Nothing from Bedlam Maternity this week folks, sorry. :-) Have a tiny excerpt from later on in Changeling instead. It will be deleted mid-week. Can't keep giving you new stuff - I'm too busy writing it! :-)
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Chapter One Chapter Two Chapter Three Chapter Four
Thursday, 19 May 2011
Saturday, 14 May 2011
You probably won't get more, until launch. Probably.
Rose Templar walked the frosty streets in the dark before the dawn. Later on that day, a minor royal personage would be officially opening the maternity unit now under her tender care. Not that she was in charge of all of it, in fact, she was just one of the tiny cogs in a massive machine named the National Health Service. She had been given the duty shift that would see her ensuring that no ‘bother’ interrupted the press call and she’d found herself awake, and fretting, a couple of hours before the alarm clock. So she’d decided she may as well just get on with it, and get to work early.
She usually enjoyed the long walk to and from work. When her wreck of a Victorian hospital had been demolished and the new spanking bright and very expensive one they’d all dreamed of for years had finally been started, she’d been faced with a choice. She could have moved out of her old flat, its mortgage paid off in the divorce settlement, and bought something snazzier near the new unit. However, no matter how much house prices had risen in her old area, the new unit was in a now quite expensive and trendy part of the East End. Her salary gave her a reasonable standard of living with no mortgage to pay and moving would cut into to that. Equally, she’d spend a lot of money on transport if she’d stayed where she was. When trying to make the ends meet in her mind, she’d determined that two birds could be killed with one stone. She’d started to spread out around her waist, hips and butt, in a most annoying and middle aged fashion; which was appropriate in her mid-50s, but she detested it. Exercise was something she knew she should be doing, but when to find the time? And the average day in the wards saw her standing and walking for hours, wasn’t that enough? Observing her clothes tighten as her breath quickened on stairs, she decided it wasn’t. Faced with financial problems no matter what route she took to the new unit, she’d decided to take to the streets and walk the 4 miles every day, there and back.
Everyone had scoffed at the idea, and declared she’d be shelling out bus or Tube fare quickly. And, as she’d struggled through the first two weeks, done thankfully when she was on leave, she’d thought they were right. It was madness. But Rose very rarely left off on anything that she’d set her mind to, and by the time the new unit had opened up enough for her to start work there, she could do the 4 miles in 45 minutes if she had to, and in an hour and 15 minutes on most days. The walk home took longer, as it would, after a 12 hour shift. She’d slowly dropped a dress size and found a lot of her clothes more comfortable to wear as a result. She hadn’t faced winter yet, ‘tho, and had ordered a pair of ice grips well ahead of time. The weather proof clothing she’d bought had been more than a match for London so far. She’d always enjoyed walking in the rain anyway.
The walk had become her down time, a soothing space to settle herself into. Time to relax into the day on the way there, and unwind from it on the way back. It was particularly useful in coping with shift work and she’d wished she’d found this balm long before economics had pushed it on her. But there was no peace to be found this morning: she was just winding herself up with all the thoughts that could go wrong. Some of those thoughts were about what could go wrong with the opening ceremony, the security, the minor royal who was famed for rubbing the patients up the wrong way when chatting to them, and the general behaviour of her team. Most of the worries were for her women ‘tho, which is how she thought of her patients. Labour and birth had their own rhythms. Unlike most areas of a hospital, it couldn’t be controlled, scheduled and made to conform to routine. At least, not here, not yet. She’d spent two months in New England, working on an exchange of medical knowledge programme, and had been horrified by how American business has taken over birth. She’d certainly learned a lot when there, and used that knowledge to bolster her in fighting encroachment here. Echoes of that worry were pinging through her thoughts. The new Chief Executive of the Trust had a very presidential attitude to both the patients, and the staff. Fresh from working on a team that had lost millions of pounds of tax payer’s money on the railway system, he’d taken over his new fiefdom with a massive grin for the cameras and an iron grip on resources. He’d already made it clear he wanted no cries, screams, sweaty labouring women or bloody babies being spotted when the press were in the building. Particularly the bloody baby.
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
Friday, 6 May 2011
|Hogarth Cruelty in Perfection|
Anyways... back to this chapter here. Whilst I am working on Lucifer's Stepdaughter, the space from launching has allowed a new story to grow in my brain. A short, sharp and savage little novel, I'm introducing you to here: Bedlam Maternity.
