Saturday, 20 December 2014

A Harmony Of Spirit

Dr Maya Angelou (

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth's tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal's, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.

Merry Christmas friends and family!
By Dr. Maya Angelou


Friday, 19 December 2014


Oh, my love, it will not be
My broken heart cannot see
My way through the halls of time
When I begged to make you mine
And now, my love, alas, alas
I must let this moment pass
In tears I let this moment……..P A S S

~ You Let The Moment Pass by Eileen Manassian Ghali

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the
glory of the LORD is risen upon you

~ Isaiah 60:1 (King James)

Manchester 2 (by nzo100vin

Harry and Peggy

Ordsall, Salford, Greater Manchester

Harry and Peggy Wood had been married for sixty years.

They had lived in the same little terraced house in Salford for much of that time and were a devoted and contented couple.

Harry was a war veteran.

He had not long finished his Royal Navy service when he met Margaret (Peggy) Baker in a cafe.

She was working at the Mcvities biscuit factory and living with her parents in Eccles when they met.

He was twenty-four and she was just shy of twenty.

They were soul mates.

Everything happened very fast and the couple were married at St Clement's Church, Ordsall and honeymooned in Brighton.

A daughter would follow later and they named her Carole.

Carole lived in Australia with her husband Mitchell and they had two grown up daughters, Grace and Emily.

One Week Before Christmas

Harry Wood had settled into his favourite armchair by the large living room window.

The grey winter sky was streaked with red and purple.

Harry sipped his sweet tea as he pondered the empty corner of the living room where the Christmas tree was always placed.

This year was different.

And he just didn't have the heart to do it.

It was Harry's wife who always dressed the Christmas tree.

And she took great delight in doing it.

It was Peggy Wood's favourite time of year and it was her ritual to decorate the Christmas tree and she relished doing it.

She particularly loved to place the Christmas star on top of the tree.

"There we are!" She would pronounce proudly.

It was her favourite time of the year.

But with one week to go before Christmas day, the tree was still residing in the cupboard under the stairs.

Suddenly it felt very cold.

Suddenly Harry Wood felt very alone.

He took another sip of sweet tea and looked across the room.

Peggy was sitting in her favourite armchair; the green velvet one which had taken an entire afternoon to choose in Debenhams thirty years before.

Her face was partially illuminated by the street lamps from outside.

She was knitting a little winter hat for Harry and her gold spectacles were perched on the end of her nose.

Peggy looked up at Harry and smiled.

Then she slowly shook her head.

Harry's heart jumped.

Suddenly she was the pretty auburn haired lass he had met in a cafe.

The green eyed girl who was too shy to look directly in his eyes.

Margaret Baker.

The beguiling auburn haired goddess.

The Deborah Kerr of Salford.

A woman so full of grace that it tore Harry Wood's heart out. 

She was the only woman he had ever known and they went on to live a quiet life in their modest terraced house in Greater Manchester.

The years had evaporated.

Now Peggy looked at her husband with a knowing look in her eye.

"Don't you think it's time to put the Christmas tree up?" She said.

Harry almost spilled hot tea into his lap.

"Peggy ..."

"Aye, love?"

All words had suddenly deserted him.

"Nowt ..."

There was a resplendent glow in Peggy's face that seemed to come from somewhere deep within her.

He remembered the day he married her as if it were yesterday.

Peggy was dressed in a Jenny Packham ivory silk wedding dress with a fine tulle veil and she looked like an angel as she walked down the isle on the arm of her father Albert. 

"You're so beautiful" Harry Wood whispered to her.

Peggy smiled.

"Everything is going to be alright" she replied.

And he knew it would be.

Peggy had always been a good Irish-Catholic girl.

It was her innate rectitude that often moved Harry Wood and it seemed to shine out of her.

"My angel" Harry declared.

She was too good for this world.

He wasn't sure at what point he had fallen asleep, but Harry awoke with a jolt to find the whole house flooded in darkness.

"Only me!" Came the female voice as the front door closed behind her.

It was Luiza Wozniak, the home help.

She was a slim Polish woman with blonde hair and bright blue eyes.

"What are you doing sitting in the dark?" Luiza gently chided Harry as she flicked on the light.

The Heart, Salford Quays (by Belafon
He squinted and rubbed his eyes.

Then he looked up at the clock on the wall - it was 7:00 pm.

