The Amethyst Song- Episode Four

It was the middle of the day, Mae, her mother and their escort reached their destination. They had stuck to the forest, pushing past trees and shrubs. Finally, through the trees a massive building loomed up ahead.

As they got closer, they could make out the giant sign painted on the side proclaiming it to be the home of Bailey’s Baby Bottles. At least it did once upon a time. It had been six years since anyone had thought to freshen it up and it was looking a little worse for wear, now all that was left was B.i…..Bab..Bot…s.

Beneath the sign was a picture of a baby’s smiling face, with cute rosy, chubby cheeks and a toothless grin. Except that was looking a bit shabby too, and only one green eye was completely intact, the other had all but washed away, leaving a weird, slightly surreal, vaguely horrifying image behind.

The building itself was huge. Made from solid, brown concrete, and rusted iron the building dominated its space. Like a colossal, man-made mountain. From the roof, a collection of smoke stacks, pipes and chimneys rose up into the sky. A dark grey metal fence, topped with barbed wire, encircled the whole thing. The gate consisted of a black boom gate with a great big stop sign, beside a small guard house.

The boom gate was down, and the guard house was empty. There was no smoke coming from any of the chimneys and not a sound could be heard. What was once a big, noisy, thriving factory full of people and life, was nothing more than an empty shell.

Hector lead the women towards the old factory.  The younger looked about her new surroundings with curiosity, while the older looked wary. When they got to the guard house, Hector lifted the boom gate with one hand, and gestured with his other for the women to go underneath. Missy, the dog, needed no further instruction and raced ahead towards the back of the building.

Mae was intrigued by their guide’s nonchalant use of strength. The boom gate was clearly quite heavy, but seemed to weigh nothing at all in his hand. She said nothing, however, just storing the information for later. Their whole trek had been like that, with the three of them saying nothing at all. Only Missy had uttered any kind of sound.

They followed Hector to the back of the building, and a heavy, metal door. He rummaged in his pocket, and produced a bunch of keys, one of which he put into the lock and opened the door, with far less effort than seemed necessary. He made a sweeping gesture with his free arm, and bowed from the waist. “Mi ladies.”

The women entered. It was almost completely dark.They could hardly see at all, except for where the open door allowed some light in. Hector came in, closing and bolting the door behind him with and clank. Mae noted that this meant no one could get in, or out, without this man knowing about it. She wondered if perhaps she should have listened to her mother.

Despite the pitch darkness, Hector moved about quite easily, he was clearly at home here. He brushed past Mae, and she heard the metallic squeal off hinges, as he opened some kind of metal box on the wall. She heard him twist knobs, push buttons, and flip switches. Then he pulled a big heavy lever down. With a shudder and a thud, a machine somewhere beneath their feet, came to life, and the whole room became illuminated. After being in darkness, even for such a short time, it took a moment to adjust to the bright light.

It was a small office or some sort. One wall was lined with assorted control panels, and the other with a workbench. There was a door at either end. One being the door they had just used, the other, it could be assumed lead to the rest of the building. The workbench was cluttered with all kinds of objects some familiar like wrenches, screwdrivers, tape dispensers and things, others were not. But, one thing it all had in common, it appeared that none of it had been used in a long time, if at all. It was almost like each item had been carefully placed to create the illusion of a work space. The other thing that it all had in common, was that it was all covered in dust.

On the wall, above the workbench were various charts and clipboards holding assorted paperwork. There was also a poster on the wall telling people that “Idleness was the enemy of productivity.”

Hector, with the dog at his heels, preceded to the second door and moved through it. The women followed . On the other side of the door was a massive, cavernous area. But, where Mae had expected to see the assorted machinery of a baby bottle factory, instead she saw giant printing presses, weapons cases and other strange equipment. Mae turned to her mother to make a face like, “What’s going on?”, but most surprising of all, her mother didn’t seem surprised at all. Just wary, and a bit cross.

Beatrice looked around. “I see you’ve got it all up and running again.”

Hector was still moving across the space ahead of them, he seemed not to hear. But then said, “Hmm… oh yeah. It’s taken ages. I’ve mostly been working alone. Getting the parts and everything has taken the most time. But, I’ve got it just about ready to be operational again.”

“Do you think it wise?”

“Do you think we have a choice?”

“I guess not. It’s just I thought we might have peace a little while longer.”

