J is for Janice

J is for Janice From the day she was born, Janice was given everything she wanted. She didn’t need to cry for too long before either her doting father or loving mother would be at her side, fussing over her with reassuring words of comfort and kisses on her forehead. From this moment on Janice knew that she was a very special person and because of that she could have Read more

I is for Impossible

I is for impossible. Having blown out her one hundred candles, with a slight relieve that her dentures didn’t come flying out covering the butter icing, Alice was quite exhausted and glad to be back in the solitary of her room, where she lit up a stogie and sat back in her chair. As much as everyone had made a great fuss over her centenary birthday, with just as many making Read more

H is for Hipster

H is for Hipster. The reason the new eatery stood out so much to Donald, was its choice of setting up shop in a part of town where the most exotic experience to be had was a mangey charity shop for a local cat charity. But that’s how these Hipster cafe’s start isn’t it, they move into a place with low rent and once they are established others move in. Read more

G is for Glenn

G is for Glenn. I’ve always loved horror stories. Skeletons have been at the forefront. I had a full size paper, glow in the dark skeleton and then a bit later the poster on the opposite side of my bed was of a skeleton on a motorbike, which I thought was great! I think i got it after seeing th esketon riding a motoabike in the Hammer Horror, Doctor, Terrors, Read more

F is for Fur

F is for Fur. Roger lay in bed, every time he opened his eyes the room span madly making him shut his eyes tight again. Downstairs he could hear the others getting on and knew that he too had to get up. Ever so gradually, Roger held both hands tight round his face as he lifted his head off the pillow. With his eyes still tightly shut he made the familiar Read more

All Fall Down: Homage to 1980’s Slasher/Horror Films. Part One. Ring a Ring a Roses.

In honour of Betsy Palmer, aka Mrs Voorhees, the murderous mother from the original Friday the 13th, who died earlier this week, I have decided to give a slasher horror story I wrote years ago a rewrite and an airing.

 

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All Fall Down.

Prologue.

Coalville 1975.

Schooldays, the best days of your lives? Whoever said that had never been to Little-Feet, Big Steps Primary School.
Over the years there had been a constant rumour that the school had been built on top of an old Indian burial ground, but that was a ridiculous rumour spread by the folks of Coalville who sort to distract people from the real tragedy that had happened. The school had in fact been built on top of an old coal-mine that had been closed down in the late 1800s after the tragic loss of one hundred and fifty coalminers who had been gassed to death when someone had swapped the canary for a wooden one on April Fools’ Day.

Dear reader, I digress, from the real story I want to tell you, the one about poor Johnny Flynn who from the day he joined the other children at Little-Feet, Big steps he’s life was made a misery by the gang of children, Bella Donna, Rose Petal, May Flower, Cherry Blossom and the only boy in the group, Dan D’Lion who all thought it was such a horror to have someone as poor as Johnny who had no mother or father and lived in the orphanage, run by the nuns, would be allowed to go to their school.
As a consequence, Little Johnny Flynn spoke to no one and no one spoke to him for fear that the posh kids would pick on them as well. The only thing that made things bearable for Johnny was that every now and then he would catch Cherry Blossom looking at him and they would secretly exchange a smile.

Although Johnny was poor and had been abandoned at birth and none of the nuns at the orthanage paid him much attention, he was in fact a bright lad who just needed somebody to give him a chance. That person could have been, should have been his school teacher, Miss Hickory, but being a bit of a snob herself, Miss Hickory paid little attention to Johnny, preferring to praise the posh kids as she hoped upon hope she would eventfully be allowed to move within the circles of their parents allowing her to move out of her tiny flat to the posh part of Coalville. Yes reader, apparently there is a posh part of town in Coalville.
If ignoring Johnny wasn’t bad enough, when Miss Hickory was on playground duty at lunchtime, she would purposely turn a blind eye whenever she saw the posh kids pick on Johnny. A particular favourite game the posh kids liked to torment Johnny with was by singing, Ding dong bell, pussy in a well, who put her in? Evil cat killer Johnny Flynn.”
The children would then each gather hands, capturing Johnny inside their ring and call out, Johnny Flynn, Johnny Flynn, evil,evil cat killer” over and over again until eventually Johnny would breakdown and cry.

Unfortunately for Johnny, the bullying continued with even more venom when he and the other posh kids moved on to Big Feet, Wide Strides Junior school. Johnny had hoped upon hope that his new teacher would be a little more understanding and perhaps see a glimmer of his potential but was horrified to see that Miss Hickory had also been transferred to Big Feet as part of her training which in turn was helped along the way via the head of board of governors, Mrs.Hubbard, with whom Miss Hickory was having an illicit, lesbian affair with.

And so Johnny tormentors carried on their bullying, while Miss Hickory continued to turn a blind eye. Unbeknown to the posh kids and Miss Hickory, their individual actions on this particularly hot afternoon in June, would lead to the most terrible of tragedies.

