Wednesday, 4 November 2015

The Folly Under the Lake - Book Excerpt - Chapter 1

Genre: Fiction: Crime and mystery
Author: Salema Nazzal

“We can’t possibly turn down an invitation to stay the weekend at Witton Park!” exclaimed Florence Brewer heatedly to her husband Joseph. “Walter and Blanche would be most upset. Walter has spent a small fortune getting the folly built, and he’s dying to show it off to us.”
“It’s not so much a folly as an underwater smoking room by all accounts,” mused Joseph, leaning back in his chair, and looking up at the ceiling. “They say the domed roof is made of glass and you can observe the fish swimming by while you’re puffing on your pipe. I must say I’m rather keen to view the thing, but a weekend with the Sinnet family is almost more than I can stand. I know he’s my father’s oldest friend, but the way he constantly clears his throat in that way. He never used to do it and I find it bally annoying. Blanche is pleasant enough but I just can’t fathom either of them. I must say, I think…”
“I don’t care what you think. We’re going and that’s final,” interrupted Florence, peering at her reflection in her powder compact through half narrowed eyes. “It’s not like we’re inundated with invitations, though I can’t work out why. The word about town is that he’s imported some marvellous marble statues that are dotted about all over the estate. I’d like to feast my eyes on them, plus all the improvements he’s been making to the house and grounds.”
“It certainly sounds like he’s been splashing his cash around,” said Joseph in a jovial voice. “I’ve heard the three lakes are quite fascinating.”

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Treachery and Triumph - An Anthology of World War II Stories

Genre: Fiction: History / World War II (Anthology)

Darkness and Light By Steve Morris
This story is based on a true account of an escape from Auschwitz


Is that a straight enough answer for you?

There is no other word for it. It was hell.

People ask me how it felt to escape and assume it was a wonderful feeling. I can tell you that I’ve spent every single day of my life since then thinking about the place and the prisoners in there. For that reason, in many ways, I’m not sure I ever really escaped from it.
19 June 1942

We talked secretly. Saturday morning would soon come around (although the fact that it was Saturday rather than any other day meant absolutely nothing in there).  Saturday was a work day. Saturday was a cold day, like the rest.  Stanislaw, Jozef and Eugeniusz were with me. Together we would make the four. It would take all four of us and a whole lot of luck. We had decided that Saturday was to be the day because there was always a change of routine. At noon. There was a tiny window of opportunity. We had been watching our captors carefully in our fear and our hatred. On Saturdays some SS men always left the camp to go to spend time with their families until Monday. That left gaps. The camp had grown and merged with a neighbouring camp. By then there were thousands of SS guards there. There were many more of us, but we never seemed to be around for long. The camp ran like clockwork. The clock, however was a cold ticking killing machine. 

Although I had long lost track of calendar dates and lived in a time when weekends and holidays were a long-distant dream in a living nightmare, I seemed to have lasted longer than many others. My survival for the length of time was largely due to ‘luck’ after having being given relatively light work by one of the Kapos1. I kept out of the way of trouble by means of my ‘cleaning’ job of dragging the dead to the crematorium. I worked as part of a pair. My partner carried legs, I carried the arms. That didn’t mean I escaped the constant kicking, however. Nothing was ever done quickly enough for them. In ultimate irony, work indoors often meant a better chance of survival, especially during winter where there was some warmth to be found. Seasons never seemed to change. Time meant nothing. The weather was bitter. It was always bitter. We barely felt glad to be alive. No one escaped, we were told. We also knew that a punishment for escape attempts was death by starvation.  They wouldn’t have shot us. That would have been easier for us. I’d seen it. They liked to reduce us to food-craving animals. Some lost their faith. ‘There is no God,’ they said. ‘How can he let this happen?’

