Fiction

Researching For A Story

Okay. I just want to warn you all that my latest story idea has lead to my google search history looking stranger than it has ever been and, naturally, I am going to talk about it here.

(more…)

Eclipse

The popular girls at school hated me because I dared to be different. I didn’t wear my hair their way or wear the clothes endorsed by their favourite celebrities. I didn’t even skip class their way. They skipped Science and Woodwork and I skipped Home Economics. Nobody was going to teach ME to be a housewife.

The popular girls at school hated me but I wasn’t without friends. I didn’t strive for their approval, I was perfectly fine with staying exactly as I was, thank you very much! Lianna says that is why she wanted to be my friend. I was just me. Different, unique, unashamedly me and she knew from the first day we met that she wanted to be my friend the most. What I love most about her is that’s exactly how I think of her too.

Our friendship sparked a change within me. I began to love life like I never had before. Lianna introduced me to new kinds of music, a new appreciation for art, and what it feels like to have a true soulmate. We shared our first kiss the day we left school and took our first date at a local museum that was showcasing important women in history. Slowly but surely, we fell in love. Our love revolved around celebrating our differences and being proud of our individuality whilst glorying in our similarities and our togetherness too. Even together we were different from most people that we knew, but Lianna and I, we didn’t realise how different. Not until the eclipse.

I didn’t pay any attention to the build-up of the coming eclipse. It didn’t mean anything other than being something vaguely interesting to watch one day. That is, until Lianna told me a story she had heard from her grandmother about the Goddesses of the Sun and Moon.

‘Contrary to popular opinion, the sun and the moon are not male and female deities; they are both female.’

Lianna stroked my hair as she talked, her head tilted back slightly as she searched her memory for the details.

‘Their names are Sola and Cherika. They met when they were sent to the Pantheon to learn what it means to be a Goddess and how to rule over their subjects. They formed a great friendship that turned into a passionate love for each other. Brahma, the God of Creation became angry and jealous because he wanted Sola for himself and planned to wed her. He created the Moon and banished Cherika to be trapped inside. He left her to circle Earth, hoping she would forget about Sola and fall in love with Geb, the God charged with watching over Earth.

‘Sola defiantly continued to refuse Brahma and plotted to free Cherika so they could be together again. Sadly, Brahma learned of Sola’s plans and, in a fit of rage, he created the Sun and trapped Sola inside. Sola and Cherika were heartbroken but their love for each other remained steadfast. They spent thousands of years trapped and separated, until Geb took pity on them and began visiting them both in their unique prisons, passing messages to the other whenever he could. He became a trusted friend and confidant to both of the goddesses and together, they devised a plan to reunite them without Brahma ever finding out. Geb was able to subtly communicate with and influence the humans on Earth. He found two young female lovers and blessed them with the ability to perform the magic required for the task.

‘At the event of the first eclipse, when the sun and the moon crossed paths in the sky, the two young female lovers on earth began a magical ritual to draw the essence of Sola and Cherika into themselves, under the guidance of the Geb. They found a secluded spot, stripped naked, and let the enegery of the eclipse wash over them as they chanted the words Geb had taught them. Sola and Cherika’s bodies lay in their prizon cells within the Sun and the Moon, but their souls were drawn to earth, where they were free to be together, glorying in their love, unknown to Brahma. The magic froze the women’s bodies exactly as they were until the next eclipse was seen on earth, when they passed the souls of Sola and Cherika on to another couple before carrying on with their lives.’

I was fascinated with this story and so when Lianna asked if I wanted to go and watch the eclipse with her, I agreed. On the day of the eclipse, we wandered to a nearby park and settled down on a blanket in each other’s arms to watch the moon cover the sun.

As the moon began to cover the sun in the sky, I suddenly felt dizzy. The sensation grew as the sky slowly began to darken, causing my vision to blur and the world to spin crazily under me. I lay on the grass and clutched at the ground as the earth began to buck and roll under me. I fought the growing feeling of nausea with my eyes tightly shut. My heartbeat racing and my breath coming in short gasps. After what felt like an eternity, the world abruptly stilled under me. I scrambled to my feet and span slowly on the spot, taking in the suddenly unfamiliar surroundings. The sky had darkened to an inky midnight blue. Stars sparkled and winked down at me and a deafening silence filled my ears until it hurt. My heartbeat thundered in my ears and my body began to tremble.

