Sunday, October 23, 2011
Margaret’s Ghost is just one of a collection of short stories consisting mainly of horror and science fiction, ranging from a classic gothic tale – Jack Trevellyn – to the Wyndhamesque Victim of Fortune, and the modern Waiting for Daddy, with its spine-chilling twist.
There is also the occasional excursion into romance with A Castle in Spain and Jess’s Girl.
But most of these tales take you to a place which is not quite as it seems.
It’s bedtime now. Time to go upstairs. Time to take a look.
Just one look.
WARNING: Do not exceed the stated dose.
Published by Melange Books 23rd April – Editors’ Pick. http://www.melange-books.com/
Available on Amazon and Kindle
Hi everyone. Here is an excerpt from one of the tales in Take One At Bedtime:
EXCERPT from The Apple Tree:
When I was four years old, my mother took me and my brother and sister to go and live in Yorkshire. It is, I think, my earliest memory.
I remember the enormous station with the great iron trains clanking and snorting clouds of steam. And I remember being frightened by the crowds of people and clutching tight to my mother for fear that I would get lost in that forest of legs. I remember the train leaving London and seeing the open countryside for the first time, marvelling at all that space.
My sister Mary chattered excitedly throughout the journey, but my brother Jim stared morosely out of the window, angry at being made to leave his friends and miss the excitement of the war.
It had been arranged that we would stay the night with my mother’s aunts near Liverpool, before continuing our journey the next day. She referred to them as the ‘maiden aunts’ and I expected them to look like the maidens in my fairytale book, with long frocks and pointy hats. I was rather disappointed, therefore, when I met them, to find they were just two ordinary old ladies.
The house seemed to me to be very big and I was particularly impressed with an enormous fireplace, made out of some kind of white stone and carved with a picture of some dogs and a lady with hardly any clothes on.
And I remember the apple.
As we were leaving the following day, one of the maidens took me into the garden and there was a very tall tree standing by a little gate, laden with red-gold fruit.
“Would you like one, Johnny?” asked the maiden. I nodded and she held me up so I could reach the fruit. I remember cupping it in my hand and feeling the soft, silky texture of its skin.
“It’s all right, Johnny,” said the maiden. “You can eat it.”
I’m not entirely sure that I had realised up to then that it was something to eat. I bit into it and the flavour flooded into my mouth. I was overwhelmed by it. I am sure I had never tasted anything like it before. I suppose that fruit of any kind must have been fairly scarce in wartime London. So it was possible that I had never tasted an apple before. And fruit always tastes best when it is plucked straight from the tree. But even allowing for the novelty and the freshness, I think that apple was something special. I can still remember the flavour now, after all these years - crisp, sharp and sweet all at the same time.
I don’t remember the rest of the journey. I suppose we got another train. But I remember the fuss when we arrived at grandma’s, the kissing and hugging and exclamations about how much we had grown. And then I was sitting on granddad’s knee and he was teaching me how to make a cat’s cradle. I was so fascinated by this, that I did not immediately realise that something was wrong. Then granddad’s fingers stopped moving and he looked up. So did I.
Grandma seemed to be upset. “But you can’t have done,” she shouted. “You can’t have stayed at Celia and Maude’s. They’re dead. They died six weeks ago. I wrote to you.”
My mother flinched, but didn’t say a word.
“I had a letter from the government.” Grandma cried. “The house was bombed. They’re both dead.”
“There must have been a mistake,” said my mother. “They’re all right, Mum. We saw them this morn-”
“Judith!” My grandmother’s voice cut across my mother’s like a knife. “We went to the funeral.” She glanced across at Granddad, who nodded sadly. “We saw the house. There was nothing there. Just rubble.” And Grandma burst into tears.
My mother put her hand to her forehead and sat down suddenly, as if her strings had been cut. But she didn’t say another word. In fact, as far as I know, nobody ever mentioned it again. Not until the day of the funeral.