A Novel – Crooked Cat Books
I never thought this would happen to me, not in my wildest dreams. When I was a kid, I wrote plays for my teddy bears to perform. Now I can hardly believe what’s happened. My new novel, The Punished, has been published. Alexis’s story – from downtrodden to triumphant. Reviewers say it’s, “awesome”. Have you reviewed it yet?
Tyneham, Dorset, England, 1982
UNLESS CLEARED THROUGH
MILITARY LIVE FIRING RANGE
Alexis saw the bright red sign on a farm gate followed by a burnt-out tank lying on its side in a ditch, moss growing over the tracks and the turret sticking out. A deserted ruin was not what she expected.
“This can’t be the Tyneham in mum’s photo, Teri,” she said.
“Must be a mistake. Let’s see that photo again.”
But Tyneham it was, festooned with military debris, red flags and warning signs promising instant annihilation for anyone who strayed off the beaten path. An empty, grey car park was surrounded by barbed wire with municipal concrete slabs, green barriers and yellow height restriction signs. A battered, rusting steel sign demanded fifty pence for the day with assured clamping damnation for anyone thinking of chancing it.
“I have to admit,” Alexis said, cutting the engine. “I don’t see the attraction of Tyneham.”
“There isn’t even a postage-stamp view of the sea. Wrong village. Wrong planet.”
“Well I’ve no intentions of going back,” said Alexis.
The hire car creaked and cooled like a clapped-out boiler, the muted radio bleating something about snow pushing into southern approaches that evening. Alexis’s heart sank as she folded the OS map.
“I suppose we’d better get on with it,” she said, feeling the car rock gently in the gale.
She opened the door and held on with both hands, leaning into it and stepping into what remained of Tyneham, an investigative wind blasting from somewhere between Iceland and Siberia stripping the skeletons of Tyneham’s buildings bare. Alexis stood in front of a laminated, You Are Herelectern which attempted to explain why anyone would pay fifty pence to see a moss-stained water fountain, a frozen pond, a sprawling tree and a white telephone box.
“For the ghosts to phone home,” said Alexis, pegging her hair back.
Above all there was no sign of the manor house mum requested in her will.
“Tyneham has officially been deemed a ghost village since 1943 when the army moved in,” said Alexis.
“Could have worked that one out.”
“It says, On account of the live tank firing range, red flags are flown when firing is taking place.”
“What are those?”
“Red flags,” Alexis replied, seeing the frayed remains fluttering. “I wish I’d checked before leaving. A ghost village in the middle of a live firing range on a freezing cold day in December is the last place I want to be.”
“Maybe we should complete the official bit right here and go.”
“No I don’t want to let her down,” said Alexis, kicking a mossy stump. “She specifically said the manor on December the 17th. She wouldn’t recognise the place now.”
“Well that probably was the manor you just kicked.”
Tyneham Manor, the ivy-clad Elizabethan house and the location of mum’s smiling friends in the glorious summer of ‘44, had been reduced to nothing. Alexis heard distant waves.
“There has to be somewhere suitable,” she said. “After all we are on the coast.”
The Punished – defiant, coming-of-age
“The writing is awesome and the pacing measured. I enjoyed the dialogues, the well-developed setting, and the balanced and deft writing. The Punished is, without doubt, a work of great entertainment, a book with great psychological allure and emotional depth.” Romuald Dzemo.