The Moovelous Invention

By Iris Carden, Kiara Blake,  Xavier Blake and Allison Blake.

They were riding in the car when Mum said: "Look at the price of petrol. It's dearer than milk."

Kiara and Xavier looked at each other.

"I've got an idea!" Xavier said excitedly.

"Me too!" Said Kiara, "It's a most moovelous idea."

When they got home, Kiara and Xavier collected up some cardboard boxes, and tubes and glue and colouring pencils and all kinds of other craft things.  They went into the garage and started working.

After a while Xavier ran upstairs and came back with a bottle of milk.

They did some more work, and then had a rest while they waited for the glue on their invention to dry.

A little while later, they got into their invention, did up their seatbelts, and drove out of the garage.

"What is that?" asked Dad, who had just got home from work.

"It's our moovelous car!" Xavier said.

"Do you want to go for a ride?" Kiara asked.

Kiara's Moovelous Car.


Dad called Mum and they both got into the back seat.

The children drove their moovelous car all around the neighbourhood.

"It certainly is a marvelous car," Dad said.

"No," said Xavier, "it's a moovelous car."

"Yes," said Kiara, "it uses milk instead of petrol."

Everywhere the family went in their moovelous car, people wanted to know all about it.  And they all wanted to have one.

The television news filmed their car and everyone in Australia saw it.

Then even more people wanted to have one.

Kiara and Xavier put a sign on the front of the garage: The Moovelous Moving Things Company.

They made all kinds of moovelous vehicles.  They made great big moovelous trucks that ran on chocolate thickshakes.  They made moovelous buses that ran on caramel milkshakes. They made moovelous racing cars that ran on double-shot iced coffees. They made moovelous motor bikes that ran on strawberry milk.  And they made moovelous family cars that ran on vanilla milkshakes.

Xavier's Moovelous Motorbike


One of the best things about moovelous moving things was that instead of smelly petrol exhaust, they gave off flavoured milk foam, a bit like babycinno foam.

Kiara had the idea of adding straws to windscreen wipers so people could drink any exhaust from other cars that landed on their windscreens.

Soon, everyone in Australia was using mooveloous moving things.  No-one bought petrol any more. The petrol stations were all replaced by milk bars. The air around busy roads smelled yummy, and dairy farmers always had someone to buy their milk.

And Kiara and Xavier? Well they were collecting boxes and glue and things, thinking of the next great invention they could make.

Mary and the Mayor

by Iris Carden

Mary Lamb had a pet. It was a pet hippopotamus. In fact, it was a pink pet hippopotamus. The pink pet hippopotamus was named Gertrude.

Mary and Gertrude were inseparable.  Everywhere that Mary went, Gertrude went.

One day, Gertrude followed Mary to school. The teacher was very angry. She said: "Mary, you must write out a hundred times, 'I will not bring a hippopotamus to school.' "

"Oh, wee bum poo," said Mary.

Then she had to write out a hundred times, "I will not use bad words at school."

From then on, when Mary went to school, Gertrude stayed home and wallowed in a lake that was conveniently placed in Mary's back yard.

One Saturday, Mary decided to take Gertrude to the museum.  "There's all kinds of interesting things to see at the museum," she said.

Mary and Gertrude walked to the bus stop, and waited for the museum bus.

The bus stopped, and the door opened. Mary and Gertrude started through the door.

"Stop," said the bus driver. "You can't bring a hippopotamus on the bus."

"But she has a go card," Mary said.

"The rules say you can't bring a hippopotamus on the bus," said the driver.

"That's a silly rule," said Mary.  "Who would make a rule like that?"

"Well, it's a city council bus," said the driver, "so I guess the Mayor makes the rules."

Mary and Gertrude decided to go and see the Mayor.

They went to the town hall by taxi, because Gertrude couldn't go on the bus.

There was a big fuss at the town hall. Kidnappers were taking the Mayor.

