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Kubernan Mente – Winning short story of the Dr Who Competition at The Isle of Arts 2013 by WFWC member Michelle Angell

 

Kubernan Mente

 

By Michelle Angell, Ventnorhttp://artsisle.org/competition-winners

Kristie glanced at her watch, it was 9.15.

‘Damn’ she cursed aloud, with no time to stop and already late for the bus, she tripped, falling in a heap on

the pavement. Spotting her glasses which had fallen into a nearby driveway she hoped putting them back on

would get rid of the light headed vertigo sensation but alas it remained.

As she clambered to her feet, steadying herself on a nearby fence she noticed all around her things had

changed. The sky had an odd tinge of purple to it, the trees and bushes had lost their colour and had curled

up and withered. An eerie gust of freezing wind blew the dust up in swirls from the suddenly deserted street.

Kristie watched the dust spiralling around her shoes as the sound of a vehicle approaching made her look up

with a start. A solitary bus glided towards her, the front windscreen was blacked out but as it passed the

faces of the passengers filled her with terror. They sat in twos, their identical green shirts making them hard

to tell apart. Turning their faces all at once, their empty purple eyes gazed emotionless at her. Kristie

panicked and turned to run, forgetting her bag in her haste. She could hear footsteps behind her, speeding

up and getting closer. Heading towards home she quickened her pace but so did her pursuer and the faster

she tried to run, the closer he got. Time seemed to slow down momentarily as her legs felt heavy and slow.

Spinning around she stared terrified into his face.

“You should be on the bus, you’re late!” He glared angrily, squeezing her shoulders in his claw like grip

ensuring she had no where to run, no escape.

Somewhere close by, flying through the dimensions of time, the tardis was heading back to familiar territory.

The doctor had a look of relief at their arrival after tolerating what seemed like hours of Peri’s excited chatter

about their destination. An excitement that he did not share, a place called Ventnor, just another tedious

seaside town.

As the doors opened Peri excitedly bounced out, eager to feel her feet once again on her home planet. It had

taken a considerable amount of time to convince the Doctor to help her come back to find her sister.

“Come on, look it’s beautiful out here!” She called, taking in deep breaths of fresh air. With an unenthusiastic

sigh he followed her out, and stood for a moment, glancing around critically at his new surroundings.

“Changed a bit since I was last here, as I recall there was a pier and, dare I say it, a whole more peaceful

feeling to the whole place!”

Peri looked around slightly confused. “You’ve been here before?”

“Yes, I believe it was 1890 and a marvellous place, good for the soul! The climate has healing qualities. Can’t

say much for it now though…” He sighed looking somewhat disappointed. Peri ignored his negative attitude

and sat beside the waterfall, appreciating the sound of the trickling water and the familiar smells of the

summer.

“You should see the diversity of the plants here, it’s just amazing! Oh I just know for sure that Ariana is here. I

can feel it.”

An icy breeze rushed past them.

“There’s something not quite right!” He frowned, dashing back inside the tardis. Peri ignored his pessimism,

even though the seafront was eerily deserted for this time of year. A sheet of paper flapped at her feet,

picking it up she followed after him reading as she went.

“This is unusual…”

“Yes, quite! Readings of activity from another being but I can’t pick up a location.”

“No, I mean to have so many missing kids in one town!” Peri frowned as the Doctor took his usual reaction of

ignoring her and continued to flick switches in a frustrated manner.

“Nothings making sense, it’s like there’s something interfering with the readings, its all distorted.” He

shouted, jumping from one screen to another as each one began to turn slowly purple. “This is useless,

come on!”

Peri grabbed the sheet of paper and followed him up the hill and away from the seafront. The Doctor holding

the mobile tracker device out in front of him.

“I don’t understand, where are we going?”

“Up, we need to get to higher ground, see now I can see there’s something here, I’m picking it up and this is

something big, I just have to work out where the hell it is!”

Peri stopped to catch her breath and was almost knocked over as a terrified young girl running at top speed

collided with her.

“I’m sorry…” She panted, out of breath. “Please help me, everyone’s gone, a bus, chasing me, they had

purple eyes…”

“Did you say purple eyes?” The doctor spun round, taking notice of her for the first time.

“Yes, their eyes were purple, they all looked the same. A man, he said I would find you…oh please, help me,

what’s happening?”

The doctor listened carefully as Kristie explained what had happened and thought for a moment. Turning his

back on the shivering girl he looked up towards the hills and downs that stood above the town.

“This is something old, and I mean really old. Easiest description is a mind parasite! The problem I have is…

where exactly is it hiding?” He turned back to Kristie and knelt down beside her. “This bus you saw, where

was it heading?”

“It went towards the industrial estate, but…”

“Yes…and the man, the one who was following you?” He interrupted.

“I, I don’t know I was running but I don’t think he went any further than the estate either. Why? What is this?

Where has everyone gone?”

“No time to explain!”

Kristie led the way up to the industrial estate which was unusually silent for a weekday. The units lay

deserted. Peri noticed a figure in the distance, as they got closer she realised it was a young girl; she smiled

and waved before running off into the distance. Peri followed as if in a trance.

“Peri, what the….” The Doctor shouted before realising that she had disappeared without a trace. There was

no where for her to go, the Industrial estate was a dead end, the downs above, the town below.

“Where is she?” Kristie shouted, the Doctor lifted his tracking device and thought for a moment.

“If something needs to hide, to evolve, to gain power without being seen, where would it be most safe?”

Kristie shrugged.

“The old railway tunnel” He pointed towards the overgrown area in front of them.

