Sunday 23 December 2018

A Story Inspired By A Song by Jennifer Wilson

guess the song...
The 5th day of September started abruptly for the ghost of Richard III. Before he could threaten his brother, George 'Clarence', with unspeakable punishment for waking him with deliberately tuneless singing, George Boleyn had joined in.
"It's too early." Richard groaned. "Let me sleep."
"No it isn't," George B., chirruped, "It's Jailbreak Day and our guests are waiting at the gate."
Richard was never too keen, but the two Georges, and the other ghosts, enjoyed this special day, every decade, when that infamous group, the Escapees, returned to the Tower of London to celebrate their Great Escapes on the death-date of their first member, Ranulf Flambard. The eventful celebration day never passed quietly.
After two renditions of their tuneless tune, the two Georges, dragging Richard along with them, met Katherine Howard and Anne Boleyn at the main gate, ready to greet their  guests.
“Friends, welcome,” said Richard, with an expansive, resigned, smile.
Roger Mortimer stepped forward, before Flambard demanded priority over the alleged regicide.
“Ladies first, surely,” came the thoughtful voice of the Earl of Nithsdale, urging his wife forward.
With a raised eyebrow, Richard turned to the Georges. “Keep an eye on things. I want this to go well: the re-enactments, a couple of minor hauntings, then they can join the main gathering this evening. Nothing more, understood?”

It was gone midnight before the great ghostly party finally ended, everyone settling down, residents and visitors alike, hoping for a quiet night after an eventful day and evening. They wouldn’t get their wish.
“Richard!” The hissed voice woke him.
“Who’s there? What time is it? What’s up?”
“Anne, gone three, and we have a problem.”
Richard began to ask questions, but Anne was already walking away, explaining as she went, assuming he was right behind her. 
He was.
“There’s a girl stuck outside, a Beefeater’s daughter, not supposed to be out, faked being in bed with pillows, and managed to fall out with whoever’s party it was.”
A group of ghosts had gathered: the Georges, Jane Grey, Katherine Howard, and the Escapees. Richard looked around, talking through the situation. “So, the doors are all locked from the inside, she’s not meant to be out there, and if she knocks, she’ll be in all sorts of trouble.”
“So, brother, what do we do?” asked Clarence.
The Nithsdales shared a look of unhidden glee. “We help her.”
Richard saw their train of thought unfolding. “Oh no. If you’re thinking what I think you’re thinking, no.”
The Earl grinned. “But it’s perfect. Tonight of all nights.”
“Or, we put one of the guards on watch, make sure no harm comes to her, and let her find her own way in when the doors open again in the morning,” said Richard, trying to beat the tide he was sure was going to overthrow him.
Oh yes, I see where this is going!” said Boleyn, grabbing his sister and twirling her around in a manic dance.
Richard knew he was beaten. “Fine. But if we do this, if we help her break in, we do this my way. And we do it sensibly.”
Anne Boleyn extricated herself from her brother’s arms as Richard outlined his plan. No names, no titles, give the quickest, most efficient help they could offer, then move on as though the whole thing had never happened.
“Oh, come now, Richard – it has to be more fun than that. Katherine and I shall go and find her house, get a spare key somehow, whilst you,” she pointed at the Georges and Richard, “must get the key to the outer gate, and distract the guards sufficiently to get her inside.”
“You make it sound so easy,” the Plantagenet king scoffed. “Oh, alright, let’s get to it. I’ll go and see the girl. Will you join me?” He looked at Jane, who nodded. “And you all, please, help with some gentle distraction?”
The Escapees grinned, beginning to look for inspiration as the rest of the ghostly group went about their assigned tasks.

At the waterfront, Richard and Jane approached the girl. “Are you alright?” he asked softly, gently flickering into full visibility, hoping she wouldn’t bolt.
The girl looked up, eyes wide, about to scream, then, nothing.
“Please, don’t be afraid,” said Jane, joining Richard. “We are here to help, we promise, we, well, we overheard your predicament.”
“But, but, no.” The girl rubbed at her eyes, as though trying to erase the vision. Then, went to flee, grabbing her bag, jumping from the bench.
“Please!” Jane reached for the girl’s arm, halting her. “We won’t hurt you.”
“What’s your name?” asked Richard.
“Cl… Claire. You’re, ghosts?”
“Well, yes, but we see you’re in trouble, and we’re all neighbours really, and we want to help.”
“My parents don’t know I’m out; they said I couldn’t go to the party,” Claire whispered, as though not quite believing what she was doing. “I’m stuck.”
“We have that in hand,” said Richard, glancing over at the thick wooden door, hoping he was right. As he watched, his brother’s head appeared, accompanied by a hand, giving a thumbs-up. They were on.
“Claire, if you trust us, we can help you. Right now, what other options do you really have?”
She hesitated. “I don’t want to wake up tomorrow, thinking I’m mad and dreamed it all.”
Richard nodded. “If you come with us now, and we get you in, we’ll introduce you to some of our more famous contingent tomorrow, alright? But please, move?”

