See the film made for my inspirational poem, Why Do We Do It,
for anyone who has a dream.
Freebie for you to download on this link, Three for Hallowe'en: http://geni.us/WVN
This should be free on Amazon but they do sometimes decide to charge. If you can't get it free on Amazon, you will find it on iBooks, Barnes and Noble, Kobo and various other outlets.
I apologise for the spacing and formatting on these pages. I am not good at technical website things, however I assure you my books are all correctly formatted. These excerpts are just to give you a taste of the story.
Out of Time
Etheldreda looked about her. The dark-faced man, the one who seemed to be in control, glanced in her direction and beckoned her over. She stood meekly before him and lowered her eyes.
"Look at me, woman! Have you seen any of us before?"
"No, my lord." Her heart hammered so hard she could barely speak.
"Good. You would do well never to see us again. In truth, you would do better to never have seen us at all."
"I shall endeavour to forget you have ever been here, my lord."
"See that you do." He tilted her chin upward with an iron grip. "You are very composed, Sister. Do you not fear me?"
"Sire, I believe that my Lord will protect me. I know you could crush me like an ant, but would you not fear for your mortal soul to harm a bride of Christ? We have no interest in worldly things. We are here only to serve our Lord." Some mischief prompted her to add, "You need have no fear of us."
She nearly choked. Where had she found the courage – or was it foolhardiness – to say such a thing? She stole a glimpse at his face. His lips were twitching. Thank God, he seemed to be more amused than angry.
"Well, I'm thankful for that, lass," he spluttered. "What a weight off my mind. Now, off with you. Be about your business."
Etheldreda needed no further encouragement. Thank goodness he hadn't asked to see inside her basket.
Wait!" He was staring at her. She held her breath.
Sitting there, afraid to move in case I made a noise, I tried to quell the tide of panic welling up in me. The blackness was so thick, it seemed to threaten to extinguish my small glimmer of light. Terrified in case it went out, I concentrated on the space in front of me which I knew to be the door. If I looked really hard, I imagined I could see a thin sliver of light coming from the edge. I kept my eyes on that and stayed there, still, mute with fear.
A commotion in the room beyond made me jump. Loud voices, clanking weapons, and then Hildegarde's calm voice. "Please be seated, gentlemen. What can I do for you?"
A harsh voice - the spokesman, the one I had noticed. "Abbess, do you know who J...Jankin is?"
"I am not sure. Will you tell me?"
"Safer you know nothing. And safer by far if you forget anything you've seen today."
Hildegarde's voice showed no trace of fear. "How can I forget something which never happened to someone I have never met?"
"And what of your women? The sisters?"
"Most of my sisters have seen nothing. They are sheltered young women; indeed, they rarely leave the confines of the Abbey. You have nothing to fear from their tongues, my lord."
"What about the old one? The infirmaress? She saw everything."
"My lord, we are nuns, women of God. We do not gossip. We do not involve ourselves with worldly things. We are here to serve the lord. We pray; we nurse; we work. We do little else. We mix little with those from the outside."
"Very well, so be it. Be sure your daughter nuns do not remember anything they have seen. Now, about the young woman who entered the infirmary with you."
I felt myself go cold. An involuntary shiver ran through me at the menace in the voice.
"Ah yes. She was merely here delivering a message. She has gone now. She saw very little." The calm voice was assured. "I believe she lives some way off, and I am very certain she understood nothing of what she saw."
Part of me was shocked. This woman was an abbess. Yet, I supposed she was telling a version of the truth.
"So you say, Abbess. but I think it behoves us to make sure of that. And before we go, I think we will just take a look around to make sure she didn't linger. One of my men will remain with you while we search."
"As you wish." The Abbess sounded cold and disapproving. "Do not accost my nuns. You will treat them with the respect which should be accorded to holy sisters. And don't frighten them. Some of them are of a nervous disposition and not used to men. I think I shall accompany you."
The sound of heavy footsteps receded.
These short stories are shorter than most of those in my new book, 'Beautiful and other short stories' as space here is limited. However I hope you enjoy these sample of my work.
