A little unsettling Voodoo down by Waitrose? Dubious occultists are up to no good at number 23 again? The Thelemic Lodge next door just won’t keep the noise down? Yup, urban occult. Who knows what sinister esoteric doings are going on behind the closed doors of suburban Blighty.
I just loved the new anthology idea from Anachron Press. Urban Occult. Irresistible. Trying to write a contribution sounded loads of fun. Satanists. Crazy Wiccans. Those nasty inner-city backwaters that really just aren’t right. And I’ve been lucky enough to have my short story included. Wow. Plus I’m very pleased to have designed the jacket.
A tiny excerpt from my wandering words…
The Strange Case Of Mrs West & The Dead
You’d think the dead had better things to do. But no. They hang about, getting under people’s feet, and in the case of Mr. Moses, retaining a controlling share in several import businesses where they were distinctly unwanted. All concerned generally considered they were making an infernal nuisance of themselves. Several family members, having found the gentleman insufferable in life, felt very hard done by that death had refused to claim him.
Yes, tea please. White. No sugar.
You see people will dabble in stuff. Give them enough money and they can do all sorts of damage. A little demonic deal here, a little cheating death there. Hardly a situation where you have recourse to law, when an unwanted relative acquires a nasty habit of popping back from the other side. So at this point you require some quality help. Who knows what’s been chanted to lure Aunty away from Death’s door? And she might have been a charming old dear in her former life but you’ll find a little death makes her not so ready with the mint humbugs. More likely to poke the nearest knitting needle in your eye. So it’s prudent to watch out for that. These are exactly the sort of issues that amateur occultists don’t tell you about. Cowboys. I’m forever clearing up their nasty mess.
Oh, and when you call I prefer the term ‘Occult Practitioner’. Please don’t use ‘witch’. I’m not entirely convinced they’ve stopped burning them. Best not to give anybody ideas.
But somebody had done an impressive job with Mr Moses. You could clearly see where the money had been spent. Very little wear and tear. Fully mobile. Chattering away rather eloquently. If you didn’t know better – and I do – you would never have thought the old gentleman should have exited this earthly plane over a month ago. He’d been brought back rather promptly. And to a very high standard. No obvious madness. No eating next door’s cats. No previously-absent tentacles. And the erroneous ‘death’ put down to the terrible incompetence of NHS paperwork. Which obviously everybody involved found entirely plausible. The standard excuse.
There were little hints of his condition about him. Slightly blurry at the edges. A disconcerting habit of simply walking through smaller pieces of furniture. The usual problems with reflections and howling dogs. He’d acquired a very slight translucent quality to his demeanour in the brightest of sunlight, and a shadow which plainly wasn’t his own. But on the whole a convincing resurrection. Despite the problem with the red eyes. One of the best I’ve seen. And one which was singularly determined to hang onto his business interests. Much to his daughter’s disgust.
Mrs West, along with fourteen other wonderfully spooky urban tales, should be out in February from Anachron. All edited by the mighty Colin F Barnes. Go take a look!