Old Mother Shipton and Brompton-on-Swale

shipton

I lived in Brompton-on-Swale from 1967 – 1977. My teenage years were spent in this small northern village, and they were good years. I think I had my first alcoholic drink (legally) in the King Bill, which is no longer open for business. “Guy at the Bar” is inspired by events that happened in this public house. It was a scary evening for me, but I survived, and lived to tell the tale. I’m working as hard as I can (while still holding a full-time job) to get this story along with one or two others into a compilation of short stories called “Ghosts on the Sand and other Chilling Tales.” Be patient, it’s coming.

“Run while there’s still time!”
“What?”
“You’ll die if you stay here.”
“Die? What are you talking about?”
“The flood, it’s coming.”
“What flood?”

I looked around for approaching waves. “Where’s this water going to come from?”

“You’ll see soon enough. I’m heading for the hills!”
“There’s no water close enough to us to cause a flood.”

Our soon to be ex next-door neighbor, glared at me as though I was the crazy one.
“The river Swale, it’s going to wash the village away. You’ll be sorry if you stay here, mark my words.”
“Don’t listen to her Sheila,” my Mam whispered, “she’s lost her marbles. I’m glad she’s moving out.”
“I can hear what you’re saying. You think I’m not right in the head,” she persisted, “but I’m telling you, the village is doomed.”

My dad joined us
“What’s all this about a flood?” he asked, clearly irritated at the thought of having bought a house in a flood zone.

“Old Mother Shipton. She warned us. The flood is coming, I can feel it.”

My dad laughed, clearly relieved,

“For a minute I thought you were serious. Don’t worry girls; Mother Shipton is a legend in these parts. She lived in a cave in Knaresborough hundreds years ago. Many people believed she was a prophet, but others claimed she was a Witch. I’ll take you to visit the caves if you like. We’ll take a picnic and make a day of it.”

My Mam looked relieved and continued to unload the van.

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Journey to Insanity

The Clown rolled backwards at the sound of my scream. He fell on his bottom between the seats and sat there looking dazed. Although I felt a little sorry for him I remained in my hiding place, unsure of my surroundings. Where had this bus come from?  Currently I was on a bus driven by Hitler and the only other passenger was a clown.

The bus stopped again and I heard the door open. We were in the middle of the County Durham Countryside. There were no lights and the moon was hiding behind a cloud. I heard the sound of slow heavy footsteps as another passenger climbed the steps and paid his fare.

I looked across to where the clown, who was still sitting on the floor. His eyes were wide and he was trembling. He scuttled across to me without standing up. We crouched at the back of the bus, peeping above the seat in front to see who was about to share our journey.

We weren’t quite expecting to lock eyes with Frankenstein . It was pointless hiding anymore so the clown and I huddled together on the back seat of the bus. I couldn’t believe I was holding hands with a clown.

To be honest, although the latest passenger looked like Frankenstein, he certainly wasn’t scary. Instead he looked quite sad. He was tall and not very well-coordinated. His head was a little flat on top, and he had a big scar on his forehead, but he looked rather shy.

He sat sideways on the seat in front so he could talk to us. “Hello” he said “my name is Bernard”

The clown and I laughed. Bernard looked hurt and turned his back. “I’m sorry” I said “I didn’t mean to laugh, I just didn’t expect you to be called Bernard. My name is Poppy.”

“Poppy, Poppy.” said the clown “You don’t look like a flower. My name is Jack”

“Jack’s are alway heros and you don’t look like a hero.” I replied, a little annoyed.

Bernard turned around and smiled at us. “I know, everyone thinks I should be called Frankie like the monster.”

I felt safe again and started to think of Herman Munster, from the TV show. Bernard looked like Herman Munster, he wasn’t scary at all.

“What are you laughing at” a voice hissed. An awful voice filled with hatred and venom.

Another passenger had crept aboard, a passenger I really didn’t want to get close to.

