Peace Undone

There once was a girl named Piper who was by no stretch of the imagination an innocent child. No one was safe from her mind of traps and mazes or her hands of mischief and chaos. Many were her friends but it seemed few were willing to go against her. Piper’s eyes were dark green pools of wonder and stardust as she perched on her tree in the park. There was no rhyme or reason as to why it was ‘her’ tree, but she didn’t need one.

Piper swung her legs lazily from the branch until she burst out laughing. A few yards away, her friends, Opal and Willow had just been covered in a bucket of honey and feathers while butterflies were swarming around them. It seemed to be Piper’s supernatural power to bring strange events to anyone on the whim. A low whine was heard from below her, it was her dog, Trent.

Not even he was safe from her. Bubblegum, a razor, bees, lemon juice, and stickers were war wounds of Piper’s younger days. For now, while Piper sat above to spot her next victim, the little brown retriever mix was safe from his owner. Piper, meanwhile, twirled her blue hair out of her eyes as she grinned at a young couple.

Mr. and Mrs. Joules. Piper snorted as the memory of her last prank them flew clear in her mind. It was a grand occasion. Their car was switched, reservation made at the wrong place and she had even managed to confuse them on their own attire. It seemed to Piper that in order for the mischief to be more rewarding, you had to make it more complex for the older generations.

A wicked smile tugged at Piper’s lips as she saw more and more people she knew came to the park. They stayed far from her, for they could see the rope and slingshot she had in her hands. A more general prank was that of shooting little items at passerby while sitting in her perch. Poor Trent would bark to warn them, but often times it was thought he was barking at the squirrels in the trees or birds in the air.

Alas, it was coming to the evening time, when Piper’s troubled parents would come to get here and nearly drag her home. This was a great relief to many and a great annoyance to Piper. However, her thirst for the chaos would be quenched when she saw a new face. With a quick movement, she hid among the leaves and the face came closer. Closer. Closer to her tree and knelt down to greet Trent. The dog whimpered and barked, trying to alert the unknowing stranger of the chambered slingshot above. TWANG.

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Silence can’t Speak

Briana was quietly sitting with her back to the wall. Her bed squeaked as she shifted herself closer to the window that spread light gently over her clean floor. All was quiet, so quiet Briana could hear her tiny thoughts whiz past her mind’s eyes and come into fruition. It wasn’t painful, but it was somehow heavy to her. I need to keep away from those thoughts.

So, she turned to her windowsill and picked up a small box and bottle. She sat back down with a loud squeak coming from the bedsprings, laying the items before her. To fill the void in her care room, she eagerly turned the small crank on the bottom of the box and opened the lid. A little ballerina, white as snow and with a painted smile, began to dance to the gentle tune as it softly eased into the air. Briana sighed in relief before her eyes turned to the bottle.

It was a medicine bottle, almost empty except for maybe one or two pills, three if your ear was star enough to discern the sound. It wasn’t hers though, it belonged to Briana’s older brother who needed them. Brian had found it hidden in her room, just by her bookshelf at her door. It had been left there by her younger sister, who was a prankster at heart and loved to get Briana in trouble for it. It’s not right but…what should I do? Before, Briana’s tender heart had not the understanding that it was wrong for her to keep silent and take everything in stride, but now she felt an urge something must be done.

Briana picked the bottle, carefully and tenderly like she was handling a glass figure. The time was ticking on her, her brother would need these soon but what would happen? Would she get in trouble again and be punished? Yet what other option was there? Briana felt some unknown emotion fill her soul as the music filled her ears. I’m…afraid? No, not that, it’s different. Suddenly, pain shot through her lip and she flinched. She hadn’t realized she was biting her lip out of nervous habit while the music played and her mind wandered.

She sighed again, something had to be done about this, and she didn’t know what. Well, I might as well take them back. Briana came to a silent conclusion as the music box continued to play its song. The song caused Briana to stare at it as it stopped. It was a hopeful song, stirring up powerful and strong emotions that left Briana puzzled every time she listened to it. It had a certain spell to it that she had yet to uncover. Just as she stood up from her bed, however, her door was opened and her brother, sister, and mother entered the room.

