Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Bitches Epilogue

This is a short epilogue to my story "Bitches", which appears in some older posts.

Bitches: Epilogue


The whines rose in a fevered pitched, turning to excited howls, each creature moving back onto its haunches preparing to spring forwards onto the helpless prey.

Miss Jowens’ own whimpering also rose into a terrified shriek as she anticipated the tearing of flesh, her flesh, by the slavering fangs of her hairy history class. She screwed up her eyes in pain and fear as Lorraine’s canine form lunged forward in a killing pounce.

But suddenly through the baying and howling another sound was heard, a higher, authoritarian bark. The other animals dropped to the floor in a cowered state but too late to stop their pack leader launching herself forward at Miss Jowens’ throat…. Only to be slammed sideways by a hurtling white form, which powered into the leaping body.

Hitting the ground, Lorraine swiveled around on her back, snarling and snapping, only to give a yelp of submission and adopt a submissive pose as a powerful, white she-wolf stood over her.

Once pacified, Lorraine was allowed to rise as the White Wolf stepped back. She slunk towards the other, now cowering, beasts and joined them in their submissive posture, heads down and tails between their legs. The White Wolf surveyed them with a threatening rumble in her throat before casting an eye at the quivering, bruised but relatively unhurt Miss Jowens, who still knelt shivering on her knees in a muddy patch, now even wetter from the release of her frightened bladder. Turning her steely glare back onto the pack, the She-Wolf snarled,

“Now, get changed and back to school this instant!”

One or two of the group began to move away, only to be halted by their headmistress’s bark.

“No, I said, ‘get changed’ and then ‘get back to school’!”

“But Miss…!” came a wailing protest, cut short by another stern bark.

“No, you will walk back to school like proper girls, you will get cold and wet and tired and it will give you time to think about a few things. In particular, that you shall all be outside my office in one hour for a little ‘talk’. Do you understand?”

The group nodded, and each slowly transformed, standing upright  and shivering in the damp night air, before traipsing and tripping over the unforgiving moorland towards the roadway, yelping and moaning each time they encountered a sharp stone or prickly root.

Miss Jowens, opened her eyes to see the White Wolf licking some of her more serious abrasions. Eventually, the shaking woman and the Wolf made eye contact.

“I did warn you, Miss Jowens, that they can be a pack of little bitches, didn’t I?” the Wolf asked quietly. The history teacher nodded, still shuddering with fear.

“You did, Headmistress, you did indeed!”

“Well now,” the Wolf mused, “this leaves us with a troubling situation. The question is, whether, after tonight, you still wish to stay at the school. I would be very disappointed to lose yet another teacher but I will fully understand. However… if you don’t wish to stay, it poses a number of problems…”, with which she flashed a particularly large fang. The woman’s eyes widened.

“Oh no, please, Headmistress, I think I would like to give it another try, if you really think it’s possible!” Miss Jowens blurted out. The hairy Ms Hayes smiled and nodded.

“Oh, I think we can make it work very well. However, I need your full agreement on this, as there are specific… methods… which I use with many of my teachers to ensure their safety and that discipline is maintained. You will, I’m sure, find the whole thing very useful and, at times, quite enjoyable. So, do I take it you would like to continue to work with us?”

Miss Jowens nodded, dumbfounded. The White Wolf also nodded again, “So, everything is settled. Could I just have a look at your arm, please?”

The teacher stretched out her bleeding arm and the Wolf licked at the wound gently before pressing her teeth into the flesh. Miss Jowens gasped and tried to pull away but the jaws held firm. Slowly, the woman felt the pain subside and a strange power begin to seep through her body. At this point, the jaws eased their hold and the White Wolf licked the bite wound clean.

“That should do it.” The Wolf concluded. “Now let’s get you back to the school and you can clean up. When you’re ready and we can discuss the necessary details for your first full moon duty.

“Thank you, Ms Hayes,” murmured Miss Jowens, rising and limping towards the Wolf, offering a hand in gratitude. The White Wolf laughed,

“Oh please don’t, it makes me feel like someone shaking paws with a puppy!” She moved towards the road and motioned to the astounded Miss Jowens,  

“Now, climb on my back and let’s get going… Yes, just like in your literary legends. We’ll see if we can find your bicycle en route. And don’t worry about the Little Bitches, I’ll take care of them for the moment and I can guarantee they’ll all be sitting comfortably in your next class… well, perhaps not comfortably, exactly!” she chuckled. “In the meantime, just make sure the girls can see that bite-mark on your arm and I am certain there’ll be no more problems.”

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

New story: BITCHES

There was a conversation a few days ago on the M.R. James Appreciation Society FB page. It inspired this story. There are a few in-jokes so don't worry if some things seem a bit weird...

Miss Jowens was cross. She had had enough of these young girls and their unladylike language and behaviour. Mind you, she shouldn’t have been surprised. Even at the interview she had been shocked by the way Miss Hayes the headmistress had talked about them. Oh yes, she plainly remembered, Miss Hayes had perused her CV and references with a favourable eye before asking if she, Miss Jowens, would require a residential position.