Trick or Treat © Loretta Livingstone 2014
Joe Spence kicked a can down the road disconsolately. Just his luck to get stuck with his little sister! Susie wanted to do Hallowe'en. And what Susie wanted, Susie got! What about what he wanted? His mum was busy, so guess who was left holding the baby? You got it. Muggins!
"Oi, Suze - stay in sight," he bawled as the small black cat with blonde pigtails and a red basket skittered down the street ahead of him.
"Come on, Joe! I wanna go in here. Hurry up. Hurry!" Her determined whine set his teeth on edge. He'd already shepherded her up and down two of the adjoining roads. Wouldn't she ever get tired? He had a party to go to. If he didn't get cracking, he'd lose his chance to hook up with Leanne.
Leanne was gorgeous. Seventeen, and ripe as a peach; long black eyelashes fringed hypnotic green eyes. And those lips...His own lips almost puckered in anticipation. And if Squirt, here, didn't get bored soon, he'd be late. If he was late, Barney Hunter would get in first. He stopped under a street light to check his watch for the umpteenth time, a light sweat of anxiety glistening on his forehead.
Susie was hopping from one leg to the other is a frenzy of frustration, waiting for Joe to catch up. This house was almost in darkness, but a faint light showed from the hall. The door was open and something was spilling out, sprawled across the step. Susie peered through the mist that was beginning to swirl about her, but she couldn't quite work out what it was. Glancing back to make sure Joe had nearly reached her, she opened the gate, which creaked satisfyingly, and took one tentative step towards the door. Joe loomed closer. Susie, emboldened by his presence, moved a little further down the path, brow furrowed with impatience.
Joe had reached the gate by now and was watching her, a scowl on his face. Bother him, she thought. Old grumpy guts. And, keeping her eyes on the thing by the door, she tiptoed closer. Oooh. Scary. She gave a delighted shiver; it looked like a dead person. "Trick or treat," she trilled in a childish treble. "Trick or tre-e-e-eat."
A shrouded figure appeared at the door. "Here! Catch!" it ground out in guttural tones. A handful of sweets landed in the basket she was holding out. One bounced off the rim and landed on the ground by the figure lying there. Grinning, she bent to pick it up.
Suddenly, she froze in disbelief, as a hand stretched towards her. A bloodshot eye opened and swivelled to look at her, a great gash of a mouth opened, and a hoarse voice croaked, "Help me!"
Susie screamed. Her high-pitched banshee wail hung on the misty evening air as she stood there appalled. Then, dropping her basket, she turned and ran for her life.
Joe gave a snort of laughter. Nice one, he thought as Susie continued her headlong flight towards home and safety. "I owe you one, Mate," he called over his shoulder as he sauntered after her. Now he could get to the party and stake his claim.
"Have they gone?" a voice from within whispered to the figure who had thrown Susie the sweets.
"Yeah, coast clear. C'mon, let's get out of here."
"What about him?"
"Leave him! Let's go."
The two housebreakers, disguised as ghostly monks, slipped down the path and disappeared into the gloom, leaving poor Mr. Brown to be discovered by the next trick or treaters.
Miss Black's Happiest Hallowe'en © Loretta Livingstone 2014
Claudia Black hated Hallowe'en with all her heart. She never took part, preferring to close her curtains so tightly that not a chink of light escaped onto the street. She never answered the door and always hoped the night would pass uneventfully, but every year, the same thing happened. As soon as it grew dusk the doorbell would start to peal. On and on it went. She would stick her fingers in her ears and crouch low on her settee, pretending she wasn't there, TV turned down so she could hardly hear it. Then the banging. Louder and louder, until she thought the door would burst off its hinges. After what seemed like hours, her nerves in shreds, something would smack against her door, and the next day she would have to clear the mess of eggs which splattered door and windows.
Well, not this year! This year, things would be different. This year, she was taking her life back. Humming happily along with her radio, she got ready for the evening ahead. Brightly coloured sweets were piled enticingly in two baskets, a Snow White outfit lay strewn across the bed, and a toy black cat was ready to attach to her leg with Velcro straps. She danced over to the bed, picked up the outfit and peered into the mirror as she held it up against her. Perfect. She put it on, did her hair and make-up, twirled a couple of times, admiring her reflection and went downstairs, poised and ready, shivering with expectation.
