lord had done.


Word Count: 696.

I hope you liked this #writephoto story. It was inspired by the weekly prompt challenge that is hosted by Sue Vincent. You can read all about it here.

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My Monday Message – 16/07/18

Welcome to another of my Monday Message posts! Our quote for this week comes from what is, in my opinion, one of the greatest books that has ever been written, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone:

It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.  –  J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

My Monday Message 3I have always adored this quote, and not only because it comes at the end of such a wonderful book. Albus Dumbledore says these words in front of the entirety of Hogwarts school as he announces that Neville Longbottom has won the house cup for Gryffindor. It’s a moment where the underdog truly succeeds and is incredibly uplifting.

Yet these words promote a positive message, too. It may often seem all too easy to follow the crowds; after all, if no one else gives money to the homeless man on the corner, then why should you? This quote suggests that this way of thinking is completely wrong. We should do what’s right, regardless of what everyone else is doing. So, that’s my message for the week: do the right thing, even if you’re the only one doing it.


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Top Ten Tuesday: My Favourite Books of 2018 (So Far)

Top Ten Tuesday is a challenge hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl that’s all about books! Each week, we are asked to list ten bookish recommendations that can be based on anything from fictional worlds and characters, to colours on book covers.

Top Ten Tuesday

This Week’s Prompt: 10 of the best books read in 2018.

I have read quite a few books this year, although I did take quite a long reading break over my exam period (I mean, I was still reading during this time, but it was mainly re-reading as I revised!). Nevertheless, I have made it a goal of mine to read more books this year, and, so far, it’s been going well!

My Top 10 Books

#1 – The Shining by Stephen King.

Steven King’s The Shining is by far the best book that I have read this year (so). It was absolutely gripping and really introduced King to me as an author. You can read my review of The Shininghere.

#2 – The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde.

The Picture of Dorian Gray has fast become my favourite classic. I honestly did read it in one day. It’s sinister, gripping and really quite disturbing (in the best way possible!). I absolutely loved this book and would recommend it to anyone, regardless of how they ordinarily feel about the classics. You can read my review of The Picture of Dorian Gray here.

#3 – Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland is normally labelled a “children’s book”, but I completely disagree. This is a fantastic story, and another one that I read in a single day. It’s witty, sophisticated and really quite awe-inspiring. You can read my review of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland here.

#4 – Villette by Charlotte Brontë.

I was pleasantly surprised by Villette; I honestly didn’t expect to love it, for, although I adore Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, I didn’t really enjoy Jane Eyre. I can honestly say that this is a far better novel, though, and is extremely underrated. You can read my review of Villettehere.

#5 – Perfect Match by D. B. Thorne.

I have read some modern books this year, I promise! Perfect Match was an early-release book that I managed to lay my hands on, and I absolutely loved it. There was so much to think about, and so much tension towards the end of the story. You can read my review of Perfect Match here.

#6 – Grace after Henry by Eithne Shortall.

Another early-release book, Grace after Henry pleasantly surprised me. It found it under the ‘romance’ category, and I’m not usually too keen on romances. Honestly, though, this book cannot be contained by one genre. Its story is fantastic, if sometimes a little corny. You can read my review of Grace after Henryhere.

#7 – A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

I finally got around to reading A Christmas Carol! This is a book that, at its very centre, is simply heartwarming. It’s a wonderful story, and its no wonder that it is perhaps the most renowned classic work of all time. You can read my review of A Christmas Carol here.

#8 – The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle.

I recently finished listening to the audiobook of The Sign of Four (my review should be up tomorrow). The second novel in the Sherlock Holmes collection, this is a gripping story all about treasure, sacrifice and the power of promises. It’s a great story and is wonderfully well written.

#9 – The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole.

This is probably the most controversial book on my list. It’s another classic (don’t judge me – I had exams), but a lot of people really don’t like it. They say that the writing style is too simplistic, but The Castle of Otranto has officially been recorded as the first ever gothic novel. You can read my review of it here.

#10 – Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

I didn’t exactly love Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde when I read it a few weeks ago, but only because the first few chapters were so slow. The end of the book is really something remarkable, though, and this is the reason why it has made it onto this list. You can read my review of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde here.

Well, that’s it! Thank you for stopping by to read this Top Ten Tuesday post! By this time next week, I should have another book list posted. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts for me, please do leave me a comment below – what has been your favourite read this year?

Harry Potter Revisited: “The Keeper of the Keys”

I am taking part in a Harry Potter reading project, where, each Saturday, I talk a little about each chapter of the Harry Potter books. You can view a full list of these chapter rereads here.

1.4

So, here we are with the fourth chapter of J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, “The Keeper of the Keys”.

Chapter Summary

Chapter three left us on a little bit of a cliffhanger; Harry and the Dursleys were sleeping in their rundown hut on the rocks when there was a knocking at the door. Well, this chapter begins with the door being blasted off of its hinges as Rubeus Hagrid, keeper of keys and grounds and Hogwarts, bursts through the door.

