Category Archives: Short Stories

My story section

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.”

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.

Mirror Mirror


Late again! I promise to do better tomorrow, but for now, here’s my effort for this prompt.

Kathy walked through the front door, dropped the keys on the hall table and stopped abruptly, staring around in complete confusion. When Caitlin had asked Kathy to house sit for a couple of days she’d been only too happy to help. Caitlin was a good friend and they’d been on life’s rollercoaster for a few years now, but this beggared belief. Caitlin’s house was an exact duplicate of Kathy’s.

Walking from the hall to the lounge, Kathy felt dislocated, moments of déjà vu jostling against open-mouthed shock. Everything, down to the coffee cup which announced ‘Geek girl’ stuck to the morning’s newspaper on the sofa arm, echoed Kathy’s home perfectly. She paused by the fireplace, staring absently into the large mirror above, trying to get her head together. Some kind of joke? An elaborate prank? A trick? It sure as hell wasn’t April Fool’s, but the increasing discomfort Kathy was experiencing certainly leant itself to the date, All Hallow’s Eve.

She gazed at the reflected room, feeling a random urge to reach out, to touch the glass. Maybe it would waver and blur, proving she was still at home, in bed, asleep and dreaming. Actually, it was the perfect spot for some of that one way glass they always used in cop shows. Suddenly convinced that was exactly what she was seeing, Kathy reached up and hammered against the glass.

“I hope that’s screwing your viewing!” she yelled, overcome with anger, but the glass didn’t waver, did not blur or shatter; it held her hands. Kathy tried to pull them away but she was stuck fast and worse, her hands were visibly sinking through the surface of the mirror. She screamed for help, all the while yanking and twisting her arms, but they were now wrist deep in the mirror room. Abruptly she felt her feet leave the floor, a sharp solid pull dragging her through to her shoulders. It brought her face to face with herself; Kathy screamed louder and Kathy smiled, winked and pulled. Kathy heard a hollow, rasping whisper as their heads passed through each other;
Demons love Halloween, mortal. I chose a trick.

Kathy gazed out from the mirror into her home. No, Caitlin’s home, now itself, no more a replica. The other Kathy had waved brightly, shed her Kathy guise, turning into a creature of dark aspect with flaming eyes and tattered black wings, then risen gently up and through the ceiling as readily as smoke. What it had been Kathy could not know and she did not care. What occupied her every thought was how to get out of the mirror. The other Kathy had done it, surely she could too? She sank against the far wall, nursing sore, bleeding hands, battered from her failed attempts to break free, and considered.

She lost track of time for the mirror world showed no sign of day or night and the room beyond remained static, unchanging. No-one came, Caitlin did not return, and Kathy spent most of her time in a semi-sleep, planning, scheming and dreaming impossibly complex ideas for freedom. At some point she rose, crossed to the mirror and peered out becoming instantly animated, hammering on the glass once more. The room beyond was being packed up, boxes and removal men were everywhere. What was going on? Why was Caitlin moving out? Why hadn’t anybody looked for her, missed her? How long had passed?

A figure moved into view and came to study the mirror with one of the movers. Caitlin! Her friend stood, hands hard into the small of her back, belly swollen hugely with late pregnancy. Caitlin hadn’t even been seeing anyone when Kathy had entered the house! She fought to read their lips, managed to make out the words ‘…too big’ and ‘…charity shop’ and then she was lifted from the wall, wrapped in a blanket and bundled into the back of a moving van. Some time later – in the absolute dark, with no reference points, it could have been hours or years – the mirror was bumped around, unwrapped and studied by a man Kathy knew! He owned the curios shop on the high street. Kathy tried to get his attention, but he didn’t seem to see, handing over some cash to the moving man and then dumping the mirror in the back of the store.

Kathy watched helplessly, knowing time was passing, never knowing how much, her world fading as dust and grime covered the mirror, forgotten. The shop changed hands; that much she knew from her brief glimpses of a new face occasionally passing by the tiny space she had left to view her shrinking world. Stuck behind a piled of unwanted watercolours and a large pile of mouldering books, she had no way to tell day from night. She was alone, drifting, untethered from the world. When the last light faded under a cloud of grey dust, Kathy’s world went dark and she curled up in the emptiness and closed her eyes.

When the mirror was moved she took no notice, comatose in her tormented mind, filled with visions of demons laughing at her. Only when a cloth wiped back and forth, flooding her world with light which made her shrink back against the receding shadows, did she realise the mirror was no longer in the shop. Shortly after the cleaning job, the mirror was hung on a wall. To Kathy’s mingled horror and joy, it hung opposite a wall clock with a digital calendar counting away in the dial. October 31st 2034. Twenty years since she’d been hauled into the mirror! She had to get out.

