Tom Davies's Blog

May 2, 2017

Firstly, sorry once again. This is entirely my fault, I hold my hands up - I'm crap at this Social Media thing. Utterly pants. If you like, you could think of me as the anti-Trump, although me not posting something is hardly news (my day will come...).

Anyway. It turns out that I've not updated my blog in about five months or so. Whilst I very much doubt that you're all there on the point of expiring due to temporary lack of exhalation, you guys were all kind enough to like my page, so I guess I owe you an update - albeit a quick one.

THINGS HAPPENED.

Just nothing particularly blog-worthy. I got a permanent job, which is good, and even has writing friendly hours. But, being human, and messy, I have loads of projects on the go, and not enough time to get them all finished.
Pompeii got some re-writes and about fifteen-hundred more words, and I'm really hoping to be able to get it out in the world by the end of May
The sequel to Pompeii has a structure, and the start of a plot, and I've got some ideas about where I want various characters to end up as the series moves forwards.
Some of you may have gathered that I practise Martial Arts (well done for paying attention). It's a style of Ju Jitsu, called Junsui Ryu. I'm tentatively working on a book about the style (basics and principles) with the assistance of the guy who created it - my Sensei, proof-reader, landlord, drinking buddy and all round mate, Paul Lemar. I'm not 100% certain that it's going to happen, but here's hoping. In the meantime, click Here for more information about the style.

I didn't win, but I did enter a writing competition recently. So. As an apology for being rubbish at Social Media, I've decided to pop this on here... What follows is my entry into the 2017 Sci Fi London 48 Hour Flash Fiction Challenge (note the capitals... if writing fantasy and science fiction doesn't work out, maybe I could go and work for Buzzfeed... oh, wait...). All entrants were given a title, a line of dialogue that had to appear, and an optional scientific theme. I freely admit that my use of the title is a bit dubious, but I'm reasonably pleased with the way I managed to get the dialogue in. I wrote it in under 48 hours (clue's in the name of the contest), and apart from a very quick once over and dust, I present it as I submitted it.

Those of a nervous or sensitive disposition should be aware that the story contains bad language. Try not to let it worry you, although by the same token feel free to complain if it does - as always, get in touch via the facebook page, otherwise, I hope you enjoy the story...

Title: Whipped Up

Dialogue: Spray this enzyme around and leave... they won't remember you were even here

Science: Everything we touch gets our DNA, litter is now traceable to the owner

Word count: 1879 including title

Whipped Up

The crowd outside are baying for my blood. I can hear them. Understandable, I guess. The Tree of Liberty doesn't differentiate between tyrants or patriots, and neither does the mob. And you want to know why I did what I did? Simple - I did it because I could, and because I have more balls than you.

It was the target of a lifetime, and a chance to get even.

I was in and out in the blink of an eye - objectively.

Subjectively, it was more like thirty minutes. Much more than that on a black market rig, and the autoreturn kicks in, sends you bouncing back to your starting position. That's what screwed me. The only reason I left that brass behind was the damned rig. The only reason you got my DNA, or any proof at all. I had to get back to my jumping-in point, or risk losing vital body parts when my rig flipped the switch. I can't believe someone kept a goddamn cartridge casing for two hundred years.

Whoever picked the nest did a good job. I took my time lining up the shot. Downwards angle, moving target. Three rounds with a cold, unfamiliar weapon. Some Italian thing with a funny calibre. Fucking antique, didn't even have caseless rounds, which is obviously what screwed me. I learned my trade in the Corps, so the shooting itself was pretty easy, really, even with the wobble in my system. Black market time rigs tend to screw you up, make for one hell of a rough ride. Nothing like the milspec stuff I trained on.

Worth it, though.

The other problem with black market kit - you can't take anything through with you. There's an old movie, from the century before last - you can find it floating around on the web if you go deep enough. Don't bother trying to follow the plot, the soundtrack hasn't survived. Anyway, it's something to do with time-travel, has guys popping out of mid air in a big ball of lightning. Totally over-dramatic, but you know, pretty close. Anyway, point is, they're naked at the other end. No non-organics, except the rig. But we had that covered.

Anyway, so my buddy Sirhan and I, we put the time in. Did the recon the way they taught us to against the Sovs, during the last interstellar bust up. We were specialists, damned good at what we did. The Corps had a phrase for it.

Prime Target Elimination.

