Find out more details to join in the weekly blog hop, by clicking this link. Each section posted has a link to the post live on my blog (such as Prologue, Later, Chapter One, etc.) and each section represents a week in the writing blog hop. The requirements for each prompt is to include the photo and five words (in bold below) in a story in 500 words or less.
The corridor was dark except for a few peep holes that let us peek into the living room. I heard the jovial laughter of the three burly Texans.
Panicking I pushed against the door and staggered through it. Instead of tumbling into the hallway, it was a field. It was summer. I knew this yard. The yard where I grew up. I heard my brother in the distance. Playing pirate ship. He was calling out for me to be the lookout and sit in the crow's nest. And I was thirteen again.
She stepped out and found herself in another room. The walls were painted yellow like the staircase and she noticed someone took great care with the layout and the design. Brenda approached a desk in the corner and looked out the open window that faced an open field. A little boy in a large tree out back looked out from his tree house with a makeshift telescope - two taped together empty toilet paper rolls. He snarled and threw a stuffed chameleon up in the air as a younger girl crossed the yard and headed towards the house. She seemed disoriented as she looked around.
Brenda looked down and gaped. She wasn't wearing her jeans and t-shirt that she wore to clean out the attic. Instead, she wore a cotton nightgown and her hair was held back in a high pony tail. Her shaking hand touched her face and felt the softness of youth. She pull up her nightgown a bit and glanced at her knee. The bruise. It was the bruise she got when she was in her early twenties. She had jumped from a low cliff on the beach and fell on her knee on sand covered rocks.
"What on earth?" Brenda said. Even her voice seemed to different.
She glanced down at the desk and noticed a variety of material on the desk. A pad of paper with a note that read, "Buy thermometer. House too cold?" Another note read, "Cake for Jeffrey's birthday Saturday." And another paper beside it - a poem of some sorts and a pin attached to a few charms on top of it.
"It's worth the wait?" Brenda whispered to herself.
Brenda felt cold, icy breath on the back of her neck. "You are the winner."
The sound of slow footsteps caused Brenda to jump and turn around. The young girl from outside had stepped into the upstairs office.
"Who are you? I don't recognize you."
Brenda stammered, uncertain of how to explain who she was and how she got there. "I'm -- I'm..."
The young girl nodded, a knowing look in her eyes that you usually wouldn't find on a 13 year old. She sat down on a chair by the front door and folded her hands into her lap. Such manners for a young girl. "...Me too." She said quietly.
A gush of wind breezed past the both of them. It felt cold like someone opened a freezer door. "Let the games begin."
The young girl jumped off the chair. "Wait here..."
Brenda watched as the young girl left the attic. She sat down at the chair by the desk and rubbed her arms.
"How the hell did this happen?" Brenda muttered.
"Who are you?" Brenda jumped at the sharp male voice. She turned to face him and noticed Becky right behind him. She squeezed through the door way and stepped in front of the man.
"Dad...dad..this is...this is..." The young girl looked to Brenda with desperate eyes.
"Brenda." She replied.
"She's here...because...because..." The young girl glanced at Brenda again.
"I heard you had a babysitting gig."
The young girl named Becky gave Brenda an "is that the best you got" look and nodded to the man in the doorway. "Yah, Dad. Babysitting."
"Babysitting?" Brenda heard the disbelief in his voice. She couldn't blame him. She was standing in their attic with her nightgown on.
The man chuckled and shook his head. "Guess I'm out of the loop on everything." He walked over to Brenda and shook her hand. "I'm Dan."
"Brenda." She replied.
He gave Brenda a once over. "Not really dressed for a babysitting gig?"
Brenda looked down. It was the nightgown she had worn throughout her twenties and got plenty of grief for it. She figured it was the Daffy Duck cartoon figure right across the front.
"It's a new look. The pajama thing is in."
"Ah...well you showed up a little early. Becky's mom and I aren't supposed to leave for another hour...and how did you get up here?"
Becky stepped in. "Oh, I let her in, Dad. I guess I sent her up here because...because...I thought mom was up here."
"Oh, well. Come join us then. You'll get to check out Grandma's vacation pictures to England along with us." He stepped away from the doorway and motioned for Brenda to continue on.
