What if your only way out was a dead end?
When Claire finds herself in an unfamiliar country mansion with no idea how she got there, she just wants to find a way home. Unfortunately for her, the house has other ideas. Doors slam to cut off her escape, and forces of nature seem to be keeping her hostage. With no way to communicate with the outside world, will she ever find a way back to her loved ones?
If you like captivating, spine-chilling mysteries, step inside this creepy country house…
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
The initial idea for A World Other Than Her Own came from a glimpse of something I saw on TV. I have no idea what the film or TV show was, but what I saw was a woman waking up in a large house on her own and seeming a little lost. What
happened after that was vastly different from what I ended up writing, but that short scene prompted that question that is behind every story ever written – what if?
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My characters come to me at the same time as the story. It's all linked. I know some writers spend a lot of time creating their characters, but mine live inside of me – they are not created.
The room was not dark, just dusky. Claire could see clearly, but what she saw around her was not at all familiar. She was in an empty bed, surrounded by dark blue curtains of thin fabric held up by four posts.
She pulled herself up onto her elbows and glanced around. The room was enormous. The ceiling, elaborately decorated and painted white, was several metres above her. On her left were several small, wooden doors of a wardrobe. On her other side was a gigantic fireplace set in the middle of a long wall, and that was a good distance from her, further than the length of her bed. The room appeared square, and it would easily have taken another king-size bed like the one she was in. She had never slept in a four-poster bed before. The curtains hanging above her head and at each wooden post had a golden pattern decorating the fabric and similarly coloured tassels at the bottom of each one.
She reached her hand out to the bedside locker on her left. It grabbed nothing, but her fingertips touched the leg of a lamp. She sat up and peered at the nightstand. The only item on it was the lamp. She looked over to the other side, and there was nothing there either apart from an identical locker and a matching lamp. She crawled crab-like further down the bed and glanced all around the room, including the bottom of the bed. There was no sign of her mobile phone or her handbag. Where could she possibly have gone without them?
Clutching the white duvet to her chest, Claire tried to think. She had no memory of arriving in this room. She had no idea what this place was. It looked like a room in one of those posh country hotels, but lamps aside, the room lacked all modern comforts. There was no television, no telephone and no minibar, she could not even see any heating or air conditioning devices – apart from the fireplace and windows. There was probably no Wi-Fi either, but without her phone, she couldn’t check.
After another moment of admiring the partially wood-panelled walls otherwise painted in blue and the almost floor-to-ceiling windows behind the bed, she got up. Claire discovered that she was dressed in a white, full-length nightgown of the old-fashioned type. She didn’t recognise the garment either. Her feet were bare, but the floor wasn’t as cold as she had feared.
How could she have no memory of this place? Had something happened? Perhaps there had been an accident and she was suffering from memory loss. Maybe her possessions had not survived and that was why she was in an unfamiliar nightie in a strange place without the lifeline that was her phone. On the other hand, someone could have drugged her and abducted her.
Claire shook her head and took a brave step forward. She should keep her head clear and investigate her surroundings. She had noticed something in the corner that interested her. It was one of those folding screens that people used for privacy in the lack of a dressing room. She realised that behind the screen was the only part of the room she couldn’t see, and that was a frightening thought. She could move quietly on her bare feet, but if anyone was hiding behind the portable wall, they had the advantage over her in knowing that she was in the room.
Claire steeled herself and moved swiftly to the corner, deciding that her best chance was to surprise the potential attacker by rapid movements.
There was nobody behind the screen.
All that was there was a full-length mirror, a simple wooden chair and a pile of clothes on it. She bent down to inspect them. There was a black and white plaid dress, thigh-length, and a black pair of leggings. On the floor under the chair was a pair of black ankle boots with a pair of white socks sticking out of them. She picked up each item at a time and realised that they were all in her size. She didn’t recognise these clothes either.
Behind her, in the corner of the wall with the wardrobe in it, was a wooden door. She walked over to it and pushed it open. It was a bathroom.
Unlike the bedroom, the bathroom was modern. There was a light that came on automatically as soon as she entered. There was a toilet, a sink with a cabinet with mirror doors above it and an old-fashioned bath tub standing on claw feet. There was even a shower above the bath along with one of those shower curtains on a circular rail.
Claire locked the bathroom door behind her, just in case. The lock was a standard model too, a twistable knob, although in an old style to go with the decoration. She heard a relief-inducing click as the latch inside popped into place.
She grabbed the hem of her nightgown and pulled it over her head, letting the garment fall on the floor at her feet.
She recognised the face in the mirror. Long, straight nose, long blonde hair with faint waves running through it, thin lips and small blue eyes. There was a concerned look on the face, but it was hers all right.
She looked at herself in the mirror in more detail. She was looking for bruises or scratches, cuts, anything that would tell her she had been hurt somehow. There was nothing out of the ordinary, even when she turned around and looked at her backside over her shoulder.
Claire turned the tap on, splashed cold water on her face and rubbed it dry with a soft, white towel from a pile on a wicker organiser. When she looked up into the mirror afterwards, there was nobody behind her in the reflection. The same startled face looked back at her, but there was more colour to the cheeks now.
She wrapped herself up in the towel and stepped back into the bedroom. It was still empty.
She hung the nightgown over the partition and got into the dress and leggings that were left on the chair. They fitted her slim frame perfectly. She pulled the socks and boots on and glanced at herself in the mirror. Despite herself and the circumstances, she ran her hands through her hair, wondering if there was a hairbrush or a comb in the bathroom. It was hardly important.
There was only one thing she could do.
Pamela Harju is the author of The Truth about Tomorrow, which won WriteIntoPrint's Captivating Opening Contest in 2017. She spends her spare time with her dogs and travelling to see rock bands most people have never heard of. She loves tea, big old houses and tattooed men and is happily unmarried to her partner of many years. A native Finn, Pamela lives in the Irish countryside in an old cottage that's always threatening to fall apart. She has a full-size dog agility arena in her back garden.
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