Monday, September 30, 2013

Interview with Matthew Munson.....................

Today we have an author that comes to us from the United Kingdom. He is Matthew Munson and can be credited with several publications. Read on to learn more about this author.

  1. How long have you been writing?

             Since I was 10. I can be very precise about that, as I remember it quite distinctly; I was in a geography class at primary school, which my teacher knew I hated. To at least keep me in the room, she allowed me to write a story instead of just leaving, and I wrote about a space-faring cowboy who rides up to the moon on a dinosaur.

  1. How long have you been a published author?
            For the past three years, ever since I had a piece of flash fiction published in an anthology released by an American publisher. Since then, I’ve gone to have a short story and two full-length novels published.

  1. What titles do you have available?
            Imagine came out in November 2010 in an anthology called Daily Bites of Flesh 2011: 365 Days of Horrifying Flash Fiction (by Pine Hill Press), then The Life and Times of a Zombie appeared in an anthology called Chivalry is Dead (May December Publications) in June 2011.
            I was fortunate to then have my first full-length novel, Fall From Grace, published by Inspired Quill in October 2011, and its sequel (Leap of Faith) came out this year, in September 2013.
           Sorry, all very factual, that bit! To summarise, I’ve had an excellent relationship with a new indie publishing house called Inspired Quill, who have only been going two years and already got nine or ten authors under their belt.
          Both Fall From Grace and Leap of Faith are contemporary fantasy novels, based around angels, fallen angels and humans. It’s set on Earth, in my home town, and in a spirit realm.

  1. What made you choose the subject of this book?
            I’m fascinated by mythology, and the various stories of religion, both ancient and modern, made me try and consider ways to merge my own storytelling with some of these other stories. I don’t have any faith myself, but tried to be respectful when making use of stories that some people do hold dear.

  1. Do you have any new titles coming soon?
            Not for the moment! I’ve just had Leap of Faith (Fall From Grace’s sequel) come out, so I’ve taken a couple of weeks off to absorb the enormity of being doubly-published, and now I’m going to start work on a sci-fi story.

  1. What is your favourite genre and why?
            I’m a huge sci-fi & fantasy fan; I love China Mieville, Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, etc. They’re all living legends, as far as I’m concerned, and Arthur C Clarke will remain a great for decades to come.

  1. What, to you, is the most exciting part of the writing process?
             Merging the characters and storyline together; no matter how much I can prepare for a story, it evolves as I go along, and often I’m guided by the characters’ personalities as to where to take the story. They’re the ones really in charge of the novel-writing process.

  1. If you could co-author a book with anyone, who would you choose and why?
             Well, there are some legends in literature – some of which I’ve mentioned – so I’d love to work with of them. There’s also some other, new writers on the scene that would be cool to work with, such as Craig Hallam, Ben Hennessy, Hugo Jackson et al. Maybe one day?

  1. Where can readers find you on the web?
           I’m mildly technophobic, but Sara-Jayne, MD, Owner and All-Round Good Egg at Inspire Quill, has couched me admirably over the past couple of years, and I am now the proud owner of a website & blog at, which I need to update more regularly, but welcome followers and comments.

          I also have a Facebook page,, which I check more regularly.

Where to find Matthew's books:
      Fall From Grace

      Leap of Faith


    Fall From Grace & Leap of Faith are both available from Amazon, Waterstones, W H Smiths, – and many others – for just £7.99 each. Good value ;-)

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Night the Banshee Came to Visit

Shamus lay in the bed next to his wife, Isobel. They had been together for more than forty years and she had blessed him with two children. The children, Aiden and Cara, were both grown and had families of their own. Shamus loved his life and his family very much.

On this night, Shamus was having trouble sleeping. His muscles ached from working the farm they had lived on most of their married lives and raised their children on. He had hoped that his son would take it over when it was Shamus’ time to pass on but he did not seem to be interested in living out his life as had his father and ancestors. Aiden wanted to live in the city. Once he was old enough, he left the farm and found work in Dublin. So Shamus laid awake worrying what would happen to the family farm once he was no longer able to care for it. He had asked his daughter and her husband but they were not interested either. Finally giving up his worries over the family farm, he cuddled up next to his wife and fell into a restless sleep.

Shamus wandered through the forest of his land. He was looking for someone but did not know who. He came to a clearing and there, in the middle, he saw a figure of a young boy standing there crying. As Shamus approached the young boy started to run away from him.  Shamus caught up to him easily and said, “Young man, what’s wrong? Don’t run, I mean you no harm.” The boy stopped and turned to face Shamus. With his chin trembling, tears streaming down his cheeks he said “I don’t know what’s wrong. I woke up in this field and don’t know how I got here. Can you please help me?” He looked down at the boy and wondered what had brought him to this point. He had no idea who the boy was or who his parents were. Bending down to his level, Shamus said, “I will help you but first you have to tell me your name.” The young boy looked at him and said, “I don’t know my name. I don’t remember anything.” Sighing heavily, Shamus said, “Okay, come with me and we will see what I can do to help you.” He took the boys hand and headed back to the cabin. As they walked through the woods an apparition appeared. This apparition was a female with red hair and wore a white out dated dress that fell to her feet. She was emitting a plaintive, mournful cry. The young boy walking beside Shamus, quickly went behind Shamus, fearful of this apparition. Shamus had never actually seen one but thought this apparition must be a banshee. His fear grew as the vision seemed to float closer to him and the boy. As she grew nearer, Shamus turned, grabbed the boy and started to run away from her. He could hear the keening wail of the apparition all the way to the cabin. Opening the door, he set the boy down, slammed the door closed and drove the bolt home. His fear was palpable and he could not stop shaking. After a few minutes he turned to talk to the boy but he was gone. Looking around the room he did not see him anywhere and even checking all the other rooms did not turn him up. Finally, Shamus gave up and looked out the window of the living room. Through the window, near the edge of the woods, he could see the apparition and the boy standing next to her. Before his eyes, they disappeared.

Startled out of a dead sleep, Shamus blinked his eyes to clear them enough so he could see where he was. His heart was pounding and he had broken out in a sweat over his entire body. Shaking from the dream, he rolled away from his wife and climbed out of bed. Standing there next to the bed naked he checked his wife to make sure she was still breathing. He could not believe that, with that dream he had had, that she had slept through his restlessness. Walking out into the hall, he walked into the bathroom and climbed in the shower. Giving thought to the dream he had, he knew the apparition had to be a banshee. He wondered what the dream had meant. The boy he had never seen before and, when he disappeared at the end, could it be someone trying to contact him for help from the other side? Getting out of the shower, he dried himself off and went back into the bedroom to dress. As he finished dressing his wife opened her eyes and smiled at him He smiled back at her but it was not his usual warm smile and his wife knew it.

Throwing the covers back off her, Isobel rose and padded barefoot over to her husband, wrapped her arms around his neck and stood on her toes to kiss his cheek. “Shamus, what is wrong? I can tell by that forced smile of yours that something is happening. Talk to me honey.” Taking her in his arms, he pulled her close to his chest, running his hands up and down her back. He rested his head on top of hers and proceeded to tell her of his dream. Pulling back from him, Isobel put her hands on his face and said, “It was only a dream. We will be fine. You will be fine. It was only a foolish dream.” “You don’t understand Isobel. It was the wailing cry of the banshee that I heard. I have never heard that before either awake or asleep. Plus, what did that young boy mean? Is it possible for someone who has died, to try and contact the living? I know it sounds crazy but I can’t shake this feeling of impending doom. What will you do if anything happens to me? Who will run this farm and work the land?” “Well, if it comes down to that, I am sure that Aiden and Cara will help me out. However, I am not concerned with this because you aren’t going anywhere.” Stepping away from him, Isobel proceeded into the bathroom for her shower while Shamus prepared for the day.

Today he had to travel into town to sell his crops. He hated going there but there was no way to get around it. He had to make money and this was how he did it. Isobel came out and helped him load their crops into the truck and then kissed him goodbye telling him to be careful on his drive into town. Pulling out of their driveway to the dirt road that would carry him to the main highway, he still worried over the dream. If the tales he had been told as a child about the banshee, then his days were likely numbered on this earth. He needed to make sure that his wife and the family home stayed available for his family.

Pulling the truck up to the granary, a young man came out and started unloading his harvest. After being paid he took a drive to see his son. Getting out of his truck to approach his son’s front door he noticed a young boy sitting on the curb crying. This young boy was familiar to Shamus. It was the same boy who was in his dream. At first Shamus was afraid to approach the boy but then realized he was being ridiculous. Here was a young boy who had a problem. Shamus hoped to be able to help him. Tapping the young boy on his shoulder, the boy turned around and smiled up at him. “What’s your name young man? Can I help you with something?” “Hello sir, my name is Michael. I have lost my way and don’t know how to get back home. My father left me somewhere around here and I have been trying to get back home ever since. I can’t find where I live.” Shamus was shocked at first and then became angry. Angry at the man who had done this to such a young man. Sitting down next to Michael, Shamus said, “I am about to go in and visit with my son who lives in this house behind us. Would you like to come in, have something to eat and meet my son?” Looking up at the Michael said, “Yes sir, I have not eaten in a long time. I am very hungry.” For the first time, Shamus noticed how thin the young boy was.

