Author Interview – Raymond G. Newsome

Hello, my little demons,

Here’s the sixth installment of author interviews. Today I am sharing an interview I had with a friend of mine. I can’t even remember where I met him (might have been on WattPad?), but we jelled pretty quickly, not only because we both write, but because we both like the same sorts of things – the weird and wonderful.

Say hello to my little friend… I mean… say hello to Raymond Newsome!

About Raymond

Raymond lives in Eastern Kentucky with his girlfriend and five children (reading and creativity are always encouraged!) When he’s not writing and spending time with his family, he works as a nursing aid for a local nursing home.

Raymond has a few books out, ‘I am Brian’, ‘Rise of the Fallen’, and a children’s book called ‘The Adventures of Pipsqueak and Bob’. Read below for a sneak peak into my favourite; ‘I am Brian’.

I am Brian

I remember reading the first few chapters of ‘I am Brian’ before Raymond finished and published it and it had me hooked. It’s written in the view of the murderer; Brian Leroy Lewis, and you think; okay, so not a typical ‘who done it‘ because you already know who done it. But the guy sends you on a ride anyway!

Synopsis:

After arriving at a grisly murder scene, Detective Jackson finds the killer waiting on the porch.

During the police interview, the murderer introduces himself as none other than Brian Leroy Lewis – a younger man full of mental issues and a sinister history.

He promised a written confession on the terms he can leave a taped record of his life and the people he’s murdered. If Detective Jackson refuses, a new victim will die.

But what exactly are the motives of Brian Leroy Lewis?

Above is a link to the book sold on Amazon in both paperback and e-book format. I can’t wait to get my hands on a real physical, and hopefully signed, paperback copy!

Interview

Now, let’s try and decode what’s inside Raymond’s mind…

What inspired you to start writing?

I started reading at an early age and loved it before school forces you to dissect every word. In elementary school in Ohio, they took us to different schools to listen to children’s authors who would visit. That was the beginning.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I used to limit the first draft to a few months, however, the last year has done a number on my writing time and forced me to accept to just focus on the end without a timeline in mind.

Which one of your works is your favourite?

‘I am Brian’ currently holds that position, but one of my current projects may lay claim soon.

What’s your current book about?

I don’t have a current, finished book, but I do have one that I am over halfway finished with the first draft. It’s about a handful of citizens in the fictional city of Pangaea. They experienced the corruption of the city first-hand and began to do something about it. While attempting to help their separate city districts, they discovered each other and the common goal of the man responsible for everything.

What, to you, are the most important elements of good writing?

Flow. If a story doesn’t have a steady flow, you can lose a reader fast. I’ve put down multiple books for this reason. Characters. My characters are everything to me. They are the drive behind every action and reaction. Finally, keeping the grammar proficient enough not to discourage the readers. Just like flow, too many typos can lead to someone not wanting to finish the story.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I love to read and watch whatever movie or show has caught my attention. I love to go on trips with my family. Last summer, I ventured into kayaking, which is amazing.

How much research did you need to do for your books?

A lot of the subjects I touch on in my books (the occult, supernatural, serial killers) I have studied and researched for years before ever deciding to incorporate them into my writing. However, there are those little details that add the zing to a scene that can require multiple Google searches to your writing time.

Do you have any projects you’re working on at the moment?

I have four active projects, including the one I mentioned earlier. I have close to fifty others in the early stages of my process.

What advise would you give to someone thinking about writing?

Write about something you want to read. If you love the book, your passion is there on the pages. Your readers will feel that. Practice your craft. I started with short stories and poetry which eventually evolved to books. Maybe those are what you love, so pour your soul into them. The goal is to write and keep writing. No matter what the first draft looks like, it can be fixed in editing.

Anything else you’d like to add?

We all have a story to tell. One day you’ll be ready to tell it, and it will change the lives of others. That is the power of your words. Thank you.

If you would like to learn more about Raymond and his books or follow him on social media.
Here are a few links:

