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Ride Upon Midnight: Occult Britain
Ride Upon Midnight: Occult Britain
Ride Upon Midnight: Occult Britain
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Ride Upon Midnight: Occult Britain

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Framed for murder. Gifted (or cursed?) with the power to summon spirits with the aid of his guitar. Nils Andersen, son of Norwegian rock legend Aksel, must master his control of the WANDERING WORLD—the dimension from which his spirit visions come—if he wishes to take back the life that was stolen from him. Enter a world of QUANTUM MYSTICISM. A world of generational love. A world facing the battle between freedom and fate.




The sprawling paranormal mystery of murder, music, and ghosts by ROBERT WEAVER.


But by virtue of the cosmos, Nils won't be alone in his struggle against evil. INGRID, the girl with the strange and mystical connection to the Wandering World, stands before him, her guiding hand calloused and hardened by the ghostly worlds she wanders in her sleep. But can Nils be guided by exterior forces? Will he surrender his ego for fate? Will he become the rock legend his father wants him to be? And will he discover the murderer before it's too late?


Find out in... RIDE UPON MIDNIGHT.


Release dateJan 6, 2021
Ride Upon Midnight: Occult Britain
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Robert Weaver

From the literary tradition of Romanticism and Gothic fiction to contemporary media sources such as video games and rock and heavy metal music, Robert Weaver builds worlds in words with a promise that no matter the genre, there will always be mystery to unravel or inequity to overcome.

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    Ride Upon Midnight - Robert Weaver


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    Somewhere Far Beyond

    It’s beginning to get dark, this is All Souls Day, and we are on the Mountain of Souls.

    – Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, Mountain of Souls.


    THE DAY I WAS RELEASED from Belmarsh prison a crowd of protesters was carrying picket signs with my name on them. My lawyer, pushing aside voice recorders and fluffy microphones and angry members of the public, escorted me to his Alfa-Romeo at the end of the road. Through the tinted windows I saw the white flashes of cameras and heard air horns and my lawyer telling me not to look back at the banners and signs that read: ‘Nils Andersen is a murderer for life’ and ‘Let the woman killer rot in prison’ and ‘Disgusted at the Injustice’.

    ‘They really hate you, huh?’ my lawyer asked.

    ‘I probably would too if I believed what the media said about me.’

    ‘You’ll prove them all wrong one day, Nils,’ he said, shading his eyes with a pair of sunglasses. ‘I believe it. But what really puckers my butt is that there’s a murderer out there living your life.’

    I didn’t reply and simply watched the prison that had been my home for the last fourteen years grow small behind us. My lawyer was one of the few that genuinely believed in my innocence. He had defended me for the past decade with the passion and eloquence of a nobleman and had given me hope that I would once again see the world beyond an iron gate.

    It was a three hour drive to Wightford, Gloucestershire, yet I didn’t appreciate the countryside until we’d passed Oxford. I saw rolling hills and grazing sheep, farm machinery, an electric train rattling on the tracks, and I watched a rain shower dance across the green fields on the hard line of the horizon. Then there was the Welcome to Wightford sign, population 90,000.

    The house I moved into was the house my father bought before I was born and in which he lived and recorded his first album. The homemade studio was still there, but it was empty now, the walls discoloured with the ghosts of guitars he had taken with him when he moved to the USA. I kept that door locked and the key out of sight.

    It rained all week but I didn’t mind and I often sat on a deck chair in the garage watching the rain dent the puddles and neighbourhood children carrying umbrellas as they walked to school. I was calm and my mind was calm and everything was calm.

    I hired a moving van and spent the week getting things out of storage and piling them in the garage. There was a ‘85 Harley Davidson softail motorcycle my father bought twenty years ago. We never got around to repairing it. I kept it covered in a white sheet as I wheeled it behind a stack of boxes filled with old clothes.

    That Saturday as I was looking at my old vinyl collection I heard a car engine come up the street. A door opened. A door closed. The engine faded away.

    I knew who it was before she said my name. I pushed aside a box of vinyls with my shoe.

    ‘You’re looking well,’ she said. ‘The beard suits you.’

    I hadn’t seen her in fourteen years. She was a child when I went away. She wasn’t a child anymore.

    ‘Thanks,’ is all I could say.

    ‘I wrote to you,’ she said.

    ‘I know.’

    ‘You never wrote back.’

    She turned her attention to the boxes, the ones peppered with stickers from places my father travelled to while he toured in an unknown rock band, before he started his own gig and sold a hundred thousand albums in the UK alone.

