Friday, October 20, 2017

The Shackles (short story)

    He could not take his eyes of her, she was beautiful! The way she laughed, the way she moved and even the way she held her pint. A relative simple thing holding a pint but she almost made it an art. Her long fingers with the purple nails that shone in the light, a ring on every finger, touched the glass as if it was pure crystal; it caused a stir in his belly.

   He loved jewellery and touched his own golden chain with the large and very solid shackles around his neck; something he often did. He paid a hideous amount of money for it. The deep yellow coloured beautifully by his black earrings in the delicate golden settings and the complicated tattoo in his neck.
    No, he was definitely not Mr. Average! He was not dull or dreary. The girls in the Gym loved him and although he had never been in love with one of them, he made love to quite a few. Usually one night stands but who cared; his whole life was still in front of him and the workouts to improve his already impressive shape, were more important than walking around with a high heeled and half naked sexy girl on his muscular arm.
    To be honest, as soon as a girl showed signs of claiming him, he bagged off immediately. He was not well educated but the girls that fancied him were worse. It was fine as long as they flattered him but as soon as they started talking about wedding dresses or even worse, children, his underdeveloped brains registered 'DANGER'. Indeed in capitals, red capitals. All alarm bells went off and he started the only defence he knew: ignoring. Quite often if not always, the girl moved on to another fellow bodybuilder.

   But this girl in the Pub was different. He knew she was far more intelligent, he could tell by the look in her eyes. The way she looked at him. He noticed immediately that he caught her attention and the stir in his belly became stronger when she smiled at him without interrupting the conversation with the girl next to her who was less beautiful but like her friend muscular and with stunning legs.
He was not interested in the other girl, he was interested in 'purple nails' as he called her until he found out what her real name was. And he was desperate to find that out as soon as possible!

   He finished his drink, rolled his muscles while he watched the two girls.
'Purple nails' whispered something in the ear of her friend who now turned round to take a look at him. This must be his very lucky night; two amazing girls, two Amazons who were clearly interested in him. He smiled back and lowered his eye lids halfway. He was well aware of the effect he had with his long dark eye lashes and mysterious green eyes and again he was successful: the girls winked and raised their glasses. He knew not to look too greedy and he tilted his head a little, smiled and looked around if he wanted to say: “You probably mean someone else instead of me?” The girls laughed and winked again.
    He left his stool and walked slowly to impress them with his godly body; the golden chain sparkled by every move.
The girls kept smiling but did not giggle; another proof so he thought, that they were different than the Gym Groupies. They introduced themselves as Suzie and Janet, two ordinary names for two extraordinary girls, this crossed his mind before he mentioned his own name: Alejandro (which was of course not his real name but it sounded so more exotic than Alex).

   The girls, who admired his body while he stood in between them hoping there would soon be a stool available so he could show them his mighty thighs in the best position, offered him a pint but he refused and offered them a drink instead. “What ever you want, I pay” and took his wallet from his pocket. A wallet with a chain, particularly after last night's deal where he earned a lot of money! He was not stupid so left a part of it at home but he was going to use a great amount of it tonight to treat his 'Amazons'.
    The girls said they did not want expensive drinks as he looked like someone who worked hard for his money. An honest person they did not want to rip off.
But he said that money was not a problem and joked that he could always sell his 20 carat chain. Suzie with the purple nails, bend over to touch the chain and made sure she also softly scratched his skin, knowing the effect it was going to have on him. “Is it really gold?” she asked admiringly. “Aren't you afraid someone is going to steal it from you?”

   He laughed, moved his arms and said: “Have you seen my muscles? No one will dare to steal it!” Both girls stared with large admiring eyes at his muscles and asked if they could feel how strong they were.
He almost blushed when 2 pair of elegant hands folded around his arms and softly squeezed. Suzie squeezed a little longer than Janet as if she was reluctant to let him go. He watched her eyes and noticed she bit on her lower lip which was, he thought, extremely sexy. The stir in his belly changed into another feeling of which he hoped it was no visible for her. But both girls were polite and kept looking at his eyes. Janet mentioned his long eye lashes and the green colour of his eyes: “Like a grassy field in the morning dew, aren't they Suzie?”  
   And Suzie agreed, telling him she never saw green eyes like his before and that, oh how cheeky she was, the colour must change into a deep green like a wild ocean when he was emotional.
It was at this point that he fell for Suzie, his heart started to race and his blood pressure did things to his body that were not appropriate in a Pub.
   And suddenly he wanted to leave the Pub, wanting to go somewhere where he could make love to her, even if it was with Janet too. He could handle it as along as Suzie was part of it. But of course you did not tell a lady this within the first 10 minutes after the introduction, so he behaved but was not sure for how long.

   The two girls knew exactly what was going on with Alejandro. They played this game before and always successful. It was not a coincidence they met him in the Pub, they knew from a friend Alejandro would have called a Gym Groupie, that he was going to be here. The friend that knew about last night's deal because Alejandro did have more muscles than brains and because he loved himself more than anything else... well... apart from his golden chain and other jewellery of course he bragged about.
    He was such an easy victim and like so many men before him, overwhelmed by the charm of Suzie and the prospect of an evening full of fun and beyond with two girls! He was a young stallion with racing hormones and they knew how to handle him.
   It was not very likely that he was going to remember much tomorrow, the pills in combination with the alcohol were going to do their work. As soon as the mist in his head would clear up, he was going to have a lot of questions; not only about Suzie and Janet who he was not going to recognize again - if there was a chance of meeting again anyway, wigs, false lashes, coloured lenses were mighty weapons - but also about some if his precious belongings.
    But how little did all of three knew how the evening was going to end. Never before had the pills such an effect on someone. Instead of making him sleepy before his wild night started, it made him psychotic and he fought for his life. He was out of control, cried, yelled and frantically waved his arms to chase away the demons that occupied his not so developed brains.....


