Sunday, 25 September 2011

Nadia Brooks - A little bit dead

Chapter 5

That night as Nadia sat up in bed drinking her cocoa, she had other things on her mind apart from the waking dreams she regularly had about Baron La Croix at this time of day. These daydreams all so often segued seamlessly into true dreams that usually left her feeling tired and weak in the mornings, but still strangely satisfied.

Tonight though, she was thinking about the events of the day just coming to an end. There was so much that she needed to review and reconsider.

Today had started off so well. It had been such fun selecting clothes for them both to wear from the racks and wardrobes that filled the commercial unit she lived in. Admittedly most of the ones she'd tried had originally had to be reworked to fit her petite figure, but it had been a particular challenge to find anything that would fit Harry with his basket-ball player physique.

It'd also been great to go to the house at last, after having suddenly planned to do it on that day that she first met Harry. Obviously she'd had some reservations, knowing how holding the compact had affected her, but she'd always been insatiable until she saw a plan through, once she got the idea in her head.

Obviously, the way that she'd seemingly been taken over by the events that had happened in the house was more than just a little disconcerting. However, as long as she made certain that she always had someone she trusted with her whenever she put herself at risk, she was sure it was worth taking a chance if it got her to where or what she wanted.

Which brought her to the final thing on her mind. Harry.

Harry had been a revelation to Nadia. True, he was that little bit older than she was but women matured sooner than men and, more to the point, he was fun to be with and seemed to care about her. And she cared about him, too. She was a little reluctant to get involved too much too soon though, but it was still very early days and she supposed that if things took a turn towards getting serious, then that would be the time to start thinking about whether it was going to be anything more than just two people sharing their time together.

Or did the fact that she'd been thinking about it mean that she was beginning to think about Harry as something more than just a friend?

'I never had that problem with you, Mr Baron La Croix, did I', she mused out loud, looking at the poster facing her bed.

In her dreams they had spent many a night together, with La Croix serenading her on his guitar whilst singing 'Death Wedding'. Then, once he'd put his instrument down, he'd inevitably continue playing with her emotions as he flirted with her and then took her to the brink of death and back again, her senses overloaded with the rush that resulted when the life thundered back into her body like the sparks flying out from a Roman candle firework, but only in reverse.

Tonight was different. A different dream-scape materialised in her sleeping thoughts, not long after Nadia closed her eyes. Tonight it was Baron Samedi who welcomed her into her slumber. It wasn't the familiar boat on the river and the picnic on the river bank that she regularly enjoyed with La Croix, but something somewhat less attractive.

Nadia found herself in an old church with broken windows that looked as if it had been stripped of everything of value. Most of the pews had gone, and the few that remained were mostly broken. There were holes in the roof and the skies were dark and starless. The pulpit still remained intact, and it was beside that where she saw Samedi, beckoning to her to follow him as he hurried into a room beyond the nave within the area of the transept, taking the only source of light with him.

She followed the guttering light thrown out by the globe of the oil lamp, hurrying across the dirty stone floor until the light suddenly disappeared. As her eyes slowly acclimatised to the darkness, she saw a faint glimmer coming from the direction of series of steps in the corner of the room that wound downwards into what must have been an undercroft beneath the church. Hesitantly, she followed the light.

The steps were cold and dirty underfoot. Suddenly she realised that she had no shoes on and that all that she was wearing was a thin white lace night gown that floated around her like a cloud, offering no warmth or protection. The walls were running with water and this began to pool at her feet as she paused for a moment.

She shivered.

Samedi's voice cut through the silence. 'Nadia, my pet. Come, come, my child. Come into the light.'

Nadia moved on to the bottom of the steps, seeing the light getting gradually brighter as she neared the doorway that led into the space beyond.

Samedi was sitting nonchalantly on an old battered box filled with yellowed and broken bones that were spilling out onto the floor beside it. The lamp was standing on a further box immediately to his left and it was to this that he motioned, theatrically dusting off the lid, so that Nadia could sit there.

'Come sit with me child. Come snuggle up close beside me and give me your warmth. Come here to me so I can take your life...'

Nadia woke up suddenly, feeling cold and afraid.

'Harry?, she asked, already knowing that she was alone.

