Spirits: Five.

by | Nov 16, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

…even though you don’t support Port Vale FC.

The young woman continued, Jim  totally in her spell.

“ First, let me explain their origin. As I said, they are not the ghosts of people, but something more ethereal.” Her method of delivery was clear, concise, and, somehow, professional.

Jim was desperate to contribute. Even if it was just, yes or right. Nevertheless, all he could do was nod.

“Secondly, I’ll explain how they are created. It’s a very specific process. When we are alive, our brains are full of millions of thoughts, hopes, dreams and plans. It is what makes us human. When the brain suffers trauma, most of these are lost. It is a bit like shutting down a computer using the off button. However, the last such notion escapes the confines of the meninges, to be released into the environment.” Jim considered this complex and innovative assessment of catastrophic death. He could only give it room because she’d given his mind a spring clean – in autumn. He nodded.

Marguerita grinned and  mimicked  his response, acknowledging his unbroken attention.

“ Good, let us continue. The spirit can take the form of anything from a recipe to a memory; a desire to a dread. Are you still following me? This is important, before I go onto the next part; how to read a spirit.” Jim’s recently vacated mind was beginning to fill up with her classic furniture. Was there room for his basic thoughts? Perhaps an IKEA bookcase?

“Let me recap, if I may. Have I got this right?” Jim’s words sounded alien in his own ears; he’d been silent for so long. The distant hiss of the coffee machine reminded him of where he was. “There are no ghosts. Just random thoughts, wandering around irritating people?”

Marguerita’s face burst into a spring bouquet of expressions; it was like an invitation to an up market gallery.

“Yes, yes. That’s it exactly. I knew you’d get it when I selected you.” The last sentence hit him like a cattle prod.

“Selected,” he heard himself say out loud above the clatter of crockery.

“Let’s move on. I don’t have much time and we need to bottom this out,” she replied, seemingly ignoring Jim’s errant response. He nodded again, helpless to add anything further.

“When I said our synchronicity was rare, I did it a disservice. It is actually unique. Never before have I had 100% compatibility with a spiritual experience.” Her lower lip jutted out and quivered. Jim swore he could see tears forming on her lower eyelids.

“Are you ok? Would you like a refill?” He was desperate to keep this siren as long as possible, her first reference to time sending panic coursing through his blood vessels. Again she ignored his comment and continued her lecture.

“Here’s how to read the spirits. When the first one touches you, do not treat it like an itch. They become offended and move on. However, it’s like killing a wasp. It only attracts more. Especially, as I said, if the subject is stressed or tired. All you succeed in doing is recreating the situation you suffered in Banks.” Another bolt struck him as the memory of the small Cumbrian village on Hadrian’s Wall came back to him. How did she know?

Marguerita raised her eyes, her smooth tanned brow trying to form wrinkles in the young supple skin

“What you do is close your eyes and welcome it in. At first it will be like a random thought, something seemingly irrelevant like a recipe for tapas or the desire to buy a DAB radio. It may be anger at your team losing at football even though you don’t support Port Vale FC.” She chuckled at her own words and Jim’s admiration moved up at division. “I have to go now, please give it a try.”

“Wait, I don’t know anything about you. Do you study here? Newcastle or Northumbria? What is your major?” Jim was clutching at straws as she got up and nodded to him.

“Newcastle, PhD Psychology of Death and Grief. Goodbye Jim.” The door slammed on this strangest of mornings. The vacuum created by her sudden departure emptied every sense.  He could have been on the far side of the moon, not a bustling coffee shop in the city.


Jim strolled determinedly the half mile to the Metro station; the clean crisp air of late November cleansed his lungs. Leaf shaped stains dotted the dry pavement, a contrast to the previous week. Winter was pushing at the door of twenty twenty-three. His Pop card was fully topped up, the train was on time, and he was on a mission.

He was looking forward to another encounter on the Metro. Would it be an impending house purchase or anticipation of Newcastle’s next champion league game? The spirits were so entertaining.

Above all of this though, was a deeper anticipation: he was in search of his beautiful tutor, the doyenne of supernatural investigation; determined to thank her for his new found gift.

He chatted briefly with his new friends at the ticket machine about tracksuits trainers and general youths fashion. When the train arrived, fist bumped each one then jumped aboard. It wasn’t long before he was joined by his first spirit.

Jim closed his eyes and welcomed the invisible feather that tickled his cheek. ‘Hello, I’m a recipe for Yemeni Mandi I hope you like me.’ The ingredients and method were noted Jim delved further as per Marguerita’s instructions.

‘My name is Fatima. I was crushed in the rubble of my own home. I lived for three days after the Saudi jets had left. During this time I asked the Lord why me. He didn’t answer.’ Then it was gone like the steam from a kettle.

Tears formed in the corner of Jim’s eyes and he allowed them house room.

He didn’t care who saw him. What business was it of theirs? He silently challenged anyone to acknowledge his sorrow; to know avail . Good, he thought, you don’t deserve it.

Thirty minutes later he was entering the Faculty of Psychology in the red brick building of Newcastle University his heart raced in anticipation.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs

    Interesting stuff could be your first Novel Brian.


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