||A Walk in Time
"This story is about Ben Crowley a young teenager who grows up in the ghettos of large cities. From the time he was young he was out on the streets. Going from one situation to another. Learning life the hard way as he spent his days and nights trying to build a name for himself. Going from one young lady to another getting and gaining the attention of the opposite sex.
Ben learns to fight for what he wants and believes in on the mean streets in the inner cities. Always looking for a place to call home. A place without bars and locked doors. Ben is always walking his mind back and forth in time.
In the end he realizes what life had meant for him to have and enjoy. Ben would find out the hard way, as he always had."
||All the Roads Home
After nine months of living in the Highlands of Scotland with just his dog while recovering from a devastating divorce, Shawn Stewart, a changed man, begins an interesting and emotional journey back to his hometown of Astoria Oregon. On the way, he reconnects with lost parts of his heart, mind, spirit, and forgotten memories and says goodbye as he begins the next stage in getting his life back. Along the way, he reconnects with his best friend Billy who unbeknownst to Shawn has a lot riding on his recovery and future happiness.
Soon after arriving home, an old romance begins to blossom but teeters on a precipice as personal struggles and serious family conflict begin to make cracks into his new life. Shawn’s sister struggles to find a balance between work and family life while his teenage niece, Charlie, is secretly dealing with dark struggles of her own. These struggles lead to dangerous choices that could affect everyone in her family in ways she cannot imagine which leads Shawn into action to save her life.
Shawn struggles not with just who he wants to be but also with who his family needs him to be. Unknown to him it is a feeling he shares with Charlie as they are both trying to find their place in the world. Amidst the chaos the sudden appearance of a mysterious old man named Pockets leads to life-altering choices for Shawn and life changing news for his best friend.
All the Roads Home is a story about how a group of people comes together not just for the benefit of one man but also for each other. It is an often edgy character driven novel which deals with some of the darker sides of family life such as death, divorce, teen drug use and depression all while interweaving a story about deep family love, new beginnings, and romance.
||Angles of Reflection
Life can be seen from a many different viewpoints and perspectives.
Each of us sees the world around us slightly differently from anyone else, either by experience, compassion, knowledge or ignorance.
Everyone has the capacity for all of these but will always react depending on the events of their past and the consequences they might have on their future.
Whether this is choosing the right path to take on the journey of life, the quiet contemplations whilst witnessing the sun set on the day, or the courage needed to conquer your inner fear; they are all done with the internal reflections upon your life and your soul.
Just like looking at yourself in the mirror, we all look at ourselves from different angles in order to see the better parts of us. We see what we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see. Only by looking inwards instead of outwards, can we see our true reflection.
Delve into the worlds of serenity, chaos, fear and love and witness some of the many varied and different angles of reflection.
||A Devil of a Time
Captain Niall McLane survives brutal captivity and a bloody revolution only to face a darker threat to his future with the woman he loves. When Niall becomes a suspect in a grotesque murder, his reputation as a merciless Indian fighter and scalphunter turns public opinion against him. Worse, the real killer has only begun to rampage, his sights set on those close to Niall.
Now the hunt for evil is on. Niall's only allies are Andrew Wade, a hopeless drunkard tormented by his own cowardice, and Andrew's young wife, Clarice, whom Niall secretly adores. After another murder occurs, Niall manages to stay out of jail, but can he protect Clarice from the formidable creature prowling in their midst?
From the mysterious forests of Kentucky to a graceful Virginia plantation, from the fevered heat of battle to the hope and struggle for renewal, A Devil of a Time weaves a tale of courage, betrayal and forbidden love, of three men grappling with the demons of their past, and the remarkable woman destined to change all their lives forever.
||Anni Moon & The Elemental Artifact
Fantasy, adventure, and mystery collide in this coming of age fantasy series. Readers agree. It's perfect for all kids who are looking to get lost in a magical world filled with charm and wonder, brought to you from the humorous and whimsical mind of Melanie Abed.
Anni Moon doesn’t know about Elementals, Funk, Zephyrs, excited talking Bat-Rat creatures, or least of all, Dragons, but when her best friend, Lexi, is kidnapped, the girls are torn apart, left to their own separate quests.
Follow Anni and Lexi as they are thrown into a world of mystery where Elementals travel through trees, acquire Opus Stones when they come of age, and all the while fight off Funk, a most dreaded and vile force engineered by the evil Fectus. Learn about the fantastical Elemental realms; buckle your seatbelt for an adventure packed thrill ride as Anni and Lexi face off against mutant creatures, griffins, witches, and demon ghosts. Enjoy this incredible journey as two ordinary girls transform themselves from simple orphans to Elemental heroes overnight.
||Annie Gomez and the Gigantic Foot of Doom
When a 10th grade girl who has flunked every quiz and test for the entire semester aces her biology final with a perfect score, there is only one explanation. What bothered Dr. Tripledoor, the biology teacher, more than the score itself, though, was the answer that Annie Gomez had put down for the extra credit essay question: What in your opinion most makes biology relevant to our lives? Instead of the ever popular I love biology because it lets us eat and sleep or (giggle, giggle) Without biology there would be no reason for Saturday night dates, Annie had written:
The human race faces the very real and immediate danger of total extinction NOW.
She had also decorated each end of her sentence with a very neat but not biologically accurate picture of a flower, colored with pink highlighter.
