Off the Radio and Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

New houses.

Dead dogs.

The scares go on and on.

 

Off the Radio

‘I haven’t seen this for years,’ Mum said. ‘I used to record music off the radio with it.’

We were in the attic. I didn’t know what it was. Mum saw I was confused.

‘It’s my old cassette player.’

Mum picked up something else from the tin. It was a small box with two wheels on it. There was some writing on it. Mum read it out loud.

‘Top of the Charts, May 1982.’

She showed me the player.

‘You push this button.’

A door in the top popped up.

‘You put the cassette inside.’

Mum pushed the small box into the slot. She put the lid down. There was a clear plastic window. There was also a row of buttons along the bottom. One said ‘Rec.’ Another said ‘Play.’ Mum pushed down the ‘Play’ button.’

I looked through the plastic window. The two wheels started turning. Mum was all excited. She was smiling. This made me excited too. I smiled at her. She hugged me.

‘This makes me feel like a teenager again.’

A wobbly voice came out of the recorder. It was strange and angry.

‘?eM dEbRUtsiD OuY evAH yHw .DLrOw eHT lLa 4 MrAH sI tNAw I Lla’

The Taylor Detective Agency and Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

New houses.

Dead dogs.

The scares go on and on.

The Taylor Detective Agency

My name is Ellis. My friends and me are detectives. Olaf and Izzy and Windy. We are the Taylor Detective Agency. We all live on the same street and meet every day under the Waiting Tree in my garden. We do lots of detective things. These are the stories of our adventures.

It is Tuesday morning and there is no sunshine. I am sitting under the Waiting Tree waiting. We meet every morning in the summer holidays. We are a team. We work together well. That makes us better detectives. It was my Dad’s idea to form the agency to give me and him something to do. I carried the notepad and a pencil. He carried a camera and a telephone. We would walk around the streets near my house looking for clues. Once we found some pieces of pasta that must have fallen from a shopping bag. Dad said that was the Case of the Broken Spaghetti.

Another time we found a dead bird – Dad called it the Case of the Bird That Doesn’t Fly Anymore. I would write down any important details in my notebook and phone them through to Mum at home.

‘Mum, we have found a dead bird – D-E-A-D.’

I spelled out the word carefully so that she could write everything down.

‘We request permission to proceed with the investigation.’

‘Roger that,’ said Mum. ‘Permission to proceed.’

Olaf is my best friend. He lives next door and only has to climb over the garden wall to meet me under the Waiting Tree.

‘I think I saw something important today,’ he says. ‘I was looking out my window and I saw it.’

I get out my notepad and pencil.

‘Now begin at the beginning and tell me what you saw,’ I say.

‘It was Mister Birdfoot,’ says Olaf. ‘He had a big box that he put into the boot of his car.’

Mister Birdfoot lived next door to Olaf and all the kids in the street think he is a bit mad. He has bright red hair and lived alone. Mum said his wife had died recently. Just like my dad.

‘Why would Mister Birdfoot have a big box?’ asks Olaf. ‘What has he got inside it?’

I say I don’t know. Windy appears.

‘Hi Windy,’ we say. ‘Mister Birdfoot has got a big box and we are wondering what is in it.’

‘I don’t know,’ says Windy. ‘It sounds like a job for the Taylor Detective Agency.’

Windy thinks that we should sneak into Mr. Birdfoot’s house and take a look.

‘We should sneak into Mr. Birdfoot’s house and take a look.’

Olaf doesn’t like the idea of that. He thinks we might get caught.

‘I don’t like the idea of that. What if we get caught?’

‘Get caught doing what?’ asks Izzy who has just sat down next to me.

‘Sneaking into Mr. Birdfoot’s house,’ I say. ‘Olaf saw a big box and we think it is a mystery for us to solve.’

‘I hope so’ says Izzy. ‘I love us solving mysteries.’

‘I have a plan,’ says Windy. ‘We should all sit on the bench opposite Mr. Birdfoot’s house and wait to see what happens next.’

‘Follow me,’ says Olaf. ‘Don’t forget your notepad, Ellis.’

‘I have it here,’ I say, patting my small rucksack. ‘I’ve also got my pencil and a tape measure.’

‘Why a tape measure?’ asks Izzy.

