John Andrew AKA “Big Jack” did live, his ghost still haunts The ship Inn. Which is shown here at the bottom of the Saltburn hills, Cleveland, England. As recently as 2009, spiritual encounters had been witnessed there. The rest is fiction.
Standing atop the hills above the Ship inn at Satlburn, you can see why it was a smuggler's hideaway, the hills around are steep and anyone trying to catch you would be easily out run.
It was there that an eerie experience happened a while ago.
I was standing watching the bay, with its shallow beach strewn with pebbles, when I noticed what I thought was the sea mist rolling in. This was different to the usual sea mists as it was a lot mores dense.
I was just about to go and investigate, when I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“Tha don’t want to go down there laddy.”
Turning I saw and old man, with a grizzled face wearing a sailors cap and an old rope knit sweater, as they used to at sea long ago.
“What do you mean?” I gingerly asked.
“You think, yon mist is from the sea, well if you look and listen, you will find out.”
‘I did wonder why it looked more dense, and grey than any mist I had encountered before.’
Listening carefully I could hear what at first sounded like a roaring tide, but having been told to listen carefully I opened my mind. “Am I right, that sounded like cannon fire?”
“Tha’s right there young man, now watch and I will tell you the story later.”
As I stood watching, two ships came around the headland, one flying a strange flag, the other flying the flag of the excise men of the King.
With cannons firing the King’s ship was forcing the other one further into the shallows, knowing how treacherous the beach I waited. And there it was, the sound seamen hate, no matter what country. The sounds of your ship running aground, the timbers tearing apart as waters flooded the lower decks. As I watched, from the smuggler's ship; I assumed it was smugglers otherwise why would they have been run aground. Five men came running ashore, wading slowly through the waters. The King’s ship sent two longboats ashore to chase down the men.
As the men stumbled up the pebbly beach, feet slipping on the wet rocks, they were met by a hail of musket fire, from the soldiers of the crown, all five lay dead on the rock strewn beach, blood washing to and fro in the water.
“Finally got you, Will Harrison,”the captain of the guard called.
Turning around to go back to the longboats, the soldiers were met by a volley of pistol fire from the inn, the ensuing fire fight last only a few minutes, as the men inside were not going to expose themselves to musket fire, and the soldiers could not possibly take the inn, without a siege as it backed on to the steep cliffs behind, and the men inside had a clear field of fire, any assault was just madness.
“That was the end of that,”the seaman said.
“How do you know it so well?”I queried.
“I ran the inn for the next 40 yrs, my ghost is still here.”
“So you are…”
“Yes. None other than John Andrew, ‘Big Jack’
, ‘King of the smugglers’and he most feared of all smugglers in the area.”
A day or two late I was standing looking out across Satlburn bay, I could see what I thought was the sea mist rolling in, with the rip tides and shallow beach, Satburn is a death trap for unknowing seamen, as it is so easy to go aground on the shallows. “Not again,” I
muttered as I looked at the mist.It appeared to thickening into the same grey, cloying fog that had hid the ghosts of the past last week, as they had chased the smugglers ashore. “It can’t be happening again,”
I muttered thinking nobody was in earshot.
“Aye laddie, it is,”came the voice from behind me. “Surely it is.We call them 'Smuggling fogs'
they cling to the shoreline, only a true seaman from the area or someone desperate, would try to get to land in them.”
Vaguely in the mists, I could make out the shape of a vessel approaching the headland. “If I am not wrong, isn't that the Prospero heading ashore.”
“No, lad, you are right, she is coming in.”
“ The story is she was lost at sea in a storm, only John Andrew survived.”
“That was his version to hide the truth.”
“What did happen then?”
As I watched the mist, the Prospero came closer inland, still wide of the headland point and in full sail.Then there was a terrible wrenching sound, as she hit the hidden rocks and keeled over. Men were trying to get to the boats and above all else one man stood taller. 'Mad Jack’
as he was known, stood on the gunnels and shouted to the crew.”Any man that follows me will be killed.”
Knowing his reputation, the crew stayed still, even though they out numbered him.They had seen him take four or five men down at a time in a fight, and were not keen to risk their lives.
As John Andrew aka ‘Mad Jack’
leapt for the only boat and made for land. A gun fired on the ship, and a crewman fell to the floor.
“Right lads, we can’t chase him down but we will catch him one day.”Mason Friggett, the Prospero's mate said. “John Andrew, may you and you your family be cursed by the Ship Inn, and may your spirits never leave the house,”
Richard Jacklin, the coxswain yelled at the back of the rowing boat.
With the mist clearing, I could just make out the shapes of men climbing the rocks on the headland and coming around the point. Misty shrouds were now moving towards the inn, engulfing the whole bay. “What is happening now?” I asked.
“History is folding, in the mists, you are getting a chance to see the real John Andrew.” “Andrew, we want's ours,”
called one voice.
Another yelled, “If you don’t give it to us, we’ll take it by force this time.”
A voice from the inn yelled “Simon Miggins, you always were a hothead, you can't get me.”
“This time John Andrew, we are prepared for your treachery.”
“Jacklin, might have known, you would be here, never did trust you.”
There was an unearthly roar as the Prospero let off a broadside. The four cannons fired, although landing short of the target, the cannonballs had the desired effect. Unsettling Andrew for a short while, but adding to the mists with a powdery haze that hid the men as they crept up the pebbled beach. The windows were rocked and cracked by the shockwaves. The men opened fire at the front, where Andrew was holding ground, firing at will but with deadly accuracy, one shot caught Andrew in the shoulder, and spun him to the floor. “Right, get him,”
The crew rushed forward and dragged the bleeding and severely wounded Andrew from the house. “Where's our share of all the loot, Andrew?”
“Everything is tied in to the house now, you cannot get it,”Andrew laughed. “Right men, we can’t have the money he owes, so we’ll take it out of him,”
called Friggett. “Rope him up, we’ll take him on the Prospero.
Remembering his strength, Jacklin made sure Andrew was semi-conscious as the crew tied him up, and dragged him to the boat, heading out to sea and the Prospero. “Okay me hearties, we’ll keel haul him then,”
Friggett yelled, as one length of rope was handed to young Paul Marler, as he swam under the Prospero, a short while later emerging smiling.
