How a short story became a four book fantasy adventure series
I always feel as though ‘The Storyteller’s Book’ wrote itself and I was the vessel it used to create its own life. It began when I wrote a short story for my children. I really enjoyed writing it and wanted to carry on so I added a second chapter to it, then a third and so on. As I wrote each chapter, I never knew what was going to happen next until I got typing. Eventually I completed the book and decided the first chapter, the original short story, didn’t quite fit, so I discarded it and completely rewrote that first chapter to fit in with what was to follow.
‘The Storyteller’s Book’ didn’t finish the story I was telling, so I wrote a second novel. Deciding there was still more to tell, a third novel followed and finally, to complete the story, I wrote a fourth. Collectively, they are called 'The Chronicles of Midway'.
18th November 2019
This is the serialisation of the final novel in 'The Chronicles of Midway' series, 'Carnival of the Otherworld'.
Please note, I will be uploading new chapters every 2 days from now until the end of the book so the serialisation will finish at Christmas.
CARNIVAL OF THE OTHERWORLD
Chapter 12 - Mel Expresses Her Concerns
At the back of Ten Acre Lodge, Natasha Moon delicately pulled open the outside door that led to Glynwidden’s storeroom and workshop. She coughed as the dusty air from the dark interior invaded her throat. Wafting her hand in front of her face she called out croakily, “Glynwidden.”
There was no reply, but she could hear lots of scraping, heavy breathing and grunts from inside. She was pleased, at least, to hear that the Protector of the Lodge was hard at work.
“Glynwidden,” she shouted more urgently from a clearer throat. The sounds from within the cellar suddenly stopped.
“’Ello,” Glynwidden’s voice echoed. “Who’s that?”
“It’s me, I’ve been calling you for ages, my voice is aching from calling you,” Natasha exaggerated.
“’Ow can I be o’ service, Me Lady?” The voice came from the depths of the dark interior.
“By getting yourself up here this instant so I don’t have to bawl at the top of my voice to be heard.”
There was much noise as Glynwidden clattered about before he appeared at the doorway where his mistress awaited him. Looking filthy, covered from head to foot in mud and dirt, he screwed his eyes up when the daylight hit him.
“You look disgusting, don’t come any closer to me,” Natasha said, pulling a face and gesturing for him to keep back.
“Apologies, Me Lady, but it’s this ‘ere job you’ve give me, it’s impossible to keep clean. I’m up to me eyes in muck from all the diggin’.”
Still pulling a revolted face, Natasha commented: “I thought you’d have been finished by now.”
“It’s a long way down to dig, Me Lady. It’ll be a few more days o’ ‘ard toil before I gets close to breakin’ through.”
“I want this work completed within two days, at the very latest.”
Glynwidden grumbled something almost inaudible causing Natasha to react: “What was that?” she snapped.
“Nothin’, Me Lady.”
“Come on, out with it,” she demanded.
“It’s just that I don’t know why you want me diggin’ down for access to somethin’ that’s kept on Midway. I don’t know why you can’t just go an’ get it the normal way.”
Natasha’s reaction was one of extreme anger: “How dare you question my judgement. You are here to serve me …”
“Serve the Lodge, beggin’ your pardon, Me Lady.”
“I am the occupier of the Lodge at this moment, therefore serving the Lodge means serving me. If I want you to dig down through the ancient path to Midway, that is what you will do, and whether or not I could reach the item myself on Midway is not your concern. Do we understand each other?”
Trying hard to stay calm, Glynwidden kept his eyes on Natasha Moon defiantly while nodding his head. “Is there anythin’ else, Me Lady?”
“Yes there is. The reason I called you in the first place. I will be away from the Lodge until later this afternoon. No-one is to enter the building under any circumstances, and when I return I will be bringing a guest, a human guest.”
“D’you wish me to keep out o’ the way, Me Lady?”
“No, that won’t be necessary.”
“You don’t mind a ‘uman seein’ me, then?”
