Guest Post #12 Dreaming Of Another World

Welcome to what will be the final guest post for my Dreaming of Another World feature, but do stay tuned for news on a brand new guest feature coming soon! This was all inspired by a post I wrote about how lockdown forced me to pause, think and dream of another world, one I could just glimpse when we were all forced to stay still. I asked other creatives for their thoughts, feelings and experiences during this strange time and I had a wonderful response. Please welcome Adeola Sheehy to The Glorious Outsiders and enjoy her personal piece on her lockdown experience. You can find out more about Adeola at the end of the post.

The Outside

When the unknown woke me from sleep in the night, I used to be able to tell the time by the activity from my window. Lying still so not to wake the baby I would listen for the vans and lorries hurrying past to signal the early hours. A few hours later the headlights of the earliest workers would slice through the blinds, sliding down the wall as the cars turned the corner and quietly began their day.

Next the encroaching daylight. How slowly the darkness lifts, as though it wants to hold you in its grasp for as long as possible. On the rare occasion I slept in I would be woken to the marching herds of school children, chattering loudly to hear themselves over the swoosh or the cars and buses, and the stomping of their own feet.

That’s just an echo now, their feet are hemmed in by walls and walk only across the soft carpet of their homes. The car engines are cold as their owners try to remember to leave them running every so often, so their batteries don’t die. How strange this static, stationery waiting. This pause.

As we huddle indoors, the news speaks of a sinister thing lurking outside. It is alive and hunting us, preying on the weakest among us. It has learnt how to travel unseen, invisible as it stalks us. We go out only in the daytime, for short periods and never altogether. The roads are quiet but even though the houses are full, they are quiet too. I hear no children in the gardens, or laughter from an open window. There is a hush, a waiting, a palpable fear.

Then in the night, I wake to darkness. There are no sounds or lights to offer me clues, only the rhythmic breathing of my dreaming family. What is it out there, prowling the streets?

I feel the presence of the fairy tale wolf prowling an isolated village in ever tighter circles. It’s come in from the dark woods, no longer in a distant far away land, it’s come to the doorstep. The village shuts their doors against the threat, but also to each other. Their once united community split into multiple tiny islands. Each fearful, focused on survival, and weakened by being alone. The wolf has the run of the town now, it can walk anywhere it likes, it has taken over a new territory and the villagers must come out sooner or later. It’s an unwinnable siege of their own making.

The shadows and the darkness have melded into one suffocating thing. My body is still and my breathing steady, as only my eyes move, tracking back and forth, searching out the presence that has my arm hair standing on end. I see the curtain twitch.

I left it open just a crack, so we could breathe a little freer. I watch it move, the delicate white lace against the dense dark. Through it a plume of white steam pushes inwards. It dissipates quickly only to be replaced by another warm breath fogging the air.

And another.

The wolf is at my door.

Author Bio

A home educating mother of four, Adeola’s writing has adapted and changed over the years to fit the time constraints of a full life.  

From short stories, to essays and articles and with various characters nagging in her ears wanting their tales to be told, you can currently find her writing in magazines such as Roots + Wings and Juno, as well as the soon to be published Hear Our Voices collection by Conscious Dreams Publishing, and in the Fireside group at The Kindred Voice.  

Lockdown seems to have broken the dam, and her pen is firmly attached to the page, so follow her on Instagram at @adeola_moonsong to see where she’ll be popping up next. 

Thank you so much to Adeola and ALL of the creatives who have participated in this feature. We’ve had short stories, poems and personal pieces and they have all been amazing. I am thinking about collating these pieces into a collection at some point (subject to each author’s permission of course) but I would like to make it a really diverse and interesting one. So, for my next guest feature I would like to know how your pets helped you through lockdown, or the pandemic in general. If you are a creative with a furry friend, then please get in touch! Perhaps you even got a pet for the first time during lockdown? I’d like to know about you and your pet, how you got together, what you do together, whether they have a positive impact on your mental health and how they have helped or hindered your creative processes and your everyday life during the pandemic. Please get in touch 🙂

Guest Post #10; Dreaming Of Another World

Welcome to another guest post for my feature Dreaming of Another World. This feature was inspired by a post I wrote here a few months back, where I considered whether another world was possible and could just be glimpsed when lockdown forced us to stay still. I was interested in how other creatives reacted to lockdown and the changes it pushed upon us and opened up my blog to their responses and experiences. I’ve had a great response and here is guest post no.10 from fantasy author Rick Haynes, where he reminisces about leaving the house for the first time after a prolonged spell of isolation.