The crew tied both arms to the ends of the rope, as they pushed Andrew to the gunnels, and hurled their injured former captain overboard.. “Heave to lads,”
called Miggins.”We don’t want us to be outdone by him dieing on us.”
The laughter I heard was like an evil wind going over bones of the long dead.
I watched both in horror at this cruel punishment; which involved the man been dragged under the keel of the ship, barely able to breathe. Andrew seemed to be still breathing, despite the gunshot wounds and the keel-hauling.I guessed the crew were counting on his immense strength to get him through, as part of the punishment. Barely breathing, he was dragged out the last time. Untied and sent ashore in his boat, it hit the pebbles, and tipped him onto the beach. “ Right lads, set her sails for the seas, we have had our day finally,”
Turning to query what had gone on, all I saw was a whiff of pipe smoke, as the old sailor disappeared.
Seeing my puzzlement, one gent said “That were Paul Marler, you were talking to then.”
This story along with others is for sale from me, for a donation to my writing costs at my blog :- http://hereiamattheedge.blogspot.co.uk/
Grab a copy of my new top book, with the end of 2012 and EL James and her copycats maybe the ghosts are coming after you again and you have to believe I am pleased, as that is my top genre.
The day becomes evening, and the challenge returns to write something new and different again, with all the things I've already written to stand the test along side of what I'm doing now. I've been writing a lot of the one thing I've known how to write for, as just about all my life. I've long since produced impromptu psychological case studies of myself, for the inspection of clinical psychologists or MD's, especially when I'm coming apart at the seems in the ER. It may not float anybody else's boat, but it gets me a lot farther than almost any other project I can think of.
I've had to produce such work repeatedly to psych triage's and with MD's, under duress.
The evening time is my time of crystal clarity, when my thoughts flow easily and with alacrity. With the evening getting on into medication time, my state of mind is still pinging off the caffeinated coffee I had this morning in psychotherapy, to make me alert for that discussion. This is one definitely poignant points of entry into a brand new, quite unique and original book project, hopefully, while I take a little bit of a writing break from collecting the blog entries which pertain to my mental health, for eventual publication in my new book.
I'm just beginning to rise to the challenge. It's going to take a lot of work.
My psychotherapist wants a psychological case study of my own publications, for the benefit of the psychological community and for publication as a patient's eye view of schizophrenia for the public benefit. Well, I'm collecting my own, pertinent blog posts, registered over the past year, because I happen to remember that my blog has been endowed with a significant collection of diverse entries regarding my psychological history and personal revelations about my own, personal mental health. She wants a book. I've already got a book.
All I have to do is collect the chapters!
I'll simply collect as many statements as I've already published on my blog, and I'm going to be calling it A Psychological Case Study, by yours truly. It's a brainstorm, a stroke of mind over matter for me, to so easily come up with an entire book idea, out of the things I've already produced. I already have a year's collection of blog posts to refer to and copy as liberally as I please, and can make a single file of as many chapters as I can find that are pertinent to the project. Then I can edit the lot of them on my own, before I submit the document to my therapist for review.
It's like going for an advanced degree in psychology, by compiling a complete dissertation from my own, personal stories. I can simply let my therapist know that I've begun the book project, and that eventually I'd like her participation in the project, to help me get from point A to point B with the project she has suggested. I don't think I'll include this chapter in the book project, because it amounts to giving myself a pep talk about being diligent with another book, since someone else I know is spoiling for me to publish asap. It reminds me of the days I wrote Flower Child and Damn Yankee.
I have a bright and promising future as an Indie writer, and the subject of a psychological case study of myself is exactly what the doctor ordered. Most of the writing is already done, and I can search my files for more full length stories, if I find the collection of blog posts too brief to suffice. If I need the full length stories for filler to actually construct a book, I resort to considering the many of those that I already have in supply in major proliferation. Even at that, most of the writing is already done. It will just be a matter of cutting and pasting, and a little, further organization to make the chapters as coherent as is humanly possible.
My psychotherapist likes the idea and so do I. It fits right into just exactly what I've been working on all day and all evening long for better than a year now. It's my greatest reason for all the writing I've been doing with such diligence. I've been around long enough to know that if you want to do just about anything, and do it well, you have to practice that very thing, day in and day out, like I've been doing with my writing for quite some time now. Organizing another book is right up my alley. I'm really pumped about this. It's a brainstorm.
George S Geisinger
There comes a time when the only thing I can think to do is write. My thoughts are random, like my writer friend's thoughts are random. I aspire to the the ultimate random set of thoughts. I no longer expect myself to be coherent. To blazes with coherency. I went to a doctor, a cardiologist, and she did everything except blatantly predict I'd have a heart attack, in so many words.
One of my adrenaline glands is overly pumping in the vicinity of my heart.
I get the old fight or flight reaction around my heart, whether I need it or not. It won't quit. I don't know when the heart attack is coming. I just know it's on the way. I think maybe I shouldn't have anymore caffeine, because of my heart, but I'm enjoying the little bit of caffeine I get. I only have one cup of coffee a week, what do they want from me?
I'm going to have to have some chocolate tomorrow, if I can just get to the Country Market in time to get it. With this late night vigil, I'm likely to be sleeping all the live-long day tomorrow. My idea of having a good time is getting a little bit of a harmless buzz off something innocuous, like a dose of caffeine. I don't smoke, drink or have a girlfriend. Leave me alone about one cup of real coffee.
I don't really care all that much whether I die or I don't, just so long as I don't kill myself with deliberation and forethought. God wouldn't like that. There's no one to mourn me all that much anyway. My brother would get all my money, and he'd probably tell me, after I'm already in my grave, that he can't afford to send his son to nursing school, when he would have plenty to help with his son's schooling. It seems to me that he should support is son's ambitions.
The man has no concept of his overall worth.
We were poor people when we were growing up, and I was poor when I was a drug addict/alcoholic in my cups, on the streets of Baltimore City. I might have had a heart attack a couple of times, but the doctors couldn't find enough evidence to convince themselves. I enjoy writing late at night, when my mind is finally clear enough to be coherent, in spite of my overall incoherency.
I think I'm leaning on that word too hard.
