We’re all writers, right?

In a way, yes we are, whether we are penning quarter million word best sellers, carving the name of a lover on a tree  or spraying Baz rools orlrite on someone’s brand new Bentley. Though I would strongly recommend there are other, more positive ways of exercising one’s latent literary talent otherwise you mind find yourself  writing letters that begin….Dear Mam and Dad, prison food isn’t so bad….

Here’s something to make you smile….I hope.

The Nine Amendments is a fantasy novel with a humorous religious theme that is set on a post apocalyptic Earth.

The story tells of Judysear undertaker, Isack Knewtun and his trip to Sunniclimes, ostensibly to remove and relocate the newly discovered Mummy of Mo Sez, a Prophet who is believed by the Theocracy of Judysear to have been burnt to a frazzle by The One God atop Mount Sinisitis for being a dreadful sinner.

It says so…right there in The Book.

Other translations suggest it was because he was a dreadful singer. The issue has never been resolved and caused more schisms than the head of the church has had hot dinners. Or hot somethings.

But this is all a ruse…and Isack is far from being a simple undertaker and Mo Sez is far from dead!

Chapter 7.

The burial chamber was large, as befitting one of such importance, and full of all the accoutrements a former Pharaoh could possibly need in the afterlife.

Although there were no servants. That was something to be grateful for.

Convincing those stupid old sods that he did not need five hundred handpicked members of the Royal Household, including twenty-five of the most nubile and energetic concubines had been quite a feat of diplomacy.

He was relieved not to have that on his conscious

Though he remembered having to threaten them with all manner of dire and grisly death if they ushered anyone into his tomb after he had made his final journey.

He had made one concession: his favourite camel, Flem.

They were correct; he would need transport when he arrived.  However, arriving back here was not part of their plan.

It was most definitely part of his. Although, in reality, he had never left.

The walls were full of carvings, detailing his life’s achievements, for all that was worth, he thought, as he scanned the archaic symbols.

Didn’t I add one of my own somewhere, he wondered? He looked at the wall above his sarcophagus.

‘There it is,’ he announced. He read the inscription aloud. ‘Mo was here.’ He chuckled. ‘I wonder what they’ll make of that. If they ever find it, that is.’

In the shadows, at the far end of the tomb stood Flem, snoring gently

‘Wake up, you cantankerous, moth-eaten old git.’

The sound of the Mummy’s voice echoed eerily around the chamber.

Long eyelashes fluttered. A wisp of breath escaped from its nostrils and a small plume of dust appeared from the camel’s rear-end.

‘Hrungnff’, said the camel.

‘Oh, for crying in a bucket. We’re cooped up here for I-don’t-know how long and the first thing you do is fart? The last meal you ate was so long ago there can’t possibly be anything inside of you that could warrant such a stink.’

Mo covered his nose with a bandaged hand. In a muffled voice, he continued to remonstrate with the camel. ‘The least you could have done was to wait until we’re out in the fresh air. Something that is now decidedly lacking in here.’

Flem turned his head slowly in Mo’s direction, gave one languid flutter of his eyelashes, swished his tail, and farted again. Then adding insult to injury, he belched loudly.

Mo shook his head in resignation.  ‘Limber up a bit, I would,’ Mo advised the camel. ‘It’s been a while since either of us had any proper exercise. Don’t want you pulling up lame after five minutes out on the sand.’

The camel gave him a look of disdain; nevertheless, he began to move his legs while remaining in the same place.

Even such a limited amount of movement had the effect of kick-starting the camel’s digestive system and immediately produced several foul smelling ‘parps’ of ancient dust.

‘Okay, okay,’ Mo pleaded, ‘enough limbering.’

The camel came to a stuttering halt but continued to swish its tail suggesting an attitude of, ‘Any time you’re ready, chief?’

Mo contemplated the effect on a regiment of enemy infantry if one hundred farting camels were turned rearward at the moment of charge. Maybe it could be bottled he mused.

‘Food and water are a priority. I’ve got enough for a week,’ he said, hoisting a dripping, ice-cold crate from the sarcophagus, ‘but we’ll have to find something for you.’

The camel snorted in agreement.

‘Once we’re out in the desert, the nearest oasis is around fifty miles away, so we’ll have to make sure you have a full tank. We’ll wait ’til it’s dark before we leave. There used to be a bar near the palace called Seti’s, if memory serves? They had several water troughs and food bins for camels. If the place is still there, we’ll be all set.  Mind, you, that was a long time ago. Keep your fingers crossed.’

The camel gave him a sideways look.

‘Figure of speech.’

Flem moved his head in an up and down fashion as if appraising Mo’s attire.

‘Yeah, I know. But what can I do? If I take the bandages off I’ll burn up like a thousand year old piece of papyrus.’

Flem jerked his head to the left, towards the sarcophagus.

‘I already checked. Nothing. It was a new-fangled idea some of the priests believed in. Something about being re-born. Except for the bandages, you entered the afterlife wearing the same gear as when you first came into this life. Well, if need be, I’ll try to find something when we get outside, alright?’

Flem smacked his lips and ground his teeth.

‘So what if we’re confronted? I’ll make a few woo-woo noises and wave my arms about. That should be enough to scare the you-know-what out of anyone.’

Flem snorted.

‘Okay, not you, of course, because effectively, you don’t have any you-know-what inside. Ha, ha. Not funny.’

The light began to fade as the sun dipped into late afternoon.