   The jogger that lost his way in the woods because his mind was elsewhere, discovered an old rusty car he had never seen before. He looked around but did not even see a path. How could he have been so stupid?
The sun disappeared behind the clouds and did not guide him where to go.
The temperature dropped quickly and standing still, he felt the cold. He took the fleece from his rucksack and put it on. It felt much warmer but there was still a cold feeling he could not explain and which caused unpleasant shivers and goosebumps. He looked at his mobile to find the GPS and to run home from there.
Photo: @beautifully_derelict_ni (Instagram)
   He walked a few metres back and forth before he had a good signal and doing this, his elbow bounced against the old car. Ouch! His free hand rubbed his painful elbow while he looked through a window that was covered in green moss. At first he did not know what he saw but very slowly his brains digested what was in the back of the car. What looked like a heap of cloths, turned out to be a body. Or what was left of it. Black holes instead of eyes and a mouth. Teeth grinning at him. The skull was visible in between the decaying dry chin that looked like leather.

   The jogger sighed in relief, as a pathologist he had seen worse and he knew his first impression was going to be helpful for the police he was going to call right now with the coordinates of this place. It was within his district and he knew he was going to do the post mortem, very curious to know if indeed the only thing that still remained as it was, caused the death by strangulation: the golden chain with the massive and solid shackles.


Word of thanks:the photo of @beautifully_derelict_ni (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Jules! X

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @beautifully_derelict_ni

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!


Helen

  

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Case Closed (short story)

    He felt sick. He thought he knew what to expect, after all it was not his first case and not the first dead body he saw although he was one of the youngest detectives at the police station.

   He nodded to the constable who nervously looked in the other direction, avoiding looking at the victim. The poor guy who's dreams after this night shift were probably going to be haunted by images of this night.
The full moon shed a spooky light on the scene and reflected in the wide open eyes of the man that lay on his back, his mouth wide open in a horrifying grimace; a loud scream frozen in the last seconds of his life.

   The still visible part of the blade of the knife in his chest glanced in the moonlight and the fingers that were cramped around the handle were white and ghostly.
The white shirt was stained with large amounts of blood that found it's way to the cinders that paved the path to the coal mines, closed not long ago.
    “What a terrible place to die...” The voice of his chief who laid a comforting hand on his shoulder, spoke the words he just thought. “The team is on it's way John. Constable, can you please keep curious journalists and other riff-raff from the scene? No doubt they are already on their way. You are getting help from your colleagues.”
The constable nodded, glad he didn't have to stay here any longer, he realized it was going to be a long night. 

   John and his superior Roy both stared at the dead man and both had the feeling there was something very strange about this murder but without extra light than that of the moon and without touching the body before the doctor arrived, the knife was the only witness of how the man died.
Murder was not too common in this area in the 60's. 'Love and Peace' was the message and not 'Kill'. Idyllic thoughts in a world of wars, strikes, closing mines and poverty.

   The wind gained in strength and both men tried to hide in the warmth of their coats. A car stopped, it was the pathologist - not a man of many words - who used a torch to walk to the spot where the men gathered. He raised his hat in a greet, put his case down, pulled up his trousers and crouched down near the body. He observed it closely before touching it: “A very unusual knife... the handle suggests it is a knife with a very long blade. I would not be surprised if it went right through the chest to exit it at the back. Not a knife you find a the ordinary kitchen. I can tell you more after he is on my table. I do not want to roll the body over just now. Can you arrange it to be transported in this position?”
John and Roy nodded, it was the knife that gave both men the feeling there was something strange about it.

   Then the doctor stretched his arm and his fingers carefully closed the eyes of the diseased. It was then that John realized he more or less held his breath, he let it go with a feeling of relief. It helped him feeling better not to see the man's eyes any more. Although he was dead it was as if the tremendous fear for the killing was still visible in the eyes. Eyes that saw the murderer; the knife was driven into the chest with great force. John wondered if the man had been in shock, either by the brutal attack or the pain. Did he feel the pain immediately? Did he realize immediately what happened to him? Did he know his killer?

   The photographer arrived with his camera, a Hassleblad with all necessary options. He installed the flash and asked the pathologist if he wanted some special shots. He promised to take close shots from the knife and to come to the mortuary tomorrow afternoon. He took photo's from all possible angles; the light flashed dominantly in the dark. Soon he was ready, packed his camera and left again after promising to deliver the developed photo's around 10 AM at the station, the best he could do, and left together with the pathologist. John smiled at him; the photographer must have seen terrible things, worked ridiculous hours but never complained. He wondered if he had a family and if so, how they coped with his job. John was still single although he had very special feelings for a lovely girl he met at a party not long ago. They went out a few times but he never told her he was a detective; she thought he was a constabable.

