The Art of Spirit Capture #shortstory #Christmas

Extraordinary things happen in ordinary places.

If you take the B2402 out of Maplecroft on the old Dover road and follow it for nearly a mile you’ll see a battered sign. ‘Hoskins’ it says, still readable through the rust and stippling from some rogue shotgun pellets. If you turn onto the track, avoiding the biggest potholes and drive another mile, you leave the stony fields and scrubby trees behind to reach a set of old Nissan huts. You may wonder, on arrival, if there is anyone there but look carefully before you shrug and leave.

There are always a few cars, parked in the field to the right and, these days, a smoker or two hanging around the largest hut, puffing anxiously while they await their moment with Arnold Hoskins.

Few know Arnold but those who do recognise a genius. Some call him magician. Arnold has many social limitations: he barely speaks these days; he’ll not make eye contact; and please don’t try and shake his hand or touch his arm in a casual friendly way. He has spent most of his 87 years, sitting at a variety of work benches crafting beautiful Christmas tree decorations. That in and of itself is not what makes Arnold special.

What sets Arnold apart is a discovery that he made, in the depths of the frozen winter of 1962/63: the art of spirit-capture. By means of a simple series of transmissions, while regulating the temperature of the glass at super low levels, Arnold can extract a person’s essence, his or his essential core spirit and capture it inside a decoration. This is done in the moment of dying and enables the deceased’s fundamental presence to continue, despite the inevitable entropy of the flesh.

For ten years Arnold experimented. He learnt hard lessons. For one thing, on capture the essence is strong. It will soon fill the room, where the vessel is present, which causes, over time, numerous neurological disturbances amongst the spirit’s living relatives and close friends. Short term exposure is recommended – no more than ten to twelve days, ideally, at a time and then an absence of exposure for at least six months. This allows for the released essence to settle

It is Arnold’s genius in creating Christmas decorations for the captured spirits that has led to this small stable business. Exposure for those  twevle days is enough, certainly in the first post-capture decade.

Those calling, locals mostly, who hear of Arnold’s skills, and who desire, often with a typically understated passion common in this part of Kent, to retain something of a departing loved one, know Arnold does not capture every essence.

The selfish, the mean-spirited, the callous and the small-minded bitter folk who’ve lost their love of life are allowed to dissipate to the hereafter. But the bonny, the jolly and the hail and well met are embraced.

For it is their essences which will enhance Christmas. In the houses, where spirit-captures hang, there is something powerfully good and peaceful that saturates the mood of everyone who steps across the threshold, dusts off the frost and breathes in deeply. Often times they’ll look for a fresh pine branch or cinnamon candle or mulling wine, sure they have smelt some delight. And when they go they will massage their cheeks from all the smiling, wondering at the joy of simple hospitality.

Grateful customers have been known to invite Arnold to join them. He manages what passes for a smile and declines. No, when Arnold shuts for Christmas, he goes to his simple cottage, dresses the tree and imbibes the simple residues of his parents and grandparents. These days the essences are almost gone but Arnold, himself, is nearing his time. There’s enough left of his childhood memories for an old man to enjoy his remaining few Christmas alone but far from lonely.



About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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21 Responses to The Art of Spirit Capture #shortstory #Christmas

  1. Ewwww! You and your brother have outdone yourselves in the creepy, scary genres today. I don’t know what is worse being embraced to death by a snowman or having your essence bottled for the occasional Christmas outing!


  2. Al Lane says:

    Wonderful idea for a Christmas story…enjoyed this

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for submitting this story to my competition.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Share Your Short Story Winner for January 2018 | Stevie Turner, Indie Author.

  5. Congratulations. That is a well done tale from start to finish, from grim to sweet and perfectly strange.


  6. Grear job! Congratulations!


  7. I found you through Stevie Turner. I feel that the essence of my dead relatives are on my Christmas tree each year when I remember them through the ornaments they gave me or made for me. It would be even better to have their real essence captured in an ornament. Great story!


  8. A well deserved winner Geoff. You have a wonderful imagination.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: Share Your Short Story – Winner and Runner Up for November 2018 | Stevie Turner

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