Author Archives: loupmojo

About loupmojo

Writer, warrior against depression, cook, reader, listener (to music and people), cat lady and more

Mabon Gratitude


This is my favourite time of year. I love the autumnal misty mornings, dewy cobwebs, abundance of hedgerow food and the colder, darker days and nights. This is the time of year when I am most myself. Not to mention Samhain is only a few weeks away and that makes me as happy as a child with unlimited access to the sweet shop!

(Image located here)

One of the traditions of Mabon is to be thankful. Because of my depression I often forget to be grateful; too caught up in all the bad to remember how much good there is in my life. Let me share a few of the excellent things I am thankful for this year:

1 – Having my best friend in my life. Yes, he’s been around for a long time now, but every year that passes increases how thankful I am for having met and got to know him. Thank you to (image of train is an in-joke)

(image of Charlie the diesel shunter from here because I can’t find my picture!)

2 – Making a new friend. Sometimes you are just in the right place at the right time and this person came along when I was looking for more online pagan connections and her online moot is fabulous. Thank you to

(Raven image found here)

3 – Mobility – I am thankful that I can walk for a couple of hours at a time, visiting a variety of woodland, scrub and river locations easily from my home. I am thankful that I am fit enough to do so and to enjoy doing so. There is nothing more calming than walking in nature.


Beautiful old oak king on an abandoned golf course near my home

4 – I am grateful that I can afford to bake wonderful foods combining an abundance of ingredients which I can buy from any shop or pick from the wild. I am thankful that I have access to such a cornucopia when so many have little or nothing in this world.


Apple cake and white bread made this morning.

Above all, I am incredibly thankful that I can practice my beliefs without censure and without fear in a world where this is true for so few. I am aware of how privileged I am and I try to show my thankfulness by helping others wherever and whenever I can in any way I can. It may not be much but – and Tesco have it right for once – every little counts. Imagine all those little things, every small action, building and growing and it is just possible to imagine the world as a better, more accepting, more peaceful place.


A small celebration I did this morning including apples from my garden and from the wild, plus some berries and leaves and Green Man incense from the wonderful Goddess & Green Man shop in Glastonbury.

Thank you for reading; I’m grateful 😉


I Made This…


From a random Google search

Me! Yep, you heard me right. I made this, me, who I am and that means I have no right to blame anyone else for how I think or feel. The choices – to be happy, depressed, angry, joyful, wicked, good, mean, generous et al – were, are and will be mine to make. Yes, I am well aware that, as a child, I had no control over what was done to me (verbal/physical abuse, not sexual) but when I was freed from the confines of ‘home’ – and I use the word generally – I made every single choice then and through the years up to this day.

I chose to give up on therapy sessions because I couldn’t take the pain they evoked. I chose never to go back and to work through my issues, at first alone and then with my best friend. I chose to be angry, depressed, suicidal, to drink, to comfort eat and cry day in and day out. I chose not to keep trying various treatments for my depression/bi-polar because I didn’t like the way the tablets made me feel. I chose all that pain, all that misery, and all those days of screaming rage which didn’t just affect me, but those around me, especially said friend.

I chose to allow other people to dictate the way I lived my life. I chose not to live true to what I thought and felt because the laws, ethics, morals and religions of other people said what I thought, did and wanted was wrong… by their standards. I chose to be ashamed of myself because I put weight on, got out of shape, because I allowed other peoples judgements and opinions to dictate how I thought and felt. The infamous ‘they’ told me constantly that nothing I said or did was good, right or in accordance with their strictures and therefore I had to learn to batten down my natural impulses, thoughts and ideas to ‘fit in’. I didn’t, I could never ‘fit in’, but oh I could choose to act the part, and I did, for almost 50 years.

I chose to take on the burden of guilt. I chose to never feel good enough, to never feel I had given or done enough for everyone else. I chose to nurture every other soul but my own. I chose to allow my depression, anxieties and lack of self-worth to grow, to be fed by every action I chose which was not in accordance with what my soul wanted or needed. I chose to live a life which was no life at all, only a shell of lies and pretense built to bury the ‘unacceptable’ me, the soul who was begging to get out.

Last year I turned 50. I told myself I was going to change things. I told myself I was going to start feeding my soul and learn how to let go of guilt. I told myself I was going to learn to cope with my bad days by focusing on the positive, by not allowing the negative to overwhelm me – I told myself I was going to choose to live instead of exist.

It has taken me over a year (my birthday was in April) to get even this far. I can’t begin to pretend I am anywhere near achieving my goal, but I have made tiny baby steps. Small things like letting go of needing to help everyone and everything that crosses my doorstep. I am beginning to choose which I give help to. I am learning to choose to step back when I cannot help any more, or at all, instead of pushing on regardless, draining myself of energy, love and wisdom for a lost cause. I am choosing to say no a little more often. I am choosing to do things which please me, not everyone else. Small things, but every small step feels like a giant leap after 50 years of making the wrong choices because I thought I could not be me.

I AM ME – I am flawed, fragile, uncertain, lack confidence, wildly emotional, but I am also loving, generous, wise and stronger than I think. I can be me and I can choose not to care what anyone else thinks about that… eventually. One step at a time 😉

Under the Willow – A Green Lake tale


(Image found here – Weeping willow )

Grandmother Ida watched Kai run; watched her blunder out of the house, stumble through the rose arch and hitch handfuls of skirt as she hurdled the brook beyond.

“Don’t let those tears blind you long, girl.” Grandmother Ida murmured, turning from the window and contemplating the faded fawn leather of the book in her hand. She riffled the pages, ran a yellowing nail over the achingly familiar script and battened down a wave of sorrow. Life happened to the living. She could do nothing for Marli, dead three weeks; that was for the Goddess now. No, her care had to be for Kai.

