Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Spiral!

Posted: July 9, 2014 in writing
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*Disclaimer*
I am writing this post, not to upset, not to worry people or to get attention. I am writing it because of a sense of catharsis. To explain how I am doing as I cannot often express myself very well beyond the written word. This is not a cry for help I just want people to understand.

SPIRAL

For nearly 10 years I have battled against depression. It really is a battle and it strikes me down, I keep saying that if you strike me down I will become more powerful than I can possibly imagine, but often it waits in the dark recesses waiting, watching, whittling away the defences until a breach in the wall is open then it floods in and attacks. People like me build defences, coping mechanisms that often work. My primary one was alcohol. This was the worst one to be honest, I had a very unhealthy relationship with booze and it was destructive! As a result I have very few friends. My drinking was a crutch, a way to deal with the everyday. But that changed. 3 years ago I stopped that destructive lifestyle before I did real damage. I still drink occasionally but not for a very long time, and certainly not in the quantity I once did.

I have always been very introverted! I am a shy, reticent character with very poor social skills. I upset and often people easily, often because I don’t know I am doing it. Part of my problem is I can’t express myself very well, and hence I am laying my thought down here for all to see, who knows maybe someone out there knows what I am talking about. I don’t know that I am spiralling down until I look up and realise, how did I get here! I am at work today, and I looked up, and realise I am slipping down. I am tearful, but hiding it, I am tired, I have a fog in my he’d that is difficult to see through let alone think through. I am shying away from people, colleagues who are nice to me I am being deliberately remote. I can’t look people on the eye. I am sliding down, spiralling, spinning and just can’t stop!

As I said at the start, I find it difficult to talk about this and you, dear reader, don’t know how difficult it is to write this all down. But, if I don’t then it Tay within me, it, not unlike a volcano, builds pressure. The pressure gets worse and worse until it pops! I struggle to find the words to say, “I’m sorry, I need help” or “Please, I don’t mean it! I can’t help it!” I end up bubbling and boiling and becoming snippy for no reason, I hurt, inadvertently and never physically, the ones closest to me. I don’t even know I’m doing it! I can’t work if out I have a skewed view of events. It is my fault, all my fault and I don’t know I’m doing it. This makes me angry so Ido it again and again and again. I spiral!

The problem when you get into this state of mind is you use coping mechanisms to deal with it. Now the drink is not in the picture I use food, food is my friend, food make me happy, but the issue with that is you wake up one day, like today, and see yourself, see your guy hanging over your trousers, your back aching because your not jut carrying a fee extra pounds your carrying the equivalent of an extra person. I saw myself and was repulsed! If I was repulsed what must others think of me? I get called fat, fatty, big every day. It has got to me now. Self worth, self esteem self image is at an all time low.

I have a wonderful family, 2 gorgeous boys whom I love with all my heart and a phenomenally wonderful partner who is doing an amazing job raising out sons. Yet, I struggle, I struggle to feel valued, I struggle to feel wanted. THIS IS MY PROBLEM! It is nothing she has done, it is nothing the boys have done. It is a chemical imbalance in my head that makes it like this. When your looking up you see that the grass is greener and you are standing in dust. I know this is not true but life goes on all around and you get envious, you envy the guy on benefits driving the brand new BMW, you are envious of those that spend loads of time with their families and still have money and time to go out for a pint or to the cinema. Your envious of everything. Everything seems fro when it is not, it seems unhappy when it is not. It is not that things are bad, it’s just my head feeling like they are.

When you get to this stage something else happens. Firstly, your concentration goes. You can’t focus on a book or a film, you become uneasy, putting down your book, doing something else, loosing focus. But, your brain does not stop, it spirals, goes round and round and round. It starts seeing things that aren’t there, you add 2+2 = Biscuits. And this is she the paranoia hits. You wonder, you push the people closest to you away then think that they are distant because of some other reason. They are distant because you have pushed them out! Not because they have run into the arms of someone better (although that has happened long ago). This is my own fault, my dammed head! I can’t stop it, i want to stop it, bug I can’t, so I get angry, I snap at people who don’t deserve it and I use good to overcome the feeling! If there is something in my mouth I can’t say something stupid!

Now the nightmares have come. Not nightmares with ghouls or demons, nightmares of the mundane. I have two recurring nightmares I have them twice a night that I know off and I have them so often I can remember them. The first is connected to the previous paragraph, I come home from work to find my partner in a passionate embrace and they laugh at me! Suddenly I am awake. The second is one I hate most, it scares me. I am climbing a ladder, it so so high, I can see buildings below me, people like ants milling about below. Suddenly, an inexplicably I am hanging on to the edge with my fingertips. I am desperate to hold on, maybe someone will come to help me, stop me from falling, but no one comes my fingers get sweaty and I slip and fall! And I am awake! So, I have such a broken night sleep that when I awake in the morning I am already tired. Because I am tired I get short tempered, so I eat, and I get angry so I eat. Constantly in a spiral!

