THOMAS IS A SURVIVOR!
As a boy, he was left for dead, abandoned by his protector.
20 years later, a late-night caller forces Thomas to venture back to the dark places – back to the Isle of Skye. There, shocking truths emerge about his abusive upbringing, leaving Thomas unable to distinguish fantasy from reality.
Pushed to the brink, vengeful and enraged, he will finally have his day with the sadistic man who still haunts his dreams.
In a dramatic showdown, it must end. But with his sanity hanging in the balance, will Thomas finally emerge victorious? – ‘IT’S TIME!’
Targeted Age Group:: 20-80
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
A recent trip to the Isle of Skye was what inspired me to write this book.
It is a dramatic and mysterious island. When I came home, I realized it had left a lasting impression with me.
To write a book has been a lifelong dream of mine so I am thrilled this has now come to fruition.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters just evolved as I began the writing process. The main character Thomas is a very complex character and throughout the story you find out new things about him – his mental health struggles and the difficulties he experienced as a child growing up as he was subjected to abuse at the hands of his domineering father. The growth of the characters is central to the storyline of the book.
February 12th 2018
An unexpected ring of the bell. That’s what jolted me awake from my slumber that night. It had been bitterly cold that day, the day that my life changed forevermore – the kind of cold that penetrates your skin and bones and is unshakeable even as you curl up into a foetal position in the wee hours of the night. It gnaws at your stomach and no amount of food will be sustenance enough to tame the icy cold fingers sending shockwaves throughout the entire body.
Perhaps that ice-cold, all-consuming feeling should have woken me even before the ring of the bell. The feeling that I had admitted to myself was not only a result of the cold but also had its origins in a long-forgotten memory, something I had hidden in the deep recesses of my subconscious.
I figured that if I kept the memory hidden for long enough it would cease to exist. I didn’t need months of therapy, all I needed was to find a little hiding place in my mind, a compartment to store this particular ill away and there we go, gone! In theory, a brilliant idea, but, of course, fatally flawed. Flawed, because everyone knows even those carefully compartmentalized boxes have a way of un-raveling. Not just un-raveling but creating a domino effect. As one box opens there’s a crescendo effect and like a set of dominos when that first box opens all the other boxes open, their sides torn apart, falling just like a set of dominos at an ever-increasing speed until I can’t take it anymore. I am becoming undone; I am having to face a reality I tried so hard to resist but it is my reality and it is my truth and the ring of the bell at 2 a.m. on that frosty February morning has finally made me face up to it.
His face should be strange to me. But of course, it’s not. He doesn’t fit into this façade I’ve created here to fit in and normalize myself. I have spun a very intricate web of lies and deceit. With the glossy exterior of tailored clothing, just the right car sat on the driveway, and very satisfying bank balance, I had fooled myself (and everyone else) into thinking this was me. But he knows who I am and where I’ve came from. He can see the pile of dominos laid out before me on the icy path. We need no introduction. Yes, he hasn’t seen me since I was a boy but without a single word passing between us, he looks me in the eye, and he knows.
He doesn’t look like a vagrant or someone you would necessarily cross the street to avoid (although I very much felt at that moment I’d love to bolt across the street). He did, however, have an un-nerving, knowing look which penetrated beyond the subtle aspect. He was communicating with me though his stare without a spoken word. He knew my truth and there was no escaping from this. Although I willed beyond anything to remove myself from this frozen nightmare, there was no movement to be had. My legs and feet betrayed me; they were frozen, motionless. They told my conscious mind you must stay here and listen, just stay put!
We both stood there, unsure who should start the conversation first. There was so much to be said but how do you form the words? How do you put sound and form to something which has lain dormant for so many years? Once the words are spoken there is no way back. This mask I have hidden behind will crumble.
How do I contemplate the enormity of de-masking myself, of being laid bare? I not only risk exposing myself but there’s Janey and Michael to think of. They only know the masked version of me, the one I have carefully cultivated over the years.
