Thought this might wet the appetite for those looking forward to the new free book I have coming up. It is the first draft of Chapter 1.
This short book, currently called The Demon of Dunton Farm, which chronicles two events at the farm, will server as a bit of a prequel to The Demonic, my upcoming novel.
Ellie heard the axe cut heavily into the wood as she approached Thomas. The older boy, large and broad, was chopping to make kindling for her father. Being a farm-hand, it was one of the boy’s many tasks. She noted the look of concentration on his face, and his cotton shirt had grown damp with sweat. Still, he did not slow or pause.
Chop, chop, chop.
It was warm outside on the farm, with only a gentle breeze to help cool the hired workers. Though there were many people here on a daily basis, this farm was home to young Ellie Dunton.
‘Hello, Thomas,’ the little blonde girl said, skipping towards her friend. She had two, big slices of bread and butter in her hands. Thomas stopped his work and turned to her.
‘Morning, Miss. Ellie,’ he replied, with a big smile. ‘How are you today?’
‘Fine, thank you,’ she said, and sat on a large log close to where Thomas was working. She bit into one of the slices of bread and held the other towards him. ‘Want some?’ she asked, through a mouthful of food.
He looked at her, with a frown, then back to the main house.
‘I don’t know, Miss. Ellie,’ he said.
‘Don’t worry,’ she told him. ‘Father and mother have gone to the Johnston’s today. They won’t find out. Come,’ she went on, patting the space beside her, ‘sit.’
With no little reluctance, Thomas moved and sat beside her, his large frame dwarfing her. He had just turned eighteen and, though Ellie knew he was perhaps not as clever as most his age (and even younger), he looked much older. She smiled as he bit down into the bread. The first bite was timid, but then, as the taste of the generous butter must have hit, he began to gobble it down. She giggled.
Ellie knew immediately who had yelled over to them. The young, male voice was that of her brother; Andrew. She looked up and saw that he, and her older sister, Alice, were both walking over to them. She saw Thomas tense up.
‘It’s okay,’ she said to him, then turned to her approaching siblings. ‘What do you want?’
‘Why are you talking to him?’ Andrew said to her.
‘He’s my friend,’ Ellie said.
‘Well, he shouldn’t be,’ Andrew replied. He stopped before them with the eldest, Alice, beside them. Alice was twilling a lock of her hair around a finger.
‘Any why not?’ Ellie asked, planting her hands on her hips.
‘Cos, father wouldn’t like you mingling with the hired help.’
‘Don’t care,’ Ellie said. ‘He’s my friend, and that’s all there is to it.’
‘Well, maybe I’ll tell on you, then. Wonder what father will say when I tell him you’ve been feeding this idiot our bread?’
Thomas stared at the ground, not looking up.
‘He is not an idiot,’ Ellie said, jumping to her feet. She prodded Andrew in the chest. ‘And if you tell on me, then I’ll tell father that you have been stealing milk. I saw you do it, and he’ll believe me anyway. He always believes me.’
‘You’ll keep your mouth shut,’ Andrew said, and stepped closer to Ellie. She didn’t back down.
‘Oh stop it,’ Alice said, stepping between them. ‘Andrew, you won’t say anything, so stop teasing. But Ellie, you shouldn’t be giving Thomas bread like that. Workers are given set amounts. If people find out he has had more than his share, they won’t be happy.’
‘I’m sorry, Miss. Alice,’ Thomas said, still not looking up.
‘It’s okay, Thomas,’ she said. ‘Anyway, come on Andrew, it’s too hot our here, I want to go inside.’
Andrew huffed, but turned to walk away. ‘Fine. See you later Ellie,’ he said, with annoyance in his voice, before adding; ‘and see you too, idiot.’
‘You’re the idiot,’ Ellie shouted back, before sitting next to Thomas again. The large boy looked sad, and on the verge of tears.
‘Don’t listen to him,’ she told him, rubbing his large arm. ‘He’s just mean.’
‘He’s right, though.’
‘No, he isn’t.’
Thomas slowly got to his feet.
‘I have to go,’ he said.
‘I have work to do over in the mill,’ he answered, and looked over to the far end of the property boundary. Ellie followed his gaze to look at the tall, stone, corn mill. Circular and tall, it rose up out of the ground like a small tower, fatter at the base, thinning out towards the top.
‘Okay,’ she said, then noted another look on his face. It wasn’t just sadness, there was something else there too. ‘What is it?’ she asked him.
‘I don’t really like that mill,’ he said.
He shrugged. ‘You wouldn’t believe me.’
‘I would,’ she said, and stood up as well. ‘Tell me.’
Thomas shook his head. ‘It’s nothing. Just sometimes I swear I see…’ he trailed off.
‘What?’ she asked, pushing him on.
‘Nothing,’ he said, shaking his head. ‘I have to go Miss. Ellie, sorry if I got you in trouble.’
She watched the older boy trudge over to the stone mill, and dearly wanted to know what was troubling him about that place. For one, she classed him as a friend, even if she wasn’t supposed to, but there was more too it than that. The mill scared her too.
When playing near to it, she often heard voices inside when there should have been no one there. Voices, and a horrible cackling. Like a low, evil laugh.
And only last night, after waking from nightmare, she had looked out of her bedroom window and could have sworn she saw a shadowy figure standing outside of it.
Her brother, Andrew, once told her that mill was haunted. That many work-hands had died inside over the years. Alice said it was just a story, but Ellie had to wonder…
She hoped Thomas would be okay in there.