Fuck that. Sirhan and I were assassins. Regime change was the speciality of our team, one planet at a time. Apart from minor differences in the details, it's pretty straightforward. Taking down a planet, or a system is the same as taking down a man. You stalk in from a safe distance. Look at the locality, see what stands out, what doesn't. Scope out the local colour palette, make sure you match. Find the flow and move with it. Go in with the minimum, get what you need on the ground. Weapons acquisition in a non-permissive environment is what the Corps call it. Scrounge and survive. Kill the leaders, but keep it surgical. No massacres unless psyops think it'll be beneficial. Install the friendlies, and move on.

It's the same principle with the past.

Ok, so there's the Tannen Laws banning non-governmental time travel, but like any heap of manure there's ways around them. Restrictions on time travel are hard to enforce, and most of the idiots who get caught are just that. We were Corps infiltration and wetwork trained. And besides, we had a lot of help. Some of them had been back there for years, subjectively.

What? You don't think, the way this 'Cold' war has been going, that someone wouldn't think to take a pop at the first family? Shit, all you have to do is look at history. Two hundred years ago, a Sov leader called Stalin said 'Death solves all problems - no man, no problem'. I guess you could consider that a recently adopted personal philosophy of mine. Ironically, the only way to do it was the way I did it. Back then, when they were loved and revered, they were vulnerable. Now, when they're feared and reviled, they're untouchable. Or, at least they think so.

Anyway. We weren't the only ones who mustered out after doing our time with the words 'disquiet' and 'resentment' on our separation psych-screens. Hell. Most of the guys I served with felt like that. Conscription of entire planetary populations. Weapons 'testing' that leaves a hole in a solar system where a supposedly uninhabited planet used to be. Corruption. Comrades lost to proxy wars because some fucking diplomat rerouted vital supplies to line their pockets. Money spent on the arms race, the space race, the sprint to colonise. The demands of breeding enough fucking people just to hold onto what we have. It used to be that we discriminated against each other based on skin colour, or religion. At least we solved the last one, but now we resent how a person came into being, whilst at the same time being entirely reliant on the fact they exist in the first place.

And all of this with the background refrain of 'Democracy, Democracy' ringing in our ears. The constant cacophony of bullshit, telling us in strident tones how lucky we are to live in the orbit of influence of the UDP. How much better off we are to be part of the United Democratic Powers, where dreams can come true, rather than growing up in one of the grey and functional SovBloc humanfarms, where dreams, we are told, are taken as a symptom of a worrying individuality. Now, I've worked on a few more of those worlds than you have clearance for, and they ain't exactly the workers paradise the Sovs make them out to be, but they're certainly no worse than some of the shitholes my buddies and I bled to prop up. I've seen it. So have others.

Sirhan and I, we weren't alone.

It started as a joke. Me, Sirhan, a couple of others - both from our old unit, or the conversation wouldn't have happened. We were having a beer, bitching about life. I forget who suggested it. We tossed it around, got whipped up over it some, left it, moved on with the conversation. Sirhan and I came back to it later, started looking at the angles. Realised it could be done.

As I said, we put the time in. Once you get past the whole arriving naked thing, our biggest problem would be 'showing out'. We'd both been planet-hopping, blending into the local population for days or months at a time, but this would be different. This wasn't just jumping onto SovWorld X to pop a local commissar. For all the talk of differences, our tech and their tech is pretty much identical in what it does. Form may change, and how they get from here to there is usually pretty fucked up, but ultimately it works. But this wasn't just a few light years of distance. This was decades of time. Nearly two centuries. Speech, customs, tech, everything would be different. Even the language. We had to learn how to fit in.

We hit the history books, and almost immediately realised we had to split the task. It was simply too big. We began to despair. Then they found us. The resistance, I guess you'd call them. It turned out that maybe our old friends weren't just shooting the shit over beers that night, they'd been on a recruitment drive. It was flattering, I suppose. We barely paused to think before signing up.

You look at me, you think OK, sure. Ex-military. Maybe one or two like him, some pissed-off civilians and possibly a disgruntled spook or two. To be honest, I don't know how many of us there are, operational security, and all that.. Quite a few, enough to get you scared, if you're invested in the status quo. All of a sudden, a whole bunch of our problems fell away. We had a support network, including a couple of folk somewhere who could slip small packages through a Milspec time rig. No guns, but they assured us they had people the other end who could set us up. At the time, I didn't realise they meant literally.