“A great many humans will be seeing a lot more of our world soon, so seeing you is not going to make any difference.”
“’Umans are goin’ to be seein’ us …?” Glynwidden’s voice rose as he started to question Natasha again but thought better of it and cut his sentence short. “Very well, Me Lady,” Glynwidden said calmly as he turned to go.
“Don’t forget, I want that hole completed quickly. Two days and no more. I expect to see progress when I return later.”
Glynwidden heard her but didn’t reply.
On the other side of the village, two protection angels were walking past the shops. Mr Jones always looked immaculate with his fair hair neatly parted and combed tidily across his head. His keen blue eyes peered through steel rimmed glasses as he looked at the shop window. His companion, Mr Schober, much shorter and a good deal less orderly in his appearance, had a large nose with awkwardly set glasses. His grey hair was overgrown and untidy just like his eyebrows and sideburns. Whereas Mr Jones wore smart trousers, a smart overcoat with a blue tie visible, Mr Schober wore a tatty anorak and baggy trousers. Tommy, the newsagent, was clearing up ready to close for the day and was stacking away the few newspapers that hadn’t been sold. He was thinking he couldn’t be bothered cooking for himself that evening and decided to have one of the shop’s left over sandwiches for his supper. He was carrying the newspapers out the front to the recycle bin when he trod on a brush, yelled out in pain and let all the newspapers slip out of his arms onto the floor.
Some of the newspapers opened and many inside pages escaped, falling across the pavement. The two protection angels helped stop the pages blow away as Tommy knelt down to pick them all up. As he stacked them again in his arms, he thanked the men for their help, but the taller of the two noticed a headline on the uppermost page. Tommy saw what he was looking at and read aloud the headline next to a picture of a tall slim elegant woman dressed in a long black coat.
“Startling Revelations To Be Made By TV Producer, Natasha Moon.” He gave a derisory laugh. “She seems a bit of a crank if you ask me.” Tommy flicked his long fringe out of his eyes as he looked at the pair.
“Please carry on,” Mr Jones said to him.
“Carry on?” Tommy frowned.
“Reading the article you began.”
It was a strange request, Tommy thought, but he continued to read the article aloud: “Television company owner and producer, Natasha Moon, has revealed the contents of her one off paranormal show will bring to light startling evidence that we are not alone. In a project she has been working on for many years, Ms Moon, along with ex ‘Hauntings’ presenter, Carla Monroe, is ready to reveal that evidence to the public. In an unprecedented move, she has even encouraged MP’s and senior government officials to watch her show, and has plans to broadcast live not only on British television, but on television networks throughout the world. There will even be a live feed on the internet so her revelations will be available for viewing to everyone on the planet.”
“The program, called ‘The Otherworlders’ will, she claims, reveal those who are behind four thousand years of activity that has controlled governments and shaped the society in which we live today. Ms Moon claims the program will show convincing proof that an invisible foe has been, and still is, active in our everyday lives, including the lives of those who govern the countries of the world. The climax of her show, she claims, will have viewers rooted to their screens as a revelation of immense proportions will be made. ‘Viewers won’t know what’s hit them.’ said a spokesperson for Ms Moon.”
“The show airs before a live audience in the village of Little Meesden on Saturday evening. I suggest you put it in your diary so you don’t miss it.”
Tommy looked curiously at the smaller of the two men. “I can’t believe she’s doing it right here in our village.”
Mr Schober shook his head in dismay. “I can’t believe they’re allowing such a thing to happen.”
Tommy looked quizzically at the small protection angel.
“It certainly sounds unmissable, if not a little worrying considering how quickly it has been arranged,” Mr Jones commented.
“Do you want to keep a copy of the newspaper?” Tommy was wondering why the two were still there.
Bryn Jones shook his head politely. “That will not be necessary.”
“It’s on the house; it’ll only go back for recycling.”
“Very kind of you, but we shall decline your offer and bid you good day.” They left the bewildered newsagent watching them as they continued on towards Partington Road.
