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.”

 

Watch out World, HERE I COME!

At last, I’ve reached the light at the end of the tunnel. It was a scary journey, but I made it. If you’ve been following this blog, you were probably waiting for the third installment of my “Mist” story.

It’ll be here soon!

Before I continued with it, I just wanted to explain my absence. I usually blog twice a week, once here and once on my travel blog. Over the last couple of years, my blogs have become less and less frequent. I didn’t realize it, but my health was deteriorating. It just crept up on me, and then BANG, I ended up in hospital!

It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, they got to the bottom of whats wrong with me (not gluten like they suspected) and I can manage it. An old gal like me takes a while to recover, but I’m almost there! I’m almost me again. My imagination is back, my stories are flowing and I’m raring to go.

Watch out world, here I come!hereicome

 

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

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!

Halloween – The Scent of a Woman

lakePenny lifted her head and sniffed the air! She stood up and growled, then whimpered. Jane closed the door and came back inside.”Hey, don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere without you. Penny stood rigid, staring at the closed-door.

“You want to go for a walk? Come on the, let’s get your leash, don’t want you to get lost do we?”

Usually when the W A L K word was mentioned Penny barked, excited to be outside. Today that word terrified her, she hid under the bed.

“OK, I guess that’s a no!”

Jane poured another glass of wine and walked to the window. The view was hypnotic. Maybe I should have become a painter, or photographer. She thought to herself. Tired and frustrated she sat in front of her computer again.

The lake was still and deep, she wrote, a single canoe was moored by a boat house. The night was silent. Somewhere, deep in the forest, evil waited. It wouldn’t have to wait long.  

The words began to flow, so engrossed was she in her writing that she never heard Penny’s pathetic whining as the dog cowered beneath the bed.

An hour passed before Jane came up for air. She’d written almost a full chapter. Yes, we have liftoff!

Pleased with herself, she stood up and stretched, her creative juices flowing. All is not lost!

“Penny come on, let’s get some fresh air, you need to pee.”

Penny whimpered and backed further under the bed. She could smell danger and wanted no part of it!

“Penny what’s wrong with you?” Jane asked as she grabbed a dog treat and crouched down to coax her companion from the shadows. Dogs can be smart at times, but not when there are treats involved. Penny scuttled forward, licking her lips in anticipation. As her mouth closed on the treat, Jane grabbed her.

“Gotcha!”

With Penny tightly secured under her arm, she headed to the front door. Penny wriggled and whimpered, but Jane held her tight.

“Look, nothing out here to be scared of, it’s a beautiful night.”

She placed the dog on the porch, “Now go do what you have to do, its cold.” Penny walked back inside and poured another glass of wine, pleased with herself. Her head was full of words and evil images. She was inspired.

The cold air worked on the dogs bladder. She ran down the porch steps and sniffed until she found a place to pee. She looked into the darkness with wide eyes. Something bad was lurking, she felt it. The scent was strong, Penny whimpered, but not for long.

A huge six-fingered hand grabbed her belly, a second-hand grabbed her head. She didn’t feel the teeth sink into her back. The quick twist of hands broke her neck in seconds.

When Jane walked back onto the porch she couldn’t see her dog, but she could hear her, or so she thought.

“Penny! Penny come on, its cold out here. Don’t stray. Where are you?”

Great, just when I’m inspired!

Grabbing a flashlight from the table by the door, she pointed the beam into the darkness, towards the sound.

“Penny!”

What she heard was the sort of sound Penny made when she ate wet dog food. Oh god, she’s found a dead animal.

“Penny, put it down! Penny! Oh my god!”

The strong beam rested on a horrendously disfigured face. A pair of huge deformed hands held the remains of her pet. Blood dripped from the creature’s chin. Penny’s blood!

The grin grew wider as it took another bite before dropping the remains to the ground. He looked at Jane and sniffed. She’s woken a different type of hunger inside him. One he hadn’t felt before!

Ghostly Guidance

swamp1

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.

