Legacy of the Lake

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The pregnancy hadn’t been a good one. Juliet had been bedridden for most of it. The birth was a struggle too.  Afterwards she barely found strength to hold Sacha. The beautiful baby girl was named after Jake’s grandmother.

“Do you want me to go? I can leave you to get some sleep if you like.” Jake asked.

He worried as he looked at her exhausted pale face, and the dark rings under her eyes.

“No, stay. Dad will be here soon, stay until he leaves. Talk to him for me. I’m just so tired, but I want him here, I want him to see Sacha.” her voice trembled, “Wish mum was still here.”

Jake reached out and put his hand over Juliet’s. “She’s here, she’s watching you.”

“But I don’t feel her. How do I know?” She shivered. “It’s so cold in here.”

Jake took another blanket from the closet and tucked her in. There that should keep you warm. “I’ll be back in a second,”

He found a nurse “Whats wrong with her? Why is she so weak? It’s 24 hours since she had the baby, shouldn’t she start to feel better? I’m worried, I don’t want to lose her.”

“We’ll watch her, she’ll get better everything looks fine, but she’s exhausted. The trauma of losing her mother isn’t helping. Did the police ever figure out what happened? Was it suicide?”

Jake hung his head. “Can’t see she’d kill herself, but why would she get so close to the lake in her wheelchair? Tragic accident is what they’re saying.”

The shadows in Juliet’s room gathered unseen around the crib. Sacha slept, swaddled in blankets as a dozen eyes looked down at her. She’s perfect they whispered she’ll be ours soon. The keeper of the lake.

Juliet didn’t hear them, she was slipping away into a drug induced haven, blocking out a terror she didn’t yet know, just like her mother before her. The family legacy continued and Sacha was next in line.

 

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.

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!

Ghosts on the Sand

Ghosts on the Sand1

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.

 

EYES ON ME!

one-sunday-morning

She tossed and turned, but sleep wouldn’t come. The bedroom was cold! She could see her breath, the bed was cold too!

The furnace must have broken!

Pulling the covers tightly around her, Lou burrowed into them. They felt damp and icy!

Dammit whats wrong. 

Reluctantly she got out of bed and grabbed her robe. Her fingers touched something gelatinous. She screamed and recoiled! Fumbling in the dark, she looked for the light switch.

Found it. 

Frantically she switched it on. Nothing. She reached for the bedside lamp, it didn’t work either. Pulling back the drapes, she looked out of the window. The world was engulfed in fog. Heavy, dark and thick. Swirling like clouds.

I feel eyes on me!

Carefully, slowly and trying not to panic, Lou made her way downstairs and into the kitchen. Pitch black, hard to move, hard to breath.

She found the flashlight in the cupboard next to the sink.

Thank god!

She switched it on, it worked. Shining it into the darkness of her home gave her some relief, there was nothing to see.

I need to get some heat in here.

Lou made her way down to the basement and the furnace.

Somethings wrong!

She opened the basement door, letting out a cold stench. It came from something unfamiliar, something terrifying. She didn’t want to look, but couldn’t help it. A dozen distorted, decaying faces looked back at her, their mouths open in a silent scream.

Oh dear God in Heaven!

She fainted!

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!

 

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.

 

Revelation Tin

christmas-cookie-tin-vintage-green-fruit-bells-nutcracker-wreath-on-gold-lid-8a91ef866b8eb3bbe6a19b6dd17f3778We waited in silence for the cab to arrive. Silence wasn’t a good thing in a motel like that. The noises from the rooms on either side didn’t leave much to the imagination. I tried hard not to put Janie’s face in one of those rooms. Although we’d waited no more than five minutes, it seemed like an eternity and when the cab finally arrived I fled. As I left the room I looked behind me. Larry was rumpling the bed covers. “we have to make it look like we slept here at least”

I shivered, “whatever!” The thought of sleeping in that bed gave me the creeps. “Where to?” the driver asked as Larry slid in the back seat beside me.”

“Stagecoach Salon, Franktown.” Larry replied.

The cab pulled out onto the main road. “Thats a long way man, you good for the money?” Larry reached over and waved a hundred dollar bill in the guys face. “That should cover it. Keep the change.”

The city lights disappeared in the rearview mirror and the soft darkness of Douglas County swallowed us. “I hope Jacks OK”

Larry was silent. I looked at him. “He will be OK won’t he?” I asked.

“I don’t know, he’s an old guy, may have had a heart attack.

It seemed to take an eternity to get to the bar, and when we arrived, it was in darkness. I looked at Larry, he pointed to a dark shape in the gloom by the fence. It was the van. “You sure you want to be dropped off here?” the cab driver said. “Looks like its closed.”

“Yea, we’re good, thanks man.”

