Book excerpt.

This is a chapter from a book I’m writing presently. It is about a boy from a large family who is the forgotten child. He is abducted on his way to school by Alyssa a strange woman from the moors. All is not what it seems with Alyssa, not least her visitors to the farm. This is a chapter from the work in progress. I hope you like it and wish to read more. It will be finished by late summer, to hopefully get published. If you are reading this and wish to comment, please sign up for my blog and leave a comment. If you are a publisher, leave me a comment with your details!

Chapter 3
Joe ached and he felt damp. His arms and legs were stiff and he started to shiver. Everything was dark, smelled of straw and manure. He could make out the outline of a doorway below him and was aware of some movement in the space below him. There was a scuffing of a hoof and a snort. Joe tried to move his arms but discovered he was bound by long ropes or cords. He could feel its strands digging into his upper arms as well as his ankles. He could move his hands and lower arms just not enough to remove his binding. His head was aching and muzzy. More importantly though for Joe, he had no idea what was going on or why he was in this situation. He could hear the sound of the wind whistling through the barn and a gate or something metal clattering outside. He sat trying to understand what had happened to him. He remembered walking to school, an old van pulling up next to him, a tall figure jumping out and a hessian sack being put over his head, then everything went blank.
There was a noise at the door. Bolts were drawn back and the door opened letting a shaft of light into the barn. Joe could make out through the gaps in the timbers, the shape of a large animal tethered to the wall in the barn below. A tall figure appeared at the doorway. The figure was dressed in overalls with a jacket over the top. They were wearing a cap of some sort pulled down to just above their eyes as if concealing their identity. The person was in fact quite slightly built which seemed to confuse Joe. The person called out.
“Are you awake up there?” it was a woman’s voice. Joe recognised the voice but couldn’t work out from where.
“Did you hear what I said son?” the woman said sounding irritated.
“What’s happening, where am I?” Joe answered shivering.
“You’re at my place and you will come to no harm as long as you behave. You can call me Alice. Joe isn’t it?” she said in a calm almost warm manner.
“Why do I know you and what do you want with me?” he answered
“You will have seen me since you were little. I have been around, not far from you all the time. It’s OK, I am not going to hurt you, but you must not try to leave, do you understand? They will pay for the way I was treated. I have brought you some food and a drink” she said climbing up the staircase towards Joe. He could still not make out her features but saw she had short black hair. She placed a plate of what looked like homemade biscuits on the ground next to him along with a flask. She leant behind him and produced two blankets which she gently placed around his shoulders. Joe put his hand down next to him that rested on what felt a small leather bag or pouch. He could not make out in the gloom but it was smooth leather with a drawstring at the top of it. He could feel its contents but not make out what.
“I am sorry to have to tie you up but I can’t have you running off. When I can trust you, I will let you in the house. Be a good lad now, eat and drink and try to rest. I will come back soon” she said turning to walk down the stairs.
“What have I done to you?” Joe asked calmly.
“Nothing love, you’ve done nothing. It’s them others that need to learn a lesson, not you. You are my way of teaching em.” she said not turning or stopping.
The barn went dark again as the door shut behind her. Joe opened the flask and took a drink. It felt icy cold almost painful but with a slightly sweet leafy taste. He took a biscuit and greedily bit into it. It tasted sweet and oaty with yet again an indecipherable herby, leafy taste about it. Joe noticed that beams of the barn had thin tree branches nailed to them. The branches had slim pointed leaves arranged neatly opposite each other down the stem with clusters of blood red berries at their base. The branches were arranged in a sort of ring shape but not tightly woven, more hastily arranged.
He did not feel scared, just confused and cold (although the blankets were thick and warm). He sat back in the thick straw. The cow snorted and mooed apologetically. Joe shut his eyes and almost instantly fell asleep. He got the feeling that he was not alone. The barn did not hold any terror for Joe, in fact strangely he did not even feel distressed at being abducted. It was more a feeling of curiosity and also of being watched or watched over.
Outside Alyssa walked briskly across the yard and opened the kitchen door of the farmhouse. A young sheepdog with pale blue eyes slipped silently passed her into the kitchen as she went to shut the door. She sat down at the table, and a single tear ran steadily down her cheek. She took the kettle off the range and poured the boiling water into a small teapot. An intense, herbal, sweet aroma released into the kitchen. She took a cup off the old dark wood dresser and set it down next to the teapot. She sat looking at the cup for a few moments.
“And so it begins” she said sighing and running her hands through her what was actually long thick black hair that had been tied up under the hat. The dog sighed loudly in its basket next to the fire.

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