Hey all, so i’ve been at this awhile with non-christian books and before i launch my new series i want to have atleast 20-50 peeople ready to leave a review on the first day. Amazon is a tough place and having reviews on launch will help a lot to help me out, i’ll be putting together a group that wants to get the book for free a full 6 weeks before.
I’ll be adding a Mailing list and facebook group. Still i want everyone who says yes i’ll review it, to have read the first two chapter first. I mean i don’t want to force you to read something you actually like.
Ghosts of the living:
Jenn woke from her small bed to the smell of smoke, finding herself coughing and struggling to breathe. She rose in a panic and rolled from her bed to the hard-wooden floor before she was fully awake. There was light outside in the hallway, her bedroom door was open, and she heard yelling. Or screaming rather. It sounded a lot like her sister’s voice. She looked up; the ceiling of the darkened room was full of black smoke, so she crawled hand and knees out of her room and looked into the hallway. Her father’s room was at the end of the hall; orange light came from it. Black smoke poured out of the door; she could hear her twin sister, Laura, crying and screaming.
Jenn forced herself to stand and run toward the doorway and the fire. She cried out, ‘Laura, father?’ And she ran into the room. She wished in a way she hadn’t gone in. Her father lay in his small single bed, and there was blood all over his white sheets. His head lay to the side; his throat had been roughly cut. Dark blood poured over the sheets. The bed was on fire, and it had grown to fill the room, taking the curtains and bedside table where his reading candle had been.
Laura stood at the base of the bed. She looked at Jenn and smiled. She was 12 and one day, yesterday had been their birthday. In her hand, she held a large kitchen knife. It dripped blood, and she just stared at her sister. The flames grew behind her, but she didn’t move, she was staring off into nothing. She’d been screaming moments ago. ‘Laura?’ Jenn said. Her voice shaking with fear.
Her sister snapped out of the trance and looked at her, smiling again. ‘It’s over Jenn, he’ll never hurt you, he’ll never hurt me again, I’ve saved us both,’ she said.
As she watched, her sister drew the knife in long, slow cuts up her arms. The blade sunk into her white flesh and cut a long line up the length of it. Jenn screamed and ran to her, but had to step back. The fire was growing and growing, the whole room full of flames. Suddenly other people were behind her, dragging her backwards. She screamed as they carried her out of her house and down the stairs. As she stood outside in the street, the house where she’d spent the last two years went up in flames before her.
She was in shock, watching as the flames grew and devoured the old wooden apartment. Her neighbours did their best to save the adjoining houses, and a police carriage came along shortly, drawn by two scared looking horses, a small black carriage with thick metal bars on the back. She was taken in the carriage to the police station in Hatton Garden, She wasn’t a criminal, she didn’t think, but her only family were dead, she was 12 and the police probably had no idea what they should do with her. She was brought into the large stone building by a policeman in his fine blue uniform and a little hat and made to sit down. He looked at her. ‘We’ve sent for the church ladies, they might have a room for you,’ he said.
She hadn’t even looked at his face or seen what he looked like, but after an hour of waiting on the hard wooden benches, a woman appeared. She shuffled along the hallway of the station and was shown to her. She looked like a church woman, old, fragile hands and a plain but full-length dress. ‘Poor child, what a night you have had, they say you’ll need a place to stay, my church in Kent hill run an orphanage, you can stay with us,’ she said.
Jenn just nodded at the lady. ‘I am MS. Sarah Davidson, but calling me Sarah is fine. I will stay with you for a while,’ she said.
The old lady patted her leg through her dress. Jenn liked her. She got a good feeling from her; she seemed sad that Jenn was going through this. No one had said anything to her, not a single word of regret or sadness allowed. In moments, her entire life and family had been ripped away from her in blood and flames, but now there was working to do and forms to sign. No one seemed to think she should be upset; it was just another night in London for them.
Sarah was trying to be kind, but Jenn started to cry, she was an orphan now. This morning she’d had a sister, a father, a home. She’d even had a mother, years ago and now she had nothing. They had no family in London, and her father’s family in Ireland hated them all.
She cried into her hands; they still smelled of smoke and she coughed a lot.
The woman stood up. ‘Officer, has this girl been seen by a doctor? It seems like she has breathed in a lot of smoke,’ she said.
He looked unconcerned, but did what the old lady said. Jenn sat for another hour or so, until a doctor came. He was one of the first doctors she had ever seen, but looked as she imagined one too. He was short, in a suit and had a stethoscope around his neck. She looked at it and shuddered, hoping he didn’t want to touch her with it. The man put it to her back, luckily over her dress and had her breathe. When she did, he just nodded. ‘Minor smoke inhalation, you’ll be fine,’ he said.