I fight this with every fibre of my being. My mind works against me! This is how I feel right this minute, I am shaking, I can feel adrenaline coursing through me as I am in a panic. My legs don’t wang to hold me up and all I want to do is hide under my desk, hide myself away, disappear from view. I feel sick to the pit of my stomach. I feel the tears well up and I wipe them away before anyone can see. No matter what I do, no matter what I try I can’t stop. Sometimes, some days I bounce with enthusiasm and energy, and in a single minute I can change and just want to run away. Previous experience with this has given me the insight that the Verve was right ‘the drugs don’t work, they just make it worse’. No matter what I have tried it fails miserably, it gives and it takes away.

So, that’s me today! Spiralling out of sanity, trying to cling to the ledge and hoping I don’t fall. No one is at fault, no one to blame, it’s me! It is my head, it is my battle, maybe getting it out on here might help, I hope so, if not, it may explain to those closest to me what is happening because I can’t tell them.

As always I welcome comments!

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I have in recent posts lamented the loss of original works, what gives me the right to do so?  Well I am a writer! So, in an attempt to prove my worth I offer this tale.  It is a supernatural tale that is designed to scare.  As always I like to get responses so, please, feel free to comment, share, link or retweet.  If you don’t like it, then perhaps offer me constructive criticism?  So, for your consideration here is my short story,

Reflections.

Lawrence was haunted.  Haunted by the ghosts of his past, haunted by his decisions that cost him his family, haunted by the house that cost him his future,  but most of all haunted by the reflection in the mirror.  Everything he had done he did out of a desire to give his wife and twin sons the best life possible.  He never expected that it would cost him his children, his wife and ultimately his own life, but it did.  The coroner’s inquest ruled it as a suicide. No one believed it, no one believed that he would break an antique mirror and cut his own throat with the shards.  Yet the evidence suggested that was exactly what had happened.  His wife, Sally, gave evidence at the inquest stating that they were indeed separated but they were reconciling and she would have been shortly returning to him, reuniting their family, he was so close to having his family back, it made no sense for him to kill himself.  Lawrence was happy and was working hard to ensure their return.  She declared that she did not have an affair, that there was never anyone else.  The only reason they were separated was the house, the money trap.  His determination to restore and rebuild the old manor house nearly brought them to the shores of bankruptcy.  Sally had to think of the children, make sure they were safe and secure, they were still a family and they just lived in separate places.  The court still ruled it a suicide.

. . .

The staff of the maternity unit could always tell if a couple were first time parents from the look of sheer panic on the faces as they sat waiting for the twelfth week scan.  It would be the first time they would see their baby, the first time they would know if all was well with the pregnancy.  It did not matter whether the baby was planned, whether it was an accident, natural conception or assisted, every first time parent had a mix of excitement and blind fear.  Lawrence had that feeling, but it was worse for him as he could not support his wife.  He was stuck at work, unable to find cover for his shift.  The guilt he felt compounded the anxiety and time slowed to a crawl the closer it got to the 11 am appointment.  He paced and paced as the clock crawled around past 11, then 11:30 then 12, his anxiety grew and grew.  He convinced himself that something was wrong as the clock passed 12:30.  He could not bear the wait.  Lawrence jumped when the phone finally rang.
“I think you had better sit down!” Sally said, Lawrence could hear the nerves in her voice.
“What’s wrong?”
“Well, they did the scan and then had to get someone to check it.”
“OK, what’s wrong?”
“After several ‘Hmms’ and ‘Ahhhs’ and rescans they finally showed me our babies!”
“OK, so what’s wrong? Wait, What?  Did you say babies?”
“Oh you noticed that, yeah, we are having twins!”

The next 6 months flew by in a flash. Lawrence and Sally soon found themselves with two beautiful bouncing baby boys, identical twins, Joshua and Samuel.  Lawrence was overjoyed, he walked on air; he never thought he wanted children until he had them and after he couldn’t imagine life without them.  When they gave up their small city flat he thought that the rural two-bedroomed semi would be ample space for his growing brood.  But after the first few months there he soon realised that space would rapidly become an issue.  Lawrence worked hard, he worked long in order to provide for his family.  He sacrificed time with the boys and his wife in order to keep the wage coming in.  His happiness soon left him and was replaced by worry.

That was when he saw the old manor house up for auction.  It was big, very big, it would have plenty of space for his family.  The only problem was it was falling apart.  It was a wreck, it should have been torn down, but because of preservation orders and historic building listings it could not be, nor could it be significantly altered, only restored and renewed.  The developers all left it alone; they saw no profit in the endeavour.  Lawrence was as surprised as most when he snapped up the building for the price of a 3 bed new build.  Sally was reluctant about the purchase, but Lawrence saw opportunity within those walls, Sally heard alarm bells and saw danger, yet Lawrence went ahead regardless.  All he saw was what it could be, what it will be.  Sally survived for six months there with sporadic heat and hot water, the constant struggle of renovating the property as well as living in it began to take its toll.  Eventually living day in and day out in a building site was too much and Sally took the heart wrenching decision to take the children away.  They moved out and Lawrence was left alone in the house, despondent.  His decision was beginning to haunt him, the spectre of memory hanging over him, his dreams of a happy home shattered!

