Literary Persuits and other Ramblings

Tag: fiction

She sat alone

She sat alone.

Her long dark hair was already pulled into a tight plait. Her hands, wrists and forearms were wrapped tightly for protection in white bandages. The white tight sleeveless tank top clung to her form in direct opposition to the flowing white cotton pants she wore. Both afforded movement. Both were traditional.

The white would show blood. It would be a mark of any weakness on her part.

Her feet were bare. Her toes icy from the concrete floor.

She sat alone.

The room dark save for a little light coming through the slightly ajar door. She sat on a small flat bed with a thin mattress. There were no pillows no blankets. A small wash basin was in the corner of the room next to a single wooden shelf upon which she had neatly folded her clothes.

She sat alone, staring at the blank whitewashed wall ahead of her. Her mind was calm. She was relaxed. The dagger which rested across her thighs was sharp and polished to a high sheen. The blade was nineteen inches in length and the tang fit snugly in a polished dark wood hilt. The hilt was further wrapped in tightly packed leather. The grip would not slip. The dagger was perfectly weighted and splendidly lethal.

She let out a breath as a bell sounded in the distance, each ring bringing a clench of fear around her heart. Once. Twice. Three times. The time had come. Slowly she stood, stretching out her back and legs. She gripped the dagger firmly in her left hand. The dagger transformed from a separate weapon to an extension of her arm. She was complete now that she was holding the weapon. It was familiar. It was comforting.

Walking towards the door, her steps were deliberate and placed with care. There was no glancing back. Nothing sentimental lay behind her. All that there was lay in front of her. A moment. One moment which would determine the rest of her life.

She walked down a corridor, her arms hanging loosely at her side. The dagger brushed past her leg as she walked. It took her fifteen steps to reach the end of the corridor. She counted each step. Taking a deep breath, she paused for a second, before exhaling any nerves which had crept in during her short walk. She waited another second before pushing the heavy, rough oak door open.

Ahead of her was an open courtyard.

The courtyard was easy enough to traverse. It wasn’t a vast expanse nor was it small. It was enclosed by towering dark grey granite walls which loomed menacingly up toward the sky. The only light which could penetrate such monstrosities was the midday sun. The ground was covered in fine white sand which was perfectly flat and smooth as a pond. There were only two entrances to the courtyard. One lay behind her, the other directly opposite. It was through those doors she intended to leave, or not at all.

As she waited, her opponent entered the courtyard. She stared in fascination at the imposing woman who stood facing her. Her opponent had short hair the colour of a winters fire. She too wore a white tank top and the white flowing cotton pants. Her opponent was tanned yet formidable looking with white scars in stark relief on her perfect skin.

She tightened her grip on her dagger. She knew what was coming, and took a step forward before fear could take root and cause her to turn and flee.

For each step forward she took, her body responded, anticipating the fight ahead. She changed the grip on her dagger, so that the blade rested against her forearm. Her right hand subtlety moved up towards her waist. The last bit of tension left her shoulder blades and she became completely relaxed once again. She came to a halt in the center of the courtyard, waiting for the fight she had been preparing for to begin.

Her opponent started circling her, waiting to tango with her to gauge her fighting style. A quick feint to her right, then one to her left. She waited and watched, as still and motionless as the air within the courtyard. She used her periphery and other senses to gauge what her opponent was going to do next. Her opponent continued to circle her like a predator stalking prey.

It was the slight sound of sand shifting which alerted her to her opponents attack from behind. In the blink of an eye she shifted her weight to her right, turning as she perfectly deflected the blow in a clash of metal. The fight had started in earnest now, and would only end with blood.

As quickly as she defended, she attacked. Her right hand circling around her opponents dagger arm. As she reached the top of the circle she bought the butt of her hand crashing down onto her opponents forearm. The blow was true and her opponent’s grip loosened on her blade. Taking advantage, she allowed her hand to travel along her opponents forearm, taking grip of her thumb. Using the distraction of her right hand going for her opponents dagger, she gave a quick shunt using her own blade sending her opponent off balance. As her opponent started to topple, she quickly gripped her elbow to prevent her opponent from regaining balance. While her opponent was floundering for the stability she needed to continue to fight, she slashed neatly across her opponents neck. Blood, hot and thick, gushed out covering her blade and arm. Soaking the bandages and turning them a pinkish red.

