“Hey man, these ripping waves just keep rolling in, never seen so many at one time and so close together for so long.“ Charlie Jackson called to his friends at the surf meeting,
“Yeah, Charlie, like tube city all the time all the white water to ride, never been a tide like it dude. “ Pete Phillips his friend called.
“Been like this all week, just doesn't seem right to me.”
“Hey man, don’t go nerdy on me again it was too weird last time, just ride the tubes and enjoy them for as long as we can.”
At the Fulmore observatory, things for the night shift were just starting. Helen Moore head research assistant was on the watch, walking up to the radio telescope, as usual in her search for quasars, black holes and any other anomalies in space, just like the months before. Since graduating from Parkston last year all she had done was, stare into the black void and think to herself, “I wish I had taken the chance to go to Merryvale lab, instead of looking into the voids of space in the hope something is there.” Walking across the space from the door to the telescope, she saw her colleague Joe Harker “Hi, Joe, anything or nothing as usual?”
Joe Harker, second research assistant and two years Helens’ junior, looked down from the radio scope where he had spent the last two hours of his shift and said “Hi Helen, nothing other than, my ass has gone to sleep.“ He laughed, the humour lost on Helen, she never could understand his earthiness, and they were worlds apart brought together by science and the search for unknown possibilities.
“Being serious for a moment, Joe, can I ask a question?”
“Shoot, gal, you know you will get a true answer.”
“Have you ever doubted what we do and wished you had taken another chance, gone somewhere more exciting rather than stare into space for endless hours?”
“Hell, Helen, almost every week I get that feeling, then I go out and see those lovely twinkling stars and think this is right for me, there is life and adventures out there.”
“I just got the feeling I took a left turn, when I should have taken a right. “ Helen gave a half laugh.
“That friend over at Merryvale being on about all the new things he been designing to fight illnesses with again, pay no heed. We will make the news.”
“How can you be so sure? We been staring out there for ages and nothing is going on.”
“Now, that is where you are wrong, missy. We just ain’t found it that is all. Listen, I know we haven’t seen eye to eye and you looks down on me, cos I didn't go to a big college. That is fair deal.
But I been watching space since I can walk and I know there is a lot of stuff happening there, Okay it isn't going to get the major grants like medicine does but our day will come and headlines will be made. Believe me.”
“Thanks, Joe, I needed that to steady myself and I am sorry I treat you so badly,” Helen said as she blushed.
“Oh, heck Helen don’t you worry none. I might have grew up on poor street but I got me a good brain, that's why I'm here and not at the mill.” Joe laughed.
“Okay, point taken, Joe. Now off you go and see that lovely wife and family you have before she comes for me. “Helen laughed at the thought of Joes’ wife Shirley doing just that.
The late shift started, much the same as usual, calibrate the radio scope, even though Helen sometimes looked down on Joe, she knew as an engineer he had few equals in the area.
Not expecting much more than the usual white noise from space, where all the possible sounds converge into a mindless jumble of nothing, Helen turned to the scope, looking out into the galaxy, and wishing for something. Time passed and she went for a short break, coming back with coffee and her salami roll in her hand, she sat at her desk, going through the endless statistics she was half dozing, when she heard a noise that startled her. Getting up from her desk, she ran to the radio scope. “What was that?” she called to technician June Marrlow.
“I don’t know Helen; we've got a strange bleep coming in.”
“Where did it come from?”
“We're still trying to locate it, it was such a weak signal, we didn’t even think it was there.”
“I heard a tiny high pitched beep, can you tune into the signal?"
“If we hear it again, we can try to locate it.”
“Keep trying! This is important June!”
Hours passed as June and her technical crew tuned the receiver in, just hoping for a slight beep, ears were listening, Helen was watching the radio beacons for a slight hope of spotting a location, on the charts.
“What do you think it was? “ June asked, "A signal sent to us, from outer space.”
“Could be, June, we never know who is there.”
Could this be the breakthrough, Joe had dreamed of all these years. Picking up the phone, Helen rang Joes’ home. His wife answered the phone “Hi, Shirley, this is Helen at the observatory, would it be possible to talk to Joe, please?’ the excitement in Helens’ voice was easy to hear.
“Sure thing, I will get him, he’s just sitting out after dinner.” I'll just call him for you. “Hun, its Helen and she sound mighty excited. I think you'd better get here.”
Joe came back in from the porch and took the phone from his wife “Hi, Helen what is going on, this must be exciting as you never called here.”
“I don’t want to build up your hopes but we might have something going on and I want you to be here, in case it becomes real and you can see it from the start.”
“Ta, I'll be there a soon as I can, Helen.” As he put the phone down, Joe called to his wife “Shirl, got something going on and they want me in on it, you don’t mine if I go back, hun?”
“Joe Harker, you waited your life for this moment, if you don’t go, and seize it, I WILL kick your redneck ass out there!" Shirley laughed. “Now go, afore I gotta take you myself, hun.”
“Thanks, babe.” Joe kissed Shirley, as he grabbed the jeep keys and ran to the garage, jumping in he gunned the engine, and drove back to the centre.
Helen put the phone down and was walking back to the screen showing the solar system, trying to work out, what was going on, when the beep went again.
“Got it fixed, we are tracking it!” called second tech Paul Howard. “Vector 005674, strength 0.002, range about 5 light years.”
Helen looked at the screen, to find the co-ordinates. “You're sure on that Paul?”
“Yes ma’am, sure as I sit here.”
“I believe you, Paul, just checking. Because you know where that puts it, don’t you.”
“Sure do, beyond Neptune.”
“Is it sent do you know or bounced back?”
“From the telemetry, it's bounced back. But…”
“Yes, I know there is nothing that far out, that we know.”
“What’s been going on? “ A breathless Joe called, as he came dashing in.
“Hi, Joe a while back we picked a signal up from way out, Paul reckons it is bounced, but it is so far out, beyond Neptune, the signal is so weak we can hardly get a fix.”
“Something that far out, bouncing a signal, has to be sizable or we would have missed it with the signals.”
“Helen, come have a look at this!” June was looking at the screen and watching as tiny moons were getting dragged out of their regular orbits, and circling the vector of the signal.
“That is weird, seems to be creating a mini-solar system of its own out there.” Joe said. As he watched, small moons close in.
All eyes were glued to the screens as they watched the development of a mini-system, this was groundbreaking news.
“Here you go, gal!" Joe said slapping Helen on the back. "Beats the crap outta Merryvale now don’t it"! He said laughing.
“Sure thing! Joe, this makes all the months of sitting doing nothing but radio frequency counts, a whole lot easier to swallow.”
“Gotta be big, as it has created a magnetic field, and its gathering moons. How big we have no idea, nor what it is made of.”
“Keep on it, Paul. “ Joe called.
“Got it, Joe. “ Paul replied. “From our latest figures it shows as 3.5 Earths.”
“You're not pulling this ole rednecks’ leg here, Paul.”
“No sir, that is as true as I am from Bronson, it is out there, 3.5 times bigger than us, spinning and creating a mini-system as we speak.”
“If it is that big, how have we missed it for so long?”
“As you said, Helen, we didn't know it was there and never thought to look. This was just a fluke signal; being so weak, we probably picked it up, but missed it in the white noise. “Joe replied.
“What do you make of it, Paul? “ Helen asked.
“I'm no expert but I reckon it is solid, although the signal was weak, it was harsh as though it hit solid and was not absorbed. There was no deflection, so that probably means smooth surfaces.”
“Yes, ma’am, like a large solid ball of something.”
“Has NASA got anything planned for the area? We need to hitch up a link and see if we can piggyback a signal to get a view of whatever is there? “Helen asked Joe.
“Latest reports told of an unmanned rocket going out, in a week.”
“I'll get the head of research to phone NASA, you just keep an eye on our friend for us.”
Helen picked up her phone and dialed Jake Houseman, head of research. “Mr. Houseman, this is Helen Moore at the lab, we have found something, and I think you should come and see, for yourself.”
“Calm down young lady, what is it you have seen?” The aged head replied.
“With all respect, sir, you have to see for yourself.”
“Oh, all right, if it is that important to you, I will come over.”
“Believe me sir; you don’t want to miss this!”
Jake Houseman called his driver and took the limo to the facility, where a very excited Helen greeted him. “Glad you can make it, sir, sorry for disturbing you at this hour but we need you to see this for yourself, before we can get official go ahead.”
“Okay, young lady your enthusiasm has got my attention, where are we looking now?”
“Vector 005674, strength 0.002, range about 5 light years sir, there is an object, at our best calculations; it's at least 3.5 times as big as Earth circling in the area of Neptune, creating its own mini-system.”
“That is ground breaking! How long have you been tracking it?”
“There was so much background noise and with such a weak signal, we missed it until tonight sir.”
