Unknown (Part 4)

baby-2617086_1920

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)

baby-2617086_1920

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)

baby-2617086_1920

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)

baby-2617086_1920

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…

Monster Book

halloween-218092_1280.jpg

Joy wasn’t sure how she’d found the book, it must have been fate! She had known the minute her fingers had touched the skin cover and the scent of two hundred year old pages filled her lungs. She had looked closely just be sure then with a quick glance around the storeroom, put the book into her bag.

Hurrying home as a storm ripped across the sky, Joy was glad she only lived streets away from where she worked at Rare Eager, Secondhand and Antiques shop. She stumbled into the hallway of the two bedroom terrace house, dripping wet like she had just got out of a swimming pool.

She turned the lights on, locked the front door then took off her soaked shoes and coat. Going upstairs, she took the rest of her clothes off- blue blouse and black trousers- and changed into fleece PJs. She dried her short blonde hair and took her makeup off.

Pausing, Joy listened but the house was almost silent; just the hum of the fridge and heaters. Outside, rain and wind battered everything, Thunder rumbled and lightening forked across the sky like the bolts of an angry God.

‘Autumn weather for sure,’ Joy said aloud and closed the curtains.

Having all ready eaten before and feeling fine that she was now dry, Joy got into bed. She glanced at the alarm clock and saw the hands were on quarter to nine. She sighed, tiredness sinking in. She had worked late tonight with the re-stocking of the shop and was ready to sleep but first….

Joy pulled the book from her bag.

The skin cover was like worn leather, paled and roughed over the years and there were no markers anywhere upon it to say what the contains were or who by. Joy ran her fingers over it and thought she could just feel were letter might once have been.

Without opening the book, she looked at the hand cut pages. They were not straight but jagged and hard against her fingers. They were a dark yellow colour and tempted a reader in.

Joy went to open the book but her boss, the shop’s owner, Mr. Eager, came into her head. He was old, mid-sixties with a bald head, wrinkles like a walnut and strange odd colored eyes.  From his mouth came the words, ‘…it’s a book full of such disturbing horror stories it was banned! Most of the copies were burnt back then….There’s one around here somewhere. I brought it years ago in London.’

‘Have you ever read it?’ Joy had asked.

‘The first page and that was enough for me!’

‘And where is it now?’

Mr. Eager shrugged and answered, ‘lost in here someplace!’

Joy had taken in the stuffed shop which one could barely move around in let alone find anything they actually wanted! But wasn’t that the look and draw of secondhand and antique places?

With a shake of her head, Joy told herself, ‘I’ll return it tomorrow and show Mr Eager. Pretend I ‘just’ found it and ask if I can have it.’

Letting her fingers rest on the cover about to open it and began reading, Joy wondered why she had taken it in the first place.

She had stole before, little things, like; her childhood friend’s pencil case, a poster from school, a pot horse from her aunt’s house and once in desperate need after a night out, clothes from a washing line.

‘Why did I take this book?’ Joy wondered.

She looked down and felt drawn to forget everything and just open the cover. Were the stories inside as scary as Mr. Eager had said?

Opening the book, Joy saw there were no other publisher and introduction pages like at the start of other books, there was the begin of the first story instead. Shrugging and deciding she didn’t care, Joy curled up and began reading.

It seemed standard 1800s’ horror story telling, a little gross in parts but an interesting read. The stories were short and Joy read three or four of them before she started to doze off.

Putting the book under her bed, she vowed to take it back in the morning and fell asleep.

 

A soft thud and scraping noise disturbed her. Joy rolled over and still half-asleep listened. The noise didn’t come again and she drifted off.

Three more thuds, louder this time and more scraping like something was being dragged echoed through the house. Joy woke almost fully, she turned on the light and looked around. The storm had died down now and it was just a rain tapping against the window.

The noises didn’t come again as she wondered what they were; perhaps, it was an animal or a neighbour. Maybe, apart of my dream! What was that about anyway?

Joy turned off the light and settled back down. A creeping feeling came over her and sleep didn’t want to come back. She lay in the darkness, thinking and listening.

The sounds stared again. Someone was dragging something on a carpet and thumping it about. Then there was a different sound, like a chomp and a heave as if the person doing the dragging before was now trying to pull something up whilst eating an apple.

Joy almost giggled at that thought but realised the noise was too close, all most like it’s in my bedroom!  

She turned on the light, scowled herself for being silly, it’s just something outside….What’s that on my bedside table? 

It was the book!

Confused because she knew she had put it under her bed, Joy went to pick it up. Before her hands could touch it the book began to open!

The cover raised slowly. The pages had become long sharp triangle teeth. They moved, opening like they were in a mouth and a long, two forked tongue began to reel out, sensing the air like a snake’s.

Joy moved backwards across the bed and put her hands to her mouth to cover a scream.

‘It’s just a dream!’ she cried.

The book’s ‘tongue’ went back in and the covers opened further like a shark’s jaw. The book let out a monstrous growl and jumped at Joy’s face.

The scream erupted out of her and Joy threw her hands upwards to defend her face and fight off the book, but the book had grown so wide that it just swallowed her whole.

With the scratching and ruffling sounds of tumbling pages, the book fell closed on Joy’s bed, right were she’d been a few seconds ago.

 

 

(Based in part on a dream I had).

Twig Trail #CCC

The twigs appeared like a trail down the middle of the road. It could have been caused by the storm yesterday but Carrie thought not.

Pulling her horse, Sasha, more to the side to avoid any sharp bits of wood, Carrie cursed the council clearing team. They were always leaving a mess behind them after being out here and it wasn’t good enough.

