This Week’s Prompt:30. Strange visit to a place at night—moonlight—castle of great magnificence etc. Daylight shews either abandonment or unrecognisable ruins—perhaps of vast antiquity.
The Research: THE MOON
“Why do we go on these walks?” Rene asked, as he and Soren continued down the dirt path. The forest was awash in a sea of mist that night. The moon was large and luminous overhead, a bright yellow harvest sigil.
“I go on them, because the poets talk about fog and futures and truth coming on long walks in nature,” Soren said with shrug as she continued onwards, “You come along to ruin the mystery.”
“You don’t need cold evening walks to find stuff like truth.” Rene moaned. “We could come here during the day. Or during the summer. Or we could go to somewhere warmer, like a nice coffee house. You could find your sublime there, or at a pub, or not in the woods filled with fog after a rainy day.”
“The sublime suprises you! You can’t find inspiration in the terrifying and wonderful at a pub.” Soren said waving her hands around.
“There’s terrifying stuff at pubs and coffee houses. Writers and drunks, and drunk writers. If this sublime is everywhere, it can be in comfortable places.”
“We’ll go to a pub later. For now, just enjoy the change in scenery.”
“It’s the same woods as in the morning.”
“The lighting changes everything. Like, that! Look, never seen that on this track before.” Soren said, poitning in the distance. A couple miles away there was a pale shining light, a small moon amongst the trees.
“No…we haven’t.” Rene conceded. As the drew closer, the light seemed to cyrstalize into a large manor. Pillars rose from the dirt, covered in well kept ivory. Statues held the platform’s atop. The windows shone like stars in the night sky. Wolven gargoyles lay at the gate, guarding it against intruders.
“But how didn’t we?” Rene asked, looking about.
“Maybe we took a different turn this time.” Soren said with a shurg. “We should go inside.”
“I…I think that’d be trespassing,” Rene said, reaching out and touching the iron gate around it. Despite the shimmering light around it, it was solid to the touch.
“True enough. I guess we should come back during the day.” Soren said, stepping back and staring at the manor. Not a single thing seemed to move in it’s windows, not a bit of bright ivy shook in the wind. Instead it stood stoic and solid, a pale pillar beneath the brilliant yellow moon.
“Yeah. Wonder how they got it to glow like this.” Rene said, flicking the gate again. The iron gave a satisfying ring as they turned and left down the stone road, into the foggy night once more.
As promised, the two met the next day at noon. It was silent, as the birds long ago went down with the winter. The snow on the ground was more expansive, a vast white plain stretching on either side of the dark brown dirt road.
“Are you sure this is the right fork?”
“It’s the same road.”
“But the lights different! Things look different at night.”
“Well, we’ll know. If we picked the wrong trail, we can go on another one later. Its not like it’s a big woods.”
“No, there,” Soren said, pointing, “there’s the hill it was on.”
“I don’t see the light though.” Rene said, moving swiftly toward the spot. And sure enough, there was nothing glowing. Rather, there were the remains of of a wall, some bricks stacked on each other. Easily stepping over, the two investigated the remains. Here, where once pillars proudly stood were the remains of cracked bases. Where windows once gleamed, now there were shards of glass. The hand of a statue was buried under some of the snow.
“How…” Rene said, leaning over the hand, examining it closely.
“Who’s to say? It must have been a trick of the night.” Soren said, looking about. “The sublime comes once, like lightining is glimpsed and –”
“It must be only at night,” Rene interrupted, looking around.
“The missing condition. At night. Let’s try again tonight.” Rene said, frowning, crevases forming on his brow.
And they did. It was again foggy that night. The sun was pale, lacking it’s old yellow. And they went along that trail. But ruins still remained. Rubble and the crumbling corpse of the original building. Rene paced it’s perimeter carefully, occasionally kicking up the snow.
“Must be full moons only? Or maybe, once a week?”
Soren frowned, but agreed again to come back next week to the same spot. And agreed to try again at the next full moon. And then on the same day the next month, then on the same number of moons since the start of the lunar year, then the next day equa-distant form the solstice or equinox, then on the day that was next in the cycle from the full moon, the next harvest moon, then the next full moon after that harvest moon and so on.
Rene started digging deeper and deeper. The house burned down decades ago, it seemed, although how many times was unclear. It was abandoned. Not a single ghost trail mentioned, not a single traveler besides Rene and Soren claimed to have ever seen it late at night, decked in the moonlight. But Rene kept digging deeper and deeper.
Time passed, and each time the ruin remained. Soren confided in her friend that the house was gone forever, but could tell it made no difference. Rene would head out at the same time, although according to different measures, every night. Even during the day, he would spend hours without Soren, staring into the iron gate. Waiting for it to return.
Soren tried other routes, but Rene twitched and grew irritable when taken from the moon lit path. When Rene told the story of the mansion, Soren heard a longing in his voice. As if he were describing a lost pet or dead friend. Something mysterious and magical that slipped through his finger, and if only, if only Rene said, he knew the combination he could get back again. He could see that pale moonlight in the woods again.
Well, I can’t say I’m proud of this one. The vague outline might have worked as a b-story in another work, but I couldn’t quite get a conflict going. The characters are also a bit flat. Despite the extra time being finals free has given me, it just didn’t click. What about you? Did you achieve greater success with your stories?
Next week, we will discuss pre-humanity, the starts of humanity, and the preservation of the past in icy tombs!
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