Stones. Large, flat stones, scattered around a field. I should warn you now, something weird appeared in my brain, and I decided to write it down!
Thanks as always to KL Caley at New2Writing.com for keeping the #writephoto going, despite juggling several other careers at present 🙂 Here’s the photoprompt:
The characters this month last appeared in February.
Stones of Wrath
Mapping the flat stones in the rough moorland turns nasty when the storm sets things in motion….1,111 words (I liked the number)
Serena Patricia Carruthers stood on the flat stone, surrounded by acres of rough moorland that gave way to heather and gorse up the hill.
“They seem to be in groups of four, or multiples. Almost like someone set them out as corners of a croft. Can you hear me? Caroline? Answer, please!” Serena checked the signal bars. Darn. That’s what you get in these remote parts of England. Remote parts of Africa would be as clear as a bell.
“Sorry, Serena, you broke up a little. Like someone what?”
Serena repeated her observation. “Can you track me at each one and we’ll map them out?”
“Okay. So, group A, starting with your present location, yes?”
“Yes. Mark 1.” Serena moved to the nearest stone. “Mark 2.”
Painstakingly she moved around all the flat stones, lying scattered around the field. All were level and flat. Nothing tipped to one side, half-buried. That was what had drawn her researcher’s eye. “Mark 28. That’s the lot. I hope.”
“Can you repeat all from Mark 27,” her sister asked.
“Only one. Mark 28, where I am now.” Serena pushed her irritation back down. It was the reception, not her sister’s fault.
“And that’s the group complete?”
“Hmm. Interesting…” the signal died again.
“Oh, for Pete’s sake. Caroline, I’m going back to the hotel. The wifi works there. We can link up and you can show me. Over and out.”
An hour later she was coffeed, showered, changed and placing her order for fresh rainbow trout for the evening meal. A Drambuie sat beside her on a dark oak table, while the log fire roared on the other side of the room. Anyone sitting closer would roast. Her laptop tinged.
“Hi Caro… how are you doing?”
“Just fine. This is really interesting. Sending the plot…” Caroline’s voice lifted in that bubbly way she had when something caught her imagination.
“Got it, opening it now…. Okay. Hmm. What do you see here, then?” Five clusters of stones, some of four, some of eight, randomly arranged around the field… that was all she could see.
“Well. The fours are spaced in a similar way, but not identical. If you drew a line through the long axis of a rectangle enclosing each of them, they converge near the two groups of eights.”
“Hang on.” Serena got a digit working on the screen to drawn some rough lines. “Okay. Yes, I see what you mean.”
“With the groups of eight, were all the stones the same size?”
“No, some were a tad smaller. Bigger than my foot, but smaller than some of the others.”
“It would be good if you would go back tomorrow and distinguish between the large and smaller ones.”
“Um. That’s assuming I can remember the order I gave them to you.”
“Doesn’t matter. You could redo the groups of eight, saying ‘large’ or ‘small’ and I can remap them.”
“Is it important?”
“Of course. It’s the key to the whole find. You haven’t clicked yet, have you?”
“No. I’m whacked, to tell the truth. Just looking forward to getting a nice meal inside me, then bed. It was a long drive on difficult terrain.”
“Well, you enjoy your evening, and check in when you set off tomorrow morning. I think this is going to be exciting.”
Serena got no further ideas overnight. Caroline sometimes jumped to conclusions. Well, to be fair, she processed dozens of steps so fast, she arrived at the answer days before anyone else.
Back at the site, she checked in by phone, relieved that reception was better today. Probably the low cloud affecting it. “Did I tell you that one old fogey in the bar said this field was called Mammoth Field?”
“REALLY?? OMG, we’re really on to something.”
“Hold your hat, it’s just a field… I’m at the first group of eight now….” Serena repeated the previous day’s exercise, this time adding the size indicator. “So, what have we got?”
“Is your laptop in the car? Get back to it and let me tell you while you look at the map.”
Serena sighed. Usually all her tech could tell her everything on her small screen. Why did she need the laptop? Oh, separation of the items, probably. She poured out a tot of laced coffee to warm her toes while she woke the laptop up.
Caroline pointed out to her where the smaller stones were in relation to the larger ones. “It’s a family group, don’t you see? Two young quadrupeds tangled under their Mum’s limbs while three others look on.”
“That’s a huge leap. And why are they stones, and why are they standing proud of the moorland? Fossils should be embedded.”
“That’s a very valid point. But you agree that the arrangement makes sense?”
“Yes. Is the relationship of the others consistent with some sort of quadruped? Distance between the feet and so on?”
“Yes. I calculate a leg length of 2.2 metres.”
“But that’s huge!”
“Hang on… that guy last night….”
“The field’s name. Yes, you told me….” the rest of Caroline’s words were lost.
“You’ve broken up, Caro, I’ve lost you again. Damn.” What now?
The clouds had rolled in while she was talking. What had simply been low cloud had become dark, gloomy and whipped by a wind that blasted from the west. Serena got out and pulled on her waterproof onesie while she could. She could take a sample of a stone, check what they were; check whether they were fossils.
She struggled against the wind, and felt the burn of a sheet of rain, driving across the moor into her face. She staggered to the nearest stone, vowing to get her sample and go.
A flash of lightning turned the field to a mirage of standing stones, not flat ones, tall stones reaching up two metres and more into the sky. It was dark beneath them. The thunder rolled around her, almost beastly in its anger, an elephant roaring in basso profundo. As she lifted her hammer she realised…
The stone was not flat any more.
It was a leg.
A hairy, two metre tall leg.
A hairy trunk, flanked by two enormous ivory tusks swept her off her feet, throwing her through the rainstorm, on the arms of the wind, to land across her car’s bonnet, where she slid off onto the track.
She crawled to her feet, pulling her phone from its pocket, desperately hoping to get some sort of record, as she pointed the camera through the deluge towards the field with the angry stones.
The mammoth field.