“No way, it’s impossible, no ones been in there for years, it’s blocked up!” Kristie called out, ignoring her he

ran forwards and she followed.

“Closed in the 1960s I believe, far long enough for something to grow, to gain power!” He shouted. All of a

sudden they collided with a purple mist that was thick enough to engulf them both. Falling to the ground the

Doctor glanced up, catching his breath.

“A simple mind illusion, the tunnel is very much open!” Kristie could hardly believe her eyes, in front of them

the tunnel was cleared and open, the trees surrounding had withered back and the same purple mist from

earlier lingered around the entrance. The Doctor led the way, slowly into the dimly lit tunnel; he knew Peri

could not be far away. Hearing her voice in the distance he grabbed Kristie’s hand and headed towards the

sound, the light grew brighter and all at once they found themselves in a large room. In front of them lay

fifteen beds in a circle, each containing one of the missing teenagers. They looked peaceful as if asleep and

each had a selection of wires attached to their heads which all connected to a large computer in the centre.

Peri was hurriedly shaking one of them and pleading for her to wake up.

The Doctor was just about to step forward to help but a large plume of dark purple smoke flashed before him

and began to form the shape of a man. He smiled and folded his arms menacingly.

“Ah Doctor at last you have arrived. On time too thank you for being so prompt on my little invitation.” He

smirked at Kirsty, “You did well on your part. It is a shame I no longer need you.” He pointed, sending Kristie

falling to the ground.

“Who are you?”

“Who am I? Who are we? We are the oldest essence, the furthest soul, the most powerful force it seems

right now!” He smiled. “We have met before many times, and you know too well what I am capable of.” He

waved towards Peri who was still oblivious to them all.

“There’s no point, she can’t hear you, she thinks that’s her sister and the more emotion, the more fear she

feeds out, the more the we can gain power and spread further, to reach every soul out there on this stupid

planet.” He stepped back and smiled. “You can try all you want but these humans have too much fear, too

much sadness, too much to feed on. They make their own demise!” He threw his cane into a corner where it

reared up into a large purple snake, spitting venom from its grinning jaws. Realising he could not get to Peri

the Doctor called out to her.

“Peri, can you hear me that is not your sister, they are using your mind, taking your energies. Peri!” He

looked up to see Peri staring blankly towards him, she had let go of the girl’s hand but her eyes shone

purple. She slowly turned and walked mechanically towards him, her arms outstretched. He backed up

against the wall as she grabbed him by the throat in an iron grip that he knew was alien to her.

“Can you feel that Doctor, that’s how much power we have, your dear friend’s mind is completely empty.

Now we just need your great knowledge to make the Great intelligence the most powerful being in all time

and space. Just imagine, when we have drained you and gained the final keys to ultimate power…then, and

only then will the universe change forever!” He stood back laughing as he watched the Doctor falling back

under his young assistant’s grip; she remained in the same stance, staring blankly into his eyes, unseeing

and vacant.

The doctor felt himself falling to the ground, his memory fading, the surroundings blurring as he choked for

breath. The purple glow began to spread along the water pipes, quickening every second.

“Peri…she’s not…your sister….” he croaked finally. It only took a few seconds and he felt her grip lighten, a

sudden intake of breath that felt real and not of another being. Their captor took a step back, realising

something had stopped the progress of his plan, all he could do was shriek as the Doctor ran between each

bed pulling out each plug as he went and cutting the human energy supply to the computer. After the final

plug was pulled the main machine began to pulse and glow in a purple and green hue, the radiance getting

larger and larger and creating a pressure in the tunnel which became too much to bear. The Doctor covered

his ears and draped himself over Peri who had collapsed in a corner. With no power to drive its force, the

existence known as the Great intelligence condensed to its simplest form, a pyramid of silver orbs.

Grabbing the orbs with both hands the Doctor turned to his bewildered assistant. “Come along Peri, back to

the Tardis, no time to waste. We have some rubbish to get rid of!”

Kristie opened a bleary eye at the sound of voices and cars driving by. She lay on a bench by the waterfall

on the seafront. She looked at her watch, it was 9.15.

Something different for Carol’s ‘Close Up’ – ‘The London Boys’ by Maggie Jones

Maggie Jones has always written. She is the Chair of the Wight Fair Writers Circle. Maggie is well known for her short stories that have recently been published by http://alfiedog.com/ in fact she was one of their Best Selling Short Story Authors for February 2013!

Maggie has also wrote a couple of novels – her latest and favourite is called ‘The London Boys’. Here is the blurb and the first chapter… Why not let Maggie know what you think of her latest project for she would love to hear from you!

You can e mail Maggie Jones direct @ maggiej64@hotmail.co.uk

Good luck Maggie with ‘The London Boys’!

Carol x

Blurb for ‘The London Boys’ – Maggie Jones

Life in London’s East end in 1911 for the London brothers is tough. 

Ten year old Jimmy’s teacher, ‘Hard as nails Harwood,’ seems to delight in caning him for no reason.  And older brothers, eighteen year old Artie and sixteen year old George have to learn to cope with their dad Arthur, who’s an abusive, alcoholic, often taking his temper out on his long suffering wife Gladys.  When they come home and find he has beaten her within an inch of her life, they take matters into their own hands. 

 

That same evening, they pay a visit to teacher Peter Harwood’s house and are shocked to discover he’s preparing to take a bath with his headmaster’s young daughter, Eliza!

 

They blackmail him; agreeing to keep quiet, if he helps Jimmy gain a scholarship into grammar school.  Jimmy’s a wiz with numbers.  Harwood reluctantly agrees. 

