Monthly Archives: March 2014

Passages – Night Visit

I’m not going to set this scene. You have had to have read my previous books to understand the significance of this particular scene. I have a fondness for psycho-dream scenes.

From the forth-coming fourth installment of the William Fylbrigge Series:

Night Visits 

Hours passed unnoticed, as William drifted in and out of sleep, only half aware of the visitors who came and left during the day. The afternoon shadows that fell on the wall softened into gray forms, dissolving into darkness a little more each time he opened his eyes. The sounds of muffled voices from the far corners of the room ebbed and flowed as the day wore on. He was aware of the conversations, but somehow, lacked the wherewithal to join in. Do they know I’m listening? 

In and out, he dreamed he was awake, only to awaken again, and again trapped in a space between aware and asleep. Just when he thought he’d broken free of the unconscious world, he would blink only to find that he had slipped back to sleep, losing more hours. It was late when he finally found the strength to force himself to wake up for real to find a damp cloth draped across his eyes.

“Let me wake!” William blinked, brushing cloth from his eyes.

“Oh, ye be awake, aye?”

“Annlise?” He opened his eyes, squinting at the shadow of the woman backlit by the candle. “Is that you?”

“Shh, ye lay back. ‘Tis the wee hours. Ye should be sleeping.”

“No… ” He pushed himself up with the heels of his hands until his back rested against the pillows. It was a small gain, but the effort was exhausting. He sank into the pillow with a sigh. “You should be asleep as well. Why are you sitting with me? It cannot be that after all these years, you’ve chosen to be wicked and run away with me.”

Annlise chuckled quietly, placing the cool cloth back on William’s forehead. “Not likely. You’re far to wild for me.”

He smiled, not protesting the cloth. “That does feel nice.”

“Good. Then ye let me tend you.”

A moment passed and he opened his eyes again. The room seemed lighter somehow, and he was alone. “Annlise?” He looked about, waiting for his eyes to focus on the dim contours of his bed chamber. Someone had drawn the bed draperies closed around him—a thing he never liked, and found suffocating. He reached out a hand toward the drape to pull it, and dropped is arm to his side, finding the simple effort too exhausting to complete. “Annlise?” he called again, “Are you there? Please open the bed curtain.”

A soft footstep approached, and the curtain began to move slowly along the rod. A silver mist spilled in through the window, aglow with the light of the full moon. The light was enough to reveal the contours of the room, however he could not see who had pulled open the curtain. “Annlise?”

The footfalls padded around to the other side of the bed, and began to pull the curtain on that side as well. As before, the curtain seemed to be moving on its own accord across the bar, though clearly someone had to be pulling it. When it was fully open, a form stepped from behind the foot post, and stood aside the bed.

“Annlise?” He whispered, his voice catching in his throat.

A match was struck, and the wick to the oil lamp on the side table flickered into light. It was then William saw, to his alarm, that the person who had opened the curtains was not Annlise, but a young man of about twenty years of age. William caught his breath, and stared. If this man was here to do him harm, there was little he could do to prevent it. He had barely the strength to pull the bed clothes to his chin. He’d been abed for so long now, that even if he could get to his feet, he was sure his legs would not hold him, let alone allow him to run. All he could do was stare, and wait for the man to speak to identify himself.

“Don’t you know me?” The man asked, his voice soft-spoken, and youthful. He held the lamp up at his arm’s length to better show himself. “I know it’s been a frightfully long time since we’ve been together. Still, you should know me.”

He could not be more than twenty years old, and though his clothes were richly embroidered, clearly gentry, they were decades out of date. No gentleman wore the starched ruff at his neck anymore—they favored the wide lace collars that King Charles had made stylish. Yet this young man seemed at home and natural in his old clothing. His hair was long, clubbed in the back of his neck, and his eyes flickered, oddly mirroring the wick of the oil lamp. Something in his face reminded William of himself in younger years. In fact the more he looked, the more the man resembled… “No!” William gasped. “Is it… no, that’s impossible.”

The man smiled. “So you do know me. Go on, say my name and we can be about our business.”

“What business?”

“Say my name first.”

William swallowed hard, his mouth gone dry, so when he spoke, the name was little more than a choked whisper. “Richard.”

A brow shot up, and a grin stretched across the man’s face. “Full name. It’s a silly rule, but rules must be followed.”

“Fylbrigge.” William whispered. “Richard Fylbrigge, son of Thomas—”

“Very good! Yes, you always were good at learning the rules.”

“You can’t be here. You’re long dead.”

Richard shrugged, dismissing the technicality. “So is Sean, and yet you wouldn’t be so surprised to see him now. Would you?”

