Part Three of the Infinity series. And our hero has a problem. A Problem-problem.
Read Part One here. And Part Two here.
So you know in the movies you see somebody get shot and the muzzle flashes and there’s this cloud of smoke and then a rotating bullet emerges in slow motion and you see the bullet crawl like that feeling when you’re running through treacle in a dream? Getting shot in real life is nothing like that. You hear a bang and see the flash but straight away it fucking hurts.
What was weird is, as much as I didn’t see that shit in slo-mo, that’s how I fuckin felt it. I felt it pierce my chest like a hot poker and tear through my internal organs, expanding outwards as it went the same way a boat leaves a wake behind it until it exploded out of my back. It was at some point during this agony that I died. I know this because my life flashed before my eyes. All of it. That’s a real thing. Who knew?
I see my old man warning me to keep my birthmark hidden, because it makes me ‘special’.
Learning to ride a bike and grazing my knees and watching them heal before my eyes.
Opening my first ever computer as an eight year old at Christmas.
The first time I successfully hacked a website three years later.
My first time with a girl. A real girl. No prostitutes here. How interested she was with my birthmark. And how I knew I’d screwed up telling her about it.
Lying to everyone who asked me about it, even my closest friends.
Having to be packed away by my folks. That was the last time I saw them. I spoke to them after, but I could never tell them where I went.
On the subway in the last city I ended up at. And there’s a dude at the other end of the car, looking at me. And fuck me if it ain’t Iggy fucking Pop.
And again at a bar. Not enough for me to notice him at the time, just loitering in my peripheral, but now my brain’s showing off its subliminal powers or some shit.
Lots of other boring bullshit till I’m at Remy’s Last Party, having a great time and then I see her, through the crowd. Cute. Blonde. Looks just like the speedster chick from Heroes. Sadie. Ah, sweet Sadie.Then she’s walking past me, probably just after she put that shit in my drink.
Then I’m in the hangar. Getting shot.
Then, nothing. Black.
But not for long. That’s when the screaming started. A sea of faces, endless. Stretching out to the horizon in all directions. Some in agony. Some without eyes. Some with the flesh torn away exposing the pure white bone beneath. Some covered in blood. But none of that graphic shit is the worst part. And it’s not that they’re all looking at me. Reaching for me. It’s the look on their faces. The fear in their eyes. (Those that have eyes. Those that don’t are the worst because you can still feel it. Fear like you’ve never known.) Terror so pure like they’re all frozen in time at the moment they knew death was coming for them.
And now they are coming for me. Clawing at me with cold hands. Scratching at me, tearing at the flesh. Now this is strange because I can’t tell you how long this went on for, but if I had to say anything, I’d say it went on forever. Time seemed to stretch out like it does when you’re in traffic. Or waiting in line. Like that, but not that. Imagine that feeling on a loop. Over and over. That’s what it felt like.
So I’m in Hell, right? I guess so.
This hurts my fucking feelings. I’m not a bad guy, so this comes as a shock to me. I’ve never killed anybody, like I said. So what is my sin?
I’m a computer hacker. There are basically two kinds. Those involved in security. Finding weaknesses so that people can defend against it. Those are the good guys. The white hats. Then there’s the black hats. I’m a grey hat. It used to be white. Then I got my hat dirty. And I liked it. Over time it became greyer. I never killed anyone, but I suppose my sin was greed.
Hell seems a bit harsh for that though, am I right? Maybe it’s the repercussions. Far-reaching. Whatever.
So anyway, I’m in this place what feels like forever and then a white light comes overhead and spreads and grows and glows until it’s all around me and I can’t see the wild dead eyes and the screaming stops and then I’m drawing the deepest breath like I’ve been underwater for two minutes and when I can see again, I’m back in the hangar.
“Here he is.”
I sit up. “You fucking assholes.”
Dax puts one of those huge hands on my shoulder, “Sorry, we had to check.”
Apparently, my ‘eternal’ damnation lasted two weeks. They shot me because they get some fakers. Apparently eternal damnation isn’t a problem for Iggy, and he talks about ‘balancing his check book’, whatever that means.
Now I have to ask. “I think before we go any further, you should tell me what’s going on,” and there’s another one of those moments where they all look at one another, mouths open, catching flies.
Dax finally speaks, “Okay we’ll tell you.”
