#Flashfiction – No-one would have believed

WARNING: I am listening to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and editing my horror story – this story told in exactly 100 words may be disturbing to some readers.

Looking at her picture, no one would have believed Sarah Kelly was the most prolific serial killer of all time. Travelling from hospital to hospital, she stole new-born babies, drained their tiny bodies of blood and buried their ashen grey corpses. She used the blood to make face serums for wealthy women who wanted to remain young. Her formula worked and, as more and more money rolled in her door, so her need for blood increased. Eventually she became careless.

When she was finally caught, nearly six hundred corpses in various stages of decomposition were discovered in her home-built vault.

This short story was written for Don Massenzio’s photo stock challenge and is based on the story of Amelia Dyer, the infamous baby farmer and murderer. You can join in the challenge here: https://donmassenzio.wordpress.com/2019/03/20/stock-photo-challenge-4/

Amelia Dyer was arrested on 4 April 1896 for murder and was hanged by James Billington at Newgate Prison on Wednesday, 10 June 1896. Amelia Dyer’s photograph appears in the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street in London among his collection of pictures of the most horrific serial killers of all times.

Amelia dyer1893.jpg

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#Bookreview – Cusp of Night (Hode’s Hill #1)

book reviews

What Amazon says

The truth hides in dark places . . .

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

My review

This is the first book I have read by Mae Clair and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Maya Sinclair has recently moved to Hode’s Hill to restart her life following a terrible car accident. Maya was clinically dead for 2 minutes and 22 seconds and found this time when her soul resided in the Aether, Heaven’s waiting room, very traumatic. She has obtained a great job at the local library and found the perfect place to live for an affordable price. She also has a close friend who lives in the town and life is looking good.

Life has a tendency to go haywire and Maya has not been in town long when she attends a local festival celebrating an interesting and horrific creature from the town’s past called the fiend. While at the festival, Maya gets an introduction to some of the tensions and problems between different personalities in the town. During her walk home after the festival, she comes across the wealthiest man in town being attacked in an alleyway but a huge, monster-like creature. These two events set Maya off on a strange journey to discover exactly what is going on in the town. In order to answer some of her questions, she is forced to research the town’s frightening history and also face the reality of her time in the Aether and what happened there.

I enjoyed Maya’s character and how she evolved and matured over the course of the book. The hint of romance between Maya and Colin Hode was also a pleasant distraction. The author clearly did thorough research on seances and mediums during the 19th century and I found the information on this topic to be very interesting. Lady Glass was a fascinating and troubled personality who enabled the author to introduce some clever twists and turns to the plot.

Purchase Cusp of Night (Hode’s Hill #1)

#Photostockchallenge – Changing times

“Do you remember when people thought the next war would be against the Martians? People panicked that aliens, with intelligence far greater than ours, were watching Earth, waiting for an opportunity to make it their own.”

“Of course. I remember reading that a panic ensued when War of the Worlds first aired on the radio in 1938. People thought it was a real attack.”

“Now here we are in 2019, worrying about the world ending because of global warming and predicting that the next war will be over water. It’s amazing how much life has changed in eighty years.”

This piece of flash fiction was written in exactly 100 words for Don Massenzio’s Photo Stock Challenge. You can join in here: https://donmassenzio.wordpress.com/2019/03/13/stock-photo-challenge-3/

#Writephoto – Sign

Despite his skill at herb-potions and surgery for wounds obtained in battle or while working, Dr Thompson was at a complete loss. His daughter had none of the usual signs of  the black death. Her symptoms were more like pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, coughing and bloody sputum. She also thrashed about in her rumpled bed, complaining of fever, headaches and weakness.

Knowing he could do nothing for her broke his heart. Her death would come within three to four days at most. He knew from experience that when the black death infected a persons lungs or blood the sufferer died without exception.

Patients who displayed outward signs of the disease had a greater chance of recovery than others. These were the people who contracted bubonic plague and, whilst most died within a week, some did claw their way back to health.

The first sign of the bubonic plague was a small lump, like that caused by an insect bite. The “boils, followed. These swelled and hardened into painful “buboes” in the groin, armpits and behind the ear. Other symptoms were a blackened tongue, vomiting, sweats, stinking breath, shortage of breath, dark blotches on the skin, headaches, loss of appetite, restlessness and foamy and smelly urine.

Horrible as these signs were, they were symbols of hope to sufferers and their families.

This post was written for Sue Vincent’s write photo challenge – Sign. You can join in here: https://scvincent.com/2019/03/14/thursday-photo-prompt-sign-writephoto/

 

#SOCS – Sole and Soul

I have always been a lonely soul. Ever since I was a small child, I liked to be left alone to get on with my latest creative obsession or to read my most recent book. I never liked being interfered with and I have never appreciated being disturbed unexpectedly. Unplanned play dates or friends dropping by equaled a ruined afternoon or day for me. I am not spontaneous. I can remember popping into my bedroom to read a few pages of my book in the middle of a play date because I had lost interest in the friend and become frustrated with the games she wanted to play.