Her opponent dropped her dagger as she fell to her knees, her eyes wide in shock as her hand gripped the wound on her neck. Her opponent tried to stem the flow of blood. She just looked on to the doors and wiped her blade clean on her pants. Turning, she walked deliberately and slowly towards the doors which would lead her to her salvation. She walked with care, knowing she was being observed.

She pushed the doors open and walked along another short corridor to another sparsely furnished room. The bed with a flat mattress was in the corner, opposite a wash basin. She walked over to the basin, set her dagger down on the already cleared table and washed as much of the blood off her arms as she could. A servant entered and bowed, waiting to take her blade off to be cleaned and polished. She took one look at the dagger and offered it over freely.

She sat alone.

And waited.

A Tale of a Flutist

There was always a level of conceit surrounding the girl, especially after being named the best fluetist in the world at a young age. Her parents often said she had been born with a flute in hand, lips pursed and a lung full of air.

Now the girl is 22. Her fame had long since faded, as had her girlish charm. Many still remembered her as the child prodigy, which gave her certain allowances, although her talent had never progressed or grown since she was a child. In her young diva mind, she was as good as she needed to be and no improvement on her skill was needed. She took criticism badly, throwing temper tantrums and telling the critics that they were wrong for not understanding her perfect musical talent.

To her added benefit, she had also grown up to be a beautiful girl. Her hair was a shiny flowing mahogany, and her eyes were the bright green of peridot and sparkled when she smiled. Her skin was as though made from fine porcelain. This along with her name meant that any lead was often given to her without hesitation and she was often the even highlight.

Many of her peers gossiped behind her back that it was only her looks that got her the best performances. Many of her biggest critics agreed, even going as far as to suggest that those in charge of the production got to savour the fruits of her sexuality in order for her to secure her position. The gossip and rumours were fueled by the girls sexual nature, which clung to her like a second skin. She was a temptress, and the girl was well aware of it.

Perhaps it was her early fame that drew him to her, or it could of been her striking beauty in young adulthood. Perhaps it was the rumours of her sexual prowess behind closed doors. No one would ever know for certain, because after it all happened they would never see him again.

When it exactly started, many were unsure. There just seemed to be a very ordinary unassuming man sitting in the audience show after show. He often sat as close to the girl as possible, eyes closed whenever she had a solo as to soak in every note. The only thing that the ticket sales clerks and ushers would recall after was that he was insistent on his seating choice, and that the most remarkable thing about the man was that he was completely and utterly unremarkable. None of them could recall what he looked like, not even his eye or hair colour.

After a while a single tulip would appear on her flute case after each performance. The girl loved the secret attention, and made sure everyone knew that someone realized how talented and special she still was. No one else got a tulip. Even when it escalated into his breaking into her home to leave her gifts and letters confessing how he loved to watch her sleep, the girl still reveled in the attention. The girl ignored the advice of her peers, stating that he just wanted to enjoy her talent and beauty. She refused to go to the police. She had no intention of letting go of her admirer, going as far as to storm out of a performance when she realized that security had been doubled in order to catch her stalker. She insisted he was not a stalker, that he was the only one who understood her. She referred to the letters, how intimate they were. How well he knew her. She went as far as to insist that he was the only man who truly loved her.

Months went by, and the girl became more withdrawn. She lived only for her admirer. If there was no tulip waiting for her or a note left on her bed when she woke, the girl would become depressed and refuse to perform. Eventually as time went by no one would hire her. She had crossed the unpredictability line and there were far more talented flutists to take her place. In some ways many were relieved not to work with her. They found her alienation to be a blessing.

She waited for him.

There was no evidence of a struggle when he eventually came back for her. It was obvious she went willingly with him. When they found her in a shallow grave under a large tree in an open field, they found to the horror of all involved that the ropes that bound her in the most contorted and obscene positions were done of her own volition. It was suspected that the sexual intercourse which had occurred was also consensual.

Her flute had been left inside her vagina after she died. She had no dignity in death, just multiple stab wounds. No drugs were found in her system. It was if she had willingly surrendered her life to him.

As for the man, he was never found. He returned to his average life as the unexceptional man, left to reminisce about his one extraordinary night of perfection with his flutist.