They are staring at each other. “What?”
Iggy clears his throat. “We need you to get us in somewhere. It’s fucking dangerous.”
I know, killed-killed.
“The people we’re after are big league. And dangerous. They’ll come after us.”
“So why are we doing it? Money?”
Dax shakes his head. “Not money.”
Sadie speaks. “Revenge.”
Now read Part Four of INFINITY (where our hero finds out the dark truth about their mission).
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Another story from the hotel now. We’ve already heard about the real hauntings that I
experienced in the flat and the kitchen, now the final part. Reception...
The front door of the hotel opened into the reception area. Turn left, and you’ll find the public bar. Right, the restaurant and kitchen, and go past the reception you’ll find toilets just before you hit the beer garden. The ladies toilets were constantly cold, and many customers told stories of strange feelings, and sometimes even sightings. Before the right turn to the restaurant were the stairs that led to the flat. I did not like the stairs. Not one bit. Whenever I was going up the stairs, it felt like there was someone behind me. Every. Single. Time. It also had the same feeling of malevolence as the presence in the flat.
The main focus of the reception area was the office. There were two kinds of things happened around the office. The first kind was nasty. Just outside the office both of my parents experienced the same thing on separate occasions, something I’m fucking overjoyed never happened to me. They were standing outside the door, when a disembodied voice barked AGH! Right in their ears.
The other kind was playful. One afternoon, I was counting the takings from the restaurant till. My maths is pretty good, but I usually used a calculator, just because it was quicker than recounting if I did make a mistake. I carried the plastic tray from the till into the office and placed it on the desk. No calculator. After a quick search I decided it would just be faster to count using pen and paper. It wasn’t the most exciting job, scraping the coins from their relative compartments and out onto the desk. Left to right, starting with pound coins and working through to the pennies. Counting them, marking the amount and moving on to the next section. On this day it was a quick job. All present and correct, I took the tray back to the till, but when I got back to the office, I froze...
Sitting in the middle of the desk, where the tray had been, was the calculator. There was nobody else around to play a prank on me, so my first conclusion was that I’d made a mistake, done something stupid, put the tray on top of the calculator and not noticed. But something felt off. Neither the calculator nor tray from the till were flat. The calculator had a raised section for the display; its profile the shape of an ice-hockey stick. The bottom of the tray was the opposite of the top. Plastic where there were gaps and vice versa. I went back to the till and collected the tray and tried to fit it over the top of calculator so that it wouldn’t wobble. I tried every possible position and there was no way that fucking thing would fit. Whenever I got something close and tried scraping the coins out from the tray, it noticeably wobbled. I hadn’t made a mistake. I’d been pranked by a playful ghost!
But the strangest thing was the lock. It was a Yale lock. For those not in the know, a Yale lock is an auto locking system. Nothing fancy. Two buttons – one that twists to open the lock, and a smaller switch that fixes the lock in place: either stopping the lock from closing if the door is being used a lot, or holding the lock closed for extra security (so much so that when it is locked like this, the key won’t even open it).
One night I had to go to the bar, so I left the office, making sure I had my keys (because locking yourself out of somewhere with these locks is far too fucking easy) before dropping the switch to lock the door. After about an hour, I went back to the office, stuck my key in the lock and twisted. You guessed it. Nothing.
I jumped to the obvious conclusion: we were looking at a shitty lock. I thought the switch must have fallen from the up position to the down and fixed the lock shut. Fucking gravity. The hatch where guests would sign in and receive their keys was closed and locked with a bolt. After a few minutes of rattling I managed to get the lock open (yay, security!), and I climbed through into the office. I went to check the lock. The strange thing was, to fix the lock in place, either locked or unlocked, the switch had to be put up. And there it was. Up. It didn’t move easily and even if it had happened on its own, it was giving gravity the middle finger. Again, after a few minutes of fiddling I came to the conclusion that there was no way it could have happened accidentally. Oh, and the ghost at reception was an asshole.
Have you ever had an experience you can't explain? Let me know in the comments! As before, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And (I really shouldn’t have to tell you this) please be respectful of others!
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Born with a birthmark that separates him from the pack, our hero is wanted. But for what?
Read Part One here.
They finally unchained me (very grandiose and way over the top to begin with if you ask me), and we sat in that cold warehouse and talked about the scheme I’d just signed up for.
