Quaker Hollow

After Frost pulled the car over. The full story so far is here.

The dappled sunlight on the cart road was deep gold, the shadows cool and deep in the late afternoon light. Frost’s hand was warm around hers as they jogged awkwardly down the hill that lead to the Quaker Hollow burial ground.

The last week’s snows had melted, but the following hard frost left the track welted and uneven.

The gates welcomed her, just as they had since she was old enough to ride her bike out from town. There was a touch more rust on the arch, the frostbitten grass longer than she remembered at the base of the stone pillars, but her grandfather was too old now to tend to the upkeep, and he was the last living member of the Friends Meeting.

She felt some guilt that the old stories had kept her away.

Her eye coasted over the patch of inexplicably scorched earth in front of the gates and inside to the neat rows of mossy graves. Frost pushed through the screeching wrought iron—she winced when his pricey European boots touched down on the Firebrand’s path. She turned her face to the left and hopped over the dead ground and followed him up to the mound where the Meetinghouse once stood.

He sat, patting the cold grass. His shadow was long and blue, stretching towards the woods. It occurred to Roxanne that even the trees had gone quiet and a shiver rolled down her back.

“Roxanne,” Frost said. It was the first time he’d said her name. “I’m sorry about losing my temper back there—”

And the gravestone behind him shattered. Shrapnel blew out against their backs. Roxanne shrieked as a shard of ancient slate sliced her cheek. Frost knocked her to the ground as another round buried itself in the grass to their left.

She pressed her fingers to the cut; they came away bloody. She smeared her fingers on the ground as a third round tore through the bark of a nearby tree. The blood sizzled slightly in the soil. A wailing cry rose up as the waning sunlight was extinguished by fingers of mist creeping out of the woods. The smell of hot metal drifted on the fog.

“Jesus,” Frost whispered.

Roxanne barely drew breath as footsteps crashed away through the brush. They stayed down as the air cleared. Frost sat up first.

“Roxanne.” His voice was urgent. She pushed herself up. A melted heap of metal steamed in the center of the cart road outside the gates. The grass around it was charred and smoking.

“The Firebrand.” She stood and left him. Pushing back through the iron gates, she turned her bloodied cheek to the left and hopped over the bare earth. Stopping in front of the wrecked weapon, she dug into her pocket and pulled out a penny.

With a kiss, she dropped the penny onto the road.

“Frost,” she called. “We should go back to town.”

 

 

Write On Edge: Red-Writing-HoodAccording to Dante, the gates of hell are inscribed “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

Let that inscription lead, but not necessarily define, your piece for Friday’s link-up.

12 responses to “Quaker Hollow

  1. First of all, no one on this planet describes a scene like you do. I feel like a background character or bystander to your story because of the sensory words and terrific flow of adjectives.

    I like Roxanne’s cool under fire, literally. This was a well written, action packed installment. can’t wait for the next one.

  2. The second time I read this, I was struck by the wonderful clues…the fears, the scorched grass.

    As always I love the sensory details…her wince as his feet touch the earth, the screech of the gate, the smell of metal.

    The shattering gravestone surprised me, which is what you intended. It takes me off balance, just as it did for Frost and Roxanne.

  3. You really know how to set up a scene! A graveyard can be creepy, but you made it even moreso with the mound, and the attack was just icing. This sort of struck me as a scene from a movie…

  4. As usual, your touch is light but filled with the sensory details that make the story so tangible.

    I like how Roxanne has a sense of, perhaps, inevitability about the evening. Her matter of fact superstitious gestures, her feeling of guilt over neglecting the place, it’s all done so well.

  5. So much I need to know here! Incredibly tantalising.

    May I just say that I stumbled over the use of the word ‘hop’, it somehow seemed too light in the circs.

  6. Cameron I love your work, as you know. But you know who else I love? Your readers! I always read through the comments and then find myself reading your work all over again.
    Which is what I’m doing now….

  7. Really compelling! I love the juxtaposition of the peaceful Quaker Meeting House and the subsequent events. I used to see them in Cornwall: they were the epitome of calm and unventfulness. This really is a fantastic story, Cameron.

  8. Pingback: Red Writing Hood: Abandon All Hope | Write On Edge

  9. I actually went back and read the entire story and it’s great! But you probably already knew that.
    I like how Frost is so care free seeming and she is more grounded but willing to let loose a bit and goes with him. Know what I mean?
    I look forward to reading more.

  10. I loved that I felt the heebie jeebies crawling up my back as she walked towards the contraption. As she kissed that penny, I was waiting for the next shoe to drop. You built the anticipation beautifully, added the shock of the gravestone shattering with perfect timing. You’ve got my curiousity peeked with this Firebrand. I’m going to have to spend some time over here this week and read this whole story.

  11. Wow. Talk about deserving of a second read. I was absolutely blown away. This line in particular gave me chills: “The blood sizzled slightly in the soil.” I haven’t been keeping up with this storyline – now I think I might have to!

  12. Everyone said it so much better than I could. But rather than not comment, I loved this and will go back to catch up on the story.

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