Black Dog - Chapter 1

A young woman inherits the long-sleeping family curse along with her aunt's house.

Dear diary, I am dead! And working through a medium, hence this dreadful handwriting. The girl is very young The pale wisp of a girl holding the pen stopped, sitting back from the writing desk. "I'm not that young," she said. Her voice, light, and chirping like a bird's, didn't help her case. "I'm just not used to this." She pushed back the unruly black curls of her hair and folded...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 10

By evening, Imogen had fallen into a doze in the chair by the fireplace, her nerves worn out, and Eli had vanished without a word. This left Verity practically alone, to examine her surroundings at her leisure. At the mantlepiece, she investigated the curious assortment of ornaments: a collection that ranged from ugly worthless knick-knacks to objects of considerable beauty and...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 11

An icy breath awoke Verity. She lay still, her eyes closed. "Would you like a cup of tea, dear?" asked a familiar elderly voice in the dark. Verity opened her eyes to see Imogen looking down at her. The cheerless watery light of morning shone through big French windows. Verity sat up, wiping her bleary eyes and trying to remember why she'd gone to sleep curled up on the sofa in the icy...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 12

Olivia woke with her head pounding, her vision blurred as a dark shape loomed over her, sickly-sweet floral perfume stifling her. Voices washing in and out like waves crashing on the shore. Fragments of memory exploded in her aching head. An impulse came over her, to run and run until her legs gave out. Heart bounding, she threw herself out of bed, tearing at the sheets that tangled around...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 13

Verity found Imogen in the kitchen, standing and staring in bewilderment at the kettle. The ghost sat carefully down at the table, folded her arms, put her head down, and burst into tears. Verity's first impulse was to put her arms around the old woman's shoulders, but of course, she couldn't. Instead, she stood there awkwardly at a distance. For the most part, Imogen had coasted through...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 14

Olivia wallowed in the rapidly cooling bathwater, slipping slowly back towards sleep, knowing that she shouldn't sleep in the tub but too tired to care. Her thoughts tumbled like autumn leaves, in gusts and drifts of vivid-coloured dreamlike images. Downstairs, she could hear doors open and close, people coming and going. It sounded so normal, so every day. She'd listened to the distorted...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 15

Cutting through the churchyard on her way back to the house, Olivia stumbled upon Verity's plan to make everything better: she'd arranged a picnic. The day might be overcast but the air was still and dry, probably no colder outside the house than in it. Only Verity would have chosen this particular site, though. She'd taken the blanket from the back of the sofa to spread it out on the grass...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 16

The hour of the tea party loomed large on the horizon. Olivia had contemplated hiding in her room for the duration of the event, but she ventured downstairs to see how the preparations were coming along, at least. Auntie Imogen had worked herself up into a flutter of happy nerves, rushed off her feet with a hundred last minute details to attend to before her guests arrived. She might have...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 17

Imogen was flitting from room to room, chatting giddily with Lizzy and the other household ghosts, when she encountered the first of her guests. She found him snoring in a chair in the corner of the drawing room, where he'd been for who knew how long. "Oh," she said, flatly, having been deprived of the little thrill of meeting her first guest at the door. "Am I to take it this is...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 18

Getting everyone into one room was like herding cats. Grace had disappeared into the kitchen to chat with Auntie Imogen and clean up the mess Verity had made, and Siobhan had followed. Hoping for scraps. Siobhan had the dirty, hungry look of a stray, and though Olivia did her best to dismiss that uncharitable thought, she found she didn't much want the company of a zombie. The ghosts came...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 19

On the Monday, Olivia started her job at the library as planned. She might have been apprehensive but after the turbulence of recent events the library gave her a rock to cling to. Olivia spent the day dealing with pleasantly dull people and things she could easily understand, surrounded by books and order. She made tea for the two librarians, a middle-aged married couple equally quiet...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 2

Imogen Lockwood is anxious as she attends her own funeral.

Great soft snowdrifts of white roses filled the church. It looked more like a wedding than a funeral, made worse by the fact that on the morning of the big day, Imogen had found her clothes transformed into a wedding dress without her consent. She could only guess it stemmed from some embarrassing corner of her subconscious, and she grumbled to herself as she talked back and forth between...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 20

Olivia's burst of enthusiasm quickly faded again. She'd planned to finish decorating the guest bedroom (her own bedroom, as she ought to start thinking of it) but that prospect became daunting when she looked more closely at the full extent of the damage. Instead, she moved on to the next door along the corridor. The door wouldn't budge, and she stood there rattling the handle and poking...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 21

The following morning Olivia woke before dawn, readying herself for another run, looking forward to it in spite of herself. By eight o'clock, though, she was beginning to wonder what had become of Grace. She had to give up the idea and get ready for work, and she was just grabbing her coat when she heard a knock at the back door. "It's open, she called. "Did you oversleep? Grace?" Grace,...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 22

Even though Auntie Imogen had initially promised to stay out of the way of the clearing, she appeared several times a day 'to see how things are going' and it slowed the process considerably. Finishing clearing the first room was a cause for celebration, in Olivia's opinion. "But of course," Verity grinned. "Something to mark the occasion. Smile," she instructed, producing a camera from...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 23

