About Melissa Holden, MA

Melissa Holden is a BA and MA graduate in Creative Writing from Canterbury Christ Church University. She has published seven e-books, with more on the way. Melissa also writes as The Unplanned Mom on Wordpress, and is a new mom-of-one. Supporter of #IndieBooksBeSeen All social media - @melissaholden94

Immoral Immortal (Part 3) | FLASH FICTION

Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here. 

Ric stepped into Irving’s apartment and the lift doors slid quietly closed behind him. On the coffee table in front of the professor were piles of paperwork scattered all over the place, and a screen projection hovering a metre above the table with images flickering across it.

As he walked towards the living room, he glanced at the standing bar with a glass of whisky already poured and waiting. Irving had an identical one a hand’s stretch away from him on the table, but he was more concerned about the paperwork than the drink. Ric picked up the glass and swilled the dark liquid in the crystal glass and took a sip. He welcomed its rough heat. Ric took another sip before placing the glass down in a gap on the table and picking up the closest file to him. Each file seemed to be old police reports – all the pages had faded and yellowed with time. He could taste the dust in the air as he flicked through the papers.

 

WITNESS TESTIMONY

NAME: SIMON TIMOTHY ST. JAMES

DOB: 21ST JUNE 2055

OFFICER MCNALLY: Can you describe the assailant?

ST. JAMES: She was wearing a bright red dress and purple heels. And she had really red hair – like orange-red. I only saw her quick – so I didn’t see her face or nothing.

OFFICER MCNALLY: What did you see happen?

ST. JAMES: She walked down the alley where I’d seen a bloke in a suit go ‘bout five minutes before. Then there were loads of noise and she came out and he didn’.

OFFICER MCNALLY: Did you witness the crime?

ST. JAMES: Love, I jus’ told you – they went in the alley an’ only the lass came back out.

OFFICER MCNALLY: So, if you didn’t see a crime being committed, why did you call the police?

ST. JAMES: Saw the body though, didn’ I? Big ol’ hole right in his chest. I tell you what – I recons it was them heels the devil ‘ad on. Stabbed him through the heart, she did.

OFFICER MCNALLY: Did you see any other evidence that the woman in question was the one to commit the murder?

ST. JAMES: Well, I didn’t need any did I? She’s that Jessica Rabbit killer, aint she?

END OF INTERVIEW

 

Ric looked over to Irving, who had is head in his hand and was watching him closely.

‘They’re all the same. No one ever saw her close up, they never witnessed her actually committing the murders. There’s no proof it’s even the same woman – just the same clothes. Not that they would have been easy to get hold of. Even back then – they weren’t making items like that anymore, the uniform structure was already in place unless you were an elite or a Ward.’ Irving looked defeatedly at the mess of paperwork on his table and started scraping it together to make what vaguely resembled a pile.

‘No, she’s not dressed like a Ward. She’s… different. People try not to look at Wards – but her, well you just sort of can’t help it. She doesn’t belong somehow.’

‘What exactly did she look like?’

‘Like this.’ Ric said, waving the witness interview around. ‘Red hair, red dress, purple heels.’

‘But did you see her face?’

‘She looked right at me, Professor. The face of an angel. Except-.’ Ric stopped halfway through his thought.

‘What?’

‘Eyes. Her eyes! Fuck sake – I knew she looked different!’ Ric touched his index finger gently to his left eye and as he pulled it away, an artificial lens came with it. ‘She’s not wearing lenses.’ He stared at the glint of the lens. If he looked close enough, he could see the coding scrawling across the top. They recorded everything, they showed you everything. You could even link them with ear pieces and use them as an entertainment system. But Ric could never afford that. He put the lens carefully back in his eye and blinked a few times.

‘But everyone wears them – even the Wards. Even the President of the World wears fucking lenses. It’s the law. If you’re caught not wearing them, you’re arrested.’ Irving searched through the papers and pulled out the only sketch of the woman. But there was no face depicted in the image, just her signature outfit.

‘I know, but I’m telling you she wasn’t wearing them.’

