Here’s The Thing

“Your windowsill
Is momentarily filled with sun
And it’s these small thrills
That get me through the day until the next one

And I’m not afraid of heights
Maybe I’m just scared of falling”

Courtney Barnett

This week I have probably written more than I have done in AGES, and yet when it came to writing this…I’d run out of road. I’d written a 15,000 word, 79 page worky thing, and then , for fun, entered a writing competition  and wrote a 2,500 word story for it. ( if you’re signed up to the blog on you can read that story in the postscript, and if not , WHY NOT ??? you’re missing out on my super cool, NON-Cowshite, music choice for the week, and the odd story.

Anyway, I know I’m tired and perhaps a teeny, tiny bit cranky when my Soulmate gently asks if “I’m OK ?”. It takes a lot to annoy my Soulmate, I know, because I practice a lot. I always deflect and say “I’m just tired” , but this week, it is simply because I’m tired. I haven’t really done anything this week that is very out of the ordinary, other than the extra writing, but last night , and this morning I do feel jaded, both mentally and physically.

Whenever I get like this my Soulmate says that I should listen to my body and take it easy. My body seems to send mixed signals, it both wants to rest, to watch The West Wing from the start, and  read all of the books Jake has left with us for safe keeping , all the while eating pistachio nuts and drinking Guinness and Rioja, in front of the fire.

My Soulmate quickly suggests that I can listen to ‘that body’ on Saturday, but in the meantime maybe just rest.

So I did.

I didn’t write the blog.

I watched an old episode of ‘Poirot’ instead.

I prefer ‘Poirot’ to ‘Miss Marple’. The Virgin tv channel here has been showing the old ‘Agatha Christie’s Marple’ , as opposed to the old BBC series ‘Miss Marple’, and they are 2 hour feature length episodes featuring a complete story with an ensemble cast of celebrity actors that you know from other shows. I had been thoroughly enjoying them until it gradually dawned on me that they were all set in England in the 1950’s, where the death penalty was still in force for murder, so this sweet , unassuming, little old lady , was actually sending people to their deaths…gleefully in some instances, before settling back down to her knitting in St.Mary Mead.

Poirot on the other hand seems to take no pleasure in correctly identifying the perpetrators. Mind you he seems to take pleasure in very little , except looking down his nose at English people.

I like Poirot.

You know where you stand with Poirot, Mon amie.

To relax I also read. I’m now reading the second Malcom Pryce book, ‘Last Tango In Aberystwyth’, which I’m enjoying . And then to relax, relax, when I switch off the lights, I listen to an audio book, which is currently , still, ‘A Distant Mirror’ by Barbara Tuchman. I take forever to finish an audio book, as I keep falling asleep during them and have to go back several chapters to find a bit I remember. Tom Holland’s ‘Dominion’ took months ! Brilliant though, and highly recommended.

So, again, sorry for this being late.

Some, perhaps, nearly all of you, will say, why bother at all, no one is waiting for it, and yet ,here’s the thing, the odd time someone comes up to me and says casually, “I love reading your blog on a Friday”, and I usually say something self-deprecating, like “Really ? Someone actually reads it ?” when what I say inside, and should say out loud is “Thank you, you gorgeous human, you’ve made my day !”.

The last people to say this to me were Stella and Bernie at the Parkrun a couple of Saturdays ago, so, again, sorry for the delay, but , Stella and Bernie, you GORGEOUS  humans, thank you, you made my day.



P.S. This is Bloomsday by Samantha Crain

P.P.S This is the story I entered into the competition. The genre was Ghost Story, the subject was Entourage, and the character was Social Climber. 

The Bargain

At one time in Ireland the Rossmores owned Monaghan town and half the county, but that time has passed.
In the grounds of the old Rossmore Estate, in the family’s graveyard Jake finds that the end is only the beginning…if a bargain can be made.

