The Engineer

Two young women drinking tea --- Image by © SuperStock/Corbis

The Engineer lived just outside a small village in Lombardy, Northern Italy. He’d lived there all of his life. In fact, he’d lived there as long as anyone could remember. He never seemed to age.

“Dye’s his hair of course” my mum said.

“But he hasn’t aged, Phoebe, no wrinkles, no liver spots. He still looks the same as he did when I was a little girl”

Mum and Betsy sipped their tea silently. I was only seven and didn’t know the Engineer very well. He scared me a little bit. He was very nice enough, gave me sweets sometimes, but his eyes were dark and cold. His jet black hair and mustache showed no signs of grey. I guessed his height to be a little under six feet because he was a little shorter than my brother, and my brother was six foot two. Words weren’t his thing and he used them as little as possible. A tight smile was his only humorous expression, but the smile didn’t touch his eyes.

“Has he ever been married?” Betsy asked mum.

“Not that I know of, I think he dated once, for a year or so, but the she disappeared. Never saw her again.”

“Maybe its a good thing, not sure he’s make a good dad if kids came along. I wonder if he wears make-up. His eyebrows are perfect.”

“Could be gay! That would explain the marriage thing!”

A loud rapping on the door startled us all.

“Its him!” Mum said.

“Don’t be silly Phoebe. Why would he be knocking at your front door?”

“My boiler is playing up. Sometimes we have no hot water.”

“Did you call him” Betsy asked.

“No! I never call him, he just seems to know when something needs fixing.”

Mum’s voice was quiet, she sounded scared. Her hand shook slightly as she put her tea-cup down. “Betsy, come to the door with me.”

I watched as they opened the door. The engineer stood on the step, a tight-lipped smile on his face. He wore jeans, perfectly pressed with a crease down the front and a blue denim shirt. His fashionable shoes were highly polished. A draft blew in from behind him, or perhaps it came from him. I shivered.

“Good Morning Ladies, Phoebe I understand you have a faulty boiler.”

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All about me!

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I’m the one in the middle. Always ready to laugh, always ready for fun. As a kid I was ALWAYS in trouble. I turn every situation into a story.

Other than my family, the important things in my life are writing and visiting Italy. I  finally realized my Italian dream and bought a house in the small village of Colledimezzo, which is in the Chieti province of Abruzzo. I’m just as pleased as punch. I have another dream to fulfill now, to make it as a writer.

I’m still working on my next book, “Ghosts on the Sand” and I have one last short story to write before it’s done. Each story is based on events in my past. “Guy at the Bar” is a tongue in cheek thriller based on a man who tried to hit on me back in the seventies while I was having a quiet drink in “The King Bill” which was a pub I frequented in Brompton-on-Swale, where I used to live. “Ghosts on the Sand” was written about five years ago and it is based on my tumultuous childhood. My dad (by blood) was a bully. Mean, lazy and extremely scary. He beat my mam regularly. I have no good memories of him. This story starts after we left him for good. It talks about a little girl who had premonitions. I do still have premonitions, very accurate ones.

There are also two very short stories in this book.They both just popped into my over active brain. “Camera” is total fiction and set in Brompton-on-Swale and Richmond, North Yorkshire. Its a short, fast paced thriller. My editor couldn’t stop reading it, which meant it was edited super fast. I think that’s a good thing. My final story “The Engineer” isn’t written yet, but it is set in Italy. Total fiction and a kind of black comedy.

Hoping to release this novel for public consumption before March. Can’t wait to hear what you all think.

SandraBookCoverGhostsOnTheSand

Evil Shadows!

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When Sam opened his eyes again it was dark and quiet. He tried to move, but he was fastened tightly to whatever he lay on. His body ached from lack of movement. His eyes became accustomed to the dark and he could make out shadows around him, but nothing moved. A huge black caldron sat on the dying embers of the fire. He dreaded to think what might be inside it. Then he felt silly, witches didn’t really exist, this must be a bad dream. He remembered looking for Dirk in the woods, he remembered the cottage, he remembered…

His arms were numb from being tied so tightly so he wriggled his fingers to make sure they were still there.

He was cold, so very cold.

Sadie, I think I’ll be with you soon. Don’t know where I am, but I’m in trouble and I’m not sure I can escape.