Sure enough, just after dusk, the doorbell pealed insistently. This time however, instead of cowering in her front room, trembling with fear, she flung open the door and stood there waiting, her face alight with anticipation.
"Trick or treat?" A tall, sturdy ghost stood before her, a sheet obscuring its features, black eyes glaring maliciously at her through two small holes, large trainers ticking out beneath the sheet, planting himself aggressively on her doorstep. Stuart, the teenage neighbourhood bully.
A dazzling smile lit up her face, as she waved her basket at him. "This basket's trick," she sang out merrily. Quick as a flash, two hands shot out, grabbed a large quantity of red sweets and disappeared beneath the sheet. Some fumbling motions could be seen as the goodies were stuffed into a bag. "And this one's treat." She beamed. "Go on, have some more." This time she held out the basket of yellow sweets. Several more handfuls disappeared beneath the capacious sheet, before the figure turned back down the path."Goodnight. Have fun." The figure grunted something and moved on, leaving the gate swinging behind it.
Stuart strode off down the road, chomping happily. Result! Dunno what's come over the old bat, he thought. I must have egged her once too often. He chortled, remembering what fun he'd had last year, then, fingering the eggs still in his pocket, he hesitated. Nah, I'll do it on the way back. Might as well annoy some more people first. He loved Hallowe'en. Swaggering off down the road, he threw more sweets into his mouth.
Claudia watch his progress for a few yards then, grinning, she closed the door. Payback time! How she had enjoyed preparing the sweets. She had spent hours yesterday, carefully splitting them, hollowing them out, filling them and resealing them. The sweets Stuart had grabbed so enthusiastically had added ingredients. In the red ones she had put laxative chocolate, in the yellow ones a trace of ipecac syrup. If he ate the lot, he was in big trouble.
Hallowe'en Party © Loretta Livingstone 2014
An owl hooted dismally. Small mammals scuffled through the decaying leaves as they disappeared into holes in trees and ground. A lone bird chirruped once and then fell silent.
Mr Holloway, walking his small dog that dank evening, shrugged his skinny neck deeper into his scarf and stopped for a moment to watch a particularly bright shooting star as it seemed to almost hiss through the skies. For a moment, he thought he detected a faint whiff of sulphur.
The dog, excited by the smells around it, surged busily through the bracken and Mr. Holloway, recalled to his duties by the peremptory summons at the other end of the leash, moved on, trudging through the gloom until he reached the other end of the woods, then turning back with relief. Mrs. Holloway had promised him his favourite dinner, and he was anxious to finish this walk and get home. He shivered. He hated this time of year, particularly tonight.
Meantime the spaceship, for that was what the shooting star actually was, slipped noiselessly through the dark and came to a halt in a small copse of trees. A puff of steam came from it. It settled, glowed a little and disappeared.
Blanzo watched on his screen, scanning the surrounding area for signs of life. His mission to earth was twofold. Firstly to observe how the humans would respond to someone not of their kind, then, if the occasion seemed right, to make contact with this species. It was not his first trip of this kind. An experienced ambassador, he was frequently sent on similar missions, with the intent of being the first contact to planets whose populations were at the point of exploring the universe. His people were almost always the first to do this, and were rapidly making important connections throughout the galaxy. Their strategy was simple. Become trusted. Become valued. And when the time was right, become rulers.
As always, he made himself look almost like the species he would be meeting. Similar enough to be explained away, different enough to be remarkable. He adjusted his image an extra inch. Height was always good. He now stretched to 6'7". Tall enough to be intimidating, not so tall as to look like an alien - quite. He adjusted the black sheen on his hair, to give it a slight blue gloss and added a dark coat with a high collar. Thinking for a moment, he picked up a red scarf, made of a material similar to silk, and tucked it inside the neck of the collar. A hat, also in black came next. Then, he took what appeared to be an ebony cane from his armoury rack - it was, in fact, a particularly effective weapon, but he hoped it would not be needed.