He had been sleeping for over three hours.

"Hello Luiza!"

Luiza Wozniak was holding a large covered plate in her hand.

"Irish stew!" She exclaimed brightly "Apple crumble for afters. Lucky you!"

Harry liked the woman.

She always seemed to brighten up the place and nothing was ever too hard for her.

Luiza Wozniak had been assisting Harry Wood for three years now and she had acquired a lot of affection for him regarding him as a surrogate grandfather.

"Peggy will like it too" Harry informed her "Irish stew is one of her favourites"

Luiza smiled.

"Of course it is"


"I'm sure you're looking forward to your daughter coming to stay"

Harry Wood nodded enthusiastically.

The weather had changed dramatically the following day with biting winds and frost on the ground.

Harry Wood had put on his woollen coat, Harris Tweed cap and the blue and mauve scarf which Peggy had meticulously knitted for him a couple of years before.

He still had the 32' inch waist that he had had for most of his adult life and he was as nimble and agile as ever taking a brisk every day if he could.

Harry was heading for his favourite place - Ordsall Park.

The park was opened in 1876, and was the second oldest park in Salford.

Harry braced himself against the rising winds as he found a bench and sat down.

The sky had considerably darkened and the park was virtually empty but Harry Wood was already immersed in his own thoughts.

He had sat in exactly the same spot a year before.

Now Harry mused on the dreamlike passing of time.

"Hello Harry!" A female voice hailed him.

It was Julie Chadwick from Lloyd's Pharmacy in town.

She was taking her little Yorkshire Terrier Milo for a walk. 

"Hello, love" Harry replied.

"You'll catch your death in the cold!" Julie cried.

Then she realised what she had said and suddenly felt shamefaced.

There was an uneasy couple of moments.

"I'm quite happy here" Harry Wood assured her.

"Why don't you come back to mine for tea? There's plenty to go round"

Julie lived with her husband Gavin and three year old daughter Lisa in a splendid house with a pool and games room.

"Oh my, is that the time!" Harry fretted as he glanced at his watch.

"It's quite alright. You'd be most welcome" Julie insisted.

"I'd better be going love. Peggy will be wondering what happened to me!"

Julie Chadwick smiled.

Then she helped Harry Wood rise from the bench.

"Perhaps another time" She said.

Wood doffed his hat.

"I'll hold you to it!" Julie Chadwick added.

Three Days Before Christmas

The living room had been completely transformed into a festive haven with garlands, candles and strings of cards across the walls.

Now Harry Wood stepped back to look admirably at the Christmas tree in the corner of the living room.

It had been adorned with flashing Christmas lights and gold tinsel, glittering bells and pretty baubles that sparkled when the light caught them.

"Wonderful!" Luiza Wozniak pronounced proudly.

Then she laid a hand gently on Harry's shoulder.

"But there is just one thing ..."

She placed the shimmering Christmas star in his hand. 

For a few moments Harry Wood was too overcome with emotion to speak.

Then he saw Peggy standing in the doorway.

She was dressed in a white satin dress and she motioned to him.

Harry took the Christmas star and placed it carefully on top of the tree.

"Perfect!" Luiza Wozniak declared "Let's have some tea!"

The whole living room seemed to be bathed in light.

"Everything is going to be alright" Peggy whispered into Harry's ear.

He could smell her perfume.

Palma Violets.

Harry Wood closed his eyes.

He remembered walking hand in hand with Peggy across the beach in Blackpool.

They had been married for ten years but had been unable to have children.

The couple had become resigned to it.

They had each other and that was all that mattered.

"I have summat to tell you" Peggy Wood informed her husband.

Her face was glowing and her eyes were shining brightly.

"Aye, love"
"I'm pregnant"

For a few moments Harry was lost for words.

The beach suddenly seemed very quiet with only the sound of lapping waves.

"Aye, four weeks gone. I'm expecting a little one!" Peggy declared proudly.

"Why love, that's amazing!" Harry Wood exclaimed lifting her up and spinning her around until they tumbled into the sand.

They were both giggling and suddenly Harry went quiet.

Peggy knew how conscientious her husband was.

He must be worrying about whether he would be a good dad.

"Are you okay love?" Peggy asked him.

"Aye ..."

"Everything is going to be alright" Peggy assured him.

The clouds had suddenly disappeared. 

Harry Wood felt he was the happiest man alive.