   Despite the bustle at the scene, there were still no spectators or journalists which was only good. A murder in this community wasn't something they wanted in the news papers straight away. First they wanted to find out who the man was. Even Roy, who knew almost everybody around here, did not recognize the man.
    The car with the men form the mortuary arrived not long after and the body was carefully packed in a large black bag. The sound of the zip was loud in the silent night. The men placed the body on the stretcher and walked away with it, leaving John and Roy behind.

   They used their torches to examine the soil where the body had laid. The white sheet of paper, clearly visible in the light, moved in the wind. Both men stared at it before John grabbed it, afraid it would blow away.
They examined it carefully; the blood on it was mingled with the ink of the handwritten text. Hopefully the Lab could find out what was written.
    Then the light revealed a sharp cut in the middle of the paper. A cut obviously made by the knife.
The two detectives stared at the cut, then at each other. The wind felt suddenly very chilly when they realized the letter was pinned to the point of the knife after the victim was stabbed and before the body was placed in the position in which they found it. They understood immediately they had to look for a cold and unscrupulous killer...... This case was not going to be easy.

   The years passing by proved the first gut feeling of both detectives to be right; the killer was never found, nor the identity of the victim. The man wasn't a local and a photo in the newspapers – even nation wide – didn't bring a solution either. The man was not registered at Interpol and did not answer any description of missing persons.
    Also the origin of the strange knife that indeed had a long narrow and extremely sharp blade was never revealed. The conclusion with which the file of 'John Doe' was closed, was 'unknown male in his 40's, probably not British. Buried at the local cemetery June 1968, number 23'.

   But John had never forgotten the case. Every time he thought about it, he felt a little of the sickness during the night he saw the body. And he remembered his promise to himself to find out who it was and what happened.
   
   Due to the closing of the coal mines, people moved away from the small village and John's colleagues either retired or moved to other police stations in the nearby town. John stayed, not aware his drive to solve the case made him ill. He wasn't bad enough to be taken into a mental hospital and he wasn't dangerous. He still had access to the old police station where the files from a long time ago where left behind. A few people who felt sorry for Old John as he was called now, looked after him and made sure nothing happened.
Photo: @be.lost.in.time (Instagram)
    John not aware of this all any more, kept reading the old files over and over again.. The next day he had forgotten what he read and about who; the only thing that was pinned in his mind was to find the murderer of 'John Doe'.
   Until the day that one of the people that looked after John, an old lady, found the office empty. The chaos was enormous, files piled on top of each other, dust and cob webs everywhere. The smell of decay mingled with the fainting smell of John's favourite aftershave; a smell that nestled it self in the room after many decennia of police work. The old lady asked for help and looked everywhere for John but there was no trace of him. She reported it to the police who came, took her statement and sealed the office after moving all the files to a new place in the archive of the police station in town. But not before a note was added. A note that said 'Case Closed'.


Word of thanks: the photo of @be.lost.in.time (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am I am very grateful. Thank you Morrígan!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @be.lost.in.time


Note: the story is pure fiction. A figment of my imagination!

Helen

Monday, October 16, 2017

The Search (short story)

   She was old and lonely.
Many years ago her husband left her for another woman, nothing new here. It happens all the time and causes very good reasons to feel desperate and betrayed.

   She laughed, her good sense of humour helped her to survive and to live her own life.
Of course back then she was angry at him and yes there were a few betrayed feelings; the roses all of a sudden should have warned her. But how could she be very angry? She knew that some men in their 50's exchanged their wives for a much younger and above all more beautiful example of the female race. An example without wrinkles, a wasp waist and with other parts that were not sagging. Brains seemed not important anymore.
   But her husband fell in love with one of the most ugliest women she ever met. Also without brains! A woman that always smiled, even when the subject wasn't funny or nice. A stupid laugh and not an intelligent word at all. Big and round, far beyond voluptuous with an old fashioned perm in her hair. A woman who preferred slippers instead of shoes; filthy slippers with holes where her large toes touched the ground. How on earth could she be jealous??

   After the first shock she wished him good luck, she did not even want to know what the attraction of her 'rivale' was. No, she choose to get on in live although easier said than done. She received a little financial support from her now ex husband and in those days there was no Social Service. She had to earn her own living and set her creative mind to work. Always very clever with needle and thread she made beautiful flowers from cloth in all different colours and sizes.
   To her own astonishment, people loved them and she even received orders. Soon she had enough savings to start her own shop in real and artistic flowers. And she flourished;  she lost weight, could afford a good hairdresser, bought new cloths instead of making them.

   One day her ex husband entered the shop to buy flowers for his wife but did not know it was the shop of his ex. As soon as he looked at her, his eyes grew large and then he blinked a few times. His brains worked hard to digest what he saw and he stuttered when he wanted to say hello.
She did nothing to help him, she smiled with a twinkle in her eye end knew she lost all the hard feelings for him.
   His throat felt very dry so he scraped a few times and than squeezed: "Well....uuhhm... how are you?" She did not answer but waved her hand to tell him 'look for your self'. "Uhm, this is all yours??" She nodded and then asked if he wanted to buy flowers.
Yes, he wished roses for his wife and while he said this, he did not dare to look her in the eyes and blushed all over. She grinned, winked at him to let him know she knew exactly that he had a guilty conscious, why else would he buy roses?
   He paid and left the shop in a great hurry, she knew he was not going to return.

