The Cold Rain Fell By David R Graham

David’s response to the trigger ‘then’ – a moving tribute for the anniversary of the Aberfan disaster.

The Cold Rain Fell
By David R Graham 14.10.16

The cold rain fell

But the boy gave no thought to the falling rain
The house was warm – and all was well
And he was engaged with his pencils and his crayon
His mother plied the smoothing iron
And watched a TV show
With half an eye she watch her boy
And marvelled at how quick the plantyn grow

The cold rain fell

But the boy gave no thought to the falling rain
The school was warm – and all was well
And he was engaged with his pencils and crayon
But his thoughts were already on the end of term bell
‘Hush now, plantyn,’ the teacher said,
‘It will soon be time for our short farewell.’

The cold rain fell

It fell on seven tips of slag
That towered above the school
Tip seven soaked up so much rain
Its mass produced a drag
Then – with frightening speed –
Uncounted tons of rain-soaked slag
Slid down the valley side
It formed a wall of slurry-gruel
That struck eight homes – and the Pantglas School

The cold rain fell

But the boy gave no thought to the falling rain
The school was gone – and there was hell
The boy was entombed with his pencils and crayon
Silence fell upon that place  – and there did dwell
One hundred and sixteen children died that morn
None would hear again the term bell’s knell
In mere seconds – a generation had been shorn

The cold rain fell

It fell on cries of horror wrought from gaping mouth
It fell on frantic mothers rushing to that scene of hell
It fell on miners who responded to the shout
Like a cold and awful blight
It fell on those who laboured to dig survivors out
It fell on the rescue work that continued beneath flood light
Save for the young, and the very old
Few in the village sought sleep that night

The cold rain fell

It fell on those who wailed and keened their loss
It fell on those who moved about in their private hell
It fell on those who laid flowers in a giant cross
It fell in a trench – where small bodies were soon to dwell
It fell on the shoulders of the NCB boss
It fell on those miners who had know the tips too well

The cold rain fell

But the mother gave no thought to the falling rain
Her boy was gone – her life was an empty shell
She clutched a drawing to her pain –
Her boy had drawn the village – and he had drawn it well
But across the towering mass of slag – in blackest black –
Two fated words the lad had penned: THE END.

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The Showroom, that night by Faymarie Morris

Fay responded to the trigger ‘Anniversary’ with a true story:

The Showroom, that night.

He suddenly realised he was cold as his eyes began to refocus on the papers he was clutching. Icy fingers trailed a pathway up his spine and he shuddered. He heard a thin scream, followed closely by the sharp sound of splintering glass and then a wraithlike shadow dropped, with a dull thud, onto the roof of a dark blue, A reg. Austin A40 and although he tried to stand up, he couldn’t.

For as long as he could remember David Dobson had wanted to be a salesman and he certainly had a gift for talking. His mother often said that he could sell anyone anything, so when he saw the ad in the Free Press for a trainee car salesman at Pearson’s Northbridge Garage, he applied and got it. Pearson’s was the main BMC dealership for the area and Dave soon realised he had found his calling when he was promoted to head salesman of their large showroom on the High Street, where he soon became known as Dependable Dave, a truly honest car salesman, something quite rare in the burgeoning car-owning, social revolution that was the 60s.

And the building had had a chequered history. Built in 1845 as a warehouse for storing wool and grain, with it’s original, deep ridged glass roof still in place, it was later used as council offices and because of the abundance of natural light, a lawyer had rented a large section of the ground floor during the late 1800s. Then a wealthy accountant leased most of the upper floor from 1910 until 1925 before it closed for a decade because of unspecified structural problems. It then re-opened as a Reading Room and a Miner’s Welfare Hall.

Jed Pearson bought it in 1950, as storage for new cars, then a showroom, when the vast floorspace and glass roof was fully utilised, and both Dave and Tom Dixon, the sales manager, often boasted that between them they could park 42 cars in what would normally be floor space for 38.

