Reminiscing (an excerpt)

This excerpt is taken from a piece featured in an anthology of short stories, Giant Tales: World of Pirates (launched on Valentine’s Day 2014 on Amazon, and now also available from Barnes and Noble).

Enjoy!

Giant Tales: World of PiratesThe gang had sailed into their first port of call, Old O’Riley’s. Everyone was in good form and up for some action. The game had them all on fire, while the rum was flowing freely. Just how many he threw back that night, Robert couldn’t be sure. What he did remember was that the drunker he got, the better his wooing ability became…

… Robert smiled devilishly to himself as he hoicked on his leather thigh-highs and gave his bottle a swig. Tonight would be rowdy at the very least and that was fine with him.

Forgotten

I smell antibacterial hand wash and hear the unmistakable ch-ch of crisp, recently-pressed linen as I stretch my legs out. I open one eye and peer furtively around me from underneath the covers. I see mint green walls and a standard public-issue chair to my left, flanked by a row of tiny windows.

I scrunch my shoulders tightly and arch my back. My bottom is numb. I move to rub some feeling back into it but am greeted by a tugging sensation to my lower right arm. I glance down to see a stream of tubes leading to a softly beeping monitor.

So, I’m in hospital.

I venture to pull myself into a sitting position, mindful not to disturb my bonds overly. From my elevated vantage point I can see a bunch of flowers in a glass vase sitting atop a small wheeled table to the right of me. A tiny white card peeks from behind slightly wilted leaves. I can just make out one word.

‘Alex’.

I am wondering who has left the flowers when the door squeaks open and a pudgy, middle-aged, balding man tiptoes in. On seeing me, his face immediately brightens and he scampers to my side. He pats my leg and cocks his head to one side, his eyes glistening.

“You’re awake!” he exclaims as if my open eyes might betray otherwise. I open my mouth to respond but only manage a croak.

“Here, here…” he shuffles purposefully to a nearby waiting plastic cup and fills it with water, “… drink some of this.” He hands me the drink carefully and I accept the offering with an unpractised hand. He notices my discomfort and steadies me. I take a small sip. It tastes slightly stale, as if it’s been left out for a while. The liquid goes down and I realise how dry my throat is. I take a few more sips and motion that I am satisfied.

“You gave us quite a scare, you know?” he continues, removing the cup. “The doctors say you’ll be alright but your noggin may take some time to heal.”

This new information prompts me to lift a hand to my head. A thick bandage is wound tightly around it and it’s only at this point that I notice that my hair has been shaved off. I breathe sharply and point to the small mirror I spy on a shelf. He winces slightly, which immediately increases my apprehension. He hands me the mirror and I slowly examine my face. I can hardly see any detail for the crowd of cuts and bruises. I gasp inwardly, trying to recall how I came to be in such poor disrepair.

All I manage to get out is, “How…?”

“Don’t you remember?” He looks concerned but quickly fills me in. “It was a van. You were knocked down at the crossing almost a week ago.”

A week!

“I… I don’t remember.” I stammer. Suddenly I realise that I really don’t remember. Anything. I grab for the mirror that I’d left by my side and stare at my face again, struggling for a glimmer of something to remind me of anything at all. The second viewing brings more clarity but only enough to establish that I am in fact a woman.

I can’t remember who I am!

I panic.

My pulse begins to race as a storm of billowing grey clouds erupts in my mind. Over and over I wrack my brain for the tiniest instance of something that I can latch onto. I look to my visitor who could be a complete stranger for all I know, and that makes me fret even more.

“Alex! What’s the matter?” He cries, following my erratic movements with ever-growing trepidation.

“Can’t remember. Can’t remember!” I shout in desperation. I look at him again and again, straining against the very little I seemingly am at this very moment.

