In the forest Pt. I

It was a day like any other. I was sitting in a small booth beside the entrance of our local public forest. The forest was located in the outskirts of Kingsham and marked the edge of the city. The other woods nearby were dangerous, dark, unguarded and rumored to be haunted. I always thought people to be idiots to come visit the forest where I worked, as the other forests were free, but the events I encountered only left me to imagine what horrors occur in the dark, awful forests where no one went. The forest where I worked was a well-kept park of sorts, surrounded by a head-high fence. The perimeter of the woods could be circled completely in around two hours, so the forest wasn’t all that large. It mainly contained of a small, grassy centre surrounded by various paths radiating out from that centre. Like veins tracing out of the centre towards the various extremities consisting of an array of various types of trees and foliage

My job was to oversee the people entering and taking care of the obligatory entry fee. The fee wasn’t much at all, but because of the amount of people that enter it was enough to pay me and the overseer as little as we got. Well, it used to be enough. People didn’t visit that much any more, and those who visited reluctantly parted with their coins in order to enter the forest, and sometimes I let people in for free because they were excited to enter, and who am I to lower their excitement. But the forest was nice.

The entry booth was less nice. It was small and made of rotten, damp wood. A dankness filled the little space I had, accompanied by a small gas lantern and my cold, claustrophobic self. I was seated in a chair, chest almost pressed against the counter and the back of the chair was against the back wall. The enclosement was horrid, and the lack of a window thoroughly enforced that feeling. Right, next to the forest, was a solid, windowless wall, and left was the door that locked me away from the breezy, blue-skied outside world. The heavy wooden door locked from the inside to make sure that no people could forcefully enter their way in. The room was cramped, dark, horrible, yet safe. But could never have been safe enough.

The day it all started, as far as I recall, the skies were monotonously grey, and the colors of the woods inspired no will to enter. As not many people did that day, besides the regulars who visited every other day. I didn’t always ask them to pay, it would not feel right to ask them every time they entered. But they were only three folks, no one else entered during the endless amount of hours we were opened. Except for one man: a tall, athletically built man dressed in a nice, long, black coat. The sling of a large, black duffle bag was thrown around his right shoulder, and both hands were keeping the bag from swinging too much as he walked. He reached the entrance and only gazed at me with piercing, brown eyes. He never slowed his pace as he entered. I did not think much of it, as getting out to chase him would have taken too much effort. I was happy to have some folks in the forest.

As the dark night started to take over the greyness of that day, the sky turned a golden grey and it got darker and darker. I had forgotten about the man in the forest, but during the late twilight he reminded me of his presence by leaving the forest. Bereft of his bag, and with his once pristine coat dirtied, he walked quickly out of the forest, only to swiftly disappear in the darkness of the road, too fast for me to call after him. It kept me awake throughout the night. Had something in the woods attacked him? Was it a beast? Had the regulars, two women and one man, felt it necessary to throw him to the ground? But there were no beasts in the forest, and the three regulars were elderlies, too crippled to even think about a physical conflict. Come to think of it, the regulars never left the forest. Not as I closed the gate besides the booth, and neither as I opened that gate which was also the only entrance to the forest.

My signet ring and my parents

I have a signet ring, which my father gave to me. I wear it every day and it has really become a part of my attire. I wear it without any engravings. Not because I don’t feel like engraving it, but because of a philosophy; a motive. Let me share it with you.

The ring symbolises my course of life to me; it was given to me by one of my parents, like the opportunity to become who I am. I got my life from both my parents, free to fill in how I want to.

I will not engrave it to remind me, every day, that I am my own person. A person who has been enabled to exist because of my parents, like the ring, but free to complete how I wish. The lack of engraving reminds me that I am my own ‘tabula rasa’, my own blank slate.

The slightly scratched surface show that the choices of my parents will always be with me; they do show their influence but they do not fully determine your life.

The scratches show that my parents had to go through their own life, their own experiences and struggles to give this opportunity, this ring to me, picking up the scratches on the way, always trying to bring this ring, these opportunities, this life as free and pristine as possible to me.