‘Selena?’ Lianna’s voice came from so close behind me that I span round with a squeal and stumbled backwards.

‘Lianna? Where are we?’

As I spoke, a light appeared in the distance, bobbing and weaving as it moved closer towards us. I began to make out shapes of trees around us, and saw that we were standing beside a small pool. Reeds crowded the edge, rustling and whispering secrets that a soft breeze carried into the sky. The surface rippled and bubbled as unseen creatures broke the surface in search of food, or maybe out of curiosity, wanting to know why we had disturbed their peace. The dancing globe of light was revealed to be a lantern, held by a young woman not much older than ourselves. Her eyes sparkled black in the dim light and her chocolate brown skin glowed faintly, sparkling like it was embedded with millions of tiny diamonds in the muted glow from the lantern she held in her right hand. The fingers of her left hand were linked with those of another young woman, whose skin was as light the first woman’s was dark, with strawberry blonde hair and eyes so pale they looked like glowing pools of ice. Her creamy skin glowed like pearls, shimmering with the barest hints of pinks and blues.

‘Welcome to Eclipsim.’ The woman with the lantern spoke. ‘You have been chosen by Sola and Cherika of the Sun and Moon to carry their essence until the next eclipse. They are the sun and moon goddesses who came to earth to…’

‘….to live in the bodies of humans so they can be together away from Brahma? Are you serious? I thought that was just a story.’ I turned to Lianna in confusion. ‘It’s just a story right?’

‘Well…..I….thought it was…..My Nana told me it was true but I never actually believed her. It can’t be real.’

‘It can, and it is. I know how unbelieveable it all sounds. I was exactly the same as you when it happened to us back in 1999. I assure you, it’s real.’ The woman with the strawberry blonde hair gazed directly into my eyes as she spoke, the passion in her voice matching the serious look on her face.

‘We would answer all of your questions if we could, but we only have until the end of the eclipse to finish the ritual.’

I hesitated, looking at Lianna.

‘Just one question.’ she said to the strange women, whilst looking at me. ‘Why us?’

‘Your love for each other is what drew you to our…..their attention. Its so strong and pure that its fiery and calm at the same time.’ The woman with the sparkling diamond skin explained. ‘Sola and Cherika knew you were the ones, however, when they learnt of your names. I am sure you know, Selena, that your name means..’

‘Moon Goddess.’ I interjected, my mind whirring.

‘ And you, Lianna? Do you know what your name means?’

Lianna sighed and looked down at her hands as she picked at her fingernails.

‘To some it means God has Spoken. But it also means….my Nana told me it means Daughter of the Sun.’ My jaw dropped.

‘You mean we have…Sun and Moon names? Why didn’t you tell me when you told the story of Sola and Cherika?’

‘Because…well…you know…it’s kinda corny. Isn’t it?’

‘I’m sorry, but we really don’t have much time. We need to know if you are willing to take on the honour of accepting Sola and Cherika into yourselves. I know it seems unbelieveable, but think of it this way. You just need to speak the words we tell you, and if nothing happens, you’ll find yourselves back in the park when the eclipse ends, as if nothing ever happened. Okay?’

‘Sure, why not? I’m pretty sure this is all some kind of dream anyway. Lianna?’ I turn to look at the love of my life. She smiles and my heart flutters against my ribcage.

‘Lets do it.’ She answers, squeezing my fingers slightly.

The two strange women speak in unison, their voices ringing in unison.

‘Repeat after us. Virtutem eclipsim…’

‘Vir..tutem eclipsim..’

‘…patitur animarum de sole et luna…’

‘…pati..tur animar..um.. de sole et luna…’

‘…in corporibus nostris.’

‘…in corporibus nostris.’

