The Haunting of Bramble Briar

4 Dec

DSCN0844
Violetta Antcliff has been a member of the Nottingham Writers’ Club for the best part of Twenty years. She is the winner of numerous short story competitions and was area short listed in Waterstone’s WOW factor story competition. She took first prize in Nottingham short story competition with a story called Irish Mouse Tales and has read her poetry and short stories on local radio.

Her book that we are highlighting today is The Haunting of Bramble Briar.
TheHauntingofBrambleBriar2
On the outskirts of a picturesque village in the Yorkshire Dales stood a cottage called Bramble Briar. It was over one hundred years old and at one time the roof had been thatched; now it was slate.

Why the previous owners had replaced it was a mystery; but Bramble Briar was a house of mystery, with secrets people only whispered about in quiet corners; especially if those people were Estate Agents.

Excerpt:

A couple of weeks previous, there had been three properties on the estate agents’ books I’d been interested in: Wisteria Cottage, The Anvil in Clay Bottom and Bramble Briar on Old Church Lane. Now there were only the two; Wisteria Cottage had been sold the day prior to my visit.

The Anvil once belonged to the village blacksmith, so the estate agent informed me; hence its name. It was well-maintained and came with two outbuildings and a stable, but as I had no intentions of buying a horse, or starting a riding school, I turned down the invitation to view. It was also a tad outside of my price range.

I wasn’t short of money. I’d made some good investments over the years playing the stock markets, and luck was with me when I sponsored an unknown pop-group that turned out to be a winner, and was still paying me handsome profits.

The outdated sepia photograph in the estate agent window showed Bramble Briar, years before, with a thatched roof. Now it was slate. I’d have been much happier if the previous owners had left it as it was; slate looked so out of place on a cottage built of grey Yorkshire stone.

What I couldn’t understand was why anyone would go to all that unnecessary expense and then, so soon after, put the property back on the market. However, I was soon to learn more.

“Put that down, Missus. It’s our job not yours. That’s what you’re paying us for.”

I put down the kitchen stool I’d been carrying through to the cottage, as the furniture removal man requested; he nodded to his mate and received a sly wink in return.

“How much longer will you be?” I asked. Both men had spent more time standing around gossiping and smoking than getting on with the job, and as I was paying by the hour, I was getting impatient.

“Won’t be much longer now, will we, Bert? Mind you, we’d be done much quicker if you slipped the kettle on and made us a cuppa. Two sugars in mine, love, only one in Marlon’s. He’s on a diet.”

I knew it was no use arguing so I went indoors, unpacked the kettle and plugged it in. Minutes later I handed the steaming beverages over to the men; half an hour later, they decided to pick up where they had left off.

It wasn’t long, however, before Bert, complaining of a bad back, made himself comfy in one of my armchairs in the front garden, leaving Marlon to finish off, as he put it.

“Nice view you’ve got from ‘ere, ain’t it, Missus?” he remarked, mopping his brow with a grimy teacloth sized handkerchief.

“Yeah, better than the view from the back,” chipped in Marlon. “Bloody graveyard. ‘Ave you seen it?”

Bert hadn’t, and he was soon on his feet, going to investigate. “Did you know about this before you bought the place, Missus?” he asked upon his return.

I assured him I did and plonked myself down on the vacated chair before he had time to. He took the hint, and went back to help cart the last of the boxes from the furniture van.

“I bet nobody told you about the spooky history of Bramble Briar though, did they?” Marlon stood in front of me; arms folded, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth.

“What history?” I asked.

“You’ll find out for yourself soon enough, just like the last lot did. And—”

I cut him off in mid-sentence with a flattened palm turned to him. I wasn’t interested. I just wanted them gone; I’d had more than enough.

“I’m just nipping inside to get my cheque book. I can see you’re nearly finished,” I said. Bert got the message, picked up the chair and with Marlon’s help, carried it into the cottage.

The cheque I made out for the exact amount, no tip included. Mumbling something definitely not complimentary when I handed it over, the men clambered into the removal van and drove off, gears grating.

I didn’t feel guilty. The day was half gone, and I had a lot to do before I could take a break. A job that should have taken the removal men no more than three hours at the most, had been dragged out to four. I was glad to see them go.

That night I slept the sleep of the dead. No sooner had my head touched the pillow than I was off, out like a light. I awoke the next day to the sound of the morning chorus, feeling refreshed and ready to start work. The sun shone, I was in a good mood and it promised to be a lovely day. What could possibly go wrong?

After a breakfast of tea toast and marmalade, I decided to take a walk in the back garden before getting dressed for the day. Apart from the graveyard and the ruins of a church, there was no other property nearby. I could have strolled outside stark naked, if I’d wanted.

I trod carefully down the overgrown, weed-covered cinder path, to the wall that separated my property from the church graveyard. Everything looked peaceful—a stone angel, hands folded in prayer, stood no more than a foot away from where I was standing. Tombstones, lichen-covered, many at sloped angles, dozed peacefully in the early morning sunlight. Feeling like an intruder, I made my way back to the cottage, but the door I had left open and unlocked was now shut tight; wouldn’t budge no matter how hard I pushed, pulled and rattled. Admitting defeat, I made my way round to the front hoping to gain entry that way. No such luck, the door was firmly bolted as I knew it would be; I was locked out and had no idea how I could get in.

I plonked down on the front doorstep and sat head-in-hands trying to find a solution to my problem. I couldn’t phone for a locksmith, as my mobile was upstairs in the bedroom on the bedside table along with my car keys. I couldn’t phone for help or drive anywhere.

Time dragged and there was nothing I could do but sit and wait. The sun had gone in and rain threatened. I was just giving up hope of anyone passing by when I heard a car coming down the lane. I dashed outside and stood arms waving, yelling, “Stop! Stop!” at the top of my voice. The vehicle slewed to one side, narrowly missing me, before coming to a halt. The driver was the village postman, looking shaken and none too happy as he walked towards me.

“What’s up?” he asked, face scowling. “Don’t you realise you could have caused a nasty accident jumping out at me like that? It’s a good job I was looking where I was going, weren’t it?”

“Yes, I really am sorry,” I smiled in way of apology. “It was the only way I could think of getting you to stop.”

“What’s up, then?” he repeated.

I explained what the trouble was and asked if he could help me in any way. It took him less than two seconds to open the back door, pressing down the latch and pushing it open with one finger. I felt like an idiot.

Links:
http://www.gypsyshadow.com/Violetta.html#BrambleExc

Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Haunting-Bramble-Briar-ebook/dp/B006GKBGUG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1354645295&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Haunting+of+Bramble+Briar

Advertisements

3 Responses to “The Haunting of Bramble Briar”

  1. Sheila Deeth December 4, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Love this excerpt. Sounds like there’s plenty haunting to come. And I can just imagine the scenery.

  2. Dawn Colclasure December 5, 2012 at 5:09 pm #

    I love Violetta’s work and this sounds like a good tale to enjoy for Christmas. 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Haunting of Bramble Briar « Chalaedra's Weblog - December 4, 2012

    […] The Haunting of Bramble Briar. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: