Minor Mayhem is a supernatural horror novel blending the perceived normality of everyday life with a paranormal undercurrent of dark demonic power that lies just beneath the surface. But always with a sense of mischief and gallows humor.
‘The beast, which he had at first thought was hiding in the shadow was in fact the shadow itself. It had the vague undulating shape of a four legged creature, crouching low with its belly nearly dragging on the stone floor.
Although the body seemed to lack any solidity, indeed it looked to Nichols to be nothing more than a seething mass of darkness, there was no doubt it still had a formidable weight to it.’
Someone was after career criminal Larry McCulloch, but for Larry that was nothing new. Down through the decades he had amassed a quite remarkable number of enemies on both sides of the law. But this time it was different. Almost overnight that list, which had at its height reached three figures, had now been reduced to just one. And it wasn’t someone; it was something that wanted him in the most terrible of ways. Some of the hardest, cruellest criminals in Europe had been scared off their pursuit of Larry. And all because of one double cross too many.
And it wasn’t just Larry’s life that was at stake. Because Larry McCulloch now found himself up to his neck in a supernatural clandestine war fought just in the corner of the everyday world’s eye.
A war of creatures conjured out of nightmares. A war fought between shadowy soldiers of darkness who live just on the edge of myth and rumor and a small group of disparate volunteers on the side of good.
It’s a curious thing, researching your own death.
Which, once the inevitable disorientation of his post-mortem rebirth had passed, was the first thing Randall did once he had returned from oblivion to the land of the (almost) living.
He even had a copy of the crime scene photographs, very grisly, not the kind of keepsake one would normally hang onto but they still held a macabre fascination for him, even after all these years they never failed to illicit a shiver down the spine.
He had been originally prompted to do all this by the dream of the final moments of his mortal life.
The before, to this after.
It always began the same, the caress of a gentle breeze on his face as he drifted off to sleep and with it the smell of freshly rain soaked streets.
Then came the shouts and that God awful burning in his chest. Fractured images reassembled in some sort of vaguely coherent order would play out in his mind’s eye, over and over like a damn movie loop but one edited by a madman with a hatchet. Yeah, he remembered just about everything about that night. Which considering what happened wasn’t that surprising. After all, if you can’t remember your own murder, then just what the hell are you going to remember?
He was running now, down a long dark New York cobbled street, the burning in his chest was his lungs screaming for air. The shouts were coming from the four shadows chasing him with murderous intent. A volley of gunshots rang out followed by that sound like angry bees buzzing past his head, one so close he could feel the concussion as it zipped by his ear. Randall could still, even now, feel that first bullet hit as it slammed into the back of his right shoulder and with it, just like always, everything became crystal clear.
He remembered struggling to keep his feet as his mutinous legs threatened to buckle as he ran. He remembered stumbling on and firing blindly behind him and that much needed hit of adrenalin as one of his pursuers screamed and tumbled to the ground. Lucky shot, but then again Randall had always been lucky. Lucky until he ran blindly into that alleyway.
Once he was beyond the reach of the streetlights the alley soon became pitch black, but still he ran on. The footsteps at his back were closer now and more gunshots rang out, their bark echoing off the walls around him and with each shot came a muzzle flash which cut through the darkness giving Randall fleeting glimpses of this surroundings; walls closing in around him.
He remembered the blood, icy cold running down his arm, he couldn’t be sure, but he thought that must have been why the gun slipped through his fingers and clattered to the ground behind him. Betrayed by his own blood.
Randall’s head was spinning wildly, his usually clear thoughts mudded by blood loss and an overdose of adrenaline, but he stumbled on, concentrating on just putting one damn foot in front of the other. Another gunshot briefly illuminated the alley ahead and the brick wall that was right in front of him forcing him to skid to a halt. A dead end, very apt.
He remembered not being afraid, of turning to face his executioners with a smile, or maybe that was just his pride and memory playing tricks on him. But either way it felt good not to be running anymore. That was when his legs finally gave out and he slid down the wall and onto his backside. He remembered laughing as he looked up at the three silhouettes standing over him, each of them breathing hard from the pursuit. One of them was speaking, but to this day, of all the things Randall remembered so vividly about that night, he couldn’t remember a damn word the man said, strange that.
Then, after that forgotten epitaph they finally opened fire. He got fleeting glimpses of their faces, they were all grinning like loons, one of them, did his face look familiar? Was openly laughing as he emptied his gun. Randall could still feel every single bullet hit, nine of them, he guessed at least one of the bastards must have been a lousy shot.
So Randall remembered almost everything about that night, which stands to reason when you think about it. After all it’s not every day you are shot to death in an alley, is it? Yes, he could recall with an almost absolute clarity, the sights the sounds, even the damn smell of the place. But curiously that was it.
There was nothing from that feeling of slipping into darkness to the moment he walked back out of that same alley looking exactly the same as when he had entered it, even wearing the same damn suit,(less the blood and bullet hits).
This he soon realised was the first thing he had to remedy when he discovered he’d been away for some fifty odd years. Nineteen seventies New York was the first of many shocks that day. Half a century gone by in a heartbeat and he remembered nothing of it.
He was just, different somehow.
Worse still, he had no recollection of the deal, of the selling of his soul and signing up for this new life he found himself slap bang in the middle of. For surely there must have been one, some little seduction scene play out in the void between life and death where he had readily given up his eternal soul for his lost life back, and not forgetting the power he now possessed.
There was no end of the mischief Randall could perform; he could manipulate those around him, not to mention the numerous creatures he could conjure up, just by will alone and with the help of a little spit, blood, smoke and shadows. Sure, that would explain where all the years had gone, you can’t learn all that shit overnight, but he couldn’t remember learning any of it, not even a training montage like in the movies.
And what of the moment of actually signing his soul away? Nothing, and surely that has got to be even more important to a guy than simply dying. Any idiot could do that, people did it in their thousands, every damn day.
There was nothing from the moment he died to when he walked out, dazed and disorientated, into a world that had quite literally left him way behind.
Hence the research into his own death, it was his way of confirming all this wasn’t just some hallucination brought on by blood loss and the odd bullet to the head. No, he was dead and it hadn’t been big news either, if he was honest, Randall thought it would have been bigger, but there no screaming newspaper headlines for him, just a few paragraphs found almost by accident in an old copy of the New York Times in the city library. No one knew who had killed him or why, and Randall couldn’t imagine they had made much of an effort to track down his murderers. He wasn’t missed, just another dead hood in the carnage that was the gang wars of the roaring twenties. Gone and defiantly forgotten.
But now he was back.
Randall had been wandering around in a daze for almost a week with all this power but no clue what it was for or why he was back. That was when the annoying little bastard Ishrel finally found him, and that was when things had gotten really surreal.