So, I asked the beautiful people on my Facebook page to select a writing prompt for me to write a short story from. They duly replied (you can find the prompts on the above link, and I should say this one's for Karolina, Sally, and David. If you don't like it, gee, I'm sorry, I guess), and so, I present you...
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 a number high 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 over and over 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.”
I really enjoyed writing this, so I've decided to carry on! The title for the series is 'Infinity' and it will be available under that title in the short story section. Part 2 will be here on Friday!
Another story from the hotel now. And another ghost sighting! The other ghost sightings I’ve told you about I can smell you sceptics having some kind of fit. “But you could have been asleep!” or “How drunk were you?” in suitably whiny fucking voices.
So just for you, here’s one experience I shared. During the day. At work...
It was a regular day at the hotel, back in the time I was working in the kitchen. The kitchen at the hotel was up a short flight of stairs separated from the restaurant by a pair of large swinging doors, and a particularly active (paranormally speaking) part of the hotel.
There were sightings of shadowy figures (not by me, a cleaner was talking to mum and stepped aside to let ‘somebody’ past her) and one occasion I recall, I went up there to collect a CD a friend wanted to borrow. It was a short distance to the CD player and the ultraviolet light of the insect zappers meant I didn’t need the lights on. As I walked to pick up the CD I heard a pair of hard soled shoes following behind me. I was wearing trainers and the footsteps were at a different pace to mine. That took me a minute to build up the courage to turn around, I can tell you. After a minute or so trying to recreate the noise I gave up.
Back to the story…
I’m in the kitchen working with a colleague (Lynne) and on this particular day, I was washing the dishes and Lynne was preparing main courses. She had just served up a meal and to let the waitress know the food was ready she shouted the standard “Meals away!” The food was set onto the pass through that divided the kitchen into the large cooking area and smaller waitress area and she went about her business of preparing the next meals.
After a minute or so, the meal was still sitting there, going cold. It wasn’t a particularly busy day, so I gave a slightly lounder shout, hoping my voice would carry further, before getting stuck back into the dishes. Another minute passed and the food was still sitting there. I turned to Lynne, and we shook our heads in disbelief that nobody has come to collect the food, when we hear the distinctive sound from the bottom of the stairs of swinging double doors opening.
“Finally!” Lynne says.
The scrape of traipsing footsteps echoes upstairs and we both go back to whatever we’re doing, Lynne the next meal, and me, more dishes. I glanced around just in time to see a stockinged leg in a plain flat black shoe disappear around the corner as I picked up the next plate out of the sink. After washing it the waitress still hasn’t reappeared carrying the meals (which by now have been sitting for a good few minutes).
I turned round to see Lynne give an exasperated shrug, so I walked around the corner to “politely request that the waitperson exercise a little haste”. I poked my head back around the corner, mouth agape.
Lynne mirrored my gormless expression.
“Is there nobody there?” she asked.
“Did you hear somebody come upstairs?” I replied.
After a minute of asking each other questions back and forth like an Abbot and Costello routine, we both confirmed that: yes, we heard the doors open; yes, we heard footsteps; no, there’s nobody there.
Eventually the double doors swung open and the waitress finally appeared and rather than wanting to know what had taken her so long, we were both desperate to find out if she’d opened the doors come, upstairs, then gone back down for something.
She said that she hadn’t been upstairs, and she hadn’t heard us shouting. She had to check a guest in at reception. The reception where she had been for the past few minutes.
Wide awake, corroborated by another witness. There. Told you.
That’s All, Folks! Next week, it’s back to the Royal Oak, for POLTERGEISTS!! Have you liked/shared/retweeted? You have? Thank you! You may now go. But come back next week!!
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!
Last time I told you about the first time I ever saw a ghost. As I said at the time, I wasn’t that scared. It’s strange because there have been other occasions I’ve experienced different things that have scared me…
THE FLAT: PART TWO
One night sitting watching television in the living room and I got the feeling that I wasn’t alone (sound familiar?!). Worse than that, the feeling was that whoever I was sharing the room with left me in no doubt that my presence was not welcome. The feeling grew stronger and stronger by the minute and I could think of no trigger. I’d been watching comedy on the television and hadn’t been thinking about anything strange before it happened. After about twenty or so minutes of hoping the feeling would go away, it got progressively worse. I eventually left. Not an experience I’d gladly repeat.
This happened a few feet from the room I’d witnessed my first ever ghost, and as I said, that wasn’t the last time I saw something.
This all happened a few months after the first experience. I can’t remember exactly how long, but it was long enough for me to have the other incident far from the front of my thoughts. I was lying in bed one afternoon (I was a chef working split shifts at the time and after years of practice, I am now the World Champion of Afternoon Snoozes). Just as I was thinking about going to sleep, I saw something between my bed and the closed door of my room. The area between my bed and the door is only about a square yard (just under a metre, for our European readers).
A black cat’s tail swished up, hung in the air for a moment, and then disappeared back down alongside my bed. It was odd, because, well, we didn’t have a cat. Nonplussed as to how a cat made it all the way upstairs and into my room, I propped myself up, and waited for a second, thinking (hoping) the cat would appear at the door and try to escape. It didn’t.
It must be cowering by the edge of the bed. It was the kind of bed with drawers built into the base, so there was no way it could have made its way under. Now I had to peer over the edge of my bed to see what it was doing, risking having my eyes scratched out in the process. I just wanted to sleep.
I peered over the edge of the bed to find absolutely nothing. Just so we’re clear, this was a solid black tail. Not a white ghostly tail. Not transparent. Solid black. And let’s be clear, I hadn’t even fallen asleep yet, so there was no way I was dreaming. Again, at the time I wasn’t scared. It was just… odd. As before, the scary part was still to come.
I did manage to fall asleep (see ‘World Champion of Snoozes’), but when I woke up, it wasn’t because of my alarm, and there was nothing natural about it.
I was awoken by pressure on my back. More precisely, four small points of pressure. More precisely still, two points on my upper back, two on my lower back. Spaced apart almost like feet. If pressed, I’d say exactly like feet. And if I had to guess the weight of the object that had just landed on me? I’d say it was about the weight of a cat. I leapt out of bed and carried out a thorough search of the room. There was no cat.
My room at the hotel always was a bit strange. There was a time I was awoken by a terrifying dog’s bark. That was on the cusp of being awake/asleep so I can’t say for certain that it wasn’t a dream, but that wasn’t all that happened. There were invasions of wasps, HUGE spiders (including one so big it barely fit into a pint glass(?!)), and Red Admiral butterflies. The thing about the butterflies was they used to appear in my room and fly right into the corner before settling on the ceiling. There they stayed until they died. The exact same spot. Never anywhere else. At one point, there were three lined in a row.
I remember chatting with my mum after I’d left the hotel, and just as a jokey remark, I asked how everything was in my old room. She told me that she didn’t know because my dad insisted on keeping the door closed. “He never liked that room.”
He only let me sleep there for ten years… Thanks, Dad!
Next time... One for the sceptics to mull over!
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 please be respectful of others!
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.