This is my latest profile photo for Locating the Gothic. I’ve told you about the wonderful events we have planned for the autumn and while I know it’s hard to think about this when the sun is shining, the winter is inevitable. So don’t leave it until the wind is howling in the chimney and ghostly fingers tap at your window panes to have a look at the site.
Another day of horror as the story about the mass grave in Tuam, co Galway, Ireland goes on. For those of you who have not heard the bodies of over 800 hundred children were found in a septic tank at a home run by the nuns. How much more of these vile acts have to be uncovered before the government and the police do something about it? Everyone who took part in these atrocities should be hunted down like the Nazi war criminals and brought to justice. When I was researching my novel, Whispers, I just touched on the subject, but |I heard stories from those in the know that were too sickening to put in to print. Please share this post with your friends around the world, so the outcry is heard even in the farthest corners of the globe. Maybe, then those in power will be forced to act and those poor little children will get justice at last.
This is a modern ghost story that happened a week ago to a friend of mine who works in a nursing home. There was one patient, an old lady in her eighties who she was particularly fond of and would spend hours chatting with her during the night shift. This went on for many years. Each night the old lady would come in to the common room and sit in her favourite chair. Anne, my friend, knew she was on her way, as her arrival was preceded by a racking cough. The old lady suffered from her chest and the cough was a distressing and painful one. One night, last week, the old lady failed to turn up, so Anne went to check on her. Sadly, she had passed away. The following night, Anne sat reading in the common room. Every now and then she glanced over at the old lady’s empty chair and felt her heart ache with sadness. Around 4 a.m., when the wards were all silent, Anne was roused from her reading by a racking cough coming from the empty chair. In that instant her nose started to bleed for no reason. You can imagine her fright, as she rushed from the room. She has never suffered from nose bleeds, her blood pressure is normal and there was no one else around with a cough. Strange, of course, and something that makes one stop and think.
After listening to yet another story about a so called medium scamming someone out of their money, I urge you to be very careful when dealing with these people. As a writer of the Gothic novel, I love the thrill of the ghost story and sharing my imagination with my readers, but there are those who do very real harm by feeding off the suffering of those who have lost someone they love. These people do not, I repeat, Do Not, speak to the dead. There are those who will take offence at this, but to them I say, go to the James Randi Foundation and prove it. They offer a million dollars to anyone that can prove they have paranormal powers. In all the years they have offered this very tasty incentive to those who believe they have such powers, they have never found anyone who could prove it. So take the challenge or get a proper job like the rest of us.
Twilight seems the favorite time for ghosts. In those last few minutes, as day surrenders to night, they are allowed to roam. It’s understandable, when you think about it, as the sun sets and shadows deepen. They belong to this place, the land of shadow, caught between light and dark, in a world of endless night. We must pity these poor soul and leave them be. Nothing could be worse than their timeless wandering, and we must pray that our own fate never mirrors theirs.
I was lying in bed last night reading when I noticed a movement our of the corner of my eye. It was a spider scuttling across the floor, but not your average spider, oh no. This was the King Kong of spiders, a huge, black, hairy hunchbacked thing. It stopped next to the waste paper bin and just stayed there. I don’t know it it was daring me to move or it had a death wish. If so, it got its wish as I introduced it to my shoe. It’s remains where then flushed down the toilet on its way to spider hell, because that’s where all spiders go. A place when juicy flies buzz over head, but they can never catch then and every hour they get a blast in the face from a bug spray. The thing that kept me awake was wondering if he had come alone or was there a relative or friend close by?
Revenge is Sweet part Three
Lights flickered in the trees and Nora heard the cries of pain even at a distance. It was pitch black in the back garden and the biting wind sent the last of the leaves swirling about her feet. But Nora did not need a light to guide her way. No, the potion ensured she had perfect night vision and she traced the darting movement in the trees as she walked to the edge of the wood. The dog and cat stalked beside her, their padding steps making no sound on the soft ground. They, like their mistress, were feeling the rejuvenating effects of the potion. The crisp, night air overrode the stench of the rubbish dumped at the base of the trees. The wood was such a melancholy place now that the children were all gone and the tree trunks scarred with initials and crude carvings. She placed a hand on the tree nearest to her and felt its pain.
“Poor thing,” she whispered.
“I have to hear,” she patted his head.
The light in the trees was becoming brighter and the scent of burning wood told her it was a fire and not a torch. Such a dangerous thing to do, here among the trees, but she knew those who lit it were not thinking about danger, which was just as well.
She moved closer, but stayed hidden in the shadows. Someone had formed a circle of rocks so at least the fire would not get out of control. The flames were low and her eyes widened when she saw the reason for the cries of pain. Someone was tied to one of the trees, his arms strapped behind the trunk, his face stained crimson. Mark Jones blocked her vision for a moment, but when he moved aside she saw to her horror, that it was his former right hand man who was being held captive.
“I’ll fuckin teach you to mess with my woman,” she heard Jones sneer. “We’ll see how much she likes you when I’m through.”
There were two other with Jones. Nora recognised them from seeing them around the estate and she knew they were trouble. She watched as Jones reached down and pulled a knife from a sheath inside his boot. It’s sharp, serrated edge glittered in the light from the fire.
“Pull down his pants,” Jones ordered one of his men.
The boy screamed and tried to wrestle free from his bonds, but it was useless.
“Please, Mark,” he sobbed. “You’re making a mistake.”
“I’m through listening to you, you cunt,” Jones nodded to the man to do as he ordered.
