"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Sample Chapter from Green Wizard 3: The Daughter of Satan


A mother and daughter travel from Ohio to a leafy English town to aid a family member persecuted by locals intent on vengeance.  Only one of them is happy about moving and the other…well, when she’s not happy, there’s Hell to pay.

At the airport, they are spotted by a cleric of an ancient Church, who is convinced one of them is the prophesied reincarnation of the seventeenth century witch who founded their organisation.

Stalked, harassed, monitored, the subject of demonic attack and bizarre phenomena, one of them is chosen and taken. The other faces a fight to the death to stop a terrifying Ritual from destroying her loved one, and the sleepy town of Wheatley Fields itself.
______________________________________________________

In this chapter, the besieged and bewildered residents of Wheatley Fields begin to experience the effects of the Satanic Summoning which precedes the coming Ritual.


*NB: There are 44 chapters in this book and eleven separate sections. 
Choosing this one wasn't easy! :-)


Chapter 32

All manner of bizarre things happened in Wheatley Fields, on Saturday and Sunday, the 28th and 29th of April. 

*

The birds had stayed overnight – if anything, there were more of them and no amount of banging and chasing on behalf of the harassed residents would shift them. The crows were unafraid of scarecrow humans and watched authoritatively from their perches.

Slithering worms continued to emerge from the ground and for every feasting Crow, there were a thousand bloodworms across gardens and now pavements and roads, until Wheatley Fields was covered in them.

Black spiders spun their webs in shadowy places and two more Arachnophobes died overnight, one, a spinster named Miss Edith Harvey, died instantly after encountering a spider a foot in circumference in her bed as she pulled back the top sheet. It too, spat at her and raised its legs, as if about to pounce.

The roads in and out of the town were impassable and news crews were unable to get in except on foot, leaving Caroline Peachtree and the New York cable crew as the two most prolific sources of news in the area. They made the most of it.

*

The natural world and the physical world distorted, another realm, the hyperreal, the supernatural, began to impinge on the daily life of the embattled residents.

In a house on Killington Road, Minnie Post turned to Maxwell Post, her husband of twenty eight years, while they sat watching the BBC breakfast news and began to talk to him in a foreign language. 

She spoke the language fluently and did not appear to notice that she was speaking the language. It was glottal tongue with a bizarre syntax and staccato semantic rhythm. 

Minnie, a housewife and mother, had left school without a single qualification and had been abroad just twice, both times to see her émigré sister in New Zealand.
Yet, her fluency in this new language was undoubted. 
For most of the morning, she spoke in the language, and it appeared to Maxwell Post that morning, as he reached for the telephone to call the Church, that it wasn’t Minnie talking, but someone using her physical form to talk through her. 
Six other similar incidents occurred in Wheatley Fields that day and those who encountered it had no idea what to do about it.

In the chocolate shop on the high street, William Benson was choosing between treats for his wife Marjorie, when suddenly, he felt an itch in one of his hands. He turned it over, absently, thinking that something had bit him, or that he was experiencing an allergy to the wheatgerm he ate for breakfast that morning.
He showed what he had found to the owner of the chocolate shop.
The palm of his hand had started to bleed. 
A wound the size of a fifty pence piece. 
He took a look at his other hand; that too, had started to weep with blood. 
He raced home without buying any chocolate because he felt similar itching pain in his feet and sure enough, at home, removing his socks, he discovered similar wounds.  He took off his shirt as his side had begun to hurt. A freshly laundered Marks and Spencer classic he’d had since the days when everything they sold was made in Great Britain, had been covered in blood, as if he’d been shot in the side. He reached for a mirror. 
His entire side was cut, wounded and bleeding.
Stigmata. 
The wounds of Jesus Christ on the cross.
He called 999 immediately. The woman at the contact centre told him to be patient, because there wasn’t a single spare ambulance within fifty miles of Wheatley Fields.
A further fourteen residents suffered similar afflictions that weekend, including an eighteen month old boy, who caused his mother a fright it would take an age to recover from.

In Dorothy’s, still reeling from the freakiness of yesterday, the birds, the worms, the unearthly music, the crashed cars everywhere and worse, the subsequent lack of custom, Dorothy – this time in black high heels, simple black leggings and a belted red rollneck Angora sweater - watched incredulous as one of her most expensive evening dresses (with a raffia train) extricated itself from its hanger and floated over the racks from one side of the shop to another.

Dumbstruck, she reached for her mobile to call whoever, as she was wont to do in these circumstances, but realised it was dead, like all the other mobile phones in the town.
Several other items  decided to move of their own accord throughout the morning. Picking up her keys, she put on her coat and locked up.  Like everyone else of similar age, she spent the afternoon in the pub getting obliterated on scrumpy and ended up sleeping with the landlord of the Sea of Tranquility who had fancied her for years. 
In the midst of all this madness, she couldn’t think of a single reason why she shouldn’t sleep with him when he asked.

Similar other incidents of levitation occurred in eighteen other houses, including in Clement St Anger’s house, where a magnifying glass began to read Hard Times by Charles Dickens on its own, the pages turning of their own volition. 
Clement – whose newly grown sulphur tree was now on its way to being a monster adult – watched the magnifying glass with a detachment that told him he was seriously losing his marbles.

*

A volume on its own would not adequately recount what happened on that Saturday, as the impact of The Summoning began to absorb the minds of the people of Wheatley Fields.

