Not Reported Missing

A short taster from Not Reported Missing.

The pathologist’s table was clinically clean and the ghost watched dispassionately as she began her work. She spoke into a microphone.

“Male, approximately sixty years old, well nourished. Scars to chest and leg denoting a heart bypass operation at some time.”

He was unmoved as she sliced open his torso with her scalpel and began to remove his internal organs. One by one they were thoroughly examined, all of those vital components of his body that had kept him alive for so many years but what he had no need of now.

“Stomach contents, some vegetable matter, some alcohol but doesn’t seem to be excessive.”

Alcohol. Yes he’d been drinking. Why? He’d been alone, always alone. He had a daughter he remembered but it was so long since he’d seen her.

Well nourished was he? He must have fed himself then. What had he eaten? What had been his last meal? Would he have known it was his last meal? Why couldn’t he remember? Had he been suffering from dementia in life? If only he could remember his name. A thread of a memory about the bypass operation penetrated but didn’t take root.

The pathologist continued her work, taking blood samples for toxicology. Another ribbon of memory weaved out. He’d enjoyed watching those programmes on TV, Autopsy, where causes of death were investigated. Perhaps that was why his spirit was lingering now, or was it because it couldn’t rest until he knew who he was?

Why had no-one come to meet him? He’d always thought that when your spirit passed over that a loved one was waiting for you in a white light but there was nothing. He’d experienced none of that, his spirit was earthbound for some reason unknown to him and he hoped he wasn’t going to remain in this kind of limbo state. He felt it all hinged on finding out who he was. Once he knew that maybe he’d be able to move on.

The pathologist had done what she had to and his body with its anonymous tag on his toe was wheeled back to the storage cabinet. Strange how it was shut in there yet he felt nothing. He was just floating free around the room and wherever he liked.

~

Theo Stanyer was in the police station in the town of Hartford, the closest town to the village of Willow’s Dip, waiting to make a statement. He’d seen the news item on the previous evening’s programme about the body discovered on the common and thought he might have something worth reporting.

“We are appealing for anyone with any information that might be relevant within the last week to come forward,” said Detective Inspector Wilson, a broad, grey haired man. “All that was found on the body was a wallet containing a few pounds, a key and a photograph. It doesn’t appear that robbery was a motive and at this time we are not looking for anyone else in connection with the death. No-one of this description has been reported missing and if anyone has any information that will help identify the people in the photograph we would urge them to come forward. Thank you.”

A photograph of a smiling dark haired young woman with a child was shown on the screen. It was difficult to tell if the child was a boy or a girl. It had its mother’s dark hair, shoulder length, and was wearing blue dungarees and a white T shirt. It looked to be about four years old. The photograph looked old, Theo estimated around 1980s but he couldn’t have been sure. The same photograph also came round in the local newspaper’s Facebook post when he checked later and also that of the police. Surely someone would know who these people were from that?

“Mr Stanyer?” A young policewoman called his name and he followed her through to an office where D.I Wilson rose from behind a desk to shake his hand.

“You have something you think might help us?”

“Well I don’t know,” Theo replied, “but I thought I’d better come in and tell you in case it did.”

“Take a seat.”

Theo sat opposite the desk to him and began his story. “It was Thursday last week. I was driving home from my girlfriend’s house and I noticed a man in the headlights weaving all over the road as if he was drunk.”

“Where was this?”

“Mill Lane, Willow’s Dip. Heading towards the common.”

“What time?”

“It would have been between 10.30 and 11 p.m.”

“Did you stop?”

“No. You never know who you’re dealing with. If someone’s drunk or drugged they’re unpredictable or aggressive and I didn’t want to get involved. I just gave him a wide berth to avoid hitting him. I just wanted to get home.”

“Could you describe him?”

“It was difficult in the dark and it was drizzling, the wipers were on and the windscreen was spattered with raindrops but dark clothing, hard to see, nothing reflective, all I saw was a flash of grey hair.”

“Anything else?”

“Not that I can think.”

“I’ll just take your details in case we need to contact you.”

Theo gave his address and phone number. D.I Wilson looked at it quizzically. “Your address is Handwell.”

“Yes that’s right.”

“Mill Lane is the opposite direction. Why were you driving that way?”

A Ghostly Excerpt from Shadow Across the Sun

Shadow Across the Sun is my first memoir of a 1960s childhood, idyllic for some years until tragedy struck in the form of breast cancer which took my mum. Grief stricken, when someone at school told me you could talk to dead people by doing a seance my ears pricked up instantly. I could talk to Mum! Talk to her I did but it wasn’t without its scary moments. Here’s a short extract from the book.

