Day 7: Phone Call

She waited all night for a phone call that never came.

All day for a message that never arrived.

Her friends told her, ‘Don’t worry about it. He obviously wasn’t interested, I don’t know why you care, he wasn’t even that nice.’

She would agree and nod her head each time they told her. Maybe he wasn’t the best looking, but neither was she. At dinner he had said, ‘I’d love to get to know you better.’ When he put her into the taxi (like a gentleman) he told her, ‘I’ll call you.’

Stupid, she thought, I’ve just been really stupid.

So she moved on, or rather she forced herself to stop looking at the phone, told her friends she didn’t care anymore. Saturday nights were reserved for friends or movie nights on the couch. This was a good thing, some time to herself.

‘Hello?’

‘Hi! I’m sorry it’s been a while. You really won’t believe the story!’

Just like that she was back tot he day after the date. Then, she was at the day before the second date. Then the say of the engagement. Suddenly, without knowing how, she was lying in bed the day after the wedding.

So he didn’t phone straight away, she thought to herself, at least he bothered to ring at all. She smiled at him and decided it was better the way it happened. Now she had a story to tell.

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Day 7: Phone Call

Day 5: Pet

Nicole had gotten Marcy for Christmas. She had was a tiny golden cocker spaniel, with ears too big for her head and a tail that moved a mile a minute. The moment Nicole opened the large cardboard box she had been in love. Marcy was everything you could want in a dog; intelligent, brave and playful. Nicole spent hours training her, trying to teach her to ‘Sit!’, ‘Stay!’ and ‘Play Dead!’

‘Bang!’ Nicole pretended to shoot at Marcy, who dropped to the floor and rolled onto her back, tongue lolling out. The only thing that ruined the illusion was the wagging tail.

Nicole taught her all sorts of tricks, and she wasn’t ashamed to say that Marcy was her best friend. Years later when Nicole had to move away for university she cried. Marcy cried too, her parents told her, every night for several days. Every holiday Nicole would come back and spend all her time making it up to Marcy. Sometimes, even though she wasn’t allowed, her parents would sneak Marcy into her dorm room. Her housemates would spoilt the little golden dog, feeding her biscuits when Nicole wasn’t looking. Marcy loved every second of it.

What she loved even more was when Nicole moved into her own home in second year and Marcy was finally allowed to join her. To Nicole it made all the difference, having her furry friend to help ease the stress of exams. Her classmates even encouraged her to bring Marcy to study sessions or would come around to Nicole’s house for a good long cuddle.

After university Marcy moved with Nicole again, this time to a new job with longer hours. But every night they would go for a long walk and then play or cuddle. Marcy liked this life, just the two of them together. Yet, even this didn’t last for soon she was introduced to Josh. Marcy didn’t like Josh.

To Nicole it seemed like Marcy just didn’t like the new guy in her life. Maybe it was jealousy of her time or that Josh got Marcy’s spot on the couch. Nicole just didn’t know, but when it came down to Josh or Marcy there was no choice to make. Josh left rather quickly.

Marcy liked Michael. She even came to him for snacks or to hide behind him when Nicole was telling her off. Marcy was getting old now, so more and more she was putting her trust into Michael to look after Nicole. She knew she had chosen right when Michael found a golden ring the same shade as Marcy’s fur.

Nicole knew as she watched Marcy huff as she climbed up onto Michael’s knee that Marcy had given her blessing, and that was all Nicole needed.

Day 5: Pet

Day 3: Fire

Hell was always warm. It was a fact. Just the way things were done. Demons compared it to human sayings like, ‘The sky is blue.’ or ‘Water is wet.’ One of those things that everyone notices but no one comments on. They only strange thing about Hell being warm was that there was no visible sign of how the heat was generated; no radiators or fires, no electricity or some kind of friction. In fact considering the damp stone walls that made up every room, and the deep cavernous depths that housed the condemned souls Hell should have been positively arctic (another human saying meaning very cold).

