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Boys & Girls Come Out To Play Ch. 4 Recollection

by Shnarkle 

Posted: 13 October 2009
Word Count: 1240
Summary: First draft of Ch 4, where we get a rest from the horror and gain a little background info. I found this very hard to write, and hope it serves well as a summary of events leading to now. The summary will continue in Ch. 5. I'm interested to hear how you think it reads.

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Laura was terrified. She was holding William’s warm, but lifeless hand as he lay in the coma care ward of the general hospital. Terrified because she knew, without any shadow of a doubt, that the evil girls who had suspended her from the ceiling, and turned her sister into a drooling, mindless husk, were the personification of her long dead daughter, Emily.
Once she had recovered from dropping onto the bed, Laura had rushed to check on the condition of William and her sister, before calling an ambulance. The initial prognosis of the hospital doctors was that William was in a self imposed mental cocoon; and that her sister seemed to have had her entire mind wiped clean, with no indication of any thought processes, only those unconscious processes necessary to keep her alive.
Ben had arrived from the airport a couple of hours ago, and had now gone off to find them both some coffee, and something to eat. As Laura stared at the wires and tubes that snaked from William to monitoring machines, she began to think back on the events, many years ago, that had led to the terror they all now faced.
Laura had grown up in a small, “nothing ever happens” village in Devon. Her parents were devout Christians, and Laura’s life revolved around school, church, home, church and more church; with nothing in the remotest bit exciting ever happening, save for the odd sisterly squabble with Susie.
In her mid teens, and doing well in school, Laura had finally decided that there must be more to life than was being offered by Boredom–in-the-Moor, Devon, and that she had to escape before she went barmy. Her way out came in the form of her Uncle Tobias. Tobias had been a big noise in the advertising industry, and was now living the life of luxury, in early retirement in a rambling old rectory just outside Norwich.
Tobias knew the owners of a prestigious advertising agency that had recently relocated to Norwich, and by pulling a few strings had gained Laura a place in their account management department. The rectory was so large that her uncle, and his wife Agnes could easily accommodate her without cramping their lifestyle, and Laura could have the use of a family car to commute to the office once she had passed her driving test.
By eighteen, Laura had a good job, a car, and a lifestyle in Norwich that most of her friends in Devon would have given their eye teeth for. But then it had all fallen apart. After one night of drunken stupidity with someone she didn’t even know, she found herself pregnant. In a panic she kept the news to herself, not even telling her best friend. She could hardly tell her parents what had happened; they were so devout that the news would hurt them dreadfully, so for a couple of months she did nothing, hoping that somehow it would all just go away.
But of course it didn’t; and Laura soon realised that she had to do something, because before long her pregnancy would announce itself whether she liked it or not. She finally decided to confide in Tobias and Agnes, in a desperate bid to sort out the terrible mess she’d got herself into. Amazingly to Laura, they were fantastic about things. It was arranged that she would take a leave of absence from her job, have the baby at the rectory, although, because nobody, especially Laura’s family could ever know about the birth, Tobias and Agnes took the very risky step of not registering the birth. The baby would be brought up in secret at the rectory, and as Agnes was a retired teacher, she would give the child one to one tuition to ensure a first class education.
And so it happened. Laura gave birth to Emily at the rectory with Agnes acting as midwife; nothing about the birth was remarkable, it didn’t take too long, and it wasn’t at all difficult; indeed it was completely free of complications. However, something was not quite right. Emily’s eyes were open from birth, and from the first time that Laura looked into them, she felt a sickening repulsion deep inside her, tinged with an unfathomable fear and a compulsion to run as fast and as far away from those eyes as possible. Laura never did bond with Emily. Whenever she falteringly tried to breast feed her, the first look into those eyes forced her to give up the attempt and reach for the formula milk instead.
Tobias and Agnes however, took to Emily straight away; and as time progressed took a greater and greater part in the day to day dealings with the child, effectively becoming her surrogate parents. Laura had to physically steel herself to have anything but the most basic relationship with her daughter, as the feeling of wrongness grew within her.
Laura had gone back to work as soon as any physical signs of her pregnancy had subsided, and she threw herself into the business with a vengeance. After two years, Laura had so impressed the powers that be with her dedication and success that she was promoted to lead the client account division at the Manchester branch. Tobias and Agnes insisted that she took the position, clearly happy to bring up Emily themselves; and anyway, she could come back to see her at weekends. And that was how things developed, until Emily was four years old.
Laura was home for the weekend, when Emily called her from the kitchen into the lounge, “Look,” she’d beamed at Laura, “Look at the kitty.” Laura’s eyes dropped to Emily’s lap where Maxwell, the pet cat lay with Aunt Agnes’ sewing scissors protruding from a deep gash in his chest, his heart’s blood pouring out over Emily’s dress and legs and forming a growing puddle on the beige carpet.
Laura’s piercing scream had summoned Tobias and Agnes to the lounge, “What have you done?” Laura had shouted, “Emily, what have you done to poor Maxwell?”
“He said he didn’t like me, so I sent him to where dead kitty’s go.” said Emily, smiling sweetly up at the horror struck group that stood over her.
From then on Emily’s behaviour became more bizarre and frightening. She would suddenly stop whatever she was doing and cock an ear, as if listening to somebody, or something talking to her; then giggle quietly to herself. On many occasions she would suddenly look up as if somebody had entered the room, and track them with her eyes; although nobody was there. Emily would be found huddled in a corner, talking to herself in an unintelligible language which Agnes was convinced was just a childish form of speaking that she had made up, but it had totally freaked Laura out.
On one weekend visit, Laura was in the kitchen helping Agnes to make some jam, when Emily had breezed in and began fingering the handles in the knife block. She’d drawn out a large chef’s knife and began tilting the blade so that the sunlight reflected in a line on the ceiling, “This is my favourite knife.” She had declared to Agnes and Laura. “Really, darling,” said Agnes absently trying to weigh the sugar, “Why’s that?”
“Because it’s the one I’m going to use to cut Mummy’s liver out.” Emily had replied sweetly, before skipping out of the room.

