The Stranger By G G Flavell

As she slowly opened her eyes, a wailing from across the dark, candlelit hall instantly reminded her of the waking nightmare. Strands of hair were embedded into her forehead and swept across her face accentuating her pale, gaunt jawline. Her eyes rolled around in fits of agony and curiosity to see what had changed, if anything, in her death chamber. The dank smell of death hung heavy in the air. It was difficult to differentiate the floor and the ceiling, the walls and the windows. It was a wooden room, almost a box, containing her contagion, awaiting the final, tighter wooden box.

The light and colourful rooms from her family estate seemed like the memories of someone else now. The songs played by her sister, Elizabeth, on the family piano, which would fill every room in the house with joy and life, swirled around her head like a wasp. The last memory she had was of her father’s face as he closed the carriage door. He had paid the doctor to bring her to London to die. There was no hope for her now. Not since the blisters emerged. He couldn’t risk infecting the rest of the family. So, his youngest and dearest daughter Emmanuelle was sent to die, alone and in agony.

Upon arriving in London, she felt what it must be like for a corpse. She was tossed about, covered up and talked about as if she weren’t there. Occasionally, a kind nurse would try to comfort her, stroking her hand and dabbing her forehead. The doctors were never kind. Poking, prodding, retching and writhing. They were equal parts fascinated and repulsed by her.

“Money can’t save you from the plague,” they would often say.

She fell in and out of consciousness so often that the living and the dream worlds sometimes merged. The fever had played wicked tricks on her. She saw herself riding back home on her beloved horse, Daisy. Naked and radiant, she galloped through the fields of Hampshire where her family awaited her arrival, dancing in jubilation. More oft than not she was floating above her own corpse, wrapped in white linen, stained by the still seeping wounds from the blisters. Her family hadn’t come to say a final farewell, she was there, dead, cold, alone and insignificant for eternity.

But sometimes, her fever brought a strange gentleman to her bedside. He had long, thick black hair that was always neatly held back and under his top hat. His eyes were grey, like when the sun bursts through a rain cloud. He had a funny moustache and an exotic accent.

“And you say she is from aristocracy?” he would ask the nurses.

Always grinning from their affirmative answers.

Of late, he was visiting her at least once a week. On this particular night, Emma had been very lucid, lucid enough to realise he had no face mask, no covering at all to protect himself. She reached up to stroke his face, for reassurance that he was indeed there. But she passed out from exertion before she could feel anything.

The nurses started wrapping her feet and legs. A sign the blisters were getting out of control. Water was the last thing her body could ingest. It seemed hopeless. It had always been so, but Emma hadn’t quite accepted it until now.

The farmer across the room from her had succumbed just an hour before. He could only have been 17. Strong like an ox, with hands like shovels and voice deeper than a well. He looked like a man of 80 as they carted his body to the mass grave.

Emma felt as though she were crying, but the sweat rendered her senses of touch useless. She no longer knew if it was night or day. It seemed a shadow had filtered her eyes; making it so that only the candle from a nurse’s hands permitted her to see so far as in front of her face.

Tonight, that candleholder was, in fact, her stranger. A Count, from what she had heard the nurses say about him after he left.

“My dear sweet Emma, a beauty such as yourself cannot be left to die here, I beg of you, let me take you to my estate, where you shall have the best of care until you are brought back to life.”

This fever truly was the devil — encouraging hope hours before her last breath. But suddenly, it slipped and lost its grasp of her. She felt a cool facecloth on her forehead as she opened her eyes. Something the fever forbid her to feel since she was first bedridden in her family home.

A fire was roaring on the other side of this grand bed-chamber. A doctor gently lifted off the cloth, rinsed it in ice-cold water and dabbed her face again. He turned to talk to someone in the corner of the room. She couldn’t make out who, but it was an unusually tall shadowy figure with piercing white eyes.

“It has broken, sir” the doctor exclaimed, “the infection is rapidly regressing, and I believe in a matter of moments she will be clear. As we both know with the last patient, this may not last long.”

The shadowy figure spoke solemnly, “you can go.”

Emma was exuberant — pinching herself to ensure this wasn’t the last, most deceitful trick of the fever yet. Rubbing her arm as she sat up in the huge bed. She remembered suddenly that the shadow was still in the room as the doctor closed the door.

