Fourth excerpt from Retribution

Hello everyone. In this blog I am going to try something different. I am going to provide an excerpt from my horror novel “Retribution.’ But this excerpt is going to be quite unlike my previous one for this novel or indeed any of my other novels. It is going to be split up into two different parts. The first part is the conclusion to chapter 3 and involves Lucy returning from her first day at a new school following her move into the country. Lucy is upset about how it has gone and starts berating herself for not being able to make friends with any of her fellow pupils. Then she hears the sound of children playing outside and goes to investigate. The second part involves her sitting by a tree in the nearby woods and feeling sad again as the children she had come out to play with had acted as if she was not there and had run away from her. It is just when she is in the middle of some heart-wrenching remarks to herself that a girl appears to her. This is Charlotte. She does not know it at the time but she is a ghost and this is the start of their friendship. I hope you enjoy this dual excerpt. It starts with Lucy remembering an incident in the school playground with her brother David:

First Part

Lucy hated herself for being so weak as to cry into David’s arms in such a contemptible fashion.  Good God! she thought ruefully.  I’m not a baby any more: I’m nine years old, and yet I was sniffling away like a fool.  I mean how can I expect to make friends when I act like that? I bet everyone who saw me in the playground today thought it wouldn’t be worth their while trying to be friends with someone like me.  After all, who would want to hang around someone who’s always so unhappy? There can’t be any girls at school who will want to be friends with me after my performance today.  I’m a complete misery guts!

Just then, Lucy heard a noise coming from outside which soon pushed her mind away from her aggrieved thoughts.  Sitting up on her bed, she wondered what it could have been that she had heard.  It had come so suddenly that it had startled the poor girl.  The fact that she had been, at the time, in such a thoughtful and distressed state of mind only made her shock that much greater.

“There it is again!” she told the empty room.  It had appeared, from first reaction, that there was some shouting going on outside.  But no, that couldn’t be: the noise wasn’t as harsh as that.  It was more soothing, friendly even.

As she excitedly clambered off her bed, wondering what was going on outside, Lucy felt a strange sensation come over her.  For, as she rose to her feet, she had the definite impression that somebody or thing had brushed against her.  No, it was stranger than that; it felt almost like someone had taken hold of her hand.  This sensation had gone as quickly as it had come, but it was still an unnerving experience for her.

Whatever it had been, it had produced a pleasant feeling for Lucy.  The touch on her hand had been of a smooth, caring, almost loving kind.  It was almost as if somebody had wanted to comfort the girl in her hour of need.  Also, the touch seemed to be encouraging her to move over to the window to see what was going on.

“That’s crazy!” Lucy muttered. Maybe, she thought, I’ve let things get to me so much that I’m starting to imagine things.  Well, I must have.  I mean how can someone touch me when there’s nobody here? It’s impossible!

Feeling rather silly for even giving credence to her fanciful notions, Lucy approached the window.  There, she looked all around her but at first could not see anything.  Then, all became clear to the girl, as she caught sight of some children emerging from the woods.    They seemed to be singing a song, and they had several dogs with them who appeared happy to roam around with their human owners.

Just then, without knowing what had come over her, Lucy came away from the window and began to change out of her school clothes.  Such had been her dispirited feelings when she had returned home from school, she hadn’t even bothered to change into her leisure gear.  This she now did, in something of a frantic rush.  It was almost as if she couldn’t wait to go outside, such were the flurry of her actions.

Indeed, as far as she was concerned, it was almost as if she had again been gripped by the force she had first become aware of when her family had arrived at Oak Manor.  This sensation of being watched had been further enhanced by the strange hold that had been taken of her hand shortly before.  Now it was as if someone had a desperate need for her to go outside so that she could meet the children playing down below.

2nd Part

“It isn’t any wonder the kids at school don’t like me,” Lucy told herself. “Just like it’s no surprise that those kids ran away from me just now.  I’m bad news: everybody knows it.  I can’t make friends to save myself! But then I know that’s mostly because I’m so plain and fat.  Who would want to know me? And then we move to this country house where I don’t fit in at all.  I mean look how pretty it is in the country: bright flowers, lovely fields, birds fluttering about all over the place and then I turn up to dullen up the place! No, it’s no good: I don’t fit in anywhere.  I’m so stupid!”

“No, you are not stupid! Do not say such things about yourself: it is too cruel.”