The only fire in the entirety of Hell was in Lucifer’s throne room. And boy, was it big. The fireplace itself took up the entirety of the wall on the right, there were two mantle pieces. The first one was at just the right height for Lucifer to rest his arm on it. In reality it was nothing more than a decorative shelf spanning the front of the fireplace, but no one pointed that out. He had placed a large clock in the centre and had put pictures of Persephone, his late wife, on one side and Methalis, his son on the other. Ceris, his daughter, was very carefully missing from every photo. During the festive season he decorated it with glittered twigs and stolen angel feathers.

The real mantle piece stood some 12 feet higher, only a little taller than the flames could reach. it was cared from a black marble with red veins, and had faces twisted in agony carved into it, matched with writhing bodies and demons with sharp implements and realistic flames. Lucifer liked to brag that this father had carved it himself, making it a family heirloom to passed through the generations of the rulers of Hell. However Ceris had found a receipt from a marble carver in Greece. The poor human had then checked himself into a hospital for the mentally ill and Ceris had decided it was best not to tell Lucifer, lest he get it into his head to visit the poor man.

Anyway, humans had once theorised that Hell was so warm because each level brought you closer to the centre of the Earth. They thought that the heat from the molten core rose straight through Hell, burning the souls of the damned as it passed. This was a very good theory, and indeed it was wonderfully dramatic. Methalis was very sure that should his father ever hear of this the next time he visited Hell would be lit by an eerie red light, have towering pillars of steam and random bursts of fire, all topped off with the smell of singed hair. It was, then, very understandable why Methalis and Ceris had gone to great lengths to ensure that Lucifer never even heard of the human called Dante, never mind had the opportunity to read his works.

The truth was that while Hell was very warm, it just so happened that it could get chilly too, especially when it’s half 3 in the morning and you get out of bed to go to the toilet. Simply because it is a universal rule that everywhere is cold at half 3 in the morning as by then the heating has turned off, as it does in every house. For while Hell was in it’s own special dimension and it served as a rather unique purpose to very naughty humans and their eternal souls, it was nothing more than a house. it just so happened to have a very large fireplace and a bad reputation.

Day 3: Fire

Day 2: Resolution

She had been working on it for weeks; planning, rewriting, reshaping until finally it was ready. A single piece of paper, plain white, no lines or marks except from the neat black of her pen. it was her secret wish.

With an almost reverent manner, she folded it carefully until it was a small square. then she tucked it into her money box. It was the first thing she had ever put in it. Soon, there would be a collection of notes and noisy coins. But for now, it was just the lonely square of paper.

By this time next year it would be full. this time next year she would be realising her dreams. then there would be no one to stop her, and nothing to get in her way. This was the promise she was making to herself.

That tiny piece of paper held her fondest dream. Every day she added something to the money box. Every day until one day when she didn’t come home at all.

Weeks later her mother found the money box, and she took it to the living room, and added to it every day. She thought nothing about it, had no idea about the little square of paper sitting at the bottom. To her it was nothing more than a precious reminder. Soon the money box was full, and her mother had to open it. Out fell coins, notes and a single square of white paper.

Her fondest dream, never realised.

Day 2: Resolution

Persephone: Hades meets Death

“I want block three cleared this afternoon, there’s a midnight rush coming in from a shipwreck! Someone get those children a room! Midred! What are you doing? Tortured goes to level 7! Is anyone reading the map?! I made it big enough for you all! Come on people we haven’t got all decade! I want to see movement!”

Hades yells filled the main chamber, clambering to be heard over the pounding of footsteps and the volume of voices. There were wails of children, shouting of men, arguments and consolations. The God was stood on top of a fine wooden desk, the likes of which had yet to be made, a long scroll was in his hands and his suit looked rumpled and distressed. Lower spirits rushed around him, formed out of grey and black smoke, they were distinct shadows in the gloom of the underworld. Hades lifted his scroll to one of the few candles lining the hall, squinting at it as he tried to place the next group.

