Visitor in the Night: Part Four


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21 April 1814:

All of Great Yarmouth was in a frenzy.  The French King, Louis XVIII had been returned to the throne, and Boney and all he stood for was gone.   This was a night to be remembered.   There was a grand dinner, and fifty-eight tables were spread out along the Hall and South Quays.  Plates of roast beef and plum pudding were abundant, and the festivities even included a man dressed as King Neptune. He was paraded in a cart down the quay, and through the town attended by Tritons.  A band played music, and it was all such wonderful sport.


Mrs. Spencer, the housekeeper, had freed the girls of the Swan household to take part in the celebrations once their duties had been fulfilled for the day.  One of the maids, Agatha Brown, who at sixteen was not much more than a child herself, hastily prepared the children’s beds in anticipation of their return from the party, and then made her exit into the town.  It was a warm evening and the dark new moon night, made the bonfire on the North Denes all the more spectacular.  Thousands of people cheered as the effigy of Napoleon took light, and Agatha was caught up in the euphoria.


As she mingled with the crowd, a handsome young sailor in a dark navy blue jacket tipped his cap to her.  She involuntarily blushed at the gesture, and made a curtsy in return.  He was tall, very fair, in fact almost albino pale, but had rich black locks and piercing dark eyes.  The overall effect was striking, and she couldn’t help but to think he was the most beautiful man she had ever seen.  He approached her and made a shallow bow the introduced himself as Patrick Malone.  The lilt of his Irish accent, played musically in her ears.


“I am Agatha, Agatha Brown,” she said, almost not being able to get the words out.


“Well Agatha, Agatha Brown, I am at your service,” the dark clad Malone returned.


They spent the rest of the evening walking together and enjoying continuing revelries.  He bought her a baked potato from a vender, and “accidentally” brushed her hand with his as he handed it to her.  The sensation shot electrify through her being, though she thought his skin to be strangely cold.


As her curfew was approaching, he escorted her the end of her street, but propriety forbade him taking her any closer.


He was so bold as to take her hand and to give it a gentle squeeze as he looked deeply into her eyes with his piercing gaze.  Then he turned and departed, leaving her to watch after him until he disappeared into the dark of the moonless night.


4 May 1814:


There was an exceptionally brilliant full moon over Yarmouth.  It was the type of moon that seemed to hang filling the night sky.  In fact, Agatha and her roommate Dolly had to draw all of the curtains in the house as the lunar glow was so intense.


About eleven in the evening, Agatha awoke from what she had thought a pleasant dream.   In it, she and Patrick had been strolling through a lovely tended garden.  She was wearing a spectacular frock, much like the ones worn by her mistress for social engagements.  Patrick was not dressed as a sailor, but wore a fine black suit with velvet cuffs and collar.  They walked among the flowers, holding hands and eating baked potatoes.


Agatha pulled the covers up around her neck, and snuggled in in the hope that the dream might return.


She dozed, but there was a strange sensation that there was a presence other than Dolly’s somewhere nearby.  She sat up but all was as it should be.


She laid back down and fell into a deep sleep.  “A voice,” she thought, or was it a dream? “That lovely lilting voice is calling me.”


“Agatha, Agatha Brown.  Agatha!”


Agatha sat up and still dressed only in her shift opened the bedroom door and descended the servants’ stairway.  She slid her feet into David, the footman’s, over shoes from next to the servant’s door and walked into the moonlight.




It is Travel Tuesday, and I am giving today’s post a bit of a twist.  The celebration described above is one that actually occurred in Yarmouth in 1814 and is drawn from accounts of the day.  So for this week, welcome to Time Travel Tuesday.

