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/)

Punch (Part 2)

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Chester arrived home close to ten and parked on the small driveway. He turned off the engine and got out of the van. Stretching his aching limbs, he noticed how cold the autumn nights were now getting.

He walked to the bungalow’s front door and unlocked it. He turned the hall light on and put the numbers into the alarm’s panel to turn the security system off. He was half tempted to leave everything in the van but it had broken into a few times and it wasn’t worth the risk. He had been lucky every time that the thieves hadn’t taken the puppets or the show equipment, clearly they didn’t know the value of things.

Chester unpacked. He put things into the no longer used dinning room. By the time he had done a few trips and was on the last box, he was so tried he could feel it in his legs. Making sure everything was locked up, he went into the living room and sank onto the sofa.

Sprawling out, he told himself he should get up to bed but he found his body was too heavy to move.

Quietness and darkness pressed upon Chester. He could hear the wind picking up outside and rain tapping on the window. The pressure on his ears and head was too much, so he put the TV on. He channel flicked until he found the news. He also put on the lights before getting back on the sofa.

Deciding he would go to bed as soon as the news finished, he caught up on the reports he had missed. Then the weather forecast came on.

A knocking noise came over tomorrow’s weather report.

Cheater dragged himself up and staggered to the front door. Who’d be calling so late? he wondered.

He looked through the spy hole, saw no one but still cracked open the door. There was nothing there. A gust of wind dragged a few rain drops onto his face and Chester felt a chill across his skin.

‘Kids messing around again! You stay away! Leave an old man be!’ Chester shouted.

He slammed the door, locked things again and went back to the sofa. Wide awake now, he huffed at the TV and crossed his arms tightly over his chest.

Knock Knock.

Chester looked up then around. That sound hadn’t come from the front door but from the back one.

‘Blast those kids!’

Chester got up and stormed into the kitchen. He turned the light, unlocked the door and flung it open. He screamed into the night, long and loud. As his voice faded, he dragged in deep breaths and looked around. There was nothing on the step or in the garden, just the wind shaking the bare branches of the dead apple tree and the back gate.

He prowled around, looking for an access point and signs of someone being here. The gate was lock and like the fences too tall to climb over. No lights came from his neighbours’ houses and as he paused the only other sound was a cat meowing.

Chester went back inside. He rubbed his chest, feeling pain burning him. He turned everything off and got into bed. He was too tried to play games and the cold was clearly starting to effect him.

He got ready for bed but Chester heard the knocking once more. This time because he was closer, he realised it was coming from the dining room. He got up and went to investigate.

Glancing at the show stuff, he heard the knocking again. It was coming from one of the cases! How could that be? He opened each case till he came to the last one.

‘Hello, Punch,’ he whispered, ‘were you knocking?’

Chester picked the puppet up. There was the soft clicking of wood on wood and the rustle of clothes. Chester slipped the puppet onto his right hand like a well fitted glove. Then he clapped Punch’s hands together and said in that high pitched, nasal voice, ‘well done, you’ve found me!’

Punch laughed a long haha.

Sighing, Chester closed the case and went back to his bedroom with the puppet still on his hand.

‘I’m sorry things have come to this, Mr. Punch,’ Chester said, ‘I would be passing you on to my son now just like my father and grandfather did. But times have changed and there’s no longer a place for you and Judy in this technology world now.’

Chester slipped Punch off his hand and arranged the puppet on the bedside table. He finished getting ready and got into bed. Leaving the lamp on as he did every night, Chester began to doze off.

‘Such a shame, that,’ Punch’s voice whispered.

Chester open an eye and looked at the puppet who was strangely lit in the glow of the lamp. There was an eeriness to the painted features, a wicked twist to the red painted lips and an evil glint in those blue eyes.

‘Yes, it is,’ Chester replied.

‘What you going to do about it?’

‘I’m sorry?’

There was a clicking noise then a drumming wood on wood sound as Punch swung his legs against the bedside table. The puppet’s hands gripped the edge and the head turned fully towards Chester.

‘What,’ Punch hissed, ‘are you going to do?’

‘I…don’t know…’ Chester trailed.

‘So, I’m locked in a box forever?’ Punch snapped.

‘Well, no. I’d get you out sometimes. Maybe leave you around the house for company. We can still have our conversations….and on Halloween we can scare the children together! Just like we always do,’ Chester suggested.

Punch scoffed and began climbing down the bedside table.

Chester sat up but stayed huddled in the bedding. He watched as the puppet reached the floor then began clambering up the bed by using fist fulls of duvet to do so.

‘What is going on here?’ Chester muttered, ‘is this a dream? You can’t talk without me.’

Punch swung himself up onto the bed and sat in Chester’s lap like an elf on Santa’s knee.

‘This isn’t a dream,’ Punch squeaked, ‘I’ve always been able to talk and move without a hand up my back side! You just never choose to notice until now….And ain’t that always the way? The master needs help from his puppet. Bah!’

Chester felt lost for words, he struggled to deal with his whirl of thoughts. He shut his eyes and decided this was a bad dream. He was sad at the loss of his show and his mind was trying to get him to come up with ideas to save it.

‘I’m too tried and too old for this!’ Chester shouted.

He pulled the bedding up and waved it so that the little puppet went flying through the air. Chester buried himself under the duvet, muttering about nightmares and forcing himself into actual sleep.