 

Jimmy does exceptionally, gaining a place at the prestigious Spencer Hall, an all boys’ grammar school in Derbyshire.  Gladys can’t afford it, so again, Artie and George blackmail Harwood, who begrudgingly agrees to pay for Jimmy’s whole education.

 

Follow the boys’ trials and tribulations as their lives change dramatically, over a course of events, which they could never have predicted.

First Chapter of  ’The London Boys’ – Maggie Jones 

The London Boys

 Chapter 1

 London May 1911

 Jimmy London’s life was shite.  Everyone had heard of the London’s, especially his dad Arthur, who was a complete and utter bastard.  Most days he was blind drunk, and he’d be abusive to any and every one around him.  Although, it was nearly always his family who seemed to bear the brunt of it, especially when his temper got the better of him, which it frequently did.  And then it scared Jimmy and his siblings witless.  Here was a man not to be reckoned with when he was like that.  He was someone who could and would be very handy with his fists.

 

          Jimmy, was his third son, and along with his brothers and sisters, soon came to know what sort of mood their dad was in at a very early age, and also when to keep their distance.  Arthur Jr (Artie) was the eldest at eighteen, next came George, sixteen.  There had been two other children born after them, but they’d died in infancy.  Then it was Jimmy, next was Ethel nine, Agnes seven, and finally followed by the twins Freddie and Mickey five.

 

          Keeping out of their dad’s way, kept them from many a sound beating.  Unfortunately, that wasn’t always the case for Gladys, their mum.  Over the years she’d been given the odd slap and occasional punch, but more recently the slaps and punches were becoming severer.  Arthur was continually losing his rag with her for no reason.

 

Recently Jimmy celebrated his tenth birthday, but there wasn’t anything in the way of a celebration.  His mum had tried hard to save a few pennies, but Arthur soon found her hiding place and boozed that away down the pub.  At every opportunity, he was out drinking.  He didn’t need an excuse; he’d rather be in his local pub, The Swan than working, or bothering to look for any jobs.  He was out of employment more times than he was in it.

 

Not having any money for drink wasn’t a problem either. Arthur spent any money he’d earned, or took by threatening his sons, until they gave in and gave him some.  He regularly took money meant for food, and if he didn’t have any money, then he had an understanding with Fred the landlord that he would let him have a slate.  Arthur would drink in his pub, and get his drinks for free, if Fred knew what was good for him! 

 

Normally Fred wouldn’t have let anyone have a slate as times were hard, but he’d seen Arthur fly off the handle at the least thing.  His temper was legendary and so was his fighting.  Fred had seen him fight in the past, and he was one dirty fighter, someone that he didn’t want to get on the wrong side of ever.  So it was with some reluctance that to keep Arthur sweet and off his back he let him have one.

 

          From the moment the pub doors opened, Arthur had been in there, and hadn’t gone home when Fred rung the bell announcing he was shutting, just after the lunchtime shift had finished.  Arthur preferred to sit there and take his time with his last pint, before the pub re-opened again, just a couple of hours later.

 

          Fred knew better than to say anything, it was best for him to keep his mouth shut about him just sitting there.  At the end of the day, as long as he wasn’t causing him any trouble, Arthur could stay put, he surmised.  And Arthur thought it was better staying put, rather than out looking for another job, especially when he knew there wasn’t one to be had.  Well not for him!  He’d tried his luck with most places in the past, but because of his temper, most of his employers were glad to see the back of him after just a couple of days.

 

          But on this occasion, Rosie, Fred’s wife had had enough with Arthur and his threats about getting his pints put on a never ending slate or else?  And she was fed up with it and him.

 

          ‘I’ve just about had enough of that bloody Arthur London.’  Rosie snapped at Fred as soon as they were out the back in the kitchen after locking the bar door.

 

          ‘Hush up now love or he’ll hear you?’  Fred said trying to keep his wife quiet, afraid that if Arthur heard her, he would indeed have a go at him about not being able to keep his wife in her place.

 

          ‘I don’t care if he hears me or not.’  She raged.  ‘Enough is enough Fred.  You’ve got to talk to him and tell him he can’t stay here when we close after lunch, and more importantly talk to him about that slate of his.’ 

 

          Fred gulped hard.  He knew his Rosie was right, but he hated confrontation, especially with someone like Arthur London. 

 

          ‘If you don’t say something to him Fred, I swear I will.’  She glared defiantly at him.

 

          Rosie had him over a barrel, as he knew just how much Arthur would go on at him, about the money that was owed?  It would be almost as if it were Fred’s fault that Arthur had been allowed to have a slate, which in a way it was.  But Fred knew better than to say no to Arthur when he wanted something. 

 

Rosie kept on at him until she’d worn him down.  In the end to pacify her, he promised faithfully he would tackle Arthur about his slate when they opened again for the evening.  Rosie huffed at her husband; she supposed that would have to do.  But if Fred thought she was going to forget about it, then he had another thought coming.

 

          And as soon as they’d opened, Rosie was true to her word, and kept on urging him to go over and sort it out.

 

          ‘Go on Fred, go and say something to him while we’re quiet.’

 

          ‘I will love, just give me time?’

 

          ‘I’ve given you plenty of time Fred.’  She snapped and wouldn’t let it rest.  She kept on giving him the evil eye, until he’d finally had enough of it and bravely walked over to where Arthur was.

 

          ‘Arthur……’  Fred gulped, before taking a deep breath.  ‘I wouldn’t normally trouble you, but you see it’s about the money you owe me…..’  He stopped talking for a second, seeing a sudden glare flare up in Arthur’s eyes.  He knew he was asking for trouble, but he had a point to make, as Rosie kept on telling him so.