‘I suppose I’d better look for a candle or something, but with you farting every five minutes, I doubt there’s enough oxygen left in here for one to burn. By Dog, you stink. ‘Okay, let’s get ready to leave. Oh, I almost forgot.’

Mo reached into the sarcophagus and retrieved something oblong and metallic. It looked similar to a Tablet. Remarkably similar, in fact. ‘Don’t want to leave this lying around.’

He walked stiffly over to Flem, packed the saddle with supplies then slid the Tablet and the sceptre into a specially designed velvet-lined leather satchel.

‘If you would do me the honour, old friend?’

Flem knelt down and Mo swung gingerly onto the saddle.

‘Whenever you’re ready, old friend.’

 

Copyright ©Douglas Pearce

Book Excerpt – Almost Dead In Suburbia

almost dead2

1

Not Really Dead

‘Eighty-three,’ the squeaky voice called out.

Thirty-three heads dropped to stare at the numbered ticket each person clutched for dear life.

‘Nope,’ said a voice from behind.

A heavy sigh was the response from the woman sitting two seats away.

‘Dammit!  – An erudite outburst from the back of the room.

There was also a small cheer.

Someone got up and disappeared beyond the temporary partition for a few minutes; then reappeared, all smiles, holding on to their prize and giving a fleeting look at the poor sods that remained before making a beeline for the exit.

And so it went on.

Funny that, thought Ralph, we’ve all been here the best part of an hour and yet every time the secretary or tea lady or whatever she was entered the room and called out a number, every single person looked at his or her raffle ticket.  You would think after sitting in the same position for so long everyone would remember their ticket number.

His reaction was no different from the rest of them.  His head went down just like theirs every time the tea lady (he had decided to go with this option) walked across the grubby black and white linoleum floor, stood in front of this small gathering, and recited.

The response was usually the same.  Nope, Sigh, Dammit and a small cheer.

There had been one other respondent previously sitting in the chair directly behind Sigh.  He alternated between ‘crap’ and ‘shoot’, but had left in a fit of pique after having his number called out while he was not in the room.  Leaning forward, he had tapped Sigh on the shoulder, and as she turned said in a hoarse whisper ‘I’m just popping into the corridor for a smoke.  I’m dying here without a ciggy.  Wave if my number’s called, okay?  I’ll be able to see you through the glass.’

She nodded dumbly.  Trouble was Crap/Shoot was in such a rush to have his ‘ciggy’ that he forgot to tell her his number.

When he returned, leaving behind a cloud of smoke, Sigh beckoned him over and whispered.

‘You forgot to tell me your ticket number, dear.’

Crap/Shoot mumbled ‘Shoot’,’ and when Tea Lady reappeared he enquired about the last couple of numbers.

Because there are certain  rules of narrative fiction that while not written on paper, are so old they are almost certainly carved in stone, so naturally, one of the numbers had been his.

A few words of pleading, followed by a brief, heated outburst containing several more colourful expletives, did not produce the desired result: that of being bumped up the queue.

Losing his temper with Tea Lady wasn’t winning him any friends amongst the others in the room either.

She would not budge.  He had missed his turn, and that was that.  She tore off another raffle ticket which she handed to him and indicated with steely grey eyes that he should take his seat once more.

Crap/Shoot nearly had a fit, screwed up his ticket, then unscrewed it and tore it into little pieces right under Tea Lady’s nose.

Her response appeared practised.  ‘Security,’ was the call.  Tea Lady didn’t even raise her voice.

Crap/Shoot stormed off in a rage, banging into the metal waste bin as he turned, and hurting his right knee in the process.

Seems it’s true: smoking is bad for your health, Ralph thought.  Then, just as he felt the impulse to smile, he received a murderous glance from Mr.    Crapshoot and quickly rearranged his expression into the one that said, ‘I’m a moron just like the rest of us here.’

Forty-seven minutes and eighteen seconds later Tea Lady called out number ninety-two and Ralph leaped out of the plastic seat, went into the available cubicle, handed over his receipt and was issued with his new passport.

When was that, he wondered?  He couldn’t remember.  It wasn’t important.    Not any more, anyway. Dead people don’t need passports.  So why had he been thinking of the passport office?

Then he got it.  The raffle tickets.  He imagined wherever it might be he was heading to would have a similar character who would call out his number when it was time for him to ‘go’.  But go where?  That was the question he was waiting to be answered.

Ah, here it comes, the tunnel, the bright light.  He had heard or read something about people who claimed they had died and afterwards . . . what was the term? Came back to life?  Resurrected?  Anyway, all had said that this was how it was.  For some reason he felt that the opportunity to confirm the story to anyone would not present itself.  Unless, of course, he found a way to communicate from the ‘other side’.

He began moving towards the bright light.  Not too far now, he thought, although there was no real sense of distance.  The light just seemed to swell around him until he became immersed in it.  His final thought before crossing over: Hey, just think, I get to meet God!  From a self-confessed atheist this was quite ironic.

There was a flash and, he was back in the real world, whatever that was.  The tunnel had gone, the bright light had vanished, and he was standing outside a suburban house at the scene of an accident.

At first glance it looked as though an ambulance had rammed into a car as it was reversing out of a driveway.

What the hell!

Then he realised where he was, and what he was looking at.   The car was his, the house was his and the unfortunate victim lying on a stretcher by the damaged blue BMW was him.

Oh, no! I’m dead!

Copyright© Douglas Pearce

Book Extract – Identity: Cry Sies!

Identity: Cry Sies.

The almost familiar country of Sarfricar is about to get a New President, and he’s a Manchester United Supporter! Run for the hills!

