Monday, 20 June 2016

The Incoming Storm-A Short Story by Lorraine Poulter

The Incoming Storm
     It is rare for someone to enter your life bringing with them hope of all things the future may hold. You look to them to fill the gaps left open by another no longer there. You impose on them the charge of making good all the bad in your life. They may not even know you have done this, they may close their eyes to it, they may simply ignore it. Others will step away with the charge on the friendship being too great for them to bear. While in others, the charge imposed is not enough.
        Joy had never known the latter. She attracted those who were shallow, inept, selfish. Time after time she was taken in by false promises, and time after time the strength they gave her was ripped from her as each one left.
       “Will you ever learn?” Mary Belle said in her thin scratchy yet commanding voice. She squinted up at Joy from the comfort of her rocking chair with bright blue eyes, set so small and round in her tiny face. The tone of admonishment was no lessened by her determination to say her piece which as far as she was concerned was long overdue. “They come, they stay and they always go.” She leant forward and pulled from a carpet bag beside her chair a piece of knitting and started to unravel it.
          “He was a charmer, alright,” Joy said, standing at the top of the porch with her hands on her hips. The watery sun glinted through the bare branches of the trees. Spring was heading into summer and many trees had still to make their leafy appearance. “Company for those cold nights,”
        “Not any more,” Mary Belle said. “You are too forgiving. Let him go and find another.”
       Joy inwardly smiled. She knew if old fly-by-night were to turn up she would take him back immediately. She gave a shudder. A random icy blast whisked over her feet and chilled her bare ankles through to the bone. Her toes curled with the cold. “There’s a storm brewing,” she said, still gazing into the woodland still bereft of green.
       Mary Belle chuckled. “No doubt. You’ve a good sense of the weather yet you wear sandals in the snow and summer dresses in the rain. You are more likely to catch your death than a prime man,”
       Joy turned sharply. “Jerome was a good man,” she said sharply.
      “He left you as suddenly as the others. Upped and was gone.” Mary Belle said viciously. She shivered and pulled her cardigan close. She added in a softer tone. “Beffore get inside. I’ll put on the kettle,”
       “I should be going,” Joy said. She was used to Mary Bell’s acid tongue. Today though she had no desire to be holed up alone in the storm with it. 
     Mary Belle was disappointed. “You are welcome to stay. I won’t have it said I turned a friend out into the storm,”
      Darkness of cloud descended over them while large droplets fell from the skies. Joy ushered Mary Belle inside just as lightning crackled and lit up the room.
      “My knitting!” Mary Belle wailed.
      “I’ll get it for you,”
      Blue lightning filled the room once more and rain collided with the roof beating out a collision of monotone tapperings.
    “No. Leave it.” Mary Belle said. “I was making a jumper for your Jerome,”
    “You were unravelling it,”
     “He’s gone, isn’t he?” Mary Belle said. “It’s my beau wool for you. One day you’ll keep a man long enough for me to finish it,” Mary Belle said. “Put a log on the fire, Joy. I promised you a cup of tea.” Mary Belle wrapped a towel around the handle of the kettle and carried it to the sink. Water spurted from the corroded taps and hissed as it hit the warm iron of the kettle. She gazed outside. Rain fell like a veil of water so dense that it obscured her view of the trees and her garden. She loved the rain. More so that the sun which she always claimed drained her with its warmth. She loved the smell of the dust that settled into the air before rain and the momentary freshness that lingered once it had stopped. A heaviness clung to her chest. Her heart was in fine form. It was more of a sense, a sense that this rain would not cleanse but annihilate.
       “Bother! She exclaimed. Water poured over the lid of the kettle and splashed into the sink soaking her sleeves and hands. 
     “You ok?” Joy’s voice called to her. 
     “It’s nothing,” she replied, wiping her hands on her cardigan before takng the kettle through to the hook that hung over the fire. When she had done she turned to Joy and said. “Tell me I have not made a mistake in asking you to stay?” Her thn frame never stood more sure although there was the undoubted tone of uncertainty in her voice.
       Joy grinned. “How long?”
       “Maybe longer than I care to admit,” she said. “Can I sit?”
      “It’s your house,”
      Mary Belle seated herself into the wooden rocking chair by the fire. She made a small groan as the ache n her back tore through her.
       Joy moved.
      “Stay. I have arthritis of the spine. Itll pass.”
      “You never said.”
      “We all have our little secrets,” Mary Belle said. “We have nowhere to go and no one to call. Tell me yours.”
       Lightning briefly streaked the room. Both started as the blue flash made shadows of them before retreating to the dull light of the fire.
       Mary Belle grinned. “Do you fear the storm?” she asked seeing the flames of ear in Joy’s eyes and not entirely unrelishing the moment.”
      Joy wrapped her thing cardigan close and said nothing.
      “There’s been talk of the incoming storn for months. They say it is unlike any other we have seen. They say we will never be the same again once it has passed,”
      “Tales of old women!” Joy scoffed.
     “Tales of old witches!” Mary Belle said. From he side of the cushion she removed a long white clay pipe wth a small pot.
     “Is that not-?”
     “Jenna’s pipe. She gave it to me the night she died. Along with those shoes.” She pointed to a pair of old pointed velvet shoes in which the toes curled round. They were heavily worn and their red colour was worn. “Played havoc with my bunions,”
©️The Incoming Storm Lorraine Poulter 2016