   Although she looked years younger and of course more attractive and although men loved to visit her shop, there was no one she felt attracted to. Not that she was looking for a man, lover, husband, what ever but in the back of her head was this little voice that told her she was not going to be younger and one day she was too old to run her shop and what if she was still on her own?
No one to laugh with, no one to cuddle, to keep her warm during the night, to share the good ánd the bad moments in life with?

   Then came the day that she sold the shop. Her legs started to ache and the long hours caused a serious fatigue. She sold it for a very good price and did not have to worry about money anymore. She earned her own pension and she was very proud of it. She was not going to spend much, never liked travelling and loved being at home with an occasional visit to the local Pub. And eating her favourite brand of peanuts.
   Unfortunately she had to spend money on the dentist; one of the disadvantages of growing old. There was so much wrong with her teeth in her upper jaw that they decided to extract them all; a very painful time. But she looked forward to her new teeth and since she had a choice, she wanted white ones. The dentist disagreed, telling her it did not suit her age. But it was her money and thus new sparkling white teeth, like a film star. Three months later she was the happy owner of a neat pink denture. She treasured it, kept it clean and during the night it sat in a glass of water next to her bed.

   Se was aware of the fact that men were most likely not going to like her denture, they wanted pure and original. Stupid really because at this age not many men still walked around with their original teeth!
After all the hustle and bustle around the visits to the dentist, her life seemed empty. Her already occasional visits to the local Pub became less frequent since they started Bingo nights which she hated.
She loved reading but her books were not satisfying enough and the news papers kept repeating doom and gloom.
   Yet it were the little ads in the newspaper that drew her attention, especially the ones where people were looking for marriage. To her surprise there were more ads than she ever knew; why had she never seen them before? Probably because she was not interested.
   For a few weeks she read and read and seriously thought about placing one too but she wanted a very original text, one that would attract everybody's attention. One that people were going to talk about. But that only needed the serious attention of one man: humorous and not put off by her false teeth.......

    The visitor of the abandoned house walked with respect amongst the silent witnesses of a life that came to a halt a long time ago. Or maybe even two lives although there was little evidence.
A grime dust, typical for this part of the city back in the 60's and 70's, covered all the belongings of the lady that lived here. The visitor knew it was a lady, there was a very feminine touch to the house.

Real flowers, now dry and faded. Roses made of old cloth but beautifully done. Romantic books probably not bought by a man.
Photo: @my_urbex (Instagram)
And much more. Though one of the most odd things she found was a tin with a complete denture. Curiously she studied the teeth and noticed the upper ones being slightly whiter than the lower ones. Maybe of a younger date? Did the owner first had her lower teeth extracted? There was no one around to tell her, it remained a puzzle for ever she thought.

   But she was wrong, if she had found the one and only and carefully folded newspaper that was left in the house, she would have read the following ad:

   "Single woman with upper denture, seeks single man with lower denture to chew peanuts together".


Word of thanks: the photo of @my_urbex  (Instagram) inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Sandra!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @my_urbex

Note: the story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!

Helen

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Hall (short story)

-5-

2006

    Gwyland Mureall MacQuilken set down with in her hand the letter of the grandmother she never met and who was never talked about. One of those many family secrets she never understood.
    Being the only daughter of two people who loved each other and her but who had a very strange approach to live. They were no hermits but avoided socializing and lived in a fairly remote area. She never had friends from school at home and was also never invited as if the other children knew there was something strange with her family.
    With no brothers and sister to play with, she often felt very lonely and was happy with the company of their animals. The poor cat was dressed like a doll but did not mind. The dogs were her best friends and when older, she made long rides on her horse.
    This was the stage in life she started to question their way of living. Questioning why she never received answers asking after her grandparents from both sides.
She did not know where they lived and if they were still alive. Was she named after one of her grandmothers? And why there were no letters or phone calls from them.
   Her father, a freelance photographer, had an Australian accent but not her mother, after all those years she still had a British accent. Gwyland learned not to ask questions any more but that did not mean she did not have them.

   She more or less escaped from home at the age of 19 and lived with a good friend until she found a job in Sydney as an assistant bookkeeper and telephonist with a solicitor. Her employer was very happy with her and it did not take long before she was a full time bookkeeper, she definitely had a good eye for numbers.
    Although she loved the job and the people she worked for, there was in the background always that strange feeling that she belonged elsewhere. Australia was beautiful and the people were nice but sometimes she felt homesick to a more enclosed and traditional area without knowing why.
    She was not very good in relationships outside the office and saved as much as possible money for her one wish: leaving Australia to find at least the roots from mother's side in the UK. She did not know where to start but hoped backpacking in a country so much smaller than where she was born, was going to reveal where she felt home. This was for Gwyland not a question but a certainty.

   At the age of 24 she told her employer about her plans. He was very sorry to see her going but he knew already for some time she did not feel at home in this country. He gave her a large bonus and his blessings, hoping to hear from her in the near future. And if she ever needed a recommendation, he was more than happy to write one.
    Gwyland left and travelled to her parents with whom she had little contact. If they were surprised to see her, they did not tell. And they did not show any emotions when she told them she was going to Europe. Maybe a little curiosity when they asked where in Europe but Gwyland replied she was going to Spain and would get in touch by e-mail. Her intuition told her not to tell them she booked a flight to London. She stayed for two days and then left, no one shed a tear still she felt hurt and did not understand she was their daughter. She never doubted she was, there were too many similarities in the features of her and her parents. But her emotions and heart must be inherited from a more emotional ancestor and she was going to find out who.