Shadow Across the Sun

We’re driving home up Ash Bank after taking some flowers to the crem. It’s late afternoon and an eerie dusk is gathering; that time of day when it’s neither dark nor light. The sky is a heavy, oppressive ochre and mournful grey clouds slide across it, moving ever so slowly in the almost non existent breeze.
I feel a chill, a tingling in my skin; cold prickles in the back of my neck making the hairs stand on end. Emily and I are in the back of the car and something draws my eyes to turn and look behind us through the window. The road is empty of cars, but there is Mum, floating along behind us. Her flowing white robes have tattered edges soiled by the grave, and the hand outstretched towards us is no longer soft and tender, but thin and bony. There is a wildness about her eyes, a hollowing out of them, the sockets large and sunken. I have a strange taste in my mouth, smell in my nostrils, the taste and smell of decay. I tear my eyes away to turn and tell Dad.
“Dad, Dad, it’s Mum!”
He raises his eyes to the rear view mirror and I turn my head to look again through the back window, but the road is empty. The apparition has gone.
We are home, back safely in the lounge, lights on, curtains drawn. There is a tap, tapping on the small window as if by bone. I dare not move the curtain to look out. I think of Cathy and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, of her ghost tapping on the window.
It is Mum, I know it is. She has followed us and now wants us to let her in. She is tapping on the window with her bony fingers. I dare not look but I have to, I must. I move the edge of the curtain and peep. There she is with sunken, expressionless eyes, long, matted hair, ragged robes. She stares back at me, her skin sallow, her mouth a gaping O, her hand raised as she continues her tap, tap, tapping.
I drop the curtain and my eyes snap open. It was a dream. Thank God it was only a dream. I can’t move, my limbs are frozen but my eyes stare through the blackness into the corners of the ceiling. I know why I’ve had this dream; it’s because of the séance and what Dad told me afterwards. I want Mum back, but my mum, the mum that I loved, not a hollow eyed ghost.
I continue to stare as if daring any apparition to appear but none does and slowly, slowly my limbs regain their movement. I stretch my legs down to the end of the bed, ease myself up on my elbows and look around the room. My eyes are becoming accustomed to the dark and I can see through the open door into the hall, lit silver by moonlight.
I sit up and carefully lift the edge of the curtain alongside my bed. My heart is racing after the dream but I have to do this to satisfy myself that there is no ghost. There’s nothing, no-one tapping and as I lift the curtain further I can see the moon, a beautiful, shiny full moon riding high in the Heavens accompanied by a dusting of stars sprinkled onto the backdrop of black night sky.
I love the moon. I love to watch it as it sails up there, bright and bold, sometimes obscured by clouds bowling across it, sometimes not, holding the stage itself in the leading role. What can it see as it watches the earth below? There are sinister tales about the moon, werewolves and things but I can’t think about them now; I don’t want anymore bad dreams.
What was it Mum used to say when I had nightmares as a child? ‘Turn over and think of fairies.’ I lie down, turn on my side and pull the covers over my head.

http://www.sherrielowe.co.uk/shadow-across-the-sun—amazon-number-1-bestseller.php

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Shadow-Across-Sun-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B007V42ON4/ref=sr_1_10?keywords=sherrie+lowe&qid=1558176969&s=digital-text&sr=1-10

Inspirations and Dedications

A few months ago I wrote about my slumbering inspiration. Well happily it woke up and came out to play and I thoroughly enjoyed completing Whisper To Me and getting to know my characters, so much so that I couldn’t bear to leave them so they’ll be coming with me into my next novel.

That brings me onto the inspiration for the story. Whisper To Me is the story of a jealous, vengeful ghost who is not at all happy that her beloved husband has replaced her with a slovenly, unhygienic new wife after her death.

The idea came from my mum’s words to my dad, ‘If I died you wouldn’t remarry would you?’

I never heard her say them it was my dad who told me but none of us like to think about death or parting and I think his reply was something blunt like, ‘Don’t be bloody stupid.’

Well she did die young, aged 43 from breast cancer when I was 12. No-one else ever matched up to her in Dad’s eyes but he was lonely and ten years later remarried. My mum’s spirit wouldn’t have been pleased. The new wife was a stranger to cleanliness where my mum had been clean almost to a fault. As the saying turning in their grave goes she must have been incredibly restless in hers to observe the state of her home that she’d taken such a pride in and always kept so well fall into the hands of this woman and become a stinking midden. Wife two brought along with her an unhousetrained toy poodle who weed everywhere and the house stank.

This scenario had played in my mind over the years and so Theo, Letitia and Sheena were born for Whisper To Me. They aren’t my parents and stepmother but are just in the same situation. The true stories are in my two memoirs Shadow Across the Sun and Better or Dead.

Now onto the dedication in the book. Who else could I dedicate it to but my late parents?

Fellow authors what have been your more notable inspirations and how do you choose who you’ll dedicate each particular book to? It will probably be easier to reply on Twitter and Facebook than on the blog.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Whisper-Me-Sherrie-Lowe-ebook/dp/B07HVYHD4Y/ref=as_sl_pc_as_ss_li_til?tag=phoenixsong0f-21&linkCode=w00&linkId=0e34fc80ad4f785a7f6c21a89386844d&creativeASIN=B07HVYHD4Y