Natasha walked along the busy city centre street. People were in a rush and it annoyed her intensely. Humans were so full of their own self-importance, she observed as she looked contemptuously at them. They hurried around acting out their petty little lives giving no consideration to others at all. Nearly all of them cared not one iota about where they came from or where they were going. They had no idea the Shreen universe even existed and hence were unable to appreciate superior beings like her, Natasha Moon, scientist of Shreen, creator of life, creator of universes. She disliked humans, no, she hated them, and saw it as her goal to wipe them out before their scientists discovered the Shreen and tried to destroy them first.
Across the busy street, Natasha saw the café she’d told her new recruit to wait in. The traffic was busy but she had neither the time nor the inclination to follow human conventions and rules. The pedestrian crossing up ahead was yet another human irritation and she was not going to conform. Knowing full well cars and buses were moving swiftly along the street, Natasha stepped out onto the roadway in their path with confidence. A car heading straight towards her screeched to a halt with only inches to spare. The driver blasted his horn at her in anger before a vehicle behind rammed into the back of him. The first car jolted forward from the impact just missing Natasha as she continued across the road.
A car racing towards her on the other side saw her late and was unable to stop in time, so the driver swerved across the road crunching into the wing of another car. A taxi, trying to avoid a collision, spun around out of control and hit a parked car with its rear end while an uninterested Natasha reached the pavement.
She didn’t even look back at the devastation she’d caused, and ignoring the rants of the affected drivers, she entered the café. Even the customers who’d been seated near the window and seen the pile up she’d caused, glared at the Shreen scientist, but said nothing. Natasha showed no concern as she looked around for Carla Monroe.
Seeing her sitting alone at a table with a cup of coffee in front of her, Natasha strode forward. “So, you’re here,” she said.
“What just happened outside?” Carla asked.
“I have no idea,” Natasha answered.
“But you were right in the middle of it.”
“I’m not here to discuss trivial problems concerning your transport system. I have more pressing matters to deal with. Come along, it’s time to go.”
“Now?” Carla picked up her cup. “But I haven’t finished my coffee.”
“What is more important? Finishing your coffee or exposing the truth to your world?” Natasha’s loud voice was continuing to attract the attention of most of the customers.
Carla was feeling very self-conscious as eyes stared at her and Natasha, and it became even worse when the café door burst open and an angry looking man stormed in, a police officer behind him.
“That’s her.” He pointed angrily at Natasha who casually looked at the two who’d entered.
Taking little care to avoid bumping into customers, the man strode between the tables towards the calm Natasha Moon with the police officer following.
“I have no time for this,” she said, tiresomely. She lifted the palm of her hand and emitted an invisible bolt of energy that hit the advancing man fully in the chest. He was quite heavily built, but that didn’t stop him from being thrown backwards knocking over the police officer and a couple of tables.
Everyone in the café stood at once, some tried to help the injured pair, some looked on in shock while others made a quick exit out the door. Natasha decided not to hang around and leaned towards Carla. “We shall leave immediately,” she said, sternly.
It was much easier crossing the street now that the traffic was at a standstill. Carla, shocked at the chaos, had to run to keep up with her as she quickly weaved her way through the tangled mess. Standing in the midst of all the confusion, Carla saw two identical, ghostlike figures with short, white hair and pale, colourless faces, dressed in long white gowns.
“Who are those people?” Carla pointed at the two figures.
“Of course, you can see more than your fellow humans, can’t you?” Natasha answered. “They are judges and they accompany me in order to offer assistance where needed.”
Before Carla could say another word, the busy street had disappeared to be replaced by an empty field with a large house set inside a high wall close by.
“What just happened?”
“We passed through an Earth portal,” Natasha replied.
“Is this Midway?”
“It is an Earth portal,” Natasha repeated. “As its name implies, it is a portal that transfers people from one location on Earth to another.”
“Where are we?”
“Little Meesden, and this is my house; Ten Acre Lodge.”
