Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Betty Woodcock's The Pram Brings Horror Into Personal Lives...

I was taking a short cut to town when I saw the pram outside a secondhand shop. It was a Silver Cross, circa 1950, a twin of the one which featured in the photographs of my childhood. Ours had been passed round the family, and was on the shabby side when it was bestowed on me for my first child. But this one was so pristine and gleaming, it looked brand new. You know the kind of thing. The body of the pram hung on huge saucer-shaped springs and swayed gently when the child moved. I dodged round the boxes of books and bric-a-brac to step closer and examine the soft leather interior which was the colour of pale creamy buttermilk. I lifted the matching mattress to reveal the leather padded base, and underneath the middle section was a storage well which held a see-through bag containing a pale lemon satin eiderdown, and what looked to be a hand-knitted lacy shawl. The well in our pram had been used for carrying shopping and had become a bit battered over the years. This one looked unused. I could almost smell the dark stain that covered the wood.
"Memories flooded back of the many occupants of the family pram, now all grown with children of their own. I replaced the floor section and mattress and ran my hand over the immaculate bodywork. This was class. Comparing it with today’s gimmicky contraptions was like comparing a mini to a Lamborghini.
"I became aware of the shopkeeper watching me through round steel-rimmed specs. He was old and wizened, with wispy white hair. His shirt was the collarless type which is called a granddad shirt, only his was the genuine article: the kind that should have a collar attached by studs, but hadn’t. It had probably been new in the Thirties, and was now a dingy white.
“Interested? Twenty-five quid,” he said.
I didn’t answer. Being one of a large family and widowed in my mid-twenties, my thrift was inbuilt. I examined the pram’s gabardine apron and raised and lowered the hood. The chrome-work gleamed. Everything was immaculate, better than new, if that were possible. It was a bargain. Even a basic modern buggy could cost twice that.   I knew it wasn’t exactly what my daughter had in mind, but her husband had been unemployed and only recently started a new job, and the baby was almost due . . . this was too good to miss. Brand new, a similar one would probably cost hundreds.
“Twenty. Take it or leave it.”
“I’ll take it,” I said, and counted the money carefully into his grimy palm.
"I grasped the pram handle and was startled to glimpse a small baby inside. In the blink of an eye— it was gone."

The Pram

By Betty Woodcock

Although this is a horror novel, I must admit that I was more enticed by the romance in this one! LOL Part of the reason is that, with the title, and subtitle, The Pram: A Baby Seeking Revenge, as I did, readers will more than likely guess what will be happening,.. It is so well written, however, that I even caught a hint of humor under it all...

Or maybe I was enjoying the spoiled daughter and the attentive mother who was running herself ragged taking care of her daughter... Why do parents these days do that?!!! It sure didn't happen in my generation, nor in the author's, I'm guessing...

Carrie had seen the pram at a second-hand store and immediately recognized the quality, knowing that the rich and famous, including Prince Charles, would have used this type of carriage... After a little bit of negotiating, Carrie bought it for her daughter's baby, who had not yet been born...

Of course, her daughter immediately realized that it was old and second-hand--not anything like the new ones available, so Carrie offered to take it back. But it stayed long enough for her daughter to begin to like it...

Which was fortunate, because she soon went into labor!
My son-in-law had obtained work as a long-distance driver, and I had fallen into the habit these last few days of spending the day with my daughter, to be on hand should she go into labour
 “It’s only me,” I called as I let myself into her house by the back door the following morning. “I’ll bring you a cuppa up.” I plugged the kettle in, and while it boiled I popped tea bags in a couple of beakers and washed up yesterday’s tea things. With a beaker in either hand, I headed for the stairs. In the hall, I paused to nudge the sitting room door open and cast my usual satisfied glance at The Pram. I was surprised to see it sway gently. “That damn cat!” I said, imagining sharp claws ripping the luxury leather. “I’ll kill it!” I hurried over, dumping my beakers on the floor to free my hands. My mouth dropped open when I saw the sleeping baby with a fuzz of blonde hair. 
"The eiderdown was folded neatly at the bottom of the pram and the lacy shawl was pushed halfway down the small body, as if the baby had been restless. The hands, palm up on either side of a pale face, lazily uncurled and flexed. My brain seemed to scatter like seeds on the wind. The long lashes slowly lifted and pale blue eyes stared at me, unblinking.     Tiny hands reached out. She’s had it! my brain stuttered incredulously. She’s had the baby! I turned, knocking the beakers over, and rushed upstairs. I arrived by her bedside, panting. She was dozing, laid there like a beached whale. “You’ve— you’ve had the baby?” I asked.
 “Does it look like it?” she said irritably. “Won’t I be glad when the little brat arrives!” “It’s just that I— had a dream that— the baby was here—” 
“I wish! Boy or girl?” 
“I don’t know. It had blue eyes . . .”
 “Mum, all babies have blue eyes. They change later.”
 “Do they? I’ll fetch your tea.” I tiptoed downstairs and hesitantly approached The Pram. It was empty. That was twice now, I thought. Maybe I was going funny, seeing things. I mopped up the spilt tea, and hoped the carpet would dry out unstained. Popping bread in the toaster, I made fresh tea. I would have preferred a stiff gin and tonic. I didn’t tell my daughter about my strange experience. I didn’t want her to think that she had to rely on a loopy mother to help her through the birth.   
"At home, I lay in bed unable to sleep. I was worried. I went over and over the incident in my mind, like a terrier worrying a bone. Then I realised that there had been something odd about the baby. The white hand-knitted matinee jacket, tied with a bow of narrow satin ribbon under the chin, had fallen open to reveal an old-fashioned winceyette nightgown with an embroidered yoke of dainty pink rosebuds. Modern babies didn’t wear such things. They were kitted out in brightly coloured, easy-wash, off-the-peg gear, like the miniature adults they were. My grandchild even had denim jeans waiting . .  "The baby I had seen— thought I had seen— no, very definitely had seen, I acknowledged with a ripple of fear, had been an old-fashioned baby. Like the pram. From the past. A ghost baby . . ."

