The Door Ajar

Halloween is tomorrow, but this particular tale takes place in the early hours of the 31st of October so it’s best enjoyed the day before. In the UK, that’s when summer time ends and the clocks go back to give us our early darkness in the evenings. I wonder if any trick-or-treaters will venture up the driveway this year? They haven’t managed it yet. Which reminds me, I have to put those pairs of mini red glowsticks in the trees tomorrow. Have to get them in the spirit in case they do decide to visit.

So anyway, here’s the story. It’s in ‘The Darkness at the End of October’, available on Amazon and Smashwords.

The Door Ajar

“We’ve been here three days. It hasn’t bloody worked. Let’s go home.” Jim started packing his things into his rucksack.

“Well, give it a few minutes. We’ve spent all this time setting it up.” Billy kept his gaze on the fire in the centre of their pentagram. “Maybe it just takes a while to get through the dimensions.”

“It’s ten past midnight. The demon was supposed to show up at midnight. Nothing has happened. It’s all bollocks. We’re never going to get rich by wishing for it, Billy. We’re going to have to work for it like normal people.” Jim pulled out the tent pegs and collapsed his tent.

Billy studied the book in his hands. Had he misread something? Pronounced a word wrong? Was there something missing in their carefully constructed pentagram? A wrong stone, a misplaced candle, anything? No, it was all as it should be and yet the demon had not appeared to claim this book and give them riches in return. What did the demon want with the book? Who cares? Billy and Jim just wanted the money.

He sighed. Jim was right, they were never going to get rich the easy way. Although camping out in the woods for three days while finding specific rocks to form the pentacle was hardly ‘the easy way’. Billy read once again the first instruction in the book – The demon must be summoned in the first minutes of Samhain, after the last stroke of midnight.

Then it would be trapped in the pentacle and they could bargain with it. It wants the book, and it will give them absolutely anything for it. Here they were, in the first few minutes of Halloween, and all their effort had achieved nothing. Billy sighed again. It had all been a waste of time. He closed the book and joined Jim in packing up their camp.

“Well, it was worth a try.” Billy tried to hide the disappointment in his voice as he dismantled his tent. “At least we had a fun camping trip.”

“Fun?” Jim spat the word. “Camping at the end of October cannot reasonably be described as ‘fun’. It’s bloody cold out here, and we’ll be too knackered to enjoy the Halloween parties tomorrow night. We’ll be lucky to get home by two o’clock in the morning.”

“We’ll have a lie-in. We’ll be fine for the parties.” Billy placed the book carefully in his rucksack. He’d have to sneak it back into Marchway Library on Monday, before anyone noticed he’d stolen it.

“Hurry up.” Jim rolled his tent away and started strapping it to his rucksack. “I’m not waiting for you if you take too long. I want to sleep in a real bed tonight.”

“Okay, okay, I’m packing.” Billy folded his tent. “Come on, Jim, you were all for it until now. We both thought it would work. We both fell for it.”

Jim stared into the darkness of the woods. “Yeah. You’re right. It’s not your fault. We both believed in it.” He lowered his head and traced his shoe in the dirt. “We’re both losers, and we’d better get used to the idea.”

“Oh it’s not that bad.” Billy finished packing his gear. “We got caught up in a bit of fakery, that’s all. I mean, how many people got caught up in scams before? And still do. It doesn’t make us losers.”

“Huh.” Jim strode to the pentacle. He kicked one of the outer circle stones into the central fire. “You’re probably right, but it feels like failure right now. We did everything we were told by that book and it was all rubbish.” He closed his eyes. “We’re supposed to be anti-establishment and we just spent days following rules from an ancient establishment. We probably don’t want to tell anyone about this.”

Billy laughed. “Since we did it with a stolen book, we definitely don’t want to tell anyone. I’ll sneak it back into the library first chance I get.” He finished packing, hoisted his rucksack onto his back and with one last glance back at the pentacle and the dying embers of the fire within, he followed Jim along the trail to home.

***

As they approached the lights of town, Jim broke the silence. “Well there’s one thing we can be happy about. When someone finds that pentacle, they’ll wonder what the Hell was going on.”

Both laughed. Billy checked his watch. “Ten to one. We’ll be home and asleep by half past, I reckon.”

As they reached the main square in their small town, Jim glanced up at the town hall clock. He squinted. “What time did you say it was?”

“Ten to one.” Billy checked his watch again. “Well, it’s almost one now.”

