THe proof copy of the paperback arrived a few days ago and between writing the sequel for Nanowrimo I am busy reading it and making the final corrections before releasing it for sale the first week of December!
Jane had been sitting quietly reading in the living room for the last hour or so. Outside the weather was horrendous. The hurricane that the weather forecasters had been threatening for the past few days had finally hit with a vengeance. The rain was lashing against the huge picture window with the whole force of the storm that had carried it there. Glancing up for a moment from her book she could see the younger trees bending almost horizontal under the force of the winds whilst the older oak was firmly standing its ground, allowing the wind to whip its branches back and forward, giving up the weaker ones to gravity.
Pulling the fleece up around her knees Jane curled her free fingers around the mug of hot coffee she had just made for herself. The book she was reading was part of a series about a group of aspiring and successful artists and friends in the music industry. This one was the third in the series following the ups and downs of a repatriated singer from Catalonia. It had had Jane gripped from the first page.
Entrenched in the story Jane was almost oblivious to anything around her, but little by little she became aware of music playing somewhere else in the house. ‘Strange’ was her immediate thought as there was no-one else home that afternoon. As soon as she concentrated on the music it disappeared, but once she had got back into the story in her book she could vaguely hear the strains of the lilting and gentle melody again.
Putting her book down Jane got up from the sofa intent on finding out where the sound was coming from. She wasn’t sure where to start so headed for the kitchen first. It seemed an unlikely place to start, but she wondered if perhaps she had left the radio on low and that might have been what she had heard. Opening the door to the kitchen, she could hear the wind whistling around outside, but she couldn’t hear any music. She crossed the floor to the worktop where the radio was, and checked to see if she had left it on, only to find it was in fact unplugged, so no way could that be the source of the music she had heard.
Leaving the kitchen, pulling the door closed behind her she decided to check the study next. She though that perhaps the computer had been left on and was the source of the music. She opened the door to the study slowly to see if she could hear anything. From a quick glance at the computer in the corner she could tell that it wasn’t turned on. Her search had drawn another blank.
Back in the hallway she strained her ears to see if she could detect any music coming from anywhere, but could hear nothing. Deciding that her search was a fruitless waste of her time, when she could be enjoying the world of her friends in the book, che returned to the living room and the sofa.
Outside the storm was still blowing wildly. she climbed back on the sofa,pulled the fleece up round her again and picked up her book. In a few moments she was back in the story and annoyingly once again she heard the distant melody coming from somewhere else in the house.
It hadn’t sounded like the music was coming from upstairs but that was the only place left for it to possibly be. They had only been living in the house for a few months and Jane was still finding out about its little peculiarities. She wondered if this music playing might be one of them.
Setting her book back down on the coffee table she stood up once more to see if she could find the source of the music. Passing through the hallway and past the front door, where she could hear the wind howling outside even more strongly she quickly slipped up the stairs to the upper floor. As she stood on the upper landing she as sure she could hear the music coming from her bedroom.
For a moment she stood in the same place, just outside the bedroom door wondering what on earth could be going on. There wasn’t even a radio alarm, radio or anything that could be a source of the music in there. Taking a deep breath she grabbed the handle and pushed the door open quickly.
What she saw made her burst into laughter. Her husband was sitting on the edge of the bed, soaked through to the skin, his hair scarecrow-like, fiddling with the apps on his mobile phone. He must have come home from work early and crept past her as she was deep in her story in the living room.
“Bloody thing,” he said as he looked up. “I dropped it in a puddle on the way in and now it keeps playing burst of music on and off.”
Jane simply stood in the doorway laughing.
“What?” her husband asked. “What?”
Apologies to everyone waiting for story updates or for new short stories, but at the moment I am up to my elbows in the sequel to my first children’s book ‘The Quest for the Magic key’, which I am hoping will be published before the end of the month (watch this space for updates!)
Last year I wrote ‘The Quest for the Magic Key’ as part of the Nanowrimo challenge. It has now been edited, proofed, re-edited, had illustrations added and been re-edited. The cover design has been finalised (more or less) today and it will all be put together for a first proof book in the next few days. That will then be proofed and edited and finally published…. Advance orders can be made direct with me now – signed copies available!
So far in the sequel I have typed over 12,000 words (almost a quarter of the way there). The story is unfolding before my eyes. I started with a vague idea of how the story would start and quite honestly had no real idea of where it would go. It is growing organically day by day. My characters are developing and talking to me as well as each other, and I am enjoying the ride immensely.