Beyond any doubt, the hapless residents knew that they were in the presence of madness. Some realised earlier than others and escaped into Charlestown and the City, though many more tried to escape and arrived back in the shade of the Three Steeples no matter how what method they tried (car, bus, on foot), what route they tried, and no matter how many times they tried. They always found themselves back home.

Many escaped on foot across the fields between the town and the city, an eighteen-mile journey. Some found themselves beaten back by freak storms. Others became lost and spent the entire weekend wandering half-familiar fields and woods, shifting scenery, haywire points on the compass, making their meagre packed lunches last and praying for the first time in many years.

Everyone who stayed had a story to tell.

Fund raiser and community spokesman Derek Priestly found himself buying a week’s groceries in the Community Supermarket and sorting out his MOT in Brinsley’s Garage a mile and a quarter away at exactly the same time.

A girl watched her glass of diet cola turn into ink as she drank from it and the spreading black stain wouldn’t come off her lips and lower nose no matter how hard she tried to remove it and no matter how many chemicals the private hospital used either. The despair she felt at the possibly permanent destruction of her unequalled looks would have heartened many, many young people in the town, unpleasant as that may be.

Christopher Cook, a debt trader and keen jogger, to his horror, met a Doppelganger of himself on a long run past the racecourse. The Doppelganger was travelling in the other direction. Identical to the last freckle; the same tracksuit, the same running shoes. The two stopped and stared at each other. The Doppelganger approached. Said something to him in an insect voice mixed with crushed glass and Chris passed out into a ditch where earthworms quickly wriggled into his running vest for warmth. 

Sprinting back to Chris’s house, the Doppelganger proceeded to seduce Chris’s buxom Venezuelan wife who was both surprised and delighted at his new found technique, seemingly relentless stamina, and diabolical inventiveness.

Johnny Haddock, a wag and a clown, impressed everyone in the Haywain with his newly discovered ability to bend cutlery just by looking at it. People found it funny, particularly after a few pints of Devil’s Cockerel, temporarily forgetting their woes. 
Something of a ladies man, he unzipped the back of a dress with his eyes, causing the owner of the dress to laugh uproariously at first, before it fell off, causing great embarrassment to her and her partner, because she wasn’t wearing any underwear.
Glasses melted, beer boiled and he even snapped a leg off a stool just by looking at it, though that tired him and he had to take a break. 
The Landlord of the Haywain half-heartedly extracted a promise for him to pay for the damages, but like everyone else, money and their usual preoccupations didn’t seem to matter much anymore.

In his back garden, on Eastham Terrace, ten-year-old Bentley Adams shocked his best friend into silence by showing him a neat new trick.
Bentley had discovered, quite by accident and just this morning that he was able, just by closing his eyes and thinking of the place he wanted to go, to translocate.
Gary, his best friend from next door, when told, quite naturally, didn’t believe him and he asked him to prove it.
I’ll bet your Call of Duty game that I can go into your bedroom without walking to it and wave to you from the window.
Gary laughed and shook his hand. Okay. It’s a bet. If you can’t, he said, I want your FIFA Twelve.
Bentley smiled. Okay, he said.
Closed his eyes. 
Gary heard a tap behind him. Seemingly, it came from his house, his bedroom window.
There was Bentley, smiling, Gary’s copy of Call of Duty in his hand.

*

Throughout the town, schoolgirls went into concentrated trance states.
The houses of the transcendental mediums were filled with the atmosphere of the grave, a deathly cold, breath hanging in the air like wraiths.
Some young mediums could move vases just by looking at them. Another could open windows from the other side of the room. 
One started a fire just by looking at a waste bin, before fainting dead away.
Dead souls spoke to stunned parents.
Long dead relatives. Aunts and Uncles, Dads and Grandads, Mums and Grandmas. Little brothers, little sisters, they queued to talk.

Hard bitten, materialistic cynics, who no longer attended Church (if they ever did at all), with Degrees in this and Masters Degrees in that, with two hundred and fifty thousand pound mortgages and seventy thousand pounds a year jobs, broke down and wept as their dead relatives told them about life beyond the grave through the medium of their innocent daughters.

For the unbereaved, ghosts from another time came to tell their tale.
One recounted the tale of William Spring, a gambling Coachman, decapitated during a fixed game of Hearts in the back room of the Saladin. 
Another purported to be Elizabeth Harley, the Grey Lady, who was strangled, also in the Saladin, by her Cavalier lover, just back from Naseby, surprising her in a most indelicate and disloyal situation with the muscular son of a Blacksmith. 

 *

Ectoplasm - a grey, wobbly, mass, a fog, like a huge surreal rugby ball, floated down the High Street and they came out of the Haywain to watch.
A drunken bravo from the public bar, with a reversed baseball cap, baggy jeans - one of the Wheatley Fields Massive, the local gangster posse - touched the ectoplasm to impress his gangster friends and was projected thirty feet across the market place by a blast of electric energy that flashed and sparkled. 

Dazed, he survived with a broken elbow, a sprained knee and severe electrical burns on his right hand that had to be treated by the ladies in the Launderette as there wasn’t a single doctor, nurse or ambulance available to take him to the City or to Charlestown.

This was just the Saturday.
On the Sabbath, the day before Walpurgis Night, the last day of the Summoning, things got even weirder in Wheatley Fields.

1 comment:

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