The Lady in the Loft

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Look here for my collecton of Short Stories (there isn't many) I write them for competitons - not that any of them win, but then i'm not after winning, not really. It's the chaase I enjoy. The challenge in writing something new, something exciting. Something for all ages. 

Stories on this page:

  • The Trail of the Damned
  • Angels in Africa

I hope to post my own competitions in the future. Keep checking back for updates on this idea. 

do you have an idea for a story, long or short? Do you have a short story you want people to read. I'm thinking about publishing an anthology of short stories. Check back for more details on this. In the mean time I will happilly post your work on this website.

The Trail of the Damned 

I love writing all kinds of genres. This was my first attempt at Fantasy - written for It wasn't a winner but winning was not the point of me entering this one - I was bored they gave me something to write about. Pre-order the Fantasy Anthology if you can , it's sure to be an amazing collection!

To my precious daughter

I know that I promised you and your mother that I would be home for Christmas. It is with the deepest regret that I realise that this cannot be, for my thirst for adventure outweighed your mothers wisdom and I took the trail of the damned.

Cherie, the mountains were just as we imagined. Tall, dark and menacing: in more ways then one. The shadows flickered around me as if they were alive, and the wind whispered to the cliffs in the dark. I drew my courage by thinking of you and of the legendary dagger the mountain is said to hide; for I had convinced myself that this dagger would be the perfect Christmas gift to you.

As I started my journey I had your mothers last words hissing in my ears. You know her words of course: “One of these days you’re going to run into a warlock or die by dragon! You’ll regret it before you’re even halfway to your destination.” You may tell her just how right she was. I know, as you relate this letter to her, her cheeks will flush as she allows herself the indulgence of an: “I told you so.”

I followed the trail for three days. The bitter cold of winter made the going hard, I reflect it may have been wiser if I had waited for the Spring. Deeper and deeper into the mountains the trail led, until I had sheer cliff walls on both sides of me. Walls that appeared to lean in on me, blocking out the sun until I found myself walking in perpetual night.

I continued to travel forward, trailing one of my hands against the cliff wall as I did so. About the end of the third day, a silver grey mist began to coil around me as I felt my way in the darkness. My every step disturbed more of this glowing matter until I found my sight slowly returning. It was then that I realised the cliffs had closed above me and I had found my way into a tunnel. For a moment, I felt the claustrophobia of being closed in and had to fight the urge to turn back, but then my love of seeking out the new forced me to continue my journey.

It must have been quite late on that third night when I stopped to rest. I was not alone for I had the company of a family of Pixies who kept me entertained to say the least. These funny little pests had decided my head was the perfect place to dance and my arms were to be used as slides. Once they had finally got bored of me and allowed me to rest I found myself pondering on the wisdom of embarking upon such a journey. You and I both know, Cherie, that if I died on one of my adventures your mother would kill me - but that would be interesting too.

It was those pesky pixies who woke me a few hours later. The little abominations turned some water over my head, even now I can hear them cackling away with those mischievous little voices. My yelling at them seemed to make them find the situation all the more humorous… You’d have liked them.

As I continued my journey sense of time was eventually lost and my sight terribly diminished, but my hearing compensated for this. I had become aware of noises deeper in. A low growling. My dear daughter, all I could think of were the dragons and monsters that you imagined would be guarding the dagger. My heart nearly stopped in fear. But, I couldn’t stop myself from moving on to investigate. Part of me dearly hoped I would indeed meet a dragon, stale rations and the bitter cold were beginning to get to me. Anything hot was more then welcome.

As I stumbled further down the trail the walls began to widen out and the growls began to bounce of them until I could hear them all around me. Whatever creature I was moving towards sounded really mad, like it was attacking something. I found myself running forward. Dragons. Warlocks. Werewolves. Creatures from every story we ever read together flew through my mind as I ran. Turning a corner of the tunnel, I was forced back by the sheer heat.

He was huge! Each scale on his muscular body moved with him, overlapping each other like the links in your grandpa’s elven armour. As each scale rose tiny flames burst out from under them adding to the sweltering heat of the cave I had found myself in.

“What are you staring at!” His voice boomed around the cave, crashing of the walls and chasing down the passageway I had followed up.

‘Hello to you too.’ That’s what I wanted to say, but you know me, I do not have the courage to get cocky with a dragon… a warlock maybe, but not a dragon. I kept my mouth shut and… well… waved stupidly. Stop laughing! He put me on the spot, his scale was just that awesome.

His head came close to mine. I could smell sulphur and almost see the flames licking at the insides of his nostrils. His head alone was as big as my torso. He was looking into my soul with his lava eyes, I could feel him burning through me but I could not tear myself away from his gaze.

He snorted. The spell was broken and I fell to the floor. I had to shake my head to clear it and when I looked up again he was towering over me. I realised with horror that he was smiling. Taking my knife out of my boot I hurriedly prepared to prevent myself from death by dragon. Already I could see your mother over my grave engraving the words ‘Can’t say I didn’t warn you’ into my headstone. Note for the future Cherie, don’t let her.