We watched the cabs tail lights disappear in the distance. “OK, let’s go.” Larry said. We turned to the van and the lights came on, temporarily blinding me.

“Everyone OK,”Larry asked as we slid into the front seat.

“The old guy’s a bit shook up, but I think he’ll survive.”

“How about Janie?” I asked.

“She ran, don’t know where she went!”

“What, when?”

“When we got back here, she took off!”

Larry looked at me. “Great, we went through all of this for nothing.”

In two minutes we were at Jack’s house. He sat at the kitchen table, his face ashen. Larry’s three friends were drinking whiskey. Jack was drinking tea. I pulled a chair alongside him. “Jack are you alright?”

“Yes, I will be, got a weak heart, too much excitement for an old man.”

“You’re not that old!”

“I feel it!”

“Where’s Janie?” I asked, trying not to stress him any further.

“I’m here!”

She stood in the doorway, the passage light framing her slight figure. She held a bundle wrapped in a blanket. At first I thought she was carrying a child, my heart missed a beat. Jack made to get up, but I put my hand on his should and made him sit.

“Where’d you go?” he asked.

“Back to the barn, I wanted to grab this stuff before anyone else found it. Those guys came searching for me down here once. They might come back!”

She dropped the bundle on the floor, but held onto a small tin, the sort you got cookies in at Christmas. She placed it on the table in front of Jack. He looked up at her.

“Open it!”

Just an old fashioned brothel!

BrotherlThe creep who’s propositioned me made himself comfortable on a chair next to Janie. Without taking his eyes off me he draped his arm around her and pulled her close. Tears streamed down her face. Push him off Janie, push him away. I knew she couldn’t. He kissed her on her neck, then her lips. He stood her up and pinning her against the wall with his body, he slid down and nuzzled his head between her breasts. She was terrified. I looked at Jack’s face, worried about his reaction. Larry spoke!

“Hey man, leave her alone, I can’t concentrate on the cards while you’re doing that.”

Tom turned around and faced him. “Can’t have that can we!”

He took hold of Janie’s arm and dragged her across the floor. She fell to her knees but he didn’t stop, he continued to walk, dragging her behind him. She managed to get to her feet again when they reached the door, her knees were scraped and her blouse torn.

“You want to come too darling? I can handle two of you.”

Go Sheila go, it’ll be OK! He’s strong, but drunk. Go help her. The voices in my head belonged to someone I’d come to know. It was Jacks daughter. Go, we’re here with you. This time it was my gran.

“Sure, let’s have a party.”

The look on Janie’s face was horrific. “No, leave her alone, leave her out of this.”

“Shhh, honey, you can’t keep a mal like this all to yourself” I said, trying to take on the role.

I didn’t look behind me, daren’t see the look on Jack’s face.

The bedroom that Tom led us into wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It was clean and sumptuous, reminded me of a saloon brothel from some Western, where the madame would be called Kitty and her girls would wear frilly bloomers and basques. He saw the look on my face. “Like what you see, you’re gonna like what you get too.” He unbuckled his belt and started to unzip his jeans. “Lets play around a little first shall we?”He walked toward me, his belt hanging loose, the top button of his jeans undone and his zipper halfway down. Janie stepped in front of me, trembling, but trying to protect me. She moved towards Tom and draped her arms around his neck. He put his hands on her shoulders, dropped his head and kissed her breasts, then he pushed her to one side and laughed.

“I’ve had you before, its her I want. She’s new, fresh and I don’t think she’s done this before.”

Oh dear god please help me. 

I looked across at the speckled mirror in the old-fashioned dresser and saw four faces looking back at me. My own terrified face was in the forefront, but the faded, determined faces of my gran, and the two souls she’d befriended hovered behind, like fading holograms.

Everything moved very fast. Janie lurched forward and grabbed Tom’s jeans, she yanked them down to his knees and pushed as hard as she could. His legs tangled in his jeans and he went down hard, banging his head on the corner of the dresser as he fell. It knocked him out cold.

Run, run, run, run, run, run, ruuuuuuunnnnnnn! Get away, flee!

The faces in the mirror had disappeared, but the room echoed with their words. I grabbed Janie’s hand and we ran for the door. It opened as we approached and on of Larry’s boys appeared. He looked behind us and saw Tom on the floor, a pool of blood spreading around him.

“This way!”

We fled down the hallway and out of the back door. The old van stood outside, its engine running. We fell inside and the van took off, even before the door was closed.

“You girls OK?”

Janie and I didn’t speak, we just hugged each other!

“What about Jack,” Janie said, “What if they hurt him?”

I put my arm around her, feeling her wet tears on my shoulder. “He’s in good company, I think he’ll be OK!” I replied and hoped I was right.