When he opened his eyes again Harry was standing beside Luiza Wozniak in St Joseph Roman Catholic Church.

It was Midnight Mass.

The church was full of people and their faces were illuminated by the candlelight.

St Joseph's had become an otherworldly place inhabited by celestial beings. 

"Angels" Harry Wood declared. 

An ethereal peace had descended upon St Joseph's.

Peggy stood beside him in her white satin dress.

Her whole face glowed in the candlelight.

"Everything is going to be alright" she whispered.

Christmas Eve

It was 3pm when Harry Wood opened the front door to his daughter.

Carole was so overcome with emotion that she hugged her father and would not let him go.

"Steady, girl" Harry cried.

Her husband appeared at the door laden with presents.

Mitchell Jones was an architect by trade and had made a good life for himself and his family in Australia.

They were able to live comfortably in semi-retirement in the Sydney suburb of Rydalmere.  

"Crumbs!" Harry exclaimed at the sight of all the gifts. 

"The girls send their love" Mitchell informed his father-in-law, enthusiastically patting his arm.

Harry smiled.

As soon as he was alone with his daughter in the hall, Carole looked deeply into her fathers eyes.

She was small and blonde with engaging blue eyes.

"Are you alright daddy?" Carole asked with concern.

"Aye, love" Harry assured her as he gripped her hand.

"Why don't you come and live with us in Australia?" Carole asserted "We have plenty of room and the weather will do you good. Sydney is stunning and there is so much to see and do"

"I'm quite okay here, my dear" Harry Wood replied firmly.

Carole kissed her father on the cheek.

"Besides, your mother told me everything is going to be alright"

Carole Jones smiled.

Christmas Day

It was a frosty morning with a clear sky.

Carole arose with a jolt.

Leaving her slumbering husband behind she left the guest room and noticed that her parents door was ajar.

The big bed had not been slept in.

Carole smiled to herself.

Her father must have fallen asleep watching TV. 

She quietly made her way downstairs expecting to find her father quietly snoring in his favourite armchair.

The curtains were still drawn in the living room and an ethereal peace seemed to permeate everything.

Harry Wood was sitting in his favourite armchair and appeared to be sleeping.

As Carole Jones approached her father, she realised his chest wasn't moving.

He looked very peaceful.

She knew her father had gone.

Carole Jones noticed he seemed to be smiling.

She gently kissed her father's hand and then dissolved into sobs.

January 10

Crowds lined the streets of Ordsall as the funeral car passed slowly by.

A great hush had descended upon them.

St Joseph's Roman Catholic Church was full that morning with many residents of Ordsall attending the funeral service.

Life would never be the same for the people of Ordsall who could not remember a time when Harry Wood was not around.

The quiet man had at last quietly left them.

A large crowd of mourners gathered at the interment to stand in solidarity with the family of Harry Wood.

Mitchel and Carole Jones with their daughters Grace and Emily and their own families were surrounded by a tidal wave of love.
Harry Wood was buried beside his wife in All Hallows Graveyard.

Just as he wished. 

Carole remained at the graveside beside her husband.

He put his arm around her.

"You okay?" He whispered.

"Yes" she replied.

She turned to look earnestly into her husbands eyes.

"Everything is going to be alright. Just like my mom said"

Somehow Love

Stretford, Trafford, Greater Manchester

One Week Before Christmas 

Katie Paige hadn't seen the car.

She was so immersed in her own thoughts that she stepped out into the road without looking.

Katie worked at the Town Hall and she left early that afternoon pleading sickness.

She just couldn't face the Christmas party.

Feeling lost and cast down, she drove into town and stopped at the Trafford Centre.

But it was one week before Christmas and every shop seemed to be packed with shoppers.

Katie Paige had never felt more alone as she walked around the centre.

She kept picturing him in her mind.

Fraser Douglas.

Manchester - Trafford Park 2 (by eemmzzz
The dashing Scotsman that she had been in love with for three years.

He had broken the spell with a shock announcement on the last day before the festive break.

Fraser Douglas had just announced his engagement to the attractive woman clinging to his side.

She was fawning and grinning contentedly.

Daniella Davis.

A striking blue eyed blonde.

She was the Manhattan sweetheart who had only been at the Town Hall a year.

Daniella Davis exuded self confidence and self assurance.

Katie Paige hated her.

She hated her for stealing her man.

