Tuesday, 29 December 2009

A Regretful Reflection -

As it nears the new year many make promises, vows and plans they often don't keep. Some of these promises are as simple as getting more exercise, eating less or recycling more - something normal and unimportant. This come new year is one where I am having to tear a hole in my heart - a hole the shape a father figure should fill. I do have a father although sadly he no longer deserves the title and I have told him so in two heart wrenched pages of words so he knows how I feel and knows why I can no longer recognise him as my 'dad' anymore. Those close to me will know the reason behind this - many (if any) who read this now won't. That is why I am reposting a poem I wrote during my first year at University which really sums up for the me the past 6 no 10 years even of misery my so called 'dad' has caused me, my family and others who cared for us. So when you read this poem please reflect on your own fathers and count yourself lucky to have at least a fairly average one and not a rotten apple as mine is. For my true father - the one who loved us all and actually meant it when he said 'his family is his life' died - departed my home and my heart many, many years ago.


Husband, Father, Drunk.


The stab of the screw causes the cork to jettison with a pop.

The crystal ring and slosh as the poison is poured into the glass.

A colour deeper than blood.

He licks his pale lips eager for the taste on his tongue, to feel it in his mouth and body.

The tense raging hunger, need, desire and longing is finally quenched,

For another hour or more.


He returns to his chair before the TV, turning it on

With a determined press of a button on the controller that never leaves his table.

It is the only sense of sane order left to him, the one thing he still has control over.

The wide screen jumps into life with the vibrant colour and vigorous energy of fireworks.

That force reminds him of his lost and wasted youth.

The news and weather again and again and again and again. News 24 rules his attention.

The global disasters, famines, bombings and corrupt politics flicker

Over his glazed grey eyes, watching the world spin and change.

A world he no longer feels part of, a world he thinks no longer needs him.

All are excuses, reasons, motives,

as feeble as the hand that lifts the poison to his mouth once more.

To take one more sip, one more mouthful,

One more glass, one more bottle

Empty.


This is what it has come to. His days spent slumped before the TV.

His body crumbling and withering like a tree split apart by lightening. Beyond saving.

The poison that is so delightful claiming more of his soul, his spirit, his mind, his body and his life.

A life he will not fight for even though he has everything to die for.

Erasing the person he once was. Without any sign of defiance, just simple surrender.

The poison makes his heart, mind, and eyes blind to what he has. What he’s losing.

It has washed his heart black, making it as hollow and cold as each bottle he drains.


He appears oblivious to the pleading looks of his children,

The tears in his wife’s eyes.

All hoping, praying, wishing, waiting,

For him to change.

To be the father that used to laugh, his eyes once filled with happiness.

To be the husband that used to smile, a heart once filled with love.

That man has long since left their home and their hearts.

His soul leaves them contained in the empty bottles they put out to recycle.


That man now sits in my father’s chair but is not my father.

Just a reflection, a look alike, bitter and resentful towards everything.

A ghost that haunts us with misery, shame and pain.

A perfect stranger that we simply call Dad but acts nothing like him.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Joanne Harris - Sneaky peak at chapter from Runelight - sequel to Runemarks!

I may be the last to discover this as I am a highly unobsessive and outofdate follower and great fan of Joanne Harris mainly due to her fantastic book Runemarks which focuses on my greatest interest - Viking mythology. However I found myself on her website once more if only to cheekily check whether she still displayed my favourite short story The Old Ways Never Die in her Fan Fiction section and found a nice suprise. She'd put in her little blog there in the November 2009 section a chapter extract from her sequel to Runemarks - Runelight. I read the chapter and I am most intrigued as well as happy to hear that Joanne's teenage daughter is becoming quite a writer herself too - who knows what a talented generation may evolve there.

So below is the link to wet the appetites of any Runemarks fan. I hope others enjoy it as much as I do.

RunelightExtract.pdf (application/pdf Object)

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas Wishes come true and Future Hopes and Dreams

Well Christmas 2009 has been and gone but it still held quite a few suprises for me.

First it saved my secret wish of photographing a Robin in the Snow until Christmas Day itself as I was left with nothing to do whilst Mum finished wrapping my presents hurridly and secretly in the kitchen bless (she was very far behind in preperations for it due to my Auntie’s MS getting worse and requiring a lot of attention.) So I was watching out the window into our snow covered garden, waiting for a bird to be still so I can photograph it when all of a sudden my friendly Mr Robin popped out from the hedge and delicately hopped around in the snow. He posed or should I say paused? Several times for me to photograph this great Christmas icon. I like to think of this moment as Nature’s present to me for photographing her splending beauty.

I hope you like this photograph as much as I do. Definitly the highlight for me of 2009. You can see more of my favourite Winter/Christmas photographs at http://www.flickr.com/photos/valkyrie1008

Scary to think it will be 2010 in a few days. But I intend to continue my creativness into that year and beyond. Having shown Mum a picture of my Norse Collection Limited Edition book she now wants me to make her one so I will definately be creative at least until February. My best friends liked the gifts I made them too. Got some very excited texts from them both full of praise for my talent and thanks.

I’m still trying to keep my creative spark for writing going but it seems to be doing ok as I woke up one morning and suddenly had this scene in my head and this voice beginning a whole new story:

The day I murdered a man was the day the sky burned and the earth split apart. The day I murdered a man is the first and last thing I remember. All I recall when I focus my mind as far back as it will go is the intense rage I felt inside me, the fear in the old man’s eyes and his gasp as I pressed the trigger in the gun I held and the bullet pinned him to the earth. Not even a second later the buildings forming that alleyway shook and a rumbling louder than thunder echoed across the clouds stirring them. After that I ran. Ran with the other people who fled into houses and cars. Chaos had come to town and it had all begun the day I shot that man. A man I have no memory of. My whole life seems to have begun at that awful moment even though some reckon I lived for 20 odd years before my memoryabandoned from me.

Doesn’t it sound exciting? Don’t know why but I am yet again writing from the point of view of a man. My first ever story was from such a point of view but looking back through that now makes me feel so ashamed due to the cliched characters and speech. The over all story idea was good but boy my writing was so bad at the start. But having seen one of my favourite pieces of writing described as great on Joanne Harris’s website and featured under her Fan Fiction section is a sure sign that I am definitly getting better and at least have some talent.

Speaking of which I watched an interesting little news clip on BBC News 24 about how apparently it’s at this time of year when more of us than ever decide we are going to become the next JK Rowling and adopt the title of wanna-be author. So in relation to this a reporter got author Kate Mosse to give a mum who writes 5 top tips on how to write a novel. All budding writers should watch this when feeling low as it is encouraging and very useful.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8430705.stm

My Mum’s got me two new books for Christmas one on a similar plot to the old classic film Homeward bound but with wild bears in Canada titled ‘Seekers’ by Erin Hunter and Dark Fire (stongly hinting about dragons) but sadly the last in the series so I will have to buy the first with Christmas money. But I don’t mind. I might pick up a few other books too. Just finished one titled Outlaw on the legends and tales of Robin Hood and to be honest the most believeable I’ve read yet by Arnold Bold (I think – book is upstairs hehehe). Speaking about books makes my boyfriend’s voice creep into my mind with the line he seems to believe is a golden rule ‘any good writer should read a book a day’ apparently reported by Neil Gaiman. Bah! I could probably manage a book a week if I wasn’t tired after work and distracted by TV and eager to catch upon some serious World of Warcraft adventures.

Anyway I’ll see him again before New Years day as I’m spending it with his family and hopefully going to see Avatar too. I’ll report back on how it goes.

Until then keep smiling and may you all have a Happy New Year in 2010.

BBC News - Kate Mosse's top five tips on writing a novel

BBC News - Kate Mosse's top five tips on writing a novel

A little interview with author Kate Moss giving tips and encouragement to a mum wanna-be-author.

