A Report on a Haunting at Number 11 Erskine Street, Aberdeen

I opened his door and switched on the light. Here is what I saw. Paul was standing in his pyjamas by the big bay window that stretched right across the far wall of his room. He had wrapped himself up in the great thick curtain that hung by the window and was thrashing and flapping his arms around as though wrestling with someone, shouting and roaring as he did so. When the light came on he stopped suddenly. He let the curtains drop and turned to look around him. The expression on his face was quite unlike anything I’d ever seen on him before. He seemed like a child, scared and lost. He looked over towards me. For a moment I though he was about to turn angry, to snap at me for coming into his room uninvited, but he never did.

“Did you see someone in here just now?” he said, his voice small and wobbling.

I shook my head. “No, Paul. There’s no-one here.”

“No. Of course not.” He said. “Of course not.”

“Are you alright, Paul?” I asked. “Can I do anything?”

“No,” he said. “I’m fine. I’ll be fine.”

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

haunting

‘A Report on a Haunting and Other Stories’ is Chapbook number four of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

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Philippe and the Silver Flute

“Oh, how you’ve been tricked, my boy. Oh, what damage you’ve caused, my poor, poor boy. You think your story’s over, but it’s hardly even started. No idea. You’ve no idea what’s ahead of you. Poor boy. Poor, poor boy.”

The next thing Philippe knew were these words being whispered over and over in his ear. A soft voice, close to his head spoke gently and carefully, full of compassion and strength. For a long time he slept, not sure whether he was alive or dead, with this voice and these words his only connection to the world. When eventually he opened his eyes, it was to a strange place indeed. A tiny cottage hidden deep in the woods with warm red rugs draped over every surface and a flickering light from a dozen candles glittering and sparkling through the glass flowers and bright silver charms which hung and swayed on long lengths of string from the ceiling above him. He was lying on a bed in the corner of this room. By his side was a small, old woman who was gently washing his forehead with a cool flannel soaked in lavender water. Her eyes were sharp and wide and a great smile spread across her face when she saw Philippe was waking at last.

“He lives!” she said, a chuckle of gleeful satisfaction rattling through her as she turned to collect a glass of water with which to wet his lips. While she turned, Philippe saw that she wore around her neck a silver talisman of a bird’s skull which, in these parts, indicated the wearer to be a witch of some great power. He did not find this alarming, though. There was something so gentle and tender about the old woman’s demeanour and so comforting about the place she lived that he felt nothing but safe in her presence.

“You’ve been asleep a long time, my boy. And a good thing too, because you’ll need all the strength you can muster if you are to come through the test you have ahead of you. Here, drink this and eat and when you are finished I will tell you all about it.”

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

shorecliff

‘The Shorecliff Horror and other stories’ is Chapbook number three of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

The Impossible City

So long as he sleeps, he feels safe. He dreams of nothing. Nothing, at least, that he can recall afterwards. When eventually he wakes, it will be with a wrench so painful, to a world so loud and bright that he will gasp at the shock of it. When he wakes, it will be to a place so confused and delirious as to be indistinguishable from a dream. The city rolls out before him, bizarre and disorienting. Nothing he sees there will make any sense to him. It is a place straight out of a nightmare or a horror story. A place without logic or reason that defies his senses and leaves his head spinning. A bewildering place, indeed.

Everyone who comes to the city arrives innocent and blameless, they say. They don’t stay that way for long. And nobody the city has use for ever leaves, so they say. Such are the stories told about the city by the people who know of it and study it. It is a place of rumour and myth, only half believed in even by the few who have heard of it and never forgotten by anyone who has ever seen it, no matter how hard they might wish to.

A shadow hangs over this region. A dark fog that infects the soul of every living creature it touches. They cannot see it, but they can feel it. It covers their hands and lives inside their lungs, pushing and leading them for every step they take. It has a plan for every one of them. Everyone who comes to the city has a role to play in the story it is spinning and whether they realise it or not, whether they wish to follow or not, makes no difference whatsoever.

 

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

shorecliff

‘The Shorecliff Horror and other stories’ is Chapbook number three of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

The Shorecliff Horror

Lovecraft was never really my cat in the first place, not really.  So individual and unusual a creature was he, in fact, that it was hard to imagine him ever having belonged to anyone.

He padded through my door one day a week or so after I first moved into Shorecliff House and seemed to take a liking to the place straight away. He sniffed at the carpets, peered under the furniture, crawled in and out of corners and small spaces I hardly even knew were there and, virtually ignoring me for the entire time, generally took his measure of the whole house. When all of his investigations were complete he found himself a comfortable spot on the window ledge in the drawing room and sat there in the sun all afternoon while I worked at emptying boxes and cleaning floors and getting the place as close to habitable as was possible. I didn’t pay him much attention and he paid me even less. Later that day I wandered through the room again looking for something item or other I’d mislaid and noticed that he’d left his perch and disappeared from the house entirely. I never knew where he went to or where he came from in the first place.

