The sea stood still

I have had the character of Gus on my mind for a while… in fact longer than I realised because I keep finding more pieces of writing about him! I’m beginning to see how his story might pan out… in the meantime, here he is, walking by the sea again:

The sea stood still, or so it seemed, just for an instant and then there was a lazy roll of water and the sound of the wave dragging the sand. The sea looked like melted metal, smooth, limpid, with a slow plasticity. It had a pewter quality, not quite grey. The sun had gone but dusk hung along the horizon waiting for night to shove it over the edge.

Gus tramped along the damp sand. He wondered what the ripples on the surface meant, was it a particular tide? Was it wind? Was it always like this and he hadn’t noticed? A hinged shell lay open, pink and like a tiny pair of lungs. He stopped to look at it. There was a thing shaped like a cigar but with a spongy surface – some piece of detritus washed raw by the action of salt and water or some strange sea creature, sea weed root perhaps.

He strolled on and watched a couple who walked quickly past him with a prancing border collie. They threw a ball for it and it raced after it and had to skid and change direction when it bounced at an acute angle. The dog raced back dropped the ball and the man kicked it so it arced away again. The dog ran after it towards where a gaggle of sea birds stood on the tide line, facing onshore. There must be a slight wind coming off the sea but nothing detectable to Gus.

The couple walked on and Gus stopped to look at the birds. He could hear the sound of an oyster catcher but could not see one. He thought they might be black-headed gulls but wasn’t really sure. He looked further along the shore and three herons stood at the edge of the sea. As he watched them they rose, one after the other and began their ungainly flap across the river mouth to the meadow beyond. In the water a fat duck like creature was paddling in circles, too big for a duck maybe… so perhaps a goose of some sort?

Gus turned to begin to tramp along the beach and his foot slipped as he reached the muddy part of the beach. Millimetres beneath the surface of sand were banks of grey mud. He tried to walk on but his shoes sank into the squelchy clay slime. He turned back and could see the line of the mud like a shadow on the sand. He walked back to where he could gain beach and then carried on along the firmer sand. It was churned up where cars had been turning.

He went past the yacht club up on stilts. It looked shut up and empty, no sign of life, he had never seen anyone standing on its little veranda or looking out of its windows. He supposed it must be used, he supposed the yachties must come down and socialise there, but they always seemed to be in the pub; there was one area of the bar which they seemed to claim, with pictures and photographs of themselves.

The land rose slightly towards the dunes held in place by blackthorn and sea buckthorn. Here was where the little dinghies were drawn up onto the sand above the tide line. Some of them had been there in the same place for years, never moving, and the sun and salty wind had peeled their paint away some had holes where the elements had vandalised them. Some looked smart and well-kept, but these were in the minority. Perhaps he should sit here one day and watch and see if anyone ever came and took these little boats and launched them into the sea.

This was where the ferry used to operate, across the river, join the beach to the meadows beyond. The ferryman had spent more time in the pub than at his ferry and it had fallen out of use. It would be useful to be able to cross to the other shore; it was a twelve-mile journey to go by road in order to cross the river. There were a couple of walkways down to the water with notices forbidding use by ‘the public’ Again he had never seen anyone actually using them so why object to a casual visitor walking down the slippery wooden planks to the sea? He walked on to the end of the beach. Should he walk the long way round following the river, or should he cut across the field and join the path nearer the boatyard? He sighed. There was no joy in walking on his own. He dropped down into the field and followed the track worn in the grass up to the path along the bank of the river.

 

The old lady was hitting me with a saucepan!

When I first wrote about Thomas Radwinter  he led a very quiet, very boring, and actually a very unhappy life. Things changed for him in the course of the events described in ‘Radwinter‘, and they changed some more in the sequel, ‘Magick‘. He had begun to explore his family tree, and had uncovered a lot of other stories too in the first novel; in the second he was asked by a friend to investigate a little mystery she had, and in the third story in the series, ‘Raddy and Syl‘, he is commissioned to find a missing woman – a missing woman the police don’t believe ever existed.

