Three short stories:
Tommy's War: a man, a dog, the blitz and changing the future.
Grace: a child returns to the mill where she died to find where she belongs.
The Copse: the return of the "Jack in the Wood", a boy bullied with nowhere left to turn but the copse.
Excerpt from Tommy's War:
Hilary shrieked from downstairs.
“Peter, are you going to be long up there?”
“Just going to meditate, give me half an hour, OK?” he yelled in response.
With his chair positioned, Pete turned on his iPod and the guided meditation commenced. He closed his eyes and started to concentrate on his breathing. Hilary just viewed this as just more of Pete’s “mumbo jumbo,” even though he was now in his third week of disappearing to the bedroom on his own for half an hour each night.
Pete immediately felt the feelings of detachment within his arms and legs and within ten minutes, he found himself within “The Gap.”
He sighed, no thoughts, just calm and relaxed, then all of a sudden, he had an urge to scratch his neck, and he felt himself try to search for itch with his back paw. Startled, Pete opened his eyes, the bedroom had changed, he looked at the ornate brass mirror in the corner, the house-sized wardrobe, and the bed with a high sprung mattress covered in a purple quilted counterpane. The picture on the wall displayed newlyweds stood outside a church, it appeared to be a sepia photograph, but someone had taken the time to add colour to the faces and clothes and the large bouquet of red roses that the woman was blissfully clutching. The musty air clung to the fabric of the room, and with so many odours, Tommy could not quite distinguish one from the other. Sunlight filtered through the ochre net curtains, blazes of light brightening the tatty flowered wallpaper and threadbare carpet. Pete jumped off the chair and was surprised to find that even stood fully erect he could not see over the bed.
“What the hell,” he said.
He scampered around the bed to look in the dress mirror. In reflection was a rather scruffy black and white mongrel, he was not even aware that his tongue was hanging out the side of his mouth, and his blue eyes were now two bright hazelnuts. Looking over his shoulder, he observed that he was also wagging his bushy white tail. Before he could react to this canine revelation, he heard a girl shouting, what he knew, could only be his name.
“Tommy, where are you? I do hope you are not asleep on the bed again,” shouted a voice from below.
Panic, panic, panic. He ran around in a circle, then another and another. The bedroom door suddenly flew open.
“You know you are not allowed up here, now get your stinky bum downstairs before mum catches you and throw’s you out in the yard again.”
Pete tried to plead his innocence, but it just emerged as a feeble whine.
“Sshh will you,” she said, grabbing his collar, his claws vainly trying to get a grip on the lino-covered stairs. The girl must have been around ten years of age and smelt strangely familiar. Tommy could not believe all the smells that he was now conscious of, bread, meat, cheese and pooh!