Friday, 17 June 2016


Merlin's Keep and The Grand High Witch are available for reading in as collections on google+. Feel free to browse. Happy reading.

Not Fantastic Works of Art, But Fantastic Works of Fun

©️Lorraine Poulter 2016

                                                              ©️Hannah Poulter 2016

     Our art teacher asked us the bring in a large empty canvas this week. She supplied the paint, the sawdust, cardamon post, rice, foil, doilies. Had a great time.

Thursday, 16 June 2016

An Early Hallowe'en Children's Story by Lorraine Poulter

                                                          Without A Clue
       Gregor folded his arms and stamped his foot crossly. “I shall not,” he said with more determination than should be available to one so small.
       “One teeny weeny bite,” implored his mother for the ninetieth time.
      “No,” he said glaring at her.
      She smiled that patient smile which really meant all her patience was spent. She was tall, willowy, with an hour glass figure wrapped in her ragged evening gown. Tattered frills hung from closely fitted sleeves that led down to her long red painted nails. Her long black hair with white fringe fell about her shoulders and draped down her back in loose curls. Her skin was whiter than white, her black eyes framed in lashes unnaturally long. Stunning, beautiful, terrifying. “Your father will be home soon,” She offered. “He won’t be happy to hear you won’t eat,”
       Gregor twisted his face away from her. He was short, stocky with dark hair and matching black eyes. His lips were ruby red against his pale chubby cheeks. He was the image of his father. 
       “You know what night this is?”
        “Yes. And I’m not going.”
        She sighed. Her main bargaining chip was lost. “Well, then eat your tea, and go to your room.”
       Gregor did not move. “I mean it,” he said. “I’m not going. Not now or never.”
      “But why not? You look so handsome, darling,” she cooed. “It’s the one night you can go out and be part of things.”
      Gregor grimaced. “I have no one to go with,” he said sadly. “And it’s all your fault,”
      She rushed over to him and embraced him. He did not yield to the embrace nor did he resist. “We will go together,” she said.
      Outside the darkest of nights had descended over them. The moon hung shyly over the horizon, full, plum and very round. Bats swept over their heads, while the howls of the dying echoed through the empty streets. 
      “I’m not going, ma,” he said sullenly pulling away.
     “Now what?” she asked.
     “I’m not going because I haven’t a clue,”
     She paused and looked at her child bewildered. “About what?”
     “I haven’t a clue,”
     “Can’t you tell me?” She asked concerned. 
      “I haven’t a clue.” He repeated, his agitation growing.
      “If you can’t tell me in words, can you find another way to tell me?”
      “There are witches out tonight with their familiars, warlocks looking for trouble, there are werewolves seeking their next meal, ghosts rising from their graves, skeletons walking by magic.”
       His mother smiled. “You are a vampire, my dear. More feared than any of these low level creatures. You should stand proud above them. We do stand above them all.”
       “I cannot go out without a clue, without my bestest friend, Artemis Cloo.” He cringed at the mention of the name. It was sure to rouse her fury. “Please dig him out for me,”
       “Artemis Cloo?” she asked. “A clue?”,
      “You said I was never to mention his name. But I miss him. Please give me Artemis to take with me and I will join the others for this Hallowe’en.”
       Unable to resist, she reached into the coffer and pulled out a hairy legged spider in a small jar clouded by cobwebs. A shiver shook her being. “His poison will lay you low for weeks. Use him wisely,” she said. She handed the jar to Gregor. 