“We don’t want to go into details now, but it’s pretty fucking dark. You might not be ready to hear it.”
“Come on, what am I? Six years old?”
The others looked at the black dude. The black dude looked at me.
“We want to train you. We want to pass on as many of our skills as we can, before we start. Like we said, you won’t have to kill anybody, and we’ll be there with you. And like we said, this shit could get you killed."
Oh, yeah, about that. So we’ve all got this infinity birthmark, and my folks told me to keep mine hidden ‘for my own safety’ (which is a fucking weird thing to say to a kid who can’t die). But we can die, apparently. I mean, you know, if we die, we come back. Okay, now I’m waffling. Let me start over.
If we drown, our lungs fill with water, we stop breathing, we die. Then, it’s like a back-up system kicks in and we come back. We cough up the water, and presto. If we don’t cough up the water, we die again. But then we come back again. And again, if need be. If we get shot, let’s say we take a bullet to the chest. Our internal organs are messed up, we die. Then slowly, the cells regenerate, and we produce more blood, and we come back. If we get blown to a thousand pieces? We’re fucked. You don’t come back from that. Cement shoes? We’re fucked. Get chopped up and the pieces buried in separate locations? We’re fucked.
Now, I haven’t actually seen any of this, it’s all just hearsay. Conjecture. But it’s been passed down round campfires for generations. I’m in no hurry to find out if it’s true. All I know for now is, my new pals could have done one of the above, but they didn’t. So I think for now I can trust them. Even if they do want me to do something that could get me killed-killed.
See that’s the thing that made me nervous. For us to stay dead, somebody would have to want us dead. Who? Apparently, they don’t want to tell me. Yet. And they don’t want me to kill anybody. Which is nice. That, I would not be comfortable with. Unless it was child-torturing pedos. Fuck those assholes. But I’m not a killer. I’m a computer guy. I’m pretty fucking good at it too. I’m not a killer, but I look at Iggy, I think he might be. The chick and the black dude? Not sure.
Anyway they want to pass on some skills so we can do some shit together that drags me from my boring life and involves me not killing people? Fine.
“Fuck it. Let’s go.”
I hop down from the splintered door my new pals had chained me too, shortly after they’d spiked my drink.
The black dude comes over and offers me a massive hand to shake. “Dax.”
Then Sadie (that’s the chick) comes over and then Iggy.
“So which of you assholes owes me a tequila sunrise?”
Dax speaks. “No booze. Training starts now.”
He points behind me, and I turn around to see that I’m not in a warehouse, it’s more like a hangar. A corner kitted out with gym gear and those dummies you can punch in the head, weights, practice mats and other fighting shit. A corner kitted out like a living area, sofas (no TV), books, beds, kitchen. Oh, and a shooting range.
“We only practice indoors when the weather sucks, but this is here whenever you need it.”
“So what now?”
Iggy says from behind me, “Your first real test,” and I hear a sound which for all the world sounds like the clicking you hear on TV when somebody does that slidey thing to load a gun. I turn around and sure enough, that skinny piece of shit is aiming straight at me.
And I was worried about having my drink spiked.
“You mother fff…” was all I could manage, before he fired.
Read Part Three of INFINITY here! If you don't already, follow me on social media (click the big colourful buttons at the bottom. Very easy) so you don't miss the latest episode!
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Parts one and two of the Royal Oak series gave a little background into the kinds of activity at the Royal Oak: Residual Haunting and Poltergeist. Two for the price of one this week! Two short, but intriguing tales for you. Tales of poltergeists...
One night my dad and mum were working at the Royal Oak and a couple of customers, who were impressed with the age of the old place asked about hauntings.
As mentioned in part two, the Royal Oak was a huge place and at weekends was a busy nightclub – yes, I grew up experiencing this. Yes, my childhood was that awesome. The bar itself was brass-topped (just like Pegleg’s table) and wide, to stop drunken patrons trying to reach over and help themselves to beer(!), and the area behind the bar was equally wide. The extra room was invaluable during those packed out weekends so the bar staff could easily pass one another. All in all, the distance from the back of the bar, to the front of the bar was somewhere around 5 feet. Behind the bar were shelves full of glasses at eye level for easy access.