The reason this answer caused Dr. Tripledoor undue anxiety was that he feared she was right. There was only one thing that would explain a 10th grade girl flunking every test and quiz and then achieving a perfect score and writing that essay. Alien intervention.
Chapter 14. The Wahi and the Fate of Earth
“Hello? Is someone there?” Annie asked. It was all she could think of after she decided that “Show yourself and be vanquished, fiend” was probably overkill.
“Oh! I didn’t know you were here.” The voice was tiny. Soft. Almost helpless. “We must see each other.” There was a sound like air rushing in to fill a vacuum and gradually, slowly, light began to fill the space in which they found themselves. The light didn’t come from any particular direction. It didn’t start somewhere and spread. It simply grew.
They were in a large cavern, much like the rest of Herring’s cave only much bigger than would have fit in the corner of his room. In one corner of the cavern was a small table with clay ornaments on it and a small bunch of wildflowers. In front of the table, kneeling on the floor, was what could only be called a fairy.
Justin was the first to speak. “Are you real?”
Naomi gave him a quick jab in the ribs and a seriously intense look but of course it was too late. Everyone held their breath. The creature appeared so delicate that they were afraid it would simply fly away, like a frightened butterfly.
It laughed. A hearty but tinkling laugh. “I was beginning to wonder the same thing about you. But here you all are, at long last, so all’s well that ends well, though we’re still far from the end, aren’t we? And here I was crying my eyes out that I had failed.”
The fairy flapped its fine, translucent wings and raised a few inches off the ground, holding her arms out wide, as if to embrace them. “Welcome!” she beamed.
Annie looked back at the others and suddenly it struck her. “Where’s Herring?” He wasn’t there. “It’s his cave. He needs to be here.”
Johnny spoke. “Herring does his own thing, Annie. There’s probably some good reason why he’s not here. It is his cave and if we need him, he’ll come through.”
“He’s right,” Naomi said. “What we need to do is move forward. This is the break we’ve been waiting for.”
Annie considered Naomi’s words. This was the break. But now what? So here’s a fairy in a cave in a corner of Herring’s room. And? To the fairy she said, “So it sounds like you’ve been expecting us. For some reason, right? And that would be…?”
“Why, to save humanity, you poor naïve things.”
Chapter 21. Planet P
“What’s your name?” Naomi asked, taking her usual role as social facilitator.
“Oh. Well, I could tell you but you’d never be able to understand it, not to mention pronounce it,” the alien boy replied.
Johnny, who was fluent in English, Romanian, and Romany and pretty good in Hungarian¸ spoke up. “Give us a try. We might surprise you.”
“Well, ok. If you insist. But don’t blame me if it’s overwhelming.” the alien boy said. “Are you ready?”
Johnny leaned in closer, aiming his hearing at the alien while focusing his eyes on the alien’s mouth. “Go for it.”
“Okay. You sure? Here we go, then. Ready?”
“Say it already,” Naomi called out.
The alien took a deep breath, as though drawing in enough air to say the pledge of allegiance in one breath. Then he began. “Gob.”
Johnny was holding his breath, waiting. Then he realized it was over. “That’s it?? Gob?” he asked.
“Hey, pretty close,” the alien replied. “You did better than I thought.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Johnny said. “Our names are more complicated than that.” He started to point out that Gob is more of a bodily reaction than a name but he stopped when he noticed that the alien was starting to sob.
“Hey, Gob is a cool name,” he quickly added, feeling bad that the alien’s feelings were hurt. “I had to work really hard to get it. It’s probably the most challenging name I’ve ever had to pronounce, dude.” Johnny knew all too well what it felt like to be made fun of.
“Yeah,” Andy added. “In my dad’s language that means great hunter.” It didn’t but this was, Andy figured, a justifiable stretch of the truth and there were unlikely to be any Inuit dictionaries in the ship’s library.
“Let’s all practice saying it so we can get it right,” Justin offered. “Ready? One, two, three …”
“’Gob’,” they all said carefully in unison.
“Was that right?” Justin asked.
Gob was looking slightly happier. “Yes,” he grinned shyly. “I’m glad you like it. Sometimes the older kids make fun of my name because it means ‘He who gathers flowers from unexpected corners of the universe in order to promote peace among civilizations that are mired in self-concern to the extent that they threaten to do violence against each other and thus loose sight of the fact that we are all flowers of the same tree.’ So I guess I’m kind of touchy about it.”
“Holy macaroni!” Annie said. “Ok. Now I’m impressed. Does ‘Annie’ mean anything?”
Gob giggled. “It sounds almost like the name that means ‘She who tried to get a mate but failed multiple times due to the lack of genuine interest in the shallow concerns of those with inferior intellect, not to mention a tendency toward snide comments.’”
Annie glared at her friends, as if to say “Don’t anyone dare say anything” and then turned back to Gob. “So, Gob. We could use some answers here. I understand we’re going to your planet, right?”
“Yeah,” Gob replied. “You’ll like it. The air is often breathable.”
“Whoa!” Annie took a breath, both to gather her thoughts and to remind herself that she was still alive. “So where is your planet and what’s it called?”
“It’s near the intersection of the TransFangorian Plasma Route and Great Cave Mouse Subquantum Groove. Near ExtopiaWorld Park. And it’s called Planet P.”
“What does ‘P’ stand for,” Annie asked.
“Planet,” said Gob.
“Planet P for planet?” Annie asked. “Are you kidding? That’s not terribly imaginative.”
“We’re not that big on imagination,” Gob explained. “We wanted something easy to remember. And anyway Earth just means dirt, if I remember.”