‘You can’t get anywhere without them. One of the murders was committed in a Public Library – they do retinal scans to check your Clearance.’

‘So how did she get in?’ Ric asked, picking up his drink and taking a swig.

‘Someone’s helping her.’

– End of Part Three –

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Books Are For Everyone | Save Our Libraries

Here in the UK, there has been a lot of talk of libraries closing all over the country. The party line is because they aren’t used much anymore, but I call bullshit on that one.

When I was little, my favourite part of the week was Saturday morning. Every Saturday, my mother would walk me down to the town library and let me pick as many books as I could carry. I was not unlike to Roald Dahl’s Matilda. I couldn’t get enough of what those wonderful words had to teach me.

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As a writer, I am clearly biased when it comes to books. I have spent my life in awe of, crying at, laughing with, and sometimes even screaming at the pages of, books. Books are not just pieces of paper covered in the ink symbols we call the written word, but they are the door to limitless possibilities. 

Books can take a shy, introverted child and turn them into a communicative member of society. They teach us something at every stage of our lives: how to read, how to do sums, how to split the atom, how to love, even. Should that knowledge – that soulful education only a good book can give – not be free to all? 

There was a time that only those who could pay for literature were the only ones who got to cherish its pages, its knowledge. But libraries changed all of that. They gave everyone the opportunity to learn from, and enjoy books. Are we reverting to the prior? Are we about to steal all that information from the grasps of a child whose parents can’t afford books?

Around 15 per cent, or 5.1 million adults in England, can be described as ‘functionally illiterate.’ – LiteracyTrust.Org 

Do we really want those figures to get any higher? I sure as hell don’t. We are the homeland of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, JK Rowling, Charles Dickens, Stephen Fry and hundreds of incredibly influential authors. Who knows how many more beautiful words could be written and read with the help of public libraries.

Protect Library Services by signing this petition: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/228742 

Let It Snow – John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle| A YEAR IN BOOKS

Title: Let It Snow

Authors: John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

I don’t usually reach for festive books – let alone romance novels – but the combination of a cute cover and John Green’s name caught me initially. And then I started reading, and the book reeled me in all by itself.

As the book came out in 2008 – I am very late to the game with this one – I doubt you need an in-depth summary of the plot, so I’ll give you a brief one.

Let It Snow follows the story of Gracetown, a small American town in the middle of nowhere. It’s Christmas Eve and love – and the worse snowstorm for fifty years – is in the air.

The book is written in three parts, one part per author, and they take us on a journey through Gracetown as the snow takes its toll on cars, cheerleaders, and relationships.

All the characters in the novel are individual and brilliant in their own right, but my favourite pair had to be Stuart and Jubilee. They are the beautiful result of kindness from a stranger and a derailed train (a train whose passengers make quite the effect on Christmas Eve).

Stuart is a heartbroken, sweet, brotherly guy who opens his home to Jubilee on Christmas Eve when she bravely ventures away from the train in search of warmth. His over-bearing but harmless, Jewish mother is determined to get the two of them together and makes it her personal mission in life to do so.

Jubilee has found herself alone on Christmas Eve after her parents are charmingly arrested in a brawl at a Flobie House sale, and she gets sent to California to spend the holidays with her grandparents.

But then, as her day gets worse and she ends up in a Waffle House full of cheerleaders in an attempt to escape the broken-down train, a handsome stranger invites her home for Christmas.

I could spend hours talking about this book – and I probably will to my S.O (feel sorry for him!), but you would probably get bored of hearing about it, so I’ll make my point.

Let It Snow is a charming, witty, off-beat Christmas romance novel, that shows that every story has another side, that every loner, weirdo and shy teen deserves love, and that Christmas Eve is the kind of day where magic can happen – even in a snowstorm.

Star Rating: *****

Immoral Immortal: Flash Fiction (Part 2)

Part One Summary: Ric sees a woman on the shuttle who looks just like the infamous serial killer, Ruby Bennett, whose look was modelled on the cartoon character Jessica Rabbit. Ric is left wondering whether the woman he saw was the real serial killer, still alive over 300 years later, or an imposter – both options are highly unlikely but possible.

