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Horror Fantasy Fiction

“Welcome back everyone to “Morning Call with Sandra and Derek” live from OTV London Studios! Today we have renowned psychic Todd Mentaliss with us and he will be helping our viewers with their problems. Welcome Todd!”

“Thanks Sandra! It’s a pleasure to be here! I’m excited about helping your viewers out there!”

“Keep that excitement going Todd as we head straight to line 1 where we have Jess from Liverpool. Jess, how can Todd help you today?”

“Hi Sandra, so great to talk to you. Hi Todd! I’d like you to help me…”

Now Todd, this is Jessica Stanley, she wants to talk to her deceased father Tim to tell him she loves him and that she named her second son after him. Her mother Tina is still alive but is struggling to move on from Tim’s death and Jess wants her father to give his blessing for Tina to move on and live her life to the full. Tim bought her a cat called Pickles who also died recently.

“… I’m desperate to help me Mum and hoping you can talk to me Dad about it.”

“Now Jess, sorry can I call you Jessica because your dad told me he prefers it when people say your full name?”

“Of course! Is me Dad with you?”

“Yes Jessica he’s here and he’s smiling. What a lovely smile he has!”

“Yeah me Mum always said me Dad’s smile was like a human sunshine.”

“That’s beautiful, Jessica. Your mum is Tina, correct?”

“That’s amazing, I never said her name so me Dad must’ve told yer”

“He did yes and he’s speaking to me now. He’s saying Pickles is with him. Does that make sense?”

“Jesus! Yes Todd that’s me old cat that me Dad got me. It died three months ago. I’m so relieved they found each other again.”

“He also said he’s so proud of you for being such a great Mum and has got over you not naming your first son after him.”

“You have no idea of the arguments that went on about that. I wanted to call me first son Tim but got overruled and had to wait for son number 2. Me husband’s hearing still hasn’t recovered! Sorry Dad!”

“He forgives you and he’s just said that of course Tina can live her life to the full. Tim wants nothing but the best for her.”

Tim used to say “Love for Now and Later” a lot so use that as a sign off. 

“Oh that’s incredible news, Todd. Me Mum’s here with me in the house and she’s crying her eyes out.”

“One last thing Jessica, Tim has just said “Love for Now and Later” Does that mean anything?”

“Oh this is too much! That’s what he would always say!! We love you so much Dad and wish you were still here. Thank you so much Todd!”

“Thank you Jessica! Give Tina a hug for me. Bye now!”

“Wow! Todd that was extraordinary.”

“Thank you Derek. It’s a skill I enjoy sharing with the world because as you can see it really helps people heal after losing a loved one.”

“Absolutely! Let’s go to line 2 where we have Jeff from Dorset who wants to talk to his Gran Edith about his missing inheritance.”

“That went well!” said Kevin, the man in Todd’s ear feeding the facts about the callers when required, to his partner in crime.

“Yeah not bad, the ear piece cut out a few times so I had to wing it but we’ve been there enough times before. Some of the facts about the dead were a bit lame but nobody spotted it.”

Todd had been caught out a few times in the past with his earpiece,  finding it tricky to hire the right person to support his faux psychic abilities. Kevin was the fourth “guy in his ear” in 12 months. 

“Yeah, it was all I could find on social media in the time I had. In all honesty you barely need me these days. Your blagging skills are off the charts!” urged Kevin who wasn’t really enjoying the job and felt Todd had lied to him several times to get him to take it. He struggled to sleep most nights with the guilt he felt from what he was doing.

“It’s a living! A weird one but I’ll keep riding the wave until I fall off. We definitely need to raise our game for the live tour, though.”

Todd was saying this to himself as much as Kevin. His skills were good but he needed to work on the showmanship.

“Agreed! How long we got until the next phone in?” asked Kevin after his stomach rumbled a third time in a minute.

“30 minutes?” Todd wasn’t sure but checked the clock in the blindingly white dressing room to confirm his suspicions.

“I’m going to get some food. Need anything?” asked Kevin hoping Todd would say “No”” in order to avoid carrying half a big shop back to the studios.

“No thanks, I’m going to have a power nap. It might not be real but it still takes it out of me.” 

“Okay see you in a bit!” Within seconds of Kevin closing the dressing room door, Todd grabbed a cushion from the sofa on the far wall, placed it on the desk in front of him, put his head down sinking into the cushion and was instantly drifting off to dream land.

“Son! Wake up, you’re gonna be late!” said a ghoulish voice inside Todd’s head. Slowly opening his eyes Todd squinted at the shadowy figure standing in front of him. Coming into focus he realised the voice belonged to none other than his Dad who had died four years ago. Staring at his Dad further he noticed a blue luminescent glow surrounding his body. Could it be?

“What the… Dad?? How? Where? I’m…” Todd’s brain had stalled. His Dad helped his son out.

“I know Todd! It’s a lot to take in. But it’s me I promise. You’re still in your dressing room. I’ve just stolen your soul for a moment to have a chat.”

Todd’s Dad sat down on the sofa to rest his ghostly legs as his son attempted to comprehend what he was seeing.