Daniella Davis batted her eyelashes and Fraser Douglas fell at her feet.

Now she watched as the dazzling couple kissed each other

The entire office broke into applause and terms of endearment.

Katie's world imploded.

Everything seemed to have happened so fast that it made her head spin.

Fraser Douglas and Daniella Davis had been conducting an affair under everyone's nose and they were so discreet that nobody had any inkling about it.

He explained how it was "love at first sight".

The words felt like a dagger to Katie's heart.

Men and women had gathered around the strapping Glaswegian and his pretty fiancée as he spoke and Katie listened with tears in her eyes at the back.

Fraser Douglas was the handsome action man who loved trekking through the Chilterns and climbing mountains ranges.

He was 6ft tall with red hair and piercing green eyes and a sonorous voice which sent shivers down Katie Paige's spine.

Fraser was polite and well mannered and Katie had been secretly in love with him since he arrived at the Town Hall, but she had never been able to pluck up the courage to approach him.

They shared surface conversations during lunch break or on the odd occasions co-workers went out to a bar or for a meal together.

Katie was always subtle but meaningful yet it always seemed that Fraser Douglas looked right through her with his glittering green eyes.

She wasn't sophisticated or assertive; she was just an unpretentious young woman who had fallen in love with a man who didn't seem to notice her.

Fraser was gregarious and athletic and Katie was the shy little girl who listened more than she spoke.

Katie Paige was a reserved and quietly spoken young woman.

She was a pretty brunette with indigo eyes and a winsome smile.

Katie lived in a modest little flat with her co-worker and friend Jenny Clay in Stretford.

She was a die-hard romantic who had never really been in love before and now she had lost the man of her dreams.

Fraser Douglas had been her Mr Darcy.

She fantasised about running away with him to a place where the sky was always blue and nothing bad ever happened.

But it was all just a dream.

Now Fraser Douglas was standing beside the woman who would one day be his wife.

Although she was surrounded by people, Katie Paige had never felt so alone before.

She retreated to the staff kitchen and splashed cold water on her face.

"Coming to the party?"

It was Jenny Clay.

She playfully nudged Paige with her elbow.

"No, I don't feel very well ..."

"Are you okay?"

"Aye ... of course I am"


Katie was fighting back tears.

Jenny Clay smiled knowingly.

She knew full well her friend wasn't okay.

They had been friends since their college days.

Jenny Clay was an engaging brunette with hazel eyes and a jocular personality.

She knew her friend was in love with Fraser Douglas but had been too shy to let him know.

Now he had met somebody and the chance had gone.

Jenny Clay felt incredibly sad for her friend.

"You'll be alright, babe" She assured her.

Katie managed to smile.

But all she wanted to do right now was hide.

She re-entered the office and quietly gathered her things together.

Then she paused at the door.

Fraser Douglas was showing everyone the diamond and sapphire engagement ring on Daniella's finger.

Katie Paige closed the door quietly behind her.

As she walked around the busy centre she heard Fraser's voice in her head.

"She's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen!" He declared.

Tears were streaming down Katie's face.

She decided to go home to nurse her broken heart.

A long hot bath beckoned to her.

Suddenly Katie felt glad she lit a candle in St Ann's church.

It was such a peaceful place and she had paused at the altar.

Katie Paige wasn't looking when she stepped into the road and although the red hatchback swerved to avoid her, it drove into her from the right side and sent her tumbling across the bonnet onto the ground.

People quickly gathered around her but she couldn't make them out.

Her whole body hurt.

Everything seemed to go into slow motion as street lights got brighter and brighter before Paige lost consciousness.

Katie Paige had lost track of time.

It had become obsolete in her no-man's-land.

When she eventually came to, it was as if she had risen from the dead and was surrounded by shining faces in an unfamiliar place.

Katie had been in a dreamless deep slumber and as she slowly opened her eyes she could just make out the faces looking down upon her.

She squinted as her eyes adjusted to the bright room.

"Where am I?" Katie asked weakly.

"Stretford Memorial Hospital" a female voice informed her.

 "You've had an accident" another female voice added

Katie noticed that she was attached to an intravenous drip.

Her whole body felt numb and she was completely disorientated.

Her head felt groggy and her limbs heavy.

Katie squinted at the name tag on the nurses uniform.

Ayanda Adunola, RN

The Nigerian nurse was sturdily built with a round face, onyx eyes and a big smile.