The pale skinned woman takes my hands gently and I watch, my eyes wide as the strange pearlescent glow on her skin flows through her hands and slowly covers my body. The faintest hints of pink and blue and purples swirl in the light from the lantern now set on the ground nearby. I glance over to Lianna to see tiny sparkling diamonds breaking out all over her skin at the same time they fade away to nothing on the stranger’s dark skin. Lianna looks so beautiful in that moment that my soul aches to hold her. Gradually I become aware of hints of thoughts and feelings that are not my own. Cherika is gazing lovingly through my eyes at Lianna, but I know it is really Sola she is seeing. I let out a small sigh as the strangers step away, and I reach for Lianna. Our lips meet tentatively, but the strength of our love is amplified by Sola and Cherika and the kiss deepens, drawing a soft moan from us both. We lay down together by the side of the pond mere moments before the ground begins to shake and roll underneath us once more. I cling on to Lianna and close my eyes, willing it to stop quickly.

Moments later the earth is still but I can hear noises. Normal noises. The drone of cars in the distance and the call of birds high in the trees are comforting after the stillness and silence of Eclipsim. I gaze at Lianna, a little afraid to speak. I search my mind for an explanation of what happened and found Cherika. Her presence in my mind is not as pronounced as it was in Eclipsim, but she is still there. It wasn’t a dream. It was all real. Liannas eyes tell me she is going through the same thoughts in her mind. I contemplate saying something about what just happened, but I don’t know where to start so instead I just stroke her hair away from her face and kiss her softly, murmering into her ear.

‘Lets go home.’

Trained to Kill

Saul stood with his back to the derelict kitchen, gazing out the window at the storm raging outside. Serenity stood motionless in the doorway, waiting. She knew he had questions, but he just stood there as the wind hurled the rain against the glass. After what felt like an eternity, Serenity sighed and sat down at the broken table. She massaged her neck, trying hard to mask the tension visible in her body language.

Saul did that to her. She had known him half her life, or thought she had. Right up until she turned eighteen, she’d known Saul as the sexy older guy next door. She knew he drove a Mondeo, she knew he worked for a law firm in London and she knew that he just needed someone to look after him and maybe then he would smile. The thought made her smirk to herself now. Oh, how wrong she had been!

When she’d turned eighteen she had taken full advantage of her freedom to disappear for days on end, turning up when she felt like it, or when she found herself into trouble. The last time she had set foot into her parent’s home had been after she’d been away for a whole week, staying in some random apartment with a bunch of people she barely knew. She crept up to her parent’s house in the early hours of the morning, her eyes barely open as she stumbled up the steps to the front door. She kept her gaze down as she stepped over the threshold and came face to face with the body of her mother, limbs bent into odd angles, blood pooled around her head, laying at the base of the stairs. The next thing she could remember was being in Saul’s study with a paramedic shining a torch into her eyes.

That very night, Saul had told her who he really was. A member of a super-secret organisation created centuries ago by members of the community who wanted to protect their communities from dangerous people. They called themselves The Secure Community Society. Serenity had wanted to laugh at the name, but Saul had looked so serious that the laughter had died in her throat, The SCS would attend neighbourhood watch meetings, walk the streets late at night looking for any instances of trouble, check newspapers for suspicious patterns and…they would take out people who threatened lives in their communities.

Saul had taken Serenity as his protégé and had trained her to be an assassin. The Secure Community Society was a private affair and was definitely not operating under the knowledge of the Crown and Government so it was vital that she learn survival skills alongside her weapons and hand to hand combat training. She had excelled at everything she was trained in, specialising in axe weaponry, coming top of her class and graduating from the Secure Training School a year earlier than usual.

Those 5 years of training had hardened Serenity. She didn’t recognise the girl in her memories. She would never be that person again. The time had now come to take her final test: Kill a murderer, and get away with it. Saul was here because she was stalling. She’d been given 6 months to complete the task. That was deemed more than enough time, even for a first timer. Her deadline was up in just 48 hours.

‘Do you know what will happen to you if you fail to complete the test? Nobody outside of the SCS is allowed to know anything about us.’ Saul’s voice was low and gruff. Serenity could hear the suppressed aggression in it, despite Saul’s efforts to mask it.

‘I am well aware what failure means Saul. They’ll kill me.’ Serenity looked down at the floor as Saul spun to face her.

‘Then what the hell are you doing? You have just 2 days left Sere and you haven’t even submitted a target to HQ. How on earth are you going to satisfy all the criteria necessary for an assassination within 48 bloody hours? How?

