Skip navigation

Right. I have edited and changed some things from the story I posted before. 
Enjoy. And comment. Please!

“Lenny’s Graveyard Run”

(Lisa Harte. April 2015.)
The bus barrelled down the dirt road; the driver hunched over the big clockwork steering wheel as close as he could get. 

His scrawny fingers were wrapped around the cool black metal so tightly that his knuckles looked ready to split his skin. 

His name was Lenny, and his mood was foul, not that there was anyone to notice – such was his lot in life.

He was a bus driver. So he drove.

And he fumed.

– Goddamn sell-out corporate company. Work like hell, put in the hours, the days, the weeks, for years and years, but does that count? Noooo. It sure don’t. One lousy ‘mistake’ and it’s like you’re a newbie they can push around. You get the goddamn, stinking, graveyard run. –

Lenny hauled at the wheel

– And that prick of an inspector. He was just one of those grunts, and they promote HIM and every word that comes out his his ass is like pure gold. A stupid PC prick that probably wipes his ass on brown paper just to show he’s integrated. And anyway. I was right! I did NOT make a mistake. When it’s the job I am always right, they’re just too stupid to know it. –

It looked like it may rain.

– And that dumb tramp, the complainant? What a world we live in when somebody like HER is believed more than a professional. What did she expect would happen, walking around looking like that? What’s a man meant to do? Pass it up? It don’t make sense. All I did was give her a little pinch to tell her message received. Then BANG. Everyone hates me. –

It was raining for real. Unregulated, and uncontrolled rain started to pelt the panoramic windshield of his bus. Lenny could feel the blood pumping to his face, in the reflection he was red. Vermillion red. 

So red that it could have a pulse.

– Great. Just great. If this were my regular route through Durham-Proper, there’d be nice controlled weather for for city life and business needs. Out here in Rookhope, of all places! It’s chaos for God’s sake! It rains when and where it feels like it! 

Lenny could just imagine the dirt turning into mud that would splash up against the lovely chrome sheen on his bus. The mud would cover the ungrateful passengers and unregulated water, and they would then stomp and trek through his lovely pristine bus. 

– Don’t they know how hard I work to keep their stretch out? Don’t they appreciate that I clean the floors and scrape their leftovers from the bottoms of the seats! Nooooooo! –

The angrier he got the more he stomped on the accelerator.

The dashboard bleeped and a light flashed red to get his attention, the computer overload the mute he’d activated as soon as he boarded.

“Caution, Comrade,” Lenny muttered, snarling his lips up and making his voice sound high and winy, mimicking the voice that he knew was going to come.

“Caution, Comrade. Speed has now exceeded Federal Regulations. Please rectify or lose manual control as per Company regulations.”

– Naturally, the damn computer’s voice is delivered in the nonsensical drone of a woman. Of course it is. There is always a woman nagging you.- 

The bus driver continued to mumble about the injustice of women and their ‘nit-picking’, but still he complied and eased his foot off the pedal.

After the ‘incident’, Lenny was sent to the company’s counsellor to teach the man some calming techniques after he was made to sit through some ‘Behaviour in the Workplace’ seminars. At first it was all corporate bureaucratic nonsense to him, he was furious when they told him he had to sit through some Dr. Know-it-all telling him that his attitude was ‘not acceptable’. Lenny did not react well to this, and he let Dr. Know-it-all know it…. then he was made to take some anger management sessions with shrink or else he would be in danger of losing his job. The anger drained out of the Lenny with that information, he was for once afraid. He went to the appointment, he sat in the waiting room and he sweated more than he had ever before. 

It was now or never. Lenny gave it a try.

– Breathing colours, for God’s sake. What a joke. Then the shrink tells me that the colours will change as I breathed in, and then out. I was meant to imagine that the negative colours were being filtered out… Or something like that. I tell ya, I’m so glad it was a guy telling me this crap. It’s the only way that it made sense. It was a bit prissy, but whatever. –

Lenny was starting to feel calm again after imagining that he was breathing in a bright, fluorescent pink and when he exhaled the colour turned into a very calm, and soothing blue. 

