The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 8

“It would probably help if you rowed a bit as well,” said Sir John, pulling on the oars in the little boat.

“I’m not the sort of chap to row,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I might get callouses on my hands, and then what would people think?”

“Then why do you own a boat if you don’t row?” said Sir John.

“I don’t own a boat,” said Lord Hollingbury, sounding perplexed.

“But you said we could use this boat,” said Sir John.

“I said we could use it,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I didn’t say I owned it.”

Sir John stopped rowing and the boat came to a halt.

“We’re stealing it?” he said.

“Are we?” said Lord Hollingbury. “Gosh, you’re rather racier than you seem. I had intended to give it back.”

Sir John continued rowing in silence. After a pause he spoke.

“You’re incorrigible,” he said.

“You say the nicest things,” said Lord Hollingbury. “But look, we’re nearly there, I think. The energy was arcing to this spot, wasn’t it?”

“Yes, I believe so,” said Sir John. “Let me get the lantern.”

Sir John shined the lantern over the side.

“What are those things?” he said, half to himself.

“Some sort of jellyfish maybe?” said Lord Hollingbury, staring down at the mass of yellow which surrounded the boat. “No, they don’t have tendrils. They’re more like … thin disks of translucent yellow. Looks like a sort of rubbery material.”

“Probably best not to touch them,” said Sir John earnestly. Lord Hollingbury shot him a look.

“So is this what the bizarre congregation were doing?” he said. “Communing with aquatic prophylactics?”

“Does it seem like there are more around the boat now?” said Sir John. “That they are clustering somehow?”

SS Ch 8“Man Overboard!”

“Ahoy!” shouted a voice from a little way off. The two men looked up to see a fishing boat moving towards shore at speed with another one close behind. At the front of the first was the man that had called out.

“Row, you fools, row!” he shouted at them, “Row for your lives! Get out of the sea!”

Sir John immediately starting rowing back to shore. There was a cry and a splash from the second boat heading to shore. A man floundered in the water.

“Man overboard!” shouted Sir John, pointing to the boat.

“Leave him!” shouted the fisherman on the first boat, “Save yourselves, it’s too late for him.”

Lord Hollingbury focussed the lantern toward where the man had fallen in. He was thrashing about in the water and dozens of the yellow jellyfish were crawling over him. He screamed one last time as one slithered over his face, and he was silent.

Lord Hollingbury grabbed the second pair of oars and locked eyes with Sir John.

“Promise you won’t tell anyone I did this,” he hissed as he started to row.

The Spectral Spectrum (1965-68)

ColorOutofSight!

The Spectral Spectrum’s career was brief but eventful. Hailing from the small seaside town of Sunnyport, they drew on their coastal influence to create a heady blend of surf and psychedelia. This had the unfortunate effect of making them seem simultaneously ahead of their time and out of date, although they maintained a solid base of fans in their lifetime.

The first single The Call of You Hoo failed to make much of an impression on the charts despite a catchy singalong chorus, but the second Love is a Many Tentacled Thing became a summertime hit in 1965. The band were immediately signed by the Mokshatonic record label and released their biggest hit, a ballad called The Mountains of Sadness. They recorded and released their debut long-player Colour Out Of Sight! in 1966 whereupon they carried out a tour of the UK.

The tour was plagued with bad luck, with equipment failure and strange events at almost every stop, which rather blunted the impact for the audience and led to terrible reviews. Nevertheless, the band returned to headline the famous Sunnyport Free Festival in 1967 to great acclaim, the nadir of their success.

Whether it was the ill-fated tour, the pressures of fame and success or just the natural temperament of the band, the recording sessions for the next release were highly acrimonious. The original plan was to record a concept double LP tentatively called The Dreams in Which House? In the end, barely five tracks could be culled from the sessions and these were released with the rather sarcastic title Done With Honour. An abortive second tour ended early when the band’s entire stage set was destroyed by flooding in Worthing.

Lead singer Harry Blayne went on to be an experimental sound poet, releasing his first book “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Sunnyport” in 1969. Guitarist Ed Hutchinson joined Rocking Rodney and his Rockettes, a jazz quartet whilst bass player Phillip Ward opened a musical instrument shop in Sunnyport. Drummer Henry Pott moved to London to join the New Originals.

In three short years, these young men cut a swathe across the UK with their visionary music. These days, beyond a few musicians “in the know” their music is largely forgotton. It is our hope this little article may remedy that fact.