We were still going in on the economy package. Time travel at it's best is hit and miss, and the shit-rigs we were using were hardly state of the art. But we were confident. We shook, hugged like brothers, then turned and just walked away. That was the last time I saw Sirhan, in a dusty old warehouse, naked but for the time rig. Hope he makes it.

True to form, my own equipment worked slightly less than perfectly. I popped out in the right place, but twenty minutes early. Thankfully, my contact was there, and switched on enough to deal, but the other twenty or so people in the theatre were, frankly, shocked as shit. He was up and moving within seconds, throwing me an alloy canister with an aerosol attachment.

'Spray this enzyme around and leave... they won't remember you were even here.'

Luckily, they were all clustered fairly close together, so we didn't have to chase anyone as we hosed them down. I still don't know what the stuff was, but it worked. Most of them were dozing almost as soon as the mist from the canisters touched them.

He told me his name was Jack. He was middle aged, out of shape, and had been here for years, on the fringes of the local organised crime scene. I had him figured for a military intelligence reservist, strictly a wannabe. They'd found me a nest, and a couple of weapons with suitable ammunition. The pistol he gave to me in the restrooms at the theatre, along with a set of clothes. The rifle was concealed in the shooting position, along with it's ammunition - he'd heard I like to select my rounds.

'What about attribution? Who's taking the fall for this one?'

He smiled at me. I didn't like it.

'Don't worry, Lee.' He told me.'We got that covered.'

You, and everyone else in the galaxy know the rest.

The crowd outside are getting louder. That senator, the weasel-faced fucker from New Texas, he's out there. Getting them riled up. But I saw the power supply on the way in here tonight. I've seen the lights flicker with the test cycles. No matter how much he gets the crowd whipped up, there's only one way this ends. I've done my part, and I hear a rumour that Sirhan did OK. Someone else will get the son, and then the wave will come crashing down the continuum, and none of this will matter anyway.

But that's all in the future, and I'm not headed in that direction. Commit a crime, if that what you want to call it, in the twentieth century, face twentieth century justice. Perfect deniability.

Pretty easy when you fuckers have a Milspec time rig in the basement, no?

I doubt it'll come to court, anyway.

Jack's got that covered.
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Published on May 02, 2017 13:58 • 132 views • Tags: apologies, coming-soon, fantasy, flash-fiction, sci-fi

December 7, 2016

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming fantasy short story 'Pompeii'. For more information and news, please visit my facebook page

Somerset, England. Present Day
I felt the pull for weeks. South. Always South, away from my Somerset home. As usual, I tried to resist, tried to fight it. Dog watched with good-humoured patience, knowing me better than I know myself, even after all this time. He watched me potter around, watched me clean and prepare my weapons, and then watched me pack them all away carefully. Stretched out in front of the fire, one languid eye open, he seemed to be laughing at my futile resistance to fate.
Eventually, inevitably, I conceded that the power which rules my life is indeed stronger than me. So, not entirely without ill-humour, I roused him and we left late on an April night. I much prefer to begin a journey under a full moon. By the time the sun rises, one is far from home, seeing a new part of the world revealed by the sun for the first time. It didn't surprise me that I went. But it did surprise me that when I stood on the cliffs looking at the slate grey of the English Channel, I was still being pulled South. This was a new development. And an unwelcome one. Leaving the land of my birth had never been something I'd expected to have to do – and in fact was somewhat counter to my purpose. The promise I made to my wife as she died hadn't left room for holidays. Nonetheless, that promise had sustained me far beyond the normal count of a man's years. I leave it to you to decide whether that is a blessing or not. Apart from an unwelcome longevity, there are benefits.
I found a comfortable spot on the short grass, sat down and began to pray. The day passed. The sun dropped, the sea mist began to rise, and I made my way down to the shore, Dog trailing behind me, as watchful as ever.

