I’d like to share with my readers an excerpt from The Lady in Red to give a flavour of what this supernatural novel is all about. This is a mixed scene in many ways with Paul Stanley a young boy in
the present day having a dream about the bodysnatchers turned murderers Jack Farley and William Dreghorn who hail from the early part of the nineteenth century. He sees them in the carrying out of their evil activities and is shocked to his very foundations as a result. This is the first time young Paul comes under Farley’s spell. The dream acts as his introduction to Jack and a very unwelcome one at that. In fact, following this dream something happens at school the next day, with Paul playing a leading part, which lands him in trouble with not only with his parents but also the headmaster at his school.
I think that’s enough of a description to lead into this scene as I am sure you will be wanting to read the scene itself. So without further ado I will draw the curtain back and allow my characters to take centre stage:
Paul looked onto a night-time scene. A lone figure marched along a side street. He seemed to be the worse for wear with a dishevelled look about him. He also appeared to have partaken too readily of the brew at the local alehouse, as he staggered and stumbled along his way, almost falling as he went.
Then, as if from nowhere, two new figures appeared in view. Paul couldn’t make out the first of these new arrivals as he had his back to him. The other, however, proved to be a working class sort of bloke. He was of a fair to middling age. Paul guessed at thirty.
It was a strange scene for Paul to dream of in that the proceedings seemed to be taking place in an historical era. The dress of the men taking part in the dream along with their surroundings pointed to a far gone time.
Be that as it may, Paul was intent on what was taking place. He feared for the dishevelled figure as he knocked into a nearby wall, resting himself there for a moment as he took an intake of breath.
“Well, will you look here, Will,” called out the first of the newcomers on the scene, who still had his back to Paul. “If it’s not our old comrade-in-arms Tom Greenaway. And if he don’t look like a man who’s just been sampling the local tipple.”
“What’s it to you?” slurred Tom. “I’ve a right to a drink just like any other man.”
“Oh, but of course you have, Tom, my friend…”
“Don’t you be calling me friend,” warned a stern Tom. “I know what you’re about, Farley. You’re bad news: that’s what you are.”
“On the contrary, my dear fellow. I’m here to help you. I wish to assist you to a higher station in life.”
“Hey!” eyed Tom suspiciously. “What are you after? I’ve no money on me if that’s what you’re after. If you’ve had a bad night at the gaming tables, that’s your affair, not mine.”
“Money?” laughed Farley in surprise. “No, I have no wish to deprive you of ready cash. Why would I ever wish to do such a thing? Will: please set the man at his ease. I am decidedly well-off these days, am I not?”
“Yes. There’s no denying you have of late times gained a new lease of life. It’s true enough, Tom. He has no need of your money.”
“Damn you, the both of you!” berated Tom in a rage. “First it’s Farley with his conniving ways, then it’s his side-kick Dreghorn with his patronising tone. Will you leave me be?”
“Ah,” responded a resolute Jack. “As to that I am afraid to say I am unable to oblige you. Besides, there is the small matter of improving your lot, is there not? I meant what I said, Tom: your wish is my command.”
“Your command, is it?” Tom glared at Jack now with a hatred which turned Paul’s blood cold. “Well, how’s this for a command: get the hell out of my life and stay out, the devil that you are!”
“I regret to inform you, I am unable to oblige that particular request.” Jack now returned Tom’s look of hatred with a malevolence which was doubly startling for Paul to witness. “However, it is in my power to grant you oblivion. Go to it, Will!”
With that the two men dragged Tom down a dark passage and a muffled cry was heard in the night air. A brief struggle ensued, but it did not last long. Soon a lifeless body was hauled out from the dark and placed on a horse-drawn carriage which lay nearby.
“Just one more victim at the hands of Farley and Dreghorn Incorporated,” smirked Jack as he placed a length of cord into his jacket.
“Saints preserve us,” frowned Will. “You treat everything like a business, don’t you? First raiding people’s graves, then killing folk. Where’s it all to end? We’ll be found out before long, Jack. We’re taking too many chances.”
“Too many chances? No, I believe you are suffering from a delusion. Look around, my friend. It’s late at night, the streets are deserted and all is set fair for another successful venture in the world of life and death. Besides which, nobody will lose any sleep over the loss of one Tom Greenaway. He was barely worth the killing. I fear the Doc will consider him a poor specimen indeed. But then what does he expect? We can’t forever be arriving at his doorstep with prime subjects for him to display his not inconsiderable art. No, times are hard, I tell you, Will. We must take what we can get.”
“Oh,” sighed Will. “That’s quite enough of your moralizing, if you please. It turns my stomach to hear you speak so, when you think nothing of strangling a man to death. Let’s be on our way before anyone comes.”
With that the two men were off, as Will set his horse in motion. They started at a steady gallop as the carriage along with its grisly load moved out of Paul’s line of vision on their way to the doctor’s surgery.