Punch had let out a startled cry at being thrown about. Luckily, he had managed to grab some of a blanket and use it to slide down to the floor with. Now seated, he looked up at his ‘master’ and decided something had to be done.

‘I won’t be locked away forever!’

Wooden feet tapped on the floor and Chester listened as his door was opened and sounds like someone grunted. The footsteps carried on towards the dining room and there were noises of something moving about and a high pitched voice swearing.

‘Go to sleep, go to sleep,’ Chester uttered, ‘this is all a dream. Punch hasn’t come to life! What a crazy idea!’

The sounds carried on and Chester fell asleep. That was until something slapped Chester across the face.

‘What the-?’ Chester roared as he shot out of bed.

‘Haha!’ Punch laughed.

Chester looked and saw the puppet with his wood slap-stick in-between his hands.

‘What are you doing with that?’ Chester yelled.

Punched giggled and brought the slap-stick down onto Chester’s face again. Chester raised his arms and felt the stick hitting there instead.

‘Give me that!’ Chester snapped and tried to grip the stick.

Punch danced out of the way and began waving the slap-stick around trying to hit any part of Chester he could.

Cheater shouted and cried, he tossed around in the bed, trying to catch the puppet. Punch was laughing his head off but then his wooded foot slipped on the duvet and he tumbled to the floor.

‘Right!’ Chester said and made to jump off the bed after him.

The bedding had twisted around him and as Chester struggled to free himself, he tumbled from the bed and banged into the bedside table. The lamp went flying and the bulb smashed on the floor, sending the bedroom into darkness.

Chester, sprawled across the floor, felt a shocking, shooting pain in his chest and arms. He gasped desperately, unable to breath and felt dizzy.

‘Do you give up?’ Punch’s voice’s sounded from above him.

Chester tried to move his head but the pain was too much and he could only groan.

‘I can’t hear you!’ Punch yelled.

‘No,’ Chester croaked.

‘You sure?’

Chester mumbled something into the floor and then despite the pain coursing through him he reached out and fumbled for the puppet.

There was a clicking of wood, a muffled laugh then Chester felt the slap-stick on his back.

He roared in pain and tried to move but found the pain in his chest too much. Tears came to his eyes, ‘stop, stop stop!’ he cried.

Nothing but laughter came back to him and more of the slap-stick which hit him repeatedly.

Red then black filled Chester’s vision. The pain grew too intense for him to handle anymore and then a last thing came to him, a voice in his ear whispering, ‘that’s the way to do it!’

Punch (Part 1)

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It was Chester’s last fete. No one was interested in Punch and Judy shows anymore. They had grown scary and not politically correct. Soon, he imagined, that everything would be offensive and no one would be able to speak for fear of saying the wrong thing and being put in jail.

Packing the puppets away, Chester knew he would keep them all. He would sell everything else- the red tent, the Italian style back drops and the small van he transported around in. He was in constant need of money and the puppets would have sold for a fair bit but he couldn’t part with them.

He put the doctor, clown and constable in one case. In the second went the crocodile, the dog with his string of sausages and the skeleton. The third was for the baby, Judy and Punch and his whacking stick. The four case, bigger then the others, which he hadn’t opened for this show contained the lesser used puppets of; the hangman, the devil, the ghost, the lawyer and the beadle.

Chester placed Judy then the baby inside. Finally, he picked up Punch. Feeling the weigh in his hands and studying the puppet, Chester felt the deep connection he had always had to this character.

Punch was wooden like the rest of the puppets and dressed traditional in a jester suit of red and yellow trimmed with a matching cone hat complete with pompom at the end. He had yellow painted stockings, red and shoes. His face was hand painted with a long hooked nose which was bright red end, wide teeth flashing grin, red lipstick lips, red circle cheeks, staring blue eyes and just the hint of flock grey hair coming out from under the hat.

Chester slide his hand inside the puppet and brought him to life with simple movements. Whispering words in Punch’s squeaky, high pitched voice, Chester felt like he was saying a final farewell to what had been his life since he could first remember.

The shows had been his grandfather then his father’s trade and naturally Chester had followed them. The puppets, who had been repaired and repainted over the years had belong to his grandfather. It was hard to get good looking traditional puppets like this now, collectors went crazy over them.

Sliding Punch off his hand, Chester placed the puppet in the case. He closed the lid and wondered if he would ever get the puppets out to perform again.

He took the cases to his grey van then drove back to pack up the rest of his show. As he did so, he noticed some of other stalls packing away too. It had been a good crowed for the autumn harvest festival in this farmer’s field and the weather had held too.

The smell of pies, cakes, cheeses and burgers had filled the air all afternoon. Children had ran about laughing, holding balloons, candy floss and over sized stuffed toys won from the game stands. The music and noises of the fairground rides in the field next door had become background to everything else.

Chester drove his van back to the car park, made sure it was locked tight and walked back to the field. He brought a few last minute things – a pie, some cheese and a fancy bottle of fruity wine. He walked passed the craft and snack stalls into the tea tent.

They were still just about serving. He got a cup of tea and a slice of lemon cake. Sitting at one of the empty tables – of which there were many- he people watched and listened to the chatting.

The creeping feeling of being alone came across him. He was an old man now in his mid-sixties. His wife was dead, his only son moved to Sweden for work then stayed due to marriage and two children. Chester had meet his grandchildren once or twice. He didn’t have a good relationship with son or his wife, there was too much bitterness there. Nor was Chester a fan of being called ‘farfar’ the Swedish for grandpa.

