"Haunted (part four)" an original work of fiction for #365daysofwriting challenge

in fiction •  2 years ago  (edited)

Every day @mydivathings invites you to write a short story based on the image she chooses. Today's image (below) is a Photo by Aurélien Poulat on Unsplash

Find out more about the challenge (you can join anytime!) here https://steemit.com/365daysofwriting/@mydivathings/day-40-365-days-of-writing-challenge

This is part four of a new story. You can read it as a stand alone piece if you wish, or you can read
part one here: https://steemit.com/f/@felt.buzz/haunted-part-one-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge, or
part two here: https://steemit.com/fiction/@felt.buzz/haunted-part-two-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge, or
part three: https://steemit.com/fiction/@felt.buzz/haunted-part-three-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge

Arlene loved cycling in the spring. When it wasn’t raining that is. Today, was the kind of day that always put a big smile on Arlene's lips. Bright, sunny, and not too hot. Bird were chirping away, and the few people she passed, seemed happy - or at least not visibly unhappy. At ten in the morning, she had missed the worst of the traffic, too. Not that here, in this village, there was ever much traffic, but the school runs were a bit of a nightmare. What was it that turned a normal nice caring mother or father into a complete arsehole, when they got behind the wheel of a car?

Arlene loved working in The Ivy. It was one of four pubs in the the village, the only one on the market square. Her father thought she was wasting her time - “you should be off at university studying law, or something, my girl” - but Arlene loved interacting with people. And whilst she knew she was bright enough to study, she also knew she wasn’t ready yet.

Her uncle understood.

“You’re only twenty, Arlene. You have your whole life in front of you. And the most important thing you can do with your life? Enjoy every second of it. Or as much of it as you can, anyway.”

Arlene loved her Uncle Steve. He was a good man.

Arlene cycled round the back of the Ivy. She loved the look of the place, covered from top to bottom in the plant that gave the pub its name. She swung her leg over the bike and freewheeled the final twenty metres or so, to the back of the empty car park. She pulled off her helmet, shaking her head to try to eliminate the ‘helmet hair’ look - and failed, of course - and locked it to the bike and the fence. She pulled her handbag from the panier on the back of the bike, and headed for the back door.

The pub was open, but quiet. It was a sort of no man's land between the yummy mummy coffee hour (the Ivy opened at eight thirty, serving coffee and pastries to mothers - and the occational father - those who prefered the ambiance of a pub to the coffee house chain up the road, for a natter and a catch up after dropping their precious little angels off at the school gates) and pre-lunch snifters of the die hard locals, and occasional curious tourist.

“Good morning!”

One day, Dave - the owner of the Ivy - would return her greeting with the same amount of enthusiasm and cheerfulness.

Today, was not that day.

“Is it?” he grunted. He barely looked up from the paper he was reading. No wonder he was depressed, reading that hate-filled rag everyday.

“It is a beautiful, spring day, David,” Arlene pulled a hairbrush from her bag, and began to tackle the disaster caused by her helmet. “The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and we,” she tapped the paper with her brush. “Are going to have a wonderful day! Coffee?”

She didn’t wait for a response. She didn’t need to. Her routine was as fixed as Dave’s scowl. Coffee, toilet cleaning, bottling up, back behind the bar to serve up beer and small talk.

Old Ron was always the first of the regulars to walk through the door. Eleven fifteen. You could set your watch by him. He took the stool at the far end of the bar. He would stay there until twelve thirty five, before tottering off home to lunch. Arlene knew he was married, but had never met his wife.

His beer was on the bar, before his overly padded arse made contact with the threadbare stool.

“There you go, Ron,” Arlene said. “And how are you today? Full of the joys of spring?”

Ron took a long pull of the beer before wiping the foam from his lips.

“Ahh, I needed that,” he said. As he did every single day.

“Hard morning?” Arlene said.

“Sciatica playing up,” Ron winced, as though to make a point. “Always does when there’s a change in the weather. London Met office should pay me, you know. I could give them a more accurate forecast than the rubbish they churn out. Morning Dave. Finished with that paper?”

The usual punters began to trickle in - John and Sid always came in together - and Arlene prided herself on making sure each one had their drink on the counter before they had time to ask for it.

Accept for Moldy Mick.

Moldy Mick (so named - not to his face, of course - due to the odour of unwashed clothes that followed him around) always drank one pint of bitter with a lemonade top. Only one. But he hated being thought of as predictable. So every day, Arlene would ask him what he wanted to drink today, and wait patiently for him to pretend to consider at all the options.

“I think I’ll have a pint of bitter, with a lemonade top, today, please love.”

Arlene suppressed a smirk as Old Ron rolled his eyes, and winked at her.

“There you go, Mick,” she held out her hand, and Mick counted out the change - always the correct money - into her palm. She put it into the till, and - being as subtle as she could, with her back to the punters - rubbed her hands with the antibacterial alcohol gel, she kept for this very purpose.

“How are the new folks settling in at the King’s place?” Mick asked.

Arlene turned back, to find four old men staring at her, all keen for gossip.

“Oh, fine, I think,” she said. “They seem lovely. Nice couple with a young girl.”

Ron narrowed his eyes.

“Had any trouble?”

“Trouble, Ron?”

“Oh, you know. Sightings.”

“Sightings?”

Four heads nodded in unison.

“Ghosts, love,” Mick said.

“Well…” the four men leaned forward, as one. “I don’t think it was a ghost,” Arlene continued. “But Gillian, Mrs King, had a bit of a fright. Banged her head in the basement.”

The four men looked at each other and nodded. Ah, they seemed to be saying with their expressions, the basement.

“Wouldn’t catch me, going up there,” Mick said.

I don’t think you’re likely to be invited, Arlene thought.