The air around the now invisible craft shimmered as the door opened and Blanzo stepped out. He swirled his coat around him and swished his cane through the air. A fox started, took one look at Blanzo and fled back to its earth. A nearby badger watched with a confused air.
Blanzo walked confidently through the small copse, emerald eyes taking in all of his surroundings. He saw the fox and the badger and smiled hungrily. There was a good supply of food on this planet.
Two teenagers, sitting on a bank, swigging from bottles, watched goggle-eyed as Blanzo swept past them, then promptly vomited into the long grass. Blanzo ignored them. The youth of this planet were of no interest to him - yet.
As he emerged from the copse, he came to a small road. Bright yellow eyes glowed in the distance and he tensed, relaxing as a car swept past him. He had forgotten the cars. Small cans full of travellers. He shrugged disdainfully; these people had no idea how to travel in comfort. He thanked the star force for his well-designed traveller at home on Zog, which, although the same size as these 'cars' outside, was large enough inside to have several rooms.
Few people were about. He saw a woman on the opposite side of the road with a small furry creature on a long leash and smiled, showing small even teeth, which had a slight extra brilliance about them. Raising his hat, he called out in an affable voice, "Good evening. Beautiful weather, isn't it."
The woman let out a small shriek and the creature on the end of the leash growled, showing a set of teeth which Blanzo took a second to admire. He bared his own incisors back. The small creature whimpered and hid behind the woman.
Startled, Venetia looked at the apparition which had appeared from the gloom of the small wood at the end of the road. Beautiful evening? Then realisation dawned, and she gave a chuckle. "Beautiful for some," she answered. "Goodness, you scared me there for a moment."
"My apologies, madam," the deep voice rumbled through the air. A resonance in it seemed to hit Venetia like an invisible wave. She shivered again, suddenly aware that she was alone, except for Gruffler, and he was too small to be considered a safeguard. She turned sharply, and headed back at a faster pace, not slackening until she had safely reached her home, locked the door behind her and turned all the lights on. Then, laughing at her bizarre reaction, she settled down in front of the TV, a cup of hot chocolate by her side and Gruffler snoozing beside her on the sofa. She paused, hand on the controls. No, she wouldn't watch that horror film after all, she thought. Maybe a nice romance.
Blanzo continued his stately walk through Earth's environs, recording notes through the inbuilt monitor behind his left eye. As he moved further down the road, he became aware of a pulsing noise, repetitious and soothing. He relaxed his shoulders. Ahhhh. Some of the Earth music he had been studying. He continued towards it.
At Jo's party, things were well underway. Half the guests were uninvited, but Jo didn't care. Drink flowed plentifully, and the music was reaching the level where it drowned out the repeated hammering on the walls by the neighbours. Let them bang. The police wouldn't be interested tonight; not until much later. The front door was propped open and two of her larger male friends were making sure none of her troublesome neighbours managed to get in. Not that she cared about their opinions, but she didn't want them damaging her expensive systems. Last time the maniac from next door had got in, he had pulled out the plugs and sliced off the wires before anyone had noticed. It wasn't happening tonight. She moved to the music, pleasure surging through her as she smoked a spliff. The gaff was heaving. Great party. She closed her eyes, blissful with satisfaction.
The pounding music reached out to Blanzo, drawing him inexorably to the door. The rhythm oozed through his senses and dampened some of his reflexes. He should move on, but it was so compelling. Maybe...just for a few moment. And maybe he could make good contacts here. He turned the monitor onto high vis to absorb anything he might miss and strode towards the wave of sound.
A face appeared from the door on the other side. "Tell 'em to turn that flaming music DOWN!" a voice yelled. "Disturbing the whole blinking neighbourhood. Tell 'em I'm calling the police." A claw-like hand reached out and grabbed his arm. "Tell em..."
Blanzo turned his emerald eyes on the old woman. "Yesssss?" His voice was quiet but the sibilance projected it well above the music. He smiled. "Tell them...?" He raised his eyebrows and looked her full in the face. The hand dropped from his arm, the woman looked at him, shimmered and vanished.
