I Met A Trump Troglodyte Today!

As of yet I have not embarked on any adventures over to the States and I have no intention of heading out that way in the near future either. England is a geographic trinket box filled with plenteous history, fascinating landmarks and outstanding spreads of natural beauty that for any wielder of the storytelling pen one lifetime will only see a speck of it laid in documentary language. I also love England because of the profound contribution it has made in paving delightful opportunities for my development as a person, teacher and artist. These wings of self- empowerment that I wear today, as dazzling in colour as the feathers of a peacock in its prime and whose quills are poised to vocalise the contours of my imagination, must be accredited rightfully as being the fruits of the many teachers, educational institutions, workplace experiences and, notwithstanding, the overall social and cultural milieu in which I have had the privilege to grow up in.

What many people may not know is that my esteem and admiration for England has never consigned to oblivion my concerns for, and connection to, my Motherland, Bangladesh. I used to sit next to Amma’s legs, pressing her feet whilst she would tell me tales as sweet as mangoes, her voice somehow morphing itself to a low and emphatic tone – a storyteller’s voice – and I would wish always that the world outside could forget us so that Amma could carry on reciting precious memories of the land where I was born, and in which I took my first breath. I must someday archive all those stories in a proper book and then You, too, will laugh with warm tears rolling down the side of Your face as You hear of how her grandparents were so deeply in love with each other, or the time when Amma’s ditzy granny thought a scrap piece of paper was an artwork that she then stuck on the wall of the hut only to be told by the family later at night that it was an old Pakistani note! Great-Granny was very embarrassed by the blunder but apparently it aroused Great-Grandpa to want to kiss her cheek even harder for her endearing silliness! The entire village knew that this Romeo and Juliet pair were inseparable despite the laughable antics they managed to find themselves in! They never grew up and that certainly does ring a bell, does it not? Giggle!

Amma’s own father was a respected teacher and I have had the great pleasure of meeting the man himself, and I guarantee You that one can never quite forget this figure of incredible short vertical dimensions – the hereditary 158cm successfully passed down of course – because I swear he was born with a loudspeaker in his throat! When he addresses You it feels as if he is speaking out his lungs to the world! In his presence, my spine takes a mind of its own, straightening up like a metric ruler as soon as he marches into the room. He simply happens to be a character of hilarious military potential but loaded with a heart as soft as a ripe peach! I am particularly partial to his sheepish white beard, I think it makes him terribly handsome! Oooo la laaaaa!

And what to tell You of those dark days when Amma and Abba’s family barely eked out an existence, when freedom was plundered and the clouds of inexorable fear loomed over everyone and everything, no one ever knowing for sure whether the sunrise would be the last that they would see. These were the harsh and bleak days of the civil war and even now when Amma reminisces of that time of frightful darkness and of friends lost forever I could sense the heavy stone lodged in her throat. Shadows of the past scar and leave blisters on the people that were there to witness them, and it must therefore be a testament to my Amma’s powerful and natural proclivity for storytelling that is responsible for why after hearing the sufferings of my Motherland I can always feel the malice of a thick chain tied to a metal ball and wrapped around my ankles. No country in the world deserves to be incinerated through the jaws of a holocaust. Never.

Now You can understand why when my Abba received his ‘boy voucher’ to that little crumb of an island floating in the Atlantic Ocean our family were overjoyed to the skies. England was the light.

But, I never once forgot my Motherland, and as long as I am I shall never let those priceless memories handed down to me by my parents come to any harm or be at risk of eradication. For those of You who may write me off as an idealistic patriot I will also concede that countries, like personalities, are not perfect, they are pitted with stifling inconsistencies and gaping holes that need to be urgently resolved. Every country is a work in progress, some better than others, but on the whole I believe there are good people out there in every one of them who dreams for a better and bright and fair future for their Motherland.

So, where am I going with this post?

As I said earlier, I have never embarked on a trip to the States and have no immediate wish to do so. Yet, many of my well-travelled friends have shared with me the most harrowing anecdotes chronicling the sheer ignorance they have observed in the American mindset, to the extent that one begins to wonder whether they are taught at all in school of the other countries and cultural universes that exist beyond their shores! Now, I am in the habit of always giving people the benefit of the doubt and never ever do I employ banal markers like country of origin to prejudge a person’s character or integrity. That is not how I work! I have met some cheery and amiable folk from over the pond, and I also have a few friends from that part of the world –  precisely reasons why I do not jump the gun and generalise an entire nation as a bandwagon of no-brainers!

Unfortunately, today my entire crew at the shop in which I work were left feeling more grossly offended than I ought to have been after the experience I had with a person whom I could only describe as a butler to that that raspberry-faced Mr Trump!

Two Americans asked for my assistance in choosing gifts. One was a fashionable young lady who I got along with very well, and the other was a mature business man who seemed like he was out of steam for ideas on what to buy his wife who, I understand, had evidently messaged him on his smarty pants phone. All went pleasantly smooth and they were happy with my suggestions. I led them to the till point and the lady thanked me effusively and with a shining smile exclaimed, “Thank you very much and I won’t forget you, I mean that! Your accent is incredibly beautiful…

I was naturally moved by her kind words and replied, “Bless you! That is very sweet of you!

And then, alas, descended down the rip-roaring catastrophe of one of the most ugliest case of political incorrectness and blind ignorance that I have ever been subjected to, and when he said it the words of my well-travelled friends flooded my ear canals like a tsunami of a vindication that I never wished to have received. I provide you with the exact transcript of what ensued which was achievable only by my use of initiative to jot the details down straight after the incident. I still retain an open-minded stance and am fully committed to avoid myself being enslaved by prejudicial thinking. It is not who I am. I am only sharing this with You as a portrayal of distressing evidence that reinforces my belief that the so-called civilised West has still a lot to learn.

MAN: So, where are you from? [He scrutinises my face]

ME: I have lived in Winchester all my life. [I am wrapping his goods up whilst hoping in my mind that the unseen wife will be appeased by my choices]

[There is an eerie pause and I take it as a cue to expand upon my initial answer.]

ME: I was born in Bangladesh.

[The man seems to be perplexed and I assume that perhaps he does not know of my Motherland.]

ME: It is a country adjacent to India.

MAN: East Pakistan! Pakistan, India and Bangladesh were one country. [He seems chuffed at his knowledge]

ME: Under the British Empire, yes.

MAN: Bangladesh… that’s a POOR country, right?

[I was stumped by the rude directness of his question but maintained composure.]

ME: It is a developing nation.

[It was now that I knew well and truly that he was going to express a remark of raw ignorance, one too irresistible for him to keep tucked away under his belt!]

MAN: Tell me, Bangladesh is a poor country, so why is it that YOU don’t sound like a POOR person?

I could not believe my ears!

The downright primitive simplicity of his thoughts!

The lady ashamedly averted making contact with my eyes, looking down instead at the counter. She did not want to stand before me one moment longer because she wished to release me from the attentions of this utterly backward specimen of an ignorant troglodyte! I did not say anything in response and instead smiled proudly at him as if to say that it was vital that he invest in a world map and study it diligently and if he does so he shall come to learn that our world is an assortment of smaller worlds, each one a worthy treasury filled to the skies with rich stories that deserve nothing better than to be shared…  ♥♥♥

Signs: 10 Degrees By 10 Degrees

“… as if to say that it was vital that he invest in a world map and study it diligently and if he does so he shall come to learn that our world is an assortment of smaller worlds, each one a worthy treasury filled to the skies with rich stories that deserve nothing better than to be shared…

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016/14

 

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 16: Eat To Beat!

I had now, with cringing certitude, come to the end of my own tether as I heard Rianna scream and keel over backwards, landing on her elbows and then using them to frantically crawl away from the mountainous hard-skinned terror that steeped before her.

Noooooooo!!!!!” Rianna cried and things turned exponentially hopeless as she spun round to catch a brief glimpse of what lay behind her, and when she saw that there was nothing but a brick wall a few metres away, her mind buckled and caved in and she began to feel giddy and sick.

Arcana swivelled her large body and was now completely facing in the direction of the fallen Muse, and I observed for the first time the hideous bulk of her tail, a beast in its own right that I surmised was invested with its own independent free will to exact malice without the need for sanction by the demonic intelligence of its master.

My forehead layered in dripping sweat and my shoeless feet bleeding from the heel, I stared at Alex and he stared back at me. We saw in the eyes of each other a mutual understanding. We had encountered the maws of death far too many times to now plead for surrender or accept resignation and quit from the duty that was placed upon us. There was only one thing for it. The idea naturally fell into place and we both locked onto it at the same time, for this power to communicate to one another using only the channel of the mind – a language unseen to the rest of the world – shimmered into force and now was the moment to put it into good employment.

Edging ever closer towards Rianna’s helpless form on the ground, Arcana moved in and the Muse saw so clearly that the eyes of the beast were wild and flickering with deranged and piercing rage. The monster had not solely suffered an injury and blow to her physical body earlier in the upstairs chamber, she had in essence received a damaging whiplash to the very egotistical nature that fuelled her desire for world domination. There was not a chance in the world that she would now let up. Each one of us was marked for death.

Alex, can you hear me?” I addressed his mind.

