Wight Fair Writers & Artists Circle

A Place for Isle of Wight Authors, Writers and Artists

Members Musings August 2017

September2

Martin MorrisBy Martin Morris

A Ghost Story

My weddings and funeral suit was too tight over my belly, I can’t remember the last time I wore the bloody thing.  It must have been when I married that that old cow Janice five years ago. She isn’t wearing white to the ceremony this time though, she’s all in black. If she weren’t dead in a that box in front of me, I’d be putting her in one.

I needed a drink and the wake at the Stag hotel was seeming far, too bloody far away.

Janice’s uncle Jack is shaking my hand and telling me that Janice will always be with us, but I’m sure I can smell whisky on his breath, or maybe it’s my own soured lungs from last night’s red wine. Various other members of my dead wife pester me with their empty condolences, all looking like miserable sods. I could see where my pitiable old cow had got it from. Not one of my family had bothered to come, it curdled my belly to think about how they ignored my existence.

While the vicar whined on about love and eternal something or other, I had to hold my hands tight together to stop them shaking. I wish the pompous idiot would get it over with, I needed a drink badly.

After mumbling through the last hymn, I was ready to watch the box slide through the red velvet curtains, then go and drink to the passing of my old bitch Janice, and to the fact the police no longer seemed interested in the events of that night.

As the hymn came to an end and before the vicar could continue, the doors at the back of the crematorium swung open and a man in a weird turquoise uniform escorted in a skinny girl. She was dressed all in black, lost in an oversize jumper, with wild uncared for and bedraggled black hair.

I recognized the little brat, from our two prior meetings at the mental institution that Janice had dragged me too. We went to visit her insane Goth daughter, who was coming towards me down the aisle. I remembered the black lipstick and the overkill mascara and those eyes, all too well. They were black and deep like circular voids to hell and as I looked into them this time, I did not see the contempt and distaste, that she’d looked at me with in the mad house, now they burned with hatred.

As I stood there, she walked up to me and threw her arms around me in a fierce embrace of commiseration, but the words she whispered into my ear were full of a cold malice, that made my spine freeze

“You cannot hide, but you will see my mother’s face in every place you turn, you cannot run far enough, that she will not find you. You shall pay for my mother’s murder at the cold dead hands of your victim.”

I tried to pull out of her embrace, but the grip of her bony body was as tight as an iron binding and I couldn’t struggle out. It felt like being enfolded in a skeletons clasp.

How could she know about what had happened last Saturday night, she couldn’t know that I’d pushed her drunken sow of a mother down the stairs. She’d got what she deserved though, that bitch had been out with her slut friend Trisha in town, all dressed up like a slag. She knew what she’d get, when she came home all smarmy and yelled at me.

 ‘Get stuffed, I’ll do what I want. I’m not living like you want me too anymore.’ She’d shouted.

The police had been suspicious because of our history together, the multiple trips to the hospital and neighbours calls to the police when she’d made me angry. But because she’d been drinking before she came home and there were no blows to her face or body, they were disinterested. She had just broken her neck in an unfortunate accident.

I attempted to mollify her mad daughter, she was probably just angry, she couldn’t possibly know the truth. I was disturbed and fearful of the promise of murder that shone in her black within black eyes.

“It was an accident.” I sputtered “There was nothing I could do.” I said in an unattractively high-pitched complaint and cringed at my whiny voice.

She released me and stood back. She said nothing, but her black within black eyes said ‘liar’. She turned away and went to sit at the back of the church, radiating malevolence.

I watched Janice slide through the velvet curtain and I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking, though now it was from anxiety, my stomach contents seemed to be reaching up my throat. When the service ended, I looked back and to my relief Janice’s crazy daughter had already left.

After making the right noises at the crematorium, I stopped in at the wake and managed to get several free drinks, that only cost me the time to listen to long stories of Janice as a child or young woman and the same endless empty condolences, repeated until my teeth hurt. Eventually, despite the free drinks, I made my excuses and set off for the local supermarket for a bottle of whisky to settle in and rejoice at home with.

My alcohol infused cheeks felt warm in the cold afternoon air as I walked and I arrived in the booze aisle of the shop, feeling quite merry. I picked out my favourite bourbon. I thought why not, it’s a celebration of my new freedom and the fact Janice’s life insurance would surely pay out soon. I lifted the bottle of Jack Daniels off the shelf and relished its promising fresh weight in my hand, then looked up.