“A chat about what? I mean how are you doing? Is there really an after life then?” asked a bewildered Todd.

“Erm listen Todd in normal circumstances I would love to answer all your questions but I’ve broken the strict spirit code to talk to you.

His Dad could see he needed to cut to the chase as his son was trying to get facts about the after life for his own ends. He let out a big sigh and blue ectoplasm spat against the dressing room mirror.

“So there is an after life and a heaven of some kind perhaps?” Todd thought it was worth trying to get a final question in before his Dad shut him down.

“Todd listen! You’ve pissed off a lot of people in my neighbourhood and they want you to stop.” Dad was using his serious face which Todd remembered all too well from all the times he got into trouble at school.

“Stop what? Helping people deal with grief and inner turmoil?” said Todd, using his new and improved serious face in an attempt to counter his Dad’s point. His Dad moved onto using his cheesed off face instead.

“Oh don’t talk rubbish, I’m your dad whether I’m dead or not. You’re manipulating these people and profiting from their grief and inner turmoil! It’s wrong and I’m asking you nicely to stop! This isn’t the son I raised. You were so honest and friendly to everyone.”

Todd’s dad hoped this would do the trick but his son just laughed before responding.

“Sadly Dad, honest and friendly only gets you so far and what I do now pays much better. If I do this for the next two years I’ve been told I’ll make millions. I can’t turn that down!” he insisted, and his Dad could see this was proving trickier than he expected.

“You have to! I’m begging you because I was not sent here. I’m trying to warn you.” Todd’s Dad grabbed his son’s arms to try and shake him but his ghostly hands passed straight through them sending shivers through Todd’s entire body.

“Warn me? About what? Dad, JUST SAY IT!!” shouted Todd at his fatherly apparition.

“They’re sending someone or rather something from the other side to stop you doing this and it’s on its way. I don’t know when but you have to walk away before it’s too late!” Todd’s Dad began to openly sob in front of his son.

Todd looked at his Dad’s ghostly figure close to tears and rather than change his worldly ways his brain finally returned its own results which read one word – BOLLOCKS! Todd smiled knowing what to do.

“Dad, it’s great to see you and everything but this is more likely my subconscious messing with me than my actual father’s ghost.” Todd smirked at his spooky parental spirit. His Dad wiped his bright blue tears and approached his son one last time.

“No son listen! I can’t help you if you…” urged Todd’s Dad.

“In the words of Dickens ‘there’s more of gravy about you than grave, whatever you are!” See you around Dad!” Todd dug his nails into his arm and the pain immediately began the journey up to his brain.

Todd’s Dad reached out to his son but it was too late.

“NO TODD WAIT!!”

Todd gritted his teeth and dug his nails deeper into his arm and immediately woke up back in the dressing room ready to start the second part of the phone-in.

Checking his ear piece one last time and making sure he could hear Kevin clearly, Todd headed out of his dressing room and back into the studio.

“And we’re back with the second part of our psychic phone-in. Todd Mentallis joins us again. We’ll go straight to line 1 with Kelly in Norwich. Kelly tell us about your Uncle Ian.”

This is Kelly Neelan, she’s a kkzzzzccccnnn… Todd Martin stop what you are doing! Or we will have to stop you by force! Permanently!!

“Are you okay Todd?”

“Yes sorry Derek, apologies Kelly please continue.”

“Yes well he was like a father to me after my Dad passed away so losing Ian in the last two months was so painful.”

Todd listen to me, walk away now or you will be punished!

“Sorry Kelly, my hearing went funny for a minute there. All good now! So Ian meant an awful lot to you?”

“Oh yes! He was one in a million and I…”

Seen your partner in crime? Not clicked what’s going on yet? Don’t think removing the earpiece will help, my powers are very real and you really do not want me to unleash them. So what will it be? Stop abusing the trust of the grieving public or well I don’t think you want to know what the other option is. All I’ll say is it will be very very very painful.

Todd stared at Kevin who was gesticulating at him from behind the cameras about the earpiece not working. But Todd was staring blankly through Kevin trying to process what was happening. His Dad was telling the truth, he should have listened but he can’t give this up. The money he’s going to make but this voice, how could he escape it? At this point Todd was prodded by his daytime hosts.

“OW! OH! YES?? Sorry Sandra, where were we?”

“We lost you there Todd, I thought the spirits had taken you!”

“What!?? Ha! Oh! No no no no noooo! I’m here to help Kevin, I mean Kelly talk to her…”

Time’s up Todd!

“AGGGHHH!”

Todd jumped up off the green sofa causing the overly botoxed faces of Sandra and Derek to show mild concern instead of full panic mode, and ripped off his microphone, throwing it to the ground. He dashed past the cameras pushing Kevin to one side and raninto the hallway. From behind him Todd could hear the floor manager scream, “Todd, come back!” but it was too late.

Pressing the door release, Todd went out into the OTV reception and span through the revolving doors like a human tornado into the sheer sunlight of the unforgiving London pavements.

