fiction and other writing

Posts tagged ‘The Child of Time’

Short Stories and Flash Fiction

I love writing and reading short stories. I also love reading and writing novels, but sometimes you just want to read something short before you go to sleep, and I always find if you’re travelling it’s harder to concentrate on a novel. With short stories you have to capture the people and places quickly and get on with the plot. Often magazines and competitions have word limits and that’s an added challenge but helps keep brain cells working.

The other day I realized I was working on my sixth book of short stories. My first book was Missing. It raised lots of money for Wateraid through the Soroptomists, when it was first published and will always have a special place in my heart.

My second book is Pebble on the Beach I enjoyed writing these stories and have been back to them and rewritten some of them and changed the cover so many times, but now I’m happy with it.

My third book, The Mermaid is special because it contains a prizewinning story and it was my first book with a professionally produced cover, by Sharon Brownlie of Aspire Books . I love the cover and have re-visited this book over the years.

My fourth book is The Lady in the Woods ( Picture at top of page.) This book is my best seller, so of course is important. Perhaps by the time I wrote this one I actually felt like a writer. Of course I was a writer before this one, but I feel now I have earned the title. I especially enjoyed writing about Inspector Winsford. It’s actually quite hard to write a detective short story and get enough detail to hint at reality.

My fifth book, The Child of Time is a little different. It’s a small book and only contains ghost and paranormal stories. Do I believe in ghosts? Perhaps not in the strictest sense, but when you visit a place that was special for you and someone you love, sometimes your memories can be strong, and what about dreams? My dad has visited me in dreams several times and they’ve seemed so real. Whether you believe or not, exploring, ‘the beyond’ in fiction is great fun. Why not take a look?

All my short story books are free on Kindle Unlimted and paperback versions are available. I’d love any feedback or reviews if you are kind enough to read them.

Perhaps this story will appear in my next book. Who knows! Let me know if you think it should. It first appeared in the March edition of Moms Favorite Reads – a free online magazine, available through Amazon (although sometimes Amazon add a price).


Liam stood at the top of the bridge and looked over the side. The question was, could he do it? Could he climb over the side and throw himself into the water?

It was dark and the light of a half moon, reflected into the water, indicating the height of the bridge. Liam wasn’t good with heights and to be honest, he felt that he wasn’t good at anything.

He’d been living with Rachel for five years and thought everything was going well, then out of the blue, she’d left him for a computer salesman. The man had been at school with Liam and had always been a selfish, know-it-all. He was devastated that Rachel had left, but even more so that she’d left for the likes of Dan. Nobody would miss him, he thought. His friends all had other friends and his parents had two other children. He needed to be strong for once and get on with it.

He shivered and started to climb out onto the rusty blue iron railings and took a deep breath and then he heard a whimper. For a second, he wondered if he’d made the noise himself, but there it was again. He peered deeply into the darkness and gradually made out the outline of a dog.

Now, he didn’t know what to do. The dog was on a ledge below him. Could he even reach him?

I suppose I’d better try and rescue him, he thought.

His fear of heights left him as he climbed over the structure and made his way downwards. When he reached the petrified animal, he carefully lifted him from the ledge and tucked him into his fleece, partly zipping it up to keep the dog safe. This meant that both his hands were free to climb back up, which was much harder than the climbing down had been.

The moon seemed higher in the sky and two jet black eyes peeped at him from his jacket. The smell of the dog wasn’t wonderful; a bit like the stench from a rubbish tip on a hot day. For a moment Liam thought about putting the dog on the ground and getting on with his plan, but he could feel the dog still trembling.

Liam set off for home with his little bundle, stopping off to get some dog food along the way. When he got indoors, he could see the answerphone was flashing, but ignored it and headed for the bathroom. He gave the dog a warm bath and wrapped him in a fluffy towel.

I’ll call him Chance, he thought. It was only by chance I was there tonight and he’s going to have a second chance at life.

When Chance was fed and warm, he settled down on the towel and went fast asleep, so Liam listened to his phone messages. The first was from his mum.

