Awake at the Fourteenth Hour + Notes

Chapter One


At the seventeenth hour of my thirtieth birthday my grandmother died. There was no haunting chime to mark her death, only the rumbling engine of a train as it passed through the town. In that moment of unfamiliar solitude, my hand still placed over hers, I was thankful for its presence. Grateful to its faceless driver and the knowledge that twice weekly, only giving pause to dusk on the eve of Christmas, I would hear its cries. The howls of the steam were to cover the silence within the room that day, better than any words of sympathy from a stern yet undeniably sympathetic doctor.

That sympathy has stalked me since I was a child, but at least as a child it came with the benefits of getting away with any troublesome behaviour my adolescent self might get into. Remarkably different to ever since an adult when a knowing nod between strangers may as well have been a sneer. Behind my back, I’m sure there were many times it was. Now, with the loss of my grandmother, I would not only be the orphan lad, but the lonely one, too. Although perhaps being a beneficiary will place me in the towns favour.

I sighed as I pulled my hand away.

“Master Hawthorne?”

I turned to see the doctor standing in the doorway, his black medical bag held in a hand with knuckles that always appeared to clutch too tight.

“I’ll be taking my leave now.”

I stood to take his hand by my own, only to see him hesitate for a moment. Marked, no matter my age, is what I’ll always be.

I lifted my hand, relieving him of the need to be the one to pull his own away.

“Thank you, Cheswick, for all you have done,” I said, my hand tilted in guiding him through the door. “When should I expect your boys?”

“The morning,” he replied. He dipped his head despite there being no need. At no more than five foot and only a few inches more he would have easily passed beneath the frame. “I won’t get much out of them but a few slurred words at this hour. I’m sure you’d rather a bit more respect in the handling of your grandmother. Her being your only family, that is.”

“Yes, of course.”

Our footsteps caused the stairs to groan. The ones under the doctor’s steps notably complaining louder than those under my own.

“You know we’re a small town,” Cheswick said as I pulled the door open into the cool night. “I’ll keep my lips shut for now if you wish, but, not long after the boys know I hope you understand everyone else will, too.”

“I do,” I said with little emotion. It was hardly a secret that death was seen as entertainment out here. “When should I expect the first knocks?”

“From my boys? Not long after eight. From everyone else? Not long after them.”

Cheswick pulled the sleeves of his coat further over his wrists, only to stretch them back up again when attempting to adjust the collar of his coat and wrap a scarf about his neck. He let out a grunt, a gust of frustration from his ridged lips, and with a final nod began the walk through the overgrown path of our garden.

Across the street, a candle flickered in a window and a curtain was drawn shut as my attention upon whoever had taken interest in me was noted.

“I’ll try send my boys before seven,” Cheswick called over his shoulder. He nudged his head in the direction of the window where the candle no longer glowed. “I forgot how much earlier the spectacles can start during our longer days.”

“How I yearn for the coming of the winter nights,” I said without much thought.

The gate creaked as the doctor left our garden and, with his exit, I closed the door to the night and to the thought of what tomorrow would bring.



Okay, so I’m plagiarising myself on this one, but that’s okay! To make a bit of sense of this, a couple of days ago I wrote a blog post with the same title of this one minus the Notes. It was just a title I thought sounded pretty neat but while trying to will myself to sleep that night I started to think about it, and thus, thusssssss (like a Slytherin) a short ghost story was born!

This is just the beginning but I’m happy about it for two reason. Number one, I actually had the ability to imagine again. To hear and see characters and to start putting together a story. This admittedly isn’t the first time, it’s the second in a few days. In fact, the reason I came back to blogging is one night out of the blue I was suddenly imagining and storytelling again! This is something that used to come so naturally to me, for years daydreaming stories was completely more a part of me than most anything else. Then, a couple of years ago it just left. Poof! Gone! So, it’s reappearance, also with a poof, was mightily welcomed! I was actually smiling like an idiot when I realized what was happening – crazy person in bed with a massive smile on her face because the mind voices were pleasing! – ahaha, that image just makes me laugh. Have you seen Bedfellows on YT? I can’t help but think that’s what my husband might have turned over to see had he been awake. And now I really can’t stop laughing.

Ohohoho, okay, that’s over.

Anyway, number two, I’m pleased because I actually started to write fiction. Something that unlike these blog posts actually requires me to try and think, to structure sentences and a story. It’s only the first draft, but I’m happy I got as far as I did with it. I just need to keep reminding myself that I’m rusty, that what matters is that I do this not how good it is – if it’s enjoyable that will be a bonus. I’m basically treating it as a learning process. I’m trying not to get caught up on the small stuff such as names or the correct names or words for things, that can be for the editing process and if I want to reach that editing process then I know I have to take it easy with this.

I feel a little overwhelmed if I’m going to be honest, and all at my own hand. I absolutely have to not let myself bite off more than I can chew. Of course, when I stopped writing I left a lot unfinished and the temptation to start all of those projects back up again is pretty fierce, but I know I won’t be able to do that and it will leave me feeling defeated.

Instead, I am going to focus on blog posts as a daily writing habit, my short ghost story, and in the mean-time the structure of the dark fantasy (I’m actually trying to plot and not pants it) and finally, a small venture into game writing. I mentioned a long time ago I was writing a LitRPG – I actually got about 60k into that – but anyway, my husband is enjoying himself with learning how to make an RPG game and initially he wanted to implement the LitRPG into it. Given it’s based on a game it should lend itself well to it, and we’d also spoken about the possibility of making this in the past, but it is a little too complex and so instead we’re doing something completely different but really quite fun!

It’s also a fun challenge for me to try and write short scripts for a game. I’ve written a short screenplay for a VR game, a novel, and a visual novel, but never an RPG. It’s always challenging for me to try and work out how these differ, and being that I’m not brilliant at being a team player (hey, we need to work on our flaws!) that will be a learning process too! It’s also hard not to notice that my tendency to write really bloody long run on sentences is back in full swing! It’s a style choice, I swear! Ahaha. Ah well, just got to get back to it and expect there will be lots of bumps along the way!

Also! I mowed the lawn today. That wasn’t fun. I think I got bitten by every possible tiny vampire floating around confused by the light of day. I’m now itching a lot. So please understand that I wrote this while itching and that is an accomplishment in itself. I think I need to go shower for an hour.

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday evening! Or have had a wonderful Friday evening! Curses clocks. Always ruining my exits.

*swings cloak around self and tip toes off into the night – almost night… only dusk… god damnit, clocks!*


Arbie X

3 thoughts on “Awake at the Fourteenth Hour + Notes”

  1. I love the main character’s rapt attention to detail. I find it’s a great way to convey the sense of loss a character feels by ultra-focusing on other things as a coping mechanism.

    Your characters and worlds always have such personalities to them despite their short descriptions. It’s something that I find is harder to come to me compared to dialogue, so it’s honestly pretty amazing to see it flow so well in so short of a story.

    It’s a delightful story! Thank you for writing this and I hope that you’ll get to write many more with a weird, maniacal smile plastered on your face as your mind continues to churn ideas!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I was worried it was more me creating the character as I went rather than it being of any consequence to the story so I’m glad it came across in a better way! I have a bad habit of not getting to the point and kind of going off on a tandem. I’ve tried to comfort myself in the past as it being a style development from what I used to read but I think it’s more the signs of a panster!

      I’m happy this worked on it’s own but it’s just the very start! It’ll be a fair bit longer than this and hopefully a little bit scary but I’ve only written a horror short once and that was years ago and it was atrocious. So, so bad… haha!

      Dialogue is massively important to character and due to how most people consume media these days the modern reader (not to generalize too much here) will probably prefer a build of character through that more so than description. If that’s your natural way I’d say it’s a strength!

      Thanks for reading this! I was a bit nervous posting it so I was anxious about what might be said and this calmed my nerves!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. One of my fave authors (Neil Gaiman) does the whole meandering thing too, and as long as it’s well-written, the scenic route can be just as entertaining.

        Thank you! Horror’s not really my genre but I hope to see more from you! Looking forward to the next installment.

        Liked by 1 person

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