Ghosts on the Sand

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Ghosts on the Sand  (Art by Kara Boulden)Strangers emerged from thin air, running toward the fire, shouting to one another in a language I didn’t understand. The watery inferno illuminated their fear-stricken faces. Shadowy figures floated slowly toward the shore, bobbing up and down grotesquely in the shallow water.

Trembling, I closed my eyes and prayed. Was this a nightmare?

Kara Boulden is an exceptional artist and she has agreed to produce a fabulous book cover for me. This is where we are so far. What do you think? I LOVE it.

Juggling work, home, chores and life with my next book release is tough, but I can do it.

Ghosts on the Sand (and other chilling tales) will be released late 2017 or early 2018. It will be a compilation of three or four short stories at the bargain price of $99 for the eBook.

I’m excited for you to read my next venture, and encourage feedback (good or bad), its how I become a better writer. As I head down the road to retirement I realize I’ll never truly retire, so writing will be my new and very pleasurable job.

Toodles, pop back soon!

Nice Day for a Wet Wedding!

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Juliet discovered she was pregnant a month before the wedding. It wasn’t a problem, unless morning sickness spoiled the big day. She was happy, and so was Jake. Pregnancy meant no wild hen party (or bachelorette party as her American friends called it), but that was OK, she could put it on hold until after the baby was born, something to look froward to.

Then the big day came. May 15th. She was awoken by someone tapping on her bedroom door.
“Is the bride ready for breakfast?”
“Come on in dad, I’m awake”
He dad carried a tray laden with goodies. Fruit, coffee, brioche, jam.
“You’re the best dad in the world!”
“I just want to spoil my little girl while I can. Why are you crying? Don’t cry. You still want to get married don’t you?”
“I’m crying because I’m happy!”
The quiet moment didn’t last long. The doorbell rang constantly after that as caterers, family, friends and neighbors showed up to help prepare for the big event. Juliet drank her coffee and nibbled some fruit, but was far too excited to eat more. She was marrying the man she loved. Life was good.

Stretching she slid out of bed and walked across to the window. The large marquee was set up out front and was bustling with activity. There were flowers, balloons, lights, tables, ribbons. Everything a girl could ask for and more. The sky was a perfect blue.
I’m so lucky, nothing could spoil this moment.

Juliet was wrong!

As she slipped into her beautiful white wedding dress thunder rumbled, and it wasn’t in the distance, it was right overhead. She shivered! Please don’t rain on my wedding day! By the time the bridesmaids had fixed her veil the first big drops of rain splattered on the ground.
“I hope the marquee is waterproof.” she joked, but she wasn’t laughing inside. Something bothered her. When she saw Jake waiting for her in the marquee, she stopped worrying. The sight of him filled her with happiness. His hair was cut shorter than normal and made him look like a school boy again. She remembered their first prom together and smiled and walked towards him.

As the ceremony began, the intensity of the rain increased. By the time they exchanged vows they had to shout to be heard.

The happy couple said I do, kissed and then turned to face their guests. They were finally man and wife!

Something caught Julia’s eye at by the entrance at the side. A woman stood dripping with water. She was dressed in black. A dark veil covered her face. Juliet stopped smiling when she saw her. Something was wrong, something tugged at her memory. Who is that? The woman lifted her veil revealing her face.

Juliet’s face.

Jake tried to hold onto his bride, but she fell to her knees.

Juliet fainted.

Secrets of the Lake

Juliet was only LakeLadyfifteen the first time she saw the lady in the lake. She’s taken a short cut on her way home from theater class at school and stopped to rest under the shade of a Weeping Willow. With her back up against the trunk, she inhaled the sweet evening air.

The lake was a beautiful shade of sunset and she wished she had a camera to capture it.

At first she thought the shape in the middle of the lake was a log, but it was too tall. The lake was deep, very deep. Police divers had scoured it for a missing child a couple of years earlier and she’d heard one of them talking to her mam about it’s surprising depth.

Juliet stood up and walked to the water’s edge, hoping to get a better look. Were her eyes playing tricks with her? Clear as can be, in the middle of the lake, was a woman. She appeared to be waist deep in water, which wasn’t possible. Her face wasn’t visible because because she looked down into the water. Long black hair trailed on it’s glassy surface.

“Hey there, hello, do you need help? HELLO!”

No answer.

Shall I go for help?”

No answer.

There was a boat tied up by a little jetty on the far bank, but it would take a half hour or so to get there. The woman must surely be treading water, she’d be dead by then.

What do I do? I’m not a strong swimmer, if I tried to save her I’d drown!

She looked back at the lake, the empty lake, it’s smooth surface reflected the setting sun like a mirror. There wasn’t even a ripple in the water.

The light began to fade fast and Juliet knew she wouldn’t get home before dark. She shivered, eager to be away from the lake and its secrets.

She burst through the front door of her house, happy to be enveloped in warmth and light. Her dad sat in his favorite chair, watching television, he looked up when she walked in!

“Whatever’s wrong pet? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

In 2013 I published my first novel Dead of July – Amazon. Life has kept me pretty busy since then, but I’m writing again and soon hope to release a compilation of short stories – Ghosts on the Sand and other Northern Tales. I love writing stories about the North of England, its where I was raised. 

Ghosts on the Sand

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The sun slid behind a cloak of darkness while I cowered on the sand terrified and alone. A flaming ball of fire burned a path through the darkened sky tumbling towards me. Closing my eyes, I waited to die. An earth-shattering explosion rocked the beach. A volcano of hot gushing water erupted from the waves. Angry flames reached out hungrily, looking for something to devour. Strangers emerged from thin air, running towards the fire, shouting to one another in a language I didn’t understand. The watery inferno illuminated their fear stricken faces. Shadowy figures floated slowly towards the shore, bobbing up and down grotesquely in the shallow water. Trembling I closed my eyes and prayed. Was this a nightmare?

My new book is almost ready for the first round of editing. Here’s a small preview from “Ghosts on the Sand”

This story will feature in a compilation with three other short stories. I’m aiming to release it at the end of the year.

 

Ghostly Guidance

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Larry and his wayward friends left, pleased and excited with the way the night had turned out leaving Jack, Janie and I at the kitchen table, where we talked long into the night. Photos from the old tin were spread out in front of us. The faces on them were now familiar to me. Everything made sense now, well sort of.

“My mom and dad were killed in a car accident when I was twelve years old. I was home alone when the police knocked on the door. They took me with them and arranged for me to go into foster care.”

“Why? Did you have no more family?” I asked.

“No, I didn’t even have a birth certificate.”

“Where was your home?” Jack asked.

“Colorado Springs, it turns out my parents weren’t my birth parents, but took me in when I was a baby. There was no legal documentation. No way of knowing where I’d come from.”

“How do you know they weren’t your parents?”

“A neighbor told the police when they were trying to track down family. She’s known my mom a long time, knew she couldn’t have kids.”

Jack shook his head, “You were so close, less than an hour away from me for all of these years. How did you end up on here? How did you get involved with the scumbags on Colfax?”

“I ran away when I was fifteen. My foster parents were awful, I was nothing more than an unpaid child minder to their spoilt kids. The man tried to abuse me several times, he’d hit me and threaten me. It was a nightmare. His wife didn’t believe me, she hated me for telling her.”

“How did you come by the photos, the ones you’ve just showed to us?” I asked.

Janie’s eyes filled with tears. “I found them in my mom’s room when the cops took me back there to collect my belongings, I’d never seen them before so I snatched them, hoping they’d help me find my real parents.”

“You know the girl in the photos is my daughter Janie, don’t you!”

“Yes, thats why I’m here, I recognized you when I saw you walking down the road one day. You were younger in the photos, but I knew it was you. I figured out you were my grandad. I was happy, but scared to talk to you because I’m a no good drifter!”

Jack covered his face with his hands, rubbed his bleary eyes and then spoke in a weak trembling voice, “Don’t ever say that about yourself. I can see you mother in you. I knew the first moment I laid eyes on you. I don’t care about your past, what you’ve done, or where you’ve been. I want to make your future better, I want to make up for everything you’ve missed. Your mother died giving birth to you. I let her down, I miss her and I can never fix that, but you are going to have the life she never got chance to live!”

I could see it was time for me to leave.

“I’m going to let you two talk and figure out your future, I’ll see myself out.”

Jack looked up at me. “Thank you for everything!”

“Hey, don’t thank me, thank Alice Hobson, she’s my grandma and the one who pushed me to help. I suspect your wife and daughter conspired with her to draw Janie to the barn, and close to you. Its got to be more than coincidence”

I felt my gran smile inside my head, she liked it when I talked about her.

“You’re different that for sure,” Jack responded, “but in a good way I guess.”

I looked back towards the kitchen before I opened the front door. Jack and his new-found grand child sat opposite each other, holding hands across the table. Behind Jack, and probably only visible to me, stood his wife, she smiled across at her daughter Janie, who stood behind her namesake. They were there for a few seconds and then they were no more.

The kitchen was filled with the smell of fresh bread.

