“Steve Finding hadn’t expected to see Mary again.
It had been six months since his first and only encounter with her at Jennings Cottage in the village of Grove in Oxfordshire and he had not returned to the place since.
Of course, it was possible he might, under normal circumstances, have expected at some time to bump into her. Oxfordshire isn’t that big a place and as a radio presenter, he spent a good chunk of his time visiting local towns and villages for his radio show.
But the main reason he did not expect to see her again was because she died in 1871.”
So opens ‘Long Alley’,one of six short ‘Tales of the Unexpected’, written by Oxfordshire author David P Elliot and published in his recent anthology ‘Pieces of Fate’.
‘Long Alley’ the story, is named after the beautiful and ancient almshouses hidden behind St Helen’s Church in the riverside town of Abingdon in Oxfordshire and is the second of two stories in the anthology sub-titled ‘Finding Ghosts’ which introduce the reader to Steve Finding, a cynical ex-journalist, now hosting a weekly local radio show investigating alleged incidents of paranormal activity.
Elliot had previously used this character in an earlier story, (also in the anthology) called ‘The Cottage’ about a suspected ghost in a cottage in Grove, Oxfordshire. The cottage in the story exists, in fact Elliot used to live there and says that some of the incidents actually happened. The Cottage can be identified from clues in the plot.
Whilst visiting the Abingdon Museum, Elliot read a story of a young woman, Mawyan Duhan, who was made the subject of a so-called ‘Bastardry Order’ in 1675 for the ‘crime’ of having an illegitimate child and was put to work in the House of Corrections, an institution that pre-dated the more traditional ‘Workhouse.’
Elliot says, “I was struck by two things, firstly that the child seemed to have no recognition at all, not even warranting a name, being referred to only as ‘The Bastard Child’, and the severity of the sentence for this ‘crime’. I thought it might be nice if someone, even over 300 years later, recognised the cruelty of the times.”
So using the same characters from the previous story, ‘Long Alley’ was born.
‘Pieces of Fate’ and Elliot’s earlier historical supernatural thriller, set in the Borders of Scotland, and which has sold in 16 countries are available for order from all good online stores or direct from ‘Red Cap Books’.
Apart from the usual paperback versions, both are available in all e-book formats. Alternatively you can download the individual short stories directly to your e-book reader.