"Stop!" said Mary. "I've got a hippopotamus and I'm not afraid to use it!"

"What's a hippopotamus going to do?" asked one of the kidnappers.

Mary whispered to Gertrude.  Gertrude walked over and stood on the kidnapper's foot. The kidnapper said: "Ow, my foot!" He let go of the Mayor.

Then Gertrude stepped on the other kidnapper's foot, and he let go of the Mayor, too.

Mary and Gertrude made the kidnappers write out a hundred times: "We will not kidnap the Mayor."

"Now, go away and don't come back," Mary said to the kidnappers.

Obediently, the two kidnappers limped away.

The Mayor was so grateful to Mary and Gertrude for saving him, that he changed the rules. Instead of "no hippopotamuses on the bus", the rule is now "Pink hippopotamuses named Gertrude can ride on the bus any time they want."


Review: Strange Way Out by Troy Blackford

Review by Iris Carden

Sammy's day begins in a manner that would seem strange for most people, but it's only once he's arrested that his day becomes truly weird by his own standards.

After an explosive jail-break, a mad chase by chainsaw-wielding maniacs, and meeting a beautiful girl,  Sammy is running for his life and still doesn't know why.

Troy Blackford adds more and more pressure on both his protagonist and his reader, as one improbable and confusing event after another ultimately leads up to.....  well, I'm not going to tell you that.

It's a good story. You should read it.



The Time of Blood and Death

by Iris Carden

What if the prosecutor's right? Not about me being a cold-blooded killer, but about me being sane?

I understand why my defence, and the psychiatrist, say I'm insane.  "Not guilty by reason of insanity," is what they said. And I hope they're right.

There's only two options here.  Either it was all hallucination and I'm totally off my rocker, or the  killers are still out there.

I'm dismissing the prosecution's option that I'm a cold-blooded killer, which I'm sure is an option that will seem reasonable to the jury, because I was there. Unlike the jury, I was living inside my head, or in the real world, whichever it was.

Those being the two options, I hope the defence is right.  I hope I'm nuttier than my mother's Christmas cake.

So now, the jury's out, and the judge has only given them two options to consider, either the prosecution is right and I'm a murderer, or the defence is right and I should be locked in an asylum. Either of those choices mean I'm going to be locked up for the rest of my life, so it doesn't really matter which one they come back with.  The option the judge didn't give them to consider was that I'm perfectly sane and everything I said was true, not true in the post-modern sense that it's true in my personal reality, but true in that it objectively happened.

As an academic, I can look at this situation logically, and say that if I were on the jury, I'd say the defence was right.  I'm a homicidal lunatic. I should be kept locked away somewhere I can be kept sedated and never get acquire a sharp implement again.

An academic! Who knew specialising in religious studies could get anyone into a situation like this?

It all began so simply.  Kevin, a student of mine, had been bushwalking.  He left the path to relieve himself, and by accident found what looked like a ritual site. He'd had taken some photos to show me. It was a crude altar made of gathered stones. There were some stains on the stones that could have been anything, although the student was convinced it was blood. The ground around the altar had been very well trampled. Carved crudely into trees around the altar and compressed ground were symbols: in inverted cross, an inverted pentacle, a snake, a sword, and what may have been a ram's or bull's head. I wasn't sure of the last one.  I'm still not sure, but it had horns.

To me it looked like  a do-it-yourselfer.  It's part of the post-modern religious movement.  People, either individuals or groups, take bits from different religions, from culture, and even things they've read in fiction, and combine it into something of their own creation which they then believe means something. It's how we come to have "Christians" whose faith is more about conservative politics than anything to do with Christ.

I got directions, and said I'd take a look at the site.  A new religious group in the area was at least mildly interesting.

At the time, I didn't associate that conversation with the student to one I had with a colleague in the staff lunch room.  John's a mathematician, and considers himself a realist.  To him, a realist is someone who will only believe what can be measured, and fully explained. He's a friend, as long as we avoid talking about my field of study.