You do not have to conform to the choices people made before you, you are free to chose and design the course of your life, to engrave your own ring, for as much as possible. But remember: The opportunity to make these choices; to engrave this life by your own hand was given to you by your parents.

Thank you, mom and dad,

Love you both

Steven Pinley, Chapter Three

Steven Pinley, Chapter One

Steven Pinley, Chapter Two


Previously

Steven Pinley and I were studying biology at Kingsham University back then. We, especially Pinley, excelled in every aspect. Our attendance was perfect, our understanding of the matter discussed in lectures was impeccable and our performance was very notable. We had decided to take our theoretical discussions and hypotheses a step further and conduct practical experiments. We had learned much about general practices and felt that we were advanced enough to start research of our own.

After hypothesising and daydreaming for god knows how long, we decided we’d acquire a location to decorate with various laboratorial objects to start our very own research. We managed to locate and obtain an old abandoned logger’s shack in the dense forest neighbouring Westhorpe and bought a surplus surgery table anonymously from the university. With several pieces of tools and some electrical lamps we had a remote laboratory where we could work undisturbed.

We were doing research on mushrooms and their effects on dead specimens of various types of wood. We discovered that the nutritional network created between the mushrooms had regenerating effects on the deceased wood, and were thoroughly excited by the discoveries made, Though we wanted to refine our discoveries more before publishing.

One day, I had caught influenza which made me decide that I shouldn’t join Pinley in the research of the day. I went to the bottom floor to phone Pinley with the apartment complex’ central phone. Pinley answered the phone quickly and seemed very considerate, and seemed almost happy that I wasn’t able to come. He explained that he had an idea he wanted to work on privately.

Oh God how I wish I didn’t ever return to that damned laboratory.


Chapter Three

It took me around three weeks to recover from my illness, and be in a state where I felt capable once again. The day I decided I would go again next week, the phone rang down stairs. The concierge ringed my door and called me downstairs. He mentioned that the person called for me, and that he seemed very excited about something. I took over the phone and heard what Pinley had to say.

Pinley told me that he had made some amazing progress concerning our mushroom related research and that we were on a fantastic track together. The absence of me, he explained, allowed him to concentrate so thoroughly that he had reached something incredible, and urged me to come by as soon as possible. But, he stressed, he wanted me not to come before next week, as “Preparations would be complete by then.” And so I waited.

That next week, during a windy evening as I had to work during the day, I went on my way over that familiar road, but now by myself without Pinley. Through Westhorpe and through the forest towards the house. The walk felt like it took hours and hours, and an inexplicable feeling of panic kept coming over me. The road felt harrowing, the evening sky had an ominous colour and the air felt foreboding. I approached our laboratory and noticed quickly that there was no light coming out of the windows, even though they were covered by curtains and some boards, some light used to shine through, and there was an unsettling silence around the small building.

I slowly approached the firmly closed door in the darkness, wondering why the house could be closed while Pinley and I had arranged a rendezvous. The closer and closer I came to the door the more every nerve sprawling through my body told me to turn around and never return. But I opened the door. The door swung easily open, it hadn’t even closed all the way. I turned the lights on and waited for them to warm up, during which my mind was still puzzled with confusion. As the lights went on, shock overcame me.

Our laboratory was a disorderly chaos, tools broken and one of the three lights had been smashed. Cupboards were opened, their insides were littered over the floor. Not one glass beaker had been left unbroken. Yet all this paled in comparison to the new objects in the space. Spread along the walls were boxes with specimens I had not seen before, nor had any say in the creation of them. I examined one of the specimens, and to my horror, Pinley had taken our research to new, dark extremes. In the bins were various pieces of flesh, labelled with their species; bovine and pig, covered with mushrooms we declared best fit for the rejuvenation of wood. All pieces of meat had a white hue, radiating a sense of death.

