The Tunnels

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The sound of dripping water greeted the paranormal team and their guests as they all descended into the darkness of the tunnels. Spots of light from their torches showed the deep stone steps, hand carved walls and Victorian brick arched roofs. An icy cold that would long afterwards keep their bones chilled made itself felt as they reached the first open chamber.

Harper, bundled in her winter gear, tried not to shiver and focused her torch light on the artifices which sat on ledges around the room. All the items had been found down here, lost by the men who had dug The Williamson Tunnels for seemingly no reason other then to earn a wage.

She looked at the nearest display of white and green glass bottles, pill boxes, cracked plates, pipes, and china cups. It was as if the men had actually lived down here. Perhaps, they had? The two volunteer guides with the group had said that not much was known about the history of the tunnels which ran underneath most of Liverpool.

‘There are some chairs in the next room. We shall sit down there for a bit and see what we pick up,’ Earl the leader of the paranormal team spoke.

The group moved off and Harper trailed behind, feeling unsure about being down here. It had seemed like a fun idea when she had stumbled across this ‘ghost hunting’ event online and decided to book tickets for herself, fiance, Andy, and her parents, Luke and Louise. Now, she was thinking it had been a mistake.

There were seventeen chairs set out along a narrow passageway; eight chairs on one side, eight on the other and one chair at the end. Behind which the brickwork had been removed to expose a large dark hole. The group filled the seats and Harper tried to remember all the people.

There was Earl who took the ‘head seat,’ he seemed to be in his early sixties, he had white hair and a short beard. The woman medium, Margo, with short brown hair and black leather pants. A male medium whom Harper couldn’t remember his name. Dale who had long brown hair, was the photographer and Rose, the last member of the paranormal team, who was using a recorder to catch ghost voices. 

Then came the ‘guests,’ people who had brought tickets to this event. Beside from Harper and her family, there were eight others. A man who had come by himself though he had claimed he was meant to be meeting friends here but guessed they had pulled out.

A married couple in their mid-forties who had spoken little but hung on to every word the mediums had spoken. Three twenty-something girls and two men who were clearly from Liverpool and seemed more like they were on a night out then down in some dirty tunnels but they were taking things seriously.

Everyone settled into the grey plastic chairs and started turning their torches off. Harper was one of the last. Total pitch darkness filled the tunnels. Harper reached to her right for Andy’s hand. She felt his warm skin and reassuring squeeze of fingers.

Harper couldn’t remember ever experiencing a black colour like what was around her now. She was blind to everything and all her other senses had become heightened to superhero like levels. She could hear her breathing, loud in her ears as well as the sound of water dripping somewhere into a puddle.

‘Are there any spirits here?’ Earl’s voice rang out.

His words faded and everyone stayed still and silent listening for anything that could be taken for a reply.

‘Make a noise if you are here,’ Earl spoke, ‘we are not here to harm you. We come in love and peace, we just want to know if you are down here or not. Please let us know by joining us. Touch someone. Use your voice and tell us your name, please.’

Drip, drop, drip went the water, the only sound to be heard.

Someone shifted and there was a rustling of clothes. Someone else moved their feet as the photographer began clicking a few photos.

Harper sniffed and smelt something odd in the air, ‘what’s burning?’ she whispered.

‘What’s that?’ Earl called down to her.

‘I smell smoke,’ Harper repeated.

‘Does anyone else?’

‘I’m picking up tobacco,’ Margo the medium replied.

‘No, this is wood burning,’ Harper explained.

There was a mumble of no one else smelling anything then the group fell silent once more.

Harper turned her head about feeling her neck began to ache. She couldn’t really see anything but her eyes had gotten use to the darkness and she could pick out a few shapes. She stopped moving and guessed that she was looking back through the archway to the passage and into the chamber they had entered by. Behind that was a small space with a metal ladder leading upwards to an emergency exit.

A shadow seemed to be moving there. It was going back and forth, like it was ducking in and out, not wanting to be seen by anyone but wanting to look at the group.

It’s a trick of the light, Harper thought, wait, what light? There is none… 

‘Can anyone else see that moving shadow?’ one of the Liverpool girls whispered.

‘Over there by that ladder?’ someone else added.

A few people agreed.

Harper bite her lip but kept quiet. The feeling that they weren’t alone climbed up her.

‘If that’s you over there, please come and join us,’ Earl shouted.

‘I’m picking up on the name William,’ the male medium cut in.

‘William? Let us know you are here, William!’

‘Was that footsteps?’ a man’s voice questioned.

‘Could have been,’ Earl muttered.

The shadow was still bobbing but that was no longer Harper’s focus. There was something else standing in the middle of the first chamber. Harper felt dread and a sense of evil. Her grip tightened on Andy’s hand and desperately she tried not to cry out what she was now seeing.

Earl and the mediums took it in turn to speak, asking the spirits to do things and saying what they were picking up on.

Finally, Harper couldn’t take it anymore and burst out with, ‘there’s something evil down here!’

Everyone stopped then the male medium spoke to her, ‘what is it?’

‘It’s got long arms, it’s dragging itself across the floor and it’s got a like skull head,’ Harper answered.

‘Where is it?’ her mum’s voice whispered.

‘It’s all around us. It’s not human.’

‘Does it have a name?’  Margo asked.

‘What does it want?’ Earl demand at the same time.

‘It’s watching us. It wants you to get angry, that’s what it feeds off. It wants to trick us and keep us down here….It won’t tell me it’s name. It’s not human…’ Harper trailed off.

‘I can get angry,’ Earl shouted, ‘come at me! Come and get us! Show me that you are here!’

Harper shivered and couldn’t take her eyes of the long white arms and skull head of the creature in the chamber. She knew it was real and not her imagination.

‘It’s okay,’ Andy muttered beside her, ‘it can’t get you.’

‘I know. My spirit guide is defending me,’ Harper replied confidently, ‘I don’t know about the rest of you.’

‘Can anyone feel that cold blast of air?’ someone cried out.

‘Here? Yes I can,’ Margo replied, ‘let yourself be known to us.’

There was a sound that sounded like tin scraping rock. The dripping of water paused, the continuous rhythm broken for a few seconds before the next drop fell.

‘The lady that can see this thing,’ Earl’s voice spoke, ‘what’s it doing now?’

Harper took a deep breath and answered, ‘nothing. It’s just watching us.’

‘I don’t like it,’ a woman’s voice uttered, ‘can we leave?’

‘In a few minutes,’ Earl responded, ‘who would like to sit in my chair against the hole?’

No one spoke up.

Earl turned on his torch and stood up. The light broke Harper’s concentration on the creature and she turned to look the other way. Earl was walking then stopping in front of one of the Liverpool girls.

‘I knew you were going to pick me,’ she said.

She got up and went to sit on Earl’s chair. He took her’s and once they were settled he turned out his torch.

