Monday, 15 October 2018

#WEPff - My #ff for the October challenge - Night in the Montmartre Cemetery

 Hi everyone!

Here is my ghostly story for the WEP/IWSG writing together October challenge. I hope you enjoy the read. The stories this month will all contain some scary elements. I hope I achieve this in mine. Whatever, I had a hoot revisiting Paris in my mind while writing it.

Night in the Montmartre Cemetery

Ciassia had seen a ghost. A ghost wearing black. Lurching behind her, rasping, grunting, reaching out his filthy hand, trying to snatch her as she hurried along the streets of Pigalle, Paris’s red light district.

Putting distance between them, gasping for breath, she slipped into an alley behind Moulin Rouge, as quiet as a crypt. The air was dark and thick, like a black cape had floated from the night sky and covered the earth. A beacon of light from the Eiffel Tower swept in arcs across the gloom – a sea of fog swirling like a fleeting ghost. Each time the flash passed overhead, the blanched fog and mist took on a shivering pallor, giving life to the unliving.

As crazy as it seemed, she was running from a ghost.

Creeping along the alley, touching the walls, she tried to ignore the shivers shooting up her spine.

What else might be lurking in the gloom? She pulled her red shawl tight around her shoulders. Fear gave her feet wings as she hurried through the darkness to the next corner where street lights shot a hole into the misty light.

She huddled under the streetlight, listening to the night sounds, but could hear nothing over the rasp of her jagged breathing and the blood rush pounding in her ears.

She sensed a movement behind her. 

She must leave the comfort of the light.

Reluctantly, she stepped into the darkness again. She ran, fast, faster, through the fog. One foot in front of the other, fighting the urge to run back to the crowds exiting the nightclubs of Pigalle. She fought the urge to run to her hotel and safety. To where she’d left her cell phone and purse on the night stand.

In front of her loomed an ancient stone wall wrapped in weeping moss. Montmartre cemetery. How did she end up here?

She’d seen the stone garden from a distance. In the daylight. A forest of small crypts adorned with stained glass and magnificent sculptures. The resting place of many famous bones including her idol, Simone de Beauvoir. Would hers be added to the pile? Would she sleep for eternity beside Simone?

No. Please God. No. No. No.

She huddled amongst the stone ghosts rising from the ground like resurrected souls, the darkness only broken by the beacon flashes from the tower bathing the dead faces in ghostly light, sharpening their features, sending shadows shuddering around her feet.

How could she see her pursuer in the crowded forest of stone?

Running steps. Clamping a hand over her mouth, stifling a scream, she veered off the main path. Knelt behind a large crypt with a high brick wall behind. ‘Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir’ read the headstone. Long dead. They could not reach beyond the grave to save her.

She heard a screech. A cat. A black cat. Leaping over the crypts. She forced herself to keep still. The cat sounds faded, but she stayed crouched, her heart hammering so loud she was afraid the man in black would hear it.

Such a creepy, creepy place.

She couldn’t spend the night with dead people. She had to get back to her hotel at the top of the hill. She had to get back to safety.

Gathering what was left of her courage, she stood, her eyes beacons trying to cut through the darkness.

Is he here?

Then out of nowhere she saw … not a him ...  a her.

A white dress ghoulishly radiant.

‘Are you an angel?’ she whispered. Stupid question. This vision could be nothing else. She was one of the stone angels come to life.

The angel stood in front of her, arms outstretched, beckoning her. Then she pointed a finger the way Ciassia had come.

Is she warning me?

Telling me to turn around?

Fat tears ran down Ciassia’s face. ‘Please help me,’ she said through trembling lips. ‘A man chased me through the street in Pigalle and has followed me here.’

The Eiffel Tower beacon flashed again. It passed. The angel was gone.

Another figure emerged from the fog, arms outstretched. No angel. The man in black. As black as Poe’s raven.

She screamed, turned and ran. Down the hill. Toward the exit.

Stumbling over a crooked gravestone that jutted from the earth, she hit the ground on her knees. The pain was excruciating, but she jumped up again.

Poe’s raven was so close she could smell his fetid smell, like a pit of snakes. Mouldy. Rotten.

Her boots reached out in front of her. Into nothing.

She was falling. Falling. Falling.

The ground had opened up and swallowed her whole.

She bounced off dirt walls and hit hard stone ground, the breath knocked out of her.

The hole was pitch black.

She screamed, clawing the dirt walls, her fingernails tearing, her fingertips bleeding.

A grave.

She was in a grave.

She screamed and screamed. Clawed and clawed.

Then. Footsteps.


Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

Out of the sky, dirt poured down upon her.

Filled her mouth.

Filled her eyes

Filled her hair.

Filled her.

‘Who’s there?’ she croaked, spitting dirt, trying to keep the terror from her voice.

The beacon flashed overhead revealing a tall, dark figure, arms outstretched, his cape giving the appearance of raven’s wings.