John was reading the paper that day when I entered the lunch room. He passed it to me and pointed to the headline: "Third child reported missing."

"Three kids missing in one week," John said. "It's a wonder the police don't come and ask you about the cults and hoodoos you study."

I poured my coffee and sat down at the table opposite him.  "Most religions," I explained, "involve accountability to some form of deity, or some other means to apply ethical limits on people.  Even those which don't worship a deity have concepts similar to 'do to others what you would have them do to you'. I don't think kidnapping children comes under any faith's ethical standards."

"What about Satanists and Witches."

"Witches, in our era of history, tends to mean Wiccans.  They're a benign nature-loving religion, and they don't steal people's children, or even build ginger-bread houses to lure children away from home.  Satanists tend to be people who are playing with religion, trying to shock, but not really as bad as they think they are.  More serious Satanists have an ethical system, because they claim it is God who is the bad guy and Satan was the good guy who just suffered from bad press. They don't take children, either."

"How about child sacrifice?"

"Historically, there have been religions that have practised human sacrifice, but to my knowledge there
are none currently operating in the world at all, or in Brisbane specifically."

John had grunted and changed the subject.  And I forgot about the conversation, until later.

After my last lecture of the day, I'd taken myself on a "field trip", and followed Kevin's direction. I drove to Mount Glorious, and stopped at the walking track Kevin had nominated.

Just past a fallen log that had been cut into steps to clear the path, I turned left, off the marked path and worked my way through the forest.  It was the way Kevin had come, and I was able to follow some signs of disturbed and damaged undergrowth where he had walked.  There was no sign anyone else had come that way. In fact, when I got to the site, I found no sign of any path used regularly by people.  At the site itself, however, the earth was hard-packed and had been walked over by many feet, over a long time.

The site was as it had appeared in the photographs, but in real life, it was possible to see why Kevin had believed it was blood on the altar.  There was a smell to it, like something dead.  Animal sacrifice? I hadn't actually encountered any religions using animal sacrifice currently.  I had to admit I was interested.

There was an illusion of antiquity about the whole scene. The rocks forming the altar seemed to have weathered in place.  That had to be an illusion of course, the history of non-indigenous people in Australia was very short, and it clearly wasn't an indigenous site. The symbols carved on the trees had a European heritage. Those carvings showed signs of having scarred over and being re-carved endless times.  It all seemed so much more ancient than it could possibly be.

Australia's an ancient place. Religions and ritual have been practised for sixty thousand years at least.  But until the 1700s, those rituals didn't involve inverted crosses, inverted pentagrams, swords or symbols of horned animals. I'd never heard of indigenous people building altars either. But solid rock doesn't start to turn to dust in under 300 years, especially if it is protected from wind, and isn't being washed in moving water.

The whole site made no sense. In the forest all around it was life and noise, birds, lizards, insects and small mammals were about their daily business.  In the site itself, between the marked trees, was absolute silence, and no movement except my own.

I wrote notes, drew a map, took measurements and photographs.  I did everything I could to document the site.  All my notes and photos are now in evidence.  They're proof of my insanity, because the site doesn't exist, or at least no-one has been able to find it. All anyone found was the path I'd turned off to get there, the tree across the path with the steps cut through it for access, and the bodies. Kevin can't be called to give evidence, because Kevin is dead.

I took all my notes, and photos, and my research.  When books and the internet failed me, I asked my friends and contacts in any number of faiths, to ascertain if anyone had ever encountered anything like this.  No-one had ever seen or heard of a religion that had ritual sites that looked like.

Many of them had things to talk about though. Five churches, the local mosque and a Buddhist temple had all been vandalised, "tagged" with graffiti, which had strange messages.  The graffito proclaimed: "He rises from the serpent's pit", and "Your end has come" and "The time of blood and death is here".  It was someone's sick idea of a joke, of course. They were trying to quote Revelation without actually knowing what Revelation said, or that was the popular theory.