"What happened to me?" Katie asked.

"You were hit by a car. The owner called the ambulance and stayed with you" Nurse Ayanda informed her.

The other nurse smiled.

"You are a very lucky lady"

Katie read her name tag.

Lucy Reeves RN

She was small and blonde with light blue eyes.

Nurse Lucy checked the drip and made some notes.

Both nurses were selfless.

Their faces seemed to glow.

"Angels" Katie Paige muttered.

Then her eyes became heavy again and she began to drift off.

Everything slowly receded.

"Katie! Katie! Katie"

She could hear her mother's voice calling to her from somewhere outside herself.


Katie ran towards the partially open door.

"Miss Paige?"

The dream began to fade.

"Miss Paige?"

It was the familiar voice of Nurse Ayanda calling her out of her slumber.

"The doctor will see you now"

Town Hall (by belafon
She moved aside and the doctor stepped forward.

Katie was still coming to, and she struggled to make out the blurred face.

Then she thought her heart had stopped.

Katie was immediately struck by how handsome the doctor was.

He was tall and imposing with wavy black hair, olive skin and sharp green eyes.

"My name is Dr Michael Kasabian" he informed her in a resonant voice "and I am going to be looking after you"

Katie noticed that he had full lips and a beauty spot on his right cheek.

He smelled of freshly cut flowers, goodness and hope.

Katie Paige's heart had somersaulted.

"You're beautiful" Katie told him.

Dr Kasabian smiled.

"Rest for now. You've been through a lot today"

He paused at the door.

"I'll check in on you later"

And then he was gone and the world suddenly felt very ordinary.

Katie Paige was unable to suppress a smile.

She had narrowly escaped death and the bizarre night was taking an unexpected turn.

Hope had entered the frame.

And Katie Paige was profoundly grateful for all the calamities that had befallen her.

"You're lucky your injuries were not life threatening" Nurse Ayanda informed her at the door.

Katie smiled.

Later she called Jenny Clay.

"My God, are you okay?" Clay cried.

"It could have been worse ..."

"I'll be there in twenty minutes!"

Jenny Clay was still wearing her Christmas hat when she arrived and she listened in shocked silence as her friend told her what had happened.

Clay clutched Katie's hand and fought back the tears.

"You've been through it!" She cried.

She was still struggling to comprehend what Katie was telling her as she sat on the side of the hospital bed.

She looked so small and fragile - like a wounded sparrow. 

There was a vivid blue and purple bruise across the left side of her face but she still looked pretty.

"Your friend is a very lucky young lady" Nurse Ayanda informed Jenny Clay.

When Katie had finished. Clay had something to tell her.

"Everyone is concerned about you, particularly -"

Fraser Douglas suddenly bounded into the hospital room with a concerned look upon his face.

"Katie!" He exclaimed "Thank God you are okay!"

Katie Paige looked up at the man she had secretly longed for for three years.

"I heard what happened and I had to come!" Douglas added earnestly.

She could tell he was slightly out of breath from exertion and that his sentiments were heartfelt.

He must have been running to get to the hospital.

How long had Katie yearned for Fraser to come running to her.

And now he had and she felt oddly hollow.

Fraser sat on the side of the bed beside Jenny Clay and his piercing green eyes looked longingly into Katie's haunted face.

It was the familiar handsome face.

But something had happened.

Katie Paige was no longer in love with Fraser Douglas.

The fairy dust had evaporated.

Fraser Douglas was just a man.

"Thank you, Fraser" Katie said "But I really am quite okay"

"I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost you" Douglas cried.

Katie smiled.

Once upon a time she would have given anything to have him so close to her and to listen to his dulcet tones.

But it was just a voice.

Jenny Clay knew instantly that something had changed in her friend.

Katie had let Fraser go.

Dr Kasabian had re-entered the room again.

Katie looked to him.

He had totally eclipsed Fraser Douglas.

"Everything is going to be alright now" Paige declared.

The handsome doctor smiled at her.

"I have angels to look after me"

Fraser Douglas looked at Jenny Clay.

Katie smiled.


Katie was able to spend Christmas with her father and mother in Bolton.

She was just putting the dishes away on Boxing Day evening when her phone rang.



Katie's heart jumped.

She knew exactly who it was.