With the sun scorching down hotter then ever, Johnny asked Miss Hickory if he could spend his time inside during lunchtime, as his skin so easily burned. Much to Johnny’s amazement, Miss Hickory, squatted down in front of Johnny, stroked the side of his cheek with the back of her hand and said, “Does the sun really effect you that much?”
Johnny nodded, and was about to say thank you, when Miss Hickory suddenly stood up, looked down her nose, over her glasses and said, “Sorry kid, I hear what you’re saying, but I’d have to stay in the class room with you and in all honesty I need a ciggy and some caffeine so you’re going to have to quickly scarper out there and shelter under a tree of something”.
With that Miss Hickory opened the door leading out on to the fields at the back of the school and mouthed out the words, ‘Goooo’. ‘Nooowww’, which made Johnny feel a bit spooked out and so he darted out into the heat of the sunshine towards the old oak tree on the other side of the field.

As he was running, he suddenly heard his name being shouted out which made him stop dead in his tracks. With the sun glaring in to his eyes he put his hand up to his face and squinted only to see the posh kids standing by a bunch of bushes on the other side of the perimeter school fence. Fearing that they would push him in the spiky bushes, Johnny went to run off when he heard the distinctive bellow of Bella. Johnny looked back over at the crowd and saw that Bella had her hands on her hips and called out again, “Johnny Flynn come over here this instant.”
Johnny hesitated, then shouted back, “No, it’s okay, you’ll only want to say something horrible to me.”
Again, Johnny went to leave when Cherry suddenly piped up and said, “No we won’t Johnny, we just want to show you something.”
‘Well, Cherry wouldn’t tell a lie’ thought Johnny to himself, but unbeknown to Johnny, Dan D’Lion had pinched Cherry’s arm and made her call out to Johnny.
As Johnny walked towards his nemeses, the frightened voice in his head screamed at him to run in the opposite direction but then Dan pinched Cherry’s arm, making her call out again, “Please come over Johnny.”
Although Johnny noticed the twang of anxiety in Cherry’s voice, he still ran over and crawled threw the hole in the fence as he looked up at the fixed smiles on the children’s faces. Bella spoke up first and said, “We’ve just seen the most amazing thing and wanted to show you too.”
The voice in Johnny’s head got louder, but instead of running he looked over the bushes and said, “What is it, what did you see?”
Rose and May both piped up in unison, “The white rabbit, the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland”.
Johnny’s eyes widened, “Where is it now?”
Dan then stepped to one side and pointed to a large hole behind the bushes and said, “He darted down the hole, but if you call down after him he’ll call back”.
By now the voice inside Johnny’s head was screaming itself horse, but the white rabbit was Johnny’s favourite story time character, and the thought that he’s prayers had been answered, that The White Rabbit had really come to take him to a place far from this cruel word was more then he had ever hoped for.
Johnny’s head was so full of wonder and delight that he didn’t even hear the children sniggering as he crept towards the old mine shaft, believing that he was about to speak to the White Rabbit.
As he walked closer to the open pit, he felt the earth shift slightly beneath him which caused Cherry to call out, “Be careful Johnny!”
Looking over his shoulder, Johnny nodded and fell to his hands and knees as he crept closer to the hole and peered down into the eternal darkness and called out, “Mr Rabbit, have you really come for me?”
The children all looked at each other and giggled some more, except for Cherry who so wanted to shout out for Johnny to step back, but Bella then said, “I think he’s a bit deaf, you’ll have to put your head right in the hole”.
The voice in Johnny’s head was now little more then white noise as he pushed his hands forward and peered down into the hole and once again called out, “Mrrrrr. RRRRRaaaaabbbbbbiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttt?”
When once again there was no reply, Johnny began to doubt that his friend The White Rabbit was there at all and went to stand up, only for the ground beneath him to shift, pulling him down into the hole. While everyone else stood still, Cherry dived forward and grabbed hold of Johnny’s hand but she too felt herself being pulled forward. Cherry looked at Johnny’s terrified face then back at her friends and called out for then to help. Bella, Rose and May all stood frozen to the spot as Dan dashed forward and gave Johnny’s hand an all mighty whack with a stick. Cherry let out a cry as Johnny fell backwards and disappeared into the dark, dank long abandoned coal pit.
The children all looked at each other unable to say a word when they all screamed when a voice from behind yelled out, “What on earth are you all doing over there? Get away from that pit, it’s dangerous!”
Terrified, the children dived through the hole in the fence, and grabbed hold of Miss Hickory’s dress as she tried to calm the children down. Eventually the cries became whimpers, as Miss Hickory looked at the children and said, “Thank goodness, you’re all here safe and sound,” which caused Cherry to let out a yell of despair. It was only then that Miss Hickory noticed that she had not seen Johnny Flynn in the playground, She then stood up and looked over at the disused coal pit and said, “Ohhh, shit.”
Miss Hickory then sat the children down and said that it would be in all their best interest if they all kept their mouths shut about the accident, “I’ll tell the police that Johnny never turned up for class, with any luck one of the nuns can take the blame.”

Despite a high profile appeal in the Coalville Times, Johnny was never seen again. The parents of the posh kids were all to happy to except that Johnny had done a runner. The same parents were equally pleased when the orphanage Johnny had called home was closed down after it was said a Nun had gone crazy.

All Fall Down
Part Two
The School reunion

 

 

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Blanche Street 19: Dead Famous

 

Art By Julie Peterson

Janice: By Julie Peterson

Way back in early 2012, QueenSpark books put a call out for writers to submit ideas for stories based on Brighton’s diverse history. The stories in turn were to be to a local artist to bring the stories alive. My original story was based on the Infamous Brighton Trunk Murders. Although this story won me a place in the project, during later meetings the group was asked who would like to write a story based on Brighton’s LGBT scene; I put my hand up and wrote a completely different script but reworked my trunk murder story: Dead Famous.