There was a long time that I starved on the streets of Baltimore, and only managed to keep up a little hovel of a flop house for myself. All my money went to the dope man, and it wasn't all that much money in the first place. It was just that the dope man was better at taking my little bit of money away from me, than I was at getting myself the things that I needed to live – like food, for instance.
I was in the ER once, and told them I felt a horizontal pressure on my chest when I was sitting up on the gurney. I told them I took a whole bunch of useless books out to the street for the trash men to pick up, and couldn't catch my breath when I tried to go back inside the house. It was the wrong thing to do, to carry out all those books right after a heart catheterization.
It messed up my EKG, big time.
When I was just a kid, I took two robin eggs and stoked a fire all night in the woods. I ended up collapsing next to my fire the next day. I used to pass out all the time, from all the recreational chemistry I was playing with when I was a college kid. It was bad enough I was passing out when I was a high school kid. I had to do it for a whole forty years thereafter.
No wonder I broke my hip. I was a hip fracture begging to happen, from the time I was seventeen. I would provoke all sorts of medical tests when I was young. I think it was just because I had mother's major medical insurance, and the doctors saw an opportunity to make themselves a little bit of money off me. Why not? I was passing out, and apparently having seizures.
I finally got to the point where I was falling accidentally, and couldn't help it. By that time, it was only a matter of time before I seriously hurt myself. My first injury was a sprained hand, with the bones sticking out of my fingers. The thing that I needed was a little bit of action in this very dull life of mine, and all that pain from breaking my hip took care of that.
One time I had a dream I was the first human being who figured out how to fly without the use of an aircraft. Actually, it was only a dream, since I'm well aware of the occult flying experiences by the shaman who practiced all sorts of levitation. The day came when my fall ruined my driving hip, and I think I'll never drive a motor vehicle again in my lifetime.
I was walking down the hallway at assisted living at the time. The next thing I knew I was about half way to the floor, falling rapidly and violently. I was always falling down, my whole life. This time it was my right hip that was hurt. I broke it. I treated all the onlookers to a lot of noise, while a struggled to deal with all the pain.
It was by far the worst pain I ever experienced. I couldn't stop screaming for the longest time. I made a spectacle of myself that day. I finally had to stop making so much noise, because everyone at the ER already knew I was in a lot of pain. There was nothing else to tell them. My entire body hurt that day, and I had no idea where the major injury was located in my body, yet.
It took me a night's sleep in my own bed to figure that one out.
That scene was almost three years ago now.
I had a heart echo a little while ago, and that's how I know about my hyperactive adrenaline gland near my heart. They found the over active gland in the heart echo test. My family has a lot of heart pathological history. My brother wears a pace maker. The thing about my heart that's so much fun, is that I can be very cavalier with the ladies.
Yet I have managed to stay single my entire adult life.
You're in trouble, because I'm a rambler, a gambler, and a sweet talking lady's man.
It's a lot of fun being single. I've even gotten to the point where I realize I'm too old for most of the girls I find charming, and don't want to come off like a dirty old man anymore. It's one of my goals to avoid behaving like a dirty old man around the cute young women. They tell you, when they advertise Viagra on the TV, to ask your doctor whether your heart is strong enough for sex.
I'm pretty certain the answer to that question is No.
Besides, I've been there, done that. I don't need to do another woman.
I've been going to see doctors, and going to live in mental hospitals all my life. It was my method to avoid dying of malnutrition on the streets of the city. Starving to death was a viable possibility that I found awfully likely until I got sober and stayed sober.
The thing about living in assisted living is that this place is just enough of an institution for my druthers. I don't feel the least bit put out when I go walking around this enormous assisted living home with my ever-present rollator. The food's not too good here, and the amount of babage is very limited in this warehouse for little old ladies.
I give this kitchen a good, solid C rating.
The one thing I miss seeing are the twenty year old women walking by. They are really exciting to have around, and there are so very few of them to watch around this warehouse for little old ladies. I've made myself a reputation for not putting up with any of the cougars around this God forsaken place. Now, people mostly leave me alone.
I've finally found the institution of my dreams. I'm not the slightest bit inspired to run away from this place. I've been a runaway my whole life, and the idea of running away from senior living just doesn't make any sense to me, whatsoever. I like the way reading some of my writer friend's novel has lubricated my writing acumen.
I've talked to my confidant most of the evening, and it happens to be getting late. I've decided I don't care what time it is. I don't have any caffeine in my suite, and there are a couple more days till I can see my therapist and get my weekly dosage of the sacred elixir. I've gotten so I crave the adrenaline rush that's going to be my downfall one day.
The worst part of my upper and lower GI turned out to be inconsequential, and I'm expecting to get a lot of pain in my chest one day, and pain down my left arm. I think it's likely to be the end of me, like it was the end of my dad. He died at seventy, and I'm sixty one. It's gotten hard to say what the Holy One might have say about all this, because He's been significantly quiet for quite sometime now.
I've heard a lot from God over recent years, and I think He's being quiet around me is because I'm really succeeding at living my life well these days. His silence I consider to be a vote of confidence in my overall well-being. God has a lot on his mind, with all the duties He has to take care of, which I really know nothing about.
I'm just grateful to have this time to write to my heart's content.
There is a question whether I can have my gall bladder out, to relieve some of the discomfort in my middle. I'm not at all certain whether the surgeon will be inclined to do the surgery when I have this heart problem, but maybe it wouldn't be all that tough for me to go through. Or, maybe she's going to decline to do the surgery in the first place.
“Are you sure they’re coming today? The Red Dog asked.
“Santa said they were, you know that. When Santa says something, believe it. He is a friend of Jesus. And I'm pretty sure Jesus put him in charge of Christmas, “ said the Raggedy Boy.
“Yes, Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus birthday, but I think He really was born sometime way back in September.” The Black and White Tiger growled.
“So we all get presents on Jesus’ birthday. Isn’t that sort of weird. Most people get presents on their birthday, not someone else’s birthday,” The Red Guy that laughed a lot said in a whisper.
“I heard you, Red and the reason for that is …. Well, I actually don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that Jesus gave us his Saving Grace and all we have to do to get that gift is to say ‘thank you, Jesus, I accept your gift,”’ said Mr. Octopus.