 

She slithered down the middle of the bus and made herself comfortable on the back seat next to Jack, who was holding my hand so tightly it hurt.

Her body moved constantly as she rattled and hissed. She was beautiful, but deadly. I was unable to speak. Bernard moved to the front of the bus. I saw Hitler’s reflection in the rear view mirror. He was enjoying the show.

I have fun with my blogs and I hope you do too! Writing gives me great pleasure. It allows me to escape from everyday life and fantasize. It is also a great way to practice my writing skills and practise makes perfect. 

My first two short stories are available on Amazon for a little while longer. In March, my first full lenght nove ‘Dead of July”(Preview) Dead of July will be released and my short stories will be taken down to re-edit. I am also in the process of writing my second novel ‘September Souls’ which is set in the London Blitz. Follow my blog and have fun with me. 

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Girl on the Beach (UK)

Girl on the Beach (US)

Guy at the Bar Amazon

Guy at the Bar Amazon UK

 

Guy at the Bar on Amazon until Friday! $2

 

Raw and original

 

Hard to believe the year is almost over! I covered a lot of ground this year, but it was really just a practice run for the task ahead of me.

I have learned ‘patience’ whilst I wait for editors and cover artists to do their thing!

I have learned to edit my work as I write!

I have leaned an awful lot about Social Media, networking, internet marketing.

Next year is going to be tough and busy in many ways so I need to learn to ‘switch off’ sometimes and recharge my tired brain.

My humble (and amusing) unedited version of ‘Guy at the Bar’ is still for sale on Amazon. On Friday it will be taken down and will not be on sale again until it is edited and has a new cover. If anyone wants  copy of the first, unedited book I published, so you can laugh and say “I knew her when” you can still buy it for two dollars. When it is “polished” and relaunched, it will be $7.

Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

‘Guy at the Bar’ takes a short vacation.

 

Where it all started

 

 

If you have been following my blog, you know that ‘Guy at the Bar’ was my first short story. It is the story that gave me the writing bug. I published it as an eBook on Amazon, and to my surprise sold a few copies, enough to buy a bottle of champagne anyway.

I joined ‘Meet Up’ groups where I met seasoned writers, as well as beginners like myself. I am learning an awful lot from these people, and still have an awful lot to learn. One thing I do know though is I must re-edit my first story and make it more readable. A professional editor can help make a good story great. I think ‘Guy at the Bar’ is a good story and will remain on Amazon for $2 until the end of December.

When it returns in April, it will have a facelift. As well as being professionally edited, it will have a fancy new cover, and will probably be available in paperback too.

Thanks to everyone who bought my first book and gave me the confidence to continue. You will be hearing a lot more from me next year.

 

 

 

 

Guy at the Bar – Widgets and Gizmos!

Good Morning World! It was a late night last night as I wrestled with widgets and things to find out how to link ‘Guy at the Bar’ from my blog to Amazon where you can purchase it…..I did it. I hope this makes it much easier for you all. There are millions of books on Amazon so now, if you want to, you can go directly to mine. ‘Girl at the Beach’ will be joining it soon.  Does anyone have any feedback on ‘Flat Country Snow?’ Have a lovely June day, and keep reading!

‘Guy at the Bar’ or ‘Girl on the Beach’?

Give me some feedback.  Which did you think was the best?  Be honest!

I enjoyed writing them both. Guy at the bar will always be may favorite because it was the first one I plucked up courage to share.  I am hoping I get better with experience, but who knows.  Have a FANTASTIC long weekend everyone. Grill, entertain and relax.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I have just submitted ‘Guy at the Bar’ to another publisher.  Lets hope someone likes it. I just need one acceptance to give me some confidence. Almost finished my third story.  I may have my book together by Christmas.  Just trying to find my way around in this new hobby of mine. Keep reading and share my experiences. Almost ready to start posting my next story….when I have a title.  Maybe I should just publish it and let you guys help me decide on a title. There’s a thought.