But the worst of all, the most ungodly of all, was the rear left corner of the room. It was the corner furthest from the entrance, so I had not seen it immediately. Usually it was lit, but the fixture responsible for the luminance in that area was unfortunately the one with the smashed lamp. In my recollection the walk to that damnable corner felt like it took hours, as the container stored in that corner was the worst thing I have ever seen. After my eyes had finally adapted to the darkness, I discovered a long, sturdy, iron rimmed glass container holding a long mushroom covered piece of meat. The object seemed to pulsate, coloured a ghastly green with deep purplish veins running through. It radiated an intense horror and instilled fear, yet I did then not know why. Yet.

I went to take the piece out of the container, only to be mortified by a hand returning my grasp. The piece of revived meat was a humanoid arm! The arm fell onto the wooden ground, flopping around spastically in a way no healthily thinking human would. The frantically flexing muscles bulged greatly, obviously nourished well by the mushrooms which had mostly fallen off following the fall. Suddenly, all muscles tensed strongly, making the arm unable to move any more, followed by the sudden final death of the limb which had now gone a greyish white colour.

I walked back slowly, still confused and scared from the preceding incident, and bumped into the great, central ornament. I had somehow missed the cold steel surgery table in the centre of the room during my initial inspection of the chaotic space. The table was covered in green filth, surrounded by the very same mushrooms found on the arm. We kept a strict routine on cleaning the table, so the dirt covering it disturbed me greatly. Especially Pinley would not have left it this way voluntarily.

All there was left on the table, besides the grime and debris, was a scribbled note:

“Close the door, leave this place and NEVER return.

I have made mistakes.

Goodbye Friend.”

I followed the simple orders without question, and the walk home is lost to my memory. I just remember being home, shocked from the horror I had experienced. Where Pinley is now, even if he still lives, which I do not even have hope for, is lost to the ages. He is a man never to be found again, a great mind lost to madness. Intelligence lost forever. Oh what greatness Pinley would have achieved if we had just stuck to daydreaming.

Yet I still wonder, what was the final mistake Pinley made? One can only wonder, yet the recent headlines feed the imagination. “Amputated limbs missing.” seems to connect with Pinley clearly in my mind, yet one headline seems too horrid to believe the implications thereof.

Nay.

I don’t want to accept it.

Body buried up from graveyard near Westhorpe, evidence missing.


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Steven Pinley, Chapter Two

Steven Pinley, Chapter One


Previously

Steven Pinley was a mere student back then, learning all ins and outs of biology. However, Pinley was greatly ahead of his class and had much more knowledge about the subjects discussed in lectures than his peers, and often held private discussions with professors and other individuals of equal intellect, though few could match his.

Pinley took a liking to me, as I was often the only other student as punctual as he was for lectures and classes. An exact fifteen minutes early was right on time for Pinley, and as I wanted Pinley to see me as one of his equals, fifteen minutes early was on time for me too.

We talked before classes, sat next to each other and dreamed of our fantastic futures as biologists. One day we took our concepts and ideas further than the frantic, yet fruitless daydreaming we were so accustomed to and devised a plan to put our newly learned knowledge to use. We rented an old logger’s house situated in the grand forest bordering Westhorpe, a settlement located next to our home city of Kingsham. With an old surgical table we bought anonymously and some electrical lights which were being sold in Kingsham had a laboratory of our own where we could work undisturbed and on ideas and experiments of our very own. I searched for knowledge which extended beyond the university’s courses and thusly gain knowledge to excel in regards to my performance. I wanted to research for reputation and public knowledge.

Pinley didn’t.


Chapter Two

The house was a forty-five-minute distance from the university. The grand town of Kingsham was the start of the walk which became intensely familiar to us after the repetitious journeys. Exiting the town, the road to Westhorpe greeted us with its monotony and tedium. Yet over time, we started to appreciate the road for its unchangingness as the length and lack of distractions allowed for us refining our upcoming experiments. I remember this first walk to the lodge, preparing to see it for the first time and examine the room where we were to spend a majority of our free time, the road to Westhorpe being already familiar, but the walk through that damnable forest leaving deep impressions on me. The forest had an unwelcoming radiance even the locals were wary of. The dense growth and canopy of the trees gave way only to neverending darkness. An old, decrepit, overgrown road led us to our similarly old, decrepit and overgrown house. I was never able to feel any hint of comfort in that place, for from every crack in those bricks poured an ominous darkness. And how right that ominousness was.