The following chapter notwithstanding, it's set in modern day London, in the East End. It should be out in a few months if this rate of work continues. As soon as I've saved up enough money to get it edited, and found a cover, really. Something to attract a more mainstream horror audience to my work, as I work off and out, the rest of the trilogy. I may, in fact, aim, to do two short novels in-between books 2 and 3 of the trilogy, we'll see. :-)
The following is also something of a How I Write entry. It is a first draft, with the ink still drying. If you spot any typos, comment me. I won't change them here, but I'll change them on the main manuscript. At some point in the future, you'll be able to compare what's here, with the final product. That should be interesting. I'll let you have Chapter 2 in a couple of weeks. It needs more work, and was written before this one. This one was written in two days. And I typed the last word about 15 minutes before posting this.
I won't say enjoy. You won't. But bet'ya you shiver.
The rain had cleared some of the thick soot from the air of Seven Dials, but it had done nothing to reduce the stench from the streets. The man scraped mud, rancid pig intestines and human shit off his boots, before slipping into the back door of the tavern. He didn’t want to be seen, and not being seen often meant walking through the worst of the back alleys, ignoring the smell and the slime. He was momentarily blinded by the thick layers of tobacco smoke that hung in the stagnant air. It was of no matter, for his ears soon located his prey, the thick Scottish accents leading him to their table, tucked as far back as possible from any door way. He seated himself without invite.
The two men nodded greeting, but the newcomer said nothing in return. For a moment, silence fell between them. The older Scot nudged the younger one, who rose and went to find service. The silence remained until he returned and placed a pint pot of gin down on the rough wood of the bench that served as table.
The newcomer lifted the pot up, and drank deeply, before saying ‘Thankin’ ye both kindly.’
They both nodded their own reply, and waited out the other’s pleasure. He drank half way down the pot, and then fumbled in his pockets, drawing out a pipe. A few moments of searching revealed no tobacco. Once again, the older man prompted the younger.
‘John, offer our friend here some o’yer baccy.’
The younger man sighed, and fished out his leather pouch. Faced with handing over the contents in a lump, or just handing over the pouch, he chose the later, resigned to never seeing it again. As he suspected, the man filled his pipe, tapped it, and pocketed the pouch. John attended to taking a long draught of his ale, in order to cool his temper.
The visitor filled the air up between them with thick streams of smoke. It helped make them even more invisible, not that anyone else in the tavern was paying them the slightest attention. You didn’t come in here, if you required anyone to notice you. The silence held until the newcomer leaned forward, encouraging the other two to lean in to attend to his words.
‘She be near her time, like I said. Ahv spoked to the Mother, right, and she’s in agreement, for the right amount.’ He rubbed his fingers together for emphasis. ‘And she is happy to go somewhere special, since there’s two o’them.’
The older man leaned in closer. ‘Yer sure, o’ the two?’
‘Aye. No bother aboot it. Ahv no seen her m’sel, mind, but the Mother says she’s seen twins afore, and it’s for sure.’ He sat back, content to have unloaded his information.
The two Scots also sat back, in unison. The younger attempting to swallow down a smug grin. The older and more business hardened needed no effort to maintain his stone face, or the silence. After several moments of drinking, and contemplating the streams of smoke, the elder spoke.
The silence returned again. The newcomer had slowed down his drinking, to make sure there was still some left to finish upon. There would be no more free drinks, he was sure.
It was more than he’d expected, and it caught him on the hop. ‘There’s the Mother, she’ll need her share.’
‘Four. And we pay the carriage to and fro, and hire the man.’
He was caught and he knew it. He nodded, and drained his pot, then slammed it down. ‘Right, four it is.’ He rose and shambled out of the tavern, the way he’d come, taking a second to adjust to the street’s light, before moving off to disappear in a growing fog.
A fog that helped the two Scots mightily in their unseen and un-noted journey back to more affluent streets, the older man refusing to allow the younger to speak his excitement, whilst they were in public.
Eliza Jennings shifted her bulk on the thin straw mattress, feeling the strain as she heaved her hips round to the other side, trying to gain some relief from the pain. The straw did little but hold the dirt to the wooden boards she rested on. Her thin bones were not grateful for the wood’s embrace. No matter how she turned, no matter how many times she turned, all she gained was a few moments’ relief before the bones started up their ache once more. This time, in response to her efforts, her swollen stomach started up a drum beat of protest.