raymondgnewsome.com
facebook.com/rgnewsomeauthor
instagram.com/raymond.newsome
twitter.com/rgnewsomeauthor

~~~

As always, don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

facebook.com/TheGirlWhoWhispered
instagram.com/thegirlwhowhispered/
twitter.com/penny_hoops

Author Interview – Noir Hayes

Hello, my little demons! 😈

Here’s the third installment of Author Interviews, and I had the privilege of speaking to Noir Hayes.

This was another one I had good fun with, and upon reading her answers, it’s amazing how much we have in common (minus the ballet bit!)

Razor Blades

Of course, first I wanted to quickly speak about her book “Razor Blades”. It sounds really interesting; dark and gritty gangs set in New York. What’s not to love?

Here’s the synopsis:

Enter into the minds of the most dangerous gangs in the city. Razor, the gang’s leader, is known for his brutal, cut-throat methods, and cold eyes. His arrogance, getting to the better of him, prevents him from noticing some of his member’s evil intentions. Every man in the gang has their role, and it’s up to you to determine who is genuinely Razor’s right-hand man.

You can find it for sale here

Within Cessation (Out October 2020!)

And, of course, can’t leave without talking about her next book which is out next month; Within Cessation.

In case you can’t see the image, for what ever reason, this is what it reads:

“Tatum Hyland is a man obsessed with reinventing himself. Determined to cast off his reputation as a washed up former romance novelist, he challenges himself to write something completely different – an apocalyptic survival story. But as the world arround him spirals into chaos, Tatum must learn to differentiate between reality and fiction, choosing between his own survival and that of his work.”

Interview with Noir

Now let’s get into the interview… I bet you’re all excited to read this, as much as I was!

What got you into writing?

I’ve always been super anxious and quiet, even as a kid. A lot of times, I used writing as an escape. In my mind, I figured, if I couldn’t say certain things or open up about my experiences, I would just write and create character that could do the things I was unable to. I also loved the idea of having no real rules. In math or in science, it’s either wrong or it’s right. In writing, I make the rules and I have always loved the freedom that came with that.

What’s your writing Kryptonite?

I care too much about what people might think. Sometimes I hold myself back and think, “No, I can’t write that. What will they think? Will they think I’m this super violent person? Will they think differently of me?” A lot of it is mental, and I’m always trying to work through it.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

It’s always been the characters for me. I have always found enjoyment out of building a character from the ground up. I let them tell me what they like, don’t like, what their fears are, and what their story will be. I let them create the plot for themselves – I am merely the person that writes it all down for them.

Do you want to be more original or write that the reader’s want?

Original, always. I once stumbled across Billie Eilish’s Vanity Fair interview and in it, she said: “If everyone dropped dead right now and I didn’t, I would be left with what I had created for myself. And what the hell would the point be if I was just creating something that somebody else wanted me to create that I had no say in? And that person died, and everybody else died, and nobody else matters but me? I’m stuck with this stuff I didn’t want in the first place and that’s trash.” And that has always stuck with me. I create what I want. It will reach the people it is meant to reach, and those who are meant to love it will love it.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Don’t create with the intention of being the next Hunger Games or Divergent. Write what you want to write and do it unapologetically. It doesn’t need to be cookie cutter. Those who are your true fans will never judge your writing material – so just write what you want.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

I really, really loved I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson. It is a book about a fourteen-year-old that has cerebral palsy, so she can’t speak or move. Whenever her caretaker’s abusive boyfriend admits he murdered someone and tells the narrator because he knows she literally can’t tell anyone, it creates this amazing and thrilling story. I have hardly seen anyone talk about it and it surprisingly doesn’t have too many reviews on Amazon.

Do you hide secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, of course! I sometimes hide song lyrics that inspired my writing in character dialogue. In “Razor Blades” one of my characters gives out a series of codes, and some of them are my parents and sibling’s birthdays. There are too many hidden secrets to count!

What was the inspiration for your book, “Razor Blades”?

It’s actually an interesting story, haha. Back in my younger years, I did a ton of online roleplaying. Two of my characters, Razor and Brett, were originally characters I just roleplayed with. Both Brett and Razor were inspired by songs off of this industrial metal band’s (their name is Combichrist, I definitely recommend looking them up) album entitled We Love You. So, Brett and Razor have been with me since the beginning. Things really got rolloing whenever I visited New York last summer with my dad. From there, I said screw it, dropped Razor and Brett in New York, and let them tell the stories themselves.

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

Razor Blades is really violent and gritty. That being said, I want readers to see that even in the darkest of corners, you can find stories of love and hope. I want them to meet a character like Razor, someone who is bad through and through, and see his development and see the way he changes, the way that he has different sides for those he truly cares for.

How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?

Well, next month my second book entitled Within Cessation comes out, which is exciting! As for unpublished books, though, I’ve been holding onto a Young Adult Dystopian novel that I wrote way back in high school. I plan on taking it, revamping it, and publishing it by next year. Half-finished books and ideas, I have anywhere between five to ten rolling around, even if it’s one paragraph in a google document somehwere, haha.

Who is your favourite author, and why?

Chuck Palhniuk’s Snuff helped me write Razor Blades, as I loved the way he changed multiple POVs (point of views) so well. From there, I just started reading and falling in love with a lot of his work. More on the cliché side, though, I’ve always been inspired by big names like Stephen King. In fourth grade, I was already reading Pet Semetary and The Shining, and it was King that helped me realize that writing was what I wanted to do – that I wanted to big like him.

Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?

Good question and when it comes down to it, I’m not sure if I have a preference! I think there’s something so magical about reading and falling in love with a book and seeing it on the big screen. To have your favorite moments comes to life and to have them pulled together with music, the looks certain actors and actresses can pull of, ugh, it’s so magical! There are also some movies out there that are better than the books… a controversial opinion, I’m sure haha.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks?

I appreciate audiobooks so much! I commute to school and work three to four jobs (when we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic) and last semester, I was driving five-hundred miles per week. I really dove headfirst into having an arsenal of audiobooks to keep me entertained during my long drives. Sometimes holding a physical book just isn’t possible, and I think having an audiobook is a great option if that’s the case. Especially if you spend more time in your car than in your house, like I do.

Was writing your dream job as a child, or was it something else?

Always deep down, yes. I was writing horror stories and giving them to my mom to give to her friends at work as a kid. Every single experience I had I made into a story. As I got older, unfortunately, I somehow convinced myself that I could never make a living out of writing. So, I wound up going to school for something else I’m interested in. I’ve said since the beginning, though, if I could wave a magic wand and have whatever I wanted – to write all day every day as an occupation would be my dream.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a jack of all trades, honestly, haha. I am a full-time student in my senior year of a Criminal Justice program. When I’m not in school, I’m probably in the dance studio teaching ballet (yes, I was a bunhead for the majority of my life). Outside of all that, though, I am a huge nerd – I love to play video games and watch all kinds of movies. I also have a pretty impressive Funko pop collection.

Thanks, Noir Hayes! It was a pleasure.

Please do check out her out, here’s the link to her twitter page.

~~~

Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow! 😊

thegirlwhowhispered.com

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Character names – there are certain names I won’t use…

Any fellow authors/writers here have to sit and ponder over names for a while just to get that perfect name for their character?

I did a blog post a while ago about how I come up with names. I have a few names that I love and I have used already (Jason and Alex are two examples that I like – well, I’m not having children, so might as well have fictional characters! I also use names from friends, inspirational people, or use names from authors I like).

Anyway, this last story idea I came up with (I fell in Love with a Psychopath), I started to sit there thinking about what name to use next. I found myself coming up with names off the top of my head that I really shouldn’t use, for one reason…

Someone I don’t like in real life, or doesn’t like me, has that name. Having a name like Sarah in a book might seem like a brilliant name to use, simple and easy to remember, but what happens if you know a Sarah and you two hate each other (I don’t, by the way, I was using it as an example. I won’t spell out real names as examples). It can be awkward sometimes.

It doesn’t mean that I think of that person (whether friend or not) and use them in my stories – name and all. I try to avoid people like that in my stories. I don’t want it getting back to me and getting bad press from them. I might use a situation or a quirk, but I’d never write them in completely.

Friends, I might do, to an extent. Maybe just borrowing their name, and maybe a quirk they have somewhere else. But then I’m worried about using a friend’s name who has a common name, and they share the same name with someone else I know that doesn’t like me from my past. I used to know four people with the same common name, three of which are friends, one no longer is. Because one of those friends is a very good friend of mine (he’d always come straight round to my house when we were teenagers and I was having a bad day and go to tescos to get junk food and swap ghost stories in our local park), I have used his name in one of my stories, but with crossed fingers!

It’s the same with last names too. I have big trouble with last names. Again, I have used last names from inspirational people, or otherwise. But not really friends though as last names are a bit more obvious, so again I try to avoid last names from people I know.

I guess this is where a name generator comes in handy!