We had decorated our new laboratory with old drawers we filled with tools, three electric lamps and the old table we had sourced. Preparing the place took several days, and Pinley and I were appropriately using the time preparing the location and the journeys there to thoroughly think out our first subject of research. To get familiar with that new uncommon place, we thought it better to research something unchallenging. We chose local mushroom research to be the appropriate primary subject, but God! How I chose we had not.

Exams and several other university related distractions caused me to not be able to visit the house for quite some time after having just finished furnishing that room and planning the first topic, yet Pinley told me he was quite familiar with the place as I finally had the chance of joining my partner in research for the first time.

Pinley had already gathered various samples of local mushrooms and mushroom-infected vegetation. Centrally on the table was a large log, the smell of which overwhelmed me with its damp mouldiness. Pinley handed me a fragrance infused face mask to border out the overpowering smell and pointed out several fascinating features of the log.

Mushrooms had covered the upper surface of the long-diseased log, as tends to happen in damp forests. Pinley surgically removed a piece of tree bark, and thoroughly excitedly showed me the roots of the several mushroom species covering the surface of the log. The roots, he explained and proved, burrowed deeply into the log, a log that had been long dead before the first mushroom had started growing on it. The rooting of the mushrooms appeared like veins through the wood and created a network that connected one mushroom with all others and vice versa. Every mushroom was connected equally and exchanged nutrients with the other mushrooms. The log had become the body of a living organism, and the mushrooms were the organs and veins thereof, as Pinley so eloquently worded. ‘It had become a living creature once again.’ Pinley said with an awestruck expression.

The coming weeks of research had composed of finding samples like the original log and experiment on the found samples. We found that altering the roots of the mushrooms, by severing them or, oppositely, nurturing them, the mushrooms would react swiftly and strikingly. All features of the mushrooms would adapt; severing the roots, expectedly, resulted in the mushroom withering, yet not dying. ‘As mankind, banishing an individual from society does not eliminate him, yet thoroughly weakens him. The difference between death and weakening is one not to be overlooked.’ Pinley stressed. He noted every feature of the withering, surviving mushroom. Most died out after a remarkably long amount of time, yet what fascinated us both was that some of the exiled mushrooms prospered and created a new population of mushrooms, same species as the ones it was exiled from yet all having characteristic features originally found in the unique, severed mushroom.

Pinley was fascinated by the life-like, human resemblance of the mushrooms, yet eventually directed his interest elsewhere. His research shifted towards the carrier of the mushrooms. A fascination regarding the roots of the mushrooms grew and grew, and especially regarding the ‘mother’, as Pinley called the carrier by the resemblance of the carrier losing vitality and vigour as to facilitate the growth of the mushrooms, such as a mother does when she carries her child. Often the mother, the dead log in the primary specimen, benefitted parasitically of the growth of the mushrooms. Wood would show signs of health caused by the mushrooms growing on it, and the roots nurturing the wood once again. Pinley said that the mushrooms almost revived the wood, and started experimenting with bringing pieces of bark and thick tree branches back to life by utilising select mushrooms and the ways that their particularly thin roots permeated equally through the wood, not damaging the fibrous structure of the wooden mother.