He smiled and nodded. “Yes, Aunty Mazzy, I can hear you.

Good. We came here to save Rianna and we are going to do that….”, and I paused and glanced at the receding footsteps of the monster as they teasingly drew closer to the Muse, “… but we can’t let her win, either.” I extended my hand and rested it on his shoulder. “I need you to do something and it won’t be easy. It isn’t easy…. because it is the right thing to do.

He puckered his lips and his eyes, now wide and motionless, trained on mine with an astronomical degree of attentiveness.

After I had explained my plan to him I ended my thoughts with four words. “Do you trust me?

He covered his hand over mine and smiled. “Always.

Sachi stood over us, perplexed and feeling like an outsider. “I don’t know what the two of you did there, but whatever it is you better do it quick! Look!

The shadow of Arcana’s figure had now totally eclipsed the fragile and sprawled figure of Rianna and with a low rumbling grunt the snout of the beast, livid in slimy gunk, descended down in a sinister and teasing manner which rendered Rianna unable to move or say anything. She was paralysed in cold terror, for her pale cheeks that moments ago saw the first hint of blossom red, was now a slab of fleshy fodder against which Arcana took a madman’s delight in abrasively rubbing her reptilian snout. Up and down, up and down, up and down. Rianna shut her eyes tight and from them a streak of tear fell. An eerie silence proceeded and there was a pause. Rianna cautiously opened her eyes and saw the beast still fixed on her, and then it moved its mighty head back and the eyes grew coal-black and the jaw expanded to reveal sharp towers of white teeth, and she was just about to bite down when something extremely unexpected jumped in her way!

Did you know that eating too many fruits can seriously rot your teeth?

Yes! In between Rianna and the beast, there stood a little boy with his arms casually crossed behind his back! Alex!

A glaze of confusion fell over the eyes of Arcana, however it soon dissipated and we could tell that this was one indignation too far for her to endure. Her breathing grew heavier and heavier, and all the mass of muscles in her legs and neck tensed taut as like a stretched out elastic band.

Meanwhile, Alex used his hands, that were hidden from Arcana’s view, to signal to Rianna that she had to hurry and move out of the way. She stumbled in her fright but managed to hobble away and join Sachi. The two ladies held on to each other. When Arcana realised that she had been duped, her pent up aggression exploded into a terrible ROAR and she pounced forward to devour Alex!

And before Arcana could even lay a single tooth on the boy, with the expertise of a seasoned discus thrower, I launched a single ORANGE into the air, my aim designed to follow the specific trajectory I had already calculated and envisioned in my mind. The orange ball spun and spun and spun in the air, a firework of the sun and all things that belonged to the phoenix world of the Light. Whisking past Arcana the orange docked neatly into the ready and open mouth of Alex and he in turn clamped down his jaws and teeth into the succulent shell of our prime weapon and in a split second a jet propulsion of rich citric juices shot out and hit straight centre the eyes, the snout and, most significantly, the mouth of the beast. Arcana screamed in writhing pain and retreated back.

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 16: Eat To Beat!

… The orange ball spun and spun and spun in the air, a firework of the sun and all things that belonged to the phoenix world of the Light. Whisking past Arcana the orange docked neatly into the ready and open mouth of Alex and he in turn clamped down his jaws and teeth into the succulent shell of our prime weapon and in a split second a jet propulsion of rich citric juices shot out…

RAAAAAAAAAAAAR!” Arcana shrieked so loud that the walls jerked and the odd bricks toppled over and crashed down. She was squirming in agony and since her forearms were too short she could not rub her eyes and wipe away the caustic acid that was now hellishly burning her from the inside. Wherever the juices of the fruit made contact with her skin it sizzled and shrivelled, thinning out to reveal the first indications of underlying bone. These were patches of solid flesh now undergoing a rapid and grim transmogrification. In the manner reminiscent of an oceanic hydrothermal vent when it spews out huge columns of heated gases, Arcana’s body was gushing out twisted spirals of smoke, the vapour trails of burning flesh.

Alex had used up all the juices contained within the orange lodged in his mouth and he spat it out. Immediately I ducked my hand back into my carpet bag and pulled out another bulbous orb of orange, and not letting it spend a second in my palm, I zeroed in to where Alex stood, who was fully prepared to catch the next launch, and with all the mechanical energy still left in me, I released such a high-voltage overarm shot that this time no one was in a position to say that they saw it spin, for it travelled at almost light-speed and anchored in seconds flat inside Alex’s mouth! He bit down hard and the squelch of squashed fruit reverberated against the ancient walls, as if a new language of goodness had been inaugurated finally into the now incapacitated brickwork of evil. This time, two sword-sharp jets of citric acid spurted out and viciously bulleted the forehead and chest of the beast, the bombardment proving to be too much to sustain and she collapsed on the ground. Oh how she squealed and howled as new lacerations split through her body, tearing and dissolving the skin, and yet with one eye she could make out the stoic frame of the little boy, and so she tried to yank at his ankles and drag him down so that even in the motions of death she could tell herself that she did not relinquish the taste for blood, nor for domination.

Alex coolly stepped back and then she saw that beside his shoes another pair of feet had joined him. This person was missing a sneaker. Alex spat out the second orange from his mouth and brushed the back of his hand against his mouth. He suddenly realised that he was still quite scared. I gently patted his head in acknowledgement and we looked at each other. Because Alex knew what I was about to do next, the cold sweat that had collected on his forehead began to glisten less and less, and he decidedly smiled at me first, and then at the heap that was Arcana .

I lifted up my carpet bag and stood determinedly above Arcana’s moaning body. Rianna and Sachi stared on, anxious as to what I had planned under my sleeve. When I looked down and saw the hapless and wretched state of our arch nemesis, enfeebled by the distress caused by the attacking juices of the fruit, I felt sorry for her. What a foul breed of shadows and darkness must blight a soul before it is subjugated by the demonic desire to pursue ultimate dominance over all others. Surely at one time she must have dreamt in favour of Light and Life. What could have mutated her piety into something so terrible and cursed?

Alex could not understand why I was stalling. He was too young to see things from both sides of the coin. I closed my eyes and prayed to my Creator in silence. “May her Soul return to the Light from whence it was once formed…”  And, thus, I opened my eyes again and I turned my unfastened carpet bag upside down, tipping out what seemed like all the oranges of the world, a shower of puckered light, and they fell with relish and stung blistering craters into her body. Stifling vents of smoke rose upwards, and with a closing judder and twitch of pain the intelligent barbarian that was Arcana was finally gone. In front of us and spread out like an ancient jigsaw of bone, the calcified remains of our foe lay in peace.

Alex hugged my waist and I laid my arm around him. “We did it, Aunty Mazzy! We did it!

Sachi, clutching onto a weak Rianna, came over and Alex sprang to her side. “Mum!

I am so so proud of you, Alex!” Sachi wept and smiled at the same time. Mother and son were locked in an embrace and I watched on in pure contentment.

Rianna bravely limped over to the bony carcass of her tormentor. She looked very bitter and not at all bearing the countenance of one who had only just been blessed with the liberation of a new and free existence. I presumed that this was natural, for she had, after all, missed her opportunity to discharge the spark within her into the heart and mind of her Chosen One.

Are you ok?” I neared her and laid my hand on her elbow.

She was silent.

Rianna?

She turned round and looked into my eyes. “Sorry… I… I am tired…

Always more than happy to cheer anyone who may have fallen foul of a solemn and sad mood, I had an idea and wished everyone to partake in it. My eyes still trained on Rianna I made an announcement that was perfectly accented with a cheeky voice of authority, “We’ve made a rather horrid mess of the place and since this is a national heritage site visited by tourists from all over the world I suggest we cover our tracks!

What do you mean, Aunty Mazzy?” Alex jumped over to me, inquisitive as ever!

What I mean is that we have a calcified jigsaw on our hands!” Everyone quickly glanced at Arcana’s frizzled remains, bemused to say the least! “I say we pin her up and write a short caption underneath. We’ll make it out that she is a rare archaeological find, the fossil of an ancient dinosaur local only to Corfe Castle!” I put my hands on my hips and surveyed what my audience had to say. There was a gleeful burst of laughter from the mother and son, and as for Rianna, she did smile. I told her emphatically, “Rianna…. you are free…

As we set down to work, I knew all too well in my gut that the Muse was not finished with me. I was enlisted with one more task, one that would see me boldly defy the rituals of the clock hand…

What happened next? ♥♥♥

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 16: Eat To Beat!

What I mean is that we have a calcified jigsaw on our hands!” Everyone quickly glanced at Arcana’s frizzled remains, bemused to say the least! “I say we pin her up and write a short caption underneath. We’ll make it out that she is a rare archaeological find, the fossil of an ancient dinosaur local only to Corfe Castle!

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Pitt River’s Museum Collection | Oxford University | Oxford | UK 2016
Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Corfe Castle Village | Wareham | Dorset | UK 2016

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 15: A Jaw-Dropping Jaw!

Rianna’s voice weathered to an almost dying whimper, she spoke with what little strength she had so that we may learn of the name of her Chosen One. She then closed her eyes and a teardrop rolled down her face. When she opened them again, there I saw swimming in those two oceanic pupils the agony of unrequited purpose, and yet, unmistakably, I detected a soft tenderness still inhabited them and which belied the earnestness in her Faith that I would someday return and free her from the shackles of an evil who was as archaic as the earth itself.