Sarah had been with her the whole time. Jenn liked the lady, she just sat by her and didn’t say much, but that was good. In moments, the policeman was back and he spoke to her. ‘She can take you, but first I need your statement, you’re the only witness,’ he said.
She had been dreading this- what should she tell them? How much did they already know? She had to be very careful. Jenn was taken into a bluestone room and sat at a table and the nun sat next to her like a guardian. The policeman was opposite her. As she waited, the door opened, and her heart dropped. Another man walked in. He was young, had a moustache, a pencil in his pocket, glasses, and a thin smile. Doctor Sinclair.
The man sat, and he looked at her, hard. ‘I’m so sorry Jenn, but this was a danger we should have expected,’ he said. He was another person who didn’t look sad at all. He seemed like he had things to do and this was getting in the way.
The policeman looked at her. ‘So, this Doctor Sinclair says he was treating your sister, that she was close to being admitted to bedlam- I mean Bethlem hospital, but your father stepped in,’ he said.
Jenn just nodded. Her sister had been sick. She saw things and they would have taken her away a long time ago if their father hadn’t stopped it. She’d almost been taken by the city twice, but each time he argued that she was just grief-stricken for their mother’s passing, even though that was two years past. ‘Tell me what happened,’ the policeman said.
He took out his pencil and started to write what she said in a small black letter pad. ‘I woke and there was smoke, I heard Laura and I ran to father’s room,’ she said.
She tried not to cry as she imagined his dead body. She had loved him and he loved them, for all his torments, he had been a good man. ‘He was dead, she killed him and then she killed herself,’ she said.
They all stared at her, and the Woman patted her leg, the pencil scratched on the paper, but Doctor Sinclair peered at her like she was a bug under a microscope. ‘What did she say to you?’ he asked. ‘She said he’d never hurt me now and wouldn’t be able to hurt herself,’ she said.
He looked at his papers, notes from his ‘sessions’ with Laura. So the city didn’t take her, she’d had to go and see him once a week and talk about how she felt. The policeman looked at them. ‘Was your father abusive? Did he hurt you?’ the officer asked.
She just stayed quiet, she’d said too much already.
Doctor Sinclair spoke up, ‘I have detailed notes of Laura’s mental state and had spoken with your father extensively, would it be fair to say her thoughts and accusations against your father were not true and were a result of her mania?’ he asked.
Jenn didn’t know what to say, she didn’t want people to say her father was a molester, but she sensed this man was dangerous. ‘He never hurt me, he couldn’t, he wasn’t that kind of man, Laura was confused,’ Jenn said.
Sinclair laughed. ‘Confused? She killed your father, she gave me many details of his crimes and she surely experienced something. But her accounts don’t make sense, she describes her father as looking differently, of being much older, a permeating smell of tobacco on his hands, but I know your father wasn’t a smoker.’
She was silent. She knew Laura had had visions, she saw things no one else saw. The problem was, Jenn saw them too. She knew a man like this doctor was waiting for his chance to lock her up as well. He’d always asked about her, did she see them as well? She’d just never trusted them as Laura had. She knew she’d never get better and these kinds of people couldn’t help. ‘He never hurt us,’ Jenn confirmed.
The policeman closed his book. ‘We’re satisfied that this happened because of willful homicide, committed by your sister, who then took her only life. You are free to go, but as you are only 12, you will have to be a ward of the state until your 18th birthday, according to the orphans and war child act of 1765,’ he said. ‘Given you were born in the parish of Kent, they will have responsibility for you.’
She looked at the old woman, there were worse fates, she thought this lady and her group would at least be kind and not run a workhouse. ‘No,’ Doctor Sinclair said.
The policeman looked at him. ‘No?’ Doctor Sinclair spoke to her, trying to look compassionate. ‘Jenn the problem is your sister suffered a deep mania and indeed we see now she was a danger to herself and others. I have done extensive work with twins and we often find what effects one, effects the other. I think you’re smarter than Laura, I think you don’t talk about these things, but I’m sure that you see them as well.’
Her heart was racing. She knew he could take her if he wanted, she had no guardian to stop him. ‘I don’t,’ she insisted.
He opened his black bag and from it, he pulled out a candlestick. It was silver and ornate, but she didn’t like the look of it. It was one of those powerful objects that seemed to radiate ill memories. ‘Now the central theme of Laura’s mania was that she claimed she could see the memories of others, all the bad things that have ever happened supposedly leave a mark. It was of course a delusion, but she was very good at convincing people it was true, so touch this with your bare hand and I’ll believe you,’ he said.
She looked at it, it looked wrong. The bottom was very solid and she imagined it had been used violently. She sometimes saw the memories, not as strong as Laura, but if something bad had happened, if someone had killed someone with this thing, she’d see and feel it. ‘No,’ she said. ‘Why not? Any sane person would touch it. It’s a simple candlestick,’ Sinclair said.