A TRIP INTO THE UNKNOWN by Rick Haynes

My wife and I thought hard. Due to the impact of Covid-19, we had spent many months cooped up in our nice comfortable prison, but dare we venture outside? But the rays from the sky were sending warmth, giving the prospect of new life to old bones. And after much discussion about the safety aspects, we agreed to depart our sanctuary. For an hour or so, we would take our first trip back to reality, whatever that was.

Now for the checklist. Face masks? Check. Sanitiser? Check. Gloves? Check, but did we need gloves? Medical kit? Check. Blanket? Check. Jackets? In case we felt cold, check.

Taking a drive through the roads of our virus-ridden country was never on any previous menu, but times change for boredom had been our permanent friend for months.

Twenty minutes later we arrived at our destination. The car park at the local garden centre was more than half full, but – in for a penny – as the saying goes. Yet, we hesitated. I could see my wife shaking as we approached the doors of no return.

Inside, the carefully designed twisty routes – to make you see, and hopefully buy, more of the things you don’t want – are like a one-way street. Once in, you cannot reverse and have to travel forward.

With her hand firmly in mine and a nod of her head, we adjusted our masks of fear and entered a world of all things gardening. Much to our surprise, the visitors were few. Wondering about the car numbers in the parking area was over in a flash. Maybe this visit would be less hazardous than we thought?

We placed one foot in front of the other and began the long walk along the meandering trail, eventually emerging into bright sunlight. We inhaled deeply as a world of fragrance, freshness, and clean air instantly hit us. It was good to feel the heat, even better to view the rows and rows of plants and take in the intoxicating scent from the multitude of flowers. With large smiles on our faces, this was our first step into the future but a giant step towards normality.

Our good neighbours – shielding like us – had visited the centre in the last week and advised us to try the coffee shop. They said it was run with military precision, big spaces between seats – inside and out – and you order from the table. Everything was sanitised. Visitors only leave their table to pay and that is to a lass sitting behind a large screen. It worked. We enjoyed our coffee as we felt safe.

And when we left the café behind us, it wasn’t time to go home, as the number of visitors had declined, the walkways almost empty now. My mind wandered back to the decision to shake our fists at the virus, and, without thinking, I was grinning like an idiot.

My wife was looking at the vast array of small shrubs on display. With some being heavily reduced, she thought about buying two small Hebes, one purple and one pinky red. They would do nicely in our new garden, she said. Covered in bees could be the clincher but when the rare Humming Bird Hawk Moth arrived, it was game set and match. The moniker for that stunning moth is long and for that reason, we have always called them, Mobys. Rare in England? Yes, but we have seen many in Greece.

With my wife entranced, I wandered lonely, as if? This garden centre had an aquarium and I sauntered over. It was lovely to see so many highly coloured fish behind glass but I’d rather see them in a large pond. With that in mind, I saw a massive tank to the rear of the aquarium. I climbed the few steps and peered into the murky waters.

At first, I saw little in the gloom. A flash, the tail smacked the water and, like a great magician, the fish vanished. I stared until my eyes were bulging but could see nothing for the tank was murky and at least eight or nine feet deep. The far side was a mystery as I could barely see it.

I turned to go, heard a slap of a tail once more, and felt water hitting my shoulders. I peered into the deep, and like the greatest aqua performers, the Koi Carp made an impressive arrival. With shades of black and hues of gold, orange, and red, the large fish shoaled around the area nearest to me, their eyes seeking something. Eventually, my brain engaged and I realised the fish were awaiting food. Alas, I didn’t have any but the stones at the bottom of the steps looked promising. The first one I lifted was swarming with woodlice. Grabbing a handful, I lowered my hand into the water, released the insects and the fun started. Koi madness took over as the water erupted with fish jumping high, slapping the water with their tails, and lunging into each other. The picture of demons from the deep sucking me under came into my head, but I couldn’t stop now, even though my shirt was damp. I picked up more woodlice and two large spiders and returned to their feeding spot.

The water was unmoving; the fish had vanished. I could see nothing through the murk, not a flash of colour, nor a fin breaking the water.

With my hand full of fishy treats, I slowly opened my palm. And as I began to ease it from the water a huge mouth appeared. It touched my fingers, sucked hard, and gently pulled. Without thinking, instinct took over. I pulled back, and the toothless grin of the largest Koi Carp I had ever seen emerged from the dark waters. 