Across the hall a commotion began as a group of shining new silver spirits tried to enter, only to bump into the queue of spirits waiting to be sorted. A dozen lines like this were dotted all around, a desk at the front of each one where two or three harried black spirits were double checking names and sending the spirits in different directions. There were several portals, filled with a black smoke that the sorted spirits were being sent though (or pushed), these led to the Levels. Each one was different type of afterlife, some for the good and some for the bad.

Into this mess stepped a black robed figure. It was the only solid creature in the underworld apart from Hades and its very presence created a rush of silence. Every eye was looking at it. Even Hades lowered his scroll. There was a sense of wrongness, a feeling like you had gotten an A on an exam when you hadn’t learnt the subject of. The feeling of cheating, or being cheated. Escaping a tiger only to find yourself facing a lion. And it was hungry.

“Who are you?” He asked.

‘We should talk in private,’ there was no voice, only the suggestion of one, a whisper of movement from under the hood. All eyes turned to Hades. The god glanced around, and seeing no help would come began the process of clambering down from his desk.

“Right, er, come this way then. What are you looking at! Get to work! Midnight shipwreck remember!” He yelled, pushing his way through the crowd to a small plain black door at the back. Instantly the noise began again. Some other spirit clambered onto the desk, picked up the scroll and began loudly directing everyone.

Hades slammed the door behind them, cutting the noise off. The small room they were in was a very untidy office. A far plainer desk was sat facing the door, the chair behind obscured by mountains of paper work and hundreds of files. Two high backed wooden chairs sat in front, but they too had fallen victim to the onslaught of filing. The walls were a bare brown stone, the floor carpeted with only a threadbare rug. Though a fire was lit on one side, the room was still dark. Hades quickly shoved the paper onto the floor and gestures for the creature to sit. As it did, politely folding it’s sleeves on its lap, Hades rushed around lighting candles with a match from the fire.

“Sorry about the light, one of the main problems of living underground. I’m thinking of getting some skylights in. Don’t know how I’ll do it but I’m assured they’re all the rage in the future.” He chattered nervously. Once he was finished the creature raised its arms, allowing it’s sleeves to drop down and reveal skeleton hands, then it dropped it’s hood.

Hades let out a little scream.

‘I assure you Lord Hades, I mean you no harm.’ It said, or seemed to say.

“Oh no, I’m sure you don’t. Just quite a dramatic reveal,” He laughed nervously, “You must be Death, or Lord Death? Sir Death? Do you have a title?”

‘No, Lord Hades, I am simply Death.’ An involuntary shiver ran down Hades back.

“Right, right, of course, I don’t suppose you get many people who grant you titles just before they die.” Somewhere inside Hades brain a little voice was telling him to shut up before it made him sound any stupider.

‘Oh, some try. They seem to believe if they bribe me they may live longer.’

“Don’t suppose it works?”

‘I have no use for titles, Lord Hades. I tend to get recognised wherever I go.’

“Right, right, yes of course. So if I’m not dead why are you here?”

‘You created spirits that guide souls to the afterlife.’

“Yessss,” Hades nodded, “They help control the flow of traffic. Otherwise they all come in through the front door.”

‘My point is, that before your father granted you a realm, none of this existed. I did the job you now do.’

“Oh.” Hades wrung his hands in a nervous gesture. “I suppose this is the part where you tell me to get out and get my own job?”

‘Oh not at all Lord Hades, in fact, I’d like to train your spirits to do my job.’

“You’d what?”

‘You see, Death is immortal, yes. But I do like a break, and your spirits have given me the change to have the first break in millennia. All I have to do it go and cut the thread as it is. Your spirits do all the rest of the work. So I’d like to take some of your spirits and teach them how to cut the thread too.’

“Right. So they’d be training to be death. Deaths in training.”

‘Well, you’ve already called them reapers. And what to reapers do but cut the stem of corn, much like cutting the thread of life.’

Hades nodded for a moment, lost in thought. Death sat patiently, a still form in a room of darkness. Finally Hades seemed to come to a conclusion.

