Friday, 6 May 2011

Friday Flash - Lone Vigil

Original image by dragoroth-stock. Edit by me.
The paranormal investigators clustered in the corridor. The writer and her team leader stood in the doorway.

“Now you sure you’re okay to do a lone vigil?” asked Brian.

The writer looked around the room again, and nodded. Brian couldn’t decide if her shivers were down to the cold, or nerves. Still, she’d volunteered to do the lone vigil in the nursery. It was her decision.

The writer plumped for a spot on the floor opposite the door. She sat cross-legged, her back straight against the peeling wallpaper. Her eyes flicked between the empty cot in the corner, and the abandoned toy box on the floor. Neither of them came with the decrepit manor, but the trust bought them at an antiques fair three years ago to furnish the room.

“You know how to use the EMF meter, don’t you? Just hold that button down on the side...yes, that’s it,” said Brian. The meter crackled into life, whining at the electric light overhead. “Obviously, that light will be off, and there’s nothing going on downstairs so if that goes off...you’ve got a visitor. You’ve switched your phone off, haven’t you?”

The writer nodded.

“Will this set it off?”  She held up the digital Dictaphone.

“Only if you hold the meter right next to it. If you get a background click, it’s probably the dictaphone, so you can ignore that. Anything stronger and...well, you know the deal,” replied Brian.

“OK. I’m only in here for ten minutes, right?”

“Yep. We’ll come and get you when the time’s up, but feel free to leave the room if you get uncomfortable, and shout if you need me. I’m just down the hall in the master bedroom.”

The writer offered a weak smile, and looked over the list of suggested questions. She handed it back to Brian without a word. He felt guilty about leaving her alone, but it’s what she’d asked to do.

“OK. Well, relax, have fun, and remember, they can’t hurt you.”

Brian snapped off the light and closed the door.

* * *

The writer blinked hard as Brian opened the door, flooding the nursery with harsh electric light. She clutched the EMF meter in her right hand, still ticking over its steady metronome click. Brian brought the other six group members into the room, and they sat on the floor with the writer.

“So how was that?” asked Brian.

“Well, I didn’t see or hear anything, but the temperature dropped at one point and it felt like I was back outside, but when I said it was too cold, the temperature went back up again. The EMF meter went crazy then, and again later on,” replied the writer.

“Let’s have a listen to the recording then.”

Brian picked up the Dictaphone and pressed stop on the recording. He selected the beginning of the track and pressed play. The writer’s hoarse voice filled the room.

“OK, so this is Electronic Voice Phenomenon test 1. Icy Sedgwick in the nursery. I...um...well I can’t see a sodding thing at the moment, so spirits, if you’re in here with me, you’re probably better off doing something I can hear instead of see, unless you fancy flicking the lights on for me.”

The group sat forward, straining to listen for a reply.

“Right, well, I don’t half feel stupid talking to myself so if there’s something in here with me, do you want to say hello?”

A faint metallic ping cut through the slow EMF meter click. Two of the women gasped at each other.

“If that was just the metal in the mattress springs contracting because it’s getting colder now the heating has gone off, then fine. If that was a spirit, can you do it again?”

Nothing.

“That’s good, you’ve tried to think of a rational explanation too. If you can debunk the rational, then what you’re left with is the truth,” said Brian. The writer nodded and the two gasping women looked disappointed.

“Are there any children in the nursery? If there are, there’s a box of toys by the cot. Do you want to play with them? Would you like to play a game with me?” The voice on the recording cracked slightly.

Nothing. The group listened to the silence between questions, pausing at six minutes in. The EMF meter screamed on the recording. The writer’s voice cut across the insistent whine.

“Flaming heck, it’s sodding cold in here. Spirit, if you’re there, do you fancy warming things up a bit? It’s like pissing January now,” said the writer’s voice, followed by “Aw, cheers very much. That’s a lot better.”

Brian raised one eyebrow but the writer refused to meet his gaze. Two more minutes of the writer’s questions and silent replies followed, until the meter screamed again.

“OK, spirit, I know you’re there, and this might sound like a daft question, the type you don’t usually get asked but...Fowlis Westerby, is that you?” asked the writer’s voice.

“Yes, Icy. It’s me.”

* * *

If this is your first taste of my dashing Cavalier ghost, then you can also read his previous adventures, First Impressions, The Priest Hole and The Duel. Happy Haunting!

Now you can also listen to this story as an audio version, by clicking below. Apologies in advance for how strong my accent is when I'm doing dialogue!

Listen!

31 comments:

Sulci Collective said...

I wasn't sure if this whole story was an allegory of the writer summoning up the creative idea/character/process, but it works very well if it is.

I'm a cynical old so and so who doesn't believe much in the output of my own senses, let alone the supernatural, but I do believe in ghosts, as in a frozen energy from the past, presumably caused by violent death freezing that energy in time.

marc nash

Helen said...

This appealed to me very much. I loved the idea of her being there on her own for 10 minutes, then the others coming to listen to what was recorded.

I got a few goose bumps reading it, especially about the temp dropping as I have experienced that a few times. but loved in the end it was Fowlis Westerby,

Helen from helen-scribbles.com

flyingscribbler said...

How marvellous! Always great writing, always entertaining. Nothing more needed. Great description of the ten minutes in there with Fowlis. He's a devil isn't he? Waiting all that time.

Sam said...

I do like Fowlis, he has a great sense of timing. I wonder what he'll get up to next? Really enjoyed the descriptions in this piece, lots of little details that brought the scene alive in my mind.

Michael A Tate said...

I liked the description of the room, and the end made me wonder. Was it Fowlis' voice just on the recording, or did she hear it outright in the room and just not tell anybody.

rachelcarter.me said...

