MISSING: 9 YEAR OLD GINGER TOM – a 900 Club Short Story

Here is my latest short story for the 900 Club. Check it out for four more very different stories, all inspired by October’s two word “phrase”: Stephen Fry.

MISSING: 9 YEAR OLD GINGER TOM

by Martin

Hello.

What are you doing here?

I just thought I would say hello.

Hello. I didn’t think I would see you again.

You’re looking a bit dishevelled. What happened to you?

I’ve had a few beers.

Look at the state of you. You’ve got a rip in your sleeve.

I think I bumped into a wall on my way home.

And fell over.

Maybe.

And passed out.

Possibly.

Did you wake up on the floor outside the Broadwalk?

Yes, how did you know?

I recognise the pattern on your face. You’re bleeding.

It’s just a bit of a scrape.

You should really wash the grit out of it.

Later. I’m knackered.

It’s getting late, haven’t you got to work in the morning?

I’m not going in.

Why not?

I don’t feel well.

I’m not surprised, how long have you been drinking?

Since Friday, I think.

No wonder you’re such a mess. Have you been arrested again?

No, the copper gave me a lift home. He seemed to feel sorry for me. I woke up to find him peering down at me, it was the loveliest vision of a policeman I’ve ever seen.

Christ, you don’t even make them angry any more. When even the police feel sympathy, you know you are beyond pathetic. You look like you’ve just been dug up.

I feel like it.

Your knuckles are bruised, have you been fighting?

Well spotted, Columbo. Anyway, so what if I have, you’re always out there fighting.

That’s different and you know it, I am protecting the garden. When was the last time you ate?

I had a kebab last night.

Disgusting.

That’s rich coming from you, I’ve seen what you eat.

You’ve never had the decency to try it though, I always bring something back for you and you screw your face up and throw it out. That’s gratitude for you. I suppose I’m expected to make do with that tinned shit you bring home, well you can stick it up your arse, I require something a bit fresher from time to time.

What am I supposed to do? Cook you a gourmet meal every night?

It wouldn’t hurt, just now and again. You could be a bit more thoughtful.

I’m not Hugh fucking Laurie.

What?

Hugh Laurie, you know, the butler.

What are you talking about?

The butler on that programme. What’s it called? Jeeves and Wooster, that’s it. He’s always one step ahead of the game.

That’s Stephen Fry.

…Stephen Fry then. I’m not your butler.

He’s not a butler.

What? Yes he is. He does the ironing and breakfast and all that. He gets Hugh Laurie out of hilarious scrapes.

Yes, but he’s not a butler. He’s a “Gentleman’s Gentleman”.

What? What the fuck are you talking about?

Give me strength. He’s a valet. A butler works for a household. Jeeves is Wooster’s personal servant.

Shit, I always thought he was a butler.

You fucking moron. Don’t you read books?

Shut up you ginger bastard.

You cretinous stick-man, you stink. Why don’t you have wash?

We don’t all have the luxury of being able to just stop and wash whenever we like.

Once a day would do. You smell like a tramp’s dog. Have some respect for yourself.

I’m not sure I have any left.

Get a fucking grip, man. Do you think you’re the only one who’s had a shit time? There are people out there with fuck all, who struggle every single day of their lives just to survive, people who would give anything to have your life. And look at you, wallowing in self pity. You’re young, you’re intelligent, and you’re alive. What is the problem?

I don’t fucking know.

You can’t carry on like this. Why are you so angry?

I’m sure I had a good reason, but I can’t remember what it was. It was a good reason though.

A good reason? Good enough to destroy yourself and push away everyone you love? A good enough reason to hate yourself? Whatever it is that has made you angry, it is winning. It is winning easily. I suppose crying is a good start, at least it is a genuine emotion that doesn’t break anything.

(SILENCE)

I have to go now, Martin. Will you be ok?

Will you come back and talk to me again?

You know I won’t.

What happened to you?

I don’t know.

Why did you leave me?

I wasn’t given a choice.

I’m so lonely. Look at the state of me. I don’t know what to do any more.

You have your whole life ahead of you. You must live it. Live it for me. And know that wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, every time you feel joy, and every time you feel sorrow, I will be there watching, and I will be proud of the man you’ve become. Don’t cry for my death, celebrate my life and all that we shared, and remember I live on in you, so you’ll never truly be alone. Can you do that?

I don’t know.