I… I don’t know him. I have never heard of that name”. I turned around and glanced behind my shoulder over to Sachi and Alex, and they too were mildly puzzled. Since none of us were acquainted with that name, nor had The Crone ever muttered it in our presence, it suddenly came over me a leaden strain of fatigue and with it a sliver of defeat that coiled its way into my gut. What was I supposed to say to her? She was relying on me and I had not a clue of how to take her to him because I simply did not know who he was.

I faced Rianna and now she was lying up, a slight flush of redness had returned to her cheeks. “I am sad to say that I really don’t know who your Chosen One is but….”, and I searched my feelings, for something was troubling my mind, “… but I feel that I ought to have known him. I can’t explain it…

It was the first time Rianna smiled. She placed her hand on my arm and said, “You would have known his name and his vision if I was allowed to fulfil my destiny. I was stopped from assimilating into him.” She paused for a while and lowered her head, gracefully, as seen in the bereavement of a mourner. “I… I know that he… is dead. He is no more.

All our eyes widened in silent shock and then our already tiresome spirits were ruthlessly tossed so deep into the pit of despair that none of us spoke a word for some time. I let out a long breath and hunched my back inwards. I had no more power left in me to fight. “So… we are too late…

Alex came over and put his arms around my neck and we were cheek to cheek. I raised my arm and placed my hand over his soft face.

No…” Rianna’s reply shook us out of her depressive stupor.

She crawled over to me and then whispered into my ear, “The Universe lives in you, remember…?”

My eyes widened and my mouth agape, I turned to face her. “How… how did you know to say that…? My father used to – 

Just then an almighty crash reverberated through the small chamber and to our horror we saw behind us the entire frame of the door had been heavily blasted away with the surrounding brick walls reduced to rubble, and there in the partial darkness rose before us the leathery black reptilian figure of Arcana.

Aaaaaaaargh!!!!!!” Alex and Sachi leapt behind me, shuddering in the wake of the return of the enemy, and furthermore in such treacherous close proximity. I stood up and though I was very frightful to the core and knew that my physical virtues were way out of league with the beast, I nevertheless extended my arms out like wings so that my friends knew that I would act as their protective shield.

Stay back and take care of Rianna!” I could hear the complying shuffle of feet behind me as Sachi and Alex each took an elbow and lifted Rianna off from the floor. Acting as like two human crutches, both my friends ensured that Rianna was well supported and they achieved this with great merit, for though their imaginations were being marred by all sorts of petrifying and nightmarish possibilities, they did not veer away and give in to their fear, instead both of them focused on the situation in hand.

Arcana did not ram herself into us like a primitive beast would have done, rather she expelled from her hellish mouth slow and calculated grunts, and all the while her clawed feet stepped purposefully towards us. Her deep-set red eyes burned brighter than before and I had the filthy privilege to read her thoughts. She told me that nothing would ever come close to creaming her black heart with pure ecstasy than to gnash into my pulse and rip my throat apart into as many fleshy morsels as there was dust on the very floor on which I and my friends stood.

I could not let her win and if I was meant to die than I would die trying, and that was that! I knew there and then that my fate had been sealed. I gulped and my eyes widened and I carefully whispered to my allies behind me, “When I say ‘run’, you must all run towards the door.

What about you, Aunty Mazzy? We can’t leave you!” I could feel Alex place his hands on my back.

No way… we are all in this together!” Sachi seconded him. I could tell she was vexed with my orders.

Now is not the time to argue…”, and I saw that Arcana was approaching closer and closer to us, “… just get Rianna out of here. DO IT!” Rianna edged forward and placed her hand on my shoulder. That was all the affirmation I needed and thus I stripped myself away from the group to the other side of the room. My friends were speechless.

What is it, Arcana? If you can’t take down a puny human like me then you have to admit that The Crone was absolutely right – you ARE a piddling amateur with no balls!” As I had predicted the grotesque beast charged at me, and with each stomp she made more of the walls shook and crumbled.

I screamed at the top of my lungs. “RUN!!!!!!

A momentary hesitation haunted them before all three of them legged it out of the chamber and down the foul and dark stairwell. Arcana flashed her eyes towards the door but I was quick to distract her once again.

Oi! I’m here! So you think you are the queen of this sick palace of yours but, alas, you forgot one teensy-weensy detail…”, and with both hands I hauled up what I had brought with me all along on this quest and gave a wild shout, “… no one is above my CREATOR!” And with those words, my hands still gripped tight on the handle, I hurtled my carpet bag in a neat arc and smashed it against her left jaw. She let out a high-pitch yelp and toppled over onto the hard floor with a loud thwack! The carpet bag once more over my arm, I ran as fast as I could, stepping over her pitiful bulk of a body and then jumping down and finally dashing out of the chamber. I skidded down the stairs with my heart on the verge of blasting out of my chest cavity! In all my hurried haste one of my sneakers slipped off my feet and I dared not to go back and retrieve it. My sight was unflappably fixed on reuniting with my friends and getting out of this stinking hellhole!

As I jumped over the last few steps I discovered to my tremendous relief that all three of them were waiting for me in the foyer area of the tower. Their faces lit up as soon as they cast their eyes on me.

AUNTY MAZZY!” Alex sprinted over to my side and I knelt down and hugged him. “I was scared… I was scared you weren’t coming back…

It’s ok… it’s ok, I am here now…”, and soon after Sachi’s arms were around me too.

Thank god, you are not hurt – and believe me, when we get back I will have a few words about that stupid risk you took up there!” She was extremely cross with me, but only the kind expected from someone who deeply cared about your welfare.

We all got back on our feet and looked at Rianna who was stood some way from us. She was smiling with affection and her eyes took a new glimmer that was not present before, and I pondered whether her life force was returning once more to her. Had she become afresh with the new hope that she found in me?

We were about to walk over to Rianna when the stone ceiling above us clashed and cracked and gave way to a ginormous hole from which spewed thick smog and dust. The air choked our lungs and we clutched to our chests, spluttering and scratching our eyes. When the blanket of irritants that hung in the air became settled and we opened our eyes once more, the worst sort of dread that could have happened at that precise time indeed chose to happen! It loomed in front of our eyes with supreme malevolence. Poised to attack the Muse we had all vowed to save, there hovered the gigantic jaws of Arcana, wide open and heaving in adamant revenge…

What happened next? ♥♥♥

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 15: Jaw-Dropping Hell

When the blanket of irritants that hung in the air became settled and we opened our eyes once more, the worst sort of dread that could have happened at that precise time indeed chose to happen! It loomed front of our eyes with supreme malevolence. Poised to attack the Muse we had all vowed to save, there hovered the gigantic jaws of Arcana, wide open and heaving in adamant revenge…

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Pitt River’s Museum | Oxford University | Oxford | UK 2016

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 12: Tipping The Scales

The three of us stood in awe of the crystalline purity of her face, and noticing that her gaze was flitting about in all directions, we each knew quite well that she had felt our presence and thus a wish swelled in our hearts that it would be as like a small glimmer of triumphant glory if only she could have seen us from up there.

She has magic about her”, Alex said quietly, “but I can see sadness, too”. He was right, Rianna was as white as snow, however what stood in that tall tower was more akin to that of the material from which shadows fed to their delight. The might of her birthing light had eroded severely and the slowness of her movements was telling of the close tie her form had now shared with the lifeless stones that cocooned around her.

Now that I have seen her, with my own fleshy eyes, I can touch her pain…”, I paused to find the words, “she has suffered more longer than any of us have lived”. Watching her from the ground below, a speck of a wasting figure whose destiny to ignite a new world into the imagination of one man was terribly blighted, I was overcome with grief and from it boiled a resolve so fixed in completing the quest that I vowed that whatever obstacles threw themselves on our path, I would not endure under circumstances a fate in which this poor Muse was left to perish.

Mazzy, what now?” Sachi turned to me and Alex copied.

I rebelliously slung my carpet bag over my shoulder and without looking at either of them, eyes still transfixed on the frail figure in the distance, I replied and my words carried with them an authoritative monotony, unimpeachable, to show that it was time to do or die! “Let’s go…

We had only just stepped beyond the wooden fence and into the last grass-addled courtyard before the colossal tower when all of a sudden the ground sent out a deafening and potent tremor and the grass, like a giant serpent, rippled outwards, tearing the earth apart in places with extraordinary ease. The three of us were immediately knocked over, rolling down away from each other.

Mum! Aunty Mazzy! Help!” Alex had been sent hurtling down a particular stony corner of the ruins.

Alex, hold onto something!” I could see that if he did not cling onto an anchor of some kind he risked being smashed into the sharp and jagged patchwork of stone ahead of him. Sachi seconded my advice and urged her son to heed my words. His face lashed in grazes, Alex scrambled onto an island of spiky grey rock and perched on top of it. He grinned with relief and though he was very much struggling to catch his breath he sent out to us the same course of action.

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 12: Tipping The Scales

“… His face lashed in grazes, Alex scrambled onto an island of spiky grey rock and perched on top of it. He grinned with relief...”