Getting up they walked up to his son’s front door and rang the bell. His son answered and smiled at his father.  He also noticed the young boy standing next to him. Opening the door wide Shamus and Michael walked in. Shamus said to his son, “Good day to you Aiden. How are you these days?” Aiden said, “Hello papa I am fine. Who have you brought with you?” “This young boy was sitting outside on the curb crying his heart out. He said his father had left him somewhere and he was trying to get back home but couldn’t find his house. I had hoped to bring him in and feed him since he is very hungry.” After feeding Michael, Aiden asked Michael if he wanted to watch television. Michael nodded excitedly and Aiden took him into the living room where he turned on cartoons. Walking into his study with his father and closing the door, Aiden said, “Dad, what are you doing? Who is that boy?”  Shamus replied, “I don’t know who he is. I just found him crying on the curb. He looks like a boy I had a dream about last night along with a banshee. He needs help son and I am going to help him. He told me that his father had left him somewhere so that means he isn’t wanted by anyone. I need someone to take over the farm when I pass and you and your sister are not interested. So maybe this young boy needs me and is destined to become the new owner of the farm. I just don’t understand the banshee and its meaning. I am afraid that my time is approaching and so this young boy will be there for your mother and can take over the farm when he is old enough. I will take him home and let him live with us.” Aiden, shaking his head at his father, said, “Okay dad but I hope you aren’t making a mistake with this.”

Going back into the living room, Michael was sitting on the floor watching the cartoons still. He rose as Shamus and Aiden came into the room.  Shamus asked Michael if he would like to come home with him and live there. Shaking his head yes, they climbed into the truck and headed back home.

Arriving at the cabin, Shamus asked Michael to wait in the truck while he went in and spoke to his wife about him. Michael agreed and Shamus went into the house. Upon entering the house, he called for his wife. “Isobel, where are you honey? I have something to talk to you about.” Not getting a response he walked back to their bedroom and saw her laying face up on the bed. Her hand was clutched at her chest and her lips and fingertips were bluish in color. He ran to her screaming and shook her, trying to wake her up. No response. He ran out to the living room and dialed for an ambulance then went back into the bedroom.  Cradling his wife, tears streaming down his face. “Baby, wake up. Please wake up. You can’t leave me. I brought us someone to take over the farm when I pass on. It’s supposed to be me dying, not you. Please come back. I can’t survive without you.” His sobs could be heard out to the truck where Michael sat waiting.   He could feel Shamus’ pain and climbed out of the truck and went into the house. Walking towards the sobs, Michael found Shamus cradling a woman that Michael thought must be his wife. Heading up to him, he placed his hand over Shamus’ heart and said, “I remember seeing you in my dream last night. The banshee knew you were going to lose her and found a way to bring us together. I am here to help you get through this and will be as good as any son. Please let me help you.” Shamus could not believe this young man was so in tune to how he felt.

Finally, the ambulance showed up but there was nothing could be done for Isobel. She was gone. Shamus became the best dad Michael could have ever asked for and Michael became the son who would one day become the owner of the farm.  Years passed and Shamus was with Michael when he passed away. He held Michael’s hand and whispered, “I hear the banshee. She is calling me. I fear not that you will care for this farm. Take care of it and find yourself a nice woman like my Isobel, and create children who will want to keep this farm going. It is your legacy.” Michael sat there on the bed and held the hand of this man who had brought him into his home and raised him as his own son. As Shamus took his finally breaths Michael said through his tears, “I will father. I promise you, I will.” 

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Ghost of Pere Cheney

The Ghost of Pere Cheney

Dennes and Haley had been married for several months but had not taken a honeymoon. They were both lovers of Halloween and decided to wait until then to take their honeymoon to the northern reaches of Michigan. They agreed that going someplace haunted would be the best honeymoon. After a few months of anxiously waiting, the time had arrived. They were both giddy as a child in a candy store. Little did they know, what was in store for them? 

Arriving in Grayling at the bed and breakfast where they had reservations, the young couple took their belongings into their room and settled in for their week long honeymoon. Haley had done some research before they got married on a place called Pere Cheney. It was an old lumber town that sat outside of Grayling. Deciding to ask the mistress of the bed and breakfast about Pere Cheney, they both went downstairs to dinner. 

At the table sat three other couples aside from themselves. The mistress of the house was Mary. When they arrived Mary was busy placing food on the table so that her guests could serve themselves. Taking their places at one end of the table, Dennes and Haley introduced themselves as did the other couples. Once Mary joined them, she said a prayer over the food and guests and then everyone dug in. It all looked wonderful and tasted fantastic.

During dessert, Haley turned to Mary and said, “Do you mind if I as a few questions about this area?” “Why, of course not young lady. I hope to be able to help you any way I can,” replied Mary. “This is our honeymoon and we decided that we would like to visit some places that are said to be haunted. I looked on the internet and found a place near here called Pere Cheney. Can you tell us where we might find this place? I did not see any signs for the place in town.” Mary looked at her and then shifted her eyes away and down towards the floor. “Haley is your name right,” she asked? Haley nodded and Mary said, “There’s not much to tell about Pere Cheney. It is located a few miles north of town and finding it will be very difficult. The only road leading there is a rutted out dirt road that may easily damage your car if you try to take it down there. There is a deserted town there and a cemetery that has been damaged over the years by disrespectful people. There are rumors of ghost sightings but I don’t believe it. It is best to avoid the area since it is so difficult to get to.” Haley looked at the mistress of the house and said, “Well, that is why we came here though. We love checking out haunted places and hope one day to be able to actually see a ghost. Thank you for your assistance ma’am. We will be heading off to bed now.” 

