Edwin Rey stared at the blank screen,
took another sip of whisky and began to type: “It was a dark and
“Crap!” he shouted at the screen. “Just crap!” And he savagely
stabbed the delete key.
He picked up the glass again, drained it, and threw it against the
wall. Edwin studied the liquid pattern on the wall. “Sod it”, he
thought. “I just had that wall finished.”
He surveyed the recently renovated room. Only this morning had the
builders finished the remodelling of this first floor front room,
and Edwin had moved his desk and computer into the bay window space,
where he thought the view over the green Square with a glimpse of
the sea would bring him some measure of inspiration. It hadn’t.
He had bought his old childhood home, a Georgian terrace on the
Square, two years previously with the advance money the film studio
had thrown at him for the rights to the first of his Vampire series
of novels, “Blood Types”. They had now, though, put off
production while they waited for Edwin to finish the screenplay, and
were threatening to get another writer to complete it, leaving Edwin
with far less than his originally contracted money, and the
requirement to return the already-spent advance.
Gloria had hated the house from the first moment Edwin had shown it
to her. “Why on earth would you buy such a monstrosity?” she had
“Well,” he had smiled. “It gives me inspiration. There are old
ghosts from childhood in this home. And besides it suits my image.”
“Your image? That creepy ‘horror-writer’ image that Clive concocted
to sell more books?”
“Look, I know it’s a mess, but you wait, when I get it fixed it up
it’ll be amazing. The owners after my father converted it into
flats, but when it’s all back together, we can get married and start
a family here”
The town-house stretched towards the East Sussex skies from its
basement to its dormer windowed attic, five floors above. The
remodelling and restoration work had started from the basement up,
and as the work began Edwin felt inspired, and wrote his modestly
successful novel “Basement of Blood”.
But now with the ground floor and first floor complete, the money
was running low, the builders running slow and it seemed that
Edwin’s muse had abandoned the project altogether. Edwin’s
frustration and annoyance increased in exact proportion to the
decrease in his bank balance and his word output. Edwin felt that
the world itself had become sluggish and that malady had infected
both the remodelling and his writing. If he had more enthusiasm he
could probably raise his frustration to fury level, but that would
take an effort he just couldn’t seem to muster.
He picked up another glass from the sideboard he had French polished
a year ago and had been in storage since, and poured himself another
generous ration of Mister Grant’s finest.
Nursing his scotch, Edwin stood at the window staring blankly at the
lengthening shadows across the park and thought back on what had
begun as a good day.
The lassitude of the past few months had slipped away. He rose
early, woken by the builders working in the front room beneath his
makeshift bedroom. He dressed in a tracksuit and taken himself out
for stroll along the seafront towards the pier. There were even
moments when he jogged for a few paces. The morning salt air was
invigorating and encouraged the return of an appetite that had been
missing of late. He breakfasted on the terrace of the White Rock
while he read the morning paper. Edwin felt the most relaxed he had
in ages, for today was the day he would tell Clive.
Clive had been Edwin’s literary agent for years. He and Clive had
been at school together, and even though Edwin had spent most of his
adult life in London, Clive had always been his agent, handling the
dealings with publishers from his office in King’s Road above the
off course bookies shop.
Yesterday Clive had rushed to London to negotiate with Edwin’s
publisher for another extension to the deadline for the next in the
“Howler Chronicles”, a series of Edwin’s werewolf novels. He
would return on the 10:10 from the city getting in around a quarter
past 12. They had already agreed to meet for lunch at the pub near
the station, just up the road from Clive’s office, a meeting that
Edwin, having made up his mind, was now waiting for with
Feeling quite relaxed, he had folded his paper and walked back along
the sea front and home to Warrior Square. What an appropriate name,
he thought, that’s what I am, a warrior. A goddamn warrior fighting
for what he wants, and I want what I want.