He kept his distance, just like he had done with other family members. They had frowned at his career choices, said he was too close to his puppets, thought he was odd and the black sheep of the family. He was best written out and forgotten about.

Chester sighed and finished eating and drinking. He sat until the tea tent closed and an old woman shooed him out.

The fete was slowly closing but Chester walked through the prize flowers, veg and fruit and autumn themed displays as they were packed away. It was always nice to look at the hard work of other people and celebrate their achievements which were so unlike his own.

After, he crossed fields and wandered around the fairground. There were many rides all being lit up as the evening darkness arrived showing that though the fete might have ended the night was still young here.

The air smelt of greasy burgers, hot dogs, chips, melted cheese and burning donuts. There was also a smokiness from all the grills and the sweet smell of sugary treats.

Adults, teenagers and children crowded the muddy pathways. Their voices raised above the booming music to point out a ride they wanted to go on or a food stall they wanted to visit. Ticket booths had queues outside and there was an atmosphere of a party.

Chester walked passed the rides, noticing ones he recognised from his youth; whirling waltz, bumper cars, carousel, helter skelter, haunted house and the ferries wheel. 

He looked at the game stalls. Grab a duck win a goldfish! Throw three darts pop a balloon for a prize. How many hoops can you score? Tin can alley knock down them all. Ladder climb, ring the bell at the top to win! Bingo. Horse Derby Racing. Whac-A-Mole and finally, the one he wanted; Shoot ‘Em Out

He paid for three rounds, heaved the air rifle to his shoulder and aimed at as many targets he could. The rife give a kick back he recalled from the real thing. In a flash, Chester saw himself in the woods with his grandfather and father shooting deer, rabbits and pheasants.  

Chester focused on the moving targets like they were real animals. His score came close the first tine. The second and third rounds, he shot down enough to win two medium or a large prize.

‘What do you want?’ the grumpy looking vendor man asked Chester and began pointing out the stuffed toys as he named them, ‘a tiger, a unicorn, a panda, a dog or one of these kids movie characters?’

Chester looked across to the other prizes and the vendor continued, ‘the medium ones are a fish, a turtle, a teddy bear, a rabbit….whatever.’

The vendor shrugged his shoulders then crossed his arms over his stained waist coat. 

‘Two teddy bears, please. One white and one brown,’ Chester replied. 

Begrudgingly the the game’s owner handed them over. Chester thanked him and walked away. He would keep the teddies to send to the grandchildren for Christmas. He started to head back to his van but his stomach growled at the scent of food. 

Why not? It’s a two hour drive home now, Chester thought.   

He brought a burger then some chips which tasted much better. For the trip home, he got some bottled water, sweet rock pieces, sticky toffee and hard humbugs.

Back in his van, he sucked on a black and white, minty humbug and tried not to feel tried. Starting the engine, Chester looked in the rear view mirror into the back of the open van.

‘Right, Punch,’ Chester spoke, ‘I hope you’ve had a good last show because it’s time to go home for the last time now.’

To Be Continued…

Balefire #WritePhoto

The child rubbed her eyes as smoke from the fire began to irritate her. In blurred vision, she saw dark shapes moving around the orange-red fire. The figures were dancing slowly in time with the movement of the tips of the flames which sent flickering embers into the night sky.

The child shouldn’t be here. Her parents had told her no and left her with grandma. She had escaped as soon as granny fell sleep in front of the white noise displaying TV. The child had never been out this late but she had come to find out a truth she all ready knew within her heart.

From her hiding spot under a spiky bush, the child heard the rise and fall of voices. At first she couldn’t make out what they saying then she realised it was not English being spoken. It was another language, one from the deep past that belong to ancient peoples.

Lulled by the song and tried, the child fell sleep. She had nightmares, swirls of black and red shadows trying to grip her but she couldn’t escape because the fire blocked her at every turn. Smoke got into her eyes and blinded her, it filled her mouth when she tried to scream. Something grabbed her legs, dragging her into a hole that opened up in the ground.

The child woke and was disoriented. Slowly, she crawled out from the bush and went towards the dying fire. The people were gone now, fading into the night as if they had never been. The sky above was becoming lighter but rain clouds were gathering.

Looking into the last of the flames, the child picked up an un-burnt stick. She knew, somehow what had gone on last night. Touching the stick into the fire, she waited till it began to burn then removed it.

Waving the stick in the air, the child said aloud, ‘I won’t be a dark witch. I will be a white witch.’

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/10/24/thursday-photo-prompt-balefire-writephoto/ with thanks).

Candle Light

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It was about two in the morning and Bell hadn’t been able to sleep. She had been reading a Gothic horror novel, lost within it’s pages and words. The candle by her bedside was low, the wax dripping away and the flame dropping.

Bell knew she should get a fresh candle but once out of the armchair and woollen blanket, it would be freezing. The fire in the wall next to her had long gone out and the chill from the autumn moor had crept into the house.

She looked at the candle and decided if she didn’t want to end up in the dark within a few minutes she had to move.

Placing the book down, she wrapped the blanket around her and got up. There was a candle by her bedside which she took and carefully lit the new wick from the dying candle. She blew out the first flame then took the new candle and her book to bed.

It was a grand four poster thing and she wasn’t use to sleeping in luxury. She had been brought up in a simple house with simple things. Her father had educated her which had helped Bell learn that her family had fallen on hard times. She couldn’t remember not being happy and her parents had tried to give her anything she needed.