Then the computer bleeped at him, a cyan blue light flashed and the computer again spoke in her honeyed voice.

‘Approaching fare stage. Boarding passenger imminent.’

Enraged again, Lenny glared through the rain flowing down his windshield. Then his eyes narrowed to slits as he scowled at the dashboard.

Then he snarled.

“Computer. Unregulated weather conditions are not optimum for passenger boarding.”

“County Durham State Incorporation Company Regulations, Section 10, Paragraph 9, clearly state that -“

“Yeah, yeah.”

Lenny muted the computer again. He knew the County Durham State Incorporation Company Regulations by heart. He knew exactly what the computer would have said to him. He has nightmares about that computer’s voice.

The bus eased to a stop.

Lenny took one more calming breath and touched the dashboard, the glass doors whooped open.

The passenger was wet.

And muddy.

The passenger was a woman.

Lenny rolled his eyes heavenward and sighed.

– Mighta known. –

“Destination and stand still for ID scan. On the mark.” 

– Oh shit. I forgot to say please.-

The woman stepped to the mark, she was holding herself in a way that made her look small. Lenny was instantly on his guard. In his mind, women only made themselves seem vulnerable and demure for a reason.

“Sir, I desire to go somewhere I can find shelter. As to my destination, I have no idea where I am.”

– Great, this is really my night. NOT. –

Lenny said nothing. He sat scowling at her doe a few uncomfortable seconds.

“How much money you got?”

“Please excuse me, Sir. But I have none.”

Lenny gave a tortured sigh.

“Then why did you wave me down?” 

His words came out in a screech, but the woman was unmoved.

Lenny glared at the dashboard. Readout said that she was registered as female, her name – Carma something that he couldn’t pronounce or even tried to. No present employment or residential status.

– Goddamn itinerants. Weird names and no money. It figures. Only somebody like this would be out here, in the sticks, at this time of night. –

While this battle was going on in Lenny’s head, the woman, Carma Something, was not phased by his instructions and alighted the bus, and out of the rain. 

Then all deference gone, she shook her wet hair, water splattered against the glass. No fear. She looked Lenny the bus driver straight in the eye.

“I can pay in other ways.”

Just in case he was unsure what she meant, the woman began to unbutton her coat.

Lenny fell back in his seat, he was flabbergasted. Then he cocked his head to get a better look at the woman, and felt that familiar pulse down below that was now pointing directly at her.   

– Might as well… –

Lenny raised an eyebrow, and said, “Alright -”

He didn’t get a chance to finish. 

He didn’t get a chance to finish because when the woman unbuttoned her coat it was to draw out a Police Pistol Mark 5 with which she shot the driver neatly between the eyes. 

She enjoyed it. Every little bit of it.

The way his eyes popped, the way his jaw sagged onto his chest and the way he flopped back when the bullet hit.

As if he had enough and leaned back, weary of it all.

Carma had lifted the pistol odd a foolishly trusting detective. She preferred it to the Mark 3 she carried before. It had much better action and a decent silencer, thus a much better, and a calmer shot.

She opened the driver’s booth and looked at the body. Neat and tidy, hair greased back, uniform immaculate.

It was likely to be all his own work. 

Mark’s like this – she scanned the ID plate – Leonard Bronsen, were getting rarer. 

Control freaks, the right guy if the right guy’s always right. A man who would beat a woman down into submission. Why not? He would think that is how things should be. 

Carma frisked the body and got nothing she could use.

House keys on a ring.

A wallet.

Correction; an empty wallet, except for an appointment card for a downtown shrink. It figured. Too little too late, Lenny, Carma thought. Yes, Mr. Leonard Bronsen who saw women as drudges, whores and bitches. You got one right.

She dragged the body out into the night. The boots clunked as rattled on the metal stairs and then Lenny’s lifeless body squelched as he hit the mud.

Back on board, Carma tapped the dashboard.

“Confirm present location please.”

A map appeared.

She let the computer auto-drive her to some more congenial spot and sat back.

It certainly felt good to be out of the rain.

La Fin.
1, 600 words.