Soup of the day: With Jennings and Jennings Paranormal Investigators

Sir John and Marie took a trip to another dimension and had a good time. Marie made a friend, and Sir John only moderately disgraced himself…

The Curious Adventures Of Messrs Smith And Skarry

Hello! Mrs Albert Baker here, otherwise known as The Last Witch Of Pendle. Obviously there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats, but Ive set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running this little soup kitchen for the street urchins. There certainly are a lot of them and Im always looking for helping hands to cook up and serve something delicious!

I am extremely happy this morning to welcome my dear friends, the paranormal investigators Sir John and Marie Jennings… Good morning to you both, thank you so much for coming to help me in my soup kitc… Sir John? Over here… Marie, my dear, are you sure he can see with those goggles on? Whatever are they for?

EctoscopicGlasses.jpgSir John: These are my ectoscopic goggles that allow me to see any spectral energy so as…

View original post 1,597 more words

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 7

“What it the name of all that’s holy is that!” said Lord Hollingbury, staring into the bag that Sir John held up.

“I wouldn’t have thought you knew the names of anything holy,” said Sir John with a wry smile.

“Oh touché again,” said Lord Hollingbury. “You know you’re in terrible danger of developing some wit. But, seriously what is it, why are we here, and most pressingly, is it liable to explode?”

“Probably not,” said Sir John, “although the constructor has a bit of a track record. It’s called a Cryptozoetropometer, and it’s a device of my own inventing.”

“Well I hope the device is better than the name,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I think I shall call it the Omega Device. There, a decent name for you. No charge. What does it do?”

“The Cryptozoetropometer…” started Sir John.

“The Omega Device,” interrupted Lord Hollingbury.

“The Cryptozoetropometer…” started Sir John, again.

“The Omega Device,” interrupted Lord Hollingbury again. “I can do this all night.”

Messieurs!” hissed Marie. “We are standing here on the promenade, in the freezing cold! Can we maybe use the device now and debate the name later? Peut être somewhere warm?”

The two men looked at Marie.

“Yes, fair point, Mrs Jennings,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Stop getting hung up on the name Sir John and explain what it does.”

Sir John opened his mouth then shut it again.

“It can detect spectral energy for a wide variety of creatures, real or imaginary. I was mindful of what Marie said, of there being some presence but nothing she could recognise. I reasoned that if different creatures have different etheric patterns, if we were encountering something new, we may need to look for new energies. And hence I commissioned…”

“The Omega Device,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I see, I’m impressed. That explains the device. Now perhaps you could explain why you are intent on giving myself and your good wife pneumonia.”

“Well man,” said Sir John, “we could hardly come during the day. For one thing, there could be all sorts of background energies from any passerby and for another it would be too conspicuous, it would create a scene. It had to be midnight.”

“As an expert on the topic, I think I can reassure you that two gentleman and a lady wandering round at midnight are more likely to create a scene, but I take your point,” said Lord Hollingbury.

“So we are here, close to the church so we can detect any latent cryptozoological etheric energy across a wide range,” finished Sir John, with a flourish.

“Brilliant,” said Lord Hollingbury. “One flaw – the church is occupied.”

They all turned to look at the church a short distance away. There was no sound, but a low light which flickered.

“I’ve been around enough “seekers of the light” to know what a circle of candles looks like at 50 feet,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Someone is in there, having some sort of ritual, and I suspect it’s not a reading of the Book of Common Prayer.”

“Blast,” said Sir John.

“Maybe we can try anyway,” said Marie, “It is preferable to standing here slowly freezing.”

“Alright,” said Sir John, looking into the device’s eye piece. “I’m turning the dial now, going through the spectral spectrum…”

“Oh that’s quite good,” said Lord Hollingbury, “it would make a good name for a musical ensemble.”

“Nothing … nothing…” muttered Sir John. “Good Lord!”

“What is it?” said Marie as she and Lord Hollingbury crowded in to look. Sir John passed the device to Marie, who looked.

Mon Dieu,” she said and passed the device to Lord Hollingbury. His eyes widened as he looked in.

“Tell me what you see,” said Sir John, “so we’re sure we’re seeing the same thing.”

“There are … lines of … light or power,” said Lord Hollingbury. “And they are arcing like a rainbow,”

He looked up and at the Jennings.

“Arching deep into the sea.”

Sepia Church“Good Lord!”

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 8

My Word!