      “Artemis,” Gregor beamed. “Thank you. I will take good care of him,” He stroked the glass jar and if it were possible Artemis smiled back. Gregor ran to the door and looking back said, “Happy Hallowe’en, ma,”
Without A Clue©️Lorraine Poulter

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Weather

The most talked about subject in all languages must be the weather. And why not? It is the most changeable and unpredictable of nature's creations. Take today for instance. I awoke this morning to lovely warm sunshine. Twenty minutes after breakfast it was over cast, then it rained with a huge plunge in temperature as to warrant the retrieval of the winter jumpers. Five minutes later it was so hot that the winter jumpers were feeling decidedly over dressed. It's been like this all day.
No wonder we talk about this feature of our world and no wonder it never ceases to amaze us with its twists and turns.

Monday, 13 June 2016

Shadows of the Past- A Complete Short Story by Lorraine Poulter

Shadows of the Past
     Veronica shook her head slowly. Had the past not taught her how to deal with what was to come? She doubted it.
      She clutched her handbag, staring intently out of the train window, looking and not seeing the sun glinting off the car window screen below, not seeing the blurred streaks of green as the train sped through fields. Her eye intent on not seeing the friendly gentleman opposite, not wishing to be drawn into conversation. There was too much to consider without the distraction of a stranger, who in a moment may not be so strange.
        She could see her reflection in the window and was startled to see how in the double glass of the window how different she looked. There was an unusual paleness to her dark hair, a youthful gleam to her face and a sparkle of vitality in her eyes she had not seen for years. She looked like herself and yet not like herself. Her hand tentatively touched her cheek. The skin felt dry and creased, just as she had seen that morning in the bathroom mirror, before lavishing on her skin moisturizer. She looked again to her reflection and tipped her thick rimmed glasses askew. She hurriedly replaced them while scanning the train to see if someone had seen. She caught sight of her reflection in the window once more. The endearing, smiling face looked back at her. It so reminded her of herself from many years past. The perfect white teeth, the freshness of youthfulness before bursting into maturity.
       Veronica blinked.
       The face beamed happily back at her.
       She turned to the empty seat beside her. Not even the seat across the train was occupied. She realized with a fluttering heart that other than the guard reading the paper and eating a sandwich, that she was quite alone with the handsome gentleman opposite. Her glance flickered past his softly chiselled features, catching her reflection in his cobalt blue eyes before looking rapidly away.
      “Have you forgotten, Veronica?”
      She started. His voice was velvet, with undertones of reeds. He could have sung the words no more beautifully than he spoke them. “Have we met?”
      He smiled. A warm embracing smile. It lit up his face not with passion but compassion. She instantly felt its warmth wash over her, with a very tiny skip of her heart.
     “It has been a very, very long time,” he said smoothly, confidentially. His hand moved across the table.
       She instantly withdrew her. She glared at him. There was something. They had not touched yet she felt he had taken it as his own. “Who are you?”
       “Gerald Armonde.”
      The name sent a shiver down her spine. She knew that name. It was a name that evoked a memory that was yet to be remembered.
      “Veronica?” he said.
     “My name. I did not give it to you.”
     “I would like to keep it,”
     “It is not yours to keep,” she said uncomfortably. This young stranger was flirting with her. A stranger from another place, another time, whom she had forgotten. She could not have forgotten that smile nor the comfort with which he embraced the world. She looked to the window avoiding any further conversation. She saw his reflection. That smile. That, oh so handsome, smile. Those brooding, piercing eyes, so deep in colour as to be the deepest purple before black. There was a charm. An irresistibleness that drew her in and threatened to drive the breath from her lungs. How long had it been since such passion stirred or indeed had been stirred, in her fluttering breast? Why so the unease? 
      The train lurched into awkward slowness. Her hat fell forward. She caught sight from the corner of her eye as the same awkward scene was played out by the younger reflections. The same and yet different. The coyness of youth, the passion of experience. Side by side, yet divided by glass.
       Then to her surprise she saw the reflection of the young chap stand and leave. The young girl was distraught. Heartbroken, sobbed so daintily into her handkerchief.
       Veronica found her hand had been taken by Gerald. She neither saw him move nor did she realized. His hands embraced hers as an unfolding tulip. 
       “What’s happening?” she asked breathlessly.
      The carriage filled with cold air. 
      He was standing. 
     “Where are you going?”
     “I was never going to stay for long. This is good bye, Veronica.”
     “Good bye?”
      The world outside the train fell into the darkness of the incoming storm. Rain fell onto the roof and splattered against the windows. Voices from outside the train carried in on the rain, guards marched by crunching over wet gravel. The train juddered into motion.
     “It is time,” he said. He leant over and kissed her before turning. “Remember me,”
     “I never forgot you,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes. She brushed them aside. When she looked. He was gone.
     Her eye caught her reflection. The face that looked back at her was not the youthful child on the cusp of womanhood. It was her own as she was then. Old, and wrought with the heartbreak of loves lost. 
©️Lorraine Poulter 2016


Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Gift

           The Gift
That time of year when love’s first kiss
Brought joys of rapture, heartfelt bliss.
When summer’s sun shone bright and warm
On waking on each glorious dawn.