“You call this peace? I call it regrouping.”

“Hmmm.”

They continued until they had crossed to the other side of the space. Hector opened a door, and they moved into what appeared to be a staff lunchroom. There was a fridge, a stove, an oven, and a microwave. In the middle were tables and chairs. There was a noticeboard with faded rosters pinned to it.

Hector moved to the fridge and opened it. “I’m guessing you two are hungry. I don’t have much but I’m guessing it’ll be better than some stale bread. Am I right?” He looked at Mae, his eyes smiling at her. He was laughing. Despite herself, Mae smiled back, also laughing, even though by now she wasn’t really in a laughing mood. It was clear there was more going on than she knew. It was also clear that her mother had been hiding things from her. It was that, more than the sudden flight from her home, and meeting up with this strange man, that she found the most unsettling.

Before long, the three of them were eating. They were hungry so they eat in silence. Once they had eaten, their other basic needs started to make themselves know. They were tired. Except for the brief sleep in the woods, the women had been on the move for over a day. But, the adrenalin was wearing off, since they appeared to be safe, at least for now, and their physical exertions were starting to make an impact on their tired bodies. But, Mae wanted answers.

“So, now will you tell me what on earth is going on?” Her mother looked at her. Thinking. Deciding.

“Yes, my love. I will tell you. I promise. But, I ask you to wait just a while longer.”

“Why? Why should I wait? This is ridiculous. Just tell me.”

“Bea,” Hector spoke gently, “I think the girl has a right to know.”

“I know. I know she does. It’s just that I know once I do, things will change. I’m not ready for that yet.” She looked at them both, exhaustion and worry written across her face.

Hector sighed. “Oh Bea.” He turned to Mae, “Perhaps indulge your mother a little longer, “

“But, I…”

“No, listen. You and your mother are tired. Once we get into it all, it will be a long conversation. I don’t think either of you are up to it. Get some sleep, and then we’ll talk. I promise.”

As much as she wanted answers, the prospect of sleep was appealing so Mae agreed.

Hector then lead the women to another room, that contained rows and rows of bunk beds. About a dozen of them. The sheets and blankets were a bit stiff from being in place for so long, but they appeared to be clean.

“This is one of the dormitories. Pick whichever one you like.”

Each women lay down on a bed, and despite everything that had happened, and all the thoughts racing through their heads. They promptly fell to sleep.

High Voltage- The Life of Angus Young (Jeff Apter)

In 2015 I had the enormous privilege of seeing ACDC perform live. For any fan of music, in particular rock n roll, seeing these guys live should most definitely be on your bucket list (admittedly this is getting harder to do since Angus is now the only one remaining from the original line-up). So, when I saw  a new biography of legendary guitarist and ACDC icon, Angus Young, on the shelves I just had to grab it.

My experience with biographies can be a bit hit and miss, usually miss. They have a tendency to be a bit dull. But, I can say with confidence that this book is not that. It is an incredibly satisfying and entertaining read.

The biographer, Jeff Apter, is clearly a music fan. He is the  author, of of over 20 books about various rock n roll acts, including ghost writing biographies for Michael Browning (Dog Eat Dog)  and Mark Evans (Dirty Deeds), this guy knows his stuff. That’s part of what makes this book so enjoyable. Aside from being well researched, it is obvious that this guy knows his subject inside and out. Yet, he managed to avoid gushing. This is not a fluff piece.

The early chapters in particular were especially pleasurable. It was great to relive the story of the foundations of the Australian rock n roll scene. From the exploits of older brother George in The Easybeats and his enduring songwriting/producing partnership with Harry Vanda, to the moment that ACDC made their explosive entrance onto the world stage, it is a great story all on it’s own. While reading it, I felt compelled to put on my old classic Australian rock albums, which made the experience all the more enjoyable.

Overwhelmingly the main impression is of a band with an incredible work ethic. The dedication and commitment that the band members have, the Young brothers in particular, to the group is awe inspiring. Their no nonsense, no bull shit approach to the idea has remained unchanged for 40 years. Others have tried to label them, they’ve been called punk before there was punk, new wave before there was new wave, and heavy metal. While these movements have come and gone, ACDC has continued on it steady path, ignoring most of it.