 

          ‘That slate you’ve got, well I was wondering … when you were going to pay me for it?’  He said as his words all came out in a rush.  His face flushed a vivid shade of red, almost matching the fancy bow tie he always wore.  For a big man, Fred was really a gentle giant.  He wasn’t hard at all and Arthur knew and used it to his advantage.

 

          ‘Look ere Fred, you’ll get your money when I’m good and ready to give it to yer and not before.  Now yer get me another pint and be quick about it.’  He shouted as Fred quickly nodded at him. 

 

Well he’d done what his Rosie had kept on at him to do, which was to speak to Arthur about his slate.  She hadn’t specified that he had to actually have the money from him!

 

          That was all he wanted, Fred after the money he owed.  Arthur thought watching Fred scurry back to the bar.  Well if Fred knew that Arthur had been laid off again with no possibility of getting another job, then he should have been worried.  But, as Arthur played his cards close to his chest, then that would be the last thing he or anyone else would know about for a very long time.

 

          Arthur looked up as Fred brought him his pint.  As it was placed down on the table, he licked his lips and grasped it in one hand.  Pulling it up to his mouth he downed it in one swift go, belching loudly afterwards.

 

          ‘If yer know what’s good for yer, you’ll keep em coming Fred.’  He said as he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.  Fred just nodded as again he went back to the bar.  As Arthur looked at Fred’s retreating back, he smirked to himself.

When Fred got back to the bar, he smirked.  Arthur might think he was getting beer for free, which he was, but little did he know that all he was getting was the slops.  There was no way he was going to waste his good beer on someone like him.  He looked over at Arthur and smiled towards him as he lifted up the pint glass.

 

          After getting another six free pints from Fred, Arthur finally staggered out of the pub and made his way home.  Since being there for most of the day, it was still relatively early in the evening.  But, the only thing he wanted when he walked indoors was his bed, and not for Gladys to start on at him asking for money for food he didn’t have.  He didn’t want anything to eat, and as far as he was concerned, if he didn’t want it, then that meant that no-one else was going to have it either.

 

          ‘Have yer got a couple of bob for me to give Ethel to send her to the corner shop to get some bread and cheese?’  Gladys asked the minute he set foot in the kitchen.

 

          ‘No I’ve got none.  Don’t yer think if I had any, I’d be at the pub instead of back here with yer?’  He sneered at her.

 

          Arthur after drinking himself into a stupor had been thinking about work, or rather the lack of it.  He knew that finding another job would be near impossible, especially for him.  And if Fred was after the money he owed him, then that meant the others would be after theirs too.  But, more importantly for him, it meant he couldn’t rely on getting anymore free beer from Fred now.  He knew Rosie, Fred’s miserable cow of a wife wouldn’t stand for it.  Especially, as his slate had risen considerably in the last couple of months.   

 

He was brought back to the present by Gladys.

 

          ‘But the kids, they ain’t had any tea?  Yer promised me yer were gonna get paid today and that you’d give me some.’

 

          ‘I’ll give yer some fink in a minute.’  He roared as he suddenly grabbed her by the hair and slapped her hard across the face.  ‘When will yer ever learn, that when I say no woman, I mean NO.

 

          Sadly for Gladys, because Arthur was only thinking of himself yet again, his temper quickly rose.  The girls and the twins had been in the kitchen with their mother when Arthur had come stumbling in.  They were frightened of him and had moved to the corner, out of his way.  Seeing him grab their mum so viciously was enough for Ethel to round them up and send them all scurrying out into the night to look for help.

 

          Ethel took her sister and the twins along the cobbled streets looking for her older brothers.  Jimmy had gone out earlier on to play with his friends, before going to meet Artie and George from work.  By now she knew that they would be well on their way home.

 

          The twins and Agnes were in tears.  Ethel felt teary too, but knew she couldn’t show it in front of them.  She felt for them she had to be strong.  They all hated their dad with a deep passion for what he did to them and their mum.  She was such a kind and gentle loving woman, and had never laid a finger on any of them.  She didn’t have to; they knew she meant what she said without resorting to violence, unlike their dad.  And why he thought she deserved the beatings he dished out to her, none of them knew.

 

          Suddenly Ethel saw her brothers and started shouting out and waving her arms in the air.

 

          ‘Artie, George, Jimmy, come quick.  Our dad’s beating mum black and blue again.’

 

          At that the boys looked briefly at each other, before suddenly running up the road past Ethel and the young ‘uns, turning the corner and going as fast as they could up the street, before rushing indoors.  They were just in time to see their dad punch their mum in the face, swiftly followed by him kicking her hard in the stomach with his great hob nail boots.

 

          Gladys had been beaten to almost within an inch of her life; it was only the quick thinking of the boys that saved her that night.  Artie, George and Jimmy somehow managed to pull him off of her.

 

          ‘Leave her be dad.  You’ve half killed her, yer bloody bastard.’  Artie said grabbing him roughly from behind and holding tightly onto him with George helping, as Jimmy gently tried to help his mother to her feet.

 

          ‘Mum…mum, can yer hear me?  Can yer manage to stand if I help yer?’  Jimmy said speaking quietly to her.

 

          He had tears, but blinked them away.  If his dad saw them, he knew he would make some kind of reference about him being a baby, a big cry baby.  He hated his dad with a passion, and longed for the day when he got his.  If he had his way, then that day wouldn’t be too far away.

Gladys couldn’t answer, her mouth was filled with blood, and she could hardly see.  Both of her eyes were almost closed, but somehow she managed to lift her head and look at him, before slowly nodding.  This was something no child should ever have to see, she sadly thought.  Her children had seen her beaten more than enough in their short life time.  Where had that loving man gone?  Arthur had been so very different when they’d first met and married.

