The Work of a SAVER (Chapter 1 of a horror novel I am writing)

People come to see me if they have been having visitations from a relative or a loved one. If the one they grieve for has died recently and is in a reasonable state of preservation i.e. not “soup” or just a skeleton, then I can be hired to perform certain acts which are usually of great assistance to the person seeking my help.

Suppose you have lost someone who had lived a life where they bullied others and went out of their way to be nasty. Perhaps they were even an out and out criminal. Well then, you employ my services to try to free that spirit from further pain and to allow them to be free of their bodily remains.

As a professional I always learn as much as I can about the subject. It helps me and it helps them. I show respect for them and do not verbally condemn them.

They have been held here on this world within their coffin because of the wrongs they had done. For whatever reason-and there are many-they cannot suffer the extreme pains that would expiate their wrongs. In their coffin they lie consumed with guilt and sorrow.

Sometimes they are just cowards. It happens. Often there are blockages-for all sorts of technical reasons (that I deal with more fully in my bestselling book, From here to Heaven).

I am the only one in my firm who does the actual ceremony. And I do it alone and at night. If possible, with a full moon. Such things are also weather dependent.  If you need to hire my services I should add that Christmas is a busy time and I am always totally booked up about then. I know it is hard but you need to plan ahead when dealing with such things.

Of course freeing spirits requires specialist help which only the rich can afford. Truthfully, I would not have the time to also free the poor –even if I did not require sustenance for my family and me. I do a difficulty job and I do it well. Again and again customers tell me I am, “The best in the Business”.

I am well paid. But only three times has a client found the price too high. In each case I walked away and never dealt with them again. There are others who do similar work but they are not as skilled or as motivated as me. I am Jeremy Stoughton and freeing spirits from their earthly remains is my lifetime work.

I am in such demand that I feel it vital that those who think they may need my services – and are not wealthy – plan ahead and join one of my much praised, Stoughton’s Saving Plans. If you really care for that wayward relative or lover then you should think about it.

When I am at work I wear only a white costume as I lie onto top of a structure topped with an open gold mesh. The structure prevents me crushing the fragile body beneath me but allows me to get very close to him or her.

I never use perfumes or scent blockers as I am aided by the smell of death. What I do simply speaking is to take these extreme cleansing pains into my own body and mind so that their spirit does not have to endure it. And yes I do have frequent night mares. I wake up screaming and find the bed soiled. My work is not easy. Some have called me a hero. I am not a hero but I am a dedicated individual who genuinely cares for others. You have to empathise with the body beneath you or you could not do your job properly.

It does not take long for the two of us to make a spiritual connection. I quickly explain who I am and what I will do. The spirit yearns even more than I do for them to be free. I do though have to channel their energy in the most appropriate way.

There are-of course-those who I would not Save. They deserve what they endure. Let them stay forever in their state. I would not and could not free such as those.

Beforehand I often look at pictures or listen to audio recordings of the deceased. I do not need them with me when I am working as I have a photographic and an aural perfect memory.

During the last ceremony something unusual occurred. The spirit did not want to be saved. That has only happened once before (which I write about below). His brother had come to me in desperation. Several times he had witnessed the ghost of his beloved brother Charles in the room in which he had died. Shortly after being married, Charles had betrayed his wife who had then gone and taken her own life. I was almost overcome by the waves of immense guilt that I felt coming from the subject. Never before had I came across such remorse in a spirit. I had to detach contact for a moment in order to recover my control over my own emotions. I saw images of his wife and of her corpse when he had found it. I felt his tears flow from my eyes and wet my cheeks. I took his pain and absorbed it into me but it was too much pain and too much guilt for me to deal with. I did understand his guilt but I had a job to do. So, I lied. I thought it was the only way to free him. I communicated to him that I had recently Saved his wife and that she had not wished him any harm. Indeed she had wanted to meet him again in the afterlife. The spirit lost its fury and the passion changed into white tipped waves of hope. I channelled this energy and did what I had to do to Save him. Sometimes I sing a song or use a chant but now everything was ok. In a few moments his spirit thanked me and left the corpse. His brother would never again be visited by a ghost filled with remorse. I had lied but I felt only a little guilt.

