Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Thirteen

Emily lingered in the doorway, watching the crowd surge past. The clamour of their footsteps sounded like a language from a strange world. She saw an old woman fall. No one helped her up. Emily shuddered and shut the door. Her legs shook. She leaned against the wall to steady herself. She remembered as a child, pretending to her friends she knew foreign languages. She had turned the pages of German books and read them stories which weren’t there. She startled. She ran back to the hall and scrambled for a piece of paper. She wrote:

We need to forget words. Then she won’t be able to harm us.

She gave the paper scrap to Jane and watched her pass it round. One of the girls let it fall on the floor.

“How?” someone whispered. Emily looked round. She didn’t know who’d spoken.

Jane took a group to gather up all the books in the school. They emptied shelves and cupboards. One of the girls scratched the woman who tried to take her book. Emily looked away as the woman slapped her. She helped them carry the books into the street. When they were finished, she pressed her face to the window and looked at the piles of books until night smothered her sight. Then she hugged her arms and drifted into the main hall. The women and girls sat in groups. The silence was brittle. She tried not to think of the abandoned books. Jane moved to her side and handed her a piece of paper. Emily read:

Our Lady must need words. Maybe someone who has none could stop her?

Later, as Emily huddled in her bed, she tried to dull the words inside her. She heard footsteps and peered into the blackness. The dormitory smelled of scrubbed fire places. She thought she saw people moving. When she slept, she dreamed of hedgerows and kestrels.

In the morning, she saw four more empty beds. Beth and three of the girls had left in the night.

“Everyone will go to her in the end,” hissed a thin girl, as they walked to the main hall. Emily felt the air tighten.

 

 

If Emily decides to leave London and try to get to the country side go to Chapter Fourteen

If Emily stays and tries to help Jane with her plan go to Chapter Fifteen

 

 

Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Fifteen

In the main hall, Emily forced herself to eat porridge. She looked round at name scraps pinned to dresses and stared at the letters until they just seemed like odd shapes. She tried not to feel the words inside her. She imagined how it would feel to not have them pushing and trying to get out. Across the table, Jane scraped her bowl. Emily wondered if she was right about Our Lady.

As she washed up the bowls in the kitchen, Emily listened to the water to still her thoughts. She tried to shape them into pictures and hold them before they fell back into words. She struggled.

She paced the corridors thinking up stories in pictures. She stayed away from the others. When she felt the pictures wavering, she climbed to the highest window and watched a sky patch. She tried to keep its feeling inside her. The words began to disappear.

Days dragged by. Every morning, the school woke to find more girls and women gone. Emily couldn’t count the remaining girls or read their names. She no longer knew the words. Her thoughts flashed as pictures.

One evening, as she looked out the windows, she saw a tall figure standing in the city dusk. The woman was as pale as skimmed starlight. Emily crept down the hallways and out into the street. Our Lady glided across the path and took Emily’s hand.

“Speak,” she murmured. Her voice was as soft as cloud drift. She ran her cold fingers over Emily’s hair. Her touch was wind shards. Emily chilled but didn’t move. “Speak.” Emily felt her voice sweeping over her, but didn’t understand what she was saying. Our Lady gripped Emily’s face in her hands. “Give me your words,” she hissed. But there were no words inside Emily. Our Lady pressed her ear to Emily’s mouth. “Speak.” Her voice started to thin. Her words raced out hail-fast. Emily shook beneath them. Our Lady fell to the floor. She was still.

Emily glanced up at the school. Jane’s face was at a window. As Emily walked back inside, she felt the rooms trembling with the children’s voices.

 

 

The End

 

 


Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Pigeonholes Magazine, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Three

Emily dug her fingers into her palms as she crept past the school. She held her breath and sank her gaze on the dim pathway ahead. The windows felt like eyes. She pictured classrooms of silent children. She didn’t want them to see her. She felt their gaze might steal her voice. Her body felt stretched with unspoken words. She walked onward. Chimney smoke twisted with bats. Lamp glow fell from high windows. Her feet were sore. She leaned against a wall. Moonlight deepened the silence. She wondered if the city people dreamed of words. The darkness smelled of closed doors. She hugged her arms as she traipsed on through the night winds. She felt she might vanish into the chill hush. She listened to her steps to feel she was still there. She remembered as a child, thinking that night was another country and that while people slept others lived in cities that vanished at sunrise.