The builders had just finished the front room. It was going to be a
good day. He moved his desk into the room, set up his computer, and
had the builders carry the sideboard and two chesterfield armchairs
down from the uppermost floor where they had been stored. He
showered, changed and effortlessly wrote a dozen pages of “Peter
the Penguin”. He thought it was shaping up to be his best story
ever. He printed off the pages to show Clive and enthusiastically
headed out the door.
He got to the station a little early, so he ordered a coffee in the
Jempson’s next to the hotel, and sat at an outdoor table to re-read
what he had written that morning. It was good. He knew Clive would
“Crap!” Clive threw the loose sheets
across the table, “Just crap!”
The other patrons in the pub turned to
stare as Edwin tried to gather up his papers.
“It’s the best story I’ve written,
Clive. And It’s what I want to write,” he pleaded. “I’m tired
of writing about vampires and ghouls and zombies and blood and
horror. I want to write children’s stories.”
“Children’s stories? Oh, come on mate,” Clive calmed down. “You’re a
famous horror and fantasy writer. The publishers love you. Well,
they used to, until you started missing deadlines. The Hollywood
people used to love you, too, but they’re screaming for the
screenplay. You could be making good money at this game, but you’re
pissing away all the cash you’ve already made on that house of
yours. You would have been better off taking that house up in De
Cham opposite Maudlin Court. Definitely spookier, it used to creep
me out as a kid, and it’s more suited to the image we’ve created for
you. Shite! You might as well live in that moneypit of yours, it’ll
be a horror house soon enough, it’ll bleed you dry.” Clive’s voice
began rise in volume once more. “But now you talk about bloody kid’s
books? What do you want to write kid’s books for? I’ve just got you
another extension on the next ‘Howler’. Old Henry is pissed off with
you, but I’ve sweet-talked him yet again. It can’t go on. You’ve got
to finish it! You have to, mate, or they’ll drop you.”
“I just want to write what I want to write.” Edwin was downcast.
Moving aside his half-drunk pint and picking at the wet coaster with
his fingernail he mumbled, “I just want to write my ‘Peter the
“Well, you bloody-well can’t!” Clive shouted, and slammed his fist
on the table. The publican behind the bar cleared his throat. Clive
acknowledged him with a nod, turned back to Edwin and quietly said,
“Just do it Edwin. For your own sake, mate. I’ve got forty other
authors on my books now; I really don’t depend on just you. I have a
reputation for representing quality horror and fantasy writers not
children’s story hacks. If you can’t finish the Howler, we’re
finished mate! So I suggest you just get yourself home and give me a
couple of chapters tomorrow. Okay?”
Edwin nodded and softly agreed, “Yes, yes, okay”. Clive patted him
on the shoulder as he stood and left the pub. Downcast, defeated and
deflated, Edwin sat alone for some minutes before leaving. He
wandered past the empty lot where the sculpture atop the fence
looked like a crazed barbed-wire treble clef, then across the
railway square to the footbridge over the railway lines. He stood
there staring into the darkness of the western tunnel, feeling his
whole being drawn along the tracks into the abyss. He hadn’t been
strong. He hadn’t been a warrior. The tunnel seemed to reflect his
state of mind, a chasm, a void, empty…
Finally, he trudged back home.
So now he was, staring at the
lengthening shadows across the square. As the darkness crept towards
the ugly brown and grey block of flats across the way, he turned
back to his desk. He sat down and turned on the screen. The blank
screen reflecting Edwin’s own blankness.
Should it be a sequel to ‘Howl At The Moon’ or a continuation
of ‘Jaws Of The Jackal’? Should he introduce new characters
or should he continue with Warren Ware as the main protagonist? But
no answers came to mind, no thoughts, no scrap of story-line, no
characters. Nothing came at all. He poured another scotch.
“Fuck it!’ he shouted at the monitor. He took a gulp from his glass,
and opened the ‘Peter the Penguin’ file. The document flickered on
the screen, and as a loud clap of thunder shook the house, the
screen went blank, and the house dark.