I never give the full names of my subjects as total discretion is a big part of my work ethic.

My most frightening case was also my only failure so far. He was a person who had inflicted terrible cruelties on others when he was alive. His Father took some time to persuade me to take on this case. I told him how I had never before worked with such a malevolent subject. I told him that I needed payment up front and that there were no guarantees. He paid willingly for he had had his house nearly destroyed by the hauntings of this malicious poltergeist. He was close to taking an overdose. He had been a good Father and had given his child every opportunity in life and now he was being haunted.

After reading about the son, I found it hard to find any empathy for him. Just beneath my gold meshed platform he lay out of his coffin. He had died only a few weeks before and his body seemed untouched by death. The smirk he had when he hurt his victims was still on his face.

My spirit saw his body glow with an unusual reddish tinge. I had never seen this before. As soon as I made contact with his spirit, he fought me. He did not want to be saved. His spirit forced me to see some of the various horrors he had unleashed on others. My body and mind and spirit were all attacked at once and with a furious intensity. I could channel nothing and could only fight him with every fibre of my being. My body froze for a while and I had difficulty in moving any of my limbs. Then his corpse emitted a stench worse than any I had ever known. I had to spit the bile from my mouth. His spirit was filled with an evil I had never encountered before. I was terrified.

My eyes were hurting from the bright light that came from his spirit. A bright red light like a spotlight. I am a strong man and have great endurance but I was wracked with pain and exhaustion.

Although impossible, I could have sworn that his smirk became even more pronounced.

I heard him shout into my brain, “If you send me to Hell, I will take you with me!” His spirit shouted other things that I will never speak of. As we battled on I heard thunder crashing in the skies. And lightning lit up the darkness. Rain fell down in torrents but even though I shivered, the rain seemed to revive me. Even though I believe in an afterlife –know there is an afterlife-I have never believed in God. So there was no one to pray to. I had to Save myself at that moment in time. Only the devil occupies my dreams, never God.

For nearly an hour we fought before he finally screamed out his fear of Hell and started to weaken. He had not wanted to be saved because he feared the fires of Hell. I felt no sorrow as I sent him there. Another job well done. Yet it was a failure in that he had not went to a better place but to a much worse place. And for an eternity.

 

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Ghost Story

 

In February 2013 The Horror Zine (website and magazine) published, Ghost Story. Many thanks to the Editor (Jeani Rector) for letting me re-use this piece on my website. Their excellent magazine can be found at: http://www.thehorrorzine.com

 

I woke during the middle of the night. Checked the clock, 3AM.

As usual, I felt as if someone was in my room. My hairs all stood on end. But adults still don’t check under their bed for monsters. Do they? The breathing that I heard, I was sure it was mine. Sure it was mine. I slowed my breathing to check that the sounds of breathing came at the same time as the rise and fall of my chest.

There was a smell in my nose of cheap perfume. The kind, that a young girl would use. Sickly sweet lavender. It made me recall some unpleasant memories from the distant past. From another time. Another place.

At the edge of my consciousness, I thought I could hear voices. Two voices whispering to each other. The only other noises were the ticking of my clock, and my irregular breathing.

Whenever I do wake up, it always takes me a few moments to be totally aware that I am awake, and not still dreaming. To me, the border between dreamland and “normal” existence is indistinct and variable.

I quickly dressed and checked, again, that the front door was locked. It was. I checked one more time, just to be safe.

Noises came from every floorboard and even from the ceiling.

The street outside my flat was empty, except for a mongrel dog. It wandered about from street light to street light, as if checking that they were all working. The dog stared up into each light. He seemed like some creature from my dreams, unreal.

