The Dark Web

Today I have a guest who has just started blogging on the dark web. Because of his situation he prefers to remain annonymous, but is looking forward to posting about the problems faced by minority groups. As an appropriate introduction he describes a typical experience on his favourite night of the year.

Treat or Trick

Time for my annual visit home; weather’s taken a cold turn, that’s good, everyone’s wrapped up so I don’t look out of place. Busy down my road. Couple of new families moved in, children whizzing around on wheels of various sorts, new people at number 53 and here we are. Oh, new front door, hmm, doesn’t really suit the lovely old house. No car parked out the front, hope they are not all out. Big poster by the front door… NO TRICK OR TREATERS   That’s a bit mean, too stingy to buy a few sweets. I’ll take it down.

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There’s nobody at home anyway; everything locked up as if they had gone on holiday. Still, after the reception I got last year perhaps they have decided to avoid me.

Getting dark, shouldn’t be long till the Trick and Treaters come round, five groups last year. The final group were hardly children, all ghastly teenagers, reckon they were dared to come by their younger siblings. Hang on, I can hear the front door being unlocked, it’s Rory, must have decided not to go away with his parents and sisters.

‘Hi Rory, you’ve grown since last year.’

That’s strange, he’s rushed back out again. All on my own, well I’m used to that. At least I can watch what I like on television. All these channels they have now, you’d think there would be something on worth watching.

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There goes the doorbell, visitors at last, I’ll have a peek out the window. Little kids, rubbish costumes, anxious parent hovering on the pavement. Right, time to open the front door, slowly, keep them in suspense. They are very sweet, I’ll lower my hood gently.

‘Hello children, treat or TRICK… no don’t run away.’

That was fun, pity they didn’t stay, but hopefully the new families will be out and about. I can see a few strangely attired short people across the road. Here we go, they’re coming up the driveway. No need for them to ring the doorbell…

‘Good Evening, you gave me quite a fright, are you ghosts or ghouls… hey, come back, you’ve dropped your bucket with all the money.’

This is boring, no callers for half an hour … oh at last. Peep out of the window, let them see the curtain moving, their costumes are brilliant… they’re ringing the door bell again.

‘Hello Vampires, I’ve got some nice fresh blood for you… don’t go next door yet, you haven’t shown me your trick…’

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Blue lights flashing and sirens, must be something going on outside, might as well have a look. Police officer coming up the path, close the door pronto. Ringing and knocking.

Can you open the door please Sir?

Me a Sir, that’s a laugh.

‘I don’t open the door to strangers, especially at night.’

I’m a police officer, can I just have a word?

‘About what, haven’t you any criminals to arrest?’

We had a suspected on going burglary call from neighbours, concerned because the owners of the house are away. If you could open the door so we can confirm your identity.

Better open the door, perhaps he is a Trick or Treater.

Can I have your name and date of birth Sir… umm perhaps it would be easier to talk if you uncovered your face.

‘I have a medical condition, I need to keep covered up.’

We’ll need a doctor to confirm that at the station, we’ll need proper ID.

He’s whispering into his radio now, calling for back up, possible terrorist situation!

Now, if I could have your name, address and date of birth.

‘Certainly, Anthony John Worsley, 29th February, 1873. Now constable, it really is time I was leaving, I need to go and get a good year’s sleep.’

 

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Tuesday Tiny Tale 500 – The Unkindest Cut

‘Have you self harmed before Mr. Andrews?’

‘What? … ow!’

‘Local anaesthetic, please keep still while I do the sutures. Would you like to talk to someone?’

‘Talk to who? I just need to be sewn up and get home’ I pleaded.

Shock was beginning to set in and I couldn’t take in what the young woman doctor was saying. I looked at the clock on the wall.

‘I think I left the gas on.’

She frowned. ‘Gas as well and yet at the last moment you didn’t go through with it, that’s good, but you need to speak with one of our counsellors.’

‘Look, embarrassing as it is, I’m a doctor too…’

‘No need to be ashamed, statistically doctors are more likely to attempt suicide and more likely to succeed.’

I sat up straight, knocking the tray of equipment.

‘No, no, this was an accident. I’ve done that course, Thinking About Mental Health… I work in this department, you must be new?’

‘Four weeks.’

‘In four months time the only mental health you’ll be thinking about is your own, thanks you for your concern but…’

‘I am concerned there could be nerve damage Doctor Andrews, we need to refer you for further treatment.’

‘The only damage to my nerves will be my wife’s reaction when I get home, how can I explain this was all the pumpkin’s fault?’