 

Gunfire and Hookers

We heard three shots, bang-bang bang, one after another! It was terrifying. The closest I’d ever been to live gunfire was watching my neighbors at their back yard shooting range. This was America, everyone had a gun, but I’d never been in the line of fire. Our driver reversed speedily back to where Larry and Jack were. “Get Down!” he yelled. We didn’t need to be told twice. Janie and I dropped to the floor. The back door of the van opened, and even before it closed again, our tires screeched and we sped down the road. More gunfire. The back window of the van exploded! Janie screamed. A sharp right turn threw us across the floor. Finally, after a few more turns, we stopped.

“I don’t want anyone to move. Stay down!”12648704893_0f2dcc7aab

The tattooed passenger (I wish I knew his name) got out and disappeared into the darkness. Although I’d been told to stay down, I raised my head slightly and peeped over the back seat. Larry was sprawled on the floor cradling Jack in front of him. He saw the look of alarm on my face and put his finger to his lips. Jack turned his head and looked at me.

Thank God, he’s alive.

He’ll be OK, stay down pet, this isn’t over yet. I think my gran was with me. Car headlights appeared behind us. Filled with adrenalin, I was ready to run. The car pulled along side us. “It’s OK,” Larry whispered, “It’s our boys.”

I moved towards the door, wanting to put all of this behind me. “No, not you, this is for the old man and the other girl,” he said, “We need to split up.”

Janie clung to me “It’s OK go!” I said and pushed her gently towards the door wishing desperately I was going with her.

“What about me?”

“We’re going to get a cab!”

“Dressed like this?” I asked.

“Yes!” We need to be seen.

Larry helped me out of the van and caught me when my legs gave way beneath me.

“Come on, you can do this.”

We walked along the back streets just south of Colfax. It was a cold night and the streets were deserted. I wasn’t familiar with the area and completely lost. Cold and afraid I clung to Larry’s arm.

“What if they come after us?”

“Don’t think about it. Pretend it never happened.”

I looked at him with tears streaming down my face, “And what about Janie, do you think they’ll just let her go?”

“OK dry your eyes we’re almost there. It would help if you acted like a hooker!”

I looked down at my short skirt and ridiculous shoes. I certainly looked the part.

We reached a major intersection. It was Colorado Boulevard and Colfax. A line of taxis parked by the curb outside a club.

Thank God!

Several police cars and an ambulance raced past us, sirens blaring. They turned left onto Colfax. I knew where they were headed.

Larry helped me into a cab.

“Where to?” The driver asked.

“Can you recommend a cheap hotel near here?” Larry asked, “I’m from out-of-town.”

I saw the expression on the drivers face as he looked at me in the mirror.

Dear Lord, I hope I never see him again. 

I glared at Larry. He was enjoying this way too much!

“I know just the place.”

 

Guns for Hire

1349149576_207110572717748_346456661_nI went to work the following day, but couldn’t concentrate. Dear God let me survive tonight! Honestly, I was more worried about Jack than myself. I spent my teenage years on the wrong side of the track. It’s a wonder I lived to see twenty, but I did. I talked myself out of so many bad situations I couldn’t remember them all, but Jack, well he didn’t look that strong. I left work early, we’d planned to meet Larry, the old guy from the bar, at eight o clock. I wanted to get home and have a couple of hours to myself first. I hoped to get a few words of wisdom from my gran. She had a habit of appearing when I needed her, but she’d been silent for a while now.

I looked at myself in the mirror, not sure dressing like a hooker was a good idea, but I didn’t want to stand out and the only women in a bar we were going to, were working girls. I honked the horn outside Jack’s house. He appeared immediately and we drove to the Stage Coach in silence. We walked through the door to see Larry already waiting for us at the bar. He looked me up and down as I entered, but said nothing. Jack hadn’t noticed my outfit until now. His face told me what he thought.

Larry ordered a round of drinks. He and Jack ordered a shots, I stuck with beer.

“It shouldn’t be too busy tonight, it’s the beginning of the week, but for Gods sake be careful. Be pleasant in a rough sort of way. These folks look after their own and don’t care about anyone else. Women have one use to them and one use only. Sheila, you’re with me. If you have to sit on my lap all night, do it, it’s for your own safety. Giggle a lot and kiss my cheek if you feel like it, but you’re with me. Let them think I bought you for the night.”