The warm gentle breeze caressed our faces
Throughout a summer when love took us to exotic places.
When hand in hand the love we shared
He showed the world how much He cared.
He knelt and took from a small box, a ring
A token, a gift, from one adoring.
We paused and took a moment to linger
Then he placed the ring upon my finger
I took his hand and in it placed
A white silk hanky with embroidered lace.

Soon it was that day when we did walk
And sadness took over our parting talk.
The day when soft rain drowned our dreams
And washed them away in gushing streams.

That final day when all was right 
A heart left broken when he went to fight.
The long and dreary winter passed
When a letter from him came at last.
Opened with hopeful news of peace, no more end to life,
That this news of his return to make me his wife.

Then from the envelope fell to the floor
The hanky given to my amour.
I knew then the news contained could not be well
The shaking hand I could not quell.
The letter said “He was brave, honourable to the core,
Of his kind the world needed more.
The day a good man died, a man who loved who went to war.”
©️The Gift Poem 2015 Lorraine Poulter

The Final Part of The Grand High Witch

     “LET ME IN!” Jado said, his voice laden with pathos and sorrow and yet fully commanding. It boomed through the hovel drowning out all sounds of the storm. “It is I, Jado. Your one time friend. Let me in!!!” he moaned.
       The Grand High Witch stood stock still as snowflakes blew into hovel and through the spectre before her. Yes. He was not only transparent but hollow too. Her heart was frozen with fear and although her hard mind was sharper and colder than the breeze that ushered inside. She reached out to close the door leaving Jado outside. “Be gone with you foul fiend! You are no friend of mine,” she spat through her brown teeth. 
      Jado did not move. “I am neither foul nor a fiend. You curse failed.”
      The Grand High Witch flustered. Her arm moved to close the door. Only it did not move. Her hand held tight on the edge of the door and her arm was unable to move. She could neither open nor close the door. “What have you done to me?” she screeched.
      “Nothing. I bring you nothing. It is that narrow voice you neglect. The voice of your conscience. You are torn, Grand High Witch. You want rid of me yet you want to know why I am here. You do not know which way to turn.” He said with a slight, very slight, chuckle. He bandages on his face loosened slightly and a very slight droop to his fleshless jaw could be seen.
        She struggled to move for a moment to move and gave up. Her shoulder ached from the effort. “You had better come inside then,” she said resignedly, never one to waste time when she had no choice.
       The tall spectre of flowing rags floated inside. She gazed at it. So unlike the Jado she knew. He seemed more assured, more confident than the broken wizard she had evicted from the group. “Death agrees with you,” she muttered. The Grand High Witch stumbled forward as the door was released and suddenly shut closed. 
       Dusting the cobwebs from her cardigan she turned to face him.
      Jado hovered above the ground. His long robes, probably the robes he was buried in, hung below his feet that they could not be seen. “You died?” she uttered.
      “Of a broken heart. You remember the circumstances?” he said with pathos.
      “You certainly weren’t well.” She said.
      “For months I was driven to distraction by your lies.” He seemed to grow in his rage and his anger filled the room. “I am sure you remember.”
      The Grand High Witch hid her head under her arm as she cowered.
      “Do you seek my forgiveness?” she offered in a broken voice. “Do you need closure before you can move on?”
      “I am not here for myself. I come for you.” Jado said mournfully.
       The Grand High Witch straightened her back. “That’s very kind of you. There is no need. I am in a good place. A better place for you not being here. No need for you to linger any more. Go and be happy,” she uttered breathlessly. “I release you,”
      Jado was quiet. Very quiet. And then he laughed. He laughed so heartily and loud that his lungs would surely have burst, had he owned any that worked. The whole raggedy being rocked.
       “What’s so funny?” she asked, her uncertainty was returning. 
       “You!” he roared. Menace crept into his voice and the Grand High Witch cowered once more. “I am not here to haunt you. I am here to collect you.”
        The Grand High Witch for the first time turned pale. Every line of her square face deepened and every long year she had lived showed all at once. She asked feebly. “Where are you taking me?”