While writing Dead Famous I had the idea for the Blanche Street tale, Filth and began to write the two stories to complement each other and reveal the truth of what was attacking Netty in her tale and also connect this Brighton tale with my Blanche Street Tales.

I began to get the threads of my story together by first reading up on some of the grim deaths and murders of Brighton: there have been a fair few which has kept those men and women dressed up in Victorian clobber busy as they take people around Brighton and reveal the darker side of Brighton.
For me personally it was Brighton Trunk Murders that stayed with me as being the most shocking and soI decided to write an updated version of these tales while linking it to the past.
While writing the two tales, Filth and Dead Famous I played around with names for my protagonist, again I tried a few but it was when I introduced the other main characters, Janice and Nic that the Name Bryan popped into my head. I needed a device to give the reader an idea of age difference and so I had Janice do the work for me.

“Bryan with a Y”, replied Janice, “like Bryan Ferry. I guess you’re too young to remember him.”
I wanted to make further differences between these three characters, this was achieved through the use of costume; While Bryan wears an ill fitting overcoat, Janice and Nic are much more smartly dressed which intrigues and disturbs Bryan and hopefully the readers too.
Bryan dived round the corner and straight into the path of a woman in a full length mink fur coat.
This story is worth reading more then once as the reader gets to understand some of the more sinister moments that first time round seem quite innocent. A good example come in the scene when Janice cajoles Bryan to go to the pub for a drink.
Before he had a chance to answer, Janice linked her arm into Bryan’s and led him through the narrows lanes, until they came outside the Cricketers. Bryan tried to protest by saying he’d forgotten to bring his wallet, but Janice just laughed and pulled him into the warmth of the pub.
“Sit yourself down Bryan, I’m just going to powder my nose, while Nick gets us all a drink. What you having, lager?”

Poor Bryan genuinely thinks he has made some new friends when in fact the pair are putting the next part of their evil plan into action. For those who know the ending of the brilliant film, The Vanishing, will recognise the weapon Janice uses against Bryan.
The ending of the film, The Vanishing is one of the most deliciously disturbing films of that style of horror genre, non-gory but equally horrifying.
I wanted the ending of my story, Dead Famous to have a similar impact. Want to read it? then follow the link below to Inkitt and download it to read for free, in return please sign up to Inkitt (you won’t get bombard with spam) and rate my story.

Bryan become s dead famous.

Bryan become s dead famous.

Thank you.

The Brighton Writer.

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Blanche Street: 17. Food for Thought.

P1070918I started my creative writing journey in earnest by joining a creative writing class at Brighton City College. It was in the second class that my tutor, Ruth Glen set us a task by showing us two photos. The first was of a woman in black headdress, the other photo was of a flowing river that looked golden in colour. As I was sitting at the very back of the class I mistook the headdress to be a black balaclava. My imagination then decided the balaclava was made of rubber (kinky!) and the river was polluted (political!) From these two ideas my story, Food for Thought, an ecological disaster warning story was quickly written. After many rewrites, those two main images that sparked my story were played with; the head to toe rubber outfits stayed, but the polluted river was cut as I wanted to create an enclosed environment.

Food For Thought is my favourite story out of all of the collection for many reasons, with the main one being that it allowed me to create a story well away from Blanche Street and into a different time realm altogether.

With no time to stop he grabbed some toast from the table, kissed his mum on the cheek while grappling to open the front door. As his foot hit the floor, Adam nearly slipped. Looking down he saw that the familiar grubby slab stones of Blanche Street had transformed in to a highly polished white floor. Spinning on his heels, Adam found the front door had gone and was replaced by a large white door: its single porthole staring menacingly back at him.

From here, both Adam and the reader are asked to take a leap of faith as they are dropped into a world where comedy and horror sit happily side by side as the true meaning of this ecological disaster story unfolds.

As with all my stories I think carefully about the names I give my character’s to suit the story; as Food for Thought is an ecological warning tale I decided to give all the main characters ‘earthy’ names: Adam, Dale and Ainsley. According to the Old testament’s story, God created Adam, the first man, from clay. Adam’s new work colleague’s name, Dale, means valley while the person at the end of the story who clears up Adam’s mystery of where he, is called, Ainsley which means meadow or clearing.