She looked up at the poster facing her bed, seeing Samedi and La Croix looking down at her and, for the first time, felt little comfort from seeing it there.

~Martin Green/Twothirdsrasta~©

Nadia Brooks - A little bit dead

Chapter 4

'Don't worry about Tomas,' Nadia reassured Harry. 'He's just a little bit slow when it comes to making new friends. He'll come around, I know he will.'

Tomas was refusing to come out from under Nadia's bed, having been startled when he saw Harry for the first time. Even Nadia found Harry's six feet five inches a bit imposing, so a small kitten – even though it was not technically alive – was bound to be a little intimidated both by his height and also by the size of his size 12 feet.

'No sweat,' Harry assured her. 'If he's like most cats, he'll come out when he's hungry. If I hang about a while, he'll come out eventually.'

'So, anyway', Harry continued, 'tell me about his band you like.'

Nadia looked across at him bleakly. 'You wouldn't understand. You're just not the type.'

'What do you mean, just not the type?'

Nadia sighed. 'For a start, there's your age. You're just too old to 'get' it. They're all about life and death and liberation of the soul and experiencing life without exploiting others. You know?'

Harry shook his head.

Nadia frowned. 'Exactly!'

'But I enjoy good music and well written songs,' Harry began, feeling confident. 'You know, like Coldplay, Elbow and Radiohead?

Nadia sighed again, this time more heavily. 'Need I say any more?'

'But they write good songs and music!'

Nadia looked at her feet a moment. 'It's not about music and songs,' she then said, looking away from Harry. 'It's the vibe, the community, the sense of danger and the thrill of it all. Nothing at all like Radiohead and Coldplay.'

'Oh', Harry replied, now looking disappointed.


'But I'm barely twenty! I'm not that old,' Harry protested. 'You're not far off seventeen now. There's less than four years between us!'

'I know. But that makes SUCH a difference.'

'Oh. Okay! But we're still cool, aren't we?'

'Of course we are!' Nadia grinned. 'You just don't understand everything about me. Same way I don't understand everything about you. But that's not a problem, it's an opportunity. Isn't it?'

'How do you mean?' Harry asked, puzzled.

'Look.' Nadia sat on the bed beside him. 'If we shared the same views and knew everything each other knew, what would we talk about?'

'I see where you going...' Harry mused. 'But if I can't understand some of the things you love...'

'…You'll have to spend a long, long time with me until you begin to get everything that I'm about,' Nadia continued for him. 'And that's not going to be a problem, is it?'

'Definitely not! Harry gave her a hug, pulling her close.

Nadia looked back up at him, smiling. 'I like sitting on my bed with you,' she laughed. 'You don't appear to be quite so freakishly tall when we're both sitting down together.'

Later that evening, when Harry had gone back to the house he shared with three other people, Nadia managed to coax Tomas back out from under the bed, using a dead mouse from the jar she kept in the small refrigerator in the corner she used as a kitchen. (She regularly bought them in bulk from the local pet shop, explaining that she kept an exotic pet something like a snake.)

'Tomas. Tomas,' she crooned at the cat currently sat dozing in her lap. 'Harry's a nice man. A really nice man. You're just going to have to get used to him, I'm afraid. I think he's someone who's going to be good for me, so please try to get to like him. Please. Do it for your Nade!'

Unfortunately, Tomas looked up at her as blankly as he always did, although Nadia did suspect that the five mice brains he'd just eaten had put him in a good mood.

Nadia sighed.

'I love you to bits, you little monster, but I just wish that... sometimes... you were something more than what you are now. I mean, I didn't know what I was doing when I dug you up again, but I did hope that you'd be a bit more like you used to be. Oh well...'

Nadia put the kitten back on the floor again and watched him stumble back into the shadows under her bed.

'Oh Tomas', she said, her voice coloured by more than a fair amount of regret. 'I wish I'd told Harry the truth about you earlier, instead of saying you had been brain-damaged by oxygen-deficit when your heart stopped for a few minutes. What's he going to think when I tell him the truth about you, eh?'

As usual, Tomas had little to say.

' I just didn't want to lay too much on him at one time though.' Nadia shook her head, regretfully. 'One day at a time, Nade. One day at a time, eh?'