 

          She tried to smile at her son, but couldn’t.  There was nowhere on her body that didn’t hurt, but she didn’t want to worry him any more than necessary.  So she tried to mask the pain from him.  Thank god the little ‘uns were still outside; they knew to keep out of their dad’s way when he was like that.

 

          ‘Ere mum, try and sit down.’  Jimmy said as he helped guide her towards a chair.  He pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket.  She spat into the cloth and saw that lying there was yet another tooth.  The amount of teeth she’d lost due to beatings from Arthur was all ‘par for the course’ now.

          ‘Gerr off me!’  Arthur suddenly growled, as he struggled to force himself free of the boys.  But they held firm.  Many a time in the past when they thought he had calmed down, he’d suddenly hit out catching them unawares.  And then he’d punched them wherever his fists could find a target.

 

          ‘We’ll only let yer go when we’ve got yer outside and not before.’  Artie said through gritted teeth, as he and George bundled their dad back out into the street again.

 

          The younger children had followed them home and were waiting there.  Seeing their dad struggling to break free from their brothers scared them witless.  They’d all seen him lose his temper in the past, and they knew exactly what he’d done to their mum and what he’d do to them and their brothers given half a chance.  George looked at their anxious faces.  He knew just how afraid they really were.

‘It’s alright; don’t worry, we won’t let go of him until you’re all back indoors.  Go on in and lock the door behind yer.  Artie and me will knock when we want to come back in.’ He said forcing himself to smile at them. 

 

He knew they wouldn’t be shocked at the sight of their mum; unfortunately it wasn’t anything new to them.  They were so used to the sight of her when she’d been beaten, but just lately it seemed to have become almost an everyday occurrence.

 

          Well, as far as George was concerned, this was the last time that their dad was going to do this to her or any of them ever again.  If he and Artie didn’t do something, then the next time…… he shuddered to himself shaking his head.  It just didn’t bear thinking about.

 

          The four little ones did as they were told.  They went back inside and shut the door behind them.  The boys heard the bolt being drawn across the wooden door with a resounding thud, as it was slid into place and locked.  George looked at Artie.  The look that passed between them said it all. 

 

          ‘Stop struggling dad, we’ll let you go when you’ve calmed down and not before.’  Artie said as he and George dragged him further down the street and out of sight of prying eyes. 

 

Old Mrs Hobson was looking out of her window at them as they went by; she shook her head.  She’d heard the sound of the beating through the paper thin walls.  That Arthur London was a bad one alright.  George nodded at her as they went past and she nodded back, before pulling the drapes across her window.

 

          Both boys were their father’s sons, inheriting their height, dark chestnut hair colouring and ruddy complexion from him.  But, neither had inherited his temper.  George at sixteen looked a lot younger than his age with his baby face, although he and Artie were just over six foot tall and now towered way above Arthur.  Where once, he had been a fine figure of a man, standing tall, proud and strong at six foot two, now he’d become a shadow of his former self. 

 

          With his panache for drink, he now supported a great beer belly, hardly washing and wearing the same clothes day in and day out.  He was a complete and utter slovenly mess.  He hunched over whenever he walked.  He still had bulging biceps, but they were nowhere near as muscular and toned as they used to be. 

          When the boys were growing up, he’d often boxed bare knuckle with them or had them boxing against one another.  He wanted his sons to be men’s men.  So now they too had bulging biceps, which was just as well, as they were able to hold tightly onto him as he continued to struggle as they carried on pulling him along the streets.

 

          Eventually they dragged him to an old disused building.  When they got to the door, George kicked it open.  Arthur looked from the door to the boys.  What did they think they were going to do to him?  He could easily take them; he thought they were no match for him and said as much too.

‘When you let me go, I’m gonna give yer both the hiding of your lives.’  He slurred as he spat on the floor in disgust.

 

          ‘No dad, that’s where you’re wrong, you’re never gonna hit any of us ever again.’  George said as he suddenly let go of him and quickly bent down and picked up an iron bar that had been hidden from view.

 

 

 

 

FREE – Monthly Short Story from ‘The Wight Fair Writers Circle!’ www.iowwritingcircle.co.uk

The Wight Fair Writers Monthly Short Story!

‘The Adoption’

By Trudy Draper

Trudy also writes Trudy’s Talk Back see www.iowwritingcircle.co.uk

 

 

We married young and didn’t want children for a long time.  Life seems endless when

you are only 18 – careers first, children later.  We had a plan, a sensible plan.  Young

people usually have an idea of what they want from life; unfortunately life doesn’t always

follow the same path.  That’s what happened to us.  Life made its own plan for us.

 

My career came to an abrupt end with redundancy raised its head.  Not in the life plan at

all; never mind we could alter our plan and have children now instead of later.  Getting

pregnant proved not as easy as you would think.  It took several years for me to get

pregnant; why so long?  I didn’t know; I became pregnant eventually so life on track at

last.  Just ten days later, ten unbelievably joyful, ecstatic, hopeful days later it was

all over.

Baby was no more; all lost in a moment.  Not in our plan at all.  In the shortest time

possible all our dreams were shattered and all our hopes gone.

After the miscarriage the doctor said: ‘no children for you.  Try adoption.’

What was he saying?  This made no sense and it was certainly not in the plan either.

Everyone and anyone could have a baby; babies arrived when they were not wanted;

whey they could not be cared for and were neglected.  Our baby was wanted and would

be loved so where was he?   We had to have a rethink.  Could we love a child not born to

us; would we feel the same about a baby not linked to us by blood?  Major questions

meant lots of talking.  We decided adoption would be fine so decision made, let’s go and

get a baby.

 

Adoption 2

 

This route to parenthood proved to be very slow indeed.  Talking, talking, always talking

– where was the baby we wanted?  Not in this office or at this meeting; why were we

kept waiting?

‘There are not many babies available,’ said the adoption worker.  ‘Would you consider

older children, a sibling group or a disabled baby?’

What was this?  No baby, after all the talking, no baby – our plan was in shreds.

We only wanted one tiny, tiny baby but none was in the picture or even on the distant

horizon.

‘We only place about 12 babies a year from our agency.  Everyone wants a blue eyed,

blond baby and they hardly ever exist,’ the social worker sounded sympathetic.

We were not put off even though the adoption agency was not very optimistic.  It had

taken two years of letter writing to even get an appointment.  We thought we were half

way to having our baby now we were inside the agency; now we are being told the

baby did not exist.  Why had we been put through this torture if we were chasing a

rainbow?

Everywhere I looked there were mothers and babies.  Mothers shouting at babies – did

they have to pass an exam to get one?  No, they were lucky and did not even know it.

We had passed the exam.  We had sailed through all the interviews, expected adoption

panel approval and a certificate to prove we would be good parents; we just didn’t have a

baby to practice on.

Adoption 3

 

I tried not to think of adoption and it problems every waking moment but it was hard.

Life went on and we had to cope with brothers and sisters having children; with friends

getting married and a baby straight away.  We had been married for over 10 years and

everyone assumed we did not want children. It was a difficult secret to share with anyone

else.  In fact our years together in a stable marriage were used against us by one social

worker who thought we were too set in our ways and a baby could disrupt us and put a

strain on our marriage.  We were only in our 20s!

We carried on meeting the adoption agency; we had to bare our souls; meeting after

meeting talking, talking about adoption and what it meant.  No one who was half hearted

about adoption would ever get to the final panel.  And I suppose that was the whole point.

The agency had to make sure we were really serious.  It was like having a two year

pregnancy with no guarantee of a baby or child at the end of it.

We talked about adoption of older children and we decided that the only thing we could

not cope with was a handicapped child.  Having a disabled child naturally was one thing,

but taking on a child knowing it might always be dependent; might never leave home;

could never achieve the usual milestones of childhood and adulthood; that was an entirely

different kettle of fish.  We knew we could not do it.  We said we were sorry if we

sounded inadequate; we had to be honest.  The agency said we had to be truthful and it

was not a failure.  They were very kind but we still felt like the Nazis wanting a pure

race and felt we had let down all the unknown disabled children looking for homes.

We went before the panel and were approved for adoption.  We had confirmation we

would be good parents and had the diploma – still no child.

 

Adoption 4

 

The agency as ever kept our feet on the ground and said we could have a two year wait

before we were offered a child.  The process had made me become a very patient person.

So we got on with life again.  We had many friends, lots of Godchildren, loads of

nephews and nieces and we were happy but something was always missing.

I thought I might be pregnant again but I had not done a test as we were told it was

impossible.  But today I couldn’t put it off any longer and I carried out the test;  it was

positive.  Happiness was tinged with one worry – would I lose this one as well?

Then, out of the blue a few days later, the phone rang and I picked it up not knowing my

life was about to change.  It was the adoption agency.

‘We have a baby boy; would you be interested?’ was the startling inquiry.

The agency had expected to place the boy somewhere else but the family lived near the

baby’s natural family and that was against their policy.  So we were being offered him.

I could not take in anything after her first inquiry. ‘We have a baby boy, would you be

interested’ and had to ask her to repeat the rest.

My nerves were tingling, my head was about to explode.  I shivered in anticipation and I

could not take it in.  Years of wanting and yearning all over in a second.

‘Yes, we are interested,’ was my inadequate reply.  I did not mention the pregnancy or I

might not be allowed to have this baby.  I could not risk ending up with no babies.  After

years of famine I now faced a glut of babies.  Two in a year.

‘You will never believe it but he is the healthy, blue eyed, blond boy we told you did not

exist.’

 

Adoption 5

 

I didn’t care what colour his eyes were; what was she talking about?

‘When can we meet him?’ that was all I wanted to know.

‘Come to the office on Wednesday.’  It was as simple as that.

We then realised why the adoption process is so intensive.  We were about to be given a

helpless bundle, a vulnerable child and the agency had to be sure we were the right

people in every way.

Wednesday seemed to be forever arriving.  I woke at 5am on Wednesday and was ready

hours early.

We walked into the office and were told that we could meet the baby but if we did not

want him then we must say so.  There was no pressure.  The baby was brought in.

He was placed in my arms.  I hugged him to me.  Ecstacy.

 

Christmas short story competition winning stories from the Isle of Wight!

 
 
The Presentation Ceremony at Newport Minster
 
For the past five years Bob & I have organised a Christmas short story competiton along with our writing circle to try to inspire others on the Isle of Wight to read and write, especially the children. Not only has this competition and the ‘Crime & Intrigue’  short story competiton we organise in the Spring now resulted in 24 published writers but they have also made thousands for local charities. To enable us to attract entries we are very blessed to have the most amazing sponsors which include our local Waterstones and Southampton and Portsmouth  football clubs. This year Julian Fellowes backed the advertising campaign and so did Brendan Coyle of  Downton fame! :-)  
 
The winners of our competitions are  also invited to the IW Radio Studio where they are interviewed by Heather McCallum on her afternoon show. This extra prize is always very exciting for us all, so a big thanks goes to Heather and IW Radio. There are pictures on our website (which is sponsored by www.theisleofwightcomputergeek.co.uk) of previous winners in the studio @ www.iowwritingcircle.co.uk.
 