Something stirred in the far side of the cabin. Sam strained his eyes to get a better look.

“Who’s there?” He asked. No reply! Dawn approached and a slice of light found its way through the dark drapes that hung across the window. A man sat in a chair, A man with a misshapen head. Sam watched in horror as sky brightened.

“Dirk, is that you.” The head moved slightly. Sam closed his eyes.

This can’t be happening, This is a nightmare. WAKE UP!

He opened his eyes again.

Oh dear sweet Jesus!

A face with flaming red demented eyes hovered over him,  staring hungrily down. A face he recognized!

“Good Morning Sammie, I’m glad you’re awake. I have a surprise for you.”

“Sadie? What have they done to you?”

The face cracked into a grotesque grin as it bore down on him.

Halloween Treat!

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The nostalgic aromas were intense, his nostrils devoured them.
“I miss you Sadie, I miss you so much.”
Sammie come closer and keep me warm, I’m waiting for you.
He took another step and his knees buckled beneath him. He sunk to the ground. He was aware of hands grabbing onto him, finding a place to grip him and lift him and carry him.
Sam opened his eyes. His vision was blurry. He tried to speak, but couldn’t.
The aroma wasn’t wood smoke anymore, it was rancid, sickening. His eyelids were heavy.

Childish giggling roused him from unnatural slumber. Still unable to move anything but his eyeballs he looked around.
I’m inside the cottage, the old hag has me in her cottage.
As though reading his mind a dark figure appeared, her face was hidden in the shadows, but he could see her body, it was young and shapely.
Is this who Dirk saw in the woods? Is this the old hag playing tricks? She has us drugged.
“Yes you’re in my home, you should be thankful I have you. You fell to the ground out there. I brought you in. Saved you from the forest. I’m insulted that you call me names. Do I look like an old hag?”
I’d be safer in the forest!
“Really? It depends what you call safe?”
Sam’s eyelids were still heavy.
“Come children, give our guest some soup, he’s weak.”
The pattering of tiny feet, the scraping of a chair. The shapely figure disappeared and a deformed face bent over him. A face that looked like it had been patched together roughly from spare human parts. The ears didn’t match, the eyes were odd. If Sam could move, he’d have screamed and run. A grotesque smile twisted the drooling mouth above him. A hand that looked more like a claw held a spoon of steaming liquid. From the shadows at the far end of the cabin a voice commanded him to eat. As the steaming liquid trickled down his throat whispers invaded his ears. They floated around him, above him, beside him. The filled the dark, thick atmosphere of the cabin.

Drink your soup, let it warm your insides,
We need to fatten you up,
We’re cold and hungry we need to eat,
Any you are our special Halloween Treat!

The patchwork face above him licked its lips and drooled a little more, then grinned, revealing two rows of  razor sharp teeth.

Cottage in the Woods

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Sam sat in the pub alone, his beer didn’t taste the same without conversation. He looked at his watch. Dirk was thirty minutes late, never been late before.

Lily, the waitress, came over with a menu. “Eating alone today Sam?”

“No, I’m waiting for Dirk, not sure where he is, he’s never late.”

“Oh you missed him, he was here earlier, dressed up special he was. I asked him if he was going on a date or something. He cleans up well.”

“What time was he here?”

“A little after one I think”

“Did he say where he was going?” Sam asked.

“No, I didn’t ask either, we were really busy. Didn’t eat, just had a beer and a Whiskey chaser. Seemed in a good mood, really chirpy he was. I’d best be getting on, are you ready to order?”

Sam shook his head, “No Lily, I’m not hungry anymore, thanks though.”

Sam sat for a while and thought about what Lily said. He’d know if Dirk was sweet on someone, the old fool couldn’t keep a secret, or so he thought. He was wrong though, Dirk did have a secret. Where had he gone? Then it dawned on him! 

Sweet Jesus he’s gone to see the old hag in the woods, he wants to be young again!

He finished his pint in one gulp and hurried out of the pub. He took the path by the river towards the old woods. Dark clouds gathered, and the first drops of rain fell as Sam took the path that forked left, away from the river. The trees seemed closer together than normal and very little light penetrated their thick branches. Day light turned to darkness in just a few short steps. Sam shivered.