Mum! Aunty Mazzy! There are big rocks behind you too, get up on them!” The situation a dire one, but our little fellow glowed with pleasure with these utterances, for he could not put an amount to his contentment whenever the opportunity rose to show off his own survival skills! Sachi and I did not hesitate a moment. We took to our orders with speedy effect and in seconds flat each one of us had taken occupancy on an individual miniature mountain of scraggy and uneven stone.

What was that, Aunty Mazzy?” It was a perfectly legitimate question from Alex. What indeed had spurned the grass to ripple like water and to force the earth to jut out such irregular monuments of stonework?

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 12: Tipping The Scales

What was that, Aunty Mazzy?” It was a perfectly legitimate question from Alex. What indeed had spurned the grass to ripple like water and to force the earth to jut out such irregular monuments of stonework?

I have not the foggiest idea, Alex.” Curiously, I examined the grassy knoll that had now appeared around us like a sea of green and there we were amid it all, anxiously hunched atop shores of stone, from whose vantage point we saw the cracked and furrowed landscape, and the mud that ought to have been underneath now leaked out like blood that had been spilled. Who or what could have been responsible for this insane vandalism against nature?

I have a bad feeling about this…” Sachi spoke in whispers, as if any louder and she might arouse the wrath of this unseen doer of wreckage to intensify its intent.

Without warning, it happened again.

Everything shuddered and this time a distinct hiss and snarl was heard and that is when the gross terror of the truth seized me.

Guys, I have some nasty news…” My two friends spun their heads round to face me from their respective mounds. “We are NOT sat on stones”. Their faces dropped as I continued. “This is bone, living bone. The scales of a large monster! Arcana!!” As soon as I had uttered those words, we leapt off the mounds and huddled together in the middle of the grassy courtyard. Panting in fright, there was some reassurance evoked as we ringed our arms around one another.

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 12: Tipping The Scales

We are NOT sat on stones”. Their faces dropped as I continued. “This is bone, living bone. The scales of a large monster! Arcana!!

The illusion was over and the stegosaurus-spikes of the huge beast drilled higher and higher through the earth so that more of its crusty plates was visible, until we were enveloped by its pressing shadows.

Hold tight!” I had Sachi and Alex close together whilst I flung my carpet bag off my shoulder and just as I was about to unfasten the top and reach in for its contents I was violently pushed forward and flew and landed a few metres in front of our protective circle.

AUNTY MAZZY!” Alex screamed and ran after me with Sachi holding his hand.

Mazzy, are you alright?” Sachi put her arms around me and picked me off the ground. I was somewhat disorientated but told her that I would be fine, however that was the least of my worries, for a tidal wave of despair lashed at me full force as I stared at the titanic size of the maniacal beast before us. A second later my two friends saw it too and we all crept closer towards each other, shivering in what was the most coldest fear we had ever known in our lives.

The vast dome of a black face cracked itself out of the ground and two deep-set eyes flickering in the embers of hell itself burned in them, and its jaw then opened wide to reveal barbaric serrations of bone – gigantic towers of teeth – eager to crush and swallow the air and us. What a loathsome cavern that moist darkness was that led down to its gullet. It produced a low growling noise as it coiled its way closer to us before rising fully from the ground to reveal four legs, each extended with curved claws of discoloured ivory.

None of us had left any power to utter any sort of words, but I did have just that tiny bit of sense in me to reach out for my carpet bag and, however implausible that I would succeed, I was determined to try and smite the beast out with my humble weaponry.

Alas, it struck me with a clenching tightness in my chest me that my carpet bag still lay exactly in the same spot that I had been sat moments earlier. It was out of my reach! We were doomed!

The monster drew closer and closer, its gargantuan fangs trickling with sick viscous fluid, and then a squish was heard followed by a prolonged bout of squelching. Our hearts and spirits were fractured in that one split second.

The beast let out a rotten, wide grin. My carpet bag had been trampled…

What happened next? ♥♥♥  

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Corfe Castle Village | Wareham | Dorset | UK 2016

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 11: The Locked Potential

On a three-legged wooden stool, Rianna was sat with her back hunched and her face enclosed tightly inside her cupped hands. She was beginning to fade. The flicker of her birthing spark waning, as if it were a trophy diminishing in sheen with every passing of the clock hand.

The scuttling rustle of a black beetle in the corner woke her up from her sad thoughts and she sighed and leaned her head back against the decrepit, damp wall. Cold and lonely, the bustle of the beetle’s movements was a welcoming reminder that life beyond her own still existed outside this godforsaken place.

Nearly seventy and odd years had she seen of this cavernous cell, its rank corners odorous with foul stenches that wafted up from the other rooms below where Arcana kept her favourite monstrous specimens and on whose bodies she conducted the most heinous experiments and dissections. Sometimes unearthly screams could be heard from these neighbouring honeycombs of unseen evil, and on those nights for Rianna the comfort and solace of sleep was callously withheld from her.

She was a Muse which meant that food was never a concern. Indeed, she was created to feed the mind and heart of her Chosen One. Whilst lying on her makeshift bed – a mournful plateau constructed of flint – she would always fall back on thoughts about her Chosen One and the torturous emptiness that must have been inflicted on his soul throughout the course of his life, for she was the spark that never came, though he had waited and waited and waited until his last dying breath. Since their life forces were connected she knew that he no longer was a living part of this world, he had died a very long time ago and that she had failed him. She blamed herself for the tragedy because it was she that had become the gullible prey to Arcana’s false pleas for help, luring the once bright Muse to the castle and then locking her away in this boxed cell, an abyss of dark things whose door and walls were clamped down by ancient and dangerous incantations not even conquerable by The Crone and her allies.

She knew her time of end was drawing near. Sooner or later Arcana would initiate an escalation of her treacherous powers, exacting a mass holocaust of all Muses in the world and the shadow era would begin. A new world, whose mast would wave and flutter at the bidding of the grim reaper’s deathly shrieks and cries. She prayed and prayed every day and night, but it seemed that no one was there to hear her. Oh, how merciful it would be for her if someone could spare her this misery of witnessing the end of human creativity. She wished to fade away faster than she was already. Despondency had taken her completely and the huge weight of her hopelessness, tantamount to the rocks that surrounded her, was pulling her down to the centre of the earth. She slipped and fell off her stool and lay still on the dusty floor.

The scuttling beetle returned, however, and this time it came close to her and though its eyes could not be seen, Rianna felt them, and they were not mocking or devious. Instead, she was certain that this dot of an insect was trying to tell her something. Pressing down on the floor with her palms, she lifted her head and the world spun a little before she returned back to the room. The absurdity of what she did next did not perturb her, for she addressed the insect.

What is it, little one?” She spoke like the faint light of a star.

The beetle did not move at first, but then it turned around and paused. Its body was facing the miniscule window in front, the only remembrance Rianna had of the notion of day. The beetle shuffled towards the window and raised the front part of its body slightly higher, conveying to Rianna that she ought to come over and peer over. She was terribly weak, but from somewhere deep within she found that she could still muster enough strength to listen to the unspoken instructions of her multi-legged, midget friend.

Alright… I am coming”.

She got up on her feet and they wobbled a bit, so she quickly reached out her hand and placed it on the cold wall next to her to prevent herself from falling over. He throat, though parched and coarse, she swallowed hard, and there was an unusual tenseness in her gut, a feeling that she was not quite alone in all this. She had not sensed this before, only now.

She edged carefully forward. When she reached the window, her figure no less insubstantial as an apparition that had never seen the fertility of spring, and whose lamentable silhouette flanked on either side by two great sentinels of igneous dark plinths of stone mined from the roar of volcanoes that time had forgot, Rianna saw below was the teeming life of the village. But it was not somehow the same scene she had observed for all these years, for she could feel a blazing surety that there was something anew.

It was Hope.

She was more enlivened than ever and with her tired eyes she combed over the panorama of the landscape, trawling unceasingly through the fanfare of people and tents and trees for something that would vindicate her belief.

She had yet to see them but knew this much already, for everything in her told her so, assuredly, that something amazing was afoot, and that one of them had an old carpet bag – a beggar’s trinket that would change the course of history forever…

What happened next?  ♥♥♥      

 

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 11: The Locked Potential

“… She edged carefully forward. When she reached the window, her figure no less insubstantial as an apparition that had never seen the fertility of spring, and whose lamentable silhouette flanked on either side by two great sentinels of igneous dark plinths of stone mined from the roar of volcanoes that time had forgot…”

 

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 11: The Locked Potential

“… She was more enlivened than ever and with her tired eyes she combed over the panorama of the landscape, trawling unceasingly through the fanfare of people and tents and trees… She had yet to see them but knew this much already… that one of them had an old carpet bag – a beggar’s trinket that would change the course of history forever…”

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Oxford University Museum Of Natural History | Oxford University | Oxford | UK 2016
Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Corfe Castle Village | Wareham | Dorset | UK 2016

 

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 10: The Knight At The End Of The Tunnel

My heart sank in fear and despair. Unconsciously, I lessened my grip on Alex and began to step away from the hole. His voice had now dimmed, he was exhausted and it was very conceivable at this point that he would sooner or later pass out from the mangling force of the ever constricting wall.