I shared my notes with my students, and we talked around theories and possibilities. It was Kevin who came up with the suggestion, and it hadn't seemed such a terrible idea at the time.  A long weekend was coming, what about camping in the area and keeping an eye on the site?  A couple of nights in the bush, waiting to see a religious group which may or may not show up doesn't appeal to everyone. Some students baulked at the at camping outside a designated campsite, in a place where the rangers didn't even allow leaving the constructed path. But I had three student volunteers, which is how Kevin, Mary, Adam and I came to be in the forest that Friday night.

We were not far from the site, but were fairly sure we couldn't be seen.  The forest is thick, and no-one would be expecting us to be watching. Our "camp" was the most basic possible.  We each had a sleeping bag, with the intent we'd take turns sleeping, and we each had non-perishable food in a backpack.  There was nothing more. There was no means to cook, no tent, nothing to make our long wait particularly comfortable.

About 7pm, it was dark, but not completely black. Kevin tapped my arm and pointed toward the ritual site.  There was some light there.  We each moved closer, as quietly as we could move through the underbrush, hoping that any sound we made might be attributed to possums or other wildlife.

From my closer position, I was able to see the ritual space was lit by numerous candles.  I hadn't noticed any traces of candlewax on my earlier visit, so these worshippers must have been very careful to clean up after themselves thoroughly.  There were thirteen adults, all wearing dark clothes.  I guessed they were adults by size.  In the night, with only candlelight, it was impossible to see much more detail than that.  Noticing a slight noise and movement to the left, I saw what looked like a child of about five or six sleeping on a blanket.  It made me think of a family who attended the church I went to, who always brought a rug for their youngest child to have a nap on the floor during the service.

One of the worshippers stood beside the altar, while the others made a circle around him. (I say "him" because of the person's voice.) This leader called out: "The time of blood and death is here."

The others all responded: "Bring on the time of blood and death."

The leader said: "He rises from the serpent's pit."

The others responded: "We welcome him as he comes to bring the end."

I was still watching basically with academic detachment, although I did notice Mary move slightly, and Kevin put a hand on her shoulder to remind her to stay where she was.

Detachment, academic or otherwise, was about to end.

One of the group picked up the child and placed it on the altar.  The child moaned slightly but barely moved.  I now suspect she was drugged. "Blood and death!" the leader yelled, raising a sword.

That's when my detachment, and the students' fell apart.

Mary moved first, yelling something I couldn't make out, as she went.  The two boys were right behind her. I'm a bit older and slower, but I really wasn't far behind. I can't tell you now how any of us could have thought this would work out well for us. We were outnumbered, and at least one of them had a sword.

Mary made it to the altar as the sword slashed through the child. The leader in one move pulled the sword from the child's abdomen, and spun towards Mary, slicing through her throat.

Adam and Kevin were barely into the light when they were caught and held by others of the group. Following them, I was caught like them.

Adam was dragged to the leader who slashed his throat, as he had done Mary's, and then Kevin was dragged over as well.

As Kevin fell, there was a sudden cracking sound, as if a large branch had broken from a gum tree. Instead of something falling from above, what happened was at ground level.  The altar split in half, and a large thing seemed to climb up out of the ground.

"He rises from the serpent's pit!" one of the group called out.  They all stopped what they were doing. The leader dropped his sword. The people holding me, threw me on top of my students' bodies, but left me alive.

There were cries of "Blood and death!"  and "The end!"

The thing emerging from the ground seemed to be a giant shadow, a dark beast larger than anything I'd seen, with horns.  The worshippers were transfixed, watching this and calling out their devotions.

I very quietly crawled away.  Once out of the light, I made my way as quickly as I could back to the path and then ran towards the road.  Part-way I met a ranger walking down the path.  In something between sobbing and hysterical screaming, I told him my story.

He took me back to his four wheel drive and called for help. The rest of the night is a blur of sirens and flashing lights and people in uniforms.