I fell in Love with a Psychopath – Chapter 2

If you’re new to the story, please read the prologue here.
This work is my first draft and thus unedited, so may be subject to changes.

~~~

Chapter 2

It must have been over an hour before I started to relax slightly around this guy. Or it could have been the alcohol. We sat chatting for almost two hours in total, while he tried to figure out where he knew me from. Well, he chatted, I mostly uttered one word answers or the occasional small sentence.

He at first asked if I came to the bar often. I didn’t, it was the first time I’d been there. Then he asked if I had heard of some restaurant. I hadn’t. He mentioned some place with a strange name. I didn’t even know what it was let alone heard of it. He mentioned a company. The name sounded vaguely familiar but I wasn’t sure from where, so I said no. The questions continued one after the other, all the while he sat there watching me curiously.

That was the first hour anyway. The second hour, or what was left of the second hour, was a little different. It wasn’t until I noticed he had gotten a little bored with the conversation and something changed. I remembered thinking at the time; he must have a short attention span.

The conversation had suddenly become weird too. He had given up asking questions that required closed single answers and seemed to start asking a different type of question. Questions that was a little odd in nature, ones I couldn’t possibly answer.

“So, who are you, Jo?” he started after taking a small sign and catching me unaware.

“Sorry?”

“Who are you?”

“You know who I am,” I said. One of those rare sentences I had managed to string together.

“No I don’t,” he replied and took a long pause. It was the pauses that made me nervous. Like I was waiting for him to do something spontaneous in that time frame. I don’t know what, but I had a feeling he was the spontaneous type. My thoughts ranged from him dragging me out of the bar and having his wicked way with me up against a wall, or dragging me out of the bar and murdering me in a dark alleyway. “All I know is your name’s Jo and you interest me, that is it,” he said again. His deep penetrating eyes surveying me.

I literally gulped. I wasn’t yet relaxed at that point. I was still nervous. It was the ‘you interest me’ that set me on edge slightly.

“What do you want to know?” I asked, trying to remind myself that it was just a conversation. A slight sense of confidence suddenly appeared. There was no harm in a conversation. I’ve done it loads of times. It’s not like I’ve never spoken to a guy before.

“I don’t know.”

My confidence vanished. What did this guy want me to say? Was he interested in knowing where I was from? Where I worked? Who my friends were? What?

“Err, well…” I started, “I’m from England–”

“I know that, I can tell by your accent,” he interrupted and then paused again, waiting for me to continue. Waiting for something interesting.

“Okay, well… I moved here a few years ago. After travelling and working a little. I have a Master’s degree in History, I’m mostly interested in ancient history though, not the world wars or anything. I…” I paused, I ran out of things to say. My mind drew a blank. “I don’t know what else to say really.”

“You were on a roll,” he said and smiled again. A smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.

I didn’t know what to make of that. I had never met a guy like this. Not one that actually cared enough to know anything about me. I’d met the odd guy who asked certain questions, but more of a formality than anything; “Where are you from? Where do you work? How old are you?” those sorts of questions. But this guy didn’t ask those questions. He asked who I was. A vague question. A question that was difficult to answer. A question that seemed to require an interesting answer otherwise he wouldn’t be interested.

“Well, tell me about yourself?” I asked. Trying to take control of the situation, but not sure I really wanted to know. I was worried about what I might find. Although at the same time, I did want to know. He was mysterious and judging by the watch on his wrist, rich too. I know, thinking back to it, it was an extremely weird interaction. He just wandered over and started talking to me uninvited. He was demanding to the point of arrogant.

“No, we’re not talking about me yet, we’re talking about you,” he said. And I could have sworn I saw him looking disinterested suddenly.

“I… I don’t know what to say.”

“Okay, where in England are you from?”

Easy question, I can answer that one. “From a little city called Bath in South West of England. You might not have heard of it, it’s–”

“In Somerset. South-east of Bristol. Known for its Roman baths. Became a World Heritage Site in nineteen eighty seven,” he said, interrupting me.

“You know Bath?” I asked in shock, feeling my nervousness slowly ebb away.

“I do. I’ve travelled to England a few times.” He nodded. But he didn’t linger on the subject for long, to my disappointment. “Next question; what University did you study at?”

“I got my undergrad at Oxford and my master’s at Edinburgh.”

He gave a small nod. If he was impressed by my qualifications, he didn’t say. Most people did when I mentioned Oxford at least, and those that knew Edinburgh were equally impressed.

“And why move to Chicago?” he took a sip of his beer.

“Err, a number of reasons; I like travelling and I wanted to further my career.”

He didn’t seem too interested in that answer. Like he was expecting me to say something remarkable about how I had got my big break and it was only here in Chicago.

“Where do you work?” he asked.

“Oh, I don’t currently work in anything to relate to history. I just got a pretty boring job working in an office.”

His eyes narrowed. Wrong answer. “So, you got your master’s degree in ancient history but you’re working in an office that doesn’t relate to it?” he quizzed suspiciously.

“Err, yes?” I said. I made my reply sound like a question, not an answer. I felt suddenly concerned that this guy was disappointed in my life choices. I had said something wrong. I needed to fix it.

“Why?”

“I…” I paused and thought for a few seconds, what was wrong with the truth? “I moved here temporarily, I just got a job anywhere just to get my feet on the ground, get settled, before I could apply properly for history vacancies-”

“Why not just wait until there was available and then apply?” he interrupted.

It was my turn to frown. I suddenly realised that I didn’t need to justify myself to some guy. Regardless if he was attractive and possibly rich. I didn’t care who he was, I wasn’t going to bend over for him. It was my choice to move first without my big break, so what if he didn’t approve? How dare he question me? “I don’t know you’ve noticed, but there aren’t many vacancies in ancient history,” I snapped.

“There are lots of a teaching positions around the country,” he replied, not even noticing that I snapped at him.

“Yes, but I don’t want to teach!” I huffed.

“Why?”

“Because I can’t stand people!” I said, raising my voice angrily.

At this the guy raised his eyebrow and smiled at me again. This time his smile reached his eyes a little. “Something we have in common.”

“Then why come over here? Or are you just here to mock me?”

His smile disappeared. “I’m not mocking you.”

“Sounds like you’re questioning my life choices!”

“No, I’m just asking questions.”

“You just asked why I don’t just wait in England and apply for a position when one was available. You sounded as if you were mocking my choice to come to Chicago first without the job.”

“I was curious, I wasn’t mocking you.”

“Right.” I frowned at him. No longer sure what to say.

There was few moments silence between us before the guy in front of me finally filled it. I was mostly aware that he was just watching me. I was starting to get a little nervous again. Plus, I was starting to realise how strange this interaction was; he came straight over and started to ask questions. He didn’t even introduce himself. I started to realise I should probably leave.

“Do you want another drink?” he asked.

I looked at him, looked deep into those green eyes for a moment, trying to figure him out. When I couldn’t see anything there, I groaned slightly before answering, “No, I don’t want another drink!”

“Okay,” he said, apparently unbothered that I was raising my voice and clearly annoyed with him. Instead he just stood up.

“What are you doing?”

“Getting another drink,” he said, and paused as he stood. I was able to appreciate the bulk of his body and his lovely and clearly expensive suit he wore. It looked black in this light.

“What the hell?” I huffed.