Lawrence did not give up; he was driven to complete the house.  He was convinced that if he could create the home he dreamed of he would get his family back.  He worked day and night to finish one room at a time.  The manor house stood facing south.  It towered high and was, in its day, magnificent.   The grounds that once surrounded the property have slowly disappeared, the encroaching tide of property development spawning housing estates where pastures and fields once were.  Now only the south lawn remained as a garden.  The front of the house there was a small courtyard where the garage block, once a stable was.  Another housing estate advanced as close as it could.  The manor stood on three floors.  The second floor was 3 small bedrooms and a bathroom; these were once servant’s quarters.  The first floor the master bedroom, a library and a study, with another bathroom set beneath the one upstairs.  The ground floor had a rustic kitchen, a large lounge that opened up onto the south lawn through three sets of French doors and finally a grand lobby that housed the big oak staircase.  Lawrence worked tirelessly spilling his soul, his sweat and his blood in crafting the home.  After months of exhaustive efforts the ground floor was complete, he had a place where he could comfortably live while he renovated the rest of the house.  His airbed now upgraded to a sofa, the books housed in bookcases and magnificent oak panelling throughout.  The lounge felt dark, the stained oak absorbing all the light that came through the large doors.  Lawrence was no interior designer but he knew that the room needed something to give it a lift, to brighten the gloomy atmosphere.

The auction was busy.  The hustle and bustle of people looking for a bargain, a mix of private individuals and trade buyers, families furnishing their first homes cheaply and shop keepers looking for stock.  He had viewed the sale the day before and he immediately saw what he needed.  Behind the glass display cabinets on the wall at the back of the room hung a large gilt framed mirror.  The frame was intricately carved with faceless gothic figures.  However, Lawrence was not concerned by the frame it was the size he liked.  It spanned 3 metres by 2 metres and demanded a large room to do it justice.  He bid and won it cheaply, because of its size no one else was interested.  He was pleased, it was just what the room needed.  He arranged for delivery that very afternoon and the porters that delivered it helped him hang it on the wall. He stood back and gazed in wonderment at the behemoth mirror.   He noticed that it reflected the light into every dark corner of the room and made the lounge look so much bigger.

Lawrence was overjoyed that his wife and sons visited that day.  He missed them terribly and saw them when he could, but they were just far enough away that daily visits were impossible and that broke his heart.  Throughout the visit Sally reassured Lawrence constantly that she still loved him and that there was no one else.  Sally knew that Lawrence was a jealous type and given too much time alone his mind became paranoid.  Sally packed the kids back into the car, it was time they went.  Lawrence was sad, depression gripped him, every time they left or he left them it got worse, but Sally reassured him and told him that once the house was finished they would move back.  It was the best news he could possibly have hoped for.  Lawrence missed his family; once they had gone he stood in front of the mirror and wept.  His cries resounded around the room, echoed, rebounded and echoed again.  He had never noticed it before.  He wondered whether a mirror of that size could change the acoustics of a room that much.  In the end he assumed it could, he pulled himself together, wiped the tears from his eyes and returned to work.

Lawrence was upstairs on the second floor when he heard the wailing.  He stopped hammering and listened intently.  The cry was feint but audible.  He crept gingerly on to the landing.  There it was again, slightly louder this time a moaning, a distressed upset wail.  The large oak steps creaked as he crept; each step down bought the cry louder.  Lawrence attempted to go towards the noise quietly which on the big, creaking oak steps was a virtual impossibility.  He thought they were a great security measure as no could sneak up on him as the noise would forewarn of any intruder.  They were perfectly safe, they were strong just noisy.  He managed to reach the bottom and the sobbing persisted and he could hear it quite distinctly.  It was coming from the lounge.  He reached the door and realised that he was still holding the hammer; he took a deep breath, raised the hammer over his head and burst in!

He looked around the empty room.  Nothing, there was nobody there.  The wailing he heard from upstairs had stopped.  He searched the room, and the adjoining dining room and kitchen, nothing! Lawrence did not understand he had heard it, he was sure he had heard someone crying, but there was no one there.  He walked over to the mirror.  He gazed deeply into it, he could see everything behind him, every corner, every nook and cranny was clearly reflected.  He was so very pleased with his purchase and even more pleased about the bargain price paid.  When he first viewed it he had not really examined the frame, why would he, after all it was something he would mostly view from further away, but as he stood by the fireplace, the mirror above the mantle he really looked.  He noticed the carved figures all round, covered in gold gilt, but it was the corner’s that intrigued him, 3 of the corners were faceless, the forth was a face sobbing.  He thought it strange that only one corner was carved but ultimately dismissed it.
“Maybe it was you crying?” Lawrence said chuckling to himself.

