Hair Rising, Heir Raising, Erasing
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.
The self centred and self satisfied Wilton-Cough would have preferred to remain in the cosy safety of his coffin to carry on ignoring the World. However Amelia Bates pushes him literally outside of his comfort zone and boundaries to face the music during that autumnal night of the dead. Her convincing arguments challenges the pride of Wilton-Cough enough to have him follow her. But instead of being proved right, Abraham is shown how wrong he has been during his life.
The story truly starts with what is troubling his conscience: the mistake he did one night with the Widow Bates. His refusal to admit it and the consequences of it are tackled by a crafty Amelia who appeal onto his great pride. If Abraham knows by heart his illustrious ancestors, acknowledges his important position in their lineage, he would recognise a descendant of his, who raises his pride.
That strategy doesn’t fail to bring the character following the footsteps of Mrs Bates to check out what became of his own two legitimate sons out of utter curiosity but also wanting to know more about his illegitimate daughter.
Abraham Wilton-Cough is a proud character yet he is not a proud father for multiple reasons which have more to do with himself rather than his children. One question haunting his dream is how he raised his boys. The answer and to his own admission was with partiality but also with some psychological pressure. His favoured eldest, Zachary was taught to become like him, strongly insensitive to become a prosperous man. Whilst his talented youngest son, Josiah, was strongly discouraged to follow his own heart, passion, and pursuit to follow the one of his father which was making money. The results of his fatherhood shown to Wilton-Cough in that staunch premonitory nightmare filled him with self-shame. The realisation that he lacked all his life the ability to comprehend his children hits him suddenly very hard like a slap across his face. It becomes a reciprocal emotional battering, from Josiah refusing to acknowledge him as a father to Zachary who sees his skeleton as potential food to feed upon, having become a materialistic dead: a zombie.
Last but not least as a man, Abraham is not proud to have fathered an illegitimate child for despite not being demonstrative, he dearly loves his wife Angela. To acknowledge his posthumous daughter is to acknowledge that he was far from perfect. In a nutshell, Abigail is the bombshell that makes him admit all his past mistakes and errors. She makes him lose his intrinsic pride to embrace for once in his life humble pie.
Wilton-Cough is far from being a proud husband, similarly it has nothing to do with his wife but all to do with him and own insecurities. This is where we meet the bitterness of the character. The physically unremarkable Abraham secured the attention of the beautiful Angela, an Italian shopkeeper’s daughter: he had no doubts it was all because of what his name and money represented to her. Under that misconception came the excuse for the treatment of his wife, jealously kept indoors only to be submitted to a daily mental battering. The cherry on the cake comes with his last will which will leave his wife and the son she likes most, Josiah, destitute and at the mercy of his eldest, Zachary. The consequences of that bitter written will of his are presented to him during his journey from grave to grave. His visit to Angela’s pauper’s mass grave and the knowledge of her fate affects him deep down. This is where the character meets full sorrow, ignored by whom he loved most but who he had also treated constantly in an overbearing fashion during his life.
In this whimsical nightmare, Abraham Wilton-Cough is almost the caricature of his more serious, stern and sarcastic real self. Creating this character has been a roller coaster ride of emotions. Writing him made me laugh but also cry. When the hero is pushed back to the realm of consciousness, and wakes up in an ordinary yet cosy bedroom of the 19th century, the seriousness of his state is clear cut. We have a dying man on his bed who has been shot. Bad or not, Wilton-Cough, despite him not thinking of himself as heroic, was wounded protecting his customers in his bank. He refuses to be acknowledged as a hero in an honest sarcasm who revealed his true motivation behind his action: his customers are useful to his business alive not dead. It makes money sense to protect them. This highlights his true character, nature and what motivated his entire life to the point where Wilton-Cough is very aware of the irony of his fate.
However late it is in his life to rectify anything, he makes the desperate attempt to do so with his last minutes. I had tears writing the character’s last lines and words in the part that constitute the ‘Erasing’ of the book title, the one where Abraham Wilton-Cough tries to erase what he can from the errors of his ways. This last part of the story is where the emotional journey of the main character ends after having him rewrite another last will which will create a better future for all the other characters, members of his family. That new future is scope for another story where Wilton-Cough maybe raised from the dead again as a ghost, haunting his loved ones to prevent them making mistakes… Dear Abraham until we meet again, I will forever cherish your memory as my first published main character.
This character has been inspired by Charles Dickens’s ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’. The main similitude is a proper wink, which is his profession as director of the first bank of Wilton Town, a banker. Finding a name that resonated right for the type of hero, Abraham Wilton-Cough was in my mind, posed no difficulty.
The morning of the dream, Abraham was created, almost like a corn will pop in a pan to make popcorn, like someone bursting to my psyche fully formed, with a delightful bite and crunch to him.
I put that character in the uncomfortable shoes I wore during my nightmare. I had to dress him with the feelings I had pushing the lid of a coffin, my coffin. Terrified and wondering about what was going on out there, yet cowardly willing to nestle back to the grave as the safest place on earth was one of them. Another one was the sentiment of being laid bare, exposed, yet not knowing what wrong did I do to feel that way, proudly I would have said, I have nothing to regret. Scratching my head to find any possible wrongs I could have done, the very morning I woke up, my answers came forward fast and clear, it had to do with family relations, your loved ones: things you do and don’t, like not talking to someone for seven years, for whatever reasons which brought the initial clash, with the pride and stubbornness on both part kept alive until it subsided back to love. Am I proud of that fact under my belt? The answer is no. So my Abraham is very much a family man who did cock things up a bit with his loved ones in ways which can be seen as acceptable in broad day light, as none dared to challenge him, yet the damages done in the heart of his family is profound. His heirs are drifting apart in the cemetery, with only two maintaining a loving relationship with each other, few and far between.