“How sure are you of your calculations, young lady?”
“About 85%, sir” Paul added.
“What can I do for you now? “ The head asked.
“You can see there is something large there. We were wondering, if you could have a talk with your contacts at NASA to see if we can piggy-back some info, as we think they are sending some unmanned rockets in the neighborhood.”
“That is right; Orbital 2 goes off next Monday. We can use its telemetry to get a signal back.”
“Thank you, sir, for your help.”
“You are welcome; this will shake everyone out at NASA!” Jake laughed. “They are always pulling my leg on research in deep space.”
Days went by; Orbital 2 went off on schedule. All eyes and ears were keen as she took off, after three days of endless tension, the first images came through.
“Helen, we got the telemetry back fro Orbital 2!” June called, hardly believing what she saw.
“What does it show?”
“You gotta come see, or you won't believe me!”
“On the way, June.”
As the ladies looked at the screen, they could not believe what was happening.
“Are you sure this is Orbital’s telemetry?”
“Got a fix and dead on course.”
“Shoot, you know what it reminds me of…”
“Yes, a ball bearing, 3.5 time our size, creating a whirlpool in the outer regions.”
As Helen and June stood transfixed by the images from Orbital 2, the magnetic field pulling objects into the path of Orbital, they could hear the crashes on the shuttles hull, as she was being pushed closer to the object, then all went blank as it went through the EM field.
Paul was watching another screen. “Helen, sorry to take you away, but I think you NEED to see this NOW!”
Sensing the desperate tone in his voice, Helen ran to Paul's’ station.
“Tell me, I am not having a nightmare please!”
As they stood watching the screen, they could see, the orbits of the planets changing, it was hard for the untrained eye to notice but for those trained. It was as obvious as a red flag in a snow bank.
“No, Paul, you're right. The sphere is changing their orbits and twisting their axis, the outer ones will hardly notice but Mercury will be pulled into the sun and…”
“You don’t need to tell me, this will pull Venus as well in the explosions and from there...”
“Yes, we will not stand a chance, by the time the heat and shock waves get here.”
As they stood watching, June and Joe came over to see, what the panic was about.
Helen made a snap decision, as she said, “I'm staying here, anyone who wishes to go home, you can go now, and may God bless you and your families.”
Down on the beach crowds flooded to the shores as the heat built up, and temperatures soared.
“Hey, Charlie what's happening, we get hot summers, but this ain't cool man, look at this.”
As Pete looked at his friend, he could see his skin burning, the heat so intense, that it was crinkling and peeling as he looked. “Man, like that is horrid.”
That was all he could say, as the heat built to unbearable levels, people dropped to the floor, like flies in the winter.
As she stood alone at the screen, watching the reports from all over the globe, tidal waves, earthquakes, avalanches, all disasters happening in a total kaleidoscope of unnatural proportions.
Helen watched as Mercury got pulled into the sun, creating such a sun flare, that it drew in Venus. Waiting for the inevitable, Helen watched, as the heat built up and then the EM field blanked everything, she crossed herself and prayed.
Her last thought was “Our greatest discovery, brought about our end.”
She sat in the same oak rocking chair that she had done every afternoon. Season after season, year after year, and the old woman was as much a part of the neighborhood history as the large elm tree that shaded the street. She had lived most of her life in the house in which she had been born, and most bet that she would die in it. She had left the embrace of the white, two-story house with its blue hanging gables only twice in her life, and only one of them, bore remembering. She looked up at the house now, its gables shining with their summer coat of paint, faithfully applied each year, as it had always been.
“But Aunt Maggie, if you’re in one of those homes . . . who will come to see you?”
“We will, you dolt!”
Maggie’s eyes may not have been the brilliant shade of green of her youth, but they were still sharp enough to notice the sharp elbow that Angel plunged into her twin sister’s ribs.
“Angel,” Maggie chided softly, “Christine was just worried that I would be alone, that’s all. No need to be so impolite – haven’t I taught you both how to behave as ladies?” Looking at the two young girls, they were all elbows and knees, caught in that awkward moment of time where they were not quite teenagers, and yet, no longer children. They both had bright futures ahead of them. A talent well-honed by time and practice enabled Maggie O’Shea to see into the future – their future was full of promise.
“Aunt Maggie, why didn’t you ever marry the man in the painting?”
Maggie simply smiled. She had been asked that very same question every day since the girls had been old enough to speak. Both Angel and Christine had run through her neighboring home like tame puppies, and both had always asked about the man in the portrait.
“Maybe he wasn’t good enough for her,” Christine mused as she chewed on her thumbnail through the force of a long habit.
“If he wasn’t good enough for her,” snapped her twin as she jerked the offending digit from her twin’s mouth, “why would she keep his painting all of these years?”
Two dark pair of eyes, each flecked with gold, gazed expectantly upwards at the woman by whose feet they sat. They saw, as they had always seen, a face that time had only added to, instead of diminishing. Perhaps her hair was no longer the color of rich autumn leaves, and the years had lent more pale gold to its russet waves, accented by streaks of silver, but her face remained unlined. It was as if time had gently brushed away the visage of youth only to pause in mid-stroke, leaving her with a timeless appearance.
Perhaps it’s time, she thought as she looked down that the two youthful faces that looked up at her. Maybe it’s time that someone knew how story – of the man that never was. But not today, I still have some time.
Shaking her head as she glanced down at the slender gold watch on her wrist, she announced softly. “Tea time – and if you two bring home good grades on your spelling test, there will be scone waiting for you. Now, shoo! Go study!” She watched as with a soft smile as the two moved to their feet, racing across the adjoining lawns with coltish grace.
Tea time indeed!
Pushing to her feet, Maggie winced at the sharp pain in her hip that warned her she was moving too quickly, and that time was indeed running out. The screen door squeaked as it always had as she moved indoors, pausing so sigh softly at the dark green walls in the foyer as well as the scenic paintings that she had carefully collected over the years.
Soon, all of it would be gone – hopefully to people who would appreciate the paintings of soft rolling hills of green grass spattered with lavender heather. Some might wonder about the grand estate that dominated the tableau, and perhaps wonder if Penworth had ever existed.
But it had . . . just as he had.
To read the rest click on this link:http://www.amazon.com/Once-Upon-A-Dream-ebook/dp/B009JG2AOK/ref=sr_1_13?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349032803&sr=1-13&keywords=once+upon+a+dream_
The local children call it “Killer’s hill” for a romantic story of a squire’s daughter who went out for a ride on her horse. The horse saw a lightning bolt and reared up, killing her when she fell.
However, to older people, there is a far more sinister tale to the name.
No matter what they call it, no matter how prettily it gets painted. The big house at the top of the hill, served one purpose and one purpose only. It was out of the way; hidden by the woods, where better for a sanatorium to be placed. There were always tales, how on dark and stormy nights, you could see mysterious shapes moving around in the lightning flashes.
Although long since closed down, the halls still rang to the sounds of thunder. People thought you could hear the cries of the lost souls that never got out. It was on one such stormy night that some teenagers thought that they would see IF the stories were true.
As they walked up the hill, rain lashing around them, the lightning was flashing through the trees. It was easy to see how it could spook a horse, the wind and rain turning what was a lovely wooded area into an area of tension and all kinds of possibilities Rain had turned the sweet smelling leaves and bark on the ground, into a clinging quagmire, shoes covered in mud held the group back as they walked.
Drenched through to the bone marrow Davie Moore was having second thoughts, “I'm not sure, this is a good idea, Johnny.”
Johnny Carpenter the leader of the group was a tall young man of 22, brown hair and good looks to match. “Don’t worry Davie, there is nothing up there. The place has been closed for years.”
“You've heard the tales, Johnny.”
“Just fairytales to keep the kids out. Nothing more than thunder and lightning and people's imagination.”
Denise Stour the only girl in the group was not so sure though, “Are you s-s-sure about that, I've lived here for years and have seen some weird things?”
“Den. Just tales and imagination, we are going to quell the rumours now. We'll go in and let folks see there is nothing here to fear.”
Pat Carter, Davie's long time friend said, “If you are so sure, why don't you go in first!”
“I'm the leader and want to know you are safe in, before I go in, Pat.”
“Perhaps, you just want to be first out. If something goes wrong.” Denise was saying what the others thought.
“Have I let you down before, Den?”
Thinking of the past Davie said, “No, that's true but we've never done something like this before.”
Slowly the group walked to the front door, it had been so many years since it had been used, they hardly touched it before it opened with a long groaning creak, almost as if saying, “Please leave me alone.”
The blank white walls did nothing but emphasis the loneliness of the poor souls brought here. Many left to die. Alone, unwanted and unloved.
“Kind of creepy don’t you think Den?” Johnny teased.
“I was thinking more how scared those poor people must have felt here, never knowing when or if they would get out.”