“Bloody power.” Edwin said under his breath. Lightening flashed
outside the window, and more thunder rolled over the house. As he
turned in his chair, steeling himself to go down to the basement to
the fuse box, he glimpsed a shadowy movement in the far corner of
“What the f—” Lightening flashed again and in the sudden brightness
of the lightening Edwin could see it clearly, black, huge and
menacing. A wolf!
The wolf bared its fangs, saliva dribbling from it jowls, the jaws
red with fresh blood and then it growled. Even above the incredible
din of the storm breaking overhead, Edwin could hear the
intimidating growl of the wolf. He shivered, and edged towards the
window, slowly, no sudden moves, all the while watching the glowing
red eyes of the wolf as the flashes of lightening continued to light
the dark recesses of the room.
The wolf began to creep towards him, stalking its prey. Closer,
closer. Edwin was about to scream, but the shriek whimpered in his
throat as the creature suddenly began to change.
The frightening dark animal shape
blurred and from the hazy blackness a handsome young man stepped
“My God,” thought Edwin, “It’s that
actor who played Warren Ware in that BBC adaptation of ‘Paws For
Concern’.” ‘Paws For Concern’ was the first in what
eventually became known as the ‘Howler Chronicles’.
Trembling, he asked in a quivering
voice, “You’re Sam, Sam Wilde, the actor, aren’t you? What, what is
it? What do you want? How d— “
“Shut up! I’m not an actor.” His lips
curled in an ugly snarl, and the young man’s eyes flashed red. “I’m
Warren Ware. You should know who I am, after all you created me… and
now you’re killing me!”
“Killing you? I don’t understand.” Edwin desperately looked about
the room wondering what became of the wolf, wondering what the hell
The thunderous storm still raged
outside, and each deafening boom threatened to shatter every
windowpane in the house.
“If you don’t keep writing about me, I’ll die. People will forget me
and I’ll become nothing but words in book. I’ll get put on a shelf
to gather dust… and I’ll die.”
“No, no, go away. You’re just my imagination. You’re not real!”
“Oh, I’m real alright. If you don’t write, I’ll come back with the
others, and we’ll make you write.”
Edwin screamed into the darkness once more, “You’re not real!”
Lightening flashed, thunder boomed, and as the power instantly came
back on lighting the empty room, Edwin fainted.
When he came-to only a few minutes later, he shook his head
thinking, “Wow, pints at lunchtime and a few scotches now. That was
weird. Imagination gone wild. Ha, wild, ha, Sam Wilde, wild with an
‘e’, that’s funny. I must have had too much to drink. And I haven’t
eaten. Maybe I should duck around the corner for some tandoori. No,
bugger it. I want to finish my ‘Peter The Penguin’ story!”
He got up from the floor and walked cautiously to the window.
Outside there was not a sign of the storm, the moon shone brightly
in a clear star-filled cloudless sky, and the street was dry.
Shaking his head again, he turned from the window and plonked
himself down once more at the desk. He turned the computer back on,
and after waiting patiently for the interminable time it always took
to boot up, he again opened the ‘Peter The Penguin’ file.
The moment the document appeared on the
screen, it disappeared again and on a blue background flashed the
words “Dumping memory. File deleted. File deleted.” Then the
words disappeared as the storm returned and thunder crashed
overhead, lightening flashed, and the lights went out. Only the blue
screen illuminated the room.
Edwin look around anxiously, but there was no one, no creature,
nothing but his desk, the sideboard and the two armchairs. He
“Ha,” he thought. “No one here.” Then aloud he told the walls, “I’ll
write what I bloody well want to write and I’m never going to write
another bloody horror story.”
Then slowly, softly, almost
imperceptibly the faint clunk, clunk, of wood on the timber hallway
floor grew louder, closer. A footstep, a clunk, a footstep, a clunk.
Closer, louder. Edwin backed himself into the corner of the room,
and shakily, almost unable to form the words, he managed to shout,
“Who… who’s there?”
