Archive for May, 2020

Dread Rocks Holiday part 10

May 22, 2020

My blood ran cold. How could the bounder know I was here? Perhaps he was bluffing, hoping to weasel me out of my hiding place? I held my breath and kept mum. No one could fault the Stirling nerve. I’ve had years of practice hiding in wardrobes when husbands have returned unexpectedly. I once had to spend an entire bank holiday weekend breathing silently under a double bed when a well-known MP decided to surprise the mistress we were inadvertently sharing, and promptly developed the flu, which meant he never left the bed until the Tuesday when he was whipped back into the House to vote on Rhodesia.

While I was reminiscing about those happy days, I failed to notice that two naked Satanic disciples had appeared in front of me, grabbed me by the elbows, and were hauling me to meet their Master.

Nonchalance was my favoured tactic. It usually aggravates villains.

‘Hello, old chap,’ I said breezily. ‘Having a shindig, are we? If I’d known, I would’ve brought a bottle and some Twiglets.’

The Magus wrapped his velvet robe around him and stood right in front of me. Poor darling was only about 5 foot nothing, so his eyes were on a level with my nipples. I resisted the urge to squat down as one would with a child.

‘We meet at last, Sir Desmond,’ he said.

‘You have me at a disadvantage, sir,’ I replied, with some impressive raised eyebrow action.

‘My name is Cubert Polkinghorn.’ He waited for an awed gasp.

I scratched my chin. ‘The name rings a bell.’ I considered. ‘No, sorry, it’s gone’

Of course, I knew exactly who he was. I have the memory of a man half my age, but these self-aggrandising little twerps are easily irked if you don’t recognise them.

I clicked my fingers. ‘Of course, you’re the cove who write the book about The History of Dread Rocks. Not a bad tome, bit dry. Needed more pictures and I deplored the absence of an index.’

‘I am the world’s leading authority on the history of Dread Rocks Lighthouse,’ he told me, tragically proud of himself.

‘Can’t be much competition,’ I responded.

Polkinghorn barked out a laugh. ‘Au contraire, Sir Desmond, Dread Rocks Lighthouse is a world-renowned focal point for the students of the uncanny.’

‘Of which I consider myself one, so how come I’d never heard of the place until I decided to rent it?’

The little chap stood on his tiptoes so he could almost but not quite look me in the face. ‘Because only I know it’s true purpose!’ he squeaked.

He waited me to ask. I contemplated not giving him the satisfaction, but, dammit, I wanted to know.

‘This precise location has long been a focal point for demonic forces. Even before it was a lighthouse, the Rocks hosted rituals going back millennia. But it was such a dangerous part of the coast that many died even attempting to reach it. The power of the rocks was amplified by being steeped in blood.’

He licked his awful lips.

‘Is it built on a hell-mouth?’ I asked him.

‘Not a mouth, but another part of the body.’

I shrugged.

Polkinghorn sighed. ‘Think of the shape.’

I tried to think which part of the body had a lantern at the tip.

Then the penny dropped. ‘Oh, a todger.’

Polkinghorn’s eyes gleamed. ‘Not a Hell-mouth, but what we Scholars of the Profane call a Hell-willy. Where the forces of damnation thrust their way out into the world.’

‘New one on me’ I said, mentally filing it away for a future bestseller. I could do with a new Rolls.

‘As a young man I worked as a lighthouse keeper. My fellow keepers were weak and succumbed to the demonic forces which swirl here, but I…’ here he thumped his chest just in case I didn’t realise he was babbling about himself, ‘I studied them and learned to resist, and then control the whirlpool of evil which eddies around Dread Rocks.

He dribbled a little as he got excited. No breeding, these iniquitous coves.

‘Who is Evil Eddie?’ I asked, amusingly. Not a snigger. No sense of humour, the wicked, I find.

‘Your presence on Dread Rocks has been meticulous planned by myself from Day One,’ the little squirt continued.

I pshawed.

He squinted at me through piggy eyes. ‘Why did you choose Dread Rocks Lighthouse as your bolthole from the virus?