That evening, when the young couple threw a Halloween party to celebrate their new home Kathy watched and waited. Her mind roiled, no longer a lucid thing, but something of flame and madness, dark of aspect. Escape, that was her only purpose. She shrieked with delight when a foolish mortal by the name of Annie decided to test that old chestnut about Bloody Mary. Annie faced the mirror and the mirror echoed her perfectly. With a trace of fear in her eyes, Annie spoke the charm, touching her face in the mirror with a chuckle when nothing happened.

Her hand was grasped hard, encased in flame, pulled and yanked and drawn, through and through, her screams alerting the guests, but it was too late. The demon rocketed into the room, screamed at such a pitch it burst the young husband’s ear drum, shot looks of seething hatred at the guests with flaming red eyes and sped out of the open window into the night. Of Annie there was no sign.

Later, when the police had gone, the guests dispersed, a dark shadow detached itself from the corner of the room. The demon smiled, stroking the ornate mirror frame fondly. It had been one of his better jests, a real Halloween trick, and it still continued to create fresh demons for him, a thousand years on.

On This Harvest Moon


A little romantic dreaminess as an antidote to all the bad things I’ve written about lately *grin* I don’t do romantic very often, so I hope it passes muster! To accompany it, my favourite Neil Young song, which seemed more than appropriate!

Della sat in the wing-backed chair by the hearth. The flames sent shadows springing across the yellowing whitewash of the walls, bringing it to life in orange splashes. She picked idly at the threads coming loose on the worn arms, her thoughts wandering to other Harvest days, finding it easy to settle on one.

She’d been a maid still, bright of eye and flaxen-haired, a prize to be captured and how the local boys had tried. She had rebuffed them all, feeling in her bones that there was more for her than a farmhouse, lines of laundry and a tribe of snot-nosed howling babes. She’d worked her way, by hard effort and a little help from her Aunt Cassandra, into the post of Lady’s Maid at the big house, dedicating herself to perfect service, and becoming both indispensable and a confident of Lady Imogen, daughter of the house.

Her days were always full, from first light and seeing the fire was made up, clothes laid out and bath water drawn, through dressing, combing, discussing future plans, seeing to Imogen’s special diet – for she’d been a weak soul, ever given to vapours and humours – to the last round of tidying, tucking in and glass of tonic to strengthen the lady’s blood. Dizzy Della, the other maids called her, for she was never still, always chasing down one chore or another, but Della didn’t mind. She preferred being busy, and she knew the harder she worked the more chance she had of being given the nursery position when Imogen inevitably married and had babes she wouldn’t be strong enough, or inclined, to care for.

On the day of that Harvest, the one which shone forever in her fading mind, Della was busier than usual. The big house always threw an enormous ball to celebrate the end of Reaping; two in fact, one for the lords and ladies, the other for the workers. On the morning, Sheila, the housekeeper, was laid out with fever. Lady Imogen, desperate and with no mother to guide her, thrust Della forward, telling the staff to follow her orders.
“I can’t, Della, it’s too much for me. You do it; you know everything.”

With which Imogen had taken to her bed for the rest of the day. Thankful that she had kept on extremely good terms with all the staff – though never mingling, of course – Della had been able to co-opt the aid of Jameson, his lordship’s butler, Minnie, the head cook and Sally-Ann who ran the lower echelons of the maids. Together they’d managed to set up the ballroom, see to the menus and have everything ready before the evening’s festivities began. In transports of relief, whilst Della fussed her into layers of silks and taffetas, pinned her hair and draped it with a net of glittering crystals, and helped her find her be-feathered fan, Imogen had gifted a delicate pearl-drop necklace to her maid in thanks before scurrying off to see which marriageable prospects were attending.

Exhausted, but feeling ever more secure in her future placement, Della had slipped the necklace around her neck, and turned her steps towards the great kitchen where the secondary celebration would be in full swing. Suddenly too worn to face the frivolity, the drunken letching and inevitable unwelcome hands in every dance, she turned left, slipped behind a hanging which depicted a forest hunt and then through the concealed door behind. It circled her around three times and then sprung her out onto a narrow balcony high above the ballroom. Once it had served as a minstrels gallery, but his lordship had built a raised stage at the far end of the ballroom on which to display his hand-picked musicians – a group he retained for his personal use alone; unheard of anywhere in the surrounding area – and now the slender space was reserved for whirling dust bunnies and the occasional music of breezes racing one end to the other.

Della stepped carefully over abandoned music stands and melted candles, propping herself against the far wall, seated on the bannister, where she could look down on the whirling, glittering swirls of people below. She spotted Imogen simpering at the son of a neighbouring earl and shook her head. The girl had little taste and the boy was known across three counties as a roué of the worst kind; it was said he had at least twenty bastards at the tender age of nineteen. Perhaps Imogen knew and thought him suitable as a breeder. Who knew the workings of genteel minds?