He walked out of the room and went back upstairs; he had much to do on the second floor.  It was to be the boy’s bedrooms, one each with a playroom in the middle.  It was ideal Lawrence and Sally could hear when they were awake from the master bedroom, an advantage of an old house with creaky floors and stairs.  He worked hard hammering plasterboard on to stud work, laying floorboards.  It was his intention to get the room ready to plaster, then all would be required is decoration and carpets and the boys floor would be done.  All the structural works had been done in the previous 6 months, it was now done to the finishing touches and the cosmetic decorating that needed to be finished, structural, electrical and plumbing all finished, bathrooms finished just so much more to do before it is habitable.  He worked until his watch read 3:05am and the tiredness hit him like his hammer struck the nails.  He wanted to collapse where he was, but he thought better of it.  He dragged himself down to the sofa which had become a makeshift bed; he covered himself with a blanket and fell quickly into a deep slumber.

Lawrence awoke late the next morning, even working late the night before he never really slept in, yet he did so today.  Despite sleeping for seven hours he still felt tired.  No, not tired, drained!  The kind of tired one gets when they have been through something very stressful or traumatic and you just can’t take any more.   He washed and drank coffee and began to feel himself once more.  It was Sunday and although he had two weeks off of work he did not allow himself to rest, he saw the unassailable mountain of DIY in front of him and decided that no matter how tired he got, what stress he was under, he was going to make the house habitable, no, more than habitable, he was going to make the house a home.  Although there was a great deal left to do, it was achievable in the time he set out, as long as he did not sit on his heels.  He had to graft, he had to work and he had to get his family back.  He could feel that the good times would soon be here again, so why did he feel so tired?

Working hard when you feel tired is a horrible thing.  Mentally one gets drained as the concentration required is more that the exhaustion will allow.  Lawrence’s fatigue was getting worse, yet his determination to regain his happiness overrode all over concerns.  It was not long before the walls had plasterboards on them and the floorboards were in place.  The second floor was ready for plaster, skirting boards, decorating and carpets.  His son’s rooms were nearly ready.  Lawrence was so tired, if he could have afforded it he would have paid someone to complete the work but he had sunk every spare penny into the house.  The rest of his money went to support his family; even though they were not together they were still his priority.   The sun had long since set and the dark, moonless sky created an encircling vale of black.  Lawrence poured himself a whisky, it was the one treat he allowed himself and he sat in the lounge holding the glass.  He was weary and slowly drifted off, glass still in hand, he awoke with a jolt.  The room was bright, the light reflecting brightly in the mirror, he needed to sleep.  He switched the light off, a minute later the room went dark.  Lawrence thought that very strange that there was a delay, but thought that his mind was playing tricks on him and accepted the invitation to the abyss of slumber; he embraced the dark calm of sleep.

The warming radiance of the gentle light woke Lawrence from his sleep.  He felt he had only just fallen asleep he could not believe that it was day time already.  He stretched, he still felt shattered as he looked at his watch it was 4 o’clock.  He couldn’t have slept the whole day, could he?  He dozily went to the window and opened the curtains, it was still dark, still night and he had woken at 4am.  Lawrence, still half asleep, reasoned that he must have left the light on.  He walked to the switch by the door and flipped it, nothing happened, neither darkness nor brightness, just nothing.  He was now awake, his stomach tightening as he began to feel afraid; he turned and saw the source of the light. It radiated from the mirror.  He stood frozen; he could not comprehend how the mirror was reflecting light when there was none in the room.  Lawrence stood staring; he could see the whole room in the mirror, everything except one thing, himself.

Lawrence managed to unfreeze himself and made himself flat with his back against the wall.  With his eyes transfixed on the mirror he sidled around the walls, until he was beside the mirror.  The room was full of flickering shadows, the type you get when you burn a candle. The shadows danced and swayed.   Lawrence drew a deep breath and stepped in front of the mirror.  He saw himself; he was there, his mind playing tricks on him after all. As he saw himself he chuckled, he raised his right hand and then his left and his reflection did likewise.  Lawrence started to relax he was messing around with his reflection, he started dancing, the reflection mimicked him exactly.  He was dancing and turned his back on the mirror.  Lawrence turned back to face the mirror.  He put both hands on the mantle.  He dropped his gaze.
“BOO!” The reflection screamed.

Lawrence staggered backwards tripping on the coffee table.  He went down and smacked his head on the hardwood floor and lost consciousness.  As the darkness enveloped him he thought he could hear laughter.
“Lawrence?”
He stirred at the sound of his voice.
“You alright nipper?”
He recognised the twang in his father’s voice.
“What’s going on?” Lawrence asked.
“Looks like you’ve taken a tumble lad, easy now let me help you up.”

Lawrence’s father helped him onto the sofa; Lawrence saw the collapsed coffee table, the smashed crystal tumbler and also the pool of dried blood on the floor.  He instinctively reached for his head and felt the dried blood that had formed a crust from the gash in his head.
“Looks like a nasty fall, I think we should have that cut looked at, come on I will take you down to the emergency room.”