“But Sean. . .” William’s eyes went wide. “Sean comes when I’m… . Yes, you’re right, I’ve been expecting him.”

“Disappointed that it’s me?”

William shook his head, unsure how to answer the apparition.

“You should be.”

“Why? You’re not really here. You’re … you’re a dream. That’s what you are.” William relaxed at the revelation. Of course, that’s what it is, a simple dream. “And as soon as I awaken, you’ll be gone. I’ll probably not even remember you were here.”

“Wake up?” Richard laughed, long and loud, holding the foot post for support. “Wake up? You expect to wake up? Oh my dear, dear uncle. All these years and you are still so… bloody optimistically stupid.” The laughter ended abruptly as Richard turned to face him. “There is no more waking up, Will. It’s over.”

William had no answer. He raised a hand and raked it through his own hair. He felt the sweat soaked strands between his fingers. He could feel the mist on his skin. He could feel the texture of the bedding around him. He could feel everything. He drew in a long breath and let it out. “I’m still breathing.”

“I didn’t say anything about breathing, I said waking you pathetic dunce!”

William started at the suddenly sharp tone. Richard grinned, and casually pulled up the wooden chair and took a seat, propping his heels up on the edge of the bed. He sat picking at his fingernails, just smirking at William. William found he could not bring himself to look at the reflected flicker that still danced in Richard’s eyes.

“You… you said you had business. What kind of business.”

“Ah, good, then you accept that I’m here, and I am who I am.”

“I’ve little choice.”


“So, what is your business with me?”

Richard lowered his feet and leaned forward, bringing his face within inches of William. William shuddered at the wave of cold that emanated from Richard’s face. “Atonement.”


“You may choose to call it enlightenment, if you wish, but it is all the same in the end.”

“What do you mean?”

Richard backed away, and stood tall, then walked forward through the bed to the other side. William felt a chill to his marrow as the apparition passed through his legs. It stopped near the window and stood with its back toward William, as it spoke. “Everyone is responsible for the life they are given. No one life is worth more than any other in the grand scheme. Do you agree?”

“Yes… I believe that.”

“The nobleman and the peasant? Equal?”


“The beggar and the prince?”


“The good, and the evil?”

William paused. He found he had to think for a moment. “What are you getting at?”

“What, in your opinion, is a proper payment for a life that is stolen?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Debt!” Richard whirled on his heel, the mist wrapping around him as he did so. “If a man takes the life of another, what should his debt be?”

“The law is clear for murder—”

“Not the human law, dunce!”

William swallowed hard, thinking. “Well then… I’m sure… I suppose it is fair that a life for a life.”

“Ah,” Richard smiled, pointing a finger in the air. “A life for a life. So if a man should take a life, then he should be prepared to pay with his own. And that, as it were, should settle the debt then?”

William pushed himself against the pillows, drawing the sheet to his chin. “Doesn’t it?”

“Oh, if only it would.” Richard took a step toward the corner of the room, and raised a hand. It was then William felt, more than saw, the other figure in the room. A taller man, older, dressed in the same manner as Richard—twenty years out of date. The figure stayed silent yet seemed to move in tandem with every movement and gesture that Richard made, though they were tied together, limb for limb.

“Do you know who this is? My constant companion? Do you hazard a guess?”

William stared, straining to make out the features of the shadowy figure. “No.”

“Oh, really?” Richard took a step toward the mist, his companion sticking to him like a shadow until the light played across his features. The piercing green eyes were unmistakable. The snakelike sneer spreading across its face, accentuated by a long gash that traveled diagonally from one cheek to his the opposite side of his neck. When the light fell upon him again, to William’s horror, he could see light through the gash—the head was not completely connected. “No! You’re not here!”

“Tsk, tsk,” Richard sighed. “I thought we had an understanding. You believe and I enlighten.”

“He is NOT here! YOU are not here. BE GONE.”

“Say his name.”


“I can’t help you unless you say his name!”

“Help me? You’re not here to help me. You’re here… to drive me mad.”

“Say his name.”



“Thomas Fylbrigge!” William heard himself shouting. The breath seemed to drain from his body as the name left his lips.

The apparition seemed to deflate at the sound of his name. It took a step back from Richard, and turned its back. Richard turned slowly to face William. “Thank you.”

“Why are you here?”

“A life for a life. . .”

“I don’t understand.”

“I took his life. He is now my constant burden.”

William shook his head. He had only heard second hand how Thomas had met his end. He had never really heard the full story, but something didn’t seem right. “A life for a life? Then you should be paid in full. Did you not give up your own life then and there?”