“Yes it's a horrid part of out town’s history, one most of us prefer not to mention.” Davie remarked.
All this time Pat was like a rabbit watching for the fox, his eyes darting around, jumpy and twitching.
“Calm down, Pat. You'll only make Den and Jamie nervous.” Johnny tried to sound brave, as the leader should; inside he was beginning to question his decision. Nevertheless, he couldn't show this.
“I can’t help it, I got the feeling something is watching us.”
“Believe me Pat, we're the only ones here now, this has been empty since the late 60's.”
“Why did they close it?” Denise asked.
“The story was they were mistreating patients, one got loose with an electric cable one stormy night. He tied them to the beds and electrocuted them. Then in his rage locked himself away, he was never found. When the tragedy became known, the council moved in and shut it down, windows barred, doors locked and bolted.’
“That's creepy Johnny.” Davie said.
“Sure, but as I say it has been empty since. Only stories remain to scare the little ones away now.”
“I know it’s just a story but I still think we are being watched!” Pat commented
Davie stood in the hallway moving his torchlight along the walls, all he saw was the barren desolation of hopelessness and despair. The blank walls staring back at him just heightened the tensions.
“Can you shine the torch here please Davie?” Denise asked.
Davie turned to where Denise was pointing. Shining the torch, he saw something moving on the edge of the beam, he couldn't' be sure but he thought he saw some eyes. “Did you see what I saw?”
“Those eyes staring and cold, yes.”
Johnny decided to try to resume control of the situation. “Before we start seeing things and go screaming off. Remember this place is in woods and has been unused for goodness knows how long. It's probably some harmless animal we startled.” Even as he spoke, the tremble in his voice gave his thoughts away. Leader or not, he was getting scared now, they could all see as he started to tremble. “I think now would be a good time to leave. We've disproved the myth. “Johnny the ever brave leader, accepting that a gracious retreat can always be covered.
“I'm with you there, “Denise agreed.
As they turned back, walking along the second floor they heard a noise behind them. Pat turned to see something moving. It had no mass, just energy, so malevolent and evil the air crackled. "RUN!” Pat shouted, as he passed, first Denise, then Johnny and Davie as he sped along the corridor,
As they turned to see what was going on, all the doors slammed shut and sparks shot from the old cables. As they ran down the corridor, the door in front of Pat slammed shut. He halted to see the others, all about ten feet apart, and a fire door partition closed behind each. Closing each in their room.
This time Johnny’s leading from the back was to cost him, the force engulfed him totally. Drawing his life force out, as it left his body, the dead shell of his body fell to the floor.
Although, they could see what was going on, nobody screamed, the being had so terrified them they were speechless. It left Johnny dead on the floor, travelling through the cables and onto Davie. Denise could see the life was draining from him, not a sound was uttered.
This was even worse for Denise, the entity passed to her compartment and she passed out. Her dress sliding up as the entity bent to engulf her, showing her once white panties now stained yellow, where she wet herself with fear.
Watching from the furthest section, Pat had seen all this and could not bear it anymore; he screamed for all his worth, as he did the entity moved to the window and gave a big glow, as if to say, “I have you now!” Then the entity turned and left.
Was it the scream that released the fear? Or did the entity think Pat had seen so much, and that would haunt him all his days?
Pat sat in the corner, shaking and trembling for what seemed an eternity before he heard the click of the door opening, he ran for all he was worth into the woods.
And it was there three days later the police found me. Jabbering on about some electric being that sucks life from people. The only way I can relate to that day, is to talk about it in a distant 3rd person view. My medication calms me but I haven't had a sleep since that day.
Soon they will take me back to my room in the hall, where I am the only resident.
OR AM I?
The lost years
Mark and James had been friends since school; they had been through all the usual teen angst of girlfriends and losing them and had always been best mates. They had a trust borne out of years of not telling lies, so when Mark told James he had seen a ghostly form, there was no reason for Mark not to believe him. Yet a ghost, could this be true?
“I tell you I DID see it Mark!" James said. “Clear as I see you sitting on the bed now.”
“Okay, let us go through what you saw and try to find the reasons for it. I'm not saying I don't believe you.
“But you are not saying you do either are you.”
“Let’s just say I have an open mind on the subject, as we have no proof either way yet.”
“If I do prove it, then will you believe it?”
“Of course I will, once we get proof one way or the other. What did you see?”
“I was coming back along the old footpath by Mr. Darlow’s farm, when I thought I saw a man ahead, he looked as if he was either drunk, or very ill.”
“What gave you that impression?”
“The way he was tottering from side to side as he walked, when I got close to him I could hear he was mumbling to himself. When I asked if I could help, he turned and looked right through me!”
“I have to admit, that IS creepy James! Did you notice anything odd about him? Like his clothes.”
“Yes. He was wearing an old USAAF uniform and his hands seemed badly burned, so bad he couldn't close them.”
“Where did you see him?”
“I was about half a mile down the lane, where the hedgerow turns left and the main road joins the side road from the old vicarage.”
“Was it night time, when he appeared?”
“No, about 4:30 last night, full light and plenty of sun.”
“That makes it even more peculiar, ghosts are usual at dusk or in the dark. You said he was muttering to himself, could you understand anything he was saying?”
“I couldn't quite get what he was on about, he just kept mentioning names, and I have never heard of them, which made no sense, as we know almost everyone here, as Marshmere is such a small village.”
“It does seem so strange, now you mention it, daylight, half a mile down the lane from Mr. Darlow’s farm. Have no doubts now, you DID see something but what it was and why there IS a mystery to me?”
“This definitely requires further investigating, James. Now you have piqued my interest, you know I can't rest, until we find more about this man of yours.”
“Me too, this has to mean something to someone or else what is he doing showing up there?”
Days passed, Mark and James spent hours in the library going over the town history and only drew blanks, things were not looking hopeful when out of nowhere a note fell from a book.
“Mark look at this!” James said excitedly as he picked the paper up.
The letter had a USAAF letterhead, and was dated 10th October 1943 and read:-
“Dearest Joanna, I fear we shall never meet again, as I am being transferred to another unit, which has taken heavy losses, in the last weeks. Please believe that if we do not meet again I will forever love you
Yours, loving you always
“Do you think, this Dick, is who you saw and he is looking for Joanna now?”
“He could well be. But this still does not answer what he was doing going into the field at that point I saw him?”
“I know; that is what is so intriguing. This opens new fields of research for us now, the more we find out, the less we know. We know he was an American, here during the war but after that it is a complete mystery.”
“All we have is a love letter to Joanna, from her Dick, telling her that he feels he will not see her again. Where do we go now?”
“We can start at the town hall records office, Mark, and see if they know Joanna.”
The boys went for the short walk to the town records, where they met a most uncooperative clerk, until they mentioned the letter and Joanna. Then things took an even weirder turn of fate, as she told them the story. “My name is Jocelyn Diana Richmond, my late grandmother always told me of an American airman she loved, and she thought he must have left one last love letter but we never knew where it might be.”
Mark asked a question “Is your grandmother still alive Miss Richmond?”
“No, she died about five years ago, never knowing of the letter but always believing it existed. They loved each other so much; she knew Dick would not just leave without letting her know.”
“We believe James may have seen Dick recently, he saw a ghostly figure walking along the footpath to Darlow’s farm, and then it turned into the fields, just before the old vicarage.”
“That is a bit odd.”
“Why?” asked James.
“If it is Dick and he is looking for my grandmother, he is on the wrong side of town over there.”
“There's no guarantee it is him, all I saw was an American airman’s uniform from behind," James replied.
“And at the time he would have been here, that was just open space, where the farm is now.”
“Maybe, he is returning to the old airfield and is going through where the gates used to be.” Mark commented.
“No, all records show the base was about four miles out of town, so even if that was a back gate, he is well off course there.” James said.
Jocelyn got up from her desk and said, “I think we'll have to have a chat with a few of the older folks, maybe they can shed some light on this.”
The boys said in unison “Agreed.”
Mark added, “I said to James earlier, the more we find out, the less we know.”
James replied, “At least we are making progress. We have found Joanna’s granddaughter and we know he wasn't going to either the base or to see his love. There is still the mystery of what was he doing there?”
That night in the local pub, with a dart match on against local rivals Petercove, all talk was as usual on the weekend's football fixtures, and the upcoming fair. In a corner, secreted away a small group were heavily in chatter on a totally different topic, in the group were Mark, James, Jocelyn, Jocelyn’s mam, Mr. Thomas-the butcher and Peter Francis-the local historian.
Mr. Francis was the man to shed the most light on the subject when he spoke. “According to what you have told me James, and with my knowledge of the history of the village, I can say I am almost sure that your visitor was part of the 2nd raid on Schweinfurt iron works, this raid became known as “Black Thursday” as the 305th USAAF bomb group took 85 % losses.”