~Martin Green/Twothirdsrasta~©

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Nadia Brooks; A little bit dead

Chapter 3

'Nadia. Nadia! Are you okay?' Harry grasped her upper arms and helped her back to her feet.

'Mm okay! I just tripped, I think.'

Harry's face loomed closer as he tried to see the condition of her pupils.

'No, honest, hon! I'm really okay!' Nadia shrugged Harry gently away. 'I think I must have just missed the edge of the step, or stood too close to it and slipped. Just caught me by surprise a little. I'm fine now.'

Watkins coughed politely. 'Sir, Madam. Can I be of assistance?'

Nadia and Harry looked round, having forgotten about him. 'I'm sorry,' Nadia said, smiling reassuringly. 'Just stumbled. Shall we go on?' She checked the other two were ready, then began to climb the stairs again, taking care not to touch the handrail that topped the balustrade.

They all walked up the stairs together, with Nadia slightly ahead and, once they got onto the three-sided balcony section, making a point of looking into each room before the others reached each successive doorway. It was when she reached the third of the six doorways leading off into the main body of the building that she stopped suddenly, as though frozen in place.

The room before her was predominately lilac, with a long sectional grey sofa running along three of the four walls. There was a large mirror made up from a tessellation of smaller plate-sized hexagonal mirrors taking up most of the wall facing the long wall of sheet glass that opened out onto a balcony overlooking The Mere. There were two other doorways leading out of the room; one into a bedroom and another into a bathroom that Nadia knew she would know all too well.

'Nadia? What's up?' Harry bumped into her, not anticipating her sudden halt on the room's threshold. Nadia turned and looked up and back into his face, suddenly looking scared.

'Harry,' she said. 'I don't like this house. There's something seriously wrong with it.'

Watkins joined them in the doorway. 'Is there anything wrong, Sir, Madam?'

Harry took the initiative, countering Watkins' question mildly. 'No. Not at all. Just taking a moment to talk amongst ourselves. Could we have a few moments of privacy, just to discuss our impressions of the house, if you wouldn't mind?'

Of course Watkins had no objection, and disappeared down the stairs again to leave them together. Nadia waited a moment to confirm that they were truly alone then, when she was happy that they were not being overheard, she began.

'Harry,' she said hesitantly, closely watching his face. 'I've not been 100% honest about my motives for looking around this house, I'm afraid. There's a few things about me that I've not told you about. A few small issues that I have that have made it important for me to come here, and a few others that have a bearing on me and potentially you, if we continue to be friends.'

Harry's expression had changed a number of times in the past few minutes, varying from hurt to shocked, and then from shocked to surprised, and then from surprised to shocked again. Now he was looking sympathetic as he outlined what Nadia had told him, breaking it down so that he could more easily digest what he'd been told.

'So you think that you're a little bit psychic?'

Nadia shook her head. 'No, I know!'

'And you had a vision about this house and about how Grace Dawson died here?'

'Yes'. Nadia nodded.

And your cat, which you've hidden from me, is dead but not dead?'


Harry shook his head in disbelief. 'Jeez Louise,' he said. 'What have I got myself into here? You seemed comparatively normal, except for the Goth bit...'


Harry raised his hands defensively, now not knowing whether he was going to be struck down by hell-fire or raked by nothing more than Nadia's razor sharp tongue.

'I just meant that,' he said, the words stumbling out. 'You're not entirely conventional, are you? You don't bother about fitting in with the popular image of what a young woman should look like.'

'No. I don't'. Nadia looked him straight in the eyes, unflinchingly.

'And that's good, isn't it?' Harry said, smiling, hoping to be forgiven his blunder.

'Yes.' Nadia replied, almost in a low growl. 'I'm my own person. I'm an individual. As we all are or should be.'

'Yes', Harry agreed, knowing this wasn't the last he was going to hear about this. 'Shall we continue?' He swept his arm before her, inviting her to step through the doorway into the dead woman's private rooms.

Once she stepped into the room, Nadia began to feel ill at ease. The light from the windowed wall began to fade, getting fainter the further into the room she got. She felt suddenly drained and looked for somewhere to sit for just a moment. Fortunately, there were plenty of choices, and she half-sat, half-fell onto the grey couch just inside the door.