‘Just in case,’ I say. ‘My dad always said you never know what you might need to know.’

It makes me happy to remember what my dad used to say. But it makes me sad that he’s not here anymore to say it.

‘I’ve got four apples,’ says Izzy. ‘One for each of us as always.’

‘I think that my bottle has some water left in it,’ says Windy. He shakes it to see. We all hear the slosh.

It was later. We had been waiting a long time. All the apples were gone. And the water. I felt a bit strange.

‘Maybe we shouldn’t be doing this.’

Olaf pointed at some bushes.

‘Would you feel better if we were hiding?’

‘Hiding,’ said Izzy. ‘I love hiding. Let’s do that.’

I looked at the bushes. They were big. It would be safe there.

‘Yes,’ I said. ‘Let’s hide in those bushes.’

‘We can still see Mr Birdfoot’s house,’ said Olaf, ‘but he won’t see us.’

It was more later when Mr Birdfoot finally came home. He stopped his car.

‘Ssssh!,’ said Olaf. He put his fingers to his lips.

Mr Birdfoot opened the boot of his car. He looked around. He didn’t want anyone to see him. We kept watching. I felt scared and safe together.

Mr Birdfoot got out the big box. It was really heavy. He looked around again. The box had all red stuff coming out of it. The red stuff fell on the pavement. Mr Birdfoot went inside his garage. When he came back he had a big brush and a bucket of water. He scrubbed the red stuff on the pavement until it went away.

It was the next day. Me and my friends sat under the Waiting Tree. Olaf and Izzy and Windy. We talked about Mr Birdfoot.

‘Who carries a box of red stuff around in their car?’ Olaf says.

‘I don’t know,’ said Izzy.

‘Me neither. I don’t understand.’

Windy had an idea.

‘I think this is definitely a job for the Taylor Detective Agency.’

‘Me too,’ said all of us.

At The Top of The Tall Tree and Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

All this and more …

At The Top of The Tall Tree

The policeman said they found Dad standing right at the top of the tall tree in the field behind the supermarket. Right at the top. He was standing on a thin branch with his hands behind his back. It was night time and windy and the person that saw him said they called the police because it looked like he was about to jump. It took two fire engines to get him down. He had no clothes on when they put him in the ambulance. Mum didn’t understand. Neither did the policeman.

‘We have no idea how he got there, madam. The tree is far too tall to climb. It is as if he just appeared there.’

The policeman said that he would have to stay in hospital for a little while. They needed to conduct their investigation and Dad would have to be thoroughly evaluated before he was able to come home. The policeman saw that I looked upset.

‘Don’t worry, your Dad will soon be home. It was lucky for him that we found him when we did.’

A few days later we were able to visit Dad. He looked really normal. I saw there were straps on his wrists that were attached to the bed. Mum said it was for his own safety. Dad smiled when he saw me.

‘Hey, kid, thanks for coming.’

I didn’t know what to say. I just smiled. Mum sat on the chair by the bed. She held Dad’s hand.

‘Can you remember what happened?’

Dad smiled.

‘Of course I can, I can remember everything that happened.’

I sat down on the end of the bed. Dad smiled at me. I felt a bit better. He looked just like how Dad had always been. I tried not to look at the straps. Mum squeezed Dad’s hand. Dad kept talking.

‘I knew we needed some milk so I popped into the supermarket. I was walking past the magazines when I heard someone call my name. I turned around to see a baby in a pushchair. The baby’s mother was reading a newspaper. The baby said it was my turn to meet Them. It said that they were getting angry and I had to calm Them down.’

Dad spoke very slowly.

‘They aren’t the kind to wait for anything.’

I thought the whole thing sounded really weird. Dad just grinned.

‘The baby said it would be really bad for the world if I didn’t make them happy.’

Mum didn’t say anything. She didn’t look at me. Dad finished his story.

‘I asked the baby what to do and it told me not to worry. The baby said I would know when the time came.’

Dad stopped talking. He looked at me and Mum. He wasn’t grinning anymore. He looked worried. Very worried.

‘Has anyone asked the baby if I managed to make Them happy?’

The Boy Who Wasn’t Me And Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond.

Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights.