“That is so terrible, such a loss of young lives.” Jocelyn said with a tear in her eyes, remembering her grandmother and all the other girls who must have lost loved ones. “Especially when you consider most of the crews average ages were under 24. I know, we saw Memphis Belle on TV recently, it was such a lovely film,” Jocelyn said.
“Codswallop, that is all that was Jocelyn.”
“Pardon! Mr. Francis what do you mean?" Jocelyn said, looking shocked at the turn of phrase from a man she had respected, since her schooldays.
“Movie romance. If you want the real film, find the William Wyler documentary on the History channel, he shot that in the Belle on a raid, and you can feel the winds shooting through.”
Jocelyn's mam, feeling this could end up moving off the subject in question asked “If he isn’t looking for his lover, or the base. What do we think he is going back for?”
For the first time, since they met that night Don Thomas spoke “I know or at least have a good idea. Back when I was a boy, I heard a plane go down about there, there was such a crash. I thought there was an earthquake, shop windows broke, and the air shook for half an hour with the explosion.”
Peter added to the conversation “That would also explain, why Mr. Darlow has never got anything to grow there either. All that fuel has been leaching into his soil and killing the crops.”
“Do you think, he has been seen before now, Mr. Francis?” asked Mark.
“Certainly he has young Mark, there are numerous accounts of sightings going back to the late fifties, usually just a glimpse or a half sight out of the corner of the eye. This is the first solid, if you will excuse the pun, sighting.”
The group had a laugh at the pun, as they drank their beers.
”Why did I get the chance to see him in the daylight?” James asked.
“Probably, he could sense, that rather than just thinking “Oh yes, there he is again, poor man,”like most people. You might try and find something, to put his soul at peace finally.”
“I don’t know if we can do that but we will try our best for him.”
The group agreed to meet the next week at the house of Mary Jacobs, the villagers were a bit wary of Mary, she had powers to talk to spirits and dealt with herbal medicines never trying anything non-natural, she always said. “My old Ma always said, if the Lord wanted to heal us, he would give us the means and he did with the fruits and herbs of the roadside.”
Although a bit odd and shunned by some, Mary had a strong following in the village. Some thought because she talked to spirits, that she was a witch, they thought it better keep on her good side. Others saw her for what she was, an old lady who had seen many things, who was willing to pass her knowledge on to other like minded people.
On the appointed day, the group arrived. Welcomed by Mary dressed in her longest flowing robe of dark blue, with yellow flowers and a moon on the right shoulder. "Hello Mary, how are you my old dear?’ the warm and friendly voice of Mr. Thompson broke the quiet.
“I am fine, thanking you Donny Thompson. I hear tell you wish to contact the other worlds.”
“That's right, we have a couple of questions to ask a spirit from World War two, Mary” Mr. Francis replied to the question.
“We shall have no troubles there, as the veil of time is not long.”
“But it is over sixty years Mary, isn’t that too long?" Mark was amazed at Mary’s statement.
“Young Mark, I have been in contact with the spirits of people who died centuries ago. To them time is a door to pass through, the longer the time, the heavier the door but most will come through.”
“You said most!” Jocelyn queried.
“Yes. For some the distance between them and us is too great to cross. Did you bring the letter?”
“Yes. Here it is, sorry it isn’t much to work with.” Jocelyn said apologetically.
“Don't worry; as long as he touched it, his spirit is there. It maybe a book, handkerchief, or a letter, as long as they touch it, we can try to contact them.”
Mary put the candle on the table, and then lit it with a wooden taper, as she stood up she let her arms drop to the sides of her body. “Mark, can you turn the lights off please,” she said as her voice faded away.
The room darkened and Mary stood still. The group thought that they could hear the sounds of gunfire around them, smell the cordite, and hear the cries of the wounded airmen. Then in the midst of all this mayhem Mary spoke, but it was not her voice. “Frankie, Dave, take Ron to the bomb bay, strap a chute on him and get the hell outta here, she wont last much longer, and I'll give you whatever we can, just jump, that is an order, hope to see you down there soon!”
As they listened they could hear the engines stuttering as the crew bailed out, the captain tried all he knew to keep her up for as long as possible, then there was an explosion and Mary yelled in an agony never heard before or since, as the skin on her hands appeared to blister and peel in the heat.
“Richard Farmer, there are people who wish to ask some questions of you. Will you answer them?”
“If I can I shall, Mary.”
James asked first. “Why did you let ME see you?”
The firm voice of Richard Farmer replied, “I felt you were the right person to contact, to give me some peace James. I thought you and Mark would be willing to look for the links that others had ignored.”
Peter Francis asked next. “Are you looking for your friends from the war, the ones who got out before the fire?”
“No. They're here with me, as is your grandmother Jocelyn. We finally got together, our love never died.”
“Why have you come back then?” queried Jocelyn.
“Even though we can see and hear each other every day, we still cannot be with each other. My spirit is buried with the plane; I was never freed from the wreck. I need that to happen, for me to finally pass over.”
As he finished telling his story, the candle flickered, Mary awoke, her hands untouched. The only difference, she was sweating a lot. “Did I help you?” she asked.
“You did, thank you so much, Mary.” Jocelyn replied.
“It's always a pleasure. To know some people so value me, love.” Mary added.
After some weeks of discussion with the local history club, Peter finally got their permission to dig the site. There in the cockpit, was the body of an airman, burned to a charred remnant, hands curled to his face. They careful took his body out and put him to rest next to the others of his crew who died that day. A week later James saw him again. At the same spot as before, Dick winked, waved and walked through the hedgerow, and was never seen again.
Ghosts of Jazz
The town of Cheltenham is renowned worldwide for many things, from music festivals to the girls school and the racing, depending on your taste and what you want. Behind this rich Edwardian exterior lies a little story that I hope will tantalize your imagination.
During the International jazz festival which is usually held on the last weekend of April, thousands of fans flock to the town to see today's names. This story is a taste of real jazz for you, I hope. With all the festival pomp going on at the Town hall, the Budweiser stage and the theater. Everybody misses the real home, a small venue and now all but forgotten. Walking past the town hall, and heading to the Montpelier district, you have to cross the road, it was here that I first took note of real jazz music. The club is called the Subtone, unless you know where to look and listen, it is so easily missed.
Under all the huge Edwardian buildings used as offices for anything from solicitors to hair dressers, lies a small path to a little club. No more than about fifty feet long by a hundred feet wide and nearly always smoky, this is the real jazz not the big stages for the modern imitation by 20 year olds who think hitting a few notes makes them a jazz icon.
I was standing at the gate, when I thought I heard someone playing a trumpet, thinking it might be from a fringe event, I ventured down and to my surprise came across a wondrous thing. As I stepped through the gate, the door opened to the club, and a doorman met me."Good evening sir, I hope you enjoy the show." he said.
"Thank you,’ I replied. “Can you tell me who is playing tonight, please?"
"That I cannot say sir."
"Cannot or will not." I inquired both intrigued and a bit annoyed.
"Come on in, and you will see why I cannot answer the question sir."
"I will be delighted to see why you cannot say." I said getting more than interested as to the meanings behind the statement.
As I stepped in, I could see the stage at the back, covered in the smoky atmosphere I was expecting, what followed was something truly amazing.I could vaguely see figures moving about. Nobody was solid, just a mist and the outlines of bodies, yet the music was so clear as if the people themselves were there. The forms seemed to change shapes, to suit the mood of the music.
Coming from the stage I could hear a trumpet playing, and recognized the style of West coast jazz,familiar to Chet Baker in his prime, alongside the sax of Gerry Mulligan and clarinet of Art Pepper, on the drums it appeared to be Buddy Rich.
“This is wrong!"I thought. Turning to the man next to me I said "Excuse me sir,but don’t you think Chet is on form tonight, and that clarinet of Art is so clear, after all these years."
The man turned and said "Sorry sir, we are watching different sessions, I cannot see who you do, for me it is Colttrane, Miles Davis, Gene Krupa up there."
"How come? We are in the same room, looking at the same stage at the same time.”
The weirdness of the reply aroused my interest immensely, I started to walk around the club asking various people who they saw and got all combinations possible. I found out that even though there were over a hundreds people in the room, there was little cross over for the session and no two sessions were identical. Musicians were there from Ike Quebec to Coleman Hawkins, Tony Williams to Lonnie Donnegan, and the styles went from the early 20s to the skiffle of the late 60s, the more I found out, the less I found I knew, this was a total mystery.
In the midst of my confused state, I finally got to the door, and had a talk with mine host. "I see what you mean now, you could not tell me who is playing, as you had no idea."
"That is right sir, the secret of the club is that YOU decide who appears. You can come every night and never see the same group of performers playing the same tunes, it is all up to YOU."