I believe in even less than Marc does! But I believe in anything in stories - especially if it's written believably. That was very nicely done with fabulous anticipation and expectation.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Marc - Fowlis is "my boy" and while this isn't how he presented himself to me, I did spend some time on my recent paranormal investigation hoping he might try and make contact (though I'd probably have passed out if he had)

Helen - The boys on the team want me to do a lone vigil but I just can't cope with the idea of being in the dark by myself as I find pitch blackness too suffocating. I'm going to try and get a camcorder capable of night vision so maybe that will help.

Justin - My goal, as always, is to entertain, and Fowlis is always the showman.

Sam - Right now he's helping me edit his novel, but he'll no doubt be itching to tell me some more of his exploits as soon as he can.

Michael - Ah, therein lies the rub! I'll let you decide :-)

Rachel - Thank you, I'm glad you liked it :-)

Laura Eno said...

I'm already liking Fowlis! :) Excellent scene here.

Julie (O-kami) said...

oh ho ho ho! I love this!

John Wiswell said...

Like Mr. Marc, I enjoyed the connection between the real and the fictional. Had a right smile at the end.

ibc4 said...

A very intriguing introduction to Fowlis.

I thought the language and pace was underplayed to perfection. Just enough to pique, working toward a very dramatic and strangely visual ending.

To read the text describing characters listening to a recording that brings a spirit to life on the page = very clever. Well written, Icy.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Laura - It makes such a change to spend time with a gentleman spirit!

Julie - I'm glad!

John - I enjoy writing Fowlis as there's hopefully a touch of humour among the supernatural shenanigans. Glad I raised a smile.

Ian - I just updated the post to include links to the other three Fowlis stories I've written.

theothersideofdeanna said...

Having seen the spirit of my grandfather at age 5, then seeing and hearing entities that I never knew as a young adult, I'm very much a believer. I absolutely love paranormal when it's well-written, and this is definitely well-written! Super job Icy!

FARfetched said...

I kept thinking about your real-life hunt as I was reading this. It would have been pretty cool had it gone down this way.

"It's like pissing January" — love that line. I might have to use it just to offend the wife.

Pamila Payne said...

Fowlis has legs. I can't wait to see him (and your book) out in the world. The blend of ad hoc reporting style and your distinctive voice is really a treat. I love that you're doing these experiments. You're so lucky to have access to these places.

laradunning said...

Very smart putting yourself into the story with the character you've created. I liked how the second section going over the recording played out. I think doing it that way made it more intense.

storytreasury said...

ending was really good! LOL Guess she (uh, you?) knows the ghost. I was expecting, well, not sure, but not that.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Deanna - I grew up with the ghost stories of Northumberland and Newcastle, where I'm from, and I've always been used to "things" being around...sometimes I wonder if Fowlis IS real!!

FAR - On one hand I really hoped Fowlis would make contact, but on the other I think it might have freaked me out.

Pamila - Oh I'll be doing a lot more investigations in future. :-) Fowlis approves.

Lara - Thanks! It seemed weird to write "myself" but it seems to work. I went over that section so many times, unsure how to do it.

Storytreasury - He's my ghost!! Well, my ghost character. At least, I tell myself he's just a character...

Steve Green said...

Ah, Mr. Fowlis, I just knew I'd be hearing of him again. :)

Nice one Icy.

afullnessinbrevity said...

Lovely introduction to Master Fowlis. Love the look of the site. I know it's based on your research, giving an authenticity to the narrative. And delightfully spooky.
Adam B @revhappiness

Jason Coggins said...

It gladdens me you're sharing more of Fowlis mythos with us. All the tech talk in this episode is very convincing and suggests ghost writing Icy means business.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Steve - Thanks!

Adam - I wanted a vintage theme for the blog to suit Fowlis' tastes. This is the closest I could get.

Jason - Oh there's a heck of a lot more mythos where that came from!

Stephen said...

At least he gave you an answer. Now you have something to build upon. A nice story, Icy. Using the tape recording to bring in the details was a cool touch.

AidanF said...

For some reason, I attribute fearlessness with Icy, so I hadn't expected the author in the first part to be a fictional you. I really like the tension that you get through Brian's reluctance to leave the author alone in the room.

Fowlis is fun with his mischievousness.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Stephen - Oh, I don't think Fowlis would be so rude as to ignore me!!

Aidan - I guess I am pretty fearless, until you factor a pitch black room into the equation. I suffer from a somewhat inconvenient fear of the dark...

PJ said...

I loved the language and phrasing you used in this and yes, i got chills in the end too. The audio recording is splendid :-)

Mari said...

It's not fair, I was going to write something like Julie: "Oh, I like this!" but now I feel stupid, lol.

Loved how you used your real life experience to start a story. I don't know this Fowlis guy, but I'm sure intrigued by him!

Maria A. Kelly said...

Wow...writer meets her Cavalier. Love it. The recording is wonderful, too,

Chuck Allen said...

I agree with everyone else. The tension was great as were the descriptions. And the ending was perfect!

Tim VanSant Writes said...

I enjoyed listening to you read it as much as I enjoyed reading it myself. Nicely done on all counts.

Stephen said...

Hi there Icy --

Neargh... why did it have to be a nursery (which is 27.6% more scary than any other room in a haunted house)? I liked the flow of details which felt very real and loved Icy's down to earth dialogue in there. Wherever did you get that from? And that last, almost over the shoulder, "Yes, Icy. It's me.", provided much goodness.

Couldn't get your audio plugin to work first time round, but got you reading after forcing the page to re-load.

Always good to be read to. :)

St.

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