“Mama! I’m telling you, Briana was the one that snuck the bottle out of Zach’s room!!” “Mama, I’m starting to doubt Annabelle’s statement about this, Briana was in her room the whole afternoon.” Briana blinked, surprised at both the sudden intrusion but also her brother’s defense of her. Their mother, eyeing both her children, then turned her gaze to Briana. “Briana,” “Uhh, yes ma’am?” “Did you take Zachery’s medicine out of his room?”

That question. It held so much weight on Briana’s slim shoulders she felt her might break. That and her sister’s smug gaze that challenged her to say otherwise. Briana swallowed while holding the bottle in her hands. Her eyes, glassy and clear, were drawn to the music box that still played and let its ballerina danced across its set stage. What do I do? Answer the same as always. No, but how can I get free of this feeling? Like that dancer, she never has a wrong step and she…stands tall. Like the song, she’s not quiet. So, do I say the truth, that I didn’t do it? The option for silence seemed to disappear before Briana, a new and foreign thought coming to fruition. “No, I did not. Annabelle must have taken it before sneaking it on my bookshelf by cracking my door open slightly.” Briana spoke softly, but loudly enough to stand her ground.

Her mother nodded before turning to Annabelle with a stern look. “By your reaction, it must be true, isn’t it?” Annabelle flinched at her mother’s harsh tone, taken aback by Briana’s stand against her. “B-but!” “No buts, young lady. You’re coming to the office with me.” Their mother grabbed Annabelle’s hand and left her room. Briana exhaled like a heavy weight like was off of her heart before turning to Zachery. “Zach, why did you doubt Annabelle?” The question spilled from her lips as she handed him the medicine bottle. He took it from her hands before kneeling down to her eye level. “Because I did see her take it and I wanted to see if my suspicion was correct.”

Briana frowned. “What suspicion is that?” Zachery chuckled before patting her head. “That Annabelle was being a little liar and you were taking the brunt of her pranks and deceits. I think there will be justice now.” Briana’s eyes went wide before she finally smiled. “Thank you, Zachery.” Her brother smiled back, happy that his sister had learned to stand up for herself.

Blackberry Tart. 4 (fin)

Cronan pulled his hoodie tighter around his shivering body as the train chugged forward at a rapid pace. The rain fell no less harder then it had before, but he could tell them were slowly pulling away from the grip of the storm. Pulling away to a safe haven.

Finally, a breath of real air for once away from the eye. Cronan averted his gaze to check on his little brother. Artel was nose deep in a book he had packed in his parcel while clutching his blanket. Emotionally, to want Cronan could tell, he was calm and happy to see his grandparents. He seemed pretty excited for the surprise when he said goodbyes to Herne and Assane.

Cronan smiled a bit while shaking his head. They had left in the wee hours of the morn’ and it took about an hour of driving to the train station. Now it was going to be about 2 hours of train riding and then about 25 minutes of driving again before reaching their grandparents farm. Cronan almost groaned at how long the day would be, but it was better then sitting amidst a storm.

“Hey Cronan,” Artk raised his head to see his older brother, “Do you think Grandpops and Grandmum know about the monsters that make Mum and Daddy fight?” Cronan bit his lip before rubbed his brother’s head. “I don’t know, but I’ll ask. So don’t you worry ya wee laddie. You’re big brother will take care of it for good and you crack on have fun.”

Artek shivered a bit, unsure if it was from the draft or Cronan’s voice, but he nodded anyway. “Ok! I bet they’ll be super surprised to see us.” He flashed a huge grin. Cronan nodded. “They sure will.” He sighed a bit before his mind wandered backwards in time to when they were leaving…

”Master Cronan.” Herne caught Cronan’s attention with his sudden concerned tone. In his white gloved hands he held two parchment envelopes. Cronan frowned before silently asking what they were. “The Head Masters wished for you have these, I believe they are letters of apology. However, that is not my business to know.” he said that, but Cronan noticed a worried twinkle in the butler’s eyes.

Assene handed Artek a big basket that the small boy almost couldn’t carry. “Now this parcel should last ‘ou both t’il you get their cottage. So be careful how much ye eat.” Assene shook her finger at both boys in a warning manner, to which they both nodded fervently.