All this and more …

The Boy Who Wasn’t Me

I met a boy in the park. He said he was me. He had my clothes on. His hair was like my hair. He knew all the things about dinosaurs that I knew. The boy said that it was my turn to sleep in the park tonight. It was only fair. He said he had been here too long. I turned around. My mum was reading her book.

‘Don’t bother asking her,’ said the boy who wasn’t me. ‘She’ll only agree with me.’

‘But that’s not fair,’ I said. ‘She’s my mum, not yours. Why would she let you go home with her and leave me here? Why would she do that?’

The boy who wasn’t me smiled. He thought this was very funny.

‘How would I know?’ he said.

The boy who wasn’t me went home with my mum. I tried to stop them, but he wouldn’t let me. He stopped me from following them.

‘It’s my turn now. Leave us alone.’

Mum held the boy’s hand and they left the park. She didn’t look at me at all.

It was really cold that night.

There was no one else in the park.

I felt really sad and confused.

The park got busy in the morning. I saw loads of kids running around and having fun. I waited for Mum by the swings. She knew they were my favourite.

‘If I stand here,’ I said to myself,’ she’ll see it’s me and get rid of him. Then we’ll go home and I’ll tell her that I never want to come back to this park again. I’ll tell her all about the boy who wasn’t me. She’ll believe me. I know she will.’

It was really cold that night.

There was no one else in the park.

I felt really sad and confused.

Phone Girl And Other Scary Stories

 

LittleBernieTiger

Phone Girl And Other Scary Stories

Voices from beyond. Imaginary friends.

Unsettling sights. All this and more …

Phone Girl

My mum’s phone rang in the middle of the night. It woke us both up.

‘Go back to sleep, darling,’ she said.

The phone rang again. And again. And again. My mum turned it off. It kept ringing. She put it in the fridge. Still it kept ringing.

‘Who is it, Mum?’ I said.

Mum didn’t know.

‘There’s no name and no number.’

We didn’t go back to sleep. We both sat in the kitchen. The phone was in the fridge. It kept ringing. I started to think about it.

‘Maybe you should answer it, Mum. It might be important.’

Mum nodded. She opened the fridge. She took out the phone.

‘Hello. Who’s this?’

‘You,’ said the voice. ‘You.’

The voice was loud. I heard it without the speaker. It was a little girl. Mum was very confused.

‘Me? What do you mean, me?’

‘No, you,’ said the voice. ‘You.’

‘Is this a joke?’

‘Are you laughing?’

Mum shook her head.

‘Well then,’ said the little girl.

I thought I would speak to the little girl.

‘Who are you?’

‘Her,’ said the little girl. ‘I’m her.’

I looked at Mum. She didn’t know. It was mad. Mum asked another question.

‘Where are you calling from?’

‘There,’ said the little girl. ‘I’m there.’

‘Here?’ said Mum.

‘No,’ said the little girl. ‘There.’

I felt frightened. I looked around the kitchen.

‘You can see me,’ said the little girl. ‘I’m right in front of you.’

Mum was right in front of me. But she wasn’t ringing anyone. She was answering the phone.

‘Why are you calling?’

‘I’m not,’ said the voice. ‘You are.’

Mum got very upset. I felt scared. It made me start to cry.

‘Please don’t keep calling us.’

Mum pressed the red button. She put the phone back in the fridge. It started to ring again. Mum took the phone back out. She was crying. Me too.

‘Why are calling?’ said Mum.

‘I’m not,’ said the little girl, ‘you are.’

The Sounding Rocks And Other Stories

Hi Everybody

Ahead of publishing a new anthology of children’s horror short stories, I’m road testing some of them. Here’s the eponymous story which opens the anthology. Let me know what you think.

Thanks

The Sounding Rocks

Jake didn’t like the Sounding Rocks. He said they sounded like crumbling pain. Like when you have toothache and you can hear it as well as feel it. Like that. Like sharp jagged bits of stone all jabbing in your mind at once and all together. He called them the Sounding Rocks.

‘I don’t like the Sounding Rocks. They put bad feelings in my ears at night.’

Jake’s mum smiled. What else could she do? It was all a mum or dad could do most of the time. Jake kept talking.

‘They sound all hateful when I hear them.’