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It all started last week when the children were pestering us. They ‘needed’ Halloween costumes and rubber spiders etc. The advantage of being older parents? We have enough sense not to be sucked into blatant commercialism. No trick or treat, no ghost masks. My wife suggested the All Hallows’ Eve Festival of Light at the local church, being held to counter commercial exploitation of children, or was it to pray for deliverance from evil? Either way I did not want to spend my precious day off going to church, so I promised a surprise and tasty supper on their return.

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Late this afternoon pumpkins were being sold off cheap at the greengrocers and I had it all planned. A circle of happy pumpkin faces dangling from the trees in the front garden, pumpkin soup recipe off the internet.

The first two orange heads were impressive, the third a bit tough, but the soup smelt nice. The fourth pumpkin was impenetrable, sharper knife and more force needed.

Purlicue… thena web… that piece of loose skin betwixt thumb and forefinger. I didn’t feel any pain as the knife sliced straight through… my energetic attack on the pumpkin meant the force carried the blade straight on down my palm and left wrist before my right hand thought to drop the knife. Blood spurted everywhere as I tried to tie a makeshift bandage with one hand and my teeth.

Now I looked again at the clock in the cubicle. My family were about to arrive home to a burnt out saucepan, a vivid trail of blood and no sign of me.

As I Walk Through the Graveyard on Halloween

Early winter nights are upon us – here’s another of my favourite poet bloggers, K Morris, with seasonal words.

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As I walk through the graveyard on Halloween
I shall think on how witches and ghouls
Are only by fools
Seen.

The learned well understand
That there is no ghostly hand
To their progress stop
As they pass the graveyard plot.
Yet I shall quicken my pace
Just in case …

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More chill, anyone?

A perfect addition for my week of Halloween theme – enjoy the chill of Anita’s poem.

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Cold Shivers

It begins with a shiver down your back

Goosebumps pepper your skin

The scream inside your head

Memories that should stay long dead

That hollow feeling of time returning

To take you back beneath the ground

Halloween is over you have been found

One long year you lay in wait

To see the pumpkin lit by yonder gate…

©Anita Dawes

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Friday Flash Fiction 666 words – The Off White Witch

I thought the whole point of the Halloween Party was to scare the children, but when Becky the librarian introduced me I realised her head was filled with half baked ‘New Age’ rubbish. It was five pm, hardly the witching hour, but the clocks had gone back, my favourite time of year and it was dark.

‘Now children,’ twittered Becky ‘I’d like to introduce you to Amelia the Witch.’

‘She’s not a witch,’ interrupted the largest child, who was taking up too much space at the front of the carpet ‘she’s not wearing black.’

Becky touched my flowing white sleeve with over familiarity.

‘That’s because she’s a white witch, a good witch.’

I suppressed a snigger.

‘Amelia loves nature, trees and flowers, she is in tune with Gaia.’

The children looked up at Becky with incomprehension.

‘Would you like to ask Amelia any questions?’

A mealy mouthed little girl shot her hand up. ‘What are you favourite flowers Miss?’

‘Oh… Belladonna, a pretty little purple flower and Foxglove, a flower of the woods.’

‘Yes, but do you do magic?’ sneered the large boy.

‘Of course, but I’m not allowed to do it on library premises because of health and safety.’

‘People used to think it was magic in the olden days,’ simpered Becky ‘but the wise women just made cures with herbs and woodland plants.’

‘Are you a fairy godmother?’ asked a child of indeterminate sex dressed as a fluffy pumpkin.

‘I think you’re getting confused,’ interrupted Becky ‘that’s a fairy tale.’

The child was undeterred ‘But Miss, can you turn mice into horses and men?’

‘I can do better than that,’ I smiled ‘I can turn naughty boys into mice.’

The children giggled nervously, but the large boy just pulled on a rubber ghost mask and booed in the face of the girl next to him, who asked when her Mummy was coming to fetch her.

‘Do you mean wild mice or pet white mice?’ asked a solemn boy child.

‘Depends how naughty the boy is; a pet mouse would be pampered and kept in a nice, safe warm cage, but a wild mouse might get gobbled up by a cat.’

‘How could you do that if you haven’t got a wand?’ said the large boy, his voice muffled by the mask. ‘I bet your magic isn’t as strong as Harry Potter’s.’

A sprig of yew will do,

to make my spell come true.

‘Amelia’s a poet as well,’ said Becky ‘shall we all go to the writing corner and make up some magic poems?’

‘No, we want to see some magic.’ A tall girl at the back of the carpet stood up.