Harper turned back to the chamber but the evil thing with long arms and skull head was gone.

‘It feels so cold here,’ the girl uttered.

‘The evil thing comes from that hole,’ Margo spoke, ‘other people have felt the evil down here. No one has described it before though.’

‘Well, I wished she hadn’t told us about!’

‘And this is why I don’t open my mouth about such things,’ Harper whispered but everyone still heard her.

Andy squeezed her hand and Harper hoped he wasn’t thinking anything bad about her. She imagined the break up conversation going something like; ‘you can see ghosts. You didn’t tell me that. I don’t want anything to do with you anymore, that’s too much to handle.’   

Harper shut her eyes and tried not to think about anything. Coming to this event had been a mistake and now she had seen a demon! What if it followed her home? She didn’t want an attachment.

‘Right, let’s move to the lower levels now,’ Earl spoke.

The group moved and went down into the belly of the tunnels. They saw and heard nothing else which Harper was grateful for.

As the clock hands moved to one AM, they walked back up the stone steps and left the tunnels.

Harper breathed the cold, wet air deeply. Puddles on the road glowed in the streetlamps and lights from windows. Voices and music drifted around, reminding them of life going on.

‘Did you really see something?’ Andy asked in a low voice.

They were standing away from everyone else, near a bench with a remembrance plaque on it.

‘Would you think any different of me if I did?’ Harper spoke.

‘No,’ Andy replied, ‘I love you no matter what.’

‘Then I did see that creature.’

Andy nodded and drew Harper into a hug.

‘Everyone accounted for? Good. Let’s go back. The ghost hunt is now over,’ Earl called out over the chattering of the group.

People set off heading back to their cars. Harper walked holding hands with Andy, too tried to talk about her experience anymore.

 

(Note; this story is based on a real experience I had on Sunday 27th October between 12am and 1am in the Paddington section of the Williamson Tunnels in Liverpool. I took my family on a ‘ghost hunt night,’ we and some other people were with a paranormal group seeing if we could pick up on any ghost activity within two different tunnel sections. 

I have always been a sensitive -someone who can sense ghosts- but I don’t like to talk about it. I’m weird all ready and can do without adding to it! Sometimes though, things like this just happen to me and I know it was real and not my imagination. 

To me this is a piece of non-fiction but make of it what you will. I’m not asking anyone to believe me or try to disapprove what happened to me. I just wanted to share my experience in story form with you all.     

For further information or maybe a visit to the tunnels yourself, check out their website; http://www.williamsontunnels.co.uk/)

Love Don’t Bother (Part 4)

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Trying not to over think as the train whizzed me away and rain pelted the windows, I set my thoughts on my work and the week ahead. For some reason, though I couldn’t get the image of Darcy, Amelia, Alex and Luke sat on the sofa eating Chinese food. My cruel mind put words in their mouth and I hear Alex say, ‘good job she’s not here or she would have eaten all the food already!’

Darcy chines in with, ‘You know she’s addicted to prawn crackers. I saw her eat two whole bags once!’

‘Hey, there’ll be left overs for lunch tomorrow!’ Amelia points out.

Then maybe, Luke might tell them to stop being mean to me. Alex will laugh and say, ‘it’s fine, she’s not here, she won’t care!’

I shake my head and swallow a lump in my throat. I try to convince myself that they would never have that kind of conversation about me, but as the train pulls into the station it’s too deeply planted in my head.

I get off the train and hurry through the ticket gate, which I almost get stuck in. Without looking back, I go to the automatic doors and step outside in the rain. I wipe my face and sweep my hair back, enjoying the cold air on my skin. The crowd is crazy, but everyone gives me a wide berth and though no one is staring at me, I know they all see me. How can they miss me? The giant wearing blanket size clothes.

‘Marcy? Marcy?’

I turn at my name and see Ben coming through the doors. He looks smart in black trousers and a pale blue shirt. He’s unbuttoned the first few buttons and I can see a v shape of his chest. His large stomach hangs low, strapped in by a black belt. He’s dark brown hair is neatly cut short and his face looks tried and concerned.

‘Hi,’ I say softly.

‘Are you okay? Did you have a panic attack on the train again?’ he asks.

I shake my head. He reaches out and takes my hand. His fingers are warm and soft.

‘Let’s go and eat. You’ll feel better.’

I nod and let him led me off into the city.

The bad weather hasn’t stopped people – mostly the students, from a night out. The bars, pubs and clubs already seem busy. We weave through everyone and the streets, passing a Superlambanana statue on the way. They are a new icon of Liverpool; with the body of a sheep and tail of a lamb covered in brightly coloured paint. I feel drawn to stop and look, but Ben tugs me on.

We reach my favourite restaurant and Ben opens the door. The smell of burgers and fried onions hangs in the air. We take the second window booth in the small sixties America themed room. The long counter is directly to my left and it stretches all the way to the back where the toilets are. On the other side of it is a row of plastic red chairs and matching tables as well as two more read leather booths at the end.

The walls are covered with all sorts of memorabilia and Americana. Most of its sixties rock ‘n’ roll, with framed records and photos. A red electric guitar hangs a meter or so above my head. The sign claiming it belonged to some rock singer I’ve never heard of. It always reminds me of Back To The Future.

Feeling soaked, I take off my jacket and grab a menu. It feels slightly sticky in my hands, but I turn the pages anyway. I scan the words, but don’t really take them in, my thoughts have switch to wondering why I’m here. Of course, to have a date with Ben, but was it actually worth it? Maybe my time would have been better spent studying some more and stuffing my face full of Chinese food.

‘You look nice,’ Ben says suddenly.

I glance over and thank him.

A waiter appears and politely takes our drinks order, a strawberry milkshake for me and a vanilla one for Ben.

Then Ben reaches over and takes my hands in his. He rubs my knuckles and watches the movement.

‘Thank God you text me when you did,’ I speak out, ‘I sort of forgot we were meeting tonight. I was busy studying.’

‘Glad I did then and you study too much!’ Ben responses.

I shrug, ‘a PhD is a lot of work.’

‘And what will you do when it’s done next year?’

‘Stay at the uni, hopefully.’

I trail off and look outside at the rain and the city lights. I can just about hear people laughing and talking. Ben is staring at me, I can feel it, waiting for me to go on, but I don’t want to talk. My mood feels like the weather; depressed and gloomy. Ben is still stroking my hands.

‘I really like you, Marcy,’ he says.

I snap back to him, ‘what? We’ve only met twice now…’

‘So?’ he presses and smiles at me.

I press my lips together and smile back, I can’t help it. He’s cute with his baby chubby cheeks and long black eye lashes. There’s something infections about his orange slice smile and laughing eyes.

The waiter returns and we are forced to break hands as the drinks are placed down.

‘Ready to order food?’ he asks.

‘I’ll have a chicken burger, please’ I say.