So the question came about hauntings, and my dad mentioned the odd sightings, and poltergeist activity. No sooner were the words left his mouth, than a glass flew from the shelf behind the bar. It flew through the air completely clearing the bar, before smashing on the customer side. A huge distance.
Such a journey defied the laws of physics, and cannot simply be attributed to gravity alone. Again, this is another story which asks for some serious logic bending when trying to come up with an explanation.
The second story happened one night after the pub had closed. My dad had stayed up for one of those late night afterhours sessions and had fallen asleep afterwards. He awoke alone, disturbed by the distinctive hollow metallic sound of barrels being moved around in the cellar.
He opened his blurry eyes and the noise stopped, but he saw somebody helping themselves to a shot from the optics mounted behind the bar. His eyes came into focus but when they did, there was nobody there. Thinking he’d imagined the whole thing, he went upstairs to bed.
The next morning he went downstairs and spoke to my grandmother.
“What were you doing last night?” she asked.
Dad explained that he wasn’t doing anything. “Why?” he asked.
“It took me ages to fall asleep because of the racket coming from downstairs.”
Dad was confused. “What racket?”
“There was somebody messing around in the cellar, moving empty barrels around.”
The word ‘Poltergeist’ comes from the German meaning ‘noisy ghost’. Poltergeist activity includes objects being moved (or in some cases thrown), loud noises, e.g. knocking, banging, etc. This kind of spirit is also purportedly capable of biting and scratching those unfortunates who are unlucky enough to experience it. Poltergeist activity often occurs in the presence of an adolescent: in a home where there is at least one teenager; one theory being that poltergeists feed off their energy, though this gives rise to claims of bored kids with nothing better to do playing pranks on adults.
Other theories still claim poltergeists can be written off simply as the result of a vivid imagination or memory lapses.
In the case of the glass above, it would be an elaborate prank indeed, to get a glass to perform the kind of gymnastics mentioned. Not only that, but the prank would have to be set up during a shift, and not triggered beforehand. Who would do this? My parents were as much victims of the ’prank’ as anyone. So could this just be a case of imagination? Well, if there is a broken glass as a result, seen by multiple witnesses then I should say not. Which leaves us with a question: are poltergeists real?
Have you experienced poltergeist activity yourself? Let us know in the comments! As always, I’d like this to be a serious discussion, so no jokes, memes, etc. And please be respectful of others!
And a quick word about a new short story series Infinity. Part one 'Last Party' saw our hero wake up chained in a warehouse, surrounded by 3 strangers bearing strange marks on their wrists, but what do they want? Part two drops this Friday (17th Feb) at 8am (GMT)
This came from a writing prompt on Reddit that became a short story entitled Last Party. I enjoyed writing it so much that I decided to develop it further! The series will go under the name Infinity...
I’d known this day was coming for a long time. God knows I’d prepared for it, and now it had finally arrived. Prepared for it emotionally, I mean. Before I even opened my eyes I knew what was going on. And I knew why it was going on. The last thing I could remember was the party.
It had been a good one, for the most part. Sad, poignant (like all Last Parties were), but the music was pumping, the drinks were in rich supply, and even though it was his party, Remy was in great form. Only 26 years old, turning 27, but drinking like a Viking and joking around like he always did. His wife, Chrissy, sure she was emotional. I mean, she’s the guy’s wife, and his Last Party. The reasons for her sadness were pretty much the same for everyone.
Firstly, and this one I shouldn’t really have to explain, it’s his Last Party. Emphasis on the word Last. They’re always emotionally charged. Come on, it’s the final meeting with everyone you know and love. If somebody invites you to an LP, you go. You go, and you take as much food and drink as you can carry, and if there’s any left over (and this is a fucking huge if), the guest of honour gets to keep that shit for however long he’s got. The Second Reason Chrissy was upset about her husband’s LP is why everyone gets upset at their significant other’s LP. It’s selfish, but my inkling is it’s the main reason; it’s a glimpse into your own future. Your own very near future.
Chrissy’s birthmark was the same as Remy’s. In the same place as everyone else’s (obviously). On both of their wrists was the number 27. That was the thing with the birthmarks. Everybody could pick someone with a number close to their own. Unless you’re too high or too low. That’s one of the reasons I’d always been single, but that’s another story. Chrissy was a few months younger than Remy, and by the time her LP came around, it was anybody’s guess if he’d still be around, at least the kid would be born, and who knew, maybe he’d be luckier. Just because his folks were both 27s, didn’t mean he’d be a 27. If he was lower they’d be too dead to reap any benefit from it.