   All this passed her mind after reading the letter of her grandmother Rhiennon Mureall Rhydderch nee Abernathy, born and bred in Crickcelyn in Wales and wife of the local solicitor Emrys Rhydderch.
Nothing happens without a reason; when Gwyland ran out of savings she heard about a solicitor looking for a bookkeeper. As soon as she arrived in Wales, she knew she was at home and as soon as she entered the office, she felt like stepping into comfortable shoes. She arrived home without understanding why.

    Her employer too understood nothing was happening without a reason after his father told him Gwyland was the spitting image of the wife of his old employer back in the 50's.
He dug up the old file that he found in the desk of the secretary (granddaughter of the first solicitor) that worked here but who suddenly disappeared in 1977. Back then he was too young to remember but the whole village talked about it for years and years. He did however remember the many visits from the farmer called Old Ed who died at a very high age in the 90's, though he never understood where his father and Old Ed talked about as they did have so little in common.
The file was still sealed and according to his father it had to remain sealed until Gwyland was willing to receive her inheritance after reading the letter of her grandmother.
    Gwyland still unknown about the file and still renting a room in the local Inn while looking for a house to rent, went to the pub for a drink; she needed it, she also hoped for some company to distract her thoughts from the letter; she was not ready to let it sink in and to go to the office to talk about it.

   It wasn't busy in the pub, just a few local people and a stranger who was looked at if he was an exotic insect although his accent was very British and his blond hair and blue eyes everything but exotic.
   His name was Henry Cavendish and he watched Gwyland when she walked with a scotch in her hand to a table in the corner near the window. Even without thinking he looked at her hands and did not see an engagement or wedding ring. He looked at her face and agreed to himself that she was a beautiful woman. Her classic and almost aristocratic features were out of place in this pub. He felt the need to meet her but did not want to disturb her thoughts. He recognized the way she looked inside her head.


   Gwyland had the feeling she was watched and when she looked up, her eyes met two blue ones behind the table at the other end of the Pub. Neither the owner nor she blinked when their eyes met, it did not feel uncomfortable. Reason for the blond and very tall visitor to raise from his chair to introduce himself to Gwyland who in return, raised and shook hands. It did not take long before they had an animated conversation exchanging professions. Henry was an architect involved in a large project in the nearest town where he stayed in a hotel but not being happy with the 24 hours noise of a town. He preferred the countryside and had just booked a room in the local Inn.
    They had a very pleasant evening and felt reluctant to part. But Gwyland was tired and needed her sleep before she had to go back to the office the next morning, knowing her employer wanted to talk to her first.

   The next day was one never to forget. She got a day off to let it sink in and to visit the house of her grandmother that had not be lived in for a long time but was now hers; she inherited it. She was very curious in what state it was because she was very determined to make it liveable. A house of her own and not just 'a' house but the house of the woman who's twin sister she could be if there were not two generations in between.
And then there was the file her boss showed her, the file she was only allowed to open in his presence and that of his father. This afternoon at 4 PM.
   Gwyland noticed the exterior of the house was well looked after. The paint was in good condition like the roof, the windows and the lawn. She wondered if her grandmother left orders in her will to maintain the house.
Inside it was dusty but not too bad. It was still furnished and definitely needed proper cleaning and probably also new curtains and upholstery but that was something she could do herself.
    After viewing the downstairs, she finally reached the room upstairs with the dress from the letter.
She touched the lace and for a moment she thought she smelled Lilly of the Valley but then it was gone. She held the lace against her cheek, like her grandmother did when she found it. And finally came the tears. Tears she never shed in her whole life. Tears of sadness for the past and tears of happiness for her future. She did nothing to stop them, even if she had wanted so, she could not.

   When Gwyland arrived at the office at 4 PM, father and son both noticed her swollen eyes but did not mention it. They could only guess about her childhood and understood the emotions the letter caused.
    Now it was time for the file and not even the old solicitor knew what was in it, there were only instructions in an old will of the former owner of The Hall, to open it when they found his legitimate offspring. And there was also the will of Rhiennon Rhydderch nee Abernathy who was not only leaving her house to Gwyland but also a fortune.
    As well as father and son as Gwyland, could never have guessed that she not only inherited her grandmother's house and fortune but also The Hall with all the furniture that in 1939 was transported to a large barn not far from here. A barn that belonged to Old Ed who left it to the son of Elgar who knew exactly it's history and what to do as soon as the solicitors contacted him.
    It was very late at night when Gwyland returned to the Inn after being assured to take the rest of the week off to come to terms with her inheritance and to visit The Hall.

   The weeks passed by before the whole story was told and all the paperwork was done with Gwyland being emotional ready to step back in time. To meet her roots, to step in the footprints of her ancestors.
    She wanted to know if The Hall was in a condition to be restored with the money left to her by her grandmother. If so they could open it to the public to receive money in return. For the restoration part she needed a professional advice and who else could do this better than Henry who became a very dear friend. For the time being she did not want to admit she felt more for him than friendship.
    And Henry was delighted to support her when she set foot in The Hall for the very first time in her life. He felt honoured and emotional but of course he had fallen in love with Gwyland head over heals but did not dare to mention it yet.
Photo: @riposta7 (Instagram)

    
    Charlotte, Rhiennon and Gwlithen, both long gone but after their death reunited, watched the two young people walking through the gate of the Hall. And looking into the future they smiled, knowing it would not take long before the beautiful dress with the lace skirt was going to serve as a wedding dress.