Friday, 18 December 2009

The Norse Collection (3 exculsive books) Made and Written by Me

The idea to make this book was not my own but a student's at the college where I work. As we were both young writers we thought it was a good idea to give each other our stories as presents. But I wanted to bind my favourite works into a book and thankfully my partner had done one previously for me so I got him to show me how.
The Norse Collection is my own exclusive title to my favourite short stories (x2) and 3 poems all of them with Norse mythology showing through strongly as the inspiration behind them. To make it I bought a set of 3 A5 notebooks, took out the pages, made holes down the middle of mine and sewn them together. I then laid out my suede like fabric, cut to shape and so it folded gently around the book cover - enough so it could stretch but also was tight enough around it when closed. After the flaps had been glued down and given time to dry I then took the blank cover paegs at the back and front of my main pages, spread glue lightly over them and pressed them hard against the inner book cover. Let it for half an hour then placed under and between several heavy books over night. Once all the glues areas were dry I took some gold 3D fabric paint and put the title and my maiden initials on the front and left to dry over night. Then it was just a matter of trimming the pages to fit within the book covers.
I only exclusively made 3 copies of my work, one for the student and 2 for my best friends as an extra special christmas present. It took a long time to make but it made me feel proud to see my own words in book form.

Friendship Momento Fabric and Paper Hanging



This is a paper and fabric mixed photograph hanging that I made 2 of as christmas presents to my 2 best friends whom are featured in the photograph. With a special message in runes at the bottom.First I used Image Maker past to transfer a reversed photocopy of the photograph onto a piece of calico. Whilst it dried and set I made the background using decorative pieces of paper that are reportedly made from recycled fabrics in India. I believe this to be true as you can make out thin strands in the material. I used green for grass, white for snow and a blue strip with stars on for the sky. All three strips were glued onto a larger whole piece of neutral paper. Then once both were dry I positioned my fabric photograph, pinned in place with the red and gold ribbon as the border and sewed the ribbon in red thread to go against the ribbon strips. I then folded the excess neautral paper at the top on to itself several times to make a strop hem, used a holepunch to make holes and then inserted a thicker strip of red and god ribbon to make the hanging.You can just make out at the bottom the golden runes I wrote using 3D fabric paint. Written on the back is the interpretation 'Friends Forever'.

Feeling nearly as busy as Santa himself!

Well I know it's a big claim to make but these past 3 weeks have been a complete and utter whirlwind for me. If it's not work making me so tired I have to have early nights which takes away my WOW playing time then I have Christmas coming up so I've been busy planning, buying, making, wrapping, posting and writing christmas presents to all my closest friends and family not to mention decorating and cleaning the flat. On the whole the past 3 weeks have been pretty productive and creative.

Productive in that I feel I've been making a real difference to the Library where I've introduced quite a few e-resources as we call them. Such as getting the Library up on Twitter - soon to be put on a large screen in a rotating tweet display so our message gets even further to our students. Setting up a Delicious Links account to make e-resouces seem a bit more accessible and modern and in doing that I came across Shelfari.com. A fantastic online virtual book shelf site where you can personalise and customise your own bookshelf. So I've made one for the Library to display in a more visual and interactive form our newest additions to the actual library catalogue. Also set up a Library blog to keep students uptodate with new books, library events, library changes, new e-resources etc.
Creative in that I made by hand 2 beautiful hanging textile photographs of me and my best friends and printed and hand bound a small collection of my favourite Norse mythology inspired short stories and poems as a special literary treat to them both. The actual book idea was not mine but a student at college whose become quite good friends. I also made a nice thick green furry hand muffler for my Auntie who has MS so she can't really use gloves anymore due to her stiffning hands. All these things took a long time to make and create but I enjoyed doing them and is extremely proud of them. Pictures to come up soon.
Now I just have time to myself. I'm going to spend this weekend with partner and his family exchanging presents then coming back on Sunday to travel to my family home on Monday for the rest of the Christmas week. Whilst there I will continue at last to work on my Yorkshire Ghost Story, take photographs of puppies, scenery and wildlife I see and maybe even drum up some more crafty ideas for when I come back to Huddersfield for the New Year.
At least I can finally be busy doing things I want to do and enjoy.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Morning Sunrise 09.12.09 Castle Hill view 027

The Sun rising behind the hill beside the victorian tower at Castle Hill. 09-12-09.

If you wish to see many more from the Sun's head peeking over the silohuetted horizon please visit www.flickr.com/photos/valkyrie1008.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Planning A Creative Christmas:

Well it’s back to being a busy bustling Librarian after a very tiring 3 day weekend thanks to a ‘training day’ last friday. Managed to become a fool in that time as I went home without packing pyjama’s and went to Scarborough shopping and somehow managed to forget my purse. Thankfully Mum was happy to bail me out over 2 presents. I’ll pay her back when she comes Christmas shopping my end this saturday. Hopefully with my new comfy desk chair which has evaded me again this past weekend.
I’m please to say I am making some improvements to the Library that my boss Terry is quite pleased with. Made some funky signs for the Fiction and Manga section as they didn’t really have any. Created and put into action some ‘Brand New to Catalogue’ signs and labels on books that we put on shelves showing off new books. Also initiated a ‘New to Library’ list that promotes a selection of books recently put on catalogue in a range of subjects and some ficiton and manga. These lists are put on tables, in Blackboard announcements and on our Library Blog (which hasn’t had student input yet but I am mentioning it to a few now.) Got the Library on Twitter @HuddnewcollLib and also begun developing our use of Delicious.com bookmarking site. Found some rather interesting sites I might just look into myself.
I’m hoping today is going to be a lot easier and possibly quieter than last Thursday which was the first real nightmatre I’ve had since working here. It was a day of endless rule breakers, trouble makers and micky takers in our students. Had to take a few names down and threaten them with banishment due to their misbehaviour and inept ability not to learn their lesson in discipline.
On a more happy and creative note after visiting the sweetest shop of handmade gifts ever in Scarborough and purchasing two lovely handmade note books for some old friends I’ve come away with inspiration on how to make a further addition to their gifts. It involves card, fabric, picture maker paste, a good photograph, thread, beads, glitter, fabric paint and any other embellishments I come across hehehe. I can’t wait to start making them!
Further encouraged when one of my friendlier and in fact friendliest students by the name of Samantha (who is in to modern vampire novels) who says she makes all her christmas cards each year and because last week she showed me her own vampire short story in progress, she came up with the most fantastic idea. Print and Bind our little stories and then give them to each other as presents! Which is kind of ironic in a way (although I’m always being corrected on the use of that word) as last year when I was away on holiday my boyfriend printed and bound my own little novel (a draft version so it wasn’t perfect) in a lovely purple paper cover. It was very sweet even though it wasn’t perfect. So I might get him to do it again for me hehehehe.
Oh what a busy term this is turning out to be, writing, playing WOW on awesome new PC quite regularly thank god I was beginning to loose £8.99 a month for nothing, being a busy Librarian bumblebee and now getting creative again. I might even take the first step in redesigning the back of my white work jacket with the Norse Raven idea I’ve been developing. All works of further creativity will be displayed here. You just have to give me a bit of time to get started.

Emerging Writer: Ever Tried Englynion?

Emerging Writer: Ever Tried Englynion?

At last something literary and poetic that involves our good old Anglo-Saxon and Viking ancestors! This will give me something to think about over lunch :P

Look out for possible failed attempts here.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A Golden Dawn

Here is just a sample of the handful of beautiful pictures I managed to capture despite the gale force winds up at HNC college tryingt o blow me away from this lovely view of sunrise at 8:15pm over Castle Hill which you can see from where I work.
To see the rest of photographs of todays fantastic golden sunrise visit www.flickr.com/photos/valkyrie1008. Hope you enjoy these wonderful sights as much as I did except you have the luxury of not having chilly gale force winds trying to blow you away.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Children In Need @ HNC Library Photographs!