Ben ponders, glances at the menu then, ‘can I have the bbq chicken pizza?’

‘Of course, thank you,’ the waiter speaks and turns away.

I watch him go and place the order in even though the chef is right behind him. Looking further up, I notice the last booth next to the toilets is occupied. Two young teenage looking boys are staring at me and I can make out a third too, but all I can see is his sticking up hair. The boys look away and carry on with what they are doing.

A wave of nerves wiggles in my stomach and I turn back to the window. I just know they are talking about me…

‘Marcy? Are you feeling okay?’ Ben asks, he’s been sipping his milkshake.

‘Sure,’ I mutter and take a drink of mine, though I wish it was alcohol.

‘Look, I know that was a bit sudden, but you said we had to be honest about everything with each other. So I was just being,’ Ben explains.

I stir the straw in the thick shake, wrestling with myself over what to say.

Ben leans back, his hands pressing down the table top, ‘it’s fine if you don’t like me…I really thought you did though…’

‘I do! It’s just that…’ I take a deep breath, ‘I’m worried you only want one thing…’

His lips twitch and form an O as he makes that sound.

I shrug, ‘why else would you want to date me? I’m not pretty and I have all these issues.’

‘You’re completely wrong. You are very pretty and your issues are not all of you,’ Ben cries.

‘Really?’ I look up through my eye lashes, trying to judge his words.

‘Yes. And of course that’s the ultimate goal, but I’m happy to wait and right now I’m just enjoying your company,’ Ben adds.

I smile, feeling the nerves being overtaking with tingles of delight.

‘A chicken burger and a pizza?’

We both look up and let go of each other’s hands. The waiter places the food down, tells us to enjoy and leaves.

‘Do you really mean that?’ I ask.

Ben nods and unfolds his napkin, ‘wouldn’t say it if I didn’t.’

‘Good.’

I pick up my cutlery and spear a chip. Putting it in my mouth, I watch Ben chopping on a slice of pizza and I just feel things are going to work out between us.

Love Don’t Bother (Part 3)

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I watch the high street from the kitchen window whilst I eat toast and drink a cup of chi tea. It’s raining steadily now and making a nice sound falling off the roof tops and guttering. Market stalls are being set up in two rows either side of the main walk way. The clattering and banging noise they are making is so loud it could wake the dead. Plastic sheets of clear, white and other colours drape over the tops of the stalls, creating another surface for the rain to make music on.

Nothing stirs in the house expect for me and my small noises which the living room clock seems to echo with. I wonder what the girls and the boyfriends are up to? Maybe some soft snuggling and kisses? Perhaps morning sex? I think though they are all in a drunk coma of sleep right now. The idea of sex lingers in my mind and before I can recall the last time I had morning sex, I shove the thought away.

I unlatch and open the window. Chilly, wet autumn air drifts lazy into the stuffy kitchen. The wind plays with the netting and the curtains, before I fix it all back and out of the way. I look clearly outside. I can hear people calling to each other and the grumbling of van engines. The rain bounces of umbrellas and coats as the first buyers appear and begin shopping.

I watch an old woman, who must be about ninety years old picking over fruit and veg. Her cloth shopping trolley resting up beside her and rain drops dripping off the bright yellow rain coat she has on. She hands over tomatoes and bananas alongside some money, then tucking the brown paper bags into her trolley, hobbles away.

The stall holder shouts, ‘get your fresh fruit and veg here!’

I finish my toast then my tea and tidy up. Going back to the window after, I close it and decided that a walk around the market would make me feel better. I go back to my room and select some clothes; jeans and long sleeved top. I dig out my wellington boots and a red rain coat. Feeling ready to face the weather, I put my phone, keys and purse in my pockets before I leave. Lastly, I collect my umbrella from beside the wardrobe and check I have everything.

Going down all the stairs, I try to be as quiet as possible, but it’s so hard when the stairs are like hundred years old and I’m 26 stone or there abouts. I don’t really know, it’s been a few months since I last felt interested enough to find out how overweight I actually was. I make it to the front door and am just about to unlock it when I hear another door creak open.

‘That you, Marcy?’ Amelia’s bell of a voice calls softly.

‘Yes,’ I say, turning my head.

Her head is sticking out of her bedroom doorway. Her dark blonde hair with layers of black looks messy and her cheeks are really pink. Her fingers curl around the edge of the door, holding it in place. I suddenly wonder if she’s wearing any clothes.

‘Are you going out? Can you get some bacon, eggs and bread, please? I forgot yesterday,’ Amelia asks.

I nod, ‘sure.’

‘Also, can I send you the first draft of my essay to look over?’ she adds

‘I guess….’

‘Thanks. Give me a knock when you get back.’

She goes to close the door and I hear Luke’s muffled voice say something. She replies then turns back to me.

‘Anything else?’ I ask, just knowing there’s going to be more.

‘Sausages too,’ she answers.

I frown a little as I realise my walk has become a shopping trip.

‘I’ll give you some money later,’ Amelia says, ‘okay?’

‘Fine,’ I say and open the door.

Cold wind blows in, stronger than it did from the kitchen window before and splatters me with a few large water drops. Amelia’s door closes loudly. I head out, holding up my hood as I go down the cobblestone alleyway and out onto the street. Wandering around the stalls, I decided to get the food on the way back. Nothing peaks my interested though. It’s all the same stuff they sell every Saturday and due to the rain there’s a few stalls missing.

I get the food and go home. Dumping everything in the kitchen I knock on Amelia’s door. There’s no answer. Going back into the kitchen I take my wellies and coat off. I put away the food and make myself a lunch to take upstairs. Gathering everything, I go to my room and spend the rest of the day working.

At some point, I hear the shower going and people moving. The smell of cooking food creeps under my door and I hear happy sounding voices in the kitchen. I ignore it all and carry on reading my books, internet pages and making notes.

My phone pinging a message finally brings me out of my studying. Looking around, I get up and go to the bedside table. Picking my phone up, I see it is a text from Ben. We’d met for the first time last week and had tea together after talking on a dating website for most of summer. He’d been working in Scotland and so we hadn’t been able to meet up until then.  Opening the message, I read;

Hi, meant to talk to you earlier but work was mad! On my way to Liverpool now. Might be a bit late though, should get in for 5.30pm. See you at the train station.

We have a date tonight!

Looking at the clock I see it’s half past four, which means I have no time! I text back a quick line then rush over to my wardrobe. What am I going to wear? I pull out a black soft top with a dragon on it, realise I wore it last time and put it back again. After a few panicky minutes, I get a knee length blue skirt, a matching blue top with a butterflies on it and some black leggings.

Abandoning everything, I have a fast shower, throw the clothes on and sort out a shoulder bag to take with me. Is it still raining outside? I go to the darkening window and look out. The sky is a dull grey and though there are rain drops on the glass, it doesn’t look like its raining. I put my suede ankle boots on and grab a light hooded jacket.