This year I wanted to share some of the winning stories and pictures of the presentation evening with you but first of all I wanted to say a great big well done to everyone who wrote a story for our 2012 Isle of Wight ‘Wight Fair Writers’ Circle Christmas short story competition’ – especially those who managed to achieve one of the 24 prizes  which are  listed below. 
 
A very special thank you goes to the  independent judges, for without them this competition would not be possible and to the High Sheriff Nick Hayward and Chair of the IW Council Susan Scoccia.
 
 
We raised over £600 for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice and St Catherine’s School in this, our fifth year of the competition and once again achieved three more published authors from the IOW into the bargain!
 
 
The Under 12′s winning story, by Tad Avery will be published this week’s Isle of Wight County Press and here it is!
 

The Night Before Christmas

It was a cold Christmas Eve but I was keeping warm by whizzing along on my scooter trying my best to do a tailwhip. A tailwhip, for those of you who don’t know is where you jump up and try to spin your deck 360 degrees and land it with both feet. Unfortunately I was finding this very hard and one attempt ended with the deck spinning into my ankle which made me fall over and brought tears to my eyes, this is known a ‘stack’ which means epic fail!

“Hey stack of the day what a complete mess!” To my horror I turned around to see Max also known as Maximum Destruction and his gang who had been watching my wipe out. Max and I didn’t get along very well. They all started laughing at me which made me feel angry. “Well can you do better?” I shouted. “No problem,” he replied and snatched my scooter. Then he pulled off the trick perfectly. It was amazing. Max then threw my scooter down and shouted “Loser,” before walking away.

I scootered home feeling really silly and thought that playing on the play station would cheer me up. However 30 minutes later I found myself being chucked out of the house by my dad asking me to buy some milk.

It had started to get dark but I thought it wouldn’t hurt if I went down to the skatepark for a bit. There was no one there or at least I thought there was no one there.  I went up and down the ramps but I noticed there was someone hunched up in the corner. I scooted over to see if there was something wrong and recognised that it was Max who looked really miserable.

“What’s wrong?’ I said expecting him to be rude as usual but he said nothing. “Hey Max, what is wrong?” I said again. “Go away,” came the reply in a muffled and miserable voice. “Seriously, what is wrong?” I persisted. “Well I will tell you, on one condition that you tell NO ONE!” Max replied. “Sure, you can trust me,” and I sat down next to him.

“Well last Christmas my dad just walked out and my mum has lost her job so things are a bit chaotic right now,” he said. This made me think about Max and his life and I felt sorry for him. “Max that must be difficult. My granny died this year and I have been thinking about that and how much I will miss her this Christmas, “I said. “Christmas is funny huh? It can be a great time of year but it can be sad when you think about other people who are going through hard times or may not have as much as you, “I blurted out.

“Yeah it is funny time of year but not as funny as you making that rubbish trick earlier on,” he joked trying to make me laugh. “How about I teach you how to land that tailwhip?” Max said. “Really, that would be awesome, it would be the best Christmas present,’ I replied.

For the next hour Max and I had the skakepark to ourselves. He patiently taught me how to do a tailwhip which I eventually pulled off. It started to get really dark and I knew I had to make a move. “I’ll have to go now, got to get some milk,” I said. “Does that mean we are friends?” I asked. “I will think about it,” he said acting all tough. I began to walk off and then he shouted, “Hey, you are alright, see you around!”

“Happy Christmas Max,” I said.

“Yeah, Happy Christmas to you,” Max replied.

 

The End

 

 The Adult winning entry Colour & Light written by Hannah Saunders will be published on the Isle of Wight County Press online and you can read it here…

Colour and Light

 Berkshire, 1911

 ‘Come away from the window, Robert. You need to wash before dinner.’

 

Robert didn’t move. He wiped away another cloud of breath from the glass and stared down at the lawn outside, which was already becoming white and crisp with frost. The nanny strode over and wrestled him to a basin filled with hot water. She attacked his cheeks, neck and ears with a rough cloth as he wriggled in her iron grip.

 

‘You are a naughty boy,’ she snapped when she was done, a little out of breath. Robert immediately broke away and ran back to the window seat. ‘Your mother will be hearing about this. If you’re not downstairs for dinner in five minutes you will get nothing.’

 

Robert didn’t know if mother would really find out about his naughtiness. If she had heard about him letting the dog out of the front gate, or building mud castles on the lawn, or spitting the gristle from cook’s nasty stew into the potted aspidistra in the hallway, then she must not have minded. She never mentioned it in her letters to him, at least. He imagined her laughing over nanny’s lengthy list of admonishments and complaints; a warm kind mass of silk and curled hair and heavy floral scent, the paper crinkled in her small white hand. Robert felt the mounting sadness within him grow stronger than ever.

 

Five minutes passed; then thirty, then an hour. The nursery grew quite dark. Flames hissed and crackled in the fireplace, throwing dancing red patterns out onto the carpet. Robert moved away from the window – the draught had numbed his nose and fingers – and sat in front of the ornate fire screen.

 

Tomorrow would be Christmas Day. A grand tree had been erected in the parlour, draped with paper chains and strings of berries. There were little sweets and tin soldiers and gingerbread men nestled in amongst the sticky needles of the branches, and an angel perched at the very top. Robert wasn’t allowed to touch, and could only come as far as the parlour doorway to admire it. There would be games and candied fruit and a fat roasted goose on the table tomorrow evening; or there might not be, if nanny didn’t look kindly upon his earlier disobedience. His aunt, the lady of the house, was prone to frequent nervous episodes and was rarely seen outside of her bedroom, and as a result did not play any part in Robert’s discipline. He remembered that tonight’s dinner had come and gone and his stomach groaned pitifully.