One day I wasn’t able to go with Pinley to the lab, as I felt quite sick. I had caught influenza and the doctor told me to stay home, so I phoned Pinley with the phone down at the entrance of the house where I had an attic room to tell him how I was not able to join him that day. Pinley took no offence, he even seemed excited to be able to work by himself as he told me how he had some plans he wanted to work out in quiet and pure concentration. We had been working on revitalising pieces of wood from fallen trees with nutrients supplied by mushrooms. We discovered that by letting mushrooms grow on the wood and feeding the mushrooms certain vitamins and minerals, pieces of wood appeared to lose the dark brown colour characteristic of dead wood and trade it for lively light brown, the colour of living trees. One sample even managed to sprout some leaves from its former dead self. We truly felt on the edge of something amazing, being able to revive fallen trees and making them grow leaves, and hopefully even sprout new fruit.

All this made me not understand what Pinley was so glad about during that phone call, but oh how I wish I had just stayed home forever, never to see that damned laboratory ever again.


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Adrift

via Daily Prompt: Adrift

I awoke adrift on an unfamiliar dingy raft beside that great island of confusion and madness. How I got there I don’t know, why I was there is a conundrum even greater to me. A place occupied by disarray and chaos of grandeur was the only thing that awaited me on that plane of insanity bereft of any interest. An overwhelming sense of solitariness came over me as I searched fruitlessly for anything my mind would recognise and would comfort my wrecked head. As I reached the place, pushed ever forward atop my raft guided by the endless waves of the great waters behind me, thoughts ran more and more at disarray. I came ever closer to that grotesque continent, yet it stayed ever out of reach.

I awoke adrift in my bed beside my own thoughts, seeing them from a point of view which was not a view of my own.

Descend

via Daily Prompt: Descend


I had been in that house for years, uncountable to me. As far as my memories go, I had lived there. I was raised there, and after my parents died, when I was just nearing adulthood, I inherited the house. It was paid off by my parents, and when they both were diagnosed with that sickness, the same one I carry now, they made the arrangements to leave the house as my property. When they passed, around 40 years ago, the house was pristine. It was very stylised, as my father liked. The front portal was filled with a great dark wooden door, the outsides walls made of dark grey stone, imported from some far away quarry in a foreign country, as it was not native to this region. The mansion was definitely old, but the documentation left some questions. No date of construction was named, nor the architect nor the original owner who commissioned the construction. In every correspondence about the town it was settled next to, the mansion was mentioned.

My parents were able to purchase the house for a small sum, as the interior was bereft of any decorations or furniture. The outside was decrepit and overgrown with a vast conglomeration of moss and algae. After years of renovation, in which I always tried my best to help, as much as my childish hands back then would allow me to, the grotesque building towered menacingly over the neighbouring town and forest once again, as it had when it was originally constructed atop that ghastly hillock.

Through my help with the renovation of the entire house, which was thoroughly appreciated by my parents and manifested itself in me helping in every room, I knew the entire house like the back of my hand. Or so I thought.

Two weeks before the demise of my parents, who died merely one day apart, by father entered the grand living room, where I was reading a book titled ‘trigonometry and the history thereof’ as I had just started studying mathematics at the nearby University in Kingsham. He had a ghastly look on his pale, lifeless face, which was usually painted with a glad smile and a healthy, reddish glow. ‘Come with me, I found something.’ he said to my mother in a hollow, timbreless voice. ‘I found… Something. ‘

My mother gestured to me to stay seated and said that I shouldn’t follow. They closed the door which leads to the main staircase and walked for a small distance. Suddenly their footsteps stopped, and some deep stumbling noises followed, like a heavy door dragging over a stone floor. I thought to myself that there are no doors there besides the front door, and the door leading to the kitchen, which both have ample clearance between themselves and the stone floor. What could be happening?

Much time passed, time that felt like a small eternity, and I got more and more disturbed by the lack of any other individuals in the mansion. As I decided to get up and investigate, my parents returned, both with that ghastly, empty stare and emotionless face. They sat down and never said any happy word ever again. Both quickly started setting up their testaments and heritages, and passed away two weeks after that day. Doctors were never able to find out what the cause of their expiration was, but found all organs, during an autopsy, corrupted by an unknown blackness; especially the lungs. Whatever it was, it passed through the air ready to have been inhaled by the poor victims.