Della dreamily watched the dancers come and go, ebbing and flowing across the highly polished marble floor, dresses cutting through the sparkling shadows and light-wells caused by the profusion of torches and candelabra. She spotted jewels of just about every stone known to woman, smiled gently at the nouveau riche vulgarly displaying, the old rich studiously ignoring them, and the young people who cared not a jot, dancing with any pretty face, or handsome one. The players struck up a slow waltz and Della rose, closing her eyes and turning slowly, her long skirts leaving circles and arcs in the years of dust, letting the music take her down to the ballroom where she danced with one so handsome she could barely look at him. She could feel his arms about her, so firm, so…

Della’s eyes flew open, and she stared straight into the cornflower blue gaze of Lord Robert, Imogen’s younger brother. He smiled, straightened his hold and continued to waltz her along the tiny balcony. For once in her life she was dumbstruck. She couldn’t scream and ruin the ball below, not that he had done anything to warrant screaming, if she was honest.
“You dance beautifully, Della, so very light.”
“Thank you, my lord, but…” she glanced over the railing, “should you not be below?”
“Why on earth would I want to be down there? They haven’t got a brain to share between them, and if I have to watch Imogen fawning over that hideous boy any longer I may well be sick to my stomach. I’d much rather dance in the dust with Della.”

His eyes twinkled and she giggled despite herself. The music changed up, faster and Robert tried to move them with it, but the confined space was too much. He stopped, held her at arms length and took on a serious look;
“Do you trust me, Della?”
“Not one inch, my lord.”
“Good girl. This way!”
They fled down the stairs, sprinted through the house, dodged the lackeys outside the ballroom doors and vanished into the gardens. The windows to the ballroom stood open and they could hear the music pouring forth as they scuttled into the rose garden, bathed in pale yellow light by a vast harvest moon. They drew to a stop, Robert taking her in his arms once more, and she could find no will to resist. She knew all the stories of foolish maids who got into trouble with young masters, but her bones were talking and they were telling her this wasn’t about that.

They danced and danced, fast, slow, laughing without care, pressed close, melting into each other, whirling and skipping, leaping and spinning until the music stopped and the sound of coaches approaching could be heard from the front drive. They stopped, face to face, grinning idiotically, then he leaned close. She held her breath.
“May I?” he whispered and she smiled her assent. The kiss had been a chaste thing, light and fleeting, but it burned into their hearts with all the fire of love. They knew he had to go, that she had to return to his sister, and Della thought it might be all there ever was as she waved him away, but the memory had never faded.

He’d been called away the next morning, hadn’t returned for five years, some crisis she never really understood in a land she’d never heard of, but she’d kept that Harvest night close and let it bolster her through the years of Imogen’s marriage and the first of her weak-chinned, sickly children. Until one Harvest evening when she’d sat high above the ball in the minstrel’s gallery. She’d known, almost before he’d stepped into the dust and held out his hand, flying into his arms, letting him spirit her away to this far-flung island with the mine he’d been saving for his father all those years. A father who’d disowned him when he’d married Della, but who’d had the heart to gift him the mine. It had kept them well enough, but they could have been poorer than church mice and still been blissful.

She heard the latch lift, stirring aching bones to rise to her feet. That had been fifty years ago, but he was still beautiful and she went readily to him when he set the needle to the record, wound he gramophone and held out his hand, their footsteps tracing arcs and whirls in the sands blown through the open door.

From the other side


Here’s my ten minute write. A little early Samhain (Halloween) flash fiction accompanied by my favourite cartoon dog in all the world!

Oh that sun feels good, but time is passing. The rain will come soon and I don’t like sitting on damp earth. Ah, I know that rumble; here comes the man, time to be packed.

Ah, I feel like I belong now. I wonder what the label says. I hope I’m a popular brand this year.

The ride here was pretty bruising, all of us jostling around together in the truck, but I like it here. Lots of us all on display and waiting to be chosen. The kids will grab us all, given the chance, but the mums are picky; after all, they need us to be perfect and beautiful and durable.

I liked being picked, and the ride here. It’s very quiet at night. I sort of miss the rustle of my neighbours, the creaks and snaps as we matured, but this is sort of peaceful too; the calm before the big day.

It’s in the air, excitement. The children are running around talking about candy every minute, who will get the most, which houses will trick and which treat.