I couldn’t resist whipping out a piece of evergreen from my gown pocket, I only intended to show them; usually I need complete quiet and concentration to perform a spell. I must have focussed for too long on the large boy.

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The green smoke was very impressive, strong enough to set the fire alarms off and in the confusion that followed nobody noticed that the boy had disappeared. Further panic ensued when a girl screamed.

‘A big mouse ran over my foot!’

Becky and her assistants handled the evacuation very efficiently and we were soon gathered in the car park. The initial head count revealed one child was missing and it was the other children who were first to notice the absence of the large boy.

‘Did you really turn that horrid boy into a mouse?’ The solemn boy’s face lit up.

‘Of course not’ said Becky, looking worried ‘but if she did, I’m sure Amelia could turn him back into a boy.’

‘But the mouse ran away’ piped up another child.

‘Oh dear,’ I smiled at the children ‘I can’t perform the reversal spell if I can’t see the mouse.’

My words were drowned out by the sound of sirens. If the mouse was still in the library, he would soon be scared off by firemen’s boots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tidalscribe’s Tiny Terrors

As I sat reading a book I felt and heard the reassuring rumble of the underground. But I was not on a London tube train, Mum and Dad were in the kitchen next door washing the dishes. We were in our little suburban house in Perth, Western Australia.
It was 10.59am, a bank holiday on the 14th October 1968, we had just experienced the Meckering Earthquake, my mother said she had to cling to the kitchen sink. The small town of Meckering was 130 km away in the wheat belt, the 45 second earthquake was magnitude 6.9 on the Richter Scale making it one of the largest recorded in the seismic history of Australia. A few buildings in Perth were damaged. A baby had a miraculous escape in Meckering, their town fell down, but no one was killed. Had the epicentre been in a big city it could have been a major disaster. For us it was exciting, proof that Man cannot control nature.

At school the next day the earthquake was the only topic of conversation. In the classroom we were all startled to feel an aftershock, this time we knew what it was and we were scared. The teacher told us to calm down. There was no evacuation or talk of emergency procedures. It was unlikely the one storey asbestos building would collapse dramatically.

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Fast forward to December 1974, Knightsbridge, London; I had a Christmas job as a floorwalker in Harrods toy department. It was the Saturday before Christmas and that afternoon I had the last tea break. The staff restaurant was on the top floor. As I stood in the Ladies combing my hair I heard a muffled thud and assumed it was an IRA bomb going off somewhere else. Of importance later was the fact that I had my handbag with me.

I walked out to see the busy shop deserted, the escalators switched off and a couple of security guards annoyed to see me still in the building, everyone else had been evacuated. Somehow I caught up with colleagues as we poured out of the building; it was only as we looked up and saw thick black smoke pouring from the corner of the iconic department store that the shock hit us. No one was hurt that day, the heroes were the staff who had noticed something suspicious in their department and evacuated customers safely. Heavy fire doors had contained the explosion. Once again I had had a wide escape. We sat in a nearby pub waiting to go back in and fetch our coats, but nobody would return to work that evening. Lucky for me I had my handbag with my season ticket for the train, even if the journey home was a bit chilly without my coat.

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News is with us in all the media twenty four hours a day and this year fire, flood, hurricanes and earthquakes have been regular events and of a magnitude hard to comprehend. We wonder what it is like to be at the heart of a major disaster. Reporters find their way to the most unreachable scenes of devastation only to ask victims how they feel.

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Back to Perth, Western Australia, when my fourteen year old self was riding her bike. The suburbs were laid out in a grid design with long straight roads, there was a ‘Give Way To The Right’ rule, logical as long as everybody obeyed; there were always accidents at intersections. I was pedalling towards a corner when suddenly two cars collided in front of me, one of them rolled over. The two young drivers clambered out with some difficulty, but both were laughing, unhurt. When I tried to get back on my bike my legs were shaking so much I couldn’t lift my foot onto the pedal. I have always wondered if everyone benefits from adrenalin when faced with real peril, or if some people turn to jelly. How many writers secretly long to be in the midst of a disaster and emerge unscathed, or just a bit hurt so they can tell their dramatic story from a comfortable hospital bed?

Our family’s migration to Western Australia inspired my novel Quarter Acre Block – only 99 pence on Amazon Kindle, also available as a paperback.

 

5* Review for Quarter Acre Block by Janet Gogerty #ContemporaryFiction

Anita and Jaye are great supporters of fellow writers and between them have written a fascinating selection of novels. Today they are sharing their new review of my novel.

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This is a 5* review for Janet Gogerty’s amazing  book, Quarter Acre Block. Janet is a member of Verified Purchase Review Group.