I was particularly interested in writing an ecological based tale as at the time of writing the first draft there were many stories in the press that were (and still are) real cause for concern. These included the return of foot and mouth disease, mad cow disease, bird flu and the threat posed by Frankenstein Food aka GM crops. All of these things were rich pickings for me, but I also wanted to have some fun spiked within the horror and so I turned to Dolly the Sheep for some inspired inspiration which allowed me to clone the much more iconic Dolly Parton. I included Dolly Parton and Whitney Huston as I had read there was a bit of a spat between these two gay icons over who sang, I Will Always Love You, best. Dolly wasn’t so bothered as she gained huge royalties, but I did enjoy giving that supposed row a bit of an airing. Before Dolly and Whitney make their appearance I introduce the readers to  three brilliant Carry-On comedy icons in the shape of a rubber clad Barbra Windsor, Kenneth Williams and Frankie Howard. For extra scares a clone of  Anne Widdecombe make an unsavory  appearance.
I did have Dolly singing a bit of that famous song both her and Whitney share in common but after a little research I discovered that is a breech of copyright, but song titles are allowed.
Another big no, no in fiction is to wrap up any story with “it was all a dream”. This may be okay for classics like Alice in Wonderland, but readers tend to throw their arms up in the air accompanied by a long, “Nooooo!” With this in mind I didn’t want to have Adam waking up in his bed, in Blanche Street and so I put all the blame on Oliver Reed…. want to know more? then please download the book at amazon.co.uk/Blanche Street: Where all the Neigbours are a Nightmare. at the bargain price £3.59

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Blanche Street: house 15. Somebodies Son

With the 101 writing project finished for now, let me take you back to those folks on Blanche Street.

15 Blanche Street: Somebody’s Son.
IMG_2851For this story I used, The Writer’s Block, flicked through the pages to this story prompt “The last time I saw my mother was fifteen years ago.” I liked this idea, played around with it and thought about how about the time I met my mum for the first and last time when I was twenty-five. This led me to create a character who unlike me was desperate to be with his mum. The first few drafts were packed with details, filled with flash backs to give the reader a better idea of who he was. Flashbacks can work, but for this tale there was far too much toing and froing for a short story and so I eventually went in hard and edited the tale right down to the story I published in the finished collection.

The style I used is known as the unreliable narrator. The unnamed protagonist believes that he is telling the truth and is very emotionally throughout the telling of his tale which pulls the reader in. The opening line is a good example of how the rest of the story is charged throughout.
‘The moment I walk into the chemist and see her I know she is my mother.’
Originally I had a lot more going on and was very keen to use smells throughout. In this scene the protagonist says, “As she wanders off she leaves behind a scent that is unmistakably Mum.”
After some research I had her smelling of the perfume, Midnight in Paris, a perfume that is discovered later in the house, but I wanted the reader to conjure up their own smell. Now when I read this story, the old lady smells a bit musty!
At this early stage I wanted to give the reader an idea that the protagonist was not nice, this Chose to portray through his respect of Margaret Thatcher (presuming the reader isn’t a Tory that is!)

Over the years I have thought of many names for my mother, but it makes perfect sense that she’s called Margaret. Margaret’s are strong, honest, and reliable… just like that Mrs Thatcher.

However, I still wanted to keep the reader guessing that the protagonist was harmless as he sees others as a menace.

The front door is locked and the curtains pulled tightly shut, a good sign, you never know who might be skulking around in an area like this.
However, in the same breath the way he thinks is really quite disturbing as to what he’s intentions are for this woman, particularly when he gets into her home and up the stairs.

Throwing back the blankets I grab her pillow close to my face, filling my nostrils with her distinctive smell.

To say more about this story would give too much away so why not pop over to amazon.co.uk/Blanchestreet/where all the neighbours are a nightmare and download the book and read the other spooky nine tales on offer.

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Writing 101: day Twenty. The Things We Treasure

Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure
Today’s Prompt: Tell us the story of your most-prized possession.
It’s the final day of the challenge already?! Let’s make sure we end it with a bang — or, in our case, with some furious collective tapping on our keyboards. For this final assignment, lead us through the history of an object that bears a special meaning to you.
A family heirloom, a flea market find, a childhood memento — all are fair game. What matters is that, through your writing, you breathe life into that object, moving your readers enough to understand its value.

Ipswich, Felixstowe, Hadleigh, Suffolk, Norwich, Norfolk, Brighton, East Sussex, Bremerhaven, Germany, New York, Amsterdam, my bear has visited them all.

I’m not a hoarder, or into collecting things. In the past people have tried, most notably skulls, which relate to my love of all things Gothic and the many skulls I have incorporated into my tattoos. At one point I hid all the skulls in a patch of garden outside my flat but I removed them when two children told their mum they had found a mass grave; thankfully the mum saw the funny side of it. Those skulls have now found new homes.

Skulls, skulls, skulls

Skulls, skulls, skulls

The only possession from my childhood days to be my constant companion has been my teddybear that my Nana bought me when I was born. Now, this is no Steiff bear, far from it; in reality it has absolutely no monetary worth at all, but to me it is priceless.

When I left home, aged seventeen I didn’t have that many belongings to take with me except my Hazel O Connor scrapbook and poster with everything else, including my bear, in a little black case (So Bronski Beat) and headed off to the bright lights of….Felixstowe!

Hazel O Coonor, me and Jo.

After a short period of commuting via my moped I ended up renting a room in a very big house. My landlady was very strange and I later found out she was nicking my food! This came about when I had decided not to go home to visit my Nana one weekend. While laying in bed with my bear I saw my bedroom door open and in walked my landlady, with her grandson in her arms; not realising I was there she said, “Let’s see what cereals we have.” She then turned, looked at me and my bear and just walked out again.

My next adventure for me and my bear was a move to a little town called Hadleigh, Suffolk where I got a job as a trainee baker. To begin with I once again commuted on my trustee moped, getting up at 11 pm for a midnight start. On one of those evenings my moped packed in before I even got onto the main road and so I packed my bike in the town centre, called up my sister, Dawn and asked her to drive me to work; her reward was a day old Eccles cake!

