#WednesdayWriter: Nine Lives ~Chapter 18 #MysteryThriller

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Chapter Eighteen

This canvas is turning out well, she thought, casting her professional eye over the composition. She had tried to capture the glory of a sunset on a calm sea, and the flood of colour across the water was almost right. She put down her brush, needing a cup of coffee.

While the kettle boiled, she thought about what the voice had said about her needing company. It obviously didn’t  know her at all, for she had always preferred her own company. Pity, she hadn’t remembered that when she met Jack. Michael too, come to think of it. Why had she broken her own rules so many times?

She had always attributed her momentary lapses to plain stupidity, for who knew better than she there was no Mr Right lurking about anywhere.

She went back to her studio, still thinking about how badly their marriage had turned out. She had often heard women discussing how men would change once they put a ring on your finger, and surely there must be some kind of clue, some sign you were making a mistake before you walked down the aisle? If there was, she never saw it.

Jack must have been one clever bastard, that’s all she could think, for she fell for his charm like a ton of bricks. The first time he had spoken to her as if she was the worst woman he had ever met had wounded her deeply. After Michael, she didn’t think she could be hurt like that again, especially by someone like Jack. She had been so wrong.

He had literally become someone else, someone she didn’t recognise at all. He became rude, sarcastic and moody. He started to instigate rough games, which always resulted in her getting hurt. Even now, her hip hurt most days where he had viciously kicked her off the bed.

The one thing that broke her heart was the way he treated her son, David. He had promised to be a good father and seemed to care for him before the wedding, but that changed, along with everything else. He did still play with him sometimes, but he played rough and she was terrified he would hurt him the way he usually hurt her.

She increased the intensity of the orange paint near the horizon so that it seemed the sun had just slipped out of sight. The dying light streamed across the sea, spreading shades of peach and salmon pink that gradually faded into the cobalt sea. Kate nodded to herself, finally satisfied the sunset before her was as splendid as she could make it.

Something made her think of Sam’s face appearing in one of her other paintings. What was that all about?

The voice was talking about Sam, asking if Kate really knew her at all.

What was it going on about now? Of course, she knew how she felt about Sam. She was a good friend as well as a big help with her art, and there had been the time when it was all a bit emotional. She thought at the time they would have to go their separate ways, for Sam had become so upset by her relationship with Jack. She was simply being overprotective, wasn’t she? After all, Kate knew by then he was a bastard, so Sam was right.

And what was all that about her suddenly vanishing?

She thought of Dylan, and it suddenly felt as though her stomach had just dropped to the floor.

 

Kate awoke with another splitting headache. The night had been full of nightmares, bloodied babies, cats screaming in agony, and the angry face of a man she didn’t recognise. She nearly gave up in the early hours and thought about getting up, but she must have gone back to sleep again. Not that she felt at all rested.

She staggered into the kitchen and switched the kettle on. While it was coming to the boil, she looked for some painkillers. She hated taking pills of any kind and only conceded with the antacid tablets because she usually ended up being violently sick if she didn’t.

Kate remembered Sam’s raised eyebrows when she couldn’t convince her she had been taking her medication after the heart attack. She couldn’t help it, she just didn’t remember. She didn’t see the point in prolonging the inevitable, always assuming she would die one day anyway. She hoped so. When she was younger, the thought of living forever seemed like a great idea, but not if you couldn’t drag yourself out of bed. Something which was getting harder to do, pills or no.

Every bone in her body ached, and mysterious shooting pains were starting to worry her. She should be taking the pills after all because she wasn’t quite ready to shuffle off just yet.

Right now though, she was having trouble deciding what she was going to do today. She wasn’t completely happy with the first canvas she had done, and she should do some housework, the place was filthy.

She suddenly felt emotional, tears were not far away, as she remembered how much she was missing Dylan. Where was he? She couldn’t bear to think he might be hurt or shut in somewhere. Oh for a crystal ball, she thought. Wouldn’t that be handy?

The next thought to push its way past her emotions was Danny, smiling at her with that soppy grin he always thought was cute. Why had she suddenly thought about him?

