To celebrate the release of my second full length novel, Mutant To And The Risky Recruitment, my debut novella, Divine Intervention, is available to download for free until the end of May.
Click below for the PDF file.
To celebrate the release of my second full length novel, Mutant To And The Risky Recruitment, my debut novella, Divine Intervention, is available to download for free until the end of May.
Click below for the PDF file.
“I wish I was dead!”
“Don’t say that,” Ginger advised her brother, Peter, “there are worse things in the world than being single.”
Peter stared at his half empty cup of tea and sighed. To be honest, life had been pretty good to Peter. He had a good job, a good home, and a great sister that paid rent to stay in his spare bedroom, but when it came to women, life had been pretty unfair to him over the years. Lately he’d made the conscious decision to try to find a girlfriend, which had finally given life something to be unfair about. Previously he’d spent much of his time trying to succeed at school, then college, university and work. Now that he’d accomplished what he thought he needed to in terms of academia and career, he thought it was high time he found someone to share his good fortune with.
But this was proving to be the hardest thing he’d attempted so far.
“It’s not being single that’s getting me suicidal,” Peter tried to explain, “It’s just this never ending barrage of women I keep getting set up with. They’re all just so awful! And the ones that I do like – the rare few that make it into my list of possibilities – well, I never hear from them again.”
“Mary was nice,” Ginger said, “I don’t know why you never did anything about Mary. And if I remember she liked you too.”
“Mary’s dead.” Peter said.
Ginger stared at him, “Is she?” she asked.
“Yes,” Peter nodded, “don’t you remember? She fell under that train? It was on the news.”
“Was that the day it took three hours for me to get home?” Ginger asked.
“That’s the one,” Peter nodded.
Ginger breathed a sigh, “Well, that’s a real shame. You two looked pretty good together.”
“I imagine she doesn’t look too hot now,” Peter sighed again, “you can see what I mean though? Mary was probably the best match, and she wanted to see me again. It’s as if someone or something is conspiring against me.”
“Yes,” Ginger said, adding sarcastically, “I’m sure that’s what Mary’s family took from her death.”
“You know what I mean, Ginge,” Peter said, “I just get so pissed off that I’m wasting so much time and effort on something that, realistically, should be so simple. Finding a partner should be the easiest thing in the world when you’re as successful as we are. I mean, you’re a doctor, and you’re still single.”
“That’s through choice, Pete,” Ginger told him, “I don’t have time to mess around with guys when I’m so busy with neurosurgery. Why do you think I rent a room with you instead of finding a place of my own? Do you really think I have time to do housework and cook dinner?”
“I guess not,” Peter conceded.
“In any case, I’ve found someone who might be perfect for you,” Ginger rubbed her hands together with glee.
“Really?” Peter raised a doubting eyebrow, “She isn’t anything like the last five you’ve tried to set me up with?”
“Not at all,” Ginger grinned, “This one’s an actress.”
“An actress?” Peter mulled this over in his head, images of saucy starlets spinning in his mind, “Has she done anything I might have heard of? Or seen?”
Ginger furrowed her brow, “Do you watch much children’s television?” she asked.
“Not really,” Peter answered.
“Then probably not,” Ginger shrugged, “She does a lot of kids shows because she’s so petite – she can pass for a young child.”
Peter glared at his sister,” Am I going to look like a paedophile if I go on a date with this girl?” he asked.
“Of course not,” Ginger replied, “she has to wear a lot of makeup to look like a kid. When she’s in her normal gear she’s really pretty – and apart from being five foot she looks like a grown woman. You know, like that chick from The Big Bang Theory – Howard’s wife.”
“Bernadette? Oh, she’s cute,” Peter smiled, “does she look anything like her?”
“Oh,” Peter frowned, “But she is good looking?”
“Of course,” Ginger nodded, sipping at her own cup of tea, “I wouldn’t set you up with an ugly chick.”
“How do you know she’ll want to go out with me?” Peter asked suspiciously.
“I showed her your picture,” Ginger told him, “She thought you were cute.”