There was only one thing Jake loved better than a good night’s sleep, and that was an exquisite dream. Jake was a great dreamer and , as you’d expect, had great dreams. The one he was having now was particularly good.
Jake was sitting in a bombed out kitchen smoking a fine cigar. The door behind him explodes inwards, but he’s not alarmed, and the Duke wades in through the debris. He sniffs the air and then glares at Jake “Is that a Heinkel ?”
“Its is.”
“I thought there were only three left.”
“Two now.” Jake reaches into his inside pocket, the Duke raises his gun in alarm. “Easy tiger” Jake slowly takes a small metal cylinder from his pocket and offers it to the Duke, “Would you settle for a Hidleberg ?”
“I thought they were all gone” The Duke says, grabbing it greedily and twists the end off and takes out the cigar and rolls it under his nose , inhaling deeply.
Jake offers him a light and they both inhale and then exhale plumes of blue grey smoke.
Looking up, through a hole in the shattered roof they see though the haze a glimpse of golden lines in a grid in the clouds.
“The Factory.”
“The factory ?” The Duke asks.
Jake opens his mouth to reply but is distracted by a dull knocking.
“Yes, the Factory , where we once made things, now we simply….” His voice trailed off. There was that knocking again. Louder this time. Much louder. It becomes deafening and Jake reaches to put his hands up to protect his ears but finds that his arms seem to be confined to his sides. He is now dully aware that he’s not in a kitchen, he’s no longer dreaming. He feels that his eyes are open but everything is black. He is struggling to move, but can only seem to move his arms or legs inches in any direction , fear takes hold, he attempts to lift his head, but bumps into something soft, but firm only an inch or two after he starts to move.
With a shock of recognition he knows he’s in a coffin. He screams, and screams , and screams.
After a few moments he stops in panicked exhaustion.
There’s a knock. And another.
“Hello ?”
“Hello there ! Aren’t you coming out ? We’re all dying to meet you !” There’s a lot of muffled laughter.
“Can you help me, I seem to be stuck ?”
“Oh goodness, yes, yes, what was I thinking ? Close your eyes and count to three.”
One, two…
There’s a shock, like jolt of electricity , and suddenly Jake is standing in a dark forest with a gang of people gathered in front of him , eyes wide in hope and expectation. He blinks a number of times. One of the gang steps forward, a man in an old fashioned tweed three piece suit, he extends his hand in greeting, smiles and says “ William Westenra, 6th Baron Rossmore, and damn glad to meet you, Sir!”, again there was muffled laughter from everyone else.
“Jake Bond. Where am I and what is going on ???”
“Well Mister Jake,” the 6th Baron replied , turning, his arm aloft “ this is our little graveyard, and you are our most welcome , and most recent resident.”
“I’m dead ???”
“Very astute this one.” The 6th Baron said, to yet more nervous, muffled laughter from the others. “I like him already.”
“Is this…a dream ?”
Again, there is much muffled laughter, “No Mister Jake. This is very real, and dare I say, wonderful ?”
“Wonderful ? I’m dead !”
“Yes Mister Jake, but your death is such a delight to us ! We’ve been waiting since 1958 for you to arrive.”
“I don’t..”
“Understand ? Of course you don’t, how could you ? Would you like me to explain ?”
The 6th Baron was about to speak, but seemed to become aware of the others gathering closer, he turned and hissed “Be gone ! Wait by the wall.” The others turned and shuffled slowly past gravestones, until they reached the far wall, a short distance away, and then lined up along it, facing the wall.
“Are they…OK ?”
“Them ? Don’t concern yourself with them, they’re mine, they’ll soon be Hers, and you will have to start on gathering your own.”
“Her ?”
“We’ll come to that. This, as I’m sure you know, is the Rossmore graveyard, on the Rossmore estate. My father, the 5th Baron, curse his good intentions, built this mausoleum and graveyard here in 1872 in honour of his brother, the 4th Baron, who died far too young at the age of 23, in a steeple chasing accident over in Windsor Castle. What my father didn’t know, couldn’t know, was that this site was Her’s, and she commands a price of servitude and souls in order to be released to where we should be…or rather where I should be. You see ?”
Jake was about to say he did not, but quickly realised that the 6th Baron hadn’t finished.
“Shortly after he’d laid out the graveyard and interred his brother Henry in the Mausoleum, his dreams were tortured by Henry’s pleas for company in the graveyard. He explained to my father that She had been disturbed, and was extracting a heavy price from him, his only relief would come when twenty other souls were interred with him. They would be devoured by her, and he would be released. My father compounded his first travesty in siting the graveyard here, by promising to aid his brother.
“Since 1872 favoured servants, those people”, he said casually pointing at the others lined up facing the wall, “cousins, some suitable neighbours, and distant family members have been ‘invited’ to be buried here, and each and every one enslaved to Her. She demanded service and sacrifice, became powerful and relished each new arrival. She devoured our memories, thrived on our fears, and then…well, as you know, the house became too much, there was the Great War,  the ridiculous War of Independence, inheritance tax, your Civil War, and no one was buried here for quite some time. She did not like that. But I’m getting ahead of myself.”
The 6th  Baron stopped for a moment and cast a glance towards the others.
“My father, after he’d conveyed enough bodies here to release Henry, and before he himself died, had made a bargain with her, through dark magic, twenty more souls for her amusement, in return for the release of the last Baron to be interred here, assuming it would be his very good self. She agreed. But with the fall in our prestiege, rank, wealth, and the very house itself, he ran short. He’d only persuaded twelve families to bury their own loved ones here when he felt his own time running out. So he did what he always did. He looked after himself. He was buried in Westminster. And, more importantly, failed to mention anything to me. So I trundled on , lived a life in other , gradually smaller houses and estates, but with the romantic notion of being buried here among my kin.”
He laughed bitterly before continuing.