    ‘Those your dad’s vinyls?’ she asked.


    ‘You still play?’

    ‘Haven’t in a long time.’

    ‘I thought about you. About your music. The band. I missed you a lot.’

    ‘I missed you too.’

    ‘But you never wrote back.’

    ‘I tried to let you go. Sometimes it’s best to let people go.’

    I took a couple cans of Stella Artois from the fridge and cracked them open and set one down for her on the wooden workbench and then sat on a stool.

    ‘I can’t believe it’s you,’ she said. ‘When I was sixteen I started looking for you and I found you and I wanted to talk to you but you never wrote back.’

    ‘For a long time I wasn’t me, so even if I did write back it wouldn’t have been the man you knew. Prison does that to a person. Takes away who you are. Hits you over the head with a shovel and buries you deep down, where no one can see you, not even yourself. Hey, look at me, I’m me again, okay? And I’m here now and you’re here now.’

    ‘I never stopped thinking about your band either. Why don’t we put on a record?’

    ‘Can’t seem to find the turntable. Besides, I think my days of listening  to and making music are over, Ingrid.’ I sipped my beer. She had smiled when I said her name. I asked her what was so funny.

    ‘Out of all the names in the world you gave me that one. Why?’

    ‘It once belonged to someone important to me.’

    ‘Where is she now?’ asked Ingrid.

    ‘She went away. Before all this.’

    ‘You ever wonder what it’d be like if you hadn’t gone away?’

    I titled my head back and drank before answering. ‘I’m not a murderer. I didn’t do it.’

    ‘I know you didn’t do it.’

    ‘Well, I’m going to prove it.’

    ‘You don’t need to prove it. I already believe you.’

    ‘No one else does,’ I said and muffled a belch with my shoulder. ‘The monster who did it is out there, living my life, probably even wearing my shoes, playing my music. I feel like he’s taken a part of my soul. Between him and prison, I don’t know if I’ve got a lot of me left to lose.’

    She finally sat on the stool  in front of me. ‘I’m a waitress,’ she said, following my eyes that were on her green uniform. ‘It’s not a bad job. It pays. I was working when I saw you on the TV, all those people saying all those things. Do you think I was meant to see that video?’

    I was never much of a man who believed in fate or destiny, not until she showed up in my garage as if nothing had ever happened. Truth is, I thought about her a lot too, though I was never very good at admitting how I felt.

    As suddenly as she’d appeared in my garage, my mind was back in that moonlit street. It was 2003. I was twenty-three and she was probably no older than nine. It was a clear sky that night, but when I saw her she was soaked and water dripped down her hair and neck. Her beautiful dress was all ruined with mud and dirt, her blond hair riddled with twigs and dead leaves. She looked up at me and I wondered why a little girl like that would be out so late. When the bus arrived I picked up my guitar case and paid my fare. But she was still out there, her eyes never straying from mine, and I saw inside them a deep seated fear that comes from a child’s inexperience with the injustices of the world. Yet inside the darkness there was a light that didn’t belong to any child I’d ever known.

    I followed my gut feeling and made a decision that could only be understood if you knew my connection to music. You see, I knew she comprehended what happens when I touch the strings of a musical instrument. So I got off the bus and walked up to her. She was standing beneath the glow of a street lamp, her shoes hidden in the mist. I set down my guitar case, removed my leather jacket and draped it around her shoulders. She buckled under the leather weight as though it were a steel hauberk.

    ‘What’s your name?’ I asked to no reply. ‘Where’s your mum and dad?’

    I heard junkies in the nearby alleyway, coughing, yelling at visions. She was completely silent, her eyes wide and glinting with moonlight. I proffered my hand.

    At my apartment I made her a ham sandwich and poured a glass of milk, then I put them on the table in the living room where she was on the sofa staring at nothing. From the hall cupboard I took a pillow and a woollen blanket that was once my mother’s and made her a bed on the sofa. There I left her until the morning. She had left crumbs on the floor and an empty, foggy glass on the table and a sticky milky moustache on her upper lip. I called child services but got a machine, so I hung up with the intention of trying again later that day. I didn’t know why I felt relieved.

    This child got me thinking about my own past. When I was seventeen I left home, walking out the same way my mother had. Not long after, I started having visions that came out of my guitar. I never told anyone. I assumed there was a place for people like me that usually involved heavy iron doors and straight-jackets. A year or two later they were no longer just personal visions confined to my mind. Because it turns out they were real then, and they’re still real now.

