This is a selection taken from the stories I wrote between 2003 and 2011. Nearly all of them have been previously published, many in publications no longer extant. Where they are still available in existing books or magazines, sufficient time has elapsed to permit their re-publication without fear of ethical impropriety or breach of contractual terms. Check the Blog Archive at the bottom of the page for individual titles.

Please be aware that each story was written by the person I was at the time. In a sense, therefore, each one was written by somebody different. None of them was written by the person I am now.

Anybody wanting to view my novel Odyssey can do so here. I’ve set the price very low because I’m more interested in the story being read than in making money out of it. It’s about a goddess and her rabbit companion taking a mortal man on a journey to teach him a few lessons about the nature of reality and higher consciousness, and it's probably more entertaining than I make it sound. I never was any good at selling myself. The Gift Horse, a story of reincarnation and karmic balancing, is also now available at the same place.

April 08, 2011

Shadows.

I was in two minds whether to post this one, since I don’t consider it one of my better efforts. The Hungry Ghost Realm and its desperate denizens crop up again in my unpublished novel, in a darker and better written form I would say. Nevertheless, this was a step along the road, I suppose, so I decided to let it see the light of day. And all the sightings of moving shadows and flashing lights actually happened at my last house.

It was first published by Ethereal Gazette magazine in June 2007.

Approximate reading time: 30-35 minutes.

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Shadows have a bad reputation. They are used as metaphors when referring to the cold and negative side of the human condition. They are inevitably associated with those aspects of life that are dark, difficult or dubious.

When something happens to spoil an occasion, we say that a shadow has been cast over it. People struck down by serious illness become mere shadows of their former selves. Shadows lengthen as the days grow short in the autumn, and their extended reach alerts us to the imminent onset of winter. Those who fail retire to them, the cowardly seek sanctuary in them, and terrors are habitually said to lurk in their depths.

Just occasionally they are treated a little more kindly. Tennyson’s Lady of Shalot, for example, uses the word “shadow” to mean a reflection. Even there, however, the use is metaphorical, and alludes to the only view of the world permitted to a tragic woman imprisoned by a cruel curse. Matters don’t get much more dark, difficult or dubious than that.

But the metaphor raises an interesting point: it can be argued that shadows don’t actually exist. For shadows, like projected images, are two-dimensional. One is merely reflected light, the other an interruption of the same thing. They have no substantive form, and so they fail the received test of true reality - that only things of substance are really there.

But we can see them as clearly as anything else, so how can we claim they are not real? Mere semantics, you might say; the same argument applies to thoughts, emotions and the perception of beauty. Probably, but it’s still an interesting point.

One thing we can be sure of, though, is that something that has only two dimensions can’t affect us in any physical way. It can’t do us any harm. Of course it can’t. Shadows are harmless; except, that is, when they are not actually shadows at all.

* * *

I began seeing shadows that had no logical right to be there some months ago, and I learned that they are not always what they seem. Furthermore, the physical consequences of their interest in me could have been as real as any caused by three dimensional agents, had it not been for the timely intervention of what you might call a professional shadow chaser. The choice of the word “interest” is deliberate, however nonsensical it may sound. “Interest” implies consciousness and volition. I know it does, that’s why I chose it.

It must have been at around one o’clock in the morning when I saw the first one. I was sitting at my desk in the upstairs study. The door that led into it was the one closest to the top of the stairs. My desk was placed against the same wall.

I was in the habit of leaving the door ajar, and had occasionally experienced a strong sense that someone, or something, was watching me through the gap. I had often looked directly at it to be reassured that there was nothing there. There never had been and I’d always put it down to imagination. I had found it slightly more difficult to take the same view of the brushing sound that I sometimes heard in the vicinity, but even managed to explain that one away as some unexplained oddity of the building’s acoustics.

On the night in question the door was more than ajar. It stood half open, and I had a good view of that section of the landing wall that runs at right angles to it and faces the top of the stairs. The landing light was off so the area was illuminated solely by the spill coming from the hall below.