“That’s odd.” Jim pointed upwards. “The town hall clock says midnight. Are you sure your watch is right?”

“Must be. It’s one of those radio watches. Picks up a time signal and sets itself so it’s always right.” Billy frowned at the town hall clock. “Maybe it stopped?”

The front door of the town hall opened and old Charlie Simmonds, the caretaker, stepped out. He closed and locked the door behind him.

Jim and Billy gave each other a quizzical look. This was pretty late for a caretaker to be at work.

“Hey, Mister Simmonds, I think your clock has stopped.” Billy waved from across the street.

Charlie glanced up, smiled and shook his head. He walked over to join them. “No, lads, it’s fine. I’ve just been setting it back for the end of Summer Time. The clocks go back tonight, you know?”

Billy showed his watch to Charlie. “I’ve got one of those radio ones that updates itself, and it says it’s one in the morning.”

“Yeah, but officially the time doesn’t change until two a.m., and I’m buggered if I’m waiting up until then. Everything is closed, everyone’s asleep – apart from you two lads and me – and the clock will be right in the morning. So I don’t have to get up early to change it.”

“So what’s the real time?” Jim wrinkled his nose. “I mean, is Billy’s watch or the clock showing real time now?”

Charlie pursed his lips. “A lot of people get confused about that. It’s actually simple. Summer time, daylight savings, is one hour ahead of the real time. The real time is in the winter, it changes on the last Sunday in October, when we’re on the ‘one hour back’ time. The time on the clock up there is the real time. Billy’s watch will change over after two a.m., and it’ll then say one a.m. So we all get an extra hour of sleep tonight.” He slapped Jim’s shoulder. “Well, assuming you two plan to sleep tonight. I certainly do, so I’ll say goodnight.” He walked off, whistling, into the growing fog.

A cold chill ran through Billy. “We were an hour early. We missed it.”

“Would it still work? I mean, you read the spell, we set everything up. Do you think the demon is there now? And where did this fog come from? It’s getting really thick.”

“If it’s there, it’s trapped in the circle.” Billy looked back the way they had come. “Maybe we should go back. If it’s stuck there it’s going to be pissed.”

The colour drained from Jim’s face. The image of the rock he kicked into the circle’s central fire replayed in his head. “It’s not trapped. I broke the circle.”

Billy continued to stare back at the way they had come. Jim followed his gaze. In the distance, a red blaze glowed. Getting stronger and bigger. Or maybe not bigger. Maybe closer.

The fog intensified. Something was coming, and now it had no need to bargain for what it wanted.

Curry and evils of the world

Hi everyone, CstM here I hope you’re all doing well. I am doing much better than my last post. Thank you all for your kind comments. I really do appreciate all your advice and well wishes.
I’m so sorry for the late post. Life has been busy around here, with the visit of the Welsh mothership. It was a very lovely visit. We had a dinner party, and of course I had to go all out and make two different currys and homemade onion bhajis. At least Leggy got to have a spicy curry for once, so he was happy. I’m a strictly butter chicken girl, anything else can be too spicy or has coconut in it. Dang weird allergies.
Speaking of allergies, something funny happened. Well I thought it was funny. I was oven roasting butternut squash for the curry. For some reason if I handle butternut squash with bare hands, I get a really bad rash, so I wear rubber gloves as protection. The Welsh mothership was in the kitchen watching me prepare the butternut squash, wearing my handy rubber gear and didn’t bat an eyelid. Although I guess it’s more dramatic inside my head. I always feel like some Dr. Frankenstein ready to bring my creation to life. Even if it’s just a curry.

Another thing I’m behind on is the books. I’m about half through the Hunger Games book. I’m genuinely enjoying it, I just keep getting distracted by other things. I must admit I didn’t remember the original books being this brutal. Maybe it’s because I’m older and everyone seems so much younger.
It is an interesting book though. We’re following Coriolanus Snow, as he and his classmates mentor the participants of the games. A game they are trying to make more viewer popular. Now this is a guy who, if you’ve read the original books, will become the personification of all the evil in the Capitol. But hearing his traumatic upbringing in the first rebellion, you do end up feeling sympathy for this young boy, who is just trying to survive and excel.
It does make you wonder, when does bad people turn bad.