The Longship emerged slowly from the fog, silent as the grave. No creak or groan from the timbers. But the crew were there to greet me. They lined the bows, fear and hate boiling off them in waves. Two archers nocked their arrows. I swallowed hard, Dog growled. But neither of us stepped back.
'Step forward and be known!'
The voice hissed and fizzed like the surf, powerful but befuddled. I sighed.
'Ubba. It's me.'
Apparently, he was in a bad mood. Two arrows cut into the wet sand near my feet. I looked at Dog. He looked back, eyes questioning. I spoke softly.
'I already killed them once, not sure twice would do any good.' I raised my voice. 'Ubba, you goat-suckled son of a whore, get your arse out here and greet me like a man!'
Dog stared at me, as did the crew. I lifted my left hand, and the ship shuddered to her keel, as if grounded.
'Ubba. Get the hell out here now, or I'll split your ship in half like firewood. Again.'
The ranks on board, shaken by the sudden stop, stumbled. After a moment, the man himself shouldered his way to the front. He was a big man, bigger by almost half than his crew, and he was angry. He wore mail and plate, the wounds I had given him still bright in contrast, despite the thousand years or more since I had laid him to rest beneath what is now known as the Bristol channel.
'The hell you want, Draugr? Let us rest!'
His Scandaiavian dialect was hard to decipher, and after so many centuries I wasn't sure I still had enough fluency to speak it. I opted for colloquial old English instead.
'Later. I need passage.'
'Swim.'
I sighed. Ubba could be tiresome, and I was getting less patient as the centuries wore on. I raised my hand again, the longship staggered, and now the timbers screamed.
For a moment I almost thought he'd make me do it, just out of spite. But he knew I'd just kill him again, and then raise him up. Again. All it would cost me was time, and I had plenty of that. In the end, he relented, and I boarded. The crew shuffled back unwillingly, and one of them spat on the deck, but Dog growled. The Norseman suddenly found something better to do on the other side of the ship.
'So, Draugr, why did you wake us?'
The voice hissed through clenched teeth. I turned to look at Ubba. It involved looking up, the old pirate being nearly a foot taller than me.
'South, Ubba, I need to go south.'
'How far south?'
'Until I tell you to stop. Enough talk. Lets go.'
With that he grunted, walked away and started barking unintelligable orders.

***

Somerset, England. 878AD.
There was going to be a battle. Twenty-eight Viking ships had sailed into the bay below the hillfort known as Cynuit, their sails flapping in the breeze. The Saxon defenders had withdrawn into the lofty fortification, following their leader, Odda. I didn't particularly like him. Neither did he like me, or the men who followed me. We kept ourselves apart for that reason, and for others. It didn't much matter to me who won - we were Dumnonii, and these had once been our lands, as far East as what is now known as the River Parrett, and beyond. That didn't really matter to me either. Our people hadn't been the first there, the Saxons woudn't be the last, nor the Vikings who would inevitably follow them. Our blood still ran in the veins of the people, intermingling, and would do so down the centuries. They would all become my people, eventually. Several centuries of life will do good things for your perspective on tribe, race and the rest of it. My job, and that of the men who followed me was to protect the people, now and until my promise was fulfilled.
Even if the outcome of the battle was unimportant to me, I still had a purpose in being there. There was something I needed. Most of the invading ships were drawn up below, their crews gathered in war formation under Odin's Raven banner, flapping powerfully in the sea breeze. But one still held offshore, perhaps as a flexible reserve in case the Saxons managed to outflank their comrades. Or maybe the captain was in disgrace, held back from the joy of slaughter. I sighed. Nothing changes as slowly as men.
Odda approached our small group, flanked by his two most senior warriors. They looked uneasy, as if they would rather face the raiders below than acknowledge our being there. Christians they may have been, but soldiers are superstitious, no matter what God they follow. He eyed me distastefully.
'I would speak with you. Alone.'
I nodded my assent, and we moved some distance from the others. Looking down from the top of the hill over the channel, we could just about see the mass of land the other side, dark and brooding. Odda seemed reluctant to open his mouth, so I started for him.
'A fine day for a battle, if such a day were to exist.'
He looked sideways at me.
'You think there will be a battle? We can wait them out here.'
We both knew that to be a lie.
'You have no water up here. The Norsemen do down there. If you stay, you die.'
'What you say is true.' He turned to look at me. Now we were getting to the point. 'You are the one they call Guardian.' He looked even more uneasy.
'I have heard them call me that, yes.'
'The Britons say you have lived forever. That you cannot be killed.'
'My people like a good story.'
He grunted with what could have been amusement.
'Be that as it may, I have heard stories of your skill. And you carry yourself like a born warrior.'
What could I tell him? That I had been born far away, captured by the Romans and used as a guide and translator? That I had been adopted by the Dumnonii when I married the daughter of a local noble? That she had died when darkness descended upon our village, and that my last promise to her as she lay dying had been, having failed to protect her, to protect our people for as long as life was in my body? Or that the Goddess of The Deep had heard my promise and blessed, or cursed, me with an extended life and power that I still didn't fully understand? Perhaps not. So instead I shrugged, and let him draw his own conclusions. He stared at me a while, then lowered his voice.
'They say you serve a Goddess.'
'That is true.'
'Is she powerful?'
I smiled, gently.
'She's a Goddess.'
I met his look, and he bowed his head, and kicked at a pebble.
'I serve a Christian King. And I am a Christian. But I think perhaps today, I am a warrior first. And as such, I ask for your help.' He paused. 'And that of your Goddess.'
Life is so much easier when you take religion out of it.
'On one condition.'
He looked at me, the question in his eyes.
'Spoils.'
'If we win, and you live, you may take what you wish. What would you have?'
I pointed past him, to the ship in the bay with it's crew still aboard.
'That.'
He laughed.
'Her crew may not let you take her.'
'I want them too.'
I smiled back at him, and something in my face silenced his laughter. He looked scared again.
'Where I come from, Odda, you keep what you kill.'
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Published on December 07, 2016 07:27 • 258 views • Tags: coming-soon, fantasy, short-stories