I was busy writing when my attention was drawn to something moving beyond the gap. I looked up and saw a shadow, about the size of a person, moving slowly across the dimly lit, white wall. I was naturally startled because I was the only one still up; my wife was sound asleep in bed. I also knew that the only place from which such a shadow could have been cast was the stairs. But the movement was at right angles to them, so it couldn’t have been made by someone coming up or going down.

I sat nonplussed for a while, trying unsuccessfully to work out an explanation. I got up to investigate, uneasy at the prospect of seeing something on the stairs, yet still confident that I would find nothing. There had been no sound to break the silence of the early hours and I expected to find no intruder. Predictably, the stairwell was empty and I continued my investigation on the ground floor.

I checked all the rooms and found them empty too. Both doors to the outside were locked and all the windows were secure. I put the whole thing down to some aberration of my ageing eyesight and thought no more of it. A week later I saw another one.

The second sighting had the dubious distinction of being both a shadow and a reflection. Whether that doubles or halves its right to the status of reality is a moot point.

It was at about the same time of night when I left my study to go downstairs. The stairs in my house are constructed of two half flights running counter to each other. The platform that connects the two is a sort of half landing and adjoins an outside wall with a small window. As before, the landing light was off and the hall light was on, so the reflection I saw in the darkened window was of the brightly lit wall and carpet at the nearest end of the hall.

The moving shadow I saw reflected there was as distinct as before, but moved across the carpet rather than the wall. I saw it as clearly as I saw every physical feature, and I knew that there was no point in trying to convince myself that it was an optical illusion. It could only have been cast by someone walking across the hall beyond my field of vision. Again I investigated and, again, I found nothing.

I had managed to ignore the first sighting, but the second sent a chill down my spine. One could be dismissed as an illusion. Two starts to feel like the beginning of a trend. I approached the problem with logic. I reasoned that a true shadow can only be caused by something solid, and therefore visible, interceding between a light source and a reflective surface. There had been nothing directly visible when I had gone to investigate and I concluded that there could be only two possible explanations: either there really had been something casting the shadow, something that had disappeared before I was in a position to see it, or the shadow had not been a shadow at all.

Neither possibility was very appealing to a rational mind, but I felt bound to conclude that the latter was the more likely. It brought me no closer to an explanation at the time, but subsequent events were to prove me right and turn my understanding of reality on its head.

The second sighting made me nervous of the state of half-light. I had seen both shadows either on, or from, the landing that had been lit by secondary light coming from the hall. I began to keep all parts of the house fully lit at night and it seemed to solve the problem. I saw no more unexplained shadows for a while.

But then I began to see something else, something I would have to call reflections. Bright pools of light that crossed doors or walls, as though the headlights of a car were crossing the outside wall of the house and shining briefly through the window. But they happened in full daylight and there were no cars to account for them. There was nothing else to explain them either, and I began to suspect that there might be something wrong with my eyesight. When the reflections were replaced by intense flashes of light, I went to the optician to have my eyes tested. They found nothing except a slight and perfectly natural deterioration in my optic muscles and gave me a prescription for mild reading glasses.

The flashes started one dull, winter’s afternoon. I was in my dining room, a poorly-lit room at the best of times owing to its lack of adequate windows. There was a sudden, brief flash of white light that illuminated the whole room with the intensity and brevity of a camera’s flash unit. It startled me, but came and went so quickly that I doubted I’d seen it at all.

And then it happened again, on the landing late one night. It happened a third time about a week later, when I woke up in the early hours needing to visit the bathroom.

I had avoided mentioning any of these incidents to my wife. She was nervous of strange phenomena and I thought it unfair to burden her with unnecessary fears. If she had seen nothing herself, and I felt certain that she would have mentioned the fact, why disturb her with knowledge of something that might worry her?

But I was truly beginning to suspect that there might be something seriously wrong, either with my eyesight or my state of mind, and I felt that I wanted to tell her if only to share my concern. I decided, however, that I should pick a moment when it would have the least disturbing effect. It seemed sensible to mention it casually in the middle of a bright sunny day when the mind is least susceptible to the power of dark imaginings.