I sent my mind back. ‘I had a brochure though the post. Most fortuitous…’ My words trailed away as the implications hit me.

Polkinghorn smirked. ‘And you have gratifyingly behaved according to my plan. You even caught the Suicide Porpoise who nobly sacrificed his life to give you food poisoning.’

‘Frightful palaver just to get my autograph,’ I quipped. Like all great heroes, the prospect of death greatly hones my wit.

‘Oh we want more than that from you,’ the tiny Satanist chuckled. ‘You have been a blight on the Necromantic world for too long, Sir Desmond Stirling. Mocking us in your tawdry books or foiling the plans of my fellow sorcerers.’

I bowed my head graciously. ‘This reminds me of when I was on This Is Your Life. Darling Eamonn Andrews, completely starkers, only the Big Red Book hiding his orchestras from the viewing millions, nabbed me in mid-game of Badminton at my sadly short-lived nudist club Hampton Uncaught…’

The little twerp clapped his hands. ‘Enough of this inane babble. It is time!’

Old Jethro and another of the acolytes grabbed me, while the old dear from the tobacconist removed my sou’wester.

‘I say…’ I began to protest, but the two minions picked me up and dumped me onto the altar like a large cod on a fishmonger’s slab. My legs were held down while the wellingtons were removed.

‘The joke is over now,’ I said firmly. ‘Release me now, you scoundrel, or there will be hell to pay.’

Polkinghorn laugh, a horrid mirthless bark. ‘Oh, hell will be paid… in full! By you, Sir Desmond Stirling for your crimes against Diabolism!’

I was beginning to feel a tad worried now. ‘And how exactly am I to repay this debt?’

Polkinghorn lifted the knife above his head. ‘With your still beating heart!’

My finely tuned mind started to race. ‘Not a Guardian reader then? They claimed I didn’t have one.’

How the Dick Francis was I going to get out of this mess, I wondered to myself? ‘Tell me,’ I asked hurriedly, brain churning over with potential schemes. ‘I’ve had a good life, sold millions of books, made love to many beautiful women, quaffed enough booze to flood a small village in a French valley… but don’t let me die without the answer to one simple question.’

Polkinghorn held the knife still, and stared at me suspiciously. ‘Which is?’

I pointed at Old Jethro. ‘What’s with the gills?’

Cubert Polkinghorn shrugged. ‘Centuries of inbreeding, probably. Old Jethro comes from a long line of genetic oddities even by local standards. Useful though…’ he tousled Old Jethro’s hair. ‘My very own Conger Eel.’

He raised the knife again

‘Hang on, old chap,’ I interrupted again. ‘What about the ghostly galleon?’

‘A mere legedermain,’ he said. ‘A touch of phantasmagoria to chill your blood. Such tricks are mere bagatelles to a master sorcerer such as I.’

‘And the diving suit?’

Polkinghorn’s eyes narrowed. ‘What diving suit?

‘The empty diving suit,’ I said. ‘That chased me to the top of the lighthouse without a soul inside it. Very impressive, I have to say. I tip my hat to you.’

‘I know nothing of any diving suit,’ Polkinghorn said. ‘You imagined it. That poisoned porpoise was more potent than I thought.’

‘Are you telling me the diving suit was nothing to do with you?’ This was rum.

‘Stop prevaricating, Sir Desmond,’ the tiny devil-worshipper said. ‘It is time for your agonising sacrifice.’

And he raised that blasted knife into the air again, it’s evil-looking tip on a direct trajectory with the Stirling ticker.

‘Well, if you didn’t send that diving suit, who did?’ I blustered. I wasn’t just playing for time, this was a mystery I wanted solving before conking out.

Polkinghorn ignored me and, muttering the usual Latin nonsense under his breath, clutched that dratted blade closer. Hypnotised by the glint of its lethal point, I was powerless as the knife began its downwards path to my oblivion!



To be continued…

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Dread Rocks Holiday part 9

May 7, 2020

Old Jethro!

In the robe of a devil-worshipper preparing an altar for some no doubt sickening and nefarious ritual…

I hadn’t seen that coming. 

