The Dandelion Clock

 

This superb tale by Rebecca Bryn takes the reader beyond the Earl Haig Fund, and the sale of poppies and badges—it truly highlights some reasons for Remembrance.

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is one of two good causes receiving the royalties from sales.

Story Description by Rebecca Bryn

Click graphic for details

The Dandelion Clock is a story of young lovers torn apart by war. While Bill fights in Gallipoli, Egypt, and Palestine and endures the hardships and tragedies of war with his beloved horse, Copper, Florrie fights her own war at home in England and dreams of marriage to Bill.

Florrie’s widowed father is an abusive and violent drunkard, and she is bringing up her six siblings as best she can with rationing, poverty, and the loss of her menfolk – a mirror of my grandmother’s young life.

In times of self-doubt, Florrie turns to her dandelion clocks, ‘He lives; he lives not – he loves me; he loves me not.’ Can Bill survive to keep his promise to Florrie to marry her, and can he bring his old warhorse home safe? Will Bill and Florrie’s love survive five years apart?

 

The Inspiration for this story, by Rebecca Bryn – the author

The Dandelion Clock was inspired by some old photos I found when moving house. My grandparents, Bill and Florrie were a huge influence on my young life and the photos brought back both happy and sad memories. Here was Grandad mounted on his beloved horse—a horse that took him to Egypt and Palestine during the First World War and carried him into battle. His love of horses was something I inherited and which dominated my life for many years, so it was natural, when I began to tell Bill’s story, that his horse would play as important a part as his sweetheart, Florrie.

Researching and writing The Dandelion Clock opened my eyes to the sacrifices my grandparents and those of their generation made. It opened my eyes to the suffering and the hardships endured by both man and horse in the scorching heat of a waterless desert, and the freezing snow of Gallipoli.

The author’s grandfather

“I marched with the Royal Buckinghamshire Hussars across the salt flat before Chocolate Hill with no cover and Turkish guns on the hills around them picking them off like shooting fish in a barrel. I watched men and horses die of heat exhaustion in the Sinai Desert and learnt to stab, twist, and pull a bayonet. I watched the light go out of the eyes of men I had no cause to hate for a war I didn’t understand, and I came home to a country I barely recognised with wounded men begging on the streets, poverty, and few jobs, and wondered what I’d fought for.”

War changes people, as it changed my grandfather. The effects are far-reaching, far beyond the 40,000,000 casualties, of whom 20,000,000 of these died, and 11,000,000 of the dead were civilians. That leaves some 9,000,000 military deaths – young men, some volunteers but mostly conscripted who downed tools and marched to war never to return. The Dandelion Clock seeks to honour the men and horses of the Great War and the women who waited at home ‘keeping the home fires burning’ through rationing, poverty, and loss of their menfolk.

Royalties go to two charities:

ABF The Soldiers Charity

I felt the need to honour the courage of the soldiers of The Great War in some more charitable way, so I asked around some ex-military friends and was recommended a charity that supports both serving and veteran soldiers and their families. Half the royalties from pre-orders and sales of The Dandelion Clock up to Remembrance Day Centenary on November 11th 2018 will be donated to ABF The Soldiers Charity, a charity that supports soldiers, military widows, and their families through their darkest times. Their youngest beneficiary is 2-years-old and their oldest 106-years-old. With so many wounded men, some suffering shellshock, and many bereaved families, this is a charity that would have been greatly appreciated in 1918.

A hand up, not a hand out – “In 1944, around 3 million British soldiers were at war, notably in France, Italy and Burma, but with the end in sight, the Army Board realised that the State would not be able to provide for all the needs of those who would soon return to civilian life. The Army Benevolent Fund came into being on 15th August 1944. The “Fund for the Soldier” is, as The Times said, “an object none can question” because the soldier is what it is all about. In its first year, the Charity was ‘pump-primed’ with the huge sum of £1.5m from the NAAFI’s profits, enabling the Charity to make much-needed grants. – ABF The Soldiers’ Charity has a well-established and substantial grants programme of support to charities and organisations that provide lifetime support to soldiers, veterans and their immediate families. We will normally fund up to 100 charities in a given year which deliver support on behalf of the Army and ourselves.”