Kai flattened by loss, Kai with a tear-stained smile, brandishing a book, the diary, confessions never meant for other eyes. Grandmother Ida had been too slow, her grief too raw for speed of thought. Now Kai was running. Grandmother Ida had watched the girl’s smile turn from pleasure, a chance to connect with one gone too soon, through puzzled frown, to the anguished, angry, tear-filled glare of a wounded animal. She’d flung the diary at the fire, Ida too slow again, and then fled the house, blinded by those tears.

Grandmother Ida placed a hand over her heart, closed her eyes and murmured softly,

“Watch over her. This much only I ask for she must find her way home alone.”

Kai ran. Disappearing into the cool, dim maze of ancient trees and silent carpets of moss, she had no awareness of her flight, her mind whirling, alternating between anger and despair. Occasionally, unconsciously, her body swerved out of danger from fallen boughs and jutting rocks, her hands periodically swiping her eyes clear, but the tears refused to dry. How could she not have known? Twenty years under the same roof and never a hint. Would she ever have been told if Marli hadn’t died? Why had they not told her she was no relation, they were not family? That each had been chosen to be the Grandmother to Green Lake, successors one after the other, she raised to think they were family? What was she supposed to do now? How was she to know who she was? How could she live under the same roof; the roof under which her whole life had been lived inside a lie!

Kai screamed, a throng of birds lifting out of the trees, screeching their indignation at her. Looking up, startled by their flight, Kai caught her foot in a root and ended on hands and knees, fingers and toes digging deep into the drift of yellowing finger-like leaves littering her landing spot. She crawled forward; suddenly aware her flying feet had brought her to the willow. She scurried further, a frightened child once more, curling against the bark, listening to the minute ticks and cracks inside the living heart of her tree, to the gentle whispers as the protective drape of branches and leaves enclosed her, shut out the world. She slept and dreamed.

She walked through woods which were at once familiar and yet changed. Paths she had known since childhood now led to unexpected ends, or forked into new ways. Ancient, revered oaks and willows rustled, whispered, leaned and beckoned with playful pokes of hanging branches or swirls of dancing leaves in bars of golden sunlight. It felt like summer but she knew it was Beltane by a slight coolness to the air, a profusion of new green, yet to attain the richer hues of warm and sunlit days. Water babbled and sparkled in a brook to her side and she paused for a while, paddling her feet in the delicious coolness, connecting with her world, the rushing ripples and miniature waves washing some of the weight from her heart.

A sound murmured across the air, borne on the lightest of breezes, a breath with which it whispered. Laughter, light and carefree, voices back and forth, a patter of feet, and snatches of music, voice and instrument raised in joyous abandon. She stepped across the brook, felt an encouraging caress from the drooping branches of a young willow, content as yet to remain with its roots soaking in clear, sustaining water, but urging her gently on with a branch to her arm, her back. She followed the barely visible path, perhaps no more than a rabbit run, edged with pale yellow primroses and overhung with hazel. Up ahead she saw a thinning of the plants, dapples of light and shade as the breeze danced shifting boughs and stems. She caught flashes of red amongst the green, laced with white, perhaps a flicking skirt hem, a streamer of ribbons.

She stepped off the path and into a clearing. A maypole stood tall and proud, festooned with intricately wound ribbons in a myriad of colours, crowned with a circlet of fresh blooms. The glade was filled with dancing, singing, laughing figures, each holding a ribbon end and whirling about the pole. A woman looked over, smiled, held out a hand and pulled Kai in beside her. She grasped for a stray ribbon, pushed it into Kai’s fingers and set her to dancing. It seemed not to matter that she knew no-one, that the intricate weaving dance was unfamiliar; within moments Kai was bobbing and reaching, ducking and rising, in an ever faster circle, the figures crowding in with her as they came closer to the pole.

Kai realised she was at the centre. Somehow, the whirling, laughing, singing throng had surged her against the maypole and the last ribbons were binding her to it. Each face came close, kissed her cheek and placed a ribbon end into her fingers. Finally she stood, bound lightly to the pole with the swaying, chanting forms all about her, a flute trilling above the low hum of voices, a harp cascading around and through the wordless song. The chant swelled, a pair loosed their hands allowing a new figure to step through and enter the circle. He, and there could be no doubt that muscle and power and masculinity rippled under the hooded cloak of green leaves, walked slowly to the pole. Sparkling green eyes, alight with dancing golden flecks, stared into hers. He held out a hand, tilting his head slightly to one side; a question.

Kai looked at her hands, at the ribbon ends and understood. She offered them to him. His hands closed about hers and her body shivered, heat and strength streaming into her blood. He began to pace around her, the chanting figures matching their rhythm to his, building with agonising slowness as he circled, unwinding, but with each turn she felt herself pulled closer to him, her heart and soul reaching for everything he offered each time their eyes met. The moment she was loose she stepped into him, fitted herself to him, laying her hands gently on his hips, beneath the rustling cloak. He stood a head taller than her and her injured heart craved his protection as his arms came up, slipping the cloak to reveal bronzed skin, well-muscled arms. She pulled the woollen cord securing the cloak and he shook free of it, letting it fall to the floor forgotten as the chanting hit a crescendo, pairs formed and wild, abandoned dancing spread across the glade.

Fires sprang up, food and drink appeared, but Kai questioned nothing, lost in the healing laughter and touch of this woodsman. She plucked twigs from his beard, his dark curls, he playfully considering each one, naming it and weaving it into her locks with deft brown fingers. She saw nothing of the dirt under his nails, the green-stained soles of his feet, the homely weave of his woollen trousers. It seemed natural that he wore no shirt, seemed not to speak, only to laugh and lend his voice to the constant chant which raised and lowered throughout the glade. A part of her, some sensible part which tried to prick her with needles of sorrow, anger, and guilt, spoke of enchantment, bewitchment but Kai found she could ignore the voice with ease, especially when she looked into those dancing eyes and felt his hard but gentle hands lifting her in swirling, giggling dances. She had no desire to be sorrowful, to think of the anger which had driven her into the wood; she wanted only to be lost in him.