Artek tugged on his brother’s pant legs. “We should go! I don’t wanna miss the train and have them expect us!” Conan nodded absentmindedly. They wouldn’t know we were coming anyway Artek. “Fine fine, says ye’r goodbyes then.” Artel nodded with shining eyes and hugged Assene’s legs and then Herne. “We’ll be back!”

Cronan was not one for goodbyes so he merely nodded to them both. Herne and Assene smiled and waved as they jumped in the buggy. “Hyah!” The horses nickered at the jolt and trotted off. Artel giggled, delira and excira about the trip, bouncing in the buggy’s back while Cronan drove. He could feel the sudden weight of those letters in his pocket.

Later…..read them later. They didn’t see us off. Does not surprise me, them dossers. Tryin’ to change me and keep Artek up in their fantasy world. That ain’t happenin’, not with me ‘round. He griped the reins tighter and urged the horses faster. He didn’t even give a gander, he just kept his face forward….

“Cronan!” He turned away from is memories to see Artek pulled on his sleeve. “We’ve arrived! Come on lets go!” Artek kept pulling on him even after they had got off and enter a truck that their father often left there. Artel bounced in his seat, clutching his blanket and gazing eagerly out the dusty windows to see their grandparent’s home.

The ride was silent, besides Artek randoms noises as he went off in his fantasy adventures in his child’s mind. Cronan kept his mind forward, on his own journey only his was cold and dark. he hoped he would be able to speak with Grandpops once they arrived.

A time later on, they both spotted the little country cottage, which sat in the middle of a honest farm.There were fields stretching over great distances, their mosaic marked further by the picket fences around them. All around horses and deer slept and loitered in the isolated pastures, and right in the center of the fields ran a dusty, gravel road. The road ended at a quiet cottage covered in vines and wall shrubs.

The cottage was very old, and it showed to the boys’ eyes. A chicken coop stood next to the house, farm machinery was scattered all around the courtyard, and a small shed with all sorts of small projects and inventions stood lost in a corner. The farm had a comfy feel to it, much of this was thanks to the smells of ripe fruits carried by the wind, and the sounds of birds chirping in the trees.

Artek giggled in excitement as Cronan allowed a small grin crawl onto his lips. He drove the truck up further the gravel road until he stopped it just outside the front picket gate. Artek practically jumped out of the car and dived between the wooden beams of the gate. Cronan rolled his eyes in annoyance once Artek barely got through. “Don’t try anything weird al’ight?”

His little brother nodded, his fluffy reddish-brown hair floppy with the motion. Cronan put dow his hood and walked with his brother to the little wooden door. He raised his hand to knock, but the sound of a deadbolt unlatching stopped him. The door creaked open and deep green orbs meet with kindly, weathered light brown eyes.

Artek ran past the older man and into a room just beyond the end of the entryway. “Grandmum! Surprise!” laughter ensued from the kitchen while Cronan and his grandfather looked at each other quietly. “Well, come on in. I’ll hear what ye hav’ to say.”

Cronan, like a phantom, followed his grandpop in the common room just to the left of the door and leaned on the wall while his grandpop sat down, a bit stiffly, on his chair. “So,” he started as he gazed upon his oldest grandson, “why ye here? not forewarning or letter came. So what happened?”

Conan felt something break inside. Somehow, his grandpop and grandmum were able to see through his dark veil into what he thought. It was one of two times he was vulnerable and now, he could not hold back. He looked out the pale glass window, out into the fields. “A hurricane,” his cold voice cracked out, “It came upon us. Artel could see the monsters around o’r parents.”

Cronan felt his anger resurface, but along with his sadness. He didn’t yell or hit the hall, he merely spoke as he let the tears form. “I told ‘em….we won’t go back…until they fix it. I can’t stand it.” His eyes were watery, but stone cold as he turned his gaze to his elder. His grandpop was watching him while stroking his chin. He knew what was happening and waited patiently for Cronan to finish.

“So….Artek and I came here. I’m not taking him back. It’s not-“ “Not safe anymore eh?” Grandpop rose and walked over to Cronan. “I suppose wi’h how me child had been talkin’ lately I saw this coming.” He laid a steady hand on his grandchild. “You did good, I’ll write to them and you’ll stay here until I receive solid word that the storm has passed.”