A satire of South African politics

Chapter 4

Dr. Wilson Diba was in his sixties when finally released from prison.

Arrested at the age of twenty-three for riding a bicycle without any lights, his initial sentence should have only been five years hard labour. The pro-government press felt this was quite fair as the crime happened during daylight hours. It would have been ten years had it been dark.

As Sweatow was usually shrouded in smoke from the innumerable coal fires that burned constantly the term ‘daylight hours’ was a moot point.

Wilson was busy studying to be a lawyer. Of course, this was impossible for a Blick person in Sarfrica, as they could not practice law, by law.

‘An’ if theys carnt practice, theys carnt get better, hey!’ remarked the Minister of Law and Order, Mr. Vas ‘die voet’ Flock.

To avoid any form of suspicion Wilson usually wrote “second-hand shoe salesman” on any government form that required him to reveal his profession. It had to be second hand because the assumption was that any Blick found in possession of anything new had to have stolen it. It also helped that he never had any stock in trade about his person.

Wilson attended university at Fort Hair and would cycle the 72 kilometres to ‘varsity’ every morning.

The morning of his arrest Wilson was about to crest the top of a steep incline.  He emerged from the perpetual smog bank in Sweatow and immediately went through a speed trap.

Within twenty minutes, he arrived, handcuffed, and blindfolded at Joan Foster’s Happy Circle Police Station.

The following morning he was due to appear in court.

Having a good idea how these things worked, and being a “smart Blick”, Wilson thought it best to confess to his crime and hope that he would get away with a fine.

However, when he addressed the desk sergeant, a charge of aggravated assault was added immediately. Misunderstanding the officer, Wilson politely asked, in perfect Inglish, ‘Excuse me?’

The sergeant, convinced that one of the station’s Alsatian dogs had spoken to him, ran screaming from the charge office.

After eight hours at Joan Foster’s Happy Circle Police Station Wilson was finally able to convince someone that he was prepared to make a full confession.

However, somewhere along the line, his court appointed attorney, who did not acknowledge a word of Inglish, incorrectly translated Wilson’s written confession from, ‘ Riding a bicycle without lights in a non built up area,’ to ‘Knowingly and willingly trying to blow up the Parliament buildings.’

The five-years went out of the proverbial window and Wilson received a life sentence.

Wilson had an interesting time whilst incarcerated, although it was not all spent inside. He spent the first five years of his sentence outdoors digging the route for the M2 West highway.

A cursory enquiry soon revealed that the charges were erroneous and relatives began a campaign to secure Wilson’s release. The original charge of ‘Riding a bicycle without lights’ was also found to be without substance as Wilson had had a set of bicycle lights in a canvass bag he was carrying; the batteries were nearly flat and he had intended to buy new ones in Joeberg.

Wilson Diba became an icon symbolising the inhumanity of Sarfrican law and the desperate need to supply Blicks with dynamo driven lights for their bicycles.

The person responsible for initiating the worldwide awareness campaign for Wilson’s release was his mother, Mrs. Beauty ‘Ma’ Diba.

She first approached the You Knighted States.

As they had recently enacted their own Civil Rights Bill and had lots of money, she believed this would be a good start.

She was thrilled when she received a letter from the President of the YKS, Richard Nicksome.

He wrote:

 

 Hi Y’all.

   I am sending you a crate of Automatic Rifles. We call them the Peace Maker. When Wilson gets out the joint give me a call.

Yours sincerely

Dick.

And, he was.

As the years went by Wilson’s fame spread far and wide. People around the world added their voice to the call for his release.

Universities all over the place bestowed upon him honorary degrees and doctorates.

One such being from the University of Pleese Yorself in Finland that awarded him an honoury degree in entomology, convinced, as they were, that after so long in prison he must have an intimate knowledge of most forms of creepy-crawly. The Dean having seen the film Papillon, no doubt

Then it happened. On a glorious Monday morning Wilson Diba walked out of Joan Foster’s Happy Circle Prison a free men.

The guards had all clubbed together to buy him a going away present and in an emotional farewell they presented him with a tube of Dark and Lovely hair dye and two new batteries for his bicycle lights. The prison warden had even approved the purchase of two slightly used bicycle tyres out of petty cash. Wilson had never ridden a bicycle with tyres and he did not mind signing the petty cash chitty one bit.

Wilson’s personal guard, who had brought him a cup of tea in the same tin mug with a hole in the bottom for thirty-three years, even on his last morning, was weeping inconsolably.

‘I loves that bleddy Ca…Blick, I really does.’

Wilson stepped out of prison pushing his bicycle to a tumultuous welcome from seven family members and one reporter from the Stark newspaper.

*

    Prior to being sentenced to prison, Wilson had belonged to a Sweatow jazz band called the All Night Clubbers. After he was locked up the rest of the band members gigged ceaselessly for over thirty years to raise funds to launch a political campaign to get Wilson elected as the first Demographic Blick President.

To attract attention to their cause they blew up Muckdonalds’ fast food outlets across the country. No-one died because of the explosions, but apparently, by preventing people from eating at these places many lives were saved.

The All Night Clubbers received the Noble Piece Prize for “Services to Humanity”.

Wilson became Sarfrica’s first Blick President at a glittering inauguration ceremony at Jean Foster’s Happy Circle Prison.

Wilson chose the venue for nostalgic reasons and an array of world leaders, attended, including a bemused President George Brush senior from the Y.K.S.