His surname had to be double-barrelled to represent a sense of pride and patriarchal endorsement. He is part of the lineage which founded Wilton Town. I wore a double-barrelled name for nine months with some vanity. It made me feel more important than I was, especially that during that time I felt lower than I ever felt before. Abraham had to endorse the mistake that my double-barrelled name was, upon his heavy cloak. Let’s peel the onion of his created name. First there is the Wilton. In my mind it carries many meanings regarding to ‘Will’ and ‘Willpower’. It is ‘Will-ton’: The tune of one’s will. When there is a will, there is a tune singing somewhere of hope, good or bad. ‘Ton’ means tune in French. Wilton-Cough’s amount of will has the power to change the lives of his loved ones for the worse or the better. This first syllable of his surname also symbolise that formal piece of document, the one that carries your will to others beyond your grave, your last wishes. Some of us, organised and well prepared for any eventuality have those ready long before their last breath. The document represents your wishes at the point in time you formulated it. What happens if you moved on far from those wishes as you expire? Were they drawn in a bitter moment of your life where you cut out some totally, just to feel a little better? What if you are all reconciled and the forgotten will is unearthed and enforced like a battle axe destroying your own family at your death? What if you are dying with a ravaging bitterness, proudly unashamed? What is the tune of your own will?
Wilton-Cough represents all those questions which could be resumed to: Are your last wills for the better or the worse? Forgetting that, imposing your own will to others during your life, raise another question: the one of free will. The question of will runs through the story as the main theme and finishes with the character having the opportunity to change his at the last minute.
About ‘ton’ meaning tune: Abraham Wilton-Cough is facing the music on his death bed. From the cacophony he wakes up to in his grave, to the cuckoo clock striking 3 am, announcing he has only 13 minutes to live, passing by the forest clearance haunted by his son Josiah and his powerfully eerie tunes, the character is caught by the music. So much so that he choses his last tune for his body to depart, to be played by Josiah, ‘La Marche Funébre’ de Chopin, a funeral march created the very year of his death, 1837.
The Cough part in the surname is just a spitting out loud of everything that can make you choke: From the suppression of your own free-will by someone, family, peers, to cheer mistreatment if you do not follow their own wishes and wills. On Earth, sadly, some will accept your murder by overbearing criminals as the better option. For they do not know any better than a falsely created honour, pride which make them do crimes in broad day light or accept them as common currency. ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ Luke 23:34.
Abraham has two sons which he raised with partiality. The eldest takes it all whilst the youngest fights to keep his mum and himself with some sort of living in the street of Wilton Town. Well those are the consequences foreseen in Wilton-Cough’s dream caused by his first last will. Now the choice of Wilton-Cough’s first name was inspired by the biblical patriarch. As Abraham was ready to sacrifice his god given son Isaac to god’s will, Wilton-Cough was ready to sacrifice his eldest son’s soul, Zachary by spoiling him by his own will. Abraham Wilton-Cough is visited on his death bed, in his feverish nightmare by his own daughter, the Angelic Abigail, who gives him back the few minutes of consciousness he needs to correct his will. Will that be enough to save the soul of Zachary?
After peeling the layers of Wilton-Cough, lets meet him in the core and in quotes:
-Well, well, well, I’ll be damned, we can’t sleep in peace anymore. What is that cacophony all about? A skeletal hand pushed open its coffin lid grumpily and a bewildered dishevelled skull appeared, peering outside full of suspicion.’
Then Abraham added with deep sadness in his voice, -Was I that despicable? I’d better do as he told me and wait to turn to dust.
Presenting her hand with a look full of kindness, Amelia Bates ordered,
-Come with me. Let’s find out together.’
Catching a last glimpse of his son, Abraham moved along the path, deeply sighing, and started to talk to himself to try to quench his incredible sadness,
-Yes, see you later. I thought you would appreciate to see me gutted somehow, my now little big fruit of my loins. Awesome ghost, you are, very… very scary. Look, I am somehow moving towards any of the directions you pointed to me tonight. Oh my, oh my, when I dreaded a slow dusting alone in my grave, now I am walking towards worse. What have I done? What have I done? Oh my, Oh my. It would be such a lovely evening to rise truly if I had not cocked up so beautifully my life. It is warm like an Indian summer. The moonlight is just, just mesmerising, glowing upon everything: the path, the graves and their robbers. Robbers, thieves, my grave, they are doing my grave among many… Oi!
Waving his arms erratically Wilton-Cough went running forward in an incentive to protect all graves and especially his own one. He tried the very fearsome and ghostly ‘Ouuuuh, ouuuuh’ and the more immediate ‘schoouuuh, schouuuuh’ but the effect was not what he expected.’
Wilton-Cough watching his last will burn to ashes offered a sorrowful smile to his wife and children, -Yes, I did say plenty of things along those lines, but the fact and the truth are as I am at my last minutes, that I must admit that I was entirely wrong many times, for I have no right to impose upon you to live your very own lives a certain way that suits me and no others. The three of you are free to live your lives as you desire, to follow your own dreams. Make the most of every minute for they do count and never forget that there is only one rule to be respected…
A painful burst of cough stopped his words as Abraham tried to catch his breath, with the desperate hope that it was not his last.’
Catch up Abraham Wilton-Cough’s last moments while you can and let him whisper to you what he learnt from his journey beyond the grave.
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.