Opening the bottom draw of the bedside table, I find my bag of makeup and go into the bathroom. Voices drift after me, but I don’t listen. Selecting blue eyeshade and liner, I put them on then a bit of strawberry lip balm. The mirror reflects my rushed face, I pause and wonder what I’m doing. How does Ben find me attractive? Maybe he’s just saying that to be nice? But then why a second date? Unless he just wants to sleep with me and was lying about that?

I growl, clutch the sink and will my over-thinking away. Pulling myself together, I brush my teeth and hair then go back into my bedroom. Collecting my bag and umbrella I turn off my computer and my light before going downstairs.

A voice from the living room calls out to me as soon as I reach the bottom. Darcy appears in the doorway wearing pjs which look like they’ve been shrunk in the wash. The shorts she has on barely cover her and the matching top only comes down to her waist. Her small high boobs can just be made out under her long straight blonde hair. I stare at her flat light brown stomach, wondering how she got that.

‘Marcy?’

‘Yes,’ I snap to.

‘We are getting Chinese takeout and watching movies. Want to join us?’ Darcy asks.

‘I can’t. I have a date,’ I gush.

‘What with? The library?’ Alex’s voice shouts from the sofa.

‘Alex!’ Darcy scolds as she glances over her shoulder at him.

‘No. A man,’ I reply coldly.

‘Oh okay….the same guy from last week?’ Darcy questions, dropping her voice.

I nod, ‘I should go. Bye.’

Turning, I go downstairs and to the door. I ignore Alex’s voice as he yells something, so he’s words are lost, whatever it was I don’t need to hear it. I open the door, step out into the drizzle and hurry to the train station.

 

To Be Continued…

The Train Station (Part 2)

Train Station

Bridget watched the hurrying people with interest and was reminded of the sea. People come in and out of the barriers alongside the trains coming in and out of the station. The noise of footsteps, voices, suitcase and pram wheels become one solid background sound that competed with the rattle of train wheels and rumbling of engines. Above it all, came the PA lady’s voice, shouting the arriving, departing and delays on the trains.

Sipping her latte, Bridget dug her other hand into her bag and pulled out a small notebook. Setting that on the now dry table, she reached back in for a pen and spent a few moments locating one. Pulling out a heavy sliver fountain pen, Bridget slid her eyes over to the table beside her.

The middle-age couple had fallen back into silence with the man looking at his phone and the woman now stealing glances at Bridget. Their eyes met once more and this time the woman turned away and drew out her own phone.

Bridget turned her back to them and flipped open the notebook. She turned to the next blank page, her fancy handwriting on the previous pages not catching her eyes enough to make her stop. Picking up her pen and taking the lid off, Bridget wrote the date at the right top corner of the page just like high school had drilled into her for five years. Then in the middle of that line she wrote; Observations At Victoria Train Station, Manchester, 2: 21pm.

From her mind’s eye, she then wrote a detailed description of the couple sitting next to her. After, she recorded that snatch of conversation she had heard. Looking down at what she had written, she tried not to read it back, but to let it go from her mind. Rising her head and tucking a strand of her long med-brown coloured fringe back, Bridget stared at the barriers and watched the flow of people come to a slow stop.

Two men wearing yellow high visibility vests patrolled the area. They were checking tickets that gates would not let through and opening the wide gate for those with prams, suitcases and wheelchairs. Further to the left side and now more visible, another group of people wearing the same yellow vests stood behind a desk. They seemed to be in charge of getting passengers just off trains to pay for their tickets if they had not been able to before. Bridget had missed them in the crowd of the lunch-time rush. The station crew did not held her gaze for long though.

The tinkling of piano brought her head around and to the train time board. Just underneath the forever changing place names and times was a large black upright piano. It had been painted with that special blackboard paint, allowing chalk writing and images to cover the surface.

Bridget had clocked it before when she had been heading to the coffee shop. Even though she could not see it now, she remembered that purple letters had shouted out play on me! Then they had been something about the piano being given free by the Manchester School of Music for public use.

Taking a few big drinks of her now cooling latte, Bridget listened to the sad musical notes ringing out. She did not recognize the song. Though if it was classic, she would have no idea anyway, beside from the few famous ones that get played all the time. On the other hand if it was a pop song or a love ballad, she would not have known that either.

Placing her half empty cup down, she picked up her pen and decided to note down the idea of a pianist who could only play sad music. Maybe his lover has died and he can no longer face the world.  The door of his Paris flat has been locked for many years and he’s now slowly dying as he creates the most saddest music man had ever known.

Bridget trailed off the idea. That was not her normally story writing subject. The song on the piano ended and though it had been good, nobody clapped. Normal sounds filled the train station once more. The female announcer broken in with, ‘the two-twenty-three Liverpool Lime Street train which was previously delayed, is now arriving at platform three. This service will be stopping at; Liverpool Lime Street only. Please keep your luggage with you at all times.’

The couple hurriedly finished their drinks and got up. Bridget watched them from underneath her hair as they gathered their belongings.

‘Finally!’ the man spoke out, ‘stupid trains, never on time.’

The woman shook her head and looked like she was going to say something back. Thinking better of it, she followed the man out of the coffee shop seating area and towards the barriers. Bridget saw her give a quick glance over her shoulder.

Was she checking if I was following her or if she’d left something behind? Bridget wondered.

Frowning, Bridget watched them feeding their tickets into the gate and going though. Dropping her shoulders and wishing she could have learnt more from that snatch of conversation the couple had had, she let her eyes drift across the station. There was still a large number of people standing about or walking. A few had gathered under the train time table board and were looking up at it. Other people standing still were clearly waiting for people. Bridget spotted someone coming towards her.

He was a tall guy, six foot two at lest and he had long black hair tied back off his face. He had a bushy beard too and a very round fat face. He was a huge young man with a belly hardly held in by the belt of his jeans. He was wearing a black heavy metal band t-shirt and was looking down at his phone as if the thing was alive.

Bridget picked up her pen and began writing again. Another part of her mind drifted off into thinking about who he was waiting for. A family member? An old friend? Maybe he might be going on a first date with someone he met online?

Bridget raised her head and looked at him. She could see the handsomeness in him, the almost American biker style look or perhaps Viking warrior. His arm muscles looked strong under his t-shirt despite his overweight body. Suddenly the man looked up, but not at her at the gates were a woman was coming through. She had ginger hair, fair skin with a splattering of brown freckles and small features. She was wearing a blue vest top, leather jacket and long blue skirt. She was also just carrying a handbag on one shoulder.

She came over, looking happy if a little tried and hugged the huge man. She had to stand on tiptoes and her arms barely went around his bulging neck. She seemed to become lost against him as they embraced tightly. Then, they kissed and hand in hand walked away.