“Yeah but “pee” means…” Justin started to say until Johnny poked him in the ribs.
Chapter 45. To the Death
And now 700 pounds of warrior king was rushing at her.
She waited until he was almost on her and quickly stepped out of the way. She could move more quickly than he could. He rushed past.
Think! She’d already used the honor bit. Silver bullet? No. Wooden stake? No. What else? What weapons did she have?
The king came charging back. This time he gauged his approach so that she couldn’t sidestep him. He crashed directly into her, sending her flying and then crashing to the ground. It took her a moment to recover.
Take the offensive. She rushed at the king. He had expected her to try to run away. Her approach took him by surprise. She was fast. As she neared him, she kicked him in the shin on the run, regaining a safe distance. When she turned so that she could see him again, it was clear that the kick had not hurt him. He was too tough.
Where’s his Achilles heel? She couldn’t get close enough to poke his eyes, strangle him, punch him in the gut, kick him in the groin. If she got that close, he could easily overpower her. After all, his reach was longer than hers.
Wear him out by running? She could run faster but did she have more stamina? No point in chasing him. He would just turn and grab her. No way to force him to run.
The king charged her again. She did the only thing she could think of. She ran. But for short distances he could run faster. He caught her, lifted her over his head, and threw her across the field. When she got up, there was sharp pain in her ankle.
The king sprinted over to her and before she could get her balance, he knocked her back down on the ground. As she looked up, he crouched down, sprang and was poised to land on top of her. Using her superior ability to maneuver, she rolled at the last minute and the king landed on the ground with a crash.
Annie jumped up and ran to a safe distance. The king pulled himself up, shaking his right leg. Had he injured himself? Annie looked around for some inspiration. No place to hide. No place to corner the king. No plan. Sweat was pouring down her face. She brushed aside a fly.
The fly came back. She brushed it away again. Then it landed in her ear. And it spoke.
||Against Her Will
A hand touched Donna's arm as she walked past. She shuddered slightly, then heard a familiar posh almost public school voice calling her name. David Wallace, her boss. Her eyes closed for a second, and she muttered, oh no, under her breath.
‘Got a minute?’ he asked, raising his eyebrows expectantly.
‘Sure David – is there a problem?’ Her heart sank as she glanced up at the clock behind him. It was already ten past five. Why did he always do this just as she was about to leave?
‘Yeah - it’s this customer report of yours. We need to have a chat about the analysis you’ve made. One or two of the trends you’ve shown seem a little unusual, to say the least.’
‘OK, let me get my notes,’ she said with a frown.
‘Bring them to my office, would you?’
Gritting her teeth, she realized what this would mean. A dissection of her whole analysis, bit by bit; which knowing David, would probably tear two weeks’ work to shreds.
She went back to her desk to fetch the necessary paperwork, cursing him for doing this to her yet again. The realisation of how meticulous he was made her fear the chances of leaving before six o’clock were virtually nil. Just what she didn’t need when she was supposed to be going out with Blake at seven-thirty to celebrate their forthcoming engagement.
David gave a little smile on her return, making her cringe.
‘Pull up a chair, Donna.’
She sat down, paperwork in front of her, and proceeded to try to clarify her analysis.
Every minute detail had to be explained, so determined was he to find out exactly what she’d done. All the figures had been checked and rechecked, so there couldn’t be a mistake in the analysis – could there? As time passed her nerves began to fray.
Her fingers drummed on his desk, and she almost felt like crying, as David droned on and on, with no apparent conception of how late it was. The clock on the wall struck six-fifteen. The man wouldn’t shut up. It seemed like he didn’t want to go home. Which wasn’t surprising, considering he lived on his own and appeared to live and breathe work, expecting everyone else to do the same.
Ever since he’d interviewed her for the Statistical Analyst job, two years ago, she’d noticed his keen interest in her work. Obviously having seen something beyond her supposed beauty. But now she suspected this interest was more than just work orientated.
To his credit, he knew his subject inside out, but when he found a couple of little errors that changed her analysis completely, she almost died with shock. How stupid must she have looked right in front of him? God knows what he thought.
Finally he stood up and smiled faintly, much to her relief. ‘All right Donna, let’s call it a day, shall we? Thanks for staying behind, I really appreciate it.’
‘Sorry I messed up.’ She gathered up her papers as she rose.
‘Think nothing of it. We all make mistakes, don’t we? Even me, believe it or not. Have a good night.’ He gave her a warm smile, then hesitated as if he was about to say something else. But he didn’t. Nevertheless, she felt slightly uncomfortable, as on occasions she’d caught him gazing at her. If ever he’d asked her out – heaven forbid - she’d die! Thank goodness he didn’t, she thought as she made to leave.
‘Donna!’ His voice was loud and made her jump and turn round. ‘Can I give you a lift?’
The colour on her face began to change to red again. ‘Er... well...’
‘It’s on my way home – honestly.’ He stared at her with a slight grin on his face.
‘No, it’s all right, but thanks anyway.’ She quickened her pace, almost running towards the main office door.
‘Oh come on, Donna - ’ he shouted after her, but she didn’t stop. Didn’t dare. Or was she overreacting to his friendly gesture?
Making her way hurriedly down the corridor, she reached the lift, pressed the button, and waited for it to arrive. It seemed to take forever – her heart thumped against her chest, fearing she’d miss her train. At last the lift arrived. Once she was inside, she drummed her nails on the chrome handrail as the floors ticked away, took out her phone and tried to get in touch with Blake, but couldn’t get through to him. Damn.
