Saturday, 26 April 2014

Win a Glow bookmark

Competition time
Tell me your real life spooky stories. Write them onto my face book page https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Helen-Whapshott/736578773053444  and those that chill me to the bone will win a signed Glow bookmark.
 
 


 

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The first two chapters of The Glow by Helen Whapshott

What’s a Ghost?


What would you do if you saw a ghost? Would you ignore it hoping it would just fade

away? Would you go up to it and see if it needed your help? Would you even know you were

actually seeing a ghost? Because not all ghosts walk around moaning and groaning, wearing

old-fashioned clothes, carrying their head tucked underneath their arm, you know. Mostly

ghosts think that is a rather out-of-date thing to do, and those few who still do it, only do

because it’s become a kind of ironic trademark: a silent self-amusement.

Most people don’t know exactly what a ghost is, and if you’re one of them don’t worry;

it’s not the sort of thing they teach in schools, nor is it the kind of thing parents usually sit

their children down and talk about. People don’t like to think too much about it. It kind of

creeps them out. Not me. I know a lot about ghosts. Let me fill you in.

When the human body dies, the soul leaves it. How does it do this? Well I’m not entirely

sure but there are several theories; maybe it comes out of the nose or mouth, or perhaps it

seeps out of the skin though the skin pores like sweat – it’s not really important; it’s just

important that you know that it gets out. When it’s out it then travels to the other side, which

has lots of different names, (none of them wrong). They exist like the countries of this world.

Sometimes however, a soul is reluctant to travel into that strange and wondrous world of the

afterlife and instead it stays here, in the world of the living, and these are the poor souls we

call ghosts.

And I see them. Everywhere.

Yeah, I bet you’re thinking I’m a bit crazy and all that – but it’s true, it really is. It’s just

the way that I was made, so to me it’s a little bit crazy that you don’t see ghosts. Let me tell

you a little more and then maybe you’ll understand.

You see, a soul is made up of energy, and it looks exactly like the person when they’re

alive. Sometimes you can see through them, which can be a little bit creepy, but this is just

because their energy is low and they can’t show themselves properly. A soul will never fade

away completely, they’re like a pulsing star, shining strong and bright at times and then pale

and wisp-like at others, or if that isn’t clear enough, imagine that a ghost is a radio station

(now bear with me on this one) Imagine a radio station emitting signals into the world. You

can only hear the music clearly if you’re tuned in rightly.

There are people who will catch glimpses, blurry figures that are seen just out of the

corner of the eye, and then there are those who see ghosts and spirits all the time. These

people give off a light, like a candle in a dimly lit room. Ghosts, spirits, and others who

belong to the supernatural and paranormal world can see this and they call it The Glow.

2

Megan


If people were asked to describe Megan Webb, they would say that she didn’t look very

special, which was a surprise being that her parents were both very attractive, special looking

people. Her dad, Dr. Theodore Webb, a medical doctor, was a tall and incredibly handsome

man, with black grey-streaked hair and a face that looked more at home on the cover of a

fashion magazine than a hospital ward specialising in general medicine; even if it was at the

best hospital in London. Her Mum, Cheryl Webb was also very beautiful. She looked very

much how you’d imagine a fairy-tale princess to look, and if this wasn’t glamorous enough

she had also once owned her own shop where she sold dresses that she had designed herself;

that was until her youngest child was born and she gave up work to look after him.

Megan was tall and thin, with chestnut hair that had the habit of sticking up all over the

place, no matter how many times she brushed it. Megan always looked pale and drawn. On a

good day you could say she was a plain child.

It wasn’t until she was thirteen years old that her life as she knew it changed forever.

She’d always sort of known that everyone had something special about them; maybe

something big that the whole world could see or something so small that only their family

and friends could see it. Megan believed the thing that made her special was her art. Whether

she was using paint or clay, she was pretty good – maybe even good enough that her work

would go into a gallery one day. She had no idea that she was special in ways she hadn’t even

thought of.

The day Megan’s life began to change hadn’t been a particularly good one.

It had started that morning when she’d discovered (only after she’d poured it all over her

cereal) that the milk had gone off. Her alternative breakfast plan of toast had failed when it

burned and set off the fire alarm. It was at this point she conceded defeat against the clock,

because she’d already overslept due to pulling a late-nighter doing the homework she’d

forgotten was due in the morning (on pain of death). All of this meant that she wasn’t in the

best of moods when she got into school. She found it almost impossible to concentrate on her

English work, couldn’t make any sense of Maths, and got smacked in the face in P.E. with a

football (All before the lunch bell had even sounded) The day was finished off beautifully by

Mathew Den throwing her schoolbag up onto the school roof. Who would have thought that

the boy had such an amazing throw? He could make a serious career of being a shot-putter;

he was certainly built like one. Megan had to wait almost an hour for the school caretaker, Mr

Brown, (a man who clearly didn’t like children) to get her bag down for her. He spent the

whole time moaning at her as if it had been her that had made the decision to just go ahead

and throw her bag onto the roof.