The worst part of his job was having to do the Tuesday late night stint, twice a month, especially when it was slow. It had been dark for hours and the pavement outside still twinkled with reflected Christmas shop lights as people scuttled by, on their way home from work or maybe just going out for the evening. He’d had only 2 callers, tyre kickers, he mumbled as he read with envy the logbook of a mint condition, racing green, Mini Cooper S, before putting his feet up, on the desk, then tipping his chair back, against the wall.

He was bored to distraction and couldn’t wait to lock up then head to Scott’s for some chips then the King’s Arms. His best friend John would already be there, enjoying a pint. Margaret, the new barmaid, had wavered the last time Dave had asked her out so he’d try again and maybe tonight, yawn, might be his lucky night…

Wow, what on earth was that? He thought as his eyes flew open and he glimpsed something falling, on the far left of the showroom. When he attempted to stand, the chair held him fast until the back legs suddenly went out from under him and he finished up in a heap on the office floor. He scrambled to his feet in a daze, steadying himself against the door jamb before gingerly zigzagging his way through the car filled showroom, towards the midnight blue, Austin A40.

a40

Then he reached out, bracing himself against the bonnet of a red Morris Oxford, dreading what he would find.

He blinked and rubbed his eyes but saw nothing. No broken glass, no smashed car roof, no blood, nothing. He then systematically checked every car in the showroom, just in case he had missed something. Nothing was out of place. It was all exactly as it had been 2 hours ago when Tom had gone home and he was left on his own. He staggered back to the office, picked up the phone and immediately put it back. No! How could he explain this, they’d be sure to say he’d been hallucinating, dreaming, drinking or …probably more like it, going nuts. No! He’d make himself a strong coffee and think it through.

 Scratching his head he checked the floor around the A40 several times more and then the whole showroom, again. He had seen something, hadn’t he? He wasn’t going mad, was he? It was now 8.53, he’d had enough and decided to go. As he drove slowly past the King’s Arms he could see his mate, John, leaning on the brightly lit bar chatting Margaret up, but Dave didn’t care. He was so on edge he felt that if had one pint, he would probably keep going until he was blotto and then he might blurt out to John what had happened and that would mean everyone would know and he’d be a laughing stock. The scene was replayed, over and over, during his drive home and much to his annoyance, his mother was in. Tuesdays were usually Bingo nights but tonight she felt queasy, she said, as she lathered butter on his toast and stirred his beans.

“Mum, what…?” he started, then changed his mind.

“What, what?” she answered, sharply.

“Oh nothing. Don’t worry about it.” He said, sitting down to eat.

“I’m not worried, or I wasn’t until you told me not to be. What’s up? Something happened at work?” “No mum, leave it. I’m tired, that’s all.” And he tucked into the plate of beans on toast.

But she knew her son, he had something on his mind and he would tell her when he was ready. He didn’t sleep well at all and awoke with a jolt around 4.30am. He kept hearing the harrowing scream and decided to get up and make a cup of coffee. An hour later his mother joined him and she asked again what was wrong.

“I think, I think I’ve seen a ghost, mum. Last night at work I saw and heard something weird and I don’t know what to do. It can’t be a ghost, there are no such things, are there?”

“I don’t know, son. I’ve never seen one but…your Uncle Percy reckons he saw one once when he was staying at Monk Fryston Hall… why don’t you ring him?”

So, he reckoned, if Uncle Percy had seen a ghost, told people about it and was Ok, maybe I will be too. He arrived early to work Wednesday morning, hoping to see Tom before the others arrived.

“Er, wwell, what sort of a night did you have?” Tom asked anxiously as soon as Dave walked through the showroom doors.

“Bloody slow one. Only a couple of tyre kickers all night. Late nights in winter are a waste of time, I reckon.”

“See anything interesting, did you? Something unexpected maybe?” Tom queried.

“Whaddya mean? You bloody lot weren’t play…”

“No, of course we weren’t but…you did see something, didn’t you?”

“Yes, I did and I hardly slept. I thought I was going mad, I’m not, am I?” Dave pleaded.