Brooke

The other half of my royalties will go to Brooke. It wasn’t until I reached the part in my story where I sought a way to bring Bill’s horse, Copper home, that I discovered the horrific end many of the faithful and courageous warhorses suffered. The Brooke is a charity that now rescues horses, mules, and donkeys in some of the poorest parts of the world.

Every horse remembered – “On arrival in Egypt in 1930, Dorothy Brooke was determined to find the surviving ex-warhorses of the British, Australian and American forces. These brave and noble horses were sold into a life of hard labour in Cairo when the conflict ended.

Searching for them throughout Cairo, Dorothy was appalled to find hundreds of emaciated and worn-out animals desperately in need of help. She wrote a letter to the Morning Post (which later became the Daily Telegraph) exposing their plight.

The public were so moved they sent her the equivalent of £20,000 in today’s money to help end the suffering of these once proud horses.

Within three years, Dorothy Brooke had purchased five thousand ex-warhorses. Most were old, exhausted and had to be humanely put down. But thanks to her compassion, they ended their lives peacefully.

Dorothy Brooke knew thousands of hard-working horses, donkeys and mules still suffered so in 1934 she founded the Old War Horse Memorial Hospital in Cairo, with the promise of free veterinary care for all the city’s working horses and donkeys. The Brooke Hospital for Animals was born.”

I also donate money to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum each year from sales of Touching the Wire – a story of the women of Auschwitz – to honour the victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Go to https://www.ushmm.org to help further Holocaust education.

It feels wrong to make money from the suffering of others, but in relating their stories, I hope to keep their memories alive, and donating is one way I can give something back to charities that would have been close to their hearts.

About the Author

 

Originally from Kettering, in Northamptonshire, Rebecca Bryn lives in West Wales with her husband and dog where she paints the fabulous coastal scenery and writes historical, mystery, and post-apocalyptic tales with a twist. She believes you shouldn’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins and to date has a 100% success rate at surviving. :

 

 

My personal view of the story

Try if you will, to go without food for a day, or a decent hot drink, or sleep … having worn the same clothes for days on end in a range of temperatures. What could be worse? Place yourself in adverse conditions and introduce a few ground-shaking bombs and an enemy firing at you.

Have you considered the ability to clean and service your rifle and equipment?

How about aiming and firing back at the enemy from a water-filled, muddy trench.

Combine these things with the remorseless ‘duty-bound’ attitude of your leadership—now you have a tiny vision of life in The Great War.

Be rewarded for playing your part

If you’d like to help Rebecca support these charities and get a wonderful book to read, you can pre-order The Dandelion Clock. The eBook is currently available on pre-order at the special price of 99p/99c until September 4th. On release, September 5th it will be priced at £1.99/$2.99.

This book is also available in paperback.

Contact Rebecca Bryn:

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/rebeccabryn

Bookbub page: – https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rebecca-bryn-5527e97a-146a-49e7-95c7-a30b0f603c80

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/authorshow/8434030.RebeccaBryn

Website: – https://rebeccabrynblog.wordpress.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/rebeccabryn1

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.bryn.novels

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/jandrcoulson

Google +: https://plus.google.com/+RebeccaBryn

Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmjL99ImZV_TdNpDaOxiVOw

And : http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/rebecca-bryn

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A Day of Reckoning

 

Eric Lahti, a fellow author, blogger and member of the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group on Facebook produced a challenge.

He suggested a short story of around 1,000 words inspired by the graphic used below.

My response was ‘A Day of Reckoning‘, a story of honour and vengeance.

***

Red Light District pic

Monday, 15th February 2010
Glasgow, Scotland

Lei Mei arrived into Glasgow Airport at 7am and made her way to the city using the shuttle bus service. It was impersonal transport, so she wouldn’t be noticed. She wore no makeup, and maintained an impassive expression.

The 30-year-old walked to Buchanan Street, where she found a busy early morning cafe. She ordered a traditional meal, with tea, and avoided making small talk. At her table, Lei used the map on her phone to locate her destination. It would take ten minutes to reach on public transport, or thirty minutes on foot. She walked.

Lei strolled along Sauchiehall Street, and chose a department store where there would be a washroom. Unlike most international travellers, the bag she carried over her shoulder contained all her needs. It held makeup, underwear, three changes of outfit, and travel documents.

