THE SIREN AND OTHER STRANGE TALES is a collection of six short stories spanning the twentieth century and each one has a spooky twist.
- Double-dealing care assistant Mandy Robinson meets a mysterious cat. The cat knows when death approaches but does Mandy?
- On a lonely road in France, self-absorbed artist Gavin is given some ghostly marriage guidance.
- A holiday in France proves to be one life-lesson too far for rebellious teenager Sukie.
- In German-occupied France collaborator Jean Fourrier pays the price for his betrayal.
- A simple game of cards between four respectable middle-aged ladies. Nothing could be more natural…could it?
- A stranger comes to a remote seaside village in the middle of winter. What haunts him? Is it grief or guilt…?
Extract From ‘The Siren’ a story set in England in 1903
“Haldane stooped to pick up a handful of the wet muddy sand that sucked at his boots with every step taken. He sat on one of the huge boulders that formed part of the outcrop remembering other times, other beaches where he had worked laboriously, delicately chipping away at a fossil. That was when he had met Sophie. He was working on a large ammonite when he became aware of being observed and of a voice behind him explaining what he was doing. Slightly exasperated by the interruption he had stopped working and, with hasty words on his lips swivelled round to face his unwanted audience; father and daughter, a dainty fairy-like creature whose sweet expression captivated his heart, so long immune to feminine charms.
Introductions were made. Sophie’s father posed intelligent questions to which he had provided explanations and it had not mattered to him that she took scant interest, wrinkling her brow as she struggled to follow his words. He knew that women had not the same intellectual capacity as men. It was against their nature and particularly in one so young and beautiful.
All that summer invitations were exchanged, followed by visits and by his return for the Michaelmas term at the University he was in thrall to Sophie. Their marriage followed and despite the shock and, for some, the amusement, of his colleagues who considered him a confirmed bachelor, he knew he would be able to mould her into a conformable wife.
But no. The disparity in age, upbringing and education defeated him. She was delighted with all the attractions that London offered. She charmed his colleagues and students. She held little soirées beguiling the company with her singing for she had a light melodious voice. But he never succeeded in making her the wife he desired. His older colleagues shook their heads and whispered behind their hands.
Haldane resumed his walk. He had not taken many steps when he heard singing, light, fluting, a lilting breath on the wind. He trembled. His voice cracked as he called out.
‘Sophie, Sophie is that you my darling? Where are you?’
He broke into a stumbling run, heart pounding as the breath was torn from his body. He stopped abruptly, listening again. ‘Sophie my dearest, where are you? I have to see you…to tell you how much I love you…that I forgive you.’
‘Sophie.’ He gave a cry of anguish.
The singing drew him onwards across the sands. As he ran, a damp cold mist swirled around him, slicking his face. He tripped and fell to his knees – the sweet singing loud in his ears. At that moment, there was nothing else – the beach, the cliffs, indeed the whole world around him disappeared into the mist as he came under the spell of that enchanting voice. He tried to rise to his feet but it was as if his limbs were entwined by a hundred silken threads, pulling him under the sand.”
The Siren and Other Strange Tales is available as an e-book from Amazon: Amzn.to/2qhDTYf
About the Author
Sheila Williams, author, slipped into this world on Guy Fawkes night, under cover of fireworks and bonfires. Outraged to find other nurslings in the nest, she attempted to return to her own world but found the portal closed.
Adopting a ‘make the best of it’ attitude she endured a period of indoctrination to equip her for her place in society. This included learning a language that no-one ever speaks and making complex calculations of no perceivable value.
Freeing herself as soon as possible from such torture, she embarked on a series of adventures – or to use the vernacular – careers; hospital manager, business consultant, life coach, sheep farmer. She attempted to integrate into society by means first of marriage and then partnered before setting out alone to discover another world, known as France, where she now resides.
Always fascinated by these humans amongst whom she dwells, she has developed an interest in psychology, magic, the supernatural, ghosts, Ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. Dark thoughts and black humour lurk within her.
In her quest to understand this world she pursues knowledge of its history; not of kings and queens but of its ordinary people and how they lived and worked. To this end, she haunts events such as boot fairs, vide-greniers and sales rooms where many ancient artefacts can be uncovered.
She lives without the box of sound and pictures known locally as television and hence her already limited social skills are further curtailed not having a clue who came dancing with whom or who had talent…or not. She does however have access to something called DVDs and hibernates over winter with a large stack of them. When spring arrives she may be found cherishing the plants in her garden, whistling with the birds and holding deep meaningful conversations with the resident toad who, one day, she hopes may turn into her prince and keep her in the manner to which she would like to become accustomed
Her outlets from this unfathomable world include nature, animals (especially funny videos of), books and writing stories. This latter occupation enables her to create her own worlds, populate them and dispose of the residents as she thinks fit. She finds holding the fate of these poor souls in her hands immensely satisfying.
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