Jake’s mum loved living by the sea. It was a cottage on the beach that she loved as a kid and promised she would buy if she ever got the chance. She got the chance. So she and Jake now lived in the cottage on the beach by the sea.

‘Just think of all that fun we’ll have on the beach, Jake. Splashing and chasing and laughing and singing.’

But Jake hated the beach. It hurt his feet. There was one small patch of sand. It was normally covered by the sea. Jake only saw it occasionally. There was never the right time to play on it. The rest of the beach was stones. Jake hated the beach.

‘I never get the chance to play on the sand, Mum. Only on the stones.’

‘That’s because of the tides. I can’t control when the sand is there or not. Only the moon can do that. And gravity.’

What did Jake care about gravity? All he wanted was to leave the cottage and go back to the city where they came from.

‘We were happy in the city, Mum. We didn’t have to hear the Sounding Stones.’

‘But we heard all sorts of other nasty noises, like helicopters and sirens and car alarms.’

‘They weren’t nasty noises, Mum. They were just the sounds of the city.’

Jake’s Mum knew he missed his dad. But the cancer had been so quick. Almost just a weekend. A wonky weekend; Thursday morning until Sunday morning. A clean break felt like the best thing for everyone. Selling the house meant that she could buy the cottage and still have enough to live on until Jake was at school full-time.

‘It is only one summer and then you’ll be making new friends at school.’

‘I don’t want new friends. I want my old friends. And Dad.’

‘I know, darling. So do I.’

Mum didn’t know but Jake woke every night to check if the sand was there to play on. He could see the beach from his window. It was just over the road. Sometimes it was too dark for him to see properly. Or too cold for him to want to go outside. But one night it was just right and when Jake looked out he saw the sand shining in the moonlight. He knew he had to go outside.

Jake opened his window, grabbed his bucket and spade and climbed out. He tiptoed across the road and walked down the beach. It was late at night and the stones crunched. He thought Mum would hear him. She stayed asleep.

Jake reached the sand. He put down his bucket. He knelt beside it. He raised his spade. He was ready to dig the sand.

‘Oh no you don’t,’ said the Sounding Stones. ‘That’s our sand and you can’t play with it.’

‘Why not? It’s only on the beach.’

‘You’re not dead. Only dead people can play with the sand.’

‘But I don’t want to be dead, I just want to play with the sand.’

‘Well, you can’t,’ said the Stones.

Jake thought for a minute.

‘My dad’s dead, could he play?’

‘Of course he could. Only dead people can play with our sand.’

Jake kept thinking.

‘If my Dad was playing with the sand, could I play with him?’

‘Only if you were dead.’

The next morning Jake spoke to his mum.

‘The Sounding Rocks said I had to be dead to play with their sand. They said Dad could play with it because he was dead but I couldn’t play with him because I’m not.’

Jake’s mum was frightened.

‘When did the rocks tell you this?’

‘Last night when I asked them.’

‘Why would you ask them that?’

‘Because they said it was their sand and I couldn’t play with it.’

Jake told his mum what he had been doing. She hugged him.

‘Why didn’t you ask me to come with you?’

‘Because you were asleep.’

‘You could have woken me, Darling. You didn’t need to go to the beach on your own.’

‘I wanted you to be pleased that I was playing on the beach. I know how much it means to you.’

She hugged Jake again.

‘It does, Jake, it really does, but there’s no need to creep out in the middle of the night without waking me. I’ll come with you next time. Maybe I can speak to them.’

Jake was thoughtful.

‘I know, Mum. I’m sorry.’

It was a while before the sand was there again. This time Jake and his mum climbed out his window and crossed over the road. They tiptoed over the crunchy stones. The moon made the sand all shiny. Jake put down his bucket. He knelt down beside it. Mum knelt down too. Jake raised the spade.

‘Oh no you don’t,’ said the stones. ‘We told you before about playing with our sand.’

‘But I’m with him this time,’ said Jake’s mum. ‘Please let him dig your sand.’

The Sounding Stones were not happy.

‘We don’t mind you digging our sand but your son is not allowed. Rules are rules, after all. If everyone just did what they wanted then there would just be chaos.’