Part Two: 

In the days that followed, Ric spent every spare moment researching Ruby Bennett, which was hard as he didn’t have Additional Education Clearance. He was a semi-skilled worker with Basic Education Level 4, with some Leisure Privileges – meaning most info stamps were out of his grasp. Ric had reached out to an old professor of his, Prof. Irving Stiles, implying it was research for a friend and was awaiting a response but didn’t hold out much hope.

In the meantime, he sought out as much as he could about Wards. He had seen them in the shuttles or on the streets, and the occasional one in a bar – but they wore a brighter red and never clothes so revealing. It was all part of the chase, the modesty, the allure of the hidden beauty under all the layers of scarves and linen robes. Men would pay a fortune just to see them naked – not even to touch them. Only the wealthiest men could afford such pleasures. Some of them even had Personal Wards – loyal only to them – but they were rare as many Wards lived in huge mansions in groups for their safety.

Ric had never considered paying for a Ward. He had encountered free-women in his youth and had even once had a wife for a brief but happy four years, but then she caught the Fire Fever during an outbreak and died. They had no children so Ric was left a widower and was free to marry again. But he never met another woman that held a candle to his departed wife, so he remained alone.

Ric kept looking for the woman on the shuttle, but after nine days of no sight of her, he began to wonder if he had made the whole thing up. Had he been dreaming; tired from a laborious day in the forest? Or had he truly seen a woman dressed as Ruby Bennett, and if so – why on earth would a woman dress as a 300-year-old serial killer from the 21st century?

Just as Ric had begun to give up, he received a comm from Irving with a vague message and an address. ‘Meet me to talk about your project. 122 34. JR D245’.

After his shift, Ric jumped on the shuttle heading North instead of South, and got off in the JR subsection. The country was divided into divisions, and then each division was split into subsections. Within each subsection were numbered blocks with individual living units. Ric headed through the streets to find Block 34. It was a much grander block than the one he lived in. it had plants out the front, and six steps leading up to huge wooden doors. It was unusual to see wood used in an almost decorative function after deforestation led to near-extinction of many species of trees. It had taken nearly two hundred years to genetically modify the spores to grow trees again, making them rare and very expensive.

Ric climbed the steps and put his thumb on the touch pad to the left of the door. The screen lit up with a keypad, and he typed in 122 for the unit number. The AI selected ‘122’ on the screen, and started to flash yellow. After a few seconds, the number turned green and Ric heard the door click open. He entered the lift and it zoomed up for a moment, and then to the left for several seconds, before stopping at 122. The lift doors opened into the unit, and Ric saw Irving sat on his sofa, surrounded by piles of faded papers and comm-screens.

‘Get in here.’ Irving said, a concerned look on his face. ‘Tell me everything you know, Ric – and don’t spare a single detail.’

Immoral Immortal: A Fantasy Crime Flash Fiction (Part One)

What would you do if you met a serial killer from the past that looked just like Jessica Rabbit?

Here is Part One of my new Flash Fiction – let me know what you think in the comments, and if you would like a Part Two. 


Immoral Immortal – Part One

As Ric looked up from the floor, a flash of deep crimson caught his gaze. He no longer found his shoes satisfying enough to ponder, and instead set to task trying to work out what he had glimpsed. A longer look intrigued him even more. He had seen pictures in the info stamps of old of the image before him. A woman in a svelte red crushed velvet dress, long auburn waves tumbling over her shoulders and black heels that would pierce even a giant’s skin. Ric often thought the shuttles in his hive were some of the cleanest, but she was out of place, making it seem dingy and dark compared to her.

Ric tried not to gawk as he attempted to remember the tale. Back in the 20th century, there was a film with a cartoon woman called Jessica Rabbit – who was apparently rather pretty and illustrious – and decades later a serial killer emerged, dazzling her victims dressed as this character. She was never caught in the twenty-five years she was active – she just disappeared one day and was never heard from again. Ric knew it couldn’t be the same woman, nearly 300 years later, but it made him wonder what would compel a woman to dress like that these days. It was hardly inconspicuous – only Wards wore red in public, and they were never left unaccompanied.