         “Wherever you may wish to go. Anywhere in the Ether or the solid world. Any place where you cannot perform your magic. You have made a name for yourself on this side of the Ether. The Demons of Silth have asked me to close you down,”
         She spluttered. “I am the best demon summoner this side of the Ether Cloud. Why would they want to close me down?”
         “Your magic is tainted. You have been cursed and are too proud or stupid to know it.”
        “Now you stop right there. My magic is the purest of darkness.” she said regaining her composure. “You may have come here with some idea of saving me, well I don’t need saving. In case you have not noticed there is no one with the magical power to curse me. I am the Grand High Witch,”
       The bandage surrounding Jado’s face fell onto his chest. His fleshless bony skeleton gazed out at her with red burning eyes in his skull. His jaw plunged open. Jamieson hissed and retreated to the kitchen.
       With a bony hand he held his jaw as he tightened the cloth.  “Demelza Goodchild. Ring any bells? A couple of months ago you evicted this talented young witch from the group in a most ignominious manner. You were jealous of her powers and you knew she posed more of a threat to you than those two dimwits you keep in tow.”
      “It’s called protecting your interests. You were as guilty of as much in your lifetime.”
     “You ran circles around her with your magic and your callous lies. You drove her out in tears. I am surprised at you. You a wasted an opportunity. With her at your side you could have accomplished what I had never fully realized. You could have brought union with this world and the Ether. You would have made history.”
       “I didn’t know. She can have a second chance, if she likes.” Grand High Witch said sulkily. She could never share the power. Although she could use some extra magic to help her climb the slippery path to the Ether but once there she had no need of anyone else.
       “No bother. There is no chance of her returning. Demelza cursed you. She cursed you to have this very night, to speak with me and others whom you have treated disgracefully and worse. To live out your worst nightmares.”
       “A curse? I’m sure I would have noticed.” 
       “You chose not to.”
       “I’ve been cursed before by better witches. Nothing much came of them.”
       “Far from it, Esmerelda. Yes. I know your name. The name you abandoned. The name given to you when you were born. The name you chose to forget. Esmerelda.”
       “Don’t call me that.”
      “It is your name.”
      “ Truth is I never liked it.” She chewed her lower lip. 
      “So you changed it for something more in keeping with the role you would like yourself to play. Grand High Witch. A title, not a name. A job description. Think on, Esmerelda. You have lost this game. You have been found,”
      “Let it begin.” She said proudly. “I am ready,”
      “It has begun already. I am your curse. I am to be the voice of our conscience. I am to haunt your every decision. I am to be the voice in your ear that raises doubt. You will not have a thought without which I cannot pass judgement. Not a single thought.”
      The Grand High Witch paled. She raised a shaking hand to her mouth. “For how long?” she uttered.
      “And if I change my ways?”
      The wail that tore through the fabric of time was heard by all who had the capacity to hear. The sound of some poor demented creature caught in a snare.
©️2016 Lorraine Poulter 


Saturday, 11 June 2016

The Darkest Hour

The Darkest Hour
“Hold back until the whites of their eyes
Shine through the darkness to the wise!”
The soldiers feared their sergeant lost
For they were surrounded by,
Not white but red eyes of their unwelcome host.
Many fled with terrible dread
And those who stayed knew they were dead.
“Wait until the first sunlight,
Before we step into this fight.”
And so in mud-filled trenches they waited through the starless night.
In cold endurance they supped their rations
While rain fell down upon them in relentless fashion.
The dark was deep and endless run
The soldier’s solace, lay in his gun.

“Get ready, men. Soon we will go.
In honour, wisdom, and the world will know
Our numbers few, we did not cower
We died for good, in this darkest hour.”
They waited through the darkest night
To take the order, that sent them into fight.

Hand in hand in conflict’s arms
Through vales of death, through tears of veils,
They lay, wretched, defeated,
Soldiers of the Quest of Psalms
The darkest hour fell onto them.