Ice ran through my veins and constricted my chest with a clamp around my heart. The bottle I held fell from my nerveless hands to smash unnoticed before me.  I saw Janice standing twenty yards away from me, motionless at the end of the line of bottles. She was naked, her skin waxen white and her head was canted at a perverse angle. She couldn’t look any deader. Her mouth was working slowly as if she was trying to speak. I heard ‘get stuffed Callum’ spat out in a voice full of congested phlegm, and I fled.

I ran until I was breathless and I was carrying a stich that had developed in my side, my liquid swollen belly ached and I slowed to a laboured walk. I kept looking back, but saw no other nightmare apparitions appear and I began to relax and feel stupid about my idiot mind playing tricks. I was a bit drunk and stressed about the day’s activities I thought. I needed to relax and unwind. So, when I reached the corner shop I bought another bottle, then set off to my house around the next corner and down the street.

I stopped outside my front door, put my shopping down and fumbled out my front door key. I was trying to jam it in the lock when I heard a voice that sent an ice shock through my chest.

Callum, Callum? where are my clothes you shit?” the congested voice said behind me.

My hair seemed to stand on end and my bladder ached painfully I glanced behind me down the steps. Janice stood there, her flesh pasty white in the drab light. A bone jutted out of the skin of her tilted neck, it glistened wetly out of the wound.

I tried to force myself through the door in front of me, until I finally remembered to turn the door key. As the door opened on me, I fell through onto the floor and scrambled onto my back. Before I could slam the door shut with my feet, I saw Janice’s angled head appear, wobbling as she walked up the steps.

Callum…Callum…CAALLLLLUMMMM!” Janice’s voice rose as she shouted my name, until it became an unnatural mumbled scream, that chilled my mind and seemed to vibrate in my ears. The banshee scream cut off as I slammed shut the door. I lay on the floor panting, my heart beating out of my chest and my scalp prickling. No further sounds came from beyond the door.

Eventually I stood and put my ear to the door and listened. The only sound I heard was the sound of a passing car, with my heart beating fast again I snatched open the door. There was nothing there waiting for me. I grabbed my bottle of Jack Daniels off the step and slammed the door shut behind me. I ripped the plastic off the bottle top and twisted the cap open. I took a long glug, I had a desperate need to fill the hole of fear and shock that had opened in me. I wanted the alcohol to wash away the ghost that had risen in my mind.

I vaguely remembered falling fully dressed into bed last night, but the light that was filtering redly through my eyelids told me that it was the next day. I kept my eyes shut to escape the light and my aching forehead grumbled at the movement as I shifted to turn over away from it.

Wake up Callum, wake up. Why can’t you ever get up in the morning? You never do anything around this house.”

My eyes snapped open with shock and almost face to face with me was Janice’s corpse. Her features looked to have sagged under the weight of her decaying skin and putrefying flesh, her eyes were yellowed and glazed with deathly cataracts. Her face hanging at an angle from the protruding and shattered bones of her neck.

How about a kiss my love?”

Janice opened her lips to speak, exposing the source of her voices congestion. Maggots spilled out, as they swarmed in the cavity of her mouth, feeding on the juicy morsel of her tongue.

My brain screamed as she dangled her head towards me and in visceral revulsion I threw myself away. She grabbed my arm to hold me back and the ice cold of her grip, was hot agony on my skin. I tore myself away and ran from the room, shutting the bedroom door behind me with a slam, stumbling downstairs as visceral fright drove me on. I had to cling on to the bottom banister as my stomach revolted and the alcoholic remnants, bitter gall and a cold pie I’d eaten last night splashed on the hallway carpet. I looked at my arm which was stinging, it was livid red and looked as if it had been scalded.

I heard the door opening upstairs and despite my shaking limbs and the bitter liquid in my mouth, I grabbed my jacket off the rail in the hallway with my car keys in and threw it on over the T-shirt I’d been wearing last night and the jeans I’d been too drunk to take off. I grabbed my trainers off the shoe rack and ran for the front door.

Callum? Where are you going Callum? Don’t you want to go to bed with me?”

My stomach churned again, as her parody of sexual invitation slurped and gargled in her maggot filled mouth. My stomach felt hollow with empty desperation.

The only place I could think to run to was my brother, he wouldn’t welcome me, but he would still give me harbour up north until this nightmare had gone away. It had to go away, that bitch wasn’t haunting me if she couldn’t find me.