‘Within your lifetime you have walked past thirty-six murderers. That’s a lot for someone so young. They have gone on to kill people. Innocent people. You have been trained to save lives, Sere. Think of all those girls out there like you who could one day walk in their front door to find their parents dead. You can prevent that from happening. Can you honestly say that you don’t want to prevent someone else going through what you went through? Well?’ Saul had paced over to stand before Serenity towering over her. She could see the tightness of the muscles in his arms as he fought to control his temper. She was his protégé, his project, and she was letting him down.

Serenity slipped a dagger from her sleeve and in a blink of an eye it was buried in Saul’s chest, puncturing a lung. Serenity finally looked up into his eyes as he staggered backwards, his eyes wide as he looked from her, down to the dagger in his chest, and back to her again.

‘I decided six months ago that my first kill would be the most important, Saul. I would pass my test by killing the person who murdered my parents. I knew I would find them, but I never imagined it would be you. Killing innocent people just to recruit their children into the cause? Why would you do that? It doesn’t matter. HQ approved my target and evidence. You can’t be allowed to destroy any more innocent lives.’

Serenity reached under the table and brought out an axe, which she spun and slammed into Saul’s chest. When his tortured breaths rattled between his lips no more, She threw some petrol around the kitchen and lit a few candles. As she walked away, she fished out her phone and hit speed dial. When the call connected she spoke just two words.

‘Its done.’

Image from http://www.freaksugar.com

The Captive

I’m just about to flip the indicator to turn into my office car park when something sharp digs into my side and a deep voice murmers in my ear.

“Keep drivin’ bitch or I’ll open you up right ‘ere, right now.”

I wince and shy away from the knife pressed to my side, clenching the steering wheel tightly.

“Take the M1 towards Northampton and keep your damned mouth shut. That clear?”

I nod jerkily as I make my way towards the motorway. My mind is spinning with a million questions. What does he want? Where are we going? Am I going to survive this? His breath is hot against my cheek but I just put all my effort into driving.

Once we get out onto the M1 he relaxes slightly. He orders me off the M1 and on towards Northampton, but then at the last second forces me out into the surrounding countryside. I look helplessly at the emptiness as he directs me up a small overgrown mud track. My chances of getting out of here are rapidly shrinking and my control on my fear and panic begins to slip. I scowl angrily at myself as a tear slides out of the corner of my eye.

I pull up next to this group of buildings and people stream out of various doors, surround the car. My shoulders slump as they greet my captor with claps on the back and hugs. My jaw drops when I realise they aren’t all men. A handful of them kiss him passionately, not seeming to mind when he fondles each one in turn. I sit silently in the car, hoping they forget about me so I can leave. My hopes are dashed when he opens my car door and hauls me out, shouting to be heard over the clamour.

“I will take this woman as my thirteenth wife. Make preparations!”

He drags me towards the largest building, the other women in tow, as all the men disperse, chattering and talking. We pass a huge room covered in mattresses on the floor and I’m shoved into a tiny room next door with big bolts on the outside. My captor looks me over with two women draped over him, making my flesh crawl.

“Once I have had my fill of my other wives it will be your turn. Get ready.” As he turns to leave, one of the women slips a knife from a sheath strapped to her thigh and drops it, carefully, behind the door.

Days later the grunts and moans slow next door and he swaggers into my tiny cell. I don’t hesitate and plunge the knife as deep as I can, dodging around him out to freedom….

…and straight into the crowds of people there to ‘witness the marriage.’ The stunned silence deafens me as I stand before them, their master’s blood on my hands. My eyes widen as one by one they drop to their knees, prostrating before me, each one mumbling.

“Mistress.”

Life’s Too Short

I stand in the doorway of the plane as it hangs high above the fields. My legs are trembling slightly under me as I go through a mental checklist in my head. The parachute has been checked and re-checked and checked again but I run through it in my mind once more anyway. There is nothing left to do now but jump, but I’m afraid. Tandem Skydives are a thing of the past. This time, I jump alone.

 

***

 

I had always been a quiet careful girl. I didn’t play in the road, go out late or stray too far from home. I didn’t lie to my parents and sneak off to festivals or pretend to be at my friend’s house at night when really I was with a guy. I didn’t have unprotected sex with random one night stands met in nightclubs or drink until I was sick. I did everything right to make sure I was safe as I grew up. Then, 2 days before my 16th birthday I get the worst news.