A Ward or Wardling was a member of an elite group of women, said to be the most beautiful and alluring women from all over the world. They would be chosen from their hometown as a young girl and trained and transformed into Wards. Men would pay a whole year’s wages just for an hour with a Ward. They were said to be multi-lingual, excellent dancers and able to charm men into abandoning their wives and children with just a whispered sentence in the ear of a willing man. But even Wards didn’t wear dresses like that.

Ric’s brain noticed before the rest of him had time to catch up, but the woman was slowly slinking towards him, and before he could close his mouth, she was sat on the seat next to him, her legs daintily crossed over one another. He attempted a casual nod but felt he probably looked like a seal pup begging for fish. Ric looked at his shoes again.

They were standard issue black shoes, leading to the plain black trousers and a black polo shirt. Some people chose to buy clothes themselves, but Ric had never much minded the government-issued wardrobe. He had seven of each item of clothing – in case they needed to be washed or mended. And every year he received a new pack in that year’s chosen colour. This year was black in tribute to the cenotaph of the Fallen Founders – the legendary warriors that had overthrown the monarchy and tragically lost their lives in the battles that followed.

Most people on the shuttle were wearing the same thing or had the additional black jacket for warmth. Ric was glad he hadn’t grabbed his before work that morning, as he could feel the heat swelling through his body as the woman glanced sidewards at him with a slight smile on her red lips. Several minutes passed before the shuttle began to slow and the conductor announced the next stop. Ric snuck glimpses to his left every now and then, pondering her clothes. She truly looked the part of the Jessica Rabbit killer, although he couldn’t remember the real woman’s name.

She stood up as the shuttle came to a stop and the doors slid open. Just as she reached the doors, the woman turned to face him, smiled and said, ‘Her name was Ruby Bennett’, and stepped off onto the platform.

To Finish or Not To Finish: a Novel in Limbo

I spend a lot of my time sat in the dark as I feed my baby, staring at a picture of a girl in a yellow dress. And now one thing for sure: her story isn’t over yet.

When I started my Master’s a year ago, I did it with the intention of using the time to work on the sequel to Searching For Katherine (r.2014), which has sat unfinished in my proverbial desk draw for the past three years.

However, three months into my course – I found out I was pregnant. Overwhelmed by work, university and now pregnancy – the novel remained unfinished.

Well now I am on maternity leave, my degree has come to an end, and I have a month-old baby boy – my time is both free and less so at the same time.

Hanging on my living room wall is the original sketch – done by an old friend of mine – of the cover for Searching For Katherine.

It is of Katherine in a torn yellow dress, walking through the forest. I always loved the drawing because it was of a pivotal moment in Katherine’s story; of limbo. She finds herself leaving one hell, with no promise of salvation or safety once she gets wherever she’s going – but she still takes the journey. And thus, I too am in limbo when it comes to this book.

But now it’s time to come out of the forest and choose a path. Do I scrap the book altogether, and take time as a sign that some books just shouldn’t be finished? Do I pick up where I left off? Or do I start the manuscript again; and embellish it with the things I have learned in life since last writing it?

I always felt a duty to Katherine to finish her story, I still intend on doing so, but perhaps not in the way I originally planned.

I think I’ll dust off the old hard drive tomorrow and see where we left off, and if there is a story yet to be salvaged.

We Are Flowers | Stream of Consciousness

A field, full of armoured tanks and soldiers and guns – covered in beautiful, cut and wild flowers.

We march past, and people stop to take photos – turning war into Instagram.

We are flowers – once growing and beautiful but cut for the purpose of display and beauty, so we die. We add chemicals or dyes, we flatten and press them to try and preserve the life we have already taken. But we are flowers – once cut from our stem, we perish.

And as is the way of things. A beauty designed not to last. We are ruined by the spoils of greed and war – wanting more world than our home grown field. But one flower only needs one home to nurture it.

We long for youth and beauty and longevity- but they cannot co-exist. Time will make graves from us all.