A Weird Week… Tuesday…

I didn’t think yesterday could get any weirder, but it did.

I had turned up at our local surgery in time for my blood test. I was sitting there, thinking how pleasant a place it was, with the colourful tiles on the floor and comfortable chairs. They had gone to a lot of trouble to ensure they gave a good impression…

I suddenly became aware of a man standing at reception. A very tall, slender person, clad head to toe in black leather. He had his back to me, so I couldn’t see his face. What I could see, though, was a mane of cotton candy pink hair.

He spoke softly to the receptionist, his words not carrying over to me. Still, I could tell he was being polite by the look on the receptionist’s face.

I hoped he would turn around before I was called, as I desperately wanted to see the whole picture.

When he turned to leave, I saw his face. He was wearing beautifully applied makeup in a gothic style. The ebony lines around his intensely blue eyes had me mesmerised. It was like looking at one of those fashion magazines.

It’s not usually something you see in our doctor’s surgery, but it made my day.

Back home, for another round of frustration at the computer, I kept remembering his face and assumed that was the extent of today’s weirdness.

Later that evening, we were relaxing with a movie when a loud bang made us jump. We live on a busy main road, and traffic problems are an everyday occurrence, but in the 15 years we have lived here, we have not had one pile up outside our window.

I have always worried about this, as opposite us is a side road, also very busy but poorly lit. In my imagination, I have seen a car careening across the road and ending up in our living room. Is that what had finally nearly happened?

Of course, the movie was abandoned as we watched to see if help was needed. A white car, driven by an older woman, had been driving along the main road. Coming from the side road, a smaller black car had hit her side on, shunting the white car sideways.

As we watched, people came out of houses and passing cars stopped to help, leaving their headlights on to illuminate the scene. Everyone was on their phones, so we expected the boys in blue to arrive soon.

It was like watching a disaster movie right outside our window.

So many people were now milling around, some wanting to help, others arguing whose fault it was. Many photographs were taken, mainly by the owner of the black car, who constantly stated it wasn’t her fault.

The police arrived ten minutes after someone had taken the badly shaken older woman away.

No comment…

Carrot Ranch ~ Story Challenge ~ Spiders

September 12, 2023, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about the insect nation. You can focus on a particular insect or all insects. Is your story one of acceptance and understanding? Scientific knowledge? Or apocalyptic horror? Get bugged and go where the prompt leads!

Seeing as how we have suddenly been besieged by these creatures, this post was easy!

Spiders are a big problem in my family. Luckily, they seem to know this and rarely put in an appearance.

At least, my family think so. I see them and know all their hideouts. Their webs give them away.

On those rare occasions when one does dare to put in an appearance and either runs across the floor or turns up in the bath, I am the one my family scream for.

They tell me that September is the time when male spiders go hunting for a mate.

All I can say to them is, go pick another house!


Spider Image by Eva Schmidseder from Pixabay

Black Thorn ~ # Psychological Thrillers (Books) ~ #Fiction #Review

Sarah Hilary, Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year winner and author of Fragile, returns with Black Thorn, another compulsive psychological thriller that questions how much you know about the people who live next to you . . .

‘An astonishingly gifted writer’ Marian Keyes

Blackthorn Ashes was meant to be their forever home. For the first six families moving into the exclusive new housing development, it was a chance to live a peaceful life on the cliffs overlooking the Cornish sea, safe in the knowledge that it had been created just for them.

But six weeks later, paradise is lost. Six people are dead. And Blackthorn Ashes is left abandoned and unfinished, its dark shadows hiding all manner of secrets.

One of its surviving residents, Agnes Gale, is determined to find out the truth about what happened. Even if that truth is deadlier than she could have ever believed possible . . .

About the Author

Sarah Hilary

Sarah Hilary’s new novel BLACK THORN will be published in summer 2023 by Pan Macmillan. Her first standalone FRAGILE came out in 2021. Mick Herron called it ‘a dark river of a book’ while Erin Kelly said, ‘Timeless, tense and tender, Fragile will worm its way deep into your heart.’

Sarah’s debut SOMEONE ELSE’S SKIN won Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year 2015. It was a World Book Night selection and Richard & Judy Book Club pick. The latest in her D.I. Marnie Rome series NEVER BE BROKEN was published by Headline in 2019.

Visit http://www.sarahhilary.com for news, updates and reviews.