“She said I was cute?” Peter asked.
“Yeah,” Ginger replied, “she thought you looked handsome. And she likes tall guys, so that’s a plus.”
“So, what’s the plan?” Peter asked, “Do I just call her and organize something?”
“I’ll speak to her,” Ginger said, “I’m seeing her tomorrow for a consult.”
Peter narrowed his eyes suspiciously, “A consult?” he repeated, “Is she one of your patients?”
“Yeah,” Ginger said, “Is that a problem?”
“Only if she’s a nutcase,” Peter replied, “What exactly is wrong with her that she’s seeing a neurosurgeon?”
“There’s nothing wrong with her brain if that’s what you’re worried about,” Ginger rolled her eyes. People always assumed that if someone was seeing a neurosurgeon it meant they were in some way brain damaged, “She had a herniated disc – I’m just doing a follow up consult.”
“So she’s not crazy?” Peter asked for clarification.
“She’s not crazy,” Ginger confirmed.
“She just has a bad back?” he continued.
Ginger rolled her eyes, “Just a minor back complaint. She’s perfectly normal.”
“Okay then,” Peter slapped his thighs, “I’m in. Set up the date – I’m free any time she is.”
Ginger clapped her hands together, “Brilliant!” she said enthusiastically, “You two are going to look so cute together.”
Peter stood outside the train station, holding a bunch of flowers in one hand as he tried to check the time on his mobile phone. It was just gone a quarter past eight, and he was supposed to have met this girl Hannah at seven thirty – more than forty-five minutes ago. Ordinarily he’d have given up waiting at least twenty minutes earlier, but he’d promised his sister that he’d make the effort this time.
Peter looked at his watch again.
Seventeen minutes past eight.
Maybe he should give up. Forget what he promised Ginger. He hadn’t been looking forward to this date in any case. Hannah, the actress in question, had suggested they meet at a local wine bar, and Peter hated wine. Still, they might sell something he did drink, like a beer or a whisky. He looked at his watch again.
Eighteen minutes past eight.
Peter looked at the flowers and was about to give them to a homeless man who was sat a few feet away when he heard someone calling his name.
“Peter? Is that you?”
Peter turned around to see a very short girl jogging over to him. He could tell by the way her chest moved that she was well over eighteen, and that no one would think him a paedophile for dating her just because she was tiny. He smiled as she stopped in front of him.
“Hi,” she greeted him, instinctively looking up, “sorry I’m late. You know how it is.”
Peter didn’t know how it was, but he agreed anyway.
“Are those for me?” Hannah asked, gesturing at the flowers that Peter still held in his hand.
“Oh, yes,” Peter said, thrusting them towards her, “I thought you might like them.”
“They’re lovely,” Hannah said, taking a sniff before lowering them to her side.
“So, should we head to the wine bar?” Peter asked her, relieved to be rid of the flowers.
“Yes, lets,” she continued to smile, “I can’t stay for long though, I’ve got marathon training at five am.”
Peter furrowed his brow. Marathon training? Then why had she chosen tonight to meet up with him? Maybe she thought he was ugly, Peter thought. But Ginger had shown her a picture and Hannah had said he was cute. And handsome. Peter wondered what photo Ginger had shown Hannah. Maybe it was a really good one, and reality didn’t quite match up to it. Was Hannah just using marathon running as an excuse so she could duck out early if she got bored? Or had she taken an instant disliking to him now she’d seen him in the flesh?
“That’s not a problem,” Peter lied, “I’ve got to get up early too.”
“Really?” Hannah asked, “What for?”
Peter paused, then answered, “Work.”
“Oh,” Hannah said, sounding a little disappointed in the pretty generic response, “Well, should we go, then?”
What home? Peter though, then realised she meant to the wine bar.
“Let’s,” he said, and they headed to the bar.
On arrival, Peter immediately realised that the wine bar was exactly that – a wine bar. Other than orange juice and water, wine was the only drink that was on sale. And he’d been looking forward to a nice beer all day.
“What can I get you?” Peter asked Hannah as they stood at the bar waiting to be served.
