Archive for May, 2015


Judd Henderson took his normal morning walk at eleven o’clock. He liked the spring. The scent of cut grass, all but forgotten over the winter, heralded the arrival of warmer weather.

The park to the left of his usual route had grown wild with tall grass and a smattering of wild flowers. Standing in the meadow was a pheasant; a male by its colouring. The bird remained quite still, head tilted back, eyes fixed on some point in the sky.

Pheasant in the sun

Image courtesy of Dr Joseph Valks

Judd paused beside a park bench and observed the motionless pheasant.

How peculiar.

The bench’s occupant – an indescribable man, hidden as he was behind a broadsheet newspaper – briefly lowered his screen and regarded Judd. He then resumed reading without comment.

Judd left pheasant and man to their business and continued his walk. He made a slow circuit of the park, pausing periodically to examine an interesting flower or beetle.

When his circular route brought him back to the bench, the man was still there. From behind, all Judd could see was a black hat and duffle coat. He imagined the man must be uncomfortably warm, but each to their own. He sat on the unoccupied end of the bench and glanced at the newspaper man. It had taken Judd some time to circumnavigate the park, and yet the man seemed to have made little progress through the news.

The meadow opposite now stood bereft of pheasants. Judd leaned a little closer to the man beside him.

“I see that pheasant is no longer staring at the sun,” he remarked.

The black clad man abruptly folded his newspaper and tucked it under one elbow. He withdrew a brown paper packet from inside his coat, placed it on the bench and strode swiftly away. Judd considered the packet and then the man’s retreating back.

How peculiar.

Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed this little tale about miscommunication. Leave a comment with your thoughts if you like.

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There was a time when I’d held their hands as we walked. Now, my footsteps left a solitary trail across the smooth sand. A pale yellow sun sank towards the horizon. Small waves washed up, creating a non-silent silence where there was noise, but no distinctive sounds. No laughter.

As I walked with my hands in the pockets of my duffle coat, a little terrier bounded through the shallow surf, shepherding a grubby football. He splashed up to me and stood, wagging his tail expectantly.

Dog on a beach at sunset - Weston Super Mare

Image © 2015 Chrissey Harrison

I turned and looked back down the beach for his owner, but there was no-one in sight. So, I crouched and held out a hand. “Where’s your family?”

The little terrier dropped his head in a playful bow and nudged the football closer with his nose.

“Alright, but just this once.”

He stood poised, ready to dash.

I kicked the football and it skidded across the surface of the water. The little dog chased after it and sneezed when the salty water went up his nose. I chuckled.

The football bobbed on the surface and resisted his efforts to herd it back. Each time he pounced it scooted away. He growled his puppy frustration.

“Go on, you can do it.” I patted my thighs. The terrier looked up and then attacked the ball again. He drove it back to me and I kicked it, across the sand this time.

We played until the sun touched the horizon and the tide had worked its way out, expanding the beach to a vast ocean of sand.

My new friend, panting heavily, dropped down on his belly and put his head on his paws. No one had appeared to claim him. We hadn’t seen another soul on the beach. I sat down next to him and we watched the final moment of the sunset.

I looked down at my new companion. “Are you hungry?”

His ears perked up and he wagged his tail.

“Me too.” I picked up the football and the little dog fell into step behind me for the walk home.

Weston beach at sunset - Weston-Super-Mare

Image © 2015 Chrissey Harrison

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

The Glass Demon - book coverLin Fox is dragged away from her life in England by her family. Her father is obsessed with finding the mysterious Allerheiligen Glass – medieval stained glass windows thought lost for centuries – and moves them to a remote part of Germany. His initial investigations are hampered by the inconvenient death of his contact and the locals are none too welcoming. It could be a coincidence, but maybe not. Maybe someone doesn’t want them to find the glass.

This book builds slowly, revealing the mystery in little chunks. There’s a web of complicated and none too rosy relationships between the characters of Lin’s family. It becomes something of a moral tale about the dangers of not listening to each other, of being so self-centred you’re not aware of the people around you. I spent the entire book trying to work out exactly what the relationship between Lin and Tuesday was, which was disorienting at first, but came clear in the end.

