Friday, 21 April 2017

Visions of Delight

As homework for the writing group I've joined, we each drew three cards from an envelope: a person, a place and a thing.  Our task then was to link these three randomly chosen items together to form a short story.

I picked an angel, a guard's van and a whip.  What would you have made of that? 
This is where my creative juices took me...

[For those of you who didn't grow up in the UK in the late 20th century, you may need to know that the names mentioned in the final paragraph are brands of instant pudding mix.]


Visions of Delight

In the guard’s van, Ted relaxed back in his chair.  His duties done for the evening, there was nothing more to worry about until the train reached Carlisle in two hours’ time.  Usually he’d pick up a newspaper to pass the time.  Tonight, though, he was tired.  His eyes settled on the dark night swishing past the window, as his mind vaguely toyed with the options for his midnight snack.  The train wheels rumbled rhythmically, and the black world went flying by…

…And the reflected lights in the window shifted and moved.  Ted blinked, peered, blinked again.  As if they were walking towards him out of the night, two figures appeared.  One was as upright as a flame, a cloak of shining white covering a dazzling suit of chain mail.  He held a long sword poised, its deadly point glittering.  The other person was hidden in shadow.  Only a few features showed redly, as if reflecting the light of an invisible fire.  Hooded and gaunt, he seemed more absent than present.  Then a glowing line bit through the air, and Ted realised this figure was armed with a whip.

The white-cloaked soldier retaliated instantly, with a mighty sweep of his sword.  It seemed as if the shadow must have been sliced in two, yet somehow he was still standing, recoiling his whip for its next vicious slash.  On his head, an odd shape caught the light for an instant: a horn? A pair of of horns?  He whirled, and it was gone, lost in the darkness behind the fiery whip.

Yet Ted was not altogether surprised when the soldier turned for a moment, revealing on his back a sheaf of snowy feathers.  He knew now who was fighting, and watched in vivid fascination as the battle unfolded.  The slashes and jabs carried a fierceness he had never before seen; yet the fight continued in utter silence, as if more than a pane of glass separated him from the contenders.

The whip was suddenly everywhere at once.  Bright slashes blazed criss-cross over Ted’s vision, like a swarm of angry bees surrounding a shadowy hive.  Squinting, he could just see the hooded figure with its tell-tale horns, skinny arms lashing, back hunched with determination.  Every blow drove the soldier back a step. His sword looked frail, his cloak shredded at the hem.  But his eyes were intent, watching for his chance.  There it was.  The whip caught, for no more than an instant.  And in that instant, the sword was driving forward, and the shadow writhed on its point, and the soldier’s great white wings spread wide, wider…

…And with a great rush and a clatter, the lights of a station splashed across the window, and then there was nothing but the dark outside.  Ted stretched, and rubbed his eyes.  His glance fell on a couple of packets, laid on the table.  He chuckled.  “Guess it’s Angel Delight for tonight, then,” he murmured to himself.  He reached over, put the packet of Instant Whip back in his bag, and started to pour milk into a bowl.

Image result for wikimedia angel delight

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