“Yes, and that’s all well and good, and I do believe in Jesus. What I’m not so sure of is, are the kids coming, and if they are, will they still remember us, and will they take us with them,” all the bears sang out in harmony.
Orange Fish blubbered out, “Why do you think they’ll take us? They didn’t even name us!”
“Oh, stop crying Fish. The kids were really young when they got us, and then they went away for a long, long time. It will be okay this time around. Santa said so,” declared the Raggedy Boy.
The Stuffies and Friends had spent a long time in a large black bag out in the shed. When it got cold, they all huddled together to keep warm, and the second time the cold came, in came a family of mice.”
”Eeek, Eeek, Eeek,” yelled the biggest girl Mouse, Stuffie, as she pushed away from the brown creatures.
“ What are you yelling about? Are you scared of our relatives, “ asked the Boy Mouse?
“ Those, those creatures are our relatives? Are you sure? They’re so brown and fuzzy, not like us at all,” huffed the big girl Stuffie Mouse.
“Of course they are, just look at their faces. Same pointy nose, waggly tail, whiskers. Yes, they are our family. But it really doesn’t matter if they are related though. They need help. Look… The babies are shivering,” the boy Mouse said.
“Welcome!” All the Stuffies yelled, together, ashamed of not being friendly when the small family arrived at their bag. Their shout scared the family of mice and the small brown mice started to scatter.
“Hush,” said the Raggedy Boy to the Stuffies. “Please come back. Do not be afraid of us. We’ve been stuck in this corner of the shed and have not seen anyone except a Squirrel that needed some stuffing for her nest last time it was cold. I let her take some of my sleeve. You look as if you could use a bit of my sleeve too.”
Boy got the name Raggedy, after the time with Mrs. Squirrel. He was a bit of a hero to the rest of the crowd of Stuffies and Friends because he had been brave to let Mrs. Squirrel have a piece of his arm. Even the Vampire thought the Boy was brave.
Now, everyone considered themselves brave since they rode the rapids down a large white canyon that twisted round and round. After that, they were blown up, down and around through a dry, warm valley. Everyone was dizzy but nice and clean when done, needing to rest.
But, today they had a family in need, to tend. If they all worked together, they would accomplish all that had to be done before the children arrived.
The Raggedy Boy’s sister helped Mrs. Mouse wrap her babies in the blue shirt’s cloth and some of the cream cloth from the Ragged Boy’s arm. They had just finished getting the babies settled in when they heard a car stop and children laughing.
“I hear the kids coming. Now shush. All will be okay. Santa said so,” the Raggedy Boy declared.
And so it was, as each child greeted their old friends, having some ride home in the car, so they might catch up on all the news from The Stuffies and Friends. And to share with the Stuffies and Friends what they had been doing for the time they had been apart.
I've often wondered how the other half lives. I mean all the married people. How do they live? I've heard a lot of cynicism about how reality sets in, soon after the ceremony, and I've been around enough married couples who've been married for a lifetime already, who fight constantly to do the least little bit of communicating with each other at all. I've had enough experience to be familiar enough with the Halleluiah Hula that I don't believe risking everything to get a sex partner is worth the heartache.
I've comforted friends who have cried the blues because their spouse didn't want to have kids all of a sudden, when having kids together was my friend's point in getting married to the girl in the first place. I've heard how depressed it made him feel that they'd never have a family of their own. I've known such people whose wives became pregnant soon after the blues hits the husband. I've been to friend's homes, when they've got their own rug rats cluttering up their floors with “toys,” which seem to be the things which take away all the secure footing in the entire house.
I've made public statements that I feel uncomfortable around children, until some public places ask me to go away and not come back, under threat of a trespassing charge. What kind of trumped up crap is that? I'd rather not be around my friend's kids, because their kids make me nervous. I'm not on the verge of committing a crime. I just want to stay away from having any kind of interaction with kids, who are the epitome of vulnerability, and I don't want to be around with that sort of state of mind under foot to have to concern myself with.
Friends go through all the baby-proofing of their houses, just so the little ones theoretically can't get ahold of anything that could hurt them, only to have their two year old eating Cheerios off the bare floor in the kitchen, after they've gotten to the food by dumping it out onto the floor, because they're hungry at a time that doesn't make any sense. The whole ball game baffles me completely. How do guys like that ever get to the point where they justify their own behaviors and belief systems? How do they ever get past the cynicism to actually manage to have a successful marriage and a successful fatherhood?
It's all too dangerous for an old fall risk like me. I never know, when I'm in such situations, when I'll be tripping on the “toys” and falling headlong into wherever I end up, with the baby in my arms at the time. Gee. Just the kind of circumstances I'd like to avoid forever. What I am is a confirmed bachelor, since the get-go. I've only wanted to marry one girl, but the time came between us – before the ceremony – when getting married just didn't make any good sense to me. In those days, I had no substance and no job. I was a no count kind of guy, who had an illness that was going to keep me a no count kind of guy for a long time.
I've known guys who did everything they could possibly think of to get married, and failed, only to succeed when they least expected it. They've done everything they can think of to make themselves attractive, only to find that maybe they didn't want to be all that attractive after all. I knew a guy who told me all sorts of things about how his marriage that were not the least bit idyllic or desirable, and he told me flat-out that if I wanted her, I could have her.
I've known guys who tried to get pregnant with their wives from way back, but when the object seems the most illusive to them, is exactly when they actually succeed in achieving a pregnancy. I've known pregnant women who go through the most unspeakable discomfort, who drive their husbands nuts for nine months time, who just need another guy, a confirmed bachelor man to talk to, who knows how to be kind, in a platonic way, to a tormented female.
I've known guys who went through all sorts of changes, just to find themselves in the sites of some woman they've scarcely noticed in their mutual circles, someone who is unflaggingly obstinate about how she wants decency in their marriage, to a point of distraction from the consummation of the marriage in the first place. How does a guy marry a girl who has no passion whatsoever? How does a guy get past the time he wants what he wants when he wants it, only to find he gets what she's got when he gets it? How does a guy trust in a situation like that?