“You cannot hide, but you will see my mother’s face in every place you turn, you cannot run far enough that she will not find you.”

I heard her crazy daughters warning in my head. Had she drugged me somehow? That was it. When she had grabbed hold of me, the mental little cow had stuck me with a needle and some sort of hallucinogenic drug. I drove out of town and I started feeling comforted that I had solved the insanity of the last twenty-four hours. I stopped at a motorway services and bought food, coffee and water for the rest of the journey. Deciding to avoid the cases of larger on offer. My big brother wouldn’t like me turning up, half cut with an arsenal of larger in front of his little kids, not after the last time I had got drunk at their house.

I sat in the car and nursed my coffee while I ate a slightly plastic tasting egg and sausage sandwich, but was feeling much better about the scares of this morning. I started dreaming in my head what to do about Janice’s malicious little brat. Maybe I should go to the police, if the drug was still in my system. But now the effects had worn off I was sure I wouldn’t get anywhere.

I restarted my onward journey, beginning to wonder If I might not be wasting my time with this trip and putting myself through an unpleasant reunion with my brother. I was coming to the Humber Bridge and a mist was floating on the road ahead, I began to think it might be a sign as I chewed over the necessity of going to my brothers at all. Maybe a night in a hotel would be plenty to escape the drug’s effects.

The bridge seemed quiet, which was unsurprising for mid-afternoon on a Tuesday, the mist made the end of the bridge and opposite side of the river invisible. As I passed beneath one the suspension bridges standing column’s and looked up at the construction above and the thick wires that supported the bridge stretching away into grey nothingness, I belatedly caught shadows in the road ahead. I slammed on the brakes and swerved erratically around the figures lurking in the mist, I managed to just miss a man dressed in old dangling rags, I caught a glimpse of his face, which was hanging in the same sort of tatters of flesh.

I couldn’t control my forward motion and swerved with a jarring impact that smashed my face into the steering wheel, as I caromed into the concrete wall at the edge of the bridge.

For an unknown amount of time I lay with my head ringing against the steering wheel, feeling blood dripping hotly from my nose. Eventually I managed to force myself to sit up.

The mist was still swirling outside the windows, the world disappearing and being recreated as I watched. When I looked to my right, I saw the shadows of figures moving towards me and dread filled my chest. With my head pounding I forced the door open and almost fell out as it opened. Checking the figures were still distant I pushed myself out and round to the other side of the car. Then froze when I saw more people in the mist approaching me from that direction. I fell back against the car, I had nowhere to go. The first person was being revealed from the mist, it was Janice who was walking towards me, her head tilted like an expectant dog, her skin sagging with the weight of her rotting innards. Along with her, came other figures of dead peope, in every manner of rot and decay, an ever-increasing number of shambling corpses followed with her, grinning skulls with scraps of flesh and gaping eye sockets, all accompanied by a high-pitched wailing which I realized was coming from my hurting chest.

Janice was upon me and she grabbed my head in her cold hands, that burned my flesh where she gripped me. I screamed in pain and she pressed her maggot filled lips against my open mouth, setting fire to my face.

I opened my eyes as the agony filled me, more of the dead reached their hands out to grab for my skin and it seemed like I had been set alight.

In my blurred vision, I could see Janice’s mad daughter in the dead’s midst, her black within black eyes capture mine, sucking me into the void of their glare.

“The dead have come to claim their own” The girls voice echoes in my mind.

Janice releases me from her deathly kiss and I stumble away to the wall, my mind broken and numb as the fire of my scalded body drives all thought from my head, apart from escape.  I reach the wall and fling myself out into the mist. The cold air seems to cool me as I fall and despite my plunge to the water below probably meaning my death, I feet relief.

I keep falling and falling, getting colder and colder until it seems my body had become encased in ice. I land with a thump, that threatens to smash my ice ridden limbs. I feel nothing now though, no sensations in my body or on my skin. I look in front of me to find myself back on the bridge I Had leapt from. The figures of the dead stand around me, but they are no longer interested in me. All stand and wait on the mad daughter’s pleasure and she is standing by the car that I had crashed in looking down and then back at me with burning night eyes. On the road by the smashed car, I could see the body of a man. She reached down and turned his face towards me and I realized, it was me. I hadn’t survived to leap from the bridge. I looked up into her face and she gave a hooked sneer of malevolence and called me and the rest of the dead, back into the void behind her black within black eyes.

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