The third tale in this blog exclusive series is called 'Prelude' and it is actually taken from the opening to Book 2 of 'The Meadowsweet Chronicles' called 'Vengeance'. It is the very first sneaky peek of the book that is going to be released at the end of May.
As you may know, The Rookeries Asylum first featured in Book 1 of 'The Meadowsweet Chronicles' called 'Witchcraft'. This series of stories is inspired by the creepy, now abandoned, Rookeries Hospital.
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I hope you enjoy.
Taken from 'Vengeance' Book 2 of 'The Meadowsweet Chronicles' OUT MAY 2015
Paulina rocked herself backwards and forwards in an attempt to soothe herself away from the horror of it all. Even here, on the top floor of the asylum, the Maternity Ward, there was no sanctuary – no peace or maternal bliss. Here babies were ripped from their mother’s wombs and the chord that joined them, permanently severed. By the time the drugs had worn off, the baby was nothing more than a half-remembered dream – leaving in its wake a terrible hole in the soul that no amount of tears could fill. All around the county, poor childless couples would wake to find a bundle of joy being delivered along with the milk and the post. Dreams paid for with the price of somebody else’s nightmares.
Down below, on the lower floors of this hell especially created for the still-living, unspoken terrors travelled through the cells like a roiling wave of fear and pain.
James Mason, known to the orderlies and other inmates as ‘The Creeper’, sat on his haunches in the corner of his room and tapped his finger rhythmically against the metal leg of his bolted down bed. He whispered prayers for the salvation of his soul – only it wasn’t God he was praying to. As the passing orderly snuck a quick look through the spyhole, he sighed with relief that the perverted little sicko was apparently calm and quiet – unlike the rest of the inmates, who had been whipped up by the electrical storm raging outside: freak weather for the time of year. (Even the eldest villager had never known it to thunder, lightening and snow a driving blizzard all at the same time.) Little did the orderly know that far from quiet, ‘The Creeper’ was busy communicating with a minion from Hell – very busy indeed.
On hearing the metal scrape of the spyhole cover, ‘The Creeper’ turned his attention momentarily to the door and listened carefully to the voice inside his head – the voice told him tonight he would become a free man: that he would at last be able to indulge in every vice his little black thoughts could conjure: that he would, at last, be able to satisfy the needs, which denied, had made him mad and weak. Only freedom didn’t ever come without a price – there were a few little things that needed to be taken care of first. Nothing much for someone of ‘The Creeper’s’ “extensive experience,” the voice assured him.
Listening to the sound of the orderlies muffled footfalls travel down the corridor, he skittered to the door and waited. He wasn’t sure how it was all going to play out – but he had been promised that all he had to do was trust in the Dark Lord and he would be delivered. And he did believe. He believed with the whole of his dark and traded soul.
All at once, the sound of the asylum alarm blared, drowning out those screams of the agitated patients. In all the years that ‘The Creeper’ had been incarcerated in those bleak walls, the only time the alarm ever went off was when one of the lunatics had managed to escape – a rare occasion. The drugs ensured little scope for initiative.
All at once, ‘The Creeper’s’ eyes were drawn to the clockwork locking system of his cell door, which was mysteriously turning of its own accord. He felt his heart leap at the miracle from the Dark Lord manifesting in front of his very eyes. The door swung open with violent force. ‘The Creeper’ stood, inert with awe for a moment, and then took a tentative step forward to the threshold of his room, which was in truth better defined as a cell. He was no fool. He knew the punishment for attempting escape was a needle through the eye and into the brain so that no such thoughts (if any thoughts) ever plagued him again.
Cautiously, he poked his head into the corridor and scanned up and down, seeing to his further amazement that the door to every cell was wide open. In the distant corridor, lunatics and orderlies chased one another around in some crazy, dangerous game of chase. Some of the patients had fashioned weapons out of various found objects, and the screams were not only those of freedom, but of pain and terror too. It was the Dark Lord’s rallying war-cry, and ‘The Creeper’ was a keen and passionate soldier.
Paulina heard the sound of the alarm and she knew that something terrible was happening – an event that would shake both this world and the worlds above and below. Paulina Chase knew about these things: she knew because once, about nine months ago, she had danced with The Devil, and as they had danced, He had whispered into her ear that the end of the world was coming: it was coming very soon. She cradled her ripe belly in her arms and felt the contractions rip through her tired, distressed body. Whatever else occurred this evening, this night in history belonged to her and the son that she would give birth to: the son that also belonged to a prince of demons. He had courted her in her dreams and danced with her under the moonlight in the meadows surrounding Coldstone House, laying her down on Chase soil – Witch Hunters’ soil – to bring together the blood, earth and seeds of Demon and Redeemer – a powerful cocktail of blood that would ensure an offspring’s power and immortality.
If her family had known this heinous truth, Paulina would already be dead. In the Chase family, the holiness of water was far thicker than blood.
‘The Creeper’ made his way up the many flights of stairs, hiding in the shadows from the orderlies. At last he arrived at the maternity ward on the very top floor of the asylum. ‘So many pretty little maidens held captive in this lofty tower,’ ‘The Creeper’ mused. He licked his lips at the thought of the fun he could have if only he didn’t have a bigger calling to attend to. He followed the sound of labor cries coming from the shadows at the end of the long, bleak ward. The rest of the floor appeared deserted; the women had been herded away earlier from the impending danger via the metal fire escape – but not this one. This one had stayed behind – because whether she knew it or not, she was waiting for him to arrive.