Finally the doors slid open, Donna rushed through, still annoyed at herself for being late.
When she got out of the building she was surprised to see how dark it was. Then she heard the sound of someone’s footsteps clattering behind her. Oh my God, was somebody following her? But when she glanced round there was no one there. Then walking on, she heard it again. She closed her eyes for a second, and sighed, thinking she was getting paranoid, then quickened her step, intent on getting to the station as quickly as possible.
This was all David’s fault – for not being willing to accept the fact she didn’t want a lift and making her feel on edge. When people got overfriendly, she felt uncomfortable and embarrassed. Why they thought her attractive, she found it hard to work out, even though she’d been told this from an early age. There’d always been remarks about her slender figure and turquoise eyes.
As she walked at a brisk pace, she looked at her watch, wondering if it might be possible to make the six forty-five train back to their flat. That would leave her half an hour to get ready, but it’d be a close run thing.
She crossed the main road, hurrying towards the subway, glad the sound of footsteps seemed to have gone. Hopefully, whoever it was had given up, or maybe she’d imagined it.
Dusk was fast approaching, the streets were deserted and grey. A spot of rain pricked her forehead. She pulled her jacket together and hurried to the mouth of the subway where the muffled words to `Let it Be` rang out. The entrance looked empty and dim apart from the busker sitting cross-legged on the pavement. His out of tune guitar sounded so bad it made his voice sound good. Donna smiled to herself as her heels clicked on the concrete.
Although walking through this subway made her a little nervous, she was in a hurry. No way did she want to be late for the meal. Blake would think... she didn’t know what he’d think. Sometimes he had problems dealing with other men liking her, no matter how many times she reassured him. But the idea he might consider David Wallace a rival was too ridiculous for words.
If only she could contact Blake, it wouldn’t matter. She pressed the keypad on her mobile again, intending to let him know she was running late, but his phone still seemed to be switched off. Shit.
At the end of the subway, she saw a figure standing there, his head covered by a hood. As he coughed, a hand appeared in front of his face. The lights above him were bright, but Donna didn’t look his way until he suddenly spoke.
‘Got the time darling?’ His muffled words made her jump.
He sounded young. There was a strange sweet smell close by, that made her want to puke and quickly get by.
It was six-forty, leaving her five minutes to get to the station.
‘Nearly quarter to seven,’ she mumbled, scurrying past.
As she hurried on out of the subway towards Dexford train station, suddenly, out of nowhere, an arm bent and tightened round her neck, and she was dragged into a long narrow alley, that stank of stale pee and uncollected garbage. She started gurgling at once, finding it almost impossible to scream or breathe, when a gloved hand closed around her nose and mouth. Terror spread through her body as she panicked and struggled to get free. Was this a mugging or something much worse? Oh my God, don’t hit me, she prayed. Best give him whatever she had, and hope he’d let her go.
He pulled her to one side and into one of the nearby derelict buildings, then yanked her up by her long blond hair. A fist thumped into her stomach, causing her to crumple and gasp in pain.
Wild large eyes glared at her through a balaclava helmet.
He snarled and gave out a high-pitched chuckle as if he enjoyed frightening her like this.
‘Oh no... please leave me … alone. Take whatever you want… but please don’t hurt me,’ she begged, pushing her handbag towards him. She tried to get up but was still in his grasp, his hand gripping her arm so tightly she winced in pain.
‘Stuff your bloody money – pretty lady,’ he hissed in a strange gruff voice.
All a tremble, she pleaded for mercy. Ignoring this, the man smashed his fist into her face. Warm blood trickled down her nose. She whimpered, before striking her again several times in the ribs, and on the chin. The pain was so excruciating, she could hardly draw breath.
She battled desperately to get up from the filthy debris filled floor to run. But he was too quick, and caught her by her coat, forcing her back onto the ground. Soon he was on top of her, kissing her roughly about the face as she tried to avoid his horrible greasy lips. His gloved hands clutched her breasts hard, making her clench her teeth and whine in agony. He ripped her blouse open. Buttons flew off in all directions.
Donna sobbed, shockwaves of hysteria surged through her. Oh God, if only someone would help her. This was unbearable, unreal - was he really going to do this to her. Surely not? How she wished Blake were here. Please... oh sweet Jesus... help me, she thought. She’d rather die than have this happen. How could this monster violate her like this?
In her desperation, she raked his arm with her fingernails, and went to gouge his eyes, but his hand grasped hers, wrenching it back with such force that she wept in agony. The man laughed hideously at her futile efforts to stop him. He was so strong, and well able do whatever he wanted to her. She was simply too weak to prevent it. Please God, make him stop.
Suddenly he moved his hand away, towards his own body, and fumbled with the zip of his trousers. She tried desperately to wriggle free, but he caught hold of her ripped blouse, and slapped her on the face with the back of his hand. Her nose went numb, and she tasted her own coppery blood. She tried to raise her head, but he pressed his body down hard almost suffocating her.
As he continued, she closed her eyes, trying to shut out the horror of what was happening to her. Unable to defend herself in any way, she lay there passively, wanting it over as quickly as possible. But it seemed to go on forever. And the pain deep inside was torture, like some hot blunt instrument splitting her in two. She felt his balaclava clad face close to her own, spit from his mouth trickled onto her cheek. There remained a foul pungent sickly smell about him that repulsed her.