Cronan felt the hot tears slip. His expressionless visage change into a grateful smile, lined with respect for his elder. Grandpop merely nodded and urged him to follow him. “Cronan! Grandmum made hagas and her fall pie!!!!” the two entered the happy kitchen where Artek was hugging his ample and smiling grandmum. ‘Come now, sit and eat.”

Cronan and Artek both grinned and sat down eagerly. After Grandpop blessed the food, the boys dug into the food as conversation and laughing ensued. The sky was clearing showing the glories of the setting sun upon them all. Artek felt courage and hope renew themselves as Cronan felt the light shine brighter then before as the brothers were surrounded by loving arms.

 

Blackberry Tart. 3

Assane stopped at Master Cronan’s door and softly knocked. “They bo’th must be tired due to this storm. Herne did say Artek wus a’sleepin’. Poor little child, having to hear the masters like that.” Assane sighed with the tray of their meals in her strong hands. Her long dark brown hair was tied back neatly in tight bun to reveal caring brown eyes. The door slowly opened to reveal Cronan, who apparently just woke up.

“Oh master Cronan, did I wake ye too early?” Assane asked a bit flustered. Conan shook his head and groaned. “Nay, I was just pokin’ the fire to keep it alive when you knocked. Artek is just now waking up.” He nodded at the little boy sitting atop on the bed, rubbing his eyes and clutching his blanket.

Assane smiled. “I brought your supper. I figured you would want to stay in here for…” She looked over at Artek slipping off the bed. Conan nodded and opened the door further for her to enter. She walked in and gently placed the tray on a coffee table close to the hearth. “Now it’s some turkey, spuds, green beans and some tarts for dessert.” Artel lit up at the mention of food and plopped down.

Cronan grinned slightly as Artek blessed the food and began to eat. “Must ‘ave been hungry after your nap.” Assange chuckled, but then gave Cronan a slight serious gaze. “Master Cronan, I’m only going to give my opinion. I don’t believe this home is safe for Artek now. I think you both should take shelter until the storm passes over the master and mistress of this house.”

Cronan looked at Assane with piercing cold eyes. It was rare for her to speak like this, much less to him. Assane did fear him a little, but not enough to never speak what she thought or even advise him at times. Conan stood silent for a moment, mulling over what she meant and what he could do.

“Have a good evening Master Cronan.” Assane crusted slightly and walked out of the room, closing the door with a soft click. Conan remained quiet before joining his brother in dining. Not a safe place for him anymore? Well, it’s not like Mum and dad are doing anything to help us. Cronan remained silent as he ate his food, his mind deep in thought.

“Hey Cronan, doesn’t the food remind you of Grandpop and Grandmum’s cooking? It delicious!” Cronan blinked and stared into the fire. Oh…Assane, you’re slyer then I suspected. Cronan chewed on his turkey before rubbing Artek’s smooth hair. “Say, would you like to visit Grandmum and Grandpop?” Artek smiled wide. “Yeah! A surprise visit! Like bears pouncing on them!”

Artek stood up and pretended he was a grizzly sneaking up on his prey while Cronan, secretly amused, watched with a cool stare. It was worth a chance. Cronan almost wanted to just stay here in the darkness with Artek close to him, but he knew that Artek and even he needed some elder to guide them. Grandpops always did have good talks with me without fearing me. It strange how they accept me nature and yet my out fella and mum don’t. He looked at Artek and stood up. “How about you go pack ye’r parcels. We’ll leave in the morn’.”

Artek blinked at Cronan’s subtly cold voice, but he nodded. “Ok! Grandmum and Pops will be so happy! Thank you Cronan!” He hugged his brother’s legs before running out to his room to prepare. Cronan watched him leave then walked out. Locking his door behind him, his turned his cold eyes towards the hurricane. He strode towards the eye, unafraid of what he was about to do.

The hallway seemed cold, lifeless as the lightning pierced the skies beyond with her crackling fingers. It’s short flash of white caused great, big shadows the line Cronan’s path as he made his way to the room. His parent’s room. He understood it was poor thinking to just up and leave without giving them some light as to why. He liked being sly, but he was not cruel in that manner.

Cronan could hear them before he round the corner to their doors. The black maple doors seemed to image the torrent just behind them. Cronan normally would have been VERY reluctant to do this, but he couldn’t stand it this time. I’m going to talk and they’ll listen this time ‘round. They will know what I see and what they are becoming. He knocked, heavy and hard on the doors.