The laboring woman was in such agony that when ‘The Creeper’ threw open the door she didn’t even turn to note him standing there – watching her with a disgusted fascination. With one great roaring-push, a slithering mass of limbs fell between her thighs, and within seconds a sharp mewling cry came from the creature on the floor. ‘The Creeper’ stepped forward, and the woman, who looked almost still a girl, noted him for the first time since his arrival. Instinctively she flinched from him, scrabbling between her thighs to retrieve the baby in some act of maternal instinct. But before she could move, another great contraction ripped through her body and the urge to push came once more. She had no idea what was happening and she was gripped by panic, crying a cry that tunneled through the ages, far back into the dark ages and the times before, when man was little more than a mammal stalking the Earth. The sound of it made ‘The Creeper’ want to run away but he couldn’t go back – not now, he had made a bargain and he was beginning to quickly realize that making that bargain had been like stepping into quicksand.
As another contraction surged through Paulina, she cried out for the mercy of God; and the baby in her arms screamed as if it had been placed in scalding water. Paulina looked down into its eyes and, to her horror, she saw them flash with a bright crimson light. Her next cry was not because of physical pain but because of the anguish of her heart tearing into two. She knew she had looked directly into the eyes of the Devil. She turned her petrified gaze to the stranger at the door. She was about to ask him a question, but before she got a chance, the question was replaced with a scream that only ended when another baby expelled from her loins. She looked down on it in shock. Unlike its elder sibling, this baby was small and fragile, already wearing a crown of soft blonde ringlets. His eyes were closed peacefully and his mouth trembled with his first breaths like a perfect rose-bud in the spring breeze. A weak, sad, “Nooo!” came from her lips as she saw the perfect little baby covered in vicious bites and bruises. “Noo!”she whispered as she reached out her hand to touch its cherubic cheek. “What did he do to you?” Her body shivered with the disgust of holding something so vile. She wanted to get rid of it – to put it down on the floor and never look on it again: her heart screamed for her to, ‘Kill it!’
Paulina began to weep with the horror. ‘The Creeper’ stepped forward as if to offer comfort, but comfort was an alien idea to such a monster. Paulina looked at him and croaked, “Who are you?”
“I am no one. I serve the child in your arms and I have come to take him to his father’s people,” he replied, holding out his hands to receive the baby into his waiting arms.
‘Kill it! Do it now before it’s too late,’ her heart screamed.
‘The Creeper’ mistook her hesitancy for some kind of maternal bond and urged, “We don’t have much time. I need to get him away from here.”
She thrust the creature into the extended arms of the lunatic and cried, “Take it away! Just get it away from me!”
As soon as her arms were free, she scooped up the little angel from the floor and cradled it to her breast, allowing the waves of love she felt for him to wash away the stains of its abominable sibling.
At the sounds of footsteps scampering down the hallway and the voice of a female nurse bellowing through the corridors, “Miss Chase? Miss Chase, are you here? Are you here?” ‘The Creeper’ slunk back into the shadows and made his silent way through the maze of corridors and out of the asylum towards his destination.
“Oh, there you are!” the nurse said kindly. Paulina recognized her as one of few nurses who ever showed the women compassion and she sighed with relief. It was momentary. The nurse’s face contorted into a mask of confusion and disgust as she looked down on the small naked child in Paulina’s arms.“What have you done to him?” she asked.
Paulina looked down onto the bruised and bitten flesh of the innocent baby in her arms.
“What have you done to him?” the nurse repeated.
Before Paulina could protest her innocence, the nurse had lunged at her and swept the baby up into her arms.
“You evil, wicked, sinful, whore!” she said as she made the sign of the cross with her free hand. “What sort of monster are you?” she asked before kicking Paulina so hard in the stomach that she curled up into a ball on the floor with the force of it. The nurse continued to kick her, over and over as she screamed condemnations with each blow. At last, seeing Paulina huddled in a bloodied mess of pain and sorrow, the nurse ran from her, cradling the baby in her arms – leaving Paulina to faint into the dark crimson puddle of blood that spread between her legs with the parting spite of, “I hope you die and go to Hell!”
The heavy tolling front-door-bell of Ravenheart Hall sounded. The maid scurried to the door and opened it. She was not surprised to see the shadowy figure of a man with a bundle in his arms. She had been told to expect him – she had also been told that he was a murdering lunatic and that he shouldn’t be allowed over the threshold.
The maid extended her arms and received the bundle of rags that offered poor protection for the baby against the bitter snow-filled sky. No matter – the baby radiated an almost vicious heat. Her mistress had warned her not to look into the baby’s eyes. She was a good servant and she obeyed. She shut the door on the lunatic without saying a word.
The maid walked the bundle through the chilly corridors until eventually she entered the fire-warmed library where three sisters stood expectantly around a black clad crib, waiting the arrival of a baby.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed and that you are excited about reading the whole novel. You can get your hands on Book one 'Witchcraft' the eBook or Paperback at Amazon worldwide or on all eBook platforms.