The extent to which Thomas’s life has changed is demonstrated in the following extract. He has discovered Kashmira imprisoned by her own father Adnan; he isn’t able to break the chain holding her to her bed, but he is able to break the bed – but not completely… He, Kashmira and the bedhead hurry out of the room where she has been kept and down the stairs, to meet her father coming up armed with a meat cleaver:

As my foot connected with Adnan and he fell, tumbling  backwards down the stairs, there was a terrific whack on my shoulder … the old lady was hitting me with a saucepan. Kashmira was screaming at her, I grabbed the bedhead, grabbed Kashmira and dragged her down the stairs. Adnan was lying stunned in the passage, the cleaver in the doorway to the kitchen. I hadn’t time or a free hand to pick it up, so I kicked it and it spun away with a clatter.

I almost dragged Kashmira outside and she collapsed holding her hands over her eyes. I picked up a bit of brick and smashed the bedstead so although she still had the chain round her wrist at least we didn’t have the bedhead as well. I chucked the brick away and saw my phone… I’d dropped it when I slipped on the oil.

I snatched it up but I wasn’t going to waste time – I had to get us away from this horror. Kashmira was just weeping, heart-breaking sobs, collapsed as the rain came down on her.  I pulled her to her feet just as a figure appeared in the door… Adnan and this time he had what looked like a big chopper… I screamed at Kashmira to run and I picked up a brick and chucked it at him, it missed but he had to duck as he came down the steps.

I threw a coping stone which struck him on the shoulder and I rushed after Kashmira. She had got out of the gate, but disoriented had run the wrong way, away from the bridge. I shouted at her and ran after her as she hobbled ahead. I glanced back and Adnan was after us, no time to phone…

Kashmira had reached the lock and to my amazement she began to walk across the top of the lock gate, balancing like a wobbly tight rope walker. She was so desperate to escape, so brave…

There was a pole with a hooked end on the ground and I snatched it up, hoping I could keep her insane father at bay. He was shouting at me, raving… and then, oh thank god, I heard the blues and twos… Maybe Rashid had phoned the police…

Adnan swung his axe towards me and I poked at him with the pole. He took a swing at it and cut the end right off!

I poked at him again, backing away. I daren’t see where Kashmira was, I didn’t know what was on the other side of the lock – I’d never been here before… it must be near the station car park…maybe someone had found her…

I shouted for help, bellowed as loudly as I could ‘Help! Help!! Help!!!’

He suddenly raised the axe and ran at me, fuck! I held out the pole and he ran right into the chopped off end and suddenly I was falling sideways and so was he and I slammed onto the concrete edge of the lock and he tumbled in…

I lay winded, looking down at him as he splashed about in the filthy water about six foot below..

“I hope you drown you mad bastard!” I shouted, except it wasn’t a shout it was more of a wheeze… and then I realised he was drowning and shouting ‘help

I staggered to my feet and looked round for one of those ring things… there was a sort of cabinet with ‘use in case of emergency’ stencilled on it… but it was empty… I looked down at Adnan, paddling about, going under, drowning… where were the police? Where the hell were the police?

I took off my coat, emptied my trouser pockets, took off my shoes, sat on the edge of the lock and then reluctantly launched myself into the water… Shit it was cold… shit it was freezing… It was a terrible, terrible shock, that freezing water…

 I swam over to him and damn me, he lashed out at me! I swam away – the bastard, the mad bastard – I’d jumped in to save him and now he was trying to drown me!

Suddenly something clumped into the water in front of me… a ring, one of those lifebuoys… I grasped it, realising there was shouting above and looking up I have never in all my life been so grateful to see a policewoman looking down at me…

You can find all my Radwinter stories, and my other novels and paperbacks here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_6?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+e%2Caps%2C146&crid=2NP3515SOVYKN

A dangerous place

Imagine being afraid of the dark, so afraid that you’re reduced to a weeping mess if the lights go out. This is the terrible fear that a character in ‘night vision‘ has. Rafi Zamora is described in a review of his Manchester restaurant as ‘a larger than life character’ – a cliché but true. However he has a terrible weakness, he suffers from acute nyctophobia, a morbid and acute fear of the dark.

