There Goes The Neighbourhood…

The spirits of the dead filled Morningside Road while the living went about their Saturday afternoon business, oblivious for the most part to this silent invasion. While I could see every sad, dessicated detail of the revenant army, what I couldn’t figure out was what the hell they wanted.

The dead tended to forget the finer points of the flesh overcoats they had worn in life. As the years passed, that memory loss became the gateway to a sinister evolution of form and sometimes even substance. That explained the dark, shark-like shapes frenetically circling above my head and even the serpentine coils of some of the earthbound. What it didn’t explain was why they were all acting in concert, as though co-ordinated by a single mind.

Navy clouds massed above and within minutes, a torrent of water fell from the sky washing the debris and the living both from the streets. The dead remained, impassive, motionless and then, as though at an unseen signal, swung round as one to fix their lightless eyes on me. The weight of their attention drove the breath from my lungs as though I was being dragged miles down into the sunless depths of the sea.

Gasping, I did the only thing I could do: walked on, oblivious to the rain driving into my face but not the mortal danger. Recovering slightly, I picked up the pace, trying not to be too obvious about it in case that triggered the imminent attack.

I was heading for Holy Corner and the sleeping guardians formed from years of the worship of a god that didn’t exist. Whether or not they would deign to wake and protect me was a whole other can of worms that I’d have the pleasure of opening if I lived long enough to reach the can-opener.

Love Thy Neighbour

When I moved into my new flat in Home Street, the first thing I did was to make peace with the spirits who haunted it – or so I thought. It was just routine, the first rule of good house-keeping and something I always did in a new place.

But I hadn’t reckoned on the thing that haunted the small cupboard in the stairwell, not then.

I had laid out my offerings as usual, consisting of supermarket own brand cognac accompanied by some slices of Madeira which for some reason was always a favourite. The spiritual under-class who refused to pass on, choosing instead to crowd this world with their unwanted presences and unseemly demands had a very sweet, and undeniably alcoholic, tooth.

It was Wednesday lunchtime in a drear and dreich July and I still hadn’t fully unpacked. But some things were more important than settling in.

The flat was poky and dark with loose windows through which the dull roar of the midday traffic and a seeping damp insinuated themselves. I remember I had lit a few candles to get me in the mood and was nibbling absent-mindedly on some cake when they came.

I was aware of the grey smog before I saw it, death sense pinging its presence back to me like a bat’s sonar. And of course I smelt it too, damp and mildew underlaid with that sickly-sweet scent of decay.

They came flowing towards me, men women and children, some whole, more not. The dead soon forgot their appearance in life and evolved into other forms most of which were often not recognisably human. A dark blur raced around the walls of the cramped living-room while a group of children in Edwardian clothes gaped at me, teeth sharp, eyes bright.

The cuckoo clock chimed the half hour and that’s when I became of the presence outside the door.

It wanted in. Not like the ghosts of those who had died appeased by stale sweets and cheap booze, no, this wanted in. A crushing pressure on my chest made it difficult to breath and I fell to floor with the realisation that what was waiting for me outside wasn’t going to be bought off or bargained with.

I didn’t understand, it had never gone like this before. What the hell was waiting for me on the other side of the door? I reached up to the pine coffee table scrabbling for my mobile, but either it wasn’t there or I was unable to reach it.

A click of the lock and then a slow wet, slither in the hall told me my guest had arrived….

Piggy In The Middle

I caught the X12 at the Ingliston Park and Ride just in time and settled into my seat shaking the rain from my hood. It was just gone 6.50 am on a gloomy Monday in July and I had an urgent appointment with a woman in Burdiehouse about a supernatural parasite that had laid its eggs in her toilet cistern. Of course she didn’t realise that, but what hadn’t escaped her was that it didn’t appear to be a fault with the plumbing, given the fact that the plumber in question had run screaming from her top floor flat and she’d heard nothing from him since. So distraught was he, that he’d left all his tools in an untidy spill in her hallway.

“Oi,” said a voice from the seat behind me, “You’ve soaked me, you inconsiderate bitch.”

I turned my head in disbelief and saw a young girl of perhaps eighteen glowering at me. She was blond and petite, pale blue eyes dominating a delicate, heart-shaped face. She might have been pretty minus the scowl but what really caught my attention was the seven foot elemental attached to her. A long, veined tentacle thicker than one of her thighs had wrapped itself around her body, penetrating the flesh at the base of her neck. The elemental itself was a pulsating mass, featureless and unformed for now. It had also not been in situ for that long judging by the size. These things could grow to the size of skyscrapers if left long enough and if the host had sufficient juice.

The thing about these creatures was that they made the hosts, well, not to put to fine a point on it, crazy – and not the lovable, harmless ditzy variety either. That meant the hosts with the most needed to get rid of their uninvited, joy-riding parasites before they got too entrenched. Once that happened it was Goodnight Vienna.

I specialised in getting rid of these things and from what I could see, this one looked distinctly doable. The tentacle on this one throbbed rhythmically as it sucked on the girl’s life force. A faint blush spread like an angry rash over her pale skin and I wondered what cocktail the elemental was feeding her.

“Listen-” I began.

“No, you listen.”

She jabbed a slender forefinger inches from my face in staccato counterpoint to the torrent of abuse spewing from the rosebud mouth. The tentacle coiled more possessively around the slender body and the peristaltic contractions became more pronounced.

I turned away from her and she jabbed me in the back, hard.

“Oi, you, you ignorant cow. I’m going to rip off your head and spew down the hole and you’ll thank me for it by the time I’ve finished with you.”

“Not without a head I won’t,” I said without turning round.

I fished around for a pen and paper in my bag and started scribbling a note for her all the while knowing it was hopeless. Even if I gave it to her and managed to get off the bus without her stuffing it down my presumably still attached throat, the chances of her ringing me for help rather than more abuse were remote.

I sighed and tried to ignore the frantic jabbing in my back. I was getting off at Haymarket and we were nearly there. But my troubles had, it seemed, only just begun as a sweet little old lady dressed in lilac sat down next to me.

“What a to do!” she said breezily. “No one’s leaving this bus until we’re all extra special friends again.”

She smiled, revealing a row of jagged brown teeth and a distinctly vulpine glint in her eyes.


One of the old guard that hunted human meat and weren’t too fussed how they got it. She might look like a vulnerable oldster, but judging by the dark maroon aura that was almost choking me she was in fact an exceptionally dangerous predator.

A shape-shifter that wasn’t for shifting beside me and an enraged maniac at my back. I was now officially between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea or Scylla and Charybdis if you more classically inclined. And all before I’d had my morning latte.

The question was, which way could I jump.

Fresh Meat

The December dawn ingratiated itself slowly in the east, ploughing runnels of crimson and ochre in its wake like a giant taloned hand gouging fresh wounds over old scars. Or maybe that was just how I was feeling at eight am on a Monday morning having kept myself awake with a mix of Red Bull and whisky for the second night in a row.

The reason for my devoted vigil was snarling from the dark depths of the living room and the only thing keeping me alive was the circle of protection I had cast as an afterthought, never dreaming I’d actually be in need of it. While that was a big bully for me, I had no idea how long it would hold and what to do when it broke.

Although that was my most pressing problem, there was another darker behemoth lurking behind it which disturbed me more. This creature defiling my house and every waking moment for two interminable days had in fact been stalking me between worlds for as long as I could remember. So long in fact I’d begun to forget about it, sheltered as I was by the strong wards that guarded my flat. But someone had broken those wards and if I survived, I needed to find out who that particular ill-wisher was.

The beast, a deformed, wretched thing, glared at me with red, slanted eyes, howling like a banshee until the ringing in my ears was almost as bad as the sight of its triple rows of mismatched, tusk-like teeth.

The protective circle chose that moment to break and the creature was on me in one loping bound, jaws snapping.

But there are worse fates than being eaten alive and I was about to find out the hard way what they were….

Greedy Guts

A darkness devoured the Meadows. It was perhaps unfortunate that it had chosen a Monday morning in June to do it, but then, such entities were not known for showing respect for the imperatives of the working week. It roiled in on itself revealing deformed limbs, countless gaping maws and a capacity for consumption that would have shamed the City of London.

Strange then that the good folk going about their business with varying degrees of grudging obedience failed to notice it. The darkness enveloped them as they trudged along the footpaths that criss-crossed the park and when they emerged blinking at the outermost edges, they had no idea that they were subtly, indefinably changed.

Each one carried a little, burrowing sliver of the creature that had hijacked their city and would soon be subsumed by it. It was their families though, that would bear the real cost and I knew that the newspapers would soon be full of reports of unimaginable atrocities.

Or rather unimaginable until now.

The only thing I could do was wait until it had had its fill and then try to tempt it from its nesting spot with a promise of fresh meat.

But in the meantime, I needed to find an alternative route to the office….