Darkness surrounded them, the trees filling with mischievous little whispers and nudges, branches lifting and drooping before and behind couples who turned and stepped and leaped away from the light of the fires into sheltered, mossy dells round about. The chant was being replaced by low whispers, giggles and squirms in crackling leaves, by the muted sounds of love. Kai felt his hand tug, allowed herself to be pulled to a fire which bowed its leaping flames at their approach. Together they leapt over and then they were running. An ancient willow parted its curtain, scooped them inside and let the branches fall over them as they lay in the dry, sandy soil at its feet, naked bodies cocooned in a blanket of pale yellow fallen leaves from years gone by, beds from other lovers they now shared in quiet, powerful, entwined joy.

At some point Kai woke, primrose yellow morning light dripping through the willow fronds. The man beside her, caught in natural form seemed both ancient and achingly young to her loving gaze. A shadow of antlers curled about his head and she knew him. His eyes flickered open, his smile soft, yearning. When she went to his arms once more she knew it was for the last time. Clasped against him she caught a flicker of movement over his shoulder. A branch moved slightly to one side revealing a pair standing there. He could be none but the Green Man, older, wiser than he in her arms, his antlers broad and many branched. At his side was Marli,  tall and strong and beautiful, no sign of the ravaged figure disease had made of her at the end, a crown of willow fronds in her hair. They nodded, smiled and were gone.

She understood now, lying in his arms, their bodies refreshing their commitment and respect for the earth beneath them, and she smiled up into the sunshine flooding over them, blinding her enough that his fading presence was gentle, leaving only a mild wash of longing in her blood. She whispered into the breeze, under the willow:

“You are and always will be my mother for you chose me to be yours, to be your heir and know that I will honour that, always.”

She rose and walked softly away, knowing Grandmother Ida would be waiting.

Ida looked out of the window, saw the dervish of willow leaves dance across her lawn, the shadow of antlers pass through a patch of sunlight and went to put the kettle on the fire. Kai would be home soon.

Maid of Honour


I saw this prompt yesterday and was drawn to that tiny little dark window in the background. I’m not even sure exactly what it is, but this is the story I instantly saw in my head. I’m not sure it exactly fits the prompt, but I had fun writing it *wink*

They forgot about this place. Huntsford Country House has many little nooks and crannies, a half dozen disused and ignored buildings, but I remember where they all are. I spent most of my childhood running around the estate when my dad was groundskeeper here. I reckon I know the grounds better than I know my new, speciality apartment. Good thing really, if I didn’t I wouldn’t be here today.

Dad taught me lots of things, how to set traps, how to hunt, how to forage and how to load and fire a rifle. Useful skills, not the ones I needed most after the accident, but Dad taught me that one too; how to listen. I spend all my life listening now. I don’t have much choice, living in darkness as I do. Every day is night, a pitch black, moonless, starless night on a back road in the middle of nowhere with only sounds to keep me company.

I listened to it all. The caterers and assorted aides were here early, setting up the marquee opposite the little hayloft I now occupy. I could hear them hammering, cursing, laughing; hear the rustle of fabrics as they laid tables, the clatter of silverware, the clink of champagne flutes, the chink of crockery. I lay here, amongst the dry smells of dust and forgotten hay, and listened to the string quartet tuning up, the DJ chattering to his girlfriend about the set list for the night, and the fluttering, fluting tones of the wedding planner who appeared to be in more of a panic than I imagined Carol, the bride, to be.

I’ll give her that much. She did ask me to be Maid of Honour. I refused of course. Did she really think I would stand there, smiling, in a god-awful outfit I could never see, while she took the last steps from our life into her new one, with him? I know she only asked out of pity, he probably goading her from his guilt. Did they think that would make what they did go away, make things right between us? Did they think I would smile, accept their pathetic attempts to include me in the ‘happiest day of their life’? Did they think I could forget, forgive, move on? Did they think I wouldn’t know they had taken my day, the day I’d booked with Steve, the day down to the hour when I was supposed to have been the bride?

Steve tried; for a few weeks after the accident he really tried to make it ok between us, but I knew he wasn’t going to make it. He couldn’t cope with my new and special status. He couldn’t deal with the idea of being married to me and my newly acquired problem for the rest of his life. I was angry for a while. I think I had a right to be, when he walked in one day and stood for a few minutes in silence. I don’t know if he realised I knew he was there, could feel his silence and know his words before he stammered them out. It wasn’t me, it was him. I shrugged, told him to leave, and quietly cancelled the wedding, the caterers, the church, the guests, but Carol and John thought I wouldn’t notice; or simply hoped?

Not like I could see the date, not after the accident. Carol’s hen night. We were slaughtered, no two ways about it. Pouring out of the nightclub in the middle of a snowstorm with not a cab in sight, we were stranded at four in the morning. Carol called John; his massive 4×4 with snow chains would get us through. And he came, but we were too drunk to notice how drunk he was – a last night of fun with his pals – or that he hadn’t actually put the snow chains on. I woke up a week later. John lost control, hit a tree. I was thrown through the window and hit a rock under the snow head on. The police found that John hadn’t got round to fixing the seat-belt where I’d been. He knew, like he’d known about the snow chains, but things like that don’t happen to people like him, like Carol, like me, right?