It's occurred to me that I've gotten relatively close to getting married any number of times, but my fear has always rescued me, and I've undermined the process every time. I realize I'm more than a little bit cavalier with the ladies, as a focus of my social behavior, but in recent times I've been living in the hen house, being the only rooster who can't be caught, while the senior citizens in this crazy house try their darnedest to make anything at all happen between us. It's going on, on the internet, too. The case of the lone gentleman, who doesn't want what he thinks he wants, most of the time.
Part of this is based on fact. In the mid 1980s, I used to listen to the short-wave radio transmissions from around the world. One such broadcast from the old USSR talked about a double train crash, involving nuclear waste. The news never got out.
“ICQ Kiev3 to ICQBristol4, over.”
“ICQBristol4 to ICQKiev3, over.”
“Hello Al, how are things at your end?”
“Hi Carl, just the same as usual, nothing much happens here sadly. I can do with some excitement,” I said with resignation.
“Yes, sometimes it is like that. Here we are still hiding from the authorities, if they find this transmitter. It could be a camp for us,” Carl, my Russian radio friend replied. “Have you heard from Joe in Texas yet?”
“No, I was thinking this call would be from him. I’m a bit worried, he hasn’t been in contact for weeks and that isn’t like him, usually he is so full of himself.”
“Al, maybe this pandemic is hitting him worse than he is letting on. You know those Americans don’t like to tell you how they feel.”
“That’s so true Carl, of all traits they have, that is the one I could never get used to,” I paused, thinking how to frame the next question. “Have you made contact with people in your area?”
“No. All radios are confiscated and smashed, the authorities are trying to contain and control the information, but there are still free thinkers here. That is what worries them. How about you, have you made contact?”
“I had some luck a few days ago. I picked up a signal from some out of the island ham. He had no idea what the heck it was all over.”
“He’s lucky then,” Carl replied. “I was I was the same. I’ve seen children with bleeding eyes and skin peeling, crying in the arms of their dead or dying parents. It’s so sad to see and know you daren’t go near them for risking contagion.”
“Our variation is just as bad, people with open wounds and sores oozing pus as they scream. The trouble here is that ours can travel in the air for up to fifty feet and lay dormant for days. We don’t know where to go or how to contain it.”
“I was listening to a broadcast the other night from a ham in France. She was desperately trying to contact somebody outside of Lyon to tell them what was happening in her area.”
There was a pause as my friend thought about his reply, you could have heard a feather fall when he said “This is far worse than anybody could have imagined, I heard a broadcast from Genoa. Some man there is trying to make contact with Dusseldorf but all he can hear is white noise.”
“You do realise that we are the only source of information, Carl. All telecoms went down within minutes and now all you get is just short wave transmissions.”
“Yes. The government here is running itself ragged trying to find us and kill these broadcasts.”
“I think all governments are doing the same, Carl. I‘ve heard nothing from Sweden, China or South Africa for days and it’s worrying that this can spread so far so quickly. It’s only a day or two since I caught that snatched conversation from your area and already most of the world has gone dead.”
All the time this chatter was going on, in the background I could hear screams and rifle fire. I remember thinking “If you need to go, just leave the radio Carl.”
Then I felt I had no choice but to say “Carl, I can hear rifles and screams for God’s sake, if you need to go, just go!”
“Thank you for you deep concern, Al. But, if I leave I have nowhere to go, if they don’t get me. The virus will and I want to stay on as long as possible tonight, you could be the last voice I hear.”
Behind his fearful tones, I could hear boots heading up the stairs.
“Al, before I go, there is something the world needs to know. Two days ago there was a train crash near here. One train was carrying Uranium 235 and the other a deadly germ virus. Separate, they are deadly, but combined...,”
Carl didn’t need to end what he was saying. U235 has a half-life of 703,800,000 years.
The next sound I heard was a boot splintering his door and then AK-47. There was no sound for minutes. The next voice I heard wasn’t Carl “We have your radio frequencies. We WILL come for you next!”
The cold crispness of the night should have been a lovely feeling, but for Pedro Guavana it only held the horrors in his mind in check only for a short while. The struggle to get breath as he fell down the snowy banks overtook the fears of what was chasing him.
In his sleep he could tell himself, “It's a dream Pedro.” But, this was no dream and sleep was the last thing on his mind at this moment.
It had started a few days ago, a family trip to the mountains just before Christmas. All week his wife and family had been looking forward to it.
“When are we going?” cried Juan and Janina, his two little ones.
“Soon,” replied Mary his lovely wife, “as soon as daddy returns from work and has had something to eat, it's a long trip and there are few places to rest.”
Rest, when was the last time he had done that. His sleep haunted by the sights he saw on his return to camp that night. His waking hours were spent running from demons that chased him endlessly. There was never anytime to stop and think of rest, survival was his aim; there had to somebody around.
A quiet, secluded respite before the holiday rush had turned into a living nightmare. Not even in his writing could he have thought of what had happened, but he had seen it.
What he had seen defied description, yet the truth was staring at him like a blinding light of terror, “These things don't happen in this age,” he kept telling himself over and over, “this is a civilised land.”
Looking back over the weekend, there had been signs but they were ignored. Now it was too late. Too late for forgiveness; for peace; all there was now was retribution and horror.
Before they had left that last gas station and the owner had told them “Watch out for night spirits! And don't forget to leave them so food.”
“What does the man mean?” asked Juan.
“It's nothing to worry about, my little ones. Just old folks stories of things that you feel but never see,” Pedro had told them as he tried to stop them worrying. The look he got from his wife was more serious.
“In that case, why did the man warn us dad?” Janina asked.
“These folks don't like to be disturbed, love. They make up all kinds of stories to scare people away. But, it doesn't work on me.”
Again his wife looked at him as if saying “That is what you tell them. But do you believe it?”
“What did he mean about the food, dad?” asked Janina.
“The legend says that if we leave them food, they will leave us alone,” Mary replied before her husband could pour scorn on the fable.
“And that's all it is, some silly story to scare the people off. The most likely reason for the story is that they have something to hide,” Pedro commented as the family looked to him.
Pedro drove his car up the winding mountain road; the pine trees were looking splendid with the wintery frost on the needles. The road was barely driveable now, the rains and snow turning what had been hard core into a slushy mess. Twice he lost traction and slid back a few yards, before regaining grip.
