The Neal James Website

                                  Guest Author

Submission Guidelines

 

As an opportunity for fellow writers to have greater exposure, this section of my website is reserved for those wishing to make a written contribution to its pages.

Each month, a fresh third party will be given the chance to list here a submission of their choice, together with a suitable image for the piece of work. If you are interested send a message via the mailing address below, and we'll go from there.

Content will be scrutinised to ensure that it fits in with the rest of the site's tone and appearance, but every effort will be made to accomodate those wanting to take part.

Submission length is limited to no more than 5,000 words, and a suitable spellchecker should be used to remove errors beforehand. A personal photograph should also be included (no avatars please), together with a brief biography.

Mailing address is: georgius4444@hotmail.co.uk

                                       May 2017

                                Nathan Weaver

                                                
     

            

Nathan Weaver bleeds noir whether he’s writing crime, thriller, mystery, horror, science fiction or even western. He’s excelled in short stories, and has mostly met with pain attempting the novel. He’s recently decided he prefers the novella. You can purchase two collaborative novels he co-wrote and cooridinated on at Amazon, one called Fatal Flaws and the second published by FahrenheitPress is titled GUN. He also has two short stories in the anthology Everything on Amazon and a free novella titled Rose’s Thorn on Smashwords.

His current projects include an anthology of shorts called I Will Kill You for $5, in which

he was commissioned by real people to write fictional stories in which theyare killed, and a novella called Sweet Sixteen Killer which will be the first in a series of novellas about a private detective named Mercedes Masterson.

You can find links to his works on his website http://talesfrombabylon.com and also read many free excerpts and short stories there as well. The I Will Kill You for $5 stories can be downloaded for free in eBook or PDF formats on his website as well.

You can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/babylontales and Google+ at https://plus.google.com/+NathanWeaver

 

 

The Crystal Ship
 
  

Linus Martin was in mourning and he was taking it hard.  His wife, McKenzie, had been six feet under for two months already, but that didn’t change anything.  That didn’t take away any of the pain.  Linus and McKenzie were madly in love with one another, everyone knew that; but, no one knew it better than Linus.  She was his life.  She was the reason he worked at a dead-end job and didn’t mind, because it paid their bills respectfully.  The job gave them enough that he could splurge on his wife.  He provided her everything she ever needed and wanted, but not in a spoiling way.  And now, the only reason he had to live and look forward to at the end of the day was gone.

Linus Martin was all alone.

He sat on the shore, in their spot.  He’d been there since his shift ended at five.  This had been his routine for the past month or so.  He got tired of going home to an empty house, though in fact it was fully furnished.  It was merely empty socially.  It lacked the one thing he cared about.  So, he would leave work and come to their spot on the shore.  It was where they would come when they needed to be away from it all.  It was where he asked her to marry him; it was where they first made love.

It was dark now and the ocean beat against the shore, roaring loudly.  He stared out into the darkness of the night and the sea.  One standing from a distance could argue that he was really thinking hard about something, but truthfully he wasn’t thinking of a single thought.  He was blank.

He rose to his feet in his black suit, which was now covered in sand.  He grabbed his socks, loafers and tie in his hands.  He began to walk away from the ocean, when he heard a ship’s horn.  He turned and looked back, there was a ship just barely off the shore; it hadn’t been there just moments before.  It was all lit up and white.  It shone ever so bright in the darkness about it.  He could make out that it was some sort of cruise ship, though they’d never seen any cruise ships pass by so it was an oddity.

He rubbed his eyes, closed them hard and opened them again.  His eyes focused hard and nothing changed, what he saw was indeed what he saw.  It was McKenzie, his very own.  He shot into a sprint, tossing his shoes, socks and tie from his hands.  He ran directly into the waves, as he did he could feel his left foot cut on something sharp, and than he dove forward with his hands and head into the oncoming waves.  He swam vigorously and as fast as he knew how.

As he swam towards the ship, it seemed to slow down to a stop.  He began to scream to the boat frantically.  Nothing intelligent just grunts and screams with an occasional ‘Hey!’ and ‘Stop!’