The moment you've all been waiting for and the question that's been bugging you for ages - what do Librarians do when given the chance to dress up or dress down? Well if it's for such a good cause as Children In Need look through these entertaining photographs to find out!
A Vampire and a Medieval Maiden aka (Terry and Rebecca)

A Vampire Cocktail Waitress complete with napkin and bar badges with the words 'staked not stirred' and 'Fangtasia Cocktail Bar'.

Now the due has been joined by a red devil aka Sue! There is definitly something paranormal and mystical happening in the Libray for Children In Need 2009!









Friday, 20 November 2009

Children In Need @ HNC Library

Currently enjoying my best day at work ever simply because I'md dressed up in my viking cloak and my medieval dress complete with all my amber jewellry. My boss Terry has become a Vampire Cocktail Waitress and Sue our Assistant is a She Devil hehehe. Getting quite a few curious guesses as to what I am dressed up as. One member of staff said I looked like Guinever *blush with flattery*, one student ask if its something victorian lol and another said am I Pochahontas LOL. I keep making a joke about getting a Guess Pot to see how much money we can raise with people guessing what I am. I'm taking photographs of us dressed up Librarians and all the students that come in with a game to play, selling cakes or even quirkier costumes. All to be put on here, on the Library Blog and possibly on Twitter Pics once I get it sorted out for our Library Twitter account.

Friday, 13 November 2009

As Old As Houses - Ghost Story - 5th Draft

Now many people or regular readers or those whom my blog pesters with post update emails might see it as strange or maybe slightly wrong that I put up drafts of my stories over and over again instead of putting up the final finished version. Well the truth is as a writer I need and prefer feedback from my work instead of trusting my own judgement on whether something is ready of submission. As is often the case I can not see my own mistakes (mainly in the department of grammar and punctuation) that is why I put my work up on my blogs in the hope of comments from readers, pester my former writing tutor at Uni still as well as quiz even my librarian work colleagues about it.

So yet again I will push upon you my 5th draft, edit and rewrite of my ghost story with a twist. And again I will appeal to all those who read this to be generous and give me feedback. Good or bad, all constructive comments will be noted down and acted upon. You can see the changes made in later drafts.

As Old as Houses -Ghost Story – Yorkshire Magazine

“I wonder how old this place is.”
“Who cares? It’s going to be gone after the weekend.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, there’s a notice about it in reception.”
“Oh. What a shame.”
“Why? It’s a dump.” Jenny muttered pointing at the mould covered and water soaked mattresses which lay scattered like decaying corpses amongst the trees concealing most of the old farm house walls. Staring at the tumbled pieces of brickwork, the roof with no tiles, not complete chimney stacks and the vandalism and graffiti all around, Sarah had to agree.
A wind blew down from the waving tree tops giving the girls intense shivers. Sarah paused to listen to it moan through the broken walls and empty doors.
“Come on, this place is boring.” Jenny complained.
Sarah cast one glance back at the house before racing after her friend who was already returning to the familiar lights of Storthes Hall student flats.

***

Sarah saw pure darkness yet within it something was moving. Silver edged waves lapped her feet sending shivers crawling up her bones. She could make out a faint white glow in the centre of her vision, weak but enough for a silhouette to evolve. Of a ship with a large square sail and a snarling beast head racing over the crests of black waves. Its sinister shape and swift movement made her feel like a seal hunted by a Killer Whale.
There was a flash of lightning. It illuminated an axe blade coming down upon her from above. Just before it could slice straight through her paralyzed body an unknown foreign male voice whispered into her ear.
“I am here.”
Sarah sat bolt upright in bed, freed from the nightmare at last. The image of a raven flag still lingered in the shadows of her mind.

***

It was Sunday and Sarah was surprised to find she wasn’t the only one going to see the sad downfall of the old farm house. She stood amongst the student gathering kept behind the safety barriers now that the bulldozer was in position. It was just as the bulldozer driver was about to get in, alongside a big cheer and chatter from the small crowd, that someone pushed past her. The culprit ignored the barrier and ran towards the house, straight past the demolition team unnoticed. Only when Sarah glared after the rude person did she recognise who it was.
“Hey! Jenny? Jenny!” She yelled trying to stop her friend, Jenny turned around just as she reached the old farms coal shed which was now visible because the demolition team had cleared all the vegetation. When their eyes met Sarah became cold inside, silenced by the feeling as Jenny then disappeared into the farmhouse. “Jenny! Jenny! What are you doing?” Sarah couldn’t understand this, Jenny was meant to be at home in Doncaster. Why didn’t she tell me she was planning this kind of stunt? Sarah pondered anxious and confused.
People were starting to look at her with puzzlement and the demolition team were ignoring her shouting completely as the bulldozer driver turned on the engine. The rest of her cries were drowned out in a huge cruel cheer from the student crowd.
Sarah caught the attention of the nearest man in a yellow jacket. Her frightened eyes and nervous voice persuaded him that she was telling the truth. He halted the bulldozer and went to the house with Sarah, much to the disappointment of the crowd who began booing and jeering.
“She’s in here I swear. She went right past you all. Jenny? Jenny can you hear me?” Sarah called into the dusty derelict building as her and the demolition foreman stood at the doorway. “Jenny? Please come out, you’re going to get into trouble.”
“I am here.” Jenny answered.
Sarah took her first steps inside, immediately feeling the coldness of the shadows.
“Are you sure she’s in here?” The foreman grunted, not satisfied.
“Yes, yes she is. Where are you Jenny?”
“I am here.”
“She’s through there.” Sarah began to go towards the dusty and cobwebbed doorway to the cellar. “Are you in there Jenny?”
Again came the reply. “I am here.”
It sounded strongest and closest in the one room they had yet to enter. “She’s in the other room.”
“Come off it, there’s no one here. You’re just stopping us do our job.” The foreman made a move to turn around and head back to the front door.
“No, she is in there. Didn’t you hear her?” Sarah pushed past the foreman towards the room. It was dark inside with bricked up windows but Sarah could see a darker form that wasn’t her shadow from the foreman’s distant torch light. She walked towards it thinking of Jenny. On her third step the dirt and rubble covered floor groaned, something snapped causing a shudder and the floorboards collapsed inwards. Sarah lost her balance with a wail and went down to the unknown.
The foreman came closer at the sound and shone his torch into the collapsed floor and stepped back in shock. In the dust flickering light was Sarah, on all fours amongst broken timbers and dirt but right next to her was a skull, its fixed expression so serious it was almost glaring at them both. Beside its other bones was what looked like a well rusted axe head only giving the faintest shine and a large lump of wood that was not from the broken floor. The beast’s forked tongue, jagged teeth, and painted ruby red eyes still looked menacing despite its withered state. Its age and sorry condition did not stop Sarah trembling when she looked at it.
The foreman swore before he clicked open the channel on his radio. “Dan get the Police on the phone, the damned house is on top of a grave. Until then this house stays up.”
Sarah heard words echo out of the skull by her side, it wasn’t Jenny’s voice. “I am here! ”

The End

Monday, 9 November 2009

Ghost Story - 4th Draft

Ok this is my fourth re-write and draft version of a Ghost Story with a Viking twist that has a word budget of 1000 words. All for the Ghost Story competition run by the Yorkshire magazine. Thankfully the deadline isn't till July but still the sooner I get it in tip top condition the sooner I can send it in and the sooner it can be at the top of the reading pile and haunt the judges dreams to make me a winner muwahahahaha! Not really but better sooner than later. So again I beg for FEEDBACK of ANY KIND! Whether you're telling me what you like or what you don't like. All feedback is useful and feedback is what I need to improve this story to its best. So please read and comment generously.

As Old as Houses -Ghost Story

“I wonder how old this place is.”
“Who cares it’s going to be gone after the weekend.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, there’s a notice about it in reception.”
“Oh. What a shame.”
“Why? It’s a dump.” Jenny muttered pointing at the mould covered and water soaked mattresses which lay scattered like decaying corpses amongst the trees concealing most of the old farm house walls. Staring at the tumbled pieces of brickwork, the roof with no tiles, not complete chimney stacks and the vandalism and graffiti all around, Sarah had to agree.
A wind blew down from the waving tree tops giving the girls intense shivers. Both hugged themselves for warmth and security.
“Come on, this place is boring.” Jenny complained.
Sarah cast one glance back at the house before racing after her friend who was already returning to the familiar lights of Storthes Hall student flats.