The boy cried louder as he felt the cold night air on his exposed scrotum.
“Mark, don’t,” he sobbed, but his pleas fell on deaf ears.
“You’ll never be able to screw anyone again,” Jones sneered, waving the knife in the terrified boy’s face.
Nora knew that the boy was the least vicious of the four who stood before her and his cries for mercy tore at her heart and brought with them visions of the burning times. Her sister had begged in the same way as the boy and their cries went unheard. He certainly did not deserve what Jones intended doing to him.
She moved out of the shelter of the trees and stood on the opposite side of the fire.
“What the fuck!” she heard one of the men say and her hackles bristled at his vulgarity.
Mark Jones followed the man’s gaze and turned round.
“What are you doing here, old woman?” He pointed the knife at her.
“I, like you, am here for revenge.”
The men looked at one another and laughed.
“You injured me,” she touched the scar above her eye.
“And I’ll do it again,” he warned.
“No, you will not,” Nora felt the dog and cat move up beside her.
“Oh, what,” he swirled the knife around. “They are going to stop me?”
“You’ll find that they will,” Nora reached down and rubbed the dog’s head.
“You better fuck off,” Jones grew tired of her. “When I’m finished here, I’m coming for you next, you old witch.”
Nora began to chant, her words echoing in the silent air.
“What the fuck is she up to now,” Jones shook his head at the other men.
“She’s mad,” one of them muttered. “Nutty as a fruit cake.”
But even the boy had stopped crying and was watching as the flames caused the shape of the animals to swell and grow. Seth, the old dog, arched his back as his rib cage expanded. His mouth grew wider as his teeth grew in to sharp, vicious points. The cat leapt in to a tree, her nails stretching through the pads of her feet and her eyes glowed red among the dark leaves.
“Let the boy go,” Nora said.
“Go fuck yourself,” Jones swallowed hard, his eyes darting from the dog to the cat overhead.
“I’ll give you one last chance,” Nora said. “One chance to prove that you are human.”
“I’m going to slit your throat,” Jones hand shook as he pointed the knife at her. “Grab her, lads.”
The two men rushed forward. Seth sprang more wolf than dog and his teeth sank in to the throat of the first man. The cat flew from the tree, her talons tearing through the flesh on the other man’s throat, ripping veins and sending a fountain of blood spraying through the air. The leaves dripped crimson as they fell and lay dying at her feet.
Jones licked his lips and tried to swallow. What he had just witnessed seemed impossible; he wouldn’t have believed it, if he’d not seen it with his own eyes. The dog growled and the sound made the hairs on his head rise.
He didn’t wait to hear her reply, but took off running through the trees. He would do as he said and she could not allow that to happen. She bent and whispered in the dog’s ear. It took off in pursuit and it was obvious from the screams echoing back that he had found his target. Mark Jones would never trouble anyone again.
“Please, missus,” the captive boy whispered, when Nora picked up the fallen knife.
“I’m not going to hurt you,” Nora walked to the back of the tree and sawed through the ropes.
He fell, overcome from the pain of his beating. Nora knelt and helped him to pull up his pants. He was crying from shock and she pulled a handkerchief from the sleeve of her coat and handed it to him.
“Thanks,” he wiped his face.
“I’ll help you to walk back to the houses and then you are on your own,” she held out her hand. “You will need to call an ambulance. You need hospital care.”
“He took my phone,” the boy nodded towards a pile of beer cans.
Nora pushed them aside and found the phone.
“Call them now,” she said and waited while he dialled with trembling fingers.
He gave the address of her road and leant on her as they started back through the trees.
“You will never speak to anyone about what happened here tonight,” she looked at him from the corner of her eye.
“Who would believe me?” He asked.
“I mean it,” she stopped and turned towards him. “If you breathe a word to anyone, you will suffer the same fate. They might take me away, but my pets will see you are punished.”
“I hear you,” she saw by his face that he understood. “I won’t tell a soul.”
“Good,” she led him in through the back door of her house and out on to the road.
They walked to the end of the street and she left him sitting against a wall. The shrill moan of a siren was drawing closer and she knew he would soon be taken care of.
She stopped and tutted her displeasure at the front of her house where the white of egg glowed like silver snails trails. Little terrors, she shook her head as shells crunched beneath her feet. The estate was quiet for once, as thought those who lived in the nocturnal world sensed danger and had scurried away to their hiding places. Somewhere a dog barked, its sound joining that of the ambulance siren. Nora went inside and closed the door. The dog and cat sat waiting in the kitchen. Both were back to normal, but showing signs of the battle.
“What a mess,” Nora wet a cloth and wiped the blood from the dog’s face.
The cat sat on the draining board and lifted each paw as her mistress cleared away the last of the blood.
The savage attack, as the papers describe it, was the talking point for days, but interest soon trickled off. Jones and the men were known to the police and no one was surprised that they had come to a bad end. A pack of dogs was blamed for the injuries, the nice policeman who called to ask questions told Nora.
“Probably some vicious breed trained to kill,” he patted old Seth on the head. “Not like you, old fellow, eh?”
Some good did come of it though as since that night little old ladies can now walk the streets without fear of harm and the feral cats and dogs are given a wide berth. Nora saw the boy a few times since, but he rushed by and refused to make eye contact with her. He, no doubt, had hinted to others that he knows something about what happened that night, but there are none interested enough to press him on the subject. Tales have grown around the killings and fear and superstition are rife even in these enlightened times. And there is always next year!
Copyright © Gemma Mawdsley 2012