As Natasha was causing upheaval in a busy London street, Mel was hurrying across Ten Acre field towards the Lodge. She was sure she was doing the right thing joining up with Natasha Moon. It was the only way she would be able to get close to her and find out what she was up to. Rufus had certainly given her his seal of approval even if he hadn’t totally spelt it out. She hadn’t told him what her plans were exactly, but from the way he’d spoken to her, it seemed he knew about Natasha’s job offer. She’d had to keep silent about her plans because the judges could be anywhere, watching or listening, hidden from view. She understood Nick’s anger, but it had been necessary to make her actions look genuine. She reached the Lodge and looked through the tall iron gates at the large square building with its immaculate lawn and colourful array of flowers, shrubs and bushes.
Her plan was to first of all let Glynwidden know she was there before presenting herself to Natasha. Slowly she walked around the outer wall calling Glynwidden’s name as quietly as she could, hoping he, rather than Natasha, would hear her. When she heard a noise sounding like a door opening she stopped calling and waited.
“Who’s there?” It was the unmistakable voice of Glynwidden.
“It’s me, Mel,” she called in a loud whisper.
“What are you talkin’ so quiet for?” the voice shouted over the wall.
“So Natasha doesn’t know I’m here yet.”
“No danger o’ that, she’s not ‘ere right now.”
“Oh.” Mel was both relieved and disappointed.
Glynwidden made his way to the gate and opened it while Mel went to meet him.
“Glynwidden, you’re filthy, where have you been?”
“It’s nice to see you, Me Lady. Sorry ’bout the way I look, but I’ve bin diggin’, I ‘ave.”
“In the cellar.”
“A job the mistress o’ the ‘ouse give me.”
“Why would she want you to dig in the cellar?”
“That’d be ‘er business,” he replied, shaking his head and rolling his eyes.
“Surely you know why.”
“Sorry, Me Lady, but I’ve bin sworn to secrecy.”
“Oh, not that again, Glynwidden.”
“Why are you ‘ere, Me Lady?” he asked, hastily changing the subject.
“I just wanted to let you know I’ve decided to take the job Natasha offered me,” she replied, tentatively.
“I ‘ope you know what you’re doin’, Me Lady.”
“I thought you said yesterday it was a good idea me working for her.”
“I did, but that was when she were standin’ right next to me. I ‘ad to say it.”
“Glynwidden, I thought …”
“She might be the new mistress o’ the Lodge now, but like the last one who lived ‘ere, I don’t trust ‘er. ‘An this one’s a lot worse than ‘er predecessor ever was.”
Mel wanted to tell Glynwidden the real reason for accepting the job offer but was unsure whether she was being listened to by unseen ears. “Maybe I’ll make my own mind up about that,” she replied, defiantly.
“I’d advise you to be careful ‘cause she goes back a long way. All the way to the beginnin’. Used to be close to Lord Rufus and Lord Malvern, worked with ‘em in fac’.”
“I’ve got an idea of Natasha’s distant past with Rufus and Malvern, but I happen to agree with what her plans are.”
“Do you now?” Glynwidden spoke with a sharpness that Mel had not encountered before.
“Yes I do,” Mel replied, still aware of possible hidden listeners.
“You know your own mind, Me Lady, an’ it’s not for me to change it, but I’d advise you o’ this.” He leaned closer to Mel who did the same. “Whatever she’s up to, Lord Malvern isn’t too far away; so watch yourself.”
“Malvern?” Mel looked quizzically at the small man. “After the defeat he suffered, surely he’s gone into hiding or something.”
“I don’t think Lord Malvern ever thinks ‘e’s lost, an’ neither does ‘e go into ‘idin’. No, mark my words, Me Lady, ‘e’ll not be too far away.”
Mel was suddenly distracted by movement between tall bushes on the waste land. She turned back to warn Glynwidden to get out of sight, but he’d already gone and the gate was now closed. She looked towards the movement and saw two figures approaching. She recognised the tall elegant Natasha Moon with a woman at her side, and as they came closer, she saw the face of her companion, it was Carla Monroe. Deciding to adopt an aloof attitude which she believed would fall in line with what Natasha would expect, she looked only at the tall woman.