After returning home and stabling Sasha, Carrie went onto her laptop and wrote a complaints email. She doubted nothing would come to it but if she threaten to sue if Sasha got injured maybe they would listen this time.

 

(Inspired by; https://crimsonprose.wordpress.com/2019/08/28/crimsons-creative-challenge-42/ with thanks).

Summer Storm #FridayFictioneers

Jayne looked out of the window and shook her head. Everything had been set for her son, Kit’s tenth birthday party in the backyard. The marque was up, the BBQ ready and the swimming pool full. Everyone had been excited and now the party was a total wash out.

A summer storm had rolled in; rain lashed down, wind whipped around, the thunder rumbled and lightening cracked.  They had all rushed and huddled inside, the children crying and the parents uncertain what to do.

‘I’ll put a movie on,’ Jayne spoke, ‘and get some pizzas in the oven. We’ll have a sleep over instead.’

 

(Inspired by; https://rochellewisoff.com/2019/08/14/16-august-2019/ with thanks).

Comfort Food

soup-4381589_1920.jpg

It was crazy, Petra knew but the flu was gripping her hard and the only thing she want was a nice bowl of stew….In the middle of August!

Though, today looked more like autumn, Petra thought as she looked out of the steaming up kitchen window. Gale force winds and heavy rain were blowing the full leave trees and bushes about as if a God was constantly sneezing on them.

Stirring the pot, she peered in, decided that was fine and put the lid on. Petra set the timer for a few hours, not a thing she’d normally do but she couldn’t smell so she couldn’t relay on that to tell her when it was done.

Back in bed, she snuggled down and tried to get an afternoon nap in. She dozed and thought of the tasty, warm, comforting stew bubbling in the pot. Soon, she told her stomach, we can eat and everything will feel better again. Lovely, stew…. 

Protesters #3LineTales

three line tales, week 183: the Ashes at the Adelaide Oval watched by people on the roof

They had lined the bridge for weeks protesting for the right. The government declared they were disturbing the peace with all the noise and blockades they were creating. The public who in the first few days had seem to be with the protesters now turned they backs.

Hope began to fade, a bad storm was rolling in and some of the protesters decided to take they cause somewhere else. A few braves remind though, chained to the the bridge railing and holding hands. They fight to the bitter end for what they believed in, they were strong together.

 

(Inspired by; https://only100words.xyz/2019/08/01/three-line-tales-week-183/ with thanks).

The Eyes – Mokumoku Ren

shoji-screen-1841683_1920

Hideo dashed through the lashing rain, his wooden clogs slipping on the dirt track, his back weighed down by his heavy travelling pack. He looked desperately around but he was surrounded by abandoned rice paddy fields and there seemed to be no shelter to be had.

He made for the nearest tree which was only just taller then himself. Hideo shivered and wondered how far it was to the nearest village. Trying hard to convince himself that he wasn’t lost, Hideo fell into prayer.

When he opened his eyes and looked down the road, he saw a gate sticking out of the undergrowth. Smiling and feeling like his prayers had been answered, Hideo walked over, the rain and wind whipping around him. He tugged himself through the half open gate and went up what had once been a path which led him to an abandoned house.

Entering, he called out and listened to his echoing voice. Normally he had would have taken off his clogs and left them at the porch but he had no idea what would be on the floors and thought it might be safer to keep them on for the moment.

The abandoned house’s roof was sound and the all the rooms were dry. Hideo went into the front room and set himself up on the floor. He was tried but he had something to eat and drink before settling down to sleep.

The rain hammered on the roof like a banging drum and the wind howled through ripped screen windows. Normally such a racket would have kept Hideo awake but he was so tried sleep came easily.

Sometime time later, something disturbed his sleep and Hideo woke up, he lay in the dark wondering what it was. Thunder rumbled and he decided the storm must have awakened him. Grateful, he had found this abandoned house, Hideo lay down to sleep again but a creeping feeling of being watched prickled the back of his neck.

Muttering that it was just the storm and tiredness, Hideo tried to rest. The feeling wouldn’t go away and seemed to grow until he was forced to give in and light his lamp.

‘I’m sorry for entering your house!’ Hideo spoke in Japanese, ‘I was only seeking shelter. Please let yourself be known. I mean no harm, I am but an old travelling merchant who became lost in the storm.’

Hideo listened to his words faded but heard no reply. He debated getting up and walking through the house, making peace and saying thank you for the shelter. Something flickered out of the corner of his eye and Hideo turned to see a shoji screen behind him.

Another flicker of movement and a human eye was staring at Hideo.

‘Thank you for letting me stay here,’ Hideo spoke and bowed low.

When he looked up again more eyes had joined the first and they seemed to be forming across the screen.

Hideo swallowed and watched as soon the whole screen was taken over by staring eyes.

‘Mokumoku Ren – haunted shoji screen. The first sign of a haunted house,’ Hideo whispered.

Quickly, Hideo began uttering prayers, blessing and thanks, everything he could think of that might keep the spirits of the abandoned house at bay.

Finally exhausted, he collapsed on the floor and fell into a deep sleep.

Sunlight tickling his face woke Hideo. Startled, he looked around, the memory of the haunting eyes hurried him to leave this place. Gathering his thing, he rushed outside then remembered to be respectful and turned back with a low bow to the abandoned house.

‘Thank you for letting me stay. Please don’t haunt me!’ Hideo called.

Spinning around, he ran down the pathway and back onto the dirt road, praying that no spirits followed him.