“Well Death, sir, I mean, yes. Yes, I agree for you to take control of however many reapers you would like to serve under you and fulfil your purpose. With the agreement that the souls will be sent to the underworld to be sorted for their afterlife’s properly. “

‘Unless one is suited for reaping.’

“Really a human soul?”

‘It has been known to happen, on occasion.’

“Alright, accepted.” Hades stuck out his hand and had the privilege of being the first creature to shake hands with Death. It was a horrific feeling, especially when the bones moved.

Death left the way he came, another rush of silence filling the hall. Hades slumped against the wall. It had been an interesting morning, that was for sure. Sadly though, his peace was not to last. For the next day he received another unwelcome visitor. This time a messenger from Zeus. He had been summoned to Mount Olympus.

Persephone: Hades meets Death

Z is for Zebu

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Well, I didn’t make the deadline, and I’m posting on a sunday. But at least I’ve wrote it and at least I can say, “I finished!”

This is the final instalment of the A to Z blogging challenge. More information can be found here.

He had grown around the animals, a fact of life as common as a dog or a cat in any other family. But to others they were wild creatures, to some they were no more than a cow, and to another group they were holy. All his life had been spent with the animals, his father had them on his land and now he had them on his own.

So you can imagine his surprise when a man knocked at his door in a business suit, with a lanyard around his neck and a letter that told him he was no longer allowed to keep his animals.

“I’m sorry sir,” the man had said, “new government decree. They’re going extinct in the wild, and this is their way of saving the animals.”

“I don’t understand. The land where the wild Zebu’s live is miles away! Most of it was cut down for that new building project, where will they live?”

“That’s not for you to worry about, sir.”

“It damn well is!” he had replied, “These are my animals! They’ve been in my family for generations. I was there when they were calves and I’m gonna be there this spring when the new mothers have their calves.”

“I’m sorry sir,” the man repeated, “government decree. They’ll be gone by the end of the month.”

It had taken all of his will power not to slam the door in the man’s face. Instead he took the letter and immediately went to his computer. Surely he had rights? These animals were a part of his farm, they were part of his livelihood.

It took him nearly all month, even with help from his family, to get the evidence he needed. When the truck pulled into his farm he was ready. In one hand he had the original letter, in the other he had a folder, full of information and evidence. And by his side stood his lawyer.

He wasn’t going down without a fight.

These were his animals, and they depended on him.

They were his Zebu, and he was their farmer.

Z is for Zebu

Y is for Yak

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The penultimate A to Z blog entry! This has been written for part of the A to Z April blogging challenge, if you’re only just hearing about it please visit their website to find out more!

The snow had fallen deeply this year. It filled the fields below and covered every mountain path. It was only through instinct and ingrained knowledge of the hills around that the heard was still trudging safely through the region.

Leading the heard were the older yak, mothers and grandmothers that had grown into their leadership roles. Their horns had grown long and sharp, with them they sliced through the snow drifts, clearing the path for the others. Far behind, at the back, were the young ones, still in their first years their horns were small and soft. They each nudged each other, shuffling and murmuring.

One in particular surged forward, driving their horns into the snow. It wiggled for a second, its hooves digging in. It was stuck.

“Maaa! Jebs is stuck!” called one of the yaks watching the struggling Jebs. There was a sigh from further in front. One of the Yaks at the back of the group turned around heading straight for the squirming kid.

“Jebs! How many times have I told you not to try this until you’re Merta’s age?” she asked. Her hooves dug into the trampled snow, and with a mighty shove pushed him free of the snow.

“Yeah Jebs! You’re too young!” trumpeted Merta, she danced circles around him laughing. The baby yaks behind laughed with her. It took only a second but with a good push Jebs saw to it that Merta was introduced to a snow float bottom first. The others laughed all the louder as she struggled to push herself back up. Their mother tutted, helping her to stand.

“Merta,” she chided, “what have I told you about teasing your brother? And Jebs, no pushing!” She stood them side by side and made them march in front of her. The others continued to frolic behind, carefree until their mothers came for them too.

Y is for Yak