Heading to their room, Haley said to Dennes, “did you get the feeling that the mistress was not enthusiastic about us trying to find Pere Cheney? She seemed reluctant a bit to me.” “Well,” he said, “I wouldn’t worry too much about what she said. We are here to explore a place that might be haunted and to enjoy our honeymoon. Let’s not worry about what others think of us.” Smiling, he bent his head and kissed her.

Haley was walking through the woods. She and Dennes were holding hands as they walked. Up ahead she could see a cemetery. Arriving at the gate, she dropped Dennes’ hand and opened the old and rusty entrance to the cemetery. She could feel the energy in the air, she was excited to explore this very old place. Walking through the gate, she walked up to the first headstone. The name on the headstone was not familiar to her. Moving on, she came to a plot with the last name of Ashby. Startled, she turned and realized that Dennes was gone. She remembered holding his hand as they walked the path to this cemetery but then had not paid any attention to where he had gone after she dropped his hand. Looking around the cemetery, she did not see her husband anywhere. Calling out to him, she received no answer. Turning back around, she took note that the dates on the headstone were December 21, 1899 to June 2, 1916. The first name on the headstone was Anna. Anna Ashby. She had been a very young 16 years old when she had died. Turning around to leave she was startled to see Dennes there behind her. She did not hear him approach at all. Wondering about this she asked, “Where have you been Dennes? I wanted to show you this headstone. It has your family name on it. Are you perhaps related to this young girl?” Looking down at the headstone Dennes said, “Why yes that is the family name but I certainly don’t remember anyone in the family ever talking about anyone buried here.” As they turned to leave, they both heard a howling coming from the trees behind the cemetery. Turning to look, Haley noticed a shadow among the trees. Trying to see what was there, she did notice it was an animal of some sort. Suddenly, the animal jumped out at them and Haley let out a blood curdling scream.

 Sitting bolt upright screaming, Dennes leaped out of a sound sleep. “What’s wrong Haley? Why are you screaming?” Haley opened her eyes and started whimpering. Dennes sat next to her and wrapped his arms around her. “What is it baby? Tell me.” Shaking like a leaf, Haley could not talk right away. After several minutes of Dennes holding her she finally calmed enough to tell him about her dream. Listening to her story, Dennes said, “Not to worry baby, I am here and it was only a bad dream. All will be fine.” Laying back down again, Dennes fell asleep nearly immediately. Haley was not so fortunate. For some reason, the dream had felt too real for her. Now she was not sure if she wanted to see Pere Cheney at all.

 The next day, after breakfast, Dennes and Haley went into the downtown area of Grayling. Haley was still shaken from her dream the night before and wanted to do more research on Pere Cheney before they attempted to find it. Stopping at a library, they went through the card catalogue to see what more they could find. Looking through several small books, they were unable to find much on the possible haunting of the place. Leaving there, next they went to the local newspaper. Searching through their files, they found some information about the ceremony and who was buried there, they could find nothing on the Ashby family.

 It was now early afternoon and Dennes wanted to go in search of Pere Cheney. Haley was not so sure but agreed to go. Driving into a gas station, Dennes went in to get directions to Pere Cheney. Coming back out, he hopped in and started driving out of town. Taking the main road out, he drove about 5 miles before turning onto a dirt road. Heading down the road, he found the track that he believed would lead to the old town and cemetery. It was very narrow and their car would not fit through. Parking, they got out and started walking down the dirt track. Holding hands together, this was starting to remind Haley of her dream. This all looked the same, right down to the scenery. Soon they came to the cemetery and there was the rusted out gate of Haley’s dream. Looking at Dennes, she said, “Now, I want you to be sure and stay with me. This looks exactly like my dream from last night. Don’t let go of me, okay?” Shaking his head at her, he said, “Don’t worry baby, I am with you all the way.”

Walking through the gate, they both started looking for a headstone with Dennes’ family name on it. Walking through what they thought was the entire cemetery, there was nothing with his last name on it. Sighing with relief, they turned to leave and that’s when they heard the growl from behind. It had come from the same place that Haley had her dream. Turning around they both looked and saw what appeared to be a wolf in the trees. It was growling loud now. Dennes, eyes set on the wolf, said to Haley, “Don’t move. Maybe if we stay here it will leave and not bother us.” Haley heaved a huge sigh and said, “He’s not going to leave us alone. He will attack us and soon.” No sooner did she finish saying it than the wolf started pacing slowly toward them. “Okay,” he said, “Let’s back away slowly. No sudden moves.” As soon as they started to move, the wolf growled and bared its teeth to them. “Okay, get ready to run. I will keep your hand in mine but you need to keep up. We might be able to get to the gate before it reaches us. Ready?” She nodded and he grabbed her hand and they both ran. 