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’

Verse 12

With the terrible truth now trickling from beyond, it is fair to say that the world has reached a dreadful juncture for this is the exact point in the very small history of this very small planet that every single ever prediction of doom, of death, of absolute destruction, every crackpot scheme and half-heard death knoll, every religious rune, sign, portent and symbol ever associated with the apocalypse has now come to pass and anyone in the history of the world who has ever laughed, or scoffed, or doubted and discredited, or mocked and ridiculed, terrorized and tortured or in any other way not seen that the end of the world was indeed coming after all must now be fully prepared to eat their entire words letter by miserable mouth-filling letter as the NotBeSpeak begin their cataclysmic entry.

Bart felt a gentle whispering wind wrap around his foolish pride-bulged heart.

‘The5 have come,’ Bart said inside himself. ‘I am complete and ready to be washed in the warmth of Their love.’

The whispering wind filled him with a comforting darkness.

Inteachán imagined that she was lying safely in her bed. Everything was quite and still and as it had always been. Her parents were asleep in the room beside her and no one was trying to kill anyone. But then her bedroom door opened and in stepped her father.

Mac woke from the tangle of his elderly dreams. He sat up straight in his narrow bed.

‘And so it starts,’ he whispered in the darkness. ‘Butler was right. They are on their way. Inteachán has failed.’

Mac reached over and picked up his spectacles. He swung his tired legs out of bed.

‘And so this is what the end of the world feels like, inevitability and disappointment together.’

Mac looked out into the darkness.

‘We tried. We really did.’

Mac paused and a small tear began to form in his tired eye.

‘I suppose it was always the case that an old man and a young child would be no match for all the cosmic terror that the world has never seen.’

Mac smiled in resignation.

‘When the inevitable darkness comes for you, please be assured that it wasn’t the whole world who simply surrendered.’

***

‘Listen to me,’ said the enraptured Rock Star and the crowd fell silent. Bart spread his holy arms out wide, inviting his flock to worship.

‘The5 are here,’ he cried. ‘The5 are really here.’

Even though they didn’t fully know why, the crowd began to clap and cheer. Banners were unfurled and began moving, furling slowly in the darkness like the limbs of poisoned trees. Bart punched the air and whooped.

‘Yeah!’ he yelled. ‘Alright! They’re here. They’re really here.’

Bart played the crowd now. He climbed down off the stage and crossed the security divide to where the crowds were pressed up against the fences. He walked along the line, scattering blessings as he passed. A worried roadie followed behind him to make sure that the microphone cable didn’t get snagged. Burly security guards stopped the crowds from getting over the fences.

‘Listen,’ whispered the Rock Star. ‘Who wants to join The5?’

‘We do,’ someone yelled.

‘Who wants a new anointing?’ Bart continued.

‘Yes please,’ shouted someone else.

‘Some new gods to please?’

‘Me.’

‘And me.’

‘A brand-new cross to bear?’

‘Me too!’

Bart smiled and headed back up onto the stage.

‘Are you listening, children?’ asked Bart as he took his position in front of the band. Bart pulled out the Flute of Thelema.

‘My beautiful chosen children,’ he purred. ‘This next song is for all the world to sing.’ Bart put the Flute to his lips and signaled to the band.

Now we are at the heart of the matter.

What would you do to save the world?

How far would you go?

Would you go all the way?

Inteachán estimated the gap between her and the Rock Star. It looked an awful long way down. Bart turned around to look up at her. He winked. He knew that she had been up there all along. Their eyes met and held for a very brief second before Inteachán

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

jumped.

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’

Verse 10

Inteachán woke to find the dressing room in darkness. She slowly got to her feet, all the while waiting for her eyes to adjust. Inteachán moved towards the door and tried the handle. The door was locked.

‘You never know,’ Inteachán said to herself. ‘In all the excitement he could easily have forgotten.’ Inteachán turned on the light and looked around.

The room was almost the same and the rock star’s aftershave still hung in the air like an unwelcome guest. The chicken and chips were left on the table and one of the bottles of cola was half-empty. Above the table, half-hidden by a tobacco-stained curtain, was a small broken window. Inteachán climbed up on to the table and as she did so she nearly slipped on a piece of fried chicken skin. The window was rusted and the hinges were broken and it took very little time for Inteachán to work the window free sufficiently for her to be able to squeeze through the frame.