The voice blamed Danny for being in her flat, and it could have been him, remembering the smell of cigarette smoke. He would be stupid enough to smoke in her flat. The thought of him, nosing around in her belongings was making her skin crawl. He was her brother; she shouldn’t be feeling like that about him. It might help a lot if she knew why she did, and the truth refused to escape from the dark recesses of her brain.

After a shower, Kate went to her studio. Housework had been voted against, after all, no one would see the place so what did it matter?

She studied both canvases, trying to be objective. The sunset was good, but the dark, edgy one was not. It would have to be done again. She had the idea in her head of a magical lake scene with mist rising from the water.  It wasn’t a seascape, so Sam might not like it, but it was what she wanted to paint and wouldn’t be able to move on to the next one until she had transferred it from her head to the canvas.

With the day planned and the problem solved, she set to work; suddenly realising she could hear the child crying again. It seemed to be more insistent now as if it was alone, uncared for, and wasn’t helping Kate concentrate.

During the morning, the crying intensified and Kate began to feel as if something was wrong. She couldn’t remember David ever crying like that. Quite the opposite, he was a happy child, infuriatingly happy most of the time. As he grew older, the moods and bad tempers began to take over. Which puzzled her at the time, for weren’t children supposed to take after their parents?

She couldn’t blame everything on the crying child. The flat hadn’t been the same since the break-in. She wondered if it might have happened before. Not that she had noticed anything anyway as she was not the tidiest person on the planet.

The feeling the flat was no longer her special place was growing stronger, almost too strong to ignore. She knew she would have to move, even though the thought of doing it all over again filled her with dread. She was too old to move house again.

The voice changed tactics, saying she should stay where she was. That whoever had broken in would find her wherever she went.

Oh, no you don’t, she thought. ‘Quit using reverse psychology on me, I’ll do what I want, not what you think I should…’

She stopped mid-rant, realising she was shouting at something that wasn’t real. She should check herself into the funny farm, that would solve most of her problems, wouldn’t it?

Oh get a grip, she thought. She moved house before and thoroughly enjoyed it, she could do it again if she had to; of course, she could.

Suddenly, the need for fresh air was overwhelming. She had to get out of there if it was only a walk around the block.

Once outside the front door, Kate didn’t know what she wanted to do or where she wanted to go. The green Vauxhall was still parked outside number ten and didn’t appear to have been moved. It couldn’t possibly be Danny’s, could it?

She contemplated dropping in on Janet to see how she was, but her need for fresh air was more insistent. She began to walk, hoping something would occur to her as she made her way to the High Street.

Dark clouds were slowly building into a menacing mountain, not just rain if they had anything to do with it. It matched her mood perfectly, so the thought of getting wet didn’t bother her at all…

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#WednesdayWriters: Nine Lives ~ chapter 17

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Death has been visiting Kate all of her life, leading her to imagine she has nine lives, like a cat.
With nothing to live for, no family, just a brother she hates, she waits for death to take her away when her lives run out.
Death continues to speak to her, teasing her, yet will not come for her. When people around her begin to die at the hands of a serial killer, she hopes to be next.
Has she finally run out of lives? Will she find a reason to live after all, before it is too late?

Chapter 17

Kate tried not to think about Dylan that evening, and it was hard. He had been such a comfort for so many years; the thought she may never see him again was creating a big dark hole in her life, one she could not afford to fall into.

She made a start on the first canvas, but instead of the tranquil moonlit scene, she had planned, angry waves were starting to build, almost without her permission. Like any artist, Kate firmly believed the materials she used controlled the magic. Writers say the pen almost seems to write on its own and Kate understood why this happened more than most people. There were days when she knew something had taken over the brush and done its own thing, something for which she was eternally grateful.

The evening was turning out to be one such occasion. The hours flew by and before Kate was aware of it, it was late. Her body was aching and she knew it was time to stop. In her youth, she had sometimes painted all night, and Kate knew from experience her old bones would not let her do that anymore. She put down her brush and focussed on the canvas in front of her.

What she saw made her gasp. What had she done?

The image in front of her was quite dark, the ocean at night. Instead of the calm moonlit scene she had envisioned, the waves were churning angrily. There was no moon, so the tips of the waves were just visible. You just knew something was lurking and you had the distinct impression a storm was brewing. Did the painting need something else, like a lighthouse?

