Hair Rising, Heir Raising, Erasing
Published the 21st of October 2014, this short story was born like many of my stories within the midst of a nightmare. I remember still vividly hearing some chilling noises, some eerie music, sad laughter, stuck in the darkness of a long box. I pushed the door open to realise that I was in my coffin. A cowardly glance outside revealed a hilly cemetery, a moonlight night and other corpses rising from their graves, some dragging others to do so. I was freaked enough at the sight to lay back in the safe darkness, thinking that it must be a bad dream and that it will all pass. But someone saw me, someone recognised me, called my name out loud and opened my coffin lid wide open. In front of that half decomposed cadaver, my heart seemed to fail to beat any longer. I closed my eyes of fright and I woke up in my bed safe and well. I was not exposed in a coffin, exhibited to other dead people, I was in my bedroom with for only witness, my black cat Mystic blinking her yellow eyes at me peacefully from the other pillow.
That morning, still haunted by the dream, my mind went on overdrive with the what if I had followed that corpse calling my name who I recognised as someone that passed away. It felt like being ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ visited by ghosts. Drawing on Charles Dickens ‘A Christmas Carol’, I set out to write ‘Hair Rising, Heir Raising, Erasing’.
Abraham Wilton-Cough was born proudly that day in a coffin and on paper. I must admit that the day I wrote his last expiring lines, I cried. One can call him an anti-hero, easily. That character took my place in that cemetery and went into the journey I did not take myself. I often do that (Clementine Boatswain is another creation resulting of steps I did not do). Abraham had to live that unbearable sense of exposure, I endured for a split second, for the length of the story.
A. It disturbed me greatly. I would sing out loud I am free from faults and crimes and swear it on any ready holy book of any kind. Proudly, I would stand my ground then say I have done no wrong. You may not be a broad day light criminal, or a night one, a rapist, a thief or whatever big crime implies, hopefully not a brain washed terrorist, but whatever we say or swear, we all have the niggling mistakes that will keep you awake at night. We may ignore them or not even see them, depending on how pride cover your eyes. After that dream, I questioned myself deep down, why did I feel that bad? Being a good individual, I went to dig any dirts I may have made: Mum is ignoring me for seven years, I will do likewise after failing to reach her out many times. To the day, our relationship is still a thin thread ready to break up at anytime for long periods. Can we afford it? With only one life to live? What is the damages on her side and mine? I resolved that my unease was all about what I took for granted like a family. How we are dealing with one another is most important for all involved. I wanted Abraham Wilton-Cough to carry that essential message.
B. Although Abraham is passing away at the end of the story, he has been given that chance to realise what were his mistakes. It took the removal of his great pride where one feels comfortably always right and all others are obviously so wrong. It took a journey from grave to grave. It took a feverish nightmare at the end of his own life’s journey. Able to rectify, do some erasing of his past mistakes for a few minutes, Wilton-Cough did so with a heart warming humbleness and the remaining of his heroic proud guts that were shot hours earlier protecting his customers.
The structure of the story is made of three parts flowing together forming the complete journey of Abraham Wilton-Cough which follows the rhythm of the title. First comes the ‘Hair Rising’ where the hero faces the fact that he is a rising dead in the town cemetery. Disturbingly as there are other walking dead, the realisation that it may be a judgement night, an apocalypse of some sort unsettles the character. His guide, Amelia Bates, is the individual that bothers his conscience, the widow which he made pregnant. She is the one that walks him from grave to grave to face the music, his heirs, and errors in the second part, the heart of the story, the ‘Heir Raising’. Finally he meets his last conception, a child which defies all his preconceptions being an Angel. She gives back to the wondering and wandering spirit of Abraham the consciousness he needs to put some things to right prior to his imminent death. On his death bed, lay Wilton-Cough doing all the erasing he can, in the third and last past of the novel, ‘the Erasing’.
Enough said, let’s meet the characters…
The Compendium of Characters
- Book Dedication
- This comprehensive nomenclature will be ordered by the chronology of the published books and within it by the alphabetical order of the characters. Following the ‘Who’s Who’ of characters, you will find a ‘What’s what’ section, a list of created or combined words with their meanings. There are a fair few occasions where I applied this poetic license to fit closely to the heartbeat of the story or a particular individual within it. The last sections are the peep-holes to the future publications relating to those stories, spin-offs, prequels or next instalments to look forward to. It will offer the tangible glimpse of what is coming next or what happened before.
- Published the 21st of October 2014, this short story was born like many of my stories within the midst of a nightmare. I remember still vividly hearing some chilling noises, some eerie music, sad laughter, stuck in the darkness of a long box. I pushed the door open to realise that I was in my coffin. A cowardly glance outside revealed a hilly cemetery, a moonlight night and other corpses rising from their graves, some dragging others to do so. I was freaked enough at the sight to lay back in the safe darkness, thinking that it must be a bad dream and that it will all pass. But someone saw me, someone recognised me, called my name out loud and opened my coffin lid wide open. In front of that half decomposed cadaver, my heart seemed to fail to beat any longer. I closed my eyes of fright and I woke up in my bed safe and well. I was not exposed in a coffin, exhibited to other dead people, I was in my bedroom with for only witness, my black cat Mystic blinking her yellow eyes at me peacefully from the other pillow.