After my shift I hitched a lift back home. Now, I was very aware that there are all kinds of stranger danger and this I was to find out to be true when I was picked up by a man who talked about his work in computers. I was ready to commit murder by the time he dropped me off!

Now, the thing is when travelling in the middle of the night it was cold and so i was dressed in my duffle coat and scarf, by the time I had finished my shift it was baking hot and everyone else were dressed in shorts and tee-shirts. To make matters worse my moped was now surrounded by a load of really big motorbikes, with all the bikers sitting around in their cut off denim jackets and jeans. I tried my very best to get my bike without much fuss but ended up knocking one bike over which had a domino effect and so all the other bikes crashed over. I think because I looked so odd I was saved a beating as they shook their heads while picking their bikes up.

A bakers life was not really for me and with the help of a man called Tim, I moved from Felixstowe to Norwich and retrained as a chef and silver service waiter at Norwich Hotel School. Here I moved into the college dorm where Norwichmy bear and I where very happy. It was here I was to get my first taste of homophobia. I tried setting up a Gaysoc, but only one guy, called ‘Lumpy Head Steve’ applied and so that never really got off the ground. BTW, Steve got his nickname after two friends decided to give him a hair cut, taking a side each and the hair cut got shorter and shorter until they had to give him a skinhead….

I digress; On my doorplate I had my name under which someone had written “Is gay” to which I added, “So?”

I really can’t be doing with people who try to intimidate me, such bullies are just cowards.

After two years of study it was time to move on once more. Two of my Norwich mates, Davey and Trevor had moved to Brighton and said I should give the town a go and so I upped sticks, got a job at The Bedford Hotel, quickly followed by the Grand when it reopened. I can clearly remember Margaret Thatcher greeting us all when what I really wanted to do was to rush over to the other side of the road and join the throng of anti-Tory protestors.

The Grand was good fun, but there was more adventures to be had when the QE2 relaunched and so I grabbed my bear and took to the high seas. However, for the first month the ship was still in dry dock in Bremerhaven QE2 BearGermany. Each night all staff were given four cans of beer and four cans of coke a cola. Most of the waiters went to the local bar to sing ‘New York, New York’ on loop. For the first week I stayed in my cabin until my bear was kidnapped! I came back to my cabin to find a ransom note, “Come to the bar with your cans of beer or you’ll never see your bear again.”

I went to the bar, paid my ransom and got my bear back!

Since then my bear has been to Amsterdam and back after an ill thought through flight of fancy of a new life over there. And now he sits high up on my shelf with the other bears enjoying a quite retirement.

Home Bear

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writing 101: Day Nineteen. Free Writing.

Day Nineteen: Don’t Stop the Rockin’
Today is a free writing day. Write at least four-hundred words, and once you start typing, don’t stop. No self-editing, no trash-talking, and no second guessing: just go. Bonus points if you tackle an idea you’ve been playing with but think is too silly to post about.
I want you to let it all hang out. So does writer Anne Lamott. At the risk of turning Writing 101 into an Anne Lamott fan club, no one motivates me the way she does. Every time you sit down to write and think your idea is too stupid, too uninteresting, too random, or too unoriginal to be committed to the page, let Anne give you a gentle but firm nudge:

The rational mind doesn’t nourish you. You assume that it gives you the truth, because the rational mind is the golden calf that this culture worships, but this is not true. Rationality squeezes out much that is rich and juicy and fascinating.
Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.
Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.
I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.

You’ll never feel so good about writing down every half-baked non-sequitur that comes out of the recesses of your lizard brain. And if you’re tempted to reply, “That’s easy for her to say, she’s a famous writer!” I give you:

I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.

Four-hundred words. One at a time. Go.

For an extra prompt I used, The Writer’s Block: a 786 paged book filled with photos, writing prompts and ideas… the prompt I picked is at the end of this tale. Please read the story first.

Photo by me
I don’t think I have ever known the house to be this quiet. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever known any place in my lifetime to have been this quiet. As I walk from room to room, I pick up sounds that must have always been there, but I’ve never been given the chance to take that much notice of them.

In the kitchen there is the soft humming of the fridge freezer, while in the front room there is the sound of the clock ticking. I have always wanted one of those clocks that chimes or one that has a cuckoo clock that pops out on the hour. Maybe now I can.

As I step into the backroom, I can hear the birds chirping in the garden, It would be nice to know which birds are making which noise; maybe later, now I have more time on my hands I could get a book from the library and find out just which birds visit the garden. I think you can get a tape that lists all the birdsongs, maybe that would be better.

As I take to the stairs, I am reminded of the creak the third step always makes followed by the seventh and tenth. Over the years I have thought how easy it would be to fix it, to hammer a nail in. I look at the nail-file in my hand; I’d forgotten I was still gripping it so tight. If I had a hammer I would fix those stairs right now. I would really hammer those nails in so the stairs never made another sound ever again.

Instead I’ll put it off for another time, for now I’m just really enjoying the near silence of the house as it talks back to me. The bathroom has its own way as much as the rest of the rooms in the house. Here it’s the dripping tap, it’s been like that for as long as I can remember. There is a big yellow stain where the water has dripped over the years. Makes you think what is really in the water that would cause such a stain.