Asked for his feelings about witnessing such an historic event he replied,

‘Y’know I never realised that he was Blick. Is that legal over here?’

Ten years later Sarfrica was beginning to realise its potential as a true powerhouse on the world stage. Foreign investment began to flood the country and major inroads were made towards the alleviation of poverty.

The country was strong and getting stronger.

So famous had the country become that millions of well-wishers from north of the country’s borders came to congratulate the Sarfricans; most of them stayed.

Twenty years on Sarfrica was almost back to square one. Almost. They still had Demography.

Copyright© Douglas Pearce

Book Extract. Almost Dead In Suburbia.

For Lyz. Who has lotsanlots…anlots of patience.   🙂

I’ve hardly posted anything from this book. Odd I suppose, but then there is a teaser posted on the publisher’s website.

http://www.pkaboo.net/almostdead.html

I don’t know about other writers, but for me once a book is done and dusted  – read published – there isn’t anything one can do with it. It is pretty much a done deal unless the publisher suggests a rewrite or something for a new imprint. 

Anyway, the point is the ‘book is closed’ and we move on to the next story.

But I was sorting out some books on one of my shelves in the office and my hand fell upon a copy Almost Dead so, not having read it in a while I thought I’d  grab a coffee and a comfy chair and see if it still made sense and maybe even forced a smile from the writer, yours truly.

It did. This scene was always one of my favorites. I love the character, Albert. He was such fun to write. The perfect foil to  Straight-as-an-Arrow Detective Sergeant Bill Williams.

I hope it makes you smile as well.

___________________________________________________________________

Bill parked the Jeep in its allotted space behind the police station and walked back up the short tarred driveway to the station entrance.

An elderly gentleman, dressed in an old RAF greatcoat, was sitting on the front steps holding a placard and looking sorry for himself.

‘Morning, Albert, what’s all this then?’ Bill asked.

Albert Gilling was Wiggleswood’s only homeless person.  The old man was not really homeless; he just claimed he was.  A victim of circumstance was the term he used.  In fact, Albert was the wealthiest person in Wiggleswood.  But somewhere along the line it seemed as if a few carriages had become derailed, and this was when he had begun a life of sort-of living on the streets.

Albert’s family owned large tracts of farmland, and had numerous other business interests at home and abroad.  They also bred racehorses, ran a world-renowned stud-farm and were the ones responsible for resurrecting the Corlington-to-London train line, including rebuilding the station and the steam locomotive that ran on its narrow gauge track, all of which was now part of the National Trust.

Albert’s problems began several years ago after his family claimed he had had a nervous breakdown.

Albert insisted there was nothing wrong with his mind.  He said that the ability to see ghosts was perfectly normal.  It was every one else that was crazy.

Albert went for treatment in London but managed to avoid being committed by behaving ‘normally’ for six months.  Bill suspected he had behaved himself just enough to avoid staying out of a mental institution.  He felt sure there was more to Albert Gilling than met the eye.  So did Albert.

Eventually, he evicted himself from the large family home, claiming the ghost of Lord Alfred Tennyson was harassing him for some inexplicable reason.

His family relooked at the possibility of having him committed.  Seeing as Albert’s family were fairly well known, the villagers feared such an act would immediately attract the attention of the media.  The last thing they wanted was headlines in the newspapers about the ‘Loony Landowner from Wiggleswood’.

So a small flat was organised for him at the back of the police station, and after a month Albert claimed he had stopped seeing ghosts.

As a gesture of gratitude for ‘Putting me up,’ Albert did voluntary police work.

‘I’ll keep an eye open f ‘villains.  Don’t want paying.’

Bill Williams acknowledged the elderly gentleman with a salute and a cup of tea most mornings upon his arrival at the station.

When Albert wasn’t doing his police work, his part-time job was road-sweeping.

‘Cleanliness is next to wotsisname,’ Albert announced the day he decided to take on this supplementary role.

Bill had bumped into him on his first morning as he was leaving the newsagent.

Albert had just turned into the high street, pushing a yellow handcart laden with an assortment of brooms and shovels and a long-handled leaf rake.

One of the first things Bill had noticed were the letters C.T.C painted on the side of the cart.  Oh, dear, he thought. Now what?

‘Hello, Albert. CTC? That’s Corlington Town Council if I’m not mistaken?’

‘It ain’t nicked, if that’s what you’re thinking,’ Albert grumpily volunteered.

‘Nicked?’

‘Yeah. Nicked: as in filched, stolen or purloined. I’ve got friends, you know?’

‘I’m sure you have, Albert. It’s nice to have friends.’ It was clearly best not to wind Albert up. ‘You mind how you go, all right?’

His family were over the embarrassment of having a semi-homeless person in their ranks and, fortunately, the problem had not attracted any attention from the newspapers.

Now, in response to Bill’s greeting, Albert retorted, ‘That’s Mister Gilling to you, Detective Sergeant, and don’t you forget it.’

Bill raised an eyebrow.  He was used to Albert being cantankerous every now and then, but not downright rude.

‘I’ll be back in a minute.  Don’t go away,’ Bill told him.

‘I ain’t going nowhere, Bill Williams.  You can count on that.  I told ‘em, I did,’ he shouted at Bill’s retreating back.

‘Morning, Sharon; kettle on?  Albert’s outside.  He’s having a turn again, by the looks of it.’

‘Morning, sarge,’ PC Griffith replied.  ‘He’s been outside for the past half an hour marching up and down waving that stupid placard.  I was seriously thinking of arresting him for his own good.  Been making a heck of a row he has.  His family will be down soon if he doesn’t behave himself.  It’s just boiled, sarge.’

