Short Stories

Five Minute Fiction – Laura’s Room

copyright © Merita King October 2016

My wife dragged me along that night, against my will I might add. I’ve never been into the supernatural and if I’m honest, my usual reaction is one of disdain at best and outright sarcasm at worst. I guess you could call me a skeptic. Jen was into that stuff and despite my teasing, her belief never wavered. From time to time, she would disappear for half the night with a few of her friends and go ghost hunting. These events usually cost quite a bit of money to join, but she enjoyed it and as she worked and paid her fare share of our combined expenditure, I never complained. Besides, it meant I could have a few of the guys around for some beer and a football game.

This particular night, the friend she was due to go with got a stomach bug, so Jen nagged me to go with her. After calling a couple of her other friends, both of whom had other commitments, I reluctantly agreed. We armed ourselves with cameras, flashlights, snack, a flask of strong coffee, and set off for the two hour drive north. On the way, Jen told me about the place and its famous legend.

“They found a secret room during some renovation work back in the sixties,” Jen said.

“That’s nothing unusual in those huge old mansions,” I replied. “There’s supposed to be one in that castle in Scotland; the one the royal family owns.”

“Glamis,” she nodded, more than a little astonished at my knowledge.  “Anyway, once they opened this one, weird things started happening.”

“What sort of weird?”

“Like people disappearing kind of weird.”

“Oh come on Jen,” I laughed. “You must realise they build up these stories to get more visitors. Running those huge places costs a fortune and they have to attract as many visitors as possible.”

“Don’t get all superior, Dave. There were three cases that made the newspapers. One back in sixty four, another in sixty five, and the third in seventy nine. There might have been more but those three made national headlines. They’re still officially classed as missing persons by the police. I checked on the internet earlier today.”

My disdain melted and I felt myself losing ground in the discussion. Jen grinned as I squirmed. “So do they have any theories about why they disappeared or where they went?”

Jen sniggered. “Theories abound and vary from the mildly implausible to the totally ridiculous. Aliens are popular of course, timeslips is another, inter-dimensional portals, abduction to hell by demons, abduction to heaven by angels, murder by one of the current staff employed at the castle, you come up with a theory and someone has already thought of it.”

“This kind of stuff brings the wackos crawling out of the woodwork I guess,” I said as I signalled a left turn into a tree lined avenue. “Looks like we’re here.”

I was somewhat surprised at how friendly everyone was, even to a skeptic like myself and quickly found several interesting people willing to discuss both sides of the believe/not believe issue with me. Several of the guests had a more scientific interest than a spiritual one and I found them to be even more skeptical than me. It seemed to me that their gizmos were designed more to disprove any form of afterlife than detect one and I wondered if my own skepticism came across to others as theirs did to me.

I asked Jen about it but she grinned and shook her head. “Those two would drop dead of heart failure if they actually saw a ghost. Their desire to debunk is due to fear more than anything else, poor dears. Come on, the tour is starting.”

Laura’s room was the last stop on the tour, being at the top of the West tower but the tour guides kept referring to it as we traversed the various rooms and corridors and I saw right away that this was done to build up the hype. One young guide, a girl of no more than eighteen with spotty skin and greasy hair, told us that the room was named after the wife of the original builder of the castle, who disappeared one Christmas morning and was never seen again. Having been accused of murdering her, her husband the Duke found himself both a social and financial outcast. Within five years he was penniless, having used the last of his savings to have his wife’s room bricked up and hidden behind panelling. After selling the castle at a much reduced price, most of which he was forced to use to pay debts, he and an unnamed colleague worked their passage aboard a ship sailing for the far East and were never seen again.

The spotty young guide opened the door to Laura’s room and we entered to find ourselves within a small square space with faded floral wallpaper and richly patterned soft furnishings. The furniture was sparse, two chaise longues and several small tables, a sideboard,  and glass fronted display cabinet were the only pieces within the room. I was about to turn away to speak to Jen when I noticed something on one of the chaise longues, so I wandered over to see what it was. Faded material that must once have been white lay stretched over a circular wooden hoop, the blue and green stitchwork of the unfinished peacock still rich and undimmed. How odd I thought that the coloured threads should still retain their rich lustre while the white fabric aged to yellow.