Sprinting along the side of the Thames, unsure of his destination, Todd did feel like Tom Cruise for a moment until his overall fitness and BMI forced him to slow down and catch his breath. Trying to compute what just happened, Todd concluded the pressure of the live TV show must have got to him,  as he looked around trying to make sure no one was following him. The voice had gone from his head so it must have been all a…

Todd, you cannot escape me even if you run halfway across the world. I’m already there, wherever you decide to go. Now, what is your decision?

This is unfair as you’re already dead so you can’t possibly appreciate what I am sacrificing here. This is my life! I can’t do anything else! There are much bigger liars out there, why can’t you punish them first?” Todd responded well, feeling sweat pour down his back.

Oh I’ll get to them soon enough! But this isn’t about them!! It’s about you, so what will it be? 

“After my next tour I will train harder and become a real psychic rather than what I do now. I promise!” Todd did use his sincere voice but also had his fingers crossed just in case that kind of thing worked in the future when you promise stuff you don’t mean.

There was no response. Todd looked around wondering if this ghostly figure would finally reveal itself but he saw nothing. After 30 seconds of shifting his head left to right searching for an attacker along the long concrete banks of the Thames, Todd gave up caring, hoping this meant he was off the hook. He began to stroll along the side of the water and even thought about phoning Kevin, when suddenly his leg was grabbed hard by an invisible hand and his entire body was thrust upside down into the air.

Humans are so disappointing 

Todd’s leg led the way for the rest of his disgruntled upside down body into the air up above Waterloo Bridge flying past Blackfriars station and into the sky.

“PLEASE NO I CAN CHANGE! I SEE THAT NOW!!” wailed Todd, trying his best to find a way to talk himself out of this.

The voice was no longer responding as Todd’s airborne body rose higher travelling further down the Thames passing the Tate Modern and the Globe on the right hand side. Todd’s invisible carrier increased in speed causing his cheeks to inflate and push backwards. He remained terrified but for a short moment, he also felt exhilarated.

After another minute or so of upside down sightseeing, Todd’s body stopped dead in the air. He quickly looked around trying to get his bearings. He noticed the Tower of London to his left or was it his right? This upside down sat nav wasn’t the easiest skill to master.

“What are you doing? Why have we stopped?” asked an out of breath Todd, whose face was bright red.

Todd Martin you have made your choice and will therefore spend the rest of your life in purgatory to atone for your sins.

“WAIT NO! I NEED TO CHANGE. I KNOW THAT NOW!!! PLEASE!!” pleaded Todd knowing anything he said was futile at this point.

The invisible spirit ignored Todd’s feeble last minute pleas, lifted his body up into the bright skies of London over Tower Bridge, found the sharpest point on the top of the nearest of the two towers, and dropped his body onto it. Todd’s chest ripped open to greet the age- old landmark’s pointiest feature which was also the last thing his eyes saw before he woke up from this terrifying dream with a shock.

A huge sweat had congregated on his forehead and drool was all over the cushion he had rested his head on. Frantically checking his chest for injuries and the room for evil spirits, Todd was not ready to accept his reality after what had just happened. 

Before he could doubt anything further, his dressing room door opened. It was Kevin with some food.

“I know you didn’t want anything but I got you koftas just in case. Todd, you okay you look rough man? We’ve got ten minutes until the next phone-in mate. You might need a bit more make up!”

Todd’s breathing was erratic, it was all too much. It was a dream, right? What could possibly happen to him? It was just his own self doubt. Trying to take deep breaths to help calm down, Todd took the food from Kevin. He’d hardly eaten today so maybe that was the problem, however before Todd could bite into the kofta, the tasty lamb treat opened its eyes and said in the voice of his Dad.

“Son, there’s still time. Run!”

Todd screamed at the top of his voice, threw Daddy kofta at the wall, grabbed his coat, pushed Kevin out of the way and ran out of the studio promising to return to his first love of delivering post as quickly as possible.

Kevin blinked for a moment staring at the squashed kofta slowly drifting down the wall. Then a triumphant smile grew across his face, shrugged his shoulders, laid down on the sofa and gave his busy mind a brief rest before the next phone-in.


January 06, 2022 17:21

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4 comments

Barbara Burgess
07:15 Jan 13, 2022

Hi Pj, I enjoyed your story. It had some humour in it which was fun. I loved the name you chose for Todd Mentaliss - very clever. I enjoyed the twists and turns and how Kevin ended up as a psychic on the radio. Well done, Barbara

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Pj Aitken
08:07 Jan 13, 2022

Thanks Barbara!

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Karen Court
23:15 Jan 12, 2022

Hi P. This was certainly a different take on the theme, I liked it. There were some witty asides peppered in amongst the narrative which were entertaining and I really liked the punchline, it was an unexpected ending. There was, however, a bit of an issue with point of view (POV). In a short story, usually only one or maybe two characters have a POV and all action and context is viewed from their perspective. However, especially with the dad-ghost, your POVs intermingled and jumped around rapidly, in a somewhat random fashion. Also, I did wo...

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Pj Aitken
04:40 Jan 13, 2022

Thanks Karen - glad you liked it.

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