"Can you answer a few questions for me please?"
"If I can I will be glad to !"
"Thank you very much," I replied "I see there is no sign of either Jamie Cullum, Polar bear, Ingrid Laubruch here, or any other modern jazz group.Do you forbid it?as the jazz here is so pure.”
"Not at all, everyone is welcomed, but without realizing it, you answered your question when you said MODERN jazz, the people you mentioned are still alive." Seeing my puzzled look, my new friend explained to me "When you asked around, didn't you notice, everyone saw someone different. Yet they had one thing in common, they have all passed the veil of time to this endless stream of jazz."
"I see now, the only qualification is being dead then."
"That is correct sir.
"How come, with all the festival going on in town, so few people have come here and yet standing at the gate, I can hear the music?"
"Again you have answered the question sir, YOU heard the music, because you wanted to and you have been here before, so knew where to look for us."
"One or two more questions, first is there a nationality bar, or is it any dead jazz musicians?"
"No sir, we have no bar at all, the other day someone left saying they were listening to Joe Zawinul, Karlheinz Stockhausen and Django Reinhardt, among others."
"As the festival is over soon, will you be closing down and finishing until next year then?’
"No sir, as I said this is an endless stream of jazz, it never finishes and we play all evenings to ever increasing crowds."
I thanked the doorman as I turned to leave and walked up the steps to the main road. All the time, thinking of the various questions raised. How many variations of styles from 20s through be-bop to skiffle and beyond, all the musicians who had joined the band.And the non-answerable question.
"Who is in the best band ?"
There are as many answers as people asked, as we all like our jazz differently.
The Convent stretched along Avery drive and turned the corner at Priory Road. It was high, as most boundary walls of monastic residences were. Crafted out of blocks of fine stone two centuries past, the years had weathered it and ivy clung to parts so that its veneer had a more rounded look now.
The lights were few and far between along Priory Road. Cherry trees had been planted years ago by the local Borough Council, then in between they put lampposts. The trees had grown in the intervening years so that their summer laden branches swarmed around narrow trunks dappling the light from each lamp.
Tonight it was raining. The wind blew and the branches swayed and bunches of leaves at branch ends fluttered like demented birds at a feeding table. The lamplight, a dull orange, was broken up by the dancing leaves that clattered against each other like beads from a broken necklace.
Rain left little puddles on the uneven pavement. Fresh raindrops pattered into the pools causing the reflected light to fracture into myriad shapes that seemed akin to bright star-like prisms, changing with each droplet and wind ruffle.
It was a rough night for the time of year, spring, and Leita pulled her coat tighter around her body, tucking her scarf closer around her neck. As she walked quickly along Priory Road holding her umbrella above her head, shoulders hunched to keep the umbrella between her face and the blown rain, she felt shivers run down her back. Raindrops pelted her clothing.
A sudden gust caught the umbrella and blew it inside out. Leita turned sharply holding the ‘witch’s hat’ shape behind her, a groan escaping her lips. As she turned, she caught a glimpse of a shadow two lampposts behind her, but then it was gone. Probably a cat, she thought.
Wrestling with the handle, she turned her umbrella right side out noticing a dent in one of the spokes. It would wear the material, eventually causing a leak. She sighed! It had been new. Not a brac in it. She doubted it would withstand another onslaught.
Reaching the Convent gate, Leita searched for the large key and inserted it in the lock. The gate opened with a creak. That will need oiling, she thought. Entering the courtyard, she locked the gate behind her then hurriedly walked around to the back of the imposing building.
Unlocking the rear door, Leita stepped inside. She shook her coat and hung it on the peg beside the door. It would soon dry off in the warmth of the kitchen.
She gathered up the black habits waiting to be laundered. Taking them into the little room off the kitchen, she put them into one of the three washing machines and set it to ‘ON’. Next were the whites and they occupied another machine. The third she filled with linen, sheets, tablecloths, all the accoutréments that filled the home of the nuns within the Convent. Conventionally, the nuns would rotate ther task. But recently, some had been sent to other convents to teaching posts so this job became vacant.
There was silver to polish tonight. Leita got out the polish and cloths and started the task whilst the machines did their work with a reassuring background hum. She liked working at night, left alone to work in peace. The Convent was silent for a few hours, she could reflect on her life.
Tonight she thought about that perceived shadow. It seemed to slide back behind the lamppost, the height of a person, so it could not have been a cat. The thought worried her a little. Then she became too busy to think about what she may or may not have seen.
The laundry, when dry, had to be ironed and put away in cupboards in the room along the hall. The big clock struck three thirty. Time was disappearing fast. The breakfast table was to be laid in the large dining hall further along the passageway. That meant linen and silver arranged in proper order.
Once this was done, she heard the faint sound of singing. How could an hour go so fast? Back in the kitchen she got out the large copper saucepan half filling it with water. Tipping a bag of oatmeal into the saucepan she added one cup of milk to make it more palatable. Lighting the gas, she stirred the oatmeal in, leaving it to simmer on a low heat. Next, the bread, bought in this time as the sister who baked had been sent to another Convent. In fact, several of the Sisters were absent for one thing or another so there were less to cook for than usual. All was ready for Sister Margaret John who took care of feeding the nuns their first meal of the day at five a.m.
Leita was putting her coat on when Sister Margaret John entered the kitchen from the hallway. “Everything ready, child?” she asked.
“Yes Sister Margaret John, all done.”
“Thank you and Bless you child,” the Sister replied and began to settle to her morning tasks. Leita heard the other nuns coming out of Devotion. Her time was up. Picking up her handbag and bent umbrella, she left by the rear door, walking across the yeard, avoiding the deeper puddles. The rain had made the lock harder to open. Tomorrow night she must bring oil to make it turn easier.
The rain had ceased. She was glad she did not have to struggle with her umbrella again. Making her way back down priory Road, she turned the corner to walk to the bus stop just a bit further along. Dawn had broken and the birds were madly singing, each their own special song. It lifted Leita’s heart and the fears of the previous night left her.
Once home, she made herself some toast which this morning unaccountably, she burnt a little and had to open a window to let out the acrid smell. She buttered it anyway and spread a little jam on top as a treat. After her light breakfast, the window seat called to her and with pencil and pad in hand, she sat and began to sketch.
What appeared on the pad was not what she intended but a sketch of the rain-soaked road, whipping trees and a shadow. Looking at the picture she had drawn, she shivered. A cold pain shot down her spine causing her to clasp her arms around her body, drawing her knees up to her chin in foetal guise.
A trip out in the bright sunshine was what she needed and putting on her cardigan, she left her rented flat and got the bus into town and entered the local museum. A couple of hours perusing the paintings and artifacts was just what she needed. Like the silence of the Comvent, the museum held few people and it was comforting, being alone with many famous works of art. Paintings, statues, moderns pieces as well as old.
Sleep that afternoon was slow in coming. Tossing and turning, she had dreams of shadows and lightning and a strange figure trying to grasp her.
That evening was dry and warm. Her journey to the Convent was uneventful. As it was the following day. Leita began to relax and enjoy her work. She had moved to the town a year ago and needing employment, she found the post at the Convent convenient and suitable. Ever since she was sixteen, or when her foster parents deemed her to be of an age, she had worked, then had to move. This fear of someone following her. Stalking her. She had been more of a gypsy moving from place to place, finding work where she could. This town had held promise, now it seemed she would have to move again.
The following night the rain returned. Not the heavy bluster as before but a light drizzle. Again it made puddles and the refracted light caused her to have doubts. Leita kept looking over her shoulder thinking she saw something more than trees but could see nothing extraordinary.
Then she heard it. That shuffle, shuffle of feet in soft shoes dragging along the pavement.
She spun around, her heart in her mouth. Nothing there!
Leita raced for the gate, fumbled with the key and jumbled it into the wet wrought iron lock. Barely scraping through the gate, she locked it from inside, her hands trembling, scare noticing that the lock was easier to manipulate since she had set the oil to work.
Running across the courtyard she looked up and uttered a silent ’forgive me’ plea and raced for the kitchen door.
Again Leita fumbled with the key. Once inside, the door firmly locked she rushed to the far door that opened onto the Hall, leaning against it as she fought to catch her breath. What can I do, she thought?
After half an hour, her fears subsided and she was able to begin her work. She was comfortable here. The work was not overly hard or tiring and she had the morning to go out, enjoy the various museums and art galleries, the parks and woodland. She did not want to move again.
Sister Margaret John appeared at her usual time and saw she was disturbed but said nothing as she had her own problems. Competent nuns were being replaced by Novitiates, and she had the teaching of them. Dear, dear!
Sunshine washed away the rain clouds and for the next few days all was serene in Leita’s world. Summery days dispelled the gloom that had settled over Leita. She enjoyed walks through the park to feed the ducks on the pond. Ducks quacked and geese honked as they dived for pieces of bread, squabbling for the choicest bits. A few strays were gobbled up by brave fish as ripples carried the bread further out and away from the birds.