Bridget watched them go, her mind reeling then took to her notebook once more. Just as she started writing someone began playing the piano. It was a different person this time. Bridget rose her head as the first notes become caught up in a man singing- badly. She tried to see who was seated at the piano, but it was not possible from the angle she was at. Getting back to writing, she tried block out the off key and slightly squeaky rendition of a current love song.

She hurriedly wrote down what she could remember about the young man and his girlfriend. Setting her pen down, she finished her coffee and thought about leaving. The man on the piano was making a terrible sound with his voice and yet his playing was not so bad. It also seemed like he had attracted a small group of people, but Bridget knew they were actually looking at the train time table.

She packed her stuff away, zipped up her bag and stood up. Tugging it on as she walked away, Bridget avoided a small running toddler whose mother was yelling in Polish for him to come back. She side stepped and carried on walking as the pianist finished his song and launched into another one.

She saw him for the first time, a short Asian man with close cut black hair, wearing jeans and a green polo shirt. There was a large gold watch on his wrist, which didn’t seem to be slowing him from playing. Bridget almost stopped, the notes sounding very familiar. Then the man opened his mouth and began singing the theme song from Titanic.

Bridget cringed, unable to hide it from her face and picked up her pace. She headed out of the train station the piano and terrible singing chasing after her. Stepping through the doorway, she took a few breaths of polluted city air and though she did not really want to, Bridget went home.

 

To Be Continued…

Little Black Book (Part 6)

Book, Open, Pages, Literature, Textbook, School

The train shuddered into Liverpool central station. Kimmy frowned out at the weather before they moved inside.  It was raining heavily with the sky dark and thunderous. She felt Alex easing himself up and turned to watch him stretching his legs. He then had to side step out of the way as a disgruntled older man shot him a look and tried to get passed.

‘Some people,’ Alex muttered under his breath as he sat down again.

Around them, the other travellers were collecting their things and queuing to get off the train. Voices and the clatter of objects vibrated down the carriage. Kimmy watched a group of six girls, partly dressed for a night out, began squeezing by other passengers. Their laughing and loud voices carried above the other noises.

‘Do you want that coffee? Maybe something to eat?’ Alex asked, drawing her attention back.

‘What time is it?’ Kimmy muttered and began searching for her phone.

Alex bet her to it and pulled out his, ‘it’s coming up to one.’

‘I’m meeting a friend, actually,’ she suddenly recalled.

‘Oh, okay…’ he trailed off, his face falling.

‘How long are you staying in Liverpool for?’ Kimmy cut in.

‘Till Sunday night. I’m working on some drawings for a family member.’

‘I’m here till about then too. Maybe we could meet? Shall we swap numbers?’

‘Sure.’

‘I think I left my phone in my bag,’ Kimmy pointed out.

Smiling, Alex slide out of the seat and grabbed her rucksack. Whilst she searched through it, he picked up his own bag and put it on. Finding her phone, they swapped numbers and got off the train together. Avoiding the tail end group of passengers, they walked off the platform into the station.

The rain rattled on the metal roof above them and the air was filled with train fumes, warm food, coffee and a tang of cigarette smoke wafting in as the glass doors opened. Kimmy clocked a coffee shop and was half tempted to change her mind about waiting. She heard her name being called and whipped her head back.

Two girls, standing at an advertising board were waving at her. They both had black hair, nose and ear piercings, heavy dark makeup and were wearing similar matching black clothes. To the fleeting eye they looked like twins, but up close they were completely different and easy to tell apart.

‘I have to go,’ Kimmy pointed out.

Alex nodded.

‘I’ll text you or you can text me. I’d really like that coffee and to see you again,’ she babbled.

‘Me too,’ he replied softly.

Kimmy smiled then trying not to look back at him, hurried over to her friends.

 

***

The weekend didn’t fly by as Kimmy had hoped it would. The idea of seeing Alex again hung around her neck like The One Ring. That Friday night, she had settled down on her friend’s lumpy student sofa and watched her mobile phone screen glowing in the dark. His number and name were on the screen and the empty white box below was waiting for her words.

She hadn’t been able to type or more to the point, she didn’t know what to say. Sighing, she had put the phone down and looked up at the dark ceiling. The thoughts and questions kept her up all night. Franticly, she wanted to see him again, but what if he didn’t want to? What if it had all been a spur of the moment thing? Perhaps, they’d never see each other again. Anything could happen in the space of a few days, hours or minutes.

In the morning, she felt and looked sick. Having gotten up early, put on makeup, eaten and plastered a smile on her face, her friends didn’t notice when they joined her. The day though, dragged on and she felt more on autopilot then at the wheel. Liverpool was crowned with payday shoppers fighting over the last of the reduced Christmas stock and making faces at the up and coming Valentine’s Day cards and gifts that had been slipped onto the shelves.

Kimmy lost herself in a bookshop whilst her friends where in a clothes shop next door. Her fingers scanned along the book spines before randomly pulling one out. Her thoughts were far from the words and images in front of her though. She was glad for lunch and coffee followed by a break in a small park at the back of the town hall.

After they, visited one of Kimmy’s favourite places; Quiggins. An old cinema and orchestra hall turned into a small shopping outlet for indie and alternative fashion. Looking through all the amazing gothic style dresses at the back of one of the shops, Kimmy decided she just couldn’t take it anymore and took out her phone.

She texted Alex and asked how he was.

What if he doesn’t reply? What if it’s a wrong number? What if…? She shook her fears away and put the phone back in her jean’s pocket. As her friends drift over to a Steampunk display, Kimmy heard the ping of a text message. She scrambled for her phone, causing the woman owner of the shop to look up in concern. Kimmy’s eyes darted across the screen and she took in his reply.

Am fine. At work. Can I call you tomorrow morning?

Smiling like the happiest person on Earth, she texted back yes and felt her chest swelling. When she caught up with her friends and they questioned her, she refused to tell and brushed everything off. The rest of the afternoon raced by and they ended with a night out circling the bars and clubs, drinking and dancing till they had to go home.

 

***

Kimmy felt like her head had been crushed. Rolling over and pressing her face into a pillow, she half suffocated before having to turn back again. The living room danced before her as if it had taken on the motion of a ship at sea. Her stomach rolled with it and she felt sick.

Struggling up, she bolted for the bathroom, but tripped on the stairs and had to scramble up on all fours. Bursting through the door, she threw up and couldn’t seem to stop till bile had burnt her throat raw.

She washed her mouth, brushed her teeth, showered and dressed, somehow. Getting a cup of tea and glass of water, she sat on the living room floor and pawed through her handbag. She found her phone at the bottom.

Alex had tried ringing her twice and had sent three text messages.

Moaning softly, she text back, feeling guilty, but stating they could still meet.

If he hasn’t changed his mind! The voice in her head cried.