Lawrence was weary, his head pounding.  The hospital cleaned up his wound and put some glue on to close the cut.  They checked him thoroughly and after finding no lasting effects sent him on his way.  Once they returned to the manor house his father cleaned away the coffee table and glass, mopped up the blood and made a cup of tea.
“What happened son?” He asked Lawrence.
“I don’t know Dad, I was looking in the mirror and…” Lawrence’s voice drifted off, he couldn’t say what he thought had happened; someone would have him locked up.
“I woke up with you there.  I guess I must have been more tired than I thought.  I have been pushing really hard to get Sally and the boys back, must have overdone it.”
“Why don’t you have a good rest and I will come get the place ready with you.  I have next week off so we can crack on.  Besides I have seen your attempts at decorating and it’s awful.  You get as much as you can done between now and Friday and I will come over Saturday for the week?  Yeah?”
Lawrence nodded acceptance.
“Good, now get some rest boy.” His father waved a farewell and left.

Lawrence tried to sleep, he felt guilty that he had wasted a day, but his head hurt and his father was right, he needed rest.  Sleep was elusive, the night filled with thoughts of the mirror and his delusion from the night before. He questioned everything he could remember, had he imagined it?  He churned it all over in his mind.  Finally, Lawrence drifted off to sleep he was embraced by its welcoming open arms.  He awoke at about 10, he felt better, rested and his determination was renewed.  He worked all day barely stopping for food.  He felt better now the second floor was plastered.  The boys rooms just needed decorating, skirting boards and coving attaching and the sockets securing, then he could get the carpets laid and it was ready for them.   He was so pleased that they now had somewhere nice to sleep and play.  He had worked for 16 straight hours without a proper break.  His head had started to hurt, even his determination could not keep exhaustion at bay and Lawrence knew it was time to turn in.  The memory of the odd event with the mirror had all but been forgotten and once again enveloped him.
“Lawrence”
The room was bathed in a flickering light.
“Lawrence”
The voice hissed at him, but he was not quite awake.
“LAWRENCE!”
He awoke with a jolt and looked around the room, he felt fears icy grip upon him, his heart pounding, his throat tightening and the veins in his head throbbed as the blood flowed fast.  He looked around for the source of the noise, he saw no one.  He was still on the sofa.  He looked up to the mirror, his jaw dropped.  The reflection he saw was not him on the sofa under the blanket as he had expected but, rather, it was him standing, his torso, shoulders and head stood staring back at him.  Fear gripped tighter as he saw his own hand in the mirror beckon him closer.  He sat rigid, unable to look away, unable to brake the penetrating stare that looked deep into his soul.  He heard the voice again, it did not come from the mirror but seem to resound from every surface in the room.
“Lawrence come closer.”
He did not feel in control of his body as he stood up, he did not want to go nearer, yet he was drawn in.  He stood staring at his reflection, it must have been minutes stood motionless, but it felt like hours.
“Who are you?” Lawrence asked the strain audible in his voice.  His question was met with laughter.  Again the reflection was motionless yet the cackle resounded around the room.
“What do you want?” Lawrence screamed and the laughter stopped.
“It is not what I want, it is what you want that’s important!” The voice replied.
“And what do I want?” Lawrence asked confused.
“You want to know the truth! You want to know what she is doing right now” The voice laughed again.

The surface of the mirror seemed to turn to liquid as his reflection and that of the room disappeared in the ripples.  The image became blurry, undefinable until the ripples ceased and Lawrence found himself looking into a bedroom.  He saw his wife in the arms of another, he saw her in the throes of passion with someone else.  He screamed, he broke his gaze and looked away but it was too late, the image was seared into his mind.  He looked back at the mirror angrily, but all he saw was him, the voice had gone and the room went dark.  Lawrence scrambled over to the door and to the light switch and flipped it on.  All was as it should be and the mirror showed exactly what it should.  He quickly found his mobile phone, he knew it was late but he had to know, the image vivid in his mind’s eye, he dialled and waited.
“Hello, its late, you OK?” Sally said sleepily.
“Hi, yeah I’m OK, I just needed to speak to you.” He replied.
“Lawrence, you sound funny, what’s wrong?”
“I guess it was just a bad dream, I dreamt you were with someone else.”
“Oh you silly thing!” She chuckled, “when would I have the time?”

“She is lying!”the voice said.

“Are you lying?”  Lawrence didn’t mean to ask her, it just slipped out.
“No! Of course not!” Sally said defensively.

“Why is she whispering?  He is there now!” The voice said.

“Why are you whispering then?” Lawrence asked, again he did not mean too.
“Because the boys are asleep, Lawrence stop being so paranoid.  I will speak to you in the morning when you’re sensible!” The phone went dead.

