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The Curse of The Whimsy

by Cleveland W. Gibson

The American couple looked stunned when I said: gypsy curse. Clearly they knew the implication. I gave each a glass of Bell’s Whisky. They wriggled uncomfortably on their seats, aware of my strange behaviour, and of my trembling hands. Beads of sweat formed on my forehead.

“OK, so I was a bit upset. Scared stiff even. I’m sweating. Sure, the ‘Whimsy’ curse is over... but not the nightmares.

“I still remember the events all those years ago. Like they are happening again for the first time. I see them in my mind’s eye. I can’t forget cradling my dying wife Siobhan, offering her my life blood if it saved her from death. It was my biggest mistake...

“That was the day I thanked Bethany. I said many prayers. Then for once I was free from the accursed ‘Whimsy.’ But you both know the story, know it must never return to haunt or happen again.

“Now, Larry I found you talking to a reporter fellah from La Folly Revue who said he thought you were a film director, maybe making a film of the ‘Whimsy’ curse. Don’t you know I detest directors. They are always hunting down a story.

“I guess it’s all because of that darn impression you give strutting about with your dark glasses and brown leather jacket. Not forgetting the Parker pen and clipboard. Wish you never did that. This is New Duryea Bay in Scotland, not Hollywood. Surely the weather gives you the biggest clue to where you are. Or taste the malt stuff.”

Larry laughed, he was my friend but there still remained plenty of tension in the air. The mention of my family curse, the ‘Whimsy,’ was electrifying.

I gulped my drink; looked angrily across at RD Larson, distinguished author of ‘Evil Angel’ and a host of other credits. She sat in the chair by Larry, in my office listening to what we’d said. I smiled to myself. By the time I finished talking to them I knew they’d be perched on the edge of their seats with fright. The ‘Whimsy’ always had that kind of power.

“But I didn’t mean anything,” she said, joining in, “didn’t mean the police to get involved in... murder... like this.” She shivered then gripped Larry’s hand for comfort. She said in a loud whisper: “Has the curse started again? Has it?”

I pushed hair off my forehead and looked at the ceiling, then at my Rolex watch. Again I tried to keep a check on my quick temper.

“Look, I’m sorry,” I said. My tone had changed. “Maybe I overreacted but Inspector MacDonald said the man was dead... in an empty house too. The doors were locked from the inside with a key. No sign of a forced entry. Forensics couldn’t place the nature of how he died or the look on his face. The man saw something from Hell or the like. The Inspector said he had to treat the death as another investigation... with always the possibility that it might have been murder. He said his need to see me was urgent.”

Larry suggested: “The guy might have died of old age.”

RD Larson coughed. Her grip on Larry tightened. “Maybe he died of fright. Right, Cleveland Gibson, author,” she said, addressing me in her politically correct way. I’d obviously ruffled her feathers and she wanted to let me know. Nothing got past that madam. But I had yet to finish my tale.

I nodded. “Maybe. The only picture in the house clinched it for Inspector MacDonald,” I replied. I reached for the Scotch. “May I remind was the stained glass picture of the bleeding torn heart as in The Whimsy,” I said. “He saw it on the wall where the man died. And around the dead man’s face was wrapped that dreaded stuff hated by gypsies, the spiderwort. Bethany ate the creeping vine for power, you might remember.

“The Inspector read your story, RD. He’s even gone into the details you wrote in the original story of me being a ‘tightwad’, the movie made from my book and other things. He started asking about wild flowers. Now he’s more than curious. Did I have a Whimsy painting? He wanted to know. He added he was interested in a bizarre happening too. He’ll tell us what when he gets here.” I checked the time.

“Sounds ominous,” Larry Larson said, with a shiver. He got up and looked out the window. A minute later he turned back to face me. “I need another dram. And I hate spiderwort too. That terrible blue-purple devil weed.”

RD remained silent,sitting forward and lost in her deep thoughts. She started and then addressed me, a tremble in her voice. “Something has changed... I can feel it in my bones,” she said.

I pulled a face and topped up the other two glasses. “You might be right about that this time,” I admitted. “Maybe I’m only a budding writer but with the The Whimsy there can be more.”

RD took her drink. “Is there more?”

“Oh, what you wrote in the story is true,” I returned, “but the other stuff I never wanted mentioned at the time.”

Larry stopped looking out of the window and did a spot of pacing. He walked. He drank but he also listened.

“I’m listening,” RD said. “We both are. You want to share?”

