Friday, 25 April 2014

A to Z Challenge 2014 - Ghosts - V is For Vacuum, Pamela Vincent, Verdley Castle & Vernham Dean

A to Z Challenge 2014 - Ghosts
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Vacuum, emptiness, why is this different from other types of pauses in writing? My author of choice today is Pamela Vincent and my haunted location is actually two today: Verdley Castle and Vernham Dean. AND, part 22 of The Burning Web, where Tris and Xander must deal with the aftermath of their encounter with Margaret,




V is for Vacuum
I've already talked about pausing a story, giving the reader a breather, which then allows you to build up more tension afterwards. And a vacuum is a kind of pause, but for me it's a different type of pause. It's not the kind where the reader can take a breath and relax, it's a sudden stop in the momentum of the plot path from A to B that heightens the tension. It's a halt that allows anxiety to flow in.

The film, The Mummy uses it just after Imhotep has been raised, everything comes to a temporary halt. The Medjai save them and send them all back to Cairo, creating a hiatus where no-one is sure what will happen next. Rick and Evie are arguing, the other men are drowning their sorrows in the bar, everything is on hold, which makes when Imhotep steps back into the frame all the more dramatic.

This part of The Burning Web uses a hiatus in a similar way. After the momentous events in Part 21, Tris is forced into a situation, which, although not everyday, is a world away from the supernatural. 
by Sophie Duncan


First Part | Previous PartNext Part | Last Part
Tris sat next to Xander's hospital bed nervously chewing at his lip and waiting for the doctor to finish examining Xander. They'd struggled their way out of the pond and found Xander's phone to call an ambulance, and then everything had gone into overdrive. Tris had babbled at Xander to keep him awake, since the head wound looked nasty, until the ambulance had arrived, but they hadn't really talked. Xander was in shock, of him, or Margaret, or both, Tris had not been able to tell, and then there had been medical professionals dealing with them both.

They'd been separated at the hospital and after giving him a clean bill of health, a kind nurse had found Tris some scrubs and a place to wash off the foul-smelling pond slime, while doctors dealt with Xander. He'd eventually gathered up the courage to slip into Xander's cubicle while the doctor was suturing the gash on his husband's head, but he hadn't had more than a glance from Xander, who had a protective green sheet over half his head where the doctor was stitching, and looked sleepy. He'd sat down guiltily out of the way and just watched, his own thoughts still running full pelt over what he had so nearly done.

Eventually, the young doctor stood back, trimmed the last stitch and removed the sheet.

"All done," she announced and nodded at Xander. Then she looked at Tris and he knew his guilt had to be all over his face as she then told them both, "Now, you have concussion, plus, given what your husband has told us about you being face down in the pond, there is a chance of secondary drowning, so we'll be keeping you in today and probably overnight for observation. I'll have someone come around to take you up to a ward."

"Thank you," Xander replied and he was trying to sound in control, but Tris could hear the crack in his voice.

He wanted to reach out, but shame held him back, so he nodded his thanks to the doctor as she left and then perched on the edge of his chair. He looked up at Xander lying propped up on half a dozen pillows and he failed to gauge his husband's emotion from the fairly blank stare that followed the doctor out through the curtains of the cubicle. The sounds of a busy emergency ward slid in to fill the gap where reaction should have been.

However, slowly, Xander drew in a long breath and did what Tris was half longing for and half dreading, he turned his head towards him. Tris held his breath, no idea what was in Xander's bleak expression. His mouth was dry and he couldn't swallow, he could only wait.

"She was real?" Xander finally spoke in a broken whisper of disbelief and his palm slid off the bed towards Tris.

Tris knew the fear he saw then, he'd felt it more than once in Berwick House and he grabbed quickly for his husband's hand. He stood up rapidly, which made the world go round, but he didn't care, he'd heard the need for reassurance in Xander's words and he was more than ready to give it.

"Yes, yes, she was real," he rushed, pulling Xander into his arms. "I'm so sorry. Yes, she was real."

Xander reached just as needily back and Tris gasped as a sob threatened to break out of his chest.

"He killed her and she wanted me to kill for her, she tried to take me over," he babbled on, only managing to keep his voice low because of their exposed situation. "I didn't know, I'm sorry."

Xander hugged him close, pulling him halfway down onto the bed, and Tris let him, because he could feel the tension from his partner.

"She was real, it was all real," Xander sounded almost like he was talking to himself, but Tris made positive noises, relief taking over and mixing up his words. "God, Tris, I should have believed you."

Tris had so much he wanted to say, about Margaret's tricks, about the rage that had possessed him, and all the others who had come before him, but none of it would form into words, so he just held fast to Xander.