“We didn’t want to tell you about it, just in case you didn’t see it because not everyone does, but… the 28th December is the anniversary of…well something pretty distressing. It appears that during the 1920s part of this building was leased by an accountant and his office was on the second floor, overlooking this glass roof,” he pointed over to where Dave had seen the…?

“The accountant had been working late and his wife and family, 3 sons and 2 daughters, were with him. His youngest son was playing with his Christmas present, lining up all his new tin soldiers on the window ledge, but the window was open and one of them toppled over. He reached for it, a bit too far, and fell. He smashed through the glass and then bled to death on the floor below, out of reach, in front of their eyes. His siblings struggled for years with what they had seen and his mother never got over it. His father suffered a mental breakdown, lost everything and finished up destitute.”

“Bloody hell. Have you seen the… the ghost, Tom?”

“Yes, I have and it shook me up, I can tell you, but it affected Billy the worst. He hadn’t been with us long and didn’t tell anyone what he’d seen so we all thought he hadn’t seen it. But he became so withdrawn, his mother told the doctor and it all came out. Pearson agreed to move him to the Worksop depot but he left there soon after and we haven’t heard a word since. If only the daft young bugger could have told one of us straight away, maybe he’d have been OK.”

“Well, you should have told me.” Dave was angry. “Not sure if I can do another late night because I’ll be waiting for it. We could change it though, to Thursday?”

“But that’s no good because the date was the 28th December and the day changes each year. My Aunt is a medium and she says the event would have been so traumatic, it was captured in the very fabric of the building and will continue until the time is right, and not everyone will see it. Usually the people who do are sensitive but the conditions have to be just right, too. Neither Pearson or his wife have seen it and only 2 of the service department. Are you Ok, Dave?”

“Yeah, but what about all the times no-one sees it? Every year that poor little lad falls out of the window, through the glass and onto the floor where he dies alone. He must wonder why nobody cares. How about we get together, every Dec 28th to show him exactly how much we do care, and you never know, it might even help.”

30 odd like-minded people were gathered in the showroom on the next anniversary of the little boy’s death and to everyone’s relief, he was never seen again.

 

Then by Fred Foster

Fred’s response to the trigger ‘then’:

THEN is a word that can be used in a number of contexts. As a warning (Now then) or it could refer to a recent happening (Just then) or it could be anticipation (And then) or it could be long ago THEN/ Way back when. As a boy during the war years this is what it was like THEN

Grandad is it true I’m told That you know lots of things because you’re old

Are there giants that shake the ground

And are there fairies that fly around

And why does the moon stay up in the sky

And if it falls will we all die

Why does the sea rush up to the land

And why is the sea shore made of sand

And why is the sea so wide and deep

And are there monsters when we sleep

And when you were a boy like me

Did you ever fall and graze your knee

And living for so many years

Do you still cry those salty tears.

 

Now old is wise they tell me so

But so many things I’ll never know

The sun comes out to warm the day

The moon at night to light the way

The sand down by the sea it seems

Is for building castles and weaving dreams

And the fairies come at night they say

To drive the giants and monsters away

And when I was a boy like you

I fell and cried just like you do

But now I’m old I never cry

I think I’ve got something in my eye.

Coming Home to War by David R Graham

David’s response to the trigger ‘then’:

Coming Home to War

By David R Graham. 26.09.16

‘Callum.’

‘What d—! Who d’feck–!’

‘Easy.’

‘Killian? Is that you, Killian?’

‘Aye.’

‘Jesus Killian! What d’feck are ye doin’ comin’ up on me in d’dark like that? Ye frightened d’feckin’ shite out’a me. Whew. Ye made it back then? Come in’t d’light an’ let me have a look at ye.’

‘No, Callum. I live in the shadows now.’

‘Jesus Christ, Killian. What d’hell have they done t’ye man? Ye have eyes that would frightin’ d’divil himself. Was it bad?’

‘Worse than bad, Callum.’

‘When did ye get back?’

‘I didn’t.’

‘What? What are ye say—?’

‘You haven’t seen me, Callum. I’m not here.’