Sammie, come on, hurry. I’m waiting for you Sammie!

“Sadie, is that you.”

He knew it couldn’t be, she was long dead, but he heard her voice clearly.

“I’m coming.”

He quickened his pace and walked deeper into the woods, it was quiet, too quiet. Sam didn’t notice though, Sadie’s voice echoed in his head. It was enticing. His heart ached, he’s missed her so much.

He aroma of a log fire tickled his nostrils. The smell made him nostalgic. They’d spent their honeymoon in a cabin in the New Forest. A November wedding had meant it was cold and they’d snuggled together by the log fire, young and in love. A lifetime ago.

Sammie, I’m cold, come and keep me warm!

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If you like my blogs, support a budding artist by watching out for my upcoming book, which is a compilation of short stories and will be available soon on Amazon. Watch out for  “Ghosts on the Sand and other Chilling Tales”

My first book is available on Amazon by clicking on the following link.

Dead of July – Amazon

 

 

Shadows on the wall

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Sam teased Dirk, but he didn’t seem to mind. He was distracted, excited and even a little giddy. Sam enjoyed seeing his old friend look so happy, but he was afraid it would end badly. The old witch had obviously drugged him and made him believe things. Could she really still be alive?

Sam sat alone in front of the fire in his little two up two down home. The home he’d lived in for fifty years. He’d bought it just after he and Sadie were married, raised the twins there. He didn’t want to be young again, not without his wife, life was lonely without her. Cancer had taken her ten years ago and now the only thing that kept him going was her memory. His heart ached when he thought about her, he was ready to leave this world and join her on the other side. Maybe then they’d both be young again and live in eternal bliss.

Sam, Sammie, wake up

“What? Who said that?”

Sam shivered, the fire had died and was nothing but glowing embers. It was dark. He was disoriented, sure he’d heard his wife’s voice, she was the only person who ever called him Sammie.

“You’ve had too much to drink old man.” he said to himself as he climbed the stairs to his bedroom, “and that old fool filled your head with witchcraft.”

He got into bed and pulled the blankets tightly around him, he was cold, deathly cold. Shadows danced on the wall. Shadows that looked like long bony fingers. Fingers that wanted to reach out and probe him, delve into his parchment thin skin.

Take a life, give a life! 

“What, who said that?”

Sammie, Sammie…

Sam closed his eyes and thought of Sadie, he missed her.

Witch in the Wood

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Sam and Dirk sat at a table by the window in the White Swan, or the Mucky Duck as they lovingly called it. Sam looked a Dirk’s face, his blue piercing eyes were full of excitement. He’d seen that look before, but not for a long time.

“You really believe the old hag is a Witch?” Sam asked.

“Old Hag? There’s nothing old about her, and she’s not a hag, she’s a vision of beauty?”

“I haven’t seen her since we were kids, I’m surprised she’s still alive.”

Dirk sat back in his chair. “I was mushrooming a couple of days ago. I wandered into the woods, better mushrooms in there, best I’ve ever seen. Didn’t realize how far I’d gone. Thats when I saw here. She was out gathering herbs.”

“How do you know it was her?”

“I didn’t think at first, she was a mere slip of a girl, long black hair. I was quiet as a mouse, watching her. I could see the old witches cottage in the distance, smoke coming from the chimney. I thought it was the old hag’s granddaughter. Don’t know how she knew I was there, she didn’t even turn around, just spoke.”

Hi Dirk, I haven’t seen you in I long time. 

Sam started laughing, “I think you were picking magic mushrooms, how many did you eat?”

Dirk continued,  “I took a step closer to her and she turned around and looked at me. She was a vision. If only I was 20 years younger?”

“That would make you fifty, still too old.”

Derek seemed not to hear Sam mocking him, “She looked me in the eye and I felt young, alive. She smiled at me.”

Not scared of me anymore? You used to run when I looked at you. 

“She took a step closer and I could feel her breath on my face. It smelled of the forest. She stroked my cheek and my skin tingled.

Dirk turned his face, “Look Sam, look at my cheek.”

Sam’s vision wasn’t what it used to be, so he took his spectacles out of his top pocket to take a closer look. Sam’s cheek appeared to have a scar on it, only it wasn’t a scar, it was a strip of perfectly soft, clear unwrinkled skin.