I must admit, this is not what I expected. Having your insides scooped out and large chunks of flesh chipped away isn’t all that pleasant, but now I have a lovely warm glow inside from this candle. Sitting here, in front of the house, I can see and hear the children running from house to house, shrieking at scares and laughing, bags filled with candy dangling from ghosts, monsters, vampires, witches, ghouls and every imaginable fright.

It was cold out here overnight. I wonder what happens now. Maybe I’ll be taken in for the table. That would be nice. I would have liked to see the children counting their candy, but being inside would be an improvement on being investigated by cats and deluged by dogs.

Hmm, placed on top of this large bin, I can see a lot more of the street. There seems to be a lot of activity coming up the road. Men running back and forth, shouting to each other. What are they doing with those bins, the ones like mine? Oh, they’re coming here. A new adventure!

A Suitable Case


I took care of three prompts in one today, including 3 WW and a photo prompt! I did a prompt very recently which was about an imaginary friend (Black-eyed Soul) so I went with the idea of having a second ‘you’ to fit in with the prompt as best I could.

Hannah let the train motion lull her, staring into the middle distance whilst her brain raced. She was faintly aware of the overpowering aftershave from the guy on her left and the constant clicks and blips from phones on all sides, but her thoughts were circling around the news from the doctor. She’d gone to the clinic under protest, her stance defensive at the least suggestion that their problems stemmed from her uncooperative womb. The barrage of tests had felt invasive, the onslaught of questions more so. Returning today, after a week of tension and barely controlled fear, she’d been prepared for anything but those bald words which had taken away her last hope.

“I’m sorry to have to tell you, Mrs Cooper, but there is no hope of you conceiving.”

Not ‘You aren’t very fertile’ or ‘There is very little chance’; just a single word, just two letters, no.

The train rocked unsteadily around a bend, throwing her against the man on her right as he started yammering into his phone, apparently unaware that he was talking at max volume. She had an irritable urge to elbow him in the ribs, but she knew he had three more stops to go – they usually travelled the same route every day, returning from work – and she didn’t need the hassle. Her thoughts circled back to where they had begun; how was she going to tell Trevor? He wanted kids so much and she could never provide them. Maybe he’d want a divorce? Perhaps he’d want her to carry his child made from another woman’s egg, a child that would be in no part hers, or theirs.

The train jerked into the station, Hannah only realising she had been absent through the intervening stops when her fellow passenger rose and kneed her hip. She followed him, stubbing her toe on the huge suitcase of a man she hadn’t noticed before, his case blocking most of the aisle. Stepping onto the platform she returned to her fuddled haze, unaware of suitcase guy stepping in behind her. Her heels clacked rhythmically over the iron bridge, down the stairs and rattled out of the station, drowning the low rumble of luggage wheels close behind.
Hannah had reached the stage of wondering if she should simply offer Trevor a divorce and have done with it all rather than appear needy when she entered the pedestrian tunnel under the bypass. At any other time of day it was heaving with people scurrying to and from the apartment blocks to the offices, but at mid-afternoon it was empty, echoingly silent. It was then she finally noticed the constant rumble at her heels, glancing over her shoulder, surprised to see suitcase guy so close. She began to speed up.

Jason watched Mrs Cooper elongate her stride, hoping to lose him and decided he couldn’t wait any longer. He’d received word on the train, muttering his acknowledgment into the receiver in his glasses. He always felt a little sad for these women, even though he dealt with at least one infertility case each day. He drew the hypo from his pocket, set the case down and sprinted, efficiently pressing the needle into Mrs Cooper’s neck and depressing the plunger. He caught her as she crumpled, scanning back and forth, aware someone could enter the tunnel at any moment.

He leaned her against the wall by the suitcase and unzipped it quickly. The second Mrs Cooper tumbled out, inert, no more than a puppet. He propped her against the wall, stuffed the original into the suitcase and zipped it quickly, the dangerous part over. If anyone came through now he could readily claim to be helping the lady who had passed out. He slipped a second hypodermic from his jacket, injected the new, and extremely fertile, Mrs Cooper with the formula which brought her to life and helped her to her feet. For a second she was blank, then her programmed memories kicked in and she smiled thanking him for his help before heading home to Trevor.

Trevor Cooper who had contacted ‘Second Life’, Jason’s employers, and asked that they grow a clone of his wife, a clone capable of reproduction. Since the mutated flu epidemic of 2125, when so many millions had been wiped out, the need to repopulate had been deemed urgent, leading directly to the birth of Second Life. At birth, every woman had cells taken and stored. When needed, for whatever reason there was infertility, a clone was grown and replaced seamlessly, by men like Jason.

He turned now, wheeling the comatose ex-Mrs Cooper to the station, ready to face the hardest part of his work. She was to be returned to Second Life and turned over to the research department, a new guinea pig for the scientist experimenting to find all the causes of infertility .