The door flung open, lightening flashed
again, and another thunderous boom rolled over the house. Edwin
jumped, shook and slid to the floor.
Standing in the doorway stood a pirate.
A full-blown storybook pirate, wooden leg, eye-patch, a drawn
cutlass dropping red beads of blood on the floor, flesh missing from
his cheek, bone showing, decomposing body, the works.
“Avast ye bilge-sucking scurvy dog, ye
knows me. ‘Tis I, Captain Puswash. Ye created me, ye cowardly abbey
At the realisation that the apparition was a character from his
‘Zombie Pressgang’ novel, Edwin buried his head in his hands,
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”
He continued his mantra as the putrefying pirate clinked and clunked
closer and closer. Edwin could smell his putrid breath as the pirate
whispered menacingly in Edwin’s ear, “Ye’s trying to hornswaggle me
out of me life. If ye don’t keep writing about us all, we’ll all
die. And I ain’t ready to meet Davy Jones yet. So get yourself
writing you addle-brained poltroon. If-en ye don’t, I’ll come back
and cleave ye from the brisket and then keelhaul ye, then watch ye
dance the hempen jig, and finally I might even hurt ye a piece. Ye
understand me, ye son of a biscuit-eater?”
Another crash of thunder shook the room,
and hesitantly Edwin reluctantly opened his eyes. In the bright
light of the ceiling fixture he could clearly see that there was no
one else in the room. He was once again alone.
Shaking, sweating and swearing under his breath, he pulled out his
mobile phone and called Gloria.
At the ring of the doorbell, Edwin
crawled out from under his desk, ran downstairs and threw open the
door, “Gloria! Gloria darling, I’m so glad you came. I think I’m
“Oh, darling I came as quickly as I could. I called Clive, too, and
he’ll be here soon. Are you alright?”
“Yes, yes, well I am now that you’re here. Come in before you get
“Soaked? What are you talking about?”
“The storm—“ Edwin stopped mid-sentence
as he looked across the square. The sky was clear and
moonlight-bright with not a smidgen of evidence of any storm.
Perplexed, he managed to mutter, “Um… err… come in, come in.”
“Edwin dearest, you must show me the new
room. You said it should be finished today.”
“Yes, yes, it was. But Gloria, I’m so confused. I must tell you
what’s been happening.”
Shepherding Gloria up the stairs, and as he turned on every light
switch they passed, Edwin explained the strange occurrences of the
“Oh, darling,” she said. “It’s the stress. Oh, the room is lovely.”
“Yes, yes, I think so. They’ve done a good job. The stress of the
renovations and the screenplay and another book. I guess it’s all
too much. I guess I just imagined it all.”
“Poor darling. You’re a writer, and I
suppose to you your characters are kind of real, but darling it was
just your imagination getting away from you. You need a holiday.”
“I can’t take a holiday, Gloria, everyone’s pushing me to write
another ‘Howler”, but I just want to write my children’s story about
Peter the P— “
The word “Penguin” was blotted out by
yet another thunder crash as he was suddenly grabbed in a bearhug
from behind. He could feel the strong arms around him, but as he
frantically looked about he couldn’t see any arms around his chest
or anyone at all. As he struggled, the vice-like hold on him
tightened, and a voice whispered hoarsely, “Just watch... just
watch.” Then Gloria screamed.
Edwin turned to see Gloria pinned
against the wall, her feet a good six inches off the floor, her
clothes being torn from her by some unseen hands. She screamed
again, and Edwin saw her now naked body quivering with fear. He
tried to reach her, but the force kept a tight hold on him,
restraining him. He tried to call her name, but in his own terror,
the words wouldn’t came.
Gloria’s arms were outspread and flat against the wall as if pinned,
and her tits seemed squashed as by a weight against her body. Then
her legs were parted and the wall shuddered as a weight pounded
against her, again and again.
