The Lady in the Lake – was it me?

lake sunset

A college grad! She couldn’t believe it. 22 years old!

“Mum, I’m home!”

SURPRISE!!!!!!

The quiet dark house exploded into a mess of bright light and excited voices. Juliet stood in the doorway as a sea of happy faces rushed towards her. She was pummeled with hugs and kisses. The party started in the early afternoon and didn’t ease up until after six. Finally she found a quiet place in the garden and sat down to catch her breath. A hand touched her shoulder. It was Jake, they’d been sweethearts since high school.

“Your parents did you proud, were you expecting this?”

“Are you kidding? I had no idea. I was sad they couldn’t come to see me graduate, but mum’s illness makes things tough. This was fantastic. Did you help?”

Jake smiled “A little. Lets take a walk by the lake. I want you to myself for a while.”

They walked hand in hand down the hill, the fading sunlight reflected on the distant glassy surface. Juliet shivered and stopped in her tracks.

“Are you cold? Shall we go back?”

“No, I’m okay, someone walked over my grave that’s all!”

“What a weird expression that is, I wonder where it came from?” Jake said as he put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer.

They sat on a bench close to the water and kissed. A romantic setting, the sort of setting that begged a proposal! Juliet said yes and they kissed again, softly, lovingly and then with unbridled passion.

Afterwards they walked to the edge of the lake and sat for a while, dipping their fingers into the shallow water, it was cool, clean. Jake turned his back for a moment, there was no splash, no scream for help, but when he turned around again Juliet was gone.

“Juliet, this isn’t funny, where are you?”

Silence. “Juliet?”

He looked at the water, its glassy surface was still.

“Juliet!”

She looked at him from the depths of the lake, a wicked smile on her face. I was lonely, but it won’t last forever. I’ll have you with me, I’ll catch you.

I’m the lady in the lake and I take what I want.

“Jake I want you!

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. 

The Mist!

Not funny anymore!

June pulled over to the side of the road and switched her four ways on.

I’m gonna call dad, he’ll find me and I can follow him home.

Damn, no signal.

She sat in the car and looked out at the swirling mist that surrounded her. She’d only just passed her driving test and never driven in anything like this before, it was thick and grey. Her headlights were useless, just dazzled her as they lit up the mist.

Okay, I’ll just drive slowly, it’ll take me a long time to get home, but I’ll get there. Maybe dad will come looking for me.

She looked at her watch, ten-thirty, she should have been home thirty minutes ago. She turned the key to start the car. Nothing happened. She tried again. Still nothing. Battery was dead! Still no signal on the phone. June reached into the glove compartment to get her emergency flashlight and was relieved to find it worked.

What do I do now? Do I walk home? It’s only another mile or so.

She looked out into the swirling mist.

Don’t want to but, what choice do I have?

She opened the car door slowly, hesitantly. Why am I so scared? 

She could scarcely see the road ahead of her. She wasn’t even sure she was going in the right direction. Turning around she looked towards her the car, wanting to make sure she was looking at the front of it and not the back. It was gone, already swallowed by the mist. She was alone, in a swirling mass of grey.

Or was shemist

Trolls, Bridges and Billy Goat Gruff

billygoatIt was just past midnight when Toni approached the stone bridge that crossed the river by her home. She smiled, remembering how she’d been scared of this bridge when she was a child, scared of the nasty troll she believed to be hiding in the darkness beneath it. Glenn, her older brother was to blame. He told her the story of Billy Goat Gruff, changing it slightly to make her scared. He had her believe the troll hadn’t really died, but was roaming the country looking for naughty little girls, because naughty little girls tasted so good.

“But I’m not naughty,” she told him tearfully.

That was a long time ago.

Halfway across the bridge stopped and listened. What was that?

“Who’s tramping over my bridge?”

Sure it was her brother she shouted, “Glenn, I know its you, come up here, you’re not funny. What are you doing out at this time of night?”

A throaty evil chuckle echoed from the darkness, “I’m coming to gobble you up.”

“Okay you’ve had your fun, come up here right now.”

“Are you a naughty little girl?”

“Glenn?”

Confused and scared Toni leaned over the stone wall, thinking her brother was going to great lengths to play a prank on her. What she saw was a small, squat shape with white flowing, scrabbling up the bank as fast as it could.

Shit!

