Hell's Labyrinth

Brakes screeching and juddering along the track, the 3:27 to Corford came to a halt. It was the second time this week and the fifth time this month it had happened. Always in the same spot. Three quarters of a mile from the nearest station and two miles from the end of the line, Gaynor's stop. The miserable November weather was in full force, and as the driver announced that all passengers needed to disembark and wait for alternative transport, the heavens opened and the wind began to rage. God was mocking her. God was taking personal vengence on Gaynor, or so she thought. She pulled the straps tight on her rucksack, tucked her hands in her sleeves and resigned herself to the fact that yet again she'd be walking home.

 

The heat from the aga in the kitchen promised warm hands and a hot meal. The note on the breakfast bar told Gaynor that neither her mum or her brother would be home before 9pm that evening, but if she was hungry the pan on the stove held a hearty portion of goulash. The growling in the pit of her stomach reminded Gaynor that it hadn't been fed since 7:30 that morning owing to her having forgotten her lunch money, so hurredly she headed to the cupboard and grabbed a large stoneware bowl and ladled herself a man-sized portion. Sauce spilled down her jacket and on her school shirt, but she didn't care. It was hot, tasty and it brought an instant smile to her face. Boy did she love her mum's home cooked meals. In recent months they'd been few and far between, but she put the stress of her father's death down to her mothers lack of culinary input in the kitchen. The thought of her father made her nose tickle and her eye water. The tears wanted to come, she didn't want them to. She wanted to cry for him, but beat the living daylights out of the one responsible for his death. Anger was now taking over, boiling and brimming,boiling and brimming, but she took a breath, held it and exhaled slowly. The anger began to subside.

Jools had curled himself up on her bean chair and showed resistance when she shook the seat to get him off, but that was her chair, and after the day she'd had, she was determined to take her place in front of the tv for some R&R . Failing to switch it on using the remote, Gaynor got up and grabbed a cushion and sat on the floor in front of the Sky box so she could change the channels. As expected, Jools hot footed it back to the bean chair and resumed the position. Gaynor sighed and cracked a slight smile at the sight of her beloved puss reclaiming his throne and turned her attention back to the box." All nine hundred and something odd channels promised fine televisual viewing, but when there's nothing you want to see, it doesn't matter how many there are!" she thought to herself. Her politics paper was due at the beginning of next month, so reluctantly she flicked through to the news channels in hope of inspiration, but it was the same old same old "the PM said this" "finance crisis that", but she left it on all the same, the back ground noise was a comfort, The Farmhouse offered little when there were no bodies occupying it, it just made her feel accompanied.

Warm, dry and satisfied Gaynor walked into the kitchen, loaded her bowl in the dishwasher and began to rummage in the junk drawer "There has to be some in here somewhere Jools. Did you see what mum did with them?" Of course, she knew she wouldn't get any kind of response form the cat, but she didn't care, if it made the batteries surface sooner then it would do for her. His grey velvety head nudged her hand down. She petted him back and continued looking. Again, this time with a little more purpose, his nudge  angled her hand down "you trying to tell me this is a lost cause? You daft bugger." Once again she offered the cat the contact he desired, this time rubbing her cheek on his head. He responded with a deep purr of pleasure. "Atchoo. Atchoo. Now look what's happened. I try to be nice and this is how you repay me? Fur up my nose?" Gaynor gave Jools a final pat on the head and went to walk away, but as she turned to leave, she noticed a small corner of coloured card poking from the drawer below. " A last ditch attempt" she said aloud and pulled the handle to find a fresh new packet of batteries. "This'll do the job nicely" she announced and skipped back into the lounge. The bean chair, now free from cat, was quickly filled by Gaynor. She reached forward grabbed the remote from the coffee table and scrunched herself into the seat. Armed with a fully functional  channel changer, she pointed and clicked repeatedly, desperate to find some entertainment to fill her evening. About to give up and put a film on, her hopping had tuned her into a program hosting an evening of paranormal investigations. At that particular moment, the team were in the throes of a seance.  A traditional Ouija Board sat proud on the round table while the presenters called out questions of causes of death, who was accompanying them and why could they not move on. Immediately engrossed, Gaynor sat there slack-jawed watching the planchette whizz around the board, spewing profanities at the participants. A clearly disgruntled member of the afterlife had no want for the team and their film crew to be there. Gaynor's young mind raced. What if she could do the same? What if she could call on the dead and set some records straight?

The End

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