Racing through the cemetery, it was like running an obstacle course. Weaving around headstones and trees. Trying not to step on the graves. Having a hard time keeping up with Dennes, Haley tripped over a tree root and fell, taking Dennes with her to the ground. She could hear the wolf growl as she hit the ground and thought this was it for her and Dennes. Turning around, she expected to see the animal coming at them ready to tear them apart. That’s not what she saw when she turned. Instead, the wolf was laying on the ground, its head turned up. Looking over, she saw what appeared to be a ghost. The ghost was of a young girl and she was bending down, smiling at the wolf. The wolf never moved or threatened them again. Finally, after several minutes of being petted, the wolf got up and walked away. The young girl came to us and said, “Hello, my name is Anna Ashby. My grave is over to the right from here. It is well hidden from the main cemetery. I am the guardian of this cemetery and have a way with the occasional animal that comes through here. May I ask what you two are doing here?

 Dennes and Haley could not believe their eyes or ears. Dennes wondered how she knew who he was. Although they were firm believers in the paranormal world, they had never seen an apparition before let alone have one speak to them. If that was not shock enough, Dennes could hardly believe that this young girl was a family member of his from long ago. Getting up from where they had fallen, Dennes looked at the young girl and was fascinated that he could see right through her. Finally Dennes and Haley got over their shock and explained their fascination with the paranormal. Haley told her about the dream she had the night before as well. Anna then said, “You two are not the first to have had dreams of this place. There are many spirits here who would do you harm. It may have been a spirit that inhabited the wolf that came after you. You should leave this place and never return. It is not safe.”

 Dennes spoke up then and said, “Anna, thank you for saving us. We might have been that wolf’s dinner if you did not happen along.” Anna replied, “You are welcome Dennes but you should leave now before it gets dark out here. You will never find your way back in the dark. It is not safe to be here after dark.” Nodding their agreement, Dennes and Haley turned and started to walk away. Dennes could not resist though and turned to look back at the cemetery but Anna was gone.

 Arriving back at the bed and breakfast, Dennes and Haley decided not to go back to the town that had been deserted long ago. They felt like they had disturbed those in eternal sleep today and did not want to do that again. In the end they went back home, never to go back to Pere Cheney. They would however visit other places that were said to be haunted but never again did they see what appeared to them in Pere Cheney.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Punderland by Richard Cotton

The high pitch buzz of my alarm clock woke me. Feeling the top of my head where the man with the hammer was thumping I regretted having all that beer over the weekend. Sitting up on my left elbow I glanced out through the partly open curtains. The sky was a dull gray with thick rain clouds. There was a road hammer pounding away just outside my house making the head ache hurt more and then there was the still buzzing of my alarm clock. 

Turning and pressing the off button to quieten the damn thing I felt like death warmed up. It was going to be one of those days I said to myself. Carefully getting up I shuffled down the stairs one at a time making sure I held the stair rail tightly. Getting a bowl out of the cupboard I filled it with some cereal and milk. The kettle whistled as it told me it was ready to make the one cup of tea that sat in front of me. Taking a chair I sat there looking at the clock to the left of the cupboard full of tin foods. It was ticking too loudly for my liking. Then I noticed that I was reaching eight thirty five. I left the bowl and tea to sit on the table and rushed to the small corridor that led to the front door. I bent down and picked up the brief case full of my important documents that I was going to need for that day. I unlocked the door with the keys that I had picked up form beside the phone where they stood. I closed the door and locked it slipping the keys into my brief case as I did so. 

I walked down the short gravel path to the gate, which groaned when opened. I would oil it one day. Turning onto the path to head for the nearest bus stop I noticed that the day was chilly, which would help, I hoped, wake me up. From afar I could see there was a small queue there. Mostly business men and children going to school, mixed with the odd lady with a pram. One or two turned and glanced as I approached them, some tutted, which I ignored as this was early morning and some people were grumpy then. I reached the shelter and had a quick look at the digital wrist watch on my left arm. I then noticed that the damn bus was running late again, due to them rotten road works. I didn’t want to be late again as I was already close to being demoted. 

Then when I looked up again I saw a large red double-decker bus drawing up to a stop. The doors hissed open and the queue shuffled onto the bus. I kept my eyes on the young lady in front of me making sure I didn’t tread on her high heels. She brushed her blonde hair back as she stepped up onto the bus. She turned to look behind herself and gave a short giggle. She pulled the ticket stub out and made her way down the bus. I approached the driver and slowly reached down into my black suit trousers pocket only to find that I still had my stripped pajamas on. I turned to try to leave the bus, but the doors where already shut. I turned back toward the driver. I felt a spinning sensation as I did so. It was like I had just drunk another pint of beer there and then.

“Here is your ticket to Punderland sir,” I noticed that the driver spoke with a slight Jamaican accent.
“Sorry I wanted to go to Sunderland,” I said curtly.
“Look man just take a seat. I’ve got to get a move on as we are late already.”
I turned to see if I could get off, but the bus was moving, yet it wasn’t a bus any more. The bus had turned into a boat. The floor was now decking. The road was water and the boat was sailing towards a coastal town which was getting closer quickly. From here I could see a green leafy arbor that the boat was heading for. The boat slowly edged its way into the narrow harbor. There was a wooden pier that stood out slightly. This was where the boat was tied up. Glancing around I noticed there was statues placed neatly around the harbor with three benches. The gang plank was slowly lowered by the captain of the boat.
“There you go man. Enjoy your stay,”
I walked slowly down the wooden plank not knowing what I was letting myself in for. I walked around the harbor into the large town.