“Alex, it’s me, Dom, your brother!” He offers back, trying to calm me down. But I won’t be calmed. Who am I? What do I do? Do I have children? Am I married? The now-gale-force winds tear a gaping hole in the fabric of my consciousness that I can’t shield myself from. The whistling is deafening. The strength of the beast rages around me now and I start to flail uncontrollably.

I can’t breathe!

The soft beeping of the monitor is replaced by an explosive crescendo of concerto proportions and I momentarily wonder if the beeps can get any louder or faster. The drastic change in my condition alerts an army of white coats to burst into my room. Shoving Dom aside, who by now is ashen and could possibly do with sedating himself, they crowd around me, each brandishing their favourite specialist prodding tool.

Throughout the chaos, my heart is also threatening to break out of my chest and it is this fact that they all converge on. I realise then that I am having a heart attack.

As if forgetting everything isn’t bad enough!

Thump. Thump. Thump. My heart and my head seem to be dancing to the same beat and I can’t keep up any longer. I black out.

A warm breeze blows across my cheek and I catch the soft sweet scent of star jasmine. My children are hunting for Easter eggs in the garden and my husband, my beautiful Joe, chases them around the towering willow as they fall about, laughing their little bellies off. I smile as I make my way to the store for some well-earned ice cream. “Be back in 10!” I shout and wave back, though they don’t pay me any heed, so lost are they in their fun. I shake my head as I cross our road. And then I see a white van.

Gift?

I opened my eyes and found myself covered in dirt. With dust in my nose and eyes, the fetid stench of death was ever palpable. Gunfire and the cries of men surrounded me, my consciousness restoring with every mortar blast.

I felt a hand grab at my collar and then I was being dragged. I glanced up to see a burly man dressed in military greens shouting orders.

“You’re okay, son, you were just knocked off your feet.” He dropped me off against an earthen wall and crouched beside me.

Where was I?

It didn’t really matter where I was apart from the obvious which was that we were at war. And judging by my saviour’s uniform, it looked like 1969, Vietnam.

Vietnam?!

I was suddenly gripped with cold-strangling fear, as the impossible flashed before me with every ground-shattering explosion and bullet that whipped past us.

Panicking, I looked up at the man who had clearly risked his own skin to save mine. I wanted to say something – anything – but nothing came out.

“Calm down, mate!” He patted my shoulder; the weight of his hand felt unusually heavy but I sensed a wave of familiarity then, and felt somewhat at ease.

“My name’s A…” I croaked, before a whistling brushed past my ear and ended in a thud. I felt warm spray hit the side of my face before realising that my Samaritan was dead. I didn’t want to look down but the gaping hole on his forehead had other plans. His ruined helmet lay beside him; I never even knew his name.

I convulsed in fear again, before the feeling of lift and then a bright light engulfed me.

I came back to my fifteen-year-old sweat-soaked female body abruptly. The moon shone through my window, bathing me in a sheet of white light.

Another dream.

The man was always there and it always felt real. He always perished in the same way: a head trauma. He looked so familiar but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. In the end, I was left with a morose sense of foreboding and an almost reminder of what was to be.

I buried my head in my pillow but sleep did not come.

I had just turned 30 and was holidaying in the south of England with my boyfriend. It was late July and the sun was riding high in the sky. I was laughing at some nonsensical thing and indulging in the warmth that blew across my cheek through the open window. My mobile phone chimed and I checked it to find a message from my brother in Australia.

‘Dad’s acting weird. He keeps forgetting stuff all the time.’

I shoved my phone back in my pocket, annoyed at my brother’s mood-busting bad timing. Nothing was going to bring me down today!

A couple of weeks later and another vague text from my brother brought me back down to Earth. This time dad was remarking at how long it had been since he’d spoken to me. I had rung him but a day ago. Huh?

Twenty-four hours later, my father was in hospital with a brain tumour no one knew he had. It was so advanced that it was literally crushing his brain, specifically the part that dealt with memory. Day by day he forgot each of us, plus lost another bodily function. I was fortunate enough to speak with him one last time, but even then he confused me with mum.