The turn had come when she was fourteen. Her father, ill of health for years, passed. The money ran out. Her mother lost everything.

In the poorhouse, the beds had been straw. They had been surround by people making lots of noise for three years. You would think you couldn’t sleep in such a place but the twelve hours of work a day made you so exhausted that sleep came as a blessing.

Now, Bell was alone in this large room, in this huge house owned by a uncle of her father’s whom she had never known but had somehow found her. Bell was grateful to have been saved after her mother had become ill and died three months ago. It was the answer to her prayers.

Some nights though, she wished to be back with her mother on that floor. Comforted and loved. No longer feeling the loneliness and sadness that consumed her.

Bell got into bed. The sheets were cold against her. She opened her book again and began reading. Her concentration was broken and the chill was making her shake. Putting the book down again, she curled up and thought about trying to sleep.

There was a window across and the curtains were half drawn. She could see the night sky and the full moon. It was too dark to see the raising moorland that surround this house but she could picture the current barren landscape well enough.

The candle wick cracked and the flame flickering against the wall. There were too many shadows in this room for Bell’s liking. The words of the old maid came back to her and Bell remembered the warning of falling asleep with candles lit. That’s how the west wing burnt down.

Bell’s head turned towards the door as footsteps sounded in the hallway. The boards squeaked and a door handle rattled.

It was just her uncle or a servant, restless like herself and walking around the house.

A door opened, the loud creaking wail further broke the silence.

Bell felt a drift of air. The candle flame flickered violently and black smoke trailed up the wall. Bell sat up and looked towards her door.

It was wide open.

She clutched the sheets to her chest. Thoughts racing through her head; it’s just my uncle or servant checking on me because they saw the light. 

No figure seemed to fill the doorway and nothing else moved.

Bell couldn’t find the words to speak.

The candle went out.

Plunged into darkness, Bell let out a cry and threw the sheet over head. She curled up, fear driving everything. Her breathing was harsh in her ears so she didn’t hear the soft footsteps crossing the floor.

The bedding began to slip down, gathering on the floor.

Bell clung to what she could but the bedding began to drag her with it. She let it go and dug her nails into the woollen blanket still around her instead.

‘Who is there?’ Bell cried in a shaky voice.

There was a low whistling like wind through a gap. The dying candle came back to life. The glow of the yellow and orange flame so bright in the room.

‘What do you want?’ Bell shouted.

There was a hand by the flame. It first it seemed nothing more then a wisp of smoke from the candle but it grew and turned shape, became more solid and took the form of a figure.

Bell wanted to scream but couldn’t. She was stiff with fear and yet she couldn’t turn away from what was forming beside the candle flame. She had never seen a ghost before but this one was for sure.

It seemed to be a woman in a flowing dress like a shadow against the wall.

‘I can see you,’ Bell whispered, ‘do not hurt me.’

The ghost moved, gliding to the bed and Bell saw the features of a face. The eyes and mouth expressed sadness and longing with familiarity.

‘Mother?’ Bell breathed.

 

 

Copper #WritePhoto

Autumn leaves stuck to my boots, a drizzle rainfall patted the trees. The sky was a dusky blue-grey-black, night was coming fast. Birds tweeted their last songs and somewhere a woodpecker knocked. 

I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be home in front of the TV, eating snacks, being normal. My mind wouldn’t let that happen. I was going though so much therapy and techniques it was hard to keep up with it all. None of it was working. 

Being in the forest helped, somewhat. The hour or two of walking in the evenings, no matter the weather, helped to tire me. If not, the all night gym did.

No pills, cognitive therapy or other practises lasted long. The voices and thoughts came still. They whispered for me to do harm to myself and others. They laughed, taunted, demand, said there was no getting rid of them. I was mad.

I should have stayed locked up in the clinic but I wasn’t ill enough; my problems could be controlled. What did the doctors really know? They didn’t have all these demons inside. I didn’t trust myself, no one could, it was only a matter of time until…I did what the voices wanted and killed the next person I saw.

Looking up at the copper coloured leaves, I tried to relax and clear my head but all I could think about was the flow of blood. Red and pooling on the ground, the taste of it in my mouth, the feel of it on my skin.

Footsteps behind me. I turned hoping it was no one but along the path came a man with his dog.

They were my first victims.    

 

(Inspired by; https://scvincent.com/2019/10/03/thursday-photo-prompt-copper-writephoto/ with thanks).

 

Unknown (Part 4)

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The baby was crying. Macy could hear it louder then before. Rolling over, Macy, still half a sleep, fumbled for the lamp switch. She yawed then shielded her eyes as light came on.

Grumpily, she listened and heard the storm rolling around. Thunder was echoing it’s booming voice and lightening was popping in the clouds. Rain was clattering down and the wind was like a lion tamer’s whip.

Despite all that noise, Macy was positive the baby was crying in the alleyway.

Getting up, she pulled jeans on and a jumper then went to the door but there was somebody there all ready.

The cat’s meowing made her pause and for a few seconds Macy was puzzled until she remembered Precious.

The tortoise shell cat was rubbing against the door, asking to be let out.

Macy picked her up and put the cat into her jumper. Recalling she would also need a light source, Macy grabbed her phone then went downstairs. Wellington boots and rain coat on, Macy brought the torch app up and went out into the stormy night.

With the cat- a warm, wiggly thing against her chest, Macy felt braver as she stepped out of the front door. The weather smacked her as if warning her to stay back but Macy fought through it and went the few steps towards the alley.