Word of thanks: the photo of @riposta7 on Instagram inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Mariusz!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @riposta7

Note: this is the last story of a series of 5. The Story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!

Helen

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Gate (short story)

-4-

1977

    She loved early Spring; the night frost changed the countryside into a beautiful landscape. The soft green colours in the trees and in the fields, were miraculously transformed in soft white tones.

   Elenydd was very happy to have a day off instead of sitting behind her desk in the office that had not changed much since her grandfather Arnall Mealon Rhydderc arrived in the village to become Crickcelyn's very first solicitor. At the time Arnall was a very young man who married the beautiful and elegant girl Bronwyn, daughter of the local doctor Merrick. It was a happy marriage and Elenydd, only child, had a very happy childhood.
Because she never studied law and did not have a brother (there was no successor), the practice was sold to the solicitor that started his career with her grandfather and he was more than happy to offer her a job; she knew everyone in the village and was an excellent secretary.

   The past few weeks she went through all the old records and long closed cases disappeared to the large attic of the practice. Not a job she looked forward to when she started; all these files gathered so much dust over the years. Of course she did not read them all but there were a few that brought a smile to her face because she remembered the people and their history. The job was almost done, still a few to go and one of them was a file she found almost hidden in the back of the filing cabinet. It was sealed and the only information written on it was '1946/CHRCJ'. A bit odd as all other files had far more information and were
easy accessible. The initials CHRCJ rang a bell with Elenydd but she told herself to think it over when the job was done. She put the file in a safe place to look at it another day, her instinct told her not put it away in the attic.

   While she walked down the hill she thought about this file and the written initials. She could not remember anyone who's name fitted to it but why was it so familiar? And why didn't she ask her parents? If it was indeed about one of the old villagers, her mother was the one to answer her questions but a little voice in her head told her not to bring up the subject. And Elenydd, gifted with the famous Celtic intuition, was determined to investigate on her own.

   When she left for her long walk, fully packed with sandwiches and a Thermos flask with tea, she did not have a destination in mind and was more or less surprised she stood on top of the hill that looked down on
the Vale of Garhowy. She loved the beautiful view and particularly in this time of the year.
Elenydd sat down on a flat stone, got her Thermos and a cup and drank her tea; her hands folded round the warm cup. Little clouds bristled from the hot liquid and disappeared in the cold air. Apart from the calling sheep in the valley and an occasional pheasant, it was quiet. There was no wind and the sun tried to gain strength. It was going to be a perfect day and she felt very happy. “Who needed a husband to be happy?” she thought with a smile?
    She knew that she was a very pretty looking girl and the bachelors in the village competed for her attention. Of course there were a few she liked more than others but she never fell in love and managed very well to stay single at the age of only 22. “Many years to go before I marry some one. If I ever do”. In this modern world in 1977, people also lived together instead of being officially married. Not that it was a common thing in the village, on the contrary, but it was more and more accepted thanks to flower power era.

   Elenydd did not think of herself as being emancipated, modern yes, but still very feminine and enjoying being treated like a woman. She was brought up with men keeping the door open for women or not sitting down before their wife or host sat down and call her old fashioned, she valued these manners. At the same time she felt too young to step into any relationship and first wanted to travel. Her secretary job was not something she wanted to do for the rest of her life but it made it possible to save money for a long trip; Elenydd wanted to see more of the world.

   She took a handful of brown last year's bracken to dry her tea cup which she put in her bag, together with the Thermos.
Time to continue her walk. Once more she looked down on the valley and decided to go where her feet took her.
There were not many people about, only a local sheep farmer who greeted her by raising his cap. For the locals she was still the granddaughter of the old solicitor, nothing would change this.
    In the distance she noticed a bowed figure that slowly walked her way and she smiled. She recognized one of the best clients of the local Pub, an old farmer who was also one of the best gossipers in the village. Some one once said “Old Ed loves to curl his tongue around other people's gossip”.
    But Elenydd liked the man, he indeed thought he knew everything about everybody, feeling the need to exchange all this knowledge with everyone who showed interest – these were seldom people from the village – but he was not a bad man. He was very lonely after his wife died a long time ago; he never remarried. Instead he spent all his free time in the Pub where he met Elgar and they became almost a local attraction. Together they loved to play little mind games with visitors, examining them as if they were not there. And nothing the Landlord could do about it. Not that he wanted, Elgar and Old Ed were good drinkers and always paid their bills. No one dared to ask where the money came from, Old Ed protected his private life as fiercely as he talked about that of others!

   “Morning geneth, day off?” asked Old Ed. 
“Yes Ed, the weather is too good to spend a day in a dusty office!” the 'geneth' replied, used to never called by her name by Ed who agreed that it was a perfect day for a walk.
Instead of walking up hill, Old Ed stood still and looked if he wanted to ask something. Elenydd waited and nodded to encourage him. She was curious what he wanted because he knew she did not want to listen to gossips.
    The old farmer pushed his cap a little backwards, wriggled his old crooked fingers underneath it and scratched his head while his watery eyes glared at Elenydd: “Does the geneth knows about the visitor?” And when she looked puzzled, he continued: “The bachgen from Australia, that country where they sent all the thieves and murderers who never spoke proper English. They still don't.”
    Elenydd told Old Ed she did not know about a visitor from Australia. When did he arrive and did he stay at the Inn? Old Ed smiled, happy he knew something before Elenydd did and said: “ I am not going to tell, the geneth has to find out herself. But I'll tell you, the bachgen is mighty interesting!” He pushed his cap in the right place, nodded and walked off.