He died five days later, aware, but trapped inside the shell of an unresponsive body.

He was the man I saw each time in my dreams. The dreams I always wished I’d never had. Dreams I have to this day… unwanted and unmistakably accurate.

Every time.

WonderHull!

Breaking from tradition, I’m posting something akin to a regular blog post as opposed to my speculative anect-posts. Just because it means something… to me.

It took me quite by surprise, this new-found affinity to Hull. I mean, I’ve worked at the University of Hull for almost seven years now, and not once have I experience a tear-in-the-corner-of-my-eye moment like I did today. Not even when Hull recently won its UK City of Culture 2017 bid (although, that was mighty fine, was it not!).

A colleague emailed me a scanned newspaper clipping written by Hull alumna (journalist, broadcaster and writer), Rosie Millard, entitled “Why I adore unloved Hull”. I needed a break from what I was working on and decided to squint-read it. What I didn’t expect as I pored through the blurry-to-my-eyes narrative was to actually get through the whole thing. Equally surprising was the fact that I felt quite emotional at the end of it.

I’ve noticed this particular phenomenon quite recently, since moving to ‘this side’ of the bridge a month ago (the bridge being the Humber). It’s almost as if I finally experienced the (quoting a successful Australian tourism campaign line) ‘you’ll never ever know if you never ever go’ scenario. I had to get here and be part of here to fully appreciate what Hull has to offer.

Coming over the bridge from North Lincolnshire (not South Humberside, mind) every day just didn’t cut it. So from humble beginnings trying to learn to pronounce the ‘ull accent (I drive a VW Pearler!) as an Aussie, to the final leap of faith, I have at long last come full circle and can call myself a Hullite/Hullian.

There are plenty of reasons why Hull deserves the honour of UK City of Culture 2017 (I write about this stuff all day long – Google it if you need justifying examples*), and, yes, it will do the city a world of good from the tourism, investment and reputation side of things, as Rosie rightly points out. But more importantly, it will remind the people of what they have here… what they’ve always had here but simply forgot.

A hidden gem no more.

And it will also help in reversing Hull’s supposedly bleak repute among outsiders (*). Again, as a former outsider myself, I remind you that ‘you’ll never ever know if you never ever go’.

Philip Larkin (famed poet and past University of Hull librarian) said that Hull is “a city that is in the world, yet sufficiently on the edge of it to have a different resonance”. I totally get that now.

Go on, take the plunge and see what we have to offer (yes, before 2017).

Get inspired in Hullthis city belongs to everyone!

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Fall

Fall

Lost.

For aeons many have sought to find me, though none ever will for I am no longer in your plane of existence.

In the beginning…

For 8 million years we existed in harmony within our time matrix. During this time, however, our evolution digressed due to genetic mixing and our race split in two. Coexistence was turbulent at best, with the aggressors seeking to dominate the more passive inhabitants. They were obsessed with harnessing the core energy of our planet which, it was believed, was a misuse of power that would ultimately culminate in an eruption. There were appeals to the Ancient Ones and thus a relocation plan was put into motion, with some of the original aggressors, perceiving the dangers ahead, defecting.

The inescapable disruption occurred in the planetary core and subsequently several parts of our world’s energetic grid system were ripped away. Those who escaped the disaster fled to subterranean cities elsewhere where they remain still. It took hundreds of millions of years for the fragmented core substance of our planet to break down to its basic energetic form, further reduce in frequency and equivalent spatial dimensions, and then amass matter to take on planetary forms. These planets now revolve around a central sun – your Sun – which exists within our reality’s third dimension.

That was five hundred and sixty million years ago, linear Earth time.

The first seeding of the human race began in earnest; those souls who chose to evolve on Earth bore the full brunt of their new existence as many experienced the weight of density for the first time. A number of establishing civilisations – made up of the original two races – and animal species were allowed to flourish. These ‘advanced’ cultures lived harmoniously, 25 million to 5.5 million years ago.

