Seeing as I am a writer and this is my writers blog I figure it's about time that I publish a showcase of some of my work.
You can actually download the prologue and first 2 Chapters of this book from my official website: www.lmsteel.co.uk
This is Half of the Third Chapter to wet your appetite:
Chapter 3: The Hotel California
I hated the orphanage, at first I thought it would be cool to spend time living with other kids, other kids who were just like me, but everyone had a chip on their shoulder and no-one was your friend for free. When I first realised the rules of the children’s home I decided to be the way I had been at school, just keep my head down and get through each day as it came. This worked for a while, but after my ‘settling period’ it held no merit for me; if anything it made me an easier target. Once again I had no real friends, which meant the bullies could pick on me and no one would stand up for me, which they took advantage of. The worst of them was Seetah Hussain, an Asian girl about two years older than me. I much later learned that she had also been in care since birth; her mother had tried to kill her in the hospital just because she was a girl, something to do with their religion. That got me wondering about my real mum, as I learned from Martin and then by sneaking into the care homes office and reading documents, that she had dumped me in a stolen car. This was also when I learned why Sergeant Davidson was so nice to me, his involvement was filed in the report, and this was also when I learned my first given name, Lotus Ogden.
I would wonder why she had just left me behind, if it was something to do with her religion, if it was because I was a girl, or just because she didn’t love me. After a while it got to me so much that I had to block it out of my mind, but in the middle of the night it would come back to haunt me. I would dream that she would show up at the orphanage and say that she loved me and wanted to take me home and look after me and that she was sorry, that she hadn’t left me, that something terrible had happened that separated us and she had only just found where I was. Each day I prayed those dreams would come true, and each day I was let down. I came to the conclusion that God wouldn’t answer my prayers because of Martin. In the end I had no choice but to let it go, to get on with things, but that was a lot later on after I left the care home, finally.
The hardest thing I ever did was getting out of that place, now I call it ‘the Hotel California’ like the Eagles song; a beautiful children’s paradise on the outside, a maximum security prison of hell on the inside. I almost believed that’s where I was, that I hadn’t killed Martin, he had killed me, and now I was in hell, eternal misery that would never end. My life became all about strategies, continuous planning, techniques, secret hideouts, just like the great escape. Every day I came up with ways to get out, but at first I would always get chicken and say ‘Tomorrow, I’ll do it tomorrow.’ Things came to a crunch the day ‘Satan’ took over authority of the orphanage. Her real name was Ms Astin, and she was evil! I would have had Martin over her any day and I learned just how much the day Seetah did her worst on me.
The orphanage had its own school system, so we really never left the building; it was during last playtime, it was a sunny day, so we were allowed into the garden, it had a great big wire fence surrounding it, and really did feel like a prison ground. I was stood staring out the little hexagonal holes in the fence, dreaming of what it was like on the other side. Seetah and her little gang came over, and for no reason at all, started shouting names at me. I didn’t care, I had had a lot worse done to me than name calling. I just ignored them as I always did and carried on staring out into the world, knowing that there had to be something better than this. Suddenly I felt a blow across my right cheek, stinging like crazy and snapping me out of my daze, this was the first time I had ever been hit by anyone here, and it wouldn’t be the last. Seetah stood grinning at me with deep brown eyes, she looked like the Joker out of Batman, an evil grin with bright white teeth gleaming at me, and she chuckled just before another fist went into my nose knocking me to ground. Blood sprayed across my face, and I felt my back explode in pain from my right shoulder blade that continuously gave me trouble. All I heard was Seetah’s shrill, haunting voice commanding the others, ‘Get her.’ I quickly crouched myself into a ball huddled on the floor, something I had learned to do from when Martin attacked me, as half a dozen sets of feet beat down on my small body. This wasn’t the first time I had dealt with such playground activities, it had happened at my old school all the time, I just huddled and waited for them to get bored with it. They didn’t get bored however, they just kept kicking and kicking till the bell rang for the end of playtime, when they all ran off back into the building, leaving me lying on the concrete beaten so sore I couldn’t move, with blood pouring out of several different cuts that would soon add to my many scars. Sergeant Davidson had lied, everything wasn’t all right, quite far from it, I had certainly slipped into the seventh circle of hell, and Seetah was my guardian demon, there to punish me for Martin. I laid on the ground wrenching in agony for a good twenty minutes, till one of the tutors came out to see where I was; she was not sympathetic, she couldn’t care less what state I was in. She grabbed my right arm and yanked me up from the ground, I screamed, in true indescribable pain, as I felt my shoulder blade almost burn through my back. “Oh shut up, I barely touched you. It can’t hurt that much, you’re not even crying.” That’s because I never cried, I would never cry, that would give them what they wanted, to see me that vulnerable, but I wouldn’t let them, that was my only defence. She didn’t take me to the nurse, thank god, she was nasty always telling you that you were lying and it didn’t hurt. She took me to Ms Astin’s office, and after that meeting I wished she had taken me to the Nurse, any amount of iodine would have been better than this. She stood over me like a bird of prey, hunting and stalking me, setting me in her sights, readying her attack. She was a very tall woman, middle aged, short cut hair and square glasses, and she had a look on her face that could crack glass.