Brenda stepped out of the attic. She looked back and the stairwell that brought her here was gone. Nothing on the wall except for a wall. No secret passageway. Nothing at all. She resisted the urge to ask what state she was in. She already seemed like a mad woman to this man.
"Thank you," Brenda said.
She walked down the staircase and in the living room found an elderly woman and a middle aged woman, Becky's mother Brenda assumed, pouring over photographs. The elderly woman looked up and her face froze.
"How the hell did you get here?" The woman stood. "You must have had to take a jet to get here before me." She stood up from the couch and Becky's mom and dad watched in shock as the older woman approached Brenda.
"Grandma?" Brenda asked.
"She's stalking me." the Grandma said to the others. "She stalked me on the trip. She found me here now. Dan, call the police."
Brenda busy with the task of pulling the torn thread off her nightgown while watching the wind dry their laundry outside. But a snippet of conversation between Becky's grandmother and Becky's parents caught her attention.
"...and legend has it that these two people were sent back in time together because of a curse one of them came upon."
Becky's mother laughed in excitement. "How creepy! Where did you hear about this story? And why were two people sent back?"
Becky's grandmother shrugged. "Something I overheard on the plane. And you know how I love a good curse."
The group laughed. Except for Brenda and Becky.
"So how does someone get out of this curse?" Becky's father asked.
Brenda straightened up in her seat on the couch and waited for this answer. Becky's grandmother shrugged. "Not too sure. They have to figure out first whey they were brought together."
"Well," Becky's father asked standing up from the couch. "Mom, it was nice of you to come by and share your vacation photos."
Becky's grandmother stood up and gave him a quick hug. "I'll make sure to leave those gifts I got from the flea market. " She hugged Becky's mom as well. "Alright, you don't need me then, since you have your babysitter here." She came up to Brenda and patted her shoulder. "Sorry to scare you dear. You gave me such a fright. You look just like that girl from the museum."
Everyone said their goodbyes and all that was left was Becky and Brenda. They stared at each other.
"So, how did you curse us?" Becky asked.
"It would have to be." Becky said. "Otherwise how the hell did I get here?"
This stopped Brenda in her tracks. "Where...where were you before?"
"Well, I was 25 staying in a cabin with my friends when boom..."
The rush of cold wind blew through the hair.
"Digging up the past will tell you why you are here...just a small price to pay..."
Marco looked in the backseat through the rear view mirror. The blank eyes of the plastic dolls stared back at him. He knew better though.
"You're in deep trouble, you know that?"
The doll on the right didn't say anything back to him. Just stared blankly ahead as Marco nudged the car ahead in heavy traffic.
"I can't believe you would do this to me. You'll have to be the one to explain this to them you know?" Marco swore under his breath again. Weekend traffic would be the end of him. He would never get to the house in time.
A rustling in the back told him that Figaro had turned himself back. The little weasel chuckled.
"Aw, come on Marco. Have a bit more fun on occasion, huh?"
Marco's lifelong friend and talented magician Figaro had done it again. His latest trick had sent back two random strangers back ten years. Now just like any other time, Marco had to fix it.
"Zip your lip, Figaro." Marco said. Now he wished Figaro would change back to his doll form. "Those false teeth of yours might fall out with all your jabberin'."
Figaro chuckled again. "Hey, I like this girl you brought into the car with me. Is she a real or a fake?"
Marco rolled his eyes. "She's fake."
"Aw shucks." Marco heard the sounds of unbuckling in the back seat. He jumped the backseat and flopped beside Marco. "Hey let's sing a hymn."
"Halt! Who goes there!"
Marco squinted around the house to find the origin of the voice and found a little boy about the age of eight in the front yard. Marco grimaced andd shoved past Figuro who was miming an invisible box around him.
The little boy stood up from the behind the bushes. "Hey, you ruined my game of warship." He grumbled as he got away from the bushes and stepped through the front door.
"Becky! Two weirdos are here to see you!"
Marco shrugged as he walked towards the porch. "The kid speaks the truth." A glimmer of light in the corner of his eye distracted Marco for a second. At the corner of the street the sun shone down on them, casting a brilliant rainbow over their heads. "Now that's a picture that belongs in a gallery. You know? Maybe this is all a sign that things will turn around for us Figuro..."