In the episode I am sharing below, Rafi has gone with his friend Beulah in search of Marcus, her father-in-law, a frail and elderly man who has dementia and has escaped from his care home in the middle of a dreadful storm. The old man has gone back to where his own grandparents lived seventy years before, a deserted and tumbledown water-mill high up on the moors. Marcus has managed to get up into the grain store, and Rafi and Beulah must follow to rescue him from the dangerous old building.

The only place was up, up to the grain store; there was a rickety wooden ladder which had been dangerous the dozen years ago when Beulah had last been. She remembered the loft dimly full of hanging rusty chains and trapdoors and pulleys, a dangerous place, but she grasped the splintery rails and put her foot on the bottom rung.
“I have to come with you,” Rafi said in a low voice.
“I’ll never forget this.”
“You think I will?”
“I mean I’ll never forget you doing this for me,” and she began to climb cautiously.
Some of the steps were missing and Rafi swore as his foot went through the rotten wood. Beulah crawled out onto the floor, on all fours, Rafi squeezing through the trap behind her.
There were tiles missing above and rain showering down but in the corner sitting serenely eating an apple in his sodden pyjamas was Marcus. He looked better than she’d seen him for a long time, almost strong.
“Mum?” he said.
“Come on Dad, let’s get you home.” Beulah crawled over to him, uncertain how safe the floor was.
“Amen to that,” Rafi added fervently.
“Please leave, I’m perfectly alright,” the old man said firmly. He didn’t know her.
“Come on Dad, you’re wet and cold, we have to get you home,” Beulah cajoled,trying to take his hand.
“Please leave me, I wish to stay here,” he took another bite of apple.
“Come on, old man, we’ve got to go,” Rafi spoke roughly.
Beulah put her arm beneath the old man’s and he shoved her violently; she tumbled backwards and there was a crash and the sudden rushing sound of chains shrieking rustily against each other as they ran and the floor went from beneath her shoulders.
Beulah screamed but strong hands held her, Rafi had pounced as she fell backwards, her head dropping into empty space. He hauled her up and wrapped his arms round her, holding her so safe, so secure, his heart racing as fast as hers. The torch had gone and there was noise all around them, the storm taking on a new furore, unseen things falling and crashing.
“Let’s go,” Rafi said, “let’s get out of this hell.”
It was completely dark now, the white of the old man’s pyjamas showed faintly where he was.
“You sit by the trapdoor and I’ll get him, then I’ll go down the ladder first and you can push him after me,” Rafi was suddenly authoritative.
“You’re never going to forgive me for this, are you?” Beulah said meekly.
“Nothing to forgive, mi vida. Now be careful you don’t fall down that hole again.”
“It’s where the grain used to go down into the hopper,” Beulah’s voice trembled as she shuffled across the wooden floor, feeling her way to the trap.
Rafi patiently coaxed the old man, Marcus resisting and Rafi yelped as if he’d been hit.
“Alright, Dad, alright!” Marcus shouted and lunged at Beulah, surprisingly strongly. Desperate not to fall, nor let him fall, she clung onto his soaked pyjamas, his bony old body vigorous beneath the cloth.
“Let it go!” Marcus shouted and grabbed the top of the ladder.
They wrestled him away from the trap and then there was a screeching splintering noise and the ladder disappeared. Marcus scuttled back to his corner and Rafi and Beulah were left on hands and knees staring into the darkness below.
She suggested jumping down but he pulled her away from the gaping hole and held her tightly.
“No you will not!” Rafi exclaimed. “Oh, fuck it, we’re stuck here now. Oh, fuck fuck fuck!”
She apologised dispiritedly. “How do we get in these situations? I’ll ring Austin, he’ll come and rescue us.”
She fumbled in her pockets but her phone had gone, tumbled out in the tussle with Marcus.  Rafi patted his way through his coat till he found his, but had no signal.
Beulah tried to be calm and in control but she was shaking though cold or fear or sheer terror.
“The old fellow is going to die of hypothermia, I’ll put my coat round him,” said Rafi.
No wonder I love you, Beulah thought. Marcus is a mad old stranger to you, he’s nearly killed us both and yet…
Marcus was quiet now and very cold, the manic strength gone. Beulah pulled her damp jacket, and jumper onto him; he was limp and compliant and thanked her in a weak voice. She tried to tell him who she was but he didn’t know her.
Rafi pressed a soft woollen scarf into her hands for him and took off his socks for the old man. “After all we’ve been through I want him to survive.”
He found some old sacks or cloth of some sort which they wrapped round Marcus and laid him against the wall then, wrapped in Rafi’s coat, they lay beside him.

