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Authors: Charles Christian

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BOOK: Tomorrow's Ghosts
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“Oh, Daddy dear,” she says, as tears realistically course down her face (jabbing that drawing pin into her hand really hurt) “I do realise I’ve been horrid to poor Xanthe and a disappointment to you but this tragedy has opened my eyes to how vile I’ve been. I hope you can see it in your heart to forgive me and that when the hurt starts to ease a little, perhaps I can start rebuilding some bridges with Xanthe. I know I’d like that.”

Dannii, never a girl for half-measures, is a firm believer that if you ever need to schmooze somebody, you should lay it on with a trowel.

“Listen,” she says, “I’ve an idea. I know how much pleasure you and dear Xanthe get from meditation and she probably needs it now more than ever. Why don’t I download some tracks and put together a playlist of some really peachy, luscious, relaxing New Agey ambient stuff for you both to listen to while you’re meditating? It might help.”

To say her father is taken aback is an understatement. He blushes. He stammers out “Thank you,” and gives her an awkward hug before retreating from the room.

When he has gone and she can hear his footsteps receding down the stairs, Dannii swings back around to face her computer and, as droplets of fresh blood spill from her thumb onto the keyboard, (all good spells require a deposit of blood) she begins typing in a certain, special website address containing what her mother would no doubt call
forbidden knowledge
. In fact it is exactly the same
forbidden knowledge
website address she showed to Sebastien earlier in the week although, as she now recalls, she may have neglected to mention this fact to the police when they called yesterday.

As she downloads the tracks she’s picked, it occurs to Dannii that it might be a wise precaution to be out of the house when Xanthe and her father start to play them. Of course, the perfect alibi, she’ll make an appointment to see those two sweet police officers in Woodbridge!

They say the Devil has all the best tunes, well now it was payback – or should that be playback – and time to share some of this special music with her family.

7. Large Quakes in Small Places

“More bad news,” says the DCI, “they’ve recovered two bodies from the ruins of the Pryce house.”

“Burst gas main was it?” asks the sergeant over the grey-green phone.

“Apparently not,” replies the inspector. “According to the fire brigade, there’s no evidence of an explosion of either gas or anything else. They say the damage is more consistent with a short, sharp violent earthquake. But that’s crazy, Suffolk Coastal is not in an earthquake zone. Besides, none of the neighbouring properties apparently suffered any damage. You can’t have quakes that extreme yet so local.

“There’s something else,” he continues. “The fire brigade are asking if the family kept any animals, such as goats or maybe sheep, as there are hoof prints in the garden and they’re concerned they may have escaped onto the road and could cause an accident.”

“That’s well weird inspector. Dannii Pryce has never mentioned animals and when we were down there yesterday, I didn’t see any evidence of livestock. In fact there was no sign of even domestic pets, like cats and dogs, around the house. Oh shit!”


“I can hear Dannii walking back up the corridor.”

“Take a deep breath Sergeant, you can do it. She’s going to be very upset. After all she’s still only a kid.”

Also by Charles Christian:

This is the Quickest Way Down
is a collection of science fiction, urban fantasy and Gothic tales for the 21st century – with a sense of humour and a topical twist. The collection was listed for three national and international book awards.

Set mostly in the present day, the eleven stories give everyday existence a gentle nudge into the realms of the weird, the supernatural, the horrific and the surreal.

These stories tread a fine line between the normal and the fantastic, where a casual encounter can embroil a person in dangerous liaisons with ghosts, aliens or even vengeful gods. Yet also the bizarre can be found lurking just around the corner, across a cup of cooling mocha in a suburban coffee shop, over a glass of chilled rosé wine in a beachside cafe on the Cote d’Azur or in the next message to arrive on your mobile phone.

Reviews for This is the Quickest Way Down

“And then we get to
The Hot Chick
. In this story Charles effortlessly strides into a world of sci-fi fantasy I am sure every teenage male sci-fi geek on the planet inhabits or wishes they did! If any of the stories in this book were to be made into a short film for Channel 4 then I think it should be this one....with Ben Miller as the male lead. It would be comedy gold although I am sure the more energetic bits would probably need to be toned down for terrestrial TV!”

Rob Lancashire

“The book transported me back to Kuttner, Sheckley, Ellison and Pan Horror anthology stories. Ballard in the last one. Even a flavour of Kipling spooky stories. A real pleasure and a fine tradition.”

Louis P W

“These are magnificent short stories by a master of the genre, and they beg to be read many times. There is a lightness of touch in these tales, but there is no superficiality. There are many familiar tropes, but they’ve been turned on their heads and given a stunning reworking. Cataclysms lead to a weird sort of utopia. Redemption is found unexpectedly. Murders, sexual encounters, tsunamis, explosions and foiled suicide attempts are played out against the backdrop of a cup of mocha slowly cooling.

“I love these stories. Absolutely love them. There are hints of Asimov, of Hemingway, of – I don’t know, everyone from the Strugatsky brothers to Neville Shute via James Joyce and Evelyn Waugh. They are stories overflowing with intelligence, with wit, and with keen observation of human foibles. I want to know when the next collection is coming out, and the novel – preferably the series of novels. How about it, Charles?”

Catherine Edmunds

More by Charles Christian

Secret Cargo

Two prickly space travellers, each with their own surprising secret, find they have more in common than they at first thought - and not just their love of early cinema. But the path of true love, and 23rd century technology (much like today’s) does not always run smoothly. Can they trust each other and can they trust their rescuers?

The unlikely pair of 20th century film buffs know every movie ending ever made but where will they be when the credits roll?


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BOOK: Tomorrow's Ghosts
8.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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