The Cellars – A Halloween Short Story

This piece was written for Sindy’s Spooky Writing Challenge 2014

Tammy had the good fortune of working for one of the most prestigious law firms in the county, Clarke, Hawkins and Richardson. She was only a secretary to one of the minor partners, but she allowed herself to feel pride at rising this far when she had barely left school with any qualifications to her name.

The law firm was based in one of the oldest buildings in town, the floors below street level dating back all the way to the fifteenth century. Not that anyone went down there, unless they were searching through the firms archives, but even most of them had been computerised by now.

Tammy had only had one occasion to venture down to the cellars, as they were called, and that was on the day of her induction. It was part of a tour of the building. She had been in a group of five other new employees, and even in company, she hated it down there. More than once, a cold shiver had run up her spine as she got the distinct feeling that someone or something was watching her from the shadows. Since that day, she had refused point blank to go down the stairs.

One Halloween, however, that was set to change. James, a man from accounting, spent the day playing pranks on nearly everyone who had come in to work that day.

As the day drew to a close, Tammy thought, by some miracle, she must have gone unnoticed by him. That was until it was time to leave. She had been forced to stay late to rectify a clerical error a temp had made, so by the time she was ready to go home there couldn’t have been more than a handful of people left in the building. She went to grab her bag from her desk, only to find that it was missing. She needed her bag; it not only had her house key in it, but also the key to her car. She searched everywhere she could think of, but no bag materialised. Without her bag, she couldn’t go home. Without it she couldn’t get home.

As she patted down the pockets of her jacket, hoping against hope that for some reason that morning she had put her keys there instead of where they belonged, she found a note. Her heart sank. She had seen others receive the same missives from James all day. Her heart sank further when she read what it said:

If you want to go home, first your will need to make a little detour. Your handbag is awaiting collection in the cellar. It’s sitting atop the main desk in Archives. Of course, if you are too scared to go down there, give me a call and you can come home with me. James.

‘Like hell I will,’ Tammy said, sounding much more confident than she felt. It was no secret that she hated the cellars, but neither could she give in to James. She would never live it down.

Tammy switched off her computer and desk light and closed her office door behind her, before making her way towards the lifts. Once inside, she pressed the button for the ground floor. It was the lowest floor the lift had access to. After that she was going to have to take the stairs.

Nerves began fluttering in her stomach before she even reached the bottom of the staircase, but she forced herself to go on. No doubt James would check first thing in the morning whether she had managed to get her bag back, and she simply couldn’t face the humiliation of being teased. It would be like high school all over again. That thought alone drove her onwards.

She moved across the half a dozen paces between the final step and the door to the corridor beyond as fast as she could. Her heart was racing. She felt sick. She could never remember feeling like this before. As she touched the door handle, and pulled it towards her, she felt like she could pass out at any moment, but she stepped through all the same.

As the door swung closed behind her, a high-pitched squeaking told her that the hinges hadn’t been oiled for sometime. The sound set her even further on edge, if such a thing were possible, before she registered something far worse, something familiar: it was the same feeling she had recognised on her induction. Someone or something was watching her. She tried to strike the realisation from her mind before she became paralysed with fear, but it was an almost insurmountable task. Almost.

The main desk was only twenty feet in front of her. She could see her handbag sitting on it. At that moment it represented so much more than simply a purse; it symbolised safety. She wanted to run over grab and then run all the way out of the building, never stopping until she was safely locked in her car, but her feet were heavy like lead and didn’t want to move.

She swallowed hard, and tried to convince herself to go on. Twenty steps, she silently chanted. That’s all it is. Twenty steps. With all the strength she could muster she took one step forward. Tammy trained her eyes on the ground, terrified that if she should look up she might see something that she really didn’t want.

A noise, sounding like one of the boxes moving on a shelf just out of her sight, stopped her in her tracks.

‘Hello?’ she called out. ‘Is there anyone down here?’ But the echo of her words only served to tense her further.

‘James, if that’s you…’ she said, trying to hold back the tears that were forming in her eyes, before the words slowly trailed off into the suffocating silence. She knew it wasn’t James down there with her, but she desperately wished it was.

All of a sudden she felt a cold breath on the back of her neck, and she couldn’t help but let out a gasp, but it was all the motivation she needed to move. She charged across the room, clutched her bag before attempting to make good her escape.

But she tried the door and it wouldn’t open; she knew there was no other way out. A noise that sounded like a hiss or perhaps an indecipherable whisper came from somewhere deeper in the room. Tammy started screaming.

A moment, no more, passed and the lights overhead began flickering. Then they went out altogether, and Tammy was plunged into darkness.