“I’ll have a moscato, please,” Hannah replied. Peter assumed that was a type of wine and ordered a glass, along with an orange juice.
“Are you not drinking?” Hannah asked casually.
“Not tonight,” Peter said, “like I said, I have an early start.”
“That’s right,” Hannah said, “work, wasn’t it?”
“Yep,” Peter nodded as their drinks arrived. He took a sip of the orange juice, feeling the pith sticking uncomfortably to his pallet, as the barman told him the cost.
He almost did a spit-take.
He pulled out his wallet and handed over the money. Thank God Hannah would be leaving early, he thought to himself. With prices like this he wouldn’t be able to afford many more rounds, not without charging it to his credit card.
Hannah took her glass of white wine, and started to walk towards the outside of the pub, presumably looking for a seat. Peter followed her, trying to squeeze passed the milling throng of city workers chugging down glasses of wine like there was no tomorrow and eating small meals off large plates. It wasn’t easy to get passed them; unlike Hannah, Peter couldn’t easily duck under their elbows.
Once he got outside to the garden area, he found Hannah sitting at an empty table. He sidled up to her, not wanting to bump into anyone, and sat down on one of the opposite stools.
“There you are,” she said, as if she didn’t know that she’d just practically abandoned him at the bar, “I wondered where you’d gotten to.”
“You can’t get rid of me that easily,” Peter joked, even though he had a sneaking suspicion that this night was not going to go at all well.
As he took another sip of the extremely pithy orange juice – not actually enjoying the taste, but wanting to at least appear to be – Hannah started looking around the outside of the bar, in between checking her smart phone for messages. Peter was actually starting to get annoyed with her, but he didn’t want to say anything. Not yet. If this night was going to end badly, he wanted it to be entirely Hannah’s fault.
Hannah’s eyes suddenly lit up as she spotted two extremely drunk middle-aged men wandering around, looking for seats.
“Oh my God!” she breathed heavily, then stood up, “Hello?” she called out to the two men, “There are seats free over here.”
Peter couldn’t believe this. He looked at the two men, who looked almost as confused as he was. They clearly didn’t recognize Hannah, and most likely had never met her, yet she was inviting them over to sit with her and Peter, who were supposed to be on a date! Wait until Ginger heard about this.
“Thank you,” said one of the men, putting down his bag and taking a seat on one of the free stools.
“That’s not a problem,” Hannah beamed at the two men, “I know who you are, by the way.”
The first of the men looked at Hannah, then seemed to slump slightly in his seat, “You do?” he said.
“Yes,” Hannah beamed, arching her back flirtatiously as she sat up as high as she could on her stool, “and I must say I’ve always wanted to work with you.”
Who were these men? Peter thought to himself. They must be some big wigs in acting circles for Hannah to be acting in this way; producers or directors or something. Maybe she thought she could get some work out of them.
Hannah began to rummage through her bag, producing a bundle of business cards and, picking two out, handed one to each of the two men. Peter didn’t think she recognized the second man, but clearly she was hedging her bets.
“I’d love if you could take a look at my show reel,” she beamed, thrusting out her chest as best she could, “The web address to my website is at the bottom. I’m always looking for new opportunities, both as an actress and a presenter.”
Peter narrowed his eyes. Had Hannah planned this? Had she organized their date at this specific wine bar because she knew that this guy – who he could only guess was some sort of television or movie producer – frequented the place, and she hoped she could ambush him into taking her details? What kind of a person would do such a thing?
The first man tentatively took the business card between his forefinger and thumb, “Thank you,” he said flatly, “I’ll be sure to take a look.”
“That would be wonderful,” Hannah smiled widely, continuing to engage the two men in conversation until they abruptly left after less than ten minutes.
“Well, that was lucky, wasn’t it?” Hannah said to Peter, turning to speak to him for the first time since the producers had arrived, “I can’t believe they were here, of all places.”
“Clearly,” Peter said, though he could see through her act, which didn’t say much for her acting capabilities.