August 4, 2016

So, being something of a neophyte writer (at least as far as publishing goes) I rarely get asked where I get my ideas. But I feel like I should share something, if just to get some of the images out of my head.

Some of the stuff I've written (and incidentally the two short stories I've published via Smashwords.com) is pretty straightforward - The Last Bard was based on an actual trip to Snowdonia back in 2000, including running up the mountain for a bet, and nearly auto-darwinating in an unexpected mineshaft. Fun times. I never actually met the old fella who may or may not be the Last Bard, but he seemed like an interesting character, so I popped him in there. Likewise, I'm not sure where the shape-changing came from, but I did see a hawk at the summit. In fact, it was the only damn thing I did see, it was that cloudy. Guardian, as I've said in the afterword of the book, started life as a ghost story. I'd spent a winter morning exploring the salt marshes near Porlock with the family dog, and came across a ruined barn. The marsh is pretty desolate in winter, but the light that day was beautiful, and the whole scene was somehow imbued with that beauty at the same time as being somehow unsettling, with a vague aura of threat to it. Being newly arrived in the area, I suppose I was feeling somewhat isolated, and perhaps some of that sense of being an outsider bled through into the character I came up with. Certainly, the first part of the story pretty much wrote itself. Apart from that, I suppose it's pretty much straight fantasy, a genre I've dipped into repeatedly since I learned to read.

Another story I'm hoping to publish soon, Untitled Papers, is partly based on my experiences growing up in a rather unusual house in East Sussex, in a village on the edge of Ashdown Forest. It was a great place to grow up, but again, I always felt slightly uncomfortable there, especially as I entered my teens. Fascinated as I was by the supernatural, I desperately wanted the place to be haunted, but alas, there were no chain rattling apparitions to be seen. There was, however, a dark attic to explore, and a mysterious flooded cellar that my Great Aunt (who lived in the basement flat for many years) always insisted could never be opened. It caught my imagination, and even though it was disappointingly free of imprisoned nuns or whatever when finally opened, it obviously stayed with me. Between that and the large amount of supernatural fiction I've read over the years, something bubbled up in my imagination.

Speaking of bubbling imagination, dreams have always been an interesting source of ideas for me. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you:

The Park of Fragmented Dreams

I have an inner dreamscape. Locations I visit over and over again, places I know and love. Or fear. I don't always remember my dreams, but usually when I do, I've been to one of these places. There is a forest where the hunting is good, where friendly wolves run beneath the Pines (but, remember to avoid the ruined house at it's heart. You have been warned). There are the tunnels I explored as a child, flooded now, and forever haunted by the child-eating witch my friends and I conjured by accident one summer evening (She lives in the water like a virus in blood). There are hills and valleys, and a beautiful but empty manor house to explore, which I'm pretty sure is somewhere in France.

And there is the Park of Fragmented Dreams.

The park is set on a hillside of rolling fields and steep, dry stonewalled roads. Or maybe an intermittently forested mountainside, reminiscent of Northern Greece. It changes, but it's always in the same place. The exhibits, too, change.
The last time I went there, I drove. The route was simple. I had to drive along a fast road, navigating only by concentrating on my Sat-Nav, and never looking at the road. Helpfully, other cars were also displayed on the screen, reminding me of a driving game toy I had as a child in the nineteen-eighties. It was somewhat exhilarating.