‘Good, I’ll see if I can sort him out then.  Finch in?’

Bill stepped behind the front desk.  The kettle sat on a small wooden table along with a variety of mugs, a teapot and associated paraphernalia considered essential to the smooth running of police-forces everywhere.  Bill made a pot of tea.

‘Reckons he’s quitting, so he says,’ Griffith informed him.  ‘He’s in your office.’

He was a bit taken aback by this piece of news, considering that Finch believed himself a ‘born copper’.

‘What brought this on then?  Did he finally accept that Clint Eastwood wasn’t a real copper after all?’ Bill asked, jokingly.

‘Not Ben, sarge; Albert.  Says road-sweeping‘s too dangerous.  Didn’t you read his sign?’ PC Griffith asked.

Bill sighed.  Here we go again, he thought as he walked past the desk with two mugs of tea.  Time to solve the mystery of the disgruntled not-really-homeless-street-sweeper. ‘Don’t complain, Bill Williams,’ he mumbled to himself.  ‘You gave up chasing pushers, pimps and other assorted nasties for this, remember?’

‘Sorry, sarge?’ Griffith asked.

‘Oh, it’s nothing, Constable,’ said Bill with a small smile.

Bill made a point of reading Albert’s sign. It was lying face up on the steps.  ‘Grime don’t Pay, Whoa is the day,’ the slogan announced.  Bill read it again and noticed the spelling mistake.  Then he considered the family’s association with racehorses, and wondered.  He also noticed that Albert was wearing a black armband. Fred’s death had touched everyone in the village. Bill sighed as he sat down next to the elderly gentleman.

‘Right, Albert.  Let’s have it then, shall we?’ said Bill as he handed him his mug of tea.

‘I quit.  That’s what.  And don’t think you can get me t’ change my mind either.  They didn’t believe me up at the house, and I told ‘em.  Well it’s happening again.  Before y’know it they’ll be all over the bloody place.’

‘What will, Albert?’ Bill asked patiently.

‘Ghosts, what else d’yer think I’m talking about?’

Oh, dear.  Albert was going off the rails again, Bill decided.

‘You sure you don’t want to come inside?  It’s warmer.  We can chat there,’ Bill asked.

‘Inside?  Then I wouldn’t be homeless would I?  No thanks.  The police station is probably full of ‘em too.  I’ll take my chances out here if it’s all the same to you.  But I ain’t sweeping no more, so let’s get that straight.’

‘You’re not sweeping any more.  Okay, I understand.  But Albert, you’re not really homeless,’ Bill reminded him.

‘Ha!  You’re talking about the converted coal shed at the back of this place, right??’

The converted coal shed, as Albert put it, had been paid for and furnished by his family.  It was as comfortable as anyone could wish.

‘So what’s all this about ghosts?’

‘Seen ’em.  Two of ‘em.  Up in Cherry Blossom Close, I did.  They didn’t see me though, thank gawd.’

‘You saw two ghosts in Cherry Blossom Close?’ Bill asked cautiously.

‘Yes.  I’d just done sweeping Crab Apple Lane and was walking to the Close and there they was! Bold as y’like, strolling up the road.  What’s the matter with you, Bill Williams?  You going deaf or turning senile or what?’ Albert asked.  He was getting annoyed.

‘All right, Albert.  Steady on.  My hearing’s fine,’ said Bill, trying to keep things calm.  ‘So who were these ghosts then?  Did you know them?’

‘Right.  Like I’m personal friends with spooks.  I don’t think so, do you?’ Albert took a long, very noisy slurp of his tea.

Bill winced.

‘Then did you recognise them?’ Bill asked, wary of another tirade of sarcasm.

But instead of the abuse Bill expected, Albert took a quick swallow of tea, put down his mug then shuffled his bottom along the step until he was close enough to whisper in Bill’s ear.

Bill backed off a little but Albert grabbed the policeman’s lapel and pulled gently.

‘One of ‘em was dressed in a raincoat like in those old spy films.  Like Humpy Bogey or whatever his name was.  You know the one, right?’

Bill nodded.

‘Only it wasn’t him.  It was that French fella.  Coostow.  The Pink thingy,’ said Albert, almost in a whisper.

It took Bill a couple of seconds; then the metaphorical light went on.

‘You mean Jacques Clouseau.  The Pink Panther?’

‘Yeah, that’s the fella.  Lived on a boat and did diving and all that stuff when he wasn’t being a policeman.  Did you know he helped invent the aqualung?  During the war it was.  Well it was him.  And he weren’t alone neither I’ll have you know.’

‘Oh?’ Bill ventured.

‘No he weren’t.  And don’t give me that “poor-old-Albert’s-lost-his-marbles” look, Bill Williams.  I know what I saw.  Anyway, the other one was a cat.  And a talking one at that.’

‘How do you know it was a talking cat, Albert?’ Bill regretted the stupid question the instant it was out of his mouth.

Albert glared at the policeman.  ‘Just how the hell do you think I know it was a talking cat, for gawd’s sake?’

Bill didn’t flinch under the look but did have the sense to apologise.

‘Thank you, Sergeant.  Well, the point is this.  The fella in the mac looked like Coostow, but he sounded like that young fella who moved into number one a short while back.  That computer fella.’

‘Ralph Fenwick?’ Despite himself, Bill was slowly becoming enthralled.