Lin’s infatuation with a good looking local priest who teaches at her school is so believably adolescent. Combined with her relationship with the boy next door, Michel, and her changing relationships with her family, you really get to watch her grow up from a series of reality checks.

The book is essentially a thriller, or mystery, but I for a long time I couldn’t tell whether it had a genuine supernatural element or not. The characters believe in the demon who haunts the glass and the evidence keeps you guessing. I loved that about the book.

The one thing that let it down for me was the occasional interjection from the narrator, Lin, to reassure me that something good was just around the corner. I’d be reading along, quite happily and reach the end of a chapter which concluded with something like “little did I know it would be the worst day of my life” or “at that time <blank> was still alive.” I didn’t need teasers like that to keep me reading. I already wanted to know what was going to happen.

It was quite clear from early on that one of the characters was going to die. It just remained to discover how and when. I felt let down when it finally did happen, because I though, how much more powerful would this have been if I hadn’t known it was coming?

It felt like I was reading a nervous author who wasn’t confident enough to trust the reader to find the story compelling.

The pace quickens as the story progresses. I was quite happy reading a chapter here or there for the first third, but then I was hooked and didn’t want to put it down. Over all a good read, with a compelling mystery that keeps you guessing all the way to the end.

Independent

As I entered the polling station and handed my card to the lady at the desk, I still didn’t know how I would vote. Nothing I’d heard in the run up to the election made me want to vote for any of the parties. I did feel quite strongly about voting against most of the options.

The lady drew a ruled line through my name and handed me a long ballot paper. “Please choose one option and put a cross in the box. Don’t write anything else on the paper. And, when you’re done, just pop it in the box here.” She patted a black steel box beside her.

I gave her a weak smile and I took my sheet over to a wooden booth. A chunky black pencil tethered by a piece of string waited, expectantly. I unfolded the sheet and slowly, deliberately, read through each option, hoping something would click and I’d suddenly feel some kind of rightness about one of my choices.

Voting

Reconstruction, not an image of an actual ballot paper.

Nothing leapt out.

I picked up the pencil. Maybe I should just stab blindly at the paper and leave it up to chance. Or I could scribble NONE OF THE ABOVE in big childish letters. I wished just one of the candidates could be qualified, trusted, to represent me.

At the very bottom of the page lurked a name I didn’t recognise. An independent candidate with no logo next to his name. I knew nothing about him except that he was willing to go it alone. He didn’t feel like he fit in with any of the parties either.

I put my cross in the box.

 

 

This is a fictional story about voting. It’s not about me, or how I voted. It’s about a disillusioned voter recognising they have something in common with a candidate.

Happy voting everyone!

I have news! My novella, The Star Coin Prophecy is now available to download from Open Books.

About Open Books:

OpenBooks.com is an independent eBookstore where readers read first, then decide how much they want to pay based on what they feel a book is worth and how much they can afford.

OpenBooks.com also allows unlimited copying and sharing of eBooks, with the majority of payment proceeds being passed directly to the author. This model places publishing power back in the hands of the writers and purchasing power directly in the hands of booklovers. (openbooks.com/about)

Find out more on The Great Escape – Follow Friday – Open Books

Cover art for The Star Coin ProphecyThe Star Coin Prophecy

When local science reporter Ruth Anders gets invited to a national press conference for the Kepler project, she knows it’s going to be a memorable experience. But nothing could prepare her for the extraordinary events that take place. […Read more]

Get the book

You can download the book for free and side load it (i.e. manually move the file) to your Kindle or other eBook reader. But more than that, you can copy the file and send it to friends you think might like it, share it on reading groups. All for free.

You only pay if you want to. So, if you want you can wait till after you’ve read it, and then decide, yeah, that was worth a quid of anyone’s money. Or you might not… but that’s okay.

You can still buy it from Amazon or Kobo Books if you want the convenience of the file syncing straight to your device. I try to keep the price point at 99p or the equivalent in USD (about $1.60).

If you really like it, and me, you can buy it direct from The Great Escape Books page, which guarantees you the best format file, no links, and all the money goes to me.

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