‘Help me. For the love of God. Where is your humanity?’

He grunted and tossed more dirt.

‘I lost my humanity many centuries ago, little girl.’ His voice was raspy and hollow, like he hadn’t used it for centuries.

Large clods. Then stones. Battering her.

‘Soon you will join me.’

He was a fleeting ghost.

He was burying her alive.

She screamed and screamed. Then a huge rock hit her temple, knocking her to the ground.

‘Soon your life will begin,’ the hollow voice rasped, growing faint as her consciousness fled.

 She heard his laugh. An eerie sound. Like a raven calling.

WORDS - 985

To read more entries please click on names in my sidebar with DL (Direct Link) beside their name or go to the WEP site. 

You have until October 19th to post if you have some scary fiction or non-fiction to add to the list. It's easy to SUBMIT your name to the list.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Creepy! I could feel her fear as she ran. And who doesn't fear being buried alive?

Michelle Wallace said...

Such an atmospheric snippet.
The graveyard setting was eerie. I could visualize the flashes of light from the Eiffel Tower; the red shawl against the gloomy fog; the stone angel beckoning... to help or to harm her? *shivers*
I like the way you used irregular meter in certain lines, as well as repetition, to escalate the tension (especially those two-word and three-word lines... so effective.)
The reference to Poe's raven just sealed it!
A great piece, Denise!

Joey Lynn Resciniti said...

I love the imagery and the pacing is fantastic!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Very chilling piece. She should've turned around to look but not gone back.

Elephant's Child said...

Soon her death will begin. Longer than eternity.
Loved the images. And am so very grateful that day has dawned here...

Pat Hatt said...

That is sure one fate I would never want. Should have went back to that hotel room. Her fear rang through indeed.

Botanist said...

Very creepy story!

Denise Covey said...

That was the idea Ian. Not overly, but underly, LOL.

Denise Covey said...

Wasn't too hard to make her fear show Pat. Just imagine...

Denise Covey said...

LOL Sue. I had fun writing it. Love me a vampire tale.

Denise Covey said...

True, but therein lies the story.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Joey.

Denise Covey said...

I love your critique Michelle mainly cuz you only said nice things. :-)

Denise Covey said...

Glad you got her fear. I failed otherwise.

Olga Godim said...

I'm shivering. This is some scary story.

Denise Covey said...

Glad I got a shiver out of you Olga. I love my vampires remember?

Jemi Fraser said...

Eek!!!! So well done! Loved the images and the pace :)

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Jemi. And thanks for the tweet!

dolorah said...

Not sure which I fear more: buried alive or drowning.

What an intense rush this was. Very scary.

Denise Covey said...

Glad you were scared, Donna. That was the point, LOL.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Very scary from the beginning. Great story!

Yolanda Renée said...

What a horrible way to go. Isn't it interesting how well the predator culls his victim from the herd! You showed this magnificently! Really well done! Description that takes you on the journey, such talent!
Happy Halloween!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Seriously creepy! Too bad the angel didn't have as much substance as the raven. Though I must say that if I were running from a ghost, an historic cemetery is maybe the last place I'd go.

Well, gee. It *was* the last place she went, wasn't it?

Tanya Miranda said...

Getting buried alive is right up there with drowning and burning. And a cemetery at night during a lightning storm? Nope. Not me. I'm too chicken for that.

My only critique is when she says "Where is your humanity?" In placing myself in that situation, I'm not really talking to my assailant. I'm definitely pleading to God or saints or whatever belief system I hold, but if I know he's out to kill me, his humanity is not in question. That one statement gave me pause, but I moved on and the story unfolded nicely.

And I loved the single lines of imagery:

She was in a grave.
She screamed and screamed. Clawed and clawed.
Then footsteps.
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch.

I can totally visualize this. Scary stuff.

Adura Ojo said...

*Shivers* OMG Denise! Making way for a scary Halloween, no doubt. Great way to start off the season.

Toi Thomas said...

Wow, that's crazy good. Being buried alive, and in a cemetary at night. No thanks.
I wonder if the angel was real or one laspe grasp at a life already destined for the grave?
Also, why does the ghost tell her her life will begin? Does he mean the afterlife? Definitely eerie and spooky. Great piece.

desk49 said...

And yet I thought
she was a ghost
trying to runaway
like the rest
trying to return
from the dead.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Natalie!

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Renee. It is interesting, but isn't that the way of predators?

Denise Covey said...

Probably the last place she wanted to go too.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Tanya. I did place myself in her place and that is what I would call out.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks m'lady. Will see you soon!

Denise Covey said...

Her life will begin as a vampire. He's going to change her.

Denise Covey said...

She could indeed be Ellis but not what i had in mind.

Sally said...

Scary stuff

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

You did a fantastic job creating a creepy atmosphere, and you controlled the pace beautifully with the use of short choppy phrases. Outstanding! (May I have your phone number, please? Then if I have a nightmare about being buried alive, I can let ya know...!)

