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They are here," she said.
"Who?" I asked.
I was none the wiser. I didn't know who or what she was talking about. But what she said startled me!
There was a group of us sitting round a table in the dark, our fingers touching. She was the medium who would preside over the night's events. I must admit, I was very sceptical at first, I had come for the fun of it, and didn't think we'd encounter any spirits other than the few drinks we'd have after the sitting.
So when she said, "They are here," I was thinking, 'was this for real?' I looked around the table, in pitch darkness, and even then, I could tell some of my friends were thinking the same. Especially when she said, "THEM!"
She then seemed to go into a semi-trance, and talk in voices some of us recognised as departed friends. She was telling us things she couldn't possibly have known previously. Simple things, like birthdates, eye colour and even, at times,the cause of death.
By this time we had all settled our nerves a bit and were listening intently to what she had to say. But still, the way she said "THEM!", was niggling at the back of my mind. Just who the hell were THEM?
I had expected her to say, 'the spirits' or something of that nature. But the way she pronounced the word, THEM!,
It was so eerie, I felt it must have some significance. A significance that didn't belong to this seance, but that was so much darker. Darker even, than this room!
Anyhow, the night progressed along the lines of family readings and all present were satisfied with the events. (I must admit, even I was quite happy to hear that my dear mother was looking in on me, and sending her love, as ever).
Anyhow, night over, we all went to the local pub for a nightcap and discussed the nights events. All of us were contented with the sitting and the messages we got. (I had even quite forgot that word by this time). After a couple of hours, just before the pub was about to close, we all said our goodbyes and headed on our merry ways. I lived in a different part of town from the rest, therefore, found myself walking alone.
The night was overcast, a slight drizzle dampening my overcoat. A mist crawled in from the estuary to mingle with the shadows that crept from the corners of the buildings that lined the avenue. The wind that swayed the tree tops, only added to the already surreal atmosphere. I walked on, an uncanny nervousness in my stride, all the while telling myself I had nothing to fear, that I was only spooked by the night's events opening my sceptic mind to strange new possibilities. Yet still I could not shake the anxiety of being followed!
My journey took no more than twenty minutes, but I was still glad to see the welcoming sight of my front door. I immediately felt sanctuary on the turn of my key. On entering my house, I took off my coat, hung it on a hook in the hall, kicked off my shoes and went into the living room and reclined in my favourite armchair. I picked up the remote control, switched on the box and watched a little light hearted television for a while. Then I retired to bed. Very soon, I was in the land of nod. My dreams were undisturbed.
Next day, I awoke with the dawn and a contented yawn. My sleep had been very refreshing, and I was in very good spirits. In fact, I hadn't felt this good in a long time. I got showered, dressed and went downstairs. I breakfasted on toast and coffee. Then my thoughts raced back to the night before. I thought of my mother and smiled. She was, indeed, looking after me. How else could I feel this contented?
I raised my coffee mug and toasted her, "Thanks, Ma!"
I got up from my chair, went to the mirror to adjust my tie and smiled to myself. Still handsome! (It's easy to be smug when you're on your own and in a good mood).
I left the house, got into my car and set off for the office. Another day, another dollar, another game of footsie with Angela under the lunch table. (I really must ask that woman out some day).
I parked the car, got out and walked toward the building. I worked for a company called Winbank Graphics. We were a printing company who specialised in designing covers for books, magazines and pamphlets. Usually advertisements for local businesses, but we have claimed fame for one or two pretty well known novels. (More than that, I shan't elaborate).
I walked past the receptionist at the front desk with a good morning smile, she looked up with her usual warm look and with a smile, said, "Your unusually cheerful this fine morning James, did you get up out the wrong side of the bed?"
I ignored her sarcasm and walked over to the coffee machine, as per my morning ritual. I pressed for white, no sugar, and took my luke warm drink into my office with me. The good feeling I had awoken with was already starting to abate.
It was time to lose myself in a pipedream. That was the beauty of this job, when the world gets you down, you can switch off and enter your own realm in the idiom of research. After all, some of our clients wanted vague impressions to illustrate their product. It helped to hide inconsistencies.
Into the pipedream I went then. I closed my eyes to ponder an image for my latest assignment, which was to design a cover for another propaganda leaflet for the local council. I was concentrating on the joys of modern civility, a moral notion of multi-cultural integrity. An idea more than a habit. (You can't force people to conform to outside ideals).
Within a few minutes my thoughts began to wander to the night before. I had a clear vision of my mother in my mind, telling me not to worry, that everything would work out fine. I took that to mean that I would design a cover that would please the local regime and appease their notions for glory.
How wrong I could be, for soon the image began to fade into the dark shadows of that seance room. This time I was alone in the room. Alone and frightened. I could feel something watching me, something in the shadows. It seemed to project irrational fear into my mind, a fear that crept through my veins sending goosebumps prickling all over my body.
Just then, I was startled awake by Angela asking me if we were, "lunching or what?"