“Ever since your story The Whimsy I’ve been awash with publicity,” I said. “You’ve made me famous. Thanks for that. The terror of the bleeding torn heart and the curse captured the public imagination. It’s in all the letters sent to me. Fans write about my niece Fiona talking to her dead mother. People travel up to New Duryea Bay to find my house or to pick buttercups. I hate people who pick wild flowers.

“On a lighter note, every woman called Bethany wants to come and work for me. So far I’ve had four secretaries called Bethany, in rapid succession, too, may I add. But you still don’t know what I did before I started writing. I may return to it because writing is a jungle.

“I’m a writer. Think again. It’s true I’m a writer but before you knew me. Few knew I’ve also been a psychologist and therapist. I’ve a keen interest in the human mind and esoteric things. So I went to Glasgow University, got my degree and a score of other awards, then I set up shop working from home.

“Imagine me at work. An advert on the web is seen by millions of people. Sooner or later a potential client arrives at my door. They always need help. I offer them my couch while I make my notes.

“I’ve seen many strange cases over the years. I’ve cured scores too. All the details are safe inside my mind. I’m discreet. That’s why I never said about my real job. Don’t be upset. I told you the truth about The Whimsy and you wrote a good story. Thanks.

“Now to cut to the quick. One case involved a chap whose wife wanted him cured. His nightmares were violent enough to leave him a shivering wreck. It took me many hours of therapy to make him forget his nightmares that resembled the Harrowing of Hell in every detail.

“Here’s a strange thing. After I cured him, the subjects of his dreams gripped my imagination. I suddenly realised I got pleasure listening to him talk about them in therapy sessions.

“I mean vile acts of debauchery, sadistic killings, weird rituals performed in the South Seas, initiations with the Borneo head hunters. Everything. It was all there. Maybe I should have informed the police of what I suspected: he had dreamed things he might have actually done.

“Sometimes I’d awake trembling, covered in sweat and wondering, the images he’d spoken to me were that real. I became scared. The worst thing was, I realised I craved for the excitement of those nightmarish moments again and again.

“No. I never killed a person. Come on. Understand I’m a psychologist, I help people, but I’m aware of the Will to Power, used by Freud in his lectures. Study his book. Then I’ve also a Duty of Care to all my patients. I’m serious. Anything I’m told is confidential.

“Now at the same time as I was experiencing all this mayhem I continued to study advanced Yoga with a Fakir, also the clinical effects of the parasympathetic nerve. In India I spent six months with Blessed Rama Swami Suram Ghi. His skill developed my knowledge of the fascinating subject of the aura surrounding our bodies.

“We all have an aura. In our aura colours mix, swirl according to our thoughts, reflecting dreams, how we feel mentally and physically. I used the techniques I’d been taught and something amazing happened.”

The room stayed silent as I paused for breath. I took a drink.

“Tell us,” RD Larson whispered. “Go on, tell us.” Larry kept nodding.

“I found I could connect my aura to the mind of any person. Patience. The idea is mind-blowing, no pun intended. But with concentration I could imagine a golden thread coming from between my eyes and dropping down into my hands. On pulling myself quite gently along the golden thread I went through the dimensions of space and time. Imagine meeting people from history: I did. I met them. Jack the Ripper, for example. I entered their minds and that sort of thing. I experienced their most private dreams.

“But the only one person I wanted to reach was that man who’d once come to see me as a patient. He had exotic LSD-style nightmares. I concentrated and let my technique do the rest. I dreamed myself into his mind, into his dreams. Every night.

“Success. Inside his head, inside his brain I shared it all when he started to dream. And there I saw stark images leap across a screen before his eyes — my eyes. Everything he saw, I saw the same thing.

“I didn’t know exactly what I’d seen but I knew what experiences I’d bought into. Hooked. I was hooked and enjoyed his dream. He never reacted as expected but then it had been me who cured him. Ironically, I suppose, especially when the realisation dawned on me. I’d only invaded the dream patterns of a serial killer. I dreamed his dreams, his nightmares of how he killed his victims. I wanted the excitement, the roller coaster ride. I didn’t want it to end.”

“Then?” Larry asked. “Something happened. I have this hunch.”

“Yes,” I replied. I ran a hand across my forehead. “I kept on using the man’s dream and not caring about him. Whilst I continued to enjoy the ride on the blood lust trail he grew weaker. Lost his life force. I didn’t know at first because he moved miles away. I never saw him again.

“The man died. I only knew through the feeling I had as I went along the golden thread for another dream. I felt something was wrong. It happened at the stage when I might have entered his head. Only thing, this time there was no head. And the thread ended. Chopped off.