Now after all these years, I am the same age my parents were when they passed, yet I am unmarried. And I will never be. One day I wanted to hang up the painting I obtained at a local auction organised by one of the various charities settled in Kingsham. I thought the wooden wall below the main staircase to be a good location for the painting, but God! How wrong I was.

As I put my hand on the old, dark wooden wall to hammer the steel nail into it, the wall gave way. A few inches it crept inwards, hinged at one of the wooden boards. The hinge was perfectly hidden, and the wall was always obstructed by a table topped with various curiosities obtained on my travels across the globe. Statues, tablets, photographs and other foreign knick-knacks littered the table which was now moved away to make the room I needed to mount the painting.

I pushed the wall further inwards, and it opened up to a dark entrance which led into a humid cellar. How did I not know this was here? I have seen the entire house, renovated all of it, and was familiar with it for years! I was dumbfounded, and curiosity took hold of me as I walked through the newly found portal. A cold dankness met me as I took the first steps into that room, and an uncomfortable feeling came over me, a tension I could not explain. I wanted to escape, to get out but the thought that I did not know the entire house enraged me, as I felt that I failed myself. Thus I kept going, now with an electric lamp in my hand.

The room was a small, low chamber lined with grey stone chunks of irregular form. Arches lined the sides and a small sacrificial altar decorated the centre of the chamber, an object which I recognised as such from another sacrificial altar I saw in one of my travels. The space was barely high enough to stand in comfortably. I walked up to one of the arches, which were all hidden in the dark, and started backwards from fear. What I found hidden in the archway’s shadow petrified me, as they were all short hallways leading to stone thrones on which corpses of men were seated, and the walls were lined with human bones and skulls! One of the arches was boarded up with planks that looked out of place. All walls had an even number of archways, except for the wall in which this archway was located. On either side was a cadaverous hallway. As I neared the planks, a soft, humid, warm breeze greeted me, and every nerve in my body told me to get out. But I didn’t. Oh, how I wish I had just turned around then, as I would have maybe survived that building.

I removed the boarding, and a dark, narrow staircase awaited me. The humid breeze had now turned into a strong flow of warm, humid air. For a reason unbeknownst to me, I decided to descend. The repeating, monotone visuals ahead of me combined with that awful airflow made the experience harrowing. After walking for what seemed like hours deeply into the hillock below, I found a small arched wooden door, littered with unknown symbols which inspired dread, and horror emanating from every crack in the old, dried out wood. I pulled on the large ring attached to the eldritch door, and it opened unwillingly as if a vacuum was pulling it back. The space that opened itself behind that horrific door was black as can be, not able to be lit by any source of light beside the very sun. The lamp I carried only illuminated some five yards in front of me, which made the area feel absolutely vast.

I walked over what seemed like a cobbled road, surrounded by a dirt like substance which was through and through moist, as I felt when I accidentally stepped off the stones. The path was lined by ritualistic altars and pillars rising endlessly towards the impossibly high ceiling, as if the whole place was a temple. As I kept walking, the road broadened and got more and more well-constructed, and more and more decorated with temple-like structures.

After having walked quite a distance, I approached a mound of what looked like dirt in the middle of a circular courtyard. I reached the mound and tried to have a look, but the substance when illuminated remained deeply black, refusing to accept the light radiated onto it to make its structure more apparent. The more I examined the substance, the more the smell overwhelmed me; I felt the corruption entering my lungs and veins, and spreading through my body. I walked back from the mound, only to see a bright spec in the colour that appeared to have come straight from oblivion. I reached to grab it, face covered with the collar of my wool sweater to keep out the penetrating air, and got hold of it. What I found was harrowing, and the visuals have never left me since. The object was heavy, and I had to pull it with all my weight to get it out of the repulsive pile, and the more it got itself out of the pile, the more it showed itself to be a body of a man; decaying and filled through and through with blackness. His face looked horrified and radiated panic and terror and he was clothed in ritual clothing. The remaining veins were like rubber, stiff and malleable; filled with the same corruption that surrounded it and was now in my body.

