Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose, poetry, and music.

Friday Fictioneers — The Ancient School at “D–wh–n-e”

This week’s photo prompt brought to mind the horrendous terrorist attack in Manchester on Monday night. I am so overwhelmed with emotions about this, that it has rendered me mute with regard to such atrocities. Therefore, I’m going to avoid the subject of explosions and move forward to the year 2183 and write about a ruin instead.

This is another chance for you to meet Morag in my not-yet unpublished novel Counting Magpies. On the previous occasion she was in York, having trouble with her decrepit bicycle (A Rare Specimen). This time, she’s in the Highlands of Scotland in a village that has some of the letters missing from its signpost.

Come on, you clever clogs. Let’s see who’s going to be the first to fill in those blank letters (each em dash stand for two missing letters and the hyphen for one)…

Genre: Dystopian speculative fiction
Word count: 100

~~THE ANCIENT SCHOOL AT “D–WH–N-E”~~

I pick my way through the rubble, tripping once and almost twisting my ankle on a rusted kettle.

At first I mistake the bundle for a heap of rags, until I prod it with the plank and turn it over. The thing has a face, or rather bones with empty eye sockets and a gaping jaw. I let out a reflexive scream, despite knowing a skull can’t harm me. The rest of the skeleton is clothed in rags covered in mildew. 

Who was this person with unusually long leg and foot bones and narrow hipbones? Perhaps it was a man.

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Friday Fictioneers: 100 word stories
Photo prompt: image copyright © J Hardy Carroll

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52 thoughts on “Friday Fictioneers — The Ancient School at “D–wh–n-e”

  1. And my mind is a total blank. I’m too tired to come up with anything logical or clever this morning, and too numb from the latest attacks to even form an intelligent statement about the state of this world. How’s that for a sober Good Morning?

    I love your writing but then you already knew that. 🙂 Have a peaceful Thursday.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Likewise, re feeling numb.You have a peaceful Thursday, too, Bill.

      By the way, I haven’t forgotten about sending you some interview questions for a guest post on my blog. My only excuse for the delay, is an acute state of disorganisation made worse by my desire to spend hours outside in the sunshine whilst it lasts. Heatwave.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I totally understand the desire to be outside. I’ll be here whenever you find time for the questions. Have a marvelous evening, my friend.

        Like

  2. Michael B. Fishman on said:

    I’m thankful this is speculative and more thankful that it’s fiction. It’s a very potent 100 words.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. As I am not familiar with enough anything Scottish, I shall not attempt to fill in the blanks… unless the name has nothing to do with Scotland but then, you would not be so cruel!
    What a thing to discover!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Great post. I wonder who it was too! What a thing to find wandering amongst the rubble

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Another superb specimen of good writing. I shall not hasten a guess

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I enjoyed this but no idea on the title. Do we get a clue?

    Liked by 2 people

  7. How sad – whoever it was died alone and unmourned.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Dear Sarah,

    You made me think. Why do we scream when happening on a skull? Too many horror flicks, I think. 😉 I’ll not hazard a guess about the missing letters, but I enjoyed this piece and look forward to your next novel.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rochelle,

      You scream when you’re being pursued by people who want to kill you and your nerves are all on edge, but I guess that this is the problem of posting an excerpt and not wanting to make the word-count to the preamble decidedly longer than the 100-word story 😉 She (Morag) has only seen skulls in museums and there are no horror flicks being shown in her time. It’s not your standard dystopian novel, where everything has descended into chaos. Rather, society is trying to pretend that nothing is wrong, when this is far from the case.