He just frowned at me, as if he was confused by the question.

“You think I want to speak to you again after you insulted me? You didn’t even apologise!”

“I didn’t mean to insult you.”

All I heard was; ‘I’m not apologising’. I laughed, which the guy just gave me a funny look, like he couldn’t tell why I was laughing at him. “You come over here, demanding to know why I am familiar, you probe me with questions, then insult me, and I don’t even know anything about you, not even your name, you didn’t bother to introduce yourself.”

“You didn’t either.”

“I did, I told you my name is Jo.”

“I asked you for your name. You didn’t ask me.”

“What?” I laughed again. And he looked at me strange again.

There was a few moments silence between us. He just stood there staring at me while I was just scowling at him. I didn’t want him to leave, I still found him mysterious. But at the same time, I was annoyed with him for being rude.

“Xander,” he finally said, breaking the silence.

“What?”

“My name; it’s Xander.”

Check out the next chapter!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 2

Note: If you’re new to the story please read the Prologue here!

Chapter 2

Taylor

Taylor gasped and woke bolt upright in a panic, sweat dripping down her face and back. She stared wide-eyed out into the darkness of her room trying to gather her bearings and calm her erratic heartbeat.

“What…?” she muttered to herself in the middle of the darkness. Of course, she was alone. She was always alone. No one was there to hear her.

She rubbed her clammy face nervously and peeled her reddish-brown hair off her forehead. She then span round to pick up her phone, which was sat untouched on her dark brown and cheap bedside table, resting next to the half-empty bottle of whisky. She pressed the button on the front of it and the room lit up from the screen. 22:11 flashed at her from the dark. With a groan of frustration, she threw herself back onto the bed. It was still Thursday night, it wasn’t even the morning yet.

She draped her thin arm over her forehead for a few minutes, going over the strange dream that had evidently woken her up; a strange red creature was laughing at her. It had large horns protruding angrily from his head, sharp yellowing teeth behind an evil grin, black leathery wings spread intimidatingly wide and a sharp tail wiping back and forth as if mocking her.

Along with a strange burning smell that she could almost still feel lingering in her nostrils, she heard voices; shouting, yelling, crying and screaming. The sounds pierced through her as if they weren’t coming through her ears but through her soul—

Suddenly her head came alive with voices and she gasped, bolting upright again. They got louder and louder the more she thought of them, until she closed her eyes instinctively and they suddenly vanished.

She opened her eyes again, carefully looking out into the darkness in fear. She was very much alone. Pushing the crazy thoughts back, she grabbed the bottle of whisky from the bedside table with a slight grumble and took a large swig. Clearly she was imagining things, she hadn’t slept properly in days, and it was obviously starting to take its toll. She had work in the morning too and she already wasn’t looking forward to it. At least the whisky would make it easier to bear for now.

She took another large swig of the liquor, replaced it on the bedside table and collapsed back on her bed. She closed her eyes while trying desperately not to think about the strange dream but instead focus on trying to sleep.

***

The next morning, Taylor stood in her compact kitchen trying desperately to ignore a raging headache. She managed to drink the remainder of her whisky last night, just to get to sleep. She regretted it of course… she had no alcohol left.

She grabbed a cereal box from the cupboard above her sink and poured the contents into a bowl that was already sat on top of the kitchen counter top. The news was playing in the background on her small cheap TV, which was sat lonely in the living-room. She watched it while shoving large spoonfuls of cereal into her mouth and lent against the divide between the kitchen and her living-room.

She had luckily managed to find some clothes after having a shower, changing out of yesterday’s shirt that she fell asleep in, and was now dressed in yesterday’s simple black work trousers and a plain white—yet thankfully clean—t-shirt. It wasn’t a work t-shirt, it was actually an unused gym t-shirt, although it was plain enough. But just in case, she wore a black jacket over the top of it anyway. The jacket was well-worn, the colour was fading on the outside, the reminisce of the old dark black was seen around the breast pocket and the sleeves were starting to fray where they were slightly too long—which she liked, as it kept her wrists warm. She always seemed to get cold, especially at work when the air-conditioning was always on, even during the winter.

She watched the news play while a frown steadily creeped onto her face. Something had caught her attention.

“A young man by the name of Samuel Chaudhary has been reported missing, his mother last saw him at six o’clock yesterday. He is reported to have gone out with friends after having dinner with his parents but has not returned home since. Samuel is twelve years old and may have been out with friends of the same age…” explained a news reporter with a tight blonde bun. The woman wore a sympathetic face that appeared to be just the right level of professionalism without looking upset at the report or too happy. Taylor hated that, seeing a news reporter that looked too happy when reporting bad news.

Taylor wondered what it would be like for that poor mother, knowing that her son didn’t come home that evening. She wished she had a mother who would be worried about her own whereabouts if she went missing. What if she were to just pack a bag of essentials and disappear? Not show up at work. Not tell anyone she was leaving. Would anyone care? Her own mother had died a long time ago, a particular time of her life that she wasn’t too keen on remembering. She had no other family. No father, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, not even grandparents. It was always just her and her mother. It wasn’t until recently that she started to wonder why there was no other family, it never occurred to her before that it was a little odd. Her hand automatically went up to the small scar on her cheekbone, a habit that she had only recently gotten into.

The news reporter moved on to the next piece of news; explaining a strange sighting of a flying animal seen in the early hours of the morning. But Taylor snorted at the media hype of what was probably just an escaped parrot or something and turned off the TV. She remembered there was something like that that happened before, and it turned out to be a large African Grey parrot, someone’s pet that had accidentally escaped and caused a bit of a stir.

After eating the last spoonful of cereal, she placed the bowl lazily in the sink unwashed with the rest of the unwashed plates, bowls, cutlery and even a discarded pizza box from two nights ago and grabbed her work ID from the side. She had to leave early anyway, she needed something from the shop. Something which she was supposed to have left of last night if she didn’t drink the whole bottle. It was Friday today, she would need it after she got home… it was going to be a busy day.

***

Taylor sat slouched on her usual bus in a daze, the number 277, which she caught from her usual bus stop at 07:15. She stared out of the window, her face resting lazily in her right hand, while her arm was resting on the side of the bus’s window frame uncomfortably, watching the pitiful world go by while the sun made an appearance for another day, creating deep oranges and yellows against the dark gloomy clouds.

She watched a young woman attempting to walk down the road in the opposite direction the bus was travelling, a red-faced screaming toddler squirming in his pushchair as the young mother apparently still half-asleep spoke into her mobile phone. Taylor wondered who she was talking to. A boyfriend? A friend? A work-colleague to explain she was going to be late for work yet again because her son didn’t want to put on his shoes again?

This led Taylor to wonder what everyone else in the world was up to. She wondered if maybe there were others out there that had lives more interesting than hers. Or at least lives they liked. Or did everyone else in the world get up every weekday, to go to a boring job, only to come home to eat and sleep, drowning their sorrows into a bottle of whisky at the weekends? Although those days were starting to seep into the weekdays now. She wondered what her life would be like if things changed? What if she didn’t have to drink? What if… her life had more meaning?