The List

He walked into the club. It looked the same as every other cub he had been too. It stank of alcohol and sweat. It was dark except for the dim house lights over the bars or the strobes flashing on the dance floor. He was alone, dressed in a black button up shirt and jeans. He paid the cover charge, not noticing the girl taking the money or the bouncer stamping his wrist. The girl noticed him though, and immediately wondered what it would be like to kiss his full lips.

He strode into the club, all confidence. He was alone but knew it wouldn’t be for long. He didn’t notice the girls staring at him. With his Eastern European features, dark hair and bad boy vibe, he was every girls dream in the club. Not that he acted that way, it just hung about him like a shroud.

He walked to the bar and ordered a coke. Inside he recoiled as the stench of freshly spilled alcohol hit his nose. It wasn’t obvious to anyone looking at him but the stench of the alcohol bought back dark memories. His face hardened, only making him more desirable. A predator among willing prey.

The girls smiled and tried to catch his eye. None of them were brave enough to approach him yet. He smiled back, softening his features, making him appear more approachable. Nothing screams more desirable than the mixture of dark and with a hint of light. Like a wounded animal with hope of being rehabilitated.

A monster with a soul.

The girls lapped up his presence, trying hard to get his attention. He didn’t notice. He scanned the crowd. He knew what he was looking for and knew she would find him. He held pleasant conversation with those who approached him. He didn’t realize, but he made them feel special. When someone spoke to him his full attention was on them. For the fleeting moment that he was talking to them, they were someone special, interesting and most important of all, they were seen. He made them feel more alive than they cared to admit. All the girls fell a little in love with him. His mannerisms, enthusiasm and comfortable enjoyment of life was contagious. Even the guys liked him despite that their girlfriends were fawning over him.

Occasionally he was left alone, and the darkness set back in. He was biding his time, waiting for the girl who would catch his attention. He had spotted a couple of potentials but nothing concrete. He was patient. He let his anger seethe. He watched the writhing bodies on the dance floor. The gyrating hips and alcohol induced inhibition made him sick. He wanted to grab everyone and shake them, shouting at them for being so false. Instead he ordered another coke.

Just then a girl leaned over and asked for a Cheeky Cranberry Brutal Fruit. “You don’t mind paying, do you”, she beamed at him. A winning smile. She knew what she wanted and knew she was going to get it. “Not at all”. He had found her. The one who thought she deserved his attention. He had seen her flirting with all the boys, getting them to buy her drinks. He had watched her practically strip tease on the dance floor. She was everything he loathed. She used people and didn’t care about the consequences. Used people like him. Even as he shot her a smile, he could feel the loathing of his past come up. Every single moment he had ever been used, cheated on and tossed aside only to be reeled back in was focused on this girl in front of him.

He sat and listened to her talk for about an hour. He was attentive, telling her what she wanted to hear and sympathetic to her needs. Eventually she leaned into him, full of confidence. “Do you want to get out of here?”. She knew she wasn’t going to be rejected, she knew she had him. “Would you like to come back to my place?” She beamed at him. He walked her to his car. The entire car ride she spoke, she was suggestive and his rage grew.

When they arrived at his apartment he opened the door for her, letting her enter his domain. He closed the door behind him as she stood awkwardly in his dark apartment. She was starting to get nervous now. It was easy to be confident in the club, but here it was harder. She needed another drink but it didn’t seem like he was going to offer her anything. A lick of fear went down her spine turning her cold and he stalked towards her. He didn’t kiss her, just turned her around and pushed her against the wall pulling her hair back to expose her neck. He bit her, hard. She whimpered in pain. “I know exactly what you need” He whispered in her ear.

He led her forcefully to the bedroom and threw her on the bed. It took him seconds to undress, and while she was stunned at the chiseled sight of his body and sheer size of him, he ripped her clothes off. He wasn’t gentle. There was no foreplay. In a flash he had a condom on and his rage fueled the sex. He didn’t hear her pleas, he didn’t care whether she was enjoying it or not. He just pounded into her, punishing her for all her sins and the sins of every girl in his past. She clawed at him and he didn’t care. He didn’t care that he could be hurting her. She deserved this.