My panic quickly turned to stupidity and then to rational thought. The remaining insects were learning how to swim for their lives, and the black and red giant monster sucked them up quicker than our carpet cleaner could. Within a minute all was once more serene in the tank of amazement.

Sitting on the lowest step leading up to the massive tank, I sat and pondered. Why did such a huge fish like that hide and then propel its self forward to take a meal from my hand? It couldn’t be that hungry, could it? In my world, fish either bite you or leave you alone, not try and suck you to death. Nevertheless, I checked all my fingers for any bites, sighed with relief, and knew it was time to go. I pulled myself slowly upright and waved to my wife some distance away. Within seconds, I slammed on the brakes for my eyes had homed in on a small and faded notice.

Feed the fish here. Only £1 a bag.

Stupid? I felt like a man with no brain as I walked away.

“I’ve been looking for you, love. Where have you been?”

All I could manage was the grin of a brainless idiot.

A huge thank you to Rick for sharing this post with us! If you would like to find out more about Rick and his books his author bio and links are below.

AUTHOR BIO

My passion is epic fantasy and my first two novels, Evil Never Dies and Heroes Never Fade, have received excellent reviews. As one reviewer posted – ‘Fans of Games of Thrones must read this book!’

My new novel, Outcast, a tale of love, betrayal and giants, has recently been published.

I also write short stories. Several have been published in Scribble, the Portsmouth News and The Chania Post.

I love writing.Rick Haynes
www.rickhaynesauthor.com

Guest Post #6 Dreaming Of Another World

Dreaming Of Another World is a new feature on my blog, inspired by a piece I wrote during lockdown. I wondered whether other writers and bloggers felt like me during this strange time – that another world was possible and could just be glimpsed thanks to the stillness enforced on us. I’ve had a great response and each week I will be posting a piece written by a guest – sharing their thoughts, feelings and experiences on how lockdown changed their perceptions. Did it change their life in any way? Did it change their view of society and how it operates? Did it make them yearn for something else? This week please welcome author and blogger Marjorie Mallon. This feature was also inspired by her This Is Lockdown collection, of which I was honoured to be a part of.

Thank you Chantelle for a wonderful opportunity to share my thoughts about Dreaming of another World.

It’s been the strangest of times. Each morning I open my bedroom curtains and stare at our country park trees. We live on the edge of the park with such a beautiful vista of trees, flora and lakes…

During lockdown, it was so silent, no traffic noise, the skies were blue, no airplane trails.

Now, with restrictions easing, we return to a semblance of ‘normal.’ ‘Normal’ has become a careless word; applied to this dear planet we call home. The sky has lost its virgin blueness, the sound of traffic is back, humming with incessant noise, a reminder of the pollution it will bring.

How to cope? I create. I don’t paint; I wish I could. I admire artists so much! Instead, I wander off and indulge in amateur photography. Or I commune with nature. I have a new hobby! I plant vegetables, grow wildflowers from seed, and bake bread. I’ve had great success with courgettes, cucumber, herbs, and spinach.

How to cope? I create. I don’t paint; I wish I could. I admire artists so much! Instead, I wander off and indulge in amateur photography. Or I commune with nature. I have a new hobby! I plant vegetables, grow wildflowers from seed, and bake bread. I’ve had great success with courgettes, cucumber, herbs, and spinach.

My tomatoes are slow, green, and tiny, but the plants are growing. I hope the tiny green tomatoes may yield some edible ones soon!

Somehow the daily routine of planting, digging, and nurturing my vegetable garden has become an unexpected pleasure! As has taking up yoga again, which I’ve always had a fondness for. Both of these activities make me feel a deep connection to the earth, (a journey that I began with tai chi and mindfulness training.) This connection to mother nature blossoms as I check my vegetables, or adopt a yoga pose.

I’ve always enjoyed baking cakes and puddings. Progressing to bread baking isn’t so much of a stretch! It’s satisfying to eat your own creations, to knead, and watch them rise.

My way of staving off anxiety and depression is to keep busy. I write, immersing myself in new projects. I normally write YA Fantasy, poetry, flash fiction, and short stories. Recently, I compiled and released an anthology, my first entitled, This Is Lockdown. Chantelle, (along with many other talented writers, authors and creatives,) kindly contributed to the anthology with a piece on her thoughts and fears at this time.