When I came back to bed I felt nervous crossing the floor in the dark again, but there were no more flashes. I settled myself back between the sheets and lay staring at the ceiling for a while.

As I did so, I began to realise that it was growing brighter. At first I assumed that it was due to my eyes becoming accustomed to the darkness. But the brightness continued to increase and I became intrigued. Soon, my sense of wonder turned increasingly to one of disquiet. I looked around the room. Nothing else was getting brighter, just the ceiling. I looked back at it and realised that it reminded me of a projector screen illuminated from behind. I suppose that was why I expected to see pictures appear, and my expectation was soon met. Except that what I saw were not pictures as such, but a single, grotesque silhouette.

A dark shape appeared at the point where the ceiling met the wall opposite the bed and began to crawl across it, heading in my direction. It was the shape of a human, but unnaturally thin. I watched with a mixture of confusion and horror as its arms and legs moved back and forth, propelling it slowly forward until it was directly above me. And there was a brushing sound as it moved, similar to the one I’d heard outside my office door. It seemed as though the ceiling had become translucent and I was seeing the silhouette of some humanoid being, crawling between the plasterboard and the joists above it.

It stopped when its “head” was immediately above mine, and then two spots of electric blue appeared where the eyes would be situated in a human face. They grew bigger and my terror increased as I felt certain that it was watching me. I tried to reach out for the switch on my bedside lamp but found myself unable to move. I realised how a tethered goat must feel, waiting for the predator to move in for the kill, and expected the silhouette to grow bigger as it came down to claim its prey. It didn’t. Instead I felt myself being lifted up by some irresistible force, climbing towards the ceiling and unable to do anything to stop it.

As I approached the ceiling my every instinct was to cry out in blind panic, but the paralysis affected my vocal chords as much as it did the rest of my body. I felt myself being pushed into the flat surface and instinctively closed my eyes and held my breath, fearing that I would be either crushed or suffocated or both. I was also terrified at the prospect of coming face to face with the crawling creature. I awaited my fate with the fear and loathing of a helpless victim, unable to either fight or flee.

My ordeal seemed to go on for a long time, but I felt nothing and eventually gathered sufficient courage to half open my eyes. In front of me I saw only darkness. I became aware that I was not breathing but felt no physical distress. I opened my eyes wider and gradually the blackness lifted to a grey gloom. As my vision became clearer, I saw what appeared to be an emaciated human figure receding into the distance. The electric blue of its eyes were mere pinpoints, and disappeared shortly before the figure contracted to nothing.

I lay there staring into the gloom, searching the dull space for a sign of the figure. I saw nothing. It seemed as though I was in a thick fog at twilight. Whatever medium I was contained in was constantly moving, but there was no sense of the wetness that characterises fog.

I tried to lift my head to peer down at my own body but my muscles failed to respond to my will. I tried to move my arms and found the same lack of response. Despite the obvious confusion and panic that still gripped me, I realised that I no longer had any sense of being in a lying position. I felt free of any dimensional perception; there was no up and no down. I tried to turn around and felt an odd sensation that my body was not moving but my consciousness was.

As it completed a turn through a hundred and eighty degrees, I could plainly see the bed beneath me in the darkened bedroom. My wife lay curled up on one side and my own body occupied the other. I was lying on my back, just as I had been before this nightmare began.

I wondered if that was all it was - a nightmare. If so, it was like none I had experienced before. I was fully conscious and the room was exactly as it should have been. There was none of the distorted reality that characterises dreams, except that I felt I had no form. There seemed to be no depth to my being, just a sense of existing in a flat plain, like a figure in a photograph.

I took some comfort from seeing myself lying in bed. I had read of the phenomenon of astral projection and felt confident that, one way or another, I would return to my body eventually. I relaxed a little and thought about the question of movement. If I exerted my will strongly enough, maybe I could force myself back towards my sleeping form.

I concentrated hard but to no avail. I felt impotent and the sense of panic returned. I realised that the creature with the blue eyes might come back or that it might already be standing behind me, preparing to do whatever such creatures do. I could only hope that continued practice might produce the desired effect. Failing that, I could only hope that the natural forces that had taken me there might reverse the process quickly.