Our Review

An intense and interesting way to tell a story, alternate chapters from before and after the disaster. It seemed to be a natural disaster, but why didn’t it feel like that?

You get to learn about the people involved. How they were before, and how they are trying to survive such a terrible tragedy, along with all of their own personal demons, and there were more than enough of those.

Black Thorn is billed as a crime story, but at first, I thought this must be wrong. Little by little, the sinister truth crept into the story, creating chills that ran up and down my spine as I read.

For me, Agnes Cale is the lead character. The black sheep of the family, she struggles to find the truth, and I was with her every step of the way, willing her to succeed to enable her family to find closure.

A difficult story to tell, complex and complicated with so many human emotions, Sarah Hilary has left no stone unturned in this story to reveal such a hard truth.

The relief for me, when I finished reading, reduced me to tears…

It was reading Sarah Hilary’s first book, Someone Else’s Skin, that encouraged me to step into my writer’s shoes and take the most important plunge of my life…

News of a Different Colour…

When the appointment letter arrived from the hospital, I assumed it was another check-up. When I arrived, I had an ECG before being summoned to the consultants’ office.

He talked about how clever my heart had been, finding its own bypass solution to the severely blocked artery and how strong and healthy it had become.

Then he said that my breathlessness wasn’t caused by my heart and that something must be wrong with my lungs. He remembered that back in March, my leg and foot had been swollen, and he had prescribed water tablets which hadn’t done a thing to reduce the swelling. When he saw how bad it was now, he looked worried and started talking about blood clots.

This was when worry crept into the office and sat on my shoulder.

In my teens, I had a deep vein thrombosis in my leg after giving birth. I was forbidden to move in case it travelled, so I knew why he looked worried. He didn’t make it clear whether he thought there could be a blood clot in my chest and/or my leg, so I wasn’t surprised when he arranged for two scans to be done urgently.

I had barely reached home when the phone rang. This was the appointment for the first scan. An hour later, another call about the second. Both are to be done on Monday afternoon.

I am all for finding solutions to my problems, but why does it have to sound so serious? Is it possible to be walking around for nearly a year with lethal blood clots in your body? That doesn’t sound feasible, so it must be something else. The only trouble is, something else might be worse…

I have encountered serious before, what with cancer and two heart attacks, but I have the feeling that whatever this turns out to be might test my bravery to the limit…

Anyway, enough of all this rubbish. We are seeing the new baby this afternoon!

Friday Feelings…

I am having another raven moment today, where unattractive thoughts are trying to turn me into a bear with a very sore head.

This week has not been particularly pleasant, what with both of us feeling under the weather. Almost nothing has been done as I haven’t had the desire or the energy to do it.

I am hoping that after a quiet weekend, some normality and enthusiasm will return on Monday, as I have some serious new developments to consider regarding The Mystery of Folly’s End.

Even when we are as far away from being a writer as it’s possible to get, those writing thoughts and ideas keep on coming, so I will need a clear head to sort them out. Another of my thoughts is about blogging and whether we want to continue or just reduce our activities a bit. These thoughts have been slowly gathering, made infinitely worse every time something changes and things that were easy, suddenly aren’t any more.

We don’t want to stop, as we love what we do, we just wish a lot of it wasn’t so hard…

The Train… Short story, or a poem?

Image by Elias from Pixabay

Not sure if this is a short story or a poem, and Anita isn’t sure either…

I left my body on the train going home
I float above, watching the conductor, shaking my shoulder, 
‘Last stop! You need to step off, sir.’
I watch my body stretchered off the train.
Following the ambulance, I am still attached to my body
They try to revive my still form. I feel no pain.
Darkness slams my floating form back into my body
I awake, strange faces looking at me
‘You are very lucky, young man. We nearly lost you.’
I wait for one of them to mention the strange protrusion
of waving light down my left side.
No one said a word, neither did I, for fear of being thought mad
I had the feeling that part of my floating form was out of line
Over the next few days when speaking to strangers
I could see what was about to happen to them
I told one young couple they would win big on the lottery
That they must give part of it to a charity, or their luck would turn bad
I knew what would happen to them if they ignored my advice
It wasn’t pretty.
I started getting headaches and was told by a friend 
that my astral body was out of line
Would this be my life from now on?
I hoped my astral body could find a way to tuck itself back in
Or was there some other reason I am walking through life 
with an astral glow down one side of my body…

©Anita Dawes2023

#ThrowbackThursday ~ Simple by Anita Dawes #Suspense #FamilyDrama

This is the story of one man’s painful nightmare…
A man ill-equipped to survive the brutal cruelty of his family.
Together with his sister Leanne, they struggle to escape the daily torment, fleeing into the sanctuary of the forest.
But they are hunted down like animals and almost burned alive…
Will they ever find the joy of freedom?