© Lois Elsden 2017

Here is a link to the book so you can find out what led up to this incident, and how it is resolved!

I should have checked the reviews…

I went away for the weekend and needed a hotel room for one night. There were various events on in the city and most of the hotels were either full or beyond my price range. I didn’t want anything particularly fancy, clean, en-suite and with parking that was all I needed. Well, I found a hotel – not exactly in the city centre but convenient to where I wanted to be; it sounded modest but looked fine on the images I saw so I booked it.

I used Delilah the satnav, because although I roughly knew the area, the hotel was on a main road and I wasn’t sure I could creep along looking for it with all the traffic. Delilah the satnav told me I had arrived – the hotel was supposed to be on my right as I was driving along, but there was no sign of it. I drove on, turned round and drove back again, but still I couldn’t spot it.

I parked up and walked back to where it should be, following the property numbers. There was a strange-looking restaurant and then I spotted a board, the hotel!! But the board was attached to a wall so it was only visible if I was going in that direction. There was no sign of the hotel. I wondered if it was behind the wall the board was attached to – no that was a nursery. I wondered if I accessed it through the dodgy looking restaurant; I went up the concrete steps, but there was nothing to tell me that this was anything to do with the hotel.

Between the restaurant and the wall with the board was a narrow alley, about the width of a car. I walked down it, past some absolutely reeking dustbins. There was an area at the end with a few cars parked, and a building which might possibly be the hotel although there was no name and nothing which said ‘reception’ or anything similar. The door was locked but a stuck on piece of paper directed me back to the restaurant.

Back to the restaurant and I went in and there was a small hatch; two people were there, a young woman on the phone and a man. Eventually he rather timidly asked if he could help, and then signed me in and gave me a key. He led me through the restaurant out the back and down some rickety wooden stairs to a yard full of broken furniture and rubbish which led round to the locked door of the building at the back.

I put in the code and opened the door, and as I went up the stairs, past several notices warning me not to smoke, that smoking was forbidden. Two men came down he stair and greeted me pleasantly enough but they were what you might call dodgy geezers. I opened the door into the corridor, a door plastered with more no smoking notices, and walked into a cloud of smoke… Repulsive! I came across a cleaner and she directed me to my room. To be fair, it was clean, the bedding looked new and the towels were soft, fluffy and spotless.

I spent the afternoon and evening with a friend and returned to the hotel. I had particularly wanted a parking place but, typical of this place, they were all full so I managed to find some street parking just down the road. I walked back to the hotel and noticed there was a big illuminated sign, flickering on and off ‘HOTEL’ in red – when I had been trying to find it during the day the sign had been switched off… The flickering sign was like something from a third-rate thriller movie! I returned to my room and watched TV – which worked perfectly, had a couple of cups of tea (kettle worked perfectly) then, weary after my early start and long drive, settled down for the night.

I slept well; I woke early because I wanted to pick up my car, not sure whether I had left it in a parking area, and not wanting to get a ticket. I watched a bit more TV, had a cup of tea, went to have a shower… and the shower didn’t work… so much for having lovely fluffy towels!

As I got dressed an enormous foul-mouthed row erupted right outside my door as a woman, a fellow guest presumably berated hr boyfriend/partner/husband for something or another. I gathered my things and left. I wanted to complain about the shower but the restaurant was closed and there was a box to post keys back. as I walked away I noticed that the sign board attached to the wall hadn’t even written the name of the place correctly…

Oh well, it was an experience… when you read about one of my characters visiting a dodgy hotel in one of my stories you will know what it was based on!

