Ah, the first post of a brand spanking new blog….is there anything better? I haven’t had the chance to mess it up yet with lots of posts that show I had nothing to talk about that day, and no posts repeating the one from last year (you know, THAT one).
Anyhoo, moving on…today is a lovely sunny day, and that’s nice considering it’s rained enough for the ark to come around two or three times over the last month. also, my boyfriend has had to go away to Spain so I get to slob around for a few days and act like a teenager again….then cue a hurried day of cleaning when he comes back, like I left it like that all the time!
It also means I really get to relax and do lots of writing, without worrying about the time to get the dinner on, or whether I ironed the clothes or not. I tend not to realise the time when I’m writing on my own, as it allows me to let the creativity flow.
Well, you might be asking what exactly I write…I write a blend of paranormal romance/fantasy. I have one book published so far, with my second one coming out in the autumn. So…I thought I would let you all have a little teaser of my first book, Conner. Just the prologue and first chapter mind, you don’t get more than that today!
So without further ado, go ahead and read!
Conner by Miranda Stork
North Yorkshire, 1751
The cool night breeze tossed the branches together, making them whisper to one another, as though they were the only ones with a secret tonight. A light aroma of sweet summer flowers drifted through the small clearing, where a shadowy figure breathed heavily. The clearing was lit by a single ray of silvery moonlight piercing through the trees, fireflies dancing in its glow, while the unsettling silence weighed heavily on the cool summer night air.
The figure shifted slightly, causing excitement amongst the fireflies, and causing a variation in the heavy silence. Peering through the frame of trees and branches in front of him, he looked across at the woods and well-used, dusty road. Slowly, he moved through the grass until he was only a few feet away from the edge of the road, his amber eyes glowing, his hair ruffling in the soft wind.
He could hear the steadily-growing-closer rattle of carriage wheels. The scent of the woods was now mixed with the strong aroma of horses, and the conflicting sweetness of a lady’s perfume.
His heart began beating faster, the blood in his veins pumping faster as his muscles readied themselves for the sprint he knew was coming. His breathing grew ever faster as the rattle and clapping of horse’s hooves and the carriage grew ever closer.
A long thread of saliva stretched from the side of his jaw. He knew he should try to fight these feelings of excitement and overwhelming power, but it was so much more thrilling to let them take over. After all, he pondered as his victims unknowingly rose towards their fate, isn’t that what separates us from the animals? And that was indeed an interesting question to ask in his present state…
“And that is the basic framework of the schizophrenic mind. Next week we’ll be discussing why people become schizophrenic; or rather what could be possible triggers of it. I’ll see you all next week.” Professor Erin Miller began neatly collecting her papers from her desk as the class began to leave, a loud murmuring of conversation filling the room as they began to file out.
“Erin! It’s been a while!”
She looked up quickly, her long brown hair swaying across her face, her light blue eyes staring across the lecture theatre.
“Professor Whitfield, hello!” Erin’s tone was polite but without being cordial. “What a surprise! What brings you down here from the practice?”
The ‘practice’ she referred to, was a private surgery the professor had opened as a place for him to see his patients who had psychological problems, but no financial
problems. Erin thought it was unethical to choose who received help with their problems based on the size of their bank balances. Having said that, Erin had occasionally done work for Professor Whitfield when she had needed to ‘pay the rent’, as it were.
“Well, I’ll get straight to the point.” He paused for a second, as if collecting his thoughts, scratching his white beard thoughtfully, looking like a serious, understated Father Christmas. “We have a patient at the practice who is a little…” Here he paused again. “A little…‘non-textbook’.”
“Really, in what way?” She cleared some of her desk, and sat on the wooden top, eyes attentive to what was being said.
Professor Whitfield smiled, tiredly. “He believes he is a lycanthrope.”
“A lycanthrope-a werewolf.”
Erin looked at him in surprise, a smile twitching at the corners of her mouth. “And where do I come into this?”
“You are the leading expert in the county in schizophrenic and related cases. And I’d like you to take this case.” He peered at her expectantly, head slightly cocked, like a dog waiting for a treat.
Erin sighed, slid off the desk, and walked around it to the back. She shook her head slightly, and then looked back up at him. “I don’t know. You know I don’t believe in private practices Frank…and besides, I have so much to do here.”
“Look, I know how you feel about my practice, and I wouldn’t ask, but…” He sighed, and pulled a chair in front of her desk, sitting down heavily. “He has been one of our patients for six years now, and we haven’t made any progress with him. He continues to act aggressively towards nurses; he’s even seriously injured one of them.”
Erin gasped. “What happened?”
“Well, the nurse went into his room alone, to give him his dinner. She has told us that he was sat quite calmly on his bed, reading a book. He then told her he wasn’t hungry, and would she please take it out. She refused, and said she would leave it on a table for him, as is procedure. He then asked her again in an aggressive tone and began making growling noises, but this was usual and she ignored it.” He looked up at Erin, pausing, as if his next words were an unpleasant pill he had to swallow. “From outside, there were two other nurses who heard an unearthly screaming.