A cry from within the walls drew their attention, and Richard flitted through to see what distraction the Escapees had gone for. He couldn’t help laughing, as the Nithsdales were performing a perfect waltz in full view of the two guards on duty standing gaping. Boleyn slipped between them, removing the keys from the small room they guarded. A moment later, the door, luckily well-oiled, swung open, and Jane ushered Claire through.
But it wasn’t over yet. The two guards weren’t the only ones about, and Claire still needed to get home. She stayed in the dark shadows, hugging the walls, as she crept towards the row of houses leading down from St Peter’s. Suddenly, light flooded the area. Torchlight, sweeping in an arc across the Jewel House. A Beefeater, out of bed, and a major risk to their plan. Richard took his chance.
“Beware this night,” he whispered into the man’s ear, adding a hint of a ghostly moan. “You should not walk this night, it shall not be safe for those who do…” Richard cringed at his melodramatic approach, but he had to scare the man back inside somehow. It didn’t seem to phase the Beefeater though, as he kept shining his torch around. Katherine Howard timed her entrance, head under arm its lips moving in silence, to perfection. If a ghostly moan wouldn’t deter him, a headless woman certainly did, as the torch was dropped, lens shattering.
“I’d forgotten how much fun a decent headless haunt can be,” said Katherine, replacing her head where it ought to be and giggling towards Claire, standing open-mouthed, staring. “Go on – Anne has a key ready for you at your door,” the former queen added.
“Anne? Not, Boleyn?”
“Yes, who else?” asked Katherine.
“Please, Claire, go, who knows who else is about,” said Richard, in full visibility, physically grabbing her shoulders and moving towards her home, which was, thankfully still in darkness.
“I’ll see you tomorrow? Promise?”
“Yes, I promise, we’ll be about, we always are.”
Frowning, she turned the retrieved key in the lock, and pushed the door. In silence, she was inside, door reclosed, and the lock clicked back into place.
“Are we really going to find her tomorrow?” asked Anne, all of them now invisible to the living.
“I have no idea,” confessed Richard. “We did promise, I suppose. Tomorrow isn’t that far away now, so we don’t have long to decide. Come on, let’s see if anyone’s still about.”

In the White Tower, a few ghosts were loitering, keen to hear what had happened.
“Is it true then,” demanded Margaret Pole. “Are we to make ourselves visible for that young thing? What if she tells everyone else? What if we just become another tourist attraction?”
“We already are a tourist attraction, my dear,” said Clarence, patting his daughter’s hand. “But I do see your point. When they don’t know we’re here, we keep our mystery. Now she does, who knows where it will lead. She could even go to the papers.”
“But who would believe her?” Anne Boleyn walked through the door, literally, into the discussion. “Besides, how would that help her? She would have to admit she’d been out. No, we’re safe. If she tells what happened, she brings a heap of trouble down on herself. However, in terms of tomorrow…” she glanced around the small group, including the visiting Escapees. “I suggest we limit things. I say we don’t add more than one or two others to those she’s met so far, keep it simple.”
“Agreed,” said Boleyn. “It could be quite good fun this, having an ‘inside man’.” He glanced over at Clarence, grins spreading across their faces.
Anne smiled at Richard, and nodded. “I think we might have an interesting time ahead. The result of breaking in seems much more fun than breaking out!”
about the author

Jennifer C. Wilson is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots on childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating. Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east of England reignited her pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since.
In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and has been working on a number of projects since, including co-hosting the North Tyneside Writers’ Circle. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and her timeslip novella The Last Plantagenet? by Ocelot Press.

Reviewed by Discovering Diamonds

Note: There is copyright legislation for song lyrics but no copyright in names, titles or ideas
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The Full List of Authors

1st        Philip K. Allan     
 2nd      J J Toner         
 3rd       Catherine Kullman    
 4th       Helen Hollick              
 5th       Richard Tearle    
 6th       Barbara Gaskell Denvil
 7th       Nicky Galliers
 8th       Angela Macrae Shanks          
 9th       Katherine Pym  
10th      J G Harlond    
11th       Anna Belfrage
12th      Richard Dee
13th      Inge H. Borg
14th      Annie Whitehead
15th      Louise Adam
16th      Charlene Newcomb
17th      Alison Morton                         
18th      Kathryn Gauci
19th      Helen Hollick 
20th     M.J. Logue
21st       Helen Hollick 
22nd     Cryssa Bazos               
23rd      Jennifer Wilson                       
24th      Elizabeth St John  writing as Julia Darke                         
26th      Helen Hollick
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  1. Oh Jennifer - how I love your 'ghosts'! Even in a crisis they seem to have fun! I do hope Claire enjoys her day in such illustrious company!! A great track too!!

  2. Hilarious! And quite a lot of history dripped in almost unnoticed – clever stuff.

  3. Great fun, just like the novel it is based on. I love your style, Jennifer, so accessible and a delight to read.

  4. Oh this was such fun - definitely a chuckle with Margaret Pole's concern about being a tourist trap. Really enjoyed - and a perfect song to go along.

  5. Good thing it's daylight, otherwise I might be looking over my shoulder. Fun story, reigniting my interest in English history.

  6. Hello all! Thanks so much for your lovely comments; I really enjoyed getting back to my fabulous Tower ghosts. Merry Christmas! J :)

  7. Lovely ghost story, and so much fun. A great song to go with it. Happy holidays.

  8. I could picture all the ghosts wandering around the Tower, and I do enjoy a bit of Thin Lizzie. Wonderful fun story, brilliant song. Thank you.

  9. Absolutely delightful!! I would love to run through the Tower with this lot!

  10. What a fun story! Claire is a lucky girl to have these ghosts on her side. Thanks for sharing.


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