“Melandra, how nice to see you here, I hope you have brought me some good news.”
“I know you,” Carla announced. “You’re Mel, Nick’s sister who was involved the night Annie got killed.”
Mel tried at first not to respond by fixing her eyes on the smiling Natasha, but she still felt sorrow and a measure of guilt at the incident when Annette Boyd had been killed. She looked at Carla and nodded her head in acknowledgement.
“Friends reunited, how sweet, shall we go inside now and have a chat?” Natasha pushed open the tall gate.
Inside the Lodge, the three sat on large comfortable leather chairs in the bright, sunlit lounge. Adorning the walls were mostly pictures; for a change they depicted bright scenery rather than the usual portraits of old Midway Lords and Ladies. The carpet was friendlier on the eye too; a pleasant cream shade with a faint floral design, and in the middle of the floor stood a modern glass topped coffee table. Natasha looked intently at Mel waiting for her to speak.
“Yes,” Mel said, feeling a little uncomfortable, “I will work for you.”
“Good.” Natasha clapped her hands once while Carla looked on silently. “There’s more?” she asked, seeing Mel’s stern face. “I do hope it’s not a ‘but’.”
“It’s just a concern I have about something.” Mel looked thoughtful.
“I’m intrigued.” Natasha sat forward, her eyes fixed intently on her.
Mel wanted to give something to Natasha to show her fake loyalty to her. “Maybe it’s not my place to say this, but I think you need to keep an eye on the Council of Midway.”
“Oh?” Natasha raised her eyebrows.
“I believe they may try to stop me from working with you. Two of them tried to get to me yesterday but fortunately a judge intervened.”
“That was fortunate.” Natasha continued to watch Mel with interest.
“I’m worried the judges may be caught out next time if they try again,” she continued.
“The judges are very efficient; you need have no worries about that.”
“If they just kept a watchful eye on the councillors and are ready to act if they begin to interfere. That’s what I was thinking.”
“Nothing more drastic than that?” Natasha raised her eyebrows.
“I don’t know if anything more is needed.”
“If you think they may cause us too much trouble, then maybe we need to be a little more proactive than that, Melandra.” Natasha had a devious look on her face which worried Mel. “I will let you into a little secret. I am becoming a little concerned myself with regards to certain people on Midway, councillors in particular. Maybe it’s time to remove them altogether.”
Mel frowned, worried she’d prompted Natasha into action that she’d not intended. “You don’t mean to kill them, do you? Because that’s not what I meant.”
“Killing people?” Carla suddenly blurted out. “I didn’t sign up for that.”
“Don’t worry, Carla, we don’t kill our own kind,” Natasha replied.
“So who do you kill?” she asked, nervously.
Mel thought Carla was very brave to confront Natasha like that.
“Rest assured, we’re here to make a television program, nothing more,” Natasha said, soothingly. She looked back at Mel.
“We have a place that could accommodate undesirables so we can be left to get on with our work without interruption.”
“You mean to imprison them?” said Mel, even this wasn’t what she’d intended.
Natasha looked thoughtful. “You know, Melandra, I think that is what we’ll do, but we won’t restrict it to just the councillors.”
“Who else?” Mel asked, sorry she’d brought the subject up in the first place. As well as showing loyalty to Natasha, it had also been her intention to divert the judges’ attention away from her and Nick onto the councillors who she believed would be least effective against the Malum-Atra anyway.
“What about the Shreen angel leadership, or Rufus, or even your brother, Nicholas? None of them will want our program to be aired. How much easier would it be to complete our work without them hounding us?”
“I think just the councillors, Natasha. It would cause too much trouble if you picked on the angels, and Nick wouldn’t be able to do anything. And what could Rufus possibly do? Besides, I’m sure Malvern is more than a match for him.” She mentioned Malvern’s name to gauge Natasha’s reaction.