Megan was glad when she got through the front door of her house so that she could kick

off her shoes and take a breather. She smiled at the sound of muffled voices coming from the

kitchen and the warm, welcoming smell of home-cooking. She walked through the hall and

pushed the kitchen door open. Tyler, her baby brother, beamed as soon as he saw her and

opened his arms wide. He looked so much smaller than other two-year-olds she had seen; he

had the face of a cherub, with big blue eyes far too big for his face, and blonde curly hair. She

kissed him gently on the cheek, and then looked at her Mum who was taking some cakes out

of the oven. Hearing her daughter, she turned and smiled. Megan noted how every kitchen

surface was covered in cakes, biscuits and buns, and she felt her heart sink. Whenever Mum

was really worried about something, she would bake – a lot. The last time there had been so

much baking, Mum had been building up to tell her that her cat Whiskers had to go and live

with Nan and Granddad because his fur wasn’t good for Tyler’s asthma.

Megan remembered all too clearly what it looked like when Tyler had had his last

asthma attack. His lips and fingernails had gone blue, he’d wheezed and coughed, and

couldn’t catch his breath; his inhaler seemed to take an age to work. Megan had felt like the

entire world was ending. She couldn’t stop crying and as her Mum screamed down the phone

to tell the ambulance to hurry up or her son would die, she felt as if she were about to throw

up.

Megan loved Whiskers but she loved her brother more; she never wanted to see Tyler

suffer like that again so she made no fuss when Whiskers left. Three weeks after the

rehoming he was ran over and killed. Megan couldn’t help thinking he’d been trying to make

his way home to her.

“Hello darling,” Cheryl said, breaking Megan’s thoughts. “Had a good day?”

Megan knew it was best to tackle what was bothering her Mum head-on and get it out of

the way – like a plaster covering a scraped knee it was better to rip it off quickly than peel it

off slowly. She took a deep breath and asked, “What’s up Mum?”

Cheryl carefully placed the cakes onto a cooling rack before giving Megan her full

attention. “I’ve got sad news about Great Aunt Betty,” she said.

Great Aunt Betty was her paternal grandmother’s sister, who wasn’t anything like

Megan’s quietly spoken grandmother. Like clockwork, Great Aunt Betty visited at Christmas

and birthdays inevitably bringing garish hand-knitted socks or gloves for presents. She was a

stout woman, with a face like a bull dog; her grey hair scraped back into a tight ponytail that

made Megan’s head hurt just by looking at it. She smelt of cigarettes and coffee and always

laughed loudly at her own jokes. The last time Megan had seen her was at Granny’s eightieth

birthday party. She had poked her fingers (which had long garishly coloured nails) hard into

Megan’s ribs and exclaimed, “Bloomin' heck! Look at the state of you! All we have to do is

put you in the corner, bung a lampshade on your head, and no one would know you were in

the room.”

She’d then thrown her head back and roared with laughter. The word ‘bitch’ sprang into

Megan’s mind and she had to bite down on her tongue to stop it springing out. She grimaced

at the pain in her ribs and the wicked old woman rolled her eyes, muttering something about

how Megan didn’t have a sense of humour.

That’s when Megan’s Dad stepped in and said that Megan had a wonderful sense of

humour and there wasn’t anything wrong with his daughter’s physical shape. Great Aunt

Betty sulked for the rest of the party.

“She died,” Cheryl said as casually as possible, still fiddling with the cakes.

“Oh,” Megan said flatly. She didn’t know quite what else to say. She knew that normally

when a member of your family died you were meant to feel sad, but she didn’t; she really

hoped that didn’t mean she was a bad person. She turned her attention to the relatives that she

did have affection for. “Are Dad and Granny okay?”

“Of course Gran’s upset,” Cheryl replied, “after all, Betty was her sister; she’s bound to

feel the loss.”

Megan often wondered why when someone died people called it “a loss.” Surely, when

you lost something you didn’t know where it was. Most of the time when someone died you

knew where they were – unless they’d died in a war, like Sarah’s soldier-brother, Peter. Sarah

was Megan’s best friend, and Peter was MIA. Sarah had factually informed her that MIA

meant, “Missing In Action, which meant dead but that they couldn’t find the body.” Sarah

had punctuated the statement with a string of silent tears. Megan hadn’t known what to say,

so she had simply held her friend until their shared tears had stopped. Megan listened

patiently. Their form tutor Mrs Priest, had reassured Megan that was all she could really do.

“Dad is upset because your Gran is upset,” Cheryl continued. Megan wondered if her

Dad hadn’t particularly liked Great Aunt Betty either. Cheryl picked up a brochure that was

covered in icing and cake-mix and held it out to Megan. “Your Dad has inherited her hotel.”