'Grace, Grace, you're truly amazing, Grace!' a familiar voice crooned to her.

'Oh Baron, that is such a tired old line,' she said, speaking in a voice that wasn't her own. 'However, coming from you...'

Nadia looked to her left and saw the man she knew as Baron Samedi, looking at her with a devilish grin on his face.

'Grace,' he said. 'Every moment and everything I share with you is as fresh as though it were the first time, and as precious as though it were our last.' He slid across the seat and took her hand, kissing it daintily.

'Oh Baron, you're such a charmer,' Nadia/Grace purred in reply. 'I really don't know what to say.'

Samedi stood up, still keeping hold of her hand. The tight black jeans he wore did nothing to hide the contours of his legs and the finer details of his lower body. His black silk shirt gaped open, revealing a completely hairless chest. 'Just say yes,' he said, pulling gently at her hand.

Nadia/Grace laughed throatily. 'How ever could I say anything else', she said, standing up.
She closed her eyes...

'Nadia! Nadia? Nadia!' Harry was suddenly standing in front of her, his hands on her shoulders. 'What's happening to you? Who are you talking to? What are you doing?'

Nadia blinked and took in the room around her. Most things were the same as a moment ago, but Samedi and Harry had exchanged places. 'I think I had another vision. I did, I know I did, ' she stammered. 'I was Grace and you were the Baron Samedi, and he was leading me or Grace into the bedroom. Oh my God, I know what happened to her. He seduced her and made her love him and then just left her like a used tissue. He broke her heart and then she committed suicide!'

There was a voice outside and then the sound of swift footsteps. 'Sir, Madam, is everything alright in there?'

Watkins hurried through the doorway, looking quickly around at the room and it's contents, as though checking for damage. Harry held his hands up, motioning for him to relax. 'Nothing to see here,' he said. 'My cousin is feeling a little faint, though. I think that we may have to cut this viewing short, so she can get some fresh air and a little rest. I think that we've seen enough for us to make our minds up though, so we probably won't need to arrange a further visit. Can you drive us back to your office please, Mr...'

'Watkins,' the estate agent offered, helpfully.

'Yes. Mr Watkins.' Harry took Nadia's hand and nodded at them both, agreeably. 'Shall we go now?'

The return journey was even quieter than the outward one since both Harry and Nadia were lost in their thoughts, feeling unable to voice them in the company of the Watkins, and also because Watkins, respectfully, had neglected to turn the car's CD player on. The road back to town seemed particularly long, and it seemed like it took twice as long as before until Watkins began to manoeuvre the car back into his customary space on the street outside the estate agency.

'Sir, Madam,' he prompted. 'If you would just join me in the office for a moment, I would be indebted to have your company.'

Nadia and Harry both nodded their assent, mumbling platitudes in reply.

Once they were all back inside the office, Watkins invited them to sit in a quiet corner where three well-stuffed chairs had been arranged in an arc around a small table. 'So,' he said, handing them a folder, 'would Sir be prepared to make an offer for the property?'

This was the moment Harry had been dreading but, fortunately for him, Nadia took the initiative. 'Harry,' she said, standing up and looking pained, 'I think I'm beginning to feel a bit odd again. Can we please make this quick because I think I'm going to lose my breakfast!'

Both Harry and Watkins looked at her, shocked. 'Here, take this,' Watkins said, thrusting a hurriedly found business card at Harry. 'Give me a call later today, so we can talk.'

'I'm so sorry! It must just be some bug that's going around,' Harry apologised, standing up and then putting his arm around Nadia's shoulders. 'We'll be in touch, he said, guiding her through the door already being held open for them by Watkins.

By the time they'd reached the first side street running off from Merchant Street, Nadia had miraculously improved so much that she began to laugh. 'Got us out of that one nicely, didn't I,' she said, grinning.

Harry smiled back. 'I did have a plan myself. I was just going to ask for a few days to think about it. I'm sure that even the most well-heeled moneybags doesn't sign up on a five million pound property without a pause. However,' he continued, 'it probably wouldn't have got us through the door quite as quickly as your approach did!'

'Okay, what now,' asked Nadia, twirling so that her skirt filled out. 'Do we take the bus or shall we walk back to mine?'

~Martin Green/Twothirdsrasta~©