Some of the crew members lowered an emergency raft over the side to pull Linus up in.  When he reached the top, he leapt out of the raft and ran about the deck looking for McKenzie, shouting her name.  The Captain of the ship grabbed him and held on to him, “Sir, your foot is bleeding and you are soaking wet.  Let me take you into my quarters.”

“McKenzie,” Linus rambled, “She’s her, I saw her.  She’s her!”

“Alright, alright, Sir,” the Captain assured him, “But let us tend your wounds and get you dried off and warmed up.”

Linus finally agreed and went with the Captain.

The ship’s doctor and nurse bandaged and wrapped his foot and left the Captain alone with him.  The Captain poured Linus a second cup of coffee.  Linus was wrapped in blankets, trying to dry and warm.  The Captain walked over to Linus and gave him the second helping of coffee and sat across from him, “So, Sir, who is this McKenzie you speak of?”

“She’s my wife… and I saw her on this ship.”

“Could you provide me her last name?  Let me check the record and see if we have your wife on board?”

“Her name is McKenzie Martin.”

The Captain rose from his armchair and went to his desk; from there he retrieved a leather notebook.  He came over and sat in the armchair again.  He casually flipped through the pages, scanning each page as he did.  Eventually, he stopped on a page, halfway down it.  He closed the book, marking the page with a finger and than he looked to Linus,

“Can I give you some advice, Linus?”

“Sure,” Linus started to sip some coffee, but than stopped and looked at the Captain with his eyes wide open, “I didn’t tell you my name.”

“Linus, you did see your wife.  She is on the ship.  However, I must warn—”

“WHERE IS SHE?” he interrupted the Captain, frantically.

“Linus, let me finish,” the Captain spoke politely and Linus nodded his head, “You don’t want to wonder about this ship, my friend.”

“And why not, my wife is on it?”

The Captain sighed and leaned forward, over the book in his hands.  Linus didn’t notice, but at this point the Captain removed his finger from its place in the book, “Were you happy?  The two of you?”

“Happy,” Linus started with a smile, tears filled his eyes, “Deeply, madly in love… and happy.”

Linus did see that there was an expression in the Captain’s face that he was going to have to say something, but that it wasn’t going to be easy; he spoke, “Linus… you have some good memories.  You have had a wonderful life.  For your own happiness, I warn you not to wonder about this ship.  We will take you back to shore, if it is your will.  There are some things that are better left unsaid, better left undone.  From my experience, the passengers on my ship are better left alone and any guests, such as you, are better left at shore.”

There was a silence, but than it was broken from an angry Linus, “Where is my wife? Where are you hiding her?”

“I’m not hiding your wife, Linus.”

“Tell me her room number, you looked at the book.”

The Captain sighed again and sat back in his chair, “Do you wanna see your wife or do you wish to be taken back to shore?”

“I want to see my wife,” Linus rose from his chair, setting the coffee on the table beside him and letting the blanket fall around his feet, “And now.”

The Captain walked over to his desk and placed the book back in its place, he sat in his chair behind his desk and looked up to Linus, “If it is what you desire… she’s in room 135.”

“Thank you,” Linus spoke sincerely, than turned to the door of the office.

“Wait,” the Captain spoke up, Linus looked to him, “Remember.  And be of an open mind… don’t take it too hard.  You’re a good man, Linus Martin.”

Linus didn’t quite know what to make of this, so he nodded gently and exited the door.

He walked along the side of the ship, looking for an entrance to the cabins.  Up ahead he could see light coming through windows that lead to a diner and bar, a woman about his age stepped out from the place and noticed him, “Linus?”

He looked upon the woman, but in the shadows did not recognize her, they walked to each other; his eyes widened and he spoke shrilly, “Mom?”

“Linus,” her eyes filled with tears, “It’s been so long.”

Linus found it hard to summon the courage to speak his next few words, “Mom… you’re dead.”

“I  know, Linus, you think I don’t?”

“You died 23 years ago, I was just four… how could you… I mean… I…”

“Hun, you’re a little shaken up, aren’t you?” she smiled, “I didn’t know what you looked like, if that’s what you were wandering.  I didn’t recognize you, I just sorta knew, that’s all.”

“You haven’t aged a day, Mom.”

“Yeah,” her smile faded and she spoke sarcastically now, “Your father saw to that.”

“I don’t get what you mean, Mom.”