"'Ere, where'd she go?" One of the bouncers looked at Blanzo. "She's been banging on at me for ages. How'd you get rid of her?"
"My pleasure, my friend. You'll have no more trouble, I think." Blanzo gave the young man on door duty a glimmering smile and moved past him.
Gary looked at him. Weird or what? He shook his head to clear a sudden strange muzziness and turned back to the door.
Blanzo moved through the house, blinking disconcertedly. This was not what he had expected. He had been assured that Earthlings had not had any contact from other planets. Yet something had gone wrong. This place was full of aliens, all getting on splendidly. He shook his head; his bio-readings must be faulty. Although he could see a few humans, the readings indicated many humans and only one alien. He rapped it; no change. But there were aliens everywhere. Irritated, he thrust it into his coat pocket and hissed softly. He hated incompetence. More confusing, these were species his people had neither encountered nor studied. The music continued to pulse through his brain, and he was finding it hard to stay focussed. He saw a table of beverages and grabbed at something, tossing it back quickly.
Creatures in armour of some kind with flashing sticks, which appeared to be weapons, jostled with skeletal creatures. Things with antennae flung their feelers around fat, furry beasts. Earthlings wearing gaudy clothing mingled unconcernedly, sharing drinking vessels with grey-skinned, red-eyed apparitions which appeared to be suffering from wounds. Certainly they walked stiffly and wore a kind of bandaging. Blanzo was dismayed. What a waste of time. Earth was not the place they had thought; there would be no first contact here.
Before him, something vaguely Human, with green hair and skin and ripped clothing was entwined with an elegant large-winged alien in a white robe, swaying ecstatically. Blanzo sniffed. He disapproved of inter-species liasons like this. It made characterisation confusing. He liked things clear cut.
A new sensation jolted him out of his thoughts. Next to him, actually rubbing its head on his coat, a black and white furry thing, about 5'6", was making cooing noises and, to his disgust, a furry paw snaked around his waist.
"I like you," a shrill voice yelled at him through the fug and the noise. Large, black-rimmed eyes gazed mistily up at him. "I like you a lot." Quivering with revulsion, he blazed those emerald eyes again. That was better. Now just a small piece of fur lay on the sleeve of his coat. He flicked it off.
Another drink was on a shelf nearby. Blanzo helped himself.
Jimmy reached behind him for the glass. He had slipped Rohypnol into it and now he needed to make sure it reached its intended victim. He was gonna have a good time tonight. Yeah.
His groping fingers met empty air. He turned, to see the glass being swept up by a tall dude dressed like Dracula. "Oi, gimme that," he snarled, fist raised. Green eyes flashed, his head spun, the music seemed to swallow him up, stars sparked and Jimmy vanished, leaving nothing but a faint smell of acid, barely noticeable over the other noxious fumes.
Blanzo quaffed the liquid. A blaze of warmth flooded through him and something suspiciously like a hiccup erupted from his mouth. These Earth beverages were most enjoyable. He was beginning to forget his mission. He started to move groggily to the music, his eyes glazing over. He felt no surprise to see someone in a spacesuit heading in his direction. After all, he had had so many shocks tonight, what was one more?
"You come with me, now," the spaceman said. Blanzo smiled dreamily and let himself be lead away. The spaceman spoke into a mouthpiece in his glove. "Got him." His companion, in a ship a few yards away, concealed down an alley, grinned. Their trackers had been successful. They'd been after this for a long time. Proof that the Zoggians were trying to colonise other galaxies for their own nefarious reasons. Furthermore, there had been three deaths at his hands tonight - they had recordings. Now they could bring this character to a tribunal, get some answers and demand action. Lucky he'd come tonight. It would have been far more difficult any other time. Zoggians didn't know everything about this planet, it seemed, including the effects of alcohol. The spaceman, smiling grimly, ushered a befuddled Blanzo into a holding cell, and the craft moved silently away. This species could be left to descend safely into anarchy. Apart from the rubbish that cluttered up space from their haphazard attempts to reach the local unoccupied planets, they posed no threat to the Galaxy, not now the Zoggian emissary had been removed. The craft shot away unnoticed, as someone let off a rocket nearby.
