Friday, 3 May 2013

For Whom the Bell Tolls

This will sound like fiction, yet it's not. It's a true story. And it has nothing to do with my novel, The Shadow Fabric (nor Metallica, incidentally).

With unexpected chiming, the alarm clock’s relentless bell yanked my family from sleep. This strange awakening leaving everyone bemused, which later would leave us all to question if it was a sign that a recently acquired possession was in fact possessed itself.

Many people follow beliefs in the unexplained, whether of superstitions, UFO phenomena or the supernatural. Yet, if we are honest, have we not prayed sometime in our lives when things have gone wrong on a personal level? If we're frightened for a loved one, we pray for help. Or at least have done so, at some time in our lives. For a moment – albeit brief – we'd cling onto a belief that in itself is unexplained.

Before I go on, I must add that I follow no religion. My faith is in the air I breathe, nothing more. This story centres around my mother, whose passion as a Jehovah's Witness is so strong that on one occasion it seems that her prayers saved the family from the unknown. A spirit, perhaps. An evil entity, a demon...

To this day, I still do not know. None of us know.

In the early hours of the morning, and for no apparent reason, the wind-up alarm clock went off. Knowing it was set for the usual 6 a.m. wake up, my parents put it down to a freak occurrence.

For the following few nights the very same thing happened, though at different times. No set pattern it seemed, and having now occurred more than once it had become somewhat irksome. Each and every time my parents failed to make anything of it.

Eventually, my father mumbled into his pillow, “Something weird is happening.” With that, he fell back asleep.

Wide awake now, my mother laid there thinking if anything in the house had changed. Whether there was anything new that had been ‘introduced’ into the home. Finally, she thought of recent purchases and whether anything significant had been bought. There was something, and it was in the corner of their room: a purple cardigan. Plain weaving, nothing too fanciful, and inoffensive in every way. She'd bought it a few days ago in a charity shop, and having since washed it, now it hung from a hanger on the wardrobe door.

Alongside these thoughts it was as if that cardigan took on a whole new meaning. Hanging there silently on the other side of the room, symbolising something foreign in our home; unwanted… Indeed, unknown. In immediate response she said a prayer, and strong in faith she asked for a sign: to confirm that this item of clothing was indeed the problem. Such is her faith.

On that instant, the alarm clanged almost with a renewed fury. Sparing not a second, she leapt from the bed, grabbing the cardigan from where it hung and took the stairs two at a time. Once outside, in the garden, she threw it in the dustbin.

After that the alarm clock remained silent throughout the nights to follow.

We can all recall those times when as a child we were afraid of a t-shirt or jumper hanging on the opposite side of the bedroom, appearing like a person’s silhouette. As a silent spectre in the shadows of a corner familiar to us during the day, yet morphing come night time; becoming a gaping chasm of unknown depths.

That is a child’s natural innocence: an imagination sparked by all things new in this world. By comparison, through the eyes of an adult things can become unnatural – supernatural – and here it appears that my mother’s faith kept us safe.

On a final note: Metallica's For Whom the Bell Tolls can be found here.

Author photo (c)Christopher Shoebridge
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK with his wife and a number of animals. He often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and ezines.

His debut novel, The Shadow Fabric, is a supernatural story and is available from Amazon.

Twitter: @Mark_Cassell Facebook:

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