“Do you see it Sam, do you see what she did?”

Death Memory

522891-murder”Why does it feel warm?”

She undid the popper that kept the camera case closed. The clicking had stopped, but camera vibrated. It was processing something. Barbara shuddered.

“I don’t like the way it feels, it feels warm alive.”

“Here, give it to me,” Lucy said, “this whole thing might be some sort of joke, lets see what on its memory.”

Barbara looked around uncomfortably; they were surrounded by darkness and silence. It wasn’t a good place to be at night. Lucy gasped.

“Oh sweet Jesus. Oh dear God.”

“What is it?”

Lucy turned stood next to her friend and showed her the secrets captured in the camera’s memory. Barbara turned around and hung on to the branch of a tree while she threw up.

Green Eyed Monster

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Sometimes, like the devil, jealousy whispers persistently in your ear.
The green-eyed monster, you have to fight him!

Celine and Cassie were best friends, and had been since Kindergarten. They shared everything, including head lice because their heads, full of bouncy curls, were always together. They went to the same college, shared an apartment, shared a car, but things came undone when they both fell in love with the same man.

He was tall with a mop of thick black hair. His eyes were the deepest blue. He as French and from the moment he opened his mouth, they were both smitten.

“Lets just stay away from him,” Cassie said, “that way nothing can happen, he won’t date either of us and we can continue living our lives just as we always have. He probably doesn’t like us anyway, so we shouldn’t worry.”

She knew different though. She already had a second date with him, they’d already kissed. She told Pierre not to mention it to Celine, she didn’t want her to know. He agreed. As she saw more of him, Celine grew suspicious.

“Where have you been?” Celine asked on night when Cassie got in late.

“I’ve been working out.”

It made sense, she did smell a little, her hair was a mess and her make-up smudged. It started to happen a lot though. Cassie began to follow her. One night Cassie didn’t come home at all. She was gone the following day too. When she finally turned up late in the evening, her eyes shone and she was flushed.

“What have you been up to?” Celine said, her eyes narrowing.

“I’ve met a boy.” Cassie said, “I didn’t want to tell you, but I do now. I think I’m in love.”

“Why did you keep it a secret? Why didn’t you let me meet him?”

Cassie hung her head, “Because you know him. It’s Pierre.”

“You goddamn lying bitch, we agreed to stay away from him. You know I like him.”

Cassie walked across the room. Celine met her half way.

“I’ve been following you. I’ve seen what you’ve been doing. I watched you together you slut! He only wants you for sex.”

“Cassie held out her hand, a diamond sparkled from her engagement finger.”

“He loves me, look, we’re engaged.”

Celine looked odd, he right eye twitched. Her face contorted in anger. She trembled. The room seemed to go a shade darker. She grabbed Cassie by the throat with superhuman strength and pushed her backwards towards the wall, banging her had violently. Blood ran down the yellow paint.

“Celine stop, you’re hurting me.”

“Not nearly enough.” Cassie reached behind her and grabbed a meat cleaver. She’d placed it on the table earlier. Her first intention was to scare Cassie with it. Now she wanted to kill her.

Celine’s eyes looked green, scary and she smiled a deranged terrifying smile as she dragged Cassie towards open window and sank the knife into the top of her head. She didn’t look so happy now.

Below Pierre waited  for Cassie to call him. He knew she was going to tell Celine they were an item. The were engaged and Celine would be the first to know. She’d make a beautiful bridesmaid. Shame she was a closet lesbian. He’d been attracted to her first, until Cassie told him he was wasting his time, she preferred women.

He saw two shapes in the window of their 4th floor apartment. Getting out of the car, he locked the door. It was time to go up and celebrate.

He crossed the road and stood beneath the window, looking up, waiting for one of them to wave at him. Cassie’s face appeared, she opened her mouth to shout at him. He smiled!

Cassie was dead before she fell. The meat cleaver had taken off the top of her head. It was still lodged in her brain when she fell on top of Pierre, it hit him between the eyes. He died instantly.

Their blood mingled and surrounded them on the sidewalk.

Celine looked down at them before stabbing herself in the shoulder.

“Help, HELP!” she yelled from the open window, “I’ve been attacked. He killed my friend, won’t somebody call an ambulance. HELP!”