Jack ordered another shot, he didn’t like this one bit.

Bonnie looked concerned. I followed her as she cleared tables at the far end of the Saloon. “What do you know about this guy, Larry?” I asked.

“Larry’s a good guy, drinks too much, but he’s OK! I’m not sure if he’ll be able to protect you if things go pear-shaped though. You’re going to a rough bar on East Colfax. Even the cops leave that place alone.”

“We have to do it! We have to try to save this girl. I think we’re her only chance of a normal life.”

The door opened and four guys walked in, they were big and rough-looking, I hadn’t seen them before. Larry raised his arm when he saw them and they pulled out chairs alongside him at the bar. Bonnie went to served them and I went back to my seat.

“I brought reinforcements.” Larry said. “I thought we might need them.”

Jack swallowed another shot, I don’t think it touched the sides as it went down his throat. I smiled and stuck my hand out “I’m Sheila and I’m really glad to see you guys.”

“You don’t need to know our names, in fact its better if you don’t.”

I looked back at the four strangers. They all grinned at me, showing lots of teeth, not all of them white.

“Drinks all round.” Larry said.

Bonnie obliged, then leaned towards me and whispered in my ear. “I feel a whole lot better now.” she tilted her head towards the guy standing closest to me. He had a gun tucked in the back of his jeans.

Guns for hire, I hope they don’t have to use them!

Help ME!

131286-aaa-tests-shine-high-beam-headlight-limitations.2As I walked home, my temples began to throb. Goddam this day! Why don’t I feel good about helping this girl? 

“Give it time!”

It was my Gran’s voice. I was comforted to hear it. Gran who is this girl.? There was no reply. The phone rang as I walked through the front door. I ignored it. After taking a couple of aspirin, I lay down on the sofa and slept. My dreams were a troubled mess of sirens and anxiety. When I finally woke up it was dark and cold. I was disoriented. Where am I?

Looking around, I focused my eyes and thoughts. At home of course. I’d slept for six hours. It was almost time to meet up with Jack and Janie again. Was that really her name? I doubted it. More likely she’d done her research on a poor lonely old man and chosen the name to take advantage him. But why do I feel the presence of his dead wife and daughter?

I washed my face and changed my rumpled clothes. The phone came to life again.

It was Les, “where have you been? I’ve been calling you at work and at home.”

“I stayed home, had an awful nights sleep and just couldn’t face work. I heard the phone ring once here, but I didn’t answer because I was trying to sleep.”

“Once, I rang about six times.”

Maybe the sirens I heard in my dreams was the phone ringing. 

“Well I never heard it.”

“Good news, I will be home this weekend after all. The system isn’t going live until next week.”

“Great,” I said, not sounding the least bit enthusiastic. “Look I’m not feeling well, I’ll call you later.”

I was becoming more agitated by the second. My heart was beating fifty to the dozen. I grabbed my coat, and jumped in the car, almost forgetting to open the garage door before I drove out. Something felt wrong!

Jack’s house was lit up like a beacon, porch light, bedroom lights, and the door stood wide open. As my car crunched along the driveway Jack appeared.

“She’s gone!” he said

“Is anything missing?” I asked without thinking.

He looked hurt. “I didn’t check and I don’t need to. We have to find her.”

“OK, jump in, we’ll go to the barn first.”

“No need, I already checked there, no sign of her.”

I closed my eyes and tried to collect my thoughts. Had she ever really existed? Was she something I’d conjured up? No, Jack has seen her too.

I started to speak, but my words were drowned by the noise of a truck passing by, music blaring from the windows.

“Help me!”

Icy fingers closed around my heart. I looked at Jack.

“Did I imagine that?”

He shook his head and jumped in the passenger seat.

“Go!” He yelled.

 

Dead of July  is my first novel and its available on Amazon for $0.99. It’s set in 1982 in Dortmund, Germany. If you’re enjoying my short blog stories, give it a try.