The white, unblinking eyes started coming towards her. The shadow began to take form as the fire cast its light upon it. A naked male body moved toward the bed as if floating. His skin pale as snow and crooked in ways she had never seen. But he looked so powerful.

Emma froze when she saw his face. It was her stranger. His thick black hair now let loose around his shoulders. His eyes would not stop staring into hers. As he got closer, his skin was almost transparent, it was truly revolting, yet it continued to come closer.

She had wanted to say thank you. Thank you for saving her life, but she no longer felt saved. She felt…hunted. The stranger lifted his arms out as he neared the bed. Emma tried to move, but before she could blink, his teeth sunk into her throat. Drinking her in. Her virginal, thick youthful blood soaked her hair, and his, as he made noises that would haunt her soul into the abyss.

© G G Flavell 2020

About the Author:

G G Flavell is a new author based in Scotland. Inspired by the worlds created by JRR Tolkien (with the tattoo to prove it,) George RR Martin and Charlaine Harris to name just a few. He also enjoys reading philosophical works, with Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus among some of his favourites.
Unsurprisingly, his writing leans towards fantasy and dark fantasy genres. He lets his imagination take him places the real world can’t.
When he’s not writing, reading or daydreaming, he is most liking to be found cuddling the life out of his French Bulldog Romy. Yes, like Romy and Michelle.

He writes with fun in mind, with passion and with wine.

https://www.instagram.com/wandering_avthor/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/G-G-Flavell/

Free Books

Four of my publications are currently available for FREE download from Amazon worldwide. The offer runs for three days through 17th, 18th and 19th June 2020.

Please check them out and if you do read – a review is always hugely appreciated, especially by Indie writers like myself, Andrew Taylor and G G Flavell.

New Release!!

Concoction V2 is set for release, worldwide, on 17th January 2020!

I am really excited to get this collection of 12 short stories out there. The collection is diverse as each of the three writers take such a different approach to writing a piece. This is a cross-genre collection, which does make it a difficult one to market but I didn’t want to restrict the writers to come at a story to fit a confined space in this case – hence the Concoction Anthologies.

Available for pre-order now! Please check it out.

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/997993

eBook link for Amazon UK. Also available to pre-order from Amazon.com etc

Teaser – Concoction V2

I bring to you another teaser from the upcoming release; Concoction V2. This time a quote from one of Andrew Taylor’s short stories written for the prompt ‘Whisky.’

Concoction V2

The second Concoction Anthology is due for release this December. We cannot wait to share this one! Stories were, once again, all born from single word prompts.

Concoction: A mini anthology of shorts

Extract from ‘Bloody Kisses’ by Natasha Sinclair as featured in ‘Concoction’

Available now from Amazon worldwide in eBook and Paperback.

Concoction: A mini anthology of shorts

Extract from ‘Shadows in the Garden’ by G G Flavell as featured in ‘Concoction’

Out now on eBook and Paperback from Amazon worldwide.

eBook link

Work in Progress

A couple of writing and publishing projects are currently underway so I thought I would drop a brief update here.

The second ‘Concoction’ anthology is one which is scheduled for release December 2019. This time the prompts are most distinctly Scottish and will feature the same three writers as the first volume; G G Flavell, Natasha Sinclair and Andrew Taylor. As before it is open genre so we should expect a unique eclectic mix of stories. There is potential for a fourth writer to be added to the bill, will just have to see on that one. The initial story submissions have started coming in though and it’s looking pretty good! You can’t beat a good wee Ceilidh!

It is also very likely I will be releasing a mini collection of poetry and drabbles this year. These pieces have already been written, some have been published and some have never seen the light of day beyond the notebook. One again an eclectic little mix of material. Very organic in nature, as with my own style of writing. Themes running through those collected so far include; depression, relationships, politics, sex, freedom, nature and more.

Please look out for updates via here and on my Facebook page; https://www.facebook.com/NatashaSinclair/

Thank you, Natasha

Beta Call

If you’d like to be a beta reader for the next Concoction anthology release, scheduled for this Winter 2019, drop me a message via the contact form on this site.