I was too adrift to really listen when the doctor told me something had been knocked loose in my brain. The impact, caused by John’s negligence, left me permanently blind. He got a couple of points on his license and a suspended sentence. Be a good boy, don’t do it again, and let’s all move on. And they did, at least they seemed to. Their wedding replaced mine, which gave Carol, the woman who’d been my best friend since nursery school, lots of excuses as to why she couldn’t come see me very often. She still hasn’t been to my new place, all tricked out with bells and whistles – literally – to help me around my new world of constant night. Now she won’t get the chance.

I can hear them now, trooping up the drive. They’re all crunching to a halt on the gravel outside the marquee for photos. They practised yesterday and I was able to hear where they all stood. I can hear her talking to him and that’s all I need to line up my shot, thanks to Dad’s expert tuition all those years ago. If I’m fast, I can get them both before anyone realises what’s going on, but she’s first. Why? He may have been the idiot who drove the car, but she’s the one who decided marrying him was more important than supporting her best friend of 30 years. I’m still a maid who believes in honour.

Domestic Trouble


“You’ll regret it”
Janice had decided on a clear-out. As usual, when she got going, she couldn’t stop. After an hour she’d already filled two black bags, one for recycling the other for the dump. The strange voice brought her up from her crouch next to the drawers under the bed. It was a very strange voice, sort of muffled and – she knew how ridiculous her thought was but couldn’t deny it – oddly rustling. The bedroom revealed no serial killer with a hatchet and Scream mask.

Janice returned to her task, drawing forth a threadbare woollen jumper which went straight into a new bag which would also head to the dump. The jumper was followed by a designer skirt she’d bought to ‘inspire’ her to lose weight. Like all her schemes, it had failed and she’d never worn it. She was about to open a fourth bag, one designated for recycling, when the voice sounded again and she shot to her feet, clutching the skirt to her chest like some half-assed shield.
“What a waste of money.”
“Who’s there?”
“It’s me; down here, fool.”

Janice lowered her gaze but could only see a lumpy black bin liner filled with her discards. She shrieked and just about levitated backward onto the bed when the bag spoke again, a mouth forming in one of the crumples.
“You know what’s going to happen, right?”
There was a pause which left Janice uncertain of her next move. The thing clearly wanted a response but she didn’t see the point in nodding as it had no visible eyes. She shunted further back on the bed and squeaked a ‘No?’
“You’ll regret all of it. You always do. How many of my brothers and sisters have you filled over the years? How many times have you gone haring down the back steps in an attempt to catch the bin men to retrieve it all? How many times have you sat on that very bed and cried yourself stupid because you threw out some beloved object?”

The thing kept berating her, but Janice suddenly decided she wasn’t going to let some lump of black plastic call her a fool. She inched off the bed, tiptoed to the window, opened it as wide as it would go and then screwed up her courage. In one mad rush she grabbed the bag by the tie and managed a passable hammer throw out the window and into the alley below. She could still hear it banging on down there as she hurled the other bags after it – on the premise that where there is one there will be more – and slammed the window shut.

In the ensuing peace, Janice decided she’d leave the rest of her clothes for another time and headed to the kitchen for a reviving, fortifying snack. She was sure a tub of half-eaten double chocolate fudge sundae ice cream lurked in the bottom draw of the freezer. Her son, Bobby, liked to arrange the magnetic letters on the fridge and freezer, but she was pretty sure he wasn’t responsible for the latest missive:
“You’ll regret it”
“No I damn well won’t!”

Janice was pretty sure she would start screaming if the fridge spoke to her. She ran across the room, scrambled the message on the freezer, yanked open the door, retrieved the ice cream and retreated to the kitchen table, grabbing the spoon from Bobby’s unwashed breakfast bowl on the way. Shovelling ice cream to the point of an ice pick in the head, she watched the scrambled letter reform:
‘Bang goes another diet huh?’
She ignored it, although her eyes were drawn to the whirling letters.
‘What’s a couple of stone between friends, huh?”
Janice shovelled and tried not to think.
‘Don’t wanna talk to me, fatso?”

Janice hurled the bowl at the freezer, screamed and ran from the house. Hurtling down the street a car called after her:
“You’ll regret it”
Feeling a sharp stone cut into her bare sole, Janice gritted her teeth, squashed her regret at forgetting shoes and turned left to avoid the lamp-post which told her:
“You’re too fat to run that fast”
A bike told her she’d give herself black eyes, running without a support bra. A mail box jeered at her sweat streaked face, red as a beetroot, calling her ugly. A fire hydrant laughed when she tripped over a dog on a lead and sprawled in the gutter, calling her Calamity Kate. In tears and beyond reason, Janice fled into the hospital car park and was promptly hit by a responding ambulance.

Later, when all that could be done had been, David, her husband stood at the bedside, gently stroking his wife’s cold hand as the doctor murmured gentle explanations, and sympathies.
“There was little we could do I’m afraid.”
“Did she suffer?”
“She was conscious for a few brief moments, but no, she did not seem aware. She was rather incoherent, shrieking about talking fridges and garbage. Probably due to the large amounts of illegal drugs in her system. Was she an habitual drug user?”
“If she was, she hid it well.”

David allowed tears to well, rolling fatly down his cheeks and the doctor withdrew with more sympathies and promises of talking later. David flicked open his phone, texted.
‘All done. Meet me at home.’
He allowed himself a small, self-satisifed smile, fingering the small back of illegal substances in his pocket and left for home, where his mistress would be waiting for him, under guise of nanny for a while, but not too long; after all, Bobby would need a new mummy, a prettier, younger model.

As close to the ridiculous prompt as I was willing to go *grin* I also wanted to leave you with this, one of the most compelling reasons to never have any inanimate object given a voice!