“Great Aunt Betty had a hotel?” Megan blinked in surprise.

Cheryl nodded. “Yes, it turns out she was a very rich lady.”

She hadn’t looked like a very rich lady – rich ladies, Megan was sure, looked like the

queen, with nice clothes and pearls, not shabby jumpers, jeans, and basketball hoop earrings.

Megan took the brochure from her Mum and looked at it. The hotel looked horrible, it

was a mass of turrets, keeps, imposing walls, and gargoyles. Made from a strange looking

black stone, it was covered in ivy. It was the perfect home for a vampire, or a hideout of a

mad-monster-making scientist. The brochure informed her that it stood just outside of the

Hampshire town, Threshold in the county town of Samhain (pronounced Sowain). Megan

glanced over the tourist blurb learning that the ‘charming, historic hotel’ could be found

nestled in a nook of hills surrounded by ancient heath and woodland. ‘Threshold’, the

brochure went on, ‘is distinctive in its historic status. The whole town is under a National

Trust order, ensuring no new buildings look modern, and could only look like they were from

the Tudor, Stuart, Georgian, or Victorian era. The series of glossy photos showed a town full

of interesting and old- fashioned shops, museums and galleries (most dedicated to the rich

local folklore) that brought in the coach-loads of tourists all year round.

Cheryl reached over Meagan’s shoulder and poked the image of the gloomy looking

hotel. “Great Aunt Betty lived in that tower there, so that’s where will be going to live.”

Megan blinked – had she just missed part of a conversation? Did her Mum just announce

that they were going to move into what must be the ugliest part of the ugliest building?

“What?”

“Dad and I have talked it over and we think it’s the best thing to do,” Cheryl replied.

“The air will be better for Tyler and…”

“Better for Tyler!” Megan pointed to the part of the brochure which went on and on

about how lovely the heathland looked, and how wonderfully mysterious and magic the

ancient woodland was. “It’s the countryside Mum, it will be full of pollen and animal fur!

It’ll make his asthma worse.” Megan’s head was reeling. She looked at the grim hotel with an

impending sense of doom.

Cheryl shook her head and said matter of fact, “Actually pollen has never been a

problem.”

Megan sighed. “That’s because we’ve never been anywhere where there’s a lot of it. And

what about me?” Megan protested, “I’m your kid too! What about what’s best for me?”

“Megan!” Cheryl looked at her daughter in surprise.

“I gave up my bedroom so Tyler could be nearer to you and Dad,” Megan said feeling a

hard lump growing in her throat. “I didn’t even complain when you gave away my cat.” She

paused momentarily, feeling a previously unfelt resentment rising. “I didn’t even blame you

when he was ran over!”

Cheryl flinched at Megan’s unexpected anger but Megan wasn’t finished. She knew that

if she didn’t get it all out now then the decision would set like concrete and there would be no

chance to change things.

“I’ve lived in London all my life and now you’re telling me that I’ve got to leave all my

friends behind to go and live in a place I’ve never heard of – to go to school where

everyone’s probably known each other since they were babies, and to top it all, we’ve got to

go and live in some run-down, Gothic monstrosity that’s probably haunted! ”

“You’ll make new friends,” Cheryl said gently.

“I don’t want new friends!” Megan snapped. “I like the ones I’ve got!” She had known

most of her friends from their time in nursery. She couldn’t believe Mum thought she could

leave them just like that. They weren’t like shoes that you outgrow; they were like her family.

“I can live with Gran and Granddad and come and see you all during the school

holidays,” Megan said desperately.

“No!” Cheryl shook her head. “We’re a family and we’re not going to be separated.”

“Doesn’t matter if one of us is unhappy,” Megan muttered as she picked up her school

bag. “I’ve got homework to do.” She hoped that her dramatic exit offered a final comment on

the situation.

Once in the sanctuary of her room, Megan threw herself onto her bed, buried her face in

the pillows and cried. It wasn’t fair. Ever since Tyler had been born, the whole world had

revolved around him.

‘Maybe they love him more because he’s really theirs and I’m… I’m adopted,’ she

thought. She twisted her mouth in irritation. She knew that she
wasn’t adopted – well as

much as anyone ever knows – it just felt like somehow she was the odd one out of the neat

little family triangle. She couldn’t put her finger on what it was exactly that made her feel so

different, but there was definitely something. She shook her head, no, that wasn’t true, she’d

always had a very strong imagination she reminded herself, just as right now she was

imagining Whiskers sitting on her feet, which was what he always did when she was upset.

Megan didn’t look up, she knew he wasn’t there, but just for a little while, she decided to

pretend he was. After a short time, she started to wonder how strong her imagination actually

was because she was certain she could hear Whiskers purring.

Enjoy it? The Glow is my first ever novel and is on sale on Amazon
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