   She watched him going up hill and wondered why the Australian visitor was so special that Old Ed got exited. She shrugged her shoulders and followed the path to the valley and was not very surprised her feet took her to The Hall. But she was surprised about the strange feeling she had approaching the long lane and gate. She did not feel alone. She stood still and looked around but there was no one else and no sounds apart from the birds.

It was not a frightening feeling and she did not feel watched. She could simply not explain why she was almost drawn to The Hall, as if it opened its arms, calling her.
    It was a long time ago she was here. The Hall was often talked about but no one in the village knew what happened to its owners and why it was never sold. And the ones that still might know, like her mother, grandparents and Old Ed, were very skilled in avoiding answers to questions about The Hall!
    It never bothered Elenydd, every village had it's secrets; she never knew the owners. Of course she never understood why no one bought The Hall. It was decaying but not yet beyond the point that it could not be restored any more. Actually it was in a much better state than you expected after being abandoned for so long. As if he house did not want to give up, as if it was still waiting for the former owners to return.

   This was an interesting thought. Does a house have a soul? She thought about it walking the lane. “If walls could talk”.... And stories about ghosts, spirits that were left, that could not escape? Wales, Scotland and England were famous for their ghost stories so some of these must be true.
Was there a ghost in The Hall? Was this the reason no one lived there? No.... if there was one, she should know. Ghost stories were not something to hide.
But what if someone had been murdered in the house? And for what reason? Was the village protecting the murderer because the victim was a ruthless Lord, hated by one person too many?

   She shook her head telling herself not to think this way, there was no reason to do so. “Be brave, you walked here many times in the past and nothing happened!”
True, she never had strange feelings walking here but why today? It was a silent voice that called her to The Hall, that forced her to go there.
    She hesitated when she found the gate pushed open and this happened very recently, she could tell because of the vegetation.
Photo: @riposta7 (Instagram)
Carefully she passed the gate, walked halfway the lane and stopped. First she looked around, then looked to the roof, her eyes scanning the windows. There was one window that needed her attention, at least that is how it felt. She could not take her eyes off the filthy glass. Suddenly she knew there was some one upstairs, some one she needed to call.
    Although she did not know a name and did not know why this was happening to her, her heart called out for that other heart in the attic. And she was not surprised seeing a hand cleaning the window before the face of a man appeared. A face she had never seen before yet so very familiar.


Word of thanks: the photo of @riposta7 on Instagram inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Mariusz!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of @riposta7

Note: this is the 4th story of 5 that are connected. The Story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!

Helen

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Voice (short story)

-3-

1977

    Cliamain MacQuilken, a 25 year old free lance photographer, left the local Inn by foot; a long walk would do him good. The bright sky promised a beautiful day with the night frost that covered the houses and fields in a hazy fairytale white, melting as soon as the sun would gain in strength.

   In Australia where he was born and where he lived, he had never seen frosty fields. He once planned to travel all the way to Snowy Mountains also called 'The Snowies'; he never made it to New South Wales but he would after this photo shoot. First he travelled to South Wales Great Britain, much further from home!
    As soon as he left the village behind, he stood still and with his hands deep down his pockets, the collar of his coat pulled up till his ears, he breathed deep. The cold penetrated his lungs and it was a pretty feeling. The path he followed meandered over a steep hill and down to the Vale of Garhowy.
The view was breath taking and he took his time to let it sink in before he got his camera from his rucksack for the first photo's for the 'New South Wales Magazine'.
   The green hills and fields, the trees with the soft tender Spring leaves; he sensed the promise of Spring as he had never sensed it before. In the far distance he saw the chimneys of his goal and he knew he would not arrive there in the first hour.


   He walked down the path and laughed about the rabbits that hastily sought shelter in the hedgerows to hide for the unknown man. The sheep in the fields blew little clouds like he did with every breath and step. He was glad he was used to climbing hills so his calves were not going to hurt tomorrow.
    One hour after he left the Inn he arrived at the rusty gate that lost most of its glory, hanging in its half broken hinges. Green ivy curled between dead grass and brown ferns up into the iron fences.
Despite the sad look of decay, the professional photographer Cliamain (Clem for his family and friends) also saw the beauty of it and took photo's from different angles.

   He tried to push the gates further open but failed. First he laid his rucksack at the other side, next he pushed himself through the gap. Suddenly the gate gave way and opened as if it welcomed a long forgotten friend. The manoeuvre stretched the ivy and towed the ferns and the grass to the corners behind the majestic stone pillars with on top the large acorns covered in green moss.
    The stretched Ivy revealed vaguely the initials 'CJ', Clem knew it were the initials of the family name of former occupants who left the Hall long ago. Therefore he knew what to expect: a derelict house that craved for restoration, if still possible after all those years.