“Pedro, why not turn back. The road is too dangerous now,” Mary pleaded as the children held each other in terror, “can't you see what you're doing to the children!”
“If I do that, they will think I believed that old man at the station.”
“No, we won't daddy!” cried the children.
Looking out of her window, Mary said “Better that, than end up down there dead!”
Pedro tried to keep the car going, but with the mud gripping the wheels it was hopeless, for every yard they gained, they lost three. The end came when the car hit a rock and the front left tyre was ripped off.
“That's it!” he said, “We walk from here. It isn't far to the campsite.”
“You ARE joking, of course!” Mary screamed at him, “I'm tired, the kids are scared and it's too dark to see the path.”
“What about me? I am tired too after driving up here.”
“Don't tempt me, Pedro,” she cried as she turned to look at her husband, “you get us out here in the winter, miles from God knows where. We have no idea where we are.”
“That is the pleasure, love. Being alone in the wilderness, and besides I know where we are.”
“Well, you try telling that to them!” Mary said as she went to cuddle the children, now even more scared, hearing their parents arguing. “It looks as if we have no choice in the matter now doesn't it!”
Taking the lead with the flashlight, Pedro set off. In daylight, he could have found the site easily but now with the moon casting eerie shadows across the paths and strange sounds coming from the nearby trees, he was beginning to doubt the idea of this weekend. It had been meant as a way for him to reconnect with what had been so good about his writing. Pedro’s writing had always been able to capture the feel of nature. But, recently he had last that element in his writing and this trip was to try and find that feeling again. Now, it looked like the dream was going to turn into his nightmare.
Tired and with clothes soaked by the constant winter drizzle, Mary and the children were getting niggled.
“Okay, explorer genius. WHERE is this site?” Mary chided Pedro.
“Remember, last time I was here it was daylight and the road to the site was clearly visible,” Pedro replied.
“So, you are lost! Great, that’s all we need; lost; cold and hungry. Thank you for a wonderful start, love.”
“Give it a rest, Mary,” Pedro called into the encroaching darkness. “I thought it would do us good to get out of the city.”
“A great idea, if it was May to September, but here we are two weeks into November!”
Pedro started shaking his head violently and screaming “NO!”
Mary asked him “What’s wrong now?”
“I’ve been hearing voices for the last ten minutes and they’re getting too loud now.”
Mary said with total resignation, “Well, as we have to find that camp, we may as well keep walking.”
Twenty minutes of back breaking up hill climb later, they finally made camp. Being out of season, there was nothing provided. Carrying his machete, Pedro went to try and find some game to kill.
All the family could see was the light moving in the trees, hidden by the thick trunks of the pines. When he returned, Pedro was met by the horrid sight of his family tied up and skinned, their bodies still running with blood. From this moment, Pedro could only remember running.
He was out of breath when he finally sat on the fallen tree trunk, “I can’t go on. If you want me, come and take me,” he muttered.
For the first time in hours, he had time to think. Then wished he hadn’t.
He had questions and the answers were plain to see, but terrible to think about.
“What is the chicken taste in my mouth? Why am I covered in blood?”
Looking as the machete in his lap, there was no denying the evidence. The broken blade; the bone fragments and tissue stuck to it. All this left Pedro with only one conclusion to make as he set off back to the car, with the hope of finding the gas station again.
After taking another wrong turn and being totally disorientated he came across a group of wrecked cars. Their roofs covered in what appeared at first glance to be animal skins, but was it?
Excerpt From Jake's Elvis J Has Left the Barn
Chapter Three – Kids and Elvis
Elvis loved kids. He could always depend on a handful of grass offered by grubby little hands. Sometimes he’d get a horse treat if the kid knew where they were kept. When Elvis came to my home, grandkids were already making their appearance in the world, and they loved Grandma’s house and her horses even more. Having sixteen grandkids and their various friends always visiting, my horses learned right away that kids were a good thing.
Even though I lectured, warned and growled, not all of them would listen to my dire warnings of not going into the corral to pet the horses. From the fence was okay, but I knew that even the best of horses, if startled, could trample a small child underfoot.
Elvis was always the first to greet the happy kids and reap the benefits of their need to feed the horses. How he sensed their innocence, I don’t know.
I remember the first time I encountered a child in the corral it was a Kodak moment visually, a heart attack physically. My oldest granddaughter, Jaquelynn, all of four years old, had climbed in with Elvis. She had happily wrapped her arms around his front legs, her head between his knees, and was now smiling endearingly up at me. Elvis arched his neck, looking down curiously, while standing statue still. I quietly went into the enclosure, my hand sliding down his silken shoulder while reaching to disengage the giggling girl. When she was extricated and I had her safely in my arms, I leaned into him, resting my head on his neck in gratefulness for his calmness. He nuzzled the little girl, looking for his reward.
He gave horsey-back rides freely. I could always depend on him to be available for a quick walk around the corral for an eager toddler. I always did this bareback and they would hold on to his mane. He would step carefully, balancing them on his broad back. My second oldest granddaughter, Katelynn, was still in diapers when her mom and I set her up on his back. With chubby little hands she clutched his mane; her blue eyes alight with joy and fearlessness.
“Go faster, please, go faster,” she pleaded. So I tugged on his lead rope, the signal to step up his speed. He hesitated, sensing her inability to stay on, but being obedient, he went into a rough trot. The bounce was too much for the laughing toddler and she slipped from his back before we could catch her. She landed on her diapered bottom, sitting up, surprised. Then she threw herself back on the ground and started to wail.
Elvis turned his head, ears pricked forward, listening to her cries. Her mother scooped her up, dusted off the little bottom, and reassured her. She reached for the inquisitive nose Elvis offered, wiping her crocodile tears on the soft end of it. Then like a cloud revealing the sun, her smile broke free and she begged to ride once again.
We slid her up on his back and I asked him to walk out again. This time he acted as if he was walking on eggs. Each step was balanced, as he adjusted to her squirming, keeping her on his back.
“Faster, please Grandma,” she pleaded. I tried, a tug to speed him up a hair, but he refused. Methodically plodding along, he knew what was best for his bouncing charge. I couldn’t have dragged that horse into a trot.