Once it was over there were tears in her eyes, her make up smudged all over her face. He called her a cab, and she asked if she would be seeing him again. She asked it meekly, half dreading the answer. She was unsure what just happened but was not going to show it. When the cab arrived she grabbed her torn and broken clothes and left. It would take her a long time to heal from the experience she didn’t know how to define. She had wanted him, and she had gotten what she wanted. She just didn’t know why she felt so used and broken inside.

He watched her leave then sat on his bed. He breathed in deep and went to go make himself a coffee. The shower he took was scalding hot, washing away any trace of what happened. He was disgusted at himself for what he had done, and no amount of scrubbing seemed to make him clean. He climbed into bed, hating the smell of the sex that he had just had.

He threw his arm over his face, closed his eyes and knew that sleep was going to evade him.

She was number fifty four.

And he had forgotten to get her name.

The Old Woman

They have no name for her. All they can tell you is that when she is around, nothing good ever happens. That is probably why they have no name for her. The saying goes that there is power in a name, and she is powerful enough as is.

She is not human and she is old. Very old. She smells like sweet decaying flesh. Like a corpse who has been embalmed but the rot and decay is stronger than the embalming fluids and formaldehyde. Like the body had been left in the sun and wet for a couple hours too long before it was embalmed. The smell is worse than death. It has no promise of an after life. Just sordid decomposition. Life turned into something foul.

She is dressed in an old floral dress. There is tattered lace at her cuffs and collars. The material looks hard and stiff, as though it was recently starched and pressed.  It makes a soft rasping noise as she moves. Like two pieces of dried parchment rubbing together. The dress looks as though it will fall to dust at any second, the microfibers blowing into the wind and choking unsuspecting victims on their filth and pestilence. There looks to be dried blood smearing the tattered and torn hem of her dress, as though she recently danced her way through a massacre where what was left of any human was lumps of unidentifiable meat. Absolute carnage is written into the fabric of the dress, in its stiff and sharp edging and movement. The rubbing of the cloth the dying breath of a murdered man.

She shuffles along. Plump. Like an old woman who has had hearty meals her entire life. She moves as though arthritis has long set into her joints. There is pain etched in her movement, the pain of many many long years. Years of feasting and gorging until her corroded hearts content. Years spent travelling, never resting. Lifetimes spent on the road. Centuries spent without sleep. The depravity and gross indulgences are in accord with her every painful movement.

Her skin is white translucent leather. Long since has the moisture been sucked out of it. Yet it hangs strangely across her fleshy physique, as though it was discarded there many moons ago and long since forgotten. Thin spidery black veins can be seen tracing webs along the skin. The veins look like a sick tattoo, a mockery of the passageways which in so many carry the blood which has oxygenated and fed their body.

No one looks at her though. No one wants to draw attention to themselves. They turn their back on her, this old woman with no name. She stands behind each of them, willing them to turn around, to help a poor old lady in need. No one ever does. Fear always wins out. The primal instinct to survive stops anyone from turning and looking at her. Although there are those who always give in. Who turn around and look at her face.

To see her face is to die. No, not just die. Dying would be a mercy. She will make your body dance and twist in a morbid puppet show. Each movement breaking bone and sinew. She will make you pluck your own eyes out and feed them to her. She will make you pull off each nail from all your fingers and all your toes. Make you pull out your own teeth. All while keeping you just on the brink of life where you all aware of what cruel fate you have fallen into. She will make you peel your own skin off, using nothing but the bloody broken stumps you have left. The pain you will endure will be far greater and more excruciating than you can ever imagine, and she will find ways to make it worse.

All while this is happening, the last image you will always return to is her face. For she has no face. It has long since been torn out, a gaping wound. All that is distinguishable amid the straw hair and black crater are the teeth. They are look as though to be children’s milk teeth, yet razor sharp. They are yellow and black. Discoloration to go with the rest of the rotting depraved thing she is.

Protruding from the teeth is the tongue. Her long snake-like tongue. Searching, reaching and touching. Tasting. It is long and dry, like a tentacle from an octopus left to dry and decay in a desert during a drought.

No, she doesn’t need a name. Something so terrifying and powerful doesn’t need to be known by anything other then what she physically is. No one needs to talk about her. No one needs to mention her at all.

For she is the horror to top all horrors. The horror so terrifying, we are genetically programmed to stay away.