I shall endeavor to add a short story or update to a previous series here in the next couple of days.. in the mean time why not hit one of the buttons down the right hand side for a random story from the archives…
Thanks for your patience,
This is another (unedited) ‘snippet’ from the book I am currently writing for he NaNoWriMo challenge. It is the sequel to ‘The Quest for the Magic Key’ which should be out before the end of the year.
As Aaron asked his question back to the voice in his head, ‘who are you?’ he felt a familiar pull. It was the same sensation he had felt when he had been in the church of Ages and had connected with Uncle Vern back in the summer. It was the feeling of falling, yet of not really moving at all. It was the sensation of jumping, or jumping from one place to another, from one world to a different one.
For a second Aaron closed his eyes to see if the feeling would go away but when he opened them he could hardly believe what he was seeing. He was no longer in his classroom back in Sussex. In fact he had no idea at all where he was. The place he was in was so completely different to any place he had ever been before in his short life.
Looking around him Aaron could see that he was in some sort of natural cave. It was a huge space, as big as the dome in Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London he thought. He’d never been there but had seen pictures in books and on the television. This place was also rounded like the Dome, which was why that idea had come into his mind in the first place. The walls and ceilings of this cave though were made of sparkling stones, like diamonds but much larger and more magical. Aaron could almost feel the whole space vibrating, just like their magic key vibrated.
As far as Aaron could tell there was no way in nor any way out of this cave. He turned round and round a few times but could see no doors or any way for the light that filled the cave to get in through, and no way for him to get out either. For a split second he felt slightly panicked, but then realised that if he had jumped into this cave he could get out exactly the same way.
“Wow. It’s amazing,” he said aloud and heard his words echo around the walls and ceiling of the cave. ‘From boring old school to here,’ he thought to himself. Thinking of school he was suddenly worried. If he had disappeared from his place in the classroom to this magical cave someone must have seen what happened. So far they had managed to keep their abilities a secret, but now everyone in his class would have seen him disappear, including his teacher. The secret would be out.
Aaron moved toward one of the walls and ran his hands along a few of the incredible crystals as thoughts came together in his head. Firstly he considered that this was probably the place where the crystal that formed part of the key came from. Looking down he saw there were grains of pure white sand just like those that were in the box with the crystal and guessed that his hunch was right.
As he continued to touch the crystal walls he thought of the voice he had heard and the call for help. As he did so more thoughts in the same voice tumbled into his head. There were so many thoughts all at once that he had trouble making sense of all of them. As he started to try to unravel the thoughts he was hearing he felt that familiar pull again, and in the blink of an eye was back in his chair at school.
As he got used to the change in the light he stared up at the clock. It was just after five to four. Aaron worked out that he had only been gone for three or four minutes at the most, but he knew how strangely time reacted in different worlds and knew that he had been in the crystal cave for at least twenty minutes.
After having checked the time he looked around at his classmates, particularly at the boys sitting to either side of him. It appeared as if no-one had noticed his disappearance. All his classmates were just finishing off what they were writing. Aaron coughed loudly drawing a quick glance from his teacher. It was clear that even she hadn’t noticed Aaron’s disappearing and re-appearing trick. As he started to pack up his book, pens and pencils he wondered how on earth that could be. How could anyone miss a boy in the class disappearing for four minutes or so? Smiling he shook his head and thought to himself, ‘It’s that old magic at work again.’
Today’s story is part three of Artemis and Barbara’s tale
Part Two can be found here – P is for Panic
Artemis threw himself at the window and slammed it shut, but just a little too late. The creature had managed to shove its paw/hand into the space before Artemis had managed to close the window. With a force far belying its size it pulled the window out of Artemis’s hand and slammed it backwards. With the window wide open it jumped through and landed on the draining board. Seconds later launched itself at Artemis with all its force. Behind it the window slammed shut of its own accord.
The creature had Artemis by the throat for a split second. Barbara had watched the whole scene unfolding in front of her with abject terror. As it pounced at Artemis it looked like it was ready to rip his throat out with the razor-like shaped mouthful of teeth it proudly bared as it came through the window. Working completely unconsciously Barbara grabbed the heavy-based frying pan off the cooker where it had sat since breakfast and raising it above her head brought it down squarely on the creature’s back and head with a scream of a banshee. The remaining contents of the frying pan swirled across the kitchen walls as the creature let go of Artemis and skittered under the kitchen table.