All this thinking was giving me a headache so I turned away to rejoin the group who by now were exiting back into the short landing that led to the spiral staircase down to the lower floors. A stab of pain made me wince and I massaged my temples as I turned and looked for Jen.

“Are you here to measure up?” The large man demanded, his bright blue eyes holding my own with the kind of confidence borne of good breeding.

“Huh?” I replied with a frown. “Measure up? For what? I’m on the tour, aren’t you?”

“Tour? What tour? Have you taken leave of your senses, man? Someone was due here an hour ago to begin boarding up the room. I take it that person is you?”

“Err, no. Look here, I think we’re talking at cross purposes. I’m Dave and I’m here on the ghost tour. I seem to have been left behind by the rest of the group.”

His face relaxed as a slow smile spread across his lips. “So we have another one eh? Come downstairs with me and have a drink.” He put an arm around my shoulder and steered me out of the room. “Tell me, David, you don’t mind if I call you that do you? what is today’s date?”

THE END

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New blurbs, New categories and more updates

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I’ve decided to take a few steps toward trying to build my brand.  I’m always the first to admit that I suck cock at promoting myself, and my efforts so far have proved a waste of time.  With lots of encouragement, and a kick in the ass from time to time from my facebook friend Tammie Clarke Gibbs, I’ve taken a couple of steps towards getting a bit more visibility for my brand.

The first thing I did was update my blurbs.  Although they weren’t bad, they benefitted from a bit of sharpening here and there, and I like the results, which you can see on my book pages here this site (in the nav bar up top).

The second thing I did was to add another category at Amazon.  Up till now, I’ve just placed my work in Science Fiction/Space Opera, which is what the book are, but I added Science Fiction/Action and Adventure.  Hopefully this will give them more scope to be found by browsers and may result in a sale or two.

Next, I re-did the keywords on Amazon.  Keywords is getting towards territory I know practically zip about, but after taking advice, I changed them, and I hope they help increase the number of times my work pops up in searches.  Fingers crossed.

I’m also trying to make more use of Pinterest, as I’ve heard that this place is a great venue for getting your brand noticed.  I’ve renamed some of my boards, and added a couple of new ones that give my pinterest a more science fiction angle.  I hope this will attract more sci fi type folks who may then decide to take a chance on my books.  You never know, it costs nothing to try huh?

I’ve finished the first full read through and edit of my next book, which is a stand alone science fiction romance.  This is the book for which I’ve invented an alien language, and because of this, the first edit took longer than it usually does.  I also took this opportunity to add words to bring each chapter up to my preferred 5k size.  This allowed me to expand in some places that needed it, to go into the characters’ thoughts and emotions in a deeper way, which was a challenge at times but such a worthwhile learning curve.  I hope to publish this in March 2014.

The last update I have, is that I’ve decided to put together another anthology.  This one will be more paranormal based than straight  horror, and I have the first two stories already.  As for size, I think twenty is a good number, it will give my anthologies a consistency if they all contain twenty stories.

On a more personal note, I’m celebrating having successfully persuaded my mother to sell up and leave Cornwall and come and live near me.  She’s 82 this coming July, and very obese, diabetic, and has damaged hips and knees.  Her nearest shop is a mile away, and she can’t walk anywhere near that far, and while it’s not a problem as she still drives, it won’t be long before she can’t drive anymore.  When that happens, she’ll be stuffed like the proverbial Christmas turkey.  If she lives near me, I can lend her a helping hand and keep her independent whenever she needs me.  I’m so relieved my months of nagging has finally borne fruit, and quite excited to see her get a nice place around here.

Delectus Morbidium is now available

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I am happy to announce that my anthology of horror stories is now available to purchase in both paperback and ebook formats.

This book contains 20 tales of horror, starring many of my facebook friends who all donated their names to my characters.  This unique collaboration is now available for you to enjoy.