If I had a criticism of this book, it’s that we don’t get enough insight into the man himself. This is meant to be about Angus, not the band. But, then maybe that’s the point. The band IS Angus Young, and Angus Young IS the band. ACDC has survived numerous changes in personnel (it is a multi-million dollar industry in it’s own right), but it is the aging, school boy with the devils horns that people come to see.

I would recommend this book to anyone that likes a good read. Even if you aren’t a fan, this book will entertain you.

(High Voltage is currently available in Australia. It is scheduled for release in the UK in October 2017 and in North America in April 2018.)

The Amethyst Song- Episode Three

While the two women were making their escape with the aid of their friend and his canine companion, the man whose appearance in town made flight necessary, stood in the smoldering wreckage of their shop. He was holding in his hand the burnt shell of the now empty cash box. His eyes had intensified to a deep purple and many of the onlookers were convinced that there was more smoke coming from his ears than from what remained of the building.

When he had arrived, he was convinced that power was almost in his grasp. After years of searching, and after the torture of many, he was finally in a position to remove the only obstacle that stood between him and total rule over this whole, miserable land, namely his idiot brother’s brat. So long as rumours of her survival continued, his claim to the throne of Gildamoor would be undermined.

His investigations had led to this place. A pathetically small, village of imbecilic peasants; finding her amongst these cretins would be simple. Her superior breeding alone would make her stand out beside these wretches. No doubt, wherever the girl was hiding, the amulet would be nearby. Once he had eliminated her, and seized the amulet, his claim to the throne would be unchallenged.

While he did not believe the superstitious nonsense surrounding the amulet, the people were clearly convinced that its owner possessed great power, and would follow that person unquestioningly. He was not above exploiting such folk lore if it got him what he wanted.

He had arrived in Murpodompous, in the flashiest H.O.R.S.E. that he owned. He believed that a demonstration of his incredible wealth, and superiority would make these people more amenable to his wishes. He was not disappointed the ‘Oohs and the Aahs’ and the gawping of the town populace had been satisfying. Then as he searched the faces of the crowd amassed around him, he spotted what he was after. The girl.

Of course, that was when everything went wrong.

He had only caught a glimpse of her, but in the time it took for him to register what he saw, and look back again. She was gone. He tried to see where she might have gone, but the wall of people surrounding him obscured his view. He started slashing at the crowd with his walking stick, trying to clear a path for himself. Fortunately, he only had to beat a couple before the rest started to cower and move out of his way. He waded through the throng toward the direction he had seen her. She can’t have gone far.

But no. Even with the threat of force, the people were still slow to move. By the time he made it through, his quay had disappeared. He looked around the Town Square; assorted shops and business ringed it. She had to be in one of these. But, which one? How to find it before she could slip through his net?

By now his driver had come to his side. He turned to the tattooed chauffeur and simply said,

“Find her.”

The man with the tattoos needed no further prompting. He withdrew a long, silver plated pistol from a holster at his waist, and fired a shot into the air. The crowd fell silent.

“Listen here, you arseholes! We’re looking for a girl. About this tall, “he indicated with his hand, “She’d be about eighteen. Black hair. Now, you lot just tell us where she is and nobody gets hurt. All right!”

The crowd remained silent. They stared at the two men. Clearly frightened, but defiant too.

“We’re not going to wait all day. Where is she?”

Still there is silence, until there was a shriek of pain.

The other man, the one in charge had grabbed the nearest child. A six-year-old girl named Dorothy. He was crushing her against his chest, and was holding the blade of an elaborately carved knife to her throat. A droplet of blood was slowly sliding down her cheek, from where he had just cut her.

He looked at them, his violet eyes narrowed and like pieces of ice. In a quiet, clear and menacing voice he said,

“It’s up to you. Either you give me what I want. Or I gut each of your children, starting with this one.” He pressed the tip of the blade into her neck, so that more blood appeared.

The people of the town were brave. They had sworn to protect the girl and her secret, when she and her parents had arrived all those years ago. This was their own children at risk now. Were they prepared to sacrifice their children for the sake of someone else’s? The answer, was no.

They directed the man and his servant to the dressmaker’s shop across the Square.

He dropped the child to the ground. The two men then ran across the Square to the shop. The man entered the shop; he was not surprised to find it empty. No doubt, the girl had gone upstairs. He had become impatient for this to be over. He had learned that one of the best ways to get people to leave a building, of their own volition, was by setting fire to it. He picked up a piece of cloth. Taking out a hip flask from his coat, he poured liquor over the material. Then with his cigarette lighter, he set it alight. He then threw the whole thing into a pile of rags by the counter, and ran.

