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|The Great Roberto raised his hands to his head and said dramatically "I'm getting a message from the Otherworld! He flipped his memory back to what he had read on the website about some ghost last night and said, "A feeling of feminine energies is around us and also a feeling of sadness. Oh yes so, so sad, immeasurable sorrow. Like that of which newly orphaned children can only know, that is what my spirit guide is telling me."
He heard some gasps from the audience and found it hard to suppress a smug smile. He could get maybe a couple of 100 quid tonight and more from after show readings.
Of course it was a load of rubbish. The man standing on stage was Robert Dewdney. His stage name was 'The Great Roberto!' He had been faking it as a medium for about 10 years now. He had had the idea while searching the Internet for a new washing machine. While looking through Bosch.com he found a link to a site that exposed mediums as frauds. These crooks had made thousands out of people's grief. There were literally millions of these charlatans all over the world. It was terrible! Then the idea had struck him like a bolt of lightning, why couldn't he do it too? It had never really crossed his mind that what he was doing was wrong. He merely looked at it like he was keeping a small child from grief by replacing the goldfish that had been flushed down the toilet every once in a while. There loved ones simply had gone and to keep the memory of them alive he was reassuring his client that they were still with us. And after a while he had become very good at what he did. He saw himself as an artist. Rob had even contemplated the career of acting.
He was thinking about what crowd-pleasing line he could say next but he was rudely interrupted. Someone was crying! It sounded like a child, a young girl. He almost told them to shut up but no, that would seem unfeeling to the punters, not good for business, so instead he said, " Come on whoever that is. Come forward and tell your uncle Roberto what's the matter.
The crying stopped dead.
"Come on. Don't be scared. I don’t bite!" he chuckled.
A gaggle of WI members in the audience nervously grinned wondering what was going to happen next. Then he heard raised voices, accompanied by the little girl crying again. He was starting to get angry now, "Um excuse me! But I'm trying to connect with the spirit world. Could you keep it down please?" But still there was only
" Everyone's quiet as mice 'ere we're waiting for you to carry on!" Said Dave from the Cash and Carry.
"Oh Sorry!" He replied, trying desperately to think of something to say. " It was…umm it was only-
"Interference from the spirit world,"
"It was interference from the spirit world!" he managed to say triumphantly. Where on earth did that come from? What a good job it was that he was so clever. " Anyway! Could I have a volunteer from the audience please?" Hands shot up. " Erm…the lady in the red pullover, at the front. Yes you!" She got tentatively to her feet and mumbled something inaudible. "Erm sorry sweetheart I didn't quite catch that,"
"Ring-a-ring a roses, a pocket full of posies"
" OK… and what relevance does that rhyme have to you?"
" I didn't say anything," said the woman.
" Just more interference, you'll get used to it!" he replied nearly shaking with fear. The woman giggled stupidly.
"Atichoo! Atichoo! We all fall down."
He looked to see if anyone was whispering in his ear, no one was there. A chill went down his spine. "So what was it you wanted to ask me?"
" Well I was wondering, could you find my husband amongst all the other voices. It's just I never really had the proof that he was really gone. All I got was a letter reading 'killed in action' I just need some reassurance you know?" Rob smiled at the woman like she was some misguided 3-year old and then said "OK I'll ask my spirit guide. Maya, Maya are you there?" He pretended to go into a trance. His head flopped onto his chest and he jerked about a bit for extra impact. Then, slowly he looked up at the woman. What he really needed was a name. That was solid proof to most people. She was wearing a pendant it might have been a locket of sorts maybe that would have a name on or something, he needed a closer look.
"There's a cloud around him," he said in a spooky voice. " It's hard to find information, maybe if you come up on stage and then you can connect with Maya." The woman came to the step and climbed up to meet him. He could see that the red pullover was embroidered with initials. E.B. The only old woman name he could think of beginning with E was Edith. "C'mon Edith let me help you up,"
She looked astonished and so did the audience. "So Edith, I understand that he died in Second World War. So I'll put the call out for Edith's wartime sweetheart." He did a bit more jerking around and then said " Ah yes I can see a man. He's still young, time hasn't aged him at all. He's wearing a British legion uniform and he has a red hole in his chest." Rob started to feel his creative side coming out " His face is pale and his eyes are weary. But there is a glint of happiness still. He's telling me that he has never stopped loving you and thought about how you'd feel after he was gone, he's been watching over you always. He has told me he's met up with all the loved ones he has ever lost. So don't worry about him as you have been doing, he's doing well." Rob came out of his 'trance'
The audience burst into spontaneous applause. A good ending if he did say himself! There was whistling and cheering and everyone started to get up and move. Edith started to walk away as well but he stopped her and said
" Hey Edith!"
