Joseph Carmichael formed one third of a paranormal society membership. Nay, a fellowship. Not quite the same as Tolkien’s that set off as a company of nine from Rivendell, but three was divisible into nine so there were clearly mysteries in numbers that defied rationale. The Fellowship of The Three sat well. Musketeers they were not.
The remaining thirds were his brothers Allan and Conrad. Both equally weird which was real handy when it came to obsessive hobbies. In this case matters involving the arcane, supernatural and downright unexplainable. That did exclude the cat some mad woman had called in about one Friday afternoon that had powers of levitation. The quorum concluded being stuck up a tree was not evidence they could, hand on heart, swear by. Although they had cursed a few times whilst feeling foolish gazing at a Manx feline in a tree outside the local supermarket. They doubted it was truly stuck too. Probably saw the mad woman and legged it up so fast it may have appeared to levitate. Although based on the small crowd smirking in the background it was more like a wind up. Par for the course in fringe societies where the average Joe had no idea how unsafe things were, what with causality being wrapped up in mystery and an undying premise that monsters and ghost were real. Rolling with serendipity it was a Joe that Conrad was interviewing.
Joe Stringer sat in a chair that looked too small. Not that it was but the girth of the incumbent man made it seem so. The chair was at a table in the local public house, The Royal Oak, and the table was being attended by a waitress called Rose. Joe knew she looked down on him. They all did. Nobody liked a fat man who wheezed when he moved. Then again Joe had a gift. They laughed at that too. But sure as pigs end up in sausages, similar to those within the breakfast before him, they would be laughing out of their asses by months end. Joe’s talent lay in dreams. Mostly they were despotic and censored owing to never actually having had a girlfriend never mind sex. He was a statistic on pornography search engines and his virgin dreams cost him large in self-esteem. Every now and then though there was a genuine mother of all dreams. One the left him wide awake and staring at the ceiling covered in sweat. A lucid in your face booger of reality dipped into his slumbering. The worst ever had been a black box covered in soil with an insane man screaming in the darkness. To Joe the interred victim knew he was there. The pleading went on and on.
“Help me Joe, I’ll pay you well, whatever you want I can give you….what is it women? I can give you those Joe…and life eternal. Roll back the fat and make you one of those men fucking in your dreams.”
The temptations of the devil. Eternal life in Joe’s book was a crock of crap and demons lie. Except that one had been tempting; women and desirable. He stayed in that dream too long and rolled out of bed near midday. But boy, had it been tempting. By the end it was hurling abuse and calling him every name under the sun.
The last line as he woke to, tangled in sheets with his head under a pillow was, “Fuck you Joe, you’re a dead man walking…and I’m coming. Just you wait. Keep your fat ass alive and then we’ll dine together.”
Whatever that meant. He was under no delusions of being the corpse on legs. Every doctor he met said so, his bloods said so and no doubt if they asked his heart that would say “Any day now.”
Still, of late Joe had had a few more dreams. Not the lottery ticket numbers he’d been trying for, but ones featuring dead people. Not any old dead people. These were ones he knew of. Right here in Compton, still alive and kicking last he’d seen. But the dreams had proper scared him. People died all the time right? Old folk, terminally ill ones, junkies and those unlucky enough to be hit by trucks rolling past a pot hole. Joe remembered that in the local rag. Man killed by lorry in tragic accident; driver and local authority found culpable. Joe thought nothing of it until he ambled out of breath to the scene a week later and the dream flashed back in every detail. The only change was the pothole. Oddly that had been fixed within two days of the crash. What could you do though? “Hey copper I had a dream, next week someone will cycle down that road and get hit by a truck.” They’d see the fat man and laugh him off as a crank. They all look down on me.
The last two days changed things though. More dreams, more dead folk. Except right now they were alive, but deep inside Joe knew, like the cyclist, death was coming. So far the demon was quiet. But this needed to end before his card turned up on top of the deck.
“Joe, Joe Stringer?”
Joe wiped his forehead and refocused on reality noting somehow his plate was empty. Trance eating. “Yes and you must be Conrad Carmichael?”
He shook the hand of the man in front. Rose returned to clear the table and set down two bottles of lager. He nodded consent as she penned them onto his bill.
“That I am,” replied Conrad as he sat down opposite and took a swig of ale. “What’s got you so worked up you need a paranormal investigator to talk to?”
The fat man leaned back in his chair, decided it was uncomfortable and leaned forwards instead.
“It’s death Mr Carmichael.”
“Is it?” replied Conrad. “Anyone we know or do you actually mean Death himself?
“Somebody in this very bar, as it happens.” Joe was sweating again.
“Really? And you know this how?”
“I, Mr Carmichael, have the power of divination in dreams.”
A raised eyebrow opposite. They all look down on me.
There was a pause. “And if I’m not too presumptuous might one disclose the unfortunate?”
Joe rested uneasily, “Yes Mr Carmichael, it’s you.”
-Gary Jefferies, from a current work, “The Bequest.”
I’m from Lancashire, but moved to Staffordshire when I was three and now live in Bedfordshire (England)
My favourite piece of writing is currently my first book that sits awaiting an edit, closely followed by The Assent of Rose Marie Gray, which is sitting with a publisher awaiting a decision. On my blog Dragon Stone holds quite a keen interest as do my paranormal short stories. These have been well received so far from my blogging community. As for other authors; Stephen King’s Dark Tower series is up there along with Tolkien; not forgetting the great bard Shakespeare. I read mostly in Horror and fantasy fiction as genres, but that’s certainly not exclusive.
Why do I love to write…in two sentences…seriously? It’s hard to put into words, but my mind goes into a parallel reality where the stories are evolving and demand to be put into words. It’s not a choice, it’s a long lived necessity; not doing so would be a travesty of the imagination.
You can follow Gary and his lovely writing on his blog Fiction Is Food. Gary has so many things on his blog to learn about. From writing tips, to interviews with published authors, to excerpts of his own published work. You’ve got to check it out.
2 thoughts on “Guest Submission: Excerpt from “The Bequest.””
Most kind Michael and I’m hoping to catch up with the ones I’ve missed whilst holidays interrupted! I’ve had a mojo slip on finishing this book, but re-reading it has acted as inspiration. Granted it’s first draft and not the polished article yet, however I’m four chapters from the end now.
Really appreciate this and will share it outwards later 😊
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