It seemed, though, that the errors of the past would be repeated. And it is here, where my story begins…

Water is a fundamental builder of life on our little blue-marble of a planet; our very beings are made of it. So it is fitting, then, that my world is surrounded by it. I grew up collecting shells along platinum shores, swimming with dolphins in the warm aquamarine depths on evenings of pin-pricked indigo skies, and eating luscious apples that came straight from my father’s vast groves. My title and my name matter not as I have no desire to be remembered across the multi-layered expanse of time.

Our civilisation is older than recorded time gives it credit, and although it is far superior in intellect than thought possible, we are still not able to escape our ancestral programming. The majority of us worship fake gods that I now know they are. And as always, it is the cloth of antiquity that obscures the light of progress.

A very long time ago, my people came to this land; we were refugees fleeing from a world that had finally given up on us after we had taken everything from her. Our stories, however, tell of our homecoming and I spent many a quiet hour mind-melding with my E-Sa orb, recalling the strengths and foibles of our past. These small metallic spheres, once held in the palm of the hand and focussed on, assumed a translucent lustre and projected a vision of whichever point in our genetic-ancestral history we requested of them.

My delving into the past brought me no peace these days as, now that I had come of age and had been inducted into the Inner Circle, my life was no longer my own… it belonged to the people. Still, I could run away in my head and I dreamt of the faraway worlds my ancestors were accustomed to visiting before the Fall.

Some day…

For now, affairs of state were to occupy my existence, as well as warding off the many suitors my father lined up for me on a regular basis. As his daughter, I was expected to marry to reinforce the ancestral line. It wasn’t that he didn’t believe in marrying for love; I knew that my father loved my mother dearly. But his position demanded that certain protocols be maintained, even if they were antiquated. I never understood this as surely the head of state had power enough to change our laws. Unfortunately for him, my disinterest in arranged marriages did not stem from plain rebelliousness. My twin flame and I had found one another but societal prejudices threatened to keep us apart… if they ever found out.

Ri-Turan was not of my people, in fact, not even of my species. He was a sea-dweller who would walk on land but once a cycle. Under the circumstances, perhaps our destinies were not truly aligned but as long as his light burned for me, so too would mine continue to burn for him. We had met two cycles ago during one of my twilight walks. He glistened in the near-moonlight as he emerged from the watery darkness and I remember thinking that he was the most perfect creature I had ever seen. We were one another’s complement in every way and our fierce friendship grew around us over time without us even realising it until the night he gave me his Or – Light – and then we were bonded forever.

If my father did not favour matches for me not of his own choosing, he definitely would not listen to reason should I ever mention Ri-Turan. Today was another day, though, and I made haste to the Central Ring where an urgent assembly of the Inner Circle had been called. The Pantheon of Twelve assembled in their allocated positions at the Round Table, noted dignitaries and community representatives alike. I represented the Right Arm of my father as his rightful successor, and often presided over gatherings on his behalf. On this occasion, however, the Pantheon was whole and accompanied by various members of the Guard and Mystics. I had not been advanced on the day’s agenda and by the looks of consternation being cast about the room, neither had most.

My father stood and addressed us all, and I felt a cold sweat break over me on seeing the shadow of despair and weight of responsibility bear down on his broad shoulders. “My friends, that time which we have long feared is upon us. The time of reckoning is at hand and – it seems – our hand has been played in spite of us. We must make ready to leave our home for the pending cataclysm we thought would not manifest has reached its apogee.”

A wave of loud grumbling swept throughout the gathering that instilled an instant fear in me, the likes of which I had never known. It may have been my ignorance, but I nevertheless voiced my misunderstanding to my father. “What has happened?” My father shifted his steely gaze to me and his demeanour softened immediately. “I am truly sorry, daughter… in my blindness to spare you unnecessary grief I neglected to tell you the full truth about our lot. You are familiar with the grounds for our ancestors’ flight to this world from our true home many lifetimes ago?” I nodded. “Then it is my deepest regret to confess to you that for the better part of our time here, the same forces that conspired against our very survival once have been working towards that end yet again. An eruption, we fear, of cataclysmic proportions is forecast!”