Finally, he uttered a great groan of exquisite pleasure, stopped, and giggled. Donna shuddered, lying prostrate on the ground.
He got to his feet, breathing in deeply, and stared down at her. ‘How does it feel? Bitch! Not so pretty now, are you, eh?’ He growled.
Cold eyes stared at her; and widened with desire again making Donna’s heart flutter with dread. Her mouth flooded with sour saliva and bile come up through her throat. He began to kick her in the stomach, her legs, face, just about anywhere – and when he’d finished, he looked down at her and gave out a high-pitched laugh that almost sounded like a hyena. That same vile odour remained on him, and then he was gone.
She remained on the ground, hardly able to move, relief at being alive passed quickly. She needed to cover herself up. Her whole face began to swell up like a balloon - in fact she hurt all over and found it difficult to breathe. Her private area was deadened by what he’d done. Dear God – she felt so sick and unclean. Why had this happened to her? If only she could wake up from this horrible dream.
It took some time, but at last she staggered to her feet, wrapping what was left of her clothing tightly around her. Leaning against the wall, unsteadily she stumbled forward out of the building.
When she heard what sounded like a gang of youths approaching, her heart lifted, in the hope they might assist her. They looked across at her, some of them giggling, while others preferred to look the other way.
‘Please... help me,’ she begged, but in reply they made lewd remarks, before walking past. Weeping, she found their behaviour incredible.
Donna didn’t see the man whose arms she fell into. She glimpsed a grey beard, and a woman with her mouth gaping open.
‘Oh my God!’ the man exclaimed. ‘What on earth...?’
‘I…I…’ she whispered, tears streaming down her blood soaked face.
‘Harold – she’s been attacked. Look at her face and clothes. Oh you poor thing. Quickly - call the police and an ambulance!’ the woman shouted, covering Donna with her coat. She placed an arm round her and guided her out to a nearby bench. Donna heard Harold mumble something into his mobile phone.
She shook with ague, her body aching all over. As she glanced up, a crowd of people had gathered, talking, staring as if she was some kind of freak show. Why did they have to gawp at her in that way? She just wanted them to go away and leave her in peace.
Soon after hearing the sirens, Donna saw the flashing lights. The ambulance stopped close to where she was sitting. Two figures dressed in green uniforms emerged and rushed through the crowd to her. One, bent down and put an arm round her, and introducing herself as Anne, a paramedic, began to talk to her, but Donna couldn’t take in what was being said. Finally Anne helped Donna up and guided her towards the ambulance, then assisted her to climb inside.
Lying down, Donna was relieved when the doors closed and the vehicle left the scene of the attack. After what only seemed a few minutes, they arrived at Dexford General Hospital.
From there she was taken to her own room, where she was undressed and examined by a female doctor.
After they’d patched her up, they allowed her to wash herself in a shower, which she did over and over again in a valiant attempt to rid herself of the filth all over her.
Once she was in bed and had taken the sedative the doctor had prescribed to relax her, she drifted in and out of sleep, waking intermittently with vivid visions of the man’s evil eyes and the wicked laugh behind his balaclava helmet.
Sometime later she got up and went to the en-suite bathroom, and staring at herself in the mirror, she sobbed at her swollen face and bandaged nose. This brought it all back to her, and again terror swept over her. That horrible man had made her feel cheap and used. She’d never be the same again, and wanted to die.
Back in her room, resting on top of the bed, she kept her eyes closed, wishing the pain would go away. The sound of someone entering the room caused her to open her puffed up eyes, to see a plump policewoman with a round face, rosy cheeks and an easy smile, standing before her.
‘Hallo Donna.’ Her voice was soft, her large grey eyes widening with concern and compassion. ‘I’m Jill Meadows, Dexford police. Sorry to disturb you, at a time like this. I know you need to get some rest and it’s late, but I just wondered if you felt up to answering a few questions, about what happened to you.’
Donna didn’t answer, she just wanted to be left alone.
‘So how are you?’ Jill asked.
She burst into tears.
The police woman reached out to touch her hand, but Donna pulled back in a flash.
‘Look, I can see you’re upset. You have every right to be. But you’ll be fine, no one can hurt you now. And I promise we’ll be working day and night to find the man who did this to you. But to do that we need your help. I realise how difficult this is, but important to know exactly what happened while it’s still fresh in your mind - I believe it could make a huge difference. Could you try do that for me?’
She didn’t respond.
‘Please, Donna. I appreciate you’ve been through a terrifying ordeal, but it’s vital you tell us whatever you can. Come on try - for me and all the other girls out there, who are at risk until he’s caught.’
‘I... I can’t talk about it.’ She shook her head rigorously, breathing in and out deeply.
‘I know you don’t want to, my dear, but if you try really hard you can – believe me. There’s no point in bottling this up inside. Tell me about what he did. Or his next victim might not live to tell the tale. Is that what you want?’
She began to shake violently, biting down hard on her bottom lip. Jill Meadows was right. She had to talk about this, but it was so horrific, so humiliating; she felt too ashamed to say anything.
‘How about a drink?’ Jill asked finally. After a few seconds silence Donna nodded.
‘What do you fancy?’
Jill poured her a glass of water from the jug on her bedside table. Donna took a small sip, then gave it to Jill to put back on the table.
‘You will get over this – but of course it will take time. You’re young and strong, so your injuries will heal quickly. But what you’ve experienced can have devastating effects, mentally as well as physically - you’ll need counselling from someone specially trained in rape trauma.’
