Darlene Foster's Blog

Terror in the Tower

Posted on: March 15, 2018

I am submitting this story to Stevie Turner´s Short Story Competition  You may want to submit one as well.

This story was inspired by a visit to Clifford´s Tower in York.

Terror in the Tower
Darlene Foster

The tower ruin overlooks the city from high on a grassy mound. Angela pulls her sweater tighter around her as she glances up. She experiences the same chill every time she walks past the site.
When she was seven, her mother took her up to the old stone keep. From a small window, she saw a girl looking out at her through iron bars. Fire blazed behind the child. It had frightened her so.
“Mommy, we need to help that little girl,” exclaimed Angela.
Her mother took her hand and said, “There are no children in there. It must be a trick of the sun reflecting off the water.”
The sad, terrified and helpless child appeared very real.
Angela shudders as she recalls that day. She rushes to work.
It was the feast of Shabbat ha-Gadol. Instead of the usual tables overflowing with food, around her lay the dead bodies of friends and neighbours. The smell of fresh blood and smouldering wood filled the thick air. Ester searched for Jacob and Marta in the crowded tower. She witnessed parents slitting their children’s throats and then their own. Terrified, Ester tried to look away, but it was the same everywhere.
Since she didn’t have any parents, she stayed with old Jacob the moneylender and his kind wife, Marta. For her board, she cleaned the house, made meals and ran errands. Ester stumbled in the smoke-filled keep looking for the only family she knew. Eventually, she found them, dead in each other’s arms on a bed of straw soaked with maroon blood. A curved butcher’s knife lay beside them.
Did they forget about me? Did Jacob slit his wife’s throat and then his own?
The flames and smoke of the burning wood tower closed around her.
A growing mob outside yelled, “Come out, you dirty Jews.”
Why is this happening? We were promised safety in the tower.
She peered through the iron bars of a low window. Angry people outside the tower waved swords, scythes and pitchforks. It was safer to stay inside. It was better to die by your own hand. That is what the Rabbi said.
In the crowd, she caught the clear blue eyes of a girl her age. A girl dressed in fine clothing. Maybe she can help me. Ester mouthed the word Help.
The girl pointed to the window and said, “Look, Mother, there is a little girl in the tower. It is burning. We must help her.”
Ester saw an elegant woman take the child´s hand and pull her away. “There are no children in there, Angelina. Let us go away from this awful place.”
Ester coughed from the thick smoke and fell backwards. The flames engulfed her.
Nine centuries later Angela feels the eyes of Ester pleading for help as she hurries past Clifford’s Tower on the way to her Hebrew lessons. One day she will stop and help the child.

58 Responses to "Terror in the Tower"

A powerful re-telling of a dreadful story, with a wonderful hint of the supernatural.

I´m pleased you liked it. I had a strange feeling when I first visited this place and only later discovered this terrible part of its history.

On our one and only visit to York we climbed the grassy knoll to Clifford’s Tower, attracted to it because of my husband’s first name and look of a strong fortress. I had no idea about the mythical legends of the story, which you may have used as a springboard for this story of terror.

I believe your husband is British, and he may be from York. 🙂

You are right, hubby is from York and we got married there. I´m sure Cliff was pleased to see a tower named after him. Just like we had to go into Paul´s cafe in Aix en Provence.
I was appaled when I first heard about this terrible event in the tower’s history. I knew I would have to write a story based on it one day.

Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

Thanks Darlene for submitting to my competition.

You are so welcome and thanks for running this contest.

I like to think it helps authors to get their work seen by more eyes!

Gripping and poignant story to bring the sad history of this tower to light.

Darlene, to be honest, when I first read your short story, I thought, ‘what a terrible imagination this person has…’. Then, it struck me and I did some research into Clifford Castle and the circumstance to which you alluded. I was shocked, but why should I be considering the way humans treat each other and the suffering by the Jews. Your story was so poignant. Whenever you can move someone to do some research, you’ve done a great job.

I´m pleased to hear that my story enticed you to do some research.Thanks so much for visiting and commenting.

I love how you took some history and made it a story about persecution. I was very moved, but it also gave me chills. I like how you use the two girls to connect past and present.

I’m pleased the story had that effect. Your comments mean a lot to me.