“Foaming at the mouth.” Marco corrected.
Marco turned away from the sight created by the sunlight and faced the origin of the voice. Standing in the doorway was a young girl of about 11 years old next to a girl who looked like she was in her twenties.
Figuro wrung his hands. "Exactly."
"So, why us?" Becky asked. "And what's with the creepy voice?"
Figuro gave them a smile."Creates an atmosphere?"
"Mom and Dad won't like you bringing in strangers." Becky's younger brother asked. He stood in the doorway of the living room.
"Go play outside." Becky told him.
"I'm sick of playing outside." Her younger brother told her.
"I'll play outside with you!" Figuro jumped from the couch and rolled up his sleeves.
"Sit down!" Brenda demanded. Both Figuro and Marco jumped at the sound of her voice. Figuro sat down without saying another word. "Go play outside, now!" Brenda demanded to Becky's younger brother. His eyes widened with shock and he sulked out of the room, towards the backyard. As he left the room, Brenda heard him mutter something how he could probably fall into a gutter without anyone caring. Brenda ignored him as she turned back to the two on the couch.
"Now that we have that settled," A smile appeared on her face. "How will you get us back?"
"A song!" Figuro asked. "Hark the Herald Angel sing!" Figuro started and Marco elbowed him in the side. "Ouch, I'm kidding, of course."
Figuro fished out something from his pocket. It was a small gold pocket watch. "Well, I just have to say a few words and you will both be back in your respective times. But first, both of you look North."
Becky and Brenda glanced at each other and stared back at Figuro.
"I mean, look up to the sky."
They shrugged and looked up at the ceiling of the living room.
Figuro clapped his hands and made some whooshing noises. "And then there two!" He clapped his hands again and there was a bright flash.
The room disappeared and for a moment Brenda thought she would appear back in her attic with her husband waiting for her downstairs. Instead, when she opened her eyes, the four of them were sitting in a yard in front of a crumbling house.
"Well, this is creepy." Figuro said.
"What did you do, Figuro?" Marco demanded. Brenda had a sudden fear she may never see her true time again.
"I'm not sure. Maybe someone in this quaint little house can give us a hand." Figuro jumped up from his seated position and went to the front door. He knocked on the door until he noticed the padlock on the front. "Looks like no one is home."
"How about we try this again?" Becky asked.
"Alright. Look up." Figuro instructed.
Becky looked up and heard the magic words. There was a bright flash again, and when she opened her eyes...
When Brenda's eyes adjusted to the natural light of the sun, she realized where Figuro had taken her.
She looked down and found she wore the normal clothes from before instead of the ridiculous cartoon character night gown she had on earlier. She started walking and past the one story houses that seemed almost counterfeit or fake in terms of everything else she had seen.
A black bird heckled her as she walked towards her home. a car drove past her and Brenda jumped. She turned to find that it wasn't Figuro and his assistant Marco. It wasn't Brittney either. It was a neighbor that pulled into a house and promptly ignored her.
In a few minutes, she reached the front door step. She tried the door handle and discovered it locked. She knocked and heard the shuffling of feet. When the door opened, she saw it was her husband, who stood their in sweats and bare feet with a smear of dust across his face. Brenda's heart leaped as a rush of love and devotion filled her. She realized how worried she had been this whole time that she may never see him again. She resisted the urge to pull him into a long embrace. She didn't want anymore questions.
"Babe, what are you doing outside? I thought you were upstairs."
Brenda took a breath. "I was..I...I...I was going into the garage. I thought I left those big scissors in there. And locked myself out."
Still maintaining his confused face, her husband stepped back and Brenda entered with a smile and a shrug. She made a mental note to greet him properly later on that night.
"Is the computer ready?" She asked.
He scratched his head and shut the front door. "Yah. Ready to go...did you need help upstairs or something?"
"No!" Brenda thought of the mysterious staircase. "That's okay. Maybe start on unpacking the heavier boxes by the front door?"
"Sure, sure." He busied himself with emptying the boxes as Brenda made her way to their office.
She wondered if she might find Brittney online. Maybe on Facebook, a fad that Brenda had just joined in a few months ago. She sat down on the chair and logged on. She went to the search bar and typed in Brittney's' full name and found...