Wait, was that a figure ducking away into the shadows of the entrance?

Macy couldn’t stop as the storm was chilling her all ready. Once under cover, she took the cat out from under her jumper and followed Precious down. The cat sniffed and vanished behind the bins.

Macy shone her phone around, the torch doing a better job then the candle flame the other night. As she crossed over one of the distant bins, she stopped.

There was the shape of a woman with a bundle of clothes? in her arms. The woman’s head was bent, fixed on the bundle and there was blood on the floor.

Swallowing, Macy slowly moved forward, keeping the phone’s light down.

The woman didn’t move nor seemed to know Macy was there.

‘Hello?’ Macy called out.

The woman slowly looked up and turned her head. Her face was wet with tears, rain and blood. Her blonde hair was wet and falling out of the pins that held it up. She was young; a teenager. She had on a dress, a shawl and low shoes that was not enough protection in this weather. In her arms was a ragged blanket and something was moving inside.

‘It’s okay. I won’t do anything…I just needed to know…’ Macy trailed off as a bolt of lightening cracked across the sky.

The flash of light showed for a few seconds, that the girl was covered in bruises and there was more blood on the floor then Macy had first realised.

Macy shivered, feeling the cold not just from the weather now, it was like the alleyway had become frozen. The chill made her start to shake and she didn’t know what to do. She couldn’t turn away and just leave. How could she go back to bed knowing a teenager had just had a baby and was now going to abandoned the newborn inside a bin?

Should I comfort her? Try to take the baby? Phone for an ambulance?  Ran the thoughts in Macy’s head.

She approached the teenager, wanting to help. The girl had  turned back to the wrapped up baby.

‘It shouldn’t have been…Never…A mistake,’ the girl whispered.

‘What happened?’ Macy asked.

‘I told him. He didn’t want it. Wouldn’t do the right thing and marry me. We fought, he hit me, I left him. I told my parents…my father…he beat me, cast me out. It shouldn’t have come…’

‘That’s bad,’ Macy spoke, ‘but you can’t abandoned her now. She needs you.’

The teenager shook her head and replied, ‘someone else who knows what to do can. It has to be this way…’

‘Leaving her in a bin? She’ll die!’ Macy cried.

‘I don’t care! It’s ruined my life!’ the girl screamed.

The teenager threw the baby into the bin. Macy screamed, ran forward but tripped over She fell to the wet floor at the girl’s feet, feeling pain shooting up her arms and legs. Something heavy landed on her back and there was the warning hissing sounds of the cat.

‘Please,’ Macy muttered, tasting blood in her mouth, ‘don’t leave her again. She needs you.’

The baby was crying and so was the girl. The sounds of their sobbing echoed in the alleyway against the background of the storm.

Macy stood and Precious jumped off, still hissing and with an arched back. Macy scooped up the cat and shoved her into the jumper.

‘You know it’s true,’ Macy picked up, ‘you can make it right.’

The girl looked at the bin, unsure. Macy could see her shaking, the swell of her post-pregnancy belly, the blood staining her dress and legs.

Thunder clapped, rain swept into the alleyway, lightening followed in two bright flashes and crackling. The eye of the storm was passing right over head.

‘Don’t leave her,’ Macy added.

The teenager shook her head, ‘it has to be this way. Always.’

‘Fine. I’ll take her,’ Macy announced and tucking her phone away, she reached into the bin.

Lifting out the bloody blanket and looking in, Macy saw the newborn. There was a patch of blonde hair and red streaked skin, eyes shut tightly and mouth open in desperate crying. The baby was so tiny and felt too light in her arms. She hugged the baby to her chest. Then felt the cat in her jumper settling.

‘You would?’ the girl asked in surprise.

‘It’s not the baby’s fault. She’s not a mistake to just forget about! You ruined your own life,’ Macy shouted.

Turning away, Macy carried the baby inside her house. She closed the door with her foot then had to set the bundle and cat down to lock the door and turn on the hall light. Picking up the baby again, she went to her bedroom and made a small cot out of a drawer and some bedding.

The baby was still crying but then Precious stepped in the bottom of the drawer and curled up. Warm and safe now, the baby fell asleep.

Nodding, Macy took her clothes off and hung them up to dry. She put on a new night dress and got into bed. Exhausted, she fell asleep.

 

Morning light woke her. Macy lay confused for a few minutes, her thoughts clouded. She wasn’t sure if last night’s events had been a dream? A nightmare? Real? She rolled over, thinking of getting up and having a cup of tea. That always helped.

There was a drawer on the floor by the bedside. Inside, was the tortoise shell cat, Precious, and a real newborn baby girl.

Macy bent down and picked the baby up. The baby stirred and woke up, big blue eyes starring into her own. Tiny hands uncurled and Macy slipped her finger into a palm the size of a 2p coin. The baby’s fingers closed around her finger.

Precious jumped on the bed and sit between Macy’s legs.

‘Well,’ Macy spoke and smiled brightly, ‘looks like I got a baby and a cat to take care of now.’

Unknown (Part 3)

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Macy had another sleepless night but got a few hours of rest in the morning. She had something to eat and watched the weather forecast. Just as Mrs Kettle had said there was a storm coming. Outside, it was drizzling and the wind was gusty. Not a great day to go out but Macy had shopping to do.

An idea that had come to her last night was her mission of the day. She had also finished off the last of her library books so as well as returning those and getting some new ones, she was going to look through the town’s archive.