Donna pulled a face and shook her head.
‘I bet a girl like you must have lots of admirers.’ Jill seemed to be trying a different approach.
She didn’t even want to think about that.
‘You have a boyfriend?’
She nodded timidly.
‘Thought so. His name’s Blake, isn’t it?’
‘Hey, that’s a nice name. He’s a bit of a hunk, I noticed.’
‘You think so?’ Donna mumbled, unable to look Jill directly in the eye.
‘Really good looking – shame I’m not ten years younger.’
She gave a slight smile, but this small talk did nothing to calm her down, instead it made her nervous. She felt herself going hot.
‘Been going together long?’
‘Five years,’ she sighed still without looking at the police woman.
‘That’s a long time for someone so young. What - were you childhood sweethearts?’
She shrugged her shoulders.
‘That’s sweet. You’ll be glad to know he’s waiting outside with your mum and dad.’
She creased up, suddenly afraid again. ‘I don’t want them to know... everything.’
‘I realise that, but remember they love you dearly, so they’ll be very sympathetic and understanding. And can give you all the love and support you need right now.’
‘But it was degrading and I feel so dirty.’
‘There’s no reason for you to feel like that - honestly. You couldn’t have done any more than you did, and in the circumstances, I think you were very brave - ’
‘We were going out… to celebrate our engagement. Blake must have thought I’d stood him up,’ she blurted out, biting down on a fingernail.
‘Oh dear – that’s a shame! Well, he knows you didn’t stand him up now. He’s been worried sick – I can’t tell you how relieved he is that you’re still alive, and out of danger.’
‘He’ll go spare if he finds out the truth.’ She turned away to bury her face in her hands. ‘Oh God, what have I done to deserve this?’ She wept softly.
‘Nothing, love. You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Listen, I don’t like to keep on at you, but I have to ask you again about what happened. Come on now - just take your time – I’ve got all night if need be. Let’s start with when you finished work tonight, shall we?’ Jill said, a notebook in her hand ready.
Donna closed her eyes and started to tremble; she didn’t want to do this, but it seemed she had no choice. It was so demeaning having to reveal all the intimate details, but Jill was so patient and supportive, Donna got through the ordeal. And once she began to open up, she was able to tell Jill everything she could remember.
It came tumbling out. All the unthinkable disgusting things that vile man had done to her. She was distraught at times, but could describe everything in great detail except for his appearance.
‘Thank you Donna, it takes a lot of guts to speak about this. I’m very proud of you.’ She smiled at her when it was all over. ‘Forensics are going through your clothes right now, and we’ve taken samples of what’s under your fingernails and from your vagina. Hopefully, if they can get his DNA, it’ll be on file. I’ll arrange for a police artist to come and sit with you in the morning, so we can get an idea of what he looks like. Is that all right, love?’
‘I... I didn’t get a good look at him. He wore some sort of mask, a balaclava I think it was; I only saw his piercing eyes. But I… I can’t even tell you what colour they were, because it was dark, and I was so frightened.’
‘Doesn’t matter – like I said, any of these tiny details might come to you in time. Remember even without a description, it’s possible we might find evidence from the samples we’ve taken. It may not be as difficult as you imagine.’
The very thought of having something of his in her body, something that might grow into... Oh sweet Jesus, hoping to God the morning after pill she’d taken earlier had worked. The alternative didn’t bear thinking about.
‘Right then – maybe it’s time I left you in peace. You’ve got more than enough to cope with right now. In the morning I’ll get all this typed up, you can read through it and sign it if you’re happy. I’ll speak to you later then, love. I expect you’d like to see your family now. They’ve been waiting for quite a while.’
‘What – yes.’ She twitched nervously.
How could she face them? They’d want her to tell them about it. And what about Blake? If only she could let him take her in his arms and make all the pain go away. But she didn’t think that was possible. And neither did she want him or anyone else seeing her smashed up face and body. Yet it seemed she had to.
‘OK. Now, if you need me any time, night or day, call this number. It’s my direct line.’ Jill gave her a card. Then just before leaving, she hugged Donna, who wanted to cry again.
As she lay there, she began to breathe erratically, panicking over having to face her family. She couldn’t prevent herself from shaking. Oh God, would she ever stop being afraid?
Anna, William's wife of 24 years died of tuberculosis on December 24th, 1881. They had an early Christmas celebration a few days before when the doctor gave her only days to live. William was more than devastated. His amazing inventions had made him the toast of London and he was well on his way to being knighted by Queen Victoria herself. All that changed the day Anna died. William found solace only in his work. Soon he had shut out everything and everyone else from his life. Now, two years after she passed away, he was a complete recluse, mostly forgotten, only coming out of his lab at night to obtain basic supplies in order to keep working.
He started the machine and stepped into the coffin-sized nook lined with vacuum tubes and copper wire. William stood there, covering his ears with his hands as the machine powered up with a deafening hum. Then a sudden flash of light so brilliant that an image of William 's silhouette was burned into the opposite wall. William A. Sinclair was no longer present.
The next morning, housecleaning began their Saturday ritual of cleaning the offices on Fleet Street. As the maid dusted William 's desk a note caught her eye, in bold capital letters it read: "SEE YOU IN 200 YEARS". She nearly jumped when she looked up and saw William's life size silhouette on the wall like some ethereal photograph. The maid described the scene to the Head maidservant who then told the Landlord, Mr. Pritchett.