***

Before her was darkness. A black nothingness yet within it something was moving. Some entity was making a bang like claps of thunder repeatedly. The sound got louder and as it did so she could make out a faint red glow in the centre of her vision, weak but enough for a silhouette to be seen. Of a ship with a large square sail and a snarling beast head racing over the crests of black waves. Yet she could not move, she could not run away from what she saw.
A flash of lightening created the glisten of an axe blade coming down upon her from above and just before it would slice straight through her paralyzed body words were whispered into her ear.
I am here.” A single male voice which gave her such a feeling of weakness Sarah sat bolt upright in bed, freed from the nightmare at last. The image of a black raven flag still lingering in the shadows of her mind.

***

It was Sunday and Sarah was surprised to find she wasn’t the only one going along to see the sad downfall of the old farm house. She stood amongst the student mob kept behind the safety barriers now that the bulldozer was in position. It was just as the bulldozer driver was about to get in, alongside a big cheer and chatter from the small crowd, that someone pushed past her. The culprit ignored the barrier and ran towards the house, straight past the demolition team. Only when Sarah glared after them did she recognise the long jacket they wore.
“Hey! Jenny! Jenny!” She yelled trying to stop her friend, Jenny turned around just as she reached the old farms coal shed which was now visible due to the demolition team who had cleared all the vegetation. The friend’s eyes met, Jenny gave a wave, a big grin and then disappeared quickly inside the farmhouse. “Jenny! Jenny! What are you doing?” Sarah couldn’t understand this, Jenny was meant to be visiting at home in Doncaster. Why didn’t she tell me she was planning this kind of stunt? Sarah pondered anxious and confused.
People were starting to look at her with puzzlement and the demolition team were ignoring her shouting completely as the bulldozer driver turned on the engine. The rest of her cries were drowned out in a huge cruel cheer from the student crowd.
Sarah caught the attention of the nearest man in a yellow jacket and showed genuine fear as she explained how Jenny was inside. He halted the bulldozer and went to the house with Sarah much to the disappointment of the crowd who began booing and jeering.
“She’s in here I swear. She went right past you all. Jenny? Jenny can you hear me?” Sarah called into the dusty derelict building as her and the demolition foreman stood at the doorway. “Jenny? Please come out, you’re going to get into trouble.”
“I am here.” Jenny answered.
Sarah took her first steps inside, immediately feeling the coldness of the shadows.
“Are you sure she’s in here?” The foreman grunted, not satisfied.
“Yes, yes she is. Where are you Jenny?”
“I am here.”
“She’s through there.” Sarah began to go towards the dusty and cobwebbed doorway to the cellar believing her friend to be in there. “Are you in there Jenny?”
Again came the reply. “I am here.”
It sounded strongest and closest in the one room they had yet to enter. “She’s in the other room.”
“No she isn’t, there is no one there.” The foreman made a move to turn around and head back to the front door.
“No, I heard her, she is in there.” Sarah pushed past the Foreman, disbelieving him, claim towards the room. It was dark inside with bricked up windows but Sarah could see a darker form that wasn’t her subtle shadow, before a barren fireplace. She walked towards it thinking of Jenny. On her third step the wooden dirt and rubble covered floor groaned, something snapped underneath and the floorboards collapsed inwards. Sarah lost her balance with a wail and went down to the unknown.
The foreman came closer at the sound and shone his torch into the collapsed floor and stepped back in shock. In the dust flickering light was Sarah on all fours amongst broken timbers and dirt but right next to her was a skull, its fixed expression so serious it was almost glaring at them both. Beside its other bones was what looked like a well rusted axe head only giving the faintest shine as well as a large lump of wood that was not from the broken floor. Its lizards tongue, jagged teeth, and painted ruby red eyes still looked menacing after so many years at sea as well as spent in dark, damp conditions.
The foreman swore before he clicked open the channel on his radio. “Dan get the Police on the phone, the damned house is right on top of a grave. Until then this house stays up.”
Sarah heard those words again but no longer as Jenny. “I am here!”

The End

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Grist Anthology of New Writing - Launch Night @ Peacock Lounge

Well the monumental day has arrived for all those who have heard of Grist, entered Grist and even won the Grist Competition. Their poems or stories are about to be released into the writing and bookloving world along side some headliners such as Ian McMillan and Simon Armitage under the delightful name of 'The Grist Anthology of New Writing'. Which has a very artistic portrayal of letters and words appearing right out of an ink pot on the front cover.

It is the compilation of runners up and the three winners from both Poetry and Short Fiction which was judged by Simon Armitage and Joanne Harris in the Grist Competition run in May 2008. The idea of Grist itself is born from the inspirational mind of Michael Stewart, a Creative Writing tutor at Huddersfield University and also a key player in the 4th Huddersfield Literature Festival this year.
I myself was a student personally tutored by him in my English Studies with Creative Writing degree and as I was Book & Fiction Sub-editor at the Huddersfield Student Newspaper during my final year I worked closely with him not only to promote the Grist competition which he made free to the University's students but also advertising the many brilliant literature events he organised during the festival. See Huddersfield Student E-Archive links down the right hand side.

The Peacock Lounge in Huddersfield quickly became filled from 7pm with not just fans and followers of Grist but also the Winners and runners up author and poets who were soon take turns upon stage to read their work out. I myself was sat next to one of the runner up poets who had come all the way from Ireland to read her poem titled 'Flight of Swallows' which was inspired through her helpless feeling when her daughter was diagnosed with diabetes. However Michael himself had to step up on stage to read quite a few extracts from the short stories as several authors couldn't attend. But all readers Michael included did a fantastic job of telling their story or poem, one in particular, Gareth Durasow (I think I've got his name right) did a very dramatic by heart performance of his poem 'Poem for the Love Lane Crow). Local poets David Gill and Gaia Holmes also turned up for the event as they too contributed some of their work to this Anthology.

On the whole the entire night was very enjoyable and became extremely entertaining at the end with a musical literary suprise in the form of JazzT (aka David Gill a local poet and Poetry tutor at the University of Huddersfield) singing a few songs of his own. He wasn't bad, he wasn't fantastic but he was very entertaining and ended the night on a high.

To learn more about Grist, the competition and other details please visit www.hud.ac.uk/grist .

Monday, 2 November 2009

Make: Online : Banner ads on flies

Make: Online : Banner ads on flies

Follow this link to see the best use of flies I have ever seen instead of having them batter themselves even dumber upon a bear lightbulb. Typical German crazyness mixed with book publishers. Click and watch video to see what wonder is created.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Home coming, spending money and Halloween Foxes!

Well where should I begin:
Justify Full

Let's start at the beginning, at the end of last week I went home as it was half term at college so I had a week of work! WOOO! Got to bond again with my saint of a mother and play with my two balls of fluff Gem and Bailey, our families two golden labradors. Also as I was back in good old north yorkshire country side I was able to photograph the country pheasants in the fields right opposite my home. You can see pictures of these fine english birds on my Flickr site or in my Deviantart Gallery.

Spent most of the week on outings with my mum and Auntie Kate and Jo, the latter has MS so it's good to get her out. Of course this was temptation for me to spend a lot of money as I had only been paid the week before so I felt slightly rich and carefree when I did buy quite a few things.

Yet something good did come out of my pennies as my Mum spotted in a local newspaper a local guy by the name of Simon Grey who has written and had published 2 books for the under fourteens based on the idea of Vikings living under the streets of modern day York!
At first I was gutted that yet again some lucky person has beaten it to fame with my own idea (as my valkyries stories are set in modern day york) but then I realised it showed how strong Vikings and their adventures are making a come back to the british public! So I bought the 2 books and I'm very nearly finished the first one which is called The Last Vikings. It really is a book for younger kids who are nearly teenagers but not quite. But on that ground it is still an enjoyable story even though very immature for my reading tastes. But hey I act like a 12 year old half the time anyway. So I do reccomend it for younger readers to put on their Christmas list this year.