Before she had chance to daydream about what her life would be like if she didn’t have to work, didn’t rely on alcohol anymore and that she had a bigger greater purpose in the world, she felt a strange feeling resurface in her chest. She re-focused her eyes out of the window and glimpsed someone walking unsteadily from a road. There was something unusual about him that caught her attention.

Luckily the bus slowed down for a set of works traffic lights which had moved from amber to a rather definitive and resounding red and thus giving Taylor a direct view of the road on her right. The road was more like a side street that followed up the side of the bridge that the bus had just emerged from. There was a black BMW sat on the pavement facing up the road on guard, a large blue gate which was open to allow people to explore, but the street only seemed to hold some sort of shops or buildings that were utilizing the space under the bridge, their graffiti-riddled shutters down and looking unused for years. On the other side, tucked in a corner, was an overflowing dumpster with litter of soggy paper and carboard left abandoned around it.

The man she saw walking out from the street was now holding himself up against the blue gate, slightly silhouetted against the rising sun behind him. He was wrapped up in some sort of fabric to keep himself warm, his slightly dark yet young face looked sunken and in pain, dark circles framed his strange eyes. She would have just thought the poor guy was just a homeless person out on his luck looking like he had just resurfaced from a safe place to squat for the night. But those eyes didn’t sit well with her. She wasn’t sure if it was a trick of the light or something, because of the sunrise behind him and the typically British cloudy day.

The bus jerked forward again to continue past the now green traffic lights, knocking Taylor’s elbow off the window edge and breaking her eye contact. But not before the man managed to look right at Taylor. His face furrowed into a curious frown as if he somehow knew she had been there watching him.

But those dark eyes weren’t just dark… they were completely pitch black.

When she looked back out of the window to the exact spot the man was, he had somehow vanished. She attempted to press her face to the window in order to look down the road behind the bus and even looked across to the opposite side of the road where another street ran up the other side of the bridge, but there was no sign of the strange man.

What also made her blood run cold was not only those pitch-black eyes, reminding her of the creature in her dream, but she realised she experienced the same feeling she had in her dream too. A feeling she couldn’t quite explain, it was just there in the depths of her being. It was like trying to explain that she heard voices, but they didn’t come to her ears, but from within… so was that strange feeling.

Suddenly a mixture of voices came into her head again, just like they did last night. She gasped and closed her eyes tightly and pointlessly shut as the inside of her head came alive with a mumbling and muffling mess of sounds. She knew it was talking, but she couldn’t make out words let alone sentences. She held her hands to her temples and groaned, the more she thought of them, the louder they got.

“SHUT UP!” she yelled suddenly, her voice reverberating in her ears. The voices stopped. Only the hum of the bus’s engine and the surrounding traffic was heard. No talking.

She blinked and looked up, seeing a few faces nervously staring at her from their seats around her. Of course, the voices were in her head, no one else could hear them.

Am I going mad? she thought to herself, as she deliberately diverted her attention to the outside world once again. Even the bus driver was looking in his rear-view mirror to see what the fuss was about.            

She sighed and took the bottle of alcohol that she had bought from the shop that morning from her backpack, she had told herself she wasn’t going to take even a sip until she was home and could finally relax. But it didn’t take her a lot to convince herself she needed a sip. Ignoring the strange look she was getting from a young girl in the seat on the opposite side of the bus, Taylor unscrewed the cap and took a large swig of the calming liquid.

Click here to read the next chapter!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 1

If you’re new to the story, please read the prologue here!

Chapter 1

Parliamentary Private Secretary Martha Dunn

The doors swung open suddenly making Martha jump. Her cup of tea splashed all over her white blouse and dull grey skirt. She was standing in a room off the White Drawing Room, one of the nineteen State Rooms in the building, when he bounded in; a tall, dark haired and magnificently handsome man.

She had never seen such confidence in anyone before, the man strode in with such authority that she wasn’t sure if he had more right to be there than the man she worked for; the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom himself. Accompanied with his confidence, came a sense of power and intrigue that sent shivers down Martha’s spine.

She realised that she had never seen this man before, normally she was good at recognising people who come through Number Ten. He wore a black peacoat with the collar up, a simple grey scarf tucked underneath to hide his neck from a cold that Martha wasn’t sure currently existed this time of year, supplemented with a pair of simple dark blue jeans and black shoes to match his look. Although Martha wasn’t sure what look he was going for, if he was indeed going for a look. People who walked through the office usually had either the; I’m an important person you must respect me or the I’m a rich person with a large bank balance look. The newcomer was hard to read.

Aside from his attire, he appeared younger than most of the people that walked through the hall. He had short black stubble framing his sharp masculine facial-features handsomely, his dark short hair looked windswept and interesting. Martha certainly thought he was interesting, but she also had a horrible feeling he was trouble. How did he even get in?

“David in?” he asked, as he waltzed passed her.

 “Y–you can’t g–go in there!” she stuttered, her confidence gone and she started to visibly shake. She held onto her now empty cup of tea in one hand and her work phone in the other, both currently forgotten about as she watched in shock.

He stopped, turned and gave her a smile, finding her reaction amusing. The double doors were only a foot behind him.

She suddenly looked around for the security guards. Where are they? she thought, ignoring the wetness on her chest as the tea soaked through her clothes.

“No?” he tested. He raised an eyebrow at her, holding his handsome yet devilish smile.

“No,” she said with a little more confidence, but then added; “un–unless you h–have an appointment?” She doubted he did, it was late at night. The only reason she was there was because a meeting was overrunning.

The man walked up to Martha and stared into her brown tired eyes. She felt suddenly inferior to him, he was much taller than she was and towered above her. Plus, her simple loosely fitted grey suit, greying brown hair with natural fuzzy curls and her slightly wrinkly round face was no match to him.

“And what if I don’t have an appointment?” he breathed.

The woman wobbled on her feet and silently wished there were more seats at Number Ten. She swallowed nervously and stared back into his piercing blue eyes. “Then I w–will have t–to call security.”

“You could try, but they’re all unconscious.” He smirked, then walked away. Without another moment’s hesitation he bounded through the big double doors to where the Prime Minister was holding a meeting.

The secretary stood wordlessly, her mouth slightly agape in awe. After a few seconds, she rushed out of the room towards the main staircase and peered over the ornate black and dark wooden banister to see one of the security team was led face down next to the large world globe at the bottom and gasped in horror.

***

Belphegor

David!” Belphegor bellowed, his arms wide open as he bounded into the extravagant White Drawing Room.

The room was too elaborate for his taste, white walls with gold decorations, gold trims on the high ceiling, gold frames around the paintings, even the sofas near the fireplace and the pointless chandeliers hanging heavily from the ceiling had some unnecessary gold. The only thing not gold was the large rug in the middle of the floor which was red with a few splashes of blue in the fleur de-lis. There was probably more money in this building than there had gone into running the whole of London.