But I wasn’t entirely convinced. I’ve encountered many of these villainous rogues. I’ve looked in their eyes and seen the festering pools of beastliness within. When I stared right at Old Jethro all I saw was lumpen idiocy. A man with the respiratory system  of a fish and quite possible the brain to match. Old Jethro wouldn’t be the ringleader of whatever dastardliness was going on here; he would be at best a doltish follower. Besides, I had never known a magus who lit his own candles, idle sods.

Old Jethro turned away from the altar and held out his arms. He was approached by about half a dozen robed figures.

‘Greetings, brothers-in-darkness!’

He’d pinched that from one of my books! The nerve…

The robed scoundrels gathered around the altar. I held my breath in anticipation. I’d written about many such rituals in my time, but had attended very few. I usually made my excuses and left before a chicken’s throat was slit or a Virgin was defiled.

‘Greet the Master!’ old Jethro bellowed. As one, the disciples turned towards the entrance of the cave and lay prostrate on the floor. A fellow in a rather snazzy red velvet robe approached, the hem of his robe picking up all sorts of muck from the cavern floor which would surely require dry-cleaning afterwards. Should’ve had his robe turned up, I thought to myself. Short-arse, I guessed, who wouldn’t admit that he needed a shorter frock.

The scarlet-robed fellow walked to the altar and turned to face his prostrate lackies, 

‘Tonight is the culmination of our dreams. Everything we have strived for, fought for sacrificed our jobs, our money, and in one case, our grandmother…’ he gestured to one disciple who nodded. ‘After tonight, the world will be ours for the taking.’


All the disciples shed their robes and stood in their unashamed nakedness. Well, apart from one cove who was wearing a pair of somewhat grubby underpants. The magus snapped his fingers crossly at him, and the discipline sheepishly removed said Y-fronts. He didn’t know where to put them so flung them over his shoulder. They landed on the rock behind which I was hiding. Army & Navy Store own brand.

My trained eye soon spotted that one of the disciples was actually a woman. I think she was the old dear who ran the newsagent of the front at Poltaxriots. On the day I arrived she sold me a Telegraph, the latest Titbits and a Bar 6. I wouldn’t have put her down as a Satanist which just shows you never can tell.

I wondered what the next stage in the ritual would be?  Many are, disappointingly, just a lot of chanting and mumbo-jumbo, nothing fruity at all, An orgy? I didn’t envy them that, considering the quality of participants. A sacrifice? But of what? Or whom…?

The Johnny in the red robe lifted up a particularly vicious looking knife from the altar. He raised it above his head and then stabbed it down into the altar where it stayed, vibrating from the impact.

Then, with a – to my eyes – somewhat effeminate flourish, he flung off his robe. 

No, didn’t recognise him, and I’m fairly au fait with the worlds most notorious Diabolists. He was a mousey cove, getting on a bit, one of those curious hair-dos where hair is scraped over their egg-like pate. And I was previously correct, he was not tall. Unsurprisingly, no Johnson to speak about either. 

I felt rather reassured. I was in the presence of an amateur. I hadn’t the foggiest what was going on here, not just from this motley lot, but the ghostly galleon, Old Jethro’s gills, not to mention the empty diving suit, but this chap wasn’t exactly A-list in the world of necromancy. 

The ‘Master’ threw back his head and started chanting.


Not an incantation I recognised, but, trade secret here, I just make up the ones I use in my books.

His acolytes repeated it while shuffling awkwardly in a circle around the altar. I must say that if they had been my disciples, I’d have booted them all up the arse for such lily-livered worship. Put some damned welly into it!

Tahsnam tsudasrae wehnam tsudas namd loym!’ they mumbled into their chests. Honestly, and with such splendid acoustics as this cavern offered.

With a swiping motion, the Master gestured for silence.

‘And now,’ he bellowed, ‘it is time for the sacrifice.’

Here we go, I thought, time for some poor poultry to face it’s maker. 

The Master raised his hands to the ceiling. ‘Bring me Sir Desmond Stirling!.

And the rotter pointed at where I was hiding!

To be continued...