It wasn’t bad, she thought; but was it good enough for Sam? She cleaned her brushes, determined to save the final judgement until the morning. Closing the studio door, she checked all the other rooms for Dylan but he was nowhere. She checked there were enough food and water in his bowls just in case he came home hungry.

Wednesday morning arrived, and Dylan had not, his food untouched. Kate made her way to the kitchen to put the kettle on, conscious of how empty and hostile her safe haven was becoming. The urge to run away had not diminished, and she kept pushing it to the back of her mind. She had so much work to do for Sam’s new gallery, any thoughts of moving house would have to wait. There was always the possibility she was too old to run away anymore.

It was getting harder to think outside the box and she seriously wondered if she had the energy to do anything other than paint.

She took her coffee to the studio and put a fresh canvas on the easel. She was in no mood to be objective, so decided to tackle another seascape and see what happened.

For some reason, the thought of running away made her think about Jack. He had come into her life at another turning point when she had finally convinced herself she had to move out of John’s house. She was bored with being an unpaid housekeeper, bored with wondering whether Michael would turn up again.

Michael had turned up on two more occasions, using every trick in the book to try to seduce her into running away with him. She was flattered and tempted, and something always held her back.

On that last visit, John had come home from work and found Michael sprawled on the carpet, playing with David. Kate had never seen such anger in any man and remembering that day she felt scared to death. It wasn’t directed at her, just his son. The older man never said a word, just grabbed Michael by the arms and tried to evict him from his house. They fought like madmen and Kate had to grab David and retreat to the comparative safety of the kitchen.

It was terrifying and heartbreaking to watch a father and son in such a battle. John didn’t speak and Michael kept saying ‘dad’ and ‘please?’ over and over again but it wasn’t having any effect at all.

There was an almighty crash and the sound of glass smashing. Kate didn’t want to look but knew she must. John was standing by what remained of the living room window and there was no sign of Michael. There was a sound at the back door, and Kate turned just in time to see a dishevelled Michael stumble into the kitchen. There was blood on his face and she took a step towards him, but he put his hands up and shook his head as he walked past her, not stopping until he slammed the front door behind him.

John had never spoken of it, and the incident with Michael had made Kate more uncomfortable than ever. So when she met Jack again he managed to convince her that life would be so much better if she was with him.

She had originally met him at her old friend Eileen’s wedding. She was instantly attracted to him, probably because he was so different from Michael. He had blue eyes too, and that was where the similarity ended. His hair was a dark blonde and he reminded her of a young Clint Eastwood. He was also charm personified and seemed to adore David. Kate was glad to have found someone who seemed too good to be true, someone special. As their relationship grew, he convinced her he would take care of them both and be a proper family.

He was true to his word, at first. She left John’s house one day when he was at work. She didn’t want to experience any more of his bad temper. It had been incredibly sad to be leaving the first home she had ever created, the house that was full of her endeavours and experimentations.

Her failures were there too, the cupboard that never did stand straight and the carpet stains that refused to come clean, along with the bitter memory of Michael’s betrayal. She had considered leaving John a note, and there was nothing to say. Goodbye was inadequate, for there was nothing good about her leaving, even though she was supposed to be moving on to better things.

Her life didn’t settle down to a perfect existence, and she kept the fact she still loved Michael a closely guarded secret. She had married Jack, knowing she was jumping from the frying pan into the fire. What had made her disregard her misgivings and ignore the warning bells?

Kate put down her brush and stretched, realising she was starving. It was time for a break. Before she could move, the voice filled her head and she sat where she was to listen. It was going on about making yet more mistakes, and it was right, of course. It was always right, but that didn’t mean she was about to toe the line this time. It kept nagging at her to leave this place, to forget everyone and everything, but it didn’t feel right.

Kate knew it couldn’t hurt her, if it could it would have done it by now.

Sometimes she managed to convince herself that none of it was real and she was going mad. In the cold light of day, there had to be a logical explanation for the fact she accepted this voice as a natural part of her life. It had always been there and it would be impossible to imagine something for so many years, wouldn’t it?

If it was real, what did that make her?

The fact she might be special in some way never quite managed to be believable. Surely, her life would have been different? Hell, her life should have been wonderful, shouldn’t it?