‘But—’

‘You haven’t seen me.’

‘Right. I’m with ye, Killian. What about Sean, an’ d’Hardy boys? Are they with ye? ’

‘No. They didn’t make it.’

‘Jesus, Killian. All five a them?’

‘Aye.’

‘Thank God Maddy’s not here t’hear that. The news would a killed her deader than Carpenter did.’

‘He made his play, then?’

‘O aye, he did that. Not long after you lads went off. An’ a bloody play it was too.’

‘Tell me.’

‘He killed everyone, Killian. Burned, bombed, an’ shot his way t’d’top a d’shite heap.’

‘You’re alive.’

‘Ye can call me that, Killian. Others might call me walkin’ dead. I escaped death by d’skin a me teeth. I’m worth fifty pounds to whoever takes me in. You found me, Killian. That worries me. How long have I got? He’s sittin’ up there now lordin’ it over d’whole city. No one can touch him, Killian. He has everyone eatin’ out a his slop bowl.’

‘No one is going to find you, Callum. Or me.’

‘What are ye goin’ t’do, Killian? What can d’two a do against Carpenter’s army?’

‘Tell me about his empire, Callum. Every detail.’

‘Empire’s right, Killian. He sits on top of the entire pile. From City Hall down to d’sewers an’ every club, bar, restaurant, casino, cinema, bettin’ shop, an’ barbers in between. You name it, Killian, an’ if Carpenter doesn’t already own it, he soon will. An’ he’s a army a coldblooded villains who are only too happy t’do whatever dirty work is necessary t’keep his slaves coughin’ up their cash. So you tell me, Killian. What can d’two a us do against him?’

‘Others are on their way, Callum.’

‘Who? Where are they comin’ from?’

‘From the battlefields of Europe. I’ve gathered my own army of coldblooded villains, Callum. Carpenter’s army will be no match for them.’

‘Jesus, Killian. Are ye goin’ t’take him on?’

‘No, Callum. I’m not going to take him on. I’m going to destroy him.’

‘Jesus, Killian. What d’ye want me t’do?’

‘I need to know everything about every one of his soldiers, Callum. They fear no one. They’ll all have a daily routine. I want to know those routines. I want to know the details of every building Carpenter owns, every vehicle he owns and uses. I want to know all of his daily movements; where he eats, where he sleeps, where he works, where he plays, where he does business, and where he keeps his money.’

‘I can’t do it, Killian. I’ve a price on me head. I wouldn’t last five minutes.’

‘You’re going to live, Callum. Disguise yourself. Go behind your enemy’s lines, and move freely among them. You’ll not be alone. I will be covering you. Others will not be far away.’

‘When d’ye plan t’make y’ur move, Killian?’

‘You’ll know, Callum.’

‘When, Killian?  When will I know?’

‘When each of Carpenter’s soldiers lies with a spike through his throat, Callum: You will know then.’

Metamorphosis by Angela O’Connor

Ange’s response to the ‘surreal’ trigger.

Metamorphosis

I pulled back the heavy faded curtains, unfurling particles of dusty memories from their textile prison. Floating pauses of my life.

From this very window I would gaze through blurry eyes up at the stars. Those brilliant twinkling shapes so very far away. I had to squint to focus whilst resting an unsteady hand on the worn wooden window frame. My whole life, up to recently, seemed to be a form of assisted support.

This window had held my dreams, heard my weary thoughts and smelt my toxic pain. The drink had placed my life in a shoebox. Glasses of Shiraz, shots of Tequila and pints of Guinness replaced my family, friends and work.

Now, it’s different. No longer do January’s icy cold days require an armour of liquid comfort. Instead, the Wintersweet provides my soul with delicious nourishment. And soon the gloriously happy face of the daffodils will appear, carpeting the ground with uplifting song.

As I turn from the window, looking into the stripped bare room, a knowing smile breaks over my face. For now we are ready for the renovation. Purging the hardened oppressive décor for a fresh open interior. Never again will I see the lifeless, Common Oak Moths that once littered the windowsill.

