Monday, 27 July 2009


Following on from Lee's The Jesus People, now we have...

The Shaman People

It was the quietness that struck a chord. There were so many people watching, yet there was no noise. It unsettled some. But for Nathan and Cynthia as they dropped down out of the cabin of the ambulance they ignored it, they were used to all the different versions of silence that there was, and there were many.

Nathan put the brace around the neck of the young female passenger. There was blood seeping down from her nose and a little trickle coming out of her left ear. There was nothing else he could do other than talk calmly and try and keep her conscious whilst the firemen went about cutting the car apart.

What made it worse for the young woman was that the driver, a man of a similar age was dead. It was the set of his neck, hanging on his shoulders like a branch that had known something stronger than a breeze and had been half-snapped from the trunk proper.


Cynthia was at the wheel, running reds and not sparing the horses. Nathan was in the back doing what he could for the woman. He smiled at her, she tried to return it, and her brain seemed to forbid it. Nathan looked to Cynthia. The whole sum of her concentration was on the road ahead. Nathan opened his kit-bag. He gave another look at Cynthia. There was no way that she could see what he was getting from his bag.

He held the bone-thing almost reverently. It looked like a femur with the marrow removed and the outside etched with designs and symbols. The ends were plugged with coloured corks which he removed.

The young woman watched him, consciousness was fleeting. She saw him remove the stops. The paramedic pulled down her oxygen mask and set the bone to her lips. He met the other end with his own and began to gently suck.

Carefully, Nathan returned the stops to the etched bone and placed it back into his kit-bag. He looked at the young woman. He had taken the chore of life's balance out of God's hands and placed it within his own. Her life or her death was now at his discretion, just the way that he liked it.

The back doors of the ambulance were yanked open and the porters helped get the stretcher down from the back. Nathan began filling the doctor in about her vitals etc. He watched as they rushed her into the building.

They didn't know the way that life really worked, the pecking order of who gets to make the big decisions. The doctors were not buffer zones between life and death. They were merely caretakers of the flesh whilst more important people like himself catered to the essence of life.

Nathan checked the time. He looked up to Cynthia. “Another five minutes and the shift is over.”

“Thank, God, I'm knackered,” Cynthia said as she moved back to the cabin of the meat-wagon.


Nathan Louis finished scribbling down the woman's name on a strip of masking-tape and set it on the shelf with the others. He moved over to another shelf. The bones on that shelf were the ones that contained the spirits that he would return, cleansed and purified and ready to go back to their rightful vessels.

That was where he saw his main power. Not in his ability to imprison the spirit, but in finding out if the vessel was worthy of its return. He would check the spirit of the young woman and then decide whether or not to return her to health, or to keep her where she was.

Nathan picked one up; the roughly placed tape announced the name of the person as William Sanders. Nathan had deemed this man worthy of being returned to health. The man had come under his scrutiny after they'd attended a call to a block of flats that had been the target for an arson attack. Mr. Saunders was found with third degree burns. Deeper investigations by Nathan had revealed that it was Willy himself that had started the fire, along with another dozen or so blazes. Only Nathan knew this.


He moved through the corridors without anyone questioning him. The folks thought him a man who just loved his job and following up on the broken people that he ferried through its doors. Some couldn't understand it, but they were the ones that didn't care.

He smiled down at Willy, ignoring his char-grilled face. Willy's eyes were vacant, staring dead-ahead through shiny and blistered lids. Nathan looked over his shoulder, there were no curious eyes monitoring him. He withdrew the bone. He uncorked it, set it to the man's crusted lips and blew the man's soul back in deep. Nathan moved his lips from the bone to the man's ears.

“More fires, I want to see more fires.” Nathan pocketed the bone and left.

As he came out of the room he bumped into Father Charlatan. As Nathan preferred to call him, false religions were the bane of Nathan's earthly chore.

“Maybe you should think about becoming a doctor rather than being a paramedic. You seem to spend more time inside the hospital than out of it.” The Father's words were good natured, though Nathan didn't care much for them.

Nathan smiled. “Well, sometimes it's good to not just wash your hands of something, see things through to the end.”

“Then there'll be a place for you in Heaven,” the Father said with a smile.

“That's reassuring,” Nathan replied and gently pushed past the man of the cloth.

Father Charleston watched the paramedic's exodus. There was something he didn't quite like about the man. He was pleasant enough; it was something that he couldn't quite put a finger on.