Each night Leita walked to work down Priory Road, wary of shadows. No wind tussled the branches and the succulent warmth in the evening air seeped into her being. All was well.
A week later the rain returned. Leita had almost forgotten her earlier fears when she heard the shuffle, shuffle once more. She turned and this time caught the sight of a figure following her. As she passed by a lamppost, she could see nothing. Moving into the shadow of a tree trunk, she caught sight of the mysterious and threatening dark figure two lamps down behind her. She ran as fast as she could, opening the gate and running for the kitchen door.
Heaving, she got the door open, locked it and slid to the floor, her back to the kitchen wall. She took great gulps of air. A shadow appeared through the glass of the door and the handle twisted.
She held her hand in front of her mouth and became silent. The door jangled, the shadow leaned heavily on the glass as if to break it. Leita did not breathe. Her heart pounded in her chest, she felt it could be heard, it seemed so loud. Then the shadow was gone.
For a few seconds Leita sat immovable, then she jumped up and ran for the inner door leading to the Hall. A crash of glass cracked then tinkled and splintered all over the entrance to the kitchen. Her voice let go a little squeak. And she ran into the Hall. The Sisters were chanting a late Devotion but someone heard the crash and they started to stream out of the Chapel as she ran down the corridor towards them.
“What is it, child?” called the nun running towards her.
Leita screamed. Pointing towards the kitchen, “there is someone following me. I think he just broke in.” tears streamed down her face as she took hold of Sister John Paul’s outstretched hand.
Suddenly a blue flash, like lightning, appeared on the bare wall of the hallway. Some of the Novitiates fell to the floor, paralysed with fear. From the centre of the flash a strange shape appeared like a monster. There were blue and red sparks, white light and yellow flashes. The shape seemed to come out of the wall, then it leapt to the floor and straightened up. Not a monster but the shape of a man.
More nuns emerged from the Chapel holding rosaries up to their lips and praying audibly. Others fled to niches where statues of The Virgin and Christ stood serene, prostrating themselves in terror.
The man ran to Leita, touched her arm and ran on into the kitchen. It did not seem to frighten her. Leita, together with some of the nuns, heard sounds of a scuffle, pans being knocked to the floor, ladles and cutlery rattling over the flagstones. They all heard the back door crash shut, then silence.
The door to the Hall opened and the man came through and spoke to Leita. “He’s gone. I lost him. Are you alright?” His touch was gentle as he stroked her trembling hand. She tried to withdraw it but he held her firm.
The lightning continued to rage against the wall. Sister Gabriel stood firm, gazing at the phenomenon. Daring someone else to come through. A strong independent woman, nothing frightened her. “This isn’t going to hurt you!” she called to the others, but they ignored her fortitude and trembled still where they knelt or lay.
The man ushered Leita into the open doorway of the dining room. Sitting her down, he talked gently to her. “Leita, I have been searching for you for so long. Now finally I have found you and can take you home.” He looked kindly into her eyes.
Something stirred within Leita‘s heart. For some unaccountable reason, she trusted him.
“But…but..who are you,” she stammered.
“I am your father. You were stolen away as a child. Each time I tried to reach you, HE frightened you away.” Though his violet eyes bore into her soul, she was no longer afraid. It was as if she had ‘come home’.
“But I don’t understand… .” Though her fear was gone, she needed answers.
“Shush, my daughter. I must be quick for we have only a few minutes before the rupture closes. He stole you and opened a rift into this world. He could not look after you and left you where you would be found. Then he disappeared. We have tried to reach him, and you, but only now has it been possible. It was he who followed you. Only recently have I been able to open a portal into this world to see where he was, what he had done with you. Only now have I been able to cause a time rupture. He took the secret with him.” Her hand was in his and it felt right.
“I still don’t understand,” Leita said, feeling less fraught.
There will be more explanations later, I promise. We must hurry. You are coming, aren’t you?” His face echoed the pleading.
“I…I….,” she was on the brink of something, a happening she felt she had been waiting for all her life. With no idea of how or why this was happening, she had to think fast. Seconds to decide. Finally she said, “Yes,“ firmly. Decidedly.
The man took her hand and they returned to the hallway. The crackling and fire of the lightning was softer. “This way,” he said, “it’s losing cohesion.” Holding her hand tightly, he turned and nodded and the both jumped into the rupture.
Ahron gazed at his daughter asleep on the bed. Oh so much time had passed. So much lost. He sighed, wishing he had found her sooner. He looked lovingly at his wife Rhonea who was silently weeping as she clung limp to his arm.
“She is unhurt?” Rhonea asked quietly.
“I think so. She is more afraid than anything else. Let time heal her, and our love.” Ahron turned to his wife, gathered her into his arms then turned them both away to let their daughter rest.
Orhrona, for that was Leita’s real name, woke feeling wary of where she was. But a sense of well being overcame her senses. The room was bathed in a rosy tint from the rising sun. Filmy hangings of pastel hues were draped from the high ceiling, falling to the floor in swathes. From the open doors leading onto a balcony a soft warm scented zepher played with the drapery. She rose, walking to the open doors and gazed out on breathtaking scenery of rolling grassland, blue-green hills, blossoming trees and in the distance, pink-topped mountains, and felt so happy.
After a few days she began to feel at ease in her new home. The grass was just a little bluer, the flowers smelled sweeter and the food was delicious. Her new life was peaceful and serene in this world of her birth, a world so beautiful that it enfolded her being so that the suffering of her other life seemed to vanish in this magical land.
Orhrona became accustomed to her new name, to the visitors who welcomed her so profusely. She painted delightful picturesss of the natural beauty that surrounded their home. She felt so loved, she could hardly bear it.
Ahron came into breakfast one morning saying” They have caught him. At last he will pay for what he did to us. Outcast is what he will be.” A satisfied look graced his countenance.
“Oh no,” gasped Rhonea. “We cannot be so cruel.
“But he stole our daughter,” stated Ahron. His stance was a little belligerent.
”And we have her back. It would be too much to bear.” Rhonea was more forgiving than Ahron. After a few moments thought, Ahron melted at his wife’s temperate attitude.
“He will be punished by the Council, you know.”
“I expect he will,” she replied. “But not by us.”
Orhona forgot Leita’s life, over time, as if it had never happened. She learned how to be a caring, loving daughter to the parents who always knew they would find her in the end. Ever hopeful that their one and only child would be returned to them, safe and sound. She became a great designer, took a husband and mothered four children, all with wonderful gifts. The human world was forgotten except on rare occasions, when the wind blew and the rain drummed down outside her beautiful new home.
© Copyright Evelyn J. Steward. November 2011
(Edited and amended September, 2012)
Word Count 3105
Something about the book gave the impression of energy. It jumped in her hand as she picked it up; jolting her rudely out of the mental shopping list, she was making. The library was almost empty now and this had prompted librarian Janice Goodwin to start replacing the intake of returned books, a task she always enjoyed because it signaled the day’s end. Turning the book over, she looked closer and gasped in surprise. Staring back at her was a picture of herself. How strange, she thought. She looks just like me. Laughing to herself, she placed the book on the correct shelf and continued her task.
Over the next few days, her thoughts wandered repeatedly to the book. Who was that woman? Why did she look like me? Unable to settle to even the most mundane tasks Janice then resolved to take the book out on her own ticket. Maybe, reading it would set her mind at rest.
Bolting the main doors after the last customer, she went to the True Crimes section to collect the troublesome book and hopefully end her disturbed thoughts. She slid the book from the shelf and turned it over again, maybe she had made a mistake or it had been a trick of the light. Janice dropped the book in horror and clung to the shelving. The room began spinning, faster and faster, she couldn’t breathe. A pulse beat wildly in her throat as she slid down the shelving into a deep black void.
“I’m sorry James, as I told you three months ago Janice could snap out of her catatonia one day, but, the likelihood is impossible to predict. You must be prepared that she might never recover,” Dr Ashford studied the distraught man with sympathy. He continued. “The trauma she suffered in 1969 was indescribable, and we know she only recovered initially by completely blocking the incident from her conscious mind.”
“But why now?” pleaded James. “What happened?”
“Ah…well… that I can tell you. You may recall when Janice was found collapsed in the library she was clutching a book and repeatedly murmuring… “No...it wasn’t me.”
James nodded mutely.
“I’m sorry James, but, we believe the book triggered her memory. It must have flooded back, the rape, the imprisonment, the beatings; everything that monster did to her. You have to remember, she has kept that terrible episode locked down tight for twenty years. It was the only way she could function properly and get on with her life.”
“You know they never caught who did it,” said James, tears trickling down his face.