"I am your angel" Dr Michael Kasabian declared.

christmas (by garfieldgreen

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Like Diamonds

So shine bright tonight, you and I 
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky 
Eye to eye, so alive 
We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

~ Diamonds 

Blossom (by Pandacv721 deviant,com)

Now that I have your face by heart,
I look Less at its features than its darkening frame
Where quince and melon, yellow as young flame,
Lie with quilled dahlias and the shepherd's crook.
Beyond, a garden. There, in insolent ease
The lead and marble figures watch the show
Of yet another summer loath to go
Although the scythes hang in the apple trees.

Now that I have your face by heart, I look.

Now that I have your voice by heart,
I read In the black chords upon a dulling page
Music that is not meant for music's cage,
Whose emblems mix with words that shake and bleed.
The staves are shuttled over with a stark
Unprinted silence.
In a double dream I must spell out the storm, the running stream.
The beat's too swift.
The notes shift in the dark.

Now that I have your voice by heart, I read.

Now that I have your heart by heart, I see
The wharves with their great ships and architraves;
The rigging and the cargo and the slaves
On a strange beach under a broken sky.
O not departure, but a voyage done!
The bales stand on the stone; the anchor weeps
Its red rust downward, and the long vine creeps
Beside the salt herb, in the lengthening sun.

Now that I have your heart by heart, I see.

~ Song for the Last Act by Louise Bogan


~ For Egle

Thursday, 20 November 2014


Thro’ the ghoul-guarded gateways of slumber, 
Past the wan-moon’d abysses of night, 
I have liv’d o’er my lives without number, 
I have sounded all things with my sight; 
And I struggle and shriek ere the daybreak, being driven to madness with fright. 

I have whirl’d with the earth at the dawning, 
When the sky was a vaporous flame; 
I have seen the dark universe yawning, 
Where the black planets roll without aim; 
Where they roll in their horror unheeded, without knowledge or lustre or name.

~ Nemesis by H. P. Lovecraft

Old House (by freatmah

Journey Into Madness

Arnold James.

He would probably describe himself as “a regular sort of guy” in spite of the fact that his first self-published horror novel “Nemesis” has become a best-seller all around the world.

Arnold James would proudly inform you that he was an avid Manchester United fan and that he never missed a match if he could help it.

And over a pint he might even reveal that he finally married his long-term partner.

Chloe James.

But he might be a little bit more reluctant to share his obsession with the darker side of life and of the human psyche and how he has been harbouring dreams of becoming the next Stephen King or Clive Barker.

The young man might not want to divulge the countless hours he has spent conversing with horror aficionados in chat-rooms and the secret life he has been living through the internet.

Arnold James won't want you know the price he's paid to get to where he is today and he'd he would gladly give it all up just to have the woman he loves back in his life again.

To turn back the clock ...

It was 2 am when the young man finally checked his watch.

He had just spent six hours conserving with a person calling themselves “Dr Cripin” in a chat-room for the horror aficionado and the lengthy interaction had yielded some truly toe-curling facts about the peccadilloes of serial killers.

“Nut job!” Arnold James cried as he closed his laptop and rubbed his eyes.

James was tall and boyishly good-looking with wavy brown hair and intense blue eyes and an endearing personality.

It was eighteen months since he had packed civil service job in and since then he had devoted every waking moment picking the minds of horror devotees in chat rooms and ion forums as he amassed material for his first novel.

But he had hardly written a word for the last several months as he spent more and more time having anonymous interactions with faceless people on the internet.

It was Arnold's charm that first attracted Chloe Dunlop to him.

She found his self-deprecating humour very appealing when they first met at the soft drinks machine at Southgate College.

It was raining that afternoon and he drove her home and was rewarded with a kiss on the cheek.

That was how it began, and five years later the couple were married in a Gothic church in Tufnell Park and they spent two idyllic weeks in Sardinia for their honeymoon.

Chloe James was a striking and attractive woman.

She was blonde and petite with warm brown eyes and a winsome smile.

Chloe was proud of the little florist shop she ran in Highgate Wood.

Petals was her sanctuary.

For the last eighteen months she had been supporting herself and her husband as he focused upon writing his first horror novel.

Choe James was just keeping body and soul together.

Weathering the storms with her husband .

And after six months of marriage, she was already a writer's widow.

Her husband had transformed a little outhouse at the end of the garden into a writing den and he retreated there.