Visitor in the Night: Part 1

Visitor in the Night: Part 2

Visitor in the Night: Part 3


As an aside for writers of historical fiction, here is a useful source:  Historical Moon Phase Calendar


Visitor in the Night: Part Three

Norfolk Chronicle

D. I. Hardwick was incandescent in rage.  Somehow the press had gotten hold of the vampire angle. The tabloids were having a field-day with it, and the broadsheets were set on using the story to illustrate the shortcomings of Tory policing cuts.  In his mind, however, he was becoming a laughing stock, and surely the soon to be scapegoat if this case didn’t get a break.

Later that afternoon, Constable Williams brought him a brown envelope which had arrived by post.  In it was a handwritten note from a local author and historian.

“Dear Detective Inspector Hardwick,” the letter began.  “I am sure that the recent events are pressing upon your time, but I would like to forward you some documents for consideration.  The present spate of disappearances are not without precedence in the area.  You will see in the attached photocopies of the Norfolk Chronicle from 1888 that in that year five young women disappeared in South Walsham and Ranworth under similar circumstances.  It was only because of the notoriety of the Whitechapel Killings, that the Norfolk disappearances didn’t receive national attention.   Document Two is a transcribed account of  the disappearance of three young women who were in service in the Yarmouth Denes area near Yarmouth’s Naval Hospital in 1814.  It has long been believed that they had run away with men from the fleet, but as you can see from the testimony of a neighbouring housekeeper that one the missing girls, Agatha Brown, was seen wandering down the road towards the white windmill in only her shift, immediately before her disappearance.  I do trust these documents will provide you with some useful insights.  Sincerely C. Kemp.”

“More dazed women wandering off into the dark.  Just what I need,” Hardwick reflected.  He read a few of the circled newspaper accounts, and they did come across as frighteningly similar to his own case.  The 1814 document was harder to read owing to the handwriting, but it too seemed all too familiar.

There was another know on his door, and Sergeant Warby stuck his head around the door.  “Sir, Mrs. Murphy says she can’t be certain, but the umbrella she thinks is the same one Dunn had when she saw her.   Oh, we also had a call from the Southern Comfort folks over in Horning.  They found a red woman’s shoe caught in their paddle-wheel.  I sent Clover to fetch it.”

[To be continued]



Visitor in the Night: Part 1

Visitor in the Night: Part 2

[Thank you to my fellow blogger Crispina at Crimsonprose for graciously allowing me to include her in my tale.]



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I have again been struggling with big questions about my own health, work, and the way forward.  I have tried too long to deal through my own strength. This has only led to more stress.

A couple of weeks ago, I was feeling the inadequacy of my own efforts.  I felt swamped by the burdens I was piling upon myself (more than just what the circumstances of my wife’s illness, and life and general were presenting).  In that despair  I was presented randomly with a passage on Facebook:  Jeremiah 29:11  “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’.”  This was marvelous as it said He had a plan for me.  I found relief in that,  but I still held some of myself back.  I needed to trust Him, over me!

The result of holding back was another day of despair.  I had yet to fully surrender (an ongoing process, I am learning). I have spent this afternoon asking for guidance, and  seeking the same kind of peace I found back on the 18th.  

Then the message became clear.  No Facebook posting this time, but the “still small voice.”  It reminded me of the words of Isaiah 55:8-9: 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

I did again find some measure of relief.  He is reminding me to let go, to open my eyes, my heart, and my spirit to His ways.

I do not as of yet have all the answers to the questions before me, nor in the path He wants me to follow, but I now have comfort that the answers are there.  Not for me to invent through my own cunning or effort, but rather they are their to discover if I only stop and listen to His Spirit.

Lord help me to think as you do, and trust in you.


Visitor in the Night: Part 2

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Image: Reddit

Hardwick was unsure as to why he had just accepted the man’s word that there was a vampire loose in the Broads.   Surely his superiors in Norwich were going to drum him out, or at least sideline him.

But there was something about the call.  Was it the man’s own conviction, or was their something barely perceptible that her heard in the background?  What ever the case, he had sent Williams and Clover to revisit each of the young women’s houses.  Was there anything that might shed some more light on the matter?