The Prime Minister, who was standing and talking to a balding man in a chair opposite him, span round to see Belphegor stride into the room. Belphegor even heard the Parliamentary Private Secretary, Martha, rush in behind him.

David Stewart was a young Prime Minister, taking up the position confidently only last year—much to the dismay of many of the Members of Parliament in the opposing parties who disagreed that Stewart was fit for the position. Stewart was in his late thirties, described to be a ‘young hip Prime Minister’ by a local newspaper recently, a short man with a square face, although attractive in a boyish way. He was in the process of holding a private meeting with his Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs; MP John Didcot.

John Didcot was a balding middle-aged man, with a heart-shaped face. He had little bags under his grey-blue eyes, which sat underneath a mess of unruly eyebrows that were currently furrowed into a frown. Unlike the Prime Minister, who was wearing a sharp black suit, Didcot was wearing a navy-blue suit which looked a size too big for him and a rather long red tie that appeared to curl slightly at the end.

“Who are you?” the Prime Minister asked, his face visibly falling and shifting into an unfamiliar nervous stare. “And how did you get in?”

Belphegor wasn’t surprised that the guy didn’t know him, they hadn’t formally met. But Belphegor had suspected Stewart had been given a file all about him when he first made it to office, there were bound to be pictures of him in there over the years. Of course, humans weren’t too good with remembering faces from pictures and some pictures were probably very old.

Didcot moved slowly to perch on the edge of his seat as if waiting to get up at an opportune moment if he needed to run for the exit. Belphegor walked further into the room, grabbed an apple from a fruit bowl on top of a rather elaborate oak dresser and leaned against it.

“I’m sure you’re aware of who I am,” Belphegor replied finally, as he carefully inspected the apple in his hand before looking up at Stewart. “My friends call me Bel.”

He was teasing them slightly; he doubted anyone in the room would recognise the name ‘Bel’, even if it was an unusual name. It was just a nickname. One of his more favourable nicknames. But he wanted to drag out this situation as long as possible. He wasn’t going to make it that easy for them. Call it punishment for the last seventy years he had to endure. Sure, this meeting was pressing, but it was pointless, the proverbial cat was already out of the bag. He was just doing his bit.

He also ignored the last question about how he got in. Although he could have told the truth, he didn’t do anything too out of the ordinary, the security practically let him in. Even if he did knock them unconscious to avoid interrupting his unscheduled meeting. But it was the wrong question Stewart needed to ask, so he wasn’t going to answer it.

“Bel?” the balding man spoke nervously. “What do you want? Are you going to kill us?”

Belphegor looked at Didcot and smiled at him. “Don’t be silly, John. If I wanted to kill you, I would have done so years ago!”

Belphegor had walked passed Didcot once as he made his way home. He knew Didcot, he made sure he knew all the Members of Parliament. He knew all the world leaders and important figures. In fact, he kept up to date with the news all around the world. He recognised Didcot easily when he passed him. He even made sure Didcot saw him as he walked deliberately close by and smiled playfully at him. Didcot wasn’t too pleased with this, giving him a rather rude comment and mentioned ‘the youth of today’. Belphegor thought it was highly amusing since there was a large age gap, but not the way Didcot had thought.

But Didcot not only wouldn’t know who Belphegor was by meeting him on the street, he would never remember as well as Belphegor that they had actually met briefly. His memory was naturally less superior than Belphegor’s.

Didcot suddenly stood up and made a run for the door, nearly tripping over his own feet before disappearing noisily out the doors towards the staircase. Belphegor just watched him and lazily took a bite from the apple in his hand. He had no intention of running after him. He wasn’t here to speak to Didcot. It was, in fact, better Didcot wasn’t in the room.

The Prime Minister stood staring at Belphegor for a few seconds before he looked over at his Parliamentary Private Secretary, Martha, who had now broken a nervous sweat. She must have seen the body of the security guard currently lying unconscious on the floor downstairs. He was alive, but Martha didn’t know that. She looked at the Prime Minister and then down at the mobile phone in her hand, and then back up at the Prime Minister.

“Shall I call the police?” she whispered slightly, trying to talk only to David, but Belphegor could hear her, he had better hearing than all of them.

“The police?” Belphegor snorted. “Not a wise idea!” He folded his arms across his chest, looking from Martha to Stewart, enjoying their discomfort.

“Are you going to explain who you are and what you want?” The Prime Minister tore his face away from his personal secretary and looked back at the strange man interrupting his meeting. His voice had risen angrily and authoritatively.

Belphegor looked at the Prime Minister, his smile faded and was now looking serious. “My name is Belphegor and it might be in your best interest to listen to me.” He then calmly and deliberately took another bite from the apple. At this the Prime Minister’s face fell. Belphegor knew he would at least recognise his birth name, he would have been undoubtedly told about him the day he became Prime Minister. It was all in that file; Belphegor’s personal file the government had on him. He’d seen it before, it was pretty big. Stewart probably even had a debriefing with Duncan himself, the Director General of the most secret government service there was. Belphegor wondered if he would have taken up the position if he knew about him before running for Prime Minister, his whole world would have been turned upside down upon learning about the secret world that had been hidden for decades. And one of the most fearful beings from that secret world was currently standing right in the middle of Ten Downing Street, right in front of him, looking very human.

Click here to read the next chapter!

~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

Copyright © Penny Hooper 2019

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission in writing from the author.

Penny Hooper has asserted her right under Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.

This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

***

Prologue

Sam Chaudhary

A large swarm of pigeons suddenly flew up in a panic, disturbing the long since settled dust. Their wings echoed as they clapped in the vastness, as if they were applauding the perpetrator that spooked them. Most vanished out through the large hole in the roof, a few others nestled atop of an old door or the other side of the room bobbing along the floor in fear.

They were originally hiding safely in a derelict building. A building that many years ago once held many people; doctors once walked around in white coats, holding patient records while stethoscopes hung from their necks, looking important. Nurses would have rushed around with bed pans and other equally rudimentary items, wearing aprons with large red crosses on them and with their hair pinned back into tight buns. Patients would be seen in straitjackets screaming at the top of their lungs when they were due for more sedatives.

The building now, however, was eerily silent—yet if you listened close enough you would swear you could hear a distance ghostly scream. There were scattered red bricks from the broken walls, broken windows boarded up from the outside and graffiti clinging helplessly to the peeling walls. It was obvious the building was no longer in use.

The pigeons made the boy jump as he walked into the open hall. He had accidentally spooked them while he side stepped past a weed, a bit of nature that had decided to reclaim the building, his foot knocked a loose brick which had caused a loud noise to echo. He stopped to regain his breath and slow his beating heart.