In Memory

Coffee first thing

The percolator, always dripping

Four slices of toast

Lined up in their rack

A glass of orange juice

Everything had its place.

You eating your sausage –

Cumberland with marmalade –

When the Witch wasn’t looking

You’d pass me some toast

“Don’t worry sweetie, you won’t get fat”

In the reck-room

Reclined in your easy chair

Enjoying total silence, save for

the crinkle of the paper.

Glasses perched on the

end of your nose

Reflecting back

a not so pretty child

But you’d dip your head

Sneak me a wink

And when you smiled

I knew

Where I got my dimples from.

(Lisa Harte, April 2015)

‘And we sit upon the Rocks’

And we sit upon the Rocks

Till the stone spells a name

Casting out for lovers lost

Nothing, ever, stays the same

Till the stone spells a name

Looking to the bubbling Foam

Nothing, ever, stays the same

Never read, you are quite alone

Looking to the bubbling Foam

Somewhere, in there; is that a face?

Never fear, you are quite alone

Never still, in this time and place

And we sit upon the Rocks

Casting out for lovers lost.

(Lisa Harte, February 2015)

 

‘Distance – Variation on a Theme by Robert Burns’

O my Hate bleeds in the red red rose

That’s newly sprung in June

O my Hate, like the Death of me

That’s sweetly played your Doom

As sweet as you are, my bonnie lass

So deep in loathing am I

And I will cure you still, my dear

When my Heart is a sea gone dry

My Heart, a sea gone dry, my dear

It will be such good fun

To see just how much you can cry

And how fast you might run

And fare-thee-well, my bonnie lass

My Hate will keep a-while

There is much to do, and you shall put

Between us, ten thousand mile.

 

 (Lisa Harte, February 2015)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Labour – Variation on a Theme by W.H. Davies’

I have no time to stand and stare

And at this time, I barely care

No time to look upon the flowers,

Or muse over those broken towers

Birds prancing in the grass –

When will all of this pass?

The words fly by, barely a glance

I have no time to watch them dance

I have no time to simply be

The whole world, seems to rest on me

A silly life I chose to dare

No there is no time to stand and stare.

(Lisa Harte, February 2015.)

Lenny and the Graveyard Run.

I’ve finished it! I’m going to post this short story, and not look at it again for a few days. I want to enter it into a competition and the cut off date is the 1st of May. So until then, I might look at some more short stories and edit them… or do my assignments for uni. Lol.

Anyway, read, enjoy, tell me what you think.

Lenny’s Graveyard Run

By: Lisa Harte

April 2015.

The bus barrelled down the dirt road; the driver hunched over the big clockwork steering wheel as close as he could get.

His scrawny fingers were wrapped around the cool lack metal so tightly that his knuckles looked ready to split his skin.

His name was Lenny, and his mood was foul, not that there was anyone to notice but such was his lot in life.

He was a bus driver. So he drove.

And he fumed.

– Goddamn sell-out corporate company. Work like hell, put in the hours, the days, the weeks, for years and years, but does that count? Noooo. It sure don’t. One lousy ‘mistake’ and it’s like you’re a newbie they can push around. You get the goddamn, stinking, graveyard run. –

Lenny hauled at the wheel

– And that prick of an inspector. He was just one of those grunts, and they promote HIM and every word that comes out his his ass is like pure gold. A stupid PC price that probably wipes his ass on brown paper just to show he’s integrated. And anyway. I was right! I did NOT make a mistake. When it’s the job I am always right, they’re just too stupid to know it. –

It looked like it may rain.

– And that dumb tramp, the complainant? What a world we live in when somebody like HER is believed more than a professional. It don’t make sense. All I did was stand up for the now good old fashioned, and solid values. Then BANG. Everyone hates me. –

It was raining for real. Unregulated, and uncontrolled rain started to pelt the panoramic windshield of his bus. Lenny could feel the blood pumping to his face, in the reflection he was red. Vermillion red.

So red that it could have a pulse.

– Great. Just great. If this were my regular route there’d be nice controlled weather for for city life and business needs. Out here it’s chaos for God’s sake! It rains where and when it feels like it!