 

Guns for Hire

1349149576_207110572717748_346456661_nI went to work the following day, but couldn’t concentrate. Dear God let me survive tonight! Honestly, I was more worried about Jack than myself. I spent my teenage years on the wrong side of the track. It’s a wonder I lived to see twenty, but I did. I talked myself out of so many bad situations I couldn’t remember them all, but Jack, well he didn’t look that strong. I left work early, we’d planned to meet Larry, the old guy from the bar, at eight o clock. I wanted to get home and have a couple of hours to myself first. I hoped to get a few words of wisdom from my gran. She had a habit of appearing when I needed her, but she’d been silent for a while now.

I looked at myself in the mirror, not sure dressing like a hooker was a good idea, but I didn’t want to stand out and the only women in a bar we were going to, were working girls. I honked the horn outside Jack’s house. He appeared immediately and we drove to the Stage Coach in silence. We walked through the door to see Larry already waiting for us at the bar. He looked me up and down as I entered, but said nothing. Jack hadn’t noticed my outfit until now. His face told me what he thought.

Larry ordered a round of drinks. He and Jack ordered a shots, I stuck with beer.

“It shouldn’t be too busy tonight, it’s the beginning of the week, but for Gods sake be careful. Be pleasant in a rough sort of way. These folks look after their own and don’t care about anyone else. Women have one use to them and one use only. Sheila, you’re with me. If you have to sit on my lap all night, do it, it’s for your own safety. Giggle a lot and kiss my cheek if you feel like it, but you’re with me. Let them think I bought you for the night.”

Jack ordered another shot, he didn’t like this one bit.

Bonnie looked concerned. I followed her as she cleared tables at the far end of the Saloon. “What do you know about this guy, Larry?” I asked.

“Larry’s a good guy, drinks too much, but he’s OK! I’m not sure if he’ll be able to protect you if things go pear-shaped though. You’re going to a rough bar on East Colfax. Even the cops leave that place alone.”

“We have to do it! We have to try to save this girl. I think we’re her only chance of a normal life.”

The door opened and four guys walked in, they were big and rough-looking, I hadn’t seen them before. Larry raised his arm when he saw them and they pulled out chairs alongside him at the bar. Bonnie went to served them and I went back to my seat.

“I brought reinforcements.” Larry said. “I thought we might need them.”

Jack swallowed another shot, I don’t think it touched the sides as it went down his throat. I smiled and stuck my hand out “I’m Sheila and I’m really glad to see you guys.”

“You don’t need to know our names, in fact its better if you don’t.”

I looked back at the four strangers. They all grinned at me, showing lots of teeth, not all of them white.

“Drinks all round.” Larry said.

Bonnie obliged, then leaned towards me and whispered in my ear. “I feel a whole lot better now.” she tilted her head towards the guy standing closest to me. He had a gun tucked in the back of his jeans.

Guns for hire, I hope they don’t have to use them!

Help ME!

131286-aaa-tests-shine-high-beam-headlight-limitations.2As I walked home, my temples began to throb. Goddam this day! Why don’t I feel good about helping this girl? 

“Give it time!”

It was my Gran’s voice. I was comforted to hear it. Gran who is this girl.? There was no reply. The phone rang as I walked through the front door. I ignored it. After taking a couple of aspirin, I lay down on the sofa and slept. My dreams were a troubled mess of sirens and anxiety. When I finally woke up it was dark and cold. I was disoriented. Where am I?

Looking around, I focused my eyes and thoughts. At home of course. I’d slept for six hours. It was almost time to meet up with Jack and Janie again. Was that really her name? I doubted it. More likely she’d done her research on a poor lonely old man and chosen the name to take advantage him. But why do I feel the presence of his dead wife and daughter?

I washed my face and changed my rumpled clothes. The phone came to life again.

It was Les, “where have you been? I’ve been calling you at work and at home.”

“I stayed home, had an awful nights sleep and just couldn’t face work. I heard the phone ring once here, but I didn’t answer because I was trying to sleep.”

“Once, I rang about six times.”

Maybe the sirens I heard in my dreams was the phone ringing. 

“Well I never heard it.”

“Good news, I will be home this weekend after all. The system isn’t going live until next week.”

“Great,” I said, not sounding the least bit enthusiastic. “Look I’m not feeling well, I’ll call you later.”

I was becoming more agitated by the second. My heart was beating fifty to the dozen. I grabbed my coat, and jumped in the car, almost forgetting to open the garage door before I drove out. Something felt wrong!

Jack’s house was lit up like a beacon, porch light, bedroom lights, and the door stood wide open. As my car crunched along the driveway Jack appeared.

“She’s gone!” he said

“Is anything missing?” I asked without thinking.

He looked hurt. “I didn’t check and I don’t need to. We have to find her.”