Modesty permits us from crowing too loudly about this, but I can declare we were tickled pink to read this today. We shall just leave it here whilst we go and fetch the tea…

https://smithandskarry.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/morning-cuppa-jennings-and-jennings-paranormal-investigators/

 

 

 

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 6

“Moderately Explosive”

Dear Sir John

I was wondering as I was writing this whether “Dear Sir John” was the correct way to start the letter. Unfortunately, I couldn’t ascertain this because the local library is only open during daylight hours and my friend has been out of town for some time. At least that is what his butler informs me.

I was of a mind to deliver the device to you personally, but when Miss Henderson came to visit me with your instructions, she was very clear on the dangers. I do hope that the cloud of poisonous gas that has encircled your holiday resort clears shortly so that you may leave the town and indeed to allow visitors to approach it as well. Perhaps you could let me know exactly where you are, as Miss Henderson had a coughing fit whenever she said the name and I couldn’t be certain of what she said. I do hope she isn’t sickening for something. The same problem seemed to occur when she came back to pick up the device and this letter. I suggested a machine of my own invention that might help her, but she seemed a little startled when I suggested getting a closer look at her throat.

Anyway, I digress, I received the instructions in the telegrams and worked on the device as you asked. It might have been useful to show you exactly how to use it, but I will have to describe it here. I must admit to being intrigued by the nature of the investigation to warrant the construction of such a machine. What kind of situation have you encountered that needs a device to scan for all possible and even theoretical psychic energies? Or have you simply become bored idling your days in the sunshine and invented the device for fun?

Either way, I shall not bore you too much with some of the construction details. Suffice to say that mounting the ecto-plasmatic converter on the metallic crypto-zoetrope was quite fiddly and moderately explosive. Luckily for me, I keep a bucket of sand handy for such eventualities.

So as you requested, the device has a moveable sprocket connection to the main psychic flange which allows for adjustment of the measurement range. In short, you should be able to point the device at any object that you suspect may be infused by some magical force and adjust the range of energies measured even beyond that known to us paranormal investigators. The range is quite extensive; you should be able to detect energies both from strange eldritch creatures that live deep in the oceans in sunken cities or even beings from deep outer space, if such things existed! Excuse my fanciful nature, I have been reading some rather strange literature recently.

I hope this finds you otherwise well, and please let me know how your investigation into whatever it is and wherever it is proceeds.

 

Your friend

Phlebotomous Bosch

PS – Don’t turn the sprocket all the way to the left, the device is liable to explode

PPS – Or the right

An Interesting Modern Device to Assist the Writer

Hansen Writing BallNot this…

Good afternoon, Dear Readers. This afternoon I’m going to take the unusual step of pulling back the curtain to reveal some of the gears and levers that go into producing the literary content of the Benthic Times. Pay not attention to the man, I want to show you something else.

Following a marvellous tweet from the equally marvellous Gail Carriger, I started to utilise a most interesting thing called Trello. This works rather like a card index system and allows me to create one card per scene and hence organise the forthcoming Paris Awakening novel. One can also create boards that can function as different sections (for example, Act 1,2,3, or even chapters) and so the scenes can be put in the correct section. One can also re-arrange them at will and add labels (such as characters, locations and so on). My most favourite function of all though is that it allows me to use it via a so-called “app” on my portable telephonic device (the Queen has one, I believe). This rather wonderful thing allows me to carry out plotting at a bus stop. All the more remarkable given I never take the bus.

As I am neither a full on “pantser” nor a meticulous “planner” but some horrible chimeric writer (a “panner” I suspect) who starts writing to get the location, atmosphere and characters, then plots on bits of paper, this is a sheer joy for me. And as the actual financial outgoing is very reasonable (it’s free), I can recommend it to anyone with a reasonably sized writing project on the go.

Wishing you all a pleasant Sunday

Paul Michael

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 5

Sir John, Marie, and Lord Hollingbury sat in a snug in the Cock and Bull with a view overlooking the harbour and a small collection of fish themed horsebrasses. Lord Hollingbury was sipping his second double whisky, Marie had a glass from the only wine bottle in the pub, and Sir John had a pint of ale which was going cold. Marie’s wine glass was some distance away from her. When she had taken a sip of the wine she had said some words that Sir John didn’t know she knew.

SS Ch 5“*&!% ç*#&!”

“So,” said Lord Hollingbury, “did anything seem out of the ordinary in that church.”

“I have to confess,” said Sir John, “that I have no idea what you regard as ordinary.”

Lord Hollingbury pulled a small moue.

“Yes, you have a point,” he said. “Well did anything seem out of ordinary to you then?”