‘Riiiight.’ Albert drew the word out.  ‘Him.  And they, him and the cat that is, went up Cherry Blossom Close chatting to each other happy as you like.  And you know where they went?’

Bill shook his head.

‘No, course you don’t.  But I do.  ‘Cos I followed ‘em, see?’ Albert paused for effect and took yet another noisy slurp of tea.  He looked at Bill over the rim of the mug and smiled.

‘Ah, so now you’re interested.  Bit diff’rent for some reason I see.  Maybe you’re thinking that I ain’t quite so doolally after all, eh?’

‘Maybe not, Albert,’ Bill conceded, reluctantly.  The hairs on the back of his neck and forearms had suddenly come to attention.  ‘So are you going to tell me where your ghosts went, then?’

‘They ain’t my ghosts, Sergeant Williams.  But for the record they went up to old Fred’s place, God rest his soul.  Give me this coat, he did.  D’yer know that?’ Albert indicated the large RAF greatcoat he was wearing.

‘Yes, Albert, I know that.’ Everyone knew that.  ‘So, what did they want there?’ Bill asked.

‘Monkey business, that’s what they was up to.  Monkey business and a spot of thieving,’ Albert told him.  He was relishing his role as storyteller.  For the first time he had a rapt audience.  Albeit, of only one.

As soon as Albert mentioned the word ‘thieving’ Bill was on full alert.  Up to that point he had gone from patience to curiosity to fascination.  His mind was beginning to put two and two together and, although they still added up to five, things were slowly beginning to make a strange sort of sense.  It was Wiglob.

Bill tried not to show too much emotion as he encouraged Albert to continue, even though his mind was beginning to race.

‘Fred’s kids were there, but they was next door.  I heard a lot of crying.  Anyway, that Ralph fella and his cat went inside and I crept round the back to see what they was up to.  They went into Fred’s bedroom, cheeky buggers, and robbed him.  Can you believe it?  Robbing the dead.  It ain’t right I tell you.  Just ain’t right, even if you are a ghost,’ said Albert passionately.

‘What did they take, Albert?’ Bill asked carefully.

‘Couldn’t tell for sure, Sergeant.  It was in a plastic bag.  They lifted it out of the floor.  Looked like Fred had some sort of safe by his bed.  Whatever it was, they nicked it.  Hidden in a tin box it was.  They nicked what they was after then put the tin back in the hole in the floor.’

‘Anything else?’ Bill insisted.  He was fully on board at this point, ghosts or no ghosts.

‘Actually there is.’ Albert sounded as though he wanted to get as much mileage out of the story as possible.

‘Well?’ Bill asked.

‘The kid was there.  Fred’s grandson.’

‘Michael, you mean,’ Bill prompted.

‘Yes, little Michael.  Smart kid that.  Played chess with him once.  Beat me, too.’

‘Really?’ Bill expressed surprise.  Not at the fact that Michael had beaten Albert at chess; Michael had beaten most people he had played against, Bill included, but surprise at the fact that Albert and Michael had played; wondering where and when that was.  He had become momentarily distracted.  ‘What happened?’

‘Nicked my rook and it was all over.  Didn’t even see it coming,’ said Albert.

‘Not the game of chess, Albert, the burglary, for goodness’ sake.’

‘Oooh, keep y’hair on there, Sergeant.  The thieving, right.  Well, Michael must have been in the house somewhere; I didn’t see.  But he went into Fred’s bedroom to use the loo, and when he came out . . .’ Albert paused, ‘he looked at the cat and spoke to it.  Would you believe it?  I knew that kid was bright but I never reckoned he was clever enough to see ghosts.  How about that then, Sergeant Williams?  Now there are two of us.  Wonder if he’ll become homeless like me?  What do you think, eh?’

‘What did he say?’ Bill asked, refusing to be drawn along that path.

‘Nothing that I could tell.’

‘Not the cat, Albert. Michael, said Bill, annoyed.

‘Oh.  Well why didn’t you say?  He said “hello”, I think.’

‘So how do you know he was talking to the cat?’ Bill asked.

‘Because the moggy had its head poking out from under the bed and the lad looked down at it.  I was watching through the window.  Don’t you listen?  Or do you think I’m making all this up?  Maybe you think it was me that burgled Fred’s house.  Wanna come and ransack me coal shed for evidence?’

‘No, Albert I do not.  And for the record, I do believe you.  God knows why, but I do.’ Bill couldn’t believe he had actually said that.

Albert was grinning.  ‘Well you’re the copper.  I’ll leave you to it then.’ He stood up and handed the empty mug back to Bill.

‘You’ve gone a bit pale there Sergeant! Which is quite a thing, considering,’ Albert chuckled.  ‘Look like you might have seen a ghost.’

Bill just sat there for a few moments, not sure of what he should do next.

Albert looked up at the sky.  It had become overcast during the past ten minutes or so and a few spots of rain had begun to fall.

‘Oh well, I’m off to the Coach and Horses for an early lunch.’

He stood, stretched, handed Bill the placard and shuffled off to the pub.

‘I might reconsider the road-sweeping.  I’ll let y’know tomorrow,’ he called over his shoulder.

*

Copyright ©2011 Douglas Pearce

And because they said it…..

Enjoyed it very much:
This was a really witty and enjoyable read. Thanks, I enjoyed it very much! :0)

(Frances Kirkwood, Reader)



“A book well worth the time:”

I have recently finished reading “Almost Dead in Suburbia” by Douglas Pearce.

