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The Seance

A recently-discovered addition to Mary Shelley's memoirs. These were found sewn into the stuffing of the Shelley family weasel, following the research of Chris "Childe Harold" Oakley.

' .... "Link hands, like this!" said Byron, clasping Polidori's hand on his left, and Claire's on his right. The five of us, Byron, Polidori, Shelley, Claire and myself joined hands. At the centre of the circle were a pair of Polidori's gerbils, who, he claimed, had psychic powers. "We will summon spirits of the undead through the psychic gerbils," explained Byron. "Concentrate... concentrate... focus your powers on the centre of the circle." A hush fell. There was no sound except for the relentless pounding of the rain on the windows. All was dark except for the dull glow from the dying embers of the fire. The company rocked slowly to and fro. Shelley became perceptibly more agitated, and then, without warning, leapt up, breaking the circle and hollering at the top of his voice: "Don't let them get me! Don't let them get me!! DON'T LET THEM GET ME!!" He threw himself on the floor, sobbing furiously and thumping the floor with his fists. "It's him!! It's him!! It's the one I saw in the hotel - in Wales - that summer!! He's come! He's come to get me at last!"

The rest of us were too bombed out of our minds with Laudanum to take much notice.
"Come on, Shiloh," volunteered Byron slowly and mockingly, "stop pissing around. Methinks this is a serious business. Come back to the circle." This made Shelley more agitated than ever.

"UP YOURS, PEG-LEG!!" he screamed. "I'm serious. It's the ghost! It's him! With the fangs, and all! The vampire!" Shelley was raving now and picked up a stick to ward off an unseen foe. He ran out of the room, shouting and sobbing.

Ordinarily, I'd have rushed up to console him, but the combined effect of deja vu ad nauseam and opium sapped my energy. The only effect was that I felt, distantly, that something was not quite right. Byron, however, was seething with rage: "Peg-leg, indeed! The cheeky bastard! How dare he! How dare he!!" Polidori, the frequent butt of Byron's mocking, ironic humour, laughed. Byron drew one of his pistols and pointed it at Polidori's pelvis. "One more sound out of you, greaseball," he intoned "and I'll fill your arse." He allowed himself a half-smile and added, "this time with lead!"

Claire suddenly cut in, urgently demanding us the re-form the circle. She had been half in a trance when Shelley had burst out, and, unaffected by his agitation, joined the circle up again. She startled us by speaking slowly and deliberately in a deep voice, as unlike her own as cheese is to chalk. For the first time the rest of us were really frightened. Byron, who plainly had not believed that anything would come of it, was trembling.

"Herodias, I was," the voice said through Claire, "and Jezebel of Thyatira. Gundryggia the sorceress and Messalina, Empress of Rome. Who calls me from the undead?" Polidori fled in terror, retreating from the room holding a crucifix between Claire and himself as though it was a shield, repeatedly shouting 'Hail Mary''s at the top of his voice and crossing himself. Byron and I were frozen to the spot. I said nothing. Finally, with an effort, I heard Byron say, "Byron, the poet."

Claire went silent, as if pausing for thought. Then the voice said,"Byron? I've heard of you! You're the one who's been doing it with his half-sister, aren't you?" Byron flushed. He decided to bluff: "Well maybe, but then again maybe not. Literary scholarship has by no means proved this beyond doubt. Polidori's biography of me, which should be in the bookshops soon, certainly makes a strong case against." Another pause.

"Bullshit," said the voice slowly, "we know. But that's nothing. When I was Empress of Rome I got involved in a screwing competition."

"Look, you've got the wrong idea about this, you know," said Byron insistently, "Augusta and I are kindred spirits. If you had read my 'Stanzas to Augusta' you'd understand. We complement each other. For someone with an intense, smouldering, poetic temperament like myself, the companionship of a woman who is like myself but is on the other hand perfectly loyal and understanding is like the inspiration of a muse to a Greek tragedian."

"A muse? A muse?" said the voice, "Yes, I suppose humping your sister is quite amusing if you like that sort of thing. Long as no-one finds out. Certainly, Annabella wouldn't have guessed, the simpering twit, except that you let the proverbial cat out of the proverbial bag yourself. And I suppose that Leigh Hunt would have continued to turn a blind eye as long as you could keep lending him money. But I warn you, there's no screwing in the next world - neither of your brothers and sisters, or anyone else."

Byron was now full of indignation and injured pride. "Why should I care about that?" He said haughtily. "Oh, no reason particularly," said the voice, "except that as far as I can see, your present lifestyle is primarily directed towards spreading pox throughout Europe and Asia Minor. The point is that there's no humping in the hereafter; no buggery in the beyond. You can't lay a Lamia or be sucked off by a succubus. You can't drive a demon, pork a poltergeist, screw a spirit or masturbate Mephistopheles." She said the last four with emphasis. Byron was by now anxious to change the subject. "What do you do, then?" He asked casually.