A slow smile crossed Richard’s face. “Indeed I did. My debt on Earth is paid in full. But I’m not part of the earth anymore. Oh, no I still have my burden to bear. And I shall until it is made right with powers far beyond my own.” Richard chuckled, and waved a hand, banishing the apparition of Thomas back into the shadows. “Don’t worry, dear uncle. He has no interest in you anymore. In fact, he is not even aware of you. He sees only me, now.”

“Then why was he here?”

“To help you understand the burden I carry. The constant reminder of grief for my act… for you to see why I have the easier burden between you and I.”


“A life taken, is a life taken. We are all equal. Beggar or prince… good or evil… all lives taken must be paid!” Richard pointed toward the opposite side of the room.

William did not want to look, but could not resist, an unknown force pulling his face toward the place where Richard wanted him to look. The door to his chamber stood open now, and the same silvery mist spilled in from the corridor. Two figures, a man and a woman, stood together hand in hand, looking toward him.

“No. . .Richard surely they … are not who. . .Bryndah? Adrian?”

“You led a remarkable life, my dear uncle. You helped a lot of people. But the fact remains. A life for a life. You took two with your own hand. You best become accustomed to their company, for they will be with you for a long, long, time—”

* * *

The scream echoed for a long moment after he opened his eyes, his vision obscured by the fabric of the damp cloth that covered them. He whipped it away and squinted into the morning light and into the face of the frightened woman standing next to him.

“Will, Will, settle. ‘Tis well, ’tis well.”


“Aye… ye awake, now?”



“I’m awake?”

“Well I would think so.”

“Blessed Mother I’m awake!”

“Aye well ye best settle.” She stood and drew the cloth away from his eyes. The morning light was just filling the room, though the far side was still in shadows. Annlise went to the side table and picked up the oil lamp and looked at the wick. “Well now, tha’ be a curious thing.”

“What is?”

“I were certain I filled this oil last eve, and yet it be gone, and the wick were new, and yet it be black. And where did this chair come from? Did ye have a visitor come sit wi’ ye?”

© Lorrieann Russell 2014 – All rights reserved


Posted by on March 25, 2014 in Passages


Passages, Work in Progress

I thought I’d share a very short excerpt from my work in progress, “Passages”, which will be the fourth book in the William Fylbrigge series.

A bit of setup: The family has returned home to Stonehaven, and are slowly acclimating to life among the people who were largely responsible for their flight to New France. This scene takes place a year or so after their return, in March.


Ian and Melly 1616


“M’lady, please. You must calm down,” Ian hurried after Mehlyndia as she rushed past him on her way to the court yard. “M’lady—Melly!”

She stopped and turned on her heel, eyes blazing. “Do not, presume to be familiar with me ever again, Ian Proctor.”

Ian drew himself up straight and met her look with a glare of his own. “Oh, do forgive me, Lady Sutherland, by all means let us keep with formalities. It will serve everyone so well if we remember our places after all.”

“I do not have time for this, Ian—”



“Father Proctor if you please. I am ordained, as you recall. And since I took the vows primarily for the benefit of your husband, I believe it only fair that you remember that I am rightfully deserved to be addressed—”

“Oh will you two stop squabbling!”

Both Ian and Mehlyndia turned red faced to Elinor, who stood with her hands at her sides, tapping her foot.

“Now then, what is all the shouting?”

“He let them go off alone—again!” Mehlyndia huffed.


“The lady believes I have some sort of authority over her husband and can grant him leave or bid him stay at my pleasure.”

“The good Father Ian forgets that my husband hangs on his every opinion and thought. If you were to tell him you believed he could fly, he would without question leap from the parapet expecting to sprout wings!”

“That’s rubbish!”

“Is it?”


Elinor stood between the two, her hands raised to each. “Hear now, what has come over the two of you? Fighting like bairn in the yard. You’ll bring on your pains early if you don’t settle,” she warned, pointing at the growing bulge at Mehlyndia’s middle. “And you should know better, Ian. Now, what has brought this about? Where has who gone?”

Mehlyndia drew a long steadying breath, placing a thoughtful hand on her stomach. “William and Seany have gone up to the standing stones on top of the tor.”

Elinor’s eyes went wide? “To the well at the little kirk?”

Mehlyndia nodded.

“I told her there was nothing to be alarmed about. Many people go there to pray to the Virgin.” Ian raised his hand in a gesture of truce. “Yes, I know what your worry is. And I can assure you, m’l—Melly, that your fear is completely unfounded.”