The date went on for what felt to Peter like an age, Hannah barely asking him anything about his life and constantly wittering on about her own. At just after nine o’clock, Hannah looked meaningfully at her smart phone.
“Is that the time?” she asked no-one in particular, “I didn’t realise it was so late. I really must be going.”
Peter was actually relieved. He hadn’t enjoyed this date one little bit, even though it had lasted less than forty-five minutes and had only cost him one expensive round of drinks. He stood up from his stool as Hannah did the same.
“Well, it was nice meeting you,” Hannah said, slinging her handbag strap across her shoulder, “we must do this again sometime soon.”
Peter couldn’t think of anything worse, but found himself saying, “Yes, we really must.”
Hannah reached into her handbag and pulled out one of the cards she given to the television producer or whatever he is, “You can give me a call sometime,” she said seductively.
Peter took the card, but somehow he thought it was unlikely that any level of seductive behaviour was going to make him forget this waste of an evening.
He walked Hannah back to the train station, where they said their goodbyes and he watched her walk down to the platform. He couldn’t help noticing that Hannah wasn’t carrying the flowers he’d bought for her – she must have left them behind at the pub.
“Thoughtless cow.” Peter thought to himself.
With Hannah gone, Peter decided to head back to the wine bar. If he wasn’t too late he could salvage the flowers that had been left behind, then head on to an actual pub for a few drinks.
When he reached the wine bar, the flowers were still sat on the stool next to the one Hannah had been sat on, looking a little wilted but otherwise none the worse for wear. Glancing down at the ground, he saw two of Hannah’s business cards, crumpled up and discarded. He smiled.
Carefully picking up the flowers, Peter walked back out of the garden area of the bar. With the flowers in one hand and his mobile phone in the other, Peter walked towards a nearby pub, dialling the number for his sister’s work phone. When she answered she sounded very chipper.
“Well, how’s it going?” she asked, “Just give me the bullet points, I’m due in for surgery any minute.”
“It’s not going, it’s gone,” Peter said dryly, “Hannah has to get up early for marathon training.”
“Marathon training?” Ginger repeated, “Well, that’s an obvious lie. With her recent back injury she shouldn’t even be thinking about any kind of long-distance running.”
“I guessed it was a lie,” Peter agreed, “But she was just so conceited I didn’t really care in the end.”
“So how did the date end?” Ginger asked curiously, “Does she want to see you again?”
“She said yes, but I really don’t want to,” Peter sighed down the phone, “Why can’t you find me a decent woman? One that doesn’t start flirting with other men in the middle of a date.”
“She did that?” Ginger asked, “That’s just wrong.”
“You don’t have to tell me,” Peter agreed, “Anyway, I’m going for a quick drink then I’m going to get a taxi home. I’ve still got the flowers if you want them for your room.”
“Thanks, bro,” Ginger said, “And try not to let this chick get you down. There are plenty more women out there that will treat you right – we just need to find them.”
“Thanks Ginge,” Peter said, “I’ll see you when you get home.”
“Don’t drink too much,” Ginger said before cutting off the call.
Peter locked his mobile and put it in his jacket pocket before looking over at the closest pub. It didn’t look very inviting, what with the large amount of men standing outside wearing football shirts that could only mean that a fight would probably start as soon as someone showed up wearing the wrong kit, so maybe he’d give it a miss.
There were a few cabs driving past, most of them with their for hire lights still on. Maybe he’d just go home and get an early night; he didn’t really need anything to drink, other than some water to wash the pith out of his mouth.
Peter looked up the street at the cars coming along, and held out his hand when he saw the ‘for hire’ light of a taxi glowing in the night light. As he clambered into the cab, he thought back on his disastrous evening, and couldn’t help smiling. He did sometimes feel lonely, but just because he was lonely didn’t mean he should waste his time and efforts on the Hannah’s of the world.
Maybe his next date would be more successful.
RESULT – JOINT 4th PLACE
That pretty face,
That winsome smile,
Your eyes that light up brightly.
That wavy hair;
You flip, you toss,
I think about you nightly.
