This week’s #writephoto prompt is
Colonel Pilkington Pinke-Tassel (scion of the Andover Pinke-Tassels, Duke of Much Nobbing and heir to the Softbot Haemorrhoid cream empire) allowed himself a moment of considered reflection. Once he passed through the Arch of Inheritance he would be owner and Lord of the Manor of Tassel Hall, his ancestral home. It had been a long and, frankly, turgid battle to see off his older brother with his spurious, if legally solid claims to the Estate. Pilchard was a fool, throwing in his lot with those crazies, Druids and Charlatans and whatever else their sect called itself. Having him eviscerated, while essential had been expensive and meant Pilkington would probably have to sell some second rate tiara, or antique circumsizer.
He straightened his tie, pulled back his shoulders and began to move.
‘I wouldn’t, you know.’
Pilchard? It couldn’t be. Pilkington looked round, certain this was some sort of trick. Probably that damned brat of his, Prestatyn using his computer whizzbangery.
‘No, it’s me. Your brother. Your ex-brother.’
Pilkington had rubbed out all in his path, without being able to recover from set backs, including emotional ones. ‘You’re dead.’
‘Indeed, thanks to you or insufferable sibling, I am. And yet I’m here.’
‘Where?’ Pilkington knew he should have probably asked ‘how’ rather than ‘where’ but he had an almost overwhelming urge to see his deceased relative, just to be sure he was gone.
‘Through the Arch, where else? You need to look closely. It’s a bit windy.’
Why did wind matter?
‘We spirits lose a little form in a breeze. Something to do with molecules.’
‘You’re a spirit?’ Pilkington squinted through the Arch. There was a misty shape, off to the left.
‘For now, I’m a spiritus incorporealus. If all goes well at the hearing, I’ll be granted my ghost licence on… Thursday. They said they could squeeze me in on Thursday.’
‘Ghost licence?’ Pilkington didn’t try and hide the sneer in his voice. ‘You’re dead and you need a licence?’
‘Not everyone is suitable to remain. Hauntings are sparingly allowed. I’ve to persuade them I have just cause. There are also issues around the time period and…’
‘You’re telling me hauntings are time limited?’
‘Well, they used to be in perpetuity but that led to some crowding. Bit like your peerage. It used to be hereditary and pass, but now it’s for life. They’re very strict. Mind you, everyone says I’ve got a good case. Murder victims are given precedence and with luck it’ll be with benefits.’
Pilkington’s gaze was drawn to flickering cloud through the Arch. It definitely had his brother’s nose. He couldn’t help releasing a shudder.
His brother’s voice sounded seductive, drawing him in. ‘Don’t you want to know the benefits?k
Pilkington let go a sharp sarcastic laugh. ‘You get to choose who sees you, that sort of thing?’
‘Oh that’s a given. No, it’s whether they’ll allow an element of Poltergeisery. The ability to move items, cause pain.’
‘There’s little point being frivolous when you’re dead, is there? Yes, by Thursday I’ll know the extent of the horrors I can inflict on you.’
‘No, wait. That can’t be right. Your linked to where you died, aren’t you? You can’t follow me around.’
‘That’s true…. Normally. But exceptions can be made. Here’s the thing, little bro. You walk through the Arch of Inheritance and you will inherit… me. My ghost. It’ll stick to you like a septic scab and you’ll be the one doing the weeping.’
Pilkington’s mind whirled. ‘And if I don’t walk through the Arch?’
‘Well, yes that’s true. If you don’t walk through before sunset today, the inheritance is void, according to the terms of Great Great Grandfather Pimple’s Trust. Up to you really. Sort of stick or twist. Come on, Pillock, what’ll it be?’
Pilkington looked at the rather desolate scene beyond the scrappy masonry. He didn’t need all this hassle. He could stay in town. He’d probably have to borrow against his shares to pay off the hitman, but at least he’d not have to keep looking over his shoulder. Decision made, he spun on his heels and headed for his Jag.
On the other side of the Arch, Pilchard, Prestatyn and a skeletal figure in a black cloak carrying a scythe moved as one to peer through. Pilchard was the first to move, giving Prestatyn a hug. ‘Thanks. Neatly done.’
Prestatyn, a nervy teen with crepuscular acne and a distinct tilt eyed the man in the cloak. ‘Sick, man. Er, what about the dude?’
Pilchard looked at the dark sunken eyes and nodded. ‘Ten more years?’
The figure straightened up. ‘INDEED. AND I GET TO INHERIT THE HALL. AND THE KNICK-KNACKS. IS THERE REALLY A MECHANICAL CIRCUMSIZER?’ With a strange noise that might have been a chortle but was most likely a death rattle, the figure disappeared.
Prestatyn let out a breath. ‘That was Death, right?’
‘Yep. I got a deal. More time here, he uses the Hall after I’m gone and in the meantime he can terrorise my brother three evenings a week and alternate weekends.’
‘Why does he want to do that?’
‘I suppose everyone needs a hobby. Come on. I need to walk through the Arch, reclaim my inheritance and then dob in Pilkington. I think there are some crumpets in the pantry.’