Hello friends. I have the pleasure today of hosting a guest piece from Mark Cassell, who’s latest release, Hell Cat of the Holt, had me and my Kindle all snared up in a shadowy fog. For Whom the Bell Tolls is an unsettling auto-biographical vignette that gave me a bit of a shiver. I won’t delay it anymore than I have too. Thank you, Mr. Cassell, for stopping by and sharing this bit of your history, and some inspiration behind your Shadow Fabric Mythos. The floor is yours, and yours alone…
Let’s cast aside the creepy doll thing that’s been on the big screen for decades now. My question is: could a spirit or entity exist within the stitches of a garment?
What follows here is a true account from when I was a child.
Many years ago, my parents’ alarm yanked us from sleep at around 3.30 a.m. Although set for their usual 6 a.m. wake up call, Mum and Dad put it down to a freak occurrence. Of course they would; something we’d all do. That’s if it only happened the once…
Before I say any more, I must tell you that years later while researching my debut novel, I learnt that the hours around 3 a.m. are known as the Witching Hour or the Devil’s Hour. Sometimes, it’s even referred to as the Dead Hour.
Over the course of the following few mornings, at about the same time, that relentless chime tore through our home.
On one morning in particular, Dad mumbled into his pillow and fell back asleep while Mum clutched tight the covers. She stared into the shadows with dozens of thoughts tumbling through her sleep-deprived brain. Dismissing the idea of buying a replacement clock, she wondered if something in the house had changed, whether anything new had been introduced into the home.
Strong in her beliefs of a God who incidentally I’ve never believed in, Mum considered the possibility that something significant had been acquired. Something evil, perhaps?
She’d recently bought a purple cardigan from a charity shop. Having since washed it, the garment now hung from the wardrobe door. Seeing it there across the room, unworn and yet to be put away, it was as though that cardigan took on an entirely different meaning. It symbolised a foreign entity in our home. Unknown, and now unwanted.
Mum prayed. Strong in faith, she asked for a sign to confirm this piece of clothing was the source of the alarm’s urgency. To answer, the bell clanged, blaring into the near-darkness.
She leapt from the bed, snatched the cardigan from its hanger, and bounded down the stairs. Once outside in the garden, she threw the thing in the dustbin. Every morning after that, the alarm only ever went off at the set time. Remember as a child when we were afraid of a T-shirt or coat hanging in the corner of our bedroom? That innocent garment appeared like a person’s silhouette, a silent spectre lurking in the shadows of a corner familiar during the day, yet morphing come the night – such is a child’s natural innocence with an imagination sparked by all things new in this world. By comparison, through the eyes of an adult, things can become unnatural.
Here it appears that my mother’s faith kept us safe from the supernatural.
Perhaps I was destined to write the Shadow Fabric mythos. When my family encountered that sinister garment all those years ago, maybe the concept stuck with me and I went on to tell its story.
Okay, so the Shadow Fabric itself is a fictional sentient darkness (it is fiction, right?), but essentially a haunted fabric none-the-less. Was Mum’s newly acquired possession indeed possessed by an entity similar to that which 30 years later I’d write into my fiction?
If so, I’m glad my family never encountered it. Yet we will never know. Nor will my family ever learn of the origins of that cardigan. Haunted or possessed, whatever the hell it was, we escaped something.
And I hope you never wake during the Dead Hour.
Tell me, has anything ever happened to you, beyond your typical creaky floorboards and cold sweat? Have you ever seen something or felt something that goes beyond your Hollywood-tainted imagination? – MC
Synopsis for Hell Cat of the Holt
Shy accountant Anne returns to the village of Mabley Holt to piece together her life after a family tragedy. When her cat vanishes, and a neighbour claims to speak with his dead wife, she soon learns there’s more to the village than any resident dares admit. In search of her beloved pet, she discovers not only family secrets but also revelations of a local legend.
As she treads an unsteady path between folklore and fact, her confidence in where she grew up begins to crumble. Into hell.
Set in the bestselling Shadow Fabric mythos, Hell Cat of the Holt is not just a ghost story, and is much more than a black cat sighting.
Mark Cassell lives in a rural part of the UK where he often dreams of dystopian futures, peculiar creatures, and flitting shadows. Primarily a horror writer, his steampunk, dark fantasy, and SF stories have featured in several anthologies and eZines. His best-selling debut novel THE SHADOW FABRIC is closely followed by the popular short story collection SINISTER STITCHES and are both only a fraction of an expanding mythos of demons, devices, and deceit.
Mark’s 2017 release HELL CAT OF THE HOLT further explores the Shadow Fabric mythos with ghosts and black cat legends.
The dystopian sci-fi short story collection CHAOS HALO 1.0: ALPHA BETA GAMMA KILL is in association with Future Chronicles Photography where he works closely with their models and cosplayers.
For one of Mark’s FREE stories go to: www.markcassell.com
Or visit the website: www.theshadowfabric.co.uk
HELL CAT OF THE HOLT – a novella in the Shadow Fabric mythos
And while you’re here, check out The Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness, stop by and say hello.