The howling and wailing stopped short. Steps sounded, coming closer to the door. Cronan noted the door handle jiggle before swinging open. His pine green orbs met with his father’s steely gray-blue eyes. Past him near the fireplace, on the grandfather chair was his mother. Her eyes were downcast and he could see the tears streaks on her face.

“Cronan. What is it that you want?” Cronan merely gave his dad a dead look and brushed past him. He walked closer to his mum before leaning against the mantle just next to the cracking wood. “Cronan, you know I won’t ask twice.” His father’s voice was firm, but no anger was clothed in it. Cronan sighed and spoke. “I’m taking Artek away.”

His mum looked up, alarmed. “What?!? Why?” Cronan clenched his fist and snapped back. “Because you two keep acting the maggot and don’t seem to mind your own kids!” CRACK! The air was stilled as his parents watched their older son stare them down.

His mum, bless her trembling heart, was frightened. Her oldest, Cronan, was never the type to sugar coat anything. His dark tone and deep eyes were mysteries neither she nor her husband could even uncover. This was what drove their fear of him along with he could be unpredictable.

Right now, she and her husband kept their shocked silence before Cronan’s father spoke. “Cronan, Artek doesn’t understand what is happening unlike you. He must st-” BOOM! THUD! They jumped at the thunder and Cronan’s fist driving into the wood. “No! he sees you and he hears ye fightin’. True he doesn’t understand why ye fight, but he sees your monsters.”

Cronan would not budge. He would MAKE them see what they both saw. A fractured picture of what they used to be. “If you don’t see why Artek run in fear to me when you wish to run to you, it’s because he fears ye’r monsters more then me strange darkness.” He stood up straight and started towards the door.

“We won’t be gone for’ever. Only until I hear that you’ve both made amends and this home is whole again. God bless you both, Mother, Father.” Cronan nodded at them both, his eyes showing a kindle of a loving light. It pleaded for them to listen to his words and see their actions through the eyes of an innocent chiseler.

Blackberry Tart. 2

Artek never wanted to run. He hated the feeling of rushing and the fear of what he was running from. It scared him and yet he had to run.The monster were pitting his mum and daddy in a fight again. He could hear their ugly screams and duel-bladed words cut through the peaceful air in his quaint room. The train chugged on and on in circles, going nowhere as he tried to down out their battles.

BOOM! “Ahhh!” Artek dove under his bed, peering out slowly. The rain was pouring down harder as time chugged by him. It was big and scary when the booms and claps rushed by his window. He was scared of them. “Why are Mum and Daddy yelling with the monsters while others run outside?” He asked his train as his eyes looked deep for a safe space.

The train didn’t reply, just merely chugged along in circles, content in the pointless track it trekked. Artek bit his lips before clumsy running to his bed and grabbing his blanket. His security outside of his brother’s strong arms. Cronan, his older brother who preferred some darkness to the light. Mysterious, but protecting. Brave….unlike Artek.

Artek crawled under his bed again and wrapped himself in the blanket covered with trains and tried to summon his tiny bit of courage. He had been told Artek meant ‘bear’ in Celtic and thus he had courage as strong as the bears. “But where is it now? I can’t roar aw-away the monsters…I’m too sm-small.” Artel stuttered.

CRASH! BOOM! Artek screamed and covered his head fully. The thunderings from next door and outside seemed to be louder then before. He trembled in fear, as the monsters grew stronger feeding off the shivers and pained yells from their victims. It was scaring him.

“Think happy thoughts…think of going to the pictures with Mum and Daddy.” Artek used all of his little brain to think of those happier days filled with sunshine and laughter with the smiles of his parents upon him. Even Cronan seemed to flashed a white smile in those times. “Cronan….I need your courage with God’s!”

Artek bolted out. Down the long hallways. Away from the monster’s reach and the silence filled with the echoing chugging of going nowhere. His hazel eyes saw the open door of his brother’s room and stopped. “Big brother….” Artek shook as Cronan rushed to his aid and Artek broke down a spiral of tears until the darkness sung him to sleep with the rain.