Guy at the Bar – Chapter Five – Final Chapter

This is where it all ended

Chapter Five

When I got to work Sandra had just made coffee and we sat and chatted for a while. She knew I was nervous about the funeral, and she knew something else was wrong, but didn’t push me. Tony was away on a computer training course, Don was out on his rent collecting rounds, and I don’t know where everyone else was, but it was nice to sit and just chat for a while. Sandra asked me if I wanted to unload anything on her, and I told her I daren’t because it all sounded so wild and crazy. I told her that Lindsay had confided in me and I didn’t want to break her confidence. I really wanted to blurt it all out and tell her what was going on, but I just couldn’t. When I started my job at the Council Offices, they all thought I was on drugs. I had done my urine specimen in an old aspirin bottle (they didn’t provide the little plastic bottle in those days), well I suppose I hadn’t washed it out well enough, so a second test was required. Unbeknown to me, they had all thought I was on drugs, even though I wasn’t, (not then anyway)! If I told her what was on my mind, she would definitely think I was taking something! We drank our coffee and talked about other things, and then I went through the swinging doors into the computer room and got on with my work. I just couldn’t settle though! My mind was all over the place. The phone rang, it was Lindsay! She was calm and resigned to the fact she was burying Guy’s brother, and didn’t know where Guy was. I think deep down, she thought he had left her, much better than thinking he was dead, which he could be if Gareth hadn’t changed. I told her I would see her at the funeral. I hardly knew this girl, but I really felt for her. About half an hour later the phone rang, it was Liz. She said she would come and pick me up and we would drive to the funeral together. She said she would be there at around noon. I half heartedly got on with my work, not really concentrating, feeling pretty helpless.

At around 10:30 Sandra popped her head in and told me she was going to meet Don down at the swimming baths for a coffee, which was where the old Railway Station used to be. She said she wouldn’t be long! For some reason she triggered something in my brain and I sat bolt upright! It was like I’d suddenly been wired into a movie and saw pictures flashing through my head. It was wild, I saw two men fighting, outside a pub, even though I couldn’t see their faces, I knew it was Guy and Gareth. I suddenly became one of them and felt myself looking up at someone, which one of them was I looking at? I was lying on the ground, and then I was being dragged along by my arms, not far, but it hurt. Then I was bundled in the back seat of a car, I banged my head as I went in and everything in my head started to fade. I felt my consciousness slipping away, as the car bumped and rattled along a rough track. Then I blacked out! “Sheila, Sheila”, I opened my eyes and looked up into Sandra’s face. I was lying on the floor. Sandra was looking down at me. I felt all groggy and strange. “OK stay there” she said, “I’ll call an ambulance”. “No, no time”, I yelled it so loud Sandra almost fell over. I told her I was OK, but was talking so quickly I could see she was still worried. Sandra, listen to me and TRUST ME”. I asked her if she knew who the Land Rover in the car park belonged to. She told me it was the tax guy on the next floor. I ran upstairs two at a time and ran into the small tax office. He was the only person in there, I didn’t even know his name, but told him it was an emergency, I needed him to drive me somewhere, and I needed him to do it because his vehicle could be driven ‘off road’. He looked a little hesitant, but also a little excited. “OK!” he said. Sandra was just entering his office as we left, she asked me if she should come and I told her it probably wasn’t a good idea. She looked a little hurt, and even more puzzled.

We got into the big green Land Rover (I found out his name was David too, was everyone in the Treasurers office called David?) and David asked me where we needed to go. “OK drive down to the old Railway station and then through the gate and along the bridle path by the tracks” I told him. He looked at me. “How far along”, he asked “Because I think we can only get along there as far as that old station master’s cottage, the one all the devil worshippers use”. “That’s where we are going!” I told him. Now he did look at me like I was a crazy person. I told him I thought someone may be in there, and may be injured, which is why we needed to drive, plus, it would have taken me twenty minutes or longer to get there, even if I ran. I told him it was a hunch, which made him look at me like I was totally insane. I hoped I was right with my hunch, and we weren’t too late. My panic was working into a crescendo now. I could hardly breathe! We left the car park and headed down to the old Station, Don was parked there, waiting for Sandra. I didn’t have time to tell him what was going on. She would have to stay at work and cover for me so I was sure he would go up and find her. It was less than half a mile away.