Oops, wrong case


Billy frowned, irritated when the doorbell chimed. He hit ‘save’ and hurried to open the door. He loathed being interrupted mid-write, but Maisie was shopping for a dinner party later and the kids were at school. He opened the door, grouchy and unprepared when the young man standing on his porch held up a cd and grinned.
“I think we need to have a chat, Mr Jessop.”
“I don’t have time for this. I’m busy”
Billy made to shut the door, but a sneakered foot jammed it and the kid continued.
“Writing a new novel, Mr Jessop? I did enjoy the last one. Topped the New York bestsellers list for eight week straight, right? I understand it even better now I know where you get your inspiration. “

The cd was waved again and Billy felt the first fingers of uneasy tickle his spine. Maybe it was just another crazy fan of his serial killer novels, or maybe it was something more. Reluctantly he let the kid in and directed him to the lounge.
“What is it you want? Signed stuff? I can do that. An exclusive for your college newspaper? Shoot me some questions. I just want you gone.”
The kid dumped himself onto a sofa, his grin broader, tapping the cd against his knee forcing Billy to keep taking furtive glances at it.
“Like you wanted Janice Miles gone?”

Billy lost all his air, the name a punch to his gut. He dropped into an armchair, mouthing words which were only silence.
“Or Peter Harding? Or Ella Mecchin? How about Don Grace? A writer lost for words? There’s novel.”
He chuckled at his own jokes whilst Billy finally found some calm.
“What do you know, and how?”
The kid spun the cd on his finger, well aware of Billy’s intense interest.

“Remember those cd’s you sold on Nusic Magpie?” Billy nodded but he figured he knew what was coming. It certainly explained why the searches of his files and office had turned up empty, “Oughta take more care, Mr Jessop. Guess you put the cd in the wrong case. Made for interesting reading when I put it in my laptop. I was expecting Disturbed; instead I got the practice notes of a serial killer.”
“It’s not what it looks like. It’s just research.”

“Allow me to quote, if you will indulge me. It was so riveting I committed it all to memory:

‘Janice Miles, November 3rd, 2000 – Stabbed in the gut. Lots of screaming so remember to muffle her. Took a long time to bleed out; have Garrett use a tarp. Bled all over the boot. Decided to cut loses. Dumped car in Greebecker Quarry, body still in boot. Used brick to hold down pedal. Need to write details before I forget.

I’ll spare you that part, although I’m pretty sure they’re all still in your head. Or we could chat about Don Grace. Let me see;

Don Grace, November 3rd 2013 – Slashed femoral, so much blood spray. Removed internal organs and skin. Made a butterfly by draping his skin over his arms. Perfect for Garret’s style. Wondering if I should change dump site soon. Four bodies is a lot for one drowned quarry. Need to get home and start writing.’

Who’d a thunk it, huh? Garret Marconi, a serial killer beloved by millions in four smash-hit novels, gets his inspiration from the dry runs undertaken by his creator. Or maybe you are Garrett, huh, Billy? Same day every year. Is that a habit now? Or is it significant?”

Billy rose and began to pace, his exterior cowed, fretful, what the kid wanted to see.
“It’s my birthday.”
“Strange presents you choose there, Billy. So, what’s this cd worth to you, Mr Writer? What is silence worth?”
“Name your price.”
“I’m not a greedy man by nature, so how about a million a year, for the rest of my life?”
“Done. I’ll write you a cheque.”

The kid was out of his league, he just didn’t know it yet. Billy crossed to the ornate desk which held all his papers and his cheque book. He reached into the drawer, took out a beautiful platinum fountain pen, a gift from Maisie on the publication of his first Garret Marconi novel, and crossed back. He sat in the chair opposite the kid, making much of writing the cheque. He signed it with a flourish, made a tearing motion and arrowed the pen, nib first, across the intervening space. It pierced the kid’s right eye. As he started to scream, Billy shot across the room, shoved the pen deeper and held it until the kid quit convulsing.

By the time Maisie came back there was no sign of the visit, and she was delighted, if somewhat surprised, by all the housework Billy had done. The place was immaculate.
“You are a sweetheart! I know how much you need to get started on the novel. Thank you honey.”
“Yeah, I have the latest idea though, so it can wait a day. No trouble. I built the bonfire too; contacted one of my friends at the university and scared up an old skeleton from their science department. Kids’ll love when it shows up under the clothes.”
“The kids will love you. They do adore Bonfire Night, and what’s the 5th of November without a guy?”
They chuckled, admiring the guy perched atop the massive stack of wood. Behind the old clothes and the V mask, blood dripped gently into the wood, and an occasional ray from the setting sun made one hand glint, the one holding a scratched and ruined cd.

(Never trust a writer *chuckle*)

The Paintbrush


A story that has been handed down through the generations *wink*

“Just one story, please?”
Belinda was a soft touch and her kids knew it. She smiled ruefully, settled in the centre of the double bed shared by the twins and tucked one under each arm.
“So, what shall the story be about?”
“Monsters!” yelled Amy.
“A painter.” Laura smiled.
Belinda snuggled deeper under the blankets and nodded thoughtfully.
“Do you know, I have just the thing. My mother told me this story when I was about your age, and her mother told her. It’s been in the family for many years, and do you know the best thing about it?” She paused and the children shook their heads, staring with wide eyes, “It’s all true!”

‘A long time ago, when there were still kings who rode to war on valiant chargers, queens who were wooed by wandering minstrels, and princesses being awoken with magical kisses, there lived a handsome knight. His name was Alexander, and he was the king’s favourite. Every bard in the land, every minstrel, sang songs and told tales of Sir Alexander DeLacey, the strongest, bravest, smartest knight ever to have served a king.

Now, one day, whilst travelling the lands on quests for the king, Alexander happened to stay overnight at the home of a lowly baron whose family had long since fallen out of favour with the king over some trifling remark, forgotten by all. The baron had a daughter who was fair and slender, graceful and clever, and Alexander fell in love with her instantly. Being a very chivalrous knight, he went to the baron and asked for the girl’s hand which was readily given as the father saw an easy way to get back into the king’s good books.

