#WritePhoto: Approach


                                Approach--photo by KL Caley

Participating in the weekly #WritePhoto blog hop at KL Caley's New2Writing blog. Every Thursday a new photo prompt. Post stories, poems, whatever by the following Tuesday and link back to KL's page.

 

I may have taken some liberties with this castle, as I don't think the one in the photo backs up to water, but that's the way of things when you start writing!

This one is about 630 words.

Approach


Once, the entry to the castle must have shouted a large and inarguable “do not enter.” Moat, drawbridge, portcullis. With appropriate guards, it would keep out all but the most determined invaders.

 

There is one invader that no wall can protect against: time. The moat had long since filled itself in, the portcullis was rusted, and someone had built a solid bridge.

 

The new arrivals considered what was left of the ancestral castle and wondered if it could ever be made secure, let alone habitable.

 

James shrugged. “It’s what we have. If our ancestors built well, we may survive. Anyone have a better idea?”

 

No one did. The small group of battered refugees crossed the green lawns to the main gate of the half-ruined castle, simultaneously eager and hesitant. They expected at any moment either to be attacked by wandering invaders or to be ordered away by some lonely and half-crazed guardian of the National Trust.

 

Not everyone understood, even now, that the old times were gone. When the aliens had landed, people had been excited at this first contact with another sentient species. Too few had remembered the reasons Europeans had so energetically explored distant places in the 19th Century, nor what they’d done to the locals.

 

Colonization had never been a process gentle on the colonized. But it had also always been a process that managed to convince some that the colonizers were their saviors, the rebels a dangerous fly in the ointment.

 

James Campbell considered his rag-tag band of flies. The Scots never had been good at submission. Battered, bloodied, they’d had the snot beat out of them and were unwilling to give in. Very definitely flies in someone’s ointment, they knew something of lost causes, and they were ready to barricade themselves in the ancestral pile and fight to the end.

 

Which, James reminded himself, would be soon enough, given the total lack of food supplies. And what about the roof? This threat would come from the sky, not the ground. Unless the aliens had learned to walk in Earth gravity by now. Or the local cadre of true believers in that “superior species” nonsense decided to turn them over to the aliens.

 

“Okay, half of you work on getting this portcullis to lower, the other half find out if there’s still a water-gate and start fishing.”

 

“Sir?”

 

“What is it, Rory?”

 

The redhead, barely out of his teens, blushed crimson. “Um, I’m pretty sure we can use the gate the National Trust installed?”

 

“Keys?”

 

Undaunted, Rory said, “I have them. My Aunt Gertrude works—worked—here on Wednesdays. I nicked the keys on the way out. Also her stash of rice and two hens.” His large, lumpy backpack made a “bok bok” noise that confirmed the theft.

 

“Good man. I still want that portcullis if we can have it.” James took the keys and locked the modern gate, a pathetic affair compared to the iron grid that hung suspended over the gap in the entrance.

 

“And isn’t that just grand,” Claire pointed out. “Now we’ll have Gertrude McDonald coming after us as well as the aliens.

 

A dismayed silence fell over the little group. Then everyone sprung into action. Two young men swarmed up the tower with oil cans to start work on the portcullis. More began piling rocks on the battlements. And a more thoughtful group of young women began hauling driftwood up through the water gate and building a cooking fire. Someone found a couple of barrels and filled them with water.

 

Claire started boiling a large pot of water, not quite as good as the traditional oil, but they had to work with what they had.

 

Conquering space aliens were one thing. Rory’s Aunty Gertrude was quite another. This was going to be some siege. 

 

###

 

I visited a lot of ruined castles on my trip to Scotland last summer. This wasn't one of them, but they were all in my mind while I was writing.


©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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Comments

  1. Love it. As a McDonald, I can swear that when 'The Campbells are coming' nothing will stop them! And we both had Aunties in mind !
    You may have a typo on the line starting 'James Campbell considered.' Either that or I didnt understand what he was considering :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. considering those flies in the ointment. I did wonder if I should make that more explicit. Or maybe shouldn't have started a new paragraph? My mind doesn't always go in straight lines.

      Delete
    2. Ah! (it doesn't let me reply to your reply!)

      Delete
    3. No, you can only get one layer deep in threading.

      Delete
  2. Oooh very intriguing story. You may have had a sixth sense in writing this (not about the aliens - I hope!) but it does have a moat and it is in Scotland too! Great story. Thank you so much for joining in with the #writephoto challenge. KL <3

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't give me too much credit--I could see the moat, and Scotland seemed a safe guess :) Hope I'm wrong about the aliens.

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