Yet she will be there behind you, waiting for the day you slip up. The day you make a mistake. The day you turn around and look at her.

The Promise

You lie there, in the dark, watching her sleep beside you. You take in her scent, watch her breathe, trace outlines on her skin. She is dreaming, you hope that it is about you. She smiles secretly in the dark of the room, and you begin to feel tendrils of fear flicker through you.

You barely acknowledge them at first, but with each breath she takes, the stronger they get. You realize how fragile this moment it. How fragile it all is. She can be taken from you at any moment; swiftly and silently. A stalker grabbing hold of its prey, and there would be nothing you could do to stop it. To save her.

You cuddle up closer to her, feeling her heartbeat with yours and you promise her you will never let anything happen to her. You promise that you will be there for her. That no matter what, you will always answer her call. No matter how silent it is.

But when the day dawns the fears are left in the dark of the night. You fall back into your normal routine. Taking for granted that she will be there, always, when you call. Days turn into weeks, months continue to pass you by, and yet your promise remains forgotten in the depths of the dark of one lonely night.

You look at her, trace your fingers along the lines of her face. She is so beautiful, so fragile. You remember you silent promise all those ages ago, and wonder what happened. How did you miss her call? She looks just as she did back then, content, with a secret smile on her face. You want to tell her how much you love her, but the men are closing the lid. You scream at them, fight them off. Deny that she has gone. Deny that you weren’t there for her.

All that’s left now is ashes, and memories that are already beginning to fade. You remember her laugh, her smile. You throw the ashes off the edge of her favourite spot. You had never once taken the time to climb up here with her. Not once. You had always been too busy. Too preoccupied with your own demons to see hers. There are no tears left, and as you watch the last of the ashes float way In them you can see her smiling, laughing. You can see the love in her eyes. The love she had for you.

Hours pass, as do days. You torment yourself with every means possible. Continually, you punish yourself not being there when she needed you the most. Your world, your soul, is black. You are a void. Nothing. No one knows you; no one even bothers to find out. You exist from one day to another, finding an escape from her touch, her scent, her smile. That secret smile she had which haunts your every dream.

What feels like an eternity passes, and you find yourself back at that spot. Her spot. You scream in anguish for the person you have become. Dark and twisted by pain and rage. By the guilt you feel. She wouldn’t recognize you now. You can no longer hear her soft laughter anymore, or feel the way she felt when her skin was pressed against yours. You can barely see that secret smile she had, it has faded from your dreams.

As the tears flow and the racking sobs tear through every fiber of your body, you catch a faint scent, barely there on the wind. You cry out to her, begging her to forgive you, for you can never forgive yourself. You see her, just pass the edge.

You try to grab her, to hold her, to feel her just one last time. Something grabs you, a warm hand on yours. The touch melts the dark inside away, and eases some of the pain. You turn, expecting to see her in front of you, given back to you by some miracle.

It is not her, you find, but someone else. She doesn’t look the same, but she also has a secret smile, and eyes filled with love. She holds out her hand, and you take it.

She stays with you, Answers your every call. Never forgets you are there. You sit across from her and can’t help but trace the line of her smile. You make another promise. This time the promise is not only to yourself, but to to your love and to your love lost. Never again will you forget her. Forget that she is there. Never forget to answer her when she calls.

This time, you promise that you will keep your promise made to a girl with a secret smile.

Mirage

something of an illusion. that is all it was.
I stood there at the edge of something that should of been beautiful. Instead it was desolate, empty and broken.
In the end, it was a mirage

16 Blackthorn Road

It was an ordinary summer afternoon. There was nothing particularly special about the afternoon, nor about the house that our story starts in.

A big beefy man (who looks remarkably like his father minus the very large moustache) sits at the kitchen table, idly staring out the window into the garden. The bush opposite makes him think of years gone by, back to another garden in another perfectly normal neighbourhood. The memory was of his cousin, much younger then, and how he had threatened to set fire to a bush. This of course had been before he had known anything of magic. It was still terrifying to think about.

The man looks back down to the post on the kitchen table. There are a couple of utility bills, a letter from his mother (even though he spoke to her every day) and a large parchment letter addressed to one Mr. V. H. Dursley. Dudley had known this letter would arrive from the day they bought his son home from the hospital. Although little Vernon looked exactly like his father and grandfather in size, with a mop of blonde hair similar to that of Dudley’s in his youth, he had the same large green eyes as Dudley’s cousin.