I finally recognised the clothing and the horrid symbols as ones I found on one of my travels. Once I went with a friend to a city somewhere in middle Europe, where we went to examine the architecture as it was unlike any other, yet very familiar to me; it was the same architecture as the house where I live. Together we accompanied a guided tour through an underground temple of an old died out cult, we followed the tour as the temple was considered dangerous to ones who were unknown to its labyrinthian internals. The guide explained to us that the cult that inhabited the entire city and temple worshipped no god, only a concept: The temple was a temple devoted to death. The dirt which was originally in the temple was mud which was merged with human remains, and it was believed that through the spells and incantations of the cultists, the dirt was highly toxic to those who were not part of the cult. The same deep black dirt I found in my very house. Only the mud in my house was toxic, the place still seemed active. The breeze through the place made clear that there was another entrance into this cursed place, this damned hillock; this deathly temple.

I am writing this, knowing I will die. I will suffer the same fate as my parents, and the other individuals that had the misfortune to cross that harrowing depth. I have commissioned for the house to be destroyed, to seal off that space from all of humanity. I had lived above an active temple, worshipped by cultists of death. May we never come across places similar and substances like those in that horrid depth.

If only I’d never made that harrowing descend.

 

Steven Pinley, Chapter One

A story inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.


I tell you, it was not like anything I’ve experienced before. I’m quite used to unnatural sights, unnameable diseases and horrid disfigurations. The field of biology and being an apprentice biologist has left me many visuals on my retinas, but none like the ones I have experienced with him.

During my education towards becoming a certified biologist, I worked together with a curious man. Steven Pinley was a man of genius. His intellect rose above all peers, he towered over all us students and even over some of our professors. He often went to professors after class to discuss the matter newly learned, ask questions which left professors dumbfounded and often found discrepancies in the lessons. He peeked the interest of many.

Often we sat besides one another, as we took a liking to each other quickly after us meeting. We could talk for hours about the subjects of biology and the theories discussed in the lessons. We could dream of our futures and dreams as biologists, experimenting with instruments most modern on subjects delivered to our operating tables. We could hardly wait, a state of mind and certain motivation which manifested itself quickly.

Pinley was an even-tempered man, he looked composed, well dressed and had a calm collected face only an intellectual can have. His small, peering eyes hid a bright shimmer behind long, dark eyelashes. His slim nose drooped down his face to a small moustache and thin lips. Above his gaze were slim eyebrows and smooth, dark hair. Slim was a word which described him impeccably.

I got used to his punctuality, fifteen minutes early to every class and appointment, and was able to play into it by being early also, which enabled us to have talks before lessons and be seated next to each other, as we got used to. One day, in our fanatic yearnings of our applying of learned information, we conceived a plan. As Pinley was so ahead of our class, and me, being so much next to him, arriving at the same intellectual level, yet always some distance behind him, he noted that we, together, had the required knowledge to start experimenting preemptively. We had had some classes on experimenting and necropsy, and Pinley felt that that experience, together with our books was enough to start some work of our own.

The next weekend we started devising our plan. We thought that a good start would be to find ourselves a remote place to work in peace, without any disturbances. Behind our home town there was the small town of Westhorpe, a settlement of old, which was at one half of the periphery lined with dense woods, with a few land roads cutting through the opaque forestry. The other half was divided into two: one side was a cliff descending into a lake, the other half was a field with more citified roads leading in- and out of Westhorpe, connecting it to the major city of Kingsham, where our university was located.

In the woods there were some old logger’s houses up for rent, which we could afford through our scholarships, provided by our education for our excellent performance in the first year. We devised we’d rent one of the old houses, where we could set up shop and work on our first experiments of our own.

My goal with this plan, a goal Steven did not share with me, was to impress the teachers at the University to receive some royalty to further explore biology of our own. Steven had other ideas, but was never so keen of explaining them to me, even after we had paid our first month rent of the house. We could anonymously buy an old, discarded table from one of the biological institutes connected to the University, and some electrical lamps from an electrical store in Kingsham. With this we could erect a laboratory of our own, and we could light the place for some hours if the sun was low or the leafage was particularly dense. But God! How I curse the day I decided to proceed this plan further than just dreaming of it!