Curling up on the sofa again, she slept off most of her hangover before her friends woke her up to go out to eat. After, she wasn’t in the mood to stay any longer, so she packed up and left. She wandered around Liverpool by herself, enjoying the cold air and old buildings.

Finally it was time.

Alex had suggested they met at a chain coffee shop in the centre. As Kimmy walked over to it, he was all ready there. His head was down and he was checking his phone. A group of people stepped in front of him, but as they went passed, he looked directly up at her.

Kimmy waved and came to his side.

‘Hi,’ he said softly.

‘Hey. I’m so sorry about this morning. I don’t normally get so drunk!’ Kimmy declared.

‘It’s fine. You had a good time?’

She nodded, ‘I did. How did the art, drawing thingy go?

Alex shrugged, ‘okay. Going to need longer though…do you want to hear about it?’

‘I don’t mind. I really need a coffee though. This hangover is still lingering.’

Laughing, Alex swung open the door for her and she stepped inside with him close behind.

Little Black Book (Part 5)

Book, Open, Pages, Literature, Textbook, School

 

Kimmy closed the notebook and tried to tuck it away. Suddenly she felt over protective of it. Fixing a hard look on her face, she shook her head slightly and felt baby loose strands of hair brushing against her forehead.

‘Maybe, I made a mistake…’ he said and rubbed his hands on his knees.

They both looked away. Him around the carriage and her the window. Kimmy manged to slip the notebook into her pocket. She steadied her breathing and played with her hair. In the reflection from the window, she watched him turn and look at her. Swallowing, she nervously twisted around. The noise of the train rumbling into a tunnel echoed loudly in their ears mixing with the similar music still coming out of their headphones. The inside lights flickered for a few seconds, before casting everything in an ugly orange shade.

‘Why did you say that?’ she asked.

‘Because I lost a notebook full of drawings like that,’ he stated.

‘Weeks ago?’ she whispered, dropping her head and peering shyly back at him.

He nodded, ‘it must have slipped out of my bag. I didn’t know till hours later. I thought…I’d never get it back…’ he shrugged, ‘I won’t…’

Kimmy touched the notebook through her pocket before pulling it out again. She handed it to him. He paused then took it from her. She watched him flip through the pages and listened to the paper zinging together. He came to a stop, glanced at her then looked down again.

‘I picked it up and I did mean to hand it in, but when I got off the train there was a storm and I guess I just forgot. I’m sorry,’ Kimmy gushed, ‘then I wasn’t going to look at it, but I couldn’t help it. I wanted to make sure it wasn’t important and try to find out who it belonged too. It’s yours isn’t it?’

‘Yes, he breathed.

Kimmy nodded and unable to take it anymore, she fixed her face to the window.

The darkness came to an end as the train blasted out of the tunnel. Rain hit the window, trailing clear beads down the glass. A mix of green and brown colours went passed like a smeared painting. The scene blurred before her and she felt tears prickling her eyes. Confused at her mixed emotions, she wiped her eyes and went to pull up her headphones.

There was a brush of warm air and fingers on her back as she moved. Kimmy glanced over her shoulder.

‘What’s your name?’ he asked softly.

‘It’s Kimmy. What’s yours?’

‘Alex. It’s nice to meet you.’

‘You too,’ Kimmy answered and let her hands fall into her lap.

Alex opened the notebook, having held a page with his fingers. He showed it to her and Kimmy saw the sketch of herself concentrating. She pulled a face which was quickly replaced with a small smile.

‘I hope you don’t mind…I couldn’t help but notice you a few times,’ he spoke.

‘It’s amazing. As are your other drawings,’ Kimmy answered.

‘Thanks. And thanks for giving this back to me. It means a lot.’

‘It’s okay.’

‘Here, you should have this…’

Kimmy grabbed Alex’s hand as he went to rip the page out.

‘How about you do a proper portrait of me instead?’

He stopped and Kimmy cursed herself.

Did I just say that? What? Why? She thought, there’s no way he’d want to even…and now he’s looking at me like I’m crazy. Great. Way to go!

‘Seriously?’ Alex asked.

‘Only if you want too…I mean….I don’t know if I can pay you and everything…’

He nodded then thoughtfully said, ‘why don’t we start with a coffee first?’

‘Yes. I’d like that,’ Kimmy replied, the growing smile lighting up her face.  

 

To Be Continued…   

Little Black Book (Part 4)

Book, Open, Pages, Literature, Textbook, School

Kimmy’s breath caught in her throat. It’s not really me, she thought. Lifting the notebook up, she inspected the drawing, her heart pounding loudly. However, there was no deigning her single plaited hair, large headphones and button nose. There was also that look of concentration on her face which she really hated because it made her look like she was pulling a funny face.

Biting her lip, she turned the page back as her IPod decided to play a Bullet For My Valentine song. There she was again! This time though her expression was distant and thoughtful as she was looking far too the right. The page slipped from her sweating fingers and her eyes unfocused for a few seconds. Lowering the notebook, she took a deep breath and turned to the window. The train was pulling into a station.

There was a movement of people and faint voices. She kept her head turned, ignoring everyone. A blast of cold air tickled her then rolled around her legs before the doors shut once more. The train shuttled off, the PA pinging on to announce the destination and stations on the way. The window view changed to outer edge city, with rows of houses, towers of apartments and storage buildings framed by a darkening sky.

Kimmy felt a tap on her shoulder.

She turned. There was a good looking man about her age standing there. He had longish black hair falling over his clean shaven face, brown eyes and a slightly desperate expression. A large pair of padded headphones was wrapped around his neck. He was wearing a long black leather jacket, heavy metal band t-shirt, black jeans with looping, dangling chains and large multi bucked boots.

Kimmy slipped one headphone off her ear.

‘I’m sorry, but there’s nowhere else to sit,’ he said.

She glanced at her backpack on the chair next to her then back to him.

‘I’ll put in the luggage rack for you,’ he added.

Nodding, Kimmy put the notebook between her legs and passed over the bag. He took it off her and slotted on the bottom shelf. He put his own next to it then sat down as she shuffled over.

‘Thanks.’

‘It’s fine,’ Kimmy muttered to her knees.

She slipped back her headphone, kept her eyes down for a few moments then picked up the notebook again. Turning away as much as she comfortably could, she opened the pages randomly. A raven glared up at her with a single beady eye. The feathers were wonderfully drawn and coloured in deep black. A string of red hung from a sharp looking beck and there was an eyeball at the raven’s clawed feet.

Over the page, another raven with its beck open in a scream sat on a skull who’s empty eye sockets stared haunting up at her.

Kimmy felt the man shifting. The back of her neck prickled as it seemed he was watching her. She glanced. He was. She stole a few more peeks and saw the look of puzzlement on his face. He also appeared to be leaning further over as if trying to see the notebook better. Kimmy thought about closing it or turning more away, but it was the growing look of recognition on his face that kept her frozen.