Working her hips and stretching her hands out and down in front of her Inteachán carefully slipped through the window and fell two metres into a filthy alleyway. Inteachán found herself behind the main stage. Cables and boxes were scattered everywhere. The band had just started their set and the noise where Inteachán stood was deafening. She felt momentarily overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the sound waves that crashed upon her like an angry sonic sea. Inteachán gathered herself and looked around.

To one side of the alley stood the base of a control tower and as Inteachán approached she saw a thin ladder that led straight up into the lighting rigs high above her. With no other obvious options currently available Inteachán began to climb the ladder. As she did so Inteachán noticed that the she was also behind the giant back of plasma screens that formed the backdrop to the stage show. A complicated nest of cables and leads hang down like so many tangled digital vines. This was when the full extent of the difficulties Inteachán faced in her bid to somehow disrupt the show and bring it to a halt before the climax revealed themselves to her.

Bart was enjoying the gig of his life. He wore a t-shirt beneath a leather waistcoat that read ‘#TheFive’ and each note he sang reached deep down inside the heart of every member of the crowd gathered in Croke Park. Bart felt connected with them in a way that he could only feel and not ever explain. The band behind him played with a verve and alignment that they had hitherto only ever dreamed of achieving but had never yet fully realised. Every move they made was simply immaculate.

‘They are coming,’ Bart ad-libbed. ‘They are here,’ he sang as he artlessly changed the words to every one of their hits to accommodate his excitement at what was about to unfold.

‘You won’t believe your wondering eyes.’

Bart trilled.

‘If only you knew what I knew.’

The unsuspecting crowd went wild and greeted every ad-lib with a cheer. For them it was all part of the show. The only person not fooled by the performance was watching high up from her perch in the gantry above the back of the stage. As the next song came to end Bart raised his arms and stretched them out wide.

‘Hush!’ he whispered. ‘Hush, my special children.’

The crowd fell silent. Inteachán marvelled as the countless tiny lights of thousands and thousands of phones and cameras taking photographs punctured the darkness in the stadium. The night sky sparkled and danced, shimmering with a digital haze.

‘Welcome everyone,’ whispered Bart into his microphone. He removed his waistcoat so that everyone could see the message on his shirt. The crowd roared.

‘We have a real treat for you all tonight.’

The crowd roared again.

‘Something so amazing that it is going to change the world.’

The crowd roared once more.

‘Forever!’

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’

Verse 9

‘There are many privileges to being the biggest rock star this country has ever produced and courtesy of off-shore accounting and other tax tricks, the biggest one of them is having enough money to spend however I like.’

Bart smiled.

‘Some stars spend their money on sports cars and beachfront properties in California or racehorses or islands or hotels in Dubai. I prefer to collect things; not the sort of ordinary things that ordinary people collect but the sort of extraordinary things that only extraordinary people like myself are able to collect.’

Bart looked very pleased with himself.

‘After years of spending more money than you could ever hope to even see, I currently have one of the world’s biggest collections of occult paraphernalia. I have cloaks and wands and books and globes and fetishes and familiars and gems and spells and curses and any other splendid arcania that takes my fancy.’

Bart smiled as he thought about his extensive collection. He pointed at Inteachán.

‘As you also know, I have recently acquired the Flute of Thelema and of all the things I have collected over the years this is the one thing that gives me the most pleasure.’

Bart paused.

‘Do you want to know why?’ he asked Inteachán.

‘Not really,’ answered Inteachán. Bart laughed.

‘Because The5 gave it to me as a gift.’

‘The Five?’ said Inteachán.

‘Not The Five, The5,’ corrected the Rock Star. ‘I’m sure that Mac has told you all kinds of ludicrous stories about the NotBeSpeak.’

Inteachán nodded.

‘Well,’ said the Rock Star. ‘He doesn’t know the half of it.’

Inteachán said nothing. Bart was thrilled to share his knowledge.

‘You cannot begin to imagine what I have seen and heard,’ he boasted. ‘Your tiny little mind would simply shatter.’

Bart cracked his knuckles.

‘The5 first spoke to me during a late-night recording session in our studio. The rest of the band had gone home hours before but I wanted to re-record a vocal so I stayed behind. As I mixed the track I kept noticing a slight vibration in the background.’