With so much flammable material, it didn’t take long for entire ground floor to catch fire. The man and his driver, stood in the Square looking at the upstairs window waiting for the girl to come to the window, begging for rescue.

They waited.

The town’s people had gathered to watch the fire, while those that formed the volunteer fire brigade ran to get their equipment.

They still waited.

The flame has started to overcome the living quarters upstairs. But, still she did not appear at the window.

A rumbling sound came from across the Square. It was the fire brigade pushing their wagon toward the burning building. The flames now engulfed the entire building; the fire was threatening the buildings on either side.

Where was she? There was still no sign. Aside from the roar of the flames, there should have been screams come from the upstairs. But there was no sign that anything human was in any kind of distress. The penny dropped. She wasn’t there.

He whipped around to glare at the town’s people, his nostrils flaring, and eyes turning purple, as they always did when he was in a fury.

“Where is she?!?!?!?”

He looked to for a child to throttle. He didn’t really care about getting information at this point he just wanted to hurt something. However, in the commotion the town’s people had quietly gathered all the children and sent them with the school’s governess to hide. So, the best he could find was a ruddy, faced man with dirty, blonde hair.

He wrapped his fingers around the man’s throat. Looking into the man’s eyes, which were huge and looking at him in panic, he said to the man, his voice soft,

“Where…is… the girl?” His fingers began to tighten. The smell of shit began to permeate through the air.

“Wha..wha..wha.. what girl?” The man cried.

Unfortunately, the man he had grabbed was the town idiot. He was genuinely unable to answer the question, even if he wanted to, and he really wanted to, as the fingered became tighter and tighter, until he passed out.

He let the man’s body fall to the ground. Stepping over him, he turned to his driver and said,

“Sort this mess out would you. I’ll be waiting in the car.” He then proceeded to the vehicle, climbing into the back seat.

Sometime later, in the hours before dawn, his manservant knocked on the window, waking him.

“The fire is out Sir.”

“And the girl… was she…was she in there?” He knew the answer, but still held his breath, holding out hope.

“No, Sir. I’ve search the rest of the town. She’s gone Sir.”

The man let out a scream of frustration, and started banging his head on the seat in front of him. Once he had calmed down, he slowly got out of the car.

“No matter. We found her once, we shall do so again. Let’s see if they left any clues behind shall we.”

But, it wasn’t clues he was looking for, he was hoping that in her rush to escape, she had left behind the amulet.

The fire was mostly out now. While the outside shell of the building was largely intact, the inside was guttered, and the first floor had come down. He began to pick his way through the debris. His keen eyesight searching until he saw it. A box. An average, non-descript metal box, with a label that claimed that it once contained biscuits. The box was blacked, but not completely destroyed. He knew he had found the secret hiding place. He could feel power coming from the box, only faint, but there just the same.

He bent to pick it up. Gingerly, he opened it; he was not one hundred percent certain how the amulet would react to his touch. That he was blood kin meant that the amulet should know him, but while the heir remained alive, it might still reject him. The lid came open. He stared in horror. It was empty. All the remained was the residual glow from where it had been.

The Amethyst Song- Episode Two

As the two women slept, a dog came nuzzling through the bushes. It stopped when it reached the older woman’s foot and started sniffing. By now though, she was only pretending to be asleep. She had heard the rustling in the bushes almost immediately, and deciding that movement would certainly lead to detection, and who knew what else, she lay still, with her eyes wide open. She was not defenceless however, with only the slightest movement she had taken hold of the walking stick that was beside her, and prepared herself to use it if necessary.

The dog had started sniffing the rest of her, moving up her leg and to her torso. The dog looked up, she saw that it’s muzzle had been replaced with a metal, robotic mouth. It’s teeth sharpened into points. It’s eyes glowed infra-red. This was not a regular mutt, but one of the highly trained tracker hounds used by the palace guard. She had not seen one since she was much younger, but you only needed to see one of these things once to know they were deadly. Slowly, she lifted the walking stick, ready to strike the animal . The dog looked up, and they made eye contact. The dog knew she was awake. The dog barked.