Lawrence did not know what to think, on the one hand he believed and trusted his wife implicitly, but the voice was so convincing, it affirmed what he thought anyway.  He had often worried he was not good enough for his beautiful wife and that every day was a struggle to keep her happy.   No matter what he did he could not shake the image, he was convinced.  He approached the mirror, in a way he was thankful, it had affirmed what he thought he already knew, his paranoia justified, he gazed long into it and looked intently at the frame.  Three of the corners now had a face; a crying man, a wounded man and a man in anguish.  Only one carving did not have form, what did it all mean?

The sunrise was beautiful, the red, orange and purple glorious in the dawn sky.  Lawrence did not know what the day would bring, what horrors lay ahead, for now he savoured the sunrise.  The new dawn bought a new day and Lawrence vowed to continue regardless, to carry on working hard, working to complete the house.  He did just that, with the second floor completed he moved his attentions the first floor, to the master bedroom, the study and the library.   He worked all day and did not notice the storm brewing; he did not see the thunderclouds approach.  As it drew nearer he heard the rumble of thunder but paid it no attention.  The wind began to howl, gaining strength and power, Lawrence worked on.  He ignored the thunderclaps that shook the house to its foundations, the wind at its pinnacle lifting trees by the roots, yet the job in hand was more important.  It was only when a tree struck the power cables did Lawrence notice that he was at the centre of a ‘once in a lifetime’ storm, when all the lights went out he noticed that he was alone, in the dark.

Lawrence found his way to the door of the master bedroom; he had been affixing plasterboards when the power went out.  He stood on the landing the house in pitch darkness, illuminated only by the intermittent lightening.  His fear returned as if one of the lightning bolts had struck him.  Despite there was no power in the house, from beneath the door to the lounge a flickering, beckoning light glowed.   To say that Lawrence was scared was understating the situation, he was petrified.  Every essence of his being was telling him to run away, run long and run far.  But he didn’t, he reached for the lounge door and went inside.

He knew what to expect, the flickering dancing shadows, the autonomous reflection and when he looked he was not surprised.  The grinning figure that looked just like him stared back.  Lawrence approached, he was attempting to be brave as the fear ate him up inside.
“What do you want?” Lawrence asked, he was met with laughter.
“Who are you?”  This time he got a response.
“I am you!” The reflection answered.
“How?”
“Lawrence, I am you, I am your sorrow, your pain, your paranoia and your fear!  You created me, you feed me, I know every thought you have and it sustains me!”
Lawrence stood disbelieving.
“I am not afraid!” Lawrence said defiantly.
“Don’t be foolish, I can taste your fear, I am fed by it! I am not here to hurt you.  You must finish the house, your family must return, their pain will be exquisite!”

Lawrence realised what this spirit wanted, he wanted his family, a cold shiver ran down his spine, the fear unquenchable and the horror written across his face.  The final featureless figure screamed as a face appeared, finally the frame was complete.  The golden glow shone from the gilt.  The four corners came to life in front of Lawrence.  The laughter bellowed from and around the room.  Lawrence feared for his family, he was scared, the fear gripped and wrenched tearing him apart.  He looked at himself in the mirror, his reflection laughing victoriously.  He felt the hammer still in his hand; he knew what he had to do.  He swung and caught his reflection on the forehead.   Shards of glass flew out from the mirror, the reflection vanished.  Suddenly the room went dark, the laughing gone and the reflection gone.  Lawrence sighed with relief, it was over.

As he stood in the dark, relieved, he looked around, at what he did not know as it was too dark to see anything.  It was too dark to see the decaying hands reach for his throat, it was too dark to see the festering and rotting head grow from within the wall.  He did not see it, but he certainly felt it as the icy grip closed around his throat.  The frame shone bright, brighter than it had before, it burnt his eyes and he stumbled backwards and fell to the floor, still with the assailant gripping tight.

“Thank you Lawrence, I knew I could count on you to release me from my prison, I am made real again, I can walk again, I can KILL again.  Your fear strengthens me, gives me power.  I shall enjoy destroying your family, you will know pain, you will know fear and I will be unstoppable!”

Lawrence screamed.  What had he unleashed, Lawrence may not have been the smartest person but he knew that he and the entity were linked.  As he laid on the floor, straddled by the decayed form that he created he knew what he must do.  He reached out and found what he was looking for, a large shard of mirror.
“If I created you, I can destroy you! For Sally, For Joshua! For Samuel!

A lone tear fell down his cheek, it was truly over.

I have had a holiday!! A nice relaxing break with my family. It was wonderful! I feel fresh, relaxed rejuvenated! Or at least I did until I got back to work. Still, the bills must be paid. So what did I do on my holiday, did I sit and write…no, did I go away? No! Did I do vast amounts of research? Definitely not! What I did was shut my brain down, gave it a chance to reboot and just shed the tensions that have built up since my last break. But isn’t that what we all do. I once went on holiday and wrote, I spent 2 weeks on a Greek Island writing. Very productive but I did not manage to unwind. Lesson learned!