Lucy almost jumped out of her skin as these words came from behind her.  She felt like an angel had just spoken to her, such was the kind, caring way in which the words had been spoken.  The currently weird situation she was in also served to bring a halt to her crying.  This had closely followed on from the savage diatribe she had aimed against herself.

Quickly, Lucy turned round to see who had spoken to her.  The words that had been addressed to her had seemed to come out of nowhere such was their airy quality.  As a consequence, the girl didn’t know what to expect as she turned her watery gaze on the person who had just put a stop to her outpourings of lament.

“Who are you?” asked a transfixed Lucy as she settled her eyes on a girl of roughly her own age.  This discovery unnerved her, as she had been expecting a much older person.  The girl’s words had had such an authority about them and such a calm assurance that it was difficult to believe they had come from one so young.

“My name is Charlotte and I live close by.”  Curtsying slightly in a manner Lucy found most strange, the girl mentioned that she was very glad to meet her.  “But I have not seen you before: from whence do you come?”

At this point, Lucy stood up and was to her surprise of a similar height to her new acquaintance.  This amazed her, as she had the feeling that Charlotte must be far taller than her, seeing as she held herself so well.  This, together with the peculiar way she had of expressing herself, all added up to Lucy’s impression that she was of a much greater stature than herself.

“Oh,” she replied in dumbstruck manner.  “I’m Lucy, and my family have just moved into Oak Manor.  That’s the house just over there, through these woods.”

“Yes! Oak Manor!” These words were uttered by Charlotte almost reverentially, a mode of expressing herself which again Lucy found quite strange.  “I know it well: very well indeed!”

As conversation had now reached something of an impasse, Lucy was worried that she was going to blow this unexpected chance of making friends with this girl.  So, in an almost desperate attempt to fill the silence which had come between them, she made a reference to Charlotte’s costume.

“That’s a very nice dress you’re wearing.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen one as pretty as that before.  At least for a girl.”

“Well, thank you very much.  It is very kind of you to compliment me in such a fashion.  I am glad, too, for it is one of my favourite dresses and one that I own a lot of affection for.”

“Yes, I can see why that would be the case: it’s so beautiful!”

As Lucy continued to marvel at Charlotte’s dress, she took in every appendage of its being.  For while it was startlingly pretty, it was also somewhat unusual as far as Lucy could make out.  For one thing it was of a style and design which she had never seen before.  It was low-cut around the neck, with frills all around the neckline.  Pink-coloured, it seemed to fit the sleek, slim-lined shape of Charlotte very well.  The dress also consisted of a smart belt, of a soft-made design apparently, a portion of which fell off to the side of the girl’s costume.

“Now, you must tell me, Lucy: how long have you been living at Oak Manor? It can scarcely have been for long.  For I am sure if this had been the case I would have come across you before now.  For I often frequent these woods.”

“Oh no,” assured Lucy.  “I only arrived here a couple of days ago with my family.  I’m still trying to get settled in, but it’s pretty difficult…”

“Do you not like the country, then?” asked a surprised Charlotte, although still in the same friendly tone of voice which she had started off with when first talking to Lucy.

“Oh no! It isn’t that.  It’s just that I come from the city: from London.  It just feels so strange to be living out in the country.  It’s so different from where I used to live.  There’s so much space here it’s incredible!”

“Yes, indeed! The space here is certainly of a pleasing nature! But tell me, Lucy: when I first came across you today you seemed rather sad.  Why was that? Or do you not wish to talk about it?”

Lucy was only too glad to talk about it.  How could she be otherwise? For here, at long last, she had found someone of her own age other than David who she felt she could relate to.  The weight which had been lifted off her shoulders was almost tangible.  The knowledge that Lucy had finally come across someone who she could identify with and feel at ease with made her feel great inside.  She wanted to dance, to sing and shout, such were her feelings of joy.

Lucy did not tell Charlotte all about her problems, of course, as she felt that it would have been unfair on her to have to listen to every detail of her troubles.  Instead, she contented herself by merely describing to the other girl how difficult it had always been for her to make friends.  This, after all, had been one of the reasons for her previous outburst when she had been on her own.

“Well,” assured Charlotte.  “You need no longer fear on that score, for it you want, I am sure we can become the best of friends.”

“Oh yes!” Lucy almost screeched out her agreement with what was for her a pleasing proposal.  “Nothing would make me happier!”

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