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Ghostkin
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ISBN-10: 1-77115-427-6
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Dark Fantasy
eBook Length: 191 Pages
Published: September 2018

From inside the flap

Rachel Cantrell isn’t a very nice person. She is a Ghostkin – the daughter of a living woman and her ghost husband, able to allow her spirit to roam independently. She is also transgender. And an expert thief.

Things seem to be going well for her when she starts working for Fred Mott, the local human crimelord. She even meets and falls in love with a beautiful woman.

But her life starts to crumble when she gets caught up in a gang war between Fred Mott and his vampiric opposition, George Bailey. Things get even worse when Bailey enslaves her and forces her to his will. Especially as he wants to take over the city of Newcastle and turn it into his own personal kingdom.

Rachel will need to use all her strength, courage and guile - not to mention her friends - to escape from Bailey’s grasp and stop his plans from coming to fruition. Especially when she knows that going anywhere near him could mean her enslavement once again.

Ghostkin (Excerpt)


Chapter One

It wasn't a dark and stormy night. It was, in fact, cloudless and clear. The moon was nearly full and shone brightly down onto the streets below. On the whole, this was a good thing, because not even ghosts liked it when it rained.

There were actually quite a few ghosts lingering along the main shopping street, most of them near where their mortal lives had ended, like Kerry, who had been twelve years old when she had been run over in front of her best friend. She now haunted the pelican crossing that she should have actually used. One or two remained in a location to which they had an emotional attachment. Mr Gupta, for example, despite dying in his mistress's bed in Walker, haunted the now empty shop that had once been the greengrocers, where he had spent almost all of his waking hours. Ironically, it was his death and subsequent haunting that had ensured the closure of his shop soon after his son had taken over its running. A ghost whose presence makes everything around him several degrees colder than everywhere else maybe really useful for keeping the vegetables fresh but it doesn't do a lot for customer relations. No matter how used people had become to the idea of ghosts, most of them still liked to keep away from them.

There was one ghost, however, who wasn't sticking to a single spot. If it had been possible to see it - which would only happen if it was being watched by another ghost or by a sensitive - it would have been seen to be moving quickly and with apparent purpose up the street. It looked to be heading for the bank. Even with the eyes of someone capable of viewing it, the description wouldn't have been any use if it came to identifying the person whose ghost this was. It was a human figure, probably female and around six feet in height but, other than that, it had no other features. Its face and head were white - actually white rather than Caucasian - and utterly featureless. No eyes, no nose, no mouth. Nothing. It looked like a cloud that someone had managed to sculpt into a figure rather than a real person.

The bank's heavy wooden doors didn't slow it down for a moment as it passed straight through them but, once inside, it paused as if looking around.

Standing in front of the cashier's desks was another ghost. This one was a bit pathetic. Old Mister Hogarth had been there for a few years now after a sudden massive stroke hit him while he stood in line waiting to deposit the bags of copper and silver the kids had spent in his arcade. After all this time, he had faded away almost to nothing so that now all that was left was a slight misty blur in the air. Even his ghostly cooling effect had been counteracted by the bank's highly efficient air conditioning system. He would soon go wherever it was that ghosts went after their psychic energy had finally been used up.

But, that pathetic little remnant was all that the strangely decisive ghost needed. A pale glow lit it up from the inside and, after a few seconds, a shiny wisp of cloud-like energy broke off from its torso and floated across to the spiritual remains of Old Mister Hogarth. Touching him, it grew, engulfing and penetrating him. The mist that had been all that remained of him grew thicker and started to expand as if filling a human shaped balloon. The ground around him turned white with frost as the temperature dropped drastically. After ten or fifteen seconds, he looked almost as solid as he had done when he was alive. Although he looked a little different to how he must have appeared in life. Old Mister Hogarth had apparently been a fan of Dickens while he had been alive and appeared to have, perhaps unconsciously, identified a little too strongly with one of his characters. He was wrapped in chains and attached to the end of each one was a one-armed bandit, a lock-box or a bag of cash.

With a screech of joy that would have been audible, had there been anyone other than the other ghost there to hear it, Old Mister Hogarth launched himself into the air, spewing a stream of glowing ectoplasm. He flew around the walls, getting faster and faster, spraying more and more ectoplasm. As it hit electrical devices that had been left on, they sparked and spat - computers, TV screens and, most importantly to the ghost who had retreated to the porch of the building, the security cameras and psychic foils that the bank had installed to prevent exactly what it now intended to do.

After a few minutes, Old Mister Hogarth was spent, both his glow and shape dying away. He returned to the misty blur that had been his after-life before the other ghost had interfered and beyond. He kept fading until, with a last gentle sigh that could have just been the now badly malfunctioning air-conditioning, he disappeared.

The other ghost knew that it now had no time to lose. The destruction of the psychic foils would have set off some kind of alarm and the police would be on their way. Still, there wasn't a whole hell of a lot they could do, but it would still rather not be around when they arrived.

It dropped through the floor to the basement below. The thick steel door of the walk-in safe posed as little inconvenience to it as the entrance. Inside the vault was as dark as pitch but again, that didn't matter to the ghost who could see as well, if not better, in there as it could in the full light of day.

It looked around at the cash that lay in neat piles on shelves around the walls and then picked it up, seemingly pushing it into its body where it disappeared from view.

It didn't take long for all the cash to have disappeared. Taking one last look around, the ghost floated through the wall and away.

***

The next morning was overcast, dark clouds threatening rain later on in the day. Rachel lay in her double bed, stretched from one corner to the other, looking out of the window and just about deciding not to bother getting up. She could hear her mother bustling about downstairs, while arguing with her father, as usual. Fumbling for the remote control, She flicked on the telly, just as the news was starting. It was full of the usual stuff - war, terrorism, credit crunch, politics and negotiations with faerie. As always, the local news followed immediately after. The Penshaw Wyrm had taken another three people over night. Really, Rachel thought, someone needed to do something about that bloody dragon.

Both her musings and her peaceful morning were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell. Her mother screamed at her father to keep quiet as she went along the front hall.

Rachel heard someone say "Good morning, Mrs Cantrell."

Recognising the voice, she jumped out of bed and started to drag on leggings and a t-shirt.

"Good morning, inspector," her mother replied.

"Is your Rachel in?"

"She's still in bed, would you like to have a word with her?"

"If you don't mind. Did she have a late one last night?"

"Oh no. She went quite early, just after Have I Got News For You."

"She's not poorly, I hope."

"No. She said she had a book she wanted to finish reading."

By this time, Rachel was coming down the stairs.

"Good morning, Inspector Charlton," she said. "What brings you out so early?"

"It's not that early, Rachel. It's half past ten."

"Well, I was awake late, finishing my book."

"Must be nice being able to lie in on a weekday."

"Well, you know how it is. There's just no work around at the moment."

"Would you like to come into the lounge, officer?" Rachel's mother asked. "I'll make you a nice cup of tea."

"That would be lovely. Thank you, Mrs Cantrell."

"Ignore, Mark," she told him, but looking directly and searingly at the ghost of her husband. "He's in a right mood this morning. Practically 'geisting."

***