“OK, jump in, we’ll go to the barn first.”

“No need, I already checked there, no sign of her.”

I closed my eyes and tried to collect my thoughts. Had she ever really existed? Was she something I’d conjured up? No, Jack has seen her too.

I started to speak, but my words were drowned by the noise of a truck passing by, music blaring from the windows.

“Help me!”

Icy fingers closed around my heart. I looked at Jack.

“Did I imagine that?”

He shook his head and jumped in the passenger seat.

“Go!” He yelled.

 

Dead of July  is my first novel and its available on Amazon for $0.99. It’s set in 1982 in Dortmund, Germany. If you’re enjoying my short blog stories, give it a try.

 

Confusion!

image0012I watched, hypnotized, as Janie and Jack warmed to each other. Janie didn’t say much, but her fear melted away. I became suddenly drowsy, all I wanted to do was sleep. My eyelids were so heavy I could hardly keep them open.

“Are you alright?” Jack asked. “You look exhausted. You can go upstairs and lie down if you want.”

I thought of the voices I’d heard in the bedroom, voices from the past, from the long dead. I wasn’t afraid of them, but I didn’t want to share a room with them. I wanted to be alone. I was tired and confused and I wanted to rest and think. Who was this girl? What was happening. “I’ll go home if it’s all the same to you. I’m tired, didn’t sleep well last night.”

My voice sounded unnatural and distant. It echoed around the room and seemed to hang in the air. Jack wasn’t paying attention anyway. He was focused on his new guest. Did he think she was his daughter? Surely not! His daughter was dead. “Janie do you want to come home with me?” I asked. “You’re more than welcome. You can take a shower and I can find  you some fresh clothes.

She shook her head.

“OK then I’m going.”

Jack walked me to the door. “You know this isn’t your daughter right!” I said, “This is some poor kid living rough, you need to be careful.”

“I know that, but this girl has been sent to me. She’s here to give me a second chance. I know we’re connected somehow. I have to help her. When she’s here I feel Janie, my Janie. I feel Miriam too.”

“Do you hear them or see them?” I asked.

“No I don’t, but I know you do, I’ve seen you looking upstairs. I’ve seen you listening. My family is here and you know it. I wish I could see them too, but I can’t. They are reaching out to me through this girl instead.”

Jack looked unsure of himself, vulnerable. “I don’t know your family Jack, but there is certainly a presence in your home. They’re here for you not me. What if they’re here to warn you about her? Just be careful OK! You know nothing about this girl.”

“I know nothing about you either,” he said, “but I trust you.”

I looked over Jack’s shoulder and saw Janie stand up. She she stood alone in the empty kitchen. A couple of the stairs creaked from the weight of unseen footsteps. A chill passed though my body. Footsteps crunched on the gravel behind me. I turned around, no one was there.

“I’m going home to take a nap, I’ll be back later though, maybe we can grab dinner in the Stagecoach, I’ll drive!”

“Sounds good,” he said, “Stop by around six.”

I walked along the drive way, my legs barely supporting me.

Who is this girl? 

Where did she come from?

What comes next?

 

Janie’s Home

JOY1690.0LJack and I stood still, holding our breath, thinking she’d turn and run at any moment. She kept coming though. When she was a few paces away from us she stopped and looked around frantically as though she’d suddenly remembered something.

“Walk, I’ll follow you,” she whispered.

“Your house or mine?” I asked Jack.

“Mine,” he replied, “It’s closer.”

I wanted to hurry. I wanted to get her inside to safety. She was afraid of something or someone and looked like she could turn and run.

“Do you think she’s in danger?” I asked Jack.

“Not sure, but somethings wrong.”

The footsteps behind us stopped, Jack and I continued walking slowly, hoping we’d hear them again. We did! When we approached Jack’s front door I was smothered with emotion. Not sure what was causing it, but it was overpowering. Maybe it came from Jack’s wife and daughter. Their presence was all around us. It felt good. I stepped onto the porch and turned to gesture Janie into the house ahead of me. She was smiling, her face was glowing. She closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. “Mama!” she said.

Jack was already inside and didn’t hear her, but I did.

The wind chimes hanging from the porch, whispered  gently in the breeze. The sound comforted Janie. She looked like a different person as she stepped inside the house. I stood on the porch and watched her walk into the kitchen. She pulled out a chair and sat down as though she’d lived there her whole life.

Jack beckoned me to join them, he was smiling too. “Come on in Sheila. Janie’s home.”

I joined them, greeted by the smell of coffee and fresh bread.

“Mama brought me here,” Janie said, “She brought me home.”

Janie clutched the locket to her heart. “Mama and Granmama.”