 

Robert had already accepted that this Christmas was going to be the worst he’d ever had. In fact, it would probably never be the same again. Last Christmas had been spent by his parents’ side, and every Christmas before that. But this year was different. At six years old, the displacement had shaken him more than anyone would have suspected.

 

The fire began to die, and Robert started to doze and dream in the last of its warmth.

 

He is sitting in a carriage with his mother and father, rolling through the dusty streets on an orange Bombay evening. Their progress is slow, the city still frantic with people, life flowing around them as unhindered as a river. The red, gold and green of an English Christmas seemed incredibly plain when he thought back to that previous winter, when every house and shop and market stall had erupted with a million colours, every colour that you could imagine. His world had been exotic and fantastical, but at the time it had seemed nothing out of the ordinary.  For instance, the cows. There are cows in England, too, but these ones are quite different; he recalls their carriage stopping behind one noble beast, her huge white head dusted with bright colours and with fragrant garlands caught in her horns and draped around her neck. She walks slowly, ceremoniously, and everyone waits patiently for her to pass. Instead of omnibuses there are elephants. In a basket writhes the naja naja with his hooded head and flickering tongue. Over the river drifts the ibis, and the amber-eyed shikra sits and watches from the branches of a moringa tree.

The stars never revealed themselves that night, banished by the lighting of thousands of candles and lamps. When he and his parents finally reach the house their doorstep has been decorated with a lotus made with carefully arranged coloured sand. Their young servant girl stands back shyly, smiling, her fingertips stained pink and orange. Mother adores it, but father disapproves and gives her a scolding. It must be cleared away before the night is through.

 

Later Robert notices that the girl – named Anupama, or Anu for short – is a lot quieter than usual when she helps prepare him for bed. He sits wakefully beneath the covers, waiting for her to tell him one of her exciting old stories, but she remains silent. Eventually she sits at the foot of the bed and sighs. Robert looks at her expectantly.

‘I hear you’re going to England,’ she says after a time. Robert realises that this isn’t the beginning of a story and makes a disappointed noise.

‘Not before Christmas,’ he says.

‘Christmas?’

‘It’s when Father Christmas visits and brings gifts with him. There’s a tree, too, and lots of sweets.’

‘Oh, yes,’ Anu replies thoughtfully, ‘Baba Christmas.’

‘Are you coming with me to England?’

‘I might,’ she says, patting the sheets by his feet absently.

‘Good. Now you don’t need to be sad anymore. I know why you’re sad, it’s because you’re thinking that you’ll miss me.’

Anu smiles wanly and stands. She goes to close the shutters but pauses before she does so, looking out across the city that shimmers like fragments of jewels on black cloth. Robert quickly climbs out of bed to join her.

‘What do you think of diwali?’ she asks him.

‘What’s that?’

A bright flash suddenly erupts above a faraway street, scattering tiny points of fire in every direction. Robert blinks in surprise.

‘This is the festival of diwali. The lights will scare away the darkness. It’s a time to welcome in happiness and wealth.’

Robert nods. ‘I like the colours. It’s a bit like Christmas.’

‘I’m glad you do,’ she says, and pats him on the head. ‘Now, back to bed. I must go and sleep too. Tomorrow I will visit my family. I’ve missed them very much.’

 

The under 18′s winner was Xavier Theobald.

 

The night before Christmas

Santa’s Crisis

 

Santa was getting ready for Christmas he looked out the window it was snowing very hard. He got the reindeers assembled, as usual Rudolf was last off they went.England,France,Italyall was going to plan till they headed toNew York. The reindeers started to get jumpy Santa had to hold on tight then he saw what was the problem. A massive storm was overNew Yorkthere was thunder and lighting the wind was howling there was no way the sleigh could land on the children’s roofs Santa started to panic. Out of the darkness he saw a light flickering. The light got closer; he could not believe his eyes it was the Statue of Liberty!!!!!!!! Walking towards him the flame showed Santa the way toNew York. Santa followed the flame and could see all the houses one of the children was looking out of his window could not believe his eyes the Statue of Liberty was walking thought the streets ofNew Yorkshowing Santa the way. When Santa dropped off the last present he turned to the Statue of Liberty to thank her she disappeared into the night he pinched himself was it a dream? Well all the children got there presents and Santa and the reindeers headed home.

 

 
 
The first place prize winners with little Grace Bridges our youngest entrant at 5yrs old who was also given a certificate for achievement and participation!
From the left Maggie Jones Chair of the WFWC, Linda Edge, Xavier Theobald, Carol Bridgestock, Bob Bridgestock,Hannah Saunders, Heather McCallum and the High Sheriff Nick Hayward. In the front are Grace Bridges and Tad Avery.
 
The prizes this year on offer this year were:-
 
A Car & Four on the IOW Ferry.
 
Sponsored - £10 Waterstones vouchers
 
Family tickets to:-
Dinosaur Museum
IOW Steam Railway
Seaview Wildlife Encounter
Heights Leisure Centre
 
Tickets to:
Southampton v West Bromwich – 27th April
Pompey v Hartlepool – 26th January and a Mascot Voucher!
 
A pearl bracelet
Bracelet and earrings
 
Chocolates
Wine
Cuddly toys!
 
Look out for the ‘Crime & Intrigue’ Competition which will be advertised in the Spring!
 
Happy New Year Everyone!
 
Carol :-) xx