Police and rangers found my students and the little girl - the fourth child to have gone missing in Brisbane in a number of weeks.  The bodies, with the sword, were strewn over the path next to the cut log we'd used as our landmark.

They didn't find any religious ritual place, any altar, any sign of other people, any strange marks on trees, any worshippers or any strange beast.

All they found was blood and death.  And they found me, covered in my students' blood.

So now I wait for a jury to decide where I will be locked up for the rest of my life.  And I hope, desperately hope, that I am insane.

Monday, Monday

by Iris Carden

It was the kind of day where you could find out from a Facebook status update that the man you'd been planning your wedding with last night was now back in a relationship with his ex-girlfriend.

That's what happened to Sarah on her first day of unemployment.

"Only on a Monday," Sarah moaned as she unfriended both of them.

She looked at her phone, at the message he'd sent while she slept, only hours before the Facebook status update, telling her how much he loved her.

"I love you too," she said sadly. What she typed was, "Congratulations on your new relationship. Don't ever contact me again."

The ex should have stayed under whatever rock it was she'd crawled under years ago, and not just emerged last week to destroy Sarah's life.

Alone and jobless.

What had been wrong with her being happy?  She demanded God tell her why this should happen to her, but God didn't answer.

Life, it seemed, hated her. Life, or was it Monday?

Was 6am too early to drink? On a Monday like this, surely not. But she would not do that. She would eat her breakfast, take something for the headache that was bearing down on her and go back to bed.

She ate, mechanically, not enjoying her food.

Then she got the pills. All of them. She had been very sick. And the pills were still there. It seemed to take for ever to swallow all of them. But what else did she have to do with that Monday? So she took the time, and she took the pills.

Then she went back to bed, and waited for it all to be over.

Life Support

by Iris Carden


She woke slowly.  The pain at the back of her head was black, overwhelming, drawing her in, like a black hole pulling everything into itself.

"Open your eyes", she commanded herself.  She tried to obey her own demand.  Slowly she opened her eyes. Stark, white light burned its way from her retinas through to the black hole at the back of her head.

She closed her eyes again.

Where was she. She could smell hospital - the strange smell of disinfectants and medication.  It was a sterile plastic smell. There was a hum of some kind of machinery, a bip-bip-bip that could have been a heart monitor, a woosh, woosh that must be some sort of pump.

She wanted to rub her sore eyes, but her hands were stuck where they were, about 45 degrees from her body on either side.  She tried to pull at them. Her wrists were somehow restrained, they would not move. The restraints weren't tight, but they were secure. She was effectively trapped.

Was there anyone else around?  She wanted to call out, but there was something in her mouth, something she couldn't move. She was aware of something in her nose as well - and lots of something sticky holding this in place.

She slowly opened her eyes part-way, not to let in so much light, just a bit.

Definitely in a hospital room.  There seemed to be tubes attached to her every orifice, and some that had been attached in places the orifices had to have been created.

How long had she been here?  Had she had surgery? Had she lost the baby? Why couldn't she remember?

She so wanted to touch her belly, to feel where her son was growing.  Why must her hands be restrained?

"You're awake?" It seemed more a question than a statement. The quiet voice came from somewhere outside of her field of view.

In a moment, a young woman wearing pink surgical scrubs appeared and was looking down at her.

"Mrs Thompson? Mary? You're really awake?"

Mary tried to answer, but couldn't because her mouth was uncomfortably clogged.

"You've got a tube in your throat.  We'll have that out as soon as a doctor approves it."

Mary tried to move her hands, to show that she wanted her restraints removed.

"Your muscles have atrophied.  You haven't used them for a long time. It's OK, a physiotherapist will help you with that. You'll be able to move your arms and hands again, even walk again. It will take some work, but it will be OK."

How long could she have been here? What about her baby? She had been at 38 weeks, could she have been here so long he was due now?

"I'm just going to the other side of the room to phone the doctor," the nurse in the pink scrubs said.  "I won't be far away."

Mary struggled to hear the nurse's quiet voice becoming much quieter as she talked to someone else, somewhere out of sight.  She could not make out any words, just a sense of urgency. Was there something wrong? Had she lost the baby?

The nurse was back.  "Doctor says I can go ahead and take that tube out of your throat straight away. It's going to be a bit uncomfortable, I'm afraid.  Doctor Kayley will be here soon.  Oh, I'm Lisa, by the way. Just relax, this is going to be unpleasant."

"Unpleasant" and "uncomfortable" did not begin to describe the trauma Mary experienced, as it felt like the tube was being pulled from right inside her chest to the outside world.

Tears were running down her face by the time Lisa said, "That's it. Over now.  So sorry about that."  Lisa gently dabbed up the tears with a tissue.

Mary tried to speak, but what came out was a croak, her throat felt like it was being rubbed with coarse sandpaper.

Mary tried again. "Husband," she managed to rasp. She suddenly felt exhausted from the effort.

"I'll call your family as soon as Dr Kayley's seen you," Lisa said, smiling gently.

Mary tried to smile back. She wasn't sure she'd succeeded.  Even her facial muscles seemed incredibly unresponsive. Lisa would call Mark.  Mark would make everything right. Mark was the kind of man who always made everything right.  He was always so strong, so confident.

A tall, young, blonde woman in pink scrubs with a stethoscope hanging from her neck came into Mary's field of view.

"Hi Mary, I'm Sarah Kayley.  I'm the Registrar here in Intensive Care. Let's take a look at you."

The doctor shone lights in her eyes, listened to her chest, poked and prodded, and hit her joints with a small hammer-type device.

"I don't know what to tell you, Mary. You're a medical miracle.  I know you don't feel like it at the moment. You've been in a coma."

"Baby?" Mary croaked.

"The baby was fine.  He came through the delivery perfectly.  You were the one who had the problem. Your blood pressure went up out of control. You had a seizure, and you slipped into a coma.  You've been here in the ICU since then. It's OK. You're going to be fine now.  We're going to take care of you for a while, get you eating real food again, things like that, and then you can go to rehab."

Mary managed a very weak smile. She was exhausted, and found herself falling asleep.

When she opened her eyes again, the black hole at the back of her head was hurting a little less, and she found she could open her eyes a little more.

Two men were beside the bed.  They looked familiar.  One looked like Mark's father, and the other looked remarkably like Mark had done when they first met, in college.

The older man, gently put his hand over Mary's.  "I never gave up hope," he said, tears forming on his face and in his voice.  "Darling, I want you to meet David, our son."

Ding, Dong, Bell

by Iris Carden

Ding, dong, bell, pussy's in the well....

Glenda sat bolt upright. She was shaking and sweating. What had she been dreaming?  The well.... the well... from the little house they lived in on the mountain.

Pussy's in the well. She'd heard her older half-brother's voice.  That was never good.  He was older than her by enough that he'd been like an adult to her childhood. But in a childhood tormented with nightmares, he was the worst.

As an adult, she could rationalise that he was a psychopath, or was sociopath the current term.  He'd had all three indicators: lighting fires, torturing and killing animals, and sexually assaulting younger children. Of all the nightmares she'd lived, and suppressed, the ones about him were the ones that tortured her most when they returned.

It was 3am, and she did what the psych told her to do when the nightmares came back. She sat down and wrote about the memory in her journal.

Puss had been an orange ginger kitten.  It used to hide behind the fridge. Glenda had wished she could hide behind the fridge, too. No-one could get Puss where she hid. Puss ended up down the well in the back yard.


Ding, dong bell, pussy's in the well
Who put her in?


Glenda's big brother put her in. It was a lesson. He killed Puss, telling her that if she ever disobeyed him, he would put her in the well. He would put the wooden boards over the top and she wouldn't be able to get out, just like he'd done with Puss.