Just as she brought the stick down where the dog’s head was, a man came thrashing through the bushes, making a huge racket and calling to the dog.

“What is it girl? Barking at shadows again. Christ!”

The dog, hearing the man’s voice turns and ran back to the bushes, avoiding the deathblow coming towards it by millimetres.

The man came crashing through and stopped looking down at the two women, who were both wide awake now. His dog sat next to him, looking up expectantly.

He turned to the dog, “Well fuck me! It seems you found something after all. What are you looking at me like that for? Oh,I know what you want…”, he bent down and scratched the dog behind her ears.The dog let out a satisfied moan. “Good girl.There’s a good girl”. The man stopped and turned back to the women, who were standing in front of him now, the older woman holding out a wooden stick like she was about to hit him with it.They were both screaming at him.

He took a few steps back, with his hands out in front, “Whoa ladies. Whoa!”

“Stay back you pig! You will die before I let you take me,or my daughter, back to the palace with you.”

“Jesus, easy lady… what…palace? God, calm down lady…I don’t know who or what you think I am..”

Mae’s mother swung the walking stick up and over towards the man. But, her grip was too far down the end and it lacked any kind of force, making it easy for the man to grab the other end, and pull it from her hands. Now, disarmed she backed away from him, pushing her daughter behind her, shielding her with her body.

She looked at the man defiantly, with fury still in her eyes. She continued to shriek,

“You shall not have her, I tell you!”

Now she lashed out with her hands attempting to scratch at the man’s face. He had a heavy hooded cloak, the edges of which covered his face. Plus, it was still night and the sky was overcast obscuring any light that might have come from the moon.

The man wasn’t tall, but he was big, with broad shoulders and long arms. His hands were enormous, with just one hand, he reached out and caught both of her wrists, cuffing them in his fist so she could no longer lash out. Defeated, her shoulders slumped forward. She looked at him square in the face, her long, dirty blonde hair plastered to her face by a sweat and the dirt and grime from the night’s trek through the woods.

In the short time that this encounter took place, the temperature had dropped, and the wind had picked up. At that moment a breeze blew through the small clearing, blowing away the man’s hood and the woman’s hair at the same time. Revealing the faces beneath.

“Beatrice!!!”

“Hector!!”

The man immediately dropped her hands, while she visibly relaxed. Beatrice turned to her daughter, who by now was ineffectually slapping at the man’s side while shrieking incoherently, and said,

“Mae, my love…stop my love, it’s alright. We’re safe.”

Mae looked at her mother, with her hands hanging in the air, mid-slap. A puzzled look on her face.

“You know this man?”

“Yes love. This man was once a very good friend of your father’s. Isn’t that right?”

The man turned to toward Mae.

“Is this the child? Hello, young lady. Yes, your father was the very best of men. I was privileged to know him.”

“Hector…but how? I thought you died.”

“Mother, was this man with Papa during the accident?”

This time it was Hector that looked puzzled, he turned back to Beatrice, “Accident?”

“Yes,” she gave what she hoped was a meaningful look, “the accident at the factory that killed your father.”

As she spoke she tried to emphasise the words accident and killed. She hoped desperately that he would understand.

He didn’t, but he also recognised that more was going on than he understood. Also, he knew this wasn’t the time or the place for lengthy explanations, so he played along.

“Yes, miss. The accident. But,no, I’m very much alive as you see. Just me and Missy here.” He indicated his dog, who had resumed sniffing the ankles of the two women. “I’ll tell you more later. My guess is that you ladies could use a hand. I heard the commotion up at Murpodompous. I should have guessed you were in the middle of it.”

The women looked at him, questioningly.

“You were running from him I gather.” He directed this last to the mother, who simply nodded.

Mae spoke up then, “What are you saying? What commotion? We simply had a visitor that’s all. A strange man with a posh car. Unusual and strange for around here certainly, but I don’t understand why we had to leave.”

“Mae, sweetheart, I told you, I will explain everything, but not until I get you somewhere safe.”

Hector went to stand beside Beatrice, he inclined his head toward her, and spoke out of the side of his mouth.

“She doesn’t know?” Without looking away from her daughter, she pressed her lips together and shook her head.

He sighed. “Alright then. I can’t just leave you ladies out here. I guess you’ll need to come with me.”

“Thank you Hector, but we’ll be fine on our own. We just need to get to Belbarbiton.”