That sloping neck,
Those supple breasts;
Your arching back,
Your body is maturing
But in your face
That smile does falter,
Eyes disguising hurting.
You toss your hair
To hide the pain
With less than subtle flirting.
That sloping neck
Your shoulders heavy weighting.
Those perfect breasts,
That fleeting glance,
Nothing but devastating.
Your back is arched
From constantly exciting.
That perfect shape
Inventive forms of lighting.
From seeing you
As you appear
It seems you are perfection,
I sense the pain
Behind your false projection.
RESULT – JOINT 3rd PLACE
Detective Felicity Maxwell opened her eyes, blinking in the darkness of the room she found herself trapped in. She continued to blink, trying to adjust her eyes to the dark, and eventually she started to make out some of her surroundings.
The room looked like it might have been some sort of shed, but the lack of light from any windows made her think she might be underground, perhaps in someone’s basement workshop judging by the table saw and the rows of tools hammered into the wall above a bench. She shuddered as she eyed the tools, imagining what non-handy-man jobs they might have previously performed. She continued looking around the room, trying to scope out possible escape routes, but there was only one; a flight of stairs that led who-knew where. But trying to think of exit strategies was a little redundant, considering her arms were shackled to a beam above her head.
Felicity tugged at her restraints, desperately trying to find some sort of give in them, but there was none. All she could do was hang there, hoping that one of her fellow officers had received her request for backup before she’d been outmatched by the killer. Still, she had managed to get off a round into his shoulder, so that was something.
Not much, but something.
As she considered her situation, she couldn’t help but think back on how she’d left things with her boyfriend, Trevor. They’d argued that morning – a big argument – and the last words she’d said to him were “I wish you were dead”. She couldn’t help admiring the irony. Judging by her current predicament, she’d be the one dead, and soon.
She’d been tracking the location of a suspect in the Jigsaw Killer case; a killer who had a nasty habit of abducting people then leaving their bodies to be found, chopped up into pieces and assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. Originally they’d considered calling him the Puzzler, but it sounded too much like a villain from the old Batman comics. Granted, the Jigsaw Killer made him sound like John from the Saw series of movies, but the press had gotten hold of the name before they could come up with a better one.
Felicity herself hadn’t originally been assigned to the case of the Jigsaw Killer. Her boyfriend Trevor had been leading the case, but because of something that had happened at work between him and the Captain, he’d been pulled from the case. The argument between Trevor and Felicity had been concerning the fact that Felicity had agreed to take over the case, and he’d been furious that she was stealing his thunder by leading such a high profile investigation.
She’d told him to get over it.
Which hadn’t exactly calmed him down.
Things had escalated when he told her the only reason she got put on the case was because the Captain wanted to have sex with her, which went down very well. She’s slapped him across the face, he’d called her a bitch, and she’d told him she wished he was dead.
And now she was strung up in a lunatic’s lair, waiting to be butchered to death and sliced up like salami.
Felicity hung limply from the beam, trying to rest her legs but only succeeding in straining her arms. If someone didn’t come soon she was sure to be dead meat. She looked at the wall of weaponry, as she’d decided to name it, and pondered how she could loosen herself and slaughter whoever had locked her down her.
As she thought, she heard a noise coming from above her. So, she was definitely in a basement. The noise sounded like a door opening, but it wasn’t the door to this room unless it was pitch black in the rest of the house. She held her breath, fearing that it was the Jigsaw Killer and that he’d hear her, then realised how stupid that was.
He was the one who’d locked her down here. So what was the point in being silent?
Realising that her time might almost be up, she started to pull at her restraints, urgently trying to fray the ropes that bound her wrists. The beam she was tied to was an old wooden one, so there were splinters which she could try to use to cut through the rope. In desperation she started rubbing her hands back and forth, feeling the wood cutting into the rope as well as her wrists. Back and forth she pulled, back and forth, in the hope of getting free and maybe, just maybe, getting hold of a weapon to defend herself from the killer.
As she pulled on the rope, she heard footsteps above her head, getting louder as they presumably got closer. With a final burst of energy she whipped the rope back and forth even harder against the beam until suddenly, without warning, the rope snapped.