Bart stared at Inteachán, convinced he was impressing her with his knowledge.

‘It took me a while but eventually I was able to isolate the vibration and digitally transpose it, re-modulating it as I did so. At first I still couldn’t make anything out but by further transposing across four of the channels I was finally able to convert the vibration into legible sound.’

Inteachán wasn’t sure if Bart really knew what he was talking about. Unperturbed, he continued with his explanation.

‘I first heard a series of garbled voices whispering about stones and stars and other things that I couldn’t understand. It quite freaked me out, I can tell you.’

Bart mock-shivered. Inteachán didn’t laugh.

‘I must have fall into some kind of sleep at that stage because the next thing I knew I was standing in a pitch-black desert looking up at five shiny black planets in splendid orbit. A sudden wind appeared from nowhere.

‘We aRE The5,’ the wind whispered. ‘YoU ARe OuR fuTURe.’’

Bart looked extremely pleased with himself.

‘Then I was back in my studio as if nothing had happened.’

Bart smiled.

‘It isn’t everyday that beings from beyond our consciousness ask for help and so naturally I couldn’t say no.’

Bart kept crowing.

‘The5 must have seen one my concerts and realised just how much messianic potential I truly possess. They told me about the Flute and where it could be found. They also told me how to play it and why.’

‘Why?’ asked Inteachán.

‘Precisely,’ said Bart mystically. ‘Why, indeed.’

He put his hand inside his jacket and pulled out an ornate wooden box. He opened one end of the box and took out a small silver flute. Inteachán fancied that she saw its outline shimmer slightly. Bart put the flute to his lips and pretended to play it.

‘She’s a beauty, isn’t she?’ he said boastfully, ‘but I mustn’t play it now. I have to wait until later.’

He put the flute back in the box and placed the box upon the table.

‘Only then will the time is exactly right.’

Bart looked at Inteachán and raised an eyebrow.

‘What do you think will happen when I play the flute during the concert?’

‘Something rotten,’ Inteachán replied. Bart laughed.

‘Something rotten? Something rotten? How about more like something mightily amazingly magnificently marvelous?’

Bart clicked his Cuban heels together.

‘When I play the Flute of Thelema The5 will know that their entry into this world is assured.’

Bart rubbed his hands together.

‘As Mac has no doubt explained in his clumsy, geriatric way, The5 exist in the spaces between things,’ explained the Rock Star. ‘The white between the words on a page, lines of a book or the cuts of a film.’ Bart continued.

‘Tonight, The5 will first reveal their intentions towards the world via the specially-commissioned video that will be playing on the massive wall of screens behind the band.’ Inteachán said nothing. Bart leapt to his tiny feet.

‘As the concert’s crescendo is reached I will play the Flute of Thelema and The5 will anoint me with their magnificence and then turn their attention to the audience. They will also be anointed by The5,’ said the Rock Star, ‘but obviously not quite as much as me for they have chosen me especially. The crowd will go wild and this dirty old town will be taken by sunrise.’

Inteachán didn’t see the fist that hit the side of her head and knocked her to the floor unconscious.

Terminal Transit – Irish, Apocalyptic, Science Fiction, Horror Novel

Synopsis

A brilliant research student discovers a plot fulminated by demons from another dimension and kills himself in the process. The fate of the world is left in the hands of an elderly academic and a mysterious orphan.

Using the facts surrounding Ireland’s economic collapse in 2008 as its starting point, Terminal Transit is an apocalyptic adventure dealing with death and destruction in a Dublin slowly devastated by demonic intervention.

Can the end of the world be avoided?

Or is this planet simply scheduled for Terminal Transit?

Terminal Transit,

Chapter I ‘The Song of the NotBeSpeak,’

Verse 7

The next evening and Mac sat thinking in his chair. Inteachán sat beside him waiting. The coals in the grate cracked and whispered. Menace clung to the room like a funeral drape. Mac thought some more and then, just when she thought he had fallen asleep, Mac leaned over and placed his hand gently on her arm. He smiled.

‘I have to ask something of you, Inteachán,’ said Mac tenderly. ‘I have to ask you to do something that I don’t want to ask you to do. Your father made me swear that if the worst came to the worst that I was to look out for you and treat you as the grand-daughter I never knew.’ Mac shifted uncomfortably.