Finally, she slipped her headphones off and turned to him. Shock spread across his face then vanished as he turned away. He took off his own headphones then turned back to her. Kimmy closed the notebook.

‘I’m sorry. It’s just that…I think that’s mine…’ he trailed off.

 

To Be Continued…

Little Black Book (Part 3)

Book, Open, Pages, Literature, Textbook, School

Kimmy was packing her rucksack for a return weekend to Liverpool when her mind made a chain of connections whilst she was folding clothes. Stuffing a jumper into her bag, she went to the bedside drawer and found the black notebook where it had laid forgotten for two weeks. She stroked the fake worn leather and recalled how she had shoved the notebook away as her mum had launched into ranting mode.

Opening the pages, she looked at the drawings she remembered from last time. Reaching a new page, she stopped and looked at a half finished sketch of a woman’s head with amazing plaited hair. The pencil marks were so fine that induvial strands of shaded black hair could be made out. Marvelling, Kimmy turned to the next page and saw the attempts at drawing a long, medieval style dress.

A voice called her name and she looked up at her open bedroom door. Sunny was standing there, wrapping the brown ends of her tied back hair around her fingers. She was wearing a blue low cut top, a pair of old jeans and slippers. Kimmy clocked the slight puzzlement on her face as Sunny waited for a response.

‘Yeah?’

‘When are you leaving?’ Sunny asked.

Kimmy glanced at her watch and saw it was getting later then she had thought, ‘in the next few minutes. Why?’

‘I couldn’t remember,’ Sunny answered, ‘Logan just asked if I’d meet him in the pub in an hour or so.’

‘Oh, well, I just need to pack and then I’m gone,’ Kimmy explained, closing the notebook and slotted it into her rucksack.

Sunny nodded and slipped away, pulling the door to.

Hurriedly putting everything else in, Kimmy changed her clothes, putting on a pair of dark blue jeans, a long black laced up sleeves top and black boots. She called out a goodbye as she threw on her duffle coat and dimly heard Sunny’s bye. Leaving the apartment, she quickly walked to the train station and to the ticket machines. Joining the back of a queue of four people, she looked at the timetable board and sort her train. It was due in ten minutes.

Tickets got, she battled through the steady flow of people and onto the platform with a good few minutes to go. Standing in a huddled group of fellow travels, her thoughts wandered back to the notebook. She hadn’t meant to put it in her bag, but she hadn’t wanted Sunny to ask about it either. Deciding that it would give her something else to do on the train, her mind turned and she daydreamed about the person it belonged too.

Kimmy pictured a goth like herself, but with a nerdy side. Or maybe the person was all nerd? Perhaps, they just had an interest in medieval times and the drawings where not fantasy ones at all. Was the person a real artist or someone who did it as a hobby? Where they missing the notebook right now and cursing themselves for losing it?

The train pulled into the station, bring her back from a downward spiral of unanswerable questions. Kimmy watched the doors open and an influx of people trying to get off and onto the platform. She was pushed back and the teenage boy in front of her stepped on her boot tops. Shuffling out of the way and chasing down a half thought to kick the teenager in his ankle, Kimmy waited like a trapped sheep stuck with all the others.

Finally, she was able to step onto the train and find a seat. Heading towards the back of the carriage, she sat opposite a luggage rack with her bag on the seat next to her. Ignoring everyone else still looking, she got her headphones, IPod and the notebook out. The voices around her faded into loud screaming music and she got comfy.

Opening the book, she flipped the pages trying to not to look till she reached the last one. None of the drawings had been dated, but there must be clues to the owner and their travels, maybe? She reached a blank page towards the end of the notebook and had to flip back again. The last sketch appeared and she took in what shockingly seemed to a drawing of herself.

 

To Be Continued…

Little Black Book (Part 1)

Book, Open, Pages, Literature, Textbook, School

Kimmy squeezed her way on to the train just as the doors were closing. Yanking her plated rainbow coloured hair and the hood of her grey duffel coat out of the way, she glanced at the sealed doors. Catching her breath and pushing up her purple framed glasses, she felt the train moving and watched the platform sliding away.

Heading into the carriage, Kimmy looked for a double or table seat which was empty. People looked up at her then back to their screens or books. There was a low mumble of chatter as people talked to one another or their phones. At the back, she found a double spot and dumped her small rucksack down. Sliding across to the window, she looked at the darkening cityscape rumbling by.

Liverpool in all its grimy glory, she thought wearily, not that it differs much from Manchester.

The PA binged on and a rusty man’s voice began announcing the route. Kimmy rested the side of her head against the icy cold glass and shut her eyes. Something knocked against her shuffling foot. Looking down, she saw a black shape and reached a hand down to grab it. Soft worn, leather brushed against her skin and there was a rustle of paper. Balancing it in both hands, she inspected the small rectangle book. Written along the bottom in sliver ink was; If found do not open.

Staring hard, she tried to decide if the handwriting looked female or male. Her fingers sort the edge of the cover and she almost flipped it over. The words lingered in her head, causing her to wonder what was so important inside the pages that the writer had to instructed people to stay out. She pressed the book between her palms.

The train juddered into a station, bring her back. Out of the window, Kimmy saw people moving to and from, those walking away were opening umbrellas and pulling up hoods. Rain was dripping from the platform roof and beyond gathering on the wired fence. The sky was now dark grey boarding on black, threatening heavier rain, prepares even a storm.

The last passengers got on and began searching for a seat as the train started up again. Kimmy watched two businessmen sit down at a table were a young couple were holding hands across the thin plastic. They began talking loudly about a meeting they had just come from and making rude jokes.

Slotting the notebook between her legs, Kimmy unzipped her bag and pulled out her IPod and noise cancelling headphones. She put on some heavy metal and let the loud booming songs carry her away. Tugging up the notebook, she slotted it into the rucksack and without any further thought, watched the ever changing view going passed the window.

 

To Be Continued…

Beedingwood

Mick squeezed through the chained and pad locked gates as the rain turned heavy. Rise To Remain sung through the noise cancelling headphones, blocking out the vibrations of the fence. Pulling the stolen rain coat’s hood further down, he clicked on the torch. The beam of light circled on the overgrown road.

Thick branches from a dead tree lay snapped in the tall grass and weeds. The sudden image of himself and Rohan collecting them appeared. It hadn’t been raining that night and the wood had all been dry. Mick shone the torch upwards and the light darted up the trunk of the tree in question.

Aaron appeared balanced in the branches. He’d been cutting through the limbs with a small saw when Rohan and Mick had arrived. He had explained Sam and Ty- who was sort of their leader-were trying to get a fire going. Mick could dimly recall the sounds of the sawing and the dead tree snapping. Aaron had climbed down afterwards and collected an arm full of sticks before they had headed back with their loads.