Her stomach grumbled, making her glance at the clock. It was past lunchtime. Where had the morning gone? At least this canvas was a bit more promising than the last one. It could have been a photograph of the Cornish coast with rocky cliffs and wild outcrops; with wild grasses and those little tufts of pink Thrift that seemed to pop up everywhere. The sea itself was relatively peaceful, with gentle white tipped waves and a couple of seagulls gliding across the view.

Kate wondered again, how she came to paint scenes like this when her mind was usually miles away on something else. She stopped for a quick lunch of a toasted ham and cheese sandwich and when she sat down to eat, her mind went straight back to the problems she had with Jack. When she had married him, she finally seemed to get a family of her own and someone to take care of her. What a bitter disappointment it turned out to be, for she hadn’t expected to discover all the petty arguments and the anger. Something had to be wrong. Hadn’t he promised everything would be different with him?

She remembered her old friend Eileen’s family. They argued all the time, but you never had the feeling they hated one another, quite the opposite in fact. She always thought the way they were together was touching and the perfect definition of a family. Whenever one of the children was old enough to get a job, the first thing they did was to treat their mum to something special. They would usually do some DIY in the house too. So whenever a spring clean and decorating session was going on, you just knew it was because another youngster was spreading not just their wings but a lot of human kindness around too.

That was the advantage of having so many children, and it worked well.

Eileen’s mum and dad never seemed to be overly affectionate, but then there was no discord between them either. Kate remembered thinking there was a lot to be said for peace, for too much emotion seemed to lead to an equal amount of trouble in her experience.

Her relationship with Jack was a case in point. She thought he was the perfect gentleman, but he turned out to be a control freak. It was remarkable how quickly the romance wore off once the wedding and all the promising to love, honour and obey were over.

Were all men Jekyll and Hyde in disguise?

Kate laughed softly to herself, remembering the handsome waiters from yesterday’s lunch. What would they be like, she wondered, once you took the time to get to know them?

The voice interrupted her thoughts, going on about Kate needing the right sort of company. She just knew it was referring to Dylan being missing. Did it have something to do with the cat’s disappearance?

She shook her head. No, that wasn’t possible. It couldn’t do anything like that; it was just a voice in her head, wasn’t it? But her brain thought differently, coming up with incidents it might have had control over. There were so many inexplicable times, far too many to be a coincidence.

The thought it might not be just a voice was making her edgy, almost scared. She remembered all the comments over the years about her not dying. Sometimes it had sounded annoyed, almost angry as if it knew it couldn’t do anything about it, and that was good to know…

If you are enjoying these chapters from Nine Lives, and I really hope you are, please comment, as I would love to hear from you…

 

Merlin ~ part five

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It seemed as if no time had passed when they reached the clearing with the little huts. Hands were lifted in greeting as the Hermit passed by.

Merlin could see the roof that needed help, and the man he had met before stood outside. The man asked the Hermit if he had a good journey, and Merlin listened to the hermits answer. “There is still so much to do, yet I am hopeful…”

Hopeful for what, Merlin kept repeating in his head.

“I see you have brought young Master Merlin with you…”

“Stop hanging behind, boy. Meet Grombold, he will show you what needs doing.”

Hearing the Hermit call him ‘boy’ something he hadn’t done before made Merlin wonder if he was angry.  He was feeling as if he had been sold into service, but he was wrong, of course. Looking around the clearing, he could see that everyone was working. The women were cooking and those of his own age were cutting wood and piling thatch together. The very young were playing close by their mothers.

Merlin noticed a young girl crying. She held a small dead bird in the palm of her hand. As he watched, she took it to her mother, who took it from her outstretched hand. “No need for tears, little Blossom…”

Merlin watched, transfixed as the bird was handed back to the child, who kissed its head, held out her hands and watched as the bird flew away.

This had been no dream. The bird had clearly been dead…

Was it the mother or the child who had worked the magic?

Merlin walked towards them but was stopped before he reached them by the Hermit putting a hammer and nails in his hands. He pointed towards Grombold.  “They need you over there.”

Merlin walked over to the hut that everyone was working on and a young boy told him which pieces of wood to hammer the nails into.   He had hardly begun when a terrible grumbling began inside his head. Words crashing together, making no sense. Merlin wanted to ask questions but they wouldn’t come to mind. Something was stopping them from forming.