The back bedroom looks over the gardens. Our garden faces another garden at the back. In all this time I have never met my neighbour. There have been times I’ve seen her pottering about when I’ve been up here, but she has never looked up. I have often made up stories in my head about who she is. Sometimes she’s married with a handsome husband and five beautiful children, on other occasions I see her as a spinster, having never met the love of her life, always dreaming of the one; and then I think that she’s trapped as I had been for so many years. On those days I shudder.

As I walk into the front bedroom, I smile at the sunlight as it streams through the windows. I have never liked this bedroom but today it feels so much nicer, quieter. In here the only sound I can hear is my breathing which is so much calmer now. I look onto the bed and see what I had to do to make the house a better, quieter place. I walk over to the side of the bedside cabinet, with one eye on the bed just in case, I carefully place the nail-file into the drawer, sit on the edge of the bed and pick up the phone.

“Hello, I would like to talk to the police.”

 

Photo by me

writer’s block,prompt

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writing 101. Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View

Day Eighteen: Hone Your Point of View
The neighbourhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, have come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.
Today’s prompt: write this story in first person, told by the twelve-year-old sitting on the stoop across the street.
First person, second person, third person, whew! Point of view is a type of narrative mode, which is the method by which a story’s plot is conveyed to the audience. Point of view reveals not only who is telling the story, but also how it is told. Consider a recent short story published on The Worship Collective, “Funny Things,” in which the narrator is a child who has passed away.
Need a refresher on first-person narration? Recall Scout Finch, the six-year-old first-person narrator of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout tells the story through her eyes:
It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived.
“‘Remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’ That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.”
Today’s twist: For those of you who want an extra challenge, think about more than simply writing in first-person point of view — build this twelve-year-old as a character. Reveal at least one personality quirk, for example, either through spoken dialogue or inner monologue.
Refer to some of the exercises we’ve done on character, dialogue, and even sentence length to help craft this person. All of these storytelling elements can combine to create a strong point of view.
No one from the neighbourhood, but me has come out to watch them people hammering at Mrs. Pauley’s door. Since from the time I can remember, Mrs. Pauley has always been part of this street. She had sons like me, but they are all grown up and gone now, I can kind of remember what they look like, but they don’t come visit like what they used to do. My Mum said she don’t want me to be like that, she said my time will come when I will want to leave home but I don’t think that will ever happen, but mum just laughs and says, “You’ll see.” and then she says she hopes I’ll come home at Christmas time and on her birthday to say hello and to remember that she has always done her best.
I asked mum if Mrs Pauley had done her best and mum said, “Yes.” and then busied her herself with the washing up and told me to go out side and get some sunshine.

I didn’t really know Mr. Pauley, he seemed to be angry a lot of the time. Whenever he started shouting and stuff, mum would call me indoors and tell me to play in the back garden or in my bedroom.
Three month back, Mr. Pauley suddenly died and there was a lot of noise from the ambulance and police cars that sped into our road. The thing is, it’s not a road as you can only get to the end bit before you have to turn round again to get out. Me, mum, dad and my sister Beverley all stood at our gate and watched as they brought Mr. Pauley out, he was all covered up in a black bag and you couldn’t see his face. Mum said that it wasn’t a good sign and I asked her why and she said not to ask. Beverley told me later that Mr. Pauley had died in suspicious circumstances. I asked Beverley what that meant and she said Mr. Pauley had been murdered by Mrs. Pauley, that she had had enough and had pushed him down the stairs.
When I asked mum, she said not to say things like that because they may not be true. I asked her if they could be true, but mum told me not to mention it again.
I heard mum say that it was a disgrace that none of Mrs. Pauley’s boys had been to see her and that she was going to go round, but dad said it was best not to get involved.
For the next few weeks I would sit right here on the doorstep and watch Mrs. Pauley’s house. I told myself that if she came out of her house I would run over and say that i didn’t believe that she had killed Mr. Pauley and that if she wanted to come and live with us for a while that I would give her my bedroom and I would sleep on the sofa downstairs.
I had thought about saying that I would sleep in her house, but then I thought that Mr. Pauley might come back as a ghost and be angry with me for being in his house and so I decided not to mention that bit.
I think Mrs.Pauley must go out late at night after i’ve gone to bed because I have never saw her come out and I have never saw anyone go in. I then thought that Mrs. Pauley might go out at night and get her shopping from the late night shop down Harper Street. I then got even more worried for Mrs. Pauley as that shop only sells things in tins and nothing fresh.
I got a call from mum to say she had made me a sandwich. I didn’t want to go in as the police and some other people had gone inside Mrs. Pauley’s, but not come out for a long time. I then decided that I would grab my sandwich and take it over for Mrs. Pauley. I ran into the house as quick as I could and picked up the sandwich’s from my plate and mum shouted at me to not drop them and make a mess and then I ran outside and I checked the road and saw the police car and the black car had gone.
There was a note on Mrs. Pauley’s door and I ran over and I read the note but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. The only word I could read was, Eviction Notice. Do Not Remove, Keep Out.

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Writing 101, day 17. Fear.

Day Seventeen: Your Personality on the Page
Today’s Prompt: We all have anxieties, worries, and fears. What are you scared of? Address one of your worst fears.