The growling began again, echoing around me in low pitched spurts. My grip on the blade loosened as the truth became clear. He was chuckling.

“Funny human, if I had it in my mind to kill you their would be no body to bury.”

“How’d you-?” But I didn’t need to finish my question as he was a reader of minds and was already answering.

“We have melded, human. Your thoughts are my thoughts. Those pixies are getting out of hand again, I will deal with them later in the week. You are a man of strong heart, continue on your quest you will not find what you seek for I have hidden it well but you will find what you seek.”

Cryptic or what?! I’m telling you, Cherie, it drives me mad when these high and mighty creatures refuse to speak in plain English. But I was allowed to pass unharmed and on coming out of the cave I laid my head back and delighted in the feel of the winter sun before more growling made me take in my surroundings.

The village I found myself in was a peaceful one. Under the gates that I saw directly ahead of me, children were playing happily with a five young sheepdogs, both the dogs and the kids were growling at each other, trying to pin the other to the ground; a sight to make any weary traveller smile. More importantly, in the light breeze of the open air, I could smell soup. Hot warming soup.

The villagers welcomed me gladly, and gave me food in exchange for stories. I enjoyed meeting the small community. Many like-minded travellers had also found the village and most of them had stayed. Those that left will never tell the world of this peaceful community for fear of upsetting the steadily beating heart of the little homestead.

Once I had recovered from my journey, I realised I had been in the mountains for a week. As I am writing this letter I know it is Christmas in two days time. One of the boys has offered to run this letter to the bats delivery service for me, I will follow behind at a relaxed pace. It is going to take me at least a week to get home, this time I shall go around the mountain. I hope to be home for the New Year Party.

But the journey wasn’t for nothing, Cherie, I went to find you the dagger of legends, well… He’s not much of a legend, and they only call him dagger because of the dagger shaped patch on his nose. He’s six months old and, I’m told, the friendliest Sheepdog and most loyal companion anyone can hope for. My dear Cherie, he’s all yours… You’d better warn your mother.

Missing you both with every fibre of adventurous existence within me;

Your Father

Rovernous Rover of the Roving tribe of untold Rovers….etc

for heavens sake, Cherie, just call me dad. 

Angels of Africa

This was written one night when I was feeling miserable. Although it failed to win the competitions it was entered into - failed even to be noticed - in my mind it is a success because it invoked an emotional reaction from someone reading it (and i don't mean myself).

Taraja sighed heavily as she watched the velvety black sky. There were no stars on this gloomy night, just a blanket of black icy air that promised snow. It was early December and Taraja was once again sat on the roof of her house in nothing but her school uniform. She often stayed up there for hours just looking at the sky as she ponderd the answers to questions she didn't understand.

Laying back on the icy roof she listened to her dad calling her name from the porch. He sounded worried, but Taraja didn't care. Blocking the sound of his voice from her ears she stared into the black heavens, willing her mothers face to appear; wanting her to hold out her hand and show her why, why she had to die when she had done so much good.

It wasn't fair!

Failing to hold back the sobs that quelled in her throat, she curled up into a ball and started to cry softly, her tears freezing on her face. Using her arms to try and warm herself she called silently to God, if there was a God, if God cared, or even had the time to listen to one lonely little girl.

Her dad closed the door and went back into the house, but Taraja could still hear him pacing through an open window. It was his fault! It was all his fault. If he hadn't made mother go with him to Africa...He should have known it would have been dangerous.

“Why God?” she choked as she thought of the lifeless body that her dad had brought back. “Why her? She was only trying to help? Why did you have to take my mothers life? Why do you have to take the life of anyone? What have we done to deserve our lives to be snatched away?”

She closed her eyes and let an icy breeze rustle her skirt as a car pulled into the driveway. She did not need to look to know that it would be the police. Something told her that they would be getting bored; After all, it was the third time this month that her dad had called them out on her account. Last time, when they had found her walking in an empty town, they had told her that it may help to see a counsellor. But Taraja knew that counsellors would not be able to answer the questions that burned in her mind. She knew that, for her mother had been a counsellor, and a first-aider. She and dad had gone to Africa to help the sick and dying. And in return for their help one of the patients, with a history of mental illness, plunged a knife into her mothers heart.

“Dad never even cried at the funeral,” she sobbed to the darkness. “Why didn't he cry? She gave him everything and he didn't even care when she died. Now he says he's going back to Africa to continue the work and he wants me to go with him, to help those who murdered my mother. Why? Oh, why?”

A warm feeling spread over her cold back. Taraja stopped crying and looked up in wonder as the warmth spread into her body and her heart. A golden light was glowing around her. Slowly, she stood up and looked around holding her hands to her chest as she did so. Standing before her was a young man, the light was too bright for her to see his face but she could sense his beauty. His feathered wings were white and stood proud from his back. His garment was of white silk that had beautifully embroidered edges. His hands, so young and smooth, were held out towards her, inviting her.