“Your father, Linus,” she spoke disapproving and looked into his eyes, bobbing her head as she spoke, “He killed me.”

“Mom, you died in a car accident.”

“Are they still saying that?” she asked, then grunted in disgust and took a sip of the martini she had in her hand, “So, your old man got away with it, huh?  I cursed him, you know?  I cursed him hard and good. A lot of good that did.

“Mom,” Linus started, “You’re starting to freak me out a little here.”

“Well, what do you expect?!” she yelled with a strong anger, “Your father killed me.  He sent me here.  He took me away from you and you from me.  Him?!  That two-timing pig who didn’t give a care to you or me!  And then, he gets away with it?  Well, I’m just sorry, if I’m a little upset because my son is defending the man who killed his mother!”

Her eyes glazed over and filled with hatred, “Don’t you tell me… don’t you tell me that I don’t have the right to speak ill of him and maybe curse his name a little here and there.  He killed me.”

“Okay, Mom,” Linus spoke calmly, trying to subdue her anger, “I think you’ve made that point quite clear.”

“No, Linus,” she said it as if she was truly, deeply hurt, “I don’t think I have made it clear at all.”

She then turned and began to walk away from him, he spoke up to her, “Mom, where are you going?”

“Away from you,” she said, “You won’t listen.”

“Mom!  I’m listening.”

And with that, she was gone.  Linus looked for her, he even ran up her way, limping as he did.  He turned the corner and saw nothing.  She was nowhere in sight.  He turned and began to continue his journey to room 135, but as he passed the windows to the diner he saw his mom inside.  She was sitting at the bar and ordering a martini.  He thought of going in, but he figured he’d probably just upset her again so he hung his head and went on.

Inside the halls of the ship, he saw doors to cabins everywhere.  The walls and ceiling were white; the floor was carpeted in the middle with a deep red color and on the sides of the carpet was a dark, hardwood floor.  The doors were carved out of the same wood as the floor, the numbers shined gold.

100, 101, 102…

He continued down the hall, he could see it went straight ahead and then turned down another way to the right.  Before the end, there was another hall on the right, to which he came to.  He looked down this hall and at the end of it, in an adjacent hall was a door.

The door read 135.

He quickly made his way down the hall, but was interrupted when a door opened a woman stepped out.  The collided into one another a bit, she dropped her purse to the carpet.

“Sorry,” Linus said as he bent over to pick up the purse.

He gripped the purse and heard the woman speak, “Linus Martin?”

He stood up straight and recognized her instantly, but fumbled to say the right thing, “Oh!  Um, wow… Kimberly Johnson, is it?”

Is it?” she laughed bitterly and snatched the purse back, “Nice.  We were engaged two years and I get an ‘is it?’  Nice.”

“Look, that’s not what I meant,” he tried to explain, “I mean, it could be different.  You could have been married and changed your name… for example.”

“I’m dead, Linus.”

Linus was taken back, “Well, I… I didn’t know that.”

“Idiot.”

“Sorry,” he started, “That’s tough, I guess.  Sorry to hear about that.”

“You always were clueless,” she began, “I committed suicide, Linus.  Right

after we broke up?  It was in the paper,” she sighed, “You’re so dense.”

“You committed suicide, because of me?” Linus was in shock and disbelief.

“Yes, Linus!  You single-handedly ruined my life,” she paused for a moment, “I’ll admit it was in a moment of irrational thinking.  I regret it a little—actually, I regret it a lot.  I deserved better.  Getting with you, Linus, was the greatest mistake of my life and you dumping me months before the wedding was the greatest injustice of it.”

There was a moment of silence as Linus searched for something to say, but he couldn’t find anything amidst the cosmos.

“And you didn’t even know,” she broke the silence for him, “Figures.”

Kimberly brushed past him, intentionally hitting his shoulder with her own; she continued down the hall.  Linus stood with his back to her, “Kimberly,” he turned to face her and her him, “I’m sorry… I really am.  I… we weren’t meant.  You know that, I know that.  This, this right here.  This… this just reaffirms it.  But I truly am sorry.  I… I could have handled it better.  I just didn’t know it was gonna be so… so rough.  So hard.  Sorry.”

“You think that makes up for it?” she asked, “Nothing can make up for this.  Get lost, Linus.”