" Does the nursery rhyme 'ring-a-ring-a-roses' mean anything at all to you? It's just…I kept hearing it in my head while I was talking to your husband."
" I'm very sorry but it doesn't, maybe it was interference."
"Yeah, that’s probably it. Ta Ra love hope to see you again some time soon,"
"Little Miss Muffin sat on her Tuffin eating her curds and whey"
"Shut up! Leave me alone," He shouted into the air.
" I didn't say anything! And there's no need to get angry, I'm going now," He hadn't realised Edith was still there.
"The Lord's judgement cometh, and it cometh right soon,"
Robert got back to his hotel room soon after the show. He just couldn't understand it. Maya wasn't real, none of it was. He was a first class con merchant and yet he had heard a little girl crying, arguments and whispers that weren't there. Don't be thick Rob! He told himself, think about it. There were near on 100 people there and anyone of them could have been having and argument. It was in a pub for Christ's sake, it's full of chavs and whatnot. What about the whispers? Merely figments of my imagination he assured himself. Your own mother probably sang that to you as a child, no she didn't though did she? He went on like this for God knows how long but somehow he must have packed up and gone to bed because he awoke in the middle of the night lying in it. He was thankful the whispers didn't visit him in his dreams. As soon as he woke up doubt wracked his mind. Enough was enough he had to convince himself that there was no little girl crying and singing nursery rhymes.
He turned his laptop on and flipped up the screen, typed in the name of where he was staying 'Greenwood Riverside hotel' and leant back on his chair stroking his chin.
"Georgie porgy pudding and pie,"
"Leave me alone!" he pointlessly shouted at a wall.
All that came up was tickets to see the great Roberto and a little further down booking sites and advertising.
Absolute rubbish, nothing that could help him.
He typed in 'ring-a-ring-a-roses' and a couple of sites about the plague came up and 'by and sell ring-a-ring-a-roses on Ebay' Google had never before disappointed him in ghost hunting.
Shadows were flickering about this way and that over the walls. He imagined someone creeping in the darkness waiting for him to go back to sleep again. He rushed over to the switch and turned the light on.
"Just some branches banging against the window. Don't worry Rob,"
He tried 'Greenwood Roses' and lots of advertisement came up for camping holidays and the like. And then it struck him. For something to come up on a search engine someone would have to have written it down on a website, to be and expert on the matter and to have studied it. Maybe he would have to be the expert; maybe he would have to find out by himself. But then again, maybe not. Because in small writing he would have missed otherwise there was a small article about some ghost that haunted the hotel. When he looked at it all it said was.
"Experience a spooky day out at Greenwood hotel! Apart from the excellent facilities at the hotel many customers claim to have seen the bearded man of Greenwood. A mysterious figure that was murdered at this very spot…"
That was no good. Rob knew better than anyone did how to play to the crowd. Anyway, this was no old man.
"Are you saying I'm an old man Rob? That’s not very nice is it! And after I've been sooo friendly. I've been watching you all this time you know,"
The voice had become colder, if sounds could have a temperature. It seemed like it was all around him this time. It wasn't coming from anywhere but at the same time it was coming from everywhere.
"Who are you?" Rob demanded.
" You’re the expert on ghosts here, not me."
" Do you want money? Are you trying to scare me? Ghosts don't exist I'm not stupid," He started running his hands down the walls as though he was looking for something. " Have you got some sort of wire here. Ah yes, that must be it. That's why I can't see you. You're in another room or something,"
He heard that same old mocking laughter.
" Just shut up! Leave me alone! I'm not really a medium. Is that what you want me to say? Expose me to the press I expect. Filthy little paparazzi or whatever they call you. " He ran his hands through his hair. He felt much more confident now the light was on.
"I'm going to bed. No-one scares the great Roberto!"
"Come on then, do your worst,"
Reassured, he slowly drifted off to sleep again and was too tired to care that the voice had said,
"No mummy! No mummy! No mummy! Pleeeeeasssssseeeeeee no!"
Rob was not in the hotel anymore. He really didn't like the place he was in now. He had been thrown on to a cold concrete floor.
It wasn't concrete
It was something else.
Fear gripped Rob.
" You’re a very, very naughty girl! Now look what you've done you've gone and wet yourself. AND WHO WILL HAVE TO CLEAN THAT UP EH? Never, Never in my entire life have I met anyone like you! You know what? It would have been a darn sight better if you had never been born!"
Shrill screams poured into his ears so that he felt they would explode.
It seemed he was in a house; well actually it seemed more like some sort of Manor house. Though everything around him was grey and blurred.