“I saw the thread-end had taken me to a field on a Hill. Why? I read the signs and saw he’d been cremated, his ashes scattered in the countryside. But he wasn’t the only one there. His ashes mingled with a multitude of other weird entities. Grotesque characters worse-looking than the gargoyles in a church. Now all my dream experiences ended. But once hooked what could I do? Every night I returned in my esoteric state to view his ashes. But no body, no dreams. I felt cheated.

“I looked down as if I were a lonely spirit on a bizarre scene one night. On the Hill I witnessed a man performing a magical ritual with Black Candles on a table. I heard him call out one of the never-mentioned names of the Devil. He charged the black force to drive out all the good in Mankind.

To my amazement, lightning crackled across the sky, and the end result meant I was now hooked into the dream of a daemon called ‘XXXXX’ from Hell. I dare not speak his name.”

I stopped talking and started to fiddle with my pen. I drew doodles on a sheet of paper.

RD looked at her husband Larry. Then both looked at me. “Cleveland Gibson, author,” RD Larson said in a hushed voice, “you can’t leave us hanging in mid-air. Your tale. Finish it. Larry and I want to know.”

The next glass of Scotch went down well, like liquid gold, smooth as nectar.

“Now I shared the daemon’s dream,” I continued, “I felt so turned on by the adrenalin. At first I loved the excitement. Daemons dream such dreams. But seeing so much confused me. My memory started playing tricks, making me forget things. Like any addict. I wanted more, yet I was aware that if I stopped I’d be dead.

“I had never killed anybody. But the daemon had. I saw all the graphics of his many killings. It sickened me. The turning point came when I experienced, in the daemon’s dream, him killing a young girl. Was the killing real or false? I couldn’t decide. I felt guilt. Remorse even.

“Then I started going to church, saying prayers to St Jude to help me find a solution. The patron saint of hopeless cases had to help me. I sold my therapy practise to concentrate on a writing career. That change happened months ago but still a feeling haunts me that something will snap. I think it will be me. Maybe the time for that is ripe. Now that brings me back to the dead man the police found in a locked empty house. Inspector MacDonald is on his way to see me. It must be with bad news.”

“Nonsense.” RD laughed a shrill laugh. But her voice was strained. “Trouble with you, Cleveland Gibson, you have such a vivid imagination. I’m sure the Inspector is only coming to get an autographed copy of your book Moondust. Relax. You’ll see I’m right.”

“Fine, I’ll take your word for it,” I replied. “I’ll make some coffee.”

I made the coffee and went back to the office.

* * *

When the Inspector arrived minutes later it was with the sirens bugling away on his car.

“So there you have it,” Inspector Greg MacDonald said. “The man died in a locked-up house. Nobody entered the house to kill him yet he was killed somehow. The most damaging piece of evidence is here in this photo. It’s fresh blood, the killer’s marks on the wall.”

The inspector passed over a picture of a hand print in blood on the wall. I studied the picture. In my dreams I recognised the exact layout of the room. It was completely as I remembered it in my experienced ‘nightmare’, a small table set up with incense and Black Candles for devotions to the Evil One, the Devil. I’d seen it on that Hill at night.

“Who’s hand print is this?” I asked, my voice a little rough.

“I think it’s your print,” the Inspector said. He smiled. “How do we know? We had a call on a hotline. Somebody said they saw you there in their dream. It’s how we got tipped off about the body in the first place. How you did it, that’s another problem. Saw you there in their dream? I ask you.

“Forensics told me the time of death,” Inspector MacDonald said. “Here is the interesting bit. When it happened you were giving a talk and doing a book signing in Edinburgh. So I know it wasn’t you. But I’m still looking for help because of your ‘Whimsy’ curse thing.”

At that moment something huge landed outside, shaking the whole house, the vibrations causing several panes of glass to break. A deep rumble started from the bowels of the earth.

“Earthquake!” I shouted not knowing what I’d heard. I leapt to the window. The others joined me. We stood riveted by the dark ring or circle of tombstones that suddenly appeared in front of the house. We gasped.

Then on a tombstone I saw a dark figure of a woman dressed in rags, with a fleshless face turned upwards yet showing the glint and gleam from the gypsy gold she wore. In a second I knew the witch. “Siobhan,” I whispered.

The woman nodded. She lifted her hand to gesture. And though I resisted I found myself walking towards her. It was then the storm started. Then I wondered what the night would bring... for me... from Hell.

Copyright © 2009 by Cleveland W. Gibson

[Editor’s note: RD Larson’s “The Whimsy” appeared in issues 119 and 120.]

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