His wife watched as he dragged a mattress and sleeping bag into the den and turned it into his new home.

Arnold James had only his vivid imagination and his cyberspace acolytes for company.

His wife had been excluded from his world.

Arnold James had become a hermit.

He only surfaced briefly to bathe before disappearing back into his sanctuary once again.

Like a rat scurrying into a dark corner.

Chloe James barely recognised the wild eyed, bearded man who grunted at her.

She was the fallen angel expelled from paradise.

Her husband was the mad man summoning all hell fire and sleeping with worms.

He was totally obsessed with the occult and devoured anything he could get on divination and summoning practises.

Chloe James was left to lie alone in their big bed; staring up at the ceiling with tears in her eyes as she wondered what had happened to the sweet boy she had met at college.

He had been replaced by somebody who barely noticed she was there.

She was a nonentity watching her husband descend into the darkest recesses of his mind.

Chloe James felt jealous of the faceless internet dwellers who had stolen her husband.

Did you know they've never found the killer until this day?” Arnold James informed his wife one evening when she bought in his dinner.

He was referring to the notorious Archway Road murders.

Her husband had lately become obsessed with the unsolved murder case from 1966.

53 Old Kent Road was still boarded up today because nobody wanted to buy it and they had given up trying to sell it.

Nobody wanted to live in a house that was cursed.

Arnold James had often stopped outside the house and imagined what had happened inside.

Someone had thoughtfully sprayed across the board in spidery red letters.

Hell Hole”

Chloe shrugged.

Maybe the killer was driven to it!” She answered drily.

But the quip escaped her husband whose gaze never left his laptop screen

Just think ... the killer is still out there” James replied dreamily “Scary, eh?”

Chloe shrugged.

He never heard his wife's soft footsteps as she quietly exited the den.

Arnold James had become completely obsessed with the 1966 killings and driven past the dilapidated scene of the crime countless times.

Martin and Sandra Miller and their twin daughters Sarah and Sadie were murdered in cold blood on a cold October night and their bodies were found several days later - slumped around the dinner table with their throats slit from ear to ear.

Prelude To Darkness ... (by hearthy
Chloe James sometimes felt that she was a victim of the crime too, as her husband prattled endlessly about it.

The only respite she received from her husband's neglect was the time she spent in her little Highgate florist shop.

The human contact and the aroma of a myriad flowers seemed to breathe life into her.

She was convinced that she had been born in the wrong era and believed that she belonged in a more genteel age where they were no laptops or internet connection.

Unlike her husband who was busy conducting intense relationships with faceless people in cyberspace.

One these new partners in crime was particularly persistent and intriguing and he called himself “Bill”and Arnold James particularly enjoyed their interactions.

Arnold James sat smoking in his red Jeep as he stared at the decaying old residence.

53 Old Kent Road was a haunted house.

After ruminating for a couple hours on what might have occurred within the rotting walls, he heard the unmistakable bleep of new messages in his in-box.
"Bill" had contacted him.

Arnold's eyes widened with astonishment as he began reading..

"I have been working on the Anderson case for three years now. And at last I have pieced it all together"

His mouth was hanging open

"I know who did it"

It was with a mounting sense of excitement that Arnold James finished the email.

"Meet me at the 53 Old Kent Road - Saturday morning at 8 am”

The writer felt exhilarated.

All will be revealed."

James quickly reeled off a response and pushed aside any nagging suspicions about "Bill".

He was like a man with tunnel vision coming out into the light and he decided there and then not to divulge what was happening to his wife.

There was no need to involve her in it.

Arnold James wanted to enjoy all the glory himself.

Nerdy “Bill” could be bought off later.

James was already counting wads of money in his head as he drove home like a man possessed.

Three days passed in full throttle as the would-be writer prepared to meet his fate.

He was convinced Chloe suspected something but the thrill of keeping a secret was too delicious to spoil.

Saturday morning finally arrived and Arnold James crept out of his house and sped to the crumbling old house.

For some reason it was particularly foreboding this morning and James almost lost his nerve as he sat smoking in his Jeep.

It was a bitterly cold morning.

And the house's battered old mail box creaked in the wind.

Arnold James suddenly fought the urge to reverse his Jeep and drive home as he was suddenly overcome by unreasoning fear.

But the prize he was about to win was worth much more to him than a few moments of doubt and apprehension.