The boy was young, his round slightly tanned Asian face still had a hint of baby fat lingering in his cheeks and his short dark hair complimented his dark brown eyes. He stood holding the zipper on his jacket, close to where his beating heart sat pounding in his chest. His jacket was slightly dirty from months of use and not seeing the inside of a washing machine. It was his favourite and deemed lucky jacket. It was dark red with black trim around the collar and cuffs, contrasting with the blue in his jeans. His jeans were slightly too long for his legs, evident from the fraying at the bottom, where his brand-new Nike trainers would catch them when he walked.

It’s just an old building, he thought to himself, hoping to calm his painfully beating heart as he looked nervously around himself. There are no monsters! he added, sighing deeply.

He remembered what his mother would say to him every night when she would tuck him into bed. That was when he was younger, of course, he was far too big now to be tucked in at night. He was twelve and a half, thank you very much. But his mother’s sweet voice automatically filled his head; ‘Monsters aren’t real, beta,’ she would say. ‘Beta’ being the Hindi word for ‘son’. She would do that occasionally, adding in Hindi words into sentences, she didn’t want him to lose his Indian roots.

After composing himself a little, feeling a little more confident no monsters were going to jump out and eat him, he decided to continue moving onwards and through the vastness of the open hall.

The quicker I get it, the quicker I can get out, he thought to himself as he climbed over a fallen wall, the broken red bricks threatening to pierce the skin on his legs.

He walked as quietly and quickly as possible to the other side of the hall to another corridor, the smell of urine potent in this part of the building, making him a little queasy. As he neared a door separating the hall from the corridor ahead, he also noticed another smell lingering in the air, yet he didn’t think much of it; he had a job to do.

The door, mould threatening to consume it from the bottom upwards, was leaning awkwardly against the corridor wall, only one hinge still attached. He was sure his friend told him he’d have to open a door at the other end of the hall. Maybe it just fell since his friend had been there?

The boy looked down the corridor to another door at the far end. The street light that was originally illuminating his way wasn’t reaching this far, but he could see the last door he needed to go through… he was nearly there. He walked slowly, side-stepping past an old chair left discarded and lonely in the corridor, while feeling proud of himself for getting this far.

But something made him stop. He could hear someone muttering, and it was coming from that room beyond the door. He realised that strange smell was stronger here too. He certainly wasn’t imagining it. He couldn’t place what the smell was, but it reminded him of his Aunt Mysha.

He stood still for a few seconds, in panic. He knew if he ran away now, he’d have his friend telling him he was a wimp for not getting the item he was supposed to get; that damn brick. But if he stayed where he was, and whoever was on the other side of the door was a murderer or something, he’d be dead.

The muttering started to get louder as he stood there, the person was talking louder now, and the boy realised it was a woman’s voice. His panic subsided slightly and was instead replaced with curiosity, he couldn’t help but walk towards the door slowly and quietly. Maybe, if he got close enough, he could hear what she was saying.

The closer he got, the louder the voice got, but not just because he was getting nearer, she was getting louder. Now able to hear her, he started to realise that she was repeating something. Although he could not work out what she was saying, as she was speaking a foreign language. The only word he picked up was ‘mammon’.

What is she doing? he thought. And what language is that?

He crept closer, his curiosity getting the better of him. He was now right by the door, if he just peaked through the gap, he’d be able to see into the room. He could already see shadows dancing across the walls and floor. There was some kind of light and a waft of that strange incense smell too.

The boy shifted his weight slightly on one leg, so that he could peer around the corner of the door, and the room slowly came into focus. There was indeed a woman; she was dressed in all black, she had one hand up in the air waving something burning. She was now shouting, which the boy was grateful for as he was worried she would have heard him by now.

He saw a brick laying in the middle of the room on the floor, it had a very delicate carving of a strange symbol on its side. It was the brick he was tasked to get. It was right next to a strange criss-cross of white lines and circle markings on the floor, directly in front of the woman. He knew there was no chance he was going to be able to go in the room and get it without being noticed. But before he could turn around and leave the building empty-handed, a strange cloud like object started to form before the woman.

Transfixed on the sight, he watched as it swirled and swirled, getting bigger and bigger, until suddenly it somehow imploded and vanished. But it didn’t vanish into thin air, it vanished into a crack, a crack that had formed in thin air. The woman stopped shouting now and the room fell eerily silent. The boy found himself going rigid, not just out of terror, but worried about making a sound.

Suddenly, the crack started to open, ripping like fabric, it was as if something was trying to come through. But he could see the other side, where the room was beyond it, there was no one or nothing there. The crack started to get wider and wider before suddenly a terrifying clawed red hand reached through. The boy’s eyes went wide. He held his breath instinctively as he watched a red hand tear the crack open in one swift movement. He watched in horror as a whole red body attached to the hand climbed through, horns, tail and black leathery wings included.

The boy accidentally let out a squeak of terror and covered his mouth with his hand. But it was too late, the monster and the woman turned around, both staring right at the boy, both with the same horrifying pitch-black eyes. Monsters were real.

Click here to read the next chapter!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

Using constructive critism… and not throwing in the towel!

I’m feeling 100% well lately, but I’m still going to attempt this blog post!

A couple of days ago I decided to reach out on a Facebook Group called ‘We love reading books.’ What better way to get advice on your writing but from book fans!?

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So I wrote a post asking if there would be anyone who’d be interested in reading a few chapters of my ‘Rose Garden Sanatorium’ so that I could get feedback. I was actually surprised that a LOT of people commented back jumping at the opportunity! So after sending out a load of personal emails with a PDF of the first few chapters, I’m starting to get a little bit of feedback.

Of course, my skin isn’t that thick to deal with negative feedback, not because I was shocked to hear my work isn’t perfect! But because I have low self-esteem in general.

3t224i


But after getting the feedback, I realised that- okay, so THAT person didn’t like it – Well, not the story, but the writing style, he did say he’d like to read more! I have had some ideas on how to improve it!

I also got a lovely reply back from another reader and she was very nice. She was a lot more supportive in the sense that she told me she loved the story and did give me some feedback on how to improve it a little too.

And what is interesting, is that, I actually feel all the more happier now that I have used that feedback and done a few alterations. It’s that little bit better than it was before I sent it out. 🙂

I did also, get some lovely comments on Twitter from some other authors, so if you are reading this and you were one who encouraged me, thank you for your kind words!

And no, I’m not giving up. I’ve spent ten months so far writing this damn book (well a series), I for sure am NOT giving up on it! And I do want it to be the best it can be. I’m proud of the story line and I love the characters (well, most of them).

determination

Moral of the story, take negative feedback with a pinch of salt. Not everyone is going to love it, but use the critism to your advantage, use it to make it better!

Plus, even famous authors have negative feedback! Just look at Dan Brown! Now his works are getting put into films! (I love his books!)

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It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Copyright ©2020 Penny Hooper