Chronicles of the Craft

Chronicles of the Craft - wattpadRemember back in June my monthly writing prompts were all witchcraft-related?  Well, I have decided to use those four short stories (The Robed Ones, In Plain Sight, Candle-Wishing and The Cauldron) as a foundation for a short story collection, called Chronicles of the Craft.  I will add to them, as and when, posting them to Wattpad as I go, until I decide that there is enough for an ebook.  Then I will release the ebook for free in a number of formats through Smashwords.

That’s the plan, at any rate. 🙂

To see Chronicles of the Craft on Wattpad, please click here.

To visit my Smashwords profile, click here.

A quick update…

Just a quick update…

I have posted Chapter 2 of one of my on-going writing projects, which I am posting a chapter at a time on Wattpad.

The story, Ada’s Jack: A Tale of Love and The Great War, can be found here.

The description:

Ada’s Jack tells the story of a young woman in love at the start of The Great War. The young man she loves is eighteen year old Jack Baker, who also happens to be her brother’s best friend. Like millions of people across the world, their plans for a happy future are put on hold as young men are called up or volunteer for war service. But what will become of them?

I would love to hear what you think of the story so far.

Breaking Out of One’s Comfort Zone

Ada's JackI have been away for a few days, for a lovely break in Shropshire.  I love Shrewsbury; it’s such a beautiful town and I always feel inspired after visiting.  Whilst away this time, I decided to challenge myself to write something completely out of my comfort zone…a love story set during The Great War, AND…post it as I write it on Wattpad, a chapter at a time.

I don’t usually like to share what I have written until I have it perfect, at least to my eyes 🙂  I also have never shared something that wasn’t finished first, so I really feel like I am pushing myself with this challenge.  And yes, it is making me terribly nervous…

I’m not sure that I am completely happy with the title of the story or the front cover at present, but that is something that I can work on at a later date.

Here is the description of the story:

Ada’s Jack: A Tale of Love and The Great War

Ada’s Jack tells the story of a young woman in love at the start of The Great War. The young man she loves is eighteen year old Jack Baker, who also happens to be her brother’s best friend. Like millions of people across the world, their plans for a happy future are put on hold as young men are called up or volunteer for war service. But what will become of them?

Please check out the first chapter AND let me know what you think by following this link:

Ada’s Jack Chapter One

Writing Groups and Camp NaNoWriMo

Recently I have thought about joining a writing group, believing it to be a great way to improve my writing as well as teaching me how to take criticism without getting over-sensitive about it.  I spent a little time looking around online but struggled to find one that I felt my writing and I would fit nicely into.

I had thought to post a ‘wanted’ ad of sorts on here to see if anyone could point me in the right direction and failing that seeing if there was enough interest to begin our own.  However,  I was a little worried; I currently don’t have the free time to run one alone at the moment, although I would have been happy to chip in…but you can’t really tell someone else to start a group just so you can have your own way, can you?

And then the email came through from NaNoWriMo about CampNaNoWriMo.

I have participated in the November challenge for the past two years and learnt a lot about myself and my writing in the process.  However, I had never looked into Camp before.  So I did a little research to see what it was all about and how it differed from the November event, before deciding “hey, why not give it ago?”  The idea of the cabins sounds great to me at this point in time.  And although it won’t necessary fulfil my need for a writing group or writing circle, it might go some way to provide a short term solution.  And who knows, I might meet some great people and great writers…

So, all I have to do now is decide what I am going to work on, update my camper info, novel info and finally cabin settings and away we go!

Anyone else participating in Camp NaNoWriMo in July?  Have you done it before?  Did you find the cabins and other campers helpful or more of a distraction?

Anyone else in a writing group or circle?  Has it helped your writing?  What are your thoughts on online writing groups?

Writing extras…

When I write fiction, my mind automatically begins to think around what I am writing.  Is there another short story in this?  Is there a spin-off I could write?  Would it be interesting to write this from another’s perspective?  What if the main character makes a different decision; how would that change the outcome?

Writing about Andromache Jones and the things she get’s up to as part of River Garden’s Mystical Service is no different.  For The Magician, I came up with the idea of a fictional newspaper article, written from the viewpoint of a sceptical journalist.  For The Apparition, it was a River Garden’s Mystical Service leaflet that Andromache gives out to those taking one of her courses.  It’s title, ‘How to Sense Paranormal Presences’.  I am hoping to get these posted soon on my Andromache Jones site.

Of course, these little extras are nothing more than an amusing side to the stories, at least to me.  If you haven’t read the stories they are based around, the likelihood is that they will pose no interest to you.  However, it shows that the story isn’t always necessarily over when you reach the end, and that the characters and the storyline, the setting and the themes, have the potential to continue to inspire.

A little bit of inspiration can go along way…