Freewriting: The Tower

I mentioned a little while ago that I’d started freewriting to try to beat my writer’s block. Today, instead of describing what was around me or making up stories for the people I could see, I decided to use my Story Cubes as a jumping-off point.

I’ve been using Story Cubes for creative writing lessons for quite a while now, but I’d never actually got around to using them myself. The premise is, you roll the dice, put the pictures in whatever order you fancy, and then make up a story using those pictures as inspiration. You can interpret them as literally or as freely as you like. Here was the combination I got when I rolled them today:

2016-07-03 20.13.12

And here’s the story:


The Tower

When you talk to the bees, you’d better be prepared for them to listen.

I told the bees all of my secrets. I told them that I’d gone exploring in the old tower on the hill by the town. The staircases had been rotten, creaking as I climbed further and further into the musty-smelling gloom. There were holes in the wood beneath my feet that I had to skirt around, holes in the walls where stones had fallen, and the light hung in the dusty dar like strands of bright ribbon.

The door at the top of the tower was locked, but that doesn’t matter when the wood’s so old and worm-chewed that you can push your hand right through. I may have been a novice at adventuring, but I know that secrets are hidden behind doors, and old secrets are the best of all.

I pulled the rotten wood away from the lock. It snapped and tore beneath my fingers.

Inside the room, the mustiness was stronger. The air was thick and tense, like the sizzle before a thunderstorm.

The walls were hung with tapestries and cloths, all in vivid, pulsing colours – abstract patterns that shifted and stirred, despite the stillness of the air. A closer look, and I saw that what I’d thought were patterns were a myriad of beetles, glistening like emeralds and sapphires. They studded the walls, and crunched underfoot as I walked forwards, towards the beetle-jewelled throne that stood in the very centre of the room.

There had been someone sitting on that chair. I could see the wreck of her dress and the thin wisps of what must once have been a long, long rope of hair. But the rags and hair were bleached with age, just like the bones, and the only colour I could see was the glimmer of the beetles, one green, one blue, that nestled in the sockets where her eyes had been.

I didn’t run from the room. The stairs were too dangerous. But I ran from the tower, all the way home, and whispered the story to the bees. The shaking in my voice calmed and stopped as I finished, and sat back on my heels, feeling the sun warm and soothe my goose-flesh arms.

The hum of the hive grew louder than I’d ever heard it before.

You weren’t supposed to see, the bees said.


About Alice Nuttall

Alice Nuttall is a caffeine-guzzling knitter who divides her time between Oxford and the various worlds in her head. She is the author of a YA fantasy novel, Spider Circus, and three webcomics, Footloose, Cherry, and Black Market Magic, as well as several short stories.
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