The rest of my working day was uneventful, I fulfilled my work load (Even getting approval for my pamphlet) and went home to a microwave beef hot pot dinner. After, I settled down in my chair with a coffee, turned on the t.v. and watched the news headlines.
I soon dozed off and was once more back in the seance room. I felt the shadows encroach upon me, touching me, feeling, groping, almost painfully. They seemed to be probing me, probing my mind, infiltrating my thoughts, filling me with a profound fear, a dread that scared me witless. A dread that threatened madness!
I awoke in a cold sweat. How could a shadow be physical?'
I remembered reading a book once, written by Dean Koontz, I think. It was about a character named Odd who seen shadowy creatures called Bodachs who would appear to him just before a disaster. But what the hell were Bodachs?
I went to my pc and looked them up.
Apparently a Bodach is a mythical entity from the Scottish highlands. It translates as "old man". These bogeymen seem to slip down chimneys and attack children in their sleep. (But I'm no child). They pinch and prod and poke their victims, torment them with nightmares. (Well I can verify that). They attack naughty kids. Naughty? Have I been naughty recently? Can two divorced adults playing footsie under the lunchtime table be classed as naughty? Ha ha.
It then went on to say that to avoid a visit from a Bodach, you should sprinkle salt on your hearth. I did just that and retired to bed.
It didn't stop the Bodachs!
If anything, they seemed to be more malevolent. I felt trapped in their coldness. This time I could feel their breath on my skin. I wailed, "What do you want from me?" But I got no answer, just a whiff of rancid breath, like burning flesh!
I woke up shivering with cold and nauseated by that horrible stench that seemed to linger in my room.
I felt too drained to go to work that morning, so I phoned in sick, took the day off and done some more research into my dilemma. I looked up shadowpeople on my search engine and got several sites dedicated to the subject. They described these shadow creatures variously as ghosts, phantoms, wraiths, and even aliens. Most agreed though, that they came from another dimension, and that they could be both malevolent and benevolent. Some reported on the so called upsurge of attacks on humans by these creatures!
I was engrossed. Totally absorbed in what I was reading. These descriptions fitted everything I had recently experienced,
Fear, anxiety, cold, even pain.
I read on and on, beginning to understand a little of my plight, but still having no real knowledge of exactly what they were.
I looked up how to rid yourself of these beings from another world and it said that simply asking them to leave, or a simple prayer, was usually enough to get rid of them.
I read many stories of encounters with these shadow creatures, some frightening, some frighteningly funny, (so unbelievable as to be no more than childish nonsense. But then, who was I to criticise?).
I did feel so much more at ease though, as if I had been shown a way to cope with my dilemma. I'd have to wait until I slept again to be certain of my resolve.
I went to bed with high hopes in my heart.
That night, as I slept, they came again, crawling from the walls and floorboards, menacing my slumber. This time though, they seemed to be wailing. I could hear whimpers and moans, tormented chants, and had an uncanny feeling of death and suffering. My body temperature seemed to soar. I was sweating profusely.
But tonight, my fear felt different. I never feared for myself, but I had an agonising mental fear that others were suffering in agony, somewhere close by, maybe within a mile or so radius. I couldn't think why my fears had shifted, except to Odd's experiences with Bodachs. Was I being forewarned of an impending disaster? If so, where? Could I do anything at all to stop it?
I watched these shadow creatures/Bodachs flicker like black flame. I felt the heat rise like an inferno. They moaned, they wailed, they projected a dark, solemn foreboding, a dread that seemed to grow, reaching toward a crescendo of unimaginable pain and suffering. I could smell the stench of burning flesh again. Yet I could see no fire. No flame lit up the dark to chase away the shadows. They lingered in their dance of death.
"Go away." I said, then I started to recite a little prayer. They immediately started to shrink back into the dark.
In my sleep, I could only watch, spellbound, as they began to fade back into the walls and floorboards. This was the first time I had seen them retreat, and I could only hope that this spelt the end of my encounters with the Bodachs.
I felt a great relief!
I awoke in the morning to a beautiful blue sky. The birds were singing their chorus and I felt so glad to be alive. I opened my curtains and looked out of my window, across the town. In the distance I could see a smoldering building. It looked like it could be the place where we held the seance that night. A strange feeling came over me then. A feeling of anxious dread. Was this the disaster the Bodachs had predicted?
I quickly got dressed, rushed downstairs and out of my front door. I almost knocked over my neighbour who was returning from the local shop with his morning paper. He asked if I had heard the news. That some people were holding a seance in the old ale house in High Street, (same place then). He said that a fire had broken out and that all six participants were burned to death. He said it was as if none of them could find the door or window to get out!
He left me shocked and dumbfounded!
That night a shadow came while I slept. But I felt no fear. For this shadow faded first to grey and then to a bright white. It stood over me, watching for a while, and then it faded altogether, leaving me with a contentment that I shall never forget.
For this shadow was my mother, and I know now, that she will be watching over me for always.