Sachi did not stop her feeble attempts to pull her son out from the gap, however, she suddenly became wary that I had tip-toed away. Disappointed by what appeared to be resignation on my part, her eyes began streaming with huge tears, and she cried and could hardly speak and yet stuttered in broken fragments.

Mazzy… why are you not helping? Why?! This is all your fault! All… your… fault.

What Sachi did not know was that I was scanning the entire wall, searching for recesses or grooves by which I could dig my fingers and toes in so that I may climb it and jump over to the other side. If I could keep Talbot distracted, it may buy us extra time for Sachi – assuming that her willpower was inexhaustible – to remain hooked in her efforts to wrench Alex out of the hole.

Sachi, you stay here and keep trying. I think I might be able to climb over. Just don’t let go of him whatever happens!” As I lurched forward towards the wall I could see from the corner of my eye that my friend wore an apologetic expression, she had not clocked into my real intentions and, knowing that now was not the moment to clear the air of misunderstandings, I did not pay attention to her and kept on track with my plan.

It was just as I had laid my fingers into the first grooves on the wall, ready to hoist myself up, that the entire façade of the bricks began shaking and waves of fine dust blew out from its crevices. I was knocked off and fell, landing on my bottom and at eye-level to Alex. There was another rumble, a more stronger one, and now the very ground began to jerk. Alex was drifting in and out of consciousness, the odd finger or two moving ever so slightly. He no longer made any sound.

What the heck is happening!?” I was out of breath. Dust was not only smothered all over my face, I think I had swallowed some of it. Spluttering it out in fitful coughs, I fast approached Alex and knelt down by his side and to my amazement I saw that the hole was changing. It was growing and growing and growing!

Oh my God, Sachi! LOOK!” I grabbed Sachi’s arm and yanked her down so that she too was beside me. The shock of watching two large metallic hands prise through the sides of the wall was too fantastical to comprehend. A chink of light appeared on the other side, and as the tunnel widened out the both of us could make out the shining helmet of Sir Talbot. I do not know where the sun had suddenly come from, for it had been grim and dull and blustery since we had left the warm auspices of the teahouse, and yet now, with fierce magnitude of spirit, the sunshine sent a shaft of glowing light which lit up the metal man’s face.

The hole had expanded much more than how we had found it, in fact, it was no longer a bricked fissure but that of a doorway. He stepped into it and picked up Alex in his arms and came forward. Sachi and I took a step back, and neither of us had a clue what to say. We had never ever bargained for this  astonishing turnaround of events.

Alex began to stir awake and Sir Talbot motioned towards Sachi.

Oh Alex!” Sachi leapt forward and took her son in her arms. “Are you alright?!” She was breathless with joy to see her son be returned to her.

Mum!” He said no more, only that he simply reached up and hugged his mother tight. “Talbot… he saved me!”

I know… I know…” Sachi, still cradling her son with weeping eyes looked up at Sir Talbot, “Thank you, thank you very much!!”.

Sir Talbot did not say anything in return. He stood there in a silence as metallic as his suit.

I walked over to Alex and ruffled his hair and pinched his cheeks before stroking them, “Welcome back, Alex…” I drew out a long breath and he placed his hand over my hand.

I had not envisaged that I would ever have the need to thank a minion of the dark forces, but it was my wise heart that said to me that things were not as they were. Something had changed and it was my duty to acknowledge that. I turned to the metal man and stepped closer. I could feel Sachi and Alex behind me, tense and uncertain as to whether my approaching him was a sensible idea. I, on the hand, knew that it was right to risk it.

Why did you help us?

A long pause ensued. Everyone held their breath. Not even the whisperings of trees could be heard in that silence, wherein time itself must have dissolved into oblivion.

I did not help you.

I was perplexed by his answer.

I helped me”.

I did not say anything, save that my eyes took a life of their own and gazed deeper into his faceless face.

I know my crimes are….. unpardonable. I broke a sacred trust that was once placed upon me.” There was confessional discomfort in his manner and voice. This was hard but harder still that he chose to tell us of the unspoken torture of living a life that was a lie at its core.“ I left the circle of my brothers and I betrayed my greatest friend… Arthur…. And for what? To live forever?” He lowered his head down to his chest. “Life without freedom is worse than death…

Arcana gave you immortality but with a condition…. that you live your days as her slave…” I softly cut in so that he may know that I was listening to his words and that his sufferings were no longer a secret. They had been released into the air.

Yes. Arthur’s soul will never forgive me. I know that. I am damned, a curse and a plague to myself. I became that very thing that I swore to defeat. And now… I am a lost cause and I cannot even end this misery of what I am”.

We were all silent and for what length of time, I cannot tell. I swallowed hard and came to him one step closer. He was crestfallen, a man desperate to atone for his sins, a man who wished to cease to be.

I stared at him hard and it was then that it dawned on me that the sunlight reflecting of his metal armour had sent a swirl of orange marble waves to ripple all across the grey walls, and if only there was a mirror I am certain we would have found ourselves beautifully splashed in the prism aura of his light. A new and brilliant realisation awoke in me and I was perfectly clear in my mind of what I had to undertake. Surprising everyone by my odd mannerisms, yet no one said anything as I walked over to my carpet bag, opened the fastening at the top and ducked my hand in, scrambling deep down into its filled but infinite cavern.

Now, where are you?” I was talking aloud my thoughts. “Ah, there you are!” And out of the bag I pulled out a long black umbrella. A proud and upright gait in my walk, I marched over to Sir Talbot and cleared my throat with the commanding countenance by which King Arthur might have once expressed when addressing his gallant knights of the round table.

Kneel”.

My friends were completely gobsmacked and the metal man in front of me dared not to move a muscle. I had spooked everyone so it seemed.

Ahem, ahem. Did you not hear me? I said kneel.

Very slowly he knelt down on one leg, the armour on his body stretching and all the while his head was cowered down to reveal the gap between his helmet and shoulder plate. I caught a glimpse of his human form dormant beneath the sheets of metal.

You are right…. I deserve to be punished and humiliated”, he whispered.

I raised my umbrella above my head and like a mighty sword it was poised to slice through the blasphemous enemy. Behind me, Sachi and Alex squinted their eyes as they held onto one another other. What no one had guessed was that in my eyes this man was no longer the man that he had been for so many countless centuries.

Down plunged the umbrella but Sir Talbot did not flinch – and nor was there any reason to. I rested the end of my umbrella first on his left shoulder and then onto his right and I kept alternating like this as I made the announcement, a re-initation into the olden ways, “We – Alex, Sachi and I – hereby acknowledge the most excellent valour and bravery and selflessness as shown by you today, Sir Talbot, and pledge that as long as we shall live we will, with inviolable constancy, hold our heads high whenever your name is passed through our lips, for you are a noble man and… our most good friend!

He did not say a word but the gentle drawing of a sigh told me that he had found peace at last.

RISE, SIR TALBOT!” I smiled at him and his head rose up, and a shard of sunshine glinted off from the grated visor of his metal helmet. “You are no one’s servant, remember that my dear Sir. And if anyone should challenge that then let them squawk, but never ever forget who or what you are.

And what am I?” His eyes were not visible but his words saw my face clearly.

You are a good man and there is much more good left for you to do in the world. We are only the beginning but let us not be your last. Promise me that”.

I promise and thank you…. for releasing me.” He looked at me with his metal face but it was abound with affection, I could sense that, discerned only by my heart.

All of us caught in the emotions of the moment, I cleared my throat once again to signal that we needed to disband. “We better be heading out again, there is someone we must save”.

I know. You will be needing this”. He searched into his belt and pulled out a small piece of paper with strange numbers printed on it. “Arcana has imprisoned the Muse in this cell, in the highest wing of the castle, and these magical inscriptions will provide you with safe passage”.

When I took the paper into my hand and read the number sequence I immediately gathered what they were. “I see, this is a password to open a door bolted down by an advanced security programme.

Sir Talbot was a little befuddled by my modern assessment, but he did not wish to compromise my praising perception of him so he simply nodded in agreement.

Thank you, Sir Talbot! Right, let’s go and save her!” I was buzzing inside, my determined sense of mission had grown exponentially in the last few minutes, and both Alex and Sachi cheered, hoisting their fists in the air!

I cannot go with you”. Sir Talbot was sorry for not accompanying us, for only the children of the seen and unseen worlds, born with the Gift of Sight, were allowed to enter those upper echelons of the castle.

You have done your part and played it well you have”. I smiled at him and he could tell in my assurance that I was not the least bit ruffled, nor my impressions of him mitigated, by his decision. He had made a sensible choice.

Alex was the first one to walk through the doorway in the crumbling façade of bricks but before he entered he spun round and with the most friendliest smile stretched out across his tiny little face he addressed Sir Talbot. “Thank you… Sir Talbot! Thank you for being nice and saving my life. You’re a really cool dude! I can’t wait to tell my friends about you! Thank you!

Sir Talbot bowed his head down and then up again. Alex mimicked his motions before disappearing through the doorway.