He looked at her with a raised eye-brow. “Is that right then. Just how did you plan on getting there? All the roads are being searched; and you’re not exactly great on the self-defence either. If Missy and I had been anyone else, you’d be dead, and she’d be half way to Karingahope by now.”

“I’ll manage. Now, if you don’t mind… Mae, if you could just find my purse, I’ll go and get my walking stick.” Beatrice smoothed out her skirt and started walking to where Hector had thrown the stick during their tussle.

“Good god woman! Malcolm said you were stubborn.”

Mae, uncertainly went back to where they had been sleeping, and found the purse holding all their possessions, all the while studying her mother and this strange man in front of her. She noticed that his hair, which had been covered by his hood, consisted of a few long black tendrils, barely enough to cover his whole scalp; which as it happened, looked like it had been entirely removed at one point and sewn back on top of his head, a long, angry scar encircled his skull just beneath the hairline. His face, now she was more calm, and could get a better look, was all red and puffy, not unlike the faces of the old drunks that frequented the old inn in town. But, down the left side of his face the skin was a more shiny red, stretched and smooth. Like a burn that had never properly healed.

He noticed her looking at her.

“Don’t feel sorry for me love. It looks far worse than it is.”

“Oh, um… I’m sorry I didn’t mean to stare. Did you get those in the accident? The one that killed Papa?”

“Erm… yes, something like that.” He looked directly at her, his pale, blue eyes softening, and smiled. Despite having just met this man, she had an overwhelming sense of being safe. She smiled back.

“Mama…” Her mother didn’t hear her at first.

“Mama…”

Beatrice stopped and turned to her daughter,

“Yes, love.”

“I think we should stay with him.”

“What my love?”

“I said, I think we should stay with him. At least for a while. I gather you have a safe place we can go?”

“Yes miss, has kept me safe all these years.” He looked at Beatrice, a bemused expression on his face.

“But Mae, sweetheart, you don’t know this man.”

“You said he was a good friend of Papa’s. You just told me he was safe.”

“Yes… I did… but..”

“So, if he was a friend of Papa’s, and YOU said he was safe, we should trust him, right?” The man started to chuckle as he saw her struggle to justify her determination to got it alone.

“Oh, alright… I guess it would be a good idea to go somewhere to plan our next move. But, we won’t be staying long.”

“No worries then. We’ll head this way then,” and he gestured toward the bushes that he and Milly had appeared from earlier.

The Amethyst Song – Episode One

 

Mae Kelvin stood out from the crowd because she had long blue-black hair with ice-blue eyes, and was short and slim. Meanwhile it seemed that all the other inhabitants of the small fishing village of Murpodompous were fair, tall and heavy set. As she grew up, the other children used to tease her saying that she was a monster, or an alien. They said that her mother and father were not really her parents, but had found her in the woods surrounding their village, and being good people took her in and raised her as their own.

When she ran home, crying, and confronted them about what the other children were saying. They simply came and folded their arms around her and told her not to pay attention to the cruel things that children say. But now, she was no longer a child. She was a young woman, and she could see with her own eyes that she did not belong.

Her father had died a number of years earlier in an industrial accident at the nearby factory. Almost every family in the village was affected by the accident, either losing a loved one, or losing their income when the factory closed. Mae and her mother made ends meet by running a small seamstress business. Most of their customers brought in items that need repair and the two women would spend every evening sewing to have them ready for the next day. It was tiring, back breaking work, but it kept food on the table.

It was a normal day and and Mae was helping her mother in their shop, when a local boy, Anders came running in.

“Come and see, come and see,” he said excitedly. “You should see his HORSE. It’s amazing!” With that Anders ran out of the shop again.

Mae turned to her mother, “What do you suppose that was all about?”

“I don’t know, darling. Perhaps we should have a look. Pack up here and put the closed sign in the door. I’ll just get my hat.”

They left the shop, and saw that they were not alone in going to investigate. It seemed that all the shopkeepers in Main street had closed up and were streaming toward the Town Square. Mae and her mother followed, to see what the fuss was about.

When they arrived at the Town Square, they were confronted with a wall of people’s backs. The entire village had come out to see. As they looked around they saw their friend, and neighbour, Nellie Kirwin. They squeezed through the crowd until they reached her.

“Morning Nellie. What’s going on?”