‘Come over for Sunday lunch, Liam. Your brother’s coming down from Liverpool and we’d all love to see you. Hope you can make it. Let me know.’

He thought of his family and how lucky it had been that he’d found Chance. They would have been devastated if he’d gone through with his plan. What had he been thinking? Of course his family loved him. He was sure they’d adore his new companion. The second message was from his friend Andy.

‘Hi Liam, I was thinking of going for a hike on Saturday, ending up at The Plough for lunch. Going to ask Wilf and Tom too. It’d be great to have a catchup. It’s been so hectic at work lately. Give us a call.’

Over the next week Liam was busy. He took Chance to the vet to check if he had a microchip and if anyone had reported him missing. The vet gave the dog a check-up and apart from being a bit underweight, pronounced him healthy. He thought of Rachel a couple of times but Chance kept him busy with walks and snuggles. The pair enjoyed rambling along the river and Liam was surprised how many people stopped for a chat, particularly other dog walkers.

Liam phoned back both his mum and his friend, accepting their invitations and explaining that Chance would be coming along too. Both were excited to meet his new companion.

On Thursday evening, Liam was surprised when he heard a key in the door. Rachel entered the room as if she’d never been away.

‘Hi Liam, I’ve decided to come back. Dan was a bit of a jerk, actually and he always wanted me to pay for everything.’

She put her bag down on the sofa. Chance looked up hopefully, wagging his tail as he approached her. Rachel took a step back.

‘Good grief, what have you brought home? I’m sorry but I’m really not living with a hairy, smelly mutt. I can’t go round covered in dog hair. I’m afraid it’s either the dog or me. You’ll have to make a choice.’

‘There is no choice,’ said Liam and Rachel smiled, until he held out his hand. ‘I’ll have my front door key back. The lease is in my name and I’ve always paid the rent.’

In one movement, Rachel slung the key on the floor, picked up her bag and left, slamming the door behind her.

Liam expected to feel the sadness overwhelm him again, but instead he felt relief. He sat back down on the sofa and patted the space beside him for Chance to hop up. Chance snuggled in and looked up to Liam with adoring jet-black eyes.

‘Thank you for saving me, Chance. You’re such a good boy, and Chance thumped his tail repeatedly on the sofa cushions.


The Child of Time

I’m thrilled that The Child of Time has won a silver award in the paranormal/suspense category of the Reader’s Choice Awards in the Connections eMagazine. It also came seventh overall. Thank you everone who voted.

Connections is a quarterly online magazine that has short stories, serials, recipes, articles about authors, new releases and much more. For authors it’s a great place to submit stories, new releases and freebies and for readers there’s a wealth of content. There were loads of excellent books amongst the finalists of the competition and I’ve printed the top ten listed in the magazine for you below. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

New Release: The Child of Time

The Child of Time is a small collection of ghost and paranormal stories and is being released on Friday 17 December. There are fourteen brand new stories and three bonus stories, from earlier anthologies. If you like to read stories that explore other dimensions, pick up a copy.

It’s free if you subscribe to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited or you can buy the ebook for £1.99/$2.99 or it’s £5/$6.64 for the paperback.

The Child of Time and Lady in the Woods are great Christmas presents or stocking fillers.

The following story is one of the bonus story in The Child of Time. It was first published in the anthology, The Mermaid.

Witch Hunt

I could smell food cooking close by. My stomach responded to the aroma. After days of just water and stale biscuits, I longed for something tasty. Automatically, I walked faster. As I turned the corner, I saw an old man sitting by a fire roasting some meat; probably rabbit. He was big and bald and although his back was slightly bent, he didn’t look to be past his strength. Nervously, I walked towards him, wondering if he’d be friendly. I certainly didn’t want any trouble. He heard my footsteps and turned towards me.

‘Don’t suppose you’ve enough to share?’ I called, stopping where I was. I didn’t want to look as if I’d grab his food and run.

He looked me up and down and then smiled. ‘There’s plenty of food, if you’re on your own. Come and join me.’