If you’re like a 40 or a 50 or even an 80, basically long enough to benefit from it, you have a kid and that poor little scrap of life comes out in single figures, you get to retire, well, for five years. Four before, one after. (Or one before and four after, if that’s all the maths allows.) All on the government’s bill. Your old job waiting for your return.
And the birthmarks were the reason I always wore long sleeves. The birthmarks didn’t develop until you were two years old (unless you were a 1), so there was no official record of anyone’s number. It was illegal to request the information too, like at a job interview. It could be used to discriminate. Unless you were a cop or a soldier or something like that, the government never knew. So yeah, my folks always told me to cover up, and they were serious as shit when they did. So I covered up. And stayed single. Girls always wanted to know your number. Christ it was worse than the discussion of how many women you’d slept with. No, I’m not a virgin, before you ask. Yes, prostitutes. No, I don’t feel bad.
So when the day finally arrived, I had been expecting it. I peeled my eyes open, the strange taste of my last drink at Remy’s Last Party still in my mouth, and saw the birthmark. But it wasn’t the unusual thing. An infinity sign birthmark is an unusual thing, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t see all of it. Because of the shackles. Cold, heavy iron shackles. I mean, seriously? I’m going to live for ever but I’m not the Hulk.
“And which assface spiked my fucking tequila sunrise?”
Yes, I drink tequila sunrise as my beverage of choice. Little judgemental, aren’t we?
I could see one of them. He looked about Remy’s age, but skinny, and white, dressed like Iggy Pop if you ever saw him wearing clothes. I addressed the room, though, because I heard another voice, deep lots of bass. Probably a black dude. Oh, I’m racist now? Do you think it belongs to a little old Chinese lady? No, so let’s move the fuck along. When the third voice answers, I get a surprise.
It’s just when I’m dealing with this minor surprise (yes, I’m aware that women can do nefarious shit, I just wasn’t sure it included drugging people and shackling them to old wooden doors) that I see it. On Iggy Pop’s wrist. His birthmark is like my birthmark. Now it’s not too much of a stretch for even my groggy mind to imagine what the others birthmarks look like.
“You got it,” Iggy says, presenting his wrist, “we’re like you.”
“I have never drugged anyone and shackled them to a shitty old splintering door in a cold and frankly unwelcoming warehouse.” I answer, because even though I’m groggy still, and my head feels like it’s got three potatoes rattling around where my brain used to be, being next to impossible to kill brings out the cocky in most people.
The black guy appears from around the back of me at the head end, “Sorry bout that, we’re kinda new at this.”
He talks like Samuel L. Jackson, but he looks like somebody stuck Scottie Pippen’s head on Usain Bolt’s body, oh and I fucking told you he was black. Then the girl appears and she looks so much like that speedster chick off that TV show Heroes that I swear to God, it might be her.
“Can you take these off? They’re pretty uncomfortable.” My head’s clearing now and I manage to raise one of the shackles.
“Answer this question first, then we’ll talk,” she says.
And I know what’s coming before Iggy Pop opens his skinny mouth and I know, I know I’m supposed to be all Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and refuse the fucking call, but I’m tired of fucking prostitutes and I can already imagine watching society making the same fucking mistakes and me not forming any real relationships and any I do stumble into end with me having to watch people I actually give a fuck about die so when he says, “We’re getting a group together. It’s serious shit. Serious enough to get you killed,” I look him square in the eyes and smile.
Iggy stares back at me expressionless, “You look like you’re gonna say yes, and you don’t know what it is yet.”
That’s true. “Well, I trust you guys know who I am. So I don’t think you’re gonna ask me to kill somebody.”
They just look at each other.
“Are you going to ask me to kill somebody?”
The Chick answers, “No, we’re not. But when you find out about them, you might want to.”
Read Part Two here. If you enjoyed Infinity (part one) please share with your friends. Be sure to follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Google+ so you don't miss anything!!
In this blog I'll be bringing to you short tales of things that go bump in the night, true stories of weird and unexplained events, and the real-life news of all things odd and macabre, and entertain you along the way.