Speaking of York I went there on Thursday to catch up with my best mate Tasha and just had to visit the Jorvik Centre shop and buy a vikingy treat for doing a degree (excuses but valid ones :P) and I bought a nice valkyrie pendant, the figure based on an engraving found in Sweden. Thought it quite clever as I'm writing about them and I also bought a nice blue t-shirt with a viking boat on depicted in an engraving and as it's mainly black and lacking great detail I thought 'perfect I can add stuff to it and make it my own hehehe'.

Now I returned back to Huddersfield and my boyfriend for the Halloween weekend. Sadly none of my mates were telling me of their Halloween plans so I wasn't able to get dressed up as Black Widow Spiderwoman this year but my boyfriend proposed we revisit our beloved woods for a halloween campfire. I went worried it might take ages for it to get going etc but he didn't dissapoint me. In half an hour we were toasty warm by the firelight eating our now lukewarm fish and chips. It was very nice though. I did have another brilliant idea on the way down to get him to record me in the firelight telling my vikingy ghost story 'As Old as Houses' but sadly it wasn't to be as I didn't bring my good camera as he said it would be too dark to photograph anything (we didn't think of filming then) and my mobile phone died on me just before....
AND at that critical moment of failure a fox started screaming in the woods.

Rotten luck. That's all I could put it down to. Plus it was a full moon.

However my boyfriend used his phone (which only records for 30 seconds before stopping which was annoying) but we managed to capture its calls once before it stopped. You must be instantly quiet when you click play as it is the first noise you hear and then my boyfriend spoils it with the noisy marshmallow packet.


video

Monday, 26 October 2009

Jorvik Photographs, Twitter and Librarian Gatherings:

Well I can say that my half term holiday is as much work as it is holiday. Mainly due to me helping my Mum take my Auntie Jo out for trips and stuff. Spent a bit too much in the garden centre on Sunday and not on plants I can assure you.

Then today I've been busy growing up in my new life time role as a Librarian by tagging along with my boss to the Extreme Make Over conference at Leeds Met University with a whole host of other Librarians. A gathering for all those who like organising informationa and discussing new ways to share information as well as teach good information literacy skills to students. Learnt lots of new things, made new friends, discovered an interest in Twitter for personal use as well as work use (so give me a few hours and you might find me on there under my deviantart nickname).

Top all that off with the local countryside Pheasants put on a nice show for me in the fields nearby (photos in my Flickr gallery - see link in Creative Connections down the left.) And I finally got an email confirming that the Schmaps website is using my Jorvik photograph in their online York Guide. You can spot it amongst the montage of other selected and used photographs in the Schmaps York Guide box in red down the left side of the page. It has my name underneath.

Also Mermaidencreations (please do visit her wonderful site at Blogspot - link can be found further down the page) drew my name in a giveaway draw so I've won the beautiful prize of a handmade feather pendant which will look awesome with my medieval pagan gear. That is if it gets through to me in one piece with this damnd awful postal strike happening here in UK.

But I am trying to make this a creative holiday as well as I've lugged all my writing stuff over to try and improve my viking ghost story some more and perhaps write some more on my developing Valkyrie saga as each short story is turing more into a book chapter. Besides I have also bought an encylopedia of sewing and stitches as I am being pestered already to use my sewing machine again by my partner so something textiley might appear in the future.

So do keep your eyes peels for more pics as well as stories.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Crazy Squirrels and Wonderful Gifts:

I am extremely proud to announce that the video I filmed of my garden squirrels chasing each other round and round the trees has made it to the glorious hieght of Autumn Watch website!!!


I submitted it days ago and it's finally been put on! Although it doesn't feature all five minutes worth of footage the bit that is up at least shows them chasing in circles around the tree trunks.

I'm now keeping my fingers crossed all week that it gets featured live in their Unsprung show after the main Autumn Watch programme this friday night. Everyone do the same if you like it.

To find out if you do follow this link and be prepared to feel slightly dizzy on behalf of these little grey critters.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/autumnwatch/yourmovies/gallery_garden.shtml?id=150288


Also to make my day even more special I have been named as one of the very lucky winners in Mermaidencreations giveaway. I win the beautiful prize of a feather charm made especially by her. Please view her blog in my blogroll to see what a creative mistress of magic she is. I love her work and I am honoured that she loves any of mine.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

All settled in and Viking Ghosts....

Well I am officially all settled in at my new blog at Wordpress.com. My primary pages of stuff about me, jorvik festival and a page showing off all my textile and other creative works have been completed and added.

Plus I seem to be becoming a little bit more famous every few days, had 10 views last wednesday and then had 11 views this saturday but my overall views is 64 which means 64 people may have seen me, talked about me with others and so more people might come back for a visit. It's quite a nice feeling.

Besides they should be visiting now that I am about to reveal my latest work in progress, a ghost story with a bit of a twist of viking influence. The story is set around Storthes Hall my old student residence and this quiant old derelict farm which has been around for at least 150 years according to my census research known as Ravensknowle farm. It's my first try at this type of thing as I'm not good at making people scared but I hope this at least intrigues you a bit and all feedback is encouraged and greatly welcomed. Thankfully I have until July next year to get this truly polished up before I submitt into a competition. But if I start having feedback now the quicker I can improve it and the sooner I can send it in. It is fairly short as the word count limit is only 1000 so I can't go into really good detail but I feel I have at least managed to give the story some descriptive meat in its key moments despite this although it did require a lot of cuts when I first began writing as I easily went over the limit.

So I do hope you check out my new blogging home at Wordpress heres the link http://valkyrie1008.wordpress.com/ and please do give all the feedback you can for my latest work 'As Old As Houses'.



As Old as Houses -Ghost Story – Yorkshire Magazine


“I wonder how old this place is.”

“Who cares it’s going to be gone after the weekend.”

Sarah was surprised by her friend’s comments to her question as they both stepped carefully over the branches of hawthorn which after had taken over the small yard they now stood in.

“Really?”

“Yeah, there’s a notice about it in reception.”

“Oh. What a shame.”

“Why? It’s a dump.” Jenny muttered pointing at the mould covered and water soaked mattresses which lay scattered like decaying corpses amongst the trees concealing most of the farm house walls. At that Sarah had to agree, staring at the tumbled pieces of brickwork, the roof with no tiles, not complete chimney stacks and the vandalism and graffiti all around.

Bored of their walk Jenny headed back towards the track which brought them to the abandoned farm house that evening. Sarah cast one glance back at the house which made her so curious before racing after her friend, returning to the familiar lights of Storthes Hall student flats.


***


Before her was darkness. A black nothingness yet within it something was moving. Some entity making the noise of marching feet that cracked like gunfire. The sound got louder and as it did so she could make out a faint red glow in the centre of her vision, weak but enough for silhouettes to be seen. Of heads and shoulders, close to each other, bobbing up and down with each sound of footsteps getting louder, getting nearer. Yet she could not move, she could not run away from what she saw, she could not cover her ears to what she heard. The screams of fear, panic, pain and mourning coming from directly behind her. As if an invisible crowd of women were wailing just out of sight behind her back.

Next thing she saw was the glisten of an axe blade coming down upon her from above and just before it would slice straight through her body words were whispered into her ear.

Jeg eh her.” A single male voice which gave her such a feeling of weakness Sarah sat bolt upright in bed, freed from the nightmare at last, the sound of her frantic heart pounding like the marching ghosts.


***


It was Sunday and Sarah was surprised to find she wasn’t the only one going along to see its sad downfall although probably not for the same reason. She stood amongst the student mob kept behind the safety barriers now that the bulldozer was in position. It was just as the bulldozer driver was about to get in, alongside a big cheer and chatter from the small crowd, that someone pushed past her. The culprit ignored the barrier and ran towards the house, straight past the demolition team. Only when Sarah glared after them did she recognise the long jacket they wore.