This book contains adult themes, and therefore is not suitable for under 18’s.

Click here for all details and links.

Nano 2013 update, Promotion decision, and other stuff

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How’s everyone getting on with nano?  I’ve passed the 50k and feel justly proud of myself.  The third volume in The Sinclair V-Logs is taking shape nicely and I estimate that I’m three quarters the way through.  Doing nano is great for self discipline, and it’s wonderful to see how creative you can be, even when you’re forcing yourself.  This book will, I hope, be published in early Summer 2014.

Promotion, sorry for swearing, is a dirty word for indie authors.  It’s worse than fuck, whore, balls and cunt combined and I wince every time I read it, hear it or have to write it.  I’m not a natural saleswoman and don’t pretend to be.  I find selling myself, my brand and my books, very hard indeed.  I have tried though but being financially destitute has prevented me from taking advantage of most internet promotion options.

For a while  now, I’ve welcomed other authors to this blog for tours, spotlights and releases, but until recently, I’d never done one myself.  A few weeks ago, I decided to try my first blog tour to promote my last release, Bygora Vandos and advertised for hosts all over my social media.  I even did a blog here asking for hosts or help.

Here are the results.

I wanted to do the tour for fourteen days, with a different blog on each day, as has become the norm for such tours.  I had two weeks notice before the start date and up until the first day, just five (5) people offered to host me.  Of those five, only two offered me the link to the piece voluntarily; all of the others didn’t bother and I had to go searching for the post.  Another person of the five didn’t bother to do the post at all, and only one further person updated me with blog stats (number of visits etc) and promised to promote the post on other social media.  One of the people who did the post, didn’t bother to put up the post until late afternoon, leaving me with just a couple of hours to find it and then post the link on my own social media.  All but one, didn’t bother to promote the post on their other social media.  None of the people I have ever hosted were among the five mentioned above who offered to host me.

The blog I posted here asking for help got no response at all.  Thanks for nothing..!

To put it mildly, I was extremely disappointed in the lack of interest and help by other authors, and this experience has led me to make two decisions.

I shall never host another author on my blog, ever again.

I shall no longer bother trying to promote my own work.

I shall concentrate on writing books.  I shall publish them as I usually do on all the usual platforms, and I shall do a blog here announcing it, facebook and twitter.  Beyond that, I shall do no promotion at all.  There is no point in trying to get my voice heard above all the bored housewives with money who churn out trash erotica and romance by the bucket load, when other authors actively try to block my voice by boycotting me.  I shall put my energies into writing, and since I write books worth reading, a rarity in this compost heap that is the self published world, my total focus will be put to good use.

In short, what I want to say to other authors is, Fuck You..!

The third bit of news is that my horror story anthology will hopefully be released on Dec 6th.  I’m waiting for cover art at this very moment, everything else is done and finished.  I’m looking forward to this, it’s been a long time in the making and it has been done with the help of my facebook friends, many of whom star in the stories.  I dedicate this book to them, my murderers, psychos, weirdos, crazies and victims.

Stuffing my face while writing

I’m doing another short horror story for my planned anthology today, and to help keep the grey matter pumping, I’ve got a special treat by my side.

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These are delicious.  Yes I know they’re pure sugar and useless calories but I’m writing and brain cells use calories too y’know.

Brand new short story

Just to let everyone know that I have a new short story up.

Big Brother can be found here.  I hope you enjoy it.

A Picture of Fear – brand new short

Another new short story is up for you to enjoy.

A Picture of Fear is available to read here

I hope you enjoy it.

The Secret Recipe – brand new short

Another new short is up for your enjoyment.

The Secret Recipe – click here to read.

I hope you enjoy reading my short stories as much as I enjoy writing them.

The Birthday Girl – New short

Another new short story is up and available for your delictation folks.

In the spirit of Halloween and all things horrific and yucky, this tale tells us of the fate of Brandy, the beautiful young birthday girl.

Click here to read The Birthday Girl

Brand new free short

Just to let you all know I have a brand new free short story.

Freesias for Mandy is now up and available to read here

It is for adult reading only by the way.