Jenn was strong, she had been repressing her senses for years and could do it again. She took off her gloves and reaching out, took hold of the silver candlestick.
The memory and pain hit her hard. She felt it as a real pain in her body. She saw an unknown person holding the stick high then smashing it into someone’s skull. She felt the killer’s memory and the victim’s, they washed together as one. The hand that held the weapon and the skull it crushed. She felt the rage of the killer, so extreme and the pain as it hit. It was like her own head had been crushed, the pain extreme.
She stared at the doctor, trying to show no emotion on her face, but knew she had, she’d flinched. ‘It’s just a candlestick’ she said. ‘Sorry Genevieve, I just don’t believe you,’ he replied.
They escorted Jenn in a police carriage to Bethlem hospital that night. It was raining outside the carriage and she sat with her back against the wood. She was glad in a way that she wasn’t strong, when Laura had first told her of her powers, the things she saw and knew, she’d been jealous. It came to her much more slowly, getting vague feelings about people and places, and there were certain rooms or houses she just hated for no apparent reason. She and her sister had often visited their uncle in Winchester. She hated his big old house. Laura had known why she’d hated it. She’d said that the master of the house had shot himself with a rifle, twenty years ago, and claimed she knew where the gun was. All Jenn knew was she didn’t like being in there, it felt wrong.
Now she was older she saw and felt the visions more clearly. Sometimes she felt the pain of them, as if it were happening to her, she’d see them before her eyes like some awful play acted on a stage, but she would push them down. She prayed a lot, she asked God to deliver her from her curse, to take it away, but he never did. She was stuck with it, and it was getting worse. She knew that by her end Laura was living in another world, a world surrounded by the ghosts of the living. She could see almost any strong memory, feel it like it was her own. It turned from her source of pride to something she also hated, but unlike Jenn, she’d thought her parents would help her.
The wagon pulled to a stop in front of the hospital. She was led out by a man and she looked at the building. It was a huge old thing. Made of blue stone with a large archway and looked like the converted prison that it was. It was the home of all the advanced treatment techniques for mania, Dr Sinclair had thought he could cure Laura, but her father hadn’t let Laura be sent here and by the end she was scary even to Jenn.
The man led her inside. The front room was small and narrow. Once she’d stepped inside, she was made to wait on a wooden bench. The doctor soon joined them. He had his own carriage and stepped in from the rain. He went to the nurse and spoke with her. ‘Jenn, they’ll get you settled, treatments and discussion will start tomorrow,’ he explained.
Having said that he left her alone.
She was scared, not only was this a place where they did horrible things to people, she could feel the visions growing, she was getting a very bad feeling. It was like a sickness growing in her belly, she knew that her visions were only getting stronger and if she showed them to the doctor, he’d see that as proof she was mad. Laura had spent so much time convincing people her visions were real, she knew things no one could know, but no one ever believed her, they just said she used rumour and was good at lying.
The man led Jenn out of the foyer and through the building. She was on the ground floor and it looked like a prison she’d read about in The Count of Monte Cristo. She was lead up the hallway and through a door. Once through, the noise was near unbearable; people screamed all around her, banging on their doors and crying out to the guard. They walked past rows and rows of thick steel doors and into another wing that thankfully was quieter. She was led upstairs and to a small door. It had a grill in it, barred. The guard put a big key to a lock and opened the room.
She looked inside. It was a small room with bluestone walls and a concrete floor with a single wooden bed. On the wall was a bolt of metal, a long chain, and a collar. She knew that would end up around her if she were bad. ‘You’re in here until the doctor wants you, food in your room, toilet in the bucket,’ he said.
He shoved Jenn into the room and she stumbled to the bed and sat down. She looked at the bucket, it was steel and thankfully empty. He locked the door behind her. There was a window, barred, but it let in a fraction of moonlight. Jenn walked to the bars at the window and put her hands to it. She recoiled in moments, but it was too late.
A vision filled her mind, a young man, truly mad and desperate, she felt the pain in her face as he slammed his head into the metal bars repeatedly. Killing himself, taking the dark escape route from this place. She calmed her breathing and walked to the middle of the room. The sick feeling was growing in her and the visions came in a flood. She’d always avoided places like this, now she couldn’t escape.
Memory upon memory fell on her; men and women trapped in this cell, the things that were done to them, water treatment, electroshock, the hunger the loneliness, the utter silence of the room. She saw all the people in here for years and years. She collapsed to the floor, her hands in front of her, tears in her eyes. ‘Please lord rid me of these cursed visions, please lord rid me of these cursed visions,’ she repeatedly prayed as the visions tore at her mind.