- It-666’s story can not be told in one sentence not even in one book. It has a fateful spin to it which will last for as long as it is meant to last. It is determined.
- Illegitimate daughter of Abraham Wilton Cough and Amelia Bates, Abigail was not conceived out of love. She is a pure mistake, simply made by her respective parents out of drunkenness. Despite her controversial conception, even unborn she is a blessing to all. To her guilt ridden father, the mere fact that she is the growingly visible result of his action within the belly of the Widow Bates caused his nagging unrest and prophetic nightmare on his death bed. Her unseen presence pushes the proud Abraham first to admit that he did commit mistakes during his lifetime. With her mother playing the spiritual guide to the departing soul of Abraham, they help him to go from admission to making amends, passing by the acknowledgement of his errors.
- We meet Abraham Wilton-Cough as a skeleton in the feverish nightmare he is having on his death bed. Our Anti-Hero rise from his coffin to reluctantly follow the Widow Bates on a journey to discover what happened to his heirs.
- Her shrieking voice is the dreaded and familiar one which guides Abraham Wilton-Cough during the night of the rising dead. Born Elroy, the widow Bates has the privilege to be Abraham’s impoverished neighbour. Always in the now and know, Amelia is his perfect guide.
- Angela is the beautiful yet suffering wife of Abraham Wilton-Cough. Present by his death bed, she hold his hand until his last breath. She is the recipient of his last orders, the soldier that can execute his last wills, which starts with burning the ones he had written previously with a lawyer and friend, with a cold and calculating heart: The very will which would have seen her become totally destitute and dying on the church steps of Wilton Town’s church a very bitter winter night, the 23 rd of January 1866.
- Private Harry Bates is the quintessence of absent characters. Talked about, missed, grieved, his lack of presence, nonetheless affects the other characters in many ways. Like a missing link the life of Harry Bates can explain and shed light about the lives of others and their behaviours. Let’s take the example of the always well informed Amelia Bates to illustrate the point. She has developed that trait of her character because of the military career of her husband. Harry is the determining factor behind a self taught Amelia who reads the newspaper to know if he is still alive, which part of the world he is located, which battles he faced, their results and consequences on the world and people, and trying desperately to guess when would he possibly be able to come back.
- Briefly mentioned, she is the character which presents Angela to Abraham in one of her tea parties, warning him to not fall in love with the Italian shop keeper’s daughter. Aunt Josephine is the would be keeper of old generations and old fashions yet to still be in fashion herself and for her parties not to be obsolete, she has to invite the new generation which brings life to the old town and the like of Angela. Angela is like a mirror of herself in her younger years, an up and coming socialite to be watched.
- Josiah by his imaginary piano/organ/organic instrument, playing beautifully and powerfully, is a pure vision. The youngest son of Abraham Wilton-Cough symbolises all the children who had to endure the will of their parents as their own. If they do not do so, they end up beaten up badly.
- Noah M Wilton is the revered character, founder of Wilton Town, ancestor of Abraham Wilton-Cough. We hear about him first, mentioned proudly by Abraham who boast to be the eleventh removed from him. Larger than life, Noah takes shape and form in a formidable statue in the delirious dying dream of Wilton-Cough. As Abraham catches his breath at the base of the colossal brass effigy of his ancestor, he regains stock of who he is, who he came from but also the courage to face his own future, hence the judgement for his mistakes.
- The character of Father Odell looks after his parish like a shepherd after his flock. Ready listener of their ailments and tribulations, he offers to them the comfort of an educated comprehension, wraps their shoulders by his understanding and instead of letting them face their worst nightmare alone, he leads them to forgiving solutions to their dilemmas.
- Father of Abraham Wilton-Cough, Terah is just mentioned by him with great pride. This character is not elaborated in this story. From the association of two powerful families, the Wiltons and the Coughs, Terah is a member of the third generation. His important wealth handed down to his son made him own half of Wilton Town. Still not enough, Abraham endeavoured to increase his fortune by creating the first bank of the town.
- Doctor Vincent Valdi is another character barely mentioned in the story. At the bedside of the dying Abraham Wilton-Cough, he is monitoring his last hours, unable to save him.
- What can I say about Zach? The first time you encounter him you will not like him a tad. I wrote him with his sheer stupidity aligned with his false cleverness. Zachary Wilton-Cough is a character as daunting as a sponge which was left to absorb vitriol until it is so poisonous, your guts instinct are to just leave it there and ran away without dealing with it or squeeze it out of the bullshit it is full of.
- Wilton Town is a whimsical place with a far-West feel to it. Created out of the sheer wilderness of a large, dark and strange forest by the broad axe of Noah M Wilton, it represents all the hope of a better future that people do carry with them. However it didn’t quite synthesise itself on the ground, despite Noah and his followers’s best will and efforts. The hard working and generous Noah provided them with the free land, built the houses, designed a small town out of the treasure of their surrounding seas of trees.