A powerful story, Darlene. Wow!

That is the reaction I was aiming for. Pleased it worked. Sadly this is based on a real event. And people are still being persecuted – when will we ever learn?

A real event— terrible. Yes, when will people learn? Thanks, Darlene.

Nice one, Darlene, and a bit of a departure for you, I feel.
European History is full of horrors like this one. We used to camp in a lovely little town on the banks of the river Seine between Paris and Rouen called Les Andelys which has a castle built by Richard The Lionheart, Château Gaillard, and after his death, when the king of France laid siege to the town, many civilians trying to escape were shut outside the castle and died of exposure and starvation. The blood curls!

Unfortunately, history has many sad stories like this and it still happens today. I just read a story that takes place in Rwanda, with its recent horrors. You would think humankind would learn, wouldn´t you? Yes, it is something different for me but I need to stretch my writing muscles from time to time!

Love the history with the touch of supernatural – both sad and compelling, Darlene.

I think this is more your department than mine but I like to try different things from time to time. Pleased you liked it, Teri!

This story seems very familiar to me, have I read it before, I wonder? As others have said, it’s chilling and you’ve created a lot of atmosphere in only a small number of words.

You may have. I wrote it a few years ago and have recently polished it for this competition. Short stories can be tricky as you are limited to the number of words so you have to choose your words wisely. I find it a good exercise to write short stories. Glad you liked it.

I just checked and it was posted November 2015. You have an excellent memory! (Better than mine, I had forgotten)

Wow!! Darlene, this is so powerful and emotive … I found myself holding my breath reading this. Brilliantly written and I love the overlay of the time periods. I’ve often walked past the Clifford Tower but don’t know much about its history (to my shame!). Did this actually happen?? It’s reminiscent of the tv series, Masada and the ending never left me! Your story here will stay with me … Happy Weekend, Darlene! 😀🌺

Annika, thanks so much for your encouraging words. I am pleased you had a strong reaction to this story. This sad event actually did happen and it was very Masada like. I too loved that series. Have you read The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman? It is a novel set in the time of Masada and it is so good.

I’ve heard of the book but no idea what it was about … one I’ll check out. Thank you for mentioning it … I still feel shaky after reading your piece – always the sign of great writing!

Wow! That was fantastic how you merged the two elements of the story together!

For the length, it really delivered the story well! I really enjoyed this 🙂

Thanks, Lise! Glad you enjoyed the story.

I had not heard of this tower, but the story is haunting, as is your rendition of it. I’ve been trying my hand at short stories–you seem to have an enviable skill for writing them.

Thanks for your comment. Short stories aren’t easy. I have been practising for a long time and this one has had a few rewrites until I was satisfied with it. Glad you like the final product.

Shivering! I had just read a post about a haunted castle and now this. I’m glad I have company tonight 🙂

If a story can scare you, it has done its job! Thanks for stopping by.

Very poignant x enjoyed this. Poor child x

Thanks for the comment.

It is always good to try something new and I loved your take on the story.
I remember watching Hotel Rwanda film and also read a book based on that genocide a few years ago: truly sickening. 😣

Oh, Darlene, I have goosebumps after reading this. So tragic and so possible.

Yes, very tragic indeed and sadly these things still happen.

[…] beautiful piece Darlene has done for a competition, (which you guys can enter)via Terror in the Tower […]

A chilling story with an element of hope. Well done, Darlene ❤

There is always hope. Thanks for your encouraging words.

Everyone’s comments before me echo my sentiments. I learned something today. And your words brought it all to life. Thank you.

Thank you, Claudia. If someone learns something from my writing, it is a bonus.

Impressive – love to read your stories Darlene. Thanks for sharing on Senior Salon.

Thanks for reading the story and for Senior Salon. It has gone well for the first round.

Yes, I am very pleased with the turnout and the support of linking to the SS. Thanks to you all for showing up and sharing.

Very different from your children’s books even though this short story is built around two.

Thanks, Karen I like to try different things and I love working with historical events.

Good article, good read so I am going to reblog this for you.

So pleased you liked my story enough to reblog it. That means a lot to me!

Reblogged this on Truth Troubles.

Thanks so much for the reblog!!

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