“Well, I am quite prepared to consider it, Headmistress, but I have found a small cottage on the edge of the moor which would be quite suitable for my needs. Unless the position specifically requires me to live upon the premises, I think I should prefer to live off-site”. Miss Jowens replied.
The Headmistress smiled and nodded,

“Not at all, Miss Jowens. I completely understand. In fact, I think it would be an excellent idea for your first few terms, at least until you feel you have settled in. Many teachers find the girls to be quite exhausting in the evenings and tend to leave abruptly. You cannot imagine, Miss Jowens, what little bitches these girls can be.”
Miss Jowens had been shocked that a headmistress would use such terminology for her charges but she had forgiven the lapse of decorum and accepted what seemed to be a rather splendid job.

The school was situated on a moor in the south of England. The young ladies, although she now gave pause as to whether some deserved the title, seemed good students and extremely energetic (although they could be sloth in the morning). The regular teaching staff seemed friendly and very professional, the pay was good and the hours amenable. A few hours literature classes a day and a little history, then a bracing cycle trip home for an evening by the fire. Very agreeable, or so she had thought.

Her initial reception had been the usual mixture of caution, fascination and a few little challenges, the usual things like feet on the desk, saucy attitudes and uniform infractions; nothing she didn’t expect or couldn’t handle. What had slowly begun to grate on her nerves was one particular class which contained a particular clique of upper form girls, the leader of which, a young madam by the name of Danni Murphy seemed to have a penchant for high skirts, tousled hair in the morning and the mouth of a street urchin, not that any of the others members of the gang were far behind.

One of the earliest conflicts had come about Miss Murphy’s use of language. With the clanging of the lunchtime bell, Murphy had an annoying habit of jumping up and shouting, “Feeding time, bitches!” to a whoop of delight from her cronies. As the group had headed for the door, Miss Jowens had ordered the girl to remain behind and sternly lectured her about such behavior and language in her, Miss Jowen’s, presence. Amidst the usual teenage eye-rolling and eye-avoiding pouts, Murphy had mumbled something about it being a name she and her “homies” used amongst themselves and no insult was meant by it. Ever after, the impudent young madam had paused before uttering the offensive phrase in time to say something like, “Meal time… ladies!” in her sing-song voice.

Over the next few weeks, it became apparent that there was some tension between Miss Jowens and that particular class of girls. Even some of her colleagues had approached her in the staffroom or taken her aside and advised her, in hushed tones, to watch her step. It seemed that even the staff referred to the clique as “The Bitches”. Miss Jowens, although a little perturbed at the nickname, assured her colleagues and herself that her professionalism would rise above it all.

Time however, took its toll. And Miss Jowen’s nerves were becoming seriously frayed at the behavior and attitude of these stroppy young besoms. This morning had been a near breaking straw when she had come in to teach an early history class about Templar monuments (which had received whistles of derision) only to find the infuriating Murphy sitting on the desk with her skirt pulled high, revealing a scratch across her thigh to her friends.

“I assume, Dannielle, that there is some explanation for such bawdy behavior?” Miss Jowens had demanded. The girl stood, letting her skirt fall back to its full length.

“Yes, Miss. I was showing the girls some scratches I got during a cross-country run last evening when I tried to put my leg over a fence.” She smirked. Miss Jowens ignored it.

“Yes, well thank you, Lorraine, but a history class is not the place for such things…”

“No Miss, sorry Miss, I don’t suppose you’re into getting your leg over things,” came the taunting reply, followed by another comment from a girl behind,

“That would be ancient history!” This remark brought giggles from the class and the declaration of a one hour detention for the entire group that evening. The sentence brought moans and protests,

“But Miss, we’ve got cross-country tonight!”

“Then you’ll miss it, won’t you?” Miss Jowens declared triumphantly. A class of sullen heads bent over the text books and several pairs of angry eyes glared under their fringes at the teacher.

The detention classroom was ready and the girls filtered in slowly and sullenly. There were several books of short stories placed at the desks, Miss Jowens having just finished a literature class on early 20thc supernatural fiction. Lorraine Murphy slouched in and picked up one of the volumes with a whoop.
“It’s M.R. James time, Bitches!” and the rest of the class cheered. 

This was the final straw. In a voice of sheer fury, Miss Jowens ordered them to leave the books and to take their places. How dare they disgrace the work of the master with such behavior. They were not fit to read such fine works. And Dannielle Murphy was ordered to the front of the class. She stood, defiant.

“Make me!” she taunted. Miss Jowens fixed her with a glare,

“When I whistle, you’ll come to me my girl!” she replied in a hard voice. The girl moved slowly to the front of the class to stand before the enraged teacher. “Good, now face the class”. With a heavenward  eye-roll, she turned slowly only to receive two lightning hard whacks across the back of her thighs with a pointer. She yelped and jumped around to face Miss Jowens with a savage stare.