“Oh, hello ladies. My son Rowland has just gone for a closer look. It seems we have a visitor. A rather fancy visitor too. He has his own HORSE, would you believe. “

As they were talking, there was a loud bang, like an explosion. The crowd let out a cry and move back, crushing those behind them in the crowded Town Square. In the confusion that ensued a gap appeared in the crowd, and Mae was able to see what they had all come to look at. There in all its glory was the most magnificent Hydrolic Organic Rotating System Engine (H.O.R.S.E) she had ever seen.

It’s chassis was bright red and it had chrome exhaust pipes coming from the back, spewing smoke over the crowd. At the steering wheel was a strange looking man who had a tattoo covering the left side of his face. Standing next to the vehicle was a tall , thin man.  He was wearing a long silver-grey coat, over an elaborately embroidered  green velvet vest. At his throat he wore a crisp white cravat, pin with the most enormous emerald. His shoes were polished red leather, with pointed toes and a shining silver buckle. His left hand was resting on a walking stick with a massive carved handle. He stood there his piercing violet eyes searching the faces of the crowd. His gaze was so intense it seemed to burn through the object of his gaze.

Mae turned to point him out to her mother, but saw that she was already looking. Her face had drained of all its colour. Next thing, she shook her head, and turned to Mae. Mae had never seen her mother look so frightened. She grabbed Mae’s wrist and started pulling her through the crowd, away from the Town Square. Her mother didn’t let go, or stop pulling her until they were back at their shop. When they got inside, she started up the stairs to their living quarters, saying to her daughter, “Come. We have to pack quickly. We have to leave immediately.”

Mae followed her mother to their one room living area and saw her mother quickly putting a loaf of bread and a chunk of cheese into a sack. She then emptied the contents of the cash tin, and put all their money in her purse.

“Mother, what’s going on? What’s happened? Who was that man? Do you know him? Why is he here?”

“Sorry, darling. I promise I will tell you later. But, for now you just need to trust me when I say that we need to leave, NOW!”

The next thing that Mae knew, she and her mother were walking through the forest surrounding their village.  It was hard and slow going, because her mother refused to use the main road, instead forging through creating a new path for themselves. She a walking stick she had brought with her to push past the trees and shrubbery blocking their way. After they passed she would let it drop behind them, so it was impossible to tell that it had ever been disturbed in the first place.

As night set in, she found a small kind of clearing, and said to her daughter.

“We should be safe to stay here for the night. I’m sorry we can’t have a fire, because we are still to close to town, and the smoke would be seen. But, we should be fine for one night.”

She took out the bread and the cheese, and broke off pieces, giving some to her daughter, and keeping some for herself. She put the remainder back in the sack.

“Eat that my love. We have a lot of walking to do tomorrow, and we need our strength.”

Mae dutifully began to eat, but she was already more than curious about what was happening.

“Are you going to tell me now, what is happening? Why did we have to leave?”

“I promise to tell you, my love. But not now, just trust me. Eat that, and try to get some sleep. Here, sleep on this.”

She took off her cloak and spread it on the ground. Mae lay down on the cloak, like her mother asked.

“You promise that you will tell me what this is all about?”

“I promise. Now, get some sleep.”

Despite the discomfort of sleeping on the ground, and despite the many questions swirling through her mind. Mae was so exhausted from their exertions through the forest, that she fell asleep almost immediately. Her mother however, did not. She sat beside her daughter, with her back resting against a tree. She kept watch over their tiny camp site. Turning her head at every sound to check no one was coming. However, determined as she was to stay alert, and remain vigilant, she too succumbed to her exhaustion and fell asleep.

What am I letting myself in for?

Okay, so it seems that I have been neglecting my own writing of late. I’ve decided that I need a bit of a push. To that end I have decided that I will publish my story, bit by bit, right here on my blog. I am aware that I am opening myself up to a whole world of pain, but I figure that the discipline of keeping this going will be good.

The story is just starting to ferment in my head (I’m not even sure what it’s called yet), and I’ve always been more of a pants-er than a plotter anyway; so you will be finding out ‘what happens next’ in the story only slightly after I do. It could be interesting; it could be a complete disaster, who knows.

So, what follows is the first installment of this writing experiment. Wish me luck and enjoy the journey with me!

(P.S. If you would like to leave suggestions for what YOU would like to see happen, please feel free to leave them in the comments. )