And they knew their time was done.
©️2015 Lorraine Poulter

Silence is Broken

                                                             Silence is Broken
      In the valley. The dry, barren wasteland amid the arid desert rocks, where the bald Eagle flew.  This was their homeland.  A vast expanse of land that bordered the river, edged across the lakes by forests that rose high up onto the plains. Their village of conical tents covered in animal hide. They had lived here since the beginnings of time, they were the ancestors of the future. Their ways the same as their forebears, unchanged, and never changing. Amid this township a huge fire burned. It smoked and crackled. These people had gathered. Horses neighed while they sang, chanted in a low rhythmic singular voice. 
       The witchdoctor danced, he whooped, he shook burning twigs before their faces. His song to rouse the dead and numb the mind to the drums that beat the heart of the village. He promised her that as the sun went down so the “silence would break”. The sound would herald the end of the old and bring in the new. Mikita could not understand this. There was no new world to come without her husband. Her life had ended. She was old, used. Without him she would be an outcast from the village. The day her husband took the brunt of that Moose’s antler was the day her world ended too. She felt her duty would be to burn with him.
      Mikita covered her eyes, fearing she would faint at the thought. An arm touched hers bringing her back with a kind smile. Did they expect this of her?
      Then several more joined the gathering. Some danced, their tanned faces painted, their hair clamped under their feathered headdresses. Men. Warriors. Would  one of these fine men seek her for their wife? 
      She watched blandly as women fussed over their beads and swayed to the rhythm. 
      The drums throbbed. Drawing them. Taking from them the truth of the present and giving them the old truths of the fathers. 
       Mikita wanted this. The present was too painful. Too horrible.  
      She wanted to be lost to the vapours, the course smoke of the fires to tingle in her throat and scents of the burning sticks to numb her mind. 
     Singing, whooping filled the air, chanting waving, dancing. It was frenetic, yet mournful. A desperation, an urgency of their need. The spirits of their fathers so readily ignored them, easily took from them that assurance that the afterlife was one intoxicated dance away around and ever round the blazing fire.     
      Mikita watched. 
      The sinking sun cast orange and purple shadows on the calm lake. The wooden boat was set into the oily waters. They were near the end. The single boat glided over the still water, knowingly taking the boat, knowingly treasuring and welcoming its only passenger wrapped in a shroud, lying with all life gone.
        A whoosh. A flaming arrow was soared toward the boat. A gentle thud then a ball of roaring flames as the boat was engulfed.
     The  world silenced as they turned to the banks and watched: in profound silence. 
    Such silence as had never been known. The silence of knowledge, of anticipation. 
     Mikita tightly clutched Nerin’s hand. They waited an eternity. Until finally through the fire, white eyes formed, then up rose the grey head of a wolf. Mikita’s heart skipped a beat. Nerin smiled. “Is it him?” he whispered. She breathed a sigh.
    From the far off mountains a lone wolf bayed up at the solitary moon.
©️2016 Lorraine Poulter



"Big Bang" Theories

A couple of years ago Hannah introduced us to the comic delights of the Big Bang Theory.  For the few who do not know it is a tv programmed based of the fictional lives of a small group of science geeks. Immediately Hannah began to draw similarities between my personality  and those of the character played by Jim Pearson, Sheldon Cooper. At first I was unsure how to take these comments as I was new to the programme and did not understand the character and his quirks.It was not long before I realized how true she was. I cannot claim to have Sheldon's eidetic memory nor his intelligence but I do understand some of his social misunderstandings and the oddness and ambiguities of our language. If there are two ways of interpreting a conversation you may be I get the wrong meaning. And sarcasm is totally wasted on me as I never know.
I have grown to love my personality counterpart and although I do not let on, I love watching the programme.

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Angel of Hope by Hannah Poulter

Hannah painted this picture at the height of her depression. I always felt it was like the awakening dawn after the long, dark night.
Painting Angel of Hope©️ Hannah Poulter