I felt that I couldn’t afford to wait too long and, after turning back to satisfy myself that I was not being stalked, considered the possibility of moving in other directions. As soon as I willed a sideways shift, I slid across the plane of the ceiling like a greased sled on ice. I turned around again and found myself looking down at my desk in the office on the other side of the landing. As fearful as I was, I found the experience interesting and continued the experiment, this time moving across into an adjacent room.

Although these first movements were effected by an effort of will, I found it more natural to move my arms and legs in the direction I wished to go. My earlier paralysis had gone as long as I restricted myself to movement in one plane, and this more customary physical process seemed to supplement the mental effort. I wondered what would happen if I moved beyond the outside wall. Would I find myself floating fifteen feet above the road?

I crawled on and found that, as soon as I reached the edge of the ceiling, I slipped smoothly down the wall and had an upturned view of the room. I swung myself around and saw the street outside. The prospect of moving freely in line with any chosen surface became fascinating.

I slipped down to ground level, then crawled along the floor of the hall and continued outside the house. I saw the moon and stars above me, shining bright and beautiful in the cloudless sky, and I moved effortlessly across the road.

I entered the house opposite. I was becoming accustomed to my new found ability and slid upwards to face into my neighbour’s living room. The lights were on and he was watching a late night programme on the television. I looked at his wall clock and saw that it was 1.30. I rose up and was a little shocked to find myself looking into the bathroom where his wife was taking a shower. I realised that I was guilty of an unforgivable intrusion and closed my eyes as I prepared to move on again.

At that moment I heard a low growling sound behind me. I swung around and found myself confronted by a hideous shape similar to the one I had seen crawling across my own ceiling above the bed. The shock was intense and the enjoyment of unfettered movement paled as I stared at the source of the noise.

A cadaverous, sub-human creature stood before me emitting a low, guttural sound; though from what source I couldn’t tell since it appeared to have no mouth. Its grey-brown skin was drawn tightly across prominent bones and it was hairless. I was reminded of Egyptian mummies I had seen in the British Museum, those pathetic remnants of once-vital life whose dark and desiccated skin is stretched so tight that the teeth and bones stand out in semi-skeletal starkness.

Two black orbs formed the eye sockets, with a glowing, electric blue circle in the centre of each one. Its emaciated body displayed no features suggesting gender of either variety. It looked fierce, however, and thrust its head menacingly towards me, then moved its arms in a manner that suggested it wanted to push me out of the way. I flinched instinctively, even though I felt nothing touch me. I was about to make way when it rushed directly at me. Its movement was so swift that I could only shut my eyes and brace myself for the impact. Nothing happened and I opened my eyes again. The creature had disappeared.

I could still hear its growl, however, but now it seemed to be coming from inside my own head. I turned back and the truth soon dawned on me. I was watching the shower scene again and it became apparent that the creature was doing the same thing. Its growl had changed to a sickly, lascivious groaning and I understood the nature of my new existence.

I realised that my consciousness was somehow tenanting a two dimensional form, and that the creature and I were occupying the same space. I wondered at first how that could be, then understood that it was no different to several pictures being projected onto the same area of a screen. There is no third dimension, so the impossibility of occupying the same space does not arise.

I slid sideways and moved around the walls until I could see my previous position through a mirror at the side of the shower cubicle. I could plainly see a shadow, the shape and size of the creature, obviously enjoying its entertainment. I turned around again and looked out on the dark street beyond the bathroom wall. I began to wonder where the grey mist was, the mist into which I had seen the first creature recede and from which the second had made its appearance.

Clearly there must be a number of portals positioned here and there, gateways that allowed these beings access to a view of our world. I had seen two already, the one above my bed and the one on the adjacent wall of my neighbour’s bathroom. I became intensely curious to go through one of them to see what lay beyond. Naturally, I felt deeply fearful. Heaven knows what I might find there, and the possibility of being unable to navigate myself home was a truly terrifying prospect. I thought about the problem and two facts became apparent.

