In a dark hallway of common wood a Grandfather clock stood, beside it a table with a simple decoration of now dead holly branches with once red berries tied in red ribbon. The clock whilst not wound, chimed a silent toll for eleven o’clock.
The child’s room was dark and dusty, a sense of memories and tears floated in the air with the tiny pieces of dust that swirled around the room. Clouds of the past caught in the moon beams through the ice covered windows that projected an age old tale to be told forever. Toys scattered the floor, made of wood, tin and rough furs. Lead soldiers in red jackets stood in uniform blocks, others scattered from the bullets, cannons and bayonets of a make believe war and innocent death. A lost teddy bear sat one-eyed under a small bed that stood in the corner. Iron bars curved and beautiful adorned the ends whilst blankets once warm now emanated loss, laying scattered and uninviting upon the worn mattress. Hung from a tarnished brass bed knob was a large sock, the red colour of the wool faintly still showing under the dust that had settled upon it’s empty presence.
Something moved in the darkest corner where a bookshelf stood, it’s overbearing form leaning into the room where the wooden floor had settled unevenly. Children’s books filled the lowest shelf, some upright and well placed, others stacked on their sides, pages worn and crumpled from small hands that held them whilst dreams of heroes and monsters were fed. The next shelf was full of collected curiosities, the possessions of a child treasured as gifts from someone loved or found on a special day that would be remember forever. Amidst the intentionally placed small wooden chest, semi-precious stones and a carved wooden bear sat a monkey. It’s brown fur dressed in a red and gold laced waistcoat and a bellboy hat of the same design. It’s arms raised in joy enhanced by the painted excited expression of it’s face. It’s grin was eerie in the dull moonlight that barely reached it. In each outstretched fabric hand a tin symbol had been fixed with cotton, like buttons through small holes at the peaked centres of the tarnished disks.
The symbol in the monkey’s left hand shimmered slightly as it gently vibrated from the movement of the arm. It pushed at the air and against the years of dust and damp, it wanted to move. As it began to edge inwards the other arm joined in strained motion. The metal discs edged closer with agonising slow effort, it was not until they almost met that the laws of nature relented and the monkey’s arms moved with any apparent observation. The symbols gently touched, ringing out with an almost inaudible pitched clang. The long silence of the seemly unoccupied room was interrupted. The grin of ink and lead emanated the glee of changing the world around it even if only for a brief moment. With stuttering motion the monkey’s arm moved outwards as far as their creator would allow and then with a new smoothness and urgency back in again, the symbols clattering like a gun shot. Again and again the arms moved back and forth, with each inward stroke bringing the clattering sound of tin upon tin. The monkey began to jump up and down from the frantic motion of it’s upper limbs, legs unmoved in their crouching position against the body. The unnatural movement brought the toy to life, a soul behind painted eyes celebrating in the joy of breaking the silent veil.
Snow began to fall outside the window and as the large frozen flakes began to fall the monkey stopped suddenly. A curtain flinched briefly sending dust into the moon beams in a spectacular dance, specks twisted, raised and fell in a chaotic beat. A Spotlight highlighted the dust celebration as some of the moisture on a glass pane at the window was roughly wiped away like a small hand had been moved across the surface to see outside. It was magical outside, pure moonlight brought a mystic blue to the night as the land outside turned white with the heavy fall of snow flakes upon the ground, trees and hedgerows. Thoughts of snowmen, sledging and snowball fights with friends filled the room, an excited smile for the day that would not come. Before long the garden outside was completely covered, no dirt, grass or brick path showed. A fox trotted out of the hedge leaving a trail of paw prints in the fresh snow. It stopped suddenly as if it had sensed something different in the night. It looked up at the window to the dusty bedroom and cocked it’s head looking directly at one pane of glass that was a clear patch amongst the ice that filled the other panes. The fox stared as if it had made contact with another creature, both sets of eyes meeting and trying to understand one another in the silent conversation. Before long the fox looked down and then continued on with it’s journey, disappearing into the hedge that edged the garden. It’s previous tracks now lost, new tracks started as if the creature had appeared from nowhere in centre of the cottage garden. But before long even the new footprints had vanished in the continual snowfall.
Footsteps, small and solid ran across the room away from the window, sudden silence as a moment later the mattress compressed and more dust erupted in the air, playing in the moon light, creating patterns some random, some more recognisable to a human eye. It was Yule tomorrow and he must be asleep when Santa Claus arrives. But he was too excited, snow was falling and tomorrow would bring a wonderland for him to play in after opening presents and the glorious goose dinner. It was all too much and he smiled until his face ached with joy. As he laid there he began to notice the cold, a cold that chilled him deep inside. The house was old and full of drafts, he thought of the warmth of the fireplace with his parents sitting there after they had placed him in bed, smiling and wishing him a good night. He pushed himself under the blankets in attempt to become warm, but no matter how long he laid there, the cold always sat within him. But he was used to that, he had been cold as long as he could remember. Before long he drifted into a slumber with a small smile on his face.
He was unsure how long he had been asleep for when noises from outside disturbed him. But he woke with an excited mind and jumped from the bed running over to the window where he had stood previously. His mind raced with thoughts of Santa. As he looked out upon the snow covered ground, he saw four men, dressed in black on horses, each carrying a flaming torch, three with rifles slung across their backs. They dismounted and the sound of banging upon the wooden door echoed through the stone building. He heard shouts and the screaming of his mother, a deep booming voice cried out “Witch”. He jumped in fear as a gun shot boomed in the night, followed closely by a second that brought silence to the home.
Heavy footsteps not like earlier, but heavy and full of dread echoed in the hallway, coming closer and closer to the door to the dusty child’s room. Each step echoing until they stopped, heavy breathing replaced the deathly beat of foot against wooden floor. The door swung open violently, curtains moved, not from the sudden cold wind that entered the room from the door but a presence of scared innocence. Tears fell to the wooden floor, there was a moment of hesitation and the room filled with the tension of both fear and belief. The room suddenly smelled of burnt gun powder, it lingered in the cloud of dust dancing in the moon light, a final memory.
One year later.
In a dark hallway of simple wood a Grandfather clock stood, beside it a table with a simple decoration of now dead holly branches with once red berries tied in red ribbon. The clock whilst not wound, chimed a silent toll for eleven o’clock.Copyright: David Atlee – www.frozendesigns.co.uk