There were murmurs of agreement from the others.

“Don’t know how your uncle manages it.”

“Well, he’s never seen anything strange, in all the time he’s been working there,” Arlene said, wiping down the bar. “And he was helping Sara for years before she passed on.”

“Aye, but your uncle’s a man” said Ron, nodding slowly, as if he were making an observation that only someone very astute could make. “And Sara - God rest her soul - was different.”

“Different?”

“Aye,” said Ron. “Different,” he took another gulp of his beer, and Arlene began to pour him his second pint. He looked at the others. “She couldn’t have children.”

Arlene looked up from her task to see the others nodding. Like three idiotic old monkeys.

“What has that got to do with anything?” she put the full pint down, next to Ron and removed his empty glass, as he put it down. “And, anyway, perhaps she could have had children. But chose not to.” She took Sid’s empty glass and began filling it - whilst Ron liked a fresh glass, Sid insisted on using the same old jug he had been using for years. It hung on a hook above his stool when he wasn’t drinking from it.

“Sara wanted children, all right,” Ron said, to the continued nods of the others. “But the accident,” - he stressed the word to imply it was anything but. “Left the poor woman unable to conceive. Her husband left her, in the end. Probably, for the best.”

“Why? Was he abusive?”

“What? No! Trevor was a real gent. No, I meant probably best she couldn’t have children. Never ends well, for children - nor the men or women who produce them, for that matter - at the King’s place.” More nodding.

“What utter nonsense,” Arlene said, putting John’s pint in front of him. She raised her eyebrows inquiringly at Mick. He shook his head.

“Just the one for me, today, love,” he said.

“It’s not nonsense,” Ron said, pouting. Arlene sniffed and moved away to serve a young man, who had just come accompanied by a woman with a baby in a pushchair.

“Sara, was the lucky one, you know,” Ron continued, while Arlene poured a pint of Guinness for the young man. “She had five sisters and a brother who didn't survive that fire.”

“Nope,” John said.

“What?”

“You're wrong there,” John said. “The boy died before the fire. At the same time as his mother.”

Ron looked at him.

“You're right,” he took another swig of his ale. “Murder suicide they'd call it now. Left the six girls in the hands of the grandmother.”

“Old Mrs King,” John said. “She was a piece of work. And that husband of hers was no better.”

“Aye,” the four heads nodded again.

“Anyway,” Ron said, wincing as he heaved himself off the stool. He looked at his watch. “I'd best be off.”

“You can't leave me with half a story!” Arlene watched the others following suit, huffing and puffing with the effort of putting their coats on.

“What do you care?” Ron said, over his shoulder. “It's only a load of old nonsense.“

...

Click here to read part five

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So... the big news is that one of my steemit stories (Reunion - told in 8 parts last month) has been selected to appear in the Isle of Write Anthology (see this post https://steemit.com/writing/@isleofwrite/isle-of-write-curation-to-publication-update). I am so excited to be a part of this. Please pay them a visit and check out the other stories that have been selected too. You too can be curated: so read the post and find out how!

Some more of my short stories

New Story: “Haunted”

A ghost story
Part one https://steemit.com/f/@felt.buzz/haunted-part-one-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge
Part two
https://steemit.com/fiction/@felt.buzz/haunted-part-two-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge
Part three
https://steemit.com/fiction/@felt.buzz/haunted-part-three-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge

“Moisturise”
Some people only have their memories for company…
https://steemit.com/fiction/@felt.buzz/moisturise-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge

“Mother Bot”
Don’t read this if you have mother issues.
https://steemit.com/weekendfreewrite/@felt.buzz/mother-bot-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-weekend-freewrite-challenge

“Home”
A man is on a journey. But why?
https://steemit.com/fiction/@felt.buzz/home-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge

“Power”
Not sure I'd want this power...
https://steemit.com/freewrite/@felt.buzz/power-an-original-fictional-story-for-the-5-minute-freewrite-challenge

“Ending”
A relationship ends
https://steemit.com/fiction/@felt.buzz/ending-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-contest#@mydivathings/re-feltbuzz-ending-an-original-work-of-fiction-for-the-365daysofwriting-contest-20180120t082238861z

“Impulse buy”
A man shows off his purchase to his less than enthusiastic wife
https://steemit.com/fiction/@felt.buzz/impulse-buy-an-original-fictional-story-for-the-365daysofwriting-challenge

Very short stories (stories told in exactly 50 words)

“Another Crime Involving Rhyme”
Someone is killing words. Inspector Poet is on the case
https://steemit.com/fiftywords/@felt.buzz/another-crime-involving-rhyme-an-original-work-of-fiction-in-exactly-fiftywords

“When Rhyme Is A Crime”
Theft, murder, bad rhymes...
https://steemit.com/fiftywords/@felt.buzz/when-rhyme-is-a-crime-an-original-fictional-story-in-fiftywords#@snrm/re-feltbuzz-when-rhyme-is-a-crime-an-original-fictional-story-in-fiftywords-20180120t194306704z

“Sick”
An ill man at a dinner party. What could go wrong?
https://steemit.com/fiftywords/@felt.buzz/sick-an-original-fictional-story-in-fiftywords

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Nice. Who wouldn't die to wait until the next part?

Probably a little bit extreme! Not sure if steemit is available in the afterlife! ;)
Thank you! :)

Ohhh, I feel for Arlene. I want to know too, lol. You have a grip on my attention now.

Part 5 of Haunted is now available

Click here to read part five

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Love it and just commented on that post.

A really nice plot, @felt.buzz! I am looking for more!

Part 5 of Haunted is now available

Click here to read part five

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well written I am a fellow writer and book promoter, gave you an upvote here

Thanks. The links to the first three parts are included just above the photo if you're interested. I'll check out your profile! :)