I came to respect and appreciate his innate ability to assess his rider. Later on, as the grandkids grew old enough to ride on their own, I would use his sense of a rider’s skill to determine what other horse in my herd the child could handle. He became my best tool in teaching the children. If they didn’t have the skill level to make him do what he needed to do, he would quietly head to the gate and stand there, refusing to go anywhere as they squirmed, kicked and yelled. All my grandkids learned they couldn’t ride any other horse until they could work with Elvis and get him to listen to their cues.
The time Elvis definitely deserved the title of saint was when my grandson, Milton, visited. Again in the toddler years, he was quite active. My house was always full of grandkids coming and going and it was common to see a little one at the corral giving the usual offering of hay.
So it was easy for Milton to slip into the forbidden corral with the stick he had picked up in his play. What is it with boys who have to wander around with a stick in their hand, I will never know. I was in the house and happened to look out the dining room window. I had thought, as a city girl, how wonderful it would be to have the main corral as my view from the front of my house. I didn’t realize that view came with a smell!
I saw Milton toddling towards a dozing Elvis who was relaxing in the warm sunshine, letting everything hang out. I headed for the front door at lightning speed when I realized where he was headed with that stick. I had only reached the front porch, feeling like I was in one of those dreams where you watched in horror as a scene play out, yet cannot move fast enough to intervene. Milton was short enough to fit under Elvis’s belly and with a batter’s practiced eye, aimed for the dangling appendage. Even as I hollered he swung.
Never in my life have I seen a horse suck up so fast. His belly went to his back bone, his eyes popped open wide, the dangling remnant of his male-hood disappeared. He locked his legs, somehow even in his half-awake stage, sensing he had a child underneath him. Milton’s giggle floated on the air, I was faint from holding my breath, and Elvis slowly turned his regal head, to stare at the little juvenile delinquent under his belly.
I wish I could take these Kodak moments frozen in my memory and down load them to my computer. The expression on that horse’s face would have won many a photo contest! Milton toddled out and headed to my next horse, but by that time I had finally reached the corral and scooped up the little offender. Elvis politely sniffed him, and I would have given anything to be able to read his mind.
The sun's lazy rays lit up the darkened room as Joe Barron woke from his sleep. Joe, a brown haired airman from Manchester in England was the tail gunner on a Lancaster during a bombing raid over Germany in 1943. “Where are am I?” he asked. Looking around, all he saw were men on beds. Mostly covered in bandages or being nursed back to health from various injuries. Trying to sit, he found that his lower body strength had gone and all he could manage was to pull himself up to the pillows, “Nurse!” he called out in despair.
Nurse Amelia Cotton answered his plea. Amelia was one of those girls who seemed destined for nursing at an early age; imbued with endless patience and kindness for all her wards, she was loved and respected by all.
Amelia walked across the darkened ward to her newly awakened patient “Morning, Joe how are you feeling?”
Looking around, Joe said “Confused. Where am I? And what happened? The last thing I recall, I was firing at the enemy planes then there was a flash and flames then I woke here.”
“Facts are few, Joe. We haven't had any accounts of enemy aircraft shot down but with so much going on it will take time. Take you time and see if you can recall what happened?”
Amelia helped Joe rise to a semi-sitting position and pumped his pillows as he sat back, still confused and not totally aware of his surroundings he tried to recall events of the flight. Amelia pulled the old chair up next to his bed as Joe though about the night raid.
“We'd just turned after our bombing run and were climbing to give some cover to the planes behind us when I saw it. We were on the return flight, flying at about 20,000 feet which was close to the ceiling for the the plane when came under attack from a Ju 88a dive bomber. It all happened so fast, we never had to think it was just reactions. All I heard was the skipper shouting, 'Keep 'em' open lads! We're gonna have a rough time now.'
Then everybody opened up on the planes, guns going off, cases flying all over. As I was aiming at one of the planes...” Joe paused to think of what happened.
Amelia rose and ended his sentence “The plane vanished and was replaced by a bright light hovering in the sky.”
“How did you know?”
“I have been here for four years and heard the story many times.” Amelia replied.
“Nurse, can I have a cup of Rosie Lea, please? I've been out so long, I'm right parched.”
“Certainly Joe, I won't be long. I just have to warm the pot for your tea. You can call me, Amelia.”
“Thanks, Amelia. How long have I been here?”
“I'll let the doctor explain that for you, Joe.”
“Explain what? This IS 1943 isn't it!”
Joe closed his eyes as he tried to think of the recent past as he did he fell asleep. In the back ground he could hear a strange whirring noise. Living near the station, he recognized the sounds of aircraft engines building speed up but this was a higher pitch than that. Straining to hear and trying to remember the type of engines he was would recognize, he heard a voice from another bed.
The man turned to Joe and said, “You won't recognize it lad! I tried for months, never heard anything like it before and I'm on my second tour with the USAAF. I've been all over from the UK to Germany, Japan to the Aleutian islands and never heard it.”
“How can you have been to Germany and Japan. There are no allied bases there! We're at war with 'em.'”
“Joe isn't it. You have a lot to learn about this place. My name is Jack Merris and I was in the USAAF during the late 1980's.”
“I have heard that you Yanks had a good imagination but that it stupid.”
“You may think so now but in a week or two, you will not be so sure of yourself.”
Joe's curiosity was now running wild “What do you mean, Jack?”
Jack paused, this was Joe's moment to hear the unusual. How to put it? Would he understand the idea? “Okay, there is no easy way, Joe. I'll tell you it straight.”
“Tell me what,Jack?”
“The next time the nurse does the rounds, you watch her closely.”
“What do you mean?”
Jack went on “I could explain but you wouldn't believe me-hell I didn't at first-it's better that you see and hear for yourself, Joe.”
That night as the door to the ward opened and Amelia started her rounds, Joe caught his first sight of the puzzle. Watching the other men in the ward, Joe could see that there were many nationals from all over the world and all spoke to the nurse with no problem. “Odd but not too strange.”
Joe thought until he looked closer.
Not only were they different nationalities but their uniforms were strange too, there were new uniforms that he had never seen. Made from fibers that could hold the creases and only needed a quick shake to go back to form.
