Thursday, 23 July 2015

It's a kind of magic... by Helen Murray

Right. This might be the most tenuous link yet for a post on the More Than Writers blog, but here goes.

I’m writing about it, so that’s the link to writing. Fervent prayers were said, so that’s the link to Christianity. Is that ok?

I shall push on, regardless.

This happened.

The other night I woke up in the early hours. It was unsurprising as we’ve been having hot, humid nights and bouts of thunder and lightning, and it was one of those nights. The rain had subsided and the thunder moved on to terrorise other people some distance away but the occasional lightning flash lit up the room for long seconds at a time.

I glanced at the clock only to find that it wasn't there. Well, it was still there but I couldn't see it because the digital display had gone. More groping about revealed no lamps, no central light, no electricity at all. As I pondered this I noticed that I could hear music, and assumed that it was a neighbour who has a tendency to play his tunes too loudly and inconsiderately late into the night. I may or may not have muttered something unfriendly as I climbed out of bed and opened a window to confirm my suspicion. However, as I leaned out into the cooler air, the music became softer, not louder.

Right. It must be one of the children. How on earth were they playing music with no electricity, and more to the point, why on earth did they think it was ok in the middle of the night? Preparing my speech, I marched onto the landing only to stop in confusion as a realized that the music was coming not from either of my daughters’ rooms, but from downstairs.

Using the light from my phone to navigate, I crept downstairs in the dark, lit occasionally by lightning flashing through rooflights over the stairwell and into the hall. There was so much adrenalin in my system that I had a funny taste in my mouth. 

The music was coming from the kitchen, and it was loud.

‘It’s a kinda magic…’

Queen. My iPod was sitting on its dock in the deserted kitchen, its screen casting an eerie pale green glow over the fruit bowl, playing ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’ at top volume.

So what goes through your mind when you come downstairs in the middle of the night amid flashes of sheet ligtning, with a power cut and ‘It’s a kinda magic…’ playing loudly?

Was this the work of a burglar who'd seen too many films and was luring me downstairs with some nefarious intent? Why would he play the iPod rather than nick it?  Calm down, take a breath. What benign reasons could there be for music playing spontaneously in the middle of the night? 

When I finally worked out how to move again I whipped the iPod off its stand and jabbed at some buttons. It fell silent. I tried the doors but they were locked. Windows closed. Valuables seemed where they belonged. Deep breath. Heart beating like crazy.

I looked around the ground floor, creeping from room to room with an iPod in one hand and an iPhone in the other. I had no idea what I thought I might find, but I was armed with Apple. Everywhere black, except when the lightning filled the house like a strobe. 

Common sense kicked in at last and I hauled the vacuum cleaner and swimming kits out of the way to inspect the fuseboard in the cupboard under the stairs. The switches for the whole house had tripped. I flipped them up again and yelped in fear as the whole house leapt back into life. Computers beeped, the DVD player clicked and blinked, the landline phone chippered, the printer revved up and did some exercises and even the shower made a strange noise. Digital displays lit up with random times and numbers and flashed, demanding to be reset. Every room seemed to be beeping or flashing or whirring.

I scurried back to bed.

Not going back to sleep for a while after that. I might as well have downed a couple of espressos.

I worked out that the electricity must have gone off for a while, and then come back with a surge that tripped the fuses. The surge must have switched on the fully charged iPod even though the dock went down again when the fuses tripped.

'It's a kinda magic'.


Well, it makes a good story. I thought about how I might insert it into the middle of my WIP but decided it might come across as a little far-fetched. Funny how the things that seem the most unlikely are often the ones that are true.

And so it came to pass that God and I had an unscheduled (by me, at least) little chat in the middle of the night. Or actually a rapid succession of little chats with varying degrees of urgency between 2am and 4.30am. It was a good job we did, to be honest, because at 7am when the alarm went off I was so tired I was pretty much beyond all coherent conversation. 

An early night tonight, I think. 

Helen Murray lives in Derbyshire with her husband, two daughters and her mum.

Having spent time as a Researcher, Pastoral Worker and Hand Therapist, Helen is now a full time mum and writer, currently working on her first novel. 

As well as writing and reading, she drinks coffee, takes photographs, swims and breeds Aloe Vera plants. The Mother Plant has just had her fifth litter, so now there are 33. The kitchen window sill is a little short on space.

Helen has two blogs: Are We Nearly There Yet? where she writes about life and faith, and Badger on the Roof where readers are treated to a blow by blow account of her novel-writing progress, or lack thereof. 

You can also find her here:

Pinterest: @HelenMMurray

Twitter: @helenmurray01


  1. wh,at a strange experience but, I agree,mood forms book.

    1. It certainly does. I hope one day if I need to I can recreate that incredibly creepy feeling.

  2. What a good story, Helen. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction. Sue

    1. Thanks Sue. I'll be back on topic next month. Life has been so hectic lately that I've been a bit disconnected from all things writing-related.

  3. Brilliantly described. Really atmospheric and creepy!

    1. Thanks Sheila! That means a lot coming from you. :-) x

  4. An excellently executed story, Helen. And it's a kind of magic how life is so often stranger than fiction. You couldn't make it up.. and be believed! But it made a marvellously entertaining read and could easily be translated into a short story tale or two, if not more. Great stuff! :) x

    1. Thanks, Joy. I think what made it particularly odd was the particular song it was playing. A kind of magic indeed...

  5. "...but I was armed with Apple." That line really made me laugh out loud. :D Also, good to know I'm not alone in my paranoid way of thinking sometimes.

    1. Thanks, Angela. Gripped with white knuckles in both hands.
      That's reassuring! I think I've watched too many suspense films.

  6. It's amazing how many random things can go through your mind in the 13 steps from the top to the bottom of the stairs - do all writers, I wonder, have an overactive imagination?

    1. I imagine so! Most of the time I'm glad that I do...