I jumped out of the big Land Rover (almost breaking my ankle those things were much higher than my car), and opened the gate. We bumped along the bridle path; it was muddy and lumpy, not really meant for four wheels, more for four hooves. We couldn’t go very fast, but still much faster than if we had walked or run. The old Signal house came into view, more of a ruin than a house now, surrounded by trees so it kept disappearing. Finally we got there and even before David stopped, I jumped out and ran to the crooked front door of the derelict building. I couldn’t open it, the door was wedged shut, and the windows were boarded over. As I ran around the side of the building, David caught up with me, he sensed my urgency. The back of the house was all boarded up too, but the door was falling off its hinges. David kicked it open (my hero) and we walked in. It stank in there, not sure if it was animal or human, but it smelled really awful, so bad we had to put our hands over our noses. It was dark too, little slithers of light forcing their way through the boards. We didn’t see anything but remains of old candles, beer cans. There was a hexagon roughly etched out on the floor in what used to be the front room, and a devils cross on the wall. Mostly just the stuff kids playing at devil worship would do. As our eyes got accustomed to the gloom, we saw something in the corner. It was covered in old blankets. Oh god don’t let it be a body, I couldn’t handle another body! The one in the coffin was still etched in my mind. We didn’t move! I caught hold of David”s hand, which was surprisingly strong! Then we heard a weak cough coming from the blankets, we both sprang forward. David pulled the blankets away and there was a very dirty, weak looking man, propped up against the wall, and looking like every breath was his last. It was Guy, not how I expected him to look, but it was him. I didn’t know if I was relieved or not! Right at that moment, it looked like we might be too late.

The wasted pathetic looking figure was still breathing, and his eyes flickered, so he was just conscious and maybe aware that we were there, although he was too feeble to speak, or lift his head up. It spurred us into action. David threw me his car keys and told me to go and and start the engine. He jumped into the back made a space for him to sit, with Guy. We could have gone for help first, but the ambulance would have never managed to maneuver the track along here. When the land rover was ready we both went back into the dirty room, where thankfully we could both still hear shallow breathing.

David very gently and effortlessly picked Guy up and carried him from the foul smelling darkness. As he stepped into sunlight, Guy squinted and shut his eyes tightly, obviously it had been a while since he was out in the open. I went and climbed in the back of the land rover and helped get Guy safely in there. It was like handling a bundle of bones, so light and unresponsive. The plan was for me to drive, but Guy’s head was on my lap, he looked pale and weak and we just didn’t want to move him anymore than we had to so David got behind the wheel drove slowly, but purposefully along the road. It was a huge relief when we made it to the gate which opened up onto the car park and regular road, no more bumps. Richmond was closer, but the local army camp had the better hospital, so without hesitation, David turned left and went as fast as he could in the direction of the hospital. It took about ten minutes, during which time, I was sure more than once, that Guy had stopped breathing! We drove straight into the ambulance bay, hoping someone would come out to meet us. They did, but only a porter with a wheel chair. David ran into the hospital and as I watched through the glass doors, I could see people were paying attention to him. The porter peered into the back of the land rover, saw there was nothing he could do and stood back as a couple of nurses came out with a gurney, followed by a doctor. I just sat there as they carefully eased Guy out of my arms and on to a guerney. There was now a buzz of activity, the nurses, a doctor and Guy all disappeared through the automatic glass doors, leaving me sitting in the back of the land rover. I think some sort of delayed shock had set in. The porter appeared again. “Do you want me to park this for you Miss?” “Yes please”, I said and he helped me out. I walked slowly and shakily into the hospital and found a chair in the waiting room. The adrenalin rush that had kept me going, had now left me and I felt drained. I actually felt like this was all happening to someone else and I was watching. The porter came in, handed me my handbag which I had left in the land rover, along with the keys and then went and got me a cup of tea, a very sweet cup of tea. Normally I didn’t take sugar, but this tasted good. Sugar for the shock, he said and smiled.