He knew who to blame. Looking around for the Hermit, he was nowhere to be seen, but Grombold was standing close by.

“Don’t worry about the Hermit, he will be back by tea time.”

By this time, Merlin had had enough of secrets and magic. He walked away from Grombold without saying a word.

The journey back to the cave seemed a great deal longer without the Hermit. The sky was beginning to darken and he could feel rain in the air. He whispered, “Please hold the rain back until I reach the cave, for I don’t need a bath.”

Within a short distance, the heavens opened and Merlin was soaked to the skin. It would seem that someone disagrees with me about not needing a bath, he thought.

 

Merlin started running. The Hermit was up to something, he could feel it. The people in the clearing didn’t need his help, they had magic of their own. He wanted Merlin out of the way!

When he was within a few feet of the cave he could see people leaving and walking towards the lake. He shook his head and rubbed his eyes, unsure of what he was seeing. These were not people, they looked like wisps of coloured smoke. Their shape was bigger than a man. Merlin watched as each one followed the other, floating across the lake. The last one turned to face the watching Merlin and he heard a voice say, “We will see you soon…”

Merlin fell to his knees, tears fell from his eyes and his breath was laboured. His head was full of strange images. He instinctively wanted to leave this place but knew he couldn’t, not yet. Then he had another thought, that one day he would have to leave.

He kept repeating “Not yet,” until he reached the mouth of the cave.

The Hermit greeted him as if nothing strange had taken place, and Merlin was far too tired to push his luck and lay down on his pelt. As he drifted off to sleep, he tried to remember what had happened that day. A sweet voice began to sing softly, lulling him off to sleep. It was only in the morning that he knew it had been his mother’s voice.

Swinging his legs from the cot, he rubbed the sleep from his eyes. He looked around for the Hermit and spotted him sitting in the corner of the cave reading a book. It was a big book with a black cover covered with strange signs that seemed to glow with a soft blue light.

The cat made a sound, causing the Hermit to close the book, realising that Merlin had witnessed something he shouldn’t. Too late, the Hermit knew Merlin had seen the glowing signs on the book cover and would want to know more. He would have to find a new place to hide it.

The Hermit wondered if Merlin had seen his company leaving last night, for that would explain his being so tired this morning. The Hermit had been working too hard. He needed to take a dip in the lake, maybe teach Merlin how to swim…

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I think I will put Merlin on a back burner for a while, but I am sorry if I have disappointed anyone…

I think I might have bitten off more than I could chew with this, and wish I could place this in more capable hands, such as JK Rowling…

Anita

Merlin ~part four

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“You have much to learn, Merlin before I can teach you the meaning of true magic. All the names of plants, herbs, and the trees in the forest. Thoughts, words, they all have power. Use each one with great care…”

Merlin’s head was by now so full of the Hermit’s words, no more could enter. He fell asleep at the table, but his dream was not as the Hermit had planned. Merlin had fallen too deep and found himself in a dark place. The forest no longer a peaceful place, wild creatures howled all around him.  The trees whipped him with their branches as he passed, tearing the skin from his face and arms.

Something was destroying the forest. The sun no longer shed its light there and the trees were dying. Merlin could no longer hear the birdsong and the sweet smell of the trees had gone. What could be destroying the Hermit’s peaceful home?

Deep in his dream, Merlin knew he couldn’t let this happen and could hear his own voice telling him to wake up. “There is no time to waste, wake up you fool.”

When Merlin awoke, he was alone in the cave.

“Great, just when I have something important to say, he has disappeared.”

He walked out of the cave and made his way to the lake. Everything felt the same as before. The smells and sounds, the feeling of peace, it was all still there. There was no point looking for the Hermit, he could be anywhere, or nowhere.

He was skimming stones across the surface of the lake when a hand reached out of the water and caught the stone. Merlin stood there with his mouth hanging open as he watched the most beautiful face break the surface of the water. It was the mermaid of his dreams.  The lady of the lake threw the stone back to Merlin. He caught it easily with his left hand.

“Good,” she said and sank beneath the water again. Merlin ran into the water, yelling for her to wait. “Come back!” She would know where the Hermit had gone, but he wasn’t quick enough. He had to learn to stop gawping and accept the things he was seeing with a little more speed.