‘I hate myself for asking but I am too old to go and I really don’t think that we can trust anyone else with something as vast and secret as this so it will have to be you.’

In Mac’s troubled mind Inteachán was capable of anything. He just knew she was. Inteachán looked up from her tears. Her small face was red and smeared. Everything was far too much for her to bear.

‘How can I possibly help?’ she asked the old man. ‘What do you want me to do?’ Inteachán began to sob but Mac did not react. His mind was made up and nothing was going to deter him.

‘It has come to my attention,’ said Mac, ‘that the Flute of Thelema has recently been rediscovered and is now residing in this country.’

‘The Flute of Flelema?’ asked Inteachán. ‘Whatever is that?’

Mac nodded. He loved nothing more than having an audience, even if it was only a grieving child. Sibeal used to be his sounding post and though she teased him when his ‘sermons’ got too much he knew she really loved to hear him speak, or at least he thought she did.

‘It was in 1923 that a certain Raoul Loveday commissioned a local silversmith from the port of Cefalu to craft an ornamental flute which he intended to offer as a tribute to the noted occultist Aleister Crowley who had recently established his infamous Abbey of Thelema in the vicinity.’

Mac smiled wryly.

‘Sadly, however, Raoul drank from a local spring and succumbed to enteric fever before the flute was completed. Another version of the same story suggests that he died after drinking the blood of a cat. Either way Crowley was forced to leave his Abbey that same year and so the Flute became another tale surrounding the legendary occultist and his life.’

Mac’s smile ended and the agitation in his voice began to rise. The menace descended lower now.

‘It has long been the predilection for billionaire rock stars and other hapless creatures to collect occult and esoteric memorabilia – cloaks, spell books, wands, papers, powders, vials, grimoires, goblets and other such gruesome gimlets. Most of these misguided creatures simply place their collections in vaults or leave them laying around their mansions to be worn on special occasions or passed around at dinner parties for the pleasure of their guests.’ Mac snorted his displeasure at such behaviour.

‘However, and according to your late father’s intelligence, it appears that Bartholomew Hamson, the biggest rock star this country has ever produced, and known to the world as Bart, has recently acquired the long-lost Flute of Thelema. At midnight tomorrow Bart and his band will be performing their latest homecoming concert in front of 80, 000 adoring people at Croke Park and apparently, at the climax, so your father understood, Bart intends to play the Flute.’ Mac looked worried again.

‘At this stage I have no way of knowing why Bart would want to do this but it clearly cannot simply be in the interests of popular composition.’ He looked at Inteachán. ‘I need you to go backstage, locate the Flute and prevent it from being played.’

Inteachán had seen the posters around town; four men wearing skullcaps and too-large sunglasses, cowboy boots and leather waistcoats. Even though she couldn’t name any of their songs, Inteachán knew just how much this band meant to so many people. Mac continued talking.

‘Given the nature of the Flute’s origins, the site chosen for its debut and your father’s findings, I firmly believe that the sound of this infernal instrument is somehow intended to engage directly with the NotBeSpeak.’

‘But’s what’s so special about Croke Park?’ asked Inteachán. She placed another piece of bread on her fork and began to toast it on the fire as Mac spoke.

‘There is an ancient ley line called St. Michael which extends out from Ireland into Europe and then the Middle East. This line intersects with various sacred sites dedicated to the saint himself. There are various amplification points along this line, including Skellig Michael, the so-called holy rock that stands in the Atlantic Ocean. Unbeknown to everyone but a few, Croke Park is also another amplification point.’ Inteachán felt a slight shadow descend.

‘If the Flute is played at such a point of amplification then who knows what will happen next.’ Mac put down his plate. ‘As if that wasn’t enough, Croke Park also stands in Ballybough and Ballybough is one of the darkest parts of Dublin.’ Mac looked at Inteachán.

‘There is an old cemetery in Ballybough where the City’s undesirables used to be buried. Thieves, robbers, highwaymen and suicide victims, hence the name, the Suicide Plot.’

‘The worst thing of all,’ continued Mac, ‘was that each corpse had a stake driven through its heart so that they couldn’t further bother the residents.’