Firstly, it seemed that the environment in which these creatures existed must be three-dimensional, even though their own forms were composed of only two. Secondly, I realised that two-dimensional entities would be unable to touch anything, for touching requires the ability to reach out and make contact. If my theory was correct, I would have nothing to fear. There was no way in which they could do me any harm. The logic seemed sound and I had already had some evidence that I was right. I felt bold enough to place one foot into the unknown and headed back to where I knew there was a portal.

I navigated myself back around the walls and floors and re-crossed the road to return to the ceiling above my bed. I looked hard at my recumbent form to dispel a fear that had just occurred to me. Suppose I had died, and this dark world and formless existence was the state beyond death? I needed to be sure that my body was still breathing. It was difficult to see clearly in the darkened room, but I was sure that I could make out the tiniest movement in the sheets around my chest. My disembodied self breathed its own metaphorical sigh of relief, and I turned to face the grey mist behind me.

I willed myself to move forward into it, but was unsure whether I was succeeding or not. There were no sensory indicators of movement - no change of view or perspective, no air brushing the skin. I turned around to see whether the view had changed. My bedroom had gone. Instead, I found myself facing a roughly circular patch of light, its edges vague and constantly moving. I knew that I had stepped out of my own reality and into the darkness from which the creatures came.

My sense of panic returned. Could I really consider moving away from this spot? How could I be sure of returning to the same portal? If there were two of them in the vicinity of my house, heaven knows how many more there must be. Without some sort of Ariadne’s thread to guide my way back, I dared not take the risk. My earlier boldness gave way to a desire to stay close to home. I decided to go back.

But then, before I could will myself through the hole, I heard an unpleasantly familiar noise behind me and turned around. I saw another of the creatures floating towards me at speed.

It stopped in front of me and emitted the same low growling sound that I had heard before. Its intense blue eyes looked into mine, and then examined every part of my body with evident curiosity. Before long, the tone of its utterance changed. Now it sounded like a call, and within seconds another appeared in front of me - and then another, and another. They overlapped each other and dissolved into blackness at the edges. I turned slowly through a full circle and saw that I was surrounded. At each position I could only see a narrow band of one or two creatures, but as I turned I could see that the ring was unbroken. Some of them stood independently while others overlapped.

They began grabbing for me and their eyes flashed with the frenzy of hungry hyenas moving in on their prey. The sounds they were making rose to a crescendo of hideous howling and I felt trapped and about to suffer the worst of fates. I was terrified, but then reminded myself that they could not touch me any more than a moving image on a cinema screen can touch the audience. I thought of the story of early cinemagoers ducking when a train was filmed heading directly at the camera. It was briefly amused and my terror began to subside.

Although logic assured me that I had nothing to fear, I still found the attentions of the creatures loathsome. I became disoriented. I wanted nothing now but to get back to my own dimension. If necessary, I would stay above my bed until morning came. I assumed that my waking body would drag this errant part of me back to where it belonged when I woke up. But I had no idea which way I was facing and the position of the portal was hidden by the writhing, grabbing figures all around me.

I resisted the urge flee. I feared that I could end up anywhere and be unable to return home. I stayed still and hoped that the grotesque beings would eventually understand the futility of their actions and go away.

Quite suddenly, they became still and silent, and then receded into the distance as quickly as they had appeared. The misty greyness was empty for a while and I stared into the dark space, wondering why the creatures had all retreated so suddenly. I became concerned that I might be about to face something even worse.

And then I saw something else heading towards me. A pinpoint of light expanded quickly until I was confronted by a shimmering cloud of the most vivid golden hue, with flashes of spectral light bursting in rainbow colours inside it. This being had nothing of the dark depravity of the other creatures about it. It carried an aura of peace and wisdom. I felt a profound sense of relief and a conviction that that I was about to be rescued. It was different to the figures in another respect too: it appeared to have depth, and I waited optimistically for it to make contact.

A voice spoke. It seemed to be located within me, but I had no doubt it that it came from the newcomer. It sounded like my own voice, but with a calmness and authority that was certainly not mine.

“You should not be here,” it began. “This is not your world. You must return immediately.”

