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malevolence had the power to manifest itself in stone and mortar,
then Rag Castle was its purest embodiment. It bespoke, with its
sombre grey walls and stagnant putrid moat, a clear warning to
stay away or else. A warning that seemed to have prevailed
upon the wildlife of the area to perform a mass exodus many years
ago. Doom-laden and desolate, its enormous bulk cast a pall of
deep unease upon the land.
Malone and Abigail drove across the drawbridge into the courtyard
their first impressions were radically different.
Malone felt pleased
with himself for having discovered such an abysmal pile, and was looking
forward to exploring the interior. Abigail felt violated however. She
had the oddest sensation that someone had just probed a finger into
her and was exploring her insides. She wriggled involuntarily and experienced
a sudden uprush of tearful emotion. Her head felt hot and vague, and
then icily cold and unpleasantly clear. Vivid tableaux of medieval abasements
and cruelties shot through her mind like an obscene slide show. It stopped
after a second, and left her feeling low and crushed and stained. Abigail!
Whats the matter?
Oh God, Ive just had a funny turn. I feel foul, and acutely
conscious of badness people have suffered horrible tortures in
this place. Such wretchedly sick things have been done here.' She sighed,
looking at Malone who was clearly oblivious to this feeling she had.
'Dont worry, Ill be okay in a second.
cup of tea will settle your nerves. Malone was generally at a
loss with women, and psychic women were light years beyond his comprehension.
Nerves? Nerves! For Gods sake Malone, this is like Hades
antechamber, what the bloody hell possessed you to book us into this
I booked us in here because you said the television people wanted
a place that exuded an authentic atmosphere of evil.
Yes, I know, but I didnt mean this authentic, this makes
Draculas Castle look homely.
Malone and Abigail were quite a double act. He was forty-four, Irish,
well built, and an ex-priest. She was twenty-seven, Nigerian, petite,
shapely, and an ex nun. The Church had condemned them both and expelled
them from their vocations for sins of the flesh. That is, they had committed
the sin of fornication together. They did not accept expulsion quietly
however, and caused a furore in the Church by mounting an eloquent public
defence of their liaison. The media loved it. Their notoriety paid dividends
in terms of celebrity and wealth, and afforded them the opportunity
to pursue their passion for spiritual exotica.
The owner of Rag Castle felt he had rather too much spiritual exotica,
and had invited Malone and Abigail to investigate. A television documentary
about the recent bizarre happenings, and perhaps a televised exorcism,
might do something to retrieve his fortunes and prevent imminent bankruptcy.
Frank James had bought the castle three years ago with the intention
of cashing in on its ghastly appearance and haunted reputation. At astronomical
expense he had carried through his plan to convert the place into a
hotel. He had been confident that his guests would be thrilled and delighted
by the prospect of encountering spooks and poltergeists he had
been wrong. Initially people booked with him, but most didnt stay.
Those that did tended to become psychologically disturbed, and five
of his guests had died of heart failure. Thus Frank James was a dejected
and woebegone man when he welcomed Malone and Abigail in the lounge
bar at Rag Castle. Thanks for offering to help, said Frank,
I really am terribly grateful, but Im not optimistic that
youll succeed in evicting whatevers blighting the place.
Three exorcists have tried, and each was stricken by an extremely virulent
bout of diarrhoea one nearly died.
Tell us about the people who died of heart failure, did they have
anything in common? asked Abigail.
Well, er, yes, as a matter of fact they did. They were all men
and each was found completely naked. And
stuttered in embarrassment and redirected his gaze from Abigail to Malone,
they were all erect.
What? You mean they were all found standing up! exclaimed
Abigail, repressing a fit of the giggles at Franks quaint sense
No, no, I mean
She knows what you mean Frank, growled Malone. Abigail
delights in mischief, and believes a light heart and levity are undervalued
panaceas. She was also educated in a convent, so what can you expect?
Abigail resumed her questions. Is there much poltergeist activity:
footsteps, doors opening and shutting, things moving of their own accord,
that sort of thing?
All the time, and its getting worse, especially at night.
Frank winced and shuddered as he spoke. Things have intensified
over the past few nights, even with medication Ive found it impossible
to sleep, so Im moving out. After 6pm you will be the only people
in the castle apart from Virginia Tate, my deputy. She will be leaving
tomorrow morning. Most of the staff left yesterday, and the few remaining
will go this afternoon. Im sorry if you expected company, but
no one will stay after what was seen on Sunday.
An apparition? Malone asked.
Franks face whitened, he took a deep breath and said: Well,
I suppose it must have been, it appeared at the end of the bar, just
over there, in front of everyone, stayed for about five seconds and
disappeared. It was a monster, a horrible, squat deformity. It stunk
to high heaven as well something akin to rotten eggs and the
stuff you find in a cesspit. There was pandemonium, people were violently
sick, absolutely traumatised. Everyone was utterly bewildered and shocked.
I dont blame them for leaving.
Abigails pulse quickened, she felt anxious and disturbed. I
dont like this, Malone. Frank is describing an elemental; a demonic
thing conjured up from wickedness and hate. The men who died in a state
of sexual arousal could have been the victims of a succubus. The atmosphere
is charged, its positively rancid with ill intent. As Frank said,
things are escalating; a storm is brewing. We could be stepping into
danger, you more so than I.
Whats a succubus? Frank asked.
Its a female demon of the night, devoted to having sexual
intercourse with men whilst theyre asleep. Abigail answered.
If there is a succubus at work, it would seem that shes
developed a taste for murder as well as sex, she added.
read more? Continued here
© Kevin Schofield - March 2005
stories in Dreamscapes
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