Lenny could just imagine the dirt turning into mud that would splash up against the lovely chrome sheen on his bus. The mud would cover the ungrateful passengers and unregulated water, and they would then stomp and trek through his lovely pristine bus.

– Don’t they know how hard I work to keep their stretch out? Don’t they appreciate that I clean the floors and scrape their leftovers from the bottoms of the seats! Nooooooo! –

The angrier he got the more he stomped on the accelerator.

The dashboard bleeped and a light flashed red to get his attention, the computer overload the mute he’d activated as soon as he boarded.

“Caution, Comrade,” Lenny muttered, snarling his lips up and making his voice sound high and winy, imitating the voice that he knew was going to come.

Caution, Comrade. Speed has now exceeded Federal Regulations. Please rectify or lose manual control as per Company regulations.”

– Naturally, the damn computer’s voice is delivered in the nonsensical drone of a woman. Of course it is. There is always a woman nagging you.-

The bus driver continued to mumble about the injustice of women and their ‘nit-picking’, but still he complied and eased his foot off the pedal.

After the ‘incident’, Lenny was sent to the company’s counsellor to teach the man some calming techniques. At first it was all corporate bureaucratic nonsense to him, he was furious when they told him he had to take some anger management sessions with shrink or else he would be in danger of losing his job. The anger drained out of the Lenny with that information, he was for once afraid. He went to the appointment, he sat in the waiting room and he sweated more than he had ever before.

It was now or never. Lenny gave it a try.

            – Breathing colours, for God’s sake. What a joke. Then the shrink tells me that the colours will change as I breathed in, and then out. I was meant to imagine that the negative colours were being filtered out… Or something like that. I tell ya, I’m so glad it was a guy telling me this crap. It’s the only way that it made sense. It was a bit prissy, but whatever. –

Lenny was starting to feel calm again after imagining that he was breathing in a bright, fluorescent pink and when he exhaled the colour turned into a very calm, and soothing blue.

Then the computer bleeped at him, a cyan blue light flashed and the computer again spoke in her honeyed voice.

‘Approaching fare stage. Boarding passenger imminent.’

Enraged again, Lenny glared through the rain flowing down his windshield. Then his eyes narrowed to slits as he scowled at the dashboard.

Then he snarled.

“Computer. Unregulated weather conditions are not optimum for passenger boarding.”

“Detroit State Incorporation Company Regulations, Section 10, Paragraph 9, clearly state that -“

“Yeah, yeah.”

Lenny muted the computer again. He knew the Detroit State Incorporation Company Regulations by heart. He knew exactly what the computer would have said to him. He has nightmares about that computer’s voice.

The bus eased to a stop.

Lenny took one more calming breath and touched the dashboard, the glass doors whooped open.

The passenger was wet.

And muddy.

The passenger was a woman.

Lenny rolled his eyes heavenward and sighed.

– Mighta known. –

“Destination and stand still for ID scan. On the mark.”

– Oh shit. I forgot to say please.-

The woman stepped to the mark, she was holding herself in a way that made her look small. Lenny was instantly on his guard. In his mind, women only made themselves seem vulnerable and demure for a reason.

“Sir, I desire to go somewhere I can find shelter. As to my destination, I have no idea where I am.”

– Great, this is really my night. NOT. –

Lenny said nothing. He sat scowling at her doe a few uncomfortable seconds.

“How much money you got?”

“Please excuse me, Sir. But I have none.”

Lenny gave a tortured sigh.

“Then why did you wave me down?”

His words came out in a screech, but the woman was unmoved.

Lenny glared at the dashboard. Readout said that she was registered as female, her name – Carma something that he couldn’t pronounce or even tried to. No present employment or residential status.

– Goddamn itinerants. Weird names and no money. It figures. Only somebody like this would be out here, in the sticks, at this time of night. –

While this battle was going on in Lenny’s head, the woman, Carma Something, was not phased by his instructions and alighted the bus, and out of the rain.

