It had been a long and tiring day, in 'the most terrible place on earth' (Awful Places Weekly Summer edition 2009).
For some reason, the current batch of ‘guests’ in my cellar were particularly feisty and refusing to submit to treatment which normally would have them begging for their lives. It was a mystery, and it was quite annoying.
Normally I love a good mystery, something to ponder over, something to tax the brain a little. When it came to my guests however, I liked them to be predictable. If I used my cattle prod on someone hung by their ankle from the ceiling, I expected them to shriek and wail, not grit their teeth and not make a sound. If tied someone to a rack and tickled them endlessly with feathers, I expected them to laugh and writhe until they sobbed for mercy, not remain expressionless and tell me that they were not ticklish.
This was not because I hated a challenge, I love to work hard on a guest and to finally break them. But this was different, it was insolence of the highest magnitude, rebellion and mutiny, and I was somewhat stumped as to how to snap this newfound hardiness in my guests. I blamed society, people were just uncaring and too worldly nowadays. When I presented them with a glowing brand, which I had heated in the fire until it shone bright orange, and threatened to press it into their foreheads, all they would say was “seen it on YouTube. It don’t scare me.”
When I am set a conundrum I tend to pace the long dark corridors of Holbrook Towers. Pipe in mouth, fluffy slippers on feet, striding thoughtfully. I was on my third circuit of the second floor landing when I heard a noise come from further down the corridor. A thumping noise. I paused for a moment; Manson the butler was spending a quiet evening in the Iron Maiden as punishment for forgetting my mid morning coffee, Dahmer, the chef had gone out to ‘fetch’ some dinner ingredients, and my new member of staff, Gein the gardener had left for the day, to do a bit of moonlighting at the local graveyard. I should have been alone in the castle. I stood deathly still, waiting for the sound to come again.
There it went again, coming from, of all places, my bedroom.
I crept along the landing until I came to my bedroom door, I pressed my ear to the wood. There was defiantly someone in there. I pulled a spiked mace from the hands of a suit of armour at the top of the stairs and stood outside the door, mace above my head. Two deep breaths later I charged, kicking, kicking in the door, screaming at the top of my lungs, and swinging the mace with all the effort that my arms could muster.
The room was empty.
Had my ears deceived me? Had the madness, inherent in my family, finally caught up with me?
The noise came again. It was coming from my wardrobe.
‘Who’s there!’ I cried. ‘I have a weapon. I have killed before, don’t test me.’
Suddenly there was a muffled thumping and fumbling noise. The doors rattled.
‘Hello?’ Came a voice. ‘I’m stuck. Can you open the doors for me?’
I approached the doors and opened them a crack. I could just make out a pair of wide frightened eyes, hidden between my winter overcoats. I slammed the doors again.
‘What are you doing in my wardrobe?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know.’ came the voice. ‘One minute I was sat in a pub, having a little drink. I got up to go to the gents and found myself stuck in here. It’s very dark, and I’m frightened. Where am I?’
‘Well you’re not in Bleedin’ Narnia!’ I cried. ‘Who are you? Are you another one of those Author types? Answer me, before I come in there and stove your head in!’
Our conversation, through the door of my favourite wardrobe, was recorded as follows;
Who’s there? What are you doing in my bedroom?
This isn’t the Belle Vue pub… How much did I drink while tapping out that book?
Ooh, you’ve written a book have you? Tell me a little about it? Persuade me to invest in it with your smooth marketing skills.
I have indeed! It is called Deep Down There and is a Horror Comedy about a hole. Well, more horror than comedy… the hole appears in a gated community and begins to drive the residents mad. Mad, I say. MAD! Dark times begin when they start to remove it, and finally investigate it. It’s being published by Unbound (https://unbound.com/books/deep-down-there) and if you like words, you’ll love this. Because it contains many words. So many. With many syllables and all.
Have you brought me a present? What is it? Will it be useful to me and make me smile?
Well I am known as the generous sort. You look like the type who likes a good space adventure, so try this big old collection of my Kirk Sandblaster series of books. Think Terry Pratchett & Douglas Adams walked through a wormhole and got gorily, disgustingly, but hilariously combined into one organism. Be aware, though, the series contains instances of space piracy, ice pirates, a planet-wide Hunger Games, and sandwiches. Lots of sandwiches.
I have a gift for you also, for I am in a giving mood. I give you the gift of the chameleon. You are able to change your colour, dependant on your surroundings, able to become more or less invisible at will. What will you do with your new found power? Where would you go and what mischief would you get up to?
Oh, the possibilities… One would be tempted to use this power for evil, thieving and getting up to all sorts of dark vagabondery. However, I feel at first I’d use it to escape the overall hustle and bustle. Get out of situations where someone is talking to you and you need to suddenly get away would be handy as well. Imagine their faces as you slowly faded from view. I’d also probably raid a till or two. Hey, I never said I would use it wisely all the time…
It’s the end of the world, I tell you! The stars have aligned, Jupiter is in the ascendency and Nigel Farage still lives and breathes. According to my charts we have about a week left until Emperor Trump finally snaps and slams his forehead onto the big red button.
Tell me your plans for the final week of earth as we know it?
What?!? That came out of nowhere… I’d probably throw a party, one to end all parties. Invite all my friends and family around, and enjoy one last hurrah. That would be a couple of days, then maybe a day of resolving old feuds, before finally spending the last few days with my wife and pooch, sipping cocktails and seeing in the apocalypse with a bang.