In spite of the news that in an instant shattered the only way of life I had ever known, all I could think about was Ri-Turan, and before I knew what I was doing I blurted out what could indeed become our undoing. “And what of the sea people? Surely it is our responsibility to warm them of this calamity.”

My father bellowed, “And what do you know of it?” I sank in my seat, immediately realising my mistake.

“I am merely pointing to the fact that we share this island with them and…” My father brutally cut me off.

“Share?!” he spat. “For years those savages have squandered our resources – there is nothing about what they do that equates to sharing!” To this I rose in challenge.

“You may think little of those people, father, but it is not they who have delivered us into this predicament! I insinuated to the fact that, as before, the oppressors’ intentions were known by our elders yet nothing was done until it came time to evacuate.

At that moment, almost as if on cue, a loud horn-like alarm echoed across the city. The Pantheon looked to one another in confusion and panic; then, finally, all eyes fell to my father whose last words stung my mind with reverberating accuracy. We were being evacuated.

It was time to leave my home.

– To be continued –

Shadows

Sleep

With my body curved into a tightly-knit ball, I tugged hard at my bed sheet, trying desperately to cover more of my head without covering it entirely. I needed a slight breathing space for my nose and a tiny slit for part of one of my eyes to see through… just in case. It was a typically hot summer’s night – 30C – and whereas everyone else in the household slept uncovered with the fans on, I could not. I smouldered under the confines of my self-imposed cotton torture chamber.

This is ridiculous! At least uncover your head, for goodness’s sake!

I was thirteen years old and we had just moved into the modern split-level house on the East Coast. The removal from the ‘burbs was to afford us a better standard of life, conceded my parents, but so far there was nothing great about living in this particular house. Mine was the top-most bedroom. It had wonderful views of the bay and forests in the distance, a sunny disposition in the day, and mind-crippling noises in the night – every night.

All I wanted was to fall asleep but all I got was the creepy skin-crawling feeling that someone was watching me from the corner near the door. A thin sheet was not going to save me – definitely – but it was all the available protection I had. I had struggled with the dark for as long as I could remember and bothering my parents at this age every night just wasn’t going to cut it anymore.

Tonight was no exception. I lay there, scrunched, sweating, slightly hyperventilating… my heart beating at about a million miles an hour. Every noise I heard was an extreme exaggeration of reality – I knew this but still the covers remained firmly fixed to my forehead. Suddenly I felt it.

An itch.

Right in the middle of my back, in that place that’s just out of reach, is where the bothersome fixation had decided to manifest. I had two options: I could disappear completely under my covers, contort myself into a shape offering the best chance of reach and relief; or I could de-cloak, do the same but risk exposing my position to any available invisible enemy. At the time, this was a very real conundrum for me and meanwhile, I got hotter and the itch became more insistent.

But why? I found myself quietly crying into the night. Why would the Universe plague the same person with the fear of the dark AND an itch that needed immediate scratching on pain of fainting? Maybe it was my tiredness or maybe it was the heat, but I swear that the itch took on a persona of its own and I began to see it as a cricket on my back. Why would a cricket be on my back? How did it get in? If it got in, what else could have crawled in as well? By this stage, I began to imagine a whole swarm of insects sharing my bed and taking refuge all over my body. I had visions of being found dead in the morning by my mother, covered in unexplainable bites. And that was it!

I flung, but mostly peeled, the covers from my sweat-soaked form, performed an amazing half twist in mid-air (my memory may be a little sketchy here), scratched the living heck out of the offensive little thing, and then landed flat on my back, vindicated. I felt the familiar rush of relief wash over me and it was the best feeling in the world. I lay there smiling stupidly for a couple of minutes before recollection was restored and I realised I was…

Exposed.

