Today’s writing prompt and my response.
Day three of this week’s challenge.
Eve’s narrow hall, with its bright runner, untidy bookcase, and modern prints lining the tasteful cream walls, had gone. As had the floor beneath her shaking legs. Eve stood on a rocky ledge within a wide, grey stone tunnel. A rush torch blazed in a brazier to one side, but that wasn’t the main source of the dim light.
The tunnel opened into a cavern hung with glittering stalactites from which – and this was the primary cause of Eve’s scream – the huge head of an old man peered, bemused, at Eve.
He might have been Father Christmas except he didn’t look too jolly, and on his wrinkled bald head he wore a golden circlet ringed with jester’s peaks and bells.
The mad dwarven king. Eve knew him immediately because he was in the game she was working on, the one with the glitch she’d only half resolved. She’d found him buried deep in the software, had thought him charming and set him aside to decide what role he would play.
Now he was in what used to be Eve’s kitchen. She stepped back, eyeing him. Behind her, the door, the noise of the storm, had disappeared into endless blackness. Eve drew a long, deep breath, held it, closed her eyes, and exhaled. She’d fallen asleep … this was a dream …
‘Eve, Eve … are you there?’ The words came faintly, interrupted.
She jumped, realised she had her phone in her hand and someone was talking. The incongruity of the phone in this place solidified her view she was dreaming.
Still watching the dwarven king, Eve lifted the phone to her ear. ‘Hello?’ Nothing. How was there even a signal, albeit a poor one? ‘Hello?’
‘Oh, thank God … It’s Colin, from work, I need to warn you … what was that scream? … Eve? Are you okay?’
‘Colin? Ah, yes, Colin. Why are you in my dream?’
‘Dream? What’s happened?’ The tension in his voice frightened Eve more than the sight of her transformed hall and the giant head gazing at her. ‘It is a dream, yes?’ she whispered.
‘No, Eve … Whatever’s … going on, you’re very much awake. I’m sorry.’
‘The dwarven king is in my hall.’ She sounded crazy. ‘Except it isn’t a hall, it’s a cavern.’
‘Just the dwarven king?’ Colin was crazy too it seemed. ‘Not the knights?’
In the glittering cave, the dwarven king shook his great head and growled like a restrained Rottweiler facing a burglar.
Eve’s mind flipped back to the moment Colin had peered, frowning, at her screen. Where the black and silver knights were refusing to submit to her code, and fight.
‘Want to tell me what’s going on?’ she said.
‘The knights – you mustn’t–’ The signal died.
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4 thoughts on “Day three is a picture prompt”
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 price 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.
Naughty old man!
Dwarven king, knights…Is it fantasy run riot in the suburbs (ha! ha!)
I love a bit of fantasy, so yes!