Cancer.

Hodgkins Lymphoma to be exact. I just thought it was a silly lump. I was one of the lucky ones. The hospital had a Teenage Cancer wing and I responded really well to Chemo. Not everyone was that lucky.

I fell in love for the first time in that hospital too. Jamie was cheeky and fun and he taught me to take risks and have fun. He said things like “Life’s too short” and “Laughter is the best medicine”. We played pranks on the nurses and snuck out of the ward to wander round the hospital and talk to old people about their lives. Jamie once said to me

“Notice how they only talk about regretting things they didn’t do?”

The night before I was due to leave hospital I snuck into his room and we talked late into the night, curled up together on the narrow hospital bed.

“I’m going to miss you Jamie. I don’t want to go. I wish I could stay here with you.”

“What? Are you mad? You’re in remission. Going home means you’re getting better. You get to go home and see your friends. You get to walk in the park and watch the wildlife around you. You get to visit museums and art galleries and parks and zoos and other countries if you want to. Don’t waste your life away sitting in a hospital you don’t need to be in. If I was allowed out of here I would be gone so fast…” He trailed off, looking at me.

“Leanne, remember what that old man said to us? Mr Tompkins? Memento Mori. Remember that you will die. Make every day count. You might have fewer than you think.”

I never saw him again. He died a week after I went home.

 

***

 

I look down at the fields far below me and whisper

“Memento Mori. For Jamie”

 

I take a deep breath, opening my arms wide, and jump.

We Are Roma

Rheinland, Sinti und Roma mit Wohnwagen auf Landstraße

 

I grew up in the countryside, on the edge of a fairly small town. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with it now that I am grown but, when I was young there was nowhere else I would rather be. I explored every street, footpath and secret shortcut through the woods. I would wander alone through the trees trying to get lost, enjoying the sounds of nature all around me, unspoiled by the mindless rush of humanity.

One day I happened upon a clearing in the woods, a meadow that I swear had never been there before. In my youthful innocence I did not question where I was, I just accepted this meadow’s sudden appearance as perfectly normal. The grass rustled with the gentle breeze as butterflies and bees fluttered and buzzed between the flowers in the autumn sunshine. Right in the centre of the meadow was a big black horse, munching happily on the grass around him. He was tethered to the strangest caravan I had ever seen. My parents had a caravan, it was a huge plastic rectangular looking thing that attached to the car. This caravan was round topped, wooden and horse-drawn. I tiptoed slowly around the edge of the trees, taking in the sight before me. As I got within sight of the open door at the back of the caravan I froze. I could see a silhouette in the doorway and my mother’s words repeated many times drifted to me from my memory.

Keep away from strangers darling, mummy and daddy love you very much and we don’t want anyone to take you from us. You much stay safe.

As I stood, making up my mind whether to stay or flee, the person inside moved through the door. A girl my own age made her way carefully down the steps in a pink frilly dress. I glanced down at my jeans and t-shirt, feeling strangely self-conscious but the girl made no comment, she merely beckoned me over. I approached with caution, watching the doorway to the caravan for more people.

‘Nobody else is in there, it is just me.’ I look back at the girl, noticing her dark brown eyes and skin the colour of milky coffee.

‘Where are your parents? Will they be back soon?’ I was curious about the girl and her funny caravan but I was afraid of being caught by her parents and getting into trouble.

‘They are walking in the woods looking for firewood. We are camping here for the night. They will not be back for a little while. You do not need to be afraid.’

‘I’m not afraid’ I lied ‘It’s just… my parents do not like me to talk to strangers.’

‘Don’t worry, your parents won’t find out unless you tell them. My name is Nuri. What is yours?’

‘I am Dara.’

‘Hi Dara’ She giggled conspiratorially ‘Now we’re friends so you can’t get in trouble.’

I giggled too and relaxed, reaching out to touch her dress.

‘Your dress is so pretty. I don’t have any pretty dresses like that.’ My fingers brushed against the sleeve and onto her arm. As my skin touched hers she stiffened and gasped, her eyed rolling back into her head, causing me to jump back hastily, my eyes widening in alarm.

‘…Nuri?’