When I got home, my daughter asked if I’d looked up any reviews of the hotel… well… no, I hadn’t… she looked at me… I’ll let hr sort out my accommodation next time!!

This is definitely not a third-rate thriller… but I did keep thinking about it!

Here’s a link to my books…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_9?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsd%2Caps%2C140&crid=2RIGPR2VNRFVL

There’s a haunted hotel in this one:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/EARTHQUAKE-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B06Y18H8JR/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508140776&sr=1-5&keywords=lois+elsden

 

No glimmer of a light

All sorts of things trigger a thought which develops into a scene, which ends up as an episode and becomes a book.  Loving Judah is about a bereaved couple – the death of the husband’s son, Judah, causes a rift between him and his wife, Aislin who was Judah’s step-mother. It should have brought them together, but this tragedy drags them apart. However, the original inspiration was the story which was across all the media, about a famous person who had been held up as a model for all, an example of honour, dignity, sincerity,  who had betrayed not just his family and personal friends and associated, but all those who had admired him and looked up to him. He was disgraced. In Loving Judah,  Aislin meets Bavol who was also disgraced – but on a much smaller and more local scale.

The book is the story of the fragmentation of Aislin’s marriage, and her relationship with Bavol. There seemed so much talk in the story I needed some action! I hope this scene does appear realistic in the context of the whole story – Aislin is kidnapped by Bavol’s jealous brother, Pal, and is taken out onto the moors because he wants to ‘talk to her’ – although she fears he intends much worse:

She staggered and limped beside Pal; he’d picked up a stick and held it like a club as they walked slowly back up the road. It was made up of setts like the old parts of town at home. They were miles from anywhere, there was no glimmer of a light, no sign of habitation.
The boot of the car still yawned open, Aislin was going to have to climb back in. She stopped and unzipped her sodden fleece, struggling to unlatch it at the bottom.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“It’s soaking wet,” she replied and turned slightly away from him as if to try to see where it was caught.
“Hurry up!”
She undid the zip and pulled it off. Suddenly she lashed out with her foot and caught him on the knee, he staggered and she kicked again and connected hard against his balls. He groaned and she punched viciously at his face, and his moustache and teeth mashed against her knuckles. She threw her fleece over him and tumbled him into the boot and slammed the lid down. It caught him across the ankle and he screamed and when she slammed it down again she trapped him inside as she had been.
She had to escape because Pal intended to kill her. There was no logic in his arguments, no reason to what he said. He believed Bavol loved her and he wanted to take her away from him, that was all.
Thank God he’d left the keys in the ignition! She was shaking violently with cold and shock and the engine kept dying, and all the while Pal shouted and kicked. The car choked into life but as she put it into gear, her bare wet foot slipped on the clutch and they stalled. She started again, the engine roaring as she revved too hard then they jerked forward and as she set off she tried to find the headlights, found the wipers first and then the lights came up, full beam. She crunched into second, accelerating up the bumpy road. There was a crash behind her and Pal’s cursing was clear, he’d kicked his way through into the back of the car.
Aislin stepped on the brake and tried to find the door handle but an arm snaked round her throat and she was throttled against the head rest. She thrashed around trying to hit him but he grasped her wrist and she slammed her foot down and they shot forward into the darkness. Pal was screaming at her to stop but she was almost passing out, strangled by his forearm.
They glanced off a wall and then were bouncing madly downhill as they left the road. She was nearly unconscious, stars flashing before her eyes as she struggled to escape. There was a huge crash as they hit something big and hard and Pal rose up behind her with the force of the impact and the windscreen shattered.
The car stalled and she found the door release and tumbled out and fell face first into heather and the smell of peat was clean and good. She scrambled to her knees and the stink of petrol hit her. She had to run, had to get away, the car was going to catch on fire. It was raining in sheets but that wouldn’t stop the car blowing up, she’d seen it in a dozen films.
Pal was still inside and she called his name but he was silent. Was he dead, smashed through the windscreen?
He was lying across the front seats, his head in the passenger’s footwell. Not another dead boy, not another dead boy!
She wrenched the nearside door open and grasped him under the arms; he was face down and she pulled and tugged at his inert body. He wasn’t tall but he was very heavy. There was a crackle and a huge flash and the sky lit up.
Oh God the car’s on fire! But it was lightning.
She heaved him again and he slid out and she had a disturbing image of something giving birth and the new-born slithering into the world. She dragged him across the heather and then there was nothing beneath her feet and she was tumbling and landed heavily on stone with Pal on top of her.
“Pal, are you alright?” she cried stupidly.
“You bitch!” and he lunged at her.
She pushed him back and jumped up and began to run. They were back among the trees, and Aislin was blindly following a cobbled path. Judah was urging her on as Pal grunted and lumbered after her.
Suddenly the path wasn’t there and she fell into soaking bracken. There were heaps of mossy stones like fallen masonry. She could barely see in the dark and the slashing rain but there were lumps of granite beneath her bare hands. She skittered across on all fours, having some space in her terror to worry that she would slip and break her ankle.
She jumped down a stone wall and was inside a ruined building and there was water racing nearby.
“Gotcha!”
She screamed and dodged away but she was trapped. There was a collapsed doorway and she clambered over the fallen lintel, shrieking now, yelling desperately.
She stopped just in time from dropping into a raging torrent of a mountain stream and turned to face Pal. He was going to push her in but with a surge of courage she ran straight at him and he was taken by surprise, his reactions slowed by whatever hurt he’d sustained in the crash. They rolled on the floor in a crazy embrace, she trying to cling onto him, he trying to get her over the edge. She flailed around and her hand connected with a slimy branch and she brought it down on his head. He cried out and she rolled away and he tumbled into the stream.