Alexander had a lot more business to fulfill and could not marry the girl on the spot as it was not the thing to take a bride on perilous quests in those times. Alexander wished to have the girl’s image with him at all times so he searched the village until he found a competent painter. The artist was asked to paint a perfect miniature of the girl and given twenty-four hours to complete it. The poor artist, terrified of losing the favour of the king’s favourite, painted image after image but none were quite perfect. He was ready to despair when there came a knock at the door.

Answering it, the artist found a slim parcel on his step. It bore only his name, and he had no idea who had left it, though he looked up and down the silent street for any sign of the messenger. Puzzled, he returned inside and picked up a knife to cut the string. Tired, his hand slipped and he pierced his thumb along with the string. As the plain brown paper fell open he sucked his thumb and stared at the bare black box that was revealed. Curious now, and glad to be distracted from his impossible commission, he flicked open the box lid and find himself gazing open the most beautiful brush he had ever seen. It was as black as midnight with the purest of white bristles, and the instant he held it between his fingers it felt like it had been there all his life.

“Surely, with such a perfect brush I shall paint a superior image?” he told the canvas before him and began to paint. He became so enthralled in the stunning picture he was creating that he did not notice the tiny trickle of blood running down the brush and filtering through the bristles. Finally, exhausted and with fingers painfully cramped, he stepped back and admired the perfect image of the girl which Alexander could not fail to love. The painter collapsed into his chair and slept instantly, never hearing the faint laughter which echoed around the still room.

Alexander was indeed delighted with the painting and paid the artist twice what he had promised. Wherever he went, the knight showed off the image of his beautiful fiancée and people began to flock to the door of the painter, all wanting one of those perfect images, of a daughter, a son, a mother, a husband. As the painter grew rich from his commissions, though he never again painted anything so flawless, time passed and Alexander returned to marry his beautiful lady. Upon a chance encounter in the street, he was blocked by a woman huddled under a shawl, hunched of back and stumbling of step. Anxious to see his beloved, Alexander gently moved the woman from his path with an apology, but her words stayed him.
“Sir Knight, do you not know me?”
The woman pushed back her shawl and Alexander was struck dumb; for here was his betrothed, the one whose image he had kept beside his heart through all the long months, but she was wizened, wasted to a thread, bent of back and lame.
“What ails you, woman?”

She could only shake her head and weep, for she had no answers to give. Alexander was true to his word, marrying the girl as he had promised, but theirs was a sad union, for Alexander could not bear to see her, remembering what she had been, constantly reminded by the painted image. He was never unkind, and she lacked for nothing; nothing but his love. As time passed, Alexander’s sadness infected all corners of his life. He was no longer the brightest, bravest favourite of the king. He was surpassed, sent ever further afield on pointless quests, ever more dangerous battles, until he was finally slain by a stray arrow, an ignoble death for one who had touched the stars.

As knights kept vigil about his casket, his wife, heavily veiled and walking with a cane though yet a young maid of less than twenty summers, wept silently in her chambers for she had loved him with all her heart. Whilst preparing for sleep she noticed a slip of parchment slide under her door. Wincing as she bent to pick it up, she heard fleet steps receding, but she took too long to open the latches and peer put. The passage was empty. She moved to the single candle, unrolled the scroll and read slowly, for her sight was fading as fast as her health.
Come to the kitchen gate. I have something for you.

Haltingly, the girl made her painful way through the castle, down the servant’s stairs and out of the kitchen, pausing some way from the gate, nervous on seeing a shadow detach from the gate post and drift closer.
“Fear not, girl. You served your purpose and I bear you no ill will. More, I wish to release you from the thrall you are under. Retrieve your portrait from the breast of your husband and take it to the painter in your home village. Ask him to paint you anew, as you are now, but be sure he paints you only with the black brush he used back then. Burn both images under the full moon and you will be who you once were.”
“Why should I do this? My husband is dead. My life is done.”

“Learn from me this night, child” The shadow threw back its deep hood revealing a beautiful woman with hair the colour of glowing embers and eyes as blue as a summer sky, but the secrets she spilled were as black as her heart, “I once loved your husband, and he I, but he left me. I was not good enough to grace his arm at court for I was but a milkmaid. Not one word did I hear from or of him, but that which came from bards and minstrels singing his praises, but I knew him for what he was, a man only willing to share his love with one of status, even you, the daughter of a forgotten baron, even you eclipsed me.

I had studied long and hard for the moment he fell, and it was I who gifted the painter his brush with which to paint you. Every bristle was soaked in my hatred. He painted you, but my magic drew your vitality, passed it to me. I met him, a final time, when he was desperate for love. I came to him the night before his final battle and he did not know me, but we had that night, and he professed his love for me in his drunken leching. Again he was gone when light came, but I followed him to that battle field and it was I who loosed that arrow.

My revenge is done, and you are free. Think again before you fall for a knight in shining armour, girl; they are never what they seem.”

With that she drew up her hood and vanished into the night. The girl, no longer able to look upon the face of the man she had loved and trusted, hoped to win back over time, whispered to a knight who, sorry for the poor widow, brought her the painting from the casket. She fled into the night, racing for home, for the painter. She followed the instructions, and was indeed returned to her normal self, as radiant a beauty as the world had ever seen. The painter eventually asked for her hand and she gave it willingly, for she had learned her lesson well, but one night, when her husband lay sleeping, she gathered up the paint brush, placed it in its box , removed a brick from inside the chimney and hid it there for she wished never to be reminded of the past.’