She sprinted along the short pathway to her house, surely she could outrun the twisted midget. Breathless and terrified she made it home, but the handle of the front door didn’t turn, it was locked. She ran around to the back, same thing, locked.

“Mam, mam, let me in, open the door!”

Footsteps from within.

“Thank GOD! Mam, hurry!”

The door opened slowly, too slowly. Toni barged through and pushed it closed behind her, locking it quickly.

“Mam, where’d you go? Someone tried to get me, call the police.”

Silence!

Then she heard the raspy voice again.

“I’m going to gobble you up Billy Goat Gruff.”

“I’m not Billy Goat Gruff.”

“You’re a naughty child though, even better!”

*****************************************

Toni sat bolt upright in bed and screamed at the top of her lungs. “Help, MAM!”

The light went on in the hallway. Oh thank heavens, I’m in bed, I was dreaming.

The door opened and a small body with a wizened head stood where Toni expected her mother to be. It’s the last thing she ever saw!

 

The Ghost of a Pendant!

JOY1690.0LThe Stagecoach was less than a five-minute drive, but walking was out of the question on a dark monday evening in winter. There was no sidewalk on the busy road and no lights on the dirt road that led to my house! Country living has its drawbacks!

When I arrived I was greeted by familiar welcoming faces. I didn’t know everyone’s name, but they were regulars, I felt safe there. A glass of Chardonnay was waiting for me when I sat at the bar. They knew me well. No English pub had ever been so welcoming.

“We don’t usually see you on a Monday night”

“I know, Les is Ohio and I wasn’t in the mood for being alone.”

“Menu?”

“No thanks, not tonight”

Bonnie was a star act in the Stagecoach. She was quick and witty, but also drop dead gorgeous with her blue eyes and black hair. She rode a crotch rocket, and not in a girly way.

She bantered with one or two other customers and then came back to me.

“Its quiet even for a monday, everyone’s probably recovering after Christmas. That old guy was in earlier, the one you were asking me about on New Years eve. He looked worse than usual. Kept putting his hands over his ears like he was trying to block something out. He sure has some daemons to deal with.”

Well now I know why he wasn’t home! Someone was in his house though, I felt it. I hope they hadn’t followed me.

The door opened allowing a freezing gust of cold January air into the bar. Bonnie looked over, prepared to greet someone, but no one entered.

“Maybe I didn’t shut the door properly before I came in,” I said, noting the question mark on her face.

“It’s heavy and shuts on its own. You don’t need to shut it. That’s the third time its done that tonight. The folks sitting at the table near the door moved because of it. Weird!”

Yup, it’s a freaky Monday for sure. I drank my first glass of Chardonnay in no time at all. Bonnie placed another on the bar without being asked.

The wine did its trick, finally I relaxed. I glanced around the saloon to make sure I wasn’t ignoring any one I usually talked to, and noticed a young girl sitting alone at one of the tall tables by the dart board. She had no drink in front of her and sat with her head in her hands, long matted hair covering her face.

“Hey Bonnie, who’s that? She wasn’t there a minute ago.”

Bonnie followed my eyes. “I never saw her come in either. She looks like she’s been dragged through a hedge backwards.”

“Ha, you’re starting to use British phrases, you’ll be using my accent soon.”

Bonnie laughed as she walked over to the table to serve the young lady, looking back over her shoulder she shouted, “No, you’ll be talking like me soon.”

By the time she got to the table, it was empty. The young girl had disappeared into thin air. Bonnie shrugged and then picked something up.

“Did you see her leave?” Bonnie asked.

“No, maybe she was a ghost!” I wasn’t joking.

“She must be in the bathroom!”

Bonnie dropped a heart-shaped pendant on the bar in front of me.

“She left something behind.”

“The pendant was easily opened and revealed a worn photo of a child, cute as a button and laughing for the camera. The image changed before my eyes. It became a solemn young girl, then a serious looking teenager. Finally I couldn’t see the face that looked back at me, it was covered with long matted hair. I dropped the pendant on the bar and ran outside, looking for the young girl who’d dropped it. A bitter wind chilled me to the bone, but there was no one out there.

“Who are you and where did you go?”

The cold darkness revealed no secrets.

The Haunting Begins

christmas-bauble_2399692kChristmas came and went, so did my family. It was lovely having them to stay, but nice to see them leave. I dearly loved my parents, but its hard to see them age. Every time I wave goodbye at the airport, I wonder if I’ll ever see them again. I don’t want to get old. 