© Lois Elsden 2017

If you want to find out how Aislin ended up in this situation, and whether she escaped from it, here is a link to Loving Judah:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LOVING-JUDAH-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B00A4LJW7C/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508140776&sr=1-14&keywords=lois+elsden

Running out of options

The title of my e-book ‘The Stalking of Rosa Czekov’ tells you what the story is about – a woman named Rosa who is stalked… except in fact Rosa isn’t even in the narrative except as a back story. Her cousin Tyche Kane is determined to find out who stalked Rosa, frightened her so much that she caught a train which crashed…

BRAVE ROSA DIES IN LITTLE GILL JUNCTION CRASH

It was revealed last night that one of the victims of the Little Gill Junction train crash was Rosa Czekov. The body of Rosa, 32, was identified from her possessions and her jewellery by her husband Luka

Tyche tries to entice the stalker into stalking her as s/he did Rosa, a dangerous idea as she finds out when she is out on a run:

She trotted on until she came to the bottom road to Oak and on an impulse took it. She had slowed, losing the impetus, disrupted by the phone call and what had been said. What was it about Rudi which made her behave like this against her better judgement?
The road was narrower and she stepped up onto the verge and ran on the grass as two cars passed. It was a mistake coming along here, it wasn’t wide enough and there were too many bends and high hedges. She ran on, wondering whether she should turn round but she was half way to Oak so she pushed on. She was tiring; she had gone further than she intended and deviating to Oak added extra miles.
There was the sound of a car behind her but glancing back it was not yet in sight. There was nowhere for her to step off the road now, the verge had petered out so she increased her stride to get to a place she could wait. The car was creeping along and she wondered whether to stop for it to pass. It was bugging her now. She glanced over her shoulder and it was in sight, and it looked like one of the two which had just passed her.
She was filled with fear; was this him? She had a spurt of energy, resisting the urge to keep looking back. It was a maroon off-roader, she didn’t know enough about cars to know what sort. And what was it with tinted windows? Rudi’s Chrysler and this beast.
It was crawling along; it could be the stalker or it could just be some creep ogling her as she ran. She couldn’t go on at this pace and she stopped. The car stopped. She turned and trotted back towards it and it went into reverse. Angry now, Tyche found some strength to run.
And then suddenly with a crash of gears it was accelerating towards her.
Oh shit!
She turned and ran seeking some escape. There was a wooden fence instead of the hedge and she ran and jumped and managed to scramble her way over, catching her foot on the top and catapulting headfirst into a field. She lay winded for a minute. The car had slowed on the other side of the fence then drove slowly away.
Tyche sat up, panting. The front of her vest was grass stained and there were marks on her knees. She was rubbing at her legs when she heard the car; it was in the field, it had come in an open gateway further up and it was bumping over the rough pasture towards her. She sprang to her feet and ran off across the field, the car was accelerating now and she had no doubt that the driver intended to run her down. She jinked sideways and ran towards a tumbledown cattle shed. She was at the limit of her stamina and strength and the car was roaring after her. She slowed and the car slowed behind her; he was playing with her, he could have knocked her over before now. She slowed more and so did he.
She suddenly leapt forward and ran as fast she could and he accelerated. She gave a flying jump and some how managed to vault the old bath which served as a water trough; she slipped as she landed and rolled away but it didn’t matter, the car had gone straight into the bath with a satisfying crash.