Thanks to my weekly blog hop I got inspired to create my own blog story inspired by each weekly photo prompt. I've entitled this story, "The Curse." This page is dedicated to that story and as each weekly prompt continues I will add to this page."Honey, I'm gonna go clean up the attic!" Brenda called out to her husband who was setting up the computer in their downstairs den. Moving into their new home proved to be an uphill battle. Their "fixer upper" had more than its share of issues, but the smell of dust and mold finally grew on Brenda.Brenda ascended the staircase and followed the voice calling out to her. There gripped the smooth wooden hand railing and followed it up until the staircase wrapped around to the second floor. The second floor of the attic or the third floor of their house, Brenda wasn't sure.
Seven hours on the road, four arguments, and three bathroom breaks later, we arrived at the cabin. By the time we dragged in all of our bags, argument number eight begun. Myself, my best friend Tori, her boyfriend Lance, and my roommate Brittney all chipped in for a week in a mountain cabin and I was beginning to think this was a mistake.
I busied myself with claiming one of the beds while argument eight finished. Meanwhile, Brittney cried out over a broken nail and I sat down on the lumpy mattress and took a long breath. Soon the arguments would die down and all of us would be laughing over a glass of wine. Or two.
Behind my closed eyes, I heard the sounds of footsteps. The steps paused. And then I heard a scream.
"Becky, the window!"
My eyes flew open and at the window was a man. The clouds and snow building up outside gave his face a ghoulish look. In the distance, I saw another. He wore a heavy cloak and white mask as he stood facing the cabin.
"Lance!” I yelled out. Brittney and I watched as the strange man headed in the direction of the front door.
"Tori shut the front door!" Brittney yelled. Lance stepped into the bedroom and lurched backwards as Brittney and I raced for the door's exit.
I raced passed Tori who stood frozen in place. I made it to the front door just as the door knob turned. I barreled my body against the door and pushed against it.
"What is your problem?" Lance heavy footsteps thudded as he headed for the front door. He used his weight to push against it.
"Someone was outside looking in the window!" Brittney said, her hands covering her face.
The door creaked open an inch and Brittney screeched as a hand reached around the opening. I heard someone grunt.
"The stars at night..." The voice whispered.
"Are big and bright..." Lance grunted. It was then I knew something was off. I stood back and watched as Lance pulled the front door open. The man who stood at the window, his cloaked friend and Lance stuck out their chests and sang in unison.
"Deep in the heart of Texas!" They shouted.
"You assholes!" Brittney shouted.
The guy at the window doubled over with laughter. "God you are so easy. I wanted to wave but I figured that would have killed it."
The cloaked guy pulled off the white mask and gave me a huge foolish looking grin. "We found out about your vacation through an envelope Lance left behind and Lawrence and I thought..." He motioned to the guy who had stood at the window. "This is better than Texas. It’s hot as a desert there anyway. We'll just join you in here."
While the three buffoons continued laughing about their ultimate prank. Brittney and I exchanged glances that said one thing - it was payback time.
"Becky, we shouldn't be doing this." Brittney whispered.
We were hiding in the hallway closet of our rented cabin and operation payback was about to commence. I almost felt bad for the three buffoons who were about to get a taste of their own medicine. I wanted Tori to take part, but she never would do that to her boyfriend. Not to mention she can't keep secrets.
"Okay, go." I whispered to Brittney.
Earlier in the week, we found a hidden door at the side of the hallway closet door that went behind the walls of the cabin. I followed Becky who had pressed open the secret passageway and heard it close behind me. This was where revenge would take place.
I stepped on the chair that we dragged back here.
"Hand me the file." I whispered to Brittney.
She handed me the metal file and I scraped it against the wooden chair. We heard the laughing stop.
"What was that noise?" One of them asked.
"Go." I whispered to Brittney.
Brittney started making low groaning noises. It echoed against the narrow space and it sounded like a dying animal.
"What the fu--?"
I heard moving around from the other side of the wall.
"Get out of the house." A voice whispered beside me.
I giggled. "Good one Brittney."
Silence. I looked down where Brittney stood and she wasn't standing there.
I heard a knock at the door.
Through the peephole I saw one of the guys look out the window.
"It's your dumb ass friend, Tori. She's standing outside with the mask and cape thinking she could scare us."