“Look at you, you pathetic little mess, no wonder they beat you up, you’re nothing.” She stood almost disgusted with my appearance as blood still ran from my nose, she walked around me as though she were sizing me up, seeing how she could take me, then she grabbed a clump of hair at the back of my head and wrenched me backwards so I was tilting on my heels. I tried to put my arm out to support myself on her chair, but it was my right arm and my shoulder blade couldn’t hold the pressure. I almost fell but just before I hit the floor she dragged me across the room and threw in to a cupboard, which was about as big as an adults sized wardrobe. “You should learn to defend yourself, or make some friends who’ll do it for you.” She slammed the door shut and I heard the key turn and lock. ‘How could she be so mean? I was bleeding and beaten, and she basically told me it was my fault. I wanted to scream, ‘let me out!’ but I stayed as silent as a mouse. I was petrified, I had always thought that grownups were nice, and it was the kids who were the bullies, I was so wrong. Ms Astin, Satan in disguise, come to get me because of Martin. I thought about confessing everything, just so they would take me to prison and away from here. It was while I was sat in that cupboard, all alone for six hours in the dark, that I realised I had no-one in the world. No-one was ever going to help me in any way, if I was going to survive in this hell hole, I would need to steal the power that Seetah had. I would stand up for myself instead of cowering in the corner with my hands over my head, I would make them see how bad I could become, how dangerous I really was.
The next day I awoke in my bed in the girl’s dorm, ‘Satan’ had let me out of her cage before she had gone home, and threatened that next time I interrupted her day she might forget where she had left me. This threat became reality many times in the year it took me to leave, but each time I heard the lock turn I would just close my eyes and go to my safe place. I didn’t yet know who the woman on the bridge that I struggled against the water to get to was, but I desperately tried to get to her. Each time I got close I would hear the lock turn again and it would be morning, and ‘Devil Woman’ would be standing there in the door way taunting me with her pouting lips and her tensed folded arms. That first morning, I climbed out of my bunk only to see Seetah standing there with that ‘Jokers’ grin, I so wanted to smack that look right off her face and into the next room, but it wasn’t time for that yet. She laughed at me as my small, thin body ached all over from my various bruises and the cramp I had got crouching in the cupboard. My shoulder was in agony, and I wondered if it was broken again, but I daren’t tell anyone, I’d end up back in ‘Satan’s’ office. I got on with my usual morning routine, get up, wash, brush teeth, eat, go to class, the same ritual every day, but today there would be a change, come lunch time, there would be an almighty change. I got through the morning uncomfortably, my face was so swollen, I could barely open my eyes enough to see the blackboard, I tried my hardest to remain obsolete from the rest of the class, not to draw any attention to myself. I had the whole thing planned, what was going to happen when, how I would get into position, but most importantly how I would get Seetah alone, and noon was when I would make my stand. Things went totally inside out, I was on my way to the girls toilets to wait for Seetah, she had to go in there at some point, I would wait, however long and get her when she least expected it. While walking down the corridor towards the door, planning my assault, one she would never forget, I heard someone call my name, it was a voice I knew, and any other time I would have been overjoyed to hear it, but not today, I didn’t have time for interruptions.