After I published the anthology, I missed the daily routine of writing diaries, short pieces and poetry. I can’t say I enjoyed the editing and formatting stage, but at least it kept me occupied! For a while, I felt quite lost.

Now, it’s time for new writing projects… and old editing jobs that I have neglected. Anything to take my mind off COVID19. I’m gearing up for Halloween! Autumn is my favourite season. It seems appropriate to write horror short stories and poems. COVID19 is a horror story set in an all too familiar reality.

And yet, there have been so many unexpected positives. I’ve spent so much quality time with my grown-up daughters and my husband. I wonder how I’ll cope when my daughters return to their studies and I’m left with hubby dearest! My eldest is starting teacher training in Scotland, my youngest is returning to University in Manchester. I will miss them both so much.

I’m incensed at how this virus has affected our youngsters’ education. With university fees so high, £9,000, (predominantly now on-line,) plus crippling rent and all the rest. How will studying online impact students? Especially those with mental health and support issues who can’t cope without the help of face-to-face interaction from their personal tutors and lecturers?

Students who graduated this summer have had no graduation ceremony and are struggling to find jobs, sending off fruitless application after application.

And the stress of home schooling followed by the exam fiasco. I can’t begin to imagine how stressful that must have been for pupils and parents.

The elderly, and those shielding, suffer such loss of confidence. I saw my dear father this summer. A year ago, he was in great spirits. At his ninetieth birthday party he sang to our waitress in Russian, a language he’d learnt during his National Service. Now, he seems diminished, his confidence shattered by a virus that he cannot fight. I’m so saddened, I just hope that somehow he will continue to dance in his living room, tell jokes and stories as he has done so many times before.

And culture, music, drama, the bedrock of society. What of them? Who is keeping these much-loved darlings alive? I can’t imagine a world without them. I don’t want to imagine that. Yet, the pubs have opened at the first opportunity… Crowded, full of people drinking alcohol and forgetting to social-distance. Local pubs vary in their responses., some of them implement a high level of COVID safety, while others disregard safety.

How crazy is that?

Somehow, I just hope that we will find our way to a new, kinder normal. I’ve noticed some positives: neighbours expressing concern for one another, chatting, greeting each other in the street.

I don’t think we have a choice; we must learn from this. Surely, if COVID19 has taught us anything it has to be – an awareness of our fragility?

We must nurture our planet, or in time future generations will suffer for our stupidity and neglect.

We need to get back to basics. Slow down, reflect more, and care for our environment, mindfulness has much to offer. I recommend it.

I fear for the future, truly I do.

A huge thank you to Marjorie for coming on the blog and contributing to this feature – but also for inspiring me to do it in the first place and for being supportive and enthusiastic about my idea. If you would like to find out more about Marjorie and her writing, her author bio and links are below! Please get in touch if you would like to take part in Dreaming of Another World.

Author Bio:

I am an author who has been blogging for many moons at my lovely blog home, Kyrosmagica. My interests include writing, poetry, photography, and alternative therapies. My favourite genres to write are: Fantasy YA, Paranormal, Ghost and Horror Stories and I love writing various forms of magical poetry and micro poetry – haiku and Tanka and flash fiction.

It is one of my greatest pleasures to read and I have written over 180 reviews.

I was born on the 17th of November in Lion City: Singapore, second child and only daughter to my parents, Paula and Ronald. I grew up in a mountainous court in the Peak District in Hong Kong with my elder brother Donald.

I’m a member of the professional international writing group: The Society of Children’s Writers and Book Illustrators.

I run a supportive group for authors and bloggers with author D G Kaye on Facebook: Authors/Bloggers Rainbow Support Club

I’ve contributed articles/writing to various sites including: Literary Lightbox (Inspiration) and poetry to Spillwords – Magic of The Dragonfly.

I work for an international sixth form and live in Cambridge, England.

Authors Books= Kyrosmagica Publishing

YA Fantasy http://myBook.to/TheCurseofTime

Poetry, Prose and Photography: http://mybook.to/MrSagittarius

Anthology set during Lockdown: http://mybook.to/Thisislockdown

Anthologies:

Forthcoming Releases:- Spellbound compiled by bestselling author Dan Alatorre features my short story The Twisted Sisters. It is available to pre-order and releases 14th October by Great Oak Publishing. https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08DM83XKR/