She paused by a cathedral. The dome loomed in empty heights. She sat beneath a stone archway. She thought of her old home. Whenever she’d been afraid, she’d huddled in the library. There among the books, she’d sheltered in stories. She closed her eyes and tried to imagine the library warmth. Her hands shook from the cold. She ached to hold her favourite books and be wrapped in the stories she had read over and over. She began to whisper their words to herself. She didn’t want to feel alone. She closed her eyes and listened to her own murmurings. She felt wrapped in stories. She talked and talked.

In the morning, city folk walked by the cathedral. They didn’t stop to glance at her still, cold body.

 

 

The End

 

 


Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Pigeonholes Magazine, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Eight

“I don’t understand,” Emily said. Her voice was dust wisps. Our Lady placed her cool hands on Emily’s shoulders. The crowd was statue still. The world seemed like a carving.

“Speak.” Our Lady’s face was as pale as sucked stars. The words inside Emily seemed like wind swells. She shook. The sky narrowed.

“Why do I feel like this?” she whispered. Our Lady’s hands were on Emily’s face. Emily’s heart was glow and shiver. She gazed at Our Lady. She felt the words spilling from her.

When the words stopped, Emily’s body was laid by a wall. Our Lady swept into the crowd and reached for another girl’s hand.

 

 

The End

 

 


Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Pigeonholes Magazine, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Nineteen

Emily ached to look into her eyes. She took a deep breath and ran. She didn’t look back.

She raced on through the roads. Silence stiffened the city. She tried not to glimpse the bodies laid in gutters. Her legs hurt. She was dull with hunger. She slowed and peered down an alleyway. It smelled of unwashed plates. The gloom looked like it would unfold over the country. She moved onwards. She crumpled beside a corner. Crow shadows sank from the sky. She shook with sobs. She felt her words inside her pushing and scratching to get out. She knew she had to keep them in. Through her tears, the buildings looked like the waves of a stone sea. She rubbed her eyes. She glimpsed light seeping from a window. It looked like blowing sand. She stood. She moved to a window and pressed her face to the glass. It was cold. Dim forms steadied into colours and lines. She saw book shelves. Her heart was fast. She stumbled alongside the wall. She heaved the door open, ran down the corridor and stepped inside a library. She ran her hands on book spines, hurrying through the titles. She remembered, as a child, her father telling her that libraries had many tiny feet and would scutter away if they weren’t wanted. She had paced their library and read out loud to keep it to stay. After her father had died and she’d gone to live with her Aunt, every library she stepped inside seemed like a piece that had broken away from her lost home.

She read. She was warmed by the books. Sometimes, she forgot she wasn’t in her old home. She found food. She buried herself in stories. The words inside her softened and stilled. She didn’t go near the high windows.

 

 

The End

 

 


Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Pigeonholes Magazine, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Eighteen

“Who are you?” Emily whispered. They were walking. She didn’t see the city as it passed. She tried to listen to the lady’s silence. She wanted to catch it before it fell into the city quiet. Streets drifted by. Soon, the palace towered above them in stone heights. They went inside. They wandered through halls of gold and velvet. Marble gleam mingled with the lady’s hush. Emily’s hand was still in her chill grasp. Emily didn’t wonder where the Queen and her family and servants had gone. She felt her words calming. The palace unfolded in grandeur and silence. They sat on silks. Emily felt the lady’s cool hands in her hair. Her words had stopped scratching inside her and pushing to be out. Their jagged shapes were smooth. She rested in the lady’s arms.

By the lady’s side, Emily’s days floated past. She dwelled among jewel glint and candle shadows. Her heart was full of the lady’s silence. The words inside her were stilled. They stood together at the windows, but Emily didn’t see the bodies in the streets below. When the lady ventured from the palace, Emily wrapped herself in silks and waited for her return.