The reason for this was simple. Friends didn’t like doing the things I enjoyed for the same periods of time. I was a focused and creative soul who could sit all day sewing bits of material together and gluing them to a plastic margarine tub to make a baby’s carry cot or moulding plaster of paris into a shape and then fastidiously painting it to become a Disney princess masterpiece. I made corn dolls, tomato box doll houses, paper dolls, Barbie doll clothes and various sculptures from all sorts of mediums but I always did these things on my own. I usually played with them on my own too.

Now I am older and I am still the same. I like to be the sole captain of my ship and find teamwork a strain. I like to be in control of every aspect of what I am responsible for delivering. I can be the life and soul of a party but only for a limited period while I am enjoying myself. Once the gilt has worn off the proverbial gingerbread, I want to go back to my own things and be left in peace to do them. That is how I manage to produce so much in the limited time available to me. I focus with complete attention on the task at hand, whether it be work, blogging, writing promotional material or writing. I don’t hear or see anything outside of my creative or work world when I am in it.

My sister says it is bad for my soul. I should not be so obsessive and spend so much time alone. She is especially concerned when I write ghost and murder stories that it is bad for me and that it will attract negative vibes to my family. She may be right but it is unlikely that I could change my behaviour, even if I wanted to, which I don’t. It is in my make up to be obsessive and focused. It makes me a jolly good worker. I have also passed it on and now I have an obsessive and focused son to keep me company. We work side by side in quiet companionship without disturbing each other. Two lonely souls.

This post was written for Linda G Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. You can join in here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/03/15/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-march-16-19/

#Writephoto – Tranquility (a poem)

Tranquility

a state of calm

or peacefulness

that can be achieved,

I understand,

by reaching a state

of quietness

and serenity.

It has become

a pleasant thought

unbeknownst to me

for many a year.

I spend my life

yoyoing between

chaotic panic and

lessor anxiety

but I never reach

placidity or restfulness.

Is it my fault?

you are right to ask

Maybe,

I chose my career

quite ignorant of how

it would all unfold.

Can I change it?

Possibly,

I could perhaps go back

and restart

but twenty years down the line

it’s quite a challenge.

Would it work anyway?

I don’t believe so

extreme anxiety is now

so completely embedded

in my work ethos

it has become

a way of life

living on the edge

and diving off

just like a lemming,

destined,

to drown in adrenaline.

To much time has passed

it’s too ingrained

to be easily changed.

I may go to my grave

without ever experiencing

tranquility.

This freestyle poem was written for Sue Vincent’s photo challenge: https://scvincent.com/2019/03/07/thursday-photo-prompt-tranquil-writephoto/

 

 

 

#Bookreview – Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

book reviews

Emily Brontë

What Amazon says

One of English literature’s classic masterpieces—a gripping novel of love, propriety, and tragedy. Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

Emily Brontë’s only novel endures as a work of tremendous and far-reaching influence. The Penguin Classics edition is the definitive version of the text, edited with an introduction by Pauline Nestor.

Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, situated on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before. What unfolds is the tale of the intense love between the gypsy foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance at his betrayal is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.

In this edition, a new preface by Lucasta Miller, author of The Brontë Myth, looks at the ways in which the novel has been interpreted, from Charlotte Brontë onwards. This complements Pauline Nestor’s introduction, which discusses changing critical receptions of the novel, as well as Emily Brontë’s influences and background.

My review

I listened to the BBC audio book of Wuthering Heights, an abridged version of the book, and then re-read this famous classic. I have read Wuthering Heights before and with each reading I seem to become a little more immersed in this tragic tale of wrong choices and revenge.

Heathcliff is an orphan boy who is found on the streets of Liverpool by Mr Earnshaw and brought back to his family home of Wuthering Heights. His slightly wild and wayward daughter, Cathy, immediately takes to Heathcliff and they become close friends. His son, Hindley, is jealous of his father’s affection for Heathcliff and this develops into a real hatred for him over time. Hindley is sent away to university and three years later, when Mr Earnshaw dies, he returns as master of Wuthering Heights with his wife, Francis. Hindley takes this opportunity to abuse Heathcliff and force him into the role of servant.

A few months later, Heathcliff and Cathy are spying on the children of a local family named Linton. They are landed gentry and Cathy finds them fascinating. She is injured and is taken into the Linton’s home to recover. She develops a friendship with Edgar and Isabella Linton during her time in the house. This is the beginning of Cathy’s internal conflict between her attraction for the elegant and sophisticated lifestyle of Edgar Linton and her passionate love and desire for the poor and badly educated Heathcliff. Cathy is forced to choose between them and her choice sets in motion the pain and consequent desperation for revenge on the Linton family and Hindley and his family by Heathcliff, who loves Cathy to distraction.

This is a fascinating tale which requires careful concentration while reading so as not to miss the subtle intrigue and emotion that makes Wuthering Heights such a famous and marvelous book. I would recommend it to people who enjoy tragedy and romance with a dark twist.

Purchase Wuthering Heights