Shadows and Ghosts

Shadows and Ghosts is a novel set in America. It is about a mystery of the disappearance of people from a small American town, and the policemen sent to investigate the mystery.

I have always been attracted to such mysteries, ever since I was a little boy. There are a few people who have gone missing over the years, never to be seen again, from the colonists of Roanoke Island to the Mary Celeste to the lighthouse men of Flannan Island. Of course there must have been a logical explanation for all of those disappearances, and people have tried to work them out. But, still, such mysteries remain.

This was my attempt to write a novel explaining what happened in one such mystery, when the population of the (fictional) town of Paradise goes missing. Does the mystery get solved at the end of the adventure? Well, I hate things which promise some great reveal and then nothing happens. But you will really have to read to the end of the novel to discover exactly how it ends. If I was to give away all of my secrets in this amble through my work there would be little point in you reading my novel, now would there?

I hope that the little which I have written above is enough to intrigue you, as one thing which I cannot write is blurbs…

Extract from Shadows and Ghosts

Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,

And then is heard no more; it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.

William Shakespeare – Macbeth Act 5 Scene 5.

Population 616.

Population zero.

Population six one six.

Zero.

Hotel California came to an end, and was replaced by some modern rock crap, probably that grunge stuff out of Seattle. He twisted the dial, searching for the same song again. Somewhere, in America, the Eagles are always playing.

He?

Who is he?

Name: Robert Sanders.

Date of Birth: 18th January, 1968.

Height: 6’ 1’’.

Weight: 170 lbs (officially).

Occupation: FBI agent.

Nothing, only stats

Robert Sanders likes 70’s American rock music (but we know that already); he is originally out of Omaha, that great city across from Des Moines on the Missouri river. He likes Chinese food but not Italian. He likes beer (has to be American), but not wine. He’s a fan of ice hockey but thinks that basketball is dull. He has a wife – well, an ex-wife – and a fourteen year old son who he hardly ever sees. He’s always voted Republican, on the few times that he’s bothered to vote. He doesn’t smoke (anymore).

Oh, yeah, and he’s white (but I guess that is probably obvious).

He’s been dragged from behind his desk because, two days ago, the entire population of Paradise, Nebraska (that you are welcome to) went missing.

Six hundred and sixteen souls, young and old, male and female, all gone.

Nada.

Zip.

Zilch.

Zero.

First person to discover this fact was the travelling Bible salesman (that is, a travelling salesman whose produce was Bibles) by the name of Ephraim Mackintosh.

I had called in at the gas station because I saw that my car was running low on gas. I had to be in Pierre – that’s South Dakota, in case you didn’t know – by that night. I had to get back to the company. That’s the Pierre Jesus Publishing Company. It’s not just Bibles we do, but prayer books and all manner of stuff praising the good Lord. I can get you a list of our material, if you… Oh, okay, perhaps later.

Well, I stopped at the gas station, and I thought that it looked awful quiet when I got out of the car. But I’d been through a fair few towns that were quiet, so I filled my gas tank up, and went into the office to pay. But there wasn’t no soul behind the counter.

Was it an electronic till? I guess that it could have been, I didn’t look too close. Oh, you wanted to know what time it was? I reckon that it must have been some time in the afternoon, mebbe around three o’clock, but I never thought to look at my watch.

Well, I began calling out, as I could not leave without paying, no sir, it was my Christian duty to make sure that he got paid. So I began hollering, hoping that he would come running. I waited a little while, but nobody came. So I began to look around for him.

What was that? How did I know that it was him? Well, I guess that I didn’t, I just presumed that it would be a guy running a gas station, that was all. I mean, that’s a man’s job, isn’t it?

Well, I left some money for the gas in the till – hey, I can remember now, it was one of those old one, not electric at all – but I didn’t like just to leave and carry on, just in case something was wrong. So I had a look all over the gas station, calling out for the owner, but I still didn’t find anything. So I thought that I had better se if I could find the police station, and tell them what I had done. It was only then that I guessed that things were really wrong in that town.

Well, I – what do you mean? I say ‘well’ a lot? I can’t see that nobody ever brought it up before – Well… sorry, I guess you’re right… I found that there was nobody in the police station, nobody at all, even though there was a cruiser parked outside. Now that ain’t right, is it? What if somebody needs the police?

Well – ah ha, ha – no, you got me, I guess I do say it a lot. I hollered out on the street, for people to come to help me, but there was nobody there. I was becoming a little scared, and I don’t mind saying that I was glad that I had a few bibles with me, officer, yes, I was right glad about that fact, I can tell you. There were a couple of stores, so I tried those, but there was no one in those, not even though the sign on the doors declared that they was open.

There was something wrong there, as God is my witness. But there was nothing that I could do, so I continued on, now that I had gas in the tank, all the way to Pierre.

What, why didn’t I stop? I wanted to get as far away from there as possible. Pierre’s a big town – well, compare to any of the villages in Cherry County it is. I thought it better to tell the FBI than some local sheriff. So that was what I did. Look, can I go now? I’ve told you everything that I know.

(sound of chair moving)

Look, if any of you boys is in need of a Bible I’ve… TAPE ENDS.

 

Shadows and Ghosts is available as an e-book on the Amazon Kindle store.

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