Gloria sobbed, and looked towards Edwin,
“Edwin… Edwin,” her voice was barely a whimper. “What is it? What is
it? I’m being… I’m being r-raped.”
“And loving it,” a voice roared.
Edwin could see the fear in Gloria’s eyes slowly ebb, to gradually
be replace by… what was that look? Edwin couldn’t place it at first,
but the realisation dawned at last. Lust! It was naked, animal lust!
He tried to block out the sounds, the panting, the obscene mumbled
affections, the moans, the groans, and the slap of flesh upon flesh.
He looked at Gloria still pinned against the wall. There was just
Gloria, no one else to be seen. Then Gloria lifted her legs and
wrapped them about the unseen body. Her eyes were wild, her pelvis
raising from the wall only to be slammed back against it in a
constant pounding rhythm.
The sight of Gloria being invisibly fucked would have, under normal
circumstances, caused Edwin to burst into gales of laughter, so
strange did it look. A naked woman pinned to a wall, her legs out
horizontally, wrapped around thin air, her ankles crossed, her arms
stretched out flat along the wall, her boobs bobbing, and her hips
lifting from the wall and slamming back again.
Her breathing was getting louder, and as she shouted, “Yes, Yes, Oh
God, Yes”, Edwin recognised that he was watching a re-enactment of a
chapter from his book, ‘The Perverted Poltergeists of Putney’.
At her cry, there was a loud masculine
groan, she sighed, a few shudders and then, suddenly released, she
fell to floor.
A low voice growled into Edwin’s ear, “Now fucking write, or we’ll
be back.” He felt the restraining arms let go and he rushed to
Gloria who lay crumpled and dazed on the floor.
“What happened?” She asked groggily. “I seemed to have blacked-out.
I remember coming into the room. Oh, my god, I’m naked! What the
hell happened? Tell me!”
“You were fucked by a ghost. Now hush darling, it’ll be okay, it’ll
“Fucked by a what?”
“A ghost darling, a ghost.”
‘”For moment I thought you said goat.” And she fainted.
They sat on the floor for a long time,
hugging and rocking together.
Finally Edwin said, “Listen Gloria, I think we really need to get
out of this house. This is real, it can’t just be my imagination.
You’ve, um, experienced it, too. Come on.”
He wiped most of the splattered ectoplasm from her body and helped
her dress in her torn clothes. They slowly made their way
downstairs, looking about anxiously with each step, but the house
was quite and still. Every light in every room in the house was now
lit, although Edwin couldn’t recall switching that many on. He
couldn’t think, he couldn’t recall, and if he closed his eyes to try
to remember all he saw was Gloria naked and pinned to the wall. He
had but one aim now: to get out of the house.
As they reached the ground floor and neared the front door the
doorbell rang, startling them. They stopped and stared at the door
until it dawned on Edwin that it must be Clive.
He opened it, “Clive, Clive, we need to get out.”
“What is it, mate? What’s going on?. Jesus, Gloria, you look a mess.
Let me in, let’s talk.” And he forced his way in, closing the door
behind him. As the door shut, thunder rumbled overhead, the windows
rattled and they could hear the rain pelting down on the pavement
“Hell, hang on!” Clive exclaimed. “I’ve left the roof down on the
Saab.” He turned back and open the front door, only to stop and
stare out at the clear, still, moonlit square. “What the hell?”
He turned back, “What’s going on?” he asked.
“We’ve got to get our of here, Clive.” Edwin replied.
“Look Eddy-boy, Gloria doesn’t seem to a be a condition to go
anywhere. Let’s go into the sitting room and talk.”
They argued for minute or two, but Edwin was too tired, and still
too confused to put up much of a fight. “Alright, but quickly. And
leave the door open.”
As they headed towards the ground floor sitting room, a howling wind
rushed along the hallway and slammed shut the front door. Clive fell
to the floor as though his legs had been whipped from under him and
began to slide on his back along the timber floor, dragged
feet-first by unseen hands down the hall and into the kitchen.