Keeping a close eye on her, Joe saw that as she moved across the floor, where she passed there was a strange greenish glow. Looking at the glow, Joe was suddenly hit by a bolt of light that left him stunned. Blinking quickly, he tried to focus but found that his eyes had lost the ability.
“Nurse!” he called out in panic.
“Joe, you really shouldn't have looked at that. You'll be okay in a while.”
“What was that strange light I saw as you crossed the floor?”
Amelia paused trying to think how to explain the inexplicable to an airman of 1943. “You are not going to believe me but that was time passing across the ships bow. As a ship creates a bow wave on the seas, we created this in time and space.”
“You've got that right, I've read H.G.Wells but that was fiction. Good as it was, it will never happen.”
“That's what I thought.” Jack added, “In my time, men had stood on the moon but time travel was still for the future.”
Joe was getting more confused by the minute “You talk as if this is the future to me, yet the past to you.”
Amelia replied “In here time has no sense-we are out of sync with it-we are in all time zones, yet not in any.”
“Amelia, if you are a nurse. How do you know all that?” Joe asked. “Here comes the punch line.”
“To you, I appear as a WW2 nurse, so that you were not startled. To the others I appear in a form that they chose to accept.”
“So what is your true form?”
“Form? I have none. I am all things to all men yet nothing at all.” Amelia replied. “As you have seen the lights, you can look out of the windows now, Joe.”
Turning, Amelia opened a small oblong box-like object on the side of the wall. The covers slowly drew back with a slow hissing sound and Joe raised himself in the bed to look out. In the background all he could see was an array of stars whooshing by.
“What the hell!” he exclaimed in shock.
“What you see flying out there is what your scientists call the Milky Way,” the voice of a man replied. “your peoples are still trying to explore our worlds, that is why we came to yours. To see what you are like. We have noticed your aggressiveness to each other, yet at other times there can be great kindness too. The most frightening thing is that so few people believe we exist out here. Which is the reason for seizing you.”
“Sorry guv, you lost me back there.”
“To us, people are like radio receivers and certain people are tuned into our wavelength, that is why they see and perceive elemental messages.”
“So you mean, those cranks are really picking messages up after all!”
“Exactly, Joe. We had to make it look that way to protect our homes. But now...” the man's voice tailed off.
“I didn't like that ending, Doc.”
“We have to explore new worlds as ours is devastated by winds and earthquakes that get stronger every day and you are the vanguard of the next generation.”
Just as Joe was going to reply, there was a bright flash and he was thrown back against the bed.
“Lord above, Joe. Do that again and I'll kill ya, never mind the bloomin' Gerry planes.”
Getting groggily to his feet, Joe looked around at the surroundings. He was in a hospital ward but this time there was no strange lights just boarded windows. “What happened to me?”
Phil Kerry said “We were flying through the flack a couple of nights ago and you got raked with .50 shells from the Ju 88a we had on our tail. The engines caught fire and we went into a dive, with the plane on fire and your chute in the fuselage, you decided to jump out and take the chances of surviving rather than getting burned alive.”
“I can remember that part, Phil. What about the flash and the lights in space and the weeks I've been away. I was seized and taken by an alien craft, you know.”
“I told ya before, mate. Reading those novels will make you queer in 't' head.” Phil said shaking his head, “You bailed out over Germany and the next thing we heard was a message from the underground saying a strange airman claiming to have been aboard a flying ship was in their hands. We arranged to pick you up and you've been here in and out of your sleep for the last three days.”
After a few weeks recovering Joe was allowed back to base. The first thing he did was go to the hangers to check the planes but when he got to within fifty feet of the Lancasters he froze and couldn't move.
The Flight-Sargent told him to see the camp doctor. After making an appointment Joe went back to the canteen for a brew.
Later that afternoon, he was leaving the surgery when the phone rang.
“Doctor Norrie, how can I help?”
All Joe could hear was the Doctor, it didn't take a genius to put question to the answers.
“The freezing up is natural after such a shock, sir.”
“Physically, even after the fall he is still 100% fit.”
“Mentally, I would say about 85%”
A pause, then the doctor said something that froze Joe's blood in his veins
“There is one thing I can't explain. A strange green glow behind his eyes.”
“No, sir. I haven't seen or heard of anything like it before.”
A link to the real story:
Rivulets of steamy sweat cascade ever downward, pooling under arms, breasts, and small dimpled areas while, yet, a refreshing breeze caresses the fevered brow.
I’ve known this moment. I’ve lived this moment. I detest but welcomely embrace this moment!
Over and Over, mankind just cannot, will not, quell their lusts ~
Kingdom upon kingdom falls to the sword; rape upon rape, until the land runs red, and crisply burns black.
Technology touted as new, never knowing those strands lie deeply buried in the forever streams of time.
Slaughter, abuse, disdain for the innocence to be sullied, stripped, discarded.
Raise the exchange standard high, squeezing the life blood of the populace, the land, the life giving air; Cries for mercy ignored.
Man rejects teaching; intellect says his way is right; there is no God! We are the gods of all we touch, see, smell, want, corrupt, slough.
It is time! All nature is in accord!
The core is heated, melting the shale away, soon to reach the crust; waters writhing, spewing upward reaching steam to collide with incoming missiles swiftly driving a collusion path to impact.
I was here for the flood and sank beneath the waves, my body twisted, torn, consumed; my spirit returning to God.
I hungered for another chance, but at the scattering, I was trampled, flattened into the soil, my spirit again rising as the crowd is cleaved by the voice above.
I sat. I looked. I learned. I could try again... But not just yet.
I waited. I saw the glory. I saw it despised, refused. I wept. How evil cloaks the eyes to love.
My last chance for entry; I take it. I asked for the ending of time... Ha! Such a brave but foolish wish to prove I have seen enough to hold onto the love.
I saw the fiery end when a tot of four and did not quake. My path set before me obstacle laden, twisting my spirit to disbelief.
Arguing... Until my spirit understands the way home. Failure is not an option!
It is time! All nature in accord!
Planets aligned; meteor trajectory insured.
The caps uncorked, raining bullets of fire.
The core is heated, melting away the shale, soon to reach the crust; waters writhing, spewing an upward reaching steam to collide with incoming missiles swiftly driving a collision path to impact.
God claps; reshaping starts anew.