They are gone, gone for good.

Angela O’Connor

VICTIMS by Barrie Purnell

Barrie’s response to the trigger ‘Surreal’.

VICTIMS

I looked upon the scene unfolding

Which filled me with a deep foreboding

The fetid swamp is swathed in mist

In which large serpents turn and twist

Then through the slime and grey green moss

Emerged a gigantic wooden cross

Around the cross in ordered spaces

Stood winged creatures with spectral faces

One held out its arms in supplication

Like an angel at Christ’s transfiguration

As it drew closer I could see

Empty sockets where its eyes should be

And from its mouth blood dripped down

Staining red its snow white gown

A serpent its right arm adorns

And on its head a crown of thorns

 

Although I was engulfed by fear

I could not move as it drew near

I tried hard my terror to disguise

As I stared into its sightless eyes

It spoke no words but its head inclined

And words were forming in my mind

You have been chosen and brought to this place

To answer for the sins of the human race

We here have suffered grief and pain

For actions carried out in your name

You will listen to our accusations

And to your victim’s condemnations

Then the creatures came forward one by one

To tell me of the things I’d done

 

I am a victim of your war

You sent the smart bomb to my door

Exploding without warning killing me

My mother and my family

You dined with friends as they blew out my brains

You drank a fine claret as my blood filled the drains

I am looking forward to your agony

As payment for your tyranny

 

I am a victim of your pollution

I died slowly waiting for your solution

Profits have to be made we were told

The price you pay will be not getting old

You sat on your yacht while I breathed in your dust

Your conscience was clear in your scientists you trust

I am looking forward to your death

And the hollow rattle of your last breath

 

I was a victim of your racist abuse

Dying in the sun at the end of a noose

You said I’d be safe that was the law

All men are equal that’s why we fought the war

You sat in the chamber where these laws were made

But enforcement was left to the men that you paid

I am looking forward to your execution

I have waited too long for retribution

 

I am a victim of your rape and your lust

By your army sent to rescue the just

I am just one of many this happened to

You say tough that’s just what soldiers do

You knew but ignored my suffering and pain

Saying they let you live so you shouldn’t complain

I am looking forward to hear you cry

To your god for him to let you die

 

I am a victim of your gluttony

You left me to die in agony

I starved beneath the Somalian sky

It took me thirteen years to die

But you gave your conscience absolution

With a ten pound charity contribution

I am looking forward to your suffering

And to watch you slowly perishing

 

I am a victim of your greed

Taking what you want not what you need

I worked in your factory fourteen hours a day

For less than one whole dollars pay

On the back of my work and poverty

You lived a life of ostentatious luxury

I look forward to your pleas for clemency

I’ll show the same compassion that you showed me

 

The sky turned from indigo to black

I saw the lightening flash and heard the thunder crack

Suddenly a laser shaft of light

Lit up the cross and its acolytes

And then a golden child appears

Above the cross weeping bloodstained tears

I’m crying for humankind it said

As golden vultures circled round its head

I gave you beauty and purity

You repaid me with discord and immorality

I gave you love and honesty

You repaid me with hate and duplicity

I gave you many chances for redemption

You ignored them all without exception

Your love of celebrity and self

Your obsession with creating wealth

Blinded you to virtue and morality

You are now face to face with your mortality

You have heard your victim’s condemnation

They are here to exact retaliation

You must have known come judgement day

Someone was going to have to pay

There will be no pleas or benediction

They are here to see your crucifixion

 

With that the faceless creatures came

Surrounding me and chanting my name

Then the golden vultures all flew in

Ripping off my clothes and tearing at my skin

And then my naked bloodstained form

Spread-eagled in a cruciform

Was forced against the crosses wooden rails

And in one creatures hand were golden nails

There was no doubt these nails would fix

My bleeding body to this crucifix

The hammer fell the nails drove in

Smashing through my bone and skin

The creatures melted back into the air

Leaving me just hanging there

Reflecting on those we promised to protect

Who perished due to our neglect

Alone without my God without a friend

Realising this is how my life would end