Chapter 6

Written by: Ray Stone

Gretchen took several deep breaths. Unable to believe her eyes, she re-read the release papers.. His full name was Albert Whitaker. The signature of his guardian was that of George Whitaker, his grandfather. She picked up the newspaper clippings and read through several that reported the various courtroom battles regarding the rightful heir to Elsie Whitaker’s estate. A large amount of financial interests had been involved as well as the property.

The information raised troubling questions. Why would Matt have these papers? Why had he not told her about them?

Holding Brent close, Gretchen thought for a moment, then made a decision. She reached for the telephone and dialed. After waiting several seconds she heard the familiar voice of Jennifer, her realtor.

Gretchen discussed her situation and the discovery of Albert’s past. Trying to cope with her loss and bringing up Brent on her own, a smaller cottage would suit her for the time being. Trying to deal with Albert and all the other strange occurrences would be too much of a strain. She had to move. They made arrangements for Jennifer to call the following morning.


The sound of rustling leaves woke Gretchen from her afternoon nap. She rolled sideways and put her arms around Brent. He was awake and smiled as she cuddled him. A breeze coming through the open window had cooled the room. Gretchen swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood up, leaving a happy Brent embracing the air with arms and legs.

Outside, the tall Beech trees moved gently in unison under the weight of a light wind. The sky was gray and dark ominous clouds threatened another storm. Gretchen thought she heard a rumble of thunder in the distance. She closed the window, turned, then stepped back to the bed. Brent lay motionless. He seemed preoccupied with something on the other side of the room. She picked him up and walked toward the door. As they approached it, Brent screamed and clung to her, turning his head away. Gretchen opened the door and quickly made her way downstairs. The house was turning into a nightmare and the sooner they moved, the better.


Albert watched through the spy hole as Gretchen fed the baby. Such a beautiful young lady needed looking after. She was alone with Brent and very vulnerable. While they stayed in the house, things would work out just fine, despite Gran’s promise to him. Gretchen had to understand that he was their protector. She need not be afraid of him, or the dark ones. He felt empowered, ready to protect sweet Gretchen from the evil of the whisperers

Later, after Gretchen had gone to bed, Albert stole quietly out of hiding and sat by the stove, waiting for Grandma Whitaker.


Raymond Stone  (UK & USA)






He needs to get amongst it.  Either he is involved in thre drama or not.  At this stage he's a threat and Grandma Whitaker could be the killer  
I think the tension and mystery have built at a nice medium pace and that is reflected in your comment that he is a threat (To whom eh? and a little about him each chapter is about right) and that Grandma might be a killer. (Nice) The fact that you pick up on Albert surely shows he is there in your mind and therefore is playing an important role in the story. All might be revealed by the end. Thanks for the comment.
as a reader.  Medium pace is subjective but for me keep building the tension at a greater pace. This means getting into other aspects of the story and drawing them out.  I understand this is demanding and I'm not saying do it but as wide an audience as possible is needed to support interest. 
I agree Ken, that other aspects of the story should be dealt with as we go along. The problem with 500 words is that dealing with too many threads at once causes confusion (see last serial) With ten chapters there should be enough time for each author to investgate a thread whilst keeping others in the background alive. The last two authors could then bring them all to the forefront and climax and conclude the story. It is hard and for some of us authors, it is the first time we have done this. It is also the first time many of us have written outside our chosen genre. I think we will get better as we proceed with the serials. The good thing is that we are improving our writing skills by participating in this kind of exercise and increasing our knowledge of different genre styles. I have never been very good at short story writing so I am pleased to get stuck in. Thank you for your comments - comment and critique is a very good tool we should all welcome.
involved in an experience like this.  I do try to be brief and clear so I'm starting to understand the short format/story as a very difficult genre to work in.   Editing to the maximum is necessary to be objective and precise.  We are all getting our heads around this and not taking any criticism personally .  This means a good start by everyone 
Short fiction is hard to write. Every word counts - and there's hardly room for the luxurious amble that a novel can use to reveal charracter, setting, etc.
I've been reading and rereading these last few chapters and wondering why I feel there's something wrong. I think Ken hit on it. Ray, there's nothing really "wrong" with your writing. Well, I find fault with a 2-3 week old baby being as physcially adept as you're portraying it here. And there's some passive sentencing. Other than that, it's well written. The problem I have is that this chapter (6 out of 10) feels like it's spinning its wheels a little more than I'd expect at this juncture. You've introduced a couple of great things - the Albert relationship to Gran Whitaker is genius. But lines like "The information raised troubling questions." are redundant to what follows and wasting valuable word count toward more explication of the story. I think the idea of coming to a premature conclusion is a real fear for those of us writing in the serial, but I also think that we need to be moving the story foward regardless of those fears. In the horror genre, a red herring or tantalizing feint can be a great tool and a bonus for the reader.
ref (if allowed although Ken cannot ref: our discussion on FB) The comments here are very useful to me. I am writing as a novelist and I need to write short story. It is these comments that will help me to write short stories. I would love to write short stories. I have a few in my head but the prospect of starting one without a great lead in is a daunting one. Look at the comment - spinning wheels, or raising troubling questions. Great comment, so now I can stick that in the back of my head and remember next time to be aware of unwanted pros. Thanks to you both for helping me out. I look forward to grabbing a chapter in the next serial.