“Hey Baby driver, what you up to?” Sergeant Davidson came jogging down the corridor, and I tried to think of some way of hiding my disfigured face, but it was useless. He came around me with a bright smile on his face to greet me, he regularly came to see me, and I loved it when he came, but not today, with me looking like this, it would cause too much trouble. His smile turned sour immediately as he saw my battered face, “What the hell happened to you?” I just looked away, doing my best not to make eye contact, I didn’t want him to be disappointed in me, that I couldn’t defend myself, that I was a wimp who everyone could pick on. “Hey come here, look at me, who did this?” I looked into his eyes and saw his sweet caring deep brown eyes, as he put his arms on my shoulders to hug me, I wanted to burst into tears and beg him to take me home with him, but I couldn’t, I couldn’t cry. I had spent so long teaching and training myself not to cry, that I just couldn’t, it was like my eyes didn’t know how.
“I’m alright, it doesn’t hurt that much.” I didn’t know what else to say, so I put up my hard exterior, and pretended none of it mattered, that it didn’t bother me. ‘I tripped over in the playground’ that’s what I would tell him, ‘it was an accident.’ Before I could get any of these words out, he had picked me up and we were heading towards ‘Her’ office. ‘NO’ I didn’t want to go in there, she was horrible, she was worse than the kids, and a hell of a lot scarier, he couldn’t take me back to her. He burst into her office, he didn’t knock or anything, he just barged right in.
“What the hell kind of place is this?” He shouted before she was even able to acknowledge that we were there. At the sight of her disgusted pout, I clenched my hands on his shirt, and I began to pray in the back of my mind, ‘please don’t put me down, just keep holding me, don’t let me go.’ “Well? What the hell is going on here? How did she end up like this?”
“Excuse me, officer, who are you?” She was trying to be sophisticated and concerned, but she wasn’t fooling me, she wasn’t like this last night, she almost seemed nice to Sergeant Davidson, but I could see that look in her eyes, that disgusted, ‘You’re in big trouble now’ look. I held on to him so tightly, I thought I might draw blood, but I didn’t care, as long as he didn’t let me go.
“I am Sergeant Davidson, from the local PD, and I am in charge of making sure this little girl is taken care of properly. Obviously she isn’t, and I wanna know why? I wanna know how she ended up looking like she’s just gone ten rounds with Muhammad Ali.”
“I know it looks quite bad, but I can assure you the situation is being taken care of.” She smiled, an ugly smarmy smile, so fake she made Michael Jackson’s nose look natural.
“How the hell can you say that? Look at her, this does not look like everything’s being taken care of.” He was really angry, and really shouting, I thought my eardrums would burst, but it didn’t matter, just as long as he kept holding me, I would be safe if he just kept holding me.
“Sergeant Davidson, please sit down.” ‘No don’t sit down, if you sit down you’ll let go.’ Thank god he stayed standing, looking at her with a face that demanded an explanation. “Ok, if you wish to stand.” She sat down in her big leather office chair, with a calming look on her face, I didn’t like it, I could see what was coming: excuses. “ Little Becky, has found it very hard to make friends, she does not socialise with any of the other children, and unfortunately this has made her a target for bullies. However I can promise you that the children responsible for this horrible attack are being dealt with accordingly, they have been incarcerated without privileges, and have been grounded. I assure you we are dealing with it to the best of our abilities, however there is only so much we can do. Rebecca is a very vulnerable child and we cannot help her if she will not help herself.” ‘You lying bitch! They weren’t being punished, I was, I was the one locked in the cupboard all day. How can you sit there and lie so blatantly? How can you be so cold? When I’m stood in front of you beaten black and blue, and not give a damn?’ Davidson seemed to accept her explanation and I knew I was in for it, he wasn’t happy with it, but he accepted it. He took me to the nurse, and sat with me while she examined me, she said there was nothing seriously wrong with me, just cuts and bruises, and I had pulled my shoulder and that’s why it hurt so much. I knew she was just being nice for his benefit, but it was nice to be cleaned up properly, and have her put antiseptic cream all over me, and heat rub on my back to help my shoulder. I just sat there and let them take care of me, I knew as soon as he went I would get it, so I thought I might as well enjoy it while it lasted. Davidson sat with me all afternoon, we talked and played a game of snakes and ladders, he told me that he had got a letter from that very nice lady and she sent me her love, that made me feel good. He told me they were looking for a new family for me, and that I wouldn’t have to stay in the orphanage much longer, that if I could hold out for a little while everything would be ok. Another lie, but I relished the idea that it might come true. This was the first time I brought up the subject I knew he was avoiding, but I had to know.
