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SUNDIAL SUPERNATURAL

TWILIGHT TALES

 

by DAVID McGOWAN








david mcgowan, twilight tales, sundial supernatural

In ancient worlds they yet may live, those Gods whom time has thrown aside and cast asunder. Beyond the realms of man they dwell, obsolete exiles in a strange land, forsaken and forgotten in eternity. Time counts them dead, those old ones whom the past has buried, but Death is a stranger in that foreign land and, like the phoenix rising from the ashes of its own dissolution, they too shall yet rise from their ancient banishment to return in triumph to take that which is their due. Behold! For now I see the casting of the runes before me, as high above the lightning cracks to guide them on their way. 

A varied collection of tales comprising the weird, the wonderful, the grotesque and the bizarre with the reader being taken on a journey through time and space, past and present, fantasy and reality, where the mundane meets the marvellous and the destination remains forever unknown.



Contents: SCRAPS OF LIFE ~ THE RING ~ PLAY UP AND PLAY THE GAME ~ HOTLINE TO HAPPINESS ~ RIGHT SAID FRED  ~ AN AFTER DINNER STORY ~ THE TEST OF TIME ~ MADAME PISANESCHI ~ THE KING OF THE GULLS  ~ THE WRITER  ~ LOVE POTION #1941 ~ A CHANGE OF CAREER ~ A PERIOD OF HISTORY ~ GENTLEMEN OF THE ROAD ~ THE CHILD  ~ ALL OUR TOMORROWS ~ THE MYTHS OF TIME ~ HAZEL ~ THE DREAM MACHINE  ~ MORE QUESTIONS THAN ANSWERS ~ THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER  ~ THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER  ~ A SNAIL'S PACE  ~ JOHN ~ THE LOST CHORD ~ ROMAN IN THE GLOAMIN' ~ THE VOICE OF EXPERIENCE ~ TIME WILL TELL ~ THE LONG HOME ~ CATHY


  OPENINGS: Two stories from Twilight Tales

 

OPENINGS: Two stories from Twilight Tales


AN AFTER DINNER STORY

 

Annette Pearson's soirées were always a source of intense pleasure to me. Having made her acquaintance through a mutual friend I was enchanted by the lady immediately and delighted to soon be invited into the inner circle which dined at her house on three or four occasions each year.

 Annette was a first class cook and took great satisfaction in preparing the evening repast. On my first visit I was understandably rather nervous upon arrival, but within the space of a few minutes the assembled guests had put me quite at ease with their warm, friendly welcome. I soon discovered that there was neither bore nor boor among them.

 The company varied, but there was a hard core of five who were constantly present. These were Annette, myself, John Richardson, his wife Flora and Henry Strickland. Eight was Annette's perfect dinner party number and so three others were invariably present to make up the party and I never yet felt ill at ease in the company of anyone Annette invited into her home. Conversation was always lively, with wit, jest and intellectual stimulus unfailingly on the evening's menu.

 The particular night I wish to speak of was one in which only the hard core five I mentioned earlier were present. It was a bitter winter's night and I believe the three others who were supposed to join us had been forced to cancel owing to travel difficulties due to the inclement weather.

 Being five old friends, the atmosphere was relaxed and intimate. Having polished off an excellent meal, drinks were poured and, in the case of the men at least, trouser belts let out a notch. I believe it was Henry who set the tone of the conversation that ensued.... 

 “As fine a dinner as you've ever cooked,” said Henry.

 “Compliments to the chef are certainly due Annette”, added Flora.

 “Oh I'm just glad it all turned out so well”, said our host with a hint of a blush.

 “I can't understand why you don't go and find yourself a husband. You certainly know the way to a man's heart,” said Henry with his customary chuckle.

 “Are you volunteering?” Annette asked.

 “Eh? What!” said the flustered Henry as we all laughed at the discomfit of this self —confessed confirmed bachelor.

 “You let yourself in for that one Henry,” I said. “But I don't suppose there's the ghost of a chance of gaining access to your heart via your stomach.” 

 He snapped his fingers sharply. “Now that's the very thing I propose we discuss tonight,” he said.

 “Marriage via the alimentary canal?” I asked.

 “No — ghosts.” 

 “Ghosts?” said Flora sceptically

 “Yes — I was wondering earlier if anyone had ever seen one.” 