“Oh… God…” spluttered Dr Ashford, “I didn’t know… I’m so sorry.”
“Well it doesn’t make much difference now, too much time gone by,” whispered James.
“No, you don’t understand James... the book…”
“How can the book help?” asked James.
“It might… if he’s the one… if we can get through to her, she might get some closure. James... the book was about the serial killer Morgan Thomas.”
(Mild Adult Content)
I strolled up to the inviting house at the edge of town, stopping at the gate to sensually stick my fingers into the mouth of the Jack-O-Lantern. I leave claw marks as I draw my hand away and laugh. My fingers go to my mouth to suck the pumpkin from under my nails as I walk to the door. The cool night breeze whips my hair around my face, making it hard to see. I am surprised when I hear a voice.
“Come in please, we are expecting you” the voice calls to me through the door.
I turn the knob and enter. There is a cloying smell of spices inside, the only lighting is hundreds of candles, everywhere I look. I hear distant moaning, not of pain or sorrow, but pleasure. Taking a few steps into the room, I notice a sign on a table. Enter at Your Own Risk My hand goes to my throat, sliding past my right breast as it drops back down to my side, I notice my nipple is hard. Knowing what awaits me, my breath quickens, and a warm feeling spreads to my entire body.
Lingering in the outer room before proceeding ahead, I remove the light jacket I am wearing, laying it on a chair near me. A mirror on the other side of the room catches my reflection. Slowly I move closer to the mirror. Looking into my own eyes, I drink in the vision of my face. My hand involuntarily slides along my cheek, again stopping at my throat. I then slowly unbutton my shirt, opening it to the sides and running my hands over my breasts, watching as my nipples come alive. My hands travel down my abdomen and my fingers reach the waistband of my pants. Diving under the waistband, my fingers spread out and slide to my hips pushing down on the material. My pants drop to the floor and I step out of them. Fingers wander over my lower abdomen and slide up and down my inner thigh. A small moan escapes my lips; I'm so ready to do this!
With a sigh, I turn from the mirror and gather my clothes. I stuff them in the bag I brought with me and lay it next to my jacket. Facing the door before me, I can almost smell the sweat of bodies beyond. It excites me and I can hear myself breathing. I need this so bad!
I reach forward gingerly for the doorknob, then draw back. Visions flash in my brain of the last time I attempted this, sights of sweating bodies all writhing in one room, keeping pace with the rhythmic music, groaning, grunting, and sometimes even screaming! My breath catches in my throat, choking me, yet urging me on. I could feel droplets of sweat roll between my breasts. I was getting soaking wet just standing there!
Again, I reached for the doorknob. Pushing it open, the room was suddenly awash with light. People grabbed at me to enter, “Come join us!” they pleaded. Smiling and looking over my body, they sought to find the areas that needed manipulation. The scent of male and female sweat assaulted my olfactory senses. I found myself looking over their bodies as well, finding pleasing sights on some and not so much on others. There was a cacophony of sounds in the room until one dominant person demanded attention; then all fell quiet.
The dominant speaker paced as he spoke, telling us the rules for the evening. They were simple; we should guard against being harmed at all cost. Endurance was expected but there was no shame in sitting out for a while to catch your breath. It would be strenuous, but the rewards would be immeasurable. As always there would be a slow start, very vigorous activity, then a cool down in which we could use the hot tub if we so desired.
“Lets get started, shall we?” the dominant figure turned and started the music. "You know the routine, for those that don't, watch your neighbor beside you. We will do two sets of ten leg stretches to start, ready now, one...two...”
The Fallen Chandelier
By Al Place
The party had gone well, James Forbes MP, had been appointed Minister for Foreign Affairs. The title was ironic in itself.
Forbes was the golden boy of Parliament, this years wonderkind, with all glories there is a past and his was going to catch up with him sooner than he thought.
To the press Forbes had done it so smoothly, from Secondary Modern, to University and then onto a junior post, now here he stood in Parliament with all before him.
Walking from Number 10, Forbes thought he caught sight of a face from his youth but on second thoughts, he thought better, as it could not have been her.
“No ! “He told himself. “She is dead, I saw the accident myself.”
As he tried to recall what had happened, all the years peeled back.Like opening up a nasty scab and seeing a raw wound again, one you thought had healed.
It was the summer of 1979, he was at a friends’ house having a few drinks when Margaritta Perlmann, the dark haired German girl walked in.
The beer was flowing well that night, to show off to the new girl, he had leapt for the chandelier, hanging 50 feet above the floor.
“Don’t do it!”cried Angus Farris, as he watched his friend leap “It won’t support you Jimmy!”
Blinded by the beer and the urge to impress the girl. He jumped and got a grip, as he did, the chandelier ripped from the ceiling, just as Margaritta walked below. Hearing the commotion, she looked up, to see the chandelier rip from the joist and coming crashing down on her.
James was lucky, the beer made him roll as a drunks do.He got away with a few cuts and bruises. As for poor Margaritta, he never knew and nobody ever told him, it was their secret.
Friends told him, she had died from a massive head wound caused by the glass shards and the fallen chandelier.
As the years went on, he forgot about that night and got on with his career in politics, yet, at the back of his mind, there was always a niggling thought.
“What did happen to her, after I left the party? “ He had asked everyone there.They had the story down, so well, and that is what is what concerned him.
“How can so many people have the same story of an event, and tell it the same way?
And why wont anyone tell me truth?” He thought.
The rising son of the media, had to be blameless the friends had all agreed, and so the whole incident was uniformly forgotten, never to be mentioned again.
Now 15 years on, she had returned but for what reason?
As he walked across to his car, she stopped him dead in his tracks “Hello James, you will not remember me. I never forgot you!’
Chills ran down his spine, it was not just who said it but the way she said it. Never in all his years had he felt so scared of anyone. There was so much venom in those words, he had no doubt, she was going to make him pay for every thing she had suffered.
“M, M, M, Margaritta!”He stammered.
“Or what is left of her, after your friends and 12 years in an institute have drained my soul.”
“I didn't know what happened that night, after I left.”
“And you made no effort to find out either, the rising star and golden boy.”
“Y, y, you have to believe me, I did try, the others covered up my terrible accident, I am sorry for what happened to you .”
“You, sorry! If that wasn’t so pitiful I would laugh at you.”
She stood before him with her face covered , she pulled her hair away from her face to reveal a face torn to shreds by glass and massive scarring from surgery,her once gorgeous features, now mangled.
“All your friends clubbed together to send me away to a clinic in Denmark, where they could keep me locked away.”
“I, I, I did ask about the unusual payments being made, but they said it was a memorial fund in your name, for car crash victims.”
“Well the truth is out now, isn’t it and I have come for payback James.”
“I'll give you any money you want Margaritta.”
“MONEY! You rich kids, think you can buy anyone off. Do you think money can get my looks and the life I was going to lead back. The family I never had the chance to see, money cannot replace the hurt I feel, when people look at me, and see this.”
“What are you going to do to me, then?”
“That is for me to know and you to worry about! Just tell the driver to go to St. James’church and we will see from there.”
“St. James’ on Clare Avenue?”
“The same. And to clarify your next thought, yes it is due for demolition tomorrow.”
“I thought it ironical that your last hours, should be in a church, of your name, where you and the others can pray for your souls.”
The car pulled up to the derelict church, James saw through the broken doors and windows, that all the party from years ago had been gathered.
Margaritta walked into the church, going to the pulpit she said to the gathered and scared crowd below.
“It has taken me three years to find all of you, my haven’t you done well since you shoved me away, so you could have a life. never got the chance, I cannot take the years back nor can I have what I should have had, all this time. All I can do is, to stop you now, from enjoying your lives.”
Looking around James saw them all, gathered for the first time since that night, Carol Palmer, Frances Torrington, Jack Holder and Angus Farris, trussed up like turkeys for Passover, helpless.
Jack Holder, head of the local engineering firm Holder, Parker & Thomas was first to speak. “When did they let you out Margaritta?”
Margaritta did not answer at first, all she did was look around the group and laugh in their faces as she said “They didn’t Jack, I killed three men with my hands and escaped, I spent a year on the run, living on berries and hiding in the daytime ! None of you ever checked, after the second year at the clinic. I got transferred to an Institute for the criminally insane. All I talked of, was this moment, I had it fixated in my mind, from then until now. The irony of the whole thing was I set the chandelier to fall. I paid the cleaners to make sure a few bolts were loose. It was supposed to fall on you!” Margaritta said looking straight at Carol Palmer.
Shocked Carol stammered “W, w, w, why me?”
“Back then, all the boys were after you.None even cast me a glance, you had it all, looks, brains and charm. You have until 7:30 in the morning to free yourselves and get out. If you can!”
“Why did you say if?”
“You'll see. Looking at her watch Margaritta said “ When I leave, and lock this door, you had better get started as you only have four hours now.”