Now Mr. Pritchett was quite well known for being a greedy and ofttimes heartless landlord. He immediately interpreted the note to mean that Mr. Sinclair had plans to skip out on him before rent was due on Monday. "See you in 200 years... humph! That hornswoggling blagger!", Prichett muttered to himself. "We will see about that." Monday came and went with no rent payment. Later that week Pritchett reported William to the police and seized all his belongings, including the strange machine that William engaged that rainy night.
William awoke with such a headache he had a hard time focusing on his surroundings. When he finally got his bearings, he realized he was lying in a snow drift looking up into the barren night sky. Not one star, no moon, just cold blackness in every direction. He sat up and looked around but could barely see his hands in front of his face. The wind was blowing snow onto his exposed face and turning his beard into a collection of icicles. It was no use... he needed to find shelter immediately before the elements got to him... exploring would have to wait until morning. After stumbling around in the dark for another hour or so, exhausted, he decided digging a hole in the snow would just have to do for now.
When morning finally came, all William could think of was sleep. I'll just rest a little longer, he thought. The morning light was slowly getting brighter yet that seemed to only make him even wearier. Every time he started to awake, he would immediately fall back asleep. He was dreaming of the machine and could hear it's increasingly loud roar. Anna's kind face appeared hovering over him, gently shaking his shoulder. "Time to wake up, breakfast is ready.", she said softly. He awoke to a sudden unpleasant pain in his shoulder. He was being roughly pulled out of the snow by two men.
||At Times I Want to Ride
At times I want to ride a chestnut horse
over wide, undulating, endless steppes,
with hooves pounding out a staccato beat,
our heads lowered to enhance speed,
pointing toward the elusive white stag
ever within our sight, ever out of reach,
leading to verdant valley far away.
Years ago I only kept the gas tank half-full
in my ’72 Duster slant 6.
Great was the temptation to drive beyond
the mountains hazy with residual smog,
looming as I dropped from the 55
on slender concrete ribbon down to the
San Diego Freeway towards Irvine.
The time had not come for me to leave.
Now my life no longer fits into a car.
The white stag has blended into the mists
and I am content to be where I am.
Dismounting, I set the horse to pasture
and sit sheltered by the tall pine trees.
Arthur Turfa, Places and Times ©2015
||A Song Apart
The Public Be Damned
Someone tapped my shoulder as I waited for the light to change on the corner of 23rdand Park. "Excuse me, said a blonde-haired, blue-eyed woman from today's Political Science class at Manhattan University. "Your name is Kevin, right?"
"Why are you wearing that shirt?"
I glanced down at the image of Shannon Kistler on the front. "Oh-I like her."
"Why?" She winced.
"Adam liked Eve, Romeo liked Juliet, Anthony liked Cleopatra .. .it's a tradition, I guess."
"But her music is juvenile."
"So I've heard."
The streetlight changed, but my classmate stared at me as we crossed Park Avenue. I walked up 23rd Street to the bus stop at the Flatiron Building, my backpack full of newly purchased textbooks. Halfway up the block, a guy in a three-piece suit who talked on a cell phone glanced at my shirt as he walked toward me. "Wait a second," he muttered. "Man," he snarled at me, "I can't believe someone like you put on that shirt."
"And I can't believe someone like you got off your phone to tell me so."
He frowned and walked away as I continued toward Broadway. At the Flatiron Building 1 stood in my usual nook, watching for my express bus home. The sidewalk was practically empty, but I caught the attention of a curly-haired guy, maybe a year or two older than me, strolling toward Union Square with a friend. The guy tapped his friend's shoulder and pointed at me, but I waved him off before he yelled at me.
The traffic on Broadway was as thin as the pedestrians on the sidewalk. The other Staten Island-bound express buses stopped by the building regularly, but my wait for the X12 was always longer for one stupid reason or another. I already spent a whole year waiting for many things, including the bus, and I knew that wouldn't change any time soon, especially with everything I still had to learn about accounting before I got my BBA
An early September breeze blew through my hair as a black limo stopped at the light on 22nd Street. I couldn't guess who was inside-a bridal party, a foreign dignitary, or a corporate big shot. But I was hypnotized by the long car, watching it roll down Broadway and onto 21st Street after the light changed.
"Excuse me," a black man in a parka and a wool hat said, "you got any change to spare?"
"No, I don't. I'm sorry."
"Hey, you don't gotta be sorry, okay? You don't got it, you don't got it. That's all. You don't gotta be sorry for nothin'. People always gettin' into trouble 'cause they sorry for stuff they can't control, and we got all these world problems because people do a lotta shit they sorry about later. And that uses up a lotta energy, you know? They can use that energy to do other stuff."
He clamped a hand on my shoulder, to my horror. "Look, man," he continued, pointing, "you a young guy. You don't need none ofthat shit, okay? You don't gotta worry about nothin' but the rest of your life. You got lotsa time to do whatever you please, and bein' sorry ain't gonna help you. So you don't got the change, you don't got the change, and that's the way it goes. You don't gotta be sorry about it, okay? Don't be sorry. You got it, don't you?"
Yeah. I'm sorry I apologized. I nodded slightly, trying not to roll my eyes.
"Yeah, you get it." He smiled, showing off his yellow teeth. "You get it. You a good guy. Go get yourself some nice pussy." He slapped my shoulder and marched off.
Oh, no, you did NOT use the P-word on me...