Felicity fell forward with a jolt as she found herself free from her restraints. She looked at her wrists, the skin rubbed raw by the beam and the rope, and she nursed the tenderly with her fingers. They hadn’t cut too deep, so rather than slicing her wrists they had only left mild abrasions. The sound of a door handle turning caught Felicity’s attention, and she turned her head quickly to where the sound was coming from, seeing a small sliver of light appear at the top of the flight of stairs. Getting up from her prone position on the floor, Felicity sprinted to the work bench and grabbed a hacksaw, hiding it behind her back as the sliver of light became a beam, then a shaft, then the whole room was illuminated as an over head halogen light flickered on.
Felicity breathed heavily as she heard the footsteps coming down into the basement, and she raised the hacksaw level with her face, waiting for the killer’s approach. Flexing her fingers, she got ready to swing the hacksaw as a pair of familiar shoes stopped down towards her. She frowned, then relaxed her face with a sigh of relief as she realised who it was.
“Oh, thank God you came!” Felicity beamed, throwing down the hacksaw and rushing towards her boyfriend, “I wasn’t sure if my message got through.”
“You really shouldn’t have come here,” Trevor said quietly, “I told you, this case isn’t for women.”
“I’m sure you’re right,” Felicity agreed, not wanting to get into another fight, “let’s just get out of here.”
She threw her arms around Trevor, hugging him tightly, but she couldn’t help noticing him wince as she did so.
“Are you okay?” she asked, taking a step back, “are you hurt?”
“It’s nothing,” Trevor waved it off, “just a little stiff, that’s all.”
Felicity looked at Trevor, noticing a stain on his shirt. A small circle of blood was soaking through the shoulder of his shirt, and Felicity couldn’t suppress the look of shock that crossed her face.
“What is it?” Trevor asked, but Felicity couldn’t speak. The wound was exactly where she’d shot the killer, which could mean only one thing…
“You’re…” Felicity tried again, reaching behind her for the work bench. Trevor looked at his shoulder wound and tutted.
“I wish you hadn’t seen that,” Trevor said almost inaudibly, looking down at his wound then back up at Felicity. As he did, Felicity swung a hammer she’d found on the work bench into the side of his head, knocking him off balance. Taking full advantage of his confusion, Felicity raced passed Trevor and up the stairs, hoping to escape.
That wound on his arm could mean only one thing. Trevor was the Jigsaw Killer!
No wonder he didn’t want anyone else working on the case; he was probably making sure that none of the actual evidence got compiled to form a case against him. Now he was killing cops as well? Or at least trying to.
Felicity scrambled through the door at teh top of the stairs, finding herself in an old fashioned wooden house. Looking around she saw the front door standing open and she raced towards it, but as the ran she heard Trevor coming up the stairs behind her.
“You can try to run, Felicity,” he said in a mocking voice, “but you won’t be able to get away.”
Felicity stared at the man she had once loved, a look of sheer evil on his face. In one hand he held Felicity’s police issue revolver, and in the other a deadly looking machete. He grinned even wider when he saw the fear on Felicity’s face before she ran through the front door.
Outside Felicity stopped in her tracks, looking around. All she could see was old farmland, allowed to turn barren through lack of care. She stared into the distance where she couldn’t even see a road or any other buildings. Turning back to the house, she saw Trevor standing in the doorway.
“Run,” he said simply, beginning the last sentence she’d ever hear, “it makes it so much more enjoyable.”
Realising there was nothing else for it, Felicity turned and ran, sprinting a futile sprint as Trevor started to give chase.
RESULT – DIDN’T PLACE
The final things you ever say
Will stick with those so near and dear
Whether it’s pretty and profound
Or something pulled from out your rear
Those words you utter as you pass
Those pearls of wisdom you impart
No matter what they end up being
They will linger in their heart
So think about those final words
That final chance to speak your piece
That opportunity to talk
Before your bodily functions cease
You want to make it deep, intense
You want to make it quite profound
You don’t want your last words to be
“I fell in a hole in the ground.”