I immediately scrambled to my knees and made to dive back under my covers quick-as-a-flash, but the damage was already done. I had ventured a furtive peek towards the door and suddenly the ‘feeling that someone was watching me from the corner’ came crashing back into my psyche in a new-and-improved silhouette version of its previous self. I paused, half tangled in my covers and had another look. The silhouette had not moved.

So what are we looking at here?

I really tried hard to be reasonable and salvage the last vestiges of my sanity right there and then, offering all manner of explanations. But there wasn’t one. Because there was no logical explanation why I would look up at my door in the complete darkness and see a shadow that was darker than darkness itself. A humanoid shadow. I had to take another look; a third look… possibly my final look. I knew this but curiosity killed the cat and all that – it had to be done.

I mustered together the final fragments of what was left of my crumbling, non-existent courage and defiantly looked up at the door. The shadow was there for the third time, dutifully. At least it was consistent. I sat there, teetering on the edge of a total meltdown and an unprecedented need to know more. I studied the figure not five feet before me (and a little to the left). Our ceilings were 8 feet and the shadow stood at least 7-foot tall. It donned what looked like a long cloak of sorts, like you’d imagine a monk might wear, the hands obscured, presumably up its sleeves. Still, no movement.

Say something!

I’m not saying something!

I came to realise that I was arguing with myself over something that may have been a simple figment of my imagination. I must be tired. Should I approach it? Let’s not go there. I blinked a few times, pinched my arm. I was definitely awake. I inched towards the right of my bed and poked the curtain. Light rippled across the room from the outside street lights. On hitting the shadow, the most curious thing happened. It wasn’t affected. I was expecting the light to interrupt the composition of the shadow but if anything, the light was engulfed by it. Did that make it a good or a bad shadow? If it was a bad shadow and I threw something at it – because… come on, I was never going to approach it myself – would I be made to feel the full force of its dark wrath?

I looked at the floor around my bed, stealthily, mind; I didn’t want the shadow to think for a moment that I didn’t have my eye on it! I found an old purple and black striped sock. That would have to do. I swiped it up in my hand and fumbled it into a ball. Under-arm or over-arm? I decided to keep it civil; an over arm lob would surely signal an act of hostility on my part. I aimed for where I presumed the arms would be and let fly.

What happened next defied all sense of logic. Everything I’d learnt at school went out the window and all I was left with was the realisation that this was no ordinary shadow. The sock sailed right through the shadow and disappeared at the point where I expected it to impact the door.

F*CK!!!

I was trapped! I couldn’t escape through the door because, thanks to my little science experiment, I’d established that solid things got lost in the void that was the shadow. My windows opened via a roller system but didn’t open far enough for me to escape that way. But even if I did manage it, I would then be trapped on a more-or-less four-storey roof with no way of getting down. I was paralysed with fear enough that when I opened my mouth to shout for my mother, nothing but a dry croak came out.

The formerly-still shadow chose that moment to move. It lifted a seemingly accusatory finger towards me and I froze. I kept running through my mind that this was just a dream and that I would wake up at any moment. But I didn’t wake up because this wasn’t a dream.

I was past panic and was so scared that I suddenly caught myself wondering why I was actually scared! I relaxed, somewhat, took a deep breath and sat cross-legged on the bed. I looked up at the shadow that had moved back into its ordinary place in front of the door. I lifted my arm slowly… and waved. Suddenly I felt a wave of dizziness hit me and felt the unusual sensation of falling back in slow motion. As I fell, my eyes closed slightly but I could still make out a series of shapes that began manifesting around me. I forced my eyes wide open to see… clouds!

I was so confused and so tired. I wasn’t scared anymore and figured that if the shadow wanted to hurt me it would have done so already. Overwhelmed and over-tired, I blacked out.