I read, I drank coffee in numerous coffee shops (Caffe Nero still my favourite), I played with my 8 month old twin boys! What a week it was. But now I am back into the grind and have come to the decision that I really dislike my job, the point highlighted by a job opportunity that I consider to be my perfect dream job, well I have several perfect dream jobs, and two have cropped up. I have applied for them and I have my fingers crossed. Actually, I have my fingers toes and my eyes crossed but had to undo the latter as I kept walking into things! Come what may! Come what may!

I thought, for a change, instead of having a moan and a gripe about my own work I would do it to others and review 3 books I have read recently. Remember folks, these are my opinions alone and not meant to cause offence!

Firstly, The Ghost Hunters by Neil Spring:

Set across a 16 year period following the First World War, The Ghost Hunters follows Harry Price, his Assistant and their investigation of Borley Rectory, once proclaimed the most haunted house in England. I must say I enjoyed the work, it had tense and spooky moments but, ultimately it is not a ghost story. Not really! It is a social treatise on the roaring 20’s looking at the effect of spiritualism and the need for hope from those that lost so much through the Great War. The desperate length people would go through to quell the spirits, real or imagined, of those lost to conflict. It reflects on how spiritualism expands and explodes after major crisis events. How we are all haunted by the ghosts of our past, often ghosts best left there. It read well, it had a good pace, from a readers perspective. If I were Quercus books I would shoot the proof readers and editors as there was just so many typo’s that had not been corrected. But I must say I enjoyed it. A don’t do star ratings as a rule, it’s such a variable degree because one mans one star is another mans five star. So instead, I would just say, leave your brain behind and enjoy.

The second book is Rivers of London by Ben Aaronivitch.

I am going to be cagey here as there is so many twists and turns in this story that I don’t want to give away any spoilers. So, it is an urban fantasy in a contemporary setting. A crime drama that is attempting to be solved via magic. It focuses on a police officer Peter Grant who is assigned to DI Nightingale after attending a brutal murder in Covent Garden. His journey leads him to encounter, ghosts, vampires and gods whilst on the trail of a serial killer who’s body count is racking up. Mr Aaronivitch has done this very well, it moved at a brisk pace, it was engaging, well written, as I would expect from the author of one of the best Dr Who adaptations and screenplays. However, there is a frequent use of pop culture references that will date the novel horribly, in fact some readers might not get the references, but to a keen eye it adds to the story. Particularly when a character is connected to a machine that goes ping! (Anyone else get it? I thought it was hilarious!) This is well worth a read, if you are a fan of genre fiction grab it, grab it now and clear your schedule!

Finally, a new release, JRR Tolkein’s Beowulf.

All I am going to say about this is, only pick it up if you know the story, only pick it up if your Academic minded. It is wonderful new translation and commentary but it is heavy going! Wonderful story translated by one of the masters! But, it is not for the feint hearted!

So, that was my week that was. And now I go back to staring at my emails hoping I get the call for an interview. I know that given an interview I can wow them! Given the opportunity to prove myself, I would do! But, let’s see if I get that far!!!

Job hunting!

Posted: March 19, 2014 in writing
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This weeks post is not so much about writing, but instead about what else is happening in my world. I am ensconced in a frantic job hunt. I need a new job as mine is under threat of redundancy. Not a happy place to be with two six month old babies’. I apply for many, get the traditional reply of ‘Due to the amount of applications, if you don’t hear from us by ???, etc etc.’ this response infuriates me greatly, although I can understand why. Still, the personal touch seems to have evaporated and now it’s all about sight unseen. I am in a difficult position, although I have two degrees, a undergraduate and postgraduate, I actually am qualified to do absolutely nothing! If anyone asks my advice about University then here it is, do a degree that provides a profession! Engineering, law, medicine for example. Don’t follow your heart and do History! Does not get you very far. My other problem is I am 35 years old, I am too old to be accepted to retrain, and ironically, too young. I am in a grey area of age between those that get additional funding to get into work, I.e. The under 25’s, I am too young to get additional funding to retrain as I have been in a long job and industry has changed, I.e. 50+. So where am I? What help do I get to try to find a decent, enjoyable job that utilises my mental prowess? I will tell you what help is available, none what-so-ever!

Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining or moaning, or finding excuses. I am not saying that I should walk into my dream job, I’m just saying, please don’t ignore me because I am not in assisted brackets of age, sex, ability or lack thereof! I appreciate that this is public and a future employer could theoretically find and read this blog so here is what I really want to say in an application letter!

Dear Sir,

My name is Peter and I am the best candidate you have never employed! Not only am I educated and intelligent but i am the hardest working individual currently seeking employment. I work hard, I work until the job is done, I am diligent, checking , rechecking, providing the highest quality output.

I realise that my choices in the past have moved me away from areas I am interested in, but appreciate that I have done so to keep the lights on and a roof over my head and now to keep food in my babies tummies. My choices have been out of necessity and do not give an accurate reflection of who I am or what I am capable of! I need a chance, I need a breakthrough and an opportunity to prove myself, I know you would not be disappointed!