The book reminds me in some ways of the film The motorcycle diaries. It’s a film about young Che Guevara travelling through latin America and seeing the poverty and destitution first hand, and ultimately leading him on a path of trying to make a change. Now I don’t condone what he did, but watching that film, you do get a bit of understanding of where he came from. He started out wanting to do good. Does that excuse all the evil he brought into the world? No, in no way. It just makes you understand to some degree where he was coming from.

One book that is a very good read on the topic of evil is The Lucifer Effect by Robert Zimbardo. It looks into the psychological explanation for why even good people sometimes turn evil. It goes over his Stanford prison experiment and also talks about how similar things has occurred in real life like the Abu Ghraib prison.
It is well worth a read, if you’re interested in the topic. I’m still annoyed that someone borrowed my hard back copy of the book and never returned it. Although quite ironic to steal a book about evil.

Now for this month book in the Gloom Dog book club, I went for something short. I figured there isn’t much left of October, so to make it plausible to actually finish it, it needed to be an easy read.
So this month we’ll be reading The Pearl by John Steinbeck. Cade over from Cade F.O.N Apollyon was the one who suggested it. He’s been reading along, and helped start the Gloom Dog Bookclub, so go give him a read, if you have the time. I’m sure he’d appreciate it.
I’ve heard very good things about The Pearl, so I’m excited to start reading it. I’ve only read Of Mice and Men by Steinbeck, so it’ll be nice to read some more of his works.
I hope you’ll join us on our next reading adventure.

Bookcase of Shame

I have now reached the Matt Smith episodes of Doctor Who so I went to the local shop in the search of fish fingers. I didn’t see any so I asked the shop lady just in case I had overlooked them. She looked at me like she was wondering if I was really seriously asking for fish fingers. Apparently most people stop eating those after the age of 10 or so. I was never most people. I did how ever have to make do with the grown up side of a haddock thing.

Amazon was very close to going back to the boycott list. I love books and I very much like a good bargain on books so for a long time Amazon was my main dealer for books. Books here in Denmark can be very expensive. It’s gotten better but still not compeatable with Amazon or Bookdepository prices. Danish books cost about 40£ for a brand new hardback and about 30£ for a paperback. After a while they do go down in price and if you’re lucky you may find an old book in a supermarket for 10 or 8£. Now English books tend to be a bit cheaper.

But one of the things that made Amazon my main dealer was that they used to have free shipping to Denmark if you used over 25£. I usually ended up buying more to hit the free shipping so in my mind it was a bit of a win win for the both of us. But then one day they said no more free shipping and I said fine! No more buying from you. Well most of the time. I have been loosening my no buying band against them though. I mean if America can loosen up against Cuba then surely I could forgive a bit of shipping.

But my point with this was that during the times I have bought quite a lot of cheap books. I have a very long wish list and every once in a while I’ll go in and order a big stack. I think I mentioned in an earlier post that I had some years of absolutely no concentration. I had trouble just watching a film in one go. So I have collected quite a few books that I still haven’t gotten round to reading. And as there was still coming out new and shiny books it was getting a bit much. So last year I made my first new years resolution; read more books than I buy. I did pretty good last year. I read 25 books in total. This year has been a bit slow so far. I’ve only read about 4 so far.

So I’ve mentioned to some before about my bookcase of shame. It is my bookcase filled with the books I still haven’t read. I am slowly making my way through it. And yes, I know it’s probably a lot of books for some people. But I regret nothing! Well perhaps some of the classics. I must have been very optimistic when buying Moby Dick, Shakespeare and that Alan Greenspan one.

Enough talk here it is in all it’s glory

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Top 5 books I’m excited about right now

Okay minions, this has been a day of weird. Seriously, more weird than normal. First I have this weird data disc thingy show up on my laptop after some recent updates. Yes, I was the idiot who just saw windows say “important update” and went fine, click all and then after wonder “Hey where did that thing come from?” and of course my sarcastic side of the brain is going “Well where do you think it came from, Sherlock?”. So yeah, I have to figure out what the heck it is and how to get rid of it.

Then I get a mail back from tech support about an iPad game that keeps crashing. I have a feeling that tech support Michael and I will become pretty much pen pals before this game starts working again. He suggested that I should stand next to the router with my iPad, so I did. I did wonder if I should maybe do it in a headstand or twirl around 3 times thinking happy thoughts. None of it did anything but made me look like a doofus.

I can’t seem to make wordpress work anywhere either so I am typing this in a word document. My credit card also had troubles today. Either Julian Assange knows that I think he’s a bit of an arsehat and is slowly deleting my existence from the internet or it’s just one of those days.