I had been walking for so long my legs were slowing down, beginning to stiffen.  It would be light in a few hours, and still no sign of Simple.  I saw the ridge up ahead in silhouette against the night sky and made myself walk a bit further.

Looking down from the top of the ridge, I could see a few lights twinkling on the outskirts of town and the faint gleam of the river that ran down the mountain.  I sat and rested my legs, enjoying the cool night air on my damp skin. Then I heard a sound; something was moving about in the darkness behind me.  I hid behind a rock, hoping whatever it was wasn’t bigger than me, wishing I had brought Jack’s rifle along.

My heart didn’t slow down, even when I saw it was Simple coming out from wherever he had been hiding.  He was carrying something wrapped in a blanket, holding it close to his chest, tight like he was afraid he would drop it.  I stepped out from behind the rock and startled him.  At the sight of me, he froze, only his eyes moving frantically from side to side.

‘Leanne shouldn’t be here, Gran be m-mad.’

‘Not as mad as she’s gonna be with you. Where you been?’

He didn’t answer me and sat down on a fallen tree.  It was my turn to be startled when the blanket he held moved all by itself.  Knowing him as I did, I expected a wounded animal, but I was wrong. He unwrapped the blanket and held up a baby, not a year old.  Its white skin gleamed luminous in the pale moonlight, and I could see it was a little boy. I didn’t know what to think.  Simple had been gone for weeks, and I had missed him so much.  What on earth did he think he was doing?

I sat staring at the baby, its tiny head swallowed up in his huge hand, so filthy against the clean skin.  He couldn’t have had him for long.

Finally, I found my tongue.  ‘Where did you get the baby, Simple?’

He looked at me, his big dark eyes swimming with tears, and said, ‘For Lizzie, s-stop her crying’.’

‘Where did you get it?  Tell me, we have to take it back!’

‘No, for Lizzie.  A b-boy like Simple.  Stronger than Lizzie’s.’

This was going to take the rest of the night.  I had to make him see, to understand we had to take it back before half the town came looking for it.

‘Everyone’s been looking for you, Simple. I missed you.’

‘M-me too, m-missed Leanne.  Then I come back, bring baby for Lizzie.’

I tried to tell him Lizzie couldn’t have this baby, that he had taken it from its Ma and that was a bad thing he had done.  ‘We must take him back before the sheriff comes looking. Before Jimmy finds us.’

He kept trying to say they had plenty of babies in town.  ‘Lizzie’s die. Lizzie can’t make a g-good baby.’  He wrapped the blanket around the baby, holding him so tight I feared he might crush the life out of him.  I suddenly realised that the baby hadn’t made a sound, so I looked closer to see if he was still alive.  Seeming to sense my presence, his eyes flicked open, a gleaming deep blue in the pale moonlight.

I asked Simple if he remembered where he took the baby from.

‘Town,’ he said.  ‘Like b-baby long time.’ He looked funny, as if he was trying to remember something.  I couldn’t understand what he meant.

‘Like you, long t-time . . . Ma wanted b-baby . . . Simple g-got . . .’

I still didn’t understand, but I couldn’t think about Simple’s words, I needed to get this baby back where it belonged, and quick.  I would ask Gran later what Simple was on about.  I told him I knew the baby came from town.

‘Do you remember which house? Please say you can?  Show me where the baby belongs, Simple?  Jimmy’s out looking for you; you know what will happen if he finds us with this baby.’

Simple looked shocked, as only he could.  Eyes wide, mouth open, head shaking, words failing him. The thought of Jimmy touching the baby did the trick, though; rather than see the baby hurt, he said, ‘We take it b-back.’

I followed him to the edge of the woods, close to town.  Dawn was starting to break in the east, a gradual reminder that daylight would soon give us away.  Creeping behind a row of whitewashed houses, Simple stopped beside an open window.  I held my breath as I watched him climb in and put the baby back from where he had taken it…

Amazon Review

“This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heartwarming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.”

#Friday Fire… #Poetry

The Fires of Hell… a dramatic new poem from Anita…

Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay ~ Poetry by Anita Dawes