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Comments by other Members

Freebird at 15:58 on 13 October 2009  Report this post
Haven't got time to read this at the moment (ballet lesson calling - my daughter, not me!) but just to say I'm relieved to see you back. Thought maybe something dastardly had happened to you, involving spinning on the bedroom ceiling...

you should check out the thread about spiders - lots to inspire a horror writer there! ('When to submit'


Ben Yezir at 23:08 on 13 October 2009  Report this post
Too right Shnakle,

I had you down for vampire fodder. Thought I'd be reading about you in the next Darren Shan book. I look forward to the unfolding story when the sun is high and my eyes are less tired.

Ben Yezir.

Ben Yezir at 22:06 on 14 October 2009  Report this post
OMG! Cutting out livers!

You start and end very strongly, however the middle is basically a chunk of information laden backstory. This is a very old fashioned way of telling a tale and I think most agents would give you a hard time. It's also out of style with everything else, perhaps you need to seed this information earlier, or slip bits of it through the narrative. Otherwise you are stopping everything for one of those 'you don't mean that?' moments, where the hero(ine) says 'yes I do mean that... blah, blah, blah.' Having said all that, Dan Brown does this all the time and it hasn't affected his bank balance.

Ben Yezir.

NMott at 22:36 on 14 October 2009  Report this post
Hi, Snarkle. Great story. As Ben says, a bit heavily laden with backstory in the first half, enough to make half a novel in it's own right. Like Ben I don't think this is suitable for children; With the pregnancy and the young child stabbing cats and coldly talking about cutting out mum's liver it's very much in the adult horror genre now.
Good luck with it.

- NaomiM

ShellyH at 13:58 on 15 October 2009  Report this post
Hi Shnarkle, nice to have you back, you went a bit quiet on us. This was a well written piece,(nice to hear a mention of Norwich - I'm a Norfolk girl you see ).

I agree with the other comments though, maybe a bit too much info all at once. I think it would be better to drip-feed this through the story if possble. It was a very chilling end though, made me shudder.
Scary stuff.


SusieL at 11:41 on 16 October 2009  Report this post
Had wondered why no pithy posts from you for a while - now we all know! Whether any of us are sleeping soundly in our beds now is another matter!