“So I arrived, unaware, just as you have now, to discover that I had this damned dozen following me around, depending on me to mitigate her demands, and to find a way to get to twenty, otherwise I would end up simply like them, fodder and entertainment for Her, with no hope of release. That’s when I began my terrible task, luring souls here to meet their untimely…and well, you’re the ninth, so it’s over.”
He smiled at Jake apologetically and finally added “Any questions ?”
Jake stared at the 6th Baron for a moment “Many. But , and I have no idea why, most importantly you said you needed eight souls to make it to twenty for Her, so that you could be released ? So why am I the ninth ?”
“Oh very good ! Well spotted ! Didn’t I tell you he was clever ?” he said turning to the others for approval, before realizing that he’d banished them to the wall. “Oh. Well , you see, even She realised that it was getting to be a struggle to get anyone new here, and that if I did manage to do it, that she’d be on her own again, so I did a bargain of my own with her. Instead of requesting to be freed , as entitled to do, on the acquisition of the 20th soul, I asked that , if it were possible, as I suspected it would be, that providing Her with a new…a new.. ‘Procurement officer’ , if you will, that She would do me the great service of ‘finding’ my father and , well, what She agreed to do will remain between us. She agreed readily. And here you are.”
“But how did you ‘lure’ me here, I have no memory of it ?”
“Oh that was easy. In general , you can make suggestions in peoples’ very own dreams, that prove to be incredibly effective. But , you, you actually arrived here of your own volition, I mean , physically arrived here in the graveyard, and well, then it was simply a matter of making you ‘slip’ near the waterfall, and “et voilà” ! If you had been the eighth I would have enjoyed finding out what you had come here for, but now, I don’t have the time, and , to be quite honest, I don’t care. Here She comes !”
And with that the 6th Baron strode purposefully towards the far wall and barked at the others to turn around. A form of dull grey light seemed to rise between where Jake was standing and the others were now waiting. It had a shroud shape but was distorted, faint, and flickering. They were agitated in their excitement and as the shroud moved close to the first in the line , a chap who appeared to Jake to be a decrepit Victorian butler, an arm shape raised and touched his shoulder. He evaporated on contact with the shroud. It’s shape became slightly clearer, and brighter. The arm raised again and a hand touched the second of the others. It evaporated and the shape became sharper again. As it moved down the line and touched other after other, it became clearer and more distinct. It was definitely female, and dressed in what looked to Jake like the sleek, slender elegance of old Dior or Chanel. She proceeded along the line until she radiated with such brilliance that by the time she reached the twentieth, Jake could no longer look at Her directly.
There was the  sound of a great rush of air, which ended in a loud , deafening clash of symbols. Jake looked over. She now looked very much alive, albeit beautiful and dressed like a 1950’s Hollywood star. Which now that he saw Her with the 6th Baron in his three piece tweed suit, seemed fitting.
She smiled at the 6th Baron and offered her hand, he bowed and kissed it, then raised his head and smiled.
“Goodbye.” He said, and then he started to glow, dully at first, but within seconds so bright and dazzling that , again,  Jake could not look directly, and then , just as quickly he was gone.
She now turned to Jake. She shimmered as she walked towards him, and almost imperceptibly her clothing changed so that by the time she stood opposite him she was dressed as modernly as he was.
“It’s you.” He finally said. “It really is you, isn’t it ?”
“Yes.” She replied.
“Where is the 6th Baron ?”
“Everywhere and nowhere, all at once.” She said and twirled around her arms outstretched.
“I knew it !” Jake said triumphantly, before adding quietly “And the others ? “
“Here.” She raised a finger to her temple. “And there” looking down on the ground, and gently kicking away some dirt.
“Éabha…Eve” He said eventually, not as a question.
She nodded. “I must say, you seem remarkably content, and even excited, for someone in your position.”
“Oh , you have never, in your wildest dreams met anyone as excited as I am now. And you will be soon.”
“What a presumptuous little soul you are.” She snorted. “I thought the Baron had explained what task is ahead of you if you hope to share his escape. You know it took him sixty years ? Sixty years during which he watched me gradually strip every memory, hope, faith and feeling each one of his entourage had, before starting on him ? And his foul father had given him a twelve soul head start. You should be on your knees , begging that I set your target lower !” She seemed to glow brighter.
“I do not want release.”
“Fool ! Everyone wants release.”
“Ten thousand souls !”
 She laughed, and laughed, gently at first, then louder, maniacally, so loud that Jake had to close his eyes and hold his hands over his ears. It stopped, he opened his eyes to find her so close to him that he could feel his neck and cheek burn with the cold.
“Do not trifle with me, Soul.” She whispered. “This is your only warning. Now what bargain do you seek ? How many souls can you offer ?” She pulled back from him slowly , but stayed, staring, only inches from him.
“I was not ‘lured’ here, I sought you out. I would like to know what you will offer me for ten thousand souls ?”
She bore into him with her gaze. He could feel her enter his very essence. Eventually she said “You mean it. How?”
“What will you offer me ?”
“Reincarnation, unimaginable wealth , eternal life…with ten thousand souls I would be all powerful, I could offer you anything.”
“A partnership ? An equal partnership.”
“That’s impossible !”
“You said anything.”
“Twenty thousand souls.” Jake interjected and held out his hand to seal the bargain.
She took his hand, smiled, and said “Bargain. Now how ?”
He put his hand in his trouser pocket and took out a sleek black rectangle with a glass face. He clicked a button and it glowed.
“We will have an entourage of millions through this, and so many of them will offer their very souls to you that you will struggle to keep up.”
She stroked the tiny machine, kissed him gently on the cheek, and said “Begin.”

Author: paul

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *