How it works:
Write the next section of the story in no more than 500 words and post it as a comment below. People can then vote by 'liking' the paragraph they think is the best. Every two weeks, the winning comment with the most likes will then get added to the story chain, and the author will have their name added to the co-author honour board!
We're no prudes here at holdfast, but let's leave out graphic sex and extreme violence. We will not tolerate any racism, sexism or homophobia. The comment boxes are for story chain submissions only. Any comments breaking these guidelines will be removed.
Co-author a story with this issue's featured author Emma Newman!
First link in the chain written by Emma:
The first time it happened she put it down to a fluke. The second time made her pause. Surely she was imagining it? After the third time, she knew she couldn't deny it any longer.
Rising from her chair, she walked through to the scullery, and pulled her grandfather's shotgun from the umbrella stand by the back door.
Even as she sat there in the moth-eaten chair, cradling her grandfather's gun and watching the rain running in thick, sinewy rivulets down the window, she thought that perhaps, after all, she had imagined it. She tried to remember what her counsellor had told her in those long sessions after the accident, about how she would have to try to adjust, about how life would feel strange and different sometimes. Even now, after this had happened three times, she thought - she hoped - it was all something just in her mind, some latent reaction to the accident. And after half an hour clutching the gun and wishing her grandfather were there just to talk to and tell her she was being silly, to make her a cup of hot chocolate and sing one of those songs from the old country, it happened again.
The rain that was hammering down against the window panes froze instantly. Not just slowing and turning into slush or snow flakes but an instantaneous 'crack' that made her start. As she sat transfixed, the freeze spread rapidly across the rest of the windows and then crept inside to catch the drip that was forming in the tap, an icicle in an instant. The frosting climbed the stack of dishes drying on the draining board and turned the glass of orange to a block of ice that cracked the glass with a pop.
She realised she had been holding her breath and exhaled quickly, the plume of vapour making her inhale sharply once again, feeling the chill of the air as it filled her lungs. Instinctively she drew back into the chair, granddad’s chair, pulling her feet up off the floor as the frost advanced on her corner of the room. She cracked the breech of the shotgun to see the shiny brass cases of the shells peeking out at her. With a snap the gun was cocked shut and a flick of the thumb pushed the safety to ‘fire’. Sweeping the weapon from side to side she tried to find a target to vent her fear upon, but there was nothing in front of her other than a growing carpet of frost.
There was nothing there, of course there wasn’t, how could there be, everything was locked up, she’d checked herself. But then if that was the case, how was this happening within her own home? Granddad wouldn’t let this happen. No he’d tell them to ‘Bugger off, and find somewhere else to play’. The thought of him warmed her from the inside out and for the first time since this had all begun she felt just that little bit better. But in that moment, her mind casting back to the day she arrived home to find the frozen body of her beloved Granddad slumped by the rear door, She faltered and the cold rushed in.
Her eyes darted from corner to corner of the kitchen seeking answers and an equal measure of escape. As she brought the shotgun barrels round to her front again she felt a resistance as if they were dragging through water. But there was nothing there. She stared hard ahead of her, across the room and at the window. The frosting on the inside of the window was different to the rest of the room, it was cleaner and had distinct patterns to it that teased at her cognition. A shape was forming in her mind and as much as she tried she couldn’t help but recognise it in someway. Focussing harder on the window she leant forward, breathing out steadily as she tried so very hard to control her heart rate from running away with itself.
The image on the window resolved itself into an outline she could never forget.
Then her breath froze in space and he was revealed.
Story chain Honour board
Gareth L. Powell