With that Kimberly turned sharply, her hair tossing with the rush of wind in stereotypical fashion, and than she exited into thin air.  After a moment, Linus turned and began to walk toward that door, room 135.

Before he could reach the door, he heard light footfalls coming up behind him quick; they were accompanied with a small, gentle voice, “Daddy, Daddy!”  His heart skipped.

Sure enough, there was little Jane.  She had died of influenza, a true rarity in these days.  Little Jane just never had much of an immune system, so it got the best of her in the end.  She was only five.

With tears in his eyes, Linus spoke with sincere compassion as he scooped her up in his arms, “Jane, darling.”

“I missed you, Daddy,” she spoke into his left ear; this is where her head had ended up in the embrace, “Wanna play?”

Linus set Jane down and bent down on one knee, coming face to face, “No,

honey, let’s just talk some.  What have you been up to?  Have you been happy?”

“No, Dad,” she spoke, “It’s been lonely.”

“Sorry, honey,” he was still crying, though his face was smiling, “I’ve missed you.”

“Daddy,” she wiped his tears away from his cheeks, “Why are you sad?”

“I’m not, I’m just so happy to see you.”

“But, Daddy, you’re crying.”

“Sometimes, people cry when they’re happy.”

“Daddy,” pulled her hands back and now had a somber look, “I can’t cry anymore.  I’ve tried, but they won’t come.”

“Well, that’s okay, honey,” he touched her face and it was soft and warm, “You feel so real.”

“But I’m not, Daddy,” she pulled back getting upset, “I’m dead, Daddy.”

“I know, but that’s okay, honey,” he tried to pull him back to her, “Please don’t pull away from me.”

“I miss you, Daddy.”

“I’m here.”

“I miss, Mommy.”

“She’s here, too, honey.”

“But she won’t play with me, Daddy.”

“Honey, please, let’s just calm down,” Jane kept pulling away from Linus.

“No, Daddy!” she screamed and pulled away completely from his arms, “Mommy won’t play with me and you won’t play with me.  I wanna play!”

“Okay, then, honey, let’s play,” he reached for her, but she pulled away and began walking down the hall.

“No, Daddy, you won’t play.”

In a feeble attempt to keep her present, he jumped from his knee and began to dance with a huge smile on his face and tears pouring down, “Look, Jane, I’m playing!  I’m being silly!  Jane stop!”

She was gone.

Linus fell down to his knees, head in hands, crying hard and whispering, “Why, Jane… I love you.  I love you so much.  Come back… come back to me.”

After his tears were all used up, he rose to his feet and propped himself against the wall.  He looked to where she had walked and there was nobody.  He turned back to the door.  By this point, the words of the Captain echoed in his mind and he wandered if he should enter that door.  But, he knew there was nothing to worry about it.  There was nothing he could have missed.  McKenzie and he had all the chips on the table.  There were no secrets, no misunderstandings.  They were always on the same level.  And besides, he missed her so.  He needed to smell her, he needed to touch her.  He needed to hear her.  To see her, to kiss her.

Room 135 was locked.  He knocked on the door and through the door he could hear two voices, though he couldn’t make out any words.  He could hear a female voice that he knew was hers and a deeper voice that he recognized, but couldn’t place.  He heard them laugh.

The deeper voice drew closer to the door and it opened.

“Linus?”

“Jack?”

“What are doing here?”

“I’m here for McKenzie.”

McKenzie came to the door, putting an earring on, “Who is it, Jack?”  She made eye contact with Linus, “What are you doing here?”

“McKenzie,” Linus pushed through the door and came towards McKenzie to pull her into an embrace, but was taken back.

She was standing half naked in the room.  Linus turned and looked about the room; it was evidently the bridal suite.  On the bed there was an evening gown laid out, further up the bed was some black lingerie.  It suddenly became clear to Linus.

New Year’s eve 2004, they were ringing in a new year like any other one before.  The Martins invited their friends, family and all the co-workers they could get along with.  Linus and Jack had been roommates through college and even worked together.  They had not been much removed from each other in 14 years.  During this particular celebration, Jack had sipped one too many champagnes and as the evening drew to a close and the morning drew near McKenzie offered to be designated driver for him and a couple of other guests.  Linus was going to be taking some other fellow co-workers home that had sipped their share.