In singing my solemn song, my truth, my life, and that of my family, will be set on a new trajectory. Right there at 2 a.m. on that Sunday morning I had a choice to make. Do I close the door and hope and pray that I can somehow shut the Pandora’s box? Or do I form the words which in some distant part of my soul feel as though they’re already forming on my tongue?
“Hello George, it’s been a long time.”
There, the words are out there before thought or process interject. I have acknowledged his presence before me and there is no going back now. I have started the conversation and the door will remain open. He acknowledges simply with “Thomas.”
He doesn’t need to add “you know why I’m here.” Without any spoken word we both know why he’s here. He says it anyway …
Of course it’s time. I had been waiting for this moment. Subconsciously waiting. Waiting on this ring of the bell for him to tell me ‘it’s time.’
“It’s time.” Two words; two simple words but profoundly powerful. I knew exactly what ‘it’s time’ for. It’s time to go back. To go back to the place of my boyhood, to face up to the dark places. Had I not (almost) mastered the art of illusion, I would have realized the date. Not just the date February 12th but the significance of the timeframe, February 12th 2018, some 20 years since that fateful day.
To the onlooker I am Thomas, a 34-year-old man. Well thought of locally; well-presented and affluent; the epitome of normality. In all honesty I was someone who was to be respected and looked up to. Many co-workers aspired to be like me so tangled and expertly woven was the web I’d weaved. There was not a crack to be seen in the picture-perfect façade; even down to the beautiful wife I had chosen and of course the naturally gifted and handsome son I’d fathered.
Not until that day. This was distinctly out of character. A strange visitor in the middle of the night. However, there was no on-looker and, had there been, he wouldn’t have understood the scene for what it was. Yes, I stood there, but only in form for I wasn’t there, I had been transported back to February 12th 1998.
A tidal wave of emotions overcame me and no longer was I self-assured 34-year-old Thomas. I was a 14-year-old boy lost in time and space dealing with a situation, its magnitude way too huge to comprehend.
I barely registered the hand pressing on my shoulder. In some distant place I heard my name being called. I was still lost in thought, but the sound of my name was becoming more urgent, piercing the black.
My eyes opened and took in the scene. There was no figure before me. He had disappeared. All I could see was my frozen garden; it was breathtakingly beautiful this frozen scene. However, the cold cut through my throat and lungs and rendered me speechless.
“Thomas; Thomas, are you OK?”
Janey was calling my name, not George, her voice full of tenderness and concern. Still I was unable to respond but I turned around and gradually I began to pull myself back to present day.
She was speaking very quickly, too quickly for me to understand and form any kind of response.
Why was I at the door in the middle of the night in the freezing cold?
When was I coming back to bed?
I remained silent and eventually she took in the scene; how ridged my body was and how utterly lost I looked when she made eye contact. She simply embraced me, and I could feel myself going limp in her arms. I wanted to sob and stay held like this forever. A small urgent part of me told me to pull myself together; not to let Janey know. This feeling grew and I was able to regain some form of composure.
I needed a cover-story to explain the state she found me in and this, I discovered, rolled easily off the tongue. “I’m so sorry to have woken you, I heard a noise outside and thought we might have an intruder. I went to investigate but thankfully there was no-one there. It gave me a fright and I’m sorry to have alarmed you.” She guided me inside, away from the frozen scene.
Everything seemed so absolutely normal inside the confines of my house. I began to wonder if I had imagined the whole thing.
“Let’s go back to bed, sweetheart,” she said, her words again barely registering as I flitted between the two scenes.
I dutifully followed her upstairs and we made our way to bed. She lay curled up beside me, holding me close, her body so warm it should’ve melted the icy cold feeling which enveloped me, but it didn’t.
There was no sleep to be had that night. My beautiful wife lay cocooned in a cozy blanket of sleep, her breathing not fitful. It was the contented breathing of someone in deep sleep. It hit me right at that moment seeing how perfect she was, would I ever sleep like that again?