“Run,” Barbara shouted at Artemis pointing to the kitchen door.
Today’s story is part two of Artemis and Barbara’s tale
Part One can be found here – FRUIT
“Get in the door, get in the bloody door, Artemis, quick, it’s coming and it’s fast.” Barbara was right behind him shouting as she ran. The creature that they had first spotted just a few minutes ago in the apple tree near the wall was headed for them and it didn’t look like it wanted to play.
“I know, I know,” Artemis almost fell through the door and turned quickly to pull Barbara in after him, slamming the door shut behind the two of them. He quickly shoved the bolt across securing the door closed.
They both leaned against the door looking through its small glass pane. Their hearts were beating fast enough to have them both breathing heavily, the sound of which was about the only sound that could be heard in the kitchen as they stared out onto the patio and the orchard beyond.
In the garden the creature that had been the cause of their untimely and ungainly rush into the house was sitting on the small piece of grass staring back at them. It was watching the back door intently, and didn’t look as if it was going to go away any time soon.
“It’s stopped. It’s just sitting there looking at us looking at it.” Artemis’s voice was an octave or two higher than normal.
“What is it?” Barbara asked again. “What the hell is it?”
“I’ve no idea. I still think it looks like a squirrel, but the face is almost human,” Artemis replied.
“Not almost. It is human. Its face is human, Art. It has a human face. And not just that it has an intelligent human face. It has intelligence. I swear it’s sitting there thinking, planning, watching, waiting.” Barbara’s voice was rising as she spoke, the panic audible in every work she spoke.
“Barb, you read too much horror.” Artemis said trying to calm himself with his denial of what Barbara was suggesting. all the while he as thinking the same things. Had he been reading too many Stephen King novels?
“Maybe I do, but I tell you it’s watching and waiting. Watching us and waiting for us to move or do something,” Barbara sounded slightly calmer now. “I bet if we move that bolt back even a fraction it’ll start towards us again.”
“Don’t be so stupid. It might be intelligent, but it isn’t superhumanly intelligent.” Artemis moved his hand down towards the bolt. “Here I’ll prove it to you.”
Slowly Artemis slid the bolt back slightly all the time watching the creature through the glass panel in the door for any change in its behaviour.
Incredibly it moved its head to one side as if it was listening to the bolt moving. As it did so it started to sit up slightly, as if making ready to move forward again.
Artemis shot the bolt back into the locked position and the creature sat back on its haunches.
“So I’m right. It is watching us and waiting. It is super intelligent.” Barbara kept an eye on the creature through the door. All of a sudden she heard, or more correctly felt, the white noise back in her head. It felt like something scratching inside her head.
“Argh,” muttered Artemis holding his hands against his ears, mirroring Barbara’s actions. He too was experiencing the strange scratching inside his head.
It felt like the animal was searching for something inside their heads. All of a sudden the noise stopped and looking out the glass pane in the door Artemis could see that the animal had started towards the house again. This time it was moving more slowly, almost stealthily. Looking round the kitchen Artemis spotted the open kitchen window.
“Barbara!” he shouted as the animal suddenly appeared on the outside of the window.
At the moment I am writing for the Nanowrimo challenge – here’s just a part of the first day’s offering (unedited)
A call for help
It was a dull afternoon across the whole of Sussex. The weather appeared to have given up and pasted a grey day across the towns, cities and countryside. There was a slight wind, but even that was listless as it slowly blew the grey clouds across an even grayer background sky. There was a feeling in the air that it might rain, but the clouds didn’t look big enough or heavy enough to bother.
As is usually the case, the weather impressed its qualities on the people of the lands below it. So on this Friday afternoon in October even the people looked grey and had a bored weariness about them. Shoppers in the supermarkets were simply dropping items into their trolleys without great thought about what they were buying. Office workers couldn’t be bothered to give any impression of business as they sat at their desks willing the weekend to come as soon as possible. And in schools across the county the story was the same.
At about eight minutes to four that all changed for a few, as It started to happen. Just eight minutes before the end of the school-day and in a small school in one particular Sussex village something was about to take place. This was something that was happening at exactly the same time in a larger school just a short distance away and in yet another small school a few miles across the Sussex countryside. These were the schools in which the cousins studied, and at about eight minutes to four on this October afternoon all the cousins experienced a similar thing.
In three schools in two villages in Sussex five youngsters were having the same experience all at once. Little did they know at that moment but the cousins were about to be launched into a new adventure.
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