Restricted Entry by Tapan Mozumdar

Prompt: Forbidden Places | Words: 1795 | Genre: Fiction

Social butterflies, like the pretty authoress, always get it easy. Easy parents, easy education, easy spouse and then? Easy literature, easy publishing, easy readers, and here I am! Staring at the rectangular outlay of a daunting MS Word file. The keyboard warms up for a marathon outpour. I shudder to type beyond the first sentence that flew at me like a cockroach the moment I stepped into the toilet. I peed with as much force as possible and saved time to flush. Words juggled between the left and right sides of my brain and I was afraid of dropping them. Continue reading

Passages by Francine Houston

Prompt: Forbidden Places | Word count: 1800 | Genre: general fiction

“Well? Is it here?” she prompted the young man to her left.  If you were to look at them, you would wonder. They were as similar as they were different: wide oval eyes: icy blue.  Skin the colour of café crème. Long, tapered bodies that were almost, but not quite emaciated. Both well over 2 meters tall.  The similarities ended there. She had light hair, the colour of spun sunshine. She was never still. Always moving. He was dark, with hair so black that it shone with blue highlights in the ambient light. His stillness was complete.  It was almost unnatural, or so had been past accusations. Continue reading

The Wheels of the Bus by Mia Botha

Prompt: Forbidden places | Word count: 1800 words exactly | Genre: Action

Warning: Profanity and violence and a rather upsetting end.

This is the 7th story featuring Joy. You can read the others here: Joy, The Bridge, Whiskey, por favor, Blood in the eye, Captain America, The Crucifix

It’s damp under the bridge. Her back cold against the concrete. Drew sits across from her. His long legs crossed in front of him.  Joy watches him. The three-day stubble, dark and heavy on his jaw.

It’s only been a few weeks, but she still can’t figure him out. The ridiculous shirts and the aviator glasses, the grin, the way he shifts and changes. She can’t place him.

His eyes are closed, sweat beading on his brow. She keeps her eyes on the slow, steady rhythm of his heart beating in his neck.

She runs her hand over her face. She needs to get a grip. She can’t go there. Not with him. Well, not again.

She peers up the embankment. Hoping for a new sound. They’ve been here for hours and still nothing. Drew hasn’t said much. Why does she trust him? She knows he is hiding something.

She opens the map for the twentieth time and smooths down the paper, the folds worn thin, tearing a little more each time she unfolds it.

They had moved from village to village for three days searching for clues to the missing bus. A bus full of innocent children. They had narrowed down a location, but she still had no clue who was responsible. All she knew that this was the last route. The only road left that the old school bus could manage. A road that leads very deep into the jungle that leads to a place she never thought she’d have to go again. They had to stop the bus before it got there.

She traces the route once more, checking their coordinates, comparing it with the time on her watch.

“It’s still too soon,” Drew says.

She turns back to him. “I thought you were sleeping.”

“I am,” his eyes still closed, “but you sigh loudly.”

“I don’t get you.” She snaps.

“Not a lot to get. I’m a simple guy.”

“No. That is exactly it. That is just what you want people to think.”

He grins.

“It’s not a compliment.”

“From you, that is as close as I will ever get to a compliment.”

She rolls her eyes and slumps against the concrete pillar. “What can I say, I’m not a simple girl. The compliments I got growing up involved guns and accuracy.”

Drew watches her. It makes her uncomfortable. He sees more than she wants him to.

“Did you know Carlos sent me to finishing-school? In Switzerland.”  She blurts out. It happens a lot around him. She says things she shouldn’t or never has.

“How did that work out for you?” He doesn’t even try to suppress the amusement. “I can’t really imagine you sitting down to tea or learning to waltz.”

She smiles, but it feels foreign. “I was furious. I wanted to stay home with Miguel and Lupe, but I was back in less than three months.”

“I assume you didn’t give them much of a choice.”

“Let’s just say I can be very destructive if I have to be, and I can waltz very well by the way.”

He smiles at her, but it disappears as they hear an engine off in the distance. Their eyes meet.

“You know what to do?” He says.

She nods. “I’m going up the other side. Stay here until I give you the signal. Let them think I’m alone.”

She scrambles up the hill, her boots fighting for purchase on the slippery slope. The jungle is dense, and she fights her way through the vines. She hides behind a bush, scoping the road. The bus chugs along, and the gears grind as the driver shifts down to make the turn. The bus shudders when it rounds the bend.

The light bounces off the windscreen, and she squints trying to see who is driving, but the dappled shade dances across the window impeding her view and she waits until the last possible moment before she steps into the road.

“What the hell are you doing?” Drew hisses from the other side of the road.

“Stopping the bus.” She hisses back.

“That was not what we discussed.”

“I didn’t like your plan.”

“You could have mentioned that earlier.”

The ancient yellow bus seems to deflate as it grinds to a halt, sliding on the wet road and coming to a stop a foot short of Joy.

Her eyes rest on Padre’s face – tired, lined, but alive. Relief wells up and she smiles, but he doesn’t smile back. Behind him, the kids are frozen in their seats, expressionless. Motionless. No one calls her name. No is happy to see her.

“Padre?”

He shakes his head, tears well in his eyes. His knuckles tight around the steering wheel.

“Go away.” He shouts. “Run, Joy. Run, while you can.” His voice is muffled by the interior of the bus.

“It’s ok, Padre. It’s over. You are safe. The kids are safe.” She calls back.

Padre slumps and turns to look back. She can’t hear what they’re saying or who is talking. The door of the bus folds back with a clang, and a thin figure slinks out of the bus, hopping off the last step.

“Niñita!” Holding up both hands, his pistol waving around his head. “I am so happy to see you.”

Joy’s words catch in her throat. She looks up and down trying to convince herself that it’s real. That he is real.

“Miguel?”

“Si, niñita. Have you forgotten me, already?”

“Never. I’d never…” she walks toward him, opening her arms wide as he steps into her embrace.

She hugs her brother. It feels like home. Like Safety. This is what she has been wanting. The familiar safety of his presence. She closes her eyes and leans closer.

“I’m so glad you got my message.”

“Message?” She pulls back to look at him.

His hand tangles in her ponytail. She resists the urge to cry out as he grabs hold of her hair and yanks her head back.

“You fucking selfish bitch.”

Joy flinches the whiskey heavy on his breath.

“Miguel, I…”

He pulls harder. “You left me there.” He pushes his gun into her cheek, the barrel cold against her skin.

“I had no-,” she mumbles, wracking her brain for a way out. A way to convince him.

“I had to go alone, Miguel.

He pulls her head back further bringing her face closer to his.

“Can I tell you what he did to me?” He digs the barrel deeper into her cheek.

He lets up as a movement in the treeline draws his attention. He pulls the gun away and points it at the trees. She moves her jaw already tender and promising to bruise. He keeps her close.

“Let her go.” Drew steps in the road, gun level, finger on the trigger.

Miguel actually breaks into a big idiotic smile. “Drew, dude! Good to see you, my man.”

He tugs at her hair again, tightens his grip and turns her towards Drew.

Drew knows Miguel? Her brain isn’t working. How does Drew know Miguel? It doesn’t make sense.

“Let her go, Miguel.” Drew moves closer with careful steps, his gaze narrowed to the site of his gun.

“You found her, dude. I see you worked it. Good piece of meat.” He tugs her hair harder and thrust his hips at her.

Joy slams her elbow into Miguel’s ribs. He grimaces before ramming the butt of his pistol into her temple.

Dazed, she blinks trying to steady herself.

“You fucking whore.” Miguel wheezes, as he rubs his ribs with the back of his free hand.

“Miguel, let her go. It doesn’t have to be like this.”

“How could it be? Tell me, Drew. Can we all be friends? Let’s go back and get Carlos to adopt you too.” Miguel says, a manic glint in his eye.

“I’m sorry I left. I had to.” Joy says hoping to distract him.

“Why would I care that you left?”

“Padre told me about Carlos, about what he did after I left.”

“You know nothing about it.” Miguel bellows and shoves her into the grill on the front of the bus. Her face pushes up against the windscreen.

Padre hasn’t moved, their eyes lock, tears run over the creases on his face. Behind him, the children sit, two by two on the narrow seats. No one moves.

“You know nothing about what he did to me and it was all because of you. Because his little girl ran away.” He whispers into her ear, forcing his weight onto her. “All he ever wanted was for you to be just like him. Turns out you never had the stomach for it, but it seems that I have. Do you like my little gift?” He points the barrel in the direction of the children.

She headbutts him and pushes back, taking him by surprise. He makes an odd squeak noise as her heel meets his groin with a soft squelch. He staggers. Her fist hits his jaw making his head snap. He hits the ground. She pulls back for the next blow, but Drew grabs her arm and pulls her off him.

She heaves, sucking in air to calm herself. “How do you know Miguel?” She shoves Drew.

He doesn’t budge. “I met him when I went to Padre to find out about you.” Drew runs his hand through his hair. “He was in Padre’s clinic, and we spent a lot of time talking about you. I used him because I had to get to you.”

“What did he tell you?”

“Everything.”

Joy’s world shrinks. Everything she shared with him, everything she thought she was sharing for the first time, was a lie. He was mocking her, feigning interest. He was using her to get to Carlos. But she knew this? That was what she was doing with him, but it felt, off, somehow.

He frowns. “You okay?”

She pulls her arm from his grasp. “I’m fine. What’s it to you?”

He backs off and walks towards the bus. “We can talk about this later. We’ve got a bigger problem.” Drew says over his shoulder, holstering his weapon.

She follows him. Padre is still behind the wheel. No one has moved. She steps up into the bus behind Drew.

“Go,” Padre says, his voice hoarse.

That is when she sees it. The wires.  A small cable linking each seat, attached to small squares of C-4.

“It’s rigged to blow if they get up.”

She searches their little faces, their tears long dry. She inhales once, twice. Taking stock.

“I can diffuse it.”

“It looks complicated. I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s as if it’s Miguel own design.”

“It’s not his design.”

“Whose then?”

Her voice is hollow. “Mine,” she knows she only has one chance.

Curiosity Killed the Cat by Ash.MK

Prompt: Forbidden Places | Word Count: 1800 words | Genre: Supernatural, Coffee Shop

Isadora leaned an elbow on the counter in front of her, brushed her hair out of her face with the other and rested her chin in her propped up hand. The coffee shop in front of her was relatively quiet, a few small groups and some individuals scattered about the room. Times like these were her favourite part of working at the shop, when the morning rush was over and there was no longer a queue of people demanding their drinks.

Continue reading

A Mouse in the Wall by J.S. Veter

Prompt: Forbidden Places | Word Count: 1800 words exactly | Genre: Fantasy

A glance out a tall, thin window on the main floor showed rain sleeting sideways and bouncing off the paving. Castle Ely cowered under cover.

Tobin stuck his nose in Sanja’s room. She was on her way out. “Not this morning, Tobin, Her Highness is moving, her ladies arrive tonight, and it’s all hands to work!” She brushed past him, a quick touch to the shoulder to take the sting out of her rebuke. “Maybe Glenn needs help in the stables?” Continue reading

A Curious Silence by J.Bishop

Prompt: Forbidden Places | Word Count: 1800 words | Genre: Magical Realism

The second to the last stair step up into the attic creaked with my weight as it had always done for the last 23 years, only this time I knew grandpa wouldn’t be there to say it would be alright. I heaved myself up onto the landing and pushed open the small wooden door. The hinges complained in protest as they were awakened from their slumber to reveal the small, dimly lit room. I ducked beneath the lowest of the slanted ceiling rafters as I walked to the window and pulled back the heavy curtains to allow for the full power of sunlight to flood every dark corner and crevice. Continue reading

The Warning by Lionel Mullally

Prompt: Forbidden Places | Word Count: 1830 | Genre: Ghost Story

Charlie gathered the rods and tackle and moved quickly to the car boot and carefully stored them. He ran back in and told his dad and granddad that the car was packed. They finished the cups of tea and said goodbye to Charlie’s mother. She waved them off with a ‘mind yourselves!’ Continue reading

The Explorer by Adam Himmer

Prompt: Forbidden Places | Word count: 1800 words | Genre: Science Fiction

“Hey, what are you doing here?”

I didn’t wait to explain myself. I ran back through the leaves, their sharp edges leaving me with small cuts on my exposed arms and legs. The ground was uneven and the grass was thick, but my feet were skilled. I quickly found myself back at the clearing between the forest and the village. Continue reading

The Nag Hammadi Library by Moira le Roux

Prompt: Forbidden Places | Word count 1 800 words | Genre: Historical Fantasy

210 A.D.

Eli sat at his large wooden desk. He was lovingly reading the scriptures and texts that he had spread around him. He was studying the life of Jesus. He read the gospels and the scriptures. He had just finished the Gospel according to Judas and was looking at the writings of Mary Magdalene. He had learnt so much of the love of Jesus and his teachings from his many papyri. His heart was full and overflowing with love and grace. Continue reading

A Traveller’s Tale by Martin Haworth

Topic: Forbidden Places | Word Count: 1800 | Genre: Thriller

The flight was late out of Kastrup. The week had caught up with air traffic and at the end of the day, some Friday evening flights were not going to be on time, on any week in the year weeks, especially when Heathrow was at the other end. Continue reading