Earth is at the centre of an intergalactic war and, as leader of the planet, it is up to you to throw your hat in the ring and decide whose side we’re on. The choices are as follows;
The Jhakkar – a large insectoid warlike race, who are intent on total and utter control of the universe. They enslave all planets that they take over and drain the resources of each world, before using their massive green Boomcannon to reduce it to rubble. Billions have died at their hands, mercy is seen as a weakness. They have promised you that, if you side with them and turn the war in their favour, they will provide the earth with the resources needed to eliminate poverty and hunger, make war and violence a thing of the past, (and also give you a palace of your own to live in, with slaves to do your every bidding).
The Floof – A race of small cuddly bear like creatures who are the universe’s one true hope of freedom from the Jhakkar. They want peace and happiness for the whole of the universe, with free cake for all and jelly beans as the currency. They offer the earth a seat at the table of governance of the universe if they win, however they do insist that everyone follows their religion (whose beliefs include worshipping the holy hamster of Gnaarthock (blessed be his fur), absolutely no alcohol, enforced meditation for three hours each day, and all reading and writing is the work of the Floof’s version of the devil, The Dark Monkey H’rrrgunth, and as such totally banned and punishable by being cuddled to death).
Choose your side, the fate of the universe is in your hands.
We side with the Jhakkar, obviously. Long term, it just makes sense. Peace and prosperity? Lovely stuff! The Floof are weak-minded fools who utilize their inherent cuteness to sway the thoughts of those present. They are the true evil in this scenario, and should be stopped by any means necessary.
Plus, that palace would be very nice…
Poetry can heal the greatest ill’s. I have a bunion which irks me, can you cure it with four fantastic lines of rhyme?
Let’s have a close look.
At the rot on your foot.
It’s a really vile wound.
I’m afraid, sir, you’re doomed.
If I look out of my castle window I can see the villagers impaled on spikes all the way down my front drive. I am indeed a lucky man. Tell me, if you could look out of your bedroom window on the greatest piece of scenery in the known world what would you see?
There’s a place called Hughenden Park in Wycombe, where at the right angle, you can see fields for miles. I would gaze at that vista for a while, before looking to my right and seeing the combined beaches of Southampton, Bournemouth, and Swansea beckoning to me, along with the soothing crash of waves. Ah…
Hurl yourself forwards to two hundred years in the future. You have travelled a thousand miles in your search, but finally, in the middle of a remote moor you find it, ‘The last pub in Britain.’ You enter the doors and find it to be empty, no one goes to pubs any more, they are too entranced by their mobile phones and have become immobile at home. Able only to order take always and scan the interweb for the latest celebrity gossip. You walk up to the bar and speak to the wizened old crone at the taps. This is the last bender. Tell me your plans for the evening in this old relic of the twentieth century?
Let’s be honest, I’ve travelled a long way, so why not start with a swift kick of energy in the form of half a cola, before moving onto the ales. I like them dark, but starting with a stout is a surefire way to kill the palette. So one of those, and onto the likes of golden ales & craft lagers. They’re good for a few hours, but as the bender comes to an end and I’ve talked the ear off the barmaid about all my word-based ideas and general conspiracy theories, I point my finger at the dusty bottle of Bowmore Darkest scotch buried in her shelves, and grab a glass and a small bowl of ice to bring out the flavour. Splendid.
Where are you on the internetty thing? Where can I find and stalk you? Do you tweet? Insta? Snapchat? YouTube? Blog? Where are you, in heavens name?
Hey, you gave me the chameleon power… But to keep up with my shenanigans, you can find me tweeting as @OliJacobsAuthor (https://twitter.com/OliJacobsAuthor), Open the Book of Faces and find the Oli Jacobs Author Page (https://www.facebook.com/OJBooks/), look over my Instagramic efforts as @olijba (https://www.instagram.com/olijba/), read my works in progress at https://olijacobsauthor.wordpress.com/ and then buy them at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Oli-Jacobs/e/B0086XR1JG/
Oh! And don’t forget to pledge toward Deep Down There, of course. Be rude not to… https://unbound.com/books/deep-down-there
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to find my way out of this bedroom and back to the pub. Wait. Why is the door locked from the outside…?
Our discussion over, I cautiously opened the door. My fear of the man inside had lessened, but I knew better than to ever fully trust my senses when you discover a man hiding in the your wardrobe.
He gingerly stepped out. I need not have been so scared, he seemed like quite an amenable chap after all, and I decided to invest in his lovely work. I would strongly advise you to do the same.
Together we checked the back of my wardrobe and it did indeed lead to a set of pub toilets.
We shared a drink, Oli and I; him having a beer, me on my normal tipple of Babycham and Special Brew with a twist of lemon. I left him, somewhere in between his eight and my ninth. I had wandered to the toilets and suddenly found myself back in my bedroom.
I fumbled my way back through the overcoats, only to find the hard wooden back panel of my wardrobe. Had I imagined it? Was it all a fantastical fantasy?
I decided not, as I was perfectly drunk and desperately needed to relieve my bladder.
If you have enjoyed this blog interview and would like to take part yourself, then please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would also ask that you consider supporting my own book Domini Mortum which is availabel to view here www.unbound.co.uk/books/domini-mortum