Up at the top of the graveyard, close to the woods, a low wooden fence marked off a corner of pitifully small plots with far more flowers and messages, bright and jarring in contrast to the sombre graves on the lower slopes. A small procession headed towards them as sky darkened to a deep royal blue, moths looping and flitting in the twilight. Verity, at the fore, picked her way through...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 24

There was one place Olivia hadn't even considered when choosing a bedroom to call her own. Late the evening of the secret funeral, she stood before the door at the far end of the first floor hallway. She knew the house reasonably well from her childhood visits, when she'd been allowed to run free, mostly. She remembered trying to get into whatever lay behind this door a couple of times, but...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 25

Grace had assured Olivia she'd be no more than twenty minutes away by train, but the house was lonelier for knowing she wouldn't be coming back. Olivia listened to it echo every step she took as she paced up and down the hallway. More than once she thought about getting out of the house and going for a long walk or even a run, but without Grace for company she couldn't muster any enthusiasm...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 26

The following day, Olivia woke up just enough to call in sick: flu, so sorry . She wanted to lie down and die. Instead she padded to the bathroom, grumbling and berating herself for allowing Verity to lead her off to the vampires' den and forcing her to choose between sleeping in a nest of monsters or walking through town alone after dark. Verity shouldn't have left her alone with the...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 27

As the full moon approached, the second tea party came and went, with Olivia putting in a perfunctory appearance. Grace had been absent, and Olivia had been preoccupied with her work on the house. She'd started the week with good intentions, picking up where she'd left off with her campaign against her wrecked bedroom. She'd already wrenched up the old carpet, aired out the unpleasant mix of...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 28

Olivia woke face down in the slush of dead brown leaves. The slats of grey light filtering through the bare trunks of the trees suggested mid-morning at that time of year. As she sat up, shivering, every muscle in her body stiff and aching, she realised with a sinking horror that she was naked but for a patchy covering of black mud. She had no memory of the night before beyond a few...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 29

With the awful business of the full moon out of the way, a fortnight passed uneventfully. Olivia settled into her job at the library (with profuse apologies for her earlier absence) and continued work on the house. Still, thoughts of Giles's death tormented her. She should have gone to see him when Grace had asked. She could have made a difference. She lay in the dark, neither asleep nor...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 3

A messenger follows Olivia to the funeral.

As the mourners filed into the pews, Olivia shuffled in amongst them, head down and focused on reaching her seat. She jumped when she felt a tap at her elbow, and looked round to find a small, pale young woman leaning over the back of the pew from the row behind her. She was perhaps a couple of years younger than Olivia, wearing a pretty black dress and resting a lacy black parasol on the...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 30

Verity came storming out of the kitchen, and Imogen melted into the darkness behind the door, breathless and silent. Unseen, she watched Verity stomp off up to the attic and Olivia climb wearily back to bed. Too weak to stand, Imogen sat down on the floor of the hallway. Verity had everything : youth and beauty and a baby . A perfect healthy baby that she didn't even want, that she planned...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 31

It had taken Imogen about half an hour to make up her mind to tell Eli what she'd heard, longer to find him, and even longer to wait while he went to confirm for himself what she already knew. Typical man, couldn't take a woman's word for anything. Rather than argue with him, she occupied herself indoors. Since she couldn't imagine herself on speaking terms with Verity any time in...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 32

Olivia came home much later than she'd intended, surprised to see lights in the windows. She ran up the path to the front door, splashing in the puddles, singing cheerfully to herself as she hung up her wet coat in the hallway. It had occurred to her that Reverend Milton might not be much help if all he did was talk and Verity refused to listen, so straight after work she'd met with Grace at...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 33

Imogen knew she had to take some of the blame. Eli had returned to the village to see her , but she'd soon grown jealous when he spent so much time with that pretty girl in perpetual mourning black. If Imogen was honest with herself, she'd jumped at the chance to share a hurtful piece of gossip about that pretty young thing. She hadn't known what Eli would do but the girl had deserved it....Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 34

Olivia woke with her cheek pressed against cold hard earth, painfully aware of every bone inside her flesh, the awkward arrangement of jaw and skull bones, string of aching vertebrae, arm and leg bones loose at the joints. She decided against standing up just yet. Fragments of last night's memory slotted into place. The bright round moon, Eli, tall sharp-scented pines. This morning...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 35

Putting on her coat, feeling for the reassurance of the small slip of paper in her pocket, Olivia walked out into the early twilight and down to the phone box. She could only pray that Grace might still be with her friends, and she breathed a sigh of relief when the cheery voice on the other end of the line told her to wait just a minute. "What happened to you?" said Grace, skipping...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 36

Lost in miserable contemplation, Olivia had no concept of how far the journey took her. High hedges and the grasping bare branches of trees lined the lanes, all alike. Once in a while, signs of habitation loomed and passed, clustered cottages or solitary houses on long stretches of empty road. White signposts marked placenames that Olivia only half-knew, and Grace had fallen...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 37