‘We are not Nuri, we are Roma.’ The chorus of voices poured forth from Nuri’s mouth, a thousand voices, old and wavering, speaking in unison through the girl stood before me. I stared, rooted to the spot in terror. My heart was racing, hairs stood to attention along my arms and neck.

‘You touched us. Now we see your future stretched before you. We see your life string cut short. We see a flight to a distant land, mountains topped with snow and a wooden cabin burned to the ground. You must not go to the mountains. If you go, you will die.’

As the last eching word faded away, I stumbled backwards, turned and fled. I crashed through the woods, falling over roots and grazing my hands and knees in my haste. It felt like an eternity before I found the familiar road back into town. I ran towards home, tears streaming down my face my legs aching as I pushed to get as far away from the terrifying girl and her thousand voices. I slowed to a walk as I reached my street, hastily rubbing the tear tracks from my face as I reached my back gate. My mother called to me as I closed the gate behind me.

‘Dara? Is that you? I have something to show you.’ I met her in the garden half way between the gate and the house.

‘Hi mum’ I waved casually, trying to ignore the sick feeling of fear that was still settled in the pit of my stomach.

‘Your father and I have a surprise for you. This Christmas we thought it would be fun to teach you to ski. So, we have booked a holiday. We’re going to Switzerland!’ My mum held out a holiday brochure which showed a picture of a wooden cabin high up in the mountains, surrounded by wilderness. The smile on her face faded to concern as I swayed, and then crumpled to the ground in a faint whispering a single word.

‘No…’

Shadow and Shine

I wander among the rocks of Stonehenge as the setting sun shines golden light around me, making my dark brown skin sparkle and shimmer. My pearly white dress flutters in the breeze. My jet black hair curls wildly around my head, crowned with fluttering moths.

I can feel their energy, like tiny sparks in the cool evening air. The earth beneath my feet vibrates with energy and life. I can feel it flowing through me, connected as we are; earth to skin. My soul sings in response to the heady rush. I feel so alive. I dance around the circle, spinning and leaping as the sun sets lower and lower. I am lost to the rhythm of the earth and the melody of the winds skittering and spinning around with me.

As the sun disappears over the horizon I come to an abrupt halt. Nature’s song morphs into a slower, darker tune of night. The earth still hums with life under my feet, but the timbre has changed. The new moon provides a weak silvery glow, giving just enough light for me to see. The Shadow Fae have been seen in the area and I have been chosen to keep watch and report back to the council. I fade back against the rocks and settle in the grass. I focus my magic, watching my hand fade in front of my face until I am barely visible, then I wait.

I feel energy approaching. The rhythm is of Fae and I scan the darkness, apprehension mingling with curiosity as I spot a male approaching the circle of stones. He peers cautiously around the edge of a stone, searching. I can feel my heartbeat accelerate slightly as I look upon a Fae of the Shadow for the first time. His skin is icy white and seems to faintly glow in the moonlight. A stark contrast to the Fae of the Shine. Our deep brown skin shimmers in the sunlight but looks dull by the light of the moon. He steps casually out into the middle of the ring and begins to dance. Time is lost as I watch his sensual movements, luring me out of my hiding place to join him. Our stories warn of the seductive powers of the Shadow Fae and I struggle to remain hidden as I watch him hungrily. His movements spark a longing and I move. I stand and take a hesitant step towards him, becoming visible in a sudden rush. He smiles and his eyes alight with triumph as he moves towards me. I stand, frozen by his mesmerising gaze. As he reaches out to grab me, the sun breaks over the horizon, flooding Stonehenge with light. The Fae before me gasps in shock as the sunlight touches his fragile skin and he flees, releasing me. I shudder at how close I came to disaster, even as longing settles in the pit of my stomach.

I must see him again.

The Psychic and the Catnapper

Sibyl was driving back to her little flat just off campus when her vision swirled before her eyes. Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to see the here and now until she could pull over and let the vision take her. When she finally succumbed, she saw a lock picked, a door swing open, a familiar room…

There’s someone in my flat.

Helpless to intervene, Sibyl watched through the eyes of the stranger in her flat as they wandered through each room, searched idly through drawers and, upon reaching her bedroom, stooped down to stroke her kitten Akiiki who was purring and winding around the intruders legs.