“Can you?” Mehlyndia asked. “Can you really? You should know better than anyone it is not safe for him to be so open about going to the old stones…you know what people will say.”

“What? That William of Drumoak is a pious man? What harm is there in that?” Elinor asked, gently, resting a hand on Mehlyndia’s arm. “Ian is right, my dear. There are naught but a few souls left in Stonehaven who consider the well to be for the Blessed Mother of the old religion, and they are nae likely to be telling anyone, aye?”

Mehlyndia relaxed at Elinor’s logic. “No, I suppose they’re not.”

“And remember, dear, that there are cairns up there in the old graveyard,” Elinor pointed out. “He could simply be paying his respects, and teaching Seany about his uncle and namesake. You know how he likes to teach the lad.”

“You think that’s it? He’s simply teaching Seany about the family history?”

“I’m sure of it,” Elinor said, smiling. “Now, go on to your sitting room, and I’ll be along with a warm caudle for you. Go on, no arguing. You and the wee one need to rest.”

Mehlyndia blushed, and offered an obedient smile. “All right, but you’ll send for me the moment they come back, aye Ian?”

“Absolutely,” Ian said, placing his fist to his chest and bowing. “I shall bear him upon my own back if I must.”

Mehlyndia smiled, seemingly placated then left them.

Ian and Elinor watched until she had closed the door of her sitting room before they spoke.

“So?” Ian asked in near soundless whisper. “What is missing from your kit?”

“Two vials.” She drew a deep breath. “And the blue chalk.”

Ian crossed himself, rolling his eyes skyward. “So, we were not lying to Melly after all. William really is teaching Seany a bit of …family history.”



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Posted by on March 17, 2014 in Passages


I can still hear you, quit yelling!

I know I’ve been away for a long time, and I feel fairly confident that this will not be read by a lot of people. Be warned, I’m about to rant – not an angry (well maybe it is) rant, but more of a frustrated rant.

For more years than I care to admit, I have been dealing with an ever increasing hearing loss. I admit, for a long time I ignored the issues, denied it, hid it, flat out didn’t believe it, and thought it would just not be an issue.

It became an issue.

I noticed I was missing conversations, not hearing when people were talking to me, not noticing how loudly the radio/tv/stereo was playing, speaking louder than I thought (so embarrassing), and on and on. I noticed a constant high pitched hiss in my right ear, a lower and less noticeable hiss on left, that never seemed to stop. It was loudest when the room was quiet. The hiss would sometimes include a ping, or sudden beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeng, followed by more hissing.

I did my diligent searches online, and self-diagnosed (later confirmed by a real doctor) that I have a chronic case of tinnitus. The cause? Could be anything from exposure to loud, percussive noise, high blood pressure, or aliens. The cure? Mostly folk remedies, lipoflavenoid (sic) pills (ghastly things with very unfortunate gastronomical side effects), white noise machines meant to mask the sound, avoidance of salty food. . . all tried, none very effective.

I was pretty well resigned to just live with it, after all it didn’t’ stop me from doing anything and was only a mild annoyance, right? I just ignored it. That is, until I realized while sitting in a very loud auditorium full of screaming kids and ear-splitting music, that even above all that clamor, the sound I heard loudest and clearest – the hiss.

Time to get to the audiologist.

I was given a battery of tests, auditory assaults, in both ears. I sat in a little glass booth with headphones while the technician sat outside sending random sounds at varying volume to each ear. I thought she was messing with me when she’d ask, “did you hear that?” and I KNOW there was nothing coming through the headphones. But once this happened, four or five times, and she wasn’t laughing and pointing at me, I figured that I really had missed some sounds coming in.

The test results were not entirely unexpected – the left ear is far more gone than the right.

“Are you going to fit me with some hearing aids?” I ask, eagerly, feeling as I would when I get new glasses and don’t have to squint anymore.

“Not yet,” she tells me, in a grim and serious tone, that I hear perfectly clearly.

I was sent to a specialist for confirmation of her suspicion. I have a very real condition called ottosclerosis, where stapes bone in my ear has become fused with the other little bones and doesn’t work anymore. I’m told it is degenerative, but treatable with surgery, or, if I prefer, hearing aids.

Having once gone through laser surgery to correct near-sightedness that only seemed to help me for a couple of years, I figure I’d skip the ear surgery and go with the hearing aids. In my mind, I equate glasses with hearing aids being as how both are necessary apparatus for me to function normally in society.

Well guess what, boys and girls. They are not considered equal in the eyes of the insurers. Hearing aids are not covered. Anywhere. Don’t ask me why, and don’t assume I’m wrong, because I am not. They are not covered.