“The decoration was bizarre, the vicar was deranged, and the atmosphere was oppressive. There were motifs that I’ve seen in no church before, even some of the more esoteric ones.” said Sir John.

“Strangely, we’re in agreement,” said Lord Hollingbury,” perhaps it’s the scotch. Mrs Jennings, as an etranger, what was your view of the strange place.”

“It is nothing like I have seen either, and there was something … some energy or some feeling I cannot describe,” said Marie.

“Do go on,” said Lord Hollingbury, “I suspect at the end of that marginally incoherent sentence is something rather interesting.”

“Do you mind!” said Sir John. “That’s my wife you’re talking to.”

Lord Hollingbury smiled.

“Sir John, with the greatest possible respect, I’m fairly certain that if Mrs Jennings were in any way offended she could make me drop my trousers and walk down the promenade singing loudly and get me to thank her afterwards.”

“That sounds like the sort of thing you’d do anyway,” said Sir John.

Touché,” said Lord Hollingbury.

Messieurs,” said Marie in exasperation, “let me think. There was something there. Something I haven’t felt before. Every creature is a little different you know, has a different … pattern or … feel to it. A … a gargoyle doesn’t feel like a pookah, say. But this … this was more different than anything. Like a different sort of mind.”

“Something different even from the paranormal creatures?” said Lord Hollingbury. “What might that be?”

“I can answer that,” said a man with unkempt white hair who suddenly sat down at their table. They all looked at him.

“What was the question?” he asked.

“Is everyone in this town some kind of lunatic?” said Sir John.

“I rather think they are,” said Lord Hollingbury. “It’s starting to endear the place to me.”

“I’m not mad,” said the man. “I can answer your question because I’ve lived here all my born days. So I can answer any question. I see you, all huddled up, you’ve seen something and you want to know more. Well I can help, see.”

“That’s very noble,” said Lord Hollingbury. “Is this desire to help driven by some inexplicable civic pride or is there some ulterior motive?”

“I’m sure the gentleman is just keen to assist,” said Sir John irritably. “Not everyone has a hidden agenda.”

“Indeed, I don’t have a hidden agenda,” said the man and pushed an empty whisky glass in front of him.

“Oh Sir John,” said Lord Hollingbury, “ever the innocent.”

A bottle of whisky was procured for the table, glasses filled and the man began his tale.

“See, like I say, I been here all my life. My name’s William Joseph, and I tend to the lighthouse. My father did the job before me and my grandfather before him. So this place is in my blood, And good blood it is, too. You know this place had a reputation for long life. Well that were true. My grandfather was 130 when he died and was fit as an ox to the last day. And do you know why?”

“He was an inveterate liar?” said Lord Hollingbury. The lighthouse keeper looked shocked when a hand landed on his shoulder.

“Come on Bill, time to stop getting drinks from the visitors in exchange for tall stories.”

The pub landlord beamed down at the quartet and looked at Bill Joseph.

“There’s a game of cribbage going in the corner, why don’t you go and join that instead.”

Bill Joseph got up grumbling and wandered over to the where the landlord pointed.

“Sorry about that,” said the landlord. “Nice chap but a bit do-lally.”

“Well, we seem to be running short of leads here,” said Lord Hollingbury, who then looked at the bottle of scotch he had bought. “As well as drinks.”

“Actually,” said Sir John, “I think I have an idea. Marie, we need to send a telegram home.”

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 6

WH Rugbinder: A Biography

Tea Fiend“Can there be any greater depravity?” WH Rugbinder

Many remember Victorian writer Wilberforce Horacio Rugbinder for his classic text on contemporary mores, The Multitudinous Vile Sins of the Working Class That Will Cause Them to Burn In Hell. At the time it was considered a well-meaning and insightful account of the slum life in Victorian London, although by modern readers it is regarded as a little prudish and judgemental. In particular, the forthright and voluminous chapters condemning the practice of having a day off from work are seen as contrary to modern thinking. However, few people know that WH Rugbinder published other works on moral topics too. This little article hopes to correct that situation.

WH Rugbinder was born to a middle-class family in the borough of Ealing. After an unremarkable schooling where he made few friends, he entered a seminary in the hope of becoming a priest. Unfortunately, this was not to be as Rugbinder clashed with his teachers on a number of theological points. In particular, they objected to his assertion that not just the priesthood but the laity, should be celibate. Leaving the church unfulfilled, he spent time in London to understand first hand the problems caused by sinning. His first attempt at a book, Diary of a Tea Fiend, relates in a semi-fictious way the descent into debauched existence that befalls a young fellow who becomes obsessed with tea drinking. After losing, in short succession, his wife, his livelihood, and the good opinion of his family, he ends up drowning in a bath filled with Oolong. This remarkable book was self published at no small cost and sold almost ten copies.