   When he saw the house at the other end of the lawn, he was surprised by the state of it. Of course there were one or two tiles missing from the roof but it wasn't as bad as he expected. For a moment he wished he had the money to restore it, it was magnificent. He did not understand why the family left it and did not believe the many rumours he heard in the Pub last night. But if some of the rumours were true – the family was in financial trouble and had many debts – it was plausible that they never returned and that the house never came up for sale. Somewhere there must still be a descendant to claim the ownership. But who and where?
    Clem thought of it as an intriguing puzzle some one had to solve, but it was not going to be him; he did not have time enough before he returned to Australia. He felt sorry; for himself, the house and the current owner or heir.

   His evening in the local Pub was a surprise. Soon after he ordered his first beer, an old farmer who kept looking at him since he walked through the door, sat down on the stool next to him and to the inconvenience of Clem, kept glaring at him. Clem smiled, hoping it would bring a smile on the farmers face too. But the farmer looked behind him and shouted, winking with his hand: “Elgar, come here!” And Elgar climbed the stool at the other side of Clem. “Take a good look at the bachgen, a very good look and tell me what you think!” Elgar's little watery eyes between at least as many wrinkles as with the first farmer, looked and looked and said: “La.... Nag oes a similarity” and both farmers nodded and nodded while they drank their beer. The 'bachgen' felt uncomfortable with two people discussing him as if was an object instead of a human being.
   After he offered them another Pint, the farmers became more talkative and although Clem did not know all the Welsh words, he soon understood he looked like someone who lived here before. In fact he looked like the Lord of The Hall who's family suddenly left the house in the dark of the night. No one knew where they went to or what became of them.
Soon all the men in the Pub talked about it and he was advised to visit the abandoned Hall before he left for home.

   And here he stood near the steps of The Hall looking at the front door still firmly closed as he noticed pushing it. He walked a few yards back and observed the once so beautiful house and tried to imagine people living here; walking, talking, maybe children playing and laughing. The garden, now completely overgrown, must have been beautiful, like the long driveway. The large windows, now dark and unwelcoming, must have looked inviting with soft light illuminating the facade.
    Clem could not hold his curiosity and walked round The Hall till he found a large door at the back. He pushed the handle and to his surprise he did not need much power to open the door.
He entered a corridor where in the old days hung coats. Boots and shoes stood in the old racks that were now grey with dust and cobwebs. The corridor lead to a large empty kitchen, once the busy heart of the house and full of smells of food and cakes. He imagined an overheated cook with read cheeks, running from one oven to the other and shouting instructions at the young maids.
But there were no other smells than that of dust. And there were no sounds at all, it was the wrong season for the flutter of flies and butterflies.

   From the kitchen he entered a long hallway and arrived at the grand staircase in the middle of a beautiful hall with carved ceilings, now covered in thousands of grey nets, woven by many generations of spiders. Flakes of painted hanging from the ceilings and caught by the cobwebs.
    His shoes left vague prints in the dust, paint and chalk on the tiled floor.
He spent an hour inspecting the ground floor which was empty; there was no furniture. He wondered where it went because the story was the owners left in the dark of the night. He would ask the farmers during his next visit to the Pub. They were old enough to remember.

   While he walked around he was surprised by the strange feeling that although he had never been here before, it somehow felt familiar. A voice not to be heard, called him upstairs. He wanted to obey the voice, it felt as an adventure and he was curious where it would end.
Photo: kelly_jean_urbex_photograpy (Instagram)
    He walked the stairs and explored the large bedrooms and old bathrooms without hearing the voice. Until he reached the door to the attic. He opened the door, climbed the stairs, walked through the corridor with the doors to the servant rooms. The people who lived here must have had many people working for them, he counted the doors. Some rooms must haven been occupied by two people. He realized there was a large gap between the owners who lived in luxury and the servants who slept in cold and dark rooms.

   Suddenly he arrived at a large attic that covered the whole house.
And here he heard the voice again, telling him to go to the large trunk that stood solely in the middle of the attic. He did not obey immediately but first looked around, observing the dirty windows with the diffuse light and hundreds of dead insects on the sills. He had the strange feeling someone was watching him and turned around, though there was nobody.
    He walked to the trunk and the feeling being watched got stronger and stronger. He opened the lid which screeched as if it did not want to reveal it's content.
Clem looked inside but did not see anything. He put his hand in the trunk and followed the paper lining and lo and behold, in one corner lay an envelope. He took it out and looked at it but could only see a vague handwriting.
He walked to a nearby window, removed the cobwebs and used his handkerchief to clean enough window to let the light in. Again he looked at the envelope; he held his breath when he saw what was written on it. His heart bounced and he felt a cold shiver going down his spine.
    Still the envelope unopened I his hand, he turned to the window and stared at the trees in the distance. His brains refused to think, his eyes did not see the trees. He stood there, not knowing what to do let alone what to think. All his emotions came to a halt until he finally noticed the girl standing in the middle of the drive way. She looked at the window where he stood and for minutes they stared in each others eyes as if there wasn't a reasonable distance in between. Was it she that caused the feeling being watched? It could not have been her voice.
Clem turned round at the same moment the girl walked to the house......


Word of thanks: the photo of @kelly_jean_urbex _photograpy inspired me to write this story and I was given permission to use the photo as an illustration for which I am very grateful. Thank you Kelly!

Link: please visit the beautiful Instagram account of Kelly Jean her impressive website Kelly Jean Photography and Facebook Account

Note: this is the 3rd story of 5 that are connected. The Story is pure fiction! A figment of my imagination!

Helen