Then all deference gone, she shook her wet hair, water splattered against the glass. No fear. She looked Lenny the bus driver straight in the eye.

“I can pay in other ways.”

Just in case he was unsure what she meant, the woman began to unbutton her coat.

Lenny fell back on Company Regs.

            “You WILL desist, madam!”

            – My God. Did I just say that? –

Lenny didn’t get a chance to finish.

He didn’t get a chance to finish because when the woman unbuttoned her coat it was to draw out a Police Pistol Mark 5 with witch she shot the driver neatly between the eyes.

She enjoyed it. Every little bit of it.

The way his eyes popped, the way his jaw sagged onto his chest and the way he flopped back when the bullet hit.

As if he had enough and leaned back, weary of it all.

Carma had lifted the pistol odd a foolishly trusting detective. She persevered it to the MArk 3 she carried before. It had much better action and a decent silencer, thus a much better, and a calmer shot.

She opened the driver’s booth and looked at the body. Neat and tidy, hair greased back, uniform immaculate.

It was likely to be all his own work.

Mark’s like this – she scanned the ID plate – Leonard Bronsen, were getting rarer.

Control freaks, the right guy if the right guy’s always right. A man who would beat a woman down into submission. Why not? He would think that is how things should be.

Carma frisked the body and got nothing she could use.

House keys on a ring.

A wallet.

Empty of course, except for an appointment card for a downtown shrink. It figured. Too little too late, Lenny, Carma thought. Yes, Mr. Leonard Bronsen saw women as drudges, whores and bitches. You got one right.

She dragged the body out into the night. The boots clunked as rattled on the metal stairs and then Lenny’s lifeless body squelched as he hit the mud.

Back on board, Carma tapped the dashboard.

“Confirm present location please.”

A map appeared.

She let the computer auto-drive her to some more congenial spot and sat back.

It certainly felt good to be out of the rain.

La Fin.

1, 490 words.

In my Reading Poetry seminar, we were given David Cameron’s speech on immigration from The 24th November 2014, and tasked to write a found poem.

This is mine:

“I”

Today
I
Want
to talk about immigration.
That is what
I
Want.
It needs to be –
Controlled.
It needs to be –
Within.
and it needs to be centred around –
What
I
Want.

(By Lisa Harte, 2015)

FFS what a day. Seriously. What a day. For the last few days my anxiety has been near a 10 so I’ve been having to do a lot of mindfulness exercises, but the intense feeling that something bad is about to happen wouldn’t shake.

None the less I did my exercises to prepare to be productive today. I managed to get the child to school. I came home, and first pot hole; I couldn’t find my library book that’s over due. So now I can’t turn it in and it’s slowly incurring more and more charges. But whee the hell could it be?!!!! I’ve looked everywhere! And now I can’t find my Roots gloves. That’s really upset me because they were a gift from my sister when she went to Canada and they’re so nice and warm. Did I leave them in the taxi?

Honestly, I was ready to cry at this point.

I get the bus, stop to pick up some packages. Got lost in Newcastle, yet managed to find Collingwood House and make it on time for my theory test which I’ve been practicing solid for. Only to find out that because I didn’t bring the bit of paper that came with my provisional I couldn’t do the damn test! But of course I’ll still have to pay the £25 fee, not that I actually have the money in the bank to do this. But, the lady said, don’t order a new one just rebook your test in January because then the DVLA won’t issue the paper with the license so I won’t need it to do my fucking test!!!!!

Holding back tears, I got some Baileys to go in my coffee and now I’m sitting here in my safe house, brain storming for my final bit of my Portfolio and reading my Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction. Sounds like an odd way to chill out but I find reading these books get the brain juices going.

On the plus side I’ve made it home in time for The Daily Politics…. And Luna is giving me lots of snoodles.

I predict a rather angry and vindictive story is about to emerge from these stiff fingers….

For my assignment for Critical and Creative Practice I had to respond “creatively” to one of the texts we have been studying. This basically means rewrite a scene of text in your own way. I was initially going to do Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre but then it ended up being a mesh between that and Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’. I was only meant to do it on one text, but I couldn’t help myself.