"Lots of things. It depends on how nice or naughty you were in this life. If you've been exceptionally naughty, like me, then it is more difficult. But on the other hand -". She was interrupted by Shelley bursting into the room at that moment: "Beelzebub! It's true! There is a devil! There's a devil! And it's come! IT'S COME TO TAKE ME!! To ta-a-a-ake me-e-e-e ...". His voice trailed off. He was frothing at the mouth, with wild auburn hair matted and drenched with sweat, and bloodshot eyes bugging out. "To TA-A-A-A-AKE ME-E-E-E!!!" He repeated, and then collapsed on the floor. "Jeee-sus," said the voice, "how do you put up with that jerk?!"

"He's a poet. A great poet." said Byron, sounding offended. "Not as great as I am, but he's still pretty good. He wrote 'Ode to the West Wind'".

"You don't say?" said the voice, "I probably haven't heard of him because unlike you, he's not into incest. Where I reside, we only ever talk about people on Earth who are really disgusting. Who's the broad?" She turned, looking at me. I opened my mouth to answer, but Byron cut in:

"That's Mary, his mistress. And look, don't keep going on about this 'incest' business! At least, not without reading 'Stanzas to Augusta'. In any case, it's none of your business even if I have been incestuous from time to time. I am a lord, you know: landed gentry, or at least was, until the debts started piling up. I have -"

"Alright! Alright! Don't go on about it," interrupted the voice irritably. There was a pause. Then Byron started reciting, slowly at first:

He paused for breath, but the voice cut in, reciting:

Yes, it's alright. I know the poem. It's very pretty. Just the sort of thing I'd expect from a sister-humper who has a way with words (as well as with his relatives)."

"Damn you! Don't mention it like that again!" shouted Byron, drawing his pistol again. His hand was trembling as he brandished the weapon, and a visible change came over him. His face was normally calm with dark, penetrating eyes and smooth skin. He had dark, arched brows with an unruffled if somewhat haughty gaze. But now his face twisted into a mean scowl. His cherubic locks looked ugly, and his normally elegant stance became threatening and aggressive. He grasped the pistol with both hands and pointed it at the cage. "Gol-darn it!! I didn't put so much work into writin' ma verse jis' fur some spooky two-bit Roman whore to make a laughin' stock outa me. Lit me tell ya somethin' ya weirdo hooker: one more little bitty word outa you, an' the gerbil's gonna get it!!"

"He-e-ey," said the voice, "now come on. I was only taking the piss. (As well as doing my little bit to try and arrest the spread of venereal disease). Don't take it so seriously!" Byron held the pistol up still. There was a silence. The voice decided to change the subject. "You were talking about ghost stories earlier, weren't you? If you'll just listen for a bit, I've and idea." Byron slowly relaxed, though he continued to look tense for a while.

"An ancestral castle on a hill-top," the voice continued, "Mighty, battlement-encrusted turrets jut into the dark sky, silhouetted as Gothic figures of terror when the electric fingers of lightning seek out trees and church spires for destruction. The courtyards and gables are a murky gloom, silent sentinels who await they know not what vile extremities of cruelty or satanic insanity: down, deep down, in the lower chambers, a doctor struts around, mouthing strange incantations. A feeble green-white lamp casts shadows of weird and threatening shapes about the room. A figure of a man, misshaped and deathly pale is seen lying on a bed in the middle of the room. He appears lifeless. He is completely still. He cannot even be seen to breathe. A silence falls as the doctor considers the next move. Then, with the suddenness of a clap of thunder from the tumultuous storm beating and child-abusing the wretched woods and meadows outside, he jumps up, full of insane invention, his eyes a green fire, and brings a tray of weird and horrible instruments up next to the man's head. He raises the most horrible of all his diabolic tools, and with a vicious movement, digs it in. The figure, up till now apparently lifeless, yelps with pain. Then an evil grin spreads across the figure's face, and, zombie-like, he sits up, arms outstretched in a robotic, clockwork doll-like way. The doctor stands back, surveying the scene with grim satisfaction. 'It is done!', he exclaims, 'It is done!!'"

I could no longer contain myself, so I burst out: "Incredible! Hasn't this been the dream of doctors and inventors since the middle ages!? Man creating life! Man becoming like God, with the power both to create life and to take it away!!" The voice then said:

"Look, you've got the wrong idea about this. It's only a bloke having his ears pierced!" .... '