Darren sweated under the studio lights. It was not going well. He stood on the end of the stage, his immaculate suit ceaseless, but his shirt collar beginning to show his sweat. His hand was extended out, to the audience. He had stopped mid-sentence. Cursing, he dearly wished he could shout at the idiot on the other end of his ear piece. When he got off stage, he’d ring her neck, he decided. Make no mistake. Composing himself, he took a handkerchief from his suits top pocket, and padded dry his forehead. He then inhaled heavily, as theatrically as he could, and staggered back.
“I’m sorry” Darren said. “Samuel left me just then. A moment, please”
Darren saw the stage manager, motioning the sign for stop. He would have to at this point. Over an hour in, and not a single reliable hit.
“The Spirits” He said, projecting his voice as if he had just tapped some inner strength, “The spirits are…”
“Section four, fat lady in blue, wanting to contact her husband, dead two years, name is Chris Wilkinson. Working on the cause of death now.” Darren didn’t miss a beat.
“…Here with me again. I have someone here with me now, William? No, Wilkinson, Christopher – he didn’t like that, he liked Chris – does that make sense to anyone here?” Darren hovered his hand over section four, and waited, trying very hard not to crack a broad smile as Janet came back over his ear piece
“Work accident. He was crushed in a steel mill. Spent three hours with both legs trapped below the knees before dying as they tried to free him. And there’s a Benny in section seven, after his mother, Nora. Queuing up the info now”
She finished just as a fat lady in blue stood up. The camera angle from behind Darren made it look like she was in his grip. Darren wasted no time, walking slowly across the stage, lurching, over exaggerating every step as he bent his knees.
“Chris had a problem with his knees? No, it’s like a weight, a crushing weight.” The lady in the blue dress burst into tears, and sat down sobbing.
“He’s fine, my love. He didn’t suffer for long, and he’s now in a happy place. He’s worried about you though, says you shouldn’t keep cancelling that doctors appointment – does that make sense, love?”
The lady wailed a long yes, and Darren asked the studio staff to ‘help her out, make sure she’s okay’. He loved that. Nothing like a good solid hit. As the helpers guided her through the narrow seating, Darren took a quick swig of water. Janet was already giving him the details for another three marks. Back on track, another awesome edition of the Darren Anchor show.
“Norma, Nora? Anyone know a Nora?” He said, finishing his drink in front of section seven.
“Darren?” It took him a moment to place the voice. He couldn’t help himself.
“Mother?” he tried to say it under his breath, but the mic picked it up. A man in a shabby sweatshirt stood up
“Nora was my mother” said the man.
“Darren. What in the name of high hell do you think you’re doing my boy?”
“Er… Mother? But, but. You’re dead!”
“yes, she died eight…” The man in the audience started
“Not you, you imbecile!” Darren shouted at the man
“How dare you speak to that poor man like that. You’ve been a very naughty boy, Darren! Say sorry immediately!”
“I… Mother? NO! I don’t believe! I won’t”
“You’d better” Darren’s mother shimmered and appeared in front of him.
“You, my boy, are a terrible disappointment to me.” Darren fell to his knees, in front of his mother. It was her, but she wasn’t quite solid, she was transparent, and looked as if she had a light blue sheen all around her.
“How dare you defraud all these people? What were you thinking? I know for a fact I taught you right from wrong, boy!” Darren couldn’t take it in, and the audience didn’t know what to do, they sat there staring at the ghost on stage, berating the medium. Then more. Norma shimmered into view on the stage, and glided up to her son. Chris appeared, nothing from the knees down, and glided off behind the audience to find his wife. Then more, many more, all with the same light blue hue, all transparent. Dozens, some by looks modern, some world war two soldiers, some were Tudors, some dressed only in rough animal furs. All kinds of human life, from every historical era. Darren clasped his hands over his ears and screamed. And when he uncurled himself, the studio was still brimming with ghosts. The dead, talking excitedly with the living, loved ones reconnecting.
“Well. I suppose I should have expected something like this. You always were too much like your father.” Darren’s mother was still stood beside him.
“GO AWAY!” He yelled at her, and ran, pushing through the crowd. Every time he touched a ghost, he felt cold, and a icy, translucent, light blue gel was left on him. He struggled on. The audience were either too busy with a ghost to notice, or else desperately tried to than thank him as he barged past.
“It’s not me, you idiots” Darren said. “It’s not me!”
He ran down the empty backstage corridor, and slammed his dressing room door shut. He pressed his ear piece.
“Janet? Are you still there? What’s going on?”
“Darren. It’s my cousin. She drowned when we were six, she… she doesn’t hate me. Says it wasn’t my fault.” Then she started to cry.
“Useless” said Darren, tearing out his earpiece.
“Temper.” His mother said as she emerged through the door “At least I don’t need to tell you to stop. Now, Darren, you’re not needed. Now, the dead have come back.”