Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Terrific Tyrs-day Tale Time - Brand new writing - brand new story! *special sneak peak*

Introducing my first serious attempt at 'writing' for the first time after a 3 year book-addiction distraction and other things.

HUGE THANKS to my fav author Giles Kristian and newly discovered author Michael Jecks for their support and encouragement which has genuinely helped kickstart my imagination and writing again.

No working title as of yet - and no genuine idea where this spark of inspiration has come from.

Enjoy but please remember still a very rough work in progress (no idea if it will lead to a novel let alone an ending)


Clara’s screams of pain rippled through her bedroom door, trembled around the corridor and shook her mother awake. For the sixth time in a month. Her mother did not rush to her daughter’s side as she had done the first time these diagnosed ‘Night Terrors’ occurred.
When she entered Clara’s bedroom she found the now normal disarray. Bed sheets twisted together tightly within Clara’s grip, as if she might fall to her death if she let go of this self-made rope. Her pillows were wet with tears, her brunette hair dyed darker from the same. Clara’s mouth opening wide, to frequently let out long rib shaking moans of distress. Even from standing in the doorway, her mother could feel a strong heat had gathered within the bedroom, despite her best efforts to keep it cool, by installing the still whirring fan, and have the window open every night. In the vain hope that maybe it was high body temperature causing such upset. Her mother then turned on the bedroom light. Clara sat up in bed, as swift as a jack-in-the-box rising from behind its toy box lid. Her eyes opened after a rapid succession of blinks. Her breathing once loud, harsh and deep settled to a more regular, steady pace.
Clara realised what had happened by simply looking down at her duvet still held within her hands. She immediately cast it aside as if it were a poisonous snake and not a life-saving rope. Only at this stage did her mother quickly gather her into her arms, rubbing her gently, kissing her forehead and whispering the answer to all of life’s problems “It’s going to be ok. I am here.” For the next five minutes Clara trembled with fear and fought off her offending tears with pride, adrenaline from the shock and horror she had witnessed violently invigorating her body. Until inevitably her mother asked her to confess what this particular Night Terror had involved. Like the previous five times Clara’s answer consisted of one word, a pronoun – “Him.”
“Oh baby, you know I’d take it from you if I could.”
“I know, Mum.” Clara’s weakened voice acknowledged her mother’s impossible wish. That was the problem with memories, no one had yet invented a machine that could erase or remove them.
Her mother gave her one big squeeze, brushing damp hair away from damp cheeks. “Let me go get you a drink. It will help you cool down, you’re running a temperature again.”
“Just H20 with ice.” Clara muttered the feeble in-house joke. Her mother responded by giving her a stronger kiss on the head before going downstairs.
Clara, now alone, got up on trembling legs, now covered with goose bumps from the chilled air from the fan and put on her softest dressing gown, seeking comfort. She went to the bathroom and held a cold, soaked flannel to her face, letting the water drip down her chin, down her sweating chest and eventually being absorbed by her pyjamas. Beyond caring whether she was wet or dry. After a minute of just standing still, taking controlled breaths from behind the flannel, she finally looked at herself in the mirror. An emotionally drained twin stared back at her. Face flushed her hair and skin moist from tears and now from cleaner water, moss green eyes, big and red from crying, and the lack of sleep.
The sound of her mother’s footsteps on the stairs caused her to return to her bedroom, feeling stronger the more she recognised its purple walls, familiar bookshelves and her personal objects. Slowly rooting herself back in reality, in the present, in the modern day – removing as much of her mind as she could from the event she had witnessed over ten years ago.
“Here we are, now drink it steady, sip by sip.”
“Thanks Mum.” The cold water gave Clara’s throat shivers and even slight numbness but it was a reviving sensation against the heat of her nightmares. She held the glass tenderly with both hands, hoping her mother didn’t notice they were still shaking.
“Would you like me to sit with you whilst you go back to sleep?” Her mother offered, rearranging the curtains to allow more of the black night air in.
“No, Mum, it’s ok. I might...read for a bit first. Take my mind off it.”
Her mother walked to her dressing table and picked up a medicinal tub of pills. “Well I think we can add these to the failure list can’t we?”
Clara didn’t know whether to feel guilty or not for more money wasted on medication. She feared it would only be a matter of time before her mother suggested seeing a psychiatrist.
“Better than most, the previous lot only lasted one night.”
“True, I will have another word with the chemist tomorrow.” She gave her daughter one final kiss on the forehead. “Hope to see you feeling better in the morning.” She blew another kiss before closing the door behind her.
But Clara didn’t pick one of her many favourite books to read before attempting to sleep. She remained sat on her bed, in silence, feeling an overwhelming helplessness and an immense frustration boiling inside. Feeding the sharp hatred for the cause of all her pain. Him - the man missing from her life, from her family, yet somehow still causing a disturbing influence from beyond the grave. All of it heightened by the one question she would never get any answers to – why now?