 The assembled company shook their heads and there was a moments silence until....

 “Can't say I have,” said John Richardson, “— though I did have an odd experience many years ago.” 

 “Something inexplicable?” asked Henry.

 “It was certainly something I personally could find no explanation for.” 

 “Then it's the very thing we want to hear about!” said Henry excitedly, “— if everyone is in favour?” 

 We each gave our enthusiastic consent and turned our attention to John as he began to speak.

. . . .

 


*     *     *     *     *

 
 

THE TEST OF TIME

 

I

 

“Frankly I can think of no greater horror than the Christian concept of eternal life,” said Ormerod, spearing a roast potato with his fork. “Stuck up there with a crowd of harping cherubs? No thanks!” 

  “But surely the idea of being reunited with loved ones on the other side is a reassuring one,” I replied.

  “Loved ones?” my companion snorted.

  “Your father, mother — and didn't you have a brother who passed on?” 

  “Passed on? Passed on indeed! Died! My brother died Hopkins. Let's have none of this passed on nonsense. And as for being reunited with them: my father beat me mercilessly as a child, my mother died from cirrhosis of the liver — owing to the usual cause — and my late brother once attempted to drown me in the bathtub due to his insane jealousy. I can assure you I have no wish to clap eyes on any of them ever again either in this life or another.” 

  “So you view life as being essentially without meaning?” 

  “Completely pointless old man — chaos in action.” 

  “As a Christian I'm afraid I can t agree with you.” 

  “And as an atheist I can no more agree with your belief in a supernatural deity, or a child born without intercourse, given that it was pre-IVF, who could bring the dead, himself included, back to life.” 

  “These are trying times to be a believer,” I sighed. “I suppose that's what having faith means.” 

  “What? The complete suspension of all logic?” 

  We each sipped our wine.

  “Perhaps in time all will become clear,” I remarked.

  “That's the first sensible statement you've made all evening Hopkins — though for all the wrong reasons,” Ormerod replied.

  “Then you believe we will get to the bottom of things in time?” 

  “I believe time is the bottom of things,” said my friend. “It is the very heart of all things. The man who understands time will understand everything.” 

  “I don't quite follow you.” 

  “Tell me,” he said, “what is time?” 

  His question left me flummoxed. “Why, it's the — the continual moving forward  — of events,” I finally managed triumphantly.

  “Poppycock!” he replied.

  “Then what is your own definition?” I asked, taken aback by his abruptness.

  “I have none,” he said simply.

  “Surely we can at least agree that time moves forward?” 

  “Sadly no,” he responded.

  “But why not?” 

  “Because I have serious reservations regarding its very existence.” 

  “You doubt time exists?” said I, bewildered by the turn our conversation had taken.

  “I do,” he answered, sawing at his well done steak.

  “But how can it fail to exist? We walked here using time — my watch hand is moving forward — ”

  “Your watch hand?” he burst out with a guffaw. “What has that to do with time — save to show it as a man made concept?” He leaned across the table, his voice becoming more animated. “What is this present we inhabit Hopkins? When does it become the past and what is its link to the future? I tell you the present no more exists than your Yahweh. It is impossible to pinpoint it — forever on the brink of the past and the future.” 

  “Then you at least believe in past times and future times?” I ventured.

  “No,” he replied, refilling his glass. “I cannot find it in me to believe in either.” 

  “Then what of history?” 

  “What of it?” he countered nonchalantly.

  I shook my head incredulously. “And yet you say that time is at the bottom of things?” 

  “I do.” 

  “It all seems to be a riddle with you,” I said, exasperated.

  “It is Hopkins,” he replied. “It is — but one that I hope to solve some day.” 

  “In the future?” I replied, with my tongue firmly in my cheek.

  “Touché my friend,” he laughed good-naturedly, clinking his glass to mine.

. . . .

 

If you would like to read two of the selections from Twilight Tales please email here and enter 'TT' in the subject box.

 

Price: £9.99 Format: softback ISBN-13: 978-1-908274

Book Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm — Publication Date: April 2017


*     *     *     *     *

 
david mcgowan

David McGOWAN lives in Bellshill, Lanarksire. TWILGHT TALES is his first collection of supernatural narratives suspended between the mundane and the magical and miraculous.















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