“What about my mum, where is she?” I looked at him, longing for an explanation, why she wasn’t here? Where she was? If she was coming back for me, if they even knew who she was. He looked back at me, his eyes said it all; he didn’t have an answer, he had nothing to give me, nothing to give me hope, and he looked so sad. “She’ll come and get me one day, I know she will.” I had to say something to break the look of sorrow on his face and he just nodded as he tried to smile for my benefit.
“I certainly hope so, ‘Baby Driver.’ Gotta go now, but I’ll come and see you again soon, so you look after yourself. Don’t let those bullies get to you, all bullies are really cowards, so you just show ‘em who’s boss.” I panicked, I didn’t want him to go, if he left I’d get it for sure.
“Can I come? Can I come and live with you?” I stuttered out as I felt the fear overtake me, I couldn’t stay here, I had to get out.
“I wish I could take you with me, but I’m not allowed, you have to stay here, but I promise it’s not for long.” He gave me a sympathetic smile, and I knew I was doomed, I watched at the door as he pulled away, and he smiled and waved good bye as he drove off. I closed my eyes and quickly went to my safe place while I waited for them to come and get me.
I had missed my chance to get Seetah, and I knew I wouldn’t get another chance for a while, not after Davidson’s stand down with ‘Satan’. I spent the next few day’s dodging fists before I was thrown into the cupboard for the evening. I used the time to come up with strategies, although I knew for survival I couldn’t let Seetah have one over on me. My main target, my ultimate goal, was escape. Although for the time being I didn’t have to worry about Seetah anyway, during the day I went where her and her cronies didn’t, and in the evening I was locked up. Amazingly enough for a few days she was actually punished for my beatings, but that was only down to Davidson, so that Astin didn’t get into trouble. I started by taking measurements, during playtimes when no one was watching me, I would time how long it took me to run through the halls, and then what were the shorter routes, but also the routes where no-one kept watch on at night. I measured the fences surrounding the playgrounds, as I knew there was no way I would get out the front entrance. I used my own height as measurement and tried to roughly work out how high I would to have climb and then in PE I would time myself on the climbing frame. After a day of timing and running and measuring, once I was locked in the cupboard I would add all the times together, and put together all the separate pieces, and then compare them with the previous day. I didn’t realise at the time, but all of my calculations of my escape plans were actually pushing me to the top of my maths class, and I realised much later, I had quite an affinity for numbers. After about three weeks Miss Astin got bored of locking me up, and would let me spend my evenings like the other kids. Even though I hated the cupboard, I was petrified of being among the other kids with no one to defend me. I felt like an animal being released from captivity into the wild, without the natural instinct I would need to survive. My first evening in the activities area Seetah started her old charade of taunting me, and as usual she was backed by her gang. I tried my best to ignore them, but my mind would start to see myself with the chainsaw again, standing over Seetah and feeling such relief. I did my best to put these thoughts out of my head, but she didn’t make it easy for me, always there, always having a go. There were times I was tempted, when I thought no one was looking, a swift push at the top of the stairs, or with my dinner knife, but I restrained myself by going to my safe place. I didn’t want to end up back in the cupboard.
If you want to read anymore and find out where you can buy the ebook go to http://www.lmsteel.co.uk/written-word/once-upon-a-set-of-wheels/