A Disturbing Encounter

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The King Bill was a friendly welcoming place where all the locals hung out. It was an old stone building with big bay windows, low ceilings, and whitewashed walls. During the cold winter months, a fire burned in the bar and another in the snug. The snug was a small room where the women would gather and enjoy catching up with the latest gossip. With its comfy chairs and carpeted floor, it was a home away from home

My disturbing encounter in the King Bill happened on a Saturday night in spring of 1975. It was almost closing time. I sat alone on a tall bar stool enjoying a quiet drink, when I heard a noise in the hallway by the front door.
“Are you all right, mate?” an unseen voice asked.
“Stupid damn doormat.”

At that point a stranger entered, brushing himself down. Based on his comment, he’d fallen as he came through the door from the street. He made himself comfortable on the stool next to mine, and ordered a pint of bitter with a whiskey chaser. Liz, the landlady and owner of the pub, was serving behind the bar, and was about to call last orders, so he was lucky to get a drink at all.

He was a tall, skinny man—gangly, almost—with a mop of unruly, dark curly hair. A pair of very thick heavy spectacles covered most of his face. The lenses magnified his eyes, making them look huge and out of proportion. He downed half of his pint in one gulp, wiped the froth from his mouth, and then drank his whiskey. He turned to me with a silly drunken smile on his face.

Old Mother Shipton and Brompton-on-Swale

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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.

Breaking Through!

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I’d almost given up on myself. I love to write, been doing it since I started High School. I wrote when I was unhappy. I wrote when I was happy. So much in my head! I’ve only published one novel I’m proud to admit is mine. It’s never going to be on the best seller list, but I’m not ashamed of it. It was my introduction to publishing.

Dead of July – Amazon

I have three more stories finished and ready to put into a compilation, “Ghosts on the Sand and other Chilling Tales”. Whats holding me up? My last story “The Engineer”. This story started with nothing but a title floating around in my head. At first it was set in Northern Italy, but it moved across Europe to North Yorkshire, before getting lost in my brain. The Engineer is back now, struggling to be free,  hammering at my temples, scratching the back of my eyeballs, fighting his way out. I need to get his story finished before he finishes me. I’ve heard he drinks blood!

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Brompton-on-Swale

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I’d planned to have this book released by Christmas 2017. I know, it didn’t happen. I love writing so much I don’t have time to publish, and I certainly can’t afford a publisher. Oh well, when it eventually does get released later this year it’s going to be a bargain book for those of you who love England, especially the north-east. The stories packed into this book include;

Ghosts on the Sand (set in Blackpool)
Guy at the Bar (set in Brompton-on-Swale and Richmond)
Camera (set in Brompton-on-Swale and Richmond)
The Engineer (set in a fictitious village in County Durham)

Why are most of my stories set in the North East? Because it’s the best part of England. Northerners are genuine, down to earth and fun!

I was born in Bishop Aukland, lived in Shildon until I was 4 years old. I then fled with my mam to Etherly and Butterknowle to escape my violent dad. Mam finally found a job and house in Summerhouse, county Durham, where we lived until 1967. When she remarried we moved to Brompton-on-Swale, the village that shaped my life. Even though I live in the United States now (well until I retire to Italy), Brompton-on-Swale is on my mind a great deal. I wish I could become a famous writer. If I did I’d make sure to let everyone know where I came from. I’d tell them about that down to earth little village, where everyone knew everyone else and looked out for their neighbors. Many folks were born there and never moved away. They are the lucky ones. My wandering spirit won’t let me stay in one place too long. I pop back every now and again. Yes, it’s changed, but I still think of it as home.

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.

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Camera!

She’d just gotten to the other side of the road when she heard him call.

“Hey, you left your camera in the car.”

“What? That’s not mine.”

“It must be yours. I haven’t picked anyone else up today.” He shoved it into her hand and walked away. The leather strap felt slick, slimy, but worst of all, it felt alive. Lucy shuddered and almost dropped it.

Camera is a bonus short story in my upcoming book “Ghosts on the Sand”. Watch out for it it’s COMING SOON!

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. 

Its all in the eyes.

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The were only two people in the waiting room.

“Mr and Mrs Liddle?”

“Yes, are you going to take us to our daughter, is she okay?”

The Dr. ushered them to sit down, talking to them as he did so.

“It’s not a good time to see her right now. She’s unconscious and we still haven’t figured out whats wrong with her. I was wondering if you could tell me anything about her current health.”

June’s parents looked at each and shook their heads before answering.

“Fit as a fiddle! She’s on the school running team, she swims, she’s in a dance group. Really she’s fine. Why are you asking, whats wrong with her?”

“She’s very sick right now. Did you notice any change in her weight, or any stomach problems?”

June’s mum replied. “What? no! She eats like a horse because of all the exercise she does. I went shopping with her last weekend, to get a new outfit for her cousin’s wedding. She’d actually dropped a dress size, she’s down to a size 8. In fact I wish she’d put some weight on. Why are you asking?”

The Dr. didn’t have time to answer. A nurse ran into the waiting room.

“We need you NOW!”

He ran after her, back into the room where June lay. She was covered in blood. One of the nurses had a bundle of blankets in her hand.

“What the hell is going on here?” The Dr. yelled.

“Emergency C-Section! We had not choice, this little fella would have clawed his way out if we hadn’t.”

The doctor looked at the bundle she was holding. A perfect baby boy looked back at him.

Meanwhile, at the other side of the world, a baby girl was born after a very short pregnancy. She was cute as a button. She was normal in every way, except for her eyes.

 

 

 

 

The Vessel

ambulance2“What wrong with me?” June’s whispered as the ambulance sped along the road to the hospital. Leslie, the WPC, squeezed her hand. “It’ll be okay love, we’re almost at the hospital, you’re in good hands. There’s all sorts of weird bugs going around, you probably have stomach flu or something.”

The first responder looked at Leslie and shook her head. June didn’t see!

The ambulance barely stopped before the door burst open and a team of nurses and doctors swooped on the barely conscious passenger.

“She’s fading fast. Something is sucking the life right out of her. Her stomach is swollen and……”

“And what?”

“Well it looks bruised, but the bruises seem to be coming from the inside. Hard to explain.”

“Come on folks, lets see what we have here.” The doctor spoke urgently!

Within seconds they had her in a room in the hospital, talking vitals looking into her eyes, talking to her. Before fading into oblivion June spoke once. In a weak voice that was barely distinguishable she whispered, “It’s crawling around in my stomach.”

The doctor pulled up her sweater. Everyone froze! June’s abdomen had taken a life of its own. It was swollen to four times its normal size, but even with the swelling you could see a shape in there, almost like it was vacuum packed.

“Is she pregnant?” The doctor asked. The nurse looked at the notes taken in the ambulance.
“Says here she had stomach pains, maybe a bug or stomach flu. Vomiting, dizziness, nothing about being pregnant. She’s only a kid!”

“Are her parents here?”

“Yes, in the ER waiting room.”

The doctor took off his gloves and went to find them.

“Don’t do anything until I come back.”

Hidden in the clouds, the whole scene was being observed.

“Our vessel looks strong. She’s doing well. You all know what to do don’t you. We’ll soon have a new queen among us.”