They hit the alarm and raced to his room. They ran in on him ripping out the nurse’s throat with his teeth.”
A hand flew over Erin’s mouth. “That’s horrible! Is she alright?”
The professor nodded slowly. “Yes, well…she’s physically alright, but…” he trailed off as he shook his head.
“And you want me…to go in with this maniac and talk to him? This is way beyond anything else I’ve dealt with and-“
“You would of course be watched over by a nurse as you were talking to him. Also, there’s something else.” Professor Whitfield continued. Raising himself from the chair, he slowly paced across to the window and back again. “He has specifically asked for you.”
Erin looked, puzzled, at the back of the professor. “Asked for me?”
“Yes.” Frank Whitfield turned back and looked squarely at her. “It would appear you have a fan.”
“Look, I’ll leave you his file, look over it, ring me in the morning.” He smiled, placing a pink paper file on her desk. He tapped it, raising his eyebrows, and then turned and walked quietly out without another word.
Erin looked down, doubtfully, at the file.
Erin paced across her warm living room, the soft glow of her electric fire reflecting off her red sofa. It had been playing on her mind since Professor Whitfield had left the pink file on her desk.
It sounded so intriguing, but…she really didn’t like working up at his practice. It was simply full of people with minor mental illnesses who had enough money to pay to get rid of them. There were plenty of people with worse problems couldn’t afford the private care system, and she wanted to help them. Working for a patient at this practice was going against her principles. But…this patient did sound…different. She sighed, and heavily flopped down on a chair, picking up the folder that she had carelessly thrown onto her ebony and glass coffee table.
Fingering the sharp spine with one finger, Erin studied the file with apprehension. She was curious, but at the same time, she knew she would want to carry on this case if she looked at it, she just knew it.
“Oh, what the hell-just look, Erin.” she muttered to herself impatiently.
Taking a deep breath, she opened the file to reveal carefully typed case notes with a Polaroid photograph paper-clipped to the first page.
The photo showed a young man in his mid to late twenties, with soft black hair cut short, and an infectious smile, the lips almost curving into a sensual smirk. But the most strange-and also the most striking thing about him-was his eyes. They were brilliant amber, looking straight at the camera, a strange mix of coolness and warmth.
Erin stared for a moment at the photo, and then carefully laid it aside. She continued to look through the file. The first typed sheet was simply detailing when he was sectioned, and to which ward. The second sheet seemed more interesting, it listed his symptoms. Erin pulled it out and began to read it aloud to herself.
“Delusions of being able to change into a lycanthrope, aggressiveness, growling noises, socially inept, egocentric…”
Erin shook her head sadly, as she read down the list. She did briefly wonder why Professor Whitfield wanted her to take this case; this sounded a lot more like clinical lycanthropy rather than schizophrenia, but she reasoned that they had some similar tendencies.
And clinical lycanthropy was incredibly rare; it did usually turn out to be an extreme form of schizophrenia. When she had finished, she set it aside with his photograph, gently. She then leafed through endless sheets of medication lists and daily reports until she stopped, and slowly took out one paper. It was hand written, not typed, and it was almost all written with an old fashioned hand, except for a few sentences at the top. Erin began to read.
‘Whitfield Institution, August 2011
This is a small piece written by the patient Conner Woods, this shall be used for psychological evaluation only. This shall be in his words and it shall be a personal statement.
Dear reader, I am sure you will know nothing true of me until I have finished writing, so please do not make up your opinion from what you hear from others, judge me from my own words.
My name is Conner Woods, and I was born in the village of Athol, in Ireland, in the vicinity which is now known as Armagh.
I was born in December around 300 BC, on a cold yet beautiful day, my mother always
told me. I was an only child, although I get the strange memory of once having had a twin brother. I was brought up by a man I thought was my father, but turned out to be my stepfather.
I was always different. I had raven-black locks, and-strangest of all-amber eyes bright as an owl’s. My stepfather always treated me differently-not without love; I never had want of that-but with a slight anxiety, as though I might snap with a violent temper at a moment’s notice.
We lived very comfortably at that time, quite happy. Everyone knew each other and we all helped one another. The children, including myself, were all brought up by all the people in the village, each of them teaching us in different ways. One of the villagers taught me to read, another to fight. I also always remember there was another little girl in the village, the daughter of the head of our village. She was so beautiful, and I grew up in love with her, but that is another story, not to be told here.
Everyone has a distinct point in their lives where everything in their lives changes, be it for better or worse.
For some, it is when they become parents, others; when they find their soulmate, or realize their destiny. For me, the first of my two turning
points came when I became eighteen.
I had been feeling restless about the village, and there were murmurs amongst the older villagers, about the other children and me, talk of an ‘awakening’. I had no idea what this would be about. I also began to notice that small groups of villagers would disappear outside of the village for days at a time. They would leave with bundles of items, wrapped in brown cloth, and come back empty-handed.
