Monday, but a Thursday Doors Challenge #1, @DanAntion, Deborah M. Zajac

Monday, May 19, 2022

Image C 2019 Deborah M Zajac
Image C 2019 Deborah M Zajac

Welcome, all.  You wouldn’t believe how down on myself I’ve been, because I haven’t been able to plunge through the PTSD-anxiety that keeps me from finishing “Dead of Winter.”  I had also forgotten about the Thursday Doors writing challenge, hosted by Dan Antion. I had promised to participate and was looking forward to it.  I was sure I would be completely finished with my fantasy epic by then.  Ha…!

Then one evening after berating myself for yet another day, I decided that any kind of storytelling would be better for me than none at all.  Despite it being a detour, it might even get me back on track with Dead of Winter.  So, at the end of a fruitless day, I indulged myself in working on a story for one of the Doors prompts. I stayed up late into the night polishing it. Then a few days later, still having the same problem, once again I sat up past midnight writing a second prompt story.

Here is the first.  My inspiration was equal parts from Deborah Zajac’s photo (titled “Near New Orleans”) and an old song from Credence Clearwater Revival.  Thanks to Deborah for also letting me use some of the other photos.  Her lovely door photo has a happy, sunny vibe.  There’s no accounting for the twisting way my mind works.  Ha! That seatless bicycle took me down a not so sunny road!  I hope you enjoy it.

Born on the Bayou

Dandelion Deborah M Zajac 2017
Dandelion by Deborah M Zajac 2017

When I was just a little girl, I used to pretend I was a fast freight train.  One rainy, sweltering Louisiana day I played my game inside, to my Papa’s annoyance.  When I made a third pass around his favorite chair, choo-chooing and choogling as I ran, he stuck out his arms and caught me.  He wheezed, swinging me up onto his knee.

Oya, child… now simmer down,” he began, but whatever playful remark he had been about to make abruptly changed after a spasm of coughing.  “Girl, don’t let the man get you, and do what he done to me.  Cause he’ll get you.  Ain’t no doubt about it,” he warned raggedly before letting me back down.

It was a long time before I understood just who and what “the man” was.

Those old memories tumbled as I trudged around a large vacant lot across the street from my store.  Born on the bayou, I knew which weeds and wildflowers were more than mere nuisances.  Some were healing herbs.  Even the humble dandelion could make a potion for infections and digestive problems.  The roots could be roasted to make something similar to coffee.  They were plentiful and I cut and dug basketful.

Sleeping hound dog Pixabay
Pixabay

As I bent to the task, my old hound dog started barking.  I quieted her.  Cece was a good dog, and mostly well behaved.  Something about the way she acted made me uneasy.

I looked over my shoulder to the door to my herb shop.  Suddenly, I wished I was back on the bayou.  Then I shook my head.  After Papa died, there wasn’t anything left for me there.

Nothing but memories and hoodoos,” I mumbled to myself.

The dog started barking again.  I shushed her, but it did no good.  She only got more excited.

“Cece, hush!  What’s got into you?”

Before I could stop her, Cece bounded off toward the back-wood bay.  I ran after her.

My shop, and home, was on the outskirts of New Orleans, barely in the Big Easy at all.  As I chased Cece, the hound dog was soon in thick woods.  It seemed to be darker there than it should.  A shiver went down my spine.

“You dang mutt, come back here.  Do ya think you’re gonna chase down a hoodoo there?” I called after the dog, running through the trees and bushes, breathing hard as I tried to catch up to her.

Ringmaster 2009 DEBORAH M ZAJAC
Ringmaster, Deborah M Zajac 2009

Cece skidded to a halt.  She was barking to beat the band.  Suddenly she quieted and whimpered.  I put two fingers through the loop in her collar and nervously pulled her next to me.  Twigs cracked at our small movements.  I scanned the area, looking carefully between trees and around bushes.  I didn’t see anything.

The hound dog and I both looked over our shoulders repeatedly as we left the back-wood bay.  By the time we got back to the shop, the sun was setting.

My front door up ahead was a welcome sight.  I paused to catch my breath, once we were in the vacant lot again.  However, my breath stopped when I saw the curious old bicycle.  It was propped against one of the posts that held up the porch roof.  Why did that make me so uneasy?

“It’s just an old bike,” I told myself.  “It doesn’t even have a seat.  Somebody probably got tired of trying to pedal standing up and just happened to leave it there.”