Venetia curled up cosily in her bed. Gruffler snored gently on her feet. She watched a shooting star through the window, and heard the bang of a rocket set off down the road. She smiled drowsily as she nodded off. How silly to have taken such fright tonight. Nothing much ever happened round here.
Next day, Jo woke groggy and nauseous, amidst a pile of coats. Blinking blearily at the chaos around her, she groaned. Her parents were coming back tonight. They had wanted to be back two days earlier, but luckily for her, they hadn't been able to get a flight. Her mates showed no inclination to help her - but then, not much short of a nuclear explosion could disguise the results of this party. Pools of spilled drink, cigarette burns and vomit covered the carpet. Pictures hung drunkenly from the walls, their glass broken. Furniture was scuffed and ripped. She dragged herself to her feet and kicked at a few of her friends who were spreadeagled on the sofas. No reaction. And as for Jimmy, who had promised her faithfully he was going to help clear up - where was he? And Sarah, who had been dressed as a panda. No sign of her either.
Jo sunk weakly onto the stairs, her head in her hands. She was in so much trouble. But man! She grinned in recollection. What a Hallowe'en party! Best ever. She wished she'd got the number of that tall bloke. The one dressed as Dracula.
I hope you enjoyed these short stories. To find other books by me, why not visit these links where you can read free previews of these and other books by me. You can buy them direct from Amazon as paperbacks or ebooks, or you can buy direct from this website as paperbacks (UK sales only).
The Girls of Team UK
(yes, I know it should be Team GB, but that's copyrighted)
These girls will never
with being in the semi-final.
They want medals!
They are at the top of their game.
They discipline every muscle,
They want to be the best,
not just in their country
but in the world.
Nothing else will satisfy them.
They sacrifice everything
to achieve their goal.
And when they stand
on that podium
we will applaud them
not only with our hands,
but with our hearts.
copyright Loretta Livingstone "Hopes, Dreams & Medals"
Sun, bright in our eyes
Wind chill at minus something
We gather cheerfully
In a motley collection
And ski gear
Clamour of cowbells
Rosy cheeks and pink noses
And hot coffee
Excitement in the air
For this is the start
The Winter Sports Season
copyright Loretta Livingstone "Hopes, Dreams & Medals"
You are the ultimate hero
You fill our hearts with awe
You have won so many golds
But still you want one more!
It's your last competition
We've watched you through the years
You've overcome so many odds
You fill our eyes with tears
We're out there with you on the course
Our hearts are pumping too
And when you win your final gold
We'll mount that stand with you
You will not see us with you
But you hold all our pride
And tho' we're sitting in the stands
We're standing by your side
On golden beaches I will sit with you
and bask upon the sands
On storm-lashed rocks gaze out to sea
and store within my memory
all of the times you share with me
in this bright land
By shallow, muddy creeks where raindrops fall
and ripple into streams
or wading in the water holes
with little fish in endless shoals
and shadows crowned with aureoles
I'll share your dreams
copyright Loretta Livingstone "Jumping in the Puddles of Life"
That Little Black Dress!
I bought a dress,
It's much too tight!
The next size up
would not fit right.
But doing up
that zip is tough,
I fear I am
not slim enough.
My husband helps
but nips my skin,
so that's the last time
I'll ask him!
I hold my breath,
my face turns blue.
The zip is stuck!
What shall I do?
So maybe I'll
Do I stop breathing
or just not eat?
copyright Loretta Livingstone "Jumping in the Puddles of Life"
Fatherhood: God's Way
He won't ever let go of us,
this great, big loving God
When we go through
our dark times
and hide our faces,
or when we are so high
on life itself
that we go
skittering off, away ahead,
or running blindly
He will still be there,
for us to turn,
hold out our arms,
copyright Loretta Livingstone "Jumping in the Puddles of Life"
Find my books on Amazon: http://geni.us/4621