As he fell he waited for

Today’s writing prompt and my response.

Day six and the last of this week’s challenge. The story starts here.
As he fell he waited for …

… go to her father’s grave? Colin rubbed his chin, stunned. Exactly like Julie?

Eve lifted her raincoat from her chair and slipped her arms into it.

‘Tonight?’ Colin said.

‘Yes. It’s not far, I’ll take a taxi.’ She nodded at the computer. ‘I’ll come back later, and finish this.’ She gave him a smile he didn’t trust. ‘One way or the other.’

‘I’m coming with you.’ 

Eve shrugged. ‘Fine.’

The cab ride was taken in silence. Colin sensed Eve was coding in her head, working it out. She’d made up her mind, he knew it, but as long as he kept her from a computer, the world was safe for an hour longer.

Old grave yard at night

Eve’s father was buried in a graveyard overlooked by an ancient church. Between the leaning tombstones, uncut grasses bent wetly in the damp air.

The wind had dropped, and a white moon rode the massed thunderclouds above them. Eve, sure footed even in the dark, lead Colin off the narrow, weed-ridden path into an area where the graves were cracked, their stones in many cases lying on the ground, others at precarious angles.

He shone his phone torch here and there. The inscriptions were worn with age, in many cases illegible. Why would Eve’s father be buried here, with the long-forgotten?

‘Hello, Father.’ Eve stood at the foot of a massive stone slab, broken through the middle so that the two halves teetered over whatever was below. The stone was upright, but the epitaph was undecipherable.

Colin stood to Eve’s side, glanced at her sombre face. ‘This is your father’s grave?’

She gave him a sideways look and her eyes were different. Darker, older looking. ‘Yes. You will see.’ Her voice too had changed, its timbre deepening.

The same sense of impending doom which had sent Colin from his home to find Eve before it was too late, filled his gut. ‘Wait.’ He laid a hand on her arm. ‘What’s going on?’

Without taking her attention from the grave, Eve forcibly shrugged off the hand.

‘Father, we’re here again. What would you have me do?’

Colin expected silence, while Eve thought things through. He didn’t expect the form which materialised above the grave. He gasped, his heart thudding. No ghost this, but a solid entity, and one he recognised. Long dark hair to his shoulders, from which hung a deep purple cloak edged with gold and silver tapestry, a crown on his head –  the king from the video game. Terror crawled from Colin’s gut to his throat.

‘My daughter, you know the answer to your question.’ The king reached out a hand bearing rings which glinted in the moonlight. ‘Your sister failed us last time.’ His deep voice carried no emotion. ‘You will not. You must set the knights free.’

‘No!’ Colin rushed at the king, hands flailing ‘It can’t happen! Mankind will die-’

The king caught Colin’s hands, pulled him to his armoured chest. The fractured stone split with a doomsday crack. Colin was held, suspended, above a gaping, black maw.

‘Puny mankind,’ the king boomed.

Colin’s legs were jelly. Cold sweat soaked his coat. Eve gazed at the king, a smile playing on her bloodless lips.

With a jerk, the king released him. Colin’s stomach heaved with fear as he plunged, screaming, into the grave.

As he fell, Colin waited for the moment he would wake, sweating, in his own bed … And waited …until the darkness overcame him.

The end

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2 thoughts on “As he fell he waited for”

  1. Fumbling with the key, she felt for the lock in the dark. Not there – why not, it was supposed to be.
    The real estate agent had told her it would be easy to find, even in the blackness. Tracy reached for her mobile phone and suddenly the door was illuminated. No sign of a lock. Very strange. All houses had front doors with locks – at least in her experience they did.
    Tracy carefully tried the handle. It turned and she gently opened the door to reveal a gloomy interior.
    Her fingers felt for a light switch and encountered something soft and furry. Recoiling in horror, she shone the light to capture a large Huntsman spider scampering up the wall.
    “Don’t know who’s more frightened,” she muttered. “You or me.”
    The house had obviously seen better days, she observed as she moved from room to room. Dust filled the air and dirt clung to the window sills, making it difficult to breathe.
    “It’ll need a decent steam clean before I can live here,” she thought.
    Not the sort of place Tracy would normally consider renting – but rental properties had become extremely scarce and very expensive, particularly after more than two years of the COVID-19 pandemic that had swept the globe.
    “I guess it’ll have to do,” she said out loud to no one in particular as she headed back out the front door – still puzzled at the fact there was no lock.