My first instinct was to agree without question. I felt a profound sense of relief at the possibility that I would have a guide to help me home and was anxious to be under way. But the presence of the newcomer also made me bold again. I felt more comfortable, and a natural curiosity took hold of me.

“Can I ask you some questions first?” I replied.

There was a short pause.

“Yes, but be brief. I have work to do.”

The reply carried that combination of decisiveness and patience that one expects of a good parent. I thought for a moment and considered my questions. The first was obvious.

“Where am I and what are these creatures?”

“You are in a place that has a name in some human cultures. They call it the Hungry Ghost Realm. The creatures you see are the spirits of humans who have spent their recent earthly incarnations in blind pursuit of physical and material pleasures, with no regard for their spiritual development. They have sought only money, material objects, power over their fellow beings, and physical pleasures to excess.

“They come mostly from what you amusingly call the developed world, for that is where such pointless activity is most encouraged. When they die they come here, to a place where they feel hungry but cannot eat, where they feel thirsty but cannot drink, where they want to touch and possess material objects but have no means of doing so, where they crave sexual pleasures but have no gender.”

This appeared to validate the Puritan rhetoric that warned of the fire and brimstone that awaits the sinful.

“So it’s a form of punishment?”

“No, there is no punishment; there are only consequences. They are going through the process of karma, in which thoughts, words and deeds are reflected appropriately in accordance with the natural order. Punishment is a human concept dreamed up by leaders of religions as a means of exercising power over the gullible.”

This was interesting and opened up a whole line of new questions. I realised, however, that my time was limited and that I needed to keep to the point.

“How long do they have to stay here?”

“Until they learn that matter and its attendant preoccupations are but the wafer-thin surface of existence. To discover their true purpose and the meaning of life, they need to look beyond it. Then they are born into another body, wiser than before and at a level that human society regards as lowly. Thus kings become servants, presidents become peasants and celebrities become small faces in large crowds. It is the next step on the road to growth.”

“And what is your function?”

“I am one of the keepers of the portals. You will have realised that these beings can access a window on their old, familiar world and, until they begin to learn what is happening to them, they do so frequently. We allow it up to a point; it is part of the teaching process.

“At first they think they are enjoying the sights and sounds, but they soon learn the futility of watching and coveting things they cannot have.

“Some of them, however, are more powerful than others and can draw emotional energy from the living humans to whom they get close. This is damaging to those concerned and we have to step in and bring the ghosts back. It is these powerful ones whose shadows you have been seeing moving around your house. The shining reflections are beings like me, moving through your world to retrieve the ghosts; and the flashes happen when we pull one back through a portal.”

“Why have I only recently started seeing these things, and how did I end up here myself?”

“The positions of the portals are not fixed. They move around. The one that is currently placed where you are living might be a hundred or a thousand miles away tomorrow. That is one reason why it is important to take you back without undue delay.

“As for why you are here, that was just an unfortunate combination of circumstances. Your spirit leaves your body many times during sleep. It happens to all humans but few remember the experience. In your case, you were close to sleep when you saw the creature crawling across your ceiling. In that state, when you are neither asleep nor fully awake, the energy that binds your spirit to your body is weak and the creature you saw was strong. In its attempt to draw something of your emotional energy, it exerted a powerful attraction and you were drawn to the portal.

“Such a frightening and unfamiliar event kept your conscious mind fully aware, and that is why you are living the experience in a way that you would not normally do. The state of astral travel is usually dreamlike and does not impress its experiences on the surface levels of the mind where memories are held. That is why you forget them when you wake up.”

“So will I remember all this when I wake up?”

“Do you want to?”

“I don’t know. Those hideous creatures are the stuff of nightmares.”

“Not if you know them for what they are: poor beings desperately seeking things they cannot have. And, once you know that, their power to affect you is removed. Besides, the portal will move on soon. It is unlikely that you will see them again.”

“I don’t suppose many people get to know all this while they’re still alive. I suppose I ought to feel privileged and be glad of the lesson.”

The light made no reply. Several seconds elapsed, and then it said

“It is time for you to return.”