Sachi was to follow, and she too stopped and turned to face Sir Talbot. “Thank you for saving my son.” Her voice shook a little but she was more than willing to contend with her emotions and continued, “King Arthur would have been proud of you today”. Sir Talbot bowed his head again and she did the same, although she was close to having her head bumped against the bricks because Alex could hear how sentimental she had become and shouted out from the other side, “Oh Mum, don’t start crying now, we need to go! Hurry up!” Sachi laughed her way through the doorway, her son frenetically tugging her sleeves from the other end!

And then there was only Sir Talbot and I.

Listen…. I suggest you go out in the world with that metal gear off but make sure you wear some clothes!” I giggled uncontrollably but he did not seem to catch on to the joke and thus I returned to a more sincere tone of voice and topic. “Unfortunately the weather of the British Isles has not changed much since the medieval times, it is mostly very wet and damp, and with someone with a predisposition to metal attire, may I suggest that you accept this gift from me”. I handed him my umbrella.

He stared at it, unsure what to do.

Please, have it. It will protect you from rusting should you wish not to wear the clothes of our times.” I suddenly felt quite beside myself, embarrassed that I may have offended his traditional ways.

After a momentary hesitation he reached out and took the umbrella. “Thank you”. I wish I could have seen his face then.

I nodded and backed away. Happy in the knowledge that Arcana had one less evil creation by her side, and that we had one more warrior of light to fight for our cause. Just as I was beginning to enter the doorway he asked me a question.

Will I see you again?

I paused for thought and searched my heart.

Yes…. Yes you will. In another story…” And with those words I left him with my umbrella in his hand,  and he stood at peace with speckles of sunshine reflecting off the bright, shiny coat of his armour.

When I stepped out onto the other side, Alex was leaning against a wooden fence with his hand acting as an awning over his eyes. Sachi was stood next to him, absolutely motionless and when she saw that I was here she gestured me to quickly join them.

I ran up to them .“What is it?

What happened next?  ♥♥♥     

 

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 10: The Knight At The End Of The Tunnel

Thank you… Sir Talbot! Thank you for being nice and saving my life. You’re a really cool dude! I can’t wait to tell my friends about you! Thank you!

 

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 10: The Knight At The End Of The Tunnel

“… she was close to having her head bumped against the bricks because Alex could hear how sentimental she had become and shouted out from the other side, “Oh Mum, don’t start crying now, we need to go! Hurry up!”…”

 

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 10: The Knight At The End Of The Tunnel

“… When I stepped out onto the other side, Alex was leaning against a wooden fence with his hand acting as an awning over his eyes. Sachi was stood next to him, absolutely motionless and when she saw that I was there she gestured me to quickly join them...”

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Corfe Castle Village | Wareham | Dorset | UK 2016

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 9: Alex Encounters A Writer’s Block!

ACHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” Alex could not contain the mammoth sneeze any longer than he had endured, for otherwise certain spontaneous combustion was very much on the cards and at this stage of the quest it was important that he remain in one piece! Sachi and I both tilted our heads down to him and he, with apologetic eyes pleaded not to be reprimanded and whispered, “Sorry!

Immediately Professor Arcana and Sir Talbot came to a halt in their discussion and they peered out towards the doorway. Deadpan and piercing, Arcana’s face grew green with caustic fury, and a rumble that had begun in her throat, snaked and slithered its way to her mouth before she raised her voice so as to shudder the nearby stones to crack, “YOU!

All three of us froze on the spot despite knowing fully well that the very extremity of the situation demanded that we ought to flee!

Servant, SEIZE THEM!” Arcana rose from her seat, the book sliding off her lap with a thud on the ground as if it were never an object of consequence for her, “They know everything! They must not get away!!

Contrary to Arcana’s orders, Sir Talbot did not obey. He stayed rooted to the spot, and though his face was not visible since it lay hidden underneath his encumbering metal helmet, the three of us were beyond a doubt that he was having a hard time processing his mistress’s orders.

SERVANT!

To that fierce trumpet call, Sir Talbot unwillingly retook his position as the enslaved creature and rushed at us, a clamorous stampede of metal charging at the speed of a bull.

Breathless and scared out of our wits – after all remember that we did not possess on us any such weapon or device by which to evade or overcome a lunatic knight – we had no other option but to scream to each other to RUN!!!

I should imagine You are most probably wriggling with the question of how on earth the three of us had navigated and scaled that hill and up to the castle, and then to find ourselves stood at precisely the threshold of Arcana’s funereal chambers when we should have still been slurping down our teas?

Let us backtrack along time and to the scene of our jolly munching business at that quaint and charming teahouse!

Alex, I am terribly lost! What Kung Fu manual? You did not say anything about that in your message?” I was positively puzzled by this boy’s extraordinary fickle nature of mind!

Aunty Mazzy is right, Alex.” Sachi was greatly anxious and the smile that she had made a habit to wear under all circumstances had now but disappeared.

Alex got up cautiously from his seat and eyed the large mirror that was hung up on the wall in front of him. Then he got up fully and turned round, peering his head out through the window.

Right, he’s gone!

Who’s gone?” I was beginning to suspect that there must have been something spiked into his scone! He was not making much sense at all!

He sat back down and faced the both of us. “Sir Talbot. Arcana’s metal pet.

WHAT? He was here?!” I felt pretty daft not to have detected a sighting of him myself.

Who is Sir Talbot?” Poor Sachi had not received erudition on these matters of the strange world in as much depth as I and Alex had.

He works for Arcana and he was here, listening to us talking. I saw his reflection in the mirror. That’s why I changed the subject quickly. I did not want him to go and tell Arcana that we have our magical carpet bag filled with stuff that’ll send her stomach crazy!” Alex had suddenly grown up into a man, at least he was thinking like one!

Sachi looked mighty pleased with his quick-footedness and her face once more glowed with her lovely smile, “That was good thinking, Alex! I am proud of you!” He shook away the compliment as if it were just normal practice for him to generate superb tactics at the opportune time!

So, you created a red herring?! That is clever and devious! Now Sir Talbot will tell his mistress that we are out to get her with the art of Kung Fu, when, of course, the truth is altogether finer than that because our weapon is the only one in the world that is her ultimate ‘Achilles Heel’!” If there was one disheartening aspect to this ruse it was that I simply failed in finding the words to describe the ingenuity demonstrated by Alex. However he had clicked onto my glowing impression of him and glittered a smug smile back at me. What a fine young fellow!

Now’s our chance, let’s follow him. He will definitely lead us to her!” Alex pulled on his coat, our marching orders had been given and collecting our belongings we set off to follow the metal can man up to the lair of our arch nemesis!

The wind outside had grown chillier and we clutched our scarves tighter around our necks and stayed close to each other. Most of the folk were heading back to the village,  except for us, we were trained on the trudging figure ahead, a sheet of bright metal stomping up the grass and onwards to the forlorn walls of Corfe Castle. None of us spoke as we edged closer and closer to the ruins, for what could be worse than to be caught out now after coming this far? Occasionally Sir Talbot would freeze and you could hear him panting away and those were undeniably the trickiest part of the climb when it was crucial that you remained as still as possible lest he were to turn around!

It was not the ascent that troubled me as much as the impending sadness that cloaked the castle walls. Somewhere, in a secret and well-hidden chamber, dark and dank and protected by the most gruesome of enchantment spells, there was Rianna, cruelly shunned from fulfilling her destiny. And, likewise, somewhere in that great big world, another tortured individual must be right now lurking in the shadows of their own self-doubt because he cannot find his Muse, his Inspiration. I was the bridge to their meeting and for some reason when I thought about it in this way, aspiring in my mind the bigger picture of the story, it spurted a new zeal of courage which coursed through my heart, and I was more ready than ever to take on whatever threat should be bold enough to come my way.

We entered a stone archway and a devilish gust of wind blew in from the top, the absence of roofs let the draught in from all directions. It was less a building and more a gravestone of rocks and that is why I tussled with the conundrum of where could Arcana’s lair possibly be located if everything was blatantly exposed to the naked eye.

Even stones have secrets, so we were to discover. Sir Talbot climbed a short flight of stone steps before turning left to face a crumbling dead-end wall. He lifted his hand and pressed one of the stones inwards and suddenly the wall gave way. It rose up to reveal a secret chamber. He turned around to check that no one was there and thank goodness we were quick enough to duck behind a few bushy shrubs. He entered the chamber and quietly we tip-toed up the stairs. The door had not been closed and so with care we sneaked our heads in.

For the first time in our lives, we saw her, Professor Aracana, the deranged evil in the guise of a woman who sought to eradicate the human spark of creativity from the face of the earth. Oh how I wanted to storm into the room and bash her head with my carpet bag but we all knew collectively that now was not the time to let blind impulse to get in the way. Blending in with the jagged rocks around us, we did not move a muscle and listened.

It was when that nuisance of a wasp bounced off Alex’s noise that the first craving to sneeze wrought him down. Sachi and I laid our hands on his shoulders to urge him not to give in to his temptation to blow his noise. But it was just too much for him to bear. Arcana’s declaration of her desire to be God clinched the deal, literally, and precisely then Alex expelled what could only be fittingly described as a sonic boom out of his nostrils and mouth, and the yuckiest of gunge flew out and splattered all over the walls! Luckily Sachi and I were spared the gunky shower!

And, yes, that brings us neatly back to the present moment, and where were we?  Ah, yes, we were being chased! Cosmic creepers! Yikes!