"Hey, mister," a girl's voice yelled, "you got a nice shirt on!"
"Thank-YOU!! HOLY SHIT!!" It was Shannon Kistler herself, calling to me from the limousine sitting at the light a few moments ago. She laughed, ducked inside and rolled up the window. I snatched my backpack and chased after her, but the heavy textbooks slowed me down, and she made a swift getaway.
Two minutes later an X12 finally pulled up. "How you doin'?" asked the driver after he opened the doors.
"Hanging in there, thanks," I fumbled, paying the fare.
"School started again?" he asked, pulling away from the curb.
"Yeah," I muttered.
"You don't seem happy about it."
"I had a long day." 1 would've said why 1 really didn't seem happy, but he'd never buy it.
"Well, pick a seat and take a snooze," he said. "You look like you could use it."
''I'm way ahead of you."
He chuckled as I grabbed a window seat and followed his advice.
"Hello, everyone," I said, entering and dropping my backpack on the stairs. "Hi, Kevin," my sixteen-year-old brother Russell and fourteen-year-old sister Stacy sang while they watched television. "Hi, Kevin," Mom said from the kitchen. "How did the first day go?" "Like the last day of last semester." I hung up my sweatshirt, hearing Dad yell on the phone upstairs. "Dinner will be ready soon," Mom announced. "You can take a quick shower." "I did-this morning," 1 said, walking toward the basement door with my backpack. "Another one will make you feel better after today," she said, stirring the tomato sauce.
Isn't she blunt.
In my bedroom a poster of Shannon hung on the wall above my bed, but I still had no idea why I was smitten with her. Last summer's hit "Dream World" was so cheesy, my stomach spun whenever I heard it on the radio. The lyrics contained no creative thought, and I decided it sounded like a rush job. As the hits came off her first CD, though, I became impressed when I found out she not only wrote songs, but she also had a recording studio in her basement.
Although I was surrounded by thousands of other fans at her concert at the Garden State Arts Center this past July, I never felt so isolated in my life. But when Shannon hit the stage, singing with passion and dancing with enthusiasm, I felt like 1 got my money's worth. Some company would've cheered me up about seeing the show, but my friends weren't interested.
I was drawn to a career in the recording industry, so I took a guitar class as a high school freshman and spent the next summer teaching myself more than I already learned in the class. I believed I could hit it big despite the stories I heard of recording artists busting their asses for success. But 9/ 11 reminded me my head belonged on my shoulders instead of in the clouds, so I chose to crunch numbers without giving it much thought.
I still had a flicker of hope for a musical career, but I was astounded by Shannon's confidence and determination, two qualities I sorely lacked if I wanted anyone to respect me as a performer. Of course, being cute as hell didn't hurt her either.
But those qualities I saw in Shannon didn't matter to some Jewish Society members at school. Avi Cohen and Yaakov Friedman, for example, wouldn't shut up about my shirt when they laid eyes on it. Whenever someone entered the office while the three of us were there during the day, Avi and Yaakov pointed me out. They didn't welcome any other members back or ask them about their summers or their classes. The first words out of their mouths were about my clothes. When I left the office in the afternoon for my Political Science class, they were deep into a conversation about Shannon because 1 saluted her.
Whatever their gripes were, I figured they were disappointed because I didn't want to roll in the hay with Shannon. Back in high school I enjoyed talking about girls with my friends during lunch. But when some explicit details crept into the discussion, I was reminded those views of girls would be useless to me in winning someone over. 1 didn't care if the next man let his libido control him, as long as he didn't expect me to behave the same way. After today, though, I was sure Avi and Yaakov wouldn't be the only ones to hold those values against me.
Nor was it the first time anyone instantly disliked me because I followed my heart. When my family and I moved into the condominium in 1991, Russell and I made friends with the other kids while Stacy was still discovering the world around her. Our arrival inspired the other parents to gather the kids together for activities we might do in summer camp: sing-a-longs, arts and crafts, and games like Duck Duck Goose and Red Rover. I ate it up.
||Agent of Artifice
They live among us. We know they are there. No government can control them; no authority can stop them. Some are evil. Some are good. All are powerful. They inhabit our myths and fairy tales. But what if they were real, the witches, wizards, and fairy godmothers? What if they were called "adepts" and were organized into guilds for mutual protection and benefit? And what if they started mucking around with the affairs of "lessers" (that is, those humans not able to match their powers)? During the height of the Cold War, Michael Vaughan is a rogue without a guild. He survives by working for the CIA as NOC (Non-Official Cover). Shortly after the funeral of President Joe Kennedy, Jr., he is sent to Cuba to assassinate Castro. There he finds himself in a cat-and-mouse game with adepts working for Fidel.
||A Riffian's Tune
A Riffian's Tune is an autobiographical novel about forging your own path, the power of hope, and daring to step into the labyrinth of life - no matter what.
Deep in the heart of the rural Rif Mountains, one boy's life is dictated by tribal tradition, superstition and religion. But Jusef dreams of more; it's a dream that will send him far from his shepherding hills to the bustle of the big city in search of education, meaning and, above all, a different way of life.
From the richness of a story overflowing with tales of tragedies, courage and triumphs, Jusef's journey reveals the complexities of Moroccan culture and the overwhelming restraints facing those on the fringes.
As the country questions its identity in the fading period of colonial rule, one Berber boy must also challenge who he is and who he is meant to be - as he discovers in the fight against adversity, dreams might not be enough...