There was an audible sigh as the children relaxed, Laura almost asleep, already drifting into her fantasies and dreams, but Amy bounced up and started jumping on the bed.
“It’s not true is it? It’s just a silly fairy story!”
For answer, Belinda rose, crossed the room to the chimney, withdrew a loose brick and pulled out a plain black box, opened it, and displayed the elegant paintbrush inside. Observing the wide-eyed stares of both girls, Belinda smiled:
“I told you the story had been in the family a long time.”

Samhain in Green Lake


This is not the story I intended to tell, but this is what came out when I set fingers to keyboard… so you’re stuck with it as I don’t have time to write another today *chuckle* I’m really hoping WP have a Halloween prompt today so I can connect it!

‘The evening was damp, but at least the rain had stopped. As darkness drew down the streets gradually lit a soft orange with hundreds of jack-o-lanterns and strings of lights which bobbed in the light breeze, throwing dancing shadows across lawns and sidewalks. Skeletons dangled from trees and capered on porches. Houses sported new names on artfully decrepit wooden signs claiming they were ‘Haunted’, that one should ‘Beware the vampire’ or run from the ghostly inhabitants. Candles burned in windows and strange figures could be seen moving within, dwellers preparing to be not quite so human for one night only.

At full dark the streets began to fill. From every house poured pint-sized witches, zombies, ghosts, vampires, devils, ghouls, all sprinkled with the occasional ballet dancer, fairy and beloved book character. The still air began to fill with laughter, shrieks, the patter of hurrying feet and the age-old cry; ‘Trick or Treat!’ Containers of every size, from chubby hands to bucket-sized pumpkin tubs, started to fill with every imaginable sweet treat, brightly coloured papers beginning to collect in little drifts up against cart wheels and tree roots as tiny demons could resist no longer.

When every house had been visited and all the spoils compared, the supernatural horde faded back into the houses. Inside, where spider webs bedecked every surface, witches flew from ceilings and sparkling orange streamers climbed the bannisters, celebrations continued, loud and sugar-fuelled. Spooky games were played, in turn giving way to a scary story, told in a circle before the hearth whilst tucking into foods which had acquired horrific names for the night. Finally, as a full moon cleared the clouds and flooded the streets with its eerie clarity, tired mortals shed their fae guises, slipping between covers, half thrilled, half uneasy at the prospect of Samhain dreams.

The adults followed but not before each had left a cake and a cup of milk on the doorstep, their eyes clouding for a moment as they remembered loved ones.

When all was still a low fog began to arise at the end of each street. It curled slowly around fences and gates, creeping up to porches. It glowed, faint shapes roiling within the sickly yellow of its smoke. A tang of earth and rot, unpleasant and cloying, followed in the wake of the fog, tainted every house for a long moment before passing on. Milk curdled in lovingly placed cups and cakes crumbled or grew unnatural moulds in an instant. It slithered its way, tendrils searching, questing, with an urgency no mere fog could have.

Twice that night the fog found doors with no cake, no milk, no protection. At the first it slipped a long strand through a partially open window. It coiled round bannisters seeking the upper floors. It slid under a door, up a bedpost, along a smooth counterpane and around the neck of the husband, tightening, constricting, squeezing with power drawn from dark, ancient magic. The soul made no sound as it was strangled from its vessel. For a single moment it hovered in the air, a pale facsimile of the body in the bed, then it was drawn into the fog, taken from the house to roll eternally in the fetid shadows.

At the second house the fog slithered through a splintered plank, sneaking into a back bedroom. An old mother lay on a cot. Some sense of preservation, some second sight brought her upright, eyes blinking blindly in the gloom, aware she was in danger but not knowing from what. The fog feared no mortal, instantly drawing itself together, taking on the form of a demon which bore no skin, blood sliding over exposed organs, a black heart beating an ever speeding rhythm which was picked up by that of the old woman, even as she gasped for air to summon aid. Her heart raced, galloped, screamed, burst and she fell back on the cot, her soul submerged before she could comprehend her end.

The fog oozed out into the street, eager to find more prey, but it had taken too long. At every door where soul gifts had been left a soft light enveloped the house. Within that light moved an infinite number of shining white souls, a protection his corruption could not defeat, the love of one mortal for another, eternal and unbreakable. Families protected by family, always. The demon assumed his natural form once more, his soul collection locked deep within his black heart whilst he raced along the streets, searching for those with no protection.

He found one, speeding up to the door and instantly recoiling in pain as the glow of protection solidified around the home. Not possible! And who was this? What mortal dared stare at him so brazenly, without fear? Her voice drifted to him through the glow which he could not contemplate for it brought searing pain to his eyes.

‘This village is protected by one who knows you, demon. One who understands the old ways and has brought protection. One who has taught strength in love and care for even the greatest outcast here. The love friends and community. You will have no more of my souls, foul creature. Leave!’

The demon screamed in frustration, whirling about and streaming out of the village. As he passed the last tree he blasted it with a boiling steam and it exploded instantly, filling the air with a million sharp shards, but the protection held and he was seen no more.’

Grandmother Ida sat back and smiled at her captive audience. She leaned to her right and patted the blasted, blackened stump which still marked the very edge of the village.
“This remains to serve as a constant reminder of those days and that wise woman who saved the village from the torments of a demon. But one can never be too careful, so remind your parents to put out the cakes and milk tonight.”
The children streamed away, pockets filled with Ida’s famous toffee cakes, and she rose, her back cricked from long sitting. As she stretched she kept an eye on the smoke drifting across the road and spoke softly;
“I still know you, demon.”
The smoke dissipated and Ida went to join the village around the bonfire to hear other stories.

Twas a dark and stormy night


Ok, I admit straight away, these are just a bit of silly fun because I latched onto the whole idea of three things, and when I saw ‘dark night’ all I could think of was this!

