Thanks for stopping by. I hope you enjoy what you find here. Whilst you may not agree with everything I post, if you respect my right to my opinion I'll respect your right to disagree with it and we should get along just fine. :)

Disclaimer: the views expressed by the characters in these works may not necessarily represent the views of the author. Got that? Good.

Right then, on with the blog...

Thursday, 25 March 2010

#FridayFlash: UCF #5: A Mirror Cracked


A dismal little street, not much more than an alley between two bustling shopping streets, Gallows Close lay in the heart of the inner city, hemmed in on one side by the high stone wall of a churchyard, on the other by the imposing 1970s concrete carbuncle that was the city’s leisure centre.

Few of the buildings in Gallows Close were still occupied, the local council having made repeated advances to the owners, offers of lucrative terms for relocating to more modern premises however, one of two of the more intractable souls just would not go. Goddess Rising, the esoteric bookshop at No. 13 was one of them.

The shop was decrepit, the casual passer-by may well have wondered if it was still in business at all – once glossy black paint flaked from the façade, at least those parts of it not covered with a profusion of faded and torn fly posters. The name board was all but illegible and a thick film of grime across the plate glass almost obscured a few antique volumes mouldering away in the window. It also appeared the shop never opened, either that or its opening hours were known only to a select clientele.

Sitting alone in his rooms above the shop, illuminated only by the flickering light of a coal fire, the Rev Beresford was one of that select few.

A threadbare little man in his late seventies, Rev Beresford had his ancient leather wing-backed chair drawn up so close to the roaring coal fire that a distinct smell of singeing leather hung in the air. A frayed tartan travelling rug was spread out across his knees, but Rev Beresford was still cold. He was always cold. He was sure the house spirit was behind it.

Reaching for the cut glass tumbler of single malt whisky on the side table next to him, Rev Beresford felt the slim leather journal begin to slip from among the folds of the rug on his lap and just managed to grab it, spilling his whisky in the process, before it slithered onto the floor.

“Bother!” he muttered quietly, sucking the spilled whisky greedily from arthritic fingers while regarding the journal with a mixture of awe and loathing. If it wasn’t for this book, he thought, tears welling up in his eyes.

* * *

If it had not been for his Great Uncle’s journal, life for Rev Austin Beresford may well have taken a completely different direction altogether. The journal had been a family secret for years until that fateful day when his elder sister discovered it in their parent’s attic and began to read the entries. Slowly, insidiously, the journal worked its magic and Millie became more and more obsessed with the notion that fairies were real until, at the age of fifteen, Rev Beresford’s parents felt they had no choice but to put Millie away; for her own good.

Austin was twelve when his sister left. He was a newly ordained curate aged 24 when she committed suicide in the sanatorium. His parents already dead, victims of an unexplained accident while he was at university, Austin became the custodian of both their and his sister’s estates. Among the papers and family heirlooms he found the journal, now annotated with Millie’s observations, and began to read. He also found his Great Uncle’s collection, neatly packed into the museum cabinets that now filled one wall of his Gallows Close study; the mere thought of the contents still made him shiver.

Rev Beresford’s career was blighted from the day he opened the journal. After decades of being asked to move every few months, finally ending up at a church in a particularly disadvantaged inner city parish, he was secretly relieved when his bishop invited him to retire early. The bishop for his part was relieved to see Rev Beresford go, some of his stranger notions had made the bishop a laughing stock among his peers.

Despite trying on a number of occasions to rid himself of the journal, it always returned to Rev Beresford. He had tried burning it but the flames would not catch, he had thrown it in the river but some kind soul had retrieved and returned it. He even once gave it to a colleague to take overseas, but it was “lost” at the airport and returned to Rev Beresford by the airline weeks later. In the end he gave up trying.

The only bright spot in his life came shortly before his retirement, the death of Rev Beresford’s Aunt. It was she who left him the building housing Goddess Rising in her will, and a small annuity, just about enough to keep him in perpetuity as long as he didn’t do anything extravagant, like eat more than once a day.

Only after his retirement did the real problems start. On the day Rev Beresford moved into Gallows Close, he was sorting through his sister’s meagre belongings and came upon her vanity mirror. Presumably the cracks must have happened during the long years of storage, he presumed, setting the mirror down next to the open journal.

It was only when he caught a glimpse of the journal’s pages reflected in the cracked mirror out of the corner of his eye that he noticed for the first time the ethereal spidery annotations in pale blue ink. It took a few years of practice to be able to read them as, whenever Rev Beresford looked at the journal straight on, either with or without the mirror, the annotations remained hidden, only out of the corner of his eye did he stand any chance of seeing them; he had almost finished transcribing them.

* * *

Outside, in the gathering gloom of the early evening, amid the grime and pigeon crap covering the windowsill, a fairy crouched, her ear pressed firmly up against the pane. She was sure he was in there, that it was in there; she’d heard him moving about.



Share/Bookmark

35 comments:

Marisa Birns said...

Left me breathless, Sam! Such wonderful writing - descriptions meaty and superb.

Ah, see how you used the broken car mirror incident to great advantage here...you're brilliant!

Love it.

Sam said...

Marisa Birns - Thanks so much Marisa. It was like pulling teeth writing this story today, so I'm really pleased you liked it; there was a moment this afternoon when I thought it would never see the light of day.

Thanks for the compliment about the descriptions, I wanted to do something more descriptive with less dialogue for a slight change of pace.

Yes, that's how I planned on using the broken car mirror saga - see I'm giving away all my secrets now! ;)

Josie said...