Friday, 2 October 2015

Fierce Thunder - SOMMERS

Genre: Thriller / Suspense, Adventure
Author: Courtney Silberberg and Jacquelyn Kinkade Silberberg

Mountain biking at the Big Bear Ski Resort, high above the Los Angeles basin in the middle of summer, was like being on a different planet. The once crowded, manicured ski runs where virgin powder once lay were now unpatrolled, barren, mountain bike trails. An accountant, who was also an extreme sports enthusiast at the corporate offices, had realized a ski resort could run basically year round, hence, greater revenues and stronger balance sheets.
Chairlifts carried both bikes and bikers up to the top, where lodges that fed hundreds during the winter months, now worked with a skeleton staff, parading in bikinis and shorts.  It was in sharp contrast to the congested, smoggy metropolitan area below, as it was pure up there, the air and water clean. The crisp blue sky canopied any danger for the rough and tumble adrenaline junkies the trails attracted, making for an exhilarating place to go, as it was supposed to be fun.
It probably wasn’t fair. At least that’s how Dr. Brad Sommers saw it in that glimpse of time and space that passed before he was forced to react. Of course “fair” wasn’t one of his favorite words at the moment.
An athlete, the twenty-nine year old Sommers was riding hard, too hard, stressing the mountain bike to its limits, pointing down a narrow, winding chute. The gravel and sand rooster-tailed up from the trail as his rear, knobby tire found grooves and then hopped between them, inches from peril.
Sommers tightened the muscles in his strong arms, gingerly maintaining and sensing his precious balance… shifting, leaning. He was a good biker, instinctive, but it was almost futile, as this downhill ride was equivalent to gliding over shiny black ice, and going down or catching an edge here meant falling off the mountain. But Sommers didn’t care about that. He was on a mission, trying to forget, cope maybe; with the odd hand fate had dealt him.
The phones kept ringing in his head and cryptic messages about appeal decisions, court dates and where his case was headed if he didn’t respond bounced around in his brain like his tires skirting between the ruts for precious traction.
His case.

Monday, 14 September 2015

How I (almost) Dodged The Draft

A Reluctant Recruit | Wartime History / Biography
by Derek Rosser

There were seven of us in that poky little office. They are scattered far and wide across the globe now but I expect that, if they ever read this, they will recognise themselves.
We were all engaged in a common pursuit called ‘Avoiding Conscription’. The last ‘War to end wars’ had been over for about eight years but the government of the day, in its wisdom, found it necessary to maintain the armed forces at full strength to ensure our continued survival.
Needless to say those of us upon whom the burden was likely to fall did not support this point of view. We were, however, given little opportunity to argue our case.
The ritual began at the age of eighteen when all males were obliged to register for National Service and be subjected to medical examination. The examination appeared to consist of coughing while the examiner retained a firm hold upon your vital appendages. To make absolutely certain, you were instructed to touch your toes while he carried out a close scrutiny of your posterior orifice.

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Cottage in Melody Lane

Captain Damnation and other strange Tales | Fiction: Short stories
by Harry Riley

...We scoured the ‘houses for sale’ market, and spotted a glorious bargain in the village of Lower Crutchley, a period cottage, set in an acre of garden with unspoilt views over open countryside, plenty of room for Jimmy to play in safety.

The purchase went through like a dream and I asked the estate agent “how come it is so cheap?” He replied that the previous owner had died; the new owners had no wish to keep it, and wanted a quick sale.
Our new dwelling was really old, having been originally built two centuries earlier.
It was all ancient twisted beams and quaint doorways with an ingle-nook fireplace, the sort of cottage we’d dreamed about, but never expected to own.
After the excitement of moving in, we settled down to explore the house and garden properly and to plan the changes we would make.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

And so it began...

Same same, but different | Travel
by Sally Wootton

‘Mum, can I go to Greenland?’ I was just seventeen years old when I first got the travelling bug. I was at school, in the first year of my A-levels and had no real idea what I wanted to do with my life. I’d toyed with the idea of being a teacher when I was ten and liked to boss my sister around from the front of our pretend classroom and there was a time I thought I’d fancy being an architect, until I realised it required seven years of dedicated study. I’d never been further than the South   of France on holiday with my parents and that was quite exotic considering the years of caravanning on the Isle of Wight and Cornwall.
Then one day as I sat, a newly appointed sixth former looking out onto the rest of the school and listening to another boring assembly, something caught my attention.