My heart raced as he went for the door. That wasn't me outside.
"Don't open the door!" I shouted.
I banged against the walls. It stopped them for a second and one of Lance's friends walked towards where I stood.
"Becky, you nut case. What are you doing?" One of them asked through the wall.
"I'll explain later, but stay away from the door."
I scrambled out of the narrow passageway and heard mumbling in the living room. I pressed against the door that would have taken me to the closet. It didn't budge.
"Help me!" I yelled.
I heard the front door open. I heard rumbling in the living room, heavy noises that sounded like...bodies being thrown against the floor. I screamed, but no one responded.
"Where is everyone?" I shouted.
"You are the winner." A voice whispered behind me, it's icy breath freezing my neck.
Something was wrong. Terribly wrong.
She pulled the cord that dropped the stairs to the attic. She waited a beat as the stairs conked against the wooden floor and then started her climb. At the top of the stairs, Brenda paused and surveyed the damage. The attic contained typical attic faire - boxes, old doll houses, covered up furniture, and moth-eaten clothes. She stood up and pulled her work gloves over her hands.
"Let's see what we have here." Brenda started for her first box. She pulled back the ancient masking tape and pealed back the box flap. A folded up blanket was at the top. It was imprinted with yellow ducks. A baby blanket, she realized. She noticed a faint pink smudge on the corner of the blanket.
"Lipstick." Brenda whispered.
She lifted the blanket out of the box and shook it out. Clouds of dust puffed from the blanket.
"No spiders. Thank God." Brenda said. She figured a good wash and repairing the holes would make the blanket suitable for a garage sale. She placed the blanket at the top of the stairs for her keep pile.
She reached for the next item in the box. It was a stuffed toy chameleon that changed color under the dim sunlight from the attic window. As she examined its potential, she heard a creaking sound behind her. Brenda turned to see the attic stairs shutting. She dropped the toy and raced to the closed exit.
"Shit." Brenda said. She pressed her foot against the stairs, expecting them to drop but they didn't budge.
"Shit," she said again. A soft knocking distracted her from the closed exit. Forgetting the stairs for the moment, Brenda crept closer to the mysterious noise. It came from a pile of boxes in the back corner of the attic.
"Hello?" She called out. Sudden images of victims trapped in the walls of the house and the killer coming back for them flashed in her brain. She shuddered. "No more Stephen King books for me."
As Brenda got closer, the knocking grew louder. She noticed a light behind the boxes, one she hadn't noticed before. She pushed against the wall of boxes. The knocking stopped as Brenda continued and inch by inch the light grew bigger. When the boxes were shoved over, she saw a stairway leading upwards to somewhere.
"What the hell?" Brenda asked. The stairway was carved and made of stone. The walls clean and smooth. A painted design decorated each step.
"Follow me." A voice called out.
"Hello?" Brenda took one step inside and looked up. She couldn't see anything without getting closer and took one step at a time up the stairwell.
Marco kept his eyes on the traffic. "You know a hymn?" This Marco had to hear. Of all things he knew Figaro to be, religious wasn't one of them.
"Sure, sure..." Suddenly, Figaro started belting out a nonsensical tune and Marco elbowed him in the side.
Figaro gagged as if he was chocking, while Marco chuckled quietly. "You sound like a dying peacock when you sing Figaro."
When Figaro recovered, he buckled himself in the front seat and asked, "Where did you find where these girl's addresses were?"
Marco looked in the rear view mirror to check the traffic behind him. "Your computer."
Figaro swore. "Damn, I got to get better at hiding my shi--"
"Hey! Figaro! Look! The traffic is clearing up!" Marco revved the engine and pressed the gas peddle. They would be there in no time and soon Marco could fix the mess Figaro started.
"So this is the place?" Marco asked Figuro who was starting to get on his last nerve. For the past hour he kept making motorcycle noises as they were driving. If he didn't need Figuro to get these two people back to their regular time and place, he would have elbowed him in the neck again and threw him out of the car.
"Bpthpthpthpthpthpth...huh? Oh, yah. This is it." Figuro said. He hopped out of the car first. Marco turned off the vehicle and got out as well.
Figuro stopped. He grinned at the opportunity to cause even more trouble and froze in place like the cops were after him.