He dropped the torch back to the overgrown road. There was no point in gathering the rest of the wood, it was far too wet. Hoping there might be some dry sticks still left over, Mick started on the road. The faces of his friends seemed to join him as he scrambled through the dripping foliage. Rohan with his bright red hair in a stubby ponytail, was the shortest of the group. He also had a pinkie finger missing on his left hand and was colour blind. What had he been wearing that night? It had properly been black or dark coloured like the rest of the Goth gang wore.

Aaron, trailing behind them, was the strongest and the tallest. He went to the gym and took steroids out of habit and addiction. His dyed black hair was the shortest and he spoke very little. His boots and ripped jeans had been covered in mud. Though he wouldn’t say where he’d been and it had seemed too dry for so much wet dirt.

The road went upwards and Mick followed it, banishing his friends from his mind. A few minutes later, he stopped to catch his breath and look around. He was standing at what seemed to be the top of a large hill in a field. The road headed to his right and climbed another hill. The bushes and trees stretched out on either side as far as he could see. He shook out the rain coat, which was doing a great job of stopping the rain soaking him. However, he really was starting to feel cold and wet. It couldn’t be much further now, could it?

He moved off again and System of a Down came on his IPod and through the headphones. It was hard going on the slippery grass, but under them small stones gave his boots some stability. His torch light shook across the ground and he was finding it hard to catch his breath. He stopped on the decline and forced his breathing to steady. Opening his eyes, he stared through the growing darkness and sheet rain to see the outline of a massive structure a few feet ahead of him. System started to fade and the IPod shuffled another of their songs on.

The road met a widening driveway, which was divided by another pair of gates, half hidden under ivy. One of the gates was open slightly because the hinges were broken. Mick stepped through and gazed up at the building now in his sight. Once it had been a glorious early Victorian mansion, but now it had been left to rot. The white paint covering the roman columns had peeled away. Ivy and other climbing plants had wrapped themselves around everything. A handful of ground floor windows had been boarded up and the others were either missing or broken. An eerie atmosphere hung over the place as if it was a dead body.

Forcing away his fears, Mick walked up to the front doors just as he had done a week before. His light hit an orange glob on the floor and he aimed the torch down. Sat by the right side door, a rotting pumpkin had sunken in on itself and collapsed. He recoiled at the sight and pushed against the other door. In a flash, he could see the Jack O’ Lantern grinning at him. The candle inside had been casting burning welcoming light on to his face.

The door gave way with a loud shuddering groan and Mick, hurrying inside, pushed it shut again. Iron Maiden’s Chains of Misery echoed through the headphones, filling his head with calming notes. The foul air of the house flooded his nose with each desperate breath he drew. He still couldn’t put his finger on all the different scents that rose within the thick dust. Waving the beam of light, he ordinated himself and crept into the first room to his left.

Alongside the music in his ears, he could hear Ty’s voice telling him and the others about that room. It had originally been a guest waiting room in the mansion and had stayed that way when the house had become a school and home for mentally and physically disabled children. Mick shone his torch about. There were two long sofas and a small table set before a fireplace. This was where it had all began.

He went over to the fireplace, which contained a heap of ashes and bits of burnt wood. Off to the side was a pile of sticks, logs, newspapers and a match box. Thanking his luck, Mike began to build a fire, recalling as he did so Ty and Sam building one as he and the other two had arrived. Sam had been scrunching up balls of newspaper mismatched painted finger nails. His multi-coloured hair covered his face and his glasses were sliding off his nose. Ty had been lighting candles, his leather jacket clinking with all the metal elements adoring it. His spiked up Mohawk seemed to dominate the room and his piercing purple eyes had fixed onto them as they entered.

Removing the coat, Mick also slipped the headphones off and let the last few moments of Maiden echo in the room. He struck a match and set a ball of newspaper a lit before dropping it into a circle of more paper and wood. The flames took and licked around the wood hungrily. The fire cracked and sparked, adding its own sound track to the beginnings of a Disturbed song, which Mick only half recognize.

As he feed and watched the fire, his thoughts swirled back again. He had lied to his parents and the police, telling them he was at a Halloween night out with his friends in Liverpool. He had gotten drunk and couldn’t remember much of the latter part or what his friends had been up to. Truthfully though, he knew all the details with an odd clarity.

Mick poked a long stick into the fire, stirring it up a little, which caused the fire to hiss. They had gathered here, in this place that Ty had called his second home and had been his escaped from foster parents. They had drunk straight vodka, JD, cider and Morgan’s, had talked girls, music, movies, life, had laughed and shouted over ghost stories. Then Ty had offered around some tablets. Taking them, they had left to hit their favourite night clubs and bars. More drinks and loud music had flowed, washing together and creating a never ending night.

They had ended back here with some girls. Rolling around on the sleeping bags covered floor and the creaking springs of the sofas. Sweaty bodies shimmered in candle light, gasps and delightful cries had roamed through the room, black lipstick had coated skin and bite marks had been left behind. He couldn’t remember the girls’ names, or what they looked like clearly as it seemed they had been a reflection of themselves. Laying there, in a tangle of naked skin and displaced dust, Mick remembered one of the girls’ asking the name of the house.

Beedingwood, Ty had replied then in a smoke haze had told tales of the manor house and the school. They had listened, hooked to the horse voice as they smoked and drank. Mick tried to recall one of the stories but couldn’t. They had all sounded so legendary and mysterious. Afterwards, Ty had offered them another hit and there had been more sex. Sleep had come, restless and hot. Mick had woken from it with the soft voices of the girls in his ears. They were dressing and leaving. He lay still, listening to them until the doors had shut and their voices had faded with the remains of the night.

It was then that all the trouble had started. Mick had woken, struggling into his clothes and boots before going to relief himself. Coming back, he’d found most of the others awake with only Aaron still wrapped up in a sleeping bag. They had tried to wake him, but he wouldn’t budge. Mick had shook him and noticed his chest wasn’t moving. He had stuck a hand over Aaron’s mouth and nose and felt no breath tickling his skin. Cautiously, he had called Ty over, who confirmed his findings. Together, they had come up with a plan and they had carried Aaron out of there in a sleeping bag. They headed to his house, carefully sticking to side routes and avoiding everyone. Somehow, they had made it and arranged Aaron in his bed.

Ty had given them further instructions and gone over all the possibilities as they had left and headed separate ways. His predications had come true and the next day there police at their doors, announcing Aaron’s death and questioning them. They had all stuck to the story Ty had told them, which beside from Beedingwood, the drugs and the girls, was the truth.

Mick threw some more wood on to the fire and looked across at the sofa Aaron had died on. He couldn’t help wondering if his spirit was now trapped here, like the other ghosts Ty had talked about. Though, he didn’t really believe in ghosts or an afterlife. The police had now concluded their case as an accidently overdose via a drug and alcohol cocktail. The gang had never been to blame, but Mick knew he’d feel haunted by it for the rest of his life.