I had decided to go for a walk after some of these villagers one night, to see where it was that they went; in the sky a weak, early moon tried to compete with the brilliance of the setting sun. The grass shushed at me as I walked through it with its long stalks. I had been walking through the woods for quite some time, when I suddenly came across something that made me stop.
It was a small stone hut. Its rotted door hung from ivy hinges, and moss crept into every little crack in the aged wood. A memory from childhood crept into my mind.
I had come across it once before, at the age of six or seven, and ran to my mother, lagging behind, delighted at my discovery. As I told her, her face fell. “You must never go there again, never!” She grabbed my arm and pulled
me back along the path, sobbing and upset-at what, I wasn’t sure.
As the memory faded, I looked again at the small hut. I should have walked away, but something compelled me to go forward, to answer this unknown question in my mind. I took a deep breath and pulled the rotting door open.
Inside, to my surprise, there was a single wooden bed and a rudimentary bookshelf, holding more flagons and jugs than books, along the far wall. There was a small, well-used, wooden desk below the dusty window, and a threadbare rug adorned the floor. I walked over to the desk, where a long-ago-written letter lay on top, tied with a faded piece of woven cloth. I sat down on the bed, coughed at the clouds of dust that rose, and carefully untied the letter.
This is the last time you will hear of me, for our affair must end. We are far too different, you and I; we are worlds apart from one another.
I love you so much my heart is breaking in my breast as I write this to you, and my hand shakes, but it is for the best.
I am with your child, who shall always remind me of you, but you cannot see him.
Please respect my wishes, it must be this way, but I shall never forget you.
Rosa. That was my mother’s name.
The shock hit me in an icy wave. Affair? With child?
I ran back to the village, time standing still as I angrily clutched the letter in my fist. I don’t remember how long it took, and I don’t remember bursting into my mother’s room in our small hut.
She was alone, and looked up at me in shock. I threw the letter at her feet, and glared furiously at her. There was a moment’s pause, before she slowly bent and picked up the note.
“So you know then?” she quietly asked. The words echoed deafeningly in the silence.
“Yes, I know!” I hissed. “How much of it is true?”
She sighed, and walked over to the window. Taking a second to look out into the
night, she sat down on a nearby chair.
“I met your father-your real father-when I was a little girl. He lived in the village and was
like an older brother towards me. When he became old enough, he left because…he had problems here. He couldn’t adjust to being…like everybody else. He returned many years later, when I was still young but married to your father.
To cut a long story short, we fell in love, and began our affair. He was a…werewolf.”
“WHAT! You speak madness, woman!”
“No. I’m afraid I speak the truth.”
I stared at her, wondering if she had been taken mad. “But…but…they aren’t real! They don’t exist!” My voice trailed off, and I shook my head in disbelief.
My mother spoke gently. “Darling, I’m afraid they do exist, in fact the entire village is full of them.”
I blinked at her in shock, wondering if the words I was now hearing were a bad dream; and that at any moment I should wake up and find the sun shining through my window.
“She shook her head. “This isn’t how you were supposed to find out. There must be a…awakening for werewolves…when they are old enough. There was to be a ceremony, but I
suppose it makes no difference that you know now.”
I gasped, and backed away, as though to
escape her words. “But…but, it can’t be, I would have noticed before now…” My voice trailed off.
My mother smiled, something twitching the corners of her mouth. “I’m afraid there would not be any sign until you were ‘awakened’…brought to understand your condition. Once you reach the age of eighteen, you will start to develop into a full werewolf. It is the way of them all, it is to prevent young children becoming frightened by what they are, or doing some damage to themselves or others, without realising it.”
“And my real father?”
“Your real father is a man called Lucius O’Neil. He was born in this village many, many years ago. But when he found out what he was, he couldn’t deal with it properly. He found himself far too controlled by his nature. He had to leave the village…he asked me to go with him, but I feared for your safety.”
Those were the last words I can remember my mother speaking. My memories begin to fade in and out from that point on; I have entire periods of my life blacked out for hundreds of years, in which I have no idea what
happened to me-or others, if there were any others in my care.
I have written this statement at the
bequest of Dr Whitfield, but I write it simply to ask the one person who can help me, to come to my aid; Erin Miller.
Erin stared sadly at the pages for a moment, collecting her thoughts. She lifted the file off her knee, and placed it back on her table. Raising herself off the red and gold armchair, she walked over to her house phone. Taking a deep breath, she quickly dialled a number, and raised the receiver to her ear.
“Hello, Dr Whitfield?”
“Erin? Have you considered my offer?”
She took another deep breath, realizing there was no way out if she agreed. “Yes.”
“Wonderful! I’ll see you tomorrow, at the surgery. Bye for now.”
Erin replaced the receiver, and glanced across at the papers still laid on the arm of the chair. She walked across, and picked up the young man’s photo again. Smiling, she shook her head at his frozen expression.
“It’s strange.” she murmured to herself. “Something about it seemed so real.”
End of chapter 1
I hope you enjoyed that little teaser…if you would like to read more of Conner, you can buy it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and even get it on Kindle and other compatible devices.
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/conner-miranda-f-stork/1016212446