How to become a Professional Ghost-Writer
“Oh yes, please!” Kelly Jennings was smiling to herself as she hit the ‘send’ button.
There was a knock at the door. With an impatient snort she put down her laptop and went to see which of her pesky neighbours were about to bother her now. Was it about the parking space again? They were always irritating her about her parking space. She wished the board would get a move on and put a ‘Reserved’ sign on it; it was her space, but everyone else regarded it as common property. They loved parking on it, leaving her to park her old style VW buggie in the street where it was at risk of being stolen.
Or maybe it was about her untidy garden, she thought, already annoyed as she unlocked her front door. Not enough that now her children had grown and flown and she had to live alone in this dismal dump, but the neighbours were as invasive and pushy as always.
Outside there was a tall figure in a dark hoodie, holding a piece of paper out at her. Collecting for something, was the first thing that crossed her mind as she glimpsed the person’s face so briefly that it didn’t even register. And she glanced at the paper, wondering how the collector had got past security, and then blinking and revising her thoughts as she saw what the paper was.
“Kelly Jennings?” came a bass voice from under the hoodie. For a moment, a frisson coursed through her as she glanced up fleetingly at the clean-shaved face before focusing on the contract he was holding.
“You applied for the position as writer?” he prompted. The voice gave her that frisson again, but she shrugged it off in the excitement that surged through her.
She had only hit the ‘send’ button for that position seconds back!
“Do come in please,” she gushed, pointing the visitor to the lounge/workroom and making a quick detour in the kitchen to set the kettle on the boil. “Coffee or tea?”
“Coffee,” came the voice, and she began to think that at her ripe old age of fifty-one she was having teenage flushes. That voice…
“White, black, sugar?”
“Black and bitter,” her guest responded sombrely.
She fussed in the kitchen, fixing the coffees in flying haste, and joined him in the front room where he had taken a seat. She noted how skinny and long those blue-jeansed legs were that were comfortably crossed, the whole tall man leaning back relaxed into the settee, watching her.
Her eyes dodged away from his as he stuck out a large, thin hand to give hers a firm squeeze.
“Smierc,” he introduced himself. “But you can call me Hein.”
“I’m Kelly Jennings,” she replied, then added in confusion, “but you already know this.”
Hein pushed his hoodie back, practically forcing her to look at this face. She noted a completely bald head and very lean, drawn features, clean-shaved, with the most perfect teeth in his smile. Still her eyes dodged away from his.
“I want you to know what you are signing up for,” he said. “We are looking for a ghost-writer who can shadow for people who are not in a position to have their stories published any other way. Don’t worry about the contracts; you interview the people, and then you write their stories, and if they are content, we see to the publication.”
“Payment?” she dared to raise the question. This was the trickiest part of them all; she was a true artist in that she never yet had possessed any negotiation skills.
“Don’t worry about that, you will be getting a monthly salary,” said Hein. “The first salary has already been paid into your bank account. We have been watching your blog and we believe that you have the necessary skills. All you need to do is sign on the dotted line.”
She took the contract from his hand and skimmed it. There were one or two dubious paragraphs that she didn’t quite understand, but she didn’t want to appear illiterate, so she signed.
“Excellent,” said Hein and downed his black coffee. “Are you ready for your first assignment?” He gave her outfit an appraising glance. “You may want to put on a coat and boots. I shall wait here for you.”
Kelly rushed upstairs and put on warm clothes in flying haste before returning downstairs, where her guest had stood up and pulled his hoodie back over his bald head. He gestured her to the door.
“Make sure to lock up,” he instructed.
She grabbed a notepad and a pen, and ushered him out, locking up and setting the alarm. And then she noticed his motorbike – a Harley – that was parked next to her buggie.
“Please join me,” said Magere Hein, gesturing to his motorcycle. “Our first appointment is one of Napoleon’s lieutenants.”
She stared at him. Hein mounted the bike and waited for her to take her place on the pillion seat. Reluctantly, she did. This was turning into more of an adventure than she had thought.
“You did note the position said ghost-writer,” Death pointed out as he revved up the engine of the Harley and they took off, right into a dimensional warp.
More exciting short-stories in this compilation:
A quirky compilation of short-stories by 8 individualistic authors with very differing styles. Enjoy!
What we say – review by Nikki Mason:
This is a wonderfully eclectic mix of short stories including fairy stories, modern fables and touchingly emotional pieces. If you’re the sort of person who prefers a box of assorted truffles over a bar of dairy milk – this is for you.
For me the stand out stories were Betwixt and Between by Lucy P Naylor, which was disturbing but delightful and charmingly written and Going Home by Lyz Russo, a chilling little tale that uses the short story genre to its full potential. Both had the air of the supernatural about them, which appealed to my gothic tastes. Having said that, all the stories have an air of magic and mystery, even if it’s just the funny little circumstances that life can throw up.
An easy book to dip in and out of and a crazy mix of writing styles, Mercury Silver is totally worth a punt.
Or find more stories here: