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Sanctuary, re-worked and continued

by Epona Love 

Posted: 10 October 2008
Word Count: 994
Related Works: Sanctuary • 

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Wind and rain crashed against the old, tin roof of the small church. Physically shaking under the pressure. Wooden beams creaking and groaning within the structure, echoing hollowly with the sound of her gasping breath as she crossed the threshold. She put her weight against the solid oak door, fighting the powerful wind. Gaining ground, despite her sodden feet slipping on wet tiles, the door slid back into it's frame. The deafening roar of the wind slackened to a muffled howl, like an abandoned dog shut out to fend for itself.
Against the heavy door, she felt the building vibrating, shuddering, with an accompanying sharp tapping sound. Where was the noise coming from? Trying to focus her mind, she realised the tapping was inside her own head. The steady rhythm of her chattering teeth. Looking down in the dim light, she could vaguely make out her shaking hands. Wet and smeared with... what? She asked herself, "mud... or blood...?" She couldn't tell. Her hands felt raw from clawing her way through the woods.
As feeling returned to her senses, sharp stinging pain spread across the whole of her body, kept at bay by adrenaline and cold until now. Every inch ached, and her lungs were sore from struggling to regain her breath. She sank to the floor, her energy exhausted, and her will to care, gone.
She just wanted to sit there. Stay there forever, frozen in time. Did it matter if he found her now? It would be over quickly, at least.
Her matted hair, plastered to her face with rain and dirt, steadily released little rivers of muddy water, which disguised a solitary tear that fell.

The tear left a trace of purity, all that remained of the child she had been.
Time fell away.


The children laughed, skipping around her billowing white train, as the band played. Sarah smiled down on them, turning to reach for the tendrils of their hair, lifted and blown on the breeze as they danced. The gold band on her finger caught the rosy, evening sun, with a glow that reflected in her eyes.
Jonathan watched her there.
The perfect bride. His bride.
He slowly weaved, through the crowd of congratulations, eyes solely focused on her. Paused, momentarily for effect, to catch her eye.
He growled playfully at the reeling children, and they scattered, an explosion of rainbow colours.
Sarah reached out her hands to him. He stood there, just a few seconds longer than comfort permitted, and then extended his hand for her to join him. She stepped forward to meet him with a blush of a smile, and he pulled her into his arms. She looked up into his light blue eyes and wondered why he had always looked at her that way. enquiringly, as though there was something that he needed to know, but had never asked. The look had always felt so reaching. Heart wrenchingly deep. What did he need to know of her now? She was his.
“Do you remember the night we met?” he asked her.
Sarah laughed. He was such a dramatist. Surely that wasn’t what he needed to know? “Anna’s party, of course I remember… I wonder what happened to her…” It was strange the way that Anna had suddenly slipped off the radar soon after the party last summer. She had been a good friend, and also a work colleague of Jonathan’s. She had resigned, according to Jonathan, but that didn’t explain why her mobile always went to the message service. Sarah’s calls were never returned, and Anna’s house was left empty.
“It doesn’t really matter does it.” He stated. “What matters is that I found you.”
“Well if it wasn’t for Anna we wouldn’t have met..” She laughed.
“Of course we would have… we had to meet.” He informed her, stiffening noticeably as he held her tighter.
“Well, we met…” Sarah admitted. “and that’s enough for me.”
“Is it enough…” Sarah looked into his searching eyes, and was about to admonish him, when her parent’s interrupted them.
The next hour was a whir of activity. The sun fell slowly behind the hired tents that billowed gently in the temperate wind, as formalities with their guests were completed.


“Sarah…!” His voice called out in the darkness beyond the solid door.
Its cool, clear tone rang chillingly, ghostly, like wedding bells through the distance of time. Repeating. Each new chime shattering the momentary silence. “Sarah…”
The sound echoed dully through her numbed brain. Waking her from memories.
“Sarah…” It grew close now. Instinct told her that he knew where she was hiding. Was she hiding? Here in this dark empty space she felt at home. Untouchable. Unmovable. This territory was familiar, though she had never stepped foot in the church before. It mirrored her soul. Dark, cold, solitary. Empty of life.
Death clung to the still air. Clutched at her chest. Clawed at her legs, limply abandoned to the icy stone floor.
She observed, abstractly, that she wasn’t dressed for this occasion. She tugged the loose folds of her dressing gown around her, and slowly, mindful of exhausted limbs, gathered herself to stand.
“Sarah…” The voice, a mere whisper now, taunting her, just beyond. “I know you’re in there Sarah… I know you. Remember?”
Sarah did remember. All of the times, and all of the ways, that he had shown her who she was. “Yes,” She answered softly, “you know me well.”
“Sarah?” The door groaned heavily, grinding against stone, moving slowly. A hard gust of wet wind caught at Sarah’s face, as she backed, cautiously, down the aisle.
There he stood. A shadowy silhouette. A negative reflection of her white robe, billowing with the howling mass of wind that entered in his wake. She raised her hand to tame the swirl of hair that swept across her face, obscuring his movement.
Jonathan casually stepped towards her. He was in no hurry, where could she go?

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Comments by other Members

Michele at 14:03 on 11 October 2008  Report this post
Well done. I loved the second part- notably the sharp contrast of the lovely wedding day with the sinister undertone.
Physically shaking under the pressure
The sun fell slowly behind the hired tents that billowed gently in the temperate wind
Death clung to the still air
loved this as it impresses so much with so few words
Can't wait to see more.

Caregan at 15:40 on 11 October 2008  Report this post
Hi Emma,

I like the intrigue and mystery you're developing here and you've got some lovely descriptive passages.

The flashback sequence worked well, though I wasn't sure about the change in viewpoint - I think I would have preferred to have stayed in Sarah's head, especially as the flashback seemed to be set up as her memories at the start, so it jarred a little to be seeing things suddenly from Jonathan's perspective.

I agree with Michele that this is a lovely line -
The sun fell slowly behind the hired tents that billowed gently in the temperate wind,

For me, the end of the line
as formalities with their guests were completed.
didn't fit the tone - it came across as a little stilted straight after the poetic description of the tents, and that's such a great description it would be a pity to dilute the impact.

Anyhow, I'm looking forward to finding out more!

Account Closed at 19:36 on 15 October 2008  Report this post
Hi, I love the last two paras, the first I wasn't sure about some of the description:

Against the heavy door, she felt the building vibrating, shuddering, with an accompanying sharp tapping sound
because I wasn't visualizing it as I read it, I wasn't feeling it as I did somehow. Could just be me.

I think this is a nice set up, I hope you'll post more soon!!

Deborah at 16:57 on 17 October 2008  Report this post
Emma - love it! Definitely a brilliant rework and more of it too - this feels very much like a Vampirical thing or is it just because I'm on the third 'Twilight' book at the moment? - I love the atmospheric dramatics and the total change in Johnathan's nature from the flashback... lovely.
I, though, agree that I would have preferred to have stayed in Sarah's head rather than have the unexpected POV from the predator at the end...
Great stuff - more please!
Debs x

Sidewinder at 16:22 on 18 October 2008  Report this post
Emma, I really enjoyed this again, and love the extra bit. It's a really intriguing set-up. I'm dying to know what happened to Sarah, what happened with the MC and Jonathan.

Its cool, clear tone rang chillingly, ghostly, like wedding bells through the distance of time.
This is clever as it links this scene to the previous wedding one, and really emphasises the contrast between the two.

It definitely leaves the reader wanting more!

C x

Forbes at 11:15 on 18 December 2008  Report this post
I really enjoyed this. attention grabbing and bowled along at a cracking apce, nicely contrasted with the wedding day stuff.

I'd love to read more.



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