Taraja did not feel any fear as she slid her hand into the warm palm of the angel. The warmth built up inside her until she could no longer feel the chill of the air. Her roof dissolved beneath her feet, but she did not fall. The world was changing around her. Colours were merging into each other, edged by the dark sky as the world spun. Taraja felt the first pangs of nausea, but she did not feel any fear. In fact, she could not remember ever feeling safer. She allowed herself to be enveloped in the angels feathery wings; the touch was as soft as kittens fur and as gentle as a babies grasp. Closing her eyes Taraja felt herself drifting into sleep.

She was almost sorry to feel the ground beneath her feet once more, but when she opened her eyes she was not, as she had thought, back on her roof, but in golden land where poverty reigned.

“Africa.” she whispered in awe as she took in the orange ground and blue sky. The angel let go of her hand but she could still feel his warmth none-the-less. He took two steps in front of her, his feet not touching the floor, then he turned and he beckoned for her to follow.

Taraja did as she was bid and followed him into a hut made of mud and straw. Inside a woman was crying, beating the ground in her despair. Taraja’s eyes widened as she saw how upset the woman was, laying beside her was a frail boy, his ribs clearly visible through his chest. He was looking up, his eyes wide, his lips parted slightly as they begged for water, but his body was not moving.

Taraja took a step back in horror. The child was dead! The angel walked to the child and lowered his soft hand over his eyes. When he removed his hand the eyes were closed and the woman’s tears doubled in earnest.

“But can't you do anything?” Taraja started to ask in dismay as he left the hut. “Can't you bring him back?!” she yelled after him to no avail. She turned back to the woman and her dead son. “All he needed was some clean water and some food. He was too young. Too young to die!” she whispered as she backed out of the room.

She felt the Angels hand on her shoulder as she started to cry all over again. Only this time she was not crying for herself, or for her mother, but the life that was needlessly lost through mankind’s greed. The hand squeezed her shoulder lovingly and she turned to face the shining being. His invisible face turned away from her and towards the East where the sun rises.

Taraja found herself move towards a gathering of people that was silhouetted against the sky. Though she could not understand what they were saying, she could almost feel their pain and grief.

They had gathered around a shrine that had been lovingly made.

The intricate designs that followed the rock pillars up were of trees bearing good fruit. The centre had a waterfall, carved beautifully, with a bowl at the bottom. Taraja looked into the bowl expecting to see water and saw, to her amazement, little hand carved figures, fancy little bracelets, and notes closed up with wax of the deepest red. A blood red. Taraja followed the waterfall up once again, her heart beating fast, and saw her mother. Her face had been carved into the rock with as much love as the rest of the shrine. It was her that these grateful people were paying homage to.

They were thanking a woman who had been willing to help and died while doing so. One of the Africans started to sing in a deep melancholy voice, and more gathered around to join in. No one could see young Taraja as the angel enveloped her once more in his golden embrace.

This time as the world disappeared beneath them Taraja burst into tears and the angel held her to him.

“Hush, little one.” his voice was full of gentle melody that could not be likened to even the greatest of composers. “Although you may not understand your place in this world, and though you may not know why things happen the way they do. Although you don't know why those who die do eventually die, it does not mean there is not a good explanation, or an understandable answer. But you have to take the time to find the answer if you really want it. It is something you have to search for. Something your mother was searching for. She found some of those answers while tending my people in Africa, she waits now for you to continue her work. She waits for your father to find the answers which he seeks so hard to find. Who are you to demand answers of God when you have not tried to find the answers yourself first. My people are dying little one, will you not help them?”

Taraja’s tears increased as he spoke to her. She felt selfish and childish for hating the world her mother had clearly loved so much. She was annoyed with herself from running away from her father, when he wanted so much for them to get as close to mother as possible by carrying on with the work that they had both loved.

The warm embrace disappeared and an icy chill hit her skin. Taraja opened her eyes and wiped away her tears. She was alone, stood on the roof of her house. She looked up at the sky in wonder and watched a white speck come floating down. Holding out her hand she watched the flake as it landed in her palm and melted away. “Was I dreaming?” she asked the drop of water before lowering her hand. The snow started to come down in a flurry, so Taraja went to the tree that stood besides their house and climbed down from the roof.

Her dad was stood in the doorway again looking down the street. Slowly she walked towards him, not knowing how to make her presence known.

“Dad?” his soft features turned to face hers in both surprise and delight. “I'm sorry.” she heard herself whisper. A look of confusion crossed her dad's face and she realized in horror how long it had been since she'd said anything to him.

“I'm sorry,” she repeated tears building in her eyes. “You miss her so much, I know that now. And I haven't made it easy for you when you are only trying to do what's right.”

“Honey,” her dad said wrapping his arms around her and hugging her to him. “You don't need to apologize. This hasn't been easy for you either, and if you don't want to go to Africa then we'll stay here and concentrate on our own...”

“No.” Taraja protested pushing herself far enough away from her dad so that she could look into his hazel eyes. “I want to go to Africa. Mother would want us to. To help the people, to save the sick and the dying. We must do what is right, to find the answers to life.”

Her dad pulled her close fiercely as the snow settled around them, Taraja sighed a heavy, relieved, sigh as she sensed that her dad had finally started to cry.