Saying that, she walked to the cross, crossed herself and walked down the aisle laughing manically, knowing a secret, they would find out soon enough.
The door closed slowly on its hinges as the first signs of dawn showed through the stained glass. Daylight beckoned the group, as they finally saw their predicament, perched high on the upper balcony of the Wesleyan church.
The church had been in disrepair for so long, very few timbers remained and it was clear to Angus that if anyone tried to move,t he whole group would crash through the balcony and fall into the Charnel house that they could see below. Flled with skeletal bones, from the early days of the church and containing Lord only knows what bacterial infections.
“We'd better get going, if she is right we don’t have any time.” Frances yelled at the group.””If one of us can get out, we can try to stop the bulldozers.”
“You couldn't be more wrong Fran, if you tried.” Jack said. “This was meant for our payback and the first person to step on the wrong board, we all end up down there,” he said nodding to the Charnel house below. Another thing, she made sure, escape was impossible.”
“Sorry, am I missing something?”
“Yes, Fran. Whilst she was talking, I was looking at our ties and noticed they are done similar to a Chinese finger puzzle.”
“Meaning what?” Carol asked.
“The more we try to get free, the tighter they get!” Angus finished.
As they group sat there, waiting for the inevitable, they heard the sound of the bulldozers approaching. Carol was going to yell out but the iron ball came smashing through the stained glass window. James and his friends, died as Margeritta had lived all those years, cut to ribbons by broken glass.
She got her revenge, standing across the road, she laughed maniacally as told James’ driver “To the airport and make it quick please.”
OH SHIT !!
A Ryan Matthew Harker Book/ published by arrangement with Harker Meadow Handcrafted Books
Duplication of this book, complete or in part, is strictly prohibited. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual person’s, living or dead, events, or locals is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved
Copyright © 2011 Ryan Matthew Harker
By Ryan Matthew Harker
How many times have you sat down on the toilet to do your business, only to find out when you’re done that there’s no toilet paper in the bathroom?
Well Frank Dane had done that very same thing more than his share of times in his life and this time was, so far, turning out according to script.
When he discovered his dilemma he immediately shouted for his wife.
After ten seconds, no response.
Frank could hear the washer and dryer going in the laundry room at the other end of the house. Martha was probably folding the towels or his boxer shorts, or something. Yeah, she was probably folding his boxers and singing along to her favorite song on the radio. A song that just didn’t sit well with Frank’s idea of what proper music should sound like, and right now it was a song (along with the washer and dryer) that was preventing his loving wife from answering his call.
With a stronger note of urgency in his voice, he called out again.
Still no answer.
Damnit! He thought bitterly to himself as he gingerly stood up, leaving his pants and underwear on the floor, and crab-walked his way towards the door.
He stopped once he was in the hall, confused and wracking his brain. Now where does that woman keep the butt wipe? He wondered.
“Ma- ARTHA!” He bellowed and still there wasn’t any answer. What in God’s name was she doing? All he wanted to do was wipe his ass. It was 7:30 in the morning for Christ’s sake and he was going to be late to work!
Frank continued his way awkwardly down the hall when all of a sudden he came up short.
“What the hell?” he muttered under his breath and cocked his head to one side.
He listened intently for the sound that had, temporarily anyway, made him forget his mission for toilet paper. He could still hear the sound of the washing machine spinning in disjointed harmony with the dryer but now that he was in the hall Frank could also hear the sound of music drifting faintly up from the laundry room.
Ah-ha, it is the radio! He thought. The goose bumps on his bare arms were just beginning to fade as he took a tentative step forward. And there it was again. Hearing it clearly the second time made his blood freeze. It was quiet, oh so quiet but there all the same. Under the combined hum of the washer and dryer, under the music of the radio, there was a small sob which was immediately followed by an inhuman snarl and a low grunt.
Frank couldn’t believe his ears as he heard it again. His blood had solidified and a small, scared sound escaped his lips.
What in God’s name was going on in the laundry room? And where the hell was his wife? These two questions seemed to drift as an ethereal mist, hanging almost tangible in the air around him.
He didn’t have a clue as to the answer to the first one. And judging from what he knew of his wife’s last known whereabouts, and the altogether disconcerting noises that were coming more frequently from the laundry room, Frank began to seriously dread what the answer to the second question might be.
Although terror was slowly creeping through his entire body, like a thief wanting nothing more than to rob him of all the courage he possessed, his rational mind fought to reassert itself. Because the fact was he was the man of the house, and as such he had certain responsibilities, responsibilities that required him to investigate the strange sounds more closely.
Frank looked down, noticed his half nakedness, and realized exactly how vulnerable he was for the first time. Trying in vain to block the horrible sounds coming from the laundry room, especially the small sobs that grew increasingly more tear filled with every passing second, he made his way stealthily back to the bathroom, pulled his pants on, and made his way towards the living room.
He crept silently down the hall to the living room. Even though he kept telling himself that he had nothing to fear and that he should just barge into the laundry room and demand of his wife- Just what the FUCK is going on here for Christ’s sake woman!- the scared little animal of instinct demanded he- Keep yourself quiet now, you hear? Don’t you dare stop though, pause long enough to grab the wood poker from beside the fireplace but don’t you dare stop because Martha needs you in a way she’s never needed you before!
With the iron poker clutched tightly in his right hand Frank felt decidedly more at ease, calmer. Despite the sounds which grew louder and louder the closer he got to the laundry room door, his rational mind was finally reasserting itself and forcing that small, scared animal into an unused portion of his mind. He actually sped up his progress as he rounded a corner in the hall between the living room and laundry room, only to instantly come to a stop as he laid eyes on the laundry room door.
The door had been left open a crack and the light was on so that as he watched maniacal shadows danced evilly from the laundry room’s interior and across the hall. The grunting was becoming more frenetic with every passing second and he could clearly hear the sobbing now, it was definitely Martha. Without hesitating a moment longer Frank strode the last few feet down the hall and threw open the laundry room door.
The hellish sight that met his disbelieving eyes was one of unreal horror. There was Martha alright, lying on the floor and in just about the position his rational mind had expected her. Unfortunately his rational mind could never have prepared him for who was with her, or rather, what was with her.
His beloved wife was on the floor, tears streaming from her eyes, with her legs spread and her dress bunched up around her hips. Frank could clearly see the huge and monstrous member that was being thrust in and out of her with unrelenting force by a creature the likes of which had never been seen by a living man. Martha met his gaze with eyes filled with tears. The monster, whatever it was, sensed the change and without stopping it’s assault, turned to face Frank.
“No you don’t you bastard!” Stunned into fury by the obscene sight of Satan’s minion in sacred consummation with his loved one he stepped forward and swung the poker with all of his might, embedding it in the side of the devil’s horny, red face. A grotesque hiss escaped the creature’s throat as it attacked him.
Frank was in the air before he knew what had hit him. He hit the washer, then the dryer, and bounced to the floor. He looked up, his vision blurring, and saw the vile monstrosity hunch over his wife and continue it’s dreadful plundering.
Frank woke with a start. What a terrible dream! He thought as it sank in that he was supposed to follow the doctor who had waked him.
It had been nine months since that fateful day when he forgot to check for toilet paper. He was at the hospital where his wife, Martha, was about to have his child. The doctor was even now rushing him into the delivery room.
Martha was pushing and pushing as Frank reached her side. He noticed her face was red and it made him shudder a little. He shook his head and squeezed her hand as blood began to gush from between her legs.
The doctor screamed and there was a thud as something hit the floor. Martha’s eyes rolled into the back of her head before she shook and went still. Unable to face the reality of his wife’s death Frank stepped around her to assist the doctor, who it appeared had fainted.
The doctor hadn’t fainted. She was dead. A scrawny red devil with horns was eating it’s way through her skull.
“It seems to be a real tragedy, Mr. Dane’s death,” one deputy says to another as they stand waiting outside the Dane residence. “It seems that Mr. Dane was in the peak of health. Doc couldn’t find anything wrong with him, and his poor wife, Martha, she’s about to have a baby. Well I say it’s a damn shame.”
The second deputy nods his head sagely and spits tobacco to the ground. “Ain’t that some shit,” he says.
“It seems to be a real tragedy,” one deputy said to another as they stood waiting outside the Dane residence. “It seems that Mr. Frank Dane was in the peak of health. Doc couldn’t find anything wrong with him and his wife, Martha, was just telling me she found out she was pregnant today. Well I say it’s a damn shame.”
The second deputy nods his head and spits tobacco to the ground. “Yep, and to be found dead on the toilet too, it reminds me of Elvis.”
“Sure does. And another thing,” the first deputy continues. “There wasn’t a stitch of toilet paper to be found in the bathroom. Now ain’t that some shit?”