IMG_2714

I’m back!

I’m not alone with the fear of being buried alive, which can be thought of in many different ways. The recent earthquake in Nepal would have made many of us think of this horror. It is because of our fear that news reports show us of the one lucky survivor, pulled out of the rubble alive that allows us to concentrate on the hope that if it happened to us, we might just be lucky too.
In horror fiction this is not always the case. The first time I was made aware of my fear was when I was very young, watching the TV series, Armchair Thriller, in which a man drugged his wife and built a brick wall to encase her while whistling the song, Greensleeves. the combination between the horror of his action sand the gentleness of the song still makes me shudder.
Later on in life I discovered the works of Edgar Allen Poe where again I was confronted with my fear of being buried alive in his brilliant short story, The Black Cat and the Tell-Tale Heart

When I was studying for my MA in Creative Writing, I knew I wanted to use my fear of being buried alive in a short story and so I returned to Edgar Allen Poe’s short stories as well as the brilliant buried alive horror film, The Vanishing (1988) not the remake!

For the longest time I had trouble getting my protagonist into a trunk without the reader shouting “As if!”

In this version I had my protagonist called Dan, running away from a group of homophobes and hides in an abandoned house in Blanche Street.

A shout from the landing below, sends him running to the windowless room at the back. He trips, loses his shoe and stumbles onto the trunk, hidden in the shadows. With no time to think, he climbs inside,scraping the skin off his back as he pushes his body down. Holding the lid with one hand, dan peeps through the crack. He watches as the group pile into the room
“He couldn’t have jumped.”
Letting out a sigh of relief, he’s fingers give way, the lid slips down as the lid clicks and locks firmly in place.
Hidden 2010.

From here on in there were lots of flash backs which became quite weary to read and so I had to go back to the drawing board. The main problem was that I was trying to shoehorn a story into my Blanche Street tales, when what I really needed to do was to break free. It was around this time I was reminded of a story my tutor and mentor, Dave Swann told me. He had been on one of those haunted walks round Brighton, where the spooky host retells tales of Brighton’s murderous past, including the infamous trunk murders of 1831 and 1934. Dave mentioned a more recent Brighton murder but was told that those murders were not to be discussed on the tour. It was then an idea began to really take shape.

I started off by creating a character who was isolated from anyone who might care or miss him, as was the case with many of the victims of notorious serial killer, Dennis Nilsen. Being buried alive is one thing, knowing that no one is coming looking for you just rack up the terror all the more.

Next I gave form to the murderous couple, Janice and Nick.

To read the story, Please click the link via Inkitt on my Facebook page.

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writing 101. day 16 Lost and found

 

 

Day Sixteen: Third Time’s the Charm

Today’s Prompt: Imagine you had a job in which you had to sift through forgotten or lost belongings. Describe a day in which you come upon something peculiar, or tell a story about something interesting you find in a pile.

For inspiration, ponder the phrase “lost and found.” What do you think about or visualize when you read this phrase? For an elementary schooler, it might be a box in their classroom, full of forgotten jackets and random toys. For a frequent traveler, it might be a facility in an airport, packed with lost phones, abandoned bags, and misplaced items.

On day four, you wrote about losing something. On day thirteen, you then wrote about finding something. So, today’s twist: If you’d like to continue our serial challenge, also reflect on the theme of lost and found more generally in this post.

By the end of Writing 101, you’ll have multiple posts around a theme; material you could thread together in a longform piece.

Questions to think about as you write your post:
What have you learned about loss over the years?
What does it feel like to find an object that was once important to you?
When can reconnecting go horribly wrong?
When are things better left buried and forgotten?
In your “lost and found” tale, tell us something larger — a life lesson, perhaps — about finding and losing something.

15 min’s free writing.

This is one of those odd pieces that I might revisit and see if something better comes from it…..

Lost and found.

In this job all kinds of things turn up, amount the usual stuff like an umbrella, silk scarf or a kid’s teddybear, I’m always surprised by the more unusual things that turn up, like a false leg, a wad of ten pound notes in a carrier-bag and a mink fur coat. But the most unusual thing to turn up here at the lost and found office was someone’s soul.

Now, in all the time I have worked here it was the first time I had come across a soul. At first I didn’t even notice it, it was only when I saw this dark shape shift at the bottom of the box that i even realised it was there. I was really cautious, because I thought it could have been one of those really big spiders that jump out at you and bite, so I put on my long protective gloves and got my ‘grabber’ at the ready. When I tried to pinch it, it let out a squeal and shrunk back down in the corner; it was only when I shone my torch on it I saw it wasn’t a spider, but I still wasn’t too sure what it was.
Sensing that I had to continue handle what ever it was with some caution, I put my grabber to one side, had the torch tucked underneath my chine and gentle reached down and picked it up. Although small and to look at it you would have thought it would have been as light as a silk scarf it was actually much heavier, like lifting a bag of sugar. As soon as I had both hands beneath it the dark edges began to glow. By the time I had lifted it up to my face the whole thing was a ball of twinkling light.
I guess you would have thought I would have been frightened by such an unusual sight, but there was something about it that made me feel calm. I was about to call out to one of the boys in the office to come and have a look when the light in my hand began to burn even brighter. That’s when it showed me it’s true meaning of what it was. With each burst of light I saw the life of a stranger. At first there was his birth, the light was at it’s brightest at this point which filled me with a feeling of long forgotten joy and innocence. Next came childhood with a mix of rainbow colours showing me so much love and laughter, this was followed by more muted colours with occasional the shard of silver and gold as the teenage years flew by. I wanted to call out for Jim to come in from his office to see me but I could not take my eyes of the life that was flashing in front of me
Next was a blinding burst of blue as the teenage years gave way to the excitement of being a true adult; almost blushed as the soul quivered in my hand while watching the spurts of red hot, white and blue.
Next came calming orange, a causal pink, my eyes became heavy as I was lulled into the tranquil emerald only for a violent rush of red nearly scolded my palms,but this was quickly followed by a burning brown which quickly diminished to a black then grey.