*  *  *

“What did the D. I. mean, look for what’s not there?” Williams asked.

“I guess we are looking for crosses, and stuff,” Clover rejoined.

They returned to the station later that afternoon.

“What did you find out?” Hardwick asked.

“Well Sir,” Clover began. “The third missing woman, Miss Rothman was of the Jewish persuasion, and had one of those multi-candlestick things, but not much else along that line.  The others had no crosses in their houses, though Miss Dunn was some kind of author, and had a Bible on her shelf, but it still had the sticker on it from the P.A.C.T. charity shop in Hethersett.”

“Anything else?” the Detective Inspector asked.

“Well there was an empty bottle of garlic salt in Miss Taylor’s bin.  It had been thoroughly rinsed out before being tossed though.  I then checked, none of the women had any garlic anywhere in their houses.  You did say to look for what was not there,” Williams added.

“So no garlic and no crosses.  This is crazy,” Hardwick reflected out loud.  “How can we call this policing?”

Just then Sergeant Warby and Constable Harper returned with some of evidence bags.

“What do you have Warby?” Hardwick asked.

“We found a red umbrella, and a red woman’s shoe in an abandoned boathouse near Wroxham.  There was also a pair of old Victorian ankle boots in the floorboards, but they seem to have been there a long time,” Warby reported.

“Ring the Murphy woman, and see if she can come in and identify the umbrella,” the D. I. instructed. “Did anyone come up with anything else?”

“Sorry Sir, nothing.”

“Warby, make sure someone keeps an eye on that boathouse,” Hardwick instructed.

“Yes Sir,” the Sergeant responded.

“How can I tell the Chief Superintendent that a vampire is still our best lead?” Hardwick said under his breath.


[To be continued]


Visitor in the Night: Part 1

Haunted Wordsmith Prompts

Sunday Writing Prompt “The Vampire”


Visitor in the Night

Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay


“Can you look again?” Mrs. Taylor asked pleadingly.

Her daughter, May had not been seen in three days and she was worried.  Worried in fact was an understatement.  Four young women had disappeared from their sleepy Norfolk village in as many months.   All coincidentally on the night of the full moon.

Detective Inspector Hardwick assured her that all was being done that could be done, and that his team would indeed check May’s house again.

The case was odd, healthy stable young women just disappeared.  Their beds were made, their houses in order, but they seemingly just up and left with no more with them than what they were wearing.

Constable Clover did take one witness statement which said that the second missing woman, Angela Dunn was seen walking towards the Broads in her nightdress and carrying an umbrella.  Mrs. Murphy said she called out to Angela, but she seemed to be in some sort of a trance.  That was the only real sighting they had to go by.

Searches of the women’s homes, and careful sweeps of the nearby Broads had yet to turn up any evidence.

There was of course the anonymous call on the “tip line” that said each had had a male visitor on the evening before their disappearances.  No one in the village however had noticed such a visitor, much less a tall pale man dressed all in black.

No sooner than Mrs. Taylor had left the room, the “tip line” rang.  Constable Harper pressed the record button, and handed the phone to the D. I..

“You need to search at night.  Look among the abandoned boathouses,” the voice said.

“Sir, I really do need to have a longer interview with you.  Might you be able to visit the station?”

“It is not safe for me to go there,” the voice said cautiously as if someone might be listening.

“Why?  What could possibly harm you in a police station?” Hardwick queried.

“The Vampire,” the man said matter of factly.

“Vampire.  Listen here, you, you . . . “

If a pregnant pause is one that creates anticipation and builds up suspense, then what followed was a “constipated pause” as his men called it, as they all knew it would be followed by some very unsavoury content.

They were surprised when the anticipated explosion didn’t materialise.  Hardwick composed himself, said “Thank you,” and then put the phone down.

He turned to the room full of astonished officers and said, “Apparently Gentleman, we have a vampire on our hands.”  With that he went to his office and closed the door.