The turning of the moon marked time. Olivia didn't return to Peter's Cross until the autumn, and even then she did so reluctantly, skirting around the graveyard so she could walk up to the vicarage by road, considering it well worth the extra shoe leather if it kept her out of sight of Eli and Verity. Her dread at the thought of unpreparedly running into Eli had obvious roots, crossing his...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 38

Olivia ran down the stairs. Her vague suspicions had coalesced, the message from her dreams loud and clear. With a quick glance to check that nobody was about, she pulled herself into human form and grabbed her coat. Draping it across her shoulders, the briefest sop to modesty, she sprinted barefoot out onto the grass, her breath clouding before her face in the dark, her skin burning...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 39

The next month, just as Olivia was on her way to catch the train to Peter's Cross, Grace came running up behind her. "Long time no see," said Grace, her bright smile as false as the red of her lipstick. She made an exaggerated point of noticing Olivia's overnight bag, ready for the full moon. "Where are you off to, then?" Olivia hesitated, lies not coming easily to her. "I..." "You...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 4

Conflicting plans for the house are in the makings.

A black cat almost tripped Olivia before she'd even crossed the threshold, winding around her shins in enthusiastic greeting, no doubt hoping for food. Auntie Imogen had always collected cats. China cats, to begin with. Cloth cats, carved wooden cats, cats of every workable material. Later on, after her mother's death had closely coincided with the death of the family cat, and the last of...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 40

When Eli arrived, moonrise was still far enough away that Olivia barely felt any hint of the oncoming change. Verity had curled up with her book again, Imogen with a magazine (the pages being easier for her to handle) and Olivia sat down with one of her notebooks to review the beginnings of something she'd started writing some time ago. She couldn't focus. She sat with her notebook on her...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 41

I'll never forgive you! Olivia woke with a start, alone in the ruined living room. Still no Imogen. Perhaps the loss of Eli had been the push she needed to move on to a happier place, though that thought rang hollow. More likely she'd retreated somewhere more private to grieve over the hole that Olivia had torn in her world, and she would be back any minute, unforgiving and furious...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 42

The ringing of the telephone dragged Olivia from the borderlands of sleep and she answered with a growled "Who is it?" A crackling pause, then: "Libby, is that you?" The voice on the other end of the line was faint, obscured, familiar from a lifetime ago. "This handwriting is near illegible, dreadful low class scribble..." the words choked off into tears. "Auntie Imogen?" Imogen gave a...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 43

At the crossroads two women stood, silhouetted against the lavender and cream of the day's end. The moon lurked somewhere deep in the veils of black branches. Down the hill, Reverend Milton was putting a heavy chain and padlock on the churchyard gate, the sound carrying clear in the quiet. Olivia grimaced at their exposed location. It had to be here, at the crossroads. "Verity!" she hissed....Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 5

Olivia's first night alone at Lockwood House.

Twilight had surrendered to the full dark of night before Olivia remembered to call her mum and let her know that the funeral had proceeded without incident (mostly) and that she was settling in. "Don't forget it's only a couple of weeks before you start at the library," said her mum. "I haven't forgotten." "It's a good job for you, and I don't want you wearing yourself out over all...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 6

A visitor interrupts Olivia's work on the house.

Olivia woke to slippery blood on her thighs, her nightdress clinging. She got up, the cradle of leaden pain between her hips making her slow and clumsy as she stripped the sheets to see that she'd bled through to the mattress. This was not an auspicious start to her plans. Even before entering the house, she'd noticed the weathered and cracked paintwork, the slates missing from the roof,...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 7

Olivia is far closer to the ghosts and myths of Lockwood House than she realises.

Olivia, despite warnings from her mother, intended to carry out as much of the redecorating as she could by herself, and had decided to try her hand at stripping the wallpaper in the guest bedroom. This latest flurry of activity fascinated the cats: several of them overcame their misgivings about Olivia enough to stalk and harass the falling curls of paper, coming over to rub against her...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 8

Events begin to spiral out of Imogen's control.

It all happened so fast. Eli grabbed the dog by the scruff of the neck and the animal wilted into submission at once, whimpering. Olivia lay in the grass, still and silent. Imogen hung back, not daring to look. "Is she -" her voice wavered. Without touch, taste or smell, events were passing unstoppably before her, like a nightmare she couldn't wake from. She couldn't hold back the tide of...Read On


Black Dog - Chapter 9

Lockwood House is back in Imogen's ghostly hands, but at what cost?

First of all, Grace wanted a room with a sturdy lock on the door: the werewolf's victim must be secured in readiness for her painful and disorienting first transformation. They chose the guest bedroom which Olive had already cleared of most furniture and other obstacles and got Eli to move Olivia again, careless as if she was a sack of potatoes. Then Grace sent Eli out to find chains, and...Read On


Black Dog - Epilogue

A year went by, the seasons marching on in their uncompromising way. Imogen had relinquished the house utterly to her niece. It held nothing of the old life except memories grown too painful. Olivia worked hard to build a new life out of it, but progress, as always, was slow. Imogen might be gone, but there remained other ghosts to appease. Moving too much of the furniture at once resulted...Read On