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Grand High Witch-2

  The Grand High Witch looked to her remaining followers. “Well! Now we know the way the cookie crumbles!” she said nastily. 
      Midliss and Marlos smiled weakly at each other. It was all too much for them.
      “Quite so, quite so,” Marlo said, he mopped the beads of sweat from his brow. The chill of the night had no impact on the perspiration coursing from his neck down his back: a cold sweat borne of sheer naked fear. He had just witnessed something he hoped never to see again. He had seen a person, a friend, callously run to ground by sly innuendoes. He had witnessed Jado slowly lose his mind with worry, lose all confidence in his fellow coven members knowing that things are not right; and not knowing from where the unsettled realization that you were being excluded from your own group came from. For weeks Jado had turned to Midliss seeking answers and at every turn she had betrayed him, only succeeding in confusing him more. He had watched Jado disintegrate under the pressure of never knowing who or where to point the finger of suspicion or accusation of disloyalty. Marlos had witnessed it all. And did nothing.
       The Grand High Witch continued. Her hat wobbled importantly over her long, crooked warty nose from which hung a large pendulous drip was waiting to be caught in an unsuspecting tissue. “Just like that other upstart who joined us a few months back. She turned nasty for no reason at all. Never would have thought it of her. Mad as hatters the two of them. Glad to see the back of them,”
        Marlo felt a wrench of nausea at the recent memory. “I thought she showed great talent,” he said. His thumbs twiddled around each other as his hands were clasped together. A reaction to the anxiety he now faced.
        “What do you make of it then?” The Grand High Witch said. Her eyes darting eagerly from one to the other. She was keen to make good use of the now vacant seat of power that had so effortlessly fallen into her lap. How fortunate she was to be there. All that was needed now was to take control. There was no denying the coven was now hers for the taking. She just had to convince these numbskulls to hand it over to her. “You, Midliss? What do you think?” She pounced.
        Midliss flustered and a red bloom flushed her cheeks. The Grand High Witch knew how favourably she stood with Midliss. At that moment, the knowing was not enough. She wanted to hear it. She wanted Midliss to anoint her ears with those words of adoration and affirm her power once and for all in front of them all. “It is a shame that Jado has left in these circumstances,”
        Thunder crept across the Grand High Witch’s face.
      Midliss added quickly. “But I think he should not have said all those horrible things to you, Grand High Witch,”
      The Grand High Witch smiled. Sympathy? It was a long time since she had evoked sympathy. A highly potent emotion, which when offered freely can be used to great disadvantage. “Right, right, right. Barking mad.” She said impatiently. “What of you, Marlo?”
     “I-I’m still trying to take it all in,” he replied timidly. He was fond of old Jado. It pained him to witness the manner in which Jado had been cornered and ousted. He swallowed hard. Maybe he was getting old but he found the ousting of witches and warlocks from covens no longer the pleasurable experience he once enjoyed. He was getting old. Too old to play this game.
         The Grand High Witch’s face fell in sorrow. “I understand the shock you all must be feeling.  I can only feel pity for the state of his mind. His mind is gone.” she moved in for the final damning words. “It is our duty to ensure he never returns as leader. For his own good, of course,” she placed her hands on the table in a business like fashion. This was after all unfinished business and she wanted all loose ends that lay between her and the leadership of the coven, tied up before they left that evening. She retrieved a mangled tissue from her sleeve and wiped her nose. Her sharp nose itched and it was not the evidence of her cold. It was the itchy nose of conflict. She was ready for it. “Without further ado, I suggest we close our Sabbath for this evening,” she said. “All this going on will turn the energies against us. We should meet again next week.”
       “Do you really think so?” Midliss said her voice rank in disappointment. 
      “Maybe Jado will calm down and return soon,” offered Marlo.
      The Grand High Witch fumed. She could not afford to upset either of them. Yet. “I fear he has gone. Gone for good. Now we must decide who will take up his mantle until we find a replacement. While we are waiting I do not mind standing in until such time a replacement is found. If everyone is in agreement?”
       “Oh! That’s very kind of you, Grand High Witch!” exclaimed Midliss with admiration.  Her smile dropped when she saw the empty seats around the altar. She wondered how so many people could be so disagreeable, so very judgemental of the Grand High Witch. She was seriously misunderstood by them all and many more. If they all gave her a second chance they would see how vulnerable the Grand High Witch was and how much she was in need of a really good friend. That good friend, Midliss hoped would be her.
       “I can advertise in Witch Weekley. Put the word out at the same time for mew members. It’s been a while but I still have some connections. Our numbers will be full in no time.” She saw their glazed faces. She was moving fast, too quickly for them. She added.  “If that’s alright by you?”
      “Oh yes,” said Midliss. “That would be wonderful,” her face alight with more admiration and hero worship.
       Marlo looked doubtful. “We are no longer a coven nor are we a twelve or any number but a three. What do we do while we wait for new members?”
      “Good point,” the Grand High Witch said. “I suppose we could set up a weekly practise. Continue with our Sabbath meetings but we could use the time to hone our spells and magic. Until more join. We could boost the energies of the altar in preparation of resumption of our full numbers. Who knows? We might accumulate so much energy that we could carry on as normal,”
        Midliss and Marlo nodded.    
      The following weeks saw the Grand High Witch in tremendous form. She relished setting up her own coven. She paraded through the meetings which had suddenly moved from a democracy to a dictatorship with the grace of a blindfolded bull in a china shop. She was unstoppable. She cast spells each week and showed off her talents to great effect. She ordered the meetings, she ordered their lives in the same way. She dazzled them with her abilities as a coven leader. She became their shining star. They could see no one but her, obey no one but her, hide their feelings from no one but her and totally submit to no one but her. They could not have seen it coming nor did they realize the depths to which they had sunk; so obvious to the world outside the group. They shunned and were shunned by all those who disagreed with the Grand High Witch. Their numbers were many more than Midliss and Marlo knew or cared to realize.
       As time went by new members joined although they all left. Often without a word, just simply vanishing. Never to be seen. Their departures always observed with an acid remark by the Grand High Witch, denying all knowledge as to the cause of their leaving and declaring them all mad. Midliss and Marlo never questioned, and questioned the sanity of those who questioned the Grand High Witch. 
     On rare occasions a couple of those who left the group under that invisible cloud had seen the Grand High Witch out of the corner of their eye only for her to disappear when they looked more closely. For such a conniving, grasping, controlling creature the Grand High Witch loathed face to face disputes and avoided them with the enthusiasm of an arachnophobe  who avoided spiders. Theses disaffected had the pleasure of never speaking with her again on any terms.
     It was about six months later and the coven settled into a cosy weekly homage to the Grand High Witch. She revelled in it. She loved it. As each week passed her power and control over them grew. They became compliant to her ways as she introduced them to the darker arts of their Craft. She took from them all sense of will and self to that of complete obedience, complete obedience to her alone.  A craven, evil witch who sought to have nothing more than power. Power over them, over the Ether, over the coven, over the world. She cast spells of concealment. Concealment of her own dark ways. She knew they were dark and would not be tolerated by them had they the sense to see it. Her spells wove a thin yet strong web around them until they were willingly seduced by the Grand High Witch, plummeting them into the abyss alongside her.
      They enjoyed a hugely successful few months. Their weekly Sabbaths were considered the most exciting and extravagant among the covens. Many looked on with admiration and longing although few approached to join. The reputation of the Grand High Witch had well moved beyond the coven and while the other witches admired and respected her, they also feared her. Those outside could see the terrible things happening within and dared not venture too close for fear of being caught up in some diabolical caper. Also many had heard of how Jado and others had been forced to leave. So no matter how much advertising and spreading the word this coven remained as a Three. Or as they were known the Poisoned Three. For indeed all who came in contact with them, had their world poisoned by them. Yet neither Midliss nor Marlo had the eyes to see it.