“Hey! Jenny! Jenny!” She yelled trying to stop her friend, Jenny turned around just as she reached the old farms coal shed which was now visible thanks to the demolition team who had cleared all the vegetation. The friend’s eyes met, Jenny gave a wave, a big grin and then disappeared quickly inside the farmhouse. “Jenny! Jenny! What are you doing?” Sarah couldn’t understand this, Jenny was meant to be visiting her family home in Doncaster. Why didn’t she tell her she was planning this kind of stunt?

People were starting to look at her with puzzlement and the demolition team were ignoring her shouting completely as the bulldozer driver turned on the engine. The rest of her cries were drowned out in a huge cruel cheer from the student crowd. Things were happening too fast.

Sarah caught the attention of the nearest man in a yellow jacket and showed genuine fear as she explained how Jenny was inside. He halted the bulldozer and went to the house with Sarah much to the disappointment of the crowd who began booing and jeering.

“She’s in here I swear. She went right past you all. Jenny? Jenny can you hear me?” Sarah called into the dusty derelict building as her and the demolition foreman stood at the doorway. “Jenny? Please come out, you’re going to get into trouble.”

“I am here.” Came an answer. Sarah took her first steps inside, immediately feeling the coldness of the shadows.

“Are you sure she’s in here?” The foreman grunted, not satisfied.

“Yes, yes she is. Where are you Jenny?”

“I am here.”

“She’s through there.” Sarah began to go into the few accessible barren rooms of the old building, seeing nothing but dust, cobwebs and bits of fallen brickwork. “Where are you Jenny?”

Again came the reply. “I am here.”

To Sarah it sounded the strongest and closest in the one room they had yet to enter. “Down here, she’s in the basement.”

“There is no basement. Not on the plans we’ve been given. Come on, we’ve wasted enough time. She’s obviously gone out whilst we’ve been looking.” The foreman turned around and headed back to the front door.

“No, no she can’t have. I heard her, she is in here? Didn’t you hear her ...”

Sarah was interrupted, as they passed through the room there was a crack as loud as lightening. A long creaking followed by several thuds as pieces of the floor concealed beneath dust, dirt and debris began to collapse and split apart. Sarah ran with a shriek towards the doorway of the room beyond.

Where the floor used to be there was now a foot deep gap the size of the room apart from the few pieces of wood remained clinging to the old stone work. In that large whole, neatly laid out before them was a skeleton holding a rusted axe.

Sarah heard those words again. “Jeg er her.”

The foreman swore before he clicked open the channel on his radio. “Dan get English Heritage on the phone, the damned house is right on top a burial site. Until then this house stays up.”


The End



Thursday, 15 October 2009

A girl can never have too many blogs :P

Well I must say my new bloglife on WordPress has gotten off to a flying albeit a slow start, flying in that I had 10 views on Saturday which was a nice suprise (i’m loving these statistics) and slow because there is so much I can share but to organise it into all its appropriate sections which I must first set up before uploading is taking a bit longer than I first thought. I currently stand today as having over all a nice total of 52 hits! But that's nothing compared to the 906 page views I have on Deviantart but then I have a lot more followers on Deviantart.
Already there have been some improvements though, now all my famous encounters and pieces can be found under ‘Introducing myself’ section, I have a section devouted to sharing the thrills of the Jorvik Viking Festival which I am regular attendee where you can see brilliant photographs of all the fun and action from festivals this year and past. And still early in its development is ‘Valkyrie Creations’ where I will display my other creative material.
So if you haven't visited my new blog yet please do the link is found to the top right of the screen!
I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that I have uploaded some stunning shots of birds of prey that I saw in fantastic action at Leeds Royal Armouries this past weekend where me and my partner celebrated 3 crazy years together these can be seen in my Flickr site and via my Deviant Art Gallery - please see Links to the top right of the screen for access.
And I am finally pleased to announce that I am currently writing up my short story idea for a ghost story competition I’m planning to enter ( thankfully the deadline isn’t till July next year -phew-). So there is still lots more to come in all areas of this fantastic new blog of mine (and on here of course). Keep your eye on this space!

Monday, 12 October 2009

Putting photographs on Flickr is paying off! My talents been spotted!

I was only checking out my Flickr photostream to amend the title of a butterfly picture which I mistakenly called a Tortoiseshell when it was in fact a Painted Lady butterfly when I noticed that I had a message in my Flickr box. I opened it up and what do I see? A lady from a website I haven't heard off called Schmaps York Guide informing me that they've selected one of my photorgaphs to be using in their York Guide which will be released by the end of the month!




Now at first I was a bit dubious, thinking it might be a hoax but I clicked the link as directed and it did indeed take me to their website where I was shown which photo they had selected. It was one of my favourite's from the Jorvik festival 2009, with viking re-enactors captured against the ruins of St Mary's in York Museum Gardens



Of course I clicked accept submission and now I have to nervously wait to see if they do pick me in the final decision process! Trust me as soon as I know you'll know too! Who knew such things could come of joining Flickr!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Completed draft sequel to 'The Old Ways Never Die'