Taking down the Christmas decorations isn’t nearly as much fun as putting them up. I was cranky and not much fun to be around. Music helped a little.Why am I so sad?

If you won’t let me help you I’m going to the gym.”

I didn’t even answer, just waved as Les disappeared into the garage. I wiped my tears and blew my nose. Whats wrong with me?

Carefully I took the old ornaments from the tree, wrapping each one individually and carefully. These may be old tat to my mum, but to me they were heirlooms, passed down through generations. I wanted to pass them on to my children one day, if I ever had any. I’d never really given any thought to starting a family.

When the last of the antique baubles were carefully packed away I taped the lid onto the box. Another year gone! 

But you breathe, you have life and love. You’ll see your child grow up.”

Who said that?

The room felt cold. The sun disappeared behind a cloud. A gust of wind rattled the remaining dead leaves on the Aspen tree outside.

“Who said that?” My voice sounded strange and distant.

I picked up my cellphone, intending to call Les, but it had no signal. How could that be?

There was movement behind me on the Christmas tree. Scared of what I would see, I turned around slowly.

A single bauble drifted down through the branches and rested, without breaking, on the velvet tree skirt. I sighed with relief. It was just a bauble falling, why was I so jumpy?

How did I miss that? 

As I reached down to pick it up, it rolled away from me and settled on the hearth. Sunlight burst from behind the clouds and shone through the window, turning the bauble into a golden orb, so thin it was translucent. A face looked up at me from within, a sad face, smiling like the Mona Lisa. The face changed and the smile turned to a grimace. My beautiful antique bauble exploded and for a brief moment the face appeared again. This time distorted and then it was gone.

My first novel Dead of July is available on Amazon for $0.99. It’s a fun read and an introduction to my crazy life. Writing is my hobby, but when I retire, it may become my full-time job. I love to write. Support a new writer and check out Dead of July. It’s set in the early eighties in Dortmund, Germany. I was a young Army wife on my first posting abroad. See what happens to me!

The Little Ghost of Christmas

Baby in the hayHad I put too much Rum in the Apple Cider? I rubbed my eye and peered at the shiny bauble. The footsteps had disappeared of course, and my distorted face looked back at me once again.

“What are you looking at?”

“Oh nothing, just thinking about my Grandma!” I said as I turned around.

The TV show had finished and Les sat with the remote in his hand and a look of hesitation on his face. “Did you say something about going out for a drink?” he asked.

“I thought it might be a good idea, but don’t worry, it’s started snowing again, lets stay home.”

The look of relief on his face was obvious. Les wasn’t a socialite and preferred the company of the television. He immediately began looking for something else to watch. “Anything you fancy watching?” he asked.

“No, I’m going outside to take photos of the Christmas lights.” I answered putting on my coat.

“It’s freezing! Why would you do that?” I didn’t answer because I knew he wasn’t listening. He’d found a Karate Cop movie and was already distracted.

I stepped out onto the porch, wondering if he’d even notice I didn’t bring my camera. It was bitterly cold, but beautiful. Huge snowflakes fell slowly from the heavens, turning the world into a silent white wonderland. Christmas lights glittered like jewels on the pine trees. Fairly lights, when I was a kid I called them fairly lights.

I pulled my hat down over my ears and walked purposefully along the drive way to the dirt road. Why I wanted to go back to the barn I wasn’t sure, but I was drawn there. There were only a couple of houses along the half mile that let to the barn so I switched on my flashlight to make sure any passing cars saw me. I needn’t have worried, none passed by. When the moon wasn’t hidden behind snow clouds, it shone brightly, guiding my path, showing me the way. There were no footprints in the snow, but I didn’t need them. I knew where I was going.

After climbing to the top of the hill I paused for a moment to catch my breath. I looked towards the barn. Dim light shone through ill-fitting door. Some one was in there. What am I doing? Why am I here. Why didn’t I tell Les where I was going?

I crossed the virgin snow and stood silently outside for a while, contemplating what to do next. This is a bad idea. Shall I turn back.

Thats when I heard it. The sweet sound of a lullaby. A mother singing to reassure her child, lulling her to sleep. It was enchanting, hypnotizing.

I enjoyed it for a minute or so, until it was replaced by deep heartbreaking sobs. I gently opened the barn door, just a crack and peered inside.