Clara wasn’t interested in why he left, she was too young at the time to understand and her mother claimed to not know either, the nucleus of her night terrors seemed to revolve around the question of time.
At the time of the event she was sent to several child therapists, child psychologists and child councillors, and even attended children’s groups where others had witnessed the same horror. But none of it made any visible difference, to everyone who knew the four year old Clara she appeared to cope extremely well with the situation. Of course she was upset, she did cry at the funeral but...nothing more and nothing less. She didn’t seem to have been affected by the manner of his passing, let alone witnessing it, more, the suddenness, of it. After a year of counselling sessions and support group meetings, the family doctor felt secure enough to recommend to Clara’s mother, that she didn’t need the emotional and psychological therapy any more. Since then Clara’s life progressed as normal as best possible, the matter of him only ever being discussed when returning to school and then enrolling at college, and of course mentioned briefly and simply to her best friends and their families in privacy. Yet Clara could not understand her own subconscious enough to even remotely guess why, more than ten years later, her dreams had been replaced with the experience of finding her father hanging from a yew tree in the back garden.
Clara stirred from the fog of her thoughts and pulled out a box from under her bed, lifting it and placing it delicately on top. Unlocking the flip latch she opened it and using both hands emptied the contents before her. Six photographs. This was the total evidence she had that her father had lived at all. Several of them were from the days before Clara was born, when her parents were unmarried. One was a snapshot of them on a beach with friends, another at a work Christmas party and the last was them both standing outside their first house together, their arms holding boxes of belongings. In all three they both seemed happy, living their lives, in love. Nothing wrong. The last three photographs were Clara’s favourite ones with him and her as a baby. One shot was of the three of them in hospital, Clara as a newborn in her mother’s arms and her father sat on the bed with his arm around them both. The second was her father feeding Clara by bottle on the sofa, a big smile on his face. The final photograph was when Clara was four years old, the summer before his death, playing in the sand pit her father had built. He was sat on the edge, digging into the sand with a plastic spade. Clara was busy knocking down a sandcastle he had just built seconds earlier.
Taking this last photograph away from the small collection, she lay down and held it directly over her head, and scrutinized it closely. Trying yet again to bring the memory of that sunny day in the sandpit out of her mind. To hopefully fix that more pleasurable memory in place, like a mental plaster to block out the bad one. Her memory remained blank, empty, void and silent. She shoved the photograph back into the box, fixed the latch in place and pushed it forcefully back under her bed.
“How come the only memory I have is the one I hate?” Clara whispered. This was why she feared being sent to a psychiatrist. The harsh truth was that she couldn’t recall anything about her father when awake and sane, yet when asleep, her subconscious seems to have been suddenly set on replay of that day in October fourteen years ago. No matter what pills she took or bedtime routines she practiced nothing would shift it. She’d tried changing diet, taking supplements, anything to figure out what had triggered these severe night-time flashbacks, nothing had yet been proven to work. She was afraid she was more seriously messed up inside than she believed, which wasn’t the best legacy a father could leave his child.
That was why she had begun to resent him. She had coped with him not being there in her life, in the many significant moments and had accepted that. But she detested the way, as randomly and as suddenly as his suicide, he reached beyond death into her mind and toyed with it. Why can’t he let me relive happier memories? Of course she felt immediately silly for considering and placing any blame on him. He was dead after all, there was no way this was any of his fault directly – just the rather unfortunate way her child psyche had decided to handle and process his death. Bottle it up for fourteen years and then let the more mature Clara manage it.
Sighing she went to the bathroom and washed her face once more, put her dressing gown away and leaving a dim lamp light on she curled up on her bed. Deliberately leaving the duvet off on the floor, allowing the fan’s breeze to blow across her body and keep her cool. She laid facing towards the open window, if she kept her breathing quiet enough she could hear the small breeze entangle the branches of the trees outside, the occasional high pitched shriek or whistle as the roof bats flew past and if she was lucky, the twit and responding twoo of owls out hunting. Familiar night time sounds soothed her, made her feel safe in the low glow of her bedroom lamp. All thoughts eventually grew thin, wispy and smoke-like, forming no-coherent sense or logic, her eyes closed and her mind sank gently, like a feather falling, into a terrible darkness.

