The Bluebottle Boys: Chapter 13, Part 14 — Birmingham (UK) 26 March 1962: “’To Reclaim Our’um’”

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[Note: The ghosts of the young soldier and the beautiful, elegant lady from the 1930s have been seen by numerous nocturnal “visitors” to Warstone Lane Cemetery. They are the only ghosts in the cemetery known to interact regularly with the living — the soldier going so far as to engage in conversation from time to time.]

I was wounded and dismayed at losing the angel, humbled to be the reason for his demise.

But our friend’s defense had taken its toll. “The Dark One,” for I’d no doubt it was he, was reeling, staggering, ready to topple and fall at any moment. The shopkeeper had said that my charm would be useless against this one – that I should save the bulk of my dust to use on him.

The Dark One could recover at any moment. I had to act now.

I ran to where he was tottering, praying to St. Cecilia once more to protect me and make my aim true. I was about to throw the works at him and I’d have to use my left arm. If I didn’t score a direct hit, Ian and I were toast. His right arm seemed to be injured but he raised his left to strike me. I threw the lot at him.

He was surrounded by oscillating light for a moment, then took on the light. His robes and hair were still black with platinum lining but now his face and hands were plain to see: reddish-purple, the face wraithlike, not dissimilar  to that depicted in Edvard Munch’s The Scream.

His body, too, was frozen, unable to move. I’d immobilized him, rendered him helpless — but I had not killed him.

 

 

 

 

 

The ghosts who’d hovered at the catacomb doors now left the crypts, descending to the cemetery floor.

We watched apprehensively as they glided towards us: We’d little left with which we could defend ourselves; was it now their chance to attack us, too?

Then a beautiful woman in an elegant outfit from the late 1930s smiled at us, and beckoned us to follow.

A young soldier in a trench coat followed. “Cheers, gud luck an’ God bless, boys. Thanks fer everything,” he called out – the only spirit to actually speak to us.  “No’un ’ere’ll ever forget wot y’dun t’noight, and we’ll always be grateful t’ye. But the rest of this is our fight and ours alone. The time’s come for us to reclaim our’um.”

 

 

Though she did not speak, the ghost of the beautiful lady was becoming visibly insistent, so we left with her. I did turn back just once to see the ghosts converging on the Dark One en masse, but then decided that it was best if I didn’t look. We reached the main gate before we knew it. It opened just enough for us to squeeze through, and we did, only to see the lady fade away once we had. I caught the smell of almonds in the air, mixed with the aroma of pear drops, as she disappeared. Only later did I learn that both were indicative of arsenic poisoning.

We’d anticipated a long wait for a bus to Ladywood, then past Five Ways, back to the Diskery, but one already waited for us and we took off at once, the only passengers on the bus.

 

© 2017, 2016, 2015 G. H. McCallum and Duvanian Press, all rights reserved.

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