The yellow glow from the streetlights was just as strange and unreal. I thought of phoning my ex-boyfriend, just to hear a voice that was real and alive. But no. He had fallen in love with me. And that is the time to say, “Bye. Bye”.

I said to myself, “Never go back in life. What is in the past can never trouble you”.

Looking out from behind my curtains, I looked at other houses in the street. I was checking to see if anyone else was awake. To see if anyone was staring at me from behind their curtains. Perhaps watching my flat through binoculars or a telescope. You sure do get some strange people in this world. I wondered whether some Burglar was watching the house. I couldn’t see anyone.

Standing totally still in the room, I listened to every noise. Ticking, breathing, creaking, and that strange sound of blood rushing about that you get when it’s so, so quiet. I must have stood there listening for a full ten minutes. Then I began to panic and started to walk around the room, trying to relax, trying to gain control over my body and my thoughts.

After pacing the cold floor for some time, I took up a discarded book and started to read.

“Jenny took up a book and started to read. Her mind still raced with thoughts filled with fear. Tainted with terror. She checked the words again. Where the words in the book or in her brain?”

Throwing the book to the floor, I pinched myself. Yes, I was awake. The book’s spine showed its title, “Jenny and her Nightmare Night”.

It was a book about me. About my fears. At first this scared me. Then I thought that, perhaps here I can find out the reason why I can’t sleep at night. Why my dreams always turn into hideous, terrifying nightmares.

I would be in the middle of having this nice hazy dream about being on a beach with some guy, and then the same thing would happen. A page from a book or a newspaper would blow into my face. The words would be full of the most horrible threats.

When I went to crumple up the bit of paper, the words would turn to blood and trickle out from between my fingers. It was always the same ending to my nightmare.

With great care, I picked up the book and opened a page at random.

“Naughty nightmares always scare poor Jenny. Does she still remember Angie and those nights together long, long ago?”

Losing my temper, I fired the book into a corner of the room.

Angie Young had been a friend at School. We had often stayed at each other’s house. We told each other ghost stories. Sometimes Angie would wake me in the night to tell me that she had seen a ghost. Her parent’s house was said to have been haunted. I used to tell her that I had never seen a ghost. But I had.

Eventually Angie and I parted company. She accused me of bullying her. She was one of those ultra-sensitive people who don’t take kindly to the tiniest bit of criticism.

I remembered that she wrote short stories. Bad ones. Always wanted to be published. She had no chance. I told her she was wasting her time. Friends tell friends these things. They don’t mean to hurt them.

Then I remembered that recently there had been something in the news about a promising young writer that had killed herself. Hung herself from an Oak Tree. But her name had been Angie Clark.

Had someone been stupid enough to marry the ugly little thing? That cheered me up. The thought of Ugly Angie writing ill-structured short stories for her equally ugly husband was a laugh. I giggled to myself in the room.

Crash!

Something had fallen in the kitchen. I ran into the kitchen and there was the book that I had thrown away in the bedroom, lying on the floor. I picked it up and started to read, “Revenge when rightful, will come at last. Our heroine will soon see the error of her ways. Never seen a ghost. You lying skinny bitch!”

The book was hard to tear. But with the help of some dressmaking scissors, I cut it into shreds and pushed the pieces down into the litter bin.

I walked back into the bedroom and collapsed onto my bed. I tried to remember the times we had spent together all those years ago.

When Angie and I had quarrelled it was always me that had won. She was too weak and too much of a failure to ever win at anything. I don’t even know why I ever kept her as a friend. Well, more a pal than a friend. She did get lots of pocket money though. Sometimes I needed money and would take some. Not much, just enough. Enough to buy my real friends some cigarettes. Perhaps I should have given her the money back, but she had well-off parents and my parents were working class and poor.

Looking in the bedroom mirror, I could see that I was still attractive, still desirable. I had never liked going anywhere public with Angie. Boys would smile at me, then laugh at her.