Then he suddenly envisioned Chloe tossing and turning in their big bed; excluded and unaware of his little secret.

And Arnold James leapt out his Jeep with renewed.

But he couldn't deny his trepidation as he pushed the heavy door open.

The old house was shrouded in darkness.

Several large crows screeched loudly at the intruder interrupting their communion and Arnold James ducked as they flew past him out of the door.

Birds of ill-omen.

Arnold's heart was beating fast now and as he surveyed the decaying abode, Arnold James belatedly realised that this was no longer a dream.

The nightmare had stepped out of his over heated brain into the real world.

The wall paper was peeling and curling off the walls.

Broken pieces of furniture lay on the floor and there was on old and sodden sofa.

All the windows were boarded up and the stench was terrible.

Somebody had sprayed the walls with a large spidery slogan.

House of the Damned

Arnold James shivered with fright

It was no dream.

And the house felt eerily silent as if he had stepped into an open grave.

Arnold James had descended into the dark underbelly of a woe begotten and hellish place.

And suddenly he was fighting the primal urge to run.

"Keep it together!" Arnold James urged himself "I've come too far to blow it now!"

Suddenly he was in the kitchen where the gruesome killings had taken place.

The large mottled kitchen table stood before him.

It was where the Miller's had been found dead.

Arnold James had seen images of corpses with blank staring eyes and slit throats with dark blood everywhere.

And he had replayed the scene countless times in his feverish mind.

Arnold James retched; he was staring death in the face.

Somebody had thoughtfully scrawled a big red cross on the kitchen table as a mocking declaration.

"Bill!" Arnold James exclaimed into the gloom "Are you there?"

He had no intention of searching around the house and suddenly he yearned to be in the daylight again.

There was no answer to his cry.

But somehow he knew he was no alone in the decrepit house.

Something was moving around in the shadows.

"Bill!” Arnold James demanded "Show yourself! I know you're there"

But there was still no response.

And it had suddenly got very cold.

A large black crow screeched from the broken rooftop.

It stared malevolently at Arnold James.

"Come out!" James exclaimed forcefully.

This internet nerd was pushing it now.

Something shifted in the gloom.

A shadowy figure began to walk towards him.

And Arnold James instinctively backed away.

It was not meant to happen this way and suddenly James remembered that the murderer had not been caught.

Arnold James had cause to regret his rendezvous.

Perhaps he was alone with a raving maniac.

Arnold James squinted into the darkness.

He thought his heart had stopped when the figure walked towards him suddenly illuminated by light through a shattered window.

It couldn’t be ...

"I've lost my mind"

Chloe James had emerged from the shadows, dressed all in black as if she were going to a funeral.

Her pretty face was pale as a sheet, her lips crimson and her blonde hair scraped back.

She looked like a vampire.

"That's right!" Chloe declared "It's your wife! Remember me?"

There was a half smile on her face.

This could not be happening

What are you doing here?” Arnold James demanded indignantly.

His wife threw back her head and laughed loudly and it reverberated around the rotting house. .

"Why are you here?" Her husband insisted with stunned bewilderment.

"Why do you think?" Chloe answered him.

Arnold James slowly shook his head.

"I am Bill!" She added.

The words rang around them.

"I am Bill"

Arnold James was suddenly crestfallen; felled like a partridge hit by a hunter's bullet.

"I am Bill"

Chloe James was smiling knowingly at her husband and her dark eyes were flashing brightly.

Her unflinching gaze chilled his bones and froze the blood in his veins.

"What the hell is going on?"Arnold James demanded.

"I've been pretending to be Bill for the last month" Chloe James explained "It wasn't hard to hook you in. I know all your weaknesses!"

But why?”

"It was the only way I could get your attention!"

This must be a nightmare ...”

"It's all over Arnie” She informed him dispassionately “I'm leaving you!"

Tears filled the writer's eyes as he struggled to comprehend what was happening to him.

Don't go … I'll change”

"Goodbye Arnie!" Chloe James said simply and devastatingly.

Arnold James was in hell.

His wife had used his obsession to catch him out and he was caught like a rabbit in a snare.

James watched as his wife walked calmly to the door.

Then she slowly turned to him.

"If you dance with the devil" Chloe James informed him "eventually you have to pay the price"

Then she strode out of the place of death and desolation into the light.

Until the end (by hearthy


* Please note that this is a re-worked version of Dance With The Devil