I am constantly trying to improve myself, learning, adapting, making myself better. I would not have applied to you if I could not do the job, I would not have applied to you if I was under or over qualified, I have applied to you because I know that I could be beneficial to your company and also beneficial to me!

I really am the best person you have not employed, I am not too old or too young, I have a great deal to give, I have a great deal to learn but my mind is a hungry sponge eager to soak up knowledge. The safe path is not always the most rewarding, we strive to explore new things, make new discoveries. I am one such untried path. Be brave, take a risk!

Yours faithfully

An optimist!

That is what i want to say, maybe one day I will. But, for now at least, I shall continue to offer a solid, standard letter. Wish me luck in my search for employment nirvana!

The past week has not been a good one for me. Firstly, the competition Shortlist was announced, I was not on it. They, in their wisdom, selected seven female writers, who all sound like they have written similar stories. This was expected but does not take away the feeling of rejection. I have had time to think about the competition, I have laid awake at night analysing what, if anything, I could have done different. As we had no feedback, or know any of the genres selected, it is difficult. I have come to this conclusion! My work was not what they were looking for! For all they say they were looking for a good read, they were also looking for a guaranteed money vehicle. This is ok! A sci-fi techno thriller in the vein of Micheal Crichton, with a Clive Cussler-esque action feel probably was not what they were after. Never mind! My lesson learnt was one rejection does not make my work worthless, just pitched at the wrong audience!

Which brings me to the depressing news that my story, my brainchild, my tale is not as unique as I once thought. I read the sci-fi magazines each month and eagerly opened my copy of SFX to see a report on the first details of Christopher Nolan’s new film, Interstellar. My heart sank, a tear hit my eye as I saw my plot laid out before me. There are differences, instead of the world running out of fossil fuels it is running out of food, instead of an Air Force pilot it is a farmer as the main protagonist. OK so there is probably enough differences to make it viable. Still with the week I had it was the last straw! I am not a confident writer at the best of times, I often feel that my work is just not good enough and need a lot of reassurance from others, much to the annoyance of my partner! I second guess, question my ability, and worry. This worry often overtakes my concentration and as a result I get nothing done. I spiral, I doubt which leads to worry which leads to doubt etc… This is my curse!

So, what can I do! Well, a group from the competition and I started a writers group on Facebook. Writers United has become a hotbed of advice and support as well as writing practice and a chance to have work critique by eyes that are new to the work and have no pre-disposition to be kind or blow smoke up my backside (not that anyone else does). So that has been great, but what else? Well I will enrol on to a creative writing course in April, to develop and help. Also, and I say this at the end I need new employment! The axe will soon fall in my current position, although I lament my job, I don’t want it to end until I have something else. Oh well! I was rejected in the competition and I feel I have been rejected at work due to economic circumstance. But, I am trying to be philosophical, it is not rejection it is redirection!

Inspired

Posted: February 25, 2014 in writing
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I have not posted for a little while, the reason being I was ill last week and could not bear the thought of looking at anything electronic. Even looking at a book made me feel nauseous. Not a good week for productivity. But, I am back feel well again and I want to crack on! One problem though, I don’t feel very inspired. I have a novel in progress and I really need to get moving on it, yet the past few days I don’t seem to have a single idea in my head. Normally I can think and dismiss several ideas a day but at this moment I can’t think of a single thing, the slate is blank! The brain has shut down!

So I look to my inspirations. I search the depths and recesses of my mind for ideas. As I search I realise that my writing capability is directly related to environmental factors. The more worry I have the less I can focus. I wonder, is this the same for everyone? I, for many years, have used fiction to escape reality, to run away from my problems. Whether I am reading or writing I escape the rigours of daily life. Something has changed, I think I have finally grown up! Now that is scary. I am tackling the problems head on rather than brush them aside.

So what problems do I have? Well the biggest worry I have is my job. I have often complained that I dislike my job, but I do like having the money. Over the weekend it was announced that the company I am seconded to is seeking to end their contract, that being said the company I work for have other sites, which are all fully staffed. This means I could well find myself unemployed in the not so distant future. I spoke in an earlier post about tough choices, different jobs, pay cuts and less hours. However, job security is paramount and right now, I don’t have any.

I will be honest, I am frightened, worried half to death, I am not sleeping, I am not looking after myself because I am just too worried. I have a permanent headache! I must feed my family, keep the roof over my families head. But I am worried I can’t do this. I have a deep feeling I am failing them and that is very upsetting. Writing seems the last thing to think about. Even though I would love to do it as a permanent full time occupation the immediate concerns are too prominent in my mind and inspiration has left me.

I am also in a nervous state. The competition I entered to win a publishing contract will shortly announce the short list. And I wonder whether I will feature. Less than a week and I will find out. Maybe if I am short listed I will regain my inspiration. We shall see.

Do other writers have similar issues? Is concentration linked with environmental factors or is it just me?

Finally, farewell to a great writer, director and actor. Harold Ramis! Ghostbusters was very influential on me growing up and has remained one of my favourite films!

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