I arrived at the top of a steep rocky bluff, and, nodding politely to the other visitors, of whom there were many, took in the view. The valley dropped away below me, eventually hazed out into infinity. Geography is optional here. Something skrarked overhead, but there was no threat. Around me, others wandered unhindered, families, individuals, couples. There is no gate, no fee to pay. If you can get there, then entrance is free.

I made my way downhill, around the rocks. Something like a giant ship's mast lay almost on its side, almost horizontal. Rigging tangled around it, and from the rigging, laughing, children dangled while their parents smiled and watched. Suddenly, it lurched upwards, the kids whooping with delight, and then crashed back down. I started to worry, but realised it was just a ride.

'Don't worry, it's just a ride!' A smiling woman told me, seeing my concern. I smiled back, and nodded that I understood, but then something else caught my notice.

Far below me. Paratroopers, uniformed in field grey and carrying MP40 Schmeisser submachine guns, hunted a lone partisan through the trees. They called orders to each other in what could have been German, but probably wasn't. For a while, I was the hunted man, scurrying from tree to tree, bush to bush, all the while trying to get back to my scout car. I knew it was hidden among the rocks, and I knew I would get there. But it would take time, and patience. The latter I had, but time was not my friend. I could already hear a faint jangling intruding from somewhere nearby. I pushed it away, and left the soldier to his mission. I knew he'd make it, deliver the documents and unmask the traitor in his organisation. He always does. He'd probably get the girl too, and most likely drink whiskey in unrealistic quantities. Lucky bastard.

Finally, walking back to the car and ready to leave, I saw a pair of nuns. Something about them bothered me, and as I approached they turned from their conversation. Thankfully, we were in the park. Both of them wore masks made of deer skulls, the antlers still attached. I shivered, and the look they gave me spoke volumes.

'We're not here for you. Not today. Not in the park.'

But, somewhere, some dream, they will be.

Thanks for reading. Sleep well!

T
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Published on August 04, 2016 11:52 • 23 views • Tags: dream, ideas, inspiration, weird, writing

January 24, 2013

So, it's getting closer and closer to completion, and as I've been going on about it for so long, I thought I'd share something (and prove that the whole book wasn't just in my head). This is the preface to the next ebook I will be publishing on smashwords, which will be available in all good online retailers. Hopefully.

So, without further ado:

Untitled Papers, Found in a Derelict House
Preface

I should tell you right away, I'm not sure I can claim authorship of the following pages. If that seems a strange way to start a story, then perhaps I should also tell you that I'm not sure it is a story - not in the sense of being fictional, anyway. Perhaps editor would be a better word?

I should explain.

What follows is a rough narrative that... No, that won't do.

It seems I have set myself something of a difficult task here, for I cannot explain what follows without digging into my own childhood to some degree. I apologise in advance if any of this seems too personal.

My grandfather died when I was quite young. I never really knew the man, although by all accounts he was a wonderful man, and a far cry indeed from the fear-inspiring figure of my childhood memories. My grandfather was not a well man, and had not been since before my birth at the start of the nineteen-eighties. Without being too specific, he had suffered a brain injury at some point, which eventually caused him to suffer from a form of dementia. Symptoms included paranoia and manic depression. He was rarely home, instead spending time as a resident in Eastbourne hospital, and in various care homes with specialised facilities.

Home was a rather strange house in a small village near Ashdown Forest, in East Sussex. It was a beautiful place to grow up - we had a large garden, and the back of the house looked out onto fields. The farmer who owned them allowed us pretty much free access to them, so I had some taste of that idyllic childhood that is mostly assumed to have vanished somewhere around the invention of TV. My mother, father, sister and I lived in the top two floors of the house, my grandmother and grandfather had the middle two, and my great-aunt the basement apartment. I vividly remember telling her, aged eight or thereabouts, that we were going to open and drain the sealed, flooded, cellar under the house. She became so angry with me that I was reduced to tears, although I did not understand why she was shouting at me. It was only much later in life that I discovered she had only agreed to move in on the understanding that the cellar would never be opened. That, and the fact that anger and fear can look almost identical in some people.

I'm sorry, perhaps this is too much detail. I'll get to the point.