    They couldn’t be allowed to get away with such sloppy rental management, Tracy thought as she headed back to the temporary home she was sharing with friends.
    “I will confront the agent in the morning and tell her how disgusted I am at the state of the home she sent me to inspect,” she said to Colleen, one of her closest mates since primary school, once she reached the house.
    “It was just yuck! Dirt and dust everywhere – and no lock, even though she gave me a key to the front door.”
    They both agreed it was strange about the absence of a lock and were at a loss to explain why there should then be a key.
    “Must have been a mistake,” Tracy said, another issue to raise with the real estate.
    The next morning Tracy headed to the real estate office and confronted the girl she had met the evening prior.
    “The place you sent me to was absolutely filthy, in need of a solid steam clean – and there was no front door lock,” she said, handing her the key.
    “What do you mean, of course there is a lock,” the girl replied indignantly. “I’ve seen it myself.”
    “Well, it wasn’t there when I arrived last night in the dark,” Tracy responded. “Don’t tell me it just magically disappeared.”
    The agent was dumbstruck. “I don’t believe it. Let’s go see.”
    Tracy reluctantly agreed and accompanied the agent to the house.
    There, as plain as the nose on your face, was the front door lock.
    Unbelievable, thought Tracy. “I don’t understand,” she said out loud.
    “You just didn’t look hard enough,” replied the agent, accusingly.
    When the two girls entered the home, it was spotless – not a speck of dirt or dust anywhere.
    “Bu..but, how can this be?” stammered Tracy. “It was filthy when I saw it.”
    “Perhaps the dark and your mobile phone torch were playing tricks on you,” the agent said patronisingly.
    “Not at all,” said Tracy. “I know what I saw.”


    A few days later and Tracy was busy moving her belongings, which had been in storage while she looked for a place to rent, into her new home.
    The rental negotiations had taken a concerted effort – convincing the real estate agent to lower the price somewhat from the asking figure of $700 a week.
    At first, she was reluctant to budge, arguing that there were plenty of other potential takers if Tracy was not willing to meet the price.
    Another bloody lie, Tracy thought, as she gazed steadfastly at the girl. The place she was after was a little way out of town, bordering a large bushy reserve and not at all in high demand.
    Eventually, she talked the agent down to $600 and the 12-month lease was signed – with the young woman’s simmering anger at her perception of being stone walled still evident.
    Colleen had agreed to help Tracy move and they even talked about the possibility of the two of them sharing the new house.
    It made perfect sense to Tracy since they had always been close and Colleen did not know the other girls at her present address all that well.
    By the time they finished installing all the furniture in the new home, night was falling. The two girls decided a pizza from the nearby shops was an easy meal option and, as they returned to the house, they chatted happily about their decoration plans for their new abode.
    On reaching the front door, Tracy tried to insert the key in the lock – only to find it had once more disappeared.
    “Strange,” she observed to Colleen. “It’s happening again.”
    The two girls cautiously pushed and the door swung open. All was in darkness but they could just make out a small light at the end of the hallway.
    A high-pitched voice reached their ears. “Dirt and dust, dirt and dust. I’ll spread my filth until I bust.” Silence, then a cackling giggle and the rustle of paper.
    “What the hell,” whispered Tracy. “Who is that?”
    “Who’s there?” she called out more loudly.
    Feet scampered across the floorboards and the two girls caught a glimpse of a small, white-bearded old man with a crown perched jauntily on his head disappearing into the dining room.


    With growing trepidation, Tracy and Colleen followed the mysterious figure and turned on the light – only to discover this diminutive, wizened creature crouching in a corner.
    “Who are you?” Tracy demanded loudly. “And what are you doing in our house.”
    The old man drew himself to his full, one-metre height.
    “I am the king of dirt and dust,” he said proudly. “I spread my filth until I bust.” There was that mantra again.
    The two girls looked around the room. The old man had certainly been busy. Dirt was caked on everything visible to the naked eye and dust filled the air to such an extent that both Tracy and Colleen could not stop coughing, their eyes watering profusely.
    “What sort of person does this,” they spluttered, desperately trying to catch their breath.
    “Me,” he said proudly and, with a gleam in his eye, launched into a merry dance, more of a jig really, until he tripped over the bucket unnoticed behind him and fell flat on his face.
    “My God,” the girls exclaimed, as they rushed to drag him to his feet. The old man recovered his composure, at the same time fending of a barrage of questions about why he would want to do this to people who had never done anything to harm him.
    “I was born to spread dirt and dust,” he said. “It’s a family thing. My grandfather did it, my father did it – and now it’s my turn.”
    Tracy couldn’t help but ask. “Have you got any kids?”
    Yes,” he replied. “Fourteen.”
    She gulped. “Are they all like you?”
    “All but the youngest. For some reason, he doesn’t want to do it.”
    Tracy and Colleen were still not convinced about the merits of spreading dirt and dust throughout as many homes as they could collectively manage.
    “I think it’s disgusting,” they echoed together.
    “Ahh! but you have to see it from my point of view,” the old man said. “It’s a great adventure and we have lots of fun doing it.
    “And you have to understand, it doesn’t last. Once I leave the home in which I have been playing, all the dirt and dust comes with me and the house returns to normal.”
    That explained why the property was fine when Tracy returned the following day with the real estate agent.
    “There’s just one other question I have to ask you,” she looked accusingly at the white-bearded face and the old man’s hands began to tremble.