Angie had said that the ghost she had seen was her only true friend and that one day she would be with the ghost forever.

One night, when we were staying at her parent’s old cottage, the ghost came and spoke to me. It told me to leave Angie alone.

“Leave that sweet girl alone, or you will suffer as she has suffered,” it had whispered to me. But my dad had said to me that there is no such thing as ghosts. And Angie had never suffered. She had some kind of illness that made her cry sometimes. Yet she was always crying, “Don’t hit me Jenny,” and, “Please give me my Mum’s picture back.”

She was always whining. I then thought that, if she is dead, then I am glad she’s dead! Let her and her ghost come back and haunt me. They don’t scare me.

Writing started to appear on the mirror. It said, “Jenny has the shakes. I will come and terify you to death. You creap.”

Angie had obviously written it. She never could spell.

In the middle of the room, a patch of strange white stuff appeared, dripping down from the ceiling. A bit like cotton wool. It started to form into two shapes. Two human shapes. It was Ugly Angie and her friend.

Strange to say, I didn’t feel that scared. She didn’t scare me when she was alive. What could she do to me now, I wondered.

“I have come here from Hell to get you back for all the bad things that you did to me. My only friend when I was alive was George, the ghost. Now that I am a ghost too, I will join him in scaring the life out of you,” she shrieked at me.

Her voice was more forceful than it had been in life, but still a bit whining. She talked through her nose.

I shouted into her face, “What are you going to do Angie? I ain’t a scared of you. You come here from hell with your pet ghost and try to keep me off my sleep when I have to get up for work in two hours. You inconsiderate little sod. I am sorry that I stole some of your money. But you sure are just as ugly as you ever were.”

The other Ghost spoke quietly, “Be afraid, Jenny. We have come to seek vengeance. Be very afraid, Jenny.”

Listen, George, “You are a well-spoken sort of a ghost and you seem like a good friend to Angie. You do not scare me one little bit though. I would be a bit more scared of you if you hadn’t have woken me up each night, at the cottage, to chat me up. Telling me how pretty I was. I never told Angie because I didn’t want to get her more upset than she was. Didn’t want yet more tears.”

Angie turned in horror to face her partner ghost, “George, you told me that I was the only one. That we were meant to be together. You were so jealous, that you even stopped coming to see me when I got married. You never said that you fancied my best friend. I trusted you. I told you everything.”

I had to tell Angie that, “Yes, and then he passed on all the stories to me. The fantasies of Ugly Angie sure bored me silly. But it kept your little friend amused. He sure was totally mad on me though. Told me he loved me and that he would have married me if he had been alive.”

“You said that to me, George,” Angie whined at him.

“You said you loved me,” she sobbed out the words and George started to fade away. Soon, he was nothing more than a patch of fog and a bad smell.

Through her tears, she asked me, “Why did you hate me so? Why did you hurt me so? All I ever wanted to do was write short stories. And all you ever wanted to do, was hurt me.”

“You were my friend. Yet all you ever did was write stories for hour after hour. Spending half the day with your nose stuck in a Dictionary checking for spelling mistakes. You didn’t want to get a boyfriend. You didn’t want to shoplift. You didn’t want to do anything fun. Yet, I could have forgiven you everything. If you hadn’t been so ugly. I just can’t stand ugly people. Never have. Never will. Perhaps it’s time for you to go back to wherever you came from. It will soon be dawn and you might turn into a frog or something else even uglier than what you are. If that is possible,” I shouted at her.

“One of these days I will come back and haunt you good,” she said and started to fade away.

“Piss off. Or I’ll come to down to Hell and haunt you. Ugly little spoilt rich kid,” I shouted at the rapidly dissolving green mist.

And so, I have decided to write down all that has happened tonight. Unlike Ugly Angie and her ghost friend, I can write. And I have a spellchecker.

I have decided to send in this story to a website and get it published. That will be the final insult for Angie.