I sat there in some sort of semi-trance for around ten minutes, sipping the tea and just really gazing in to space, I think I would have sat there forever had David not tapped me on the shoulder. I almost dropped the hospital tea cup, but at least it brought me back to reality. I put the cup down and stood up, I had stopped shaking, so maybe the sweet tea really did work. I sat down again and he sat down next to me, talking to me like I was a baby, did I look that bad? “It looks like Guy is badly dehydrated and hasn’t eaten for some time, but he will be OK. They have a glucose drip in his arm and are still working on him, checking everything out. They say he was extremely lucky we found him, as he could only have survived another two days, or less. Is he a close friend of yours?” Now my brain was working overtime again, no he wasn’t a close friend of mine, hells bells, he was Lindsay’s husband, and she had no idea he was still alive. I was wasting time drinking tea when I should be calling her. Instead of telling David any of this, I was emptying my handbag out on the floor. Make-up, small change, tampax, chewing gum, all went rolling all over the floor, along with pieces of paper. I grabbed the pieces of paper one by one, throwing them away again, until at last I found one with Lindsay’s name written on it, along with her home phone number. Peopel were looking at me like I had completely lost my mind. I went to the reception desk and asked to use their phone, which of course I couldn’t because it was for emergencies, but was directed to another phone, which was also free. I dialed Lindsay’s number, and prayed she was home. After six rings, I was about to hang up when a quiet sad voice answered. “Lindsay, Guy is alive, he IS ALIVE! We are at Catterick Military Hospital, in the Emergency Room, get here as soon as you can. He is going to be OK” Lindsay hung up, asked no questions, didn’t say a word, just hung up so I knew she would be here in about fifteen minutes. As I walked back across the waiting room to David, I could see the Police arriving. I would imagine it was standard procedure when something like this happened. I hurriedly told David what had happened, the guy at the bar, that was really Guy’s twin brother, his accident, etc. etc.

The police were now talking to the receptionist, pointed them in our direction. How could I possibly explain all of this without sounding like I was part of the whole thing, how could I explain why I knew where Guy was??? Shit shit shit!!!! I sat down and answered all of the questions I could, and to my relief, the officer looked satisfied with my explanation. He said he had talked to Sgt Bell earlier, who had told him about my incident at the the local village pub. He also said it was hard to explain how we sometimes knew things, we just did! Phew! So glad he was open to these things because I could have been in a whole heap of trouble.

A taxi pulled up outside and Lindsay darted out, ran straight past us and to the reception, she hadn’t even seen us. The officer nodded for me to go and join her. She hugged me when she saw me and we followed a hospital porter back to the room where Guy was. A doctor was just coming out and he stopped us. Lindsay identified herself to him and he smiled. “He already said your name my dear. He really was in a bad way, but we have given him fluids and glucose, and cleaned him up, and he is responding very quickly. Please wait with me for a while as the nurses are still washing him and putting a clean gown on him. Let him have his dignity and go in when they are done!” Lindsay and I waited together for what seemed like forever, but really it was only three or four minutes. The nurses came out and the doctor came back and escorted us into the room. Guy looked much better now than when we found him an hour or so ago. He was clean and had a little color back in his face. He looked dreadfully ill, but alive. The doctor advised us to be gentle and not to tire him. He was only semi-conscious, but much more alert that he was when we picked him up. He had tubes going into his veins of course, which always freaked me out. I hated hospitals. Lindsay walked over to him. “Guy honey” She said softly “It’s me, Lindsay”. He slowly turned his head in her direction. Lindsay sat down next to the bed and touched his face gently. It looked like he tried to say her name, but just didn’t have the strength. He smiled very weakly and she held his hand. Lindsay looked at me, huge tears rolling down her cheeks. “Thank you” she said Thank you so much”.