"Young man, do you happen to know a Brenda and a --" Marco looked at the slip of paper for the other name. "Becky?"
Figuro stopped his mime act. "Weirdos?"
"Doubt it. They'll be pretty pissed. Probably frothing at the mouth at this point. We’re the sole purpose that their stuck in the past.”
"Who are you?”
Figuro stepped towards them and stuck out his hand. “Nice to meet you. My name is Figuro the Magician and this is my assistant Marco. Um, I have a bit, ah, some explaining to do.”
Brittney blinked a few times. When her eyes cleared up, she realized she was at the end of a street. The street that led to their cabin. She wore the clothes she had on before she disappeared. She had on the necklace she got for her 18th birthday and never took off. She checked her wrist and found the turtle shaped tattoo she got for her 21st. Now, she wondered how long she had been gone, because the snow had cleared away. But the cold bit through her clothes and she shivered in response. She just hoped her friends were still there.
She started walking in the direction of the cabin. For a while, her feet were the only sound on the still street. After a few yards, she heard the distant rumble of a car engine. An old car engine. The sound of Lance's busted Ford truck.
"What are you doing out here?" Lance called out from the truck.
Brittney turned and felt more joy and relief to see him than she ever cared to admit. She had to remind herself of his usual zoo animal like behavior, so she didn't get too relieved to see him.
He stopped the truck and hopped out. He rubbed his head. A sign he felt guilty about something.
"Listen it was just a joke we pulled on you back in the house. I didn't think you'd be on freak out mode for the whole week."
Brittney shrugged. She raised her hand to cover her eyes from the sun. "Where are the others?"
He hopped back onto his truck and reached over to open the passenger side. "Been lookin' for you!"
Brittney headed for the truck and stepped into the passenger side. She wasn't sure where to begin to explain her absence. Maybe it didn't even happen at all. Maybe it was just a freak dream sequence. The kind you read in a book and the writer ends up concluding this huge elaborate plot line as being just a dream.
"Oh, I have your cell phone. It's on the dash."
Brittney buckled her seatbelt and reached over to get her cell phone. Aside from a few random text messages and missed phone calls, everything seemed usual. Except for a Facebook friend request.
From a woman named Brenda. Brittney accepted and decided to shelve the dream sequence idea for a bit.
She couldn't help but wonder though...what the hell happened to Figuro and his assistant?
"Were gonna fix you up with some tonic and gin when we get back," Lance said as he turned the truck around. "That'll loosen your tongue a bit so you can explain where the hell you went all day."
The flash of light blinded Marco for a second, but when he came to, he sighed with relief at vision of their apartment complex.
"Ah, home sweet home."
"Dear Saviour, we're back!" Figaro exclaimed. Marco turned to see Figaro on his back, flailing about like an overturned turtle. Marco reached out his hand and pulled his companion to his feet.
"Think the girls made it back?" Marco asked. He had some concerns over his friend's ability to actually use magic properly.
"Hang on, I'll check Facebook."
Marco watched as Figuro pulled a smartphone from his pocket and tapped furiously into it. He decided not to ask where it came from.
"Ah! See? Becky's status says, 'It's good to be home.' and Brenda..."
Figuro jumped. "Whoops! She may not be in the right spot. She's talking about joining a bullfight later." His shoulder's sagged in disappointment. "Ah, wrong Brenda. Here she is...yup, back home too."
Marco breathed another sigh of relief. "Let's go home, Figaro."
He walked to the entrance of their first floor apartment. Their regular performances as a magician and assistant team afforded them a luxury two bedroom apartment. Yet, they never seemed to stay home long enough to really enjoy He picked up the stack of newspapers on the welcome mat and unlocked the front door.
"Ah, peace and quiet." Marco said as he stepped inside.
"Quiet? I can be as quiet as a mouse!" Figaro said, following closely behind Marco.
Marco rolled his eyes as he shut the front door. "You mean you don't want to sing another verse of that awful song?"
Figuro flopped on the couch and grinned at Marco "Hey, what say I take us to a beach island resort next time?"
And for once, Marco realized, his friend didn't have such a bad idea.
The End...Or is it?
Keep following my blog for the future adventures of Marco and Figuro!