Firstly though, she had to go to the job centre of her benefit appointment. Setting out, she hurried through the drizzle and arrived a little late. Everything went fine, well fine if you were unfit to work and mentally unstable.

Leaving, it them took forty minutes to get the library as it was on the other side of town. The rain had picked up and it dripped off her umbrella which give her little protection. She arrived damp and cold but a few minutes by the heater warmed her.

Returning her books, Macy walked around and selected some more to read. Then she went to the archive room and looked for newspapers and other reports from the 1950’s that had deaths of babies and her street name together.

Macy was amazed by how long this took her and shocked when she came across only one newspaper report about the abandoned baby. It was little more then two paragraphs and read that a twelve year old girl had found a premature baby girl in a bin. The baby had died, the unknown mother was being seeked for medical attention.

That was it; no follow up, no other newspapers reporting on it, nothing else relating to the baby.

Macy sat back in the chair and sighed. The table before her was scatted with copies of 1950’s papers and she could feel the heat of the old computer off to the side which had aided her search.

The library was quiet and Macy could hear the shuffling of feet and books, pages turning and voices whispering. Rain was coming down outside and it was growing dark.

‘Excuse me? I’m sorry, we are closing now,’ a voice came from behind her.

Macy twisted in the chair and saw the woman who had checked her books out before in the doorway.

‘Oh. Okay. Sorry, what time is it?’ Macy asked as she got up.

‘Almost four O’clock,’ the woman answered, ‘and don’t worry about this. I’ll put it away. Did you find what you were looking for?’

‘Sort of,’ Macy replied, ‘thanks.’

Collecting her things, Macy left and walked down the road to the high street. There, she did some food shopping then headed home.

The house was cold. Macy shivered and went straight for the gas fire. Holding the worn button down, she listed to the click clicks until the thing came on and blue, orange flames let up the white protection grid.

She unpacked the shopping, made a cup of tea and heated a tin of soup. Macy watched TV, getting warm and dry.

A meowing drew her attention and Macy looked at the net curtain covered window. She went over and lift the netting up. Balancing on the the thin sill was a cat.

‘Precious?’ Macy questioned as she recognised the tortoise shell cat.

Macy went to the door and called the cat in. Precious walked inside like she owned the place and settled in front of the fire like she was home.

‘Did you get locked out?’ Macy asked the cat, ‘you can stay with me. I don’t mind. I’ve not got any cat food though…Maybe, there’s a tin of fish in the cupboard…’

Macy went into the kitchen with a purpose she hadn’t felt in awhile. She took out a bowl and a dish, filled the first with water then from the back of the cupboard a small tin of fish.

Precious was wrapping around her legs and meowing before Macy knew it.

Laughing, Macy watched the cat eating.

‘I can see why Mrs Kettle likes cats. Maybe, she’s right about me not being alone after all….Oh, I left my library books in here. I got this one about ghost stories,’ Macy said as she picked up the book to show Precious.

‘Not my normal reading but with the story Mrs Kettle told me, I thought I might have a change. I don’t think I got any with a cat in….’ Macy trailed as she looked though the seven other books.

‘I like fantasy and romance best. This one is a series I’m reading about men who are really dragons and they meet their soul mates and have to try an explain things to them.’

Macy glanced at the cat, ‘this is so weird. I don’t normally talk so much.’

Precious didn’t look at Macy but started washing herself.

‘I’m going to have a bath then go to bed to read. I’m guessing you won’t join me in the tub,’ Macy added.

Macy ran her bath, feeling unusually tried. Leaving the door open, like always, Macy got into the warm water and started washing.

A padding of paws made her peer at the doorway and she saw Precious walk in and jump up onto the closed lid of the toilet.

Macy covered her chest with her arms and looked at the cat. Bright amber eyes gazed into her own as the cat’s ears and tail twitched.

‘It’s rude to stare!’ Macy snapped then burst into laughter.

She dropped her arms and started washing her hair. After she relaxed in the cooling water and started hoping she could sleep tonight.

Getting out and wrapped in a towel, she went into her bedroom and Precious followed her.

‘I don’t mind cats. Never had one though nor any other pet. I don’t think the goldfish at the children’s home counts does it?’ Macy said.

Putting on a night dress, Macy got into bed and put the ghost stories book in her lap.

Precious, after checking the room out, jumped on the bed and decided to start off sleeping on the pillow next to Macy.

‘I guess, we can relate to each other….my mother abandoned me too,’ Macy breathed, ‘it wasn’t really her fault. She was sick and couldn’t take care of me. My dad came for me but it took years for them to trace him. Mum had lied on the paperwork; claimed he was dead. She didn’t want to have anything to do with him and wanted to keep me from him.’

Macy breathed deeply, feeling tears wetting her cheeks. She reached out and stroked the cat. Precious stretched and snuggled against her.

‘He had a family, of course, wife and two kids but they welcomed me in. I was an angry fifteen year old but they helped me through. It was hard living with them….much like it must be hard to live with other cats. My step-sisters always got my nervous, they bullied me and stole my things.’

Macy sniffed and looked at the ceiling. She wiped her nose and face, dragged a hand through her blue hair then put her face into Precious side.

The cat didn’t seem to mind and as if knowing Macy needed comforting, Precious began licking Macy and pawing at her hair.

‘That’s how I came to be here,’ Macy picked up after a few minutes, ‘my step-mum’s sister was ill and needed looking after. I had always liked auntie Sue and wanted to help. I trained as a support nurse, became her full time carer. Moved in here and slept on the sofa.’

