Mortal End: At The End of Her Tether

The above title and following excerpt are a work in progress; a prequel of sorts to my dark fantasy/gothic horror novel, Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery.

I had hoped to have completed this second book in the series some years back but life happened. Having published the first book in 2014, I was busily working on this book when my world imploded and everything I knew turned into a life I did not know and I was overwhelmed.

The details (should you want them) are explained more fully in my blog (start with this post: Only Dead On The Inside ), but in essence my mother was widowed and as she has dementia/Alzheimer’s, my husband and I gave up our freedom and sanity in LA to return to London to be here for her.

For the most part, life has been nothing but extreme stress, heartache and trauma ever since.

Writing is often a tool that can be used to work through such things – which, if you follow my blog, you will have read many of my streams of consciousness with regard to ‘life,’ and in particular my life – that I put down in writing. Rather than lose the plot, I try to create a plot.

However, writing fiction, when the bones of the story are taken from what you know – and in my case what I know is abandonment/childhood sexual abuse/physical and mental abuse etc – putting one word in front of another only happens when I relive the emotions/sounds/smells and horrors of the past; my past.

I want to complete this book – it’s not all terror inducing, as you will know if you read Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery, which is filled with humour and is very much tongue in cheek – but the reality is that in order to create a storyline, I have to (re)live the story as I write it.

My intention, as ever, is to have enough brainspace and easing up on the PTSD that I can complete this manuscript in 2021, as it’s definitely a story worth telling…and reading.

Here goes:



Pitch black.

Protracted pupils stretching and pulling to let in any stray and desolate rays of light, of which there was none. Or wide open purely from the sheer and absolute terror that was invading her very being.  

The solid darkness disabled Martyr’s ability to comprehend her surroundings. She felt like she had been swallowed whole by hell and was rapidly falling down past its slimy gullet and into its bile filled and regurgitating stomach. A lifeless vacuum….or worse still, a lively vacuum that was efficiently sucking the last of the oxygen molecules from every nook and cranny of this nether world.

The cloying aroma was stale and dank and so thick Martyr felt it stick in her throat and expand like she had anaphylactic shock. Her gasps for breath were so shallow that her shrunken lungs were banging on the inside of her ribcage and her trachea was burning and dry.

Martyr could taste blood and grit in her mouth. She was convinced that her alveoli were turning to dust in her chest and the weight of the detritus was like a damp sandbag against her already straining diaphragm. 

The incessant screaming was both inside and outside of her head. A deafening lament filled the abyss and Martyr’s Eustachian tubes, slicing through her delicate golden haired head.

Any remnants of sanity were about to leave this place, which is what Martyr should have done, too. It wasn’t going to get any better any time soon. If it ever got better at all.

The indecent prod in her teenage backside brought her back to reality.


“I…I can’t. I can’t see where I’m going.”

“Just put one knee in front of the other and crawl. We are almost there now.”

Martyr’s father was not providing any great comfort to her with his gruff instructions. Not that he ever could. Martyr was wary of her father and quite rightly so. He did not behave in any way that fathers were supposed to and now she realised, too late and somewhere in the bowels of this basement, that he had tricked her yet again.

“Help me,” he had said.

Martyr had heard it all before but knew that it wasn’t a polite request, it was a commandment and so she had resignedly complied as she always did. However, this barely foot high tunnel that she now found herself dragging her deadened and seeping limbs through was a new horror. He had surpassed himself with this particular joyless and chilling experience.

Martyr, as instructed, placed one shredded knee in front of the other with difficulty and winced. The walls of the tunnel really were closing in on her and there was hardly enough room to stop still let alone move forward but she had to. There was definitely no turning back – apart from the fact that her father’s heavy and rancid breath was on the back of her neck, this tight space was so enclosed that there was no way at all that she would be able to turn around even if her life depended on it, which she was beginning to believe it did.

So, onwards she went, for what seemed like a lifetime. Reaching out with her nervous and tender young fingers, Martyr was afraid of what she might encounter in the blackness ahead of her, as she painfully inched forward to her doom.

The crawlspace came to a sudden end as Martyr’s fingers felt cold metal. With her father right behind her, the claustrophobia that had been stifling her throughout this venture, engulfed her sanity and immediately made her lose her senses and control of her bodily functions.

Martyr could go no further and could also not turn around.

Malodorous from his recent exertions, Martyr’s father filled the underworld tube with a repugnant hot and sweaty steam. Like garbage that creates its own heat as it rots, so did this foul man especially as he leaned over his terrified and soiled daughter, as he sought to unlock the metal door that was blocking their way.

With a groan the door opened inwards and both Martyr and her father fell in to an equally dark and damp but rather larger chamber.  Martyr could sense the space as noise was allowed a moment of existence before it was extinguished by the airless dungeon.