He made his own rules right from the start.

He was never really my cat at all.

 

(This is a short extract taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

shorecliff

‘The Shorecliff Horror’ is Chapbook number three of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

Ghost story (not scary)

We are dead, of course. Both of us. We have been for ages and ages. So long that we can’t even remember anything else. Whatever we were, where we lived, what we did, all of that is forgotten. None of it matters anymore. It’s all gone. We live here now, strolling up and down the deck of this ship, watching the passengers come and go, watching the staff work through their shifts. We see their little intrigues, their dramas, their day to day routines, but mostly we don’t pay them much notice. They don’t see us and, most of the time, we hardly even notice they’re there either. We keep to ourselves, you and I. Walking the deck. Shooting the breeze. Killing time.

“It bothers me a little,” I said to you once, “that I don’t remember how it happened. The dying thing, I mean. The moment of it. What caused it. I don’t remember anything.”

“Me neither,” you said, shrugging your shoulders. “But, so what? Why worry about it? Why dwell on morbid things?”

“We are morbid things,” I said, getting a small laugh from you. “Surely it’s important, though? Don’t you think? It seems like it should be an important, defining event in our existence, but I don’t remember a thing about it.”

“I don’t remember being born either, but I know it happened. Maybe it’s the same thing.”

“Maybe. It feels like it should be different, that’s all.”

(This is a short excerpt taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

‘The old maid and other stories’ is Chapbook number two of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

Cold companion

“Sometimes it is an animal,” she says one night. “Sometimes I imagine it as a cat. An old black cat caught in the corner of the room or under the bed. Something sad and trapped and calling out to us. That’s what I’m thinking about lately when I’m listening to it.”

“Yes,” he says. “It’s small and its helpless. It’s reaching out to us. It’s asking for something, but we don’t know what it wants. We don’t understand. How can we help it if we don’t know what it needs?”

“But not always. Sometimes,” she says “it has no shape at all. It is a shadow. Or something darker than a shadow. It’s on all sides of us. It’s around us and inside us. It’s a part of us, already. Do you understand? Sometimes I feel like it’s too late. It’s inside us already and there’s nothing we can do anymore.”

“I don’t know that it means us any harm, though,” he says, sitting up in bed and turning towards her. “Do you? I mean, I never feel threatened. I don’t ever remember thinking it was actually going to hurt me. Sometimes I don’t think I even really feel afraid of it, not properly. I feel horror. And dread. And sadness, as though there is something deeply horrible happening and I can’t escape it. I feel all of that, but I never feel as if I’m going to come to any actual harm. Does that make sense?”

“It’s not quite like that for me.” The words come quickly and quietly, almost involuntarily. She’s been listening carefully, but with her eyes turned down. For some reason she doesn’t seem to want to look at him directly. There is a long pause in which neither of them says anything.

“How is it for you?” He says eventually.

“It doesn’t want to hurt me, but it’s going to.” She says. “It is some dark, horrible thing waiting there for me in the night. Every time I hear it I wonder if this is the time, is this the time it’s going to come for me. I can’t do anything to stop it and it’s always there, no matter what I do. I don’t know how and I don’t know when, but one day it is going to hurt me. That’s what I feel when I hear it. That’s what I’m thinking about.”

(This is a short excerpt taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

‘The old maid and other stories’ is Chapbook number two of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.

The old maid

(This is a short excerpt taken from a longer story.  To read the full version for free, please visit us here.  Thanks for reading.)

Staring out at this landscape, the girls hesitate for a moment. Only the boy knows where they’re going and he pulls them along with him. He grew up in these parts, he tells them, has spent his life, in fact, exploring all the hidden corners of this coastline. He’s taking them to a bay just a few miles south of here where, he says, “the water is warm and safe for swimming in. The sun gets trapped in there and stays all day and, best of all, no one else ever goes there. It’s a secret place. Hardly anyone but me even knows its there.”

This is an exaggeration, of course. Everyone in the nearby towns knows about Old Meiga Bay, but it is true that few ever visit it. Too far for the families and their cars and pushchairs, too far for the dog walkers to venture, only the occasional hiker or naturalist comes this way, and on days as hot as this even they are few and far between.

As for the boy himself, something about his manner makes you wonder how often even he has really been out so far along the coast. How many pretty, young girls has he brought out this way to strut alongside and impress? Not too many you would wager, because for all his certainty, for all his youthful arrogance, there’s a nervousness about him that does not sit well with the confidence of his words. He’s too excited, somehow. Or rather, is trying too obviously hard to disguise how excited he is. There’s nothing sinister about this, just a naivety he’s anxious not to expose. In some small way, perhaps, he’s taking advantage of these two girls. He’s enjoying the fact that they don’t know him too well yet. He’s making himself up as he goes along. His name is John.

"Whatever makes you think I want to talk to you at all?"

‘The old maid and other stories’ is Chapbook number two of four volumes forthcoming from the Olgada Press during 2015.

Available to read for free now.