Macy yawed and pulled the duvet up over both her and the cat.

Continuing, Macy listened to the sounds of her own voice as she talked on, ‘Sue died three years ago, left me everything. I had some money, dad helped a lot and I did find a job in an old peoples’ home. I had to sort out the house straight away though as the pain was too much. It still is some days now.’

‘That’s how I lost my job, ended up on benefits; I’m not sound of mind any more. I’m unstable, unfit to be around people. I don’t think ‘normally’ anymore. No control of my emotions or thoughts or feeling. I want to kill myself and other people around me. It would feel easier if I wasn’t here…Just like my mum wanted me to be when she give me up.’

Macy put her head back on the pillow. Waves of tiredness were washing over her. Macy let them take her but before she fell sleep, she turned to the cat and said, ‘thanks for listening, Precious.’

To Be Continued…

Unknown (Part 2)

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Macy woke close to lunchtime and almost rolled back over to sleep again. She forced herself to get up and have a shower. After, she dressed warmly and went down to get something to eat.

It was still raining outside.

Macy passed the afternoon watching TV, reading, doing some arts and crafts which her therapist said was good for her to keep up and drinking cups of tea.

She listened often for the crying but didn’t hear it.

After having an evening meal, she tidied the house, which was really clean all ready but since she couldn’t go for a walk she need to make herself tried. Then she took a bath.

Relaxing in the hot water scented with lavender, Macy listened to the tap dripping and the rain tapping on the window. Everything else seemed quiet. Not that it bothered her.

Letting herself drift, she cleared her head of everything.

At first, Macy thought it was the wind but then the crying became more pronounced.

Macy frowned and wondered what was going on. Maybe, she needed to go see her neighbours? It wasn’t very good to complain though. Sometimes there wasn’t much you could do when a baby was sick and crying. Still though…she felt she needed to know for her own piece of mind.

The night passed like the last one; she didn’t sleep and often she heard the crying.

In the morning, she went around to her neighbours – both middle aged couples- and asked them about the crying.

Shockingly, they knew nothing about it and the pregnant woman wasn’t due till next month.

Puzzled, Macy spoke to more neighbours, even though she didn’t really know them. She did find out that an old woman, Mrs Kettle, on the corner had a number of cats and some of them were feral which she was trying to tame.

‘Could it have been one of them?’ Macy had questioned.

‘Maybe,’ Mrs Kettle had replied, ‘but perhaps it’s her…’

‘Excuse me?’

‘Do you fancy a cup of tea? I’ve some nice ginger cake in.’

‘Sure,’ Macy replied.

Mrs Kettle was a short, stooping woman, with white hair in a bun and many wrinkles across her skin. Once she had a nice curvy and plumb figure but old age had made her look compact and fat. She was wearing a wool skirt, grey blouse and a knitted pink cardigan. She had a friendly and pleasant, mothering nature.

Mrs Kettle’s house reminded Macy her step-aunt’s before Macy had began to make it her own. The wall paper and furniture looked 1960’s and there was fading smell of moth balls and cats.

Macy took the second armchair and shared a pot of tea and a plate of sliced cakes with Mrs Kettle.

‘How long have you lived here?’ Macy asked.

‘I was born in this house a few years after the war ended,’ came the reply.

‘You’ve been here all your life?’

Mrs Kettle nodded.

‘So, who were you referring to? Who is she?’

Mrs Kettle stroked a ginger tom cat that had come to curl into her lap.

Macy eyed a skinny white cat with no ears that was warming it’s back by the gas fire. So far she had counted eight cats but she suspected there were more.

‘I was about twelve and it was this time of year -October,’ Mr Kettle spoke, ‘back then no matter the weather children always played out. I was skipping alone, waiting for my friends when I heard it.’

‘The crying?’ Macy jumped in.

Mrs Kettle nodded, ‘it was coming from your alleyway. I went to look and found in one of the bins a wrapped up bundle. Inside was a tiny, tiny baby still bloody. I didn’t know what to do. So, I took the baby to my mother.’

‘It died didn’t it?’ Macy asked, cutting in, though she had a feeling she knew.

‘Yes. Within an hour,’ Mrs Kettle said in a low voice.

‘And the mother?’

‘We never found her. No one seemed to know where the baby had come from.’

‘Wasn’t there an investigation?’ Macy questioned.

‘In the fifties?’ Mrs Kettle replied with a laugh, ‘around here? No one cared. It happened all the time. A young woman, out of marriage, getting into trouble and abandoning the baby.’

‘Oh,’ Macy breathed.

‘From then on, people would hear the baby crying in the alley and find nothing. Then came the rumours of a woman carrying a bundle running and wailing down the street. Us children came up with ghost stories and believed the baby and her mother had taken to haunting the alley. I stayed away after that.’

Macy finished her tea and hugged herself, not being able to believe this. Was the crying she kept hearing a ghost baby?

There was thump next to her and Macy turned to see a small, tortoise shell cat on the arm of the chair. The cat stepped into her lap and brushed against her crossed arms. Macy stroked the cat, feeling the warmth of the fur and the slight dig of claws into her jeans.

‘Would you like another piece of cake?’ Mrs Kettle asked.

Macy shook her head.

‘You live alone don’t you, love?’

Macy looked up and saw the old woman staring kindly at her.

‘I knew your aunt well. She was a dear friend.’

Step-aunt,’ Macy automatically corrected.

‘A young woman shouldn’t be alone.’

‘I like it that way. It’s easier.’

Macy looked down and saw the tortoise shell had curled in her lap was purring. She hadn’t stopped stroking the cat and Macy realised how calm she felt.

‘Her name is Precious,’ Mrs Kettle explained, ‘I found her when she about a week old. Her mother had abandoned the litter and only Precious was still alive. I hand reared her.’

‘She seems a nice cat,’ Macy responded.

‘Yes. Snow there,’ Mrs Kettle pointed to the white cat with no ears, ‘is deaf and some teenager cut her ears off. A friend saved her and give her to me to look after. And this is Toby,’ Mrs Kettle patted the ginger tom in her lap, ‘he was a farm cat who wouldn’t hunt the mice and rats! He’s a big softy.’

Macy laughed.

‘Do want some more tea?’

‘I should…Actually, yes,’ Macy said with a smile.

She hadn’t liked other peoples’ company for years but Mrs Kettle so reminded her of step-aunt and Macy felt safe here. Plus, if she got up she would wake Precious and the cat was a nice warm and heavy spot on her lap.

Mrs Kettle brought more tea and cake. They talked some more then watched quiz shows on the old TV.

Finally, Macy decided it was time to leave.

‘Take care out there,’ Mrs Kettle said, ‘a storm is coming.’

Macy nodded as she looked out of the frosted front door windows which were dripping with rain.

‘It’s been so nice to have company. Please come back anytime.’

‘I shall,’ Macy replied and stepped outside to battle the weather.

To Be Continued…

Unknown (Part 1)

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Macy lay in bed, the insomnia keeping her awake again. She listened to the rain hammering down and hitting the window like a handfuls of gravel. In the distance, the wind was shaking the autumn trees and evergreen bushes along the narrow road.

She thought about going outside and letting the weather sweep her thoughts away. Deciding she couldn’t be bothered, Macy went to turn the lamp on, her thoughts turning to reading or messing around on her phone.

The crying stilled her hand.

Macy wasn’t sure what it was; the weather? A cat? A child crying?

Maybe I’m dreaming? she wondered.

Turning on the lamp, she watched the light pooling around the bedside table and the edge of the bed. It was comforting.

The crying continued. It was a dim wailing sound like that of a sick baby. It sounded almost as if it was inside her house.

Didn’t the next door neighbour just have a baby? Macy thought then added, I need the bathroom now, unfair! 

Sighing, she got up and went to the bathroom. She turned the light on, did what she needed to do then washed her hands. Catching herself in the mirror, she noticed that the dark bags under her eyes were worse. Her thin cheeks were flushed but her skin looked pale and unwell. Her short, dyed blue hair was sticking out, mused by her tossing round in bed.

Macy stuck her tongue out at her reflection and went back to bed.

There was no point even trying to sleep, so she got warm in bed and debated what to do.

‘Where is that noise coming from?’ Macy said aloud.

The crying sounded worse now. It was still feeble but it was louder.

Throwing the duvet away, Macy got up and walked though the small house. It was mostly her own now but somethings of her late step-aunt remind. An old arm chair, coffee table, TV stand, bookcases, photographs and ornaments. There was still a feel that an old woman lived here and not a twenty-something person.

It was a simple two up two down 1940’s terrace house. The front room and a kitchen with a two seater table downstairs, one bedroom and a bathroom upstairs. There was a tiny square back garden and not one on the front as the door open straight onto the street. A joint sheltered alleyway where the bins lived was on the left side between the house and the one next door. A gate into her garden was at the end.

Nothing here, Macy realised.

She looked out of the kitchen window and decided to go outside after all. She put on wellington boots, feeling the chill of the rubber on her bare feet and legs. From the drying line she took a hoodie and put it over the night dress. She couldn’t be bothered to go and get a coat from the hallway.

Unlocking the door and stepping out, the rain hit her like cold water in a shower and the wind whipped around her too skinny frame. She could barely see a thing. The light from the kitchen window wasn’t enough to get through the darkness of the early hour. Still though, she could make out the empty flower beds on the left and the muddy vegetable patch on the right.

Macy looked up at the back of her neighbours’ houses on both sides and could see no lights on.

They are sleeping, like I should be! 

Stomping back inside, Macy shut and locked the back door. She went to take the wet hoodie off but paused as she picked up the crying once more. It sounded a little echoey….

An imagine filled her head; someone had abandoned a baby in the joint alleyway!

Macy ran to the front door, opened it and dashed into the alley. There was no light and she couldn’t see. Cursing, Macy went back inside and dug around for a torch or something. She found a candle, decided it would do and returned to the alleyway.

The small flame almost went out in the wind and rain. Macy waited for the candle to stop guttering then looked around the dripping walls. Her bins were lined up against one wall and her neighbour’s on the other. There was nothing on the floor and her back gate was locked.

She couldn’t hear the crying now, the rain and wind were too loud. Turning back, she took the lid off the bins and looked in, just to clear her mind. Nothing.

Maybe, it’s just a cat left out and crying to be let in? Cats can sound like babies and with this weather the cat could be streets away. 

Macy went inside once again. She stripped off the hoodie and the boots. Blowing out the candle and locking the door, she went back to bed.

The clock said it was almost four in the morning. Macy felt cold and tried. She settled back down and rested, feeling sleepy for the first time that night.

To Be Continued…