I dumped my bag by the fire and sat on my black cloak. Brushing my long dark hair away from my face I let the flames warm me. It was the most wonderful feeling. Soon, the meal was ready. I cannot describe how delicious the food was. I wiped the juices away from my chin, with my hand and picked up the mug of strong black tea. It was not to my taste but I didn’t want to offend my host.

‘So, why is a pretty young thing like you wandering around here, on your own, at this time of night,’ he asked.

‘I’m Topaz. I live in Bycross Mill, in the valley beyond and I’m travelling to see my grandmother. She lives in Wootten Stanley. Somehow, I seem to have taken a wrong turn and I don’t recognise the landscape. I don’t suppose you have a map.’

He took out a small map, made from a lined backed material and placed it on the ground before me. He pointed first to Bycross Mill and then to Wootten Stanley. Then, he showed me where we were. Past Wootten Stanley

‘You’re miles out of your way. It would be dangerous to travel tonight. You’d better stay here, by the fire, until the morning.’

‘So, why are you here?’ I asked.

He looked at me closely. ‘You’re looking tired,’ he said. ‘Lay down by the fire and I’ll tell you who I am.’

He looked a kind man and he’d just fed me and offered me a place to rest for the night, so I spread out my cloak and lay down. He didn’t move. The fire lent its rosy glow and I felt safe.

‘My name is Volt Hunter. I’m hunter by name and by profession. I hunt witches and deliver them to the authorities.’

Fear spread through me and chilled my bones. I sat up slowly and schooled my voice to be calm.

‘So, you believe in witches, do you? I don’t. Are you telling me you’ve actually met a real witch?’

‘Who knows?’ he smiled. ‘I get paid for delivering them to the authorities and that’s the end of my job. Do you know there’s a witch on the run from Wootten Stanley at the moment? Let me show you her poster.’

He leaned over and passed me the poster. There in front of me was a drawing of my likeness. I handed it back to him.

‘Poor woman. She’ll die a most excruciating death. I’m glad you know I’m not a witch.’

‘Now, how do I know that, Topaz?’

‘Well, it’s obvious. I approached you for food. A witch wouldn’t need to do that. A witch, if such beings exist, would be able to catch their own food; light their own fire. That’s what they do, isn’t it?’

He smiled. ‘I think you’re missing the point, dear girl. I just have to deliver someone who looks like the poster and I get paid. You’ll do, whether or not you’re a witch.’

‘So, what happens now? Do you tie me up and haul me back to the village in the middle of the night?’

‘No, Topaz. You lie down again and you’ll sleep. Your tea was drugged. You can be comfortable tonight. Tomorrow when we’re both rested, I’ll take you to the village. It can be as easy or as hard as you like.’

‘Don’t you care what they’ll do to me? And what about my grandmother? How can you condemn me to a death by drowning or by fire? Doesn’t it prey on your conscience? Do you have no concept of good and evil?’

‘Lie down NOW, Topaz. I have to eat just like the next man. I’ve never killed any woman, witch or otherwise. If you really want to know what I think, I’ll tell you.’

I lay back down on my cloak.

‘Yes, I really want to know.’

‘Obviously, there’s no such thing as witches. These poor creatures have just annoyed someone powerful, but that’s their problem, not mine. I don’t commit the murder. It’s not my responsibility. In your case, I think it’s a terrible waste to kill someone so beautiful and young, but that’s mankind for you. Now go to sleep.’

He got out a rug and lay down on the other side of the fire. Soon his snores could be heard rattling into the night. I sat up slowly and then stood up, quietly lifting my cloak from the ground. I wrapped it round myself. How lucky I had poured the tea into the ground behind me. It had smelt foul. I looked over at Volt Hunter and silently swore he would never cause another woman to die a terrifying death.

In the morning, a tiny mouse woke up on the rug by the dying fire. I was walking in the fresh sunshine, listening to the birds. I laughed at the thought of how many predators there are for mice. He would be hunted every day of his life, be it a short one or a long one.

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