Midnight Tricks: Draft One

The music throbbed, pulsed and rocked up through my table, through my glass and disturbed the surface of my drink. It was also starting to shake my brain more than I’d like. Music back in my day was a lot more sociably pleasing in that it didn’t leave you with a headache to precede the hang over from the alcohol. I never did understand how the youth of this modern generation could get any enjoyment from this loud, rapid procession of beats and noises. I guessed it might have some echo of their Neolithic past when the earliest form of music was used to send people into a trance like state. In modern times the trance was a lot more active than simply rocking on your knees and wailing to the spirits, it involved so called ‘dancing’ in the dark with music so loud even shouting won’t get you heard, only screaming would. But what did I know; I wasn’t part of this generation in any context. I was around long before any of the throng near me was conceived.
I glanced at my mobile for the time as it was too dark and none of the fast moving rays of rainbow lasers and lights stayed long enough on my table for me to look at my watch. Ten to nine. I smiled with relief that I wouldn’t have to reside there much longer before I was due to meet my next client.
It was as I was sipping my drink once more that I noticed him. Lounging against the far wall amongst a little group of lads and girls, a good head taller than the rest and if anyone cared to notice the tallest person in the room next to the DJ who was a on stage. His type always failed to realise that it was merely their height that gave them away no matter how normal they may appear to be on the outside. Normally on a night like that I wouldn’t have even considered any form of interaction with him on any basis, each side prefers to avoid the other but on this occasion he was doing something that was rather worrying.
He was talking to a girl. Now to anyone in the world that would seem perfectly typical of a night club scene, boy meets girl, boy likes girl, vice versa and at some point make the beast with two backs as Shakespeare so cleverly put it. Except this would be no ordinary coupling and what made it worrying was the fact that it was forbidden. I knew it and I bet my life that he knew it. He could not be allowed to break the rules.
I watched him closely; his attention was so focused on the girl that he never noticed my intense glances at him. His mouth was uttering away to her whose eyes were entirely fixed upon his own but every now and again I caught her glancing around the room herself. Perhaps looking for a friend she came with? Someone she knows? The way out? I couldn’t tell for sure but the fact that they even broke eye contact at all meant that his regular charms weren’t working. And if he wanted her as much as I thought he did then I was nervous about what he would try next when being the ‘perfect gentleman’ failed to seduce her.
He made his next move just before it was time I introduced myself to him, he came closer to her, rested his hands on her hip and shoulder and guided her towards the door. The girl showed a little bit of concern by trying to grab hold of someone who I could only presume she knew but if she didn’t then she really was desperate. She tried to communicate something but He stepped forward, said something and was waved away with the girl followed by wolf whistles from the acquaintance.
I grabbed my mobile, shoved it in my bag and shuffled through the crowd after them determined not to loose sight of them. When I made it to the door and cold dark night outside it took a while before I spotted him turning up a corner towards the shadowy overhang in front of the closed café’s and newsagent above the bar. I walked after them trying to be discrete. I knew it was not long before duties called me somewhere else but I had already decided that this matter was far more important.
When I had caught up he had her pinned in a corner, pressing himself hard upon her, forcing her tight against the wall. Even from a small distance I could hear her small mutterings of ‘no’ and ‘stop’ and ‘I really must go’ none of which would work now he was in a different state of mind. I whistled sharply making him turn around with a glare. I merely smirked in response and dropped my handbag to the floor.
“Someone’s being a naughty boy.”
“Leave us alone. This is none of your business.” He grunted back, his voice as hoarse as someone who has eaten crushed glass. He spun back around to the girl who looked visibly frightened now. I could hear his voice immediately become smooth and caring, muttering ‘just ignore her, its ok…’
“How about you leave us alone and go back to your kennel, dog.”
“Who are you calling dog, harpy!” This time I had struck a cord which is what I had intended, as long as I could direct his attention at me the girl might gain her senses enough to run away. He was stomping towards me already in his big army style boots. His breed really was too big to ever not be noticed.
“Why can’t you just be a good boy and go home eh? You know the rules as well as I. Or must I teach doggy a lesson?”
“I’ll teach you a fucking lesson bitch!” This time he charged at me, arms raised for a punch. I simply knelt down, grabbed something from my bag and pointed it at him until he stopped a foot away from me. I smirked again as I felt the spear head tip lightly make contact with his chest when he stopped. Others around us wouldn’t be aware or even see the weapon I was threatening him with but I could and even if he couldn’t I knew he felt it. His clenched mouth and cautious glances were evidence of it. To the few stragglers and late night strollers in the area it would only appear to them that I was pointing at him with arm outstretched, secretly guiding my weapon to its target.
“Listen, you know it’s wrong, I know it’s wrong so why don’t we agree that I’m right and you get to go home with your tail still in tact, how’s that for you?” I pushed upon my spear ever so slightly into his lower chest to make him wince and a few smoke wisps escaped from his ever so slowly smouldering shirt. “Or would you like to be docked?”
“I won’t forget this.” He growled at me as he lowered his arm.
“I’m sure you won’t but you’ll probably thank me for it later when your Alpha finds out the trouble you’ve been getting up to. Now run along and go find a nice bone to munch on instead.”
With that warning, reminding him of how it wouldn’t be only me that would give him a hard time, he backed off and ran back into the darkness of the city. I quickly compacted my spear and put it back in my bag. Then I heard the crying. The girl hadn’t left as I had hoped. I took out my mobile again and rang Joanne who I knew was also on the night shift.
“Hi Jo, listen something’s come up I won’t be able to make my next appointment can you do it for me? … You sure? … Thanks no no it’s nothing too serious, I’ll tell you about it later. Got to go. Oh yeah the name is Mr Lancaster. Thanks again. See ya.” Putting it away I approached the girl casually as possible.
The poor thing was running her trembling hands through her hair which draped down her legs as she sobbed upon her knees.
“What’s your name?” I asked in a low voice kneeling down beside her.
“Chloe.” She managed to brush some hair aside and look at me. I could sense the fear in her heart and the questions brewing inside her mouth.
“Chloe, I’m Jenny. How about we get you home? Do you live far from here?”
“No … not far.” She attempted to stand up but her legs weren’t obeying.
“Here.” I offered my hand which she grasped like an elderly woman. I managed to pull her up and pass her handbag. “Where to?”
“Just ten minutes this way.”
I allowed her to lead the way through the centre of York, past closed shops and open bars and clubs towards the river where we took a left turn and walked down by the Ouse. As we walked we talked briefly, about casual everyday things, never about what had happened. I was glad I had decided to allow this detour of my plans to occur because each time the shadows shifted ever so slightly I knew that my absence would mean a very different fate for Chloe.
We soon arrived in a quiet, narrow residential street. Few houses were awake with life but I was relieved for Chloe’s sake that we stopped at one that did have lights on and a TV flashing colours through the thin curtains. Her hands were still unsteady as I held open her bag for her to find her keys. She opened the door slightly and shouted inside.
“Nathan, it’s just me.” She swiftly beckoned for me inside but her pleading looks quashed my silent answer of ‘no’ so I followed her in.
Inside was rather surprising as the décor didn’t suit her young age. The carpet was mosaic tiled, the walls were dolphin blue grey papered and there was a border of white and light blue swirls around the edge of the hallway hemming you in your surroundings. I felt like I’d gone back to the 1920’s just by stepping through the door. I was brought back to the present by the appearance of the presumed Nathan in the doorway to the left. A shiver went up my back and circled around my head.
His pearl white eyes roamed jaggedly around the corridor alighting upon me for the shortest of seconds but in that minute time frame I knew he had seen me.
“You’re back early.” He said his voice full of kindness that matched his innocent face.
“No I’m not.” Chloe retorted.
“Yes you are. Mock the Week has only just started which means it after nine.”
“There’s no fooling you is there.” Chloe smiled but only weakly, when you’re talking to a blind person you don’t have to be convincing.
“Who’s your friend?”
“Oh this is…”
“Jennifer.” I answered stepping forward and shaking his free hand whilst the other held his stick. “But you can call me Jenny.” His eyes didn’t look in the direction of my voice but his smile confirmed my suspicions.
“Very nice to meet you Jenny, I’m Chloe’s brother.”
“Nice to meet you too Nathan.”
“Did you two have a nice night then?”
I could see Chloe pale slightly and worry in her eyes as she thought up something to say so I answered for her.
“It was quiet and a bit boring so Chloe suggested we come back for a coffee instead. At least that way we could hear ourselves talk.” I chuckled as the small joke.
“Ah yes as much as I love music I’d rather not go deaf as well.”
“Would you like a coffee Nathan?”
“Oh no thanks, I’m just about to start my hot chocolate anyway. Besides Mock is back on so I’ll leave you girls to it.” With that he slowly turned himself around and walked back into the living room and the laughing sound of the TV.
“Kitchen’s this way.” Chloe whispered.
We went down the hallway and entered a brightly lit room with terracotta walls, sandy tiled floor and pale wooden cupboards and furniture. Along the shelves were many jars of delicately arranged peppers, chillies, peas and other colourful foods set in layers. I never understood their purpose in my own mind because they were made for pure decoration not for use which is a bit of a waste in my opinion. Then again I came from an era where decoration was only a concept available to those who could afford it.
“Do you have sugar?”
“No. No sugar thanks just a bit of milk.”
“Ok.”
I let her wander around the kitchen gathering the mugs, spoons, milk and tea bags around the kettle.
“You have a nice home.”
“It’s my granddad’s house. He’s away at the moment.”
“Are you just looking after it?”
“No, we do live here. Nathan and I have been with Granddad since we were very young.” She poured the water into the mugs and stirred each before passing me one. “I haven’t said thank you yet have I?” she smirked ever so slightly, a tiny spark of her usual self appearing in her eyes.
“It’s ok Chloe. You’ve had a bit of an … experience.”
“Yes…you could call it that.” She said very quietly as we both sat down around the small table. “But I am grateful for your help. I don’t know what would have happened.” She went pale and distant again.
“Don’t think about it Chloe, you’re home safe now. That guy won’t bother you again.”
“I hope not…did you know him? He seemed to recognise you.”
“Not directly no, I just know his brother and we both know he can be a bit demanding of the opposite sex.” I swallowed the warm coffee casting a quick look through the kitchen window but all I could make out were our reflections. “So what do you do for a living?”
“I work a kiosk at the railway station. What about you?”
“I work for a company that deals in prearranged funerals.” Not entirely true but closer to the truth then some lies I’ve heard my colleagues tell.
“You don’t seem the type of person that would deal with such a …”
“Morbid subject? Yes, a lot of people say that to me. But then the way we work is that it isn’t as morbid as you may think. People not only find great relief in knowing that such matters are taken care of after their gone but it can also be an enjoyable experience. A lot of our customers find pleasure in making their passing a unique and unforgettable experience. The only problem is people’s views about death and the afterlife. That’s why people not in the business just see black clothes, mourners and coffins when they hear the word funeral.” What I said was true about the genuine prearranged funeral business but my own work at least fitted the unique and unforgettable part. As my clients never forget their encounters with me and each client takes the matter in a very unique way. A lot of the time it’s complete disbelief, panic and fear.
“That might even sound a lot more fun than my kiosk job.”
“Don’t you like it?”
“No it’s not that, I just feel I’ve been in retail a bit too long in my life. I started working in a supermarket when I was sixteen and I have just never thought of trying anything new.”
“Why don’t you leave and try something new then? Is there a job you’ve always wanted to try?”
“Not really, I’ve never had great dreams about my life and at the moment my job fits my family life better as it gives me the flexibility needed to care for Nathan. Granddad is retired so my work pays for what I and Nathan need so we don’t eat into his pension as little as it is for him.”
“Ever thought of doing a part time course to learn new skills?”
“No, I might look into it one day.”
“Well maybe you should seriously consider it as you are working for two after all so a better job with better pay and the chance of something new might be what you need.”
“Saviour and life councillor, is there anything you can’t do Jenny?” She gave me a genuine smile for the first time that night.
“Nah, it’s not like that, I just hate to see a life wasted. I always encourage people to make their own happiness when I can.” I finished my drink. “I think it’s time I should be going otherwise I will miss the next bus home.”
We both stood together with friendly smiles and the escorted me to the door quietly.
“Thanks again for everything tonight Jenny. I really appreciate it.”
“Don’t mention it Chloe, here’s my card, call me if you need to talk about anything.”
“Final Choice? That’s a funny name for your company.” She gave me a quizzical look not really seeing beyond the title. Of course the choice our clients make are lot more serious then simply choosing which flowers to have at their funeral.
“Kind of suits it really, after all anything you decide to happen for your funeral is your final decision and action in this life. Anyway, I hope we see each other again, try and enjoy the rest of your evening.”
“I’ll try, safe journey.”
“Night Chloe.” I let her shut the door on me as I made my way down the steps but before I walked any further I turned around and knelt to the pavement. I was just about to engrave a rune of protection into the concrete when I noticed some markings already there. Their auras were faint but to my unique eyes they still shimmered like star dust. Marks that resembled many of the runes I know and practise. These were Elder Runes, a set only the Gods themselves know from when Odin first discovered them. It explained why such strong magic caught my eyes. I couldn’t make out their entire meaning but they all seemed to be wards of some kind. Someone had already protected this place, but who and why? I presumed some spiritual being had perhaps inhabited this place a long time ago and wanted to be protected from the dangers that still stalk the shadows tonight. I thought no more about it as I laid down my own runes to keep the protection up-to-date but that’s not to say I wasn’t curious as I looked back up at the house, trying to guess when it was first built. I peered around the shadows beyond the light of the house, sensing no feral presence I made my way back towards the district Hospital, determined to catch up with my quota for that night.