 

 

The End

 

 


Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Pigeonholes Magazine, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Seventeen

They ran. They didn’t look back at Laura and Our Lady. The city blurred with their footsteps. When they stopped, Helena led them down alleyways and past terraces. Emily tried not to think of Laura lying in the streets. She dug her nails into her palms. Her thoughts seemed to scream. They traipsed under bridges and towers. Emily didn’t know if the silence felt like it was falling from the sky or rising from the ground. She tried to smile to comfort the children. They slept in a deserted mansion. In the strange rooms, Emily stayed awake listening to the darkness. They moved on at sunrise. Emily watched the skies for distant birds. She pointed at a kestrel. The streets widened into fields. They went on into the green.

 

 

The End

 

 


Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Pigeonholes Magazine, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Sixteen

Emily ran across the street. She gripped Laura’s shoulder and tried to pull her away, but Our Lady held her tight. Her clasp was like sea depths.
“Speak,” Our Lady’s voice was as soft as sparrow glide. She smiled at Laura. The air was hard.
“Don’t!” Emily cried. She tried to dig her fingers into Our Lady’s hands and pull them off Laura.
“They told me to keep silent, but it hurts,” Laura said. Her words began to rush out of her. Our Lady was icicle calm.
“Stop!” Emily tried to push between them. Laura fell to the ground. She was silent. Emily spun round. She looked into Our Lady’s eyes.
“Speak,” Our lady said. Emily felt her words pouring from her.

 

 

The End

 

 


Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Pigeonholes Magazine, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Fourteen

They sat down at the narrow tables and ate porridge. It tasted of minced buttons. Emily pulled off her name scrap and wrote on the back:

I’m leaving London. Come with me.  

She passed her note round the hall. The hush sparked. A girl with factory-dirt hair grabbed her hand. Her name scrap said ‘Molly’. Emily wanted to tell her about her days in field gold and sky far. Another girl pushed to her side. She was Laura. Her eyes made Emily think of smoke signals. Three more girls crept towards her. Emily wondered if she could keep them safe. She thought of the bodies lying in the streets. She tried to imagine what Our Lady looked like, but could only picture shadow shapes. A broad woman read the note and nodded. Her name was Helena. Suddenly, Jane snatched the note. She shook her head at Emily. She pulled a folded note from her pocket and shoved it at her. Emily had read it the day before:

Our Lady must need words. Maybe someone who has none could stop her?

Emily tried to say sorry with her eyes. She couldn’t risk using any more words. Helena led her to the kitchen. They filled some bags with food and gave the smaller ones to the children. Emily couldn’t look at Jane. Her gaze felt like a splinter. The girls were putting their coats on. Helena ushered them down the corridor. Emily kept her head low as they stepped outside. She heard the door close behind them.

The streets wound and stretched. The empty factories and terraces looked as if they’d grown up instead of been built. Emily imagined stone dust settling on fields and growing into empty towers. Helena hurried the girls past bodies. Emily squeezed Molly’s hand. She wished she could comfort her with the stories she’d loved as a child. Laura pressed to her side. Helena was in front with the other girls. They walked.

As they turned a corner, Molly pointed across the street. Helena gasped. Emily looked at a slender woman as pale as crushed moons. Her clothes billowed like the sails of lost ships.

“It’s her!” Molly whispered. Emily’s words felt like shards inside her. Our Lady began moving towards them. Laura ran across the street. Our Lady took her hand. Emily watched her stroke Laura’s hair. She felt the ground shudder.

“Speak,” Our Lady said.

 

 

If Emily goes after Laura go to Chapter Sixteen

If Emily keeps going with the others go to Chapter Seventeen

 

 

Feature: Issue No. 15, Winter 2015

Chapter Twelve

Emily walked past the palace. She didn’t look in the doorway. Her heart was stillness and light. She moved on through the streets with the city’s silence inside her.

 

 

The End

 

 


Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and can be summoned by a cake signal in the sky. Her best friend is a dog who can count. She’s been nominated for Best of the Net, and was a finalist in the first Wyvern Lit flash fiction contest. Her stories can also be read at Pigeonholes Magazine, Maudlin House, Luna Station Quarterly, and elsewhere.