Anyway, I don’t have to submit it through Turnitin (plagiarising software), so I can post the story for you now 🙂

Enjoy!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

In The Red Chamber

My head ached. I could feel the blood dribble down my forehead from the blow I had received. I dared not wipe it away; I was still sitting on my hands as commanded by the bitter Mrs. Abbot. Beneath me the ottoman was a pristine white, matching the large armchair that made the whole ensemble look like a throne. Mrs. Reed would not think that a blood smear would go with the overwhelming redness of the Red Chamber.

I must have passed out for a while, for when I opened my eyes again daylight began to forsake the red room and the beclouded afternoon was tending to dreary twilight. I heard the rain still beating continuously on the staircase window, the wind howling in the grove behind the hall, and something I was quite sure was answering it from the chimney.

“Jane. Jaaaaaaaane….”

I looked around. Who could that be? I was very much only in my present company.

“Jane!” More urgently now.

Gingerly I approached the mahogany desk. Its wood dark and smooth, polished clean by the maid. Even though this room was never used, it was always kept perfect, in a state of memorial for the late master of Gateshead Hall.

“Jaaaaaannnne….”

I opened the drawer.

I found a variety of papers, the mistress’s jewel casket and a round locket. When I went to touch it I swear it made a hissing sound that did make me jump. I steeled myself and grabbed the locket and flipped it open. Inside was a detailed miniature of the late Mr. Reed.

“You took your time!” Mr. Reed said crossly.

I am not ashamed to say that I dropped him with fright. He landed with an audible “Ooouf!”

“Mr. Reed! You spoke!”

“Clearly. Now pick me up, girl!”

I wasted no time; I had after all dropped him on his backside. “How are you speaking to me?”
Did he just roll his eyes at me?

“Sir, you died nine years ago -”

“Do you think I’m not aware of that!” Mr. Reed shouted, cutting me off.

“Are you a ghost? Haunting this painting and room?”

Mr. Reed’s thin lips turned into a horrible smile, exposing all the deviousness in his person. It was then that I realised the secret of the red-room, the spell in which kept it so lonely in spite of its grandeur.

Here in this chamber is where Mr. Reed breathed his last. Here he lay in state. Here in this room is where his coffin was taken by the undertakers’ men, and since that day a dreary consecration had guarded it from frequent intrusion for even though Death had taken him, Mr. Reed had no intention of leaving.

I grew by degrees cold as a stone, my courage sinking like a coin in the fountain.

“Mr. Reed, I had thought you would have been kinder to me if you had known me,” I managed to say to him.

“You mean if I had lived,” he snapped, “Perhaps I might have, but my spirit is harassed by the wrongs of my sister’s child. You, Jane!”

“Me! But what wrongs could I have done to interrupt you in your drawer?” I protested.

Mr. Reed laughed, and I tell you it was not a jolly laugh. There was no mirth or merriment in it, just a loud and deep cackle that made gooseflesh on my skin crawl.

“Girl, if you had done no wrong, then why are you here in this room? With me? Disturbing my resting in peace! If you are indeed, so innocent, then how is it you have come to speak to me this evening? Hmmmmmm?”

“I had a quarrel with Mr. Reed. That is John, your son.”

“And?”

“Well. I struck him. But he struck me first!”

“My son. Struck by a girl. What is that woman doing with herself?” Mr. Reed muttered, shaking his head in despair, “Is that why you are dribbling blood all over my clean room?”

I put my hand to my head, and indeed my hand came away smeared in crimson that was so bright it pulsed. I rushed to the looking glass to better inspect myself, but out of the corner of my eye I saw the wallpaper move.

“Mr. Reed!” I whispered, “I am not sure if we are alone in here!”

“Don’t be incredulous, who could possibly be in here?” Mr. Reed scoffed haughtily.

“But, Sir! I saw the wallpaper move!”

“What a wild imagination! It will do you no good, girl. Now come back here. I have something to tell you for your own good.”