“Where are you heading mister,” I heard a gruff voice ask.
I looked around to see who had spoken to me, but all I saw was a sandy brown Labrador male dog. He was sitting patiently. I thought he was there with someone else. So who had spoken to me I wondered. There were people, but they were some distance off. This left the dog that sat in front of me. The next thing I did made me feel slightly silly, but I had to do it.
“Err. Excuse me, but you didn’t just speak to me didn’t you,” I asked the dog?
“Yes I did. What else did you expect your guide dog to do?”
I watched as the dog’s lips moved forming words as it did so. This was one strange day. Now there was a dog talking to me.
“What is it you do then?” Still feeling silly at asking.
“I’m here to guide you around Punderland. That is why I’m your guide dog.”
“So where do we go from here then mister guide dog?”
“That depends on what you want to do first sir.”
“I need something to drink. It might make me feel better.”
“Right, follow me to the best coffee house in Punderland,”
I followed the dog as it trotted off towards what looked like to be the most expensive coffee shop in the town. Outside the place I could see some tables over which there where large umbrella’s to keep the warm sun off the people who sat at the tables with their dinners and teas. The guide dog led me to an empty chair at one of these outside tables.
“Sit here mister,” It said pointing its nose at the chair.
“Right. You sure this is the best place to get a cup of coffee?”

“It’s one of the finest,”
So I sat on the white chair next to the short metal table. Glancing around I noticed that the others were drinking some odd stuff. Then I saw the waiter next to me. He was a few inches shorter than me and had all the normal clothes for a waiter.
“What does sir require?”
“Please can you bring me a cup of tea?” Looking to the guide dog to see if it agreed.
It just nodded.
The waiter turned and headed back into the coffee shop. Looking across the road from where I sat I noted a tall slim man covered in a copper outfit. He had a tall copper hat on his head too. He stood with his arms crossed behind his back, watching me. A half hour passed before the waiter returned. He placed a mug onto the table top. Looking at it I noticed the there was a letter T inside.
“Excuse me, but all this mug holds is a letter T,”
“Sir that is what you asked for. A cup of T.”
I then looked at the table to see if there was anything else out of place. It was then I noted the salt shaker. I picked up the tall glass salt pot to look at the white stuff inside. But as I did so I felt a sharp pain in my shin. This made me let go of the salt pot. It flew up and down onto the ground. Looking down to see what had hit me I saw a square black thing that I swear looked just like a car battery. The next thing I knew the tall copper man was standing next to my table and had reached out to me.
“I am putting you under arrest sir,”
“What for?”
“For assaulting a battery,”
“What!“ I said incredulously. “Where are you going to take me?”
“To the station sir,”
The copper man slipped some cuffs onto my wrist and we headed down the path. At least the guide dog was still with me. As we walked I noted that we were heading for a large brown brick building. It looked older than the ones surrounding it. On the side the words police station were emblazoned in blue words. The copper man pushed me through the two oaken doors. Inside I noticed that the reception desk was behind thick glass. Behind this stood two more copper men. Both built like brick shit houses. “What have we here then P.C Copperhead?”
“I arrested this man for assaulting a battery sir,” He snapped a crisp salute.
The taller of the two men with short brown hair turned to the older copper man with short gray hair.
“Corporal Punishment,”
“Yes Inspector Problem”
“It looks like we’ve a nasty little man here and his guide dog. It is said he assaulted a battery what do you think we should do?”

“How about the cat-o-nine tails sir,”
“Oh that sounds just right for what he has done,”
I watched closely as Corporal Punishment walked out of the reception area out into the back rooms. He returned minuutes later with what looked like a medium sized tabby cat, but the most unusual thing was that it had nine tails.
“What sort of punishment do they call this?” I asked the guide dog.
“Oh you wait till they get the cat going,” It paused. “Then you will find out,”
“Get it going!”
I watched as the corporal tugged one of the cats’ tails very gently. I was amazed as the cat started to talk.
“Listen to my tale of paws with claws. It was a time of cats and dogs. There was water and cogs falling from the sky.”
My ears started to hurt as the tale went on with puns coming with speed. But as it finished, Corporal 

Punishment pulled the next tail. After he had done it nine times my head rang with pain. Inspector Problem had got closer to me.
“Now consider yourself lucky. You got off lightly. Now leave and don’t get into any more trouble or you will find the next time we will be harder on you,”
I turned on my heels and left the station smartly. The guide dog close to me as I did so.
“Quick I need the nearest inn,”
“I take it you mean a pub mister,”
“Yes I do,”
“I had to make sure as we have inns and outs here too,”
I groaned as my head spun with the pain. 
“When we go into this pub you will have to watch out for the peas and cues,”
I let the dog lead me into a smaller brick building down the street from the station. Looking at the sign I saw that it read ‘What’s yours’. Trust the pubs in Punderland to have strange names. Going into the pub I noted that the bar room was full of Green peas still in their pods. Glancing to where the game room was I saw lots of cues playing pool. Each cue tipped itself up to the table to hit the balls across the table. I carefully made my way around the peas to reach the bar, which was made out of iron.
“What can I get you sir?”
My mouth fell open at the figure behind the iron bar. It was a tall square piece of grass with cricket pitch markings on its surface. After getting my senses back I spoke to the figure. 
“What is there to drink landlord?”
“Spring water, Iron brew, Screw driver, Steel bitter and a brass Larger,”
“Hmm. I think I will try the Larger please,”
The landlord picked up a tall thin glass. It placed this under the taps on the bar spun the top. A thin golden liquid bubbled out into the glass tuning it frosty. He placed the glass in front of me. I looked at the liquid with an eye to see if there was anything strange about it. But I could not see anything wrong with it. I picked up the glass to have a sip. To my surprise it was good to drink.
I glanced over to my left on seeing a green pea pod pick a pint glass up. It was strange watching it happen.
“I love these places. I have a tender part inside of me for this land,”
I looked down to the guide dog, which was sat to the right of me. 
“What was that about?”
“Oh that’s just a mushy pea,”
I felt a sudden surge in my blood pressure.
“That is the last straw,”
“No that pub is just down the street on the right,”
At that I walked out of the pub and started down the street for the harbor.
“Wait you haven’t seen the c yet,”
That was more than I could take. I placed my hands over my ears and closed my eyes in the hope it would all go away. I felt giddy again. The world started to spin quickly. Then I heard a buzzing noise. I slowly opened my eyes to see I was in bed. The sound was that of my alarm radio going. I was back in my own room. How did that happen, and what was going on. Was I dreaming? Glancing around those were my posters, wardrobe, the rainbow curtains. It was all there and was mine. I stood up shakily. Stumbled over to the window. The day looked bright and clear. I pulled the curtains open. Looking out down on to the road outside my mouth drooped open. As down there I saw a beach front. There was lots of letters c rolling up onto the peas sunbathing.

Maritae and Dryades

Maritae, the Goddess of freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams, laid back against the mountain to admire the beauty of this freshwater falls. Looking down over the waterfall, she admired all that she was charged with protecting. She smiled and closed her eyes, seeing the clear, clean freshness of her water. From a distance, she could hear the wings of a dove flapping over the water. Opening her eyes, she watched as the dove dived into the water looking for food. She watched the dove for a while then proceeded to look up the river. In the distance, she could see a canoe heading downstream and wondered who had ventured into this deserted area.

As the canoe approached, Maritae could see a man paddling furiously. His brow was dotted with sweat and he appeared to be agitated. As he came closer, she hid herself behind a rock. She knew that, once he arrived where she was, his canoe would not be able to go any further since this area was dotted with huge boulders.

Arriving downstream, Maritae watched as the man tried to find a way to maneuver the canoe around the rocks without success. Finally, he pulled the canoe over to the bank of the river and jumped out. He was a young man. His hair was black and he had the sharpest blue eyes she had ever seen before. He was taller than her and was dressed in buckskin pants and a dark blue shirt.
Standing on the shore, he examined the area in an attempt to find a way through the rocks with his canoe without success once again. Heaving a big sigh, he sat down on the edge of the water and scooped up some water to drink. Maritae watched with fascination. She had never seen anyone show up in this area before and was therefore unfamiliar with the ways of the world outside of this area. As she watched, the man stood up and looked over directly at the rock she was hiding behind as if he knew she was there.

She stayed behind the rock so that he would not see her but he already knew she was there. He snuck up to her rock and peaked over the top, smiling down at her. “Hello,” he said, “you need not fear me. I will not harm you.” “I am Dryades, the God of tree and forest nymphs. I have traveled far to try and reach a forest in trouble and am trying to find a way to get around these rocks so I may continue on. 

Would you be able to help me find a way around these rocks?”
Jumping as he started talking to her, she looked up at him in fear. She had never seen any other persons before and so she was frightened of him. Once he spoke to her though, he fear subsided somewhat. Looking up at him Maritae introduced herself and said, “I am the Goddess of all fresh water and this is where I have lived for many years now. I have never seen any person here before, only animals. I am sorry that you need to find a way around these rocks because there is none. You must walk around them on the shore. There is no other way to get around them. I’m sorry I can’t help you more.”

As he listened to her talk, he was stunned at her beauty. She was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen before. Her long blonde hair, was soft and shone in the sunlight. She had the most beautiful green eyes a man could get lost in. Her bottom lip was full and he watched as her tongue darted out and moistened her lips. Lips he wanted to kiss.

Forcing himself out of his reverie, he smiled down at her and said, “Thank you Maritae. I appreciate your help. I must be on my way though as there are others who need me. I would love it if you could accompany me. Is that possible?” Dryades was thinking of how much he wanted to get to know her better.