SEIZE THEM, you fool!!” Arcana’s shrieks ripped and tore the place apart, an unseen dagger jolting the birds out from their secret alcoves in the walls.

We hardly had time for civility and instead of scuttling down those stairs, we chose to hold our breath and jump down onto the grass, and the unevenness of the terrain with its sharp and jagged rocks spliced our skins with numerous bruises and gashes. Sir Talbot was inches away from us, for we could hear the rattle of metal and the laboured puffing of a man straining to catch his breath. As we came round a corner, Sachi and I swerved as fast as we could, alas, Alex in his haste tripped over a stone and fell.

ALEX!” I saw Sir Talbot gaining upon him fast. I turned on my feet and shot back to where he lay but the resilience of the boy knew no bounds and he had already gotten up and moved off in an alternative direction. Sir Talbot doggedly followed Alex, and so did Sachi and I. We were all in this together and had from the outset made our firm pact that no one was to be left behind.

From above, on a thin precipice of rock, stood the eerily composed Arcana, and with her hands crossed in front of her chest, it was now possible to make out on of her arms the needle mark of a syringe. As she had dictated to Sir Talbot earlier, she had injected herself the serum. Under her pale and ghostly skin a beastly transmogrification was churning her cells over and over, and whilst stood high above, monitoring the chase that was unfolding below, she took great delight in seeing that Alex was headed straight for one of her most simplistically designed traps that she had inconspicuously built into the walls of the castle ruins. She had cut out a block of bricks from one of the walls, so that if anyone were to try and squeeze through it the interior would be activated to constrict the trespasser with even more formidable force. It was meant to be a satirical parody of the classic ‘Writer’s Block’ syndrome. “Oh how sweet is that, the boy is about to have his fragile lungs pulverised!” She spat as she spoke and then let out a blood-curdling laugh. “There is nothing more perfectly ecstatic than to watch innocence die before and beneath you!

Meanwhile, on ground, Alex had reached a dead-end chamber and was now nearly out of breath and his legs ached, but his hopes were raised when he caught sight of a gap in the wall whose size was just right for him to pass through, although not large enough for a grown man to enter – let alone Sir Talbot and all his overbearing armour. The little boy thought nothing more of it and dived into the hole and, with the dexterity of an underground mole, pushed and clawed his way through the passage as fast as he could, however, to his choking horror he realised that something was terribly wrong. His chest and tummy began to feel tighter. The inner walls were moving and, furthermore, they were moving inwards with crushing pressure!

Sachi and I tried to catch up with Alex but in the scramble through the labyrinthine ruins we had lost him.

ALEX!!” His mother cried out with all her might, her hands and arms flailing all over the place, for she was rightfully in a hysterical panic. She felt very guilty for listening to him and letting them come here, she should have never have given in to her son’s demands.

MUM! AUNTY MAZZY! HELP!!!” The echoes reverberated all around us and we rushed to the source, tripping over the odd stones and loose branches, before arriving at a long side wall with a tiny block of square cut out from it and inside, stuck and helpless, was Alex. He was squealing in pain, and the lacklustre hue of his face and the dullness of his eyes showed that he had no more strength in him to push out of the tight stranglehold in which he had unwittingly found himself trapped.

It’s ok, Alex. We’ll get you out of here!” I consoled him as I took hold of one his hands, whilst he mother grabbed the other and the two of us pulled as hard as we could, but Alex did not budge forward one bit. With each constriction of the nightmarish contraption, Alex yelped in unspeakable misery and I had wished that I could fall deaf so that I may be excused from hearing the gut-wrenching cries of a poor child.

When things turn horribly bad, it is often said that they tease us and become even worse and that is exactly what happened. Who could mistake that sound of the clunk of metal against metal and of that rasping breath, belonging to that creature whose blind subservience to the darkest forces on earth is a thing of great woe.

Hurry up! Please!” Alex was beginning to whimper now and I hated for my ears to have had to hear that because to me he was always the brave one. I should never have to see him like this.

Sweat beads trickling down my forehead, I looked into his eyes and I knew already.

Aunty Mazzy…. Talbot’s behind me and he’s got my legs!!

What happened next? ♥♥♥

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 9: Alex Encounters A Writer’s Block!

“… his hopes were raised when he caught sight of a gap in the wall whose size was just right for him to pass through, although not large enough for a grown man to enter…”

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 9: Alex Encounters A Writer’s Block!

Aunty Mazzy…. Talbot’s behind me and he’s got my legs!!

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Corfe Castle Village | Wareham | Dorset | UK 2016

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 8: An Apocalypse For Muses

Sir Talbot did not waste a single moment after hearing from the young boy of his plans and of his prime weapon of attack. Spinning around on his metal feet he fled from the window from where he had eavesdropped in clever hiding and legged it up the grassy hill towards Arcana’s lair deep in the bowels of the castle.

No one had informed the knight that though immortality was a rare indulgence, he would not be exempt from the tiring weight exerted on the body from the hefty armoury of overlapping metal plates that he was wearing, for it bore him towards the ground and many a times he was close to stopping so that he may catch his breath. He thought how painfully ironic it was to be of such a warrior breed whose very attire was the first foe to be battled with before any others were to be considered!

The grass was a death trap in itself. Here and there poked out sharp fragments of grey stone, splinters of the once mighty castle, and they pierced his feet and induced an unsteadiness in his march up the motte and bailey, yet he did not desist and, for the most part, that was out of the fear which constantly struck him that should he fail to relay the intercepted information on time, Arcana would most certainly punish him severely, for she hated when knowledge was withheld from her simply on account of sheer stupidity and laziness!

Finally, he had reached the summit and the castle loomed over him with an unwelcoming spindly malice, the eyes of Arcana latched on him even though he could not see her, not yet. He found her sat comfortably on top of a vault belonging to one of the old kings of the castle and behind her was a computerised simulation of modern buildings. She was busy surveying potential new breeding sites – cities – where she knew that every inch would be blessed teeming with Chosen Individuals who were on the brink of finding their Muse. Determined to barricade the enlightening process from happening, Arcana was in the midst of plotting a new deceptive disguise for her integration into her target city, and it was then that the frenzied knocking was heard against the walls of her chambers.

An Apocalypse For The Muses

… He found her sat comfortably on top of a vault belonging to one of the old kings of the castle and behind her was a computerised simulation of modern buildings…

 

Talbot, what boredom do you bring to me now?” How unsettling a talent she had for saying the most innocuous of things and yet to still have a face adorned with a smile that wormed with the very essence of creepiness.

My Lady, they are here.” Breathless and weary, Sir Talbot could not deny it that it still pleased him to be of service to his mistress, after all it was she who endowed the property of immortality upon him.

As I had expected, they have fallen into my trap!” She was thoroughly smug about the news and then followed it up with a shouting demand, “Stop hiding them, servant! Bring them before me!

My Lady, it was too risky to apprehend them in a public place. I thought it wise to report to you first.” His voice was apologetic.

THOUGHT?” She was fuming. “You were NOT made for THOUGHT, you insolent imbecile!

Sir Talbot cowered, and his shoulders and head slunk forward. Underneath all the heavy metal that he wore, the heart that was once human now fluttered in a mixture of fear and self-disappointment.

Tell me, servant. What use are you to me if all you do is THINK!?” She disgraced him with a ravage sort of accusatory stare that for a moment Sir Talbot did think he would die, most likely of that mortal of vices, and that was of shame.

He gulped and spoke in an unmanly quiver, “I beg your pardon, My Lady”.

Well, don’t just stand there! Tell me of their plans?” She huffed a sigh and shuffled in her seat, she was over with the admonishments and now all that she desired was information, key to the success of all her relentless plotting.

The boy spoke of a magical manual of Kung Fu. It seems they have decided to engage with you in a duel of arm-to-arm combat.” Secretly he wanted her to now express an acknowledgement – no matter how small – to show that she was impressed with his relaying of this detail.

Instead, however, she burst out laughing.

Is that so?!” She shook her head as if to say that some things never change. The incompetent ingenuity of umpteen foes that she had clashed with over the centuries have perennially proved to be ridiculous. “They underestimate the extent of my powers. A trifle book and a few antics of the hand won’t even move the hairs on my head!

Of course.”

But I wish to them to feel real fear before Death takes them all on swift wings. It is time to educate the world and to let The Crone know, once and for all, that it is futile to send me weaklings.” The book in her hand reasserted itself and drew her attentions to it and she was lost in its covers, fingering the title and licking her lips.

How does My Lady wish to carry out her brilliant plan?

Oh servant, I wonder if it is worth my while to tell you anything. Your brain is overwhelmingly degenerate”.

Sir Talbot did not react. He remained stock still to the ground.

Very well then, I will tell you, only because I find it a tremendous pleasure to hear the sound of my own voice”. She shuffled once again, and cleared her throat. “I have been studying the text of Frankenstein in devoting depth and I have gleaned from it that it contains codified instructions which when adhered to empowers the experimenter to recreate the procedure by which to resurrect the dead. Yes, my useless servant, it is not a book.

An Apocalypse For Muses

“… I have been studying the text of Frankenstein in devoting depth and I have gleaned from it that it contains codified instructions which when adhered to empowers the experimenter to recreate the procedure by which to resurrect the dead...”