First Part | Previous PartNext Part | Last Part

Author Info: Pamela Vincent
Today, I'm going back to my childhood again and talking about an author I got to know through her stories in the ghost anthologies I started to read when I was younger. I know nothing about her, even google does not seem to be able to help me to find out more, but what I do know is I loved the two stories I read by h er in different anthologies. The first time I came across Pamela Vincent was in The 12th Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories, a collection of spooky tales. Ms Vincent's contribution is Brooding Dark, a warning not to tempt fate and play with supernatural forces, even if you don't believe in them - a young woman attends a spiritualist meeting and wishes to call forth her darling Bob with fatal consequences. The other story my Pamela Vincent is of quite a different tone and appears in the 7th Armada Ghost Book. It's called, When The Moon is Full and is about a young person who, when going night fishing on the beach with their father, wanders off and, under the light of the full moon, is taken to another time to witness an ancient Aboriginal ceremony. It's a beautiful little story.


British Hauntings: Verdley Castle & Vernham Dean
I've chosen two sites, both in the South of England, because the first one, although poignant, is very short. The first is Verdley Castle in West Sussex, the location of which is haunted by the ghost of the last wild bear killed in England. The poor creature is said to return to haunt the spot of what was once a hunting lodge.

The second site is the village of Vernham Dean in Hampshire. This place is haunted by the guilty shade of one of the village's vicars, who deserted his parishioners when the plague struck in 1665. He is said appear as a bent figure struggling in his penance up Conholt Hill, where the villagers first went to find safety.


I'd love to hear your own spooky stories, add them to the blog comments. :)

A few of us discovered that we all had supernatural themes for the AtoZ so we got together and did a mini list. If you also have a supernatural theme (ghosts, monsters, witches, spells etc), please feel free to add yourself to the list.

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24 comments:

  1. I love the cover of that book. Such a great expression! Hehe. The Moon story sounds lovely. And sad about the last bear haunting. He should go to London Tower, and hang out with the ghost bear there. ;)

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    1. Looks like the artist had a good time creating that one - that cover used to give me the heebie jeebies when I was a kid.

      Yeah, those two ghost bears should hang out together, maybe the town bear could visit his country cousin as well :)

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  2. That poor bear - being the last and still having to come back and haunt too.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings - AtoZ (Vampires)
    FB3X - AtoZ (Erotic Drabbles)

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    1. I'm with Sara, he should pair up with the bear from the tower and then they won't be lonely.

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  3. Those vacuum moments really aid a good ghost story.

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    1. It's another item in the arsenal of pace :)

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  4. Aws poor bear! That's so sad. Do yall not have bears at all anymore? That's so strange to me since we have them out and about wild in areas.

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    1. We don't have bears in Britain now, except in zoos/safari parks - we don't actually have any large predators. That's why we're such fools when we blunder around true wilderness while visiting other countries ;P

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  5. It sounds like Pamela Vicent was a pen name and the author either stopped writing or changed pen names. I have several stories out in anthologies under different names! Right now I feel like my entire WIP is a vacuum because it sucks! lol

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    1. Since a few of the authors appeared in both the Armada and Fontana ghost books, you could be right that she used that pen name just for the ghost books.

      We all feel like that about our WIPs from time to time ;P, only thing I can do at those moments is walk away from it for a little while.

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  6. I believe in pausing a story to give readers (and characters) time to breathe. That was one thing I had to work on with the first book in my unpublished series. Something kept nagging at me, telling me it wasn't quite right. It took me a long time to realize I had to add in parts to spread some of the action farther apart. After I did that I knew it was done. :)

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    1. Pace is important - I've had to do similar things, both add scenes in and take them out to make plots flow properly. You just know as a writer sometimes, don't you :)

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  7. I didn't even know we'd ever had bears...although maybe that's why.

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    1. We hunted bears and wolves to extinction in this country.

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  8. Sad tale of the bear, and even sadder that we no longer have them here. :(
    I'm glad that Xander has finally seen the truth, although a smack around the head wasn't the best way (I mean that figuratively and not in any way an insult to your writing). ;)

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    1. It is sad that we managed to wipe out such majestic species, although it does make stomping around our wild heaths a lot safer - we just couldn't cope with big predators here in the UK, we can't even get folks to close the gates when they go rambling!

      It was a rough ride for Xander to finally see Margaret and I take your comment the way it was meant :)

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  9. When you said vacuum moment, it made me think of Alfred Hitchcock movies and the lack of music in some scenes. That vacuum of sound is ten times more scary to me.

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

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    1. I never realised how important the background music, or lack of it is in movies until I saw a documentary talking about it all and the film without and without the background track was just a different scene.

      Silence can be terrifying, especially after a lot of sound.

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  10. I constantly remember 2 of my favourite actors, David Niven and Vincent Pryce whenever I read the summaries from the recommended books in your posts. I'm glad Xander is finally seeing the light, so to speak.

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    1. I remember Vincent Price in all those films based on Edgar Allan Poe's stories - very creepy voice that man had :)

      It took a bad knock to get Xander to believe...

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  11. OOO!

    I think I had that book. The cover is so familiar looking.

    --
    Timothy S. Brannan
    The Other Side, April Blog Challenge: The A to Z of Witches

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  12. Well, I'm glad Xander finally believes!

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    1. It was a rough ride to get there, but yes, at last!

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Thanks for stopping by - I'd love to hear from you. :)