I figured hey I’ll go see if there are some books from my extensive wish list that I want to buy so I went over to Awesomebooks since they have second hand books and a 3£ flat rate shipping. Let’s just say the 90’s called they want their search engine back. I searched for the author Jennifer L Armentrout and in my search I left out the L. The search engine got all confused and couldn’t find her. As if that wasn’t bad enough I also had to battle Apple’s autocorrect who told me “Armentrout? Oh you surely must mean Armed trout!” Deep breath!

I told Leggy about it of course. I mean Armed trout. That is kind of funny. We then had a discussion about how a trout would be armed. Leggy suggested a head mounted laser cannon. Of course me being me I suggested that they had small explosive vests, suicide bombing trout coming to a river near you, which led to the mental image of jumping salmon exploding midair.

So minions I have a request. Is there any of you pc wizards out there who can make a video of those jumping salmon exploding midair (I’m sure there’s a more fancy term for the jumping to go to lay eggs thing but I’m pulling the Johnny foreigner card. Although I’m not even sure I know the Danish term.) Maybe do it to that dramatic bit of the 1812 overture that they use in V for Vendetta. Let them explode as the canons go off. Perhaps a bear in the background looking all WTF?

I have absolutely no idea how it would be done hence me asking you guys.

Oh btw I found the mysterious noise. It was an alarm clock in a drawer.

Now lets talk books!

1 The Darkest Minds – Alexandra Bracken

This is an absolutely brilliant book. I am currently reading the second one of the trilogy and I am way excited for the 3rd one.

I must admit I haven’t read many dystopian novels. I read The Hunger Games, but it seemed like after they got really popular then everything in the dystopian genre got a big fat sticker saying “Just like the Hunger Games!” and I just found it so annoying that I read other things. But then I was recommended The Darkest Minds.

The setting is a America where a virus has wiped out a big chuck of children under 15 years. Now those who survived has somehow gained strange abilities. Some The Greens have enhanced sense of logic, The Blues have telekinesis, Yellows control electricity, Orange is mind control and Red is pyrokinesis. Now these abilities have created such a fear in many grown ups that the kids have been rounded up and put in concentration camps. It is in one of these that we meet out protagonist Ruby who is an Orange hiding as a Green. But she is about to be discovered and then action happens. I won’t spoil the book for anyone who may want to read it. But Liam Stewart. Sigh! Leather jacket and cool sunglasses. To be 16 again.

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2 The Dark Artifices – Cassandra Clare

Now this one hasn’t been published yet, but I am still super excited. I have very much enjoyed Clare’s books so far. I started out reading the first 3 books of The Mortal Instrument series and I liked it very much. Then I read The Infernal Devices series and loved it. Victorian England and demon hunters. What’s not to love? And I am totally team Will. Yes, I’m a grown up woman and I don’t care. So a new series set in the same world as the other two series sounds way awesome.

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3 American Gods – Neil Gaiman

This is a book that I’ve owned for a few years by now and still haven’t read. It’s one of the many books on my bookshelf of shame. I have read another one of Neil Gaiman’s books some time back and I must admit I didn’t really get it. But I have high hopes for this one. It’s about the old Gods, the Norse ones and so on, trying to survive extinction since no one believes in them anymore and there are new Gods in town, TV and Internet. And then there’s a guy and I think a roadtrip. Don’t quote me on that. But it looks really good and it’s about time I got it read.

I think I read somewhere that they might make it into a TV series.

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4 All The Bright Places – Jennifer Niven

This is a book I just heard about recently and I am very excited about the concept. The synopsis says “About a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die.” If that didn’t hooked me in enough they compared it to John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars. I know it’s a cheap shot but I love that book. And the film. So I need to read All The Bright Things. Apparently the two main characters meet in a bell tower at the edge and form an unlikely friendship.

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5 Cinder – Marissa Meyer

There has been a boom of fairy tale retellings and I personally love it. Therefore I am very excited about Cinder and The Lunar Chronicles as a whole. It has been on my wish list for quite some time and I just haven’t gotten round to buying it yet. But as I’ve understood it it’s a retelling of Cinderella but Linh Cinder the main character is a cyborg. A cyborg! How can you not be excited over fairytale cyborgs. And there’s of course a Prince. This sounds a bit like Doctor Who meets Disney!

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So those were my top 5 books I am excited about right now. What books are you guys excited about?