McKenzie never returned home, Linus noticed it around four when he woke in bed alone.  He called her cell phone and got no answer, than he called Jack’s home number and received a similar reception their as well.  Now he was worried.

Linus discovered that the car had driven off an embankment and they each died a slow, miserable death as the snow came down on them through the broken windshield. 

It was a dreary, traumatic sight for Linus Martin.  He remembered it vividly, but now it was becoming a memory of hatred.  She saved Jack for last, because she was having an affair with him.

“How long has this been going on?” he asked.

“Since Jane’s death,” McKenzie spoke.

“TWO YEARS?”

“Yeah, two years, Linus,” she spoke hatefully now, not liking the tone he took, “You are so clueless.”

“Look, Linus,” Jack spoke up, “You shouldn’t even be here.”

“I shouldn’t be here?” Linus was furious, “You shouldn’t be here!  My wife is standing here wearing next to nothing in a bedroom and you’re telling me I shouldn’t be here?!”

“Linus, I’m dead, get over it,” McKenzie said with no regard to feelings.

“You think I don’t know that?”

“Just hightail it,” Jack started, “And forget this ever happened.”

“You,” Linus pointed his finger in Jack’s face, “You can just shut up, alright?”

“That’s it,” Jack turned towards the open door, “I’m getting security.”  As Jack exited the room, he was whisked into thin air like all the others.

Linus turned his attention to McKenzie, but she had vanished as well.  He panicked and ran around the room, checking the bathroom and closet.  He ran out the door and up the hall, limping on his bad foot.  He still was without shoes and socks.  The wrapping on his foot began to unravel and blood began to seep through.  As he reached the end of the hall and turned the corner to exit the cabin hallways, he slid on the hardwood from his blood soaked foot.  He tumbled into the wall and quickly regained his balance, he threw the door open and ran towards the deck of the ship, screaming her name.

At the deck, he saw a small group of people had gathered, they all turned and looked to him.  He saw his mother, little Jane, McKenzie, Jack and many other faces from his past.  They all looked upon him with a sort of distain, his mother spoke up,

“Linus, dear, you shouldn’t have come.  You only complicate and irritate things.”

I complicate things?  I irritate things?” he asked, baffled by the mob’s outrage towards him, as if he had committed some audacious act.

Several of them shook their heads, Jane spoke up, “See, he won’t listen.”

“Jane, baby, honey,” he pleaded, “Don’t listen to these people, they’re not thinking well.”

“That’s quite enough, Linus,” Jack reprimanded him.

All of the people began to move towards Linus, “What’s going on?  What are you doing?”

“NOW!” a voice shouted from the mob and they all rushed him at once.  They were pulling at him with their hands, he punched and kicked and squirmed.  Nothing seemed to make it easier, in fact the more he struggled the worse it seemed.  They lifted him up above their heads and moved to the side of the ship, he began to fear the worst.  He looked up to the Captain’s quarters, the

Captain stood in the window with the light illuminating behind him.

“Captain!” Linus shouted and pleaded for his help, “Captain, come down, help!”

The Captain hung his head and shook it to and fro, than turned and walked out of sight.

It didn’t take Linus long to reach the sea and when he did there was no mistaken it.  It was cold and brisk, it beat him about with each wave and he thought to himself that he didn’t care whether he lived or died.  After a while he could feel that his wrap and bandages had all come off his foot, the salt water burned his wound feverishly.  At some point he remembered nothing, felt nothing.

He awoke on the shore, in their spot.  It was daytime now.  His thoughts rushed with hope that it was all a dream, but than he looked at his foot and the wound was still there.  And thus he knew it was not a dream.  It was all very real.  He pained to rise to his feet; he slipped a bit and grabbed at his leg.  At the touch, he felt something hard in his suit pocket; he reached in and pulled it out.  It was a small toy, one that Jane had always kept on her person no matter where she went.  It was a cowboy from a cartoon called “The Commodore” that she frequently watched, especially during those hospital stays.  When they buried Jane, they had placed the toy in the coffin with her.  He figured she must have slipped the toy within his pocket while they embraced.

Linus Martin smiled.

                          

 Back to Top