There were two people standing in the room. One was larger than the other was but the outlines of their bodies were blurred as well. The only things that had any definition were their cold, white eyes. The larger figure, which seemed to be a woman, was screaming at the smaller one. Even though they were barely a meter apart. He figured the smaller figure was a child. It was sprawled on the floor in a heap, he would of thought it was dead if it didn't gasp and sob once every minute or so.
Rob got to his feet. He couldn't let this woman carry on. For some strange dreamlike moment he tried to punch her in the face but his hand went straight through her head like it was merely smoke. And like smoke, the woman and child seemed to drift and disintegrate in to thin air. Just as the rest of the room did.
Then he had that strange realisation that you get once in a while, that he was actually in a dream. And when this happens you have either gave an idea to explore the dream or an urge to do something wild and crazy. Or of course you wake up but that didn't look like it was going to happen sometime soon. Rob, being a down-to-earth kind of man, decided to explore further.
But as he approached objects they drifted away like the rest of the room had done. So he just randomly shouted
"I`M A CELEBRITY, GET ME OUT OF HERE!"
Don't judge him too harshly, after all he was in a dream. Still, nothing happened.
"You scared yet?"
" No! Dreams don't scare me," Rob was in an endless grey abyss. And the voice of his nightmares was chatting to him. He was scared out of his wits.
" I don't want to let you go," the voice said. " You don't get many people in the big grey box."
"Look just let me go! Please I'M BEGGING YOU!"
The mocking laughter rang out all around him. It seemed to penetrate into his very skull.
"Do you know what a Calcax is?"
He was back in his hotel again and he had never been so glad of anything in his life. He got up and went into the bathroom. He turned the taps on half expecting them to spout blood instead of water-but they didn't. He looked up at the steamed mirror expecting it to have some message of doom written on it-but it didn't. And returned to his bedroom looking back on the whole thing as one big nightmare. But Rob still was curious. He still needed to know.
He flipped up his laptop and connected to the Internet. He typed in the word 'Calcax'. The websites that came up were not what he expected. "Satanism!" He didn’t quite know who he was supposed to be talking to. He leant back in his chair and rubbed his head. This was all too…too movie like - Satanism? It seemed like someone was playing a joke. Or trying to scare him. But he had thought that before and things had got worse so he wasn't going to make that mistake again. He looked in depth at these websites. None of the Satan groups actually explained what this Calcax was. They seemed to assume you would already know. He did learn a lot though. He learned about the four crown princes of hell, the principles of Satanism and the satanic bible. It was all very interesting but very grim. And it made him feel uneasy reading about it. He was sure there were some very nice Satanists out there but whoever had written the pages he was reading was not. Also perhaps most disturbing of all was the pages about sacrifice. Their bible seemed to be very violent. Somehow he knew this all wasn't the answer. This wasn't a film. This was real life. And real life wasn't as easy as this.
Chapter 2 - Daylight Robbery
The word Calcax plagued his mind all that week. It seemed to be everywhere he went, even if it wasn't. All words beginning with C looked like it and when he gave a Goth a reading he kept dropping in the word to see if he could get any reaction from him but all the Goth did was look at him like he was the worst kind of nutter. He tried looking it up in the dictionary but he found no joy there. Rob felt as a small child who had started out on a big adventure that had soon become tiresome. Until of course his second dream came.
"Robert! Robert wake up!" Rob awoke into his nightmare. And this time he saw the little girl who had plagued him. He screamed out loud. Her fingers and hands were covered in blood and you could see her bone in some places. She gripped on to Rob's face with an unnatural strength. Her face was the scariest part of all. It looked like she had been rotting while she was still alive. Her skin was stretched over her face so her bones bulged out horribly. Her lips were red but only for the blood smeared over them. Her eyes had sunken right into her skull and were almost completely bloodshot.
"GET AWAY!" he frantically scrambled to try and get loose. He was somewhere different now. It wasn't grey or blurred it was frighteningly real. The girl was sitting in the far corner crying. She looked normal now. She wasn't bleeding or rotting or anything. She just looked sad.
"What's your name?"
The girl didn't move her lips. The voice didn't even come from her. He swung round to see the ghostly Rosemary. She was licking her fingers but blood still dripped off them and seemed to disappear before it could touch the ground. She simply said; "help me,"
Imagine, just try to imagine how scared Rob was. He couldn't sleep because he didn't want to visit the little girl again. But he couldn't keep his eyes open for fear of the shadows and what may be lurking in them. But hour by agonising hour he made it through that night without a visit from Rosemary. In fact Rosemary didn't visit until a long, long time afterwards.