I admit, that at the best of times I might not respect my superiors as I aught, but this time I did find it very difficult to sit myself down in the instant way required. The moving wallpaper had unsettled me. As I looked at it, an ugly fawn colour with a blush of pink, I felt a creeping sensation crawl all over my skin and into my soul.

“Girl!” Mr. Reed shouted, “Do pay attention!”

I quickly turned away from the wall and looked down at the miniature of Mr. Reed.

“Now, again. What I tell you is for you own good. You should try to be useful and pleasant, or else you shan’t have a home here.”

My mouth hung open. What an absurd piece of advice! Agreeable, indeed! As if one could be in such a way in the company of the vile John Reed and his vain and frivolous sisters. And Mrs. Reed! Wretched, spiteful woman! Agreeable! I was so angry that water began to leak from my eyes completely against my will. Then, my habitual mood of humiliation, self-doubt, and forlorn depression, fell damp on the embers of my ire.

I wiped my tears and hushed my sobs. He laughed at me, of course, but then he was after all, a Reed.

The moonlight slipped in through a slit in the vermillion curtains, casting a haunting light on the wallpaper. Ignoring Mr. Reed, I went up to the wallpaper to look again. The patterns now noticeable with some light. The colour really was repellent, almost revolting. It had an odour that seeped into my hair and crept all around the room. A strange smell that I had not noticed before, but now it my senses would not be rid of it.

“Jane. Jaaaaane! What is it little girl?”

“What!” I snapped. A pox on him!

“Come back here!”

“No! I assure you there is something behind the wallpaper!”

Mr. Reed sighed audibly, “I think someone is in need of a tonic.”

I refused to listen. I got right up close to the wallpaper, my nose nearly touching it. If you could imagine toadstool joints, yes, an interminable strong of toadstools, budding and sprouting in endless convolutions. Yes. That is how I would describe the pattern to you, this horrid, smouldering, unclean wallpaper. There is a recurrent spot where the pattern lolls like a broken neck, and two bulbous eyes stared out at me upside down. I shivered.

“I would not linger too close if I were you,” Mr. Reed said in a deeply serious voice.

“Why ever not? After all, you said there was no one behind there.”

“There are things in that paper that nobody knows but me, or ever will!”

Aha! I really have discovered something at last!

Indistinguishable, that funny mark on the wallpaper was clearly a hand pushing away. The shape changed, and it looked like a woman creeping, stooped down and skulking.

“It is most certainly a woman!”

Mr. Reed shrugged in his little miniature, “It might be Bertha. But one can never tell with her.”

Just then the faint figure behind seemed to shake the pattern, just as if she wanted to get out. I could see her clearly, pressing and pushing against the horrid paper. I got up close, and the paper did move! I had to get that poor woman out of there!

I pulled at the paper, starting from the bottom. I pulled and she shook, I shook and she pulled. The wallpaper began to peel, slowly at first, and then as I began to work more frantically, she too pushed back with the same vigour. All the while Mr. Reed kept shouting my name, Jane! Jaaaaaaane! But I studiously ignored him.

“Leave her Jane! She’s a beast!”

“No!” I cried.

“You’ll go mad when you see her!” he warned joyfully.

I did not care. Finally, I had peeled off all the wallpaper that I could reach. It sticks horribly and the pattern just enjoys it!

The woman, revealed, fell out of the wall an on to me. We crashed to the floor with a thud that made Mr. Reed laugh with unadulterated joy.

“Bertha! Bertha! You’re out! You’re real!” I cried.

“That’s not my name!” she screeched! And carried on screaming.

Screaming. Screaming. Screaming.

***

Bessie ran down the corridor, the sound she heard send a chill right down to her soul. Mrs. Reed should not have left the girl in there for so long. Fumbling the keys at first, for the screams were the sounds of angels dyeing and made her hands shake abnormally. She finally managed to unlock the door to the Red Chamber and wrenched it open with unimagined strength.

She was not at all prepared for what she saw, and she nearly fainted.

There on the floor, was Jane. Screaming, and clawing at her face.

She sat in front of the looking glass, and rocked most violently. In between the pauses of her screams she cried;

“That’s not my name!”

The End.
1, 606 words aprox.