Merlin stayed by the lake a while longer, hoping she would come back, but as darkness fell he was forced to make his way back to the cave. There was no sign of the Hermit.

By now, Merlin was starving. So far, food had always been ready when he needed it, but the black cauldron stood empty. He sat down on his bed, rubbing the hot spot on the palm of his hand. He wondered why a stone from the cold water should leave a red mark. As he watched, it began to fade.

He waited a while longer, and while he waited, he wondered if he was brave enough to sit on what he thought was the hermits magic boulder. Did he dare to sit on it? A small voice in the back of his mind told him to get on with it.

He sat there for a long time. Nothing came to his mind but the hunger grumbling inside his body. Eventually, he went outside to look for food. He knew which berries and mushrooms he could eat. The weight of the stone in his pocket made him think of the Hermit as he made his way back to the cave.

He wondered why he was learning from dreams and not the Hermit as he said he would. He placed his meagre gatherings on the table, noticing the fire burning under the cauldron. Looking inside, someone had prepared food, yet the Hermit was still missing. As he made short work of the food, he realised the Hermit must have left word for his friends to look out for him.

Merlin put the stone on the table. It was a good flat stone, black with white veining. As he looked at it, his eyes began to water and a gentle humming sounded in his ears. Slowly, the voice of the lady of the lake could be heard. Through the water in his eyes, he could see a dark tunnel. The Hermit was sitting by the lake and the lady stood on the water, her long flowing dress floating around her. He heard her ask the Hermit a question.

“Does he remember his mother’s name, or heard the tales of his father?”

The Hermit answered her. “He knows nothing…”

The vision faded and Merlin noticed that the stone had moved from the where he had placed it, leaving a small burn mark on the table. Something made him put it on a pewter plate, then he left to search for the Hermit again.

He gave up and returned to the cave, feeling the first stirring of anger.

By day three, there was little food left and Merlin’s anger was slowly growing at being left. Should he go back to the forest to find the hermits friends and stay with them? As he fell asleep that night, he wondered if he was only dreaming or really being shown his future…

He sat astride a black horse and had passed the lake, heading deeper into the forest. He could hear the sound of horses behind him and the noise of a battle in front of him. He pulled on the reins to stop the horse, afraid of what lay ahead.

Turning the horse around, he found no one behind him. He tried to wake up, believing the Hermit messed around in his head whenever he slept and when he opened his eyes, he found the Hermit sitting on his great stone. Looking out of the cave mouth he saw that the world outside was still in darkness.

Part of this darkness entered his mind, fuelling his anger. He let it out, his voice loud, echoing along the cave walls.

He marched up to the Hermit and kicked the stone. “You have no right keeping me here! Keep out of my head!” He kicked the great stone again, watching the smile vanish from the Hermits face. A low rumbling sound began, gradually becoming louder.

Merlin reached out his hands, his lungs burning from the force of his voice.

“Stop!”

The Hermit stepped down from the stone. “I see you have learned a few things in my absence. If you wish to go, I shall not stop you, but I think you should eat before you go.”

The smell of food cooking soon had Merlin sitting at the table. He noticed that the mark on the table had vanished. He rubbed his hand across the surface, wondering if he had dreamed that too.

The Hermit brought two pewter plates to the table and handed Merlin the stone. “You really should keep this, as you may need it later.”

Merlin put the stone in his pocket and said nothing. There was no anger left in him, no more heated words. Feeling a little sorry for himself, he asked the Hermit why he had left him alone for so long.

“That is a story for another time. There are many things I will tell you about one day should you decide to stay. I would very much like it if you did. By the way, if you are in no hurry to leave, maybe you would like to help my friends, they have a roof needs mending.”

Merlin agreed to help, so they set out with him walking behind the Hermit, watching him closely…

To be continued…

Anita Dawes

 

 

Anita’s Journey to the Planets ~The Spiral Galaxy

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We live on the edge of a wonderful spiral galaxy.

The Milky Way, a remarkable sight, a special band of light.

But beware, there are dark regions within the bands of light where interstellar dust blocks the light of distant stars.