On her departure through the store, both men and women gave her approving looks. Her long hair was centre-parted and brushed so it cascaded over her shoulders like a sheet of black silk. False lashes and makeup enhanced her natural oriental beauty. She wore a bright yellow blouse and black mini-skirt, complemented with black high heels.

It took her a further twenty minutes to reach her destination. She arrived in Cowcaddens and assessed the modern six-storey block as she approached. At a bus shelter less than 50 metres from the building, an old Chinaman in vibrant traditional dress waited alone. He had a straggly grey beard, and his long hair hung in a pigtail down his back.

Lei stepped into the bus shelter, glanced at the advertising posters, and then stared at the bus route timetable without reading. She half-turned to the old man to speak.

“Do you use this route often, wise one?”

He stood in regal pose, arms folded across his body, and hands inside the wide cuffs of the opposite arm.

“I walk,” the man said. “I prefer the light, and do not act in the darkness.”

“On occasion, we are compelled to act in the darkness,” Lei said. “I have no choice.”

The old man closed his eyes, and nodded imperceptibly. He handed Lei a wrapped item, and in exchange accepted her shoulder bag.

Lei’s ruby lips twitched. She gave a slight bow, turned and walked away.

Half an hour later, Lei revisited the old man at the bus shelter. His wrinkled face broke into a brief smile on her return.

“Use the subway,” he suggested, returning her shoulder bag. “Stay strong and true, child of Mei Bhei.”

*

Manchester, England

It was early evening, raining and chilly when Lei arrived into Manchester city centre. While on the train, she’d removed her makeup, and tied her hair back in a ponytail. The smart costume was replaced by the drab outfit, lightweight coat and stout shoes.

She left Manchester Piccadilly Station, and made her way towards Chinatown.

In a small newsagent’s close to Faulkner Street, Lei met a Chinaman. He was similar to the man she’d met in Glasgow, but was older, wearier and used a cane. He exchanged a small package for Lei’s shoulder bag.

He said, “Remain strong.”

Following her second meeting of the day, Lei was again greeted with a smile when she retrieved her bag.

“May honour guide you, child of Mei Bhei.”

She smiled briefly, nodded, and was gone.

*

London, England

Lei caught a late evening train from Manchester and ate on the journey. When she reached Soho she was tired. She was wearing makeup again, and had changed into an attractive outfit, just like Glasgow and Manchester.

She left the meeting in Soho as a downpour began. Lei stopped at a late-night store to buy an umbrella. She used one hand to button her coat, as she hurried to Tottenham Court Road tube station to retrieve her floral bag.

A glance over her shoulder confirmed two figures following her, but she had difficulty walking faster in heels.

*

Tuesday, 16th February 2010
New Scotland Yard,
London, England

Detective Chief Inspector Harry Flynn pulled on latex gloves to inspect the mysterious parcel which had been delivered overnight. He placed the contents on his desk, and lifted the envelope. Harry removed the two sheets of paper and read aloud.

“DCI Flynn,
My father was Chief Inspector Mei Bhei. He was your mentor during your attachment to the Hong Kong Police Department in 2008. One month ago Mei Bhei was kidnapped, tortured and left to die in an alleyway.

Three key Triad figures orchestrated the kidnapping and subsequent events. The perpetrators had been invited to Hong Kong from their operational bases in the UK.

You will find these men in Glasgow, Manchester and London. I have executed them, and in each case, I cut out the tongue and replaced it with the testicles. Each man bled to death.

I have provided you with appropriate details to avoid lengthy investigations and enquiries. Before you, there will be a floral shoulder bag, two sealed bags, each containing a blade with traces of victim’s DNA.

Attached to this letter is a list of the dead men and their addresses. You will also have my three counterfeit passports, and list of airports used on my extended route from Hong Kong to the UK.

If I didn’t retrieve my bag following the third execution, it means I was unable to avoid detection. These people contacted each other regularly for their own protection, so I had to deal with all three within 24 hours.

On the attached sheet is a band-aid which carries my DNA. My body will be left in a public place.

Anybody touching my bag used the strap, which will now be missing from the bag, so my assistants are untraceable.

Please, do not waste resources looking for my murderers.

Lei Mei Bhei, Detective Inspector
Hong Kong Police Department”

*

The intercom buzzed.

“Sir,” the assistant said. “A young woman’s body has been discovered in Soho.”

DCI Flynn closed his eyes. “Bastards!”

***