 

And she lifted the book with maternal pride, her haunting smile lingered in the air before she spoke, “It is a treatise on reanimation”.

 

An Apocalypse For Muses

And she lifted the book with maternal pride, her haunting smile lingered in the air before she spoke, “It is a treatise on reanimation”.

 

Sir Talbot felt that he had to say something at this stage otherwise he could see that he would once again be under her scornful and scathing words.

What does My Lady wish to do with this procedure?

Servant, follow me”.

He followed her in mute obedience, and he remained a long distance behind her in case he committed the treacherous crime of stepping on her shadow.

The both of them came to a low-lying pit that had recently been dug up and protruding out from it at various points were what appeared to be dried skeleton bones.

I don’t understand, My Lady”. He suddenly felt that he had let himself down by speaking first and that for once again confirming her assertion that he had a brain as banal as the very mud itself that now lay before them like nothingness made of matter.

Aren’t they just beautiful to look at? These are the skeletal remains of a ferocious beast that once walked and ruled these marshes. Here lies the king of dinosaurs, the merciless and cold-blooded and perfect killing machine, the mighty T-Rex!” She announced the words as if addressing the world.

Sir Talbot dared not to comment. He let her continue her exposition.

I have successfully harvested significant quantities of its DNA and have begun preparing it in a modified formula”. Like clockwork, she proudly pointed to the cast iron pot hovering over a smoky fire whilst barbaric hooks hung down and toyed with the breeze. A bubbling hum could be heard from within it, the foul language of dark powers brewing into fruition.

 

An Apocalypse For The Muses

… Like clockwork, she proudly pointed to the cast iron pot hovering over a smoky fire whilst barbaric hooks hung down and toyed with the breeze. A bubbling hum could be heard from within it, the foul language of dark powers brewing into fruition…

 

Under the metal sheen of his armour, Sir Talbot felt uneasy.

I will inject the final vial into my bloodstream and resurrect the characteristic evil and predatory qualities of this monster from my own cells. My jaws will eat the sky and my claws will rake the oceans dry, and the forked tongue that will froth out of my mouth will slurp all the Muses of this world in one efficient turn. The Spark for which Prometheus had sacrificed his own life so to enlighten humankind will for once and for all be stamped out. People will turn to me for light, a black light. I will be a GOD!

At that moment a loud clap of thunder bolted down upon the skies and dense dark clouds swirled above the castle. The wingless scavengers of the shadow world had gathered in concert with the revealing of Arcana’s calculated plot. Doom spelled in the air and all she simply did was smile up to it.

For the first time in so many centuries, Sir Talbot realised that he had chosen the wrong side…

What happened next? ♥♥♥

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Corfe Castle Village | Wareham | Dorset | UK 2016 
Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | My Mate Becky Reads Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ | Hampshire | UK 2016

 

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 7: A Bad Knight In Broad Daylight

To those of You who are acquainted with the swashbuckling sagas of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, You will concede quite instantly that when one makes mention of the word ‘knight’ and of its iconic figures of Sir Percival, Sir Lancelot or Sir Gawain, as way of example, incorruptible chivalry and dashing acts of heroism infuse the atmosphere and we conjure up in our imagination battles in which men fought, fearlessly, for the greater good and without a care about whether they lived or died out in the field. They swore an oath to protect the innocent and this code of their brethren – their brotherhood – was maintained till the very end of their days.

Alas, the knight in our story was of no such stock. Not even remotely close!

There is no amount of melancholy or pity that can be expended in the difficulty one encounters when accepting that Arcana’s dark enchantments were so diabolically twisted that she possessed even the power to exert and lure the most noblest of men to join her alliance of pure evil. You see, despite what is documented in the histories and legends, there was one more knight whose name was not archived for posterity and who, to this day, is not documented in paintings depicting the famous gatherings these men enjoyed around the round table where once strategy and solidarity were discussed and reinforced.

Sir Talbot is missing from recorded history.

Because he chose defection, bartering his soul in exchange for immortality, and who else but Arcana was responsible for this unfortunate trading of integrity for greed. King Arthur was distraught and injured when he had heard that one of his closest men had fled the sacred circle to form an unholy allegiance with the dark forces, and that he was taking with him all the precious secrets and master techniques of combat so to be sold to the enemy and thus rendering Arthur’s men more vulnerable than ever. Shadow years passed from then on in and Arthur himself, grew more feeble and jaded by the day, stricken down by the grief and guilt of his own belief that he had not been a good enough leader.

King Arthur and his legendary circle of knights are no more, their names are but wisps of information left lying in the history books, and only then brought to vague life should there be anyone passing with a morsel of interest in such things. There are scarce such people with a serious taste for medieval history, those passions for learning have waned for many years. The newer generation declare that they have other pressing concerns – literally!

But one knight still lived. Sir Talbot, an irreparable fiendish relic of a once glorious past, and he was in servitude of Arcana. Stationed to act as a spy on her orders, Sir Talbot ingeniously elected himself to pretend that he was indeed an artefact of the past, standing as still as a statue so that tourists and passing folk would fall for his trick and believe that he was a prop, a decorative embellishment to the place thought to add that extra bit of authenticity to the historic backdrop. Well, if only people knew the truth!

Sir Talbot had followed us furtively to the teahouse, stopping now and again so that no one would catch him moving, and if someone was seen approaching, he swiftly paused in his paces and with an erect posture would remain in that position until the coast was once more clear. We, of course, had not sensed that there were eyes of evil upon us.

The teahouse was a pleasant and cosy room with a low ceiling, and a log fire in one corner blazed bright orange and red, whilst all around us the dark wood of the seats and tables lent the impression that we were in a land abundant in the grounded energy of sheltering forests.

Right guys, it is my treat! ” I was as jovial and cheery as I could ever be, and why should I not be, I was about to replenish my reserves with glorious and scrumptious scones and tea!

Oh Mazzy, that is very kind of you! Are you sure?” Sachi was always way too polite for my liking!

Hush now! You two sit here and I will be right back!” I skipped off to the counter and placed our order and the posters on the wall of some of their star menu attractions whetted my appetite to a whole new level of urgency!

What woe that our food took a very long time to arrive on our table, and at one point I was ready to steal someone else’s lemon curd scone because the hunger pangs had made me positively delirious!

Aunty Mazzy, you will get into a lot of trouble if you did that!” What a shame on me that I, being the older one, had succumbed so low to my grumbling tummy that I was willing to break the code of honour and filch another’s edible property, whereas, the junior one out of the two of us, still preserved his sense of civility and was telling me off for my silly and impatient ways! Oh dear me, indeed!

I am only joking, though, I admit, I am rather tempted!” I giggled and Alex shook his head like a parent would when their child commits the same petty crime over and over again!

At last our plates were brought to us and on each the whiff of freshly-baked homemade scones sent my nostrils into a fit of ecstasy, and the tiny ceramic pot filled with luscious strawberry jam that came with each scone, glistened under the light with the dazzling showmanship of a galaxy of stars. I did not waste time and ducked my knife into the clotted cream and sloshed a thick layer of it over my scone before slopping on the jam and gnashing my teeth into the delectable prey!

Go easy, Aunty Mazzy!” Alex’s words fell on deaf ears, I was in the heady throes of a battle between tummy and the contents of that plate and I did not intend anyone to come in between us!

Alex that is rude, let your Aunty Mazzy enjoy herself, we have our work cut out, remember?!” I do love it when Sachi comes to the rescue with her timely comments that legitimise my naughty antics with perfection!

Crumbs and jam dribbling down our face, we had finished the scones in no time and proceeded to crack into the tea and that is when our conversations took on a more solemn tone. It was time to address our battle tactics, how to carry out a mission never before attempted. Whomsoever was without his Muse in the world must be toiling away in anguish and all three of us, in an unspoken contract, were determined to have this good stranger fulfil his dream work. Whatever it took, we would not give up, we would release Rianna from the shackles of those encroaching castle walls.

Guys, as per instructions, I have brought with me my magical – “ However, before I was able to complete my sentence, Alex did the most strangest thing. He interrupted me with such a grave and sudden insertion that it left both Sachi and I mystified!

Aunty Mazzy, thanks for bringing your magical manual of Kung-Fu! I am sure that will do the job! To strike down Arcana, one judo chop from me and wham-bham! Down goes the witch!

Alex looked mighty chuffed and smug in his decisiveness, whereas the both of us ladies were forced to swap confusing glances with each other. What on blazes was he on about? What manual of Kung-Fu?!

What happened next?  ♥♥♥       

 

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 7: A Bad Knight In Broad Daylight

… Sir Talbot had followed us furtively to the teahouse, stopping now and again so that no one would catch him moving, and if someone was seen approaching, he swiftly paused in his paces and with an erect posture would remain in that position until the coast was once more clear…

The Legend Of Corfe Castle Chapter 7: A Bad Knight In Broad Daylight

Aunty Mazzy, thanks for bringing your magical manual of Kung-Fu! I am sure that will do the job! To strike down Arcana, one judo chop from me and wham-bham! Down goes the witch!

 

Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Corfe Castle Village | Wareham | Dorset | UK 2016