I heard footsteps behind me.  Cece whined.  Whirling, I saw nothing but twilight shadows.  I swallowed.  Someone or something had followed us from the back-woods.

Why did that bicycle make me feel like I was blocked from entering my shop?  The seatless bike ahead, and something unknown from behind.  I shivered.

Sunset Deborah M Zajac 2011
Deborah M Zajac C 2011

My fingernails dug into my palm, from the white-knuckled grip I had on the hound dog’s collar.  A cold wind blew against the back of my neck.  I turned, looking toward the woods.  An old man, walking hunched over, approached the vacant lot.  A familiar shape and shuffling walk, he paused with the setting sun at his back.  His gaze fixed on me.

“Oya, don’t let the man get you,” Papa called softly and gestured toward my shop.  “Get on back to your house.”

Well, I could remember that long past Fourth of July.  I would never forget the day Papa passed away.  Yet there he was.

“Papa?” I questioned.

His translucent form blurred.  Then it disappeared altogether.

The back of my neck prickled.  It was as if I could feel eyes watching me.  Back there in the woods, shadows began to coalesce.

Acid in my stomach grew hot.  I swallowed and took a deep breath, trying to control the nausea.  My brain told my head to turn back around and my feet to move.  Neither part of my body seemed to be listening.  The dim shape started out of the woods, coming closer.

Cece shifted impatiently.  Her whimper snapped me out of my confusion.  I gazed at my door again.  What was it about that broken bike that made me feel like it was related to the shadowy form?

New Orleans ladies sashayed by, their bright dresses matching the brilliant sunset.  They walked past the old bicycle, not even seeming to notice it.  Somehow, that gave me courage.

Image C 2019 Deborah M Zajac
Deborah M Zajac C 2019

Clicking my tongue to Cece, we crossed the street.  I put my key in the lock, determined not to look at the bicycle.  I couldn’t understand why it should have such an effect on me.  As the deadbolt shifted, I opened the door.  Cece and I went inside.

As fast as I could, I turned around and threw the deadbolt back into place.  I leaned against the doorframe, breathing hard.  The twilight sky clouded, causing night to fall suddenly.

As my gaze shifted from the clouded heavens and down to earth, I saw the dark form step onto the sidewalk, just outside the door.  Gasping, I grabbed the hound dog’s collar again.  I pulled Cece away from the door and down behind the counter with me.

Shushing the dog’s whine, I listened.  There was a faint scratching at the door.  I squeezed my eyes shut, murmuring a fervent prayer.  After a moment, I couldn’t hear anything other than the dog’s soft panting.

I hazarded a look around the side of the counter.  The shadowy shape moved to the old bicycle.  With a slow metallic screech, the pedals moved as “the man” stood, first on the right pedal then on the left, slowly bringing the bicycle into motion.

When the form was out of sight, I unconsciously sucked in a sharp, deep breath of air.

“It’s a good thing we were born on the bayou, Cece.  We know when to chase down a hoodoo… and when it’s better to just hide,” I told my old hound dog and she wagged her tail.

The end.

♦♦♦

Thanks for visiting with me.  Click the link to Dan’s blog to see more doors and more stories.  I hope you’ll stop and leave a friendly comment.  Hugs on the wing!

2022 Thursday Doors badge by Teagan R. Geneviene

♦♦♦

Meanwhile, “Dead of Winter: Journey 13, the Harbor” is available

 

Thanks for spending part of your day here. I’m grateful to everyone who is reading this story. If you aren’t already, I hope you’ll be part of the extraordinary, layered world of these Journeys. 

I love to hear from you, so friendly comments are encouraged. Hugs on the wing!

♦♦♦

Dead of Winter — All the Journeys

Universal Purchase LinksDoW 13 Harbor

Journey 13, The Harbor

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Journey 12, Goddesses

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Journey 11, the Sumelazon Escarpment

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Journey 10, Pergesca

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Journey 9, Doors of Attunement

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Journey 8, The Lost Library

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Journey 7, Revenant Pass

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Journey 6, The Fluting Fell

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Journey 5, Llyn Pistyll Falls

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Journey 4, The Old Road

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Journey 3, the Fever Field

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Kobo:  Dead of Winter: Journey 3, the Fever Field eBook by Teagan Riordain Geneviene – 1230004609599 | Rakuten Kobo United States

Journey 2, Penllyn

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Journey 1, Forlorn Peak

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Kobo:  Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak eBook by Teagan Geneviene – 1230004446033 | Rakuten Kobo United States

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This is a work of fiction.  Characters, names, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, locales, or events is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2010 and 2022 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved. 