What follows is a narrative that I have reconstructed from papers found among my late grandfathers' possessions.

A couple of further points.

Firstly, I am as certain as I can be that he didn't write them.

The sections in normal type are in the order I found them, and were typed out on an old typewriter. The sections in italic were handwritten, and this is where I get the certainty that my grandfather was not responsible. My mother has in her possession a number of letters written by my grandfather to my grandmother while he was stationed abroad during the war (with the RAF, in Africa). He had beautiful handwriting. Although I am no expert, and have heard of people with mental illness changing their handwriting, voice, or even language at the same time as their personality, the two samples bear absolutely no relation to each other. The handwriting on the papers, which I have place approximately where I found it, is more of a hurried scrawl.

Secondly, the house. The description in the narrative is pretty much identical to my memories of the house. One or two differences jumped out at me, but when I spoke to my mother, actually they were things that had changed between my grandfather buying the house two years or so before I was born, and my first memories of it. The house had indeed been empty for quite some time when my family moved in, although in reality it was my mother and father who moved in first - another reason I do not believe my grandfather was responsible for the creation of these pages. I have deliberately left the name of the village out of this preface, and deleted it from the narrative where the original author had left it in, the only change I have made, other than to correct the occasional spelling mistake. Other people live in the house now, and, as they say, ignorance is bliss.

Lastly, the papers themselves. I have no idea where my grandfather found them, although obviously I can make educated guesses. They came to me in a small locked document box several years ago, separately to the rest of my inheritance. The key only recently came into my possession, and in circumstances I would rather not discuss. The paper is yellowed and brittle, the type somewhat faded. They have at some point come into contact with water, although I believe this to be in a damp environment rather than through total immersion. There was no explanatory note with them.

What is without doubt is that if the papers are a truthful (which is not to say real) account, then something is very wrong with either the house or the writer, and indicates that at least one serious crime took place. I will also say that I recognise the names of at least two of the people mentioned in the tale, and met one of them as a child.

I offer no opinion as to their accuracy or honesty, and my own experiences in that house are my affair alone. I leave it to you, reader, to make up your mind on what follows.

Tom Davies

2013
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Published on January 24, 2013 03:26 • 159 views

January 22, 2013

...my blog. So, this feels strange. Apparently I'm an author, and have been for some time. It feels weird saying it, to be honest. And incidentally, I'm not even sure it's accurate. I've self-published one ebook, and have another on the way (more on that later), and have probably half a dozen other short stories on my laptop hard drive in various states of completion. Oh, and twenty-five thousand words of a novel that I really need to go back and finish. Maybe I have some explaining to do...

I'm not a full time writer, for a start (in case anyone hadn't guessed). I started The Last Bard - the one story I have published - back in 2009, and published it in 2010. In that period of time I had three different jobs and lived in two countries. Most recently I was a labourer for a plastering firm, and now I teach bushcraft skills to children for most of the year. This, unfortunately, translates into not a lot of time to write.
Also, I lack the discipline necessary to be a full-time writer - don't ever think it's an easy job. I have nothing but respect for people who can sit in front of a computer and not look at pictures of cats on social networking sites. I tend to write in fits and starts, when the mood takes me. I do enjoy writing, I'm just not sure I could do it all the time.

Ok, so enough excuses. Going back to the strangeness of all this, I'm still getting used to the idea that people I've never met, and most likely will never meet, are reading something that I wrote, on the far side of the planet. Last time I checked on smashwords, just under five hundred people had downloaded TLB since 2010, which isn't too bad considering the only advertising it got was a mention on facebook. All it was supposed to do was get something I'd written out beyond my immediate circle of friends and family, so I could see if it was actually worth continuing. Which leads to...

I've been working on a story for well over a year now, one that I actually started with the goal of publishing rather than personal entertainment. Like TLB, it's partially based in reality. What it absolutely isn't, is a sequel. The working title at this point is 'Untitled Papers Found in a Derelict House', and it falls firmly into the horror genre. I guess you could call it a period piece, as it's set in the early seventies, and could perhaps be referred to as a Jamesian/Lovecraftian story. To be honest I feel uncomfortable calling it that, and rather pretentious, but I suppose it has more in common thematically with their work than anything else. Creeping dread rather than blood and guts. Of course, it may end up being point and laugh...

Right, enough of this, I really should get on with finishing it...

All the best

Tom D
xx
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Published on January 22, 2013 07:35 • 42 views