Chapter 1

Written by: Ant Gavin Smits

His toothbrush lay on the floor.
Hand to her mouth, Shirley felt weak as dread drenched her. The loosened narrow window swung, its brass lever dangling.
She stepped around Jason. Somehow he had got in front of her; his raised hands were following the panel as it disappeared into the wall.
The oddity registered.
It doesn’t slide back that far.
She reached the opening, grabbed the frame with a hand each side and leaned out. Enough light bled out to make a rumpled yellow rectangle on the lawn’s leaf blanket. Nothing stirred in the black but leaves rustling a dirge for her silhouette.
The night air punched; a reflex caught the window before it crushed her fingers. One hand brushed hair from her eyes; the other fumbled without strength to fasten it.
Jason stood watching, oversize tiger slippers smirking, as she slumped to the floor.
Three years of happiness in this house; three weeks of hell.
She stroked his face.
“No more pictures, Mummy.” His wide eyes defied rejection; a sudden blood taste from her lip startled her.
“I promise. No more pictures.”
The boy came closer.
She pulled him in; he disentangled. “Michael wanted Daddy to read,” he said. “You’re ‘llowed to listen.”
Shirley shivered. A third night of reading to the dead. She followed him past the front door to the small room where the bunks were; where Michael and Jason used to play in the sun...
The doorbell rang.
Gary, I NEED you.
Jason had run to the door; he was stretching up but couldn’t reach the handle.
She tried to pull him back, to shield him. “Go into your room and stay with... with Michael.”
“Shirl!” Gary’s voice thundered through the dirty, patterned glass.
She twisted the night latch.
Gary looked at her, frowning, as he paused in the doorway.
“Why did you shut me out? There’s nothing outside. Waste of time asking me to look.”
Shirley so badly wanted to scream.
She took a deep breath, hands unbidden, clenched to release a little tension.
Keep calm; fight this.
“Are you reading to... the boys?”
He shook his head, stamped his feet abruptly on the mat, and turned to shut the door. “I’ve had enough of that. Bed, son.”
“Noooo!” The yell reverberated in the hall. Jason ran at him. He butted Gary’s leg. Gary gasped and bent, scything a hand down to gather up his child.
Jason ducked, and then he dodged and stepped through the narrow gap to the mat outside, running a few steps before turning to yell at them.
“You have to come to the well!” And he ran from them into the darkness.
Shirley pushed Gary aside and charged out. An empty deck mocked. Shirley looked back at the man who had let a second son go out to the farm alone.
The night wind chilled the tears on her face as she turned away from him and sobbed.

Anthony Smits (NZ)


Another new writer to our serials. Anthony has started us off with a really well thought out piece that pitches the reader headlong into this mystery. There are many questions raised here in a story that hopefully difies logic yet asks the question - is this possible? Well done, Anthony. Not sure about smirking tiger slippers but then ....... this is paranormal........ isn't it?
Lol... you must have seen some of those huge animal slippers :) They've been very popular for about 20 years. I like the tiger ones, they're bright :) Although my oldest had elephant ones as a baby
I found this piece to be somewhat difficult reading in that the style seem to be more like clasical liturature than the easy reads of the typical paperback. I needed to read some passages a couple of times to get it. I think that is more about my dyslectic reading skill than the chapter itself. Basically, though, I like the story and the way you tell it. I think the style fits.
I like this a lot! It read true to the reactions of a typical 4 year old (I've got one so I know). I also like the writing style, it fits into the genre perfectly.

The only thing I found strange was the word choice in "out to the farm alone". I assume the house is on the farm, so the "out to the" part seemed strange. But enough nitpicking. Great job!
I want to know what happened to Michael. It's very tense this story with more aspects to come. This should help explain what is going on.
I like the mystery concept that is presented, seemed a bit not an easy flow of reading at first to catch what is taking place...but the interest is captured for sure.
Tense story, I agree, and yes, another slightly hard to follow story, but as Joe said, it seems more classical writing than what's typical of today. So we have to change our mindset when reading it.
I think that's what we as readers and writers forget; the writer should be able to write however he/she desires and it's up to us to enjoy it or not. But not to tell them how they should write it.