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without prior permission in writing from the author.
Penny Hooper has asserted her right under Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is a work of fiction and, except in the case of historical fact, any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

This story may contain sensitive themes that some readers may find difficult to read.
These themes include, but are not limited to:
Scenes of a sexual nature
Strong language
Rape / sexual abuse
Alcohol abuse

Chapter 1

“Mrs Mark?” I heard someone call. My head shot up from my mobile phone.

Miss! For the last time, it’s Miss! I thought from within my panic.

I groaned and stood up from the uncomfortable plastic chair that I was sitting on and walked extremely nervously towards the two beady and judging eyes that were staring at me.

The woman who owned the eyes held open the looming door for me to walk through. It was the same door that people before me had walked through and had eventually reappeared looking scared shitless but with a mix of relief that the torture was over. I trudged through it self-consciously and into the room that laid in wait.

I woke up feeling fine this morning. Better than fine, I was excited. I knew I had this meeting, it had been circled on my calendar for weeks. I counted down the days. I deliberated for hours, if not days, over what to wear. I had my hair cut the weekend before. I’d even had my nails painted, not something I was too keen on doing. It was a waste of money in my opinion. But I wanted to look the part. Have every chance of acing the day. I told myself over and over that I would ace the interview and I would finally get a job in a hotel. A job I have wanted for years!

But after watching those worried and upset looking faces pile out of the room I was about to enter, my confidence slowly disappeared. These people looked way smarter and even more confident than I am before they entered. I was way in over my head.

Especially when I had this obnoxious woman finally give me the usual up-and-down look like she had given all the others. Maybe the casual yet slightly formal look wasn’t the best look to go for?

After the hours I had spent in front of the mirror, risking running late for my interview, I had finally decided on this look. I had gone through a number of dresses; from really smart dresses to dresses with those girly plaits in them. I tried a dress with a cardigan, a dress with a blazer. Until I realised it was a little cold and wet today in London, and tights didn’t seem to be working for me. So, I settled on trousers instead. But smart trousers looked too smart, jeans looked too casual. My expensive black shirt I got from a Debenhams sale that was now two years old, also looked too formal—I looked like I was about to go to a funeral. My pink blouse seemed too girly and gave the wrong impression. Even plain t-shirts looked too casual. It took me three hours to finally decide.

I walked in, nearly tripping up as my heel caught the edge of a carpet tile and I stumbled into the room. I felt the palms of my hands go instantly sweaty.

I was being stared at by three faces. Silently judging no doubt. One of the faces was of a woman with pursed lips and glasses with a thick rim hanging onto her thin nose, her hair was short and wiry, as if attempting to look young and hip but failing miserable. Next to her was a slightly younger person, a man this time, but still much older than myself judging by the greying hair on the sides of his head and his thinning hair on top. I would have said he was in his late forties. But the other man had caught my attention; he was handsome. A thick square jaw, cleanly shaven, piercing blue-grey eyes under a small mat of dirt-blonde hair. He also wore a curiously wicked smile on his face as if he was amused by my appearance.

You and me both fella.

I stole a glance at myself in the reflection of the large mirror wall behind them. I looked stupidly under-dressed suddenly. I should have gone for a dress. Or maybe my trouser suit that I had left discarded on my bed. I was wearing black jeans, purple court heels and a plain black t-shirt with a deep purple blazer over the top. My long brown hair looking a mess because I had been sat running my sweaty hands through it nervously.

“H–hi,” I stuttered, when I realised no one was saying anything. Maybe it was up to me to start this interview? Maybe this was part one of the test? Had I failed already?

“Mrs Mark, it says here that—” started the older man with the greying and thinning hair. He looked down at some paperwork in his hands as he spoke.

“Miss,” I corrected confidently, interrupting him speak.

The man looked up from the paperwork and glared at me. I felt my palms getting sweatier. “Excuse me?” he frowned at me.

“I–I’m not Mrs Mark, I—” I started, but got interrupted.

“You’re not Mrs Mark?” he asked, raising an eyebrow at me. “Then, who are you?”

“No, I mean, I am, but I’m not—” I got interrupted again.

“Deborah called for Mrs Mark, why have you come into this room if you are not Mrs Mark?”

“No, wait, you misunderstood!” I panicked. This was going terribly wrong already. “I’m single, I’m not—”

“That’s good to know,” the young handsome man suddenly said. I glanced at him and saw he now had a large grin on his face. I gulped. Was he grinning at me?

Yeah, probably because I am an idiot for even thinking I could get this job.

“Look, whoever you are I suggest you—” the woman started, but she got interrupted. Not by me though.

“What’s your name?” asked the handsome man, sitting forwards on his desk and curiously staring at me as if he was talking to me and ignoring the others in the room. I felt suddenly warmer than usual. His bright grey-blue eyes were gazing right into mine.

“It’s Miss Mark, not Mrs.”

The woman and the older man both sighed in union as the young man gave out a hearty laugh.

“Why didn’t you say that then!” snapped the woman.

“I tried…” I sighed.

“You just assumed she was someone else, Mirren,” said the handsome man, sitting back in his seat, looking casual yet confidently business-like. But his searching eyes had not left my face. “You just assumed that she came in here after someone else’s name was called and didn’t give her enough time to actually explain. In fact it is our mistake for wrongly assuming she was married, it can actually be highly offensive.”

The older woman sat up straight suddenly and looked visibly upset that she had been caught out being rude to someone, even the other man looked a little taken aback, his face even went a little pale.

“But she did just stand there and stutter!” the woman named Mirren started to defend herself. “All she had to do was say that her name was Miss Mark and not try and hit on the men in this room by telling them she’s single!”

“I don’t think—” the older man started, but got interrupted. This time by me.

“Excuse me!” I snapped. I knew this interview was pretty much ruined now anyway, so it was pointless trying to be nice to these people, and I certainly wasn’t going to let them get away with insulting me! “I walked into this room feeling a little self-conscious. I’ve been looking forward to this bloody interview for weeks. I really want this job, so I was a little nervous!”

“Dressed like that?” the woman whispered and snorted a little, after composing herself from being spoken back to like that. I don’t think she intended me to hear her.

“I’ll admit; looking at how overly dressed you lot are, and the other unsuspecting idiots out there, who have dressed in suits, I do feel just a tad underdressed and out of place. But I didn’t want to be one of those in-your-face suit dressed women in high heels trying to show off my tits to get the job”—I realised too late that my voice was getting louder—“but after meeting you, I feel that actually I’m not right for this job, and my full and undivided commitment would be wasted here in this company and I’d rather find another hotel that accept me for my experience and drive and not because I wore a suit that I’d be stupidly uncomfortable in anyway!”

I span round and went to leave the room without another word, but something else got my attention; the carpet tile I nearly tripped on, it was clearly poking up looking frayed and menacing waiting for its next unsuspecting victim to trip on it. I wondered how many people had already nearly tripped over this obvious health and safety risk. “And for fuck sake, sort these damn carpet tiles before someone trips and hurts themselves!” I finally stormed out of the room without another word.

~~~
Updated: 13/09/2020

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