Rugbinder then went on to confront another beverage related evil in the form of coffee. This time he took a wider view and interviewed a multitude of “coffee pot heads” as he called them. His analysis and conclusions were again self published in a luxurious leather-bound book with gold leafed lettering on the cover. Unfortunately, this was to be a terrible error as the cost of each copy of The Tyrannical Evil of the Foul Plant Known as Coffee, its Effects on Diverse Patrons of Coffee Shops in London, and the Inevitable Decline of Morality that Accompanies Drinking It was to far outweigh the cover price and so nearly bankrupted Rugbinder.

It was this experience of extreme poverty that was to force Rugbinder to live in the poorest parts of London and to lead to his final tome, which was his most popular in terms of sales. Unfortunately word of the contents reached his neighbours and Rugbinder was forced to flee London. His final attempt at a book, The Comfort of Solitude was uncompleted. He left behind no family, children, or indeed, friends.

***

With thanks to Breaking the Glass Slipper for inspirational twitter chat…

And to Angela McFall for the lovely tea service

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 4

“This is hardly typical church material,” said Sir John looking at the inside of the holy building.

The walls were a deep azure and baize green. Complex, sinister murals adorned them at every angle, showing bizarre aquatic imagery. Here, a deep sea fish, its baleful eyes regarding the world with disdain. There, a many tentacled creature holding a collection of strange, unworldly objects. Above, on the ceiling, was a mosaic of stars, arranged in a form like no constellation man had seen. At its apex, a gibbous moon hung proud and sinister. The altar was similarly peculiar, draped with fish nets and lobster pots, buoys and rods. Behind the altar was a man, arms outstretched but on a boat, not a cross. Seahorses, lobsters, dolphins and jellyfish all leaped towards him. Above his head a triangle hung in space with one eye staring unblinking into the world.

Aquatic 1“Strange Feeling”

“Is this one of those modern churches?” said Lord Hollingbury. “The ones where they do a lot of singing and dancing?”

“I don’t believe so,” said Sir John. “I have no idea what this is at all. Marie, does it seem … normal?”

“To my eyes not at all,” said Marie, “but I feel no magic. Or, rather, no magic I recognise. There is … something … some strange feeling.”

“It’s probably a natural reaction to the colour scheme,” said Lord Hollingbury. “I have to concur, I see a whole lot of strange, even for me, but nothing I recognise.”

“Well, what is it all about?” said Sir John.

“Jesus!” came a loud voice from behind them. They turned round to see an older man, wild hair, disheveled beard and manic eyes walking towards them. He was dressed in black with a tired looking dog collar.

“He was a fisher … of men,” continued the vicar. “He would have understood. He would have seen these paintings and statues and known what they meant.”

The vicar had drawn up to the trio now.

“Not like a bunch of land-lubbers and city dwellers,” he finished and glared at them all.

“Rev Philips, I suppose,” said Sir John.

“You suppose a lot,” snapped the vicar. “You suppose a lot indeed, but in this case you are correct.”

“We were sorry to ‘ear about Mr Wombly,” said Marie. The vicar’s head snapped round to look at her.

“He were a good man, they all were.” he said. “They will return. Oh yes, they will return at the resurrection.”

“So the church is primarily for fisherfolk?” said Lord Hollingbury. “Hence the, er, remarkable decoration.”

“Our parish is the sea,” said Reverend Phillips. “Our flock is a shoal. We tend to the fisherfolk as our patron saint would want it.”

“Who is that?” said Sir John.

“Saint Zyggryk” said the vicar.

“Polish? Hungarian?” said Lord Hollingbury. The vicar just glared at him.

“What are you all here for anyway?” he asked. “This is a place of worship, not a holiday home.”

“You’re in this guide to the town,” said Sir John, showing the vicar. He snatched the guide away and read it quickly, his lips twitching as he did.

“Them new folk,” he said half to himself then handed the guide back to Sir John. “You don’t want to believe everything you read.”

“Unless it’s in the Bible,” said Lord Hollingbury cheerily. He was rewarded with a glare.

“You’ll have to excuse me,” he said pointing to the door, “but I have to prepare for a service.”

The trio took their cue to leave and the vicar watched until they had walked down the street before closing the door.

The Sunnyport Shadow: Chapter 5