Roberta Writes – Thursday Doors Writing Challenge

I have enjoyed reading the poems and stories contributed for Dan’s Thursday Doors Writing Challenge. It occurred to me during the course of this week, that there are a lot of passages in my book, Through the Nethergate, that lend themselves to certain pictures. I decided to share some of these passages with a door I think is a good fit. This is just a bit of fun for me as I didn’t write these pieces specifically for the challenge, obviously. I have spent the last two weeks working on a short story about the Battle of Isandlwana that was the inaugural battle of the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879.

You can join in this weeks Thursday Doors challenge here:

They entered the hall together, just in time to see the elevator doors hiss shut behind the last of Hugh Bigod’s henchmen. Henry could see that the button for the penthouse was lit up.

Henry guided Lizzie towards a door with a picture of a flight of stairs above it. He opened the door and a wave of hot air hit them. The narrow stairwell was like an oven. It was also unlit. “I’ll go first,” said Henry, “you follow right behind me, Lizzie. Stay close.”

The door swung shut behind them as they started up the steep stairs. The light was instantly cut off and they moved in complete darkness. Terrible sounds filled the blackness, sobbing and howling, as the pair forged their way upwards.

They climbed and climbed, passing doors opening onto different levels. Henry opened one and they peered into another vast hall. It looked exactly the same as the one on the bottom floor, except for a half a dozen glass-walled meeting rooms.

A group of people were seated in the closest room. A man who Henry recognised as Josef Mangele, nicknamed the Angel of Death, was writing on a whiteboard.

Henry had been fascinated by World War Two and had listened to numerous conversations among visitors to the Inn about this topic during and after the actual event. During the war, he had also avidly read any newspapers he could get his hands on about how it was progressing for Britain. The Nuremberg Trials, held for the purpose of bringing Nazi war criminals to justice after the war ended, had provided him with a lot of information about the ex-Nazi souls he could see in the glass-walled room.

Josef Mangele was a physician at the German concentration camp, Auschwitz, during World War Two. A wicked man who was part of the team of doctors responsible for deciding which arriving inmates would be sent to the gas chambers. He also performed deadly experiments on prisoners. In the room with Josef Mangele was another well-known Nazi, Reinhard Heydrich.

Reinhard Heydrich was responsible for the Holocaust involving the deportation and genocide of millions of Jewish people in German-occupied Europe during the war. It was not a surprise to
find him here.

Henry shuddered. The number of ghosts in Europe had increased during World War Two. A violent and early death often led people to turn away from the White Light at the time of their deaths and end up trapped in the Overworld. Once a dying person made their initial decision to turn away from the White Light it was very difficult to escape the Overworld. These souls, like his own, ended up trapped in this no-man’s land, unable to be allocated to either Heaven or the Underworld and tied to a specific site for all of eternity. There was only one way to escape the Overworld and that was for a ghost to perform a service of such significance to either God or Lucifer that the guardians of the Overworld could motivate a reallocation of the ghost to either the White Light or to the Underworld.

It was summer and the garden of the cottage was green and lush. Her parents were looking for a new house for their family. Margaret was an active child and a garden would be lovely for her to run about and play in.

But Margaret refused to go inside the cottage. No amount of coaxing and begging by either parent made any difference; she would not set foot in that house.

“This is the fourth house we’ve looked at today and Margaret must be tired and bored. Look, the garden is fenced and quite safe and there’s no pond, pool or other running water. Let’s leave her
outside for the short period of time it’ll take for us to have a quick look around the cottage,” her father said.

Left to her own devices, Margaret wandered across the manicured lawn towards a flower bed in the furthest corner of the garden. The dense, thick green foliage overflowing the flowerbed
attracted her. The red berries on the largest bush and white, mauve and dark purple flowers of the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bush interested her. She saw the other little girl just to the side of the red-berries bush. She was pretty with carefully combed blonde ringlets hanging down her back, held in place with a pale pink ribbon. She wore a knee-length dress with a lace collar, white socks and polished ankle boots. A white cotton apron that went over her shoulders, covered her dress and she had a bonnet on her head.

“Hello,” said Margaret.

The other girl smiled, showing perfect, pearly teeth and greeted Margaret in return.

“I’m Helen,” the pretty girl said. “I am pleased to meet you. I have been terribly lonely here in the garden by myself. I haven’t had any company since 1918.”

“Why not?” asked Margaret.

A troubled look crossed Helen’s face.

“That is when I died of the new Spanish influenza,” Helen said. “My mom died too, but she didn’t stay in the garden.”

“What is influenza?” Margaret asked, the conversation puzzled her.

“It is a terrible illness. Mom and I woke up in the morning feeling fine. We got sick with headaches, fever and fatigue very quickly and I was dead by tea time. I went blue.” Helen seemed proud of her accelerated and unusual death.

Helen and Margaret walked around the garden. Helen pointed out her favourite flowers to Margaret.

A short while later, Margaret’s parents emerged from the cottage. Margaret rushed over to them, planning to introduce them to her friend. When she turned back, Helen was gone. Despite Margaret’s calls, she did not reappear.

A few days later, Margaret started singing a most strange rhyme:
I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza,
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza.

Margaret’s mother questioned her about the song and Margaret explained that Helen had taught her the words; they had sung it together as they wandered around the garden of the “looked at” cottage.

Margaret understood that her mother was upset about her friend, Helen. Her parents didn’t buy that cottage; they looked for another house on the other side of the town. Her mother asked her not to sing the rhyme again and the subject was closed.

The above door picture was created by the amazing Teagan Riordain Geneviene

58 thoughts on “Roberta Writes – Thursday Doors Writing Challenge

  1. This is an excellent contribution to the writing challenge, Robbie – and I’m honored to have one of my doors chosen. I have had this book on my TBR list for far too long. I need to get moving on that task.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. These photos fit so nicely with your story. By the way, kudos for “the elevator doors hissed shut.” I was there with you, and that was an excellent sensory detail.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Robbie
    Clever idea to select passages from your already written material.
    I think authors need to do this more – and if I was starting new to the log world – this is how I would actually post. I would have the books done and provide snippets (one of my favorite teachers, chuck swindoll, has done this for decades A shares from his books) –
    And the passage you chose to share really matched the door you featured and how cool is that! Well done

    Liked by 3 people

      1. The snippets for so well

        And maybe you should share more little snippets (IMO) as long as it doesn’t pull from sales – because maybe it could help readers sample that way…

        Liked by 2 people

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