Exhausted though she was, she sprinted away from the shed, not knowing whether she would be pursued on foot. She knew where she was now, knew where she was going. She climbed another fence into a field of maize and made her way down a row pushing between the plants.
She was spent, only fear carrying her on. There was a noise behind her and a plume of smoke rose from the field, it had to be the car. She pressed on and came at last to another fence, climbed wearily over into the garden and made her way through the shrubs and then across the overgrown lawn. Remembering Rosa’s words, she counted along the ornamental bricks at the edge of the patio, lifted one and found the key. She went to the back door, let herself in and switched off the alarm and then with the door shut and locked behind her she sank to the floor, shattered.
She lay in a trance of exhaustion for an immeasurable amount of time. Her ears pricked. Was it him? She tensed, alert in the silence of the empty house. He had come into the house before when Rosa lived here, he had gone through her possessions, moved, hidden and replaced things. Tyche’s hands were shaking so much she could hardly turn the key in the lock but in seconds the door was open, the alarm set, and she was crouched down against the wall trying to find some extra energy or courage.
She rang Tic.
“Keogh.”
“Where are you?” she whispered.
“Eldenham. Are you alright? I can’t hear you very well. Still OK for tomorrow?”
“Yeah, looking forward to it.”
He laughed and rang off. She didn’t want to ring Rudi, tried Estelle, decided not to leave voice mail. Luka too was out of contact.  She crept down the side of the house and peeped round the front.
She could have wept with relief. Estelle’s green Ka was parked on the drive. She staggered to the front door, knocked, rang the bell then sank onto the step.

© Lois Elsden 2017

A nifty bit of footwork

‘ve mentioned I have a new project about to come to fruition – an anthology of work from two writing friends and me which, we hope, will soon be available!! Exciting!! It has been a busy year; in April I published ‘Earthquake’, my most recent Radwinter story (I’m working on the next which may arrive before Christmas, but is more likely to appear in January) and I also published my little writing guide ‘So You Want To Write’. As well as that this year I have been very involved with my writing groups, leading and being part of, and have had lots of exciting things in my own life, not least a six-week trip to Tasmania, and my daughter coming back to live at home after five years away!!

For some reason I thought I had also published a book which I first started writing about ten years ago or more, Lucky Portbraddon. However, that was just over a yea ago, September 2016! The idea for the Portbraddon story went back much further, had been in my mind for many years, and was inspired by – but definitely not based on, two strands of inspiration:

  • bands – having loved rock music just about all my life, and having seen at close quarters what it’s like to be in a band (my husband has been a drummer and in bands since he was about fourteen) I was fascinated by the dynamic in such groups. There is a closeness because of playing music together, rehearsing and live, and for some bands who go on the road sometimes for months at a time, there is an extra bond. However there are fall-outs and splits, and people leaving and new people arriving
  • family – I am so fortunate to be part of a great, loving and faithful family, and i must say here that the Portraddons are not remotely like my own cousins and are not based on them in any way except one – the one way that there is a similarity is the loyalty a family feel, a bond which can never be broken even if the family is broken. With my fictional Portbraddons there are major upheavals and betrayals, but even so at the end, as they constantly say ‘family is family’ and ‘family first’.