       Christmas was drawing near. The nights were dark dotted with frosty sparkling stars, the magic of the ancients filled the air. To all but the likes of the Grand High Witch, it was a beautiful time. She hated it. All that good will and joy to all. Yeuch! She was even seen to gag at the mention of Christmas.
      The Grand High Witch wrapped her holey cardigan over her shoulders and shivered. The icy wind whistled through the cracked wooden window frames and from under the door. What a year! she thought as she hummed happily to herself. The grey net curtains rustled stickily. On the table at her side was a notepad on which she was planning the year ahead. So much to do, and so little time to finish it. She was old, even ancient by standards. And all her life she had lived in the shadows; in the shadows of evil; in the shadows of others. Too long had she waited. Too long had she lingered around her dreams instead of breathing life into them. This was her time to shine.
             This night. This was the night.
      The wormy grandfather clock struck the hour. She stirred the bubbling green gloop in the cauldron. She sprinkled in some powder and stirred some more. It was ready. She took out a bowl and spoon from the cupboard, the ladled the gloop into the bowl and retreated to the rocking chair. Pea soup. Nothing like it on a cold winter’s night.
       Jamieson, her black cat and loyal familiar, curled by the dying fire. He was a lean creature with black clumpy fir, a crooked bottle brush tail, a tear in his ear. His knowing yellow eyes twinkled from beneath his half closed lids. He too sensed it. This eve of Christmas held not only the expectations of the following day but also the sense that magic was around. Magic unconnected with Christmas. He sleepily hissed, baring his teeth while the hackles on his back rose.
       “There, there, Jamieson,” The Grand High Witch said. She stretched down a long crooked finger and scratched his bony head with her long grey nail. 
       The door to her hovel blew open. The roaring storm from without entered. A blast of cold air met her old lungs and she gasped.
       The Grand High Witch leapt to her feet. Filling the doorway was a grey almost transparent apparition.
       “LETT ME IN!” the spectre boomed in his horrible deathly voice. His rags flowed as though through water, his awful face wrapped in bandages that held its jaws closed.
       The Grand High Witch froze. 

       It was Jado.
The Grand High Witch©️Lorraine Poulter 2016