“One more question,” I said. “What would have happened if you hadn’t come to take me back?”

“The ghosts would not have left you alone. As some gave up and moved away, others would have taken their place. It is unlikely that you would have found the portal and the link between your astral body and your physical one would have weakened. Eventually it would have grown so weak that your human form would have died.”

My theory hadn’t allowed for that and I was horrified.

“And then I would have been trapped here?”

“No. You would have gone to a place appropriate to your current spiritual and mental state.”

“And what’s that like?”

“It is an irrelevant question. Your level of knowledge and awareness will have grown by the time you do die, and so your destination will be different. But now you must go.”

It was apparent that my time was up and I asked no more questions. I fell quiet and waited to be taken home. Suddenly, I was engulfed by the golden cloud and saw the portal grow rapidly as we sped towards it. There was a blinding flash and I felt a jolt that shook my whole body. I felt stunned for a second and then realised that I was lying on my back, staring at the mercifully dark ceiling of my bedroom. I felt a movement by my side. A voice spoke quietly in the darkness.

“Are you awake?”

There was no doubting the reassuring sound of my wife’s loud whisper.

“Yes.”

“Did you see that?”

“See what?” I asked, feigning ignorance.

“That flash of light. I saw it the other night, on the landing. I was going to tell you but didn’t like to. Have you ever seen it?”

“Yes, a couple of times.”

“What do you think it is?”

I still had that difficult decision to make, only now it was even more difficult. Telling her about the shadows, the lights and the flashes was one thing. Telling her what I had just experienced and what I had learned from the keeper was quite another. I felt that she would be none too pleased to know that “hungry ghosts” were wandering freely through our house and watching her from the walls, floors and ceilings. She would also be concerned that she had come close to being a widow.

But then, she might be glad of the explanation. She was an habitual searcher after spiritual truths and might cope with the knowledge perfectly well. Or, then again, she might just put the whole thing down to a vivid dream. It struck me that I would find the whole thing dreamlike myself, once I had been to sleep and woken to the brightness of a new day in what I was accustomed to think of as the real world.

“I’m tired,” I said. “Let’s talk about it tomorrow.”

6 comments:

Jeanne said...

WoW! That was quite a read. I had to read it twice in fact. I have so much I want to say...where to begin...

Firstly, the similarities between this story, Shadows, and some experiences I had as a child are quite eerie. Gave me goosebumps in fact.

And second, the similarities (albeit only a few) between this story and my tale of the Land of Melting Shadows also gave me goosebumps.

I SO WANT to read your novel.....

Jeanne said...

I also want to thank you for sharing your stories with us. :0)

Della said...

This has an X-Files quality about it, especially the way you present such rational descriptions of supernatural entities. Very convincing. What does it all mean? I really wonder now what you've done in your novel...

JJ Beazley said...

Sounds like you had a similar childhood to me, Jeanne. And I'm grateful that people read the stories. Sharing seems like the best thing to do with them. They've never made me any amount of money, nor did I ever intend that they should. The reason I generally don't post unpublished ones was explained in an earlier post. It's basically to do with using up first rights, thereby compromising their chances of being published elsewhere.

Thanks Della. The Hungry Ghost Realm chapter in the novel is darker, more sombre and more emotional.

I've said before that if anybody really wants to read the novel, I'll gladly send it as an e-mail attachment. All they have to do is ask.

Jeanne said...

I totally understand about not posting the stories that haven't been published.

And please, may I read the novel?
jeanne.wildwoodsart@gmail.com

JJ Beazley said...

Caught this just as I was about to start cooking, Jeanne. I'll send it along later.

About Me

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I've never had money because I've never been driven by money. I received little formal education beyond the age of sixteen, which isn't such a bad thing since you get a different angle on life that way. Learning what you want and need to learn often reveals things that the system's road keeps hidden.
JJ Beazley asserts his ownership of copyright in all works of fiction and non-fiction contained herein unless otherwise stated. Feel free to quote anything if you want to, but please don't nick a story and claim it for your own. That would compromise my chances of getting an anthology published and I'd be a bit miffed.



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