Haunted Wordsmith Prompts

Prompt A (Genre): Weird Tales (inspired by the magazine of the same name, a more traditional form featuring strange and uncanny events (Twilight Zone).

Prompt B (Story Starter): “Can you look again?”

Prompt C (Photo): Above

Sunday Writing Prompt “The Vampire”






The Elixir

Reena Saxena

Photo Credit: Reena Saxena

It was the same every day.  It was the way it had been done for generations.  Boil the water, then let the kettle stand for exactly two minutes.  Place one measured tablespoon of loose tea into the pot.  Add the water, and let steep for exactly four minutes.  In a glass mug, add the juice of half a lime.  Then strain the tea into the cup.  Finally take the special bottle from the spice-rack and place exactly one drop into the cup.

“Momma, do we have to be so exact?” Margery asked. “Isn’t tea, well, just tea?”

“No, it needs to be exactly this way.  It’s the way she likes it.”

“Okay, but how’d she know?” Margery asked.

“I thought that too,” Momma replied.”  “I was thirteen, like you, and didn’t see why we made all the fuss.  So one morning I used a teabag instead.  Do you know, the first thing she said?”

“No, what?”

“She said, ‘It smells wrong,’ before she even got to the table,” Momma explained. “Then she said, ‘are you trying to kill me?’”

“Weird,” Margery muttered under her breath.

Just then her great-great-grandmother, aged-one-hundred-and-twelve, spryly came down the stairs. “Is my tea ready yet?”

(200 words)


Sunday Photo Fiction – April 28, 2019

The Fisherman Calls in Lydda


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Pinterest Peter and Aeneas


“Eight years of physicians that either wanted to bleed me or to put dead mice under my legs,” Aeneas reflected.  “And now I can walk again because of a fisherman.”

“A fisherman of men,” Yohanan reminded him.

“Yes, a fisherman of men indeed,” Aeneas said quietly, as almost to himself.  “How many have come to the Way, here in Lydda since it happened?” he asked.

“Dozens, they just keep coming, and they all are amazed.”  Johanna responded.

“And all Peter said to them was it was not him, but the Lord,”  Yohanan added.  “Then he just left.”

“Where has he gone?”

“Two Brothers arrived from Joppa this morning and said he was needed, so he just up and left,” Johanna explained.

“I should go to Joppa,” Aeneas said.  “I need to thank Peter again.”

“No Brother, thank God, That’s what Peter said to do.”

(148 words)


What Pegman Saw: The Biblical City of Lod

Christian Fantasy Genre and A Review


The genre of Christian Fantasy is a sub-genre of the fantastical form.  These by definition are works “written by and/or for Christians.”   The plots, and events of these works are not always overtly “religious” in their content or feel, but generally reflect a Christian world-view and the associated values.   Some of the works are clear re-tellings of biblical tales, or of events of Christian experience.

Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress is an example of the latter form, in which the central character, Christian, makes an epic journey to reach the Celestial City.  Along the way he encounters Giants and trial.  The allegory is clear throughout.

The allegorical content, however, does not always make itself obvious within the genre.  C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a good exampleGenerations of readers have followed the adventures of Lucy and her siblings in the Land of Narnia, without necessarily seeing that Aslan’s defeat of the witch (the embodiment of evil) as a portrayal of Christ’s victory through sacrifice.  Spoiler alert!  Edmund has sinned and sold out his siblings for his own gain.  Because of this his life in forfeit.  When the witch comes to collect her prize (his life), Aslan gives his own life for the lost.  His death (including mocking by the crowd, stripping of his “clothing” (mane), and execution) parallel the events of Calvary.  As does his resurrection!

Some Christian Fantasy merely takes aspects of the Christian faith and teachings and weaves it into the fantasy.   In my own work, The Sisters Tales the character Breena has a prophetic gift, and in many instances shares spiritual values to her colleagues.  She also manifests her gift in a way reminiscent to that of  Saint Joan of Arc.

