Faber Academy quickfic: “Marley was dead, to begin with.”

I won’t lie, Marley’s demise had left me in quite a predicament. You can’t run a literary melodrama theme park without an operating ghost.

‘Use robotics,’ they said. No concept of an entrepreneur’s vision. People pay to experience the real thing: I won’t fob them off with electronics. I’m no charlatan.

Marley began to emit an unpleasant aroma: a satisfactory olfactory stimulus for my idea. The Dickens Experience shared its semi-permeable membrane with the Frankenstein set, where there was a lightning table. I lugged Marley across one night, when the place was deserted. The forecast gave me high hopes for a promised electrical storm. Cathy was already Kate Bushing it, flinging herself against her hologram window with all the force her wraith-like figure could muster.

I shackled Marley and propped the Monster elsewhere. He didn’t seem to mind, though I knew storms triggered his PTSD. I heard Van Helsing complaining over in Totally Transylvania – something about atmospheric ionisation not being an excuse and threatening to lob garlic bulbs at the next vampire who dive-bombed him.

When the big one struck, Marley’s limbs spasmed, knocked the activation lever and must have shorted something. Groans echoed through the whole complex. The floor shook. Keening drifted in from the Wilkie Collins Wing, and the last thing I saw before Marley’s hands closed round my throat was the Woman in White pressing herself to the membrane like the poor tormented soul she was, trying to get in from the other side.

 

(This didn’t win, because a couple of much better ones did. But I didn’t want to lose this slice of fiction completely.)