I really enjoyed it and can happily compare it to a book like “Good Omens” from Terry Pratchett. If you enjoy the light humour and a good, well written story that keeps you guessing, this in my opinion is a book well worth the time and money.

(Jason Bell, Reader)


“Original, funny, entertaining, and a very good read:”

Having read some of Pearce’s writings on his blog I was certainly expecting an entertaining story with a good deal of humour, and so it was. However, since, according to the blurb, the story revolves around the ubiquitous theme of one person’s spirit inhabiting another’s body, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of an original plot. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

The book is original, funny, entertaining, and a very good read. The plot takes you through several unexpected turns and “red herrings” and leaves you guessing ’til the end – and even after the end. The style reminds me of Terry Pratchett and Tom Sharpe with a dash of Douglas Adams.

As the saying goes, everyone has one good novel in them, but I suspect we can look forward to a few more from Pearce.

(“Ennui”, Reader)


“A brilliant, comic read. Storytelling at its best.”

(John Zande, Reader)

– See more at: http://www.pkaboo.net/almostdead.html#sthash.uteE1kLp.dpuf

“When are you going  to get a proper job?”

(His Mum)

Book Extract – Gloop

A short extract from the fourth novel, Gloop,  in the Mining of Lif series

Chapter 5 

The Siege of Brothelingham

‘I could probably hit it from here, sir.’

‘Hit what, corporal?’

‘Their barn, sir.’

‘You may refer to it by its proper name, corporal.’

‘Just don’t like to say the word out loud, sir.’

‘I realise it may look like a barn corporal, but nothing dire will happen by using the word Mosk.’

‘No, sir.’

‘So. You were saying. About hitting the Mosk?’

‘Yes, sir. Reckon I could.’

‘Oh, really? As we have no canon I can hardly see the point of taking pot shots, other than alerting them of our presence. And I am not about to indulge you merely so you can demonstrate your marksmanship, corporal.’

‘Sorry, sir. I meant with this.’

‘A signal flare?’

‘Yes sir. I’ve made a sight for the tube. Like my rifle, sir.’

‘So I see,’ said the captain, his curiosity rising.

‘So…er, if I rest it on my shoulder like this,’ the corporal demonstrated,

‘Ah, I think I follow. Mmm.’

‘If we wait ‘til they’re all inside, praying…’

‘Yes, corporal, I get the picture. A weapon of mass destruction, you might say.’

‘Only a proper church has a Mass, sir,’ the corporal said indignantly, not picking up on the pun.

‘You are correct. And quite a large one if one considers all the stone.’

‘Beg pardon, sir?’

The captain sighed.

‘It doesn’t matter, corporal. However, I do not think fire-bombing a religious building full of worshippers would be the right thing to do. Even in war there are some lines I will not cross.’

‘’Scuse me sir, but our priest back ‘ome said it weren’t a sin to kill anyone who practices infidelity.’

The captain’s eyed narrowed. ‘The term you are looking for, corporal is Infidel. It refers to one who follows King Infidel Castrol. Also, if it was morally right to kill the other kind a fair portion of Judysear would be wiped out in the first attack and that would include most of the priests.’

Copyright© Douglas Pearce

Book Extract…for Ish.

Discussing this with blog pal, Ishaiya I said the part I was going to reference was only a couple of paragraphs long. This turned out to be around 1000 words.

Forgive me. But in my defence,  there has to be some context, right? 

From the third novel in the Mining of Lif series.

Whenever a volcano threatens to erupt near a major metropolis, a giant lizard runs amok, or a huge chunk of rock threatens to induce a worldwide headache it creates a Situation.

To deal with these larger-than-life events those In Charge require a gathering point to Direct Matters and when it’s all over, give clenched fist salutes or high fives, hug each other, sing national anthems (somehow managing to remember the words) and utter such memorable platitudes as, “Yeah, right on,” or “We did it!” or “Effin A”. Although they never appear to be doing anything, other than swear a lot, sweat profusely and cheer.

A precursor to setting up a Situations Room always seems to involve a group of military-types bursting into a building close to the site of Imminent Destruction.  They usually wear protective clothing with the initials T.W.A.T. (Tactical Weapons Advance Team – or something) emblazoned across the front and back.   Behind these stalwarts, you will always find someone with rolled-up shirtsleeves and several rolled-up plans, or drawings of the disaster area in question. (Although, when the whole world is at stake, the map is electronic and wall mounted in front of hundreds of computer monitors.)

One of the T.W.A.T.’s sweeps his arm across the first available flat space, (so as to lay out The Plans) invariably destroying priceless pieces of Dresden china, one or two Faberge eggs and a small piece of innocuous paper that has the name of the hero on it or the crucial formula that just happened to be lying around. And the moment someone announces, “Right, let’s see what we are getting ourselves into, shall we?” a lost dog will wander in and go “Woof!”

In the slightly less sophisticated world of the Sueridge Canal garrison, they also had a Situation and a Situations Room.  Only, the immediate Situation was inside the Situations Room.

‘Is it poisonous, do you think, Sarge?’ asked Corporal Zimmer, nervously.

‘Fifty-fifty, Corporal. Only way to find out is to milk it, am I right, sir?’

‘That is correct, Sergeant,’ Captain Poohbah agreed.

Corporal Drivel Zimmer had a limited knowledge of dairy-farming but a picture formed inside his head nonetheless.  ‘Wouldn’t work, Sarge. Couldn’t get a bucket underneath it.’

The others, gathered around the entrance to the storeroom where the plans of the canal were stored in wax-sealed hollow tubes, turned to stare at their serious-looking colleague.