RESULT – DIDN’T PLACE
Jack couldn’t believe his luck. He’d been trying to find some peace and quiet to finally write his novel, and what had he found online? A cabin that someone wanted occupied while they were away. So not only did he have peace and quiet in the woods to finally get some writing done, but he was actually getting paid for the privilege.
Jack sat his laptop at a desk in the corner of the living area and plugged the cord into the electrical outlet, Cracking his knuckles, he switched the laptop on and waited for it to reach the login page. Now that he was away from the distractions of the city and the internet he’d be able to get plenty of work done, and nothing was going to stop him.
When the login screen appeared, Jack entered his password and waited for his wallpaper to appear. When it did, his wide smile turned into a frown.
A message on the screen read “Battery power critical”.
He glanced down at where he’d plugged in the power cord. Yep, the switch was flicked to one, and both ends were connected, so what could be wrong?
Then it hit him. He was in a cabin in the woods, and he probably had to turn on a generator to get any power going. He rose from his seat and, as if to test his theory, he flicked the light switch.
“Great,” Jack groaned, putting his jacket back on, “I’d better go and find this generator then.”
Jack walked through the front door of the cabin, stepping out into the warm breeze that greeted him. He took in the summery air, filling his lungs, then breathed back out again.
Things were looking up.
Walking around to the back of the cabin, Jack located the enclosure that housed the generator. Looking through the keys he’d been provided for looking after the cabin, he located the correct one and slipped it into the lock. Once the doors were open, he was presented with a simple enough looking generator, powered by petrol. He checked there was enough petrol inside, then pulled out the choke. Finally he pressed the on switch.
Jack frowned, staring at the generator, then realised he’d missed out one important step.
The generator had a recoil rope, like on a lawnmower!
He pulled on that and the generator sprung to life.
“Simple,” Jack congratulated himself, heading back into the cabin.
The lights had sprung to life in his absence – clearly he hadn’t turn the switch back to off when he’d tried it before, and when he checked his laptop it was happily charging the battery.
“Awesome,’ he said to himself, taking a seat at the desk again before opening up a word document.
Before he could start typing, a strange noise drew his attention. It sounded like a voice, coming from one of the bedrooms.
“Oh no,” he whispered to himself, “it better not be squatters.”
Cautiously Jack picked up a poker from the fireplace and took small steps towards the bedroom the voices were coming from. Slowly he edged the door open, preparing himself to swing the poker into some hobos face.
As the door opened he realised that there was no-one there. Puzzled he looked around the room, finally resting his eyes on an old fashioned cassette player.
“Hmm,” he mumbled to himself, “it must have come back on when I switched on the generator. It might come in handy for recording my thoughts and then typing them later.”
As he approached the cassette player, aiming to turn it off, he couldn’t help listening to what the voice was saying. As he hesitated to press the stop button, he heard the man’s voice say the following:-
“It was in the rear chamber of the castle that we stumbled upon something remarkable. Morturom Demonto, the ‘Book of the Dead’. My wife and I brought the book to this cabin where I could study it undisturbed…”
Jack smiled to himself. It almost sounded like something out of the Evil Dead movies, especially with that mention of the Book of the Dead. He sat down on the edge of the bed, turning the volume up slightly to hear what came next,
“…It was here that I began the translations. The book speaks of a spiritual presence. A thing of evil that roams the forests and the dark bowers of man’s domain. It is through the recitation of the book’s passages that this dark spirit is given license to possess the living. Included here are the phonetic pronunciations of those passages…”
As Jack heard the voice, he became paranoid and reached to turn the cassett player off. But he was too slow.
“Cunda astratta montose eargrets gutt nos veratoos canda amantos canda,” the voice spoke, and a shiver ran through Jack’s entire body.
A creak of the door behind him made him spin around on the bed, but there was nothing there. As he swallowed back fear, a smile crept over his lips.
“What am I thinking?” he said out loud to himself, “The Book of the Dead isn’t real. It’s just something made up to scare children and susceptible morons. There’s no such thing as demonic possession.”