A jagged cold wind slapped her face and pulled at her clothes, causing vicious goose bumps to rise large on her arms. Thunder crashed and lightening crackled overhead in churning dark clouds. Yet despite the howling wind and enraged storm, one sound made her cower – the creak and groan of a swinging rope bearing a corpse burden. Autumn leaves tossed and twirled in the chaotic path of the wind as it twisted around the body, stirring the arms and legs like a puppet sways its limbs. The sizzling flashes of lightening gathering overhead illuminated in heartbeats the hanging man, his head bobbing on his chest at a crooked angle. She stumbled forward, an arm raised to protect her face from the natural debris the wind flung at her, until she was able to grab hold of his feet, they were bare and dirty. She bravely looked up, holding on to a hair’s breadth of hope that it wouldn’t be what she already knew. Yet his face remained obscured, the wind pushed his hair across his features and the darkening clouds dimming any light by which she could see. Her body began to shiver as cold rain drops fell from the thunder filled sky and caressed down her bare arms. Her growing chill caused her to realise that the feet of the deceased were still lukewarm to the touch. His body was not yet bone cold.
    “Dad!” She yelled, the sounds of the natural elements growing stronger as if to deny her a voice. As she looked up once more the brightest lightning bolt she had ever witnessed zigzagged across from the centre of the storm and struck the tip of the tree. Arcing along its trunk and branches before alighting on the corpse heavy bough. A force propelled her several feet away, crashing her into bushes and dirt. She lay there, breathless, deaf and almost bind as her senses struggled to regroup, her legs and hands sporadically twitching and jerking. One final peal of thunder boomed so loud its heavenly echo caused the ground to tremble and she finally stirred, managing with what strength she had left to sit up on her knees. She trembled from powerful shade of fear as she beheld the bright glow of the tree on fire. It shone red, amber and gold like a macabre Christmas tree, flames devouring every branch. What little leaves were left was consumed in the blink of an eye. Embers of burning wood filled the now still and silent air around her. The body too hung perfectly still, no longer swaying yet already the floating embers were delicately landing on his open shirt and earth stained trousers, steadily smouldering on the material. Adding small plumes of smoke to entwine around his form, rising upwards past the bright flames and blackening wood to a sky now filled with glistening stars and one full moon.
    Tears began to tumble down her face, tear drop by tear drop as she released a long scream of anguish and despair. Her heart breaking piece by piece as small areas of her father started to burn from embers evolving into flames.
    Suddenly the corpse convulsed, his head nodded on and off his broken neck, his shoulders shook, legs and arms flexed awkwardly and violently. In a further heartbeat it became rigid, arms and legs straight and tightly close together and the head remained erect, eyes open and staring down upon her. His right eye was chalk white, his left eye was a vicious blood red.
    “Nine blood suns. I hung. Nine bone moons. I hung.” An aged male voice that was not her father’s spoke. “One and eight runes. I won. Deaths secrets – knowledge gold. To stop the End of All, as prophecy foretold. All-father sacrificed for man. Thus nine sons for All-Father shall hang.”

The girl’s screams were wild and terrified, her sobs a torrent of immense pain, a harsh vocal expression of her inner confusion and turmoil. An Owl in the nearby trees perched and listened. It’s large, orange eyes observed through lit-up rooms, the older human rush in to comfort the younger one who was lost to her misery. The Owl watched and waited only stirring from its statue still pose when its partner called for it to resume hunting. Giving a gentle hoot in reply the owl swooped low from the tree, it’s wings fanned out on the dark air, it flew away and beyond into shadows and moonlight. 

Thank you for reading.

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