Perhaps, rather than explaining how Laura had recovered from the "suspension" experience, you could have briefly detailed it - action is always better - especially in your rather disturbing stories! The 'flashback' part is really a chapter within a chapter. It could possibly work as a prologue - although perhaps as one scene - maybe after the birth, with the mummy's liver details dropped into a later chapter (just to liven things up!)? Or, as the others have suggestions - cut, cut cut! All of the backstory details does, as Naomi has said, change your target audience. You need to decide who you are writing this for, before you make any suitable changes. But none of the above comments detracts from the fact that this is a seriously scary story, Shnarkle. (Ooooh - get that alliteration!!) I hesitate to say this ...more please!


suggested - not 'suggestions'. !! My brain really isn't firing fully this morning!

Issy at 17:04 on 16 October 2009  Report this post
Chilling absolutely. We do need a quieter chapter and one with background information. Major change of vp here.

I am wondering if something else could be done rather than the straight forward revelation of the details of the mystery girl.

Here are my ideas, which please do ignore if not helpful:

We stay with William but in a coma where some of the back story is revealed to him, maybe partly through some sort of mental communication from the girl or more directly from Laura. Maybe he sees the back story as a sort of dream, or maybe Laura is half telling him and hears enough to put it together. She is holding his hand and could be crying etc as she is pouring it out, or pleading with the girl.

Maybe Laura explains it to her husband in a conversation over Williams bed.

Maybe Tobias and Agnes put in an appearance, or Laura contacts them in desperation, and the story comes out through talks with them. There would be a chance to add a bit more mystery if the reader reads of her actions initially without explanation.

Laura contacts her parents who have the religious connections to come and get rid of the haunting and the story comes out in some way as a result.

Maybe a backtrack, and the insertion of a scene earlier which throws some light on Laura's history.

Emily is pure evil from the sound of it, and these revelations definitely put it in the top teens or adult age group.

I am sure we do at this stage need a chapter that recaps and maybe advances the problem, perhaps one where Emily as an evil entity is not there, so I do think it is worth working through what is going to be a difficult chapter to put right. As a children's or YA we need something a bit lighter - it's all very dire, some positive glimmer. Was there a way that Laura was able to control Emily in life? Could the appearance of Ben add some security and practical optimism to the situation?

This is clever as well as chilling! Do you ever manage to sleep at nights?

Pat M at 11:13 on 18 October 2009  Report this post
Hi Shnarkle, well I still think this is on a par with Stephen King's early horror, but then he wrote for adults, so I think this is where this belongs, or older teenagers maybe.
I like horror and love this, but I have to say I wouldn't want my older grandchildren reading it, well maybe the 15 year old, but no younger. It's so good though, I think you should keep the level of horror and write it for adults. You can't really water it down without losing the impact.

Terrified because she knew, without any shadow of a doubt, that the evil girls who had suspended her from the ceiling, and turned her sister into a drooling, mindless husk, were the personification of her long dead daughter, Emily.

This sentence seems a bit abrupt somehow. Maybe because it explains straight out a solution to the problem. Wouldn't it be better for the reader to work out the connection with Emily for themselves?

I think you could start with a prologue straight into the horror of the past, even from Emily's pov, just as she has done something unspeakable, then start the actual story with your present chapter 1, with the present from William's pov. That way we would know about Emily without it intruding into the story itself. Or you could start just after the birth where Laura looks into her new-born baby's eyes. Then slip the other awful things she does in later.

If you do disappear to an adult group with this, please tell us where you are, as I don't want to miss an instalment. This has me totally hooked! It is a seriously good idea, just needs a bit of shifting around.

As you know, I'm very much a beginner, so this might not make sense, but that's the way I would like to read it!


NicciF at 13:06 on 18 October 2009  Report this post
Hi Shnarkle

Well you've got me gripped. However, this is the first chapter I've read, so I was confused because I'm meeting all the characters for the first time.

My fault entirely, so I'm going to rectify the situation. Over the next few days I want to read the previous chapters, so I can get a better feel for the whole piece.

I'll be back when I can be more constructive.


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