 

Qualm

via Daily Prompt: Qualm

They walked next to each other through the dimly lit street, lined by several shops and houses, as they often have. His eyes drifted from window to window, from shop to shop. Past signs, trees and other people. He looked at their shoes and clothes, hair and faces and all else. He looked at everything, except for her.

She could not place his expression, he seemed upset yet content. Usually, after all this time together, they held hands while walking through the streets, especially streets they were as familiar with as this street. Except for today. His hands were firmly embedded in the pockets of his overcoat, as they have been all day.

He seemed angry, angry at her. Whenever she asked what was wrong he answered concisely that nothing was wrong, and had a face as if even he did not want to admit his anger or frustration. The walk through that street usually took ten minutes and felt like that too, yet this time it felt endless for her.

As they got nearer to their one-bedroom studio her qualms grew and grew, ever more anxious and worried about his disposition today. The day at home grew slowly over into the evening, and neither seemed to end.

As they went to bed, she was as anxious as she’s ever been. Has he’s stopped loving me? she wondered more and more. As the city closed it’s bright eyes they laid down in the double bed they bought together many moons ago, and shut off the lights. She could not sleep, she was sweating from stress and could not relax in any sense of the word. He body was tense and her mind cluttered for what seemed like forever.

‘I’m sorry’ she heard softly at night. ‘I haven’t been feeling well today. I think I’ll call of work tomorrow, I think I’ve got the flu.’ he said, and kissed her gently on her warm forehead. He laid his head back down on his pillow and went back to sleep.

The contact of him relieved all her qualms and worries, and she felt at rest once again. All that bothered her mind was that she was wondering why she thought in extremes only; he hadn’t stopped loving her, he just wasn’t feeling well.

 

 

 

Author’s notes: This wasn’t my favourite story I ever wrote, but I wanted to try my hand at this type of story. Safe to say that this isn’t my cup of tea, but I still hope you like it!

A sanctuary of tranquillity

He sat there, waiting. He peered into his bag sat next to him, as he took out a single white rose and a photo in a dark, wooden photo frame. He laid the rose on his lap and set the photograph on his knee behind the rose. He looked at it, stroked the right side of glass pane, through which I could not see the photo because of the reflection, with his right thumb and stored the frame carefully with fluid, calm and controlled motions back into his bag.

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He collected the beautiful, thornless rose from his lap and examined it lovingly, looking from at the rose past each immaculate, silky soft, white petal from the outside most petal to end up with his eyes lined up with the heart of the rose, as a man would gaze at a beautiful woman from her toes to the top to end up looking into her beautiful eyes, getting lost in the awe of her glance getting lost in time, and such as that he looked at the eye of the white rose with love. He put the deep green stem of the rose in his bag, flower sticking out and grabbed his newspaper sat on his other side and read it carefully with calm, soothing eyes, his face the whole time emitting a sincere peacefulness which made even the most hurried of commuters in the train station stop for a second to have a look at the man, and have their faces sag down into a calm, relaxed expression with the smallest, content smile painting their faces.

Behind me, when I quickly shot this photo with my Canon camera, the station was crowded with people waiting for the next train, whilst where this entity of calmness was sat alone on a metal 3-person bench. No one came near, as the tranquillity surrounding the man was almost sanctified. Looking at the picture later, not knowing who this man was or where he was going, yet feeling the sense of serenity come over me still soothes me, always. In a train station busy as can be, a sanctuary of security and stillness was. While I got in the train, the man looked at me with glad, shimmering eyes and nodded confidence-inspiringly, then looked with a smooth turn of the head back into his newspaper where his eyes were lost in the words he was reading once again.

 

 

Story inspired by my photo taken at Schiphol Airport with my Canon 350D.

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