Today we have a sneak peek of Barbara Gaskell Denvil’s novel, Fair Weather:
Ever since childhood, Molly has been haunted. The place of her involuntary visions is dark and its people are troubled by hunger and poverty. This is the distant past – England of a thousand years ago, medieval shadows during the reign of King John.
But it is murder within her own modern life which changes everything. Molly is drawn into the police investigation, and pulled between past and present, each now as disturbing as the other, she becomes confused. Her personality splits.
Then an identical murder in the distant haunted past of her dreams joins the two worlds in equal danger. Molly passes between. Now she travels time but is followed by some horror which kills and mutilates at will. She has opened the door to evil and the man, his voice the rustle of dead leaves, is always there. Yet Molly discovers far more than fear and misery. She discovers a whole new life, and a love she could never have imagined. Now she no longer wants to return – but she must.
And now, from Fair Weather:
Tilda and I began to worry about Vespasian. The others thought he was invincible but it had been a very long time since he left us and I began to think he had been killed or taken by the law. One night I imagined him with his long, thin fingers flayed as Isabel’s had been. I saw the sun bronzed skin peeled back, the hardened calluses of his palm all removed, the sinews and muscle uncovered before whitened bone protruded. I had seen one of Isabel’s hands tortured and now I saw Vespasian’s. I heard him scream, long and guttural, and it was the echo of the scream Molly had once heard as she wakened in her own bed.
I was not asleep and I sat up, horrified and doubled over with bilious cramps. Around me the shadows slunk low from the moonlight leaking through the slats of the shutters.
I got up. I could hear a little eared owl calling shrill; witch’s warning. Peering through the shutters, I could see only the flutter of dark leaf. The creaking of the big door as I opened it did not wake anyone and I tiptoed barefoot from the house, closing the door behind me. I stood on the doorstep, stone polished smooth over the years, high enough to keep out mud and sudden flooding, and perhaps discourage insects. Before me the forest swept in endless marching black, flecked in moon gilded silver. Nothing moved, not even myself.
I could hear my breath heavy and felt it swell in my lungs. There was a great suspense in the stillness. It was a cold night and a faint frost hung like smoke around my nose and mouth and I shivered. Then I realised that I was afraid. My dream of torture and pain still whispered at the back of my eyes but I stayed where I was.
Then I heard the soft stepping of some large animal. Its pace was slow but deliberate and echoed slightly, a vibration that I felt through my toes rather than through my ears.
I expected slanting red eyes and curved teeth. I expected wolves or the pig eyes and slashing tusks of the boar. Most of all I expected some demon, the disguise of the devil, the call of magic and witchcraft, evil and murder. I didn’t run back inside. I waited to face whatever it was. The steps came nearer and I recognised the four footed trudge of some weary thing along the path to our house. The creature that approached was high and black as the shadows and as determined as my own heartbeat. Then demons faded back into the undergrowth. Nightmares shrivelled.
Vespasian had come back with a horse and a terrible wound in his shoulder.[subscribe2]