Edwin and Gloria stood paralysed. Gloria said softy, “They’re back.”
“I’ve got to try to help him,” Edwin said. “I’ll be right back, I
“No, no. Don’t leave me here.” Gloria pleaded. “I’ll come with you.”
“Alright, then, but stay close.”
“Oh, I will, you can be sure of that.”
Together they crept along the hallway to kitchen door. Edwin peaked
around the kitchen doorway and gasped.
“What is it?” Gloria whispered.
“Shh, don’t look.” Edwin insisted, and peeped again into the
There Clive lay spread-eagled on the butcher’s block that Edwin had
salvaged from an old farmhouse on the Downs.
Clive was split from sternum to pubic bone, his entrails cascading
over the edge of the block. His dismembered leg lay in a pool of
blood on the floor and his throat was slit from ear to ear. Blood
and gore was splattered all about the kitchen and standing over
Clive, with a bloody cutlass in his hand, was Captain Puswash.
The spectral buccaneer thrust his hand into Clive’s abdomen and
ripped out his liver. He tossed the treat to the salivating black
wolf that stood in the corner of the room.
“Fuck, fuck,” Edwin whispered. “Come on, darling, we’ve got to get
out of here.”
They turned and rushed along the hallway towards the front door. But
blocking their way were three well-dressed teenagers.
“Oh, shit!” Edwin exclaimed. “It’s the sex crazed teenage vampires
from my ‘Moonlight’ novel.” Then behind him he could hear
Captain Puswash’s footstep, clunk, footstep, clunk, getting closer
“Quick,” he cried, grabbing Gloria by the hand and dragging her
towards the stairs. “Follow me. We need to go up. Maybe we can hide
somewhere. I’ve got my phone, we can call the police.”
“And the police are going to believe I was fucked by a ghost?”
“Well, at least they’ll come to investigate. Come on, run.”
Thunder crashed, wind howled, rain lashed the windows and they
hurried up the stairs. The lights flickered and lightening flashed
as they made their way to the uppermost floor. It was here that
Edwin had stored the furniture that he planned to place about the
house as each was completed. They hid in a large oak wardrobe, and
in the darkness of the wardrobe as Edwin shakily tried to retrieve
his mobile phone from his pocket, they could hear the ker-plunk of
the pirate’s wooden leg clunking up the stairs.
He was still fumbling with his phone when the doors of the wardrobe
were flung open and Captain Puswash grabbed Gloria with his bony
hands and dragged her towards the dormer window.
“Avast, ye scurvy dog.” He called to
Edwin. “Ye woman’s goin’ overboard.” And he pushed Gloria out the
Edwin heard her screaming all the way down the five floors until it
was abruptly silenced with a thud that sounded to Edwin somewhat
like a watermelon being squashed by a ten-ton lorry. He buried his
face in his hands cowering in the open wardrobe as Captain Puswash,
the wolf and the three teenagers advanced towards him.
“Alright, alright, you win, you win. I’ll write the bloody Howler.”
He mumbled through his tears.
As he headed downstairs to his desk, he heard shouts of alarm and
murmuring voices on the street outside, and as he once more turned
on his computer he vaguely recognised the distance wail of a police
“Alright lads,” the Sergeant addressed
the young constables as they approached the room where Edwin sat
stabbing rhythmically at the computer keyboard. “They say he’s a
writer and he’s gone bonkers, as all writers do eventually, so take
care, he could be dangerous. Look at that mess in the kitchen, and
he threw his girl friend out the window, so be careful.”
However a dazed and confused Edwin benignly submitted to their
demands, and as they led him handcuffed from the room one young
constable managed to read the words written on the computer screen:
Edwin Rey stared at the blank
screen, took another sip of whisky and began to type: “It was a dark
and stormy night.”
“Crap!” he shouted at the screen. “Just crap!” And he savagely
stabbed the delete key.”.