Wonderfully dark and not a little spooky - reminded me of the run-down house in the film "Big Fish", have you seen that? Recommend it, but I also suggest a box of tissues.

Yes, I noticed the broken car mirror incident too - crafty!

I shall be most intrigued to know what Twinkle (it is Twinkle, isn't it?) does with that journal. Lovely writing, Sam, and thank you.

Emma Newman said...

Hmmm, colour me intrigued. I enjoyed the change in pace, nice to see you exercising different muscles :o)

Sam said...

Josie - Thanks for the lovely comment. I haven't seen "Big Fish" but it sounds like I'll have to put it on my Films-to-Watch list.

Yes, that broken mirror has turned out to be a wonderful source of inspiration.

Ah, the fairy. All will be revealed soon...

Sam said...

Emma Newman - Thanks Em! I thought the series needed a change of pace (and I had to set up some things for future installments - foreshadowing?).

Glad you're intrigued - looks like my evil plan is working! ;)

Laura Eno said...

Ahhh, Sam! What a place to leave us hanging!
Great story, rather sinister feeling. Looking forward to the next one...bwahahaha!

Cecilia Dominic said...

You've gotten my attention! Looking forward to reading more. Great descriptions!

Cecilia

Sam said...

Laura Eno - Hehe! I didn't set out to make this story sinister, I'm not complaining mind you, sinister is good, especially for what is coming in the future...bwahahahah!

Cecilia Dominic - Thanks! I tried to work up a more descriptive piece so I'm pleased the descriptions work. If you enjoyed this story, you might like the preceding installments, which can be found here under the #fridayflash tag in my sidebar, or over at The Penny Dreadful (link in my blogroll).

Marilyn said...

Wow, wonderful story Sam.I feel it has that sinister feel about it too. Your descriptions are so good, its very visual. Could it be a Future Nostalgic movie? :)

Well worth pulling your teeth out for. ;)

Sam said...

Marilyn - I've been trying to work on my descriptions, thanks for those kind words. I tend to get a mental image, like a photograph, then try to describe it; I'm not always sure I get it right.

A movie? I'd never even thought about it...till now. I'll give it some thought. :)

Caroline said...

Great stuff Sam, I'm going back to read more, I think I must have missed one, I've been away. Lovely descriptions, I can so picture 'Goddess Rising' and all who dwell in her.

Looking forward to reading more of the (oooh, sinister!) story.

Caroline

Laurita said...

I didn't feel it was sinister so much. It was very suspenseful and completely enchanting. You write fairies well.

Michael Solender said...

such a nice scene you set. is there really a gallows close?? great name

ganymeder said...

Loved the story, especially the idea of only being able to see the writing because of the cracks in the mirror. Creepy, yet lovely.

Weezel said...

Great story. I enjoyed it lots!

John Wiswell said...

I'm sorry it was like pulling teeth for you. It didn't read very difficult at all, though I love the crazy anecdote stories about man's battle with his possessions. The Rev could have saved himself all the trouble if he'd checked the last page, where someone had written the song of the cat who came back.

Karen from Mentor said...

Oooh...what's going to happen when he's finished?

[insert dramatic music here]

Eric J. Krause said...

Quite an interesting little tale. I'm anxious to see what happens next. You did a great job with this one.

peggy said...

Another story I could get lost inside. This is my kind of read. Don't stop with this one, keep it going. I know a dentist...

John McDonnell said...

You painted the scene very well. I'm not usually a fan of too much description, but in this case it worked very well in creating a mood. The ending is crackerjack, too -- it left me wanting more. Good job.

ERIN COLE said...

Original and suspense building- a cool idea to have coding on the book only visible from the periphery, like some stars that disappear once you focus on them.
Nice penning.

Tony Noland said...

This is a detailed world you've built, with a mixture of fancy and malevolence. Looking forward to reading more!

Anne Tyler Lord said...

Sam, you are creating a wonderful world here full of interest and mystery - you really left us hanging - I can't wait to here more about the journal.

This was very well-written. If this is what you do when you feel like you are whacking yourself on the head looking for the muse, then you are very talented.

mazzz in Leeds said...

Sam, you're such a tease!
Very, very intrigued.
Great description, great suspense, great cliffhanger!

David Masters said...

I enjoyed this immensly - a little more spooky than the usual UCF stories, but in a good way.

~Tim said...

Great descriptions and nice little detail with the broken mirror. Looking forward to the next piece of the story.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Wonderful writing! I can see how a reverend who believes in fairies might appear to be an embarrassment, so it's somewhat vindicating that he's right...

Gracie said...

Sam, this is great. The descriptions are so vivid, I'm feeling a bit sneezy from the dust. :)

Love the world you're building.

Anonymous said...

I also felt like this left me hanging, but I suppose that's the nature of a serial. Can't wait for the next one.

estrella05azul said...

And yet again I'm wondering: what will happen next? :)

Sam said...

estrella05azul - Ah, all should be revealed soon... ;)

Sam said...

Thanks so much to everyone who has read, enjoyed and commented on this story, sadly Real Life got in the way a bit so I have been remiss in not replying to comments till now.

BTW, Michael, there is, or was, a real place by the name of Gallow's Close (I Googled it after you asked!). Apparently it was a railway freight yard near Scarborough in the North of England.

Donna Carrick said...

Sam, I'm so relieved to read in your comments that such an artful writer as yourself occasionally has a tough time pulling out a story! You'd never guess it from the finished product -- well done!

Sam said...

Donna - Oh yes, it's not always fun and games, sometimes, as in the case of this story, I really struggle to pull something together. Thanks for those kind words BTW. :)

Related Posts with Thumbnails