Artek felt warm and safe. He was lying in the back field of the manor with Cronan just under the ole mulberry tree. Their mum was in the garden and their oul fella was ticketing with their rundown truck. Artek was looking up into the blooming tree as the breeze whistle gently above them. The sun shone fiercely in the clear azure sky as puffy clouds like cotton candy sailed past.

“Cronan, when will the mulberries come out? I wanna eat some.” Artek frowned at his older brother, who was drawing a graphic pencil scene on his artpad. Cronan cast his deep green eyes on his brother before pulling him into a gentle ‘choke’ hold. “In due time you chiseler! Now stop making a puss and practice your drawings.” Artek laughed and playfully growled at his brother before pouncing on him.

“ I am Artek! The great bear of Ireland and you can’t make me draw!” Artek swung his little fists in weak attempts to punch his brother in the gut. Cronan responded by picking his little brother up and placing him on his shoulders. “Alright then….the drawings can wait O great bear.” A smile graced his face as Artek laughed.

“Careful now Cronan! Don’t drop him and break your legs!” Their mother cried from her work while shaking her head, a small smile on her lips. Their father looked at them and merely shook his head. Artek ruffled Cronan’s hair. “Cronan….do they not trust you to hold me up?”

Cronan looked down and sat down carefully with Artek on his shoulders. “I don’t think it’s that Artek. They just want me to be careful that’s all.” Cronan leaned forward so Artek could slip off and flop into his lap. Cronan then ruffled his little sibling’s reddish hair. “Wanna help me draw the perfect scene with a pencil?” “Yes Cronan!”

Clutching the wee black pencil in his small fingers, Artek set to work on the grass and plants while Cronan drew the sky and forest below. This was how they spent many a days. Simply acting the maggot, drawing pictures, going to the pictures or on rare occasions horse back riding across the moor. They rarely went to town and there were other young adults and children for them to play with, but they lived down far away.

So, it was mainly them two and their parents, when they weren’t busy with working that was. Cronan was only about Artek’s elder by nine or ten years and yet they were as so close it baffled many who saw them. Even their parents were amazed at their close bond, but it alarmed them a little as well.

Artek looked up from his drawing to his brother’s face. The black hair falling over his deep green orbs and his pale skin seemed so mysterious to Artek. He knew his brother liked being in the dark, but it didn’t scare him. However, he softened had to ask Mum and Dad why they seemed so cautious around Cronan. it worried him and he wondered if Cronan knew what they meant by ‘He’s not a good influence sometimes.”

Artek wrapped his hand around Cronan’s finger and buried his face in Cronan’s chest. “I’m not afraid and I think you are very brave Cronan.” Artek whispered. Cronan’s eyes fluttered open at his brother’s whisper. The storm was still hovering over their home as it neared supper time. Cronan looked at his brother’s sleeping face and then down at his hand in the grip of Artek’s fingers.

He smiled, keeping still and letting the rain lull him back to sleep. Now we wait….Assane….please come soon. Lord….hear my plea for help….Give me guidance….

Blackberry Tart. 1

Cronan stared outside. It was damp, cold and dark. The wind wu’thered ‘round the manor, howling like a sick child down one of the many corridors. The massive ceder tree doors swung open to reveal a dark room. The walls depicted a bonfire in the forest and a small village dance around it. A small fireplace stood out from the wall to the left and a window seat was placed right across from the doors.

This was Cronan’s room. It dark and almost dismal with a sliver of light. T’was the way he liked it, it reminded him of his own path. Cronan positioned himself on the window seat, looking out on the moor. The rain beat against the glass, pounding and demanding entrance.

“Dumb storm making a bag an’ shutting us in.” Cronan’s sharp pine green orbs glared out at the natural world. The fire crackled, breathing her fire breath into the dead room. the grandfather clock just down the hall ticked calm away, as if it were sunny instead of stormy just outside the walls of the old manor.

Cronan stared at it. It was a curious clock. Not in make, but in sound. Unlike most that give a gloomy tun when chiming, it sounded more like weddings bells or wind chimes. Calm and refreshing. The clock itself was fresh again the backdrop of the hallway. Landed with fading golf fringe and old oil portraits of long distance relatives of the past or just old paintings.

Just to left of the ol’ clock was some spare rooms, the stairs to the next floor and the doors to the grand library. Towers of books, both classic and modern, created a world where Cronan’s mind and soul could be free. He often would wander there before returning to his dark corner where the shadows caressed him as he traveled far away from his dismal home.