    Tracy guessed the old man knew what was coming next.
    “Are you responsible for the disappearing and reappearing front door lock?”
    His wizened features looked sheepish.
    “Don’t know what you are talking about,” he replied, but his face had turned beetroot.
    “You know perfectly well,” she responded. “Come on, out with it!”
    “It’s a Houdini trick we learned long ago,” the old man confessed. “It usually frightens people off – at least for a while – leaving us free to spread dirt and dust to our heart’s content until we are ready to call it a night, or day, as the case maybe.”
    Both Tracy and Colleen were having none of this.
    “Well, we don’t appreciate your shenaningans,” they said disapprovingly. “And from now on, you can leave our house alone. So, we’d appreciate it if you’d take all this dirt and dust and go and annoy someone else.”
    The old man looked crestfallen.
    “But I love mucking up this house,” he said. “it’s one of my favourites.”
    “Well you can unfavourite it from now on,” Tracy said sternly.
    “I think I might just go and discuss all this with your dad,” he said.
    “You can’t,” said Tracy, “he’s dead – and has been for the past two years.”
    “I know,” said white beard, “but I can still talk to him.”
    “What? Talk to the dead, you mean.”
    “Yep,” the old man and broke into another of his jigs.
    “This I’d like to see.”
    “Fine, come with me to where he is buried and I’ll show you then.”
    Still not convinced, she decided to go to her father’s grave to see what on earth the old man was talking about.


    The graveyard was in total darkness with not even a moon to light the way. Both Tracy and Colleen relied on the light from their mobile phones to pick their way between the gravestones as they followed the old man to where her father was buried.
    In some ways, Tracy was grateful that her father had been laid to rest in the local churchyard and not in a more formal cemetery as they would not have been able to visit at such a late hour.
    A devout member of the local church community, the priest had been more than happy for her father to be buried in the grounds of the building where he had spent so much time in worship.
    It did not take long to reach the grave. All was eerily still – something Tracy imagined would not be uncommon in a graveyard at night.
    The wizened old man paused, then called out in a loud voice.
    “Arise, Fred! Arise from your sleep!”
    Suddenly, a figure appeared in front of them and Tracy almost fainted. It was the spitting image of her father.
    “It can’t be,” she cried out in total shock.
    “Ahh, but it is my dear,” replied the figure who looked no worse for wear despite having spent two years buried in a coffin.
    “I don’t understand,” said Tracy. “How can you be talking when you have been dead all this time?”
    “This old man seems to have a knack of bringing us back,” her father explained. “I doubt he even knows how it is done.”
    “Oh, yes I do,” chipped in white beard. “We’ve been able to do this for generations, with the knowledge always handed down from father to son.”
    “Well, I’m glad you are able to do this,” said Tracy gratefully. “Because I have really missed Dad since he died and it is great to be able to talk to him again.”
    “I’m sure it is,” said the old man. “But I can only keep it going for a short while – and then I’ll have to let him go back into his grave. So, make the most of it while you have the opportunity. “
    Tracy couldn’t stop talking, bring her father up to speed with all that had happened to her in the past two years and how she had finally finished her university degree and had started this great job with huge career prospects.
    She also told him that, although they missed him greatly, her mother and sisters were fine and finally managing to move on with their lives.
    Despite trying desperately to prevent it, Tracy felt the tears well in her eyes and her father moved closer to comfort her.
    The years fell away as she felt his reassuring embrace and heard his soothing words.
    “There now, my angel,” he said. “Everything will be fine – and, if the old man lets you, you’ll be able to visit me from time to time and we can have a good chin wag.”
    The old man was beginning to grow restless and Tracy knew it was time to go as she reluctantly released her father from her embrace.
    He knew what was coming next and, as he fell back into the grave, he waited for that intense cloistered feeling as the coffin lid shut out all sounds of the outside world.
    “Goodbye, my darling girl,” he called out. “Until next we meet – in this life or the next.”

    The end

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