The area of sky that the Milky Way obscures is called the Zone of Avoidance. A place I have no wish to visit. Neither do I wish to get close to the black hole in the centre of our spiral galaxy. I have no wish to touch upon the dark matter that hides from our sunlight either.

The dark matter halo does appeal to my sense of wonder, but I cannot go there for it is time to move on.

I would have liked to visit Andromeda, for that name has long fascinated me. Alas, it is time to go home and Andromeda will have to wait until next time.

It is time to go back to our Blue Planet.

I look back towards our galaxy, the Milky Way, high enough to see the pregnant bulge, her arms moving through space, gathering more stars to her heart. I feel giddy as I watch this amazing galaxy with its giant halo spinning wild like a giant cowboys lasso.

Here my journey ends, I am back on Terra Firma, wondering what adventure I can choose next…

Thank you to everyone who journeyed with me! 

 

 

Merlin: part three

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Merlin had never known his father, nor heard any of the tales about him.

The Hermit didn’t ask that question again. Merlin wanted to ask a few questions of his own, like where the clothes he was wearing came from. All the food, and how the Hermit knew he was twelve years old?

The only thing he had ever seen the Hermit doing, apart from cooking, was sitting cross-legged on a large boulder with his eyes closed and his hands on his knees. Sometimes Merlin thought the Hermit’s backside wasn’t on the boulder, that he floated about a foot above it but his long robes made it hard to be sure.

Merlin almost stood on his head trying to see, to no avail. On one of these times, the Hermit told Merlin he would end up with too much blood in his head if he kept doing that.

Merlin found the courage to ask the Hermit where they were.

“First of all, young Merlin, this place is my home. The forest protects us from unwanted eyes…”

With a little too much courage, Merlin asked, “So where does all the food come from? And my clothing? I haven’t seen you leave this cave since you brought me here…”

“I have a friend out there…”  The tone of his voice told Merlin not to ask any more questions. “Tomorrow we will take a walk and maybe you will meet some of my friends…”

That evening, the Hermit sat Merlin down and asked him if he could remember why he had been in the forest without any clothes. The only thing Merlin could remember was being run out of the village, the screaming, and the banging of pots and being told never to come back.

He couldn’t remember doing anything bad, or how long he had been wandering around or where his clothes went.

“Do you remember meeting anyone in the forest?” The Hermit could see Merlin was getting tired. “You sleep now, we will talk more tomorrow.”

Sleep came fast with more dreams. Memories of cold nights in the forest and finding that someone always left food close to where he slept.

Merlin dreamed of the Hermit too, walking along the side of the lake. What looked like long blonde hair floated on the water and seemed to follow the Hermit’s footsteps. His mouth moved as though he was talking to someone. After a while, the water began to stir as if agitated by something. The hair disappeared beneath the water and ripples spread across the lake, but the Hermit kept on talking…

In the dream, Merlin could see the words coming from his mouth. Red, angry words made of fire, spilling into the lake. Whoever the Hermit had been speaking to would be sure to hear them.

The Hermit vanished and Merlin was alone in the forest. Not long after, the memory of cold nights began to haunt his dreams. In the dreams, he was welcomed by small people who led him to their home. There they fed him and told him stories. The taste of the food reminded Merlin of the food that had been left for him before when he had been alone.

Suddenly there was a loud roar and Merlin jumped from the fallen log where he had been sitting. The eldest of the clan stood at Merlin’s side. “No need to worry, it is only Trog.”

That was when Merlin could see just what had made the sound that was louder than any thunder he had ever heard. From between the trees, came a small blue dragon that promptly began to inspect Merlin, poking his long nose over Merlin’s hair and licking his face. The dragon’s breath smelled of mint.

Merlin slept the night with his new friends and awoke to the smell of cooking. He was back in the cave and the Hermit was stirring the cauldron. “Did you enjoy your visit with my friends?”

Not sure how to answer, Merlin, replied that he hadn’t taken him to meet his friends yet.

The Hermit let out a chuckle, a rare occurrence. “Take a look at your feet. They tell a different story.”

Merlin lifted one foot after the other to find them coated in mud with dried leaves stuck between his toes. The cave floor was grey stone, so where had he been?

Merlin ate slowly, trying to take it all in. How could he have been there, it had been a dream. Yet the mud on his feet told a different story. He put down the wooden spoon he had been eating with and took a deep breath. He asked who the Hermit had been speaking to as he walked by the lake.