A baby lay sleeping, snuggled tightly on blankets in the hay.

Who’s out there?

CIMG0117

He looked into my eyes, waiting for an answer. What do I tell him? 

“Come on we need to clean these scratches. Are you going to tell me how you got them?”

I daren’t

I followed him to the sink and stood silently while he dabbed my wounds with warm water. “So what happened, I saw you out there in the snow. Not exactly the kind of day to go for a walk. Did you fall?”

“Yes, at the end of the driveway. I heard a noise behind me and it made me jump. Lost my balance!” I said, relieved he’d put the idea of falling in my head. It wasn’t a lie. I did fall.

“What startled you?”

“It was snow falling off a tree branch, silly really, but I was lost in my thoughts.”

“You need to start paying attention or you’re going to hurt yourself.”

“I know, I have another book on my brain though. I was working out the plot in my head, walking helps me think.”

Les laughed. “Your mind is always somewhere else. Did you check the mail?”

“No, I didn’t”

“OK, I’ll do it now.”

I watched him walk along the driveway, wishing I dare tell him what really happened, but I couldn’t. He’d think I was imagining it, getting lost in one of my own plots. Sometimes I wondered if I was! 

Standing on the porch I breathed deeply, inhaling the cold crisp air. Snow fell from the roof, hitting the ground in front of me, I didn’t jump this time. 

Les walked back along the driveway, engrossed in the letters he was carrying, not noticing the snow whipping up behind him even though there was no wind. I held my breath as I watched the glistening mass take shape. It looked like a child, but disappeared before he reached the porch.

“Whats up? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!” Les said as he kicked the snow off his boots. 

If only he knew!

The Spirit World – Just keep talking to me!

I was left alone in the darkness. Cold and exhausted I made no effort to move. If Luca materialized again I was done for! The moon had been hiding behind the clouds, but now appeared and cast a dim silvery glow on the earth. I looked around me, but there was nothing to see, no burning trees, no charred remains, nothing.

Was it a dream, a nightmare?

With the little strength I had left, I pushed myself up off the ground and onto my feet.

Ouch!

Something dug into the heel of my hand. I couldn’t really see what it was, but picked it up anyway. A small round shiny object glimmered in the moonlight. I smiled as shook it back and forth. It was a gypsy bell, the sort Mala wore on her skirt.

Headlights rounded the corner ahead of me. Dare I stand in the road and flag the car down? I had no idea where I was. Unable to make a decision, I watched it pass me by, tail lights disappearing in the distance.

Damn, where am I? I should have flagged it down.

Walking along the dark country road, I felt alone, but no longer afraid. Looking up at the stars I wondered what really happened after death. Were Mala and her love together now, forever? I’d never know, well maybe one day I would, but hopefully not for a long time.

Another car approached. It pulled up next to me.

“Hey there, are you alright, what are you doing in the middle of nowhere? Did your car break down?”

Bending down I peered through the open window and saw Liz, the landlady of the village pub in Brompton.

“Hey Liz, no I haven’t broken down, but I’d love a life home.”

“Oh, its you, what the heck are you doing out here? Jump in.”

I sat in the passenger seat of her sporty little MG. Before she pulled away she looked across at me.

“You look awful! Are you sure everything is OK?”

I started to laugh uncontrollably before tears gushed down my face.

“Oh no! It’s not that bloody dead guy again is it? The one you managed to pick up in my pub?”

I pulled myself together.

“No, he doesn’t bother me anymore. I managed to attract a gypsy this time. Actually, three of them, but it’s all over with now. All sorted.”

“I hope you’re right,” Liz said as she pulled away, “but I have a feeling these little adventures are going to be with you your whole life. How old are you?”

“Twenty!”

“Bloody hell, and how many dead people have you attracted, how many spirits have you sent on their way?”

I thought about it for a while before answering.

“Only two Liz, a couple are still hanging around, but they’re good company.”

If you want to read more about this budding ‘Ghost Whisperer’s’ adventures, keep following my blog. Dead of July, my first book, is currently available on Amazon for $0.99. I’m also working on two more short stories, which are both set in the North of England. One in Blackpool and the other in Brompton on Swale. Brompton is a small sleepy village in North Yorkshire. It’s the village where I spent most of my childhood. Writing is my passion and one day may become my retirement career. Everyone has to start somewhere. 

Thanks for stopping by.

Dead of July by Sandra Thompson