Father Charleston entered the patient's room. The man had been catatonic ever since he had been brought in. Father Charleston thanked Heaven for small mercies for the fact that he was lost in a seemingly endless coma, as the man was burned as though he'd been gallivanting in Hell with a coat made from petrol.

He paused as he entered; William Sanders was staring at him, a slick grin on his grilled lips.


Father Charleston sat in the hospital chapel. He was one hundred percent sure that he had a good idea concerning the problem in the hospital. There were so many people with deathly wounds and sicknesses that just would not die. People spoke of the strength of their spirits. True, inner strength of the spirit can be miraculous, but not to the extent that they were seeing.

The times were dangerous enough without people dabbling in mischief. The search for the Osseous Box had begun. The signs had become apparent and the Beast sought the box's whereabouts.

They'd no idea how to begin their own search for it. Until now, Father Charleston knew how they could commence the hunt. He went to the nurses' station to use their phone.


Danny waited in the bathroom. He'd seen enough in the spare room to realise that Father Charleston was on to something. And it was about time. They'd had no leads on which to go on. And with the enemy's hunter already at work time would soon grow too short to steal back the advantage that the Enemy had taken. Danny rested a hand on the Alsatian's head to keep it quiet.


Nathan slammed the door shut on his car; he was feeling pretty good about himself. Every day it became less of a vocation and more of a destiny. The false Gods of so called Good and Evil were welcome to their petty squabble. It mattered not a jot to him. He worshiped only the power that he wielded. None of the people of the earth were destined for Heaven or Hell. They were merely beings awaiting Nathan's judgment.

He worked his way up the path. Tonight he would examine the spirit of the young woman from the car accident and decide whether to heal her waning spirit or archive it. Nathan envisioned anarchy, and good people hindered the advance of the bedlam. His separating of those that sought peace from pandemonium would make for a purer populace.

“Mr. Louis?” called a voice.

Nathan paused and grimaced. He recognized the voice, it belonged to Father Charleston. Nathan turned and wore a smile like it was an infection. “Something tells me this isn't coincidence.”

Father Charleston held his hands up. “Banged to rights. I just wanted to say that what you're doing at the hospital is tremendous. Your visits to the sick are having a wondrous effect. William Sanders returned to the land of the living today just after you left.”

“Thanks, I do what I can.”

“Well, whatever magic you're weaving don't stop!” Father Charleston chuckled as he said the last.

Nathan however did not smile back. He could see it in the priest's eyes, he knew something, maybe not everything, but he knew enough to be curious and land on his doorstep.

“Fancy a cuppa?” Nathan asked.

“That would be great!” and Father Charleston began up the path.

Nathan moved to put his key in the door, and as if by magic the door opened by itself. Father Charleston pushed from behind and whoever had opened the door dragged Nathan inside.


Father Charleston stood with the Alsatian at his side. He stared at the townhouse where the Enemy had begun its hunt. The whole building was still cordoned off. The police had found the savaged remains of eight people, all of which had been identified as members of a cult. Bystanders had talked of a misshaped dog-thing bursting through the windows and taking off into the night.

Father Charleston looked down at the dog. “Good luck, Danny, and God's speed.”

The dog appeared to nod and then took off at a dash, the scent of the obscene still fresh after the passing of two days; it began its urgent hunt.

Father Charleston turned and walked in the direction of the hospital. He carried with him a bag. Within it were the bone-cages of the imprisoned souls. It was time to return them to their rightful bodies. Nathan Louis would never dabble in the affairs of God's and Devils again; his shamanistic and pestilent work was now removed, along with the poisonous beat of his dark-heart. The time of the final reckoning was nearing, there was no place for the insolence of magick and the mischief of trickery, there would be enough of that with what the Enemy had to offer.
Lee Hughes' short fiction has appeared in or is due to appear in the anthology Cern Zoo Nemonymous 9, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, A Twist of Noir,, The Daily Tourniquet and Powder Flash Burn. To find out more visit:


  1. "His separating of those that sought peace from pandemonium would make for a purer populace."

    That's certainly a tongue-twister of a sentence.

    I love this concept of Nathan Louis "stealing" souls and then putting them to his purpose.

    When he told William Saunders to start more fires, I thought, "Well, that's a good way to keep yourself in business."

    And, when you think about it, it's got a double meaning, doesn't it?

    Another excellent tale, Lee. I'll pimp it on A Twist Of Noir in just a moment.

  2. Profound, fella.

    Another tongue-twister for you...

    Welcome to the weird and wackily wonderful world of Lee Hughes!!!

  3. i can really see this as a tv series in the style of Doomwatch.