The Hermit knew it was time for the truth and told Merlin about the Lady of the Lake. Merlin thought his head would explode but he had to know why they had been so angry.

The Hermit took his time with the answer, as it was still too soon to reveal everything. “She was angry because I will not take you back to the village.”

Merlin jumped up from the table. “But I don’t want to go back…”

“Calm down young Merlin. The Lady has given me time to teach you all you need to know.”

“Teach me what?” Merlin couldn’t wait to hear the answer.

“To become the greatest wizard the world will ever know.”

Merlin had heard the stories around the village, of magic and wizards and great standing stones. Stories of Stonehenge had stuck in Merlin’s mind the most, a place he wanted to see. Maybe the Hermit could dream him there.

The Hermit said there was no time for dreaming. Merlin no longer wondered how the Hermit always knew what he was thinking.

“Time is the enemy, Merlin. You must respect it but don’t let it slap you in the face.”

Anita

To be continued…

Anita’s Journey to the Planets ~ Neptune

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Neptune

 

This royal blue Planet, the colour of our sea, reminds me of the Sea God Neptune with his trident, controlling the oceans. Driving those further back up the beach who venture too close to his waters. I often think he must be having an off day.

I hear the waves crash against the rocks, the sound like giant hands clapping. I am glad I am not caught between those rocks and a hard place.

This mystical sapphire, this blue wonder holds me in its gaze, a jewel in anyone’s crown but I have to leave it where it hangs like a lucky blue spot, for I have one more stop before I return home.

As I do so, I hear the crash of waves and am reminded of my favourite place, Cornwall…

Join me tomorrow, as I take one last look at our spiral galaxy?

 

 

Anita’s Journey to the Planets ~ Uranus

 

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Uranus

 

What can I say about this grey-blue Planet with rings so similar to Saturn, yet not so wondrous?

I feel as though something is missing, for Uranus, the Magician hides his magic.

Yet I can feel it, soft and gentle, whispering old stories that my mind cannot quite catch. I am reminded that they are not mine in the first place, but I want one to keep, to bring back with me to write about.

It would be something not yet heard on Earth. What a bestseller it would be. Maybe when I return home, the Magician will send it to me in a dream, from start to finish for me to remember when I wake.

With my fingers crossed, I leave Uranus. Just for a moment, I believe I could see Merlin waving me on to Neptune and I am filled with new hope…

Join me tomorrow on my journey to Neptune, the mystic planet?

Anita’s Journey to the Planets ~ Saturn

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Saturn

 

 

Saturn is said to be the Titan, the old God, and father of Jupiter who took over as the King of the Gods, leaving his son, the Bringer of Old Age, almost forgotten.

Maybe it was just time for a new King.

Many old Kings work from behind, unseen. Pushing the new King onward.

Saturn lives within its wondrous rings of ice and rocks. From a distance, they look so much like diamonds in the night sky. A wonderfully jewelled ring, much too large for my finger.

I wish I could take a small piece of Saturn’s rock with me on my journey, to put on my mantelpiece, a constant reminder of this wonderful Universe.

Time for me to move on, but I can hardly bear to look back at Saturn and its moons. To leave such wonder breaks my heart, but it is time to meet Uranus…

Join me tomorrow on my journey to Uranus, the magician?

Anita’s Journey to the Planets ~ Jupiter

 

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Jupiter

 

Jupiter, the Bringer of Joy.

This majestic Planet is the largest in our Solar System. To protect our Earth he constantly suffers collisions from large debris, leaving great wounds on its surface. A father figure looking out for his children, keeping us safe from those giant rocks that like to run amok around the Universe. Reminds me of a Grandfather, but at the same time, it has a beautiful orange spot, a massive angry storm. Can we really blame Jupiter for showing us his emotions?

I remember watching a television programme about when Jupiter took one more wound on our behalf. That poignant moment stayed with me for weeks…

As I leave Jupiter, I am reminded that beauty comes in many forms as I watch the rotational orange storm. I feel a chill, yet I am leaving with a great sense of awe as I head towards Saturn…

Join me tomorrow for the next stop on my Journey, Saturn?