I looked around the back of the office and found a box, carefully placed the soul inside and placed the lid back in place before putting the whole thing on the top shelf.

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Writing 101, day 15.

Day Fifteen: Your Voice Will Find You

Today’s Prompt: Think about an event you’ve attended and loved. Your hometown’s annual fair. That life-changing music festival. A conference that shifted your worldview. Imagine you’re told it will be cancelled forever or taken over by an evil corporate force.

How does that make you feel?

 

I couldn’t get into this prompt, so I have revisited an old story and tidied it up to give, Bobby his own distinctive voice.

 

Bobby.

Image from laughingshed.blogspot.com

Charity shop.

 

I work in a charity shop. It’s the one down the road, do you know it? The manageress at work, Mrs. Clarke, she says compared to the others, her charity shop has the best selection of good quality clothes and knick-knacks.

When I get into work each morning, Mrs. Clarke says, “Make us a cup of tea, Bobby. You know how I like it.”
I then say, “Julie Andrew’s, white nun.”
That means milk no sugar. I like saying it, as it makes Mrs. Clarke laugh. I laugh with her, but I don’t really get the joke.

I got myself a really nice suit the other day. The lady that brought it into the shop said it use to be her husband’s. She said he had wanted to get buried in it, but she thought it was far too nice, so she brought it in thinking someone else might get some use from it.

When the lady left, Mrs Clarke chucked it in the rag pile, saying it was out of fashion and stank of mothballs. I didn’t think it was that bad. I asked Mrs Clarke if I could have it and she just rolled her eyes and nodded and sold it to me for fifty pence.Prince of Wales Check

I have a friend called Joe-Joe, who lives in the basement flat from me. Mum don’t like me spending time with Joe-Joe, she said she don’t trust him; she says his got shifty eyes and thin lips.

When I showed Joe-Joe my suit, he said it was nice and that it could be worth something. He said the pattern is what you call, a Prince of Wales Charles Check.

The trousers are too long, but I just roll them up. The jacket’s a little on the large side… Little and Large, Do you remember them? Me and my mum saw them once on the end of the pier in Brighton… The fat one was tucking into a bag of chips and a jumbo sausage, while the skinny one was handing out leaflets about being a Christian. I wanted to take the leaflet, but mum pulled me back, saying I didn’t need me head filled with such nonsense.th

What was the skinny one’s name? Em…Tommy! That’s it, Rock on Tommy… Nah hang on, I’m getting him muddled up now in’t I, that was Cannon and Ball. I love them too!th-1 They were back on the telly a while back. Do you remember them doing that comedy sketch about Double-glazing, ‘You buy one, you get one free, I say you buy one you get one free.’

Mum told me off in the end for singing that over and over. She said it was making her skull crack and I’d better stop, otherwise she’d crack my skull and then I’d be sorry.

Do you know my mum? I’ve always, and mean always, thought my mum to be the spitting image of the Queen Mum. Not now the Queen Mum’s dead, no, before that, when she used to walk around and wave.

My mum don’t like any of the Royals, except Princess Diana. Mum always hoped that Princess Diana would do one of them royal visits and come to our flat. She’s got this tea service from when she was married but never used. She used to say If Diana came to visit, then she could drink from one of the bone-china cups but she never did, and now she’s dead.th-4

My Mum blames Camilla. My mum says Camilla is a nymphomaniac, whereas Diana th-6was a true lady, that’s why Prince Charles liked Camilla more than his wife and that is why he left Princess Diana. Mum says all men are like that.

Me mum, she don’t like me saying that she looks like the Queen Mum, ‘cause she says the Queen Mum had filthy teeth, whereas her teeth are nice.

This morning, Joe-joe came round. Mum was still in bed and so I put her false teeth in and pretended to be Mum. We were making so much noise laughing, that mum came in to my bedroom. When she saw that I had her teeth in my mouth, she really told me off. She said it would be my own fault if I caught anything from her, as she hadn’t had a chance to give them a rinse from the night before.
I spat em teeth, right out, ‘cause I remembered hearing mum being sick in the kitchen sink last night. She had one of her fancy men over. She always drinks too much when she’s entertaining; she says it helps.
Blimey, is that the time! I better get back to the shop, Mrs. Clarke  don’t like me being back late, she says it’s a sign of bad breeding. It’s been really nice talking to you. If you’re passing, pop into the shop as Mrs Clarke says her charity shop has the best selection of good quality clothes and knick-knacks.

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