I do love me some Snoopy *grin* Anyway, here are my trio of extremely silly ‘horror’ stories on the theme of dark night, fridge and tears.

Dark Night

It was a dark and stormy night. From the shadows behind the fridge came a figure. Crying tears of pure terror, the girl backed away…
Sadly for the flatmate who decided to play a Halloween prank, the girl advanced with a frying pan and hospitalised him.


It sat on the abandoned lot. Just a fridge, broken, rusting, but sometimes, on dark nights, it was known to shed blood tears.


It was so old-fashioned, a doll that cried ‘real’ tears. The girl had tossed it in the corner to be ignored in favour of her iPod. Until that dark night when she got up to go to the fridge for a drink and the doll came at her with a knife.

Red Nails


This is in response to prompts here and here and this picture:

There are some days you just shouldn’t get up. I ought to have known when I read my horoscope. ‘October 1st – Aries – Expect the unexpected. A friend may surprise you.’ Oh did he ever. Let me take you back to the beginning of the month:

Marty and I decided to go out for a drink that night. He’d been dumped by his latest floozy and we were both pretty plastered by the time we tumbled out of the bar at one in the morning. Staggering down the high street we paused outside the picture window of our local store. They’d clearly spent quite a bit of time dressing it for Halloween as it was replete with glowing pumpkins, draped cobwebs, a witch at her cauldron and a vampire appeared to lurk behind a crooked gravestone, blood glistening on one protruding fang.

Marty leaned against me. I thought nothing of it as we were both beyond standing upright without help, but when his arm snaked about my waist I turned to push him off, but his lips were on mine and we were suddenly making out like a couple of horny teens. Giggling, he grabbed my hand and dragged me round the back of the store. It had been more than a few years since I’d had a quickie in a back alley and, despite the fumbling, the unsteady jostling and the reek of spirits surrounding us in our personal cloud of lust, it had proved to be an exhilarating experience; probably not how I’d look at it come the morning, but hey, you only live once.

Straightening ourselves up, Marty produced a bottle of JD from his jacket pocket and we wandered further into the back alley, passing the bottle back and forth between random gropes and sloppy kissing. I still don’t know what possessed us, but we spotted an arm sticking out of a dumpster. Marty boosted me up and, despite the chances I would cripple myself in unimaginable places, I yanked it free. I guess the store had disposed of an unwanted mannequin. Laughing, we raced back to the high street, me holding the stiff fingers with their fire engine red nails, Marty holding the shoulder end. We managed a drunken ring-o-rosie on the roundabout, stumbled across the now deserted main road and fetched up against the gates to the cemetery; at which point Marty had his idea.

Ten minutes later we were hiccuping laughter, standing over a fresh grave. I vaguely remember slurring something about disrespect and being silenced by Marty’s kiss. In a flash he was kneeling by the newly turned earth, scooping a deep hollow whilst I had a disconnected conversation with the back of his head and the arm; I don’t remember what I said, but I know the tone sure as heck wasn’t respectful. He reached up, snatched the arm from my loose grip and stuffed it into the hole. By the time he’d shuffled the earth back in and tromped around on it for a bit the effect was actually pretty amusing; a corpse struggling to break free of the grave. Marty took a shot on his cell phone and we wobbled into the night, chuckling.

Flash forward to now, three weeks later. Marty and I haven’t actually seen each other since that night, but I wish I hadn’t read the paper today. It was just a few lines buried on page five;

‘Local man found murdered.
Police are continuing enquiries into the strange death of local engineer, Marty Hartman who was found in Highstone Cemetery early Tuesday morning. Although police are releasing no details of the crime and have given no clue as to suspects, the cemetery attendant spoke to our reporter to say that the body was found buried in a newly filled grave with one arm sticking up through the soil ‘…as if he’d tried to dig his way out.’

I know I have to do this but I don’t want to. I’m going to the cemetery. I have to see if it was the same grave we desecrated. I know how foolish this sounds, that most people will think I’ve lost my marbles, but I have this feeling; I think the occupant was more than a little unhappy about our prank. I don’t know how I know this, how I can be so sure about something so unlikely, but I do know one thing… Ever since that night something has been following me.

I’ve never seen it clearly, only shadows, but that shape has three arms. Laugh all you like, but I know what I’ve seen when I walk home from work, when I’m alone in the house and look into the garden. It’s out there, watching me, like it probably watched Marty. Something cold, angry and focussed, waiting for its chance. I know it’s stupid to go there, but if this thing killed Marty I’m next and I won’t go down without a fight. You see, there’s one other thing. Lying in bed I can hear scratching, usually on the window glass, sometimes along the bricks or the wooden sill. I bury myself under the duvet and wear earplugs these days, but I can’t deny what I see in the mornings, every morning, no matter how often I clean it away; scratches made by nails, nails painted fire engine red.

Taken from the Herald newspaper:
‘Local woman found murdered and buried in Highstone cemetery. Police say the scene is an exact replica of a previous murder, that of Marty Hartman. Rumours of a serial killer are beginning to circulate in the community although officers will not be drawn on the issue saying only that their investigations continue.’

Statement of Silas Verger, taken by Constable Perkins:
I saw her, that dead girl, wandering around the cemetery with a flashlight. Asked her what she was doing and she said she was researching for a newspaper story. What with the murder and all that, I left her alone. Next thing I hear this scream, a great ripping noise and then nothing. I reckon I got turned around in the dark, cos I couldn’t see anything, or find where I’d seen that girl. I got outta there fast because of the scratching. Huh? Yeah, scratching, like nails against wood. Seemed to be coming from everywhere at once. What with concentrating on the noise I reckon that’s why I didn’t notice the mannequin arm stuck in the trash can til the next morning, the one with the red nails, like blood they were.