As I lay awake in the gloom, I pondered the scene again. Did I actually see George, or had I imagined it? Janey saw no one when she met me at the door. However, those two words still rang very loudly in my ears: ‘it’s time.’
Whether George was there or not was really of no consequence – my demons had finally caught up with me and I knew I had to decide where to go from here.
Monday morning rolled around as it would do any other Monday morning. My world had spun upside down on its axis, yet Monday morning still arrived. Dawn broke but the sun barely penetrated the low cloud in the sky. Without the aid of the sun the frost would permeate every object it encountered. I could almost feel the icy tendrils seeping through my windowpane.
Somehow, I need to muster the strength to get out of bed and go about my day. Janey and Michael can’t know anything has changed. I watch as Janey lazily stretches out and gathers herself in the darkness. I know no matter the outcome of events I will always love this woman. The question in my mind is whether she will still love me if she knows all about my past. I cannot ruminate on this for her eyes are opening. Straight away she is concerned, wondering if I managed to get to sleep after the events of the night.
I lie and tell her yes, eventually I had drifted off. Why not, lies have become second nature to me over the years. The deck of cards I have built my life on are based on the very shaky foundations of lies and deceit.
I hear Michael’s alarm go off. I reassure myself – I have done a good job in raising Michael. He is a very happy, well-adjusted kid and it occurs to me that he is the very same age as I was on that fateful day when everything changed – 14 years old.
What I wouldn’t give to turn the clock back and start things over. Michael has only the normal worries any 14-year-old boy should have to contend with – friends, girlfriends, and getting enough money to keep up with his various hobbies. His friendship circle is as wide as his variety of hobbies. I can’t keep up but love to hear all about his life.
He is an open child and it’s one of the qualities I love most about him. Clearly, he’s snoozed the alarm as the wailing noise has stopped. Another thing I love about him, his laid-back nature and attitude towards life! Nothing is rushed with Michael, ‘it all happens in its own good time’, he often tells me. Wise words from a mere 14-year-old.
There is no time now to seriously consider anything as Monday morning takes form and I get pulled along – an unwilling participant in the day already mapped out before me. Perhaps I can lose myself in the daily tasks and there will be no time to concern myself with anything else.
Janey is already in full work mode, hastily showering and choosing her outfit. She doesn’t stop for breakfast, just gives me a quick embrace and kiss and she’s off, taking Michael with her. She is so passionate about her job as an editor at the local paper. Her passion has gained the respect of her peers and the local community who are all avid readers.
We met at University. She had an easy, effortlessly cool nature about her which drew you in. I didn’t go looking for love and certainly didn’t see it coming my way.
Ours wasn’t the instant love that you so often see portrayed in films. Rather, it was one that grew and evolved over the years (as we grew). I was very serious and a large part of this was attributed to what I went through. But she had such a calming influence on me, so much so that I could often forget about events of the past.
On paper we shouldn’t have worked. She was a free spirit wanting to change the world through the written word and I, a serious, brooding individual lost in the world of finance. But we worked, we just worked.
We had no ambition to have a huge family. I had followed in my parents’ footsteps having Michael at a young age. We knew we wanted a child. We knew when Michael came along (albeit we were very young), what a blessing he would be and how loved he would be. How could we possibly share this amount of love on more than one child? No, our efforts went into doing the best we possibly could in raising Michael and climbing our respective career ladders.
I still lived in Scotland, quite a distance away from where I had been brought up and quite a different landscape from that of my childhood. I had to leave the area I was born and raised in, but somehow I still couldn’t leave the country of my heritage.
I love the different changing seasons which come to pass in
Scotland; the way you know you are constantly shifting between one and the next. It can be stark and bleak with driving rain and within the next few minutes, open blue endless sky with the landscape continuously unfolding out before you.