To the right was just another corridor that weaved into another before finally coming the top of the stairs to the first floor. The entryway. It was grand and open and yet today it was cold and lifeless. A crystal chandelier took center stage above the red carpeted stairs, trying to distracting from the cries coming from inside. Pillars framed the carpet until it reached the doors to outside. Outside the pillars were the doors to the dining room, the study, the garden and others.

Lighting flashed across the grey clouds as thunder sounded it’s cry upon the green earth below. “Aye it’s bucketing down, but that’s your fault.” Cronan scoffed. Just below, he could hear them. The thunder tried to cover the screams, but he knew what they were. His parents……once again they were at war. An emotional and phycological war again.

Cronan brushed back his long black bangs out of his smooth face. He hated this. They were stuck inside, safe from the storm, but not safe from the internal storm that rifted the foundation of the family. “Big brother……” Cronan whipped his deep green eyes to meet little hazel orbs filled fear and tears. “Artek! What are you doing?” Cronan rushed to his little brother’s side, getting on his knees and opening his lanky arms.

A bundle of plaid pajamas, a woolen blanket and reddish brown hair threw itself into Cronan’s arms. Water spilled form Artek’s eyes as hiccuping sobs escaped the child’s lips. Cronan ran his hand over his little brother’s shaking back. “It’s ok….it’s just thunder. It won’t harm you….Shhhh” he softly hushed his brother, “I’m right here.”

CRACK! “Ahh!” Artek gripped his brother’s hoodie tighter within his small fingers. “The sky is yelling with them. Is it mad at us too?” His small hazel eyes looked up to Cronan. innocent fear hidden in his face. Cronan looked down, his eyebrow lightly knitted together. How could he answer his four year old brother?

“No, not at us wee lad.” Cronan groaned as he picked up Artek and carried him back to his window seat. “It’s just having it’s normal lash a wee harder then normal.” He paused, unsure what to say about their parents. “Mum and Dad…they just have a complete hames to clean up and they aren’t doin’ it right.” Artek nodded and clutched Cronan as the storm continued.

Cronan jerked awake to the sound of banging on his door. The storm crackled in the sky, the rain pouring more relentlessly then before. Cronan frowned before gently picking up his sleeping brother. “Just keep sleeping, it’s better for you then hearing this.” He placed Artek on his bed before striding over to the door, metaling preparing for the next bomb to drop at his feet.

He stopped at his door. The ornate broken handle seemed to challenge him. Just behind the door was either his Dad or Mum. Cronan wasn’t sure who he wanted it to be or if he wanted it to be anyone at all. Perhaps he imagine the knocking, no. He did hear it and if it sounded again, Artek would awaken and start trembling. He wouldn’t have that.

He griped the handle, cold in his warm fingers and slowly opened the door a crack. He made no facial change, but he was surprised to see who it was. It was neither his Dad or Mum. It was butler, Mr. Herne standing tall in front of the cider doors. Cronan let out a small sigh, which Herne understood to be relief. Herne, with his twinkling brown eyes and ash brown hair, gave a small smile and spoke.

“Sir, your father requested me to find Artek. He went to check on him since there room is quite close his and found him gone. He assumed went into the grand wardrobe downstairs but…” Herne paused. Despite being the butler, Herne was the more authoritative figure to the boys then their father and he knew them better then the oul fella. In Cronan’s opinion anyway and Artek seemed to think that too.

“Artek is in here. He was completely knackered.” Cronan brushed back his black hair and nodded to the sleeping boy on his bed. Herne looked past him and nodded. “Then I will take my leave. And Master Cronan,” Herne stopped Cronan from closing the door to look him in the eye. “I suggest you stay in here t’ill the air clears. I’ll send Assane to bring you both something to eat and drink. Have a good evening sir.” With that, Herne left and Cronan shut the door.

“Thanks Herne.” Conan almost smiled at the butler. Despite his dark personality, both Herne and Assane, the housemaid, understood who he was and didn’t mind. His parents did quite it that way. They were somehow scared and upset at his path and tried to lead Artek down and more controlled and well lit path. But that didn’t stop them from being brothers. Artek seemed to be drawn by his brother’s mysterious and was able to go through the walls Cronan had made, much to their parent’s shock.

