I know I usually leave this sort of thing for Snippet Sunday (if you’re not following my present serial, please check it out). This weekend I had an idea for another possible novella. I rarely dabble in crime or comedy, with Dead Heat my only attempt at humour and The Weight of Reason my only attempt at crime.
But I had what I thought was a pretty good idea this weekend and hastily scribbled a rough attempt at a small part of the first chapter. Here’s a few hundred words to give you a sense of what it is about.
Hello, my name is Karl, and I am the last living human in my little corner of the world.
That sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? But it’s not all that bad; Salmonweir is a pretty little fishing village on the south Cornish coast, about halfway between Treen and Lamorna Cove. It’s small, unassuming and completely untouched by the tourism from upcountry making the trek to Land’s End. We’re on the Land’s End AONB which is the least developed part of this very underdeveloped county – and that’s just the way I like it.
This is the intro that sets the scene. I go on a bit further but as it’s all subject to change, I won’t post any more. I hope that first line grabs. All will be revealed…
It was a Sunday morning in April; it was unusually warm for the time of year and unusually clear. A few of the young lads had gone to bask on the quayside; some brave souls had even gone for a dip at high tide. I waved good morning to the boy from next door and I had just turned back up the path when he shouted the most horrific expletive.
I turned around to chastise him but my jaw hit the floor so fast that it made speech virtually impossible – if I had tried to speak, I’m sure it would have come out something like “whaaaaouswernaaa”.
When I composed myself, I finally managed to ask him a question. ‘Where did that come from?’
“F##k knows. I was just f###ing sat here drinking my f###king can of cola” ok, I’ll leave out the swear words now you get the idea. In a nutshell, he told me that it had appeared from nowhere. One moment, he was admiring the view and the sunshine on his face, sipping his ice-cold coke when a large pirate ship appeared at the dockside. He knew about as much as I did it seems because that’s exactly what I saw too.
His swearing ascended to a whole new level when a pirate so stereotypical hopped onto the harbour wall, crossed it and stopped in front of me. ‘Greetin’s landlubber’ (yes, that stereotypical). ‘Please direc’ me t’the nearest tavern. I be wanting some rum n wenches.’
‘There’s no need to talk to me like that,’ I snapped, ‘I’m not a tourist.’
He ignored my comment and went on acting pirate-y, ‘where be the nearest tavern landlubber?’
What we have here is not a person with an identity crisis, but a ghost. In fact, Salmonweir – my fictional Cornish village, is going to be a place occupied by ghosts. Karl will be the only human, but he won’t be alone. As a poignant contrast, I wrote this earlier today.
There is a bench about halfway up and I sometimes stop to admire the view in the mornings. I was surprised to see it was occupied because I could swear blind that I’d never seen anyone use it.
Today, there was a young lady crying into a handkerchief. She wore old-fashioned clothes, even by my limited knowledge of women’s fashion – a long, plain skirt, long-sleeved blouse and – get this – ribbons in her hair.
‘Are you okay, my darling?’
‘No,’ she replied in a soft local accent, ‘nothing will be the same ever again.’
Cautiously, I took my place on the bench next to her. She moved away from me, though whether in politeness or to keep her distance from a stranger, I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess.
‘Whatever is the matter?’
‘He’s gone. I knew he would. I told him to be careful out there.’
I frowned; I certainly hadn’t heard of a fishing accident overnight so I pressed her for more.
‘I got the telegram this morning,’ she said, ‘He was on The Mighty Hood, I know that much, no more else needs to be said. It’s all over the newspaper by now and on the wireless.’
She nodded. ‘They said she were invincible, but God thought otherwise. Now sir, if you don’t mind I want to remember my sailor husband alone and in peace.’ She turned away from me and I respected her wishes, returning to my home.
I have another one planned for when Karl gets home – probably the spirit of a 14th-century monk dispelling the miasma from his plague-infested home.