1 - audioThis marks the moment when magic enters Harry’s life as Hagrid makes his presence known. He stands up to Vernon Dursley and lights a fire with a mere flick of his pink umbrella. Astounded, Harry asks who Hagrid really is, and Hagrid quickly uncovers that the Dursleys never told Harry anything about how his parents died, or even anything about the magical world.

Hagrid does more than tell Harry that he is a wizard, though. For the first time in Harry’s life, someone is kind to him. He gives him the letter that he has wanted to read for so long, and has even baked him a birthday cake. Hagrid is not the formidable half-giant that he may seem; he breaks stereotypes with his wonderfully kind heart.

Harry learns a lot about the magical world in this chapter, too. He is told that his parents were murdered by a famous dark wizard (Voldemort) and that, somehow, he had survived the attack. Harry is reluctant to accept these truths but, eventually, he agrees that he has always been able to do strange things (such as releasing a boa constrictor on his cousin in chapter two).

The Funniest Moment

If there’s one thing that you should always remember, it is to never insult Albus Dumbledore in front of Rubeus Hagrid. Nobody told Vernon Dursley this, though, and so he calls Dumbledore a “crackpot”. Hagrid responds by making a curly pig’s tail sprout from Dudley’s backside.

The Saddest Moment

The most emotional part of this chapter has to be Voldemort’s introduction. Hagrid recalls the story of James and Lily’s murder, and it really is quite chilling, especially with a foreknowledge of the journey that Harry makes throughout this series.

Some Further Thoughts

  • Hagrid says that Harry’s name has been down for Hogwarts since the day that he was born… but what if Harry had been a squib? A wizard and a witch can produce a muggle child, and this child is called a squib. For some reason, the Hogwarts teachers decided to overlook this possibility when it came to Harry.
  • Nobody likes saying Voldemort’s name, yet parents must tell their children, or else no one would ever know it. When Hagrid forces himself to speak the name to Harry, he really is solidifying his role as one of Harry’s many paternal figures as he takes on the responsibility of a parent.

A Quote

Something very painful was going on in Harry’s mind. As Hagrid’s story came to a close, he saw again the blinding flash of green light, more clearly than he had ever remembered it before – and he remembered something else, for the first time in his life – a high, cold, cruel laugh.

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My Monday Message – 02/07/18

Welcome to another of my Monday Message posts! Our quote for this week is another one from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which I recently finished reading.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”  –  Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol”.

My Monday Message 3A Christmas Carol is an extremely moral novel, and just one of the many lessons that it teaches, is that we should always keep Christmas in our hearts. This doesn’t mean that we should be spending ridiculous amounts of money all year round, but rather that we should be just as charitable, and just as happy.

So, that’s the message for the week: so what if Christmas is still half a year away? Remember to keep it in your heart, which means that you should not let the little things get to you. Put a smile on your face and be kind to those around you. The world would be a much brighter place if Christmas lasted all year round!

Clutter

“I don’t understand the problem.”

“Well, it’s just clutter, David. Can’t you see that?”

It was Friday; David wasn’t sure how, but, somehow, he’d made it to the end of another week. He was now standing with his wife in the spare bedroom, his eyes narrow.

That morning, he’d snapped. The crumpled resignation letter had finally been handed in and the final paycheck had been collected. Then he had marched around the corner and, finally, he had done it.

He’d created his own music room.

“This clutter,” he snapped at his wife, “happens to be my life.”


Word Count: 97.

This little piece of flash fiction was inspired by the Friday Fictioneers prompt from the lovely Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Check out the rules here.

I’m not sure why, but I found it really difficult to keep to the word count this week (more than usual, anyway). Perhaps this picture is just particularly thought-provoking!

Thanks for reading! You can click on the Inlinkz button to the right to view more interpretations of this week’s prompt.

My Monday Message – 25/06/18

Welcome to another of my Monday Message posts! Our quote for this week is one that I believe to be particularly relevant in our current Information Era. It comes from Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray.

“When I like people immensely I never tell their names to anyone. It is like surrendering a part of them.”  –  Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

My Monday Message 3What with search engines, social media and cookies tracking our every online word, we don’t really know the meaning of privacy anymore. Back in the Victorian period, Wilde’s characters had a lot less to worry about, but Lord Henry, a notably pessimistic character, had this rather unusual moral principle. He believed that a part of a person’s identity was contained in their name, and so refused to share it with others.

I’m not suggesting that we adopt this principle, as it does seem a little over the top, but it does make sense that, although we are constantly revealing information about ourselves, it would be wrong to reveal information about others. So, that’s my message for the week: be aware of what you’re revealing online. If there’s a chance that what you’re saying could implicate anyone other than yourself, think about it! Privacy is hard to come by at the moment, so it’s important to respect the little that remains.