It was a rotten thing to be remembering in the early hours of the morning, but getting it down, remembering, was important. It was important to get it out of her nightmares, and be able to look at it as a reality.  She wasn't crazy, she'd been the victim of some terrible treatment, and her mind had tried to protect her from it.

Here she was, teasing at the edge of a memory, in the early hours of the morning. There was more. She could feel something at the back of her mind, Puss dying in the well was a part of a bigger memory, a worse nightmare.

Ding, dong bell, pussy's in the well
Who put her in?
Little Tommy Thin
Who pulled her out?
Little Tommy Stout.


Who pulled Puss out? No-one. But Bootsy appeared. Bootsy was an adult male, black-and-white cat. Mummy had told Glenda the wild little ginger kitten had grown up into the black and white cat. Glenda wasn't old enough for school yet, but even she knew girl ginger kittens didn't grow up into boy black and white cats. But Bootsy didn't hide behind the fridge. He became her friend, someone to share the traumas of life with.

Thirty years later, Mum still told the story of the wild ginger kitten who grew up into a black and white cat. She had retold the story so many times, she believed it was true.  But Mum had always been like that. All her stories were absolutely true, in her own mind. She imposed their truth on everyone around her. No matter how unbelievable the stories were, they were true, because Mum said they were true.

That well had been a source of horror for her as a small child. No wonder. It wasn't just the half-rotted timber cover, or Mum's constant warning to stay away from it because if she fell in she'd never get out.

It was an awful nightmare, but now she'd recognised the truth behind it, perhaps she could get to sleep. Except that it still felt unfinished... the rhyme was still going through her head.

Ding, dong, bell,
Tommy's in the well...


No that's wrong, Tommy wasn't in the well, it was Tommy in the rhyme to put pussy in the well and another Tommy to take her out.  There wasn't a Tommy in the well.

Ding, dong, bell,
Tommy's in the well....


Why did she keep getting the rhyme wrong in her head? And in her old nursery rhyme book, hadn't it been Johnny to put pussy in the well and another Johnny to get her out? So how does Tommy get to be in the story? She hadn't ever known any Tommy, had she?

Out of nowhere, another memory fragment pushed its way into her mind.

It was a visit from Grandma. Grandma was looking at a photo of a young baby asleep in a pram, and saying what a cute baby Glenda had been.  But Glenda could see looking at it that the photo was taken in the house on the mountain, the house with the well. Glenda had been two when they'd moved to that house, so she could not have been the new-born baby in the picture.

Her mind made a sudden connection between the photo and Tommy in the well. Had there been another baby? People had appeared and disappeared throughout her childhood. The baby could have been anyone, couldn't it? Although it was odd that Mum hadn't corrected Grandma and said, "Oh, no, that's a photo of so-and-so's baby."

Ding, dong, bell,
Tommy's in the well.
Who put him in?


No. It could not be. Mum would cover up her half-brother killing a cat, but a baby? It was unthinkable. There was a problem with recovered memory therapy wasn't there? That people imagined things that were later proved impossible? This was surely impossible. But so far, all the memories that had come back to her, all of the things that could be verified, had proved to be true.

Not this, surely not this. Surely it was just the realms of nightmare? Just a confusion between the rhyme, the nightmare, and the memory. It would take some work to clarify what was what.

It had been a strange thing, that house. Mum had sold houses that she had owned and lived in after that one, but she never sold the house with the well, and never rented it out or lived in it. Glenda had visited it as an adult - the yard was overgrown, the floorboards of the house rotting. It had been vandalised over the years. The wreck of a house had no longer looked scary. There was a mystery there - why Mum would not get rid of a house she wasn't going to live in.

Ding, dong, bell,
Tommy's in the well.


Was he? And who was he? If he was a baby, after all these years there would be no sign of him, so there was no point in calling the police with her crazy nightmare recollection.

Ding, dong, bell,
Tommy's in the well.


Glenda wondered if some of the memories were better left suppressed.