Of course his tiny wife, who got along famously with his mother, decided all the strange events around their only son were due to ‘psychological’ problems and took him to various clinics and psychiatrists. Dudley didn’t discourage her, nor did he try and discourage his son. After all, having lived through all this before he knew that no matter what he did the outcome would be the same. He also knew that although magic was scary, his cousin had saved his life once. Maybe even more.

This wasn’t to say Dudley was proud to have a wizard for a son, but years living away from his parents had made him more tolerant and wanting to know more about the magical world. Of course, most of this came from twenty-two years of wondering what had happened to his cousin. Obviously whatever it was that his cousin was in danger from had stopped, as there had been no strange incidences on the news. Dudley had also not seen or heard from any of ‘that lot’, as his mother liked to call them, since they happily vanished from their protective detail. Life had carried on rather normally for Dudley since then. He had gone to college, got a degree in business and was now looking at Directorship at the firm he worked at.

‘Dudders, are you even listening to me.’ Dudley was snapped forward to the present very suddenly by his wife’s teary accusation. Looking at Marian, the small petite woman he married fresh out of college, Dudley gave a heavy sigh.

‘Of course, dear.’

‘Well, do you think we should try again?’

‘Try what again, dear?’

‘The electric shock therapy for Vernon. We simply can’t have him acting all strange. He is our only son. What would the neighbours think? Why can’t he be normal like all the other boys his age, Dudders?’

‘The neighbours don’t care how he acts or what he does Marian,’ Dudley exasperatedly told his wife for what felt like the millionth time. ‘And don’t call me Dudders’

‘Fine then, what about me Dudley? He scares me. Strange things happen around him. Just last week I tried to put him in a jumper your mother bought for him and no matter how hard I tried it would fit. It was as though it was shrinking in my hands’

‘The same thing happened to my cousin Harry once. I think it was the only time something strange had happened around him that my parents didn’t punish him for.’

‘You are missing the point Dudley. I just don’t know what to do about our son’ with that Marian burst into tears. Once again, since his son had been born, Dudley found himself wishing he had some way to contact his cousin. He knew Harry would be able to help him with the boy. Maybe even help explain things to Marian. As he watched her sob into her dishcloth, Dudley felt torn for the second time in his life.

‘Marian..’ He started, but was interrupted by a tapping sound at the window. Looking up, Dudley was surprised to see a large white snowy owl at the window. Quickly, he opened the latch.

‘Dudley, what are you doing! Don’t let that horrid creature in here’ Marian screeched, running out of the kitchen. Smiling to himself, Dudley looked at the owl. Promptly, the owl stretched out her leg waiting for Dudley to untie the letter attached to the Owls leg. After the owl was free of it’s burden, it fluttered around a bit. Remembering the bits of bread Harry occasionally fed his owl, Dudley offered some to this owl and then proceeded to read the letter.

Dear Dudley

It has been a while. I am not even sure where you live or what you do. I know Mini will find you however.

With that Dudley looked over to the owl, who apparently decided it was time for a nap and was roosting comfortably in the chair opposite. He wondered how they had come up with the name Mini for what seemed to be such a large bird. Turning back to the letter, Dudley continued reading.

Ginny, my wife, insisted I write to you. Although I am sure I am the last person you would like to hear from. Ginny is the sister of my friend Ron. Tall guy, ginger hair, lots of freckles. I don’t know if you would remember him or any of his family. Anyway, I got married to her. We have three kids now. James is our oldest, Albus the middle and Lily the youngest. She is eleven now. I believe that is the same age as your son.

That is the reason I am writing. I heard he was offered a place at Hogwarts. I do realize this must be very hard for you and a shock. I do remember how much magic scared you. I also do realize that this was partly my fault considering I resorted to threatening you with magic out of defence when we were growing up. I guess the manner of our departure from each other’s lives was also less than encouraging on the magic front.

It is all over, in case you were wondering. We defeated Voldemort. Many died in the battle. A whole war went on, and I don’t even think the Muggles even noticed it. Of course it took a long time to sort out all the mess afterwards. Arresting people, finding out who were operating under their own free will and who were not. It was a very long, very drawn out process. By the time it was over I had figured you, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon had moved on with your lives and would prefer to not ever see me again. In all honestly, I never planned to see any of you again.