It was obvious from the amount of dust and cobwebs that this room had not been opened in quite some time. The startled looks from many of the room’s current occupants added to this impression.

The snake, coiled on the table in the centre of the room, reared up sinuously and stared at them. It had an air about it that said, “I was in the middle of lunch. Do you mind?”

The hollow tubes containing the plans of the canal were behind the snake in pigeonholes on the far wall. So were a few pigeons.

‘Reckon it must be poisonous, sir. That’s the longest, thinnest tongue I’ve ever seen on a snake,’ Zimmer offered as a qualifier.

The others turned to stare once again at the snake. The long, thin, pink tongue flicked from side to side for a moment then disappeared inside the snake’s mouth.

‘That, “tongue”, Corporal Zimmer, is, or rather was, a tail,’ said Captain Poohbah.

Zimmer gave his captain a look confirming his belief that all officers were mental.

Poohbah noticed.  ‘A rat’s tail, Corporal.’

‘Oh, riiight. Ha-ha. Silly me, sir,’ Zimmer replied, as a metaphorical light of very low wattage began to glow inside his head.

‘Isn’t that a relief model of the canal on the table?’ Poohbah asked.

‘Si, Senor Captain,’ affirmed the wiry, moustachioed individual standing next to Poohbah.

From the amount of droppings, it appeared rats and pigeons had been relieving themselves upon it for some time.

‘It would be very useful for our strategy, wouldn’t you agree, Sergeant?’

‘Certainly help when it comes to troop placement, yes, sir,’ Flogin acknowledged.

‘Well we can’t stand around indefinitely. Has anyone got a suggestion?’ Poohbah asked.

The snake, having swallowed its lunch, began to hiss in a disconcerting manner. Disconcerting for those watching it that is. It was perfectly normal for the snake.

‘Oh, the gods,’ groaned Corporal Zimmer, the colour draining from his face.

‘What is it, man?’ Poohbah asked sharply.

‘It’s ‘im, sir,’ Zimmer exclaimed. ‘We can’t go in there. It’s a sign.’ Zimmer swallowed thickly and edged away from the entrance.

‘Him? Sign? What are you talking about?’

‘The One God’s nemesis: Stan,’ croaked Zimmer.

‘Stan? Who the ‘ell is Stan, Corporal?’ Flogin demanded.

‘Everyone knows who Stan is, Sarge. We learned all about him as kids. The One God’s numero uno pain-in-the-arse. Turned up in that garden as a snake and made Evelyn eat her fellah’s banana. That’s Original Sin, that is, Sarge. We can’t interfere with Stan. It’s an omen.’

‘Corporal get a hold of yourself!’ snapped Poohbah.

‘That’s also a Sin, sir!’ Zimmer blurted.  ‘And I intend to always have good eyesight, sir. I can’t go in there with Stan. No way. Sorry, sir. But I just can’t.’

‘It is not a sin to eat bananas. Or any other fruit for that matter. And there is certainly nothing original about it either. People have been eating fruit since before they climbed down from trees. As for “Stan,” I think you will find the name is Sayten. Am I right, Sergeant?’

‘Definitely in the right legless-lizard ballpark, sir.’

The snake decided that this lot were not going to provide it with any sport and slithered off the table and down an old rat hole to digest its meal in peace. There were several squeaks of relief and one or two coos.

Captain Poohbah caught a last glimpse of the snake’s tale.  ‘Ah. Seems our little problem has resolved itself. Corporal Partz, please assist Corporal Zimmer to retrieve the table. See if you can clean it up a bit beforehand though. We shall set up a Situations Room in my office. Senor Brunel, you may now enter and retrieve the plans for the canal, I believe.’

Copyright ©Douglas Pearce

Who’s up for some AC/DC?

The_Coach_and_Horses_pub_sign,_16_New_Street_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1471733

Alf sat at the bar sulking like a naughty school boy. In fact, he even looked like a naughty schoolboy: short grey pants, socks, cap, blazer, and a satchel draped over his shoulder.

Bert gave his friend a lopsided look and asked,

‘What’s this then, fancy dress party?’

‘No!’ Alf snapped.

‘Ooh, no need to bite my head off,’ Bert replied.’

‘Well, not right, is it? Bloody missus don’t know a thing about music.

‘Thought your wife loved music? You said she’s got a whole collection of records of Frank Ifield, Andy Williams, and Pat Boone?’

‘Yeah, well. Okay. But that’s not real music is it?’ Alf grudgingly admitted.

‘Not real music? So what is real music, Alf. Y’mean  Ludwig van and his ilk?’

‘Who?’ Alf asked, a little perplexed.

‘Never mind,’ Bert sighed. ‘So what’s the mood for?’

‘Me grandson came round earlier. Had two tickets to a show and wanted me to come along. Seein’s as I’m the only one he knows who likes real music. So I’m off t’get washed and changed; got to get into the spirit of things, y’know. Anyhow, I reappears a bit later dressed in my old school togs; y’know, like the guitarist, Angus Young?  Well, the missus demands where the hell I think I’m going dressed like that!’

‘Me being an old rocker, like, chirps; Me and the lad are off for a bit of AC/DC!’

Bert grinned.

‘S’not bloody funny, y’know. Silly woman threw me put the bloody house, she did. Wouldn’t even let me change me clothes. I just spent half an hour with Sargent  Williams trying to assure him I ain’t a pervert!’

‘That’s what happens if you want to live on the Razors Edge, I suppose, Alf,’ said Bert.

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