In the hospital all was silent and still. As it should be when I’m working. Noises other than my own and my clients always signal a problem. The doctor and nurse didn’t utter a word either. He remained one step outside the door whilst she had frozen with her fingers about to make contact with the buttons on the machinery around the man in the bed. He was also motionless. But then again I hadn’t woken him up yet so it wasn’t entirely surprising. There was a small matter of his genuine condition to be clarified before I did anything else.
Reaching into my hessian pouch I held I took out a handful of dried Ash leaves from our holy tree and crumpled them upon the man. They thankfully floated slowly through his form to lie underneath him. If they did make contact with any unwelcome present within his form than least to say it would have the same affect silver supposedly has to werewolves. Having now confirmed he is in a stable condition I banged the butt of my tall spear, now out and visible at its glorious length, three times upon the floor.
“Mr Fergusson, you can wake up now.”
As usual he didn’t respond instantly, waking up from their experience is never easy. I should know having been through it myself. Mr Fergusson stretched, yawned, rubbed his eyes, scratched his small curly grey beard and then sat up in a rush of action. He looked at me in shock and I looked at him due to his surprising reaction.
“Send me back.”
“Sorry?” I asked completely confused now. Most people usually ask me who I am first and why I’m dressed funny or the most common is ‘am I an angel?’ Not Mr Fergusson apparently. He seemed to have some sense of leaving the world.
“Send me back. Send me back now.”
“I’m sorry but you seem to have got your wires crossed. You haven’t left anywhere. You’re still in the hospital.”
“Don’t lie to me I know the truth. I know what’s happened to me and I know why you’re here. What you don’t realise is that I’m needed back there. You have to send me back or…”
“You can’t go back Mr Fergusson, no one can or will. You are no exception to the fact. You have to come with me whether you like it or not.”
“No! No! You don’t understand, if I’m gone they’ll…”
“Listen Mr Fergusson, I understand perfectly well what this feels like so don’t tell me I don’t understand your position. I had to leave people too, we all do when this day comes and you know what, they’re always just fine without you. Your family moves on, your children grow up and friends make new friends. That’s life. So just focus on your memories because that is all you and they will have left of your life. Please don’t delay it anymore. It is time.” I swiftly flung back my swan feather cloak to reveal the large glass jar I held in my right hand, with a tap of my finger the top flipped back and the magic took over. Having died primarily through old age he got the special treatment of the old methods of soul collection, unlike those who died from disease or famine, they had to be tested before we served them their final notice on earth.
“No! Please! The children…they need me….they’ll get them…” He made one broken final plea for mercy before the vortex in the jar sucked his soul inside it, each atom of him disappearing in the pearl white glass like a dry sandcastle being blown away in the wind. With a snap the sound of lightening the jar closed upon its new inhabitant.
“I’m sorry Mr Fergusson; I’m just doing my job. I don’t get to make these decisions. And I’m glad for it.” I muttered to myself, the doctor and nurse showing no attention or opinion to my own. The watch in the room said twenty minutes past two in the morning. In just over half an hours time my night shift would be over. Being so close to home time I went to the nearest window, opened it and flew out into the night, heading for the nearest portal point to bed.

Going through any portal always makes me feel like I’ve just walked through a waterfall of ice cold water. ‘It cleans the soul’ as my mentor Kate often said each time I complained about it. I guess it did in a way, washes away all the earthly mortal attachments to allow you to pass through into the higher spiritual realm. Sure as anything woke you up though. Walking along the many colours of Britfrost’s rainbow gave me time to think about my night shift but it also gave me chance to hear the constant humming of the souls I kept in the jar. It was the hum of a hundred butterfly wings clapping together as soft as felt. I would be glad when I released them to lead their new lives in the pleasant realm of Asgard. Before long I had reached the golden doorway that leads home, I took out my staff, stomped it three times once more, Odin loves that number, and it opened.
Usually I see the large grassy field full of every wildflower created and Odin’s golden hall glistening like a large piece of ore pushed up from the earth on the hillsides beyond. This was not what I saw at first when I was about to enter Asgard’s realm. More precisely what worried me was who I saw first.
Frigg, wife to Odin, Queen of the Aesir Gods and motherly guardian to all natural life. It was she who stood staring at me without giving anyway any hints as to why, stood in the doorway with a pleasant smile and welcoming eyes. She in her pale blue and white cotton dress trailing down to her golden sandals. Nothing about her seemed dangerous, in fact she seemed the complete opposite, she seemed normal, warm, approachable, kind and caring, most noticeably friendly.
“Valkyrie, come with me, there is something important we must talk about before you go to the hall of freedom.” She said her tone so friendly and polite it was hard for me to say no or even gather the courage to ask ‘why?’ and ‘what about?’. After all, the Aesir hardly ever revealed themselves to us former mortals, especially ones who weren’t original believers in the northern pagan faith. It is that fact that worried me to the core as we walked together through the grass and into the eternal realm of spring.

The End
(For now...)

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