So, I hold my nose and take out a line of credit specific to the audiologists and am fitted with $4,000 worth of uninsured amplifiers. When I put them in and turn them on for the first time, and hear the lovely little musical chime to tell me they are working, then the ‘pop’ as the rev into action, I am astounded. The hiss is silenced. I am thrilled with the sounds of my new world. I can hear my hair! Tapping on my keyboard is exciting. I hear the ticking of the kitchen clock (that I swore up and down that my husband was lying about). I. Could. Hear. Everything. And it was good.

For a while.

Here is the rant part.

Hearing aids eat batteries, batteries die and they stop working at awkward times, they get full of wax and stop working at awkward times, they get sweaty, they get smelly! They amplify everything.

It soon became apparent that I could hear more than I wanted to hear. The lights in the ceiling fixtures above my desk at work, for example, emitted a staticky buzz that I had never noticed before. I could hear every fan in the building, the drone of the heating unit, even the refrigerator that was at the other end of the building.

I heard all these things just fine. To the point where they were louder than the voices of the people I was trying to have a conversation with.

Back to the doctor for an adjustment. She tweaks and pokes at the settings, lowering the frequency generally associated with fans and vents. She tries various sounds, volumes, resets the right to be different from the left, ups the low tones and downs the highs until things start to sound right. I can hear the world in proper proportions again – and I can hear the hiss as well.

“Oh you’ll never have it all, this is the best it can be.”

So that is what I accept. At least they are paid for.

But now, I have moved to the other side of the country and need to find a new audiologist as a new twist has begun. The hiss has joined a band. Along with the ping and beeeeeeeeeng and ssssssssss there is now a clarinet. It plays constantly, four tones, over and over. It is so loud that I don’t fully believe my husband when he tells me he doesn’t hear it. It is driving me nuts, and the hearing aids do not quiet it.

Ah, well.

So, if you’ve stayed with me this long, please read the rest of the rant, and perhaps if you know someone with ottosclerosis you could please heed these requests (I believe them to be universal):

  1. It is really not funny when you mumble on purpose, then say WHAT?
  2. Hearing aids are not covered by insurance. If you are not going deaf and have never had to deal with it do not assume your friend is wrong or hasn’t looked hard enough. Trust me, they are not covered. And they are expensive.
  3. Cheap miracle ear things sold in the AARP catalog, or those ‘you can hear across the room’ listening things are the drug store equivalent to 4 dollar reading glasses. Yeah, they may help a little, but they are not PRESCRIPTION and are uncomfortable to wear. Don’t suggest them.
  4. Sometimes I have them off on purpose, for a reason. Respect that.
  5. There are not many ways to wear hearing aids and listen to headphones that are comfortable. There again, you may assume there are headsets and headphones specifically for hearing aid wearers, and you’d be wrong. Well, not entirely wrong, yes they exists, but are HORRIBLY EXPENSIVE and not always available.
  6. If you happen to put on my headphones to listen to music, and are alarmed at the volume and the fact that one side is twice as loud as the other, see number 5. My headphones are adjusted for me. Do. Not. FIX the balance.
  7. Stop thinking it’s funny.



    Here’s a few things I bet you never thought about, but I deal with every day.


    Closed captioning is a joke. I’m appalled at how bad it is. When it does keep up with the dialog on TV, often it is wrong. When it lags, it is confusing, and sometimes just drops in the middle of a sentence. It sensors out dirty words because you know, it’s ok to hear them, but not to read them. It spells shit wrong. (It also sucks that I can’t even SEE the closed captioning without my glasses, so putting the TV on to fall asleep is sorta useless.)


    It’s difficult to deal with anyone who must wear a mask – dentists, manicurists . . . over their mouths. Sometimes I can’t tell they’re even speaking, and it is embarrassing to keep asking them to repeat themselves, because I can’t see their lips moving.


    Hearing aids pick up static from EVERYTHING. If I drive under power lines, SNAP CRACKLE POP! walk past a neon sign at the mall, SNAP CRACKLE POP! Stand too near the microwave oven (as I the same room), SNAP CRACKLE POP! Shake the towels fresh out of the dryer. . . you get the idea.


    Talking on the phone is a new kind of hell. I have found that the only comfortable way is with the use of a speaker phone – which of course limits privacy greatly.


    So, there you have it. If you’ve wondered why I haven’t been wearing my hearing aids as often as I should, or why I don’t talk on the phone as much as I once did, or ask you to repeat yourself, please be kind. I’m just going deaf.



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Posted by on March 15, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Posted by on March 15, 2014 in Uncategorized