I have recently read Christian Fantasy author, Allison D. Reid’s,  Journey to Aviad (Wind Rider Chronicles Book 1).  This  work is well written and is engaging.  Reid  draws the fantasy genre together with allegory and Trinitarian theology in a subtle way, and it makes for some wonderful imagery as well as helping her develop her world-building.  I particularly like that her main character enters into the greater events around her by chance and circumstance.  This plays out in her undertaking an uncertain journey which is a wonderful metaphor for life and the question of purpose.   I  truly enjoyed Journey to Aviad and I have already begun to read more of Reid’s work.

As a genre Christian Fantasy has a lot to offer.  It provides some quality speculative fiction in which wholesome values are applauded, and in which gratuitous erotica is all but absent.  Christians (and other people of faith) will find familiar and enriching themes, while still enjoying the action and adventure of the larger Fantasy genre.

Try giving a few “a read.”


Links to works mentioned:

Journey to Aviad

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Pilgrim’s Progress

The Sisters Tales





Keeping Watch over ruin

Unknown Title and Artist

Twenty years is a long time.  It has been twenty years, however, since the people of Lyconia abandoned their city.  The onslaught had been ferocious, and the Lyconian army had made a terrific stand on the outskirts of the city in order to allow as many of the city’s people to escape northwards as possible.

When the last of the women and children, as well as the elderly had departed, a red flag had been raised over the keep and the last of the defenders fell back to that citadel to make their stand.  The siege was not a long one.  Within a month the last gates had been breached.  The Tilforians were brutal.  Any defender taken alive was hanged from a great gallows.  They died slowly, being left to strangle, as the victors laughed and mocked them in their death throes.  King Hanny was made to watch the death of his brave men before being the last to face the humiliating death at the hands of the Tilforians.

In exile in the friendly Kingdom of Rell, young Hanny the Second, barely seventeen at his kingdom’s fall began to build anew.  With the aid of the Rell, he was able to form a coalition.  Then twenty years on, he led an army of exiled Lyconians back across the border, and with him marched the warriors of Rell and Sysnic.

Near the ford at Fair Meadows the armies met, and after eight long hours of battle the coalition prevailed.  In a series of “mopping up” engagements the last of the Tilforians fled back to their homeland.

This evening, it was with muted jubilation that the army of Hanny II entered the desolate city of Lyconia.   The king rests tonight in the old halls of his father’s keep.  He is anxious, however.   His mind is burdened by the expectations of what they will discover when they begin to explore the city in the morning.




Sainsbury’s Love Your Veg Green Veg & Mozzarella Risotto Balls: A Review

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I was looking for a quick to prepare mains to treat myself with.  I had seen the Sainsbury’s Love Your Veg line before, and the risotto balls seemed to be a tasty way to check it out.

I bought a package, which was convenient in its packaging of two compartments containing three risottos each.  I prepared one half of the pack using the oven at 200 C for 14 minutes, and the other a day later in the microwave for 3 minutes on high.

These balls are 25% rice, and about 10% cheese, the rest being vegetables (carrots, peas, and green beans), herbs, and bread crumb.  The oven baked balls were nicely crisp in their crumb shells.  The rice and veg mix within was a little crumbly, and while having a bit of a herb taste, the cheese flavour was minimal.  Three balls were a decent sized portion.

The microwaved ones lacked some of the external crispness, but were not appreciably different in texture or flavour.

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Each ball has about 126 calories, and provides 6.4 g of fat, 3.4 g of protein, and less than a gram of sugar.

These, while not phenomenal, did provide a nice break from the ordinary.   I think they would make a good vegetarian side dish, and as a main okay in a pinch if time is short in meal prep.

All in all 4.0 out of 5 as a snack, and 3.5 out of 5 for a main.