      All best wishes,
      Sarah

      Liked by 2 people

      • Dear Sarah,

        That explains a lot. Just the same I think the natural response to finding a skull would be to scream. 😉

        Shalom…again…shalom,

        Rochelle

        Like

  9. Rochelle asks a good question- why do we scream at skulls? We’ve all got one. Good one Sarah.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. don’t tell me it’s one of those Gaelic words where only two letters are pronounced. Great story Sarah! more please.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Is it Dalwhinnie between my beloved Glencoe on the higher road from there and doon again towards Blair Atholl, if you were going that way xx

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is, indeed, Dalwhinnie and she has come doon from Glen Affric in a great hurry, with bloodhounds on her trail. I enjoying inflicting challenges and hardship upon my fictional characters xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • YA!!! I dinnae believe it. OOOH!!!! I am liking the sound of challenge and hardship Sarah, I will well be getting your books too, espesh if they are set here. That whole bit there is one of these semi deserted expanses and we only went that way once cos of where we were heading. Mind you, the day the road was shut at Crianlarich after an accident we thought we night have to go to Glencoe by that way.

        Liked by 1 person

      • My two published books aren’t set in Scotland. The YA crossover novel is set on the SE coast of England, and the MG crossover one starts there but then the main character disappears off into another dimension. The as-yet unpublished dystopian speculative novel that the story excerpt is taken from — definitely a novel for adults — is partly set in Scotland, partly in Dorset, but primarily in the Isle of Wight. Of course I would be delighted if you read either of my published novels, but you’ll have to wait for the one with Scotland in it. xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Of course I will read your books. AND I will also wait for the one set in Scotland. xxxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Excellent 🙂 xxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh, I always return things my darling xxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

  12. A man? I was hoping for a mannequin. Having never stumbled upon a skull, I don’t know if I’d scream or just feel queasy in my stomach. I hope to never find out.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. michael1148humphris on said:

    I get the feeling that there are no men in her world?

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Horrible. We’re becoming way too accustomed to horror.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Shudder – very descriptive writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. It’s just as well the answer is already in the comments as I’m hopeless at word games! Another intriguing extract from the book though Sarah, I like the image in my mind that the missing letters on the signpost hint at, as well as the action taking place in the scene.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Andrea. I am happy to keep you intrigued 🙂 I have this thing about old signposts and am always taking pictures of them, although a broken Dalwhinnie isn’t in my collection. Perhaps I should start a series of them on my blog, posting a signpost picture per week.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Andrea you’ve made me so happy to know I am not the only writer who is hopeless at word games! 🙂 Intriguing scene, Sarah; love to watch this develop in slow motion…

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh! As an ex-archaeologists you made me want to get out my trowel and notebook! Very exciting.

    Like

    • How interesting! As a child, archaeology was on the list of jobs that I wanted to do when I grew up. I remember having an archaeological “dig” in our garden but I never found anything other than some old bits of pottery and a threepence. I think my love affair with meteorology and astronomy was less disruptive, although I ended up not being able to follow any of these things as a career, as I wasn’t good enough at science!

      Like

  18. I think the sheer surprise would make me scream a bit… almost like I would for a benign spider or a lizard… Love the scene and I’m curious how this would fit into the narrative.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree. I know that if I stumble upon a spider, grass snake, slow worm, or mouse unexpectedly, then I’ve been known to give a little startled scream, even though I’m not frightened of any of those creatures. I’ve never come across a human skull unexpectedly, but I’m guessing it would startle me in the same way. …I’m glad you loved the scene. She’s on a rather fraught journey where she’s being hunted, with only her husky to guard her. But occasionally her curiosity gets the better of her and she can’t resist stopping to explore things of interest on the way, especially things that tell her about the world as it was before the big happening… (no spoilers allowed!).

      Like

  19. That’s a horrible find to stumble across. Great, powerful writing

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is horrible. I can remember watching a TV serial years ago in my early teens when they didn’t air much scary stuff. It was about the German occupation of the Channel islands and there was a skeleton dressed in the rags of a uniform in the basement of a house. I ruminated over this for ages after; it even prevented me getting to sleep at night. Of course, today’s teenagers would quite likely think I was a real wuss, as most of them have been desensitized by exposure to far worse images on TV.

      Like

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