Nine years later, I was married and living on the North Coast, ten hours away from my parents’. It was a warm and windy day and I took the opportunity to put a load of washing on. I had almost finished taking everything off the line when a sudden gust rose to swing a bed sheet into my face. Startled, I swung my arms out, grabbed the sheet and inadvertently tripped over my feet. I landed in a heap, surrounded by all the washing I’d just brought down with me. I harrumphed and looked up at what should have been an empty clothes line… except it wasn’t.

There, hanging on its own, barely disturbed by the flapping wind was an old purple and black striped sock.

Nun too happy!

Nun too happy

Exhale.

The north Welsh countryside in the springtime was awash with colour and life. The warm breeze that swept along my cheek via the open car window sent rivulets of nostalgia dancing across my mind. Sunny days smelling of freshly-cut grass and dainty star jasmine heralded what was soon to come: sand, sea and short-wearing opportunities! I felt a shiver down my spine, of the good variety. And for the next couple of days, it was all about this.

My better half and I were in Gwynedd, possibly the most interesting place in the British Isles, to me at least. As far as I was concerned, this was where the juiciest bits of British history were conceived, including Arthuriana, not where the conventional historians popularly claimed. This was the birthplace of the Apple Isle and so, as usual, dragging my obedient boyfriend behind me, this was where I had to explore.

A small 5th century town on the River Conwy was our destination. Famous for its tumultuous Llewellyn the Last-versus-the-Bishopric-and-Edward-I struggle for independence, it also featured the equally ancient and history-laden abbey… our bed for the night.

We drove up the winding drive and parked outside the front entrance. Standing outside the imposing granite edifice, I sensed an air of damp mystery. My uncomfortable feeling continued after we checked in and made our way up the creaky grand staircase to our room. (As an aside, the porter reminded me of that sinister character who always features on the Scooby Doo cartoons!)

We were given a family room with high ceilings and an enormous poster bed. It smelt funny, like old wooden pews in a church. But it was time for dinner, and after a delicious coursed meal, accompanied by a necessary bottle of wine, my sense of foreboding was reduced to a vague, fleeting memory.

We retired for the night and I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep almost immediately.

It was quiet… a ‘heavy’ quiet. The type of quiet that makes you feel like something’s pressing down on you just short of smothering. The old wooden pew smell… the crowding darkness… the creaky floorboards – they all converged like a well-executed military manoeuvre ready to trounce an unsuspecting enemy regiment.

A slow-moving mist began to gather at the lower left corner of the room, emanating from the adjoining bedroom. As it grew in volume, it swelled and rose until it began to take shape. Its movements stopped momentarily. A few minutes passed as the mass seemed to throb and lose consistency, almost as if it was debating whether or not to continue with its present course. During this time, the room’s temperature dropped decidedly; breath turned icy and, subsequently, a soft sigh broke the stone silence of the room. The mass, shifting suddenly in response to the sound, resumed its previous metamorphosis. The mist stretched and warped until it relaxed into an undulating humanoid form. Solidity progressed until finally, there stood a heavy-set silhouette donning what appeared to be a nun’s habit.

The ‘nun’ made no further movement, just regarded the two warm bodies lying blissfully unaware, hands clasped before her. When the male stirred, sat up and looked straight towards her, she did not sway in her resolve; she was here merely to observe. Sensing no immediate threat – she meant none – he laid down and fell asleep once again.

 She smiled to herself. This was the one.

The morning shone in the bedroom window bringing with it the faint aroma of meadow flowers, and fried eggs and bacon. We arose to slightly foggy heads but refreshed nevertheless. Breakfast over with, we packed up and shipped out. Halfway away during a dubious discussion relating to the spookiness of the abbey and how it was indubitably haunted, my other half dropped the bombshell that he’d seen something during the night and was waiting for us to be far enough away to tell me, lest I get the heebie-jeebies.

Needless to say, I was nun too happy!