I walked out of the room with the doctor, to give them some privacy. The doctor told me that he would need to spend a couple of days in hospital, but most likely would be as ‘right as rain’ within a month. He would need to rest, eat well and keep hydrated, but should have no lasting damage or injury. He was just malnourished and dehydrated. An ambulance arrived and the doctor ran off to attend to another emergency. I went back into the waiting room, just as the police car pulled away. David was still sitting there. He stood up and walked towards me. I burst into tears and between sobs told him that everything was going to be fine. He gave me a hug, and suggested we go to the pub and get a stiff drink. I looked at him and nodded in total agreement. Tea just wasn’t going to do it for me anymore.

We went to the Black Lion in Richmond. David called Sandra and Don and told them where we were, and told them to come and join us for the full story. David looked at me and said “I want to know from start to finish how this all happened because I have only heard snips of this whole thing, but don’t tell me yet, wait until the others arrive and tell us all at the same time”. By the time Sandra and Don arrived I had downed three brandy and cokes, and believe me, they didn’t take long to get there. I felt much better though, probably because it was only six o clock and I already had a good buzz going on. Sandra ordered food for us all and I began my story.

So I started! I paused while the food came and then continued. Not much food got eaten as everyone sat and looked at me with ever widening eyes. There were one or two interruptions like “what so you mean he was in you bedroom?”. I answered all of these truthfully, knowing that at some point I would have to talk to the police again, and I was wondering how receptive they would be to this. When I finished my story, no one spoke for a while. Then Don spoke up “This is all really hard to swallow, if it weren’t for all that has happened, and the fact there is no logical explanation to how you knew where Guy was, I wouldn’t believe you! As it is, it sounds far fetched, but I believe you. You seem to have some sort of gift. There is now doubt about it”.

I called my parents and told them I would be late in, they said that Sgt Bell had been to visit already, but wasn’t too concerned that I wasn’t there. He said he would call in to see me at work the following day. I had a couple more drinks and then Sandra and Don dropped me home. David could walk home from the Black Lion, he lived in Richmond. When I did get in my mum and dad were waiting up for me so I knew I had more talking to do. My mum put the kettle on and we all sat at the kitchen table. Yes, the local news did a bit on the fact Guy had been found. I wasn’t mentioned as they were still investigating, but my dad said he just knew I was involved. I told the whole story all over again. My mum zoned out. Her imagination didn’t stretch as far as my dads, but my dad was really excited. It was funny really. My mum was worried about me and wanted to make sure I hadn’t done anything wrong and that I was OK. My dad just kept asking questions about my ‘powers’. I think he wanted to go off on some sort of adventure with me. Eventually I got to bed and slept like a log with no interruptions.

I got in to work a little late the following day, I don’t think anyone cared. Sandra gave me a big hug when I arrived. The whole office was buzzing of course! It was a small town, news travelled fast! The Police did come down and see me, but it wasn’t a big deal. They told me Guy was recovering his strength and had already told them that he had a big fight with Gareth and Gareth threatened to ruin him, which in fact he had tried to do by taking over his life and leaving him to die. There were questions about how I knew where to find Guy, and I told them I honestly couldn’t answer, it was just a ‘feeling’. They were satisfied as everything turned out OK. Gareth’s death was ruled accidental. He would definitely have left Guy to die, it was a wild twist of fate that he died instead! Lindsay called me and we planned to get together in a few days, we had been drawn together and I had a feeling we would always be friends. I knew one thing for certain though, even though this turned out well, I was never going to wish anyone would ‘Drop Dead’ ever again!’.