Maritae was surprised at his words. She had never seen another person before, let alone been asked to leave the area she had cared for over the last several hundred years. In fact, she wasn’t even aware that there might be a world outside of her own. Looking at him she decided that perhaps she should give it a try. “I think I would like to go with you. I have never been away from here and would like to see other places.”

Smiling at her, he said, “Take my hand then and let us be off.” Dryades picked up the canoe over his shoulder and held Maritae’s hand with his other hand. Leading her away from the bank of the river, they proceeded to walk next to the river. The sand was white and was very fine to walk on. They walked for a long time all the while looking for a way to get around the boulders in the river. Finally, the boulders cleared and Dryades was able to place the canoe back in the water. Helping her in to the boat, he climbed in after her and paddled out to the middle of the river where the water was running swiftly.  Soon the current caught them and the canoe was moving swiftly.  

Soon they reached another area that was forested with huge trees. Maritae had never seen so many trees before. As they approached the forest, Dryades directed the canoe over to the bank. Climbing out of the canoe, Maritae could smell something unfamiliar to her. Becoming alarmed, she grabbed Dryades arm and said, “What is that smell? I have never smelled anything like it before.” Taking her hand in his, he directed her to a fallen log in the forest and then sat down next to her. “That smell is the forest burning a little distance from here. Look up above the trees and you will see smoke.” Looking up, she could see what appeared to be very dark clouds billowing over the trees. Bringing her eyes back to Dryades she said, “I don’t understand. Is this bad?” Shaking his head, Dryades said, “You really didn’t have any idea that there was life outside of your own area, did you?”  Grabbing her hand again, he walked her back to the canoe. “I want you to wait here for me please. The forest is on fire and it is very dangerous for you to be close to it. I promise I will be back soon.” Watching him walk away, she feared that she might never see him again. Waiting until he was a distance away, she decided to follow him.

Arriving at the scene of the fire, Dryades was talking to another man. Maritae was having difficulty breathing here because the smoke was much thicker and it stung her eyes. She watched as Dryades helped the other man pour buckets of water onto the fire. It was not helping since the trees were much taller than those trying to put the fire out. Finally, Maritae knew she could help put this fire out. Calling on her ability to summon fresh water, the sky clouded over and it began to rain. Not just a light rain but a torrential downpour. Maritae kept the downpour going until the fire was completely out.

Dryades spoke to the person in charge of trying to put the fire out and was told that the fire was out of control and that if something was not done soon, they would lose the forest altogether. Dryades tried to help but was not any more effective than those already trying to fight it. Suddenly he noticed the dark clouds gathering over the fire and he said a silent prayer that it would rain and douse this fire before it destroyed the whole forest. As he stood there watching, the clouds opened up and the water poured down on the fire. Standing there in awe of what was happening he did not notice that Maritae had walked up to him and was smiling. She took his hand and he was startled that she had come with him. “Maritae, I think I asked you to wait for me back at the river?” “Yes,” she said, “You did but I was afraid that something bad would happen to you so I decided to follow. I saw the problem you and your friend were having with the fire and knew I could help before any more damage was done. Remember, I told you that I am the Goddess of all fresh water. You needed water to put the fire out. So, I summoned the water to help. I hope you are not upset with me. I just wanted to help you save your forest.” Shaking his head at her, he wrapped his arms around her and pulled her against his chest. Picking her up slightly off the ground he hugged her tight against him. Setting her back down finally, he looked at her and said, “I hate that you risked yourself by coming here but am forever grateful that you did. If not for you, the forest would have burned down completely and it would have been years before it would be restored. This forest is home to the nymphs I am in charge of caring for. If the forest was burned completely down, they would have been forced to find another home away from this forest where they have lived for hundreds of years.” Staring into her gorgeous eyes, he bent his head down and kissed her very softly on her lips. While he kissed her, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back. Stepping away, Maritae struggled with this, her very first kiss and the feelings that she had never felt before. “Do not fear me lovely Maritae. You are very important to me and I would love to show you the world outside of your own. Would you like that?” “Yes, Dryades, I would love that. I would love to spend my days with you from now until you tire of me.” “Maritae, my love, I shall never tire of you.”

With that, they took each other hands and walked back to the canoe. There stood the nymphs of the forest who flocked around them as they approached. “My lady, I am Hamadryas, nymph of wood. My fellow nymphs and I would like to thank you for saving our forest. Without you, we would no longer have our homes. May you go on your way with our God, Dryades, and find true happiness. If ever we can be of service to you, please let us know.”

Maritae looked at the wood nymph and smiled broadly. “Thank you Hamadryas but I was very happy to help out. I am honored that I was able to save your home. I hope to see you again sometime.”

Climbing into the canoe, Maritae and Dryades set off for parts unknown to Maritae. Years later, they sat together on Maritae’s mountain and held each other close. Dryades had shown Maritae all that the world had to offer and they were finally sated from their adventures and had settled into a life in her the glen where they had first met. As they looked into each other eyes, they knew that they had seen and done all that was possible and were happy to stay where they are now and have the life of a couple ready to create their own family.