“Don’t worry, Miss Murphy, those two won’t go down in the pointer’s diary… but if you’d like some more… otherwise, sit down while you can!”

Seemingly defeated, the sulking girl limped towards a desk. The class was silent, in a state of shock. There was only a mild response when it was announced that Miss Murphy’s behavior had earned them an extra hour of detention. One or two girls pointed out they would miss their evening meal but otherwise the rebellion seemed to have lost heart. Miss Jowens wrote up the detention assignment and sat back, satisfied.

The double detention had meant that the sun was setting as Miss Jowens began her usual cycle ride down the unlit moor road. She wasn’t worried as she had a good light and the weather was mild. It was a straight road and there was no chance of getting lost. But it did occur to her that this was the first time she had crossed this area at night.

Around ten minutes into her ride, she thought she heard the sound of running. Looking around, she saw nothing, although it was so dark that she couldn’t have seen if anything was there. Still she heard a drumming sound like the pounding of feet. Perhaps there were sheep of moor ponies attracted to her light, she thought. However, despite such attempts at comforting herself, she pedaled faster. The road snaked into a broad bend just before the stream bridge and she seemed to hear the running veer off to one side. She sighed in relief but continued to increase her pace as she approached the little flat bridge.

The hard, heavy bulk crashed out of the dark and sent Miss Jowens flying from her trusty bicycle, into the stream which gurgled under the bridge. Struggling to stand, she turned towards the bridge to find a large black canine confronting her with red eyes and a slavering snarl.

Miss Jowens had heard local legends of black dogs but had dismissed them. Legendary or not, however, there could be no mistaking the size and ferocity of the beast before her. She attempted to scramble up the stream bank only to find her way barred by another canine, this time with a lighter coat. Looking over to her right, a third creature was likewise barring her escape whilst baring its fangs.

Miss Jowens choked a scream for help and began to run, stumbling along the length of the stream, often falling and rising, drenched to continue her fruitless attempt to escape. The two lighter beasts ran alongside the stream and then, suddenly, with a great snarling and splashing, she heard the black one charging up the waterway behind her.

Slipping and stumbling, the terrified teacher clawed her way up the shallow bank and began to run across the moor. The thundering of the canine pads came hard and fast as the black dog jumped at her back, bringing her face down into the mud and peat. The other two hounds grabbed her arms in their jaws and dragged her fast and roughly across the sharp, abrasive surface of the moor. Through the pain and the banging of her head the bloodied woman became aware of several other dogs running alongside, barking joyously. The blessed darkness of unconsciousness spared her more.

“Did you enjoy the cross country run?”

The familiar voice crept into her ear, pulling her from the sweet darkness. Her eyes flickered open and through the blurred vision Miss Jowens began to make out a new face, canine, with burning eyes and an almost impertinent grin to its fanged mouth. Miss Jowens shivered as the face came nearer, licking her across the face and thrusting its nose into hers. She shuddered, waiting for the snap of jaws. The animal seemed to snort in amusement and turned its back on the terrified woman. 

As her eyesight adjusted, Miss Jowens became aware that this dog, seemingly the leader of the pack which surrounded her had a two toned coat; the upper part around the body being dark but the hind legs being pale, almost white but with two fierce red lines across the back of them. The snarling face turned to gaze at her.

“Kneel, Jowens” came a voice, a singsong, almost human voice. The teacher choked back a cry and stared, quivering as the beast turned to face her. Raising herself onto her knees, Miss Jowens sobbed a final word…

“Dannielle?” she croaked. 

The upper lip curled and the eyes rolled upwards before honing in on Miss Jowens’s widening pupils. The other dogs whined excitedly as the cry came,


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Concert in Olsztyn

Concert in Olsztyn

If anyone is free (or interested), I'll be part of a super line-up of traditional musicians playing in Olsztyn on Friday 26th August.

Check out the link below:

Yet another story selected

Some more happy news. My story "The Peer Review Process" has been selected by Old Style Press, a publisher of classic ghost and horror fiction.

At this rate I'll have to start writing again!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Sanitarium story

My latest publication, "A Final Supper", has been printed in Sanitarium issue 45. Sadly it's only for sale...

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Punch and Judy at the animal shelter.

Well the sound of creaking wood and squeaking wasn't anything supernatural. No opening of coffins or hordes of bats... No, it was me undusting my puppet theatre for a show at the Olsztyn Animal Shelter open day (07/05/2016)

People came to see the animals, hopefully adopt some, to walk the dogs in the surrounding forest and, at least a few, watched my Punch show. All in all, not a bad day.

I hope I get some more gigs before the creaking sound is my arms and back!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Vampires in Sanitarium.

Happy to announce my vampire story, "A Final Supper" has been accepted by Sanitarium Magazine.

I don't know the publishing date yet but watch this space.