L.G. Keltner said...

Chilling with such vivid imagery! I felt like I was there alongside her!

Nick Wilford said...

Very vivid and creepy. And I wonder what is in store in her "new life". Will she too become a murderous ghost?

Unknown said...

A nice use of Gothic atmosphere, and imagery. Well done, Denise.

Edix said...

Really liked the creepage and the way you used white space. Might be good to add who Simone is and why so important.

Denise Covey said...

Here's a comment from Jemima Pett who couldn't comment.

Oooh, scary. At first I was somewhat distracted by the very literary approach to the descriptions; I felt you were trying too hard. But the pace developed and you used the rhythm of running, and the fear developed brilliantly.

Denise Covey said...

True Edix. I guess I assumed people could look up Simone if they didn't know who she was.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Christopher. That's what I was aiming for.

Denise Covey said...

Probably. Thanks for coming by Nick.

Denise Covey said...

Yeah LG, I could taste the dirt while I was writing it!

Denise Covey said...

He he, don't think I'd be much help!

D.G. Hudson said...

You certainly kept the tension going, Denise, and I loved the mention of Simone and Jean-Paul, two of my fave French writers. I've seen the Montmartre and Pere Lachaise cemeteries and I wouldn't like being there at night myself. . .Your ending surprised me, like Alex said, no one wants to be buried alive. Must be your dark side coming through as we near Halloween.

Denise Covey said...

That’s it DG.

Nilanjana Bose said...

Creepy and dark! Loved the imagery - particularly the sweep of the beacon from the Eiffel Tower like a ghost, very evocative. Though Paris somehow makes even the creepy a bit romantic. Also loved the allusion to Poe, Beauvoir and Sartre. The mention of the cell phone and purse anchors the time setting too - so unobtrusive and skillfully done that I noticed only on the second reading. A contemporary vampire flash - just the thing for October!

cleemckenzie said...

You captured the creep factor, Denise. And nothing is scarier than being buried alive. I wondered why he took it out on this girl.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Denise - oh I don't like being around cemeteries ... I imagine the ones in London, Paris and Rome have some really ghoulish ideas in them. You've really brought the story to life ... I'd hate to be buried alive - positively terrifying. I actually thought/think she might come back as the angel - who knows ... your tale has more to tell - while the Raven is a brilliant addition to the story ... congratulations ... cheers Hilary

Deborah Drucker said...

She should have listened to the angel. Good idea about the light flashing on and off on the scene, it would make it hard to see what was coming and creates more suspense.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Denise.

This fear is TOO REAL. I think we all have the fear of being buried alive.

Overall wonderful imagery. I did feel the beginning had a few too many adjectives. It felt a bit heavy. This is where the flow picked up nicely

"She’d seen the stone garden from a distance. In the daylight. A forest of small crypts adorned with stained glass and magnificent sculptures. The resting place of many famous bones including her idol, Simone de Beauvoir. Would hers be added to the pile? Would she sleep for eternity beside Simone?"

Creating atmosphere is a difficult balance as we all know. If you cut the first few paragraphs down it will flow beautifully...

For example-

"Ciassia had seen a ghost. A ghost wearing black. Lurching behind her, rasping, grunting, reaching out his filthy hand, trying to snatch her as she hurried along the streets of Pigalle, Paris’s red light district."

I might rephrase it... Ciassa had seen a ghost. A ghost wearing black lurching behind her. Grunting, he reached out his filthy hand trying to snatch her as she hurried along the streets of Pagalle. (Or use Paris's red light district. I'd use one or the other.)

Just by cutting out one or two details, the sentence lightens up. Just a suggestion of course.

Denise Covey said...

Great suggestions Michael. I enjoyed writing it for WEP and probably won’t do anything with it. If I need it for a flash fiction anthology I have edits!

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Deborah. I’m reading yours. Will comment soon.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Hilary. Definitely more to this.

Denise Covey said...

Yes. A vampish October for me!

Denise Covey said...

Hmm. The girl of his dreams or nightmares. Someone to live with him for eternity?

J Lenni Dorner said...

Really good work here.

I loved the image with the Raven. And the imagery of the Raven in the story, too.

The only part I am a bit confused on was near the end. She was in a grave and then knocked to the ground?

Roland Clarke said...

Your imagery and pacing made me glad that I wasn't alone as I read this. Her fear was so real.

Jamie said...

A good bit of horror! Fun to read. Thanks for the chills.

Operation Awesome said...

The graveyard is very spooky. Good writing. I love how realistic the setting felt.

Denise Covey said...

Nah. She was in a hole.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Roland.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Jamie!

Denise Covey said...

Glad you liked it.

Dawn Simon said...

Well done! It's spooky and fun to read! I liked the angel and the way you set it in Paris!

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