This sense of space allows me to breath and make me think perhaps anything is possible. We live in the Scottish Borders, the most southerly part of Scotland. It is a beautiful area with low-lying hills surrounded by small towns and villages. It is often described as the forgotten Borders with tourists more likely to flock to the Highlands and Islands or the historic capital city of Edinburgh. I think this is why I chose to settle here; I can remain in my beloved Scotland but still retain a sense of anonymity. Add to that, people are easy going and don’t pry into your affairs.
This was not the case growing up. Community was everything. I was born and raised on a croft in Dunvegan, a small village on the Isle of Skye. You became intimately involved in each other’s affairs and not wholly through choice, partly through necessity. Without everyone looking out for one another, it wouldn’t have been possible to thrive. You formed friendships and allegiances which were there to stand the test of time. This was true for my parents (to help with the survival of the croft) and for myself. Communities were small and neighbors could be spaced far apart so you cultivated that relationship with the boy you played with from next door.
Mother did her best, but she had her hands full running the croft and always trying to please the master of the house. Father, I am no longer in contact with and ours was a difficult relationship. He had a presence about him. You knew when he had entered a room. Normally, there was no visible bruising to mother’s face (he was too clever for that), but she suffered greatly at his hands. She took the brunt of his sharp tongue, always trying to send us kids outside to tend to this or that whilst she was left to his mercy.
Memories of this time are starting to seep through to my
conscious mind. I am at the edge of a precipice peering down, unsure whether I should start the decent or fix myself to the spot and stand firm. A ringing noise stirs me from my reverie, and I realize I am sat at my desk at work and the caller is a very insistent one. I answer the call and make the switch, my mask firmly back in place, back to my well-rehearsed act of confident, self-assured Thomas.
I manage to keep things in place for the most part throughout the day until I turn the lock in the door and enter the house. It is unusually quiet. Janey and Michael aren’t at home. Then something tells me of course, Michael has football practice and Janey will be there showing support. I bend down to collect the mail and make my way through to the kitchen. Just the usual bills, nothing worth even opening so I place them on the counter and notice something has dropped to the floor, something I must’ve missed under the pile of bills. A postcard. Strange. Do I know of anyone on holiday right now? And who even sends postcards these days?
I take in the scene and, as I do, I can feel my heart beating out of my chest; the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end and my palms are sweating. It’s a postcard depicting various beauty spots on the Isle of Skye. We have the Old Man of Storr; the Fairy Pools; Dunvegan Castle & Neist Point Lighthouse. I turn it over and there are only four words: ‘Wish you were here.’
Thankfully, I am on my own because there’d be no chance of me being able to conceal the look of fear in my eyes. I lose the ability to stay erect and slump in the nearest chair. I force myself to take deep breaths to slow my heart rate. At first it seems futile but eventually this pays off and I have regained enough composure to try to engage my brain into action. I lift the postcard up again and turn it over. What else can I learn from this? Of course! There is no postmark, this postcard hasn’t come from Skye, it’s been hand delivered. So last night I hadn’t imagined seeing George, he was there, and he has hand-delivered this postcard to me.
I have lost track of time as I sit there staring at my unwanted delivery. It feels as though the initial thoughts I had about whether I wanted to choose to delve into my past and revisit what happened were being snatched away. There was no choice here. George had seen to that. He was forcing me into action. Simply burying my head in the sand was not an option.
I hear the crunch of gravel on the driveway, and it stirs me into action. I hastily shove the postcard into my trouser pocket and ready myself to greet Janey and Michael.
My two favorite people in the world manage to lift my mood somewhat. I get walked through the highlights of Michael’s game where he (naturally) excelled, making great passes at opportune moments, and of course scored the penultimate goal in the last five minutes of the game.
“Dad, after the game the coach asked to see me. He thinks I should be trying out for Edinburgh United Junior team!”
“He said, ‘it’s time’, Dad!”
I couldn’t let the force of those words impact on the reaction my only son was waiting for. I congratulated him and told him how proud I was whilst those two haunting words rang in my ears – ‘It’s time …’
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