    At the time I found her I was working at an Italian restaurant called Grim Tony’s. I started as a dishwasher and later began cooking as a sous chef though I don’t think I was ever very good at it. Tony was the owner and he was a good man who had the worst Italian accent I’d ever heard, and I hadn’t ever heard one before his. He claimed his name was Antonio Mastroianni, but everyone who worked at the restaurant knew he wasn’t really Italian and that his real name was Ewan Jones. Some of the old fry cooks used to say the restaurant was a front for an illegal firearms trade Tony operated out of his office. At the time I didn’t believe it.

    The restaurant was made of wood with great oak beams and dim lights that gleamed off the tables and bar counter. There was always the sound of chatting and coughing and ice rattling in glasses and sometimes a football match on the telly. Once a month Tony held a music competition in which he awarded food vouchers and free drinks to the winners. He also promised the possibility of being picked up by a record label, but I always wondered how true that was.

    I hadn’t played or sung for close to three years before that night. My guitar case was beside me and my hands were sweaty. My heart drummed against my chest.

    ‘What are you all nervous about?’ Tony asked. His dark hair was oiled and combed back, his eyes puffy and bagged as they usually were. His breath was foul with tobacco smoke from the wisping cigarette between his fingers.

    ‘I can’t do it,’ I said.

    ‘Can’t do it? Your old man’s Aksel Andersen. A local hero. You’ve got more credit to that stage than anyone else that has ever been here.’

    ‘I told you I didn’t want to do this.’

    ‘You’ve been walking around with a guitar since you started working here and telling everyone you’re some struggling musician. Now you tell me you can’t do it?’ Tony sucked on the cigarette, the tip of the paper crisping. ‘Plus I told you we don’t have a choice. We’re a singer down and we’ve got a slot to fill.’

    ‘What if I stink?’

    ‘You can change your name and sell car insurance until it’s all over. You want me out there playing my ukulele? Chin up, kid. This could be your lucky break.’

    ‘Are there really band managers out there?’


    ‘How can you know?’

    Tony flicked ash to the floor. ‘I sent out letters myself. I know for a fact there’s a couple of high class rollers out there. You ever heard of a label called Machine Gun Records?’

    ‘They’re here?’

    ‘He’s that fat prick at the back. Don’t believe me? Ask him after the set. Hey, why’ve you got your hair down like that. No one ever tell you it makes you look like a woman?’

    I knelt down and unlocked the fasteners on the guitar case and opened it. I picked up the acoustic guitar, the wood blonde and scuffed round the edges, the bubbles of light in the remaining polish somehow promising me the world. I pulled the pick from between the strings and walked out on stage.

    The audience was shrouded in black and the lights around me were bright and made me sweat. Tony stood in the wing and I could see the burning tip of his cigarette moving from his hip to his lips. I lost sight of the studio executive.

    I chose to do an acoustic version of Bad Company’s Bad Company, a song I used to play with my father. I sang in a lower register but it was a song I was comfortable singing and I’d known the lyrics since I was four. It would later be covered in a similar manner by Five Finger Death Punch on their 2009 album War is the Answer.

    I swallowed hard and took in a deep breath. I ran my fingers up and down the neck of the guitar, strumming with my other hand. I completed the first verse entirely. That’s as far as I got.

    The room began tilting and I saw amongst the crowd a face of a young woman, wet and pale. She was opening and closing her mouth like a fish whose gills have collapsed upon themselves. One by one the audience faded.

    A spotlight clanked on and it was just me and her. I don’t know why I noticed her fingernails were caked with dirt. She was trying to tell me something. I watched her move toward me, her mouth flapping to silent words, and I smelled an odour that reminded me of mildew on the tiles of a damp bathroom. The floor was littered with paper cups and I could smell beer and hard spirits. My heart was pounding. All sound had become static in my ears that grew and grew until I imagined waves crashing against the shoreline of a moonlit beach. The next thing I heard was the ceiling cracking and groaning. A beam crashed through the bar, shattering bottles and glasses, smashing beer kegs into the wall. A part of the roof followed it.

    Tony was on the phone to the emergency people. He was trying to explain what had happened. I guess they had trouble understanding, because he was repeating his sentences. The roof at Grim Tony’s collapsed. Why? How the hell am I supposed to know? Just get someone over here.

    And then there were sirens and fire