Lightening flashed across his windows. Cronan briefly look out before sitting back on his bed. His green eyes stared blankly into the old rug on his wooden forested floor. He felt cold, despite the ambers flaring up their heated fingers upon him. Artek stirred in his sleep, grasping Cronan’s shirt tail tight in his fingers.

Cronan looked fondly at his younger sibling. Artek was pure and innocent in mind, but through his child eyes he could still plainly see the monsters that plagued their home. “I wish I could see them so starkly as you Artek.” He whispered as he laid down, enveloping Artek in his safe arms. Just until Assane comes, let us be in peace. The thunder rolled outside the room as the brothers slipped into dreamless sleep.

Can you hear me?

 

Sarah ran. The bear was less then 30 feet away from her and closing in. This was not what she had wanted to experience when coming on this stupid camping trip. “I just had to throw myself into the great unknown didn’t I?!” She yelled fiercely at no one.

The bear roared, barring its snapping teeth at her and hunger flaring in its eyes. Sarah felt fear rush through her veins and pushed her legs to move more swiftly. She averted her gaze back to the beaten-down path before her. A log appeared right at her feet before she tripped right over it.

“Aggghhhh, why? This is like some messed up, two-cent horror film.” She spat out as she struggled to get up. Sarah looked down and saw blood. “Great…” The bear’s thudding foot falls came closer and resounding in her ears. Sarah tried to ignore the stinging pain of her wound, but it was too late.

The bear was above her. She froze, locking hazel pupils with its black deadly eyes. She watched as it raised its paw and brought it down….

“BUZZ….BUZZ” Sarah jumped. She was panting and sweating in her bed, so overcome with shock from her nightmare. “Curses…..it wasn’t real.” She whipped her thin black hair out her eyes to see more clearly in the darkness.

Her phone was ringing and it was 1 AM. “Who on the North Wind would call me now?” Sarah was annoyed at being awoken at this hour and hoping it wasn’t a scare prank that her boyfriend Zachary was playing on her.

With a groan, Sarah grabbed her phone and tapped the answer button. “Hello?” She heard shuffling and scraping sounds on the other end, like a shovel on leaves and concrete. Shallow breathing came out sharply near the other phone’s speaker. “Purple-”

The line dropped. Sarah frowned. The voice didn’t seem like Zach’s nor did the phone number match his. Now that she was looking, the phone number did seem faintly familiar. But why did she get the call and who was it? Why did they start to say ‘purple’ and what did it mean?

“You know, I’ll figure out tomorrow. I’m too tired and too scared to even think or care right now.” Flopping her black head back onto her pillow, she once more enter into a now dream-less slumber.

Searching

There he stood. Frozen. Still. Never aging. He waits. He knew time would wait, be still and silent until he found the missing piece.

He wasn’t an ordinary boy. He was often told time would never stand still. But Anthony had discovered the truth.

Anthony could make it wait. Time was something he could stop like he could stop like anything else. Anthony at first relish this rare gift he had at any chance that jumped on him.

He could make the perfect prank on his little sister. He could relive the perfect for another moment and freeze the memories. Engraved them upon his beating heart for all time.

But then, he started to feel something…..like it was missing. Anthony didn’t dare tell anyone about his gift, not even his best friend or parents. He was….alone.

It hit him. He didn’t have anyone else to share this gift with. No one would even know he could freeze a second in their lives.

That was more then Anthony could imagine. Being alone, being singled out for something only you have. Time could wait for him, but he would never be able to watch time pass with someone else. Now, that’s all he wished for.

He stopped using it. Anthony decided there was no point in enjoying the gift if he couldn’t share it with someone. So…..he just quit. His friends begin to notice something different about him, his mischievous smile and glint in his eyes didn’t appear so much.

It worried them. “I’m fine. Just some stuff at home that’s all.” Anthony would lie to them. He couldn’t share the burden with them. After school, he walked home with his head down and alone. How was he going to explain to his parents and sister? He knew they would ask at some point in time and he needed an answer.

He sighed, wishing he could just go back. That time would stop and then move on without him. He opened his eyes and looked up. He had done it again. Cars were still on the street and the water from the sprinklers and stopped mid air. Anthony looked away and was about to run when he bumped into something.