Here is an extract from Lucky Portbraddon. Ismene was the girlfriend and, she hope, fiancée to be, of one of the cousins. She went to meet the rest of the family and to spend Christmas with them in their grandma’s large but isolated  house up on the moors. They were snowed in for several days during which time Isméne’s boyfriend decided he didn’t love her and as soon as escape was possible he left to return to town.

In the following extract, Isméne has been brought home to her flat by a cousin, Nick; he is also giving a lift to his nephew, Noah, who is shy and awkward and always seems on the outside of everything. An unexpected reception awaits  Isméne.

They got out of Nick’s rickety car, stepping into slush. The night was damp and had a fusty town smell after the clear air up on the tops. The thaw had set in but there were still mounds of snow, semi-frozen piles of mush, speckled with dirty grey and black.
Noah stayed in the back and she waved at him through the side window; he managed a weak smile but looked away shiftily.
“You will stay in touch, won’t you Ismène?” Nick asked as she keyed in the code on the security pad.
“I sure will, as long as you want me to,” she held the door with her shoulder so he could come in with her bags.
He made a facetious response and she replied with a joke but she had the tiniest suspicion that Nick might want to do a little more than flirt. He was lovely but she had not the slightest interest in him even if she’d wanted another relationship.
Someone grabbed her and shoved her to the floor and a man jumped at Nick and began hitting him in the face. Nick was unable to defend himself, encumbered by her bags.
Ismène jumped up and grabbed the attacker’s arm, he spun round and it was Jaco.
“You leave her alone, you bastard, she’s my wife!” Jaco bellowed and shoved her aside to continue his attack on Nick.
Ismène tumbled backwards, falling over one of her bags, and sprawled across the floor again – And then there was a figure in black between Nick and Jaco. It was Noah and he grabbed Jaco, punched him straight in the face, before pushing him out of the door. He hurled him down the couple of steps then stood blocking the doorway.
“Fuck off shithead!” he bellowed.
Nick was on his knees, blood streaming through his fingers cupped over his face and Ismène tried to get him upright, appalled by the sudden violence.
“I’m so sorry, Nick, I’m really sorry.”
“What are you apologising for?” Nick staggered as if dizzy.
He called a muffled thank you to Noah, who cast a baleful look over his shoulder and went out, the door banging shut behind him.
Nick was wiping his arm on his sleeve, his moustache and beard a gory mess. The light in the hall was garish, Nick’s face was grey and he was certainly in pain. There were splashes of blood on the blue and green floor tiles, as if the seascape they showed had been the place of a dreadful battle.
“I didn’t realise he knew where I lived – I guess he thought you were James.”
She gathered her bags and other things, and hoping Noah was safe, she pushed Nick to the lift.  It pinged open and they hurried into its apple-scented interior.
“Long time since I’ve been in a fight,” Nick looked at himself in the mirror, touching his nose experimentally. “I don’t think it’s broken.”
“Well, it wasn’t really a fight. He hit you then Noah threw him out.”
“Oh, that’s right, spoil my moment of fantasy! In my mind I decked him with a quick one-two and some nifty footwork!”
As they stepped out of the lift Ismène’s neighbour was waiting; he cast a horrified look at Nick and hurried down the corridor to the stairs.

I hope you are intrigued and want to find out more! here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/LUCKY-PORTBRADDON-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B01LWTVURP/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507879718&sr=1-6&keywords=lois+elsden

… and here are links to my other books I mentioned:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/EARTHQUAKE-RADWINTER-Book-LOIS-ELSDEN-ebook/dp/B06Y18H8JR/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507879718&sr=1-4&keywords=lois+elsden

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Want-Write-Telling-Tales-Book-ebook/dp/B074W19JK3/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1507879718&sr=1-3&keywords=lois+elsden