 I digress however. 

Lily will also be attending Hogwarts this year, and we will be going to Diagon Alley to get all her school stuff. I know you have no experience in this, and well, Ginny offered that you could come with us. That is if you do send your son to Hogwarts.

You can attach a reply, as well as your response to Hogwarts (I suggest you respond unless you would like a repeat of what happened when they were trying to contact me and your father ignored the letter) to Mini. She will ensure both are delivered.

Your cousin

Harry

P.S Lily named Mini when she was younger. You know how kids can be

Dudley read the letter again, and felt a sudden weight lift from his shoulders. Harry his cousin was alive, and was willing to help him with his son after all. Smiling, Dudley picked up the Hogwarts acceptance letter. ‘If you don’t mind waiting here for a bit, Mini, I have to go tell the wife.’

With that Dudley strode into the living room, calling his family as he did so. Quickly, and concisely as he could, Dudley explained the events of his childhood, the two letters and what it would mean for his son.

‘I know it is scary Marian, I have seen what their world is like. However, I think sending him to this school where he can learn about his abilities is a much better option that sending him for more shock therapy which is clearly not working’

Marian, however, did not take the reassurance and ran from the room. Vernon looked torn between excitement, and concern for his mother.

‘Don’t worry boy,’ Dudley said gruffly, ‘she will come around. Let’s reply to the school together shall we?’

With that, Dudley wrote on the two blank pieces of parchment provided. One was a letter to Harry asking if they could meet in a couple days time in London. The second letter read:

I, Dudley Dursley, hereby give permission to my son, Vernon Harry Dursley, to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry this September

Wistful

it has been a long time, however this time of year always makes me feel wistful.
There is nothing I can do. What has been done is done. There is no turning back. Sometimes I see a glimmer of a hope. But that is all it is.

A Mindful Place

‘Do you really want to know where I go?’

‘Yes’

‘Close your eyes then. It is dark. It is not just dark, but almost as though there is an absence of light. So very, very dark.

Suddenly there are thick shafts of bright white sunlight piercing the dark at random intervals. They are blinding at first, but your eyes adjust. You are in a room. No, its too big to be a room. A hall, maybe? No, more like a ballroom. There is a faint feel of passed celebrations and merriment in the air. You can feel it dance along your skin.

There is just space all around you. The ceiling is so high you can’t see it even with the shafts of light. You can make out no walls. You start to feel small. Tiny. Insignificant.

All there is is space and silence.

The air is cool against your skin. There is a faint smell of dust, must and something warm. Something warm and metallic. It smells like copper left out in the sun midday in a desert.

The smell of liquid hot copper sends a chill down your spine. You don’t know why until you identify it.

Blood.

Hot, fresh blood.

Your first impression of where you are is immense space, silence and blood.

You then notice the floor. It is black. Not just black, it is such a dense onyx that the light does not seem able to pierce it. Polished to perfection that it could be liquid. There are spidery fault lines which break the illusion of the liquid onyx floor. Small, slightly elevated scars interweaving forming an unfathomable pattern.

However, you quickly loose interest in the small scars when you notice the monumental scars which deface the beauty of the slightly marred polished onyx floor.

One of these scars is harshly illuminated by a shaft of light, demanding your attention with deep shadows and blinding white light.

The stench of blood is cloying. It sticks to the back of your throat making it hard to swallow without tasting the thick liquid copper.

You try and try to look away from the mountain-like scar but it is all you can see. The harsh contrasts slowly meld together as your eyes adjust. What you thought were rocks, pebbles and mountainside is actually flesh. Dead flesh.

The mountain is made up of fresh mutilated corpses. They are so fresh that decay has not had time to set in.

You can now distinguish individual bodies. You see arms, legs, torsos all ripped to shreds. What gets you the most are those corpses with distinguishable faces staring back at you.

They are watching you with seeing eyes and you are watching them.

The silence is now deafening. The space is threatening to consume you.

You keep looking into those eyes though and what you see brings the taste of bile to your throat.

Those eyes are not looking at you, but reflecting what you knew the moment you made an impression of this place.

There is nothing but space, silence and hot, fresh blood.’