Using what was left of her upper body strength, Martyr pulled herself through the doorway and attempted to get upright. Having been on her hands and knees for so long, her spine was not having it and refused to obey her demands. Each vertebrae unfolded with a creaking protest, leaving her standing in curved position and an indescribable pain in her lower back. Upon realising that the ceiling of this cell was unable to withstand her full height anyway, Martyr remained crooked and stumbled about trying to regain her balance….of body and mind.

Martyr knew this was not good and had an educated inkling that whatever came next was going to be far worse. Worse than anything she could ever imagine.

And she was going to be proved right.

© Toula Mavridou-Messer 2015 All Rights Reserved


A, B, C of Christmas Day (inspired by Edward Gorey)

A is for the Angst of whether Santa has been

B is for Bilious Burning sensations, eating all that you’ve seen

C is for Cranky and Cabin fever Cold sweats

D is for Disappointment and credit card Debts

E is for Exorbitance and unbridled Excess

F is for Face-filling, and Flagitious Faith-less-ness

G is for Grasping, Gluttony and Greed

H is for Heathens, proud of all their misdeeds

I is for Infidels hijacking the Holiest of Days

J is for Jesus turning in his tomb at blatant paganistic ways

K is for Karmic acknowledgment piled under the tree

L is for Languorously getting over the spree

M is for Mentally Matriculating amounts having spent

N is for drunken Nonsense weakly denying the Nastiness meant

O is for Overt Opulence, Overspending again

P is for Petulant Pouting and being Profane

Q is for Quagswaggling packages and Quackling on cake

R is for Recoiling from Reprobate ‘Uncle’, the Rake

S is for Swiftly Scarfing down Savouries and Sweets

T is for Tremendously Tacky Tat and TV repeats

U is for the Ungrateful and Ungracious within our midst

V is for the Violation of the Virgin Verging on dismissed

W is for Whinging, Whining and Whimpering

X is for over Xenodochial simpering

Y is for Yapness, immoderately fed

Z is for sheer exhaustion and catching some Zzzzzzz’s

Copyright © 2011 Toula Mavridou-Messer 

All rights reserved.  No part of this article may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the copyright owners.

We Make Plans, God Laughs


You know that old Yiddish proverb, “We make plans, God laughs”? Well, I just had one of those moments of clarity that sums that up entirely.

In 2014, we created and published three books: one novel – Mortal End, one book of alliteration – Pocketful of Poesies and one coffee table book – 100% Simply Perfect Photographs.

We had every intention of following that up with Mortal End, Too (it’s a work in progress – much of which has been written or planned  – there’s that word again!), more alliterative stories in Poesies 2 and a photographic book “100% Simply Portland.”

And yep, you’ve guessed it – none of those have been completed for various reasons – the biggest one being that life happened and God laughed.

I won’t go into the boring details but we had to move country, started jobs, spent spare time with Mum….and before we knew it time had truly flown.

The plans to create further books is always a priority.

Spare time is spent researching, plotting, chasing for various permissions, drafting but we were being too hard on ourselves – trying to do too much in too little time.

God was laughing at our plans.

Until now.

Or at least that’s what I hope.

God may now chuckle and we will chuckle too, but laugh? No.

This time we are just following our hearts. No plans.

The next book we ‘hope’ to bring to you will be the story and images of our extremely recent Wild West Road Trip. It’s something that is fresh in our hearts and minds, including jet-lag. It was so mind-blowing that whilst our minds are wide open and filled with inspiration, we will do all that we can to get those thoughts and recollections down on paper and published asap to share with you.

Fortunately, I have learned that when we live spontaneously and follow our hearts magic happens.






FREE Excerpt – Mortal End, Too [working title]

They say that everyone has a book in them. Having already published Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery, I am now working on finding another book that does justice to the original and breathes more life into our detective duo: Aenus P. Wordsworth and Savant Poe.

Mortal End, Too [working title] is coming to life. I have written a number of the first chapters and am plotting out the rest of the book. I got caught up in research – I was warned that might happen, ahem – and life happened so it is taking longer than I had anticipated.

It’s not an easy thing to do – write a book. To write a second book is even harder BUT when each word appears on the page and the pages multiply, the sense of achievement is almost as profound as leaving that last square of chocolate.

I’d value your support, so please feel free to read the early chapters and join me on this journey to Mortal End.

FREE Excerpt of Mortal End, Too

FREE Excerpt – Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery



Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery is the first in a series of gothic horror ‘whodunnits.’

Detective duo Aenus P. Wordsworth and Savant Poe uncover the mystery of the fire in Phooka Wood and many unsavoury surprises along the way. The story, a romp through true crime and fairytale, has achieved consistently high ratings and fabulous reviews.

If you enjoy the Grimm world of Dickens, Pratchett and Monty Python and the visual worlds of Tim Burton, this is definitely a read for you.

FREE Excerpt of Mortal End: A Simmering Pit of Jiggery Pokery