Publication date: June 4th 2020
Publisher: Darkstroke Books
The afterlife is alive with possibility…
In this collection of stories, we follow kings and queens as they make important (and history-defying) visits, watch a football game featuring the foulest of fouls, and meet a host of new spirits-in-residence across the British Isles and beyond.
Be transported to ancient ruins, a world-famous cemetery, and a new cathedral, and catch up with old friends – and enemies.
Because when the dead outnumber the living and start to travel, the adventures really do begin.
Kindred Spirits: Ephemera is a charming collection of stories about your favourite ghosts!
Kindred Spirits: Carlisle Castle
It had begun peacefully, just like every year. Then, again, just like every year, things had got out of hand.
“After all these years, decades, centuries even, you’d think this could be better handled by now?” mused Queen Mary to the young soldier standing beside her, as they looked down on the proceedings.
William hadn’t been picked for the Carlisle Castle team, and had instead chosen to stay on the castle walls with his former prisoner, who, luckily for him, had deemed him unworthy of having a grudge held against him. He nodded to the Scots Queen, as he and his colleagues had called her when they were watching her, centuries before. “I’d like to say the Jacobites team start it each year, Madame, but sadly, I think this year our guards are as much to blame.”
It had started with a foul, potentially in what had been roughly designated the Castle Guards’ penalty area thanks to some stolen jumpers and cones. But, ghosts being ghosts, one or two had been spirited forward before the referee (an old guardsman from the cathedral) had wheezed his way up the pitch to sort things out. He hadn’t made it in time, and in less than a minute both teams were engaged in what would have been a fight to the death, if they weren’t already dead.
“I suppose, in one way, it’s safer now there cannot be too many actual injuries,” Queen Mary said. Suddenly, her attention was drawn to a commotion at the other end of the field. If she had still had a heart, it would have pushed harder inside her chest at the sight. A group of locals, very drunk by the look (and sound) of them, were heading haphazardly towards the makeshift pitch. “Oh, here we go.” Signalling to William, the pair floated from the battlements to the ground below.
The teams had heard the approaching gang, and frozen, invisible to the living, watching as they tried to work out what the newcomers would do.
Seeing the pitch set up, in the middle of the night, the locals paused for a moment, wondering aloud whether they had disrupted an ongoing match, or found the remnants of one long finished. Little did they know, the battle they had disturbed had been ongoing for longer than anyone living could remember.
“Well?” One of the local lads had reached the football. “What do you reckon?” He looked around his group of friends, clearly trying to count through the alcohol-induced fog.
“We’re one short for five-a-side, mate.” His friend had been quicker at the maths. “But since Smithy’s played for the town, he counts as two, so his side only needs four men.” Laughing, the second man ducked as the aforementioned Smithy found a discarded baseball cap and sent it spinning through the air at his friend.
“Let’s go short sleeves versus long,” called another of the group.
As they looked around, they evidently realised it would work. A general murmur of agreement spread around the men, and they formed themselves, staggeringly, into the two agreed teams.
The Jacobites and the Guards had barely moved during the whole interlude. Now, meeting each other’s eyes and realising here was not only a greater danger but also a greater opportunity, they silently broke away, mid-fight. On the sideline, Queen Mary watched on, smiling at what she hoped was about to unfold. There was the odd haunting within the walls of Carlisle Castle, but it didn’t have the reputation of some places, once you left the more enclosed areas. And there was nothing wrong with a little fun now and then, was there? Even ghosts needed entertainment.
In a heartbeat, if ghosts had heartbeats, Jacobites and Guards had found their football stolen, their match abandoned, and a new game about to begin. But even arch-enemies could work together for a common cause. The local lads were drunk enough that the odd glimpse of a ghostly uniformed guard might be missed; the dead might need something stronger…
Jennifer C. Wilson stalks dead people (usually monarchs, mostly Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III). Inspired by childhood visits to as many castles and historical sites her parents could find, and losing herself in their stories (not to mention quote often the castles themselves!), at least now her daydreams make it onto the page.
After returning to the north-east of England for work, she joined a creative writing class, and has been filling notebooks ever since. Jennifer won North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition in 2014, and in 2015, her debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Books. The full series was re-released by Darkstroke in January 2020.
Jennifer is a founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and has been running writing workshops in North Tyneside since 2015. She also publishes historical fiction novels with Ocelot Press. She lives in Whitley Bay, and is very proud of her two-inch view of the North Sea.
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