That cat would make friends with the devil himself. Scratch them Akiiki, they aren’t supposed to be there!

The unknown intruder picked Akiiki up and started walking back through the flat. When the front door grew closer and closer, Sibyl began to panic.

No! Not Akiiki, please don’t take him. Fight Akiiki, run away.

As though he had heard, Akiiki started to struggle. To Sibyl’s horror, the intruder walked through her front door into the corridor and pushed Akiiki into a cage they had left there. As the stranger carefully closed the front door, picked up the cage and began walking briskly out of the building, Sibyl struggled to get back to her own mind. She needed to get home. Now.

Two days later, as Sibyl lay awake on her bed trying to force a vision of where Akiiki was, she heard a slight noise from the corridor outside. Grabbing her dressing gown she slipped quietly through her flat to the front door and noticed a dark shape on the mat. Stooping down to pick it up, she found it was a folded piece of paper. She took it to the living room and switched on a lamp to read it.

Little Miss Psychic doesn’t know where her kitty is.

You better magic up £500 if you want him back.

Put it in a purse and drop it into the bin inside the ladies toilets in the entrance hall of your Uni by Midday tomorrow or you’ll never see your cat again.

Sibyl smiled with triumph at the note. It was handwritten. A person’s handwriting is…well, personal. With a bit of concentration she should be able to work out who wrote it. Closing her eyes and holding the note in both hands, she breathed deeply and forced herself to relax.

 

That evening, Trixie picked up her netball kit, glanced around and then froze. The cage door was open. Peering inside, hoping the cat was somehow still there, she found a folded note inside.

Little Miss Psychic took her cat back.

Tough luck.

Looks like you’ll have to find the money for that new dress you were looking at in town elsewhere.

It won’t help with Tom anyway. He’s distant because he loves someone else.

Don’t believe me?

Skip netball practice and go to Breaker’s bluff.

He’ll be there, making out with Andrew.

Hell Hath No Fury…

I sat quietly in the jury box, my hands in my lap, half-listening to the Judge. I glanced up and out over the courtroom, fighting the urge not to smile. Of all the times to be called up for Jury duty…

The people vs Andrew McMorran. He was accused of murdering his pregnant fiancée. They said he stabbed her repeatedly in the stomach and breasts, and pushed the knife up inside her over and over again. The details had made many physically sick. The nation had been in uproar, calling for retribution. Andrew was nearing 50, and Maria, she was a beautiful young wannabe, just 23 years of age, teetering on the edge of fame as a fresh faced young starlet of the screen.

He had protested his innocence, claimed he had been drugged and had woken with the murder weapon in his hand. He insisted he had found his ‘young-enough-to-be-his-daughter’ girlfriend brutally murdered in the kitchen. Unfortunately for his story, there was no sign of a break in and all the forensic evidence pointed towards him as a culprit.

Which is exactly how I had made it look.

Andrew clearly didn’t recognise me, I’d have been out of the Jury like lightning if he had. I’d changed my appearance a lot since before. Gone were the soft bouncy blonde curls he liked so much. My hair was pixie short and jet black. I’d gained a little weight too. He always had liked his girls painfully thin. It turned out a little meat on my bones made me look ten times better than the skinny rake I had been when I had once been his girl.

He’d promised me the world: Fame, fortune, parties and all the trappings of his lavish lifestyle. I was 18 and fell hopelessly in love with the then, 30 year old entrepreneur. When I found out I was pregnant I was so happy. I had visions of us getting married and having many more beautiful babies.

Andrew had other ideas. I watched his face turn dark as thunderclouds as I told him my happy news. I can remember him screaming in my face, spittle flying from the corners of his mouth.

            “I thought I told you to sort out contraception, you stupid bitch. You’ve ruined everything! I want some hot sexy beauty on my arm not a fat waddling pregnant chick. Get rid of it..”

He dumped me that night.

When I heard the news about Andrew proposing to Maria after finding out she was pregnant, something snapped inside me. He’d dragged me to the abortion clinic and made me kill my baby. What made Maria so damned special? I wasn’t going to let her have what I couldn’t and it was about time Andrew was made to pay.

I was brought out of my reverie by the Judges words.

            “…I sentence you to death, by lethal injection.”

I bowed my head further as the smile I had been fighting broke free across my face.