As if to tell him he was wrong, a supernatural creaking came from the living area of the cabin. Jack grabbed hold of the poker and slowly got up from the bed, holding the poker level with his face so he could swing as soon as he saw anything unusual.
As he walked back into the living area of the cabin, he looked around nervously, trying to locate the source of the creaking noise. His eyes settled on deer’s head mounted above the fire, and he couldn’t help thinking back to the Evil Dead movies. He watched the deer’s head suspiciously, and then the front door which he’d left open suddenly slammed shut!
Jack spun on the spot, turning to face the door, before he heard a chuckling coming from somewhere in the room. His eyes darted to the deer’s head, which appeared to have come to life. It rocked back and forth, mocking him, then turned its milky white eyes on Jack before screaming:
“Dead by dawn! Dead by dawn!”
It was just like in the movie! Jack screamed, turning to the front door which swung closed and locked him in the cabin. Unsure of what his next move should be, he ran back into the bedroom, closing the door behind him in the hope of keeping out any menacing evil spirits.
As he cowered next to the bed, still holding the poker up level with his face, he heard a knocking noise coming from the other side of the room. Jack closed his eyes, desperately hoping it would just go away, but the knocking continued as sweat poured down his terrified face.
Finally unable to ignore the knocking, he got up from his safe spot on the floor and walked to where the noise was coming from, hoping it was just a trapped bird or something. What he saw brought back more terrible memories of the Evil Dead series of movies.
The carpet was rising up and down next to the window, and Jack cautiously took a hold of the corner of the carpet and whipped it away from the ground. A trapdoor stood before him, rising slightly up and down as he watched with fear.
Suddenly the trapdoor shot up, straining against the chains that someone had thankfully run through its lock. A hideous hag-like face peered out from the crack in the trapdoor, leering menacingly at Jack with the same milky white eyes of the deer.
“We’ll swallow your soul! We’ll swallow your soul!” the repulsive hag screamed at him, bouncing the trapdoor up and down as she screamed, “We’ll swallow your soul!”
Jack couldn’t take any more. He firmed his grip on the poker and starting jabbing it through the gap in the trapdoor, attempting to stab the hag in the eye to stop her incessant howling. When the poker finally connected with the hags face, he heard a decidedly different voice:
“Hey, that hurt!”
The man’s voice seemed completely out of place to Jack, and he stopped poking at the hag. The voice spoke again:-
“Hey guys, can we call it a day?”
Jack looked around, wondering who the man was talking to, then he noticed something glinting next to the bedroom mirror.
It was a camera lens.
“What the…” Jack mumbled before someone burst into the room.
“Surprise!” a middle-aged man in a baseball cap blurted when he stepped in the room, “You’ve been Mind Mess’d!”
Mind Mess’d? Jack thought to himself. The stupid TV show.
“Was this all a joke?” Jack asked, completely perplexed.
“Yeah,” the presenter laughed, forcing a mike boom in Jack’s face, “we set this whole thing up – the house-sitting offer, the tape recorder, the hag in the basement! If we’d known you were a writer and that you’re name was Jack, we’d probably have set up a Shining prank on you!”
“What about the deer?” Jack asked. The presenter looked puzzled.
“What deer?” he asked.
“That one!” Jack screamed as the deer head, which had somehow found its way down off the wall, threw itself at the presenter. He screamed as the deer started to chew on his face and, even though he was terrified, Jack couldn’t help smiling.
RESULT – 3rd PLACE
A lonely structure in the forest
Standing squat and solitary
Often found in horror movies
Always lonesome, sometimes scary
Staying there will drive you mad;
Try to leave, you’ll go insane!
Lonely structure in the forest
Buries badness in your brain
Bathed in blood and soaked in sin
The cabin represents all evil
Spanning from the dawn of time
To wickedness beyond primeval
So the cabin in the woods
That holds all that hell can’t contain
Sends a blackness to our hearts
And malignance to our brain
RESULT – JOINT 3rd PLACE