Natasha smiled and nodded her head. “Maybe you’re right. Oh, I do believe the judges are already responding to our wishes.” She looked upwards for a moment as though watching something unseen. “All those who will give us problems will be rounded up.”
To keep up appearances, Mel nodded her head in approval at the actions of the judges hoping it would just be the councillors who would be removed. Trying to look on the more positive side, she wondered if with just them out of the way it would bring about fewer complications in their struggles against the Malum-Atra.
“Where will the councillors be kept imprisoned?”
“There’s a nice cosy little place for them in the caves deep below the castle where nobody will find them. I’m sure they’ll be very comfortable there.”
Mel grinned at Natasha, hoping her new employer wouldn’t detect her misgivings.
“Before we get down to the business of my television program, I want you to come with me, Melandra, on a short trip,” Natasha said, enthusiastically.
“What about me?” Carla asked.
“We won’t be gone long. If you need anything while we’re away, you need only ring that bell and my helper Glynwidden will be very pleased to oblige,” Natasha answered. “Don’t be shocked if you do call him, he’s only about two feet tall and will be covered from head to foot in mud.” Natasha led Mel out of the room.
“Where are we going?”
“There is someone else I’d like to join our little party. This particular person is rather important to us in solving a problem that has troubled us for some time.”
“Who is it?”
Natasha smiled. “You will soon see.”
Minutes after leaving the newsagent’s shop, Mr Jones and Mr Schober were walking along Partington Road. It was something Mr Jones had known for many years would happen and he’d always wondered whether it was necessary. It had been a part of the original plan as devised by the Council of Midway. When the end days arrived, it was absolutely vital George and Geraldine Wigg be removed so they could have no influence whatsoever over their child. Of course the plan had not turned out exactly as they’d wished as the child turned out to be twins, but their removal was deemed still necessary.
Mr Wigg answered the loud knock at the door. When he saw the two protection angels standing before him, he immediately knew why. “Is it time?” His voice was solemn.
“I’m afraid so.”
“Then you’d better come in.”
“Who is it, George?” called Mrs Wigg looking around the corner of the kitchen door. “Oh,” she said, when she saw the two visitors.
“I can’t say I’ve been looking forward to this day,” Bryn Jones looked apprehensively at them both.
“Nor I, nor I,” Mr Schober repeated, rapidly.
“It will be hard to leave the children alone in these vital times,” Mrs Wigg said.
“But we all knew it would happen one day,” Mr Wigg continued in a resigned tone. “Hopefully it will all be worthwhile.”
“Is there anything you need to do before we open the Shreen portal?” asked Bryn.
“We have already told the twins we’d be leaving them soon so I don’t think we need tell them again,” Mrs Wigg said, sadly. “They’ll find out soon enough.”
“Very well, I shall open the portal here.”
Mr Wigg looked around the living room he’d shared with his family with a tinge of sadness, but as Mr Schober closed the curtains, the room fell into an unnatural darkness. Both protection angels felt they were drifting away from the Wigg’s, while they in turn felt something similar. Suddenly Mr and Mrs Wigg found themselves being enclosed by a huge, dark net which was falling all around them.
The Protection Angels immediately recognised the work of the judges and acted quickly before they called out the names of those they were taking. As soon as the blue shimmering Shreen portal opened in the middle of the living room, Bryn Jones and Mr Schober launched themselves at Mr and Mrs Wigg pushing them both away from the approaching judges.
The momentum took all four through the portal which vanished in an instant leaving the room empty. A judge materialised a fraction of a second later within the dark net he’d created, but straight away knew it was now a futile exercise calling the names of George and Geraldine Wigg. They were no longer in the human universe.
Copyright © 2014 Kevin Fleming
All rights reserved. Kevin Fleming has asserted his right under the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. This is a work of fiction. Any names, places, events or happenings in this book are a product of the author’s imagination and are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events or persons either living or dead are purely coincidental. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the author except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Chapter 13 will be uploaded on Wednesday 20th November