But when Carrie looked into the Pram one day, she had seen a baby. Or was she crazy? Thinking it over,   
naturally, Carrie assumed that if indeed she had seen a ghost, then it was attached to the pram itself. So she went back to the shop to see if she could find anything out about the owner and return the pram! The shop was gone--empty of any business and clearly that way for a long time.

“Time for her nap,” my daughter said. “She has to get into a routine. Come and see the comfy pram your Gran’s bought for you, sweetie.”
 “No!” I said urgently. “No! The Moses basket . . .”
 “This will be much more comfortable for my little precious.” 
For a heart beat the two babies lay side by side. I reached to snatch my grandchild, freezing in shock as my hands passed through the smiling phantom. It seemed to blur— and was gone. My granddaughter’s eyelids flickered. Opened. Blue eyes fixed on mine. She smiled. 
“She isn’t really smiling at you, Mum. It’s wind,” my daughter said, with her usual know-it-all air. 
A shiver crawled through me. What had happened there? 
Could the two babies really have merged?
The Pram soon went into the nearby river, with the hope that the ghost would stay with the buggy...It didn't... And then the baby started watching Carrie, as if wanting to be picked up. But Carrie couldn't get over the image of the two babies merging... Who would she be holding?

Carrie was the only one who knew anything about what she'd seen. How could she share it with anybody and not have them think she was crazy. Perhaps she was? How could she explain what she'd seem, especially since the shop was no longer there where she had bought the Pram...
“You murdered me.” 
“What?” I struggled upright. “Don’t talk nonsense. You’re here aren’t you?” Had this something to do with pushing the pram in the canal?   Had the image of the baby been inside? Even though I’d checked and it wasn’t. Murdered meant dead. This annoying child was far from dead. Dead was quiet. “Well?” 
I had never known a single word could hold such menace.

Could it get any worse? Oh yes, it could... Because it was quite clear that the ghost baby was there for Carrie! And then it spoke to her, wanting to know why Carrie had murdered her... 

Readers soon begin to pick up what was going on as Carrie tries to deal with the situation without talking to anybody else. She even took a trip back home, but found that only caused a different type of pain when she discovered her father was going into dementia and thought Carrie was once again 16--when it happened.

She did, however, on that trip chance to meet the young man she had once been in love with... Even though they had once been good friends, she could not tell him what was happening to her...
“Carrie, my love,” Gervaise said, from the doorway. “What‘s wrong?” 
Seeing him with the baby in his arms, her soft cheek pressed to his, seemed symbolic somehow. That the baby would latch on to him and disclose my damaging secret had been a constant fear. Thankfully, this disaster hadn’t happened. It was obvious that Gervaise was concerned about me... 
“You had no need to worry about Baby, Carrie, my love,” he said. “As you can see, she likes me now.” As he stepped towards me, the baby gave a hesitant smile and I felt a jab of pain in my head. Which was a clear indication that I didn’t want it near me and I pressed back on my pillows. “Keep away,” I said sharply. “Germs. Give Baby to her mother.”
A simple love story that has been told over and over across the world of young love, torn apart when parents begin to make decisions for that couple. The story created by Betty Woodcock is not only horrible to consider because of the controversial issue that continues in today's world, it puts the spotlight on those children who never make it into the world. Do they wish for revenge? Quite scary to contemplate, isn't it?

And if that were to occur...well, just try to get rid of it this time... Carrie certainly couldn't!

Woodcock not only gives us a scary tale based upon real life actions, but provides a well-written story line that allows us to consider the "what ifs" while we tell ourselves, over and over, it's just fiction, it's just fiction...it's just...

Horror galore in a simple small package... You decide because it may not be to your taste...Me, I thoroughly enjoyed it!


I live in a rural area of the UK, like reading, animals and travel. And, of course, writing. I enjoy creating people with problems to solve.
THE PRAM was published on Kindle in February, 2012. To my surprise it was a runaway success [no pun intended] and was featured on Kindle Book Today in July 2012, reaching #1 in Horror and #2 in Suspense, in UK. It was in the top listings for several weeks and also reached top 100 in US.
THE PRAM was featured twice on an Amazon email for Horror books.
I was also had a two page spread in my local paper.
SHIFTING SHADOWS followed in June 2012, but only climbed the Horror list to #32, but it was #16 in Germany, and reached #22 in Ghosts in US. It has also featured twice on an Amazon email.
Carol Naylor [The Sol Times, Spain has reviewed both books and in June asked me do an interview which appeared on two websites.
I don't quite know what to expect from 'Deception Unlimited' which will be my next book.
I'll keep you posted.

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