If you would like to join Stevie Turner’s Group and gain reviews for one of your books, please click on the following link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/verifiedreviews/

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In the nineteen sixties, many ‘ten pound pommies’ had never left England before and most expected never to return or see loved ones again.

George Palmer saw Australia as a land of opportunities for his four children, his wife longed for warmth and space and their daughter’s ambition was to swim in the sea and own a dog.

For migrant children, it was a big adventure, for fathers the daunting challenge of finding work and providing for their family, but for the wives the loneliness of settling in a strange place.

Our Review

I can remember the winter of 1962-63, also known as…

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Brief Encounter-with the Press

Sunday Salon today shares a blog from my fellow local writer and Remainer. Approaching the library from the opposite direction I missed the opportunity of a brief appearance on local news.

Anecdotage

An interesting thing happened on the way to the library.

On Monday afternoon I set off towards our local High Street in order to attend my monthly meeting of our writers’ group, The Spokes, which meets on the third Monday of each month. The meeting date had taken me by surprise, being only two weeks in to October because the first Monday was the first day. The result of this was that my reminder email to our group was not sent until very late on Sunday night.

When I reached the High Street, market trading was well underway as usual for  Monday, but with the addition of a large, white, double-decker bus, next to which a small group of elderly people bearing leaflets was busy faffing around.

On the bus’s side slogans of the  ‘Brexit means Brexit’ type had been placed.

That the bus was parked there in my own…

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Silly Saturday – Snakes and Stairs

Play the Gaia Game; how are you scoring at saving the planet, will you climb up or slither down?

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Round One: Life

1.Have you been born?

Slide down the Adder for adding another carbon footprint.

2. Have you given birth to more than two children?

Slip down the Viper

3. You have assisted in the conception of four children, but they have become doctors and environmental scientists.

Climb the stairs, you have contributed to humanity.

4. Have you lived more than three score years and ten?

Descend the Python.

5. You have lived four score years, but ride your bicycle to the allotment where you teach the local school children to grow vegetables?

Take your nimble legs up two flights of stairs.

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Round Two: Home

1.Do you live in a city penthouse forty floors up?

Take the lift down to the basement – wait, you don’t own a car because you can cycle and walk everywhere in the city? Take the lift back up again.

2.Has your remote jungle village been discovered yet?

No? You are not contributing to world pollution. Take the escalator to the top floor. Oh, you haven’t got an escalator…

3.Have you installed solar panels on the roof of your house?

Take a flight of stairs.

4.You have concreted over your garden to park three vehicles and a caravan.

Go down the Cobra.

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Round Three: Food

1.Would you describe yourself as a subsistence farmer?

Ascend the marble staircase… but you chop all the trees down for firewood?

Sorry, slide down the Anaconda.

2.Are you vegan?

Climb up to the moral high ground.

3.Are you vegetarian?

Stay where you are.

4.Do you eat meat?

Slip down the throat of the Boa Constrictor. No wait, there has been an appeal. You farm hill sheep and preserve the countryside and use some of your land for a wind farm.

5.Do you grow your own vegetables and keep chickens in your suburban garden?

Yes, but you’re so busy you use disposable nappies. Miss a go.

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Round Four: Transport

1.Do you own a car?

No, climb two flights of stairs, easy for you as you are fit from walking everywhere…. but your partner has a car and chauffeurs you around? Topple down a flight.

2.You cycle everywhere and wear one of those vests that says one less car on the road.

Excellent, you earn enough points to eat meat.

3.You flew on holiday to Disneyland, return to Go.

4.You took your private jet to the other side of the world to help refugees?

Gaia says return to Go.

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Round Five: Power

1.Do you write about the environment in your blog and sign petitions? Does your computer work on solar power? No – miss a go.

2.You got arrested for protesting about fracking. Climb the ladder.

3.You live as a hermit on a remote island.

Excellent, but before taking your next go describe your contribution to society.

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Winner

The winner, Mr. Everly Green, has a small house just the right size for his wife and two children. His roof has solar panels, he has eight rain water butts, grows fruit, vegetables and bee friendly flowers among which roam chickens to fertilise the garden and provide eggs and roast dinners. He walks to work and does not go on holiday as he can’t leave the garden.

But hold on, his win is being contested; that bouquet of flowers he ordered from the florist for his mother’s birthday was composed of cut flowers flown in from Kenya and his prize winning front garden display used plants that came in plastic pots and trays on a pantechnicon from Holland.

Mr. Green must take the serpentine descent of shame.

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