Welcome to my stop on the RandomThingsTours Blog Tour for Changeling by Matt Wesolowski.
Changeling was one of my Top 3 Books of 2018, I previously reviewed it here after preordering it on Kindle and then Orenda Books very kindly sent me an arc while I waited.. I was just so excited! So for todays stop I have an extract for you to read.
About The Book
“On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the dark Wentshire Forest Pass, when his father, Sorrel, stopped the car to investigate a mysterious knocking sound. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. Journeying through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there, he talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know what happened to the little boy…”
About The Author
Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller.
SCOTT KING AUDIO LOG 1 00:00:00
When the letter comes, the handwriting on the front sends a tingle of fear from the base of your spine, up to the knobbly occiput at the back of your skull. As if an icy finger has been placed delicately on each nerve ending. The handwriting is frail and spidery; the letters are either too big or too small. It’s like a child tried to write in copperplate.
You can hardly bear to hold the creased, yellowed envelope. You stand in the hall with it, balancing the edges against your fingertips.
But you open the letter because that’s what you do: you look at things that shouldn’t be looked at, you read things that are best left unread.
Dear Mr King,
I am writing to you as a recent convert to your show. I have always been interested in true crime but I am new to podcasts. I am an old dog learning new tricks! I have listened to every series of Six Stories to date and I have been entertained and fascinated by the cold cases you investigate. You have brought me great comfort as well as company and for that I want to thank you.
I am sorry about the bad things that have happened to you during the last few years and hope you are keeping well. It’s some- times what happens, though, when we raise our heads above the parapet. When we make ourselves known, we can be judged.
But I digress. The reason for my writing is, I imagine, probably quite common. You’ve seen many requests like this, I’m certain. But I will not be able to rest knowing I did not ask.
You see, I want to suggest a case – one that I think would fit perfectly into Six Stories – just as Six Stories has slotted perfectly into my life. I am an old person – in more than just year – and your podcasts have brought me comfort in my old age. I am reaching out to you to help you like I feel you have reached out to me and helped me.
You’re old enough to remember Alfie Marsden – the little boy who disappeared in 1988. I write this as a statement, not a question.
You sigh. Alfie Marsden. You’ve heard that name, as have most people. You don’t need to have been alive when he disappeared to know about him. The little boy who vanished in a wood.
It’s not the first time someone’s suggested you scratch through this particular shallow grave. But this one is worse than a grave. There’s nothing but a hole – an empty space where a child has been.
It’s been thirty years since Alfie Marsden disappeared and his name still carries a faint resonance. Alfie Marsden is no longer the name of a missing boy, he is a euphemism for caution, for keeping your children close.
You realise you’re clenching your teeth. That place – Wentshire Forest. The name thrums through you like a heartbeat and you can hear yourself whispering it:
Wentshire Forest, Wentshire Forest, Wentshire Forest. You’ve heard all the stories about the place. Apart from the missing boy, you know of the strange things that are said to go on in that darkness between the leaves.
You shiver and nearly drop the letter. Alfie Marsden. It’s a case that’s tailor-made for Six Stories, right? Maybe that’s why you don’t want to touch it. Maybe that’s why even the thought of looking into Alfie Marsden and Wentshire Forest fills you with… What?
They say that there’s a curse – that going in there does something to you. But that’s all nonsense. And you can’t even get into the forest anymore, can you? Didn’t the army or the air force buy it up?
You find yourself pulling out your phone to check this. But then you stop.Leave it alone.
I think that Alfie Marsden and what happened to him shouldn’t be forgotten. Anyone can see that this is already happening. There are young people these days that don’t even know the name. I have a home help – a lovely boy not long into his twenties. He’s the one who told me about you: Mr King and your podcasts. He had no idea who Alfie Marsden was, and this made me rather sad. I imagine you’ve probably had this suggested to you before and my voice is one of many who implore you to look over another cold case, another dead child. But I think I have something I can offer in return.
I’m sure this is something else you’ve heard from people asking you to investigate cases – especially ones that are close to their hearts. I’m afraid I’m no different: I was close to the Alfie Marsden case and I can offer you insights that I believe have not surfaced before. I don’t want anything in return, save to speak to you in person and tell you what I know.
So I’ll leave you with the choice: reply to me or not. Thank you for reading.
There’s a name. An address. And a choice.
1st August 2018, 12:05 p.m. I’m going to do this like I’ve always done it: start recording now, at the point of conception. It works best this way; on the nights I can’t sleep I listen back to myself gabbling on like this. Sometimes it helps. Also, it’s a record. For my own safety.
- Alfie Marsden. There’s a whole thread on the Six Stories Reddit about him. Let’s just pull it up:
‘A missing kid and a forest full of ghosts, someone’s said. ‘What’s NOT Six Stories about it???’ That’s true, to be fair.
So why is it that I. Just. Can’t? I’ve read about it. Christ, hasn’t everyone? I’ve pulled up some YouTube videos here. There’s that press conference – the parents. I just can’t bear to watch those two in that grainy old footage.
I’ve got that other video up as well, the one everyone’s seen. That psychic who talked to the Sun. The one who said the kid was somewhere in the woods. How could anyone do that?
I can’t watch that one either. It makes me feel awful, as if a storm cloud has floated in through my ear and parked itself in the middle of my brain.
I’ll bring up Google Maps. That’s proactive. I’ll type in the postcode, find out who sent that letter.
Where is it? Oh, OK. Have I even heard of this place? Let’s zoom in. Here we go: a nondescript row of houses, flanked by hedges and pavements.
So it’s right here, in one of these houses, that I’ll apparently hear something new about the Alfie Marsden disappearance.
It’s like an urban myth, a legend that has refused to die; this case has resurfaced again and again in my life. This case has an inexorable pull. Whether I like it or not.
So this is why I’m recording now. This letter will be the place where I’m going to start.
Can you hear that? The ice-cream van outside? That little twinkly tune that means summer and laughter and holidays? The call to seven- year-olds across the country.
I’m going to turn off before the tears come..
Oooooo sounds good doesn’t it!! I hope you have enjoyed this extract and if you didn’t already have this on your reading list I hope you have added it now!
Many thanks again to Anne and Orenda Books for having me on this tour, all opinions are my own and I am not paid to give them.