No part of this work may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or provided by free sources, unless stated otherwise.

 


62 thoughts on “Monday, but a Thursday Doors Challenge #1, @DanAntion, Deborah M. Zajac

  1. Oh wow, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up! That was a cool story to go along with my images. How you can make stories up by just an image or thinking about a thing is amazing! Thank you so much for choosing my image, Teagan, the story is so good!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hoo doo? You do at Doors!
    Great tale, Teagan, and the song is perfect!
    Stop pressuring yourself!!!!
    Your serial will be done when it’s done.
    You may be blocking yourself, due to perceived pressure.
    Perhaps you are overly focused.
    It’s a good thing you wrote this post! {{hugs}}

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Teagan, glad that it renewed you. Your thinking probably needed a break on Dead of Winter. Now you can go back to it. I’m setting up my Three Years of Her Life book on Amazon tomorrow. But, expect 72 hours for the ebook to go live. And up to 7 days for the paperback. Amazon has to review all and it’s 458 pages. No fireworks celebration yet. 📚🎶 Christine

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ah! I started to ask you about your book. Good luck with the upload. It can be problematic. So just remember that anything can be fixed or redone. And if necessary, the Kindle support helpdesk has been wonderful in my experience. In other words, pour a glass of wine and try not to let any part of it stress you. 🙂 Sometimes they are very quick to approve. Other times it has taken several days. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to that part. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thanks, Teagan. I’m primed with all the possibilities that can happen with the set up. I’m just going to power through it and get help if and when needed. I remember your support through emails back in July 2021. Printed it out and kept it. Also Amazon has step by step instructions for ebook & paperback. I’m armed. And with cups of Mango & Peach Green tea literally at hand. 😊🎶🧡

            Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m happy to hear that, Denise. I hope all is well in your neck of the woods.
      The gigantic fire in the northern part of the state is still spreading. However (knock on wood) I haven’t heard of any new ones down here where I am. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We got a bit of snow and cold so it put off the fire danger here for a small bit. Such a scary fire by you, Teagan especially in the spring. Glad to hear no new fires. I hope the rain makes it way to you for some relief, otherwise its going to be a long season. Sending rainy hugs

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Love your story, the bike, the woods and all the rest as the story progresses! A little scary, I am glad Cece was with you. Keep up the good stories, I really enjoyed the read! !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so good to see you, Ms. Frances. I hope your May is off to a beautiful start.
      I’m happy you enjoyed this short story. Haha. Yes, I scared myself with it! Particularly since I was up past midnight writing it. o_O Hugs on the wing!

      Like

    1. LOL. I had my share of those while I was writing it at midnight! I’m glad you enjoyed it. Dead of Winter’s conclusion brings in action from so many sources… I’m having to be beyond focused to keep the reader from getting confused. But I got a good bit done this afternoon. Hopefully I can keep that up throughout the week. I hope… Hugs winging back to you.

      Like

    1. Thanks so much, Jan. I figured any writing was better than none at all. I began to wonder if I could accomplish anything for Dead of Winter today, but I just finished an action sequence. It moves things along a little. I’m happy about that. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can see why it made people think about the Delta Pearl. It is really atmospheric, and I also love the memory of her father and the music, which brings to my mind also Brother Love. Thanks for sharing your very creative detour, Deborah’s wonderful pics, and for reminding us of Dan’s challenge as well. Hoping the muses get in the right mood soon, all the stars line up, and the hoodoos stay in the backwoods. Big hugs, Teagan, and have a fruitful and peaceful week.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I love the song. I’ve always loved Creedence, but you brought the experience to life in a way the song never has. I, too, had a little flashback to the Delta Pearl, but maybe if she never got on board. In any case, it’s a great story.

    Thanks for taking time to support the writing challenge. I know you are busy finishing your book series.

    Hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Heartfelt thanks, Dan — and thanks for taking time to share this post. I had forgotten how you liked CCR when I wrote this. I always loved them. The intro to this song has the perfect, unsettling, almost hypnotic tone. It played in my head the whole time I was writing. Hugs on the wing.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. When a hoodoo got into the story, I did flash on the Delta Pearl for a second, but I wanted to keep it to a “modern” era… although I left exact decade to the reader’s imagination. I’m honored that you remember that story, Pat. Maybe next year I can “bookize” it. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hugs on the wing!

      Liked by 1 person

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