You have to. There are people who depend upon you. They’ll need you to be strong. Life is beautiful, and you are surrounded by people who love you. Just look around you, don’t shy away from them, be yourself, express yourself. You’ll find that they make you stronger. OK?

OK.

Good bye Martin.

Good bye, Whiskers.

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A True Story About What Happened in Tehidy Woods – Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Fantasy Fiction The Peace of Elias cover 1 colour

Inspired by a strange experience

As I recently posted my latest 900 Club story, The Woods, on this blog, I thought it would be good to tell the true story that inspired it.

I think we were about 14 at the time. It was me, Justin, Ryan and Aaron. I had a two man dome tent which all four of us were going to sleep in. We were going to get a few beers and camp in the woods.

Tehidy woods is a strange place. There are a lot of ghost stories based there. It is next to the north cliffs, so you have the stories relating to smuggling and shipwrecks on the coast road with the woods on one side and the cliffs on the other. And you have all the stories about the woods themselves. Firstly, there is more then one story about people having hanged themselves there. Secondly, there was a derelict hospital there where I am told old or terminally ill people were sent to die, although I’m not sure what that hospital was actually for. There’s also a small lake with stories about people having drowned in it.

We set the tent up in early evening, in a clearing where my dad used to take me for picnics, and went walking in the woods. While were walking we heard loud noises in the woods. It sounded like people shouting. We thought there must be a bunch of lads up from Portreath or Illogan, pissed up or something, so we ran back to the tent in case they nicked all our stuff. But we couldn’t see anyone and the noise died down so we thought they must have been passing through and we had missed them.

We sat down in the clearing drank a couple of beers and eventually, after it got dark, we crashed out in the tent. I think it must have been about two or three o’clock in the morning, we were woken by the same noise we had heard earlier. It sounded like a lot of people, shouting and talking. We could also hear dogs and what sounded like a hunting horn. When I opened my eyes there were shadows on the tent of what looked like men with axes. Six of them – two on either side and one at the front, one at the back.

We all woke up at the same time and we all saw and heard the same things – all four of us. The noise grew louder and there was also the sound of horses’ hooves and dogs and at one point I heard a carriage go past. Ryan was the hard one out of the four of us, he was never afraid of anything or anyone. He decided there were people outside and he was going to go and kick off. But I knew they were not living people, I could feel it. I think Justin and Aaron could as well because they, like me, were too scared to leave their sleeping bags. Ryan was gone for a few minutes. When he came back he was very pale. He looked terrified and said there was nothing there, just darkness, even though we could still see and hear it all from inside the tent.

We just hid in our sleeping bags. I’m not sure how long it went on for but we must have eventually fallen asleep. The next morning we discussed it and we all had the same memories of the night before. When we told everyone in school, they all wanted to camp there. We went along with them but were too scared to stay the night. As we were walking out past the old hospital in the dark, a night warden/security type bloke was doing his patrol on his bike. He looked frightened. He said, “You’re not staying in the woods, are you? There’s something in those woods and I don’t know what it is. Don’t stay in there at night.” I don’t know if he was winding us up or just saying it to scare us off but I thought he looked genuinely scared.

I’ve always found Tehidy Woods to be a very special place during the daylight hours. Perhaps it is because I have a lot of good memories there from my childhood – running around with my dog and picnics with my parents and my brothers – but it has a tranquil, spiritual feel. This probably sounds silly but at night it seems to take on a more sinister presonality.

You can say what you like about the stories about Tehidy Woods, the North Cliffs and the old hospital. You can say it is all nonsense, places like that breed silly stories. It is true that Cornwall is a place with a lot folklore and many of the stories are clearly ridiculous. It is a tradition I suppose.

But what we saw and heard was real. We weren’t on any hallucinogenics, we weren’t smoking anything, all we had a was couple of beers, and we all saw exactly the same thing. I can’t really explain it, but it happened. The memory is still clear in my mind. I was crapping myself at the time but it has inspired a lot of my writing. There are supernatural elements in The Best Weapon and Sorrow which I’m not sure I would have written if it hadn’t been for that night, and I feel that when I write anything dark and eery, I am writing from first hand experience, not just from horror films or books.

The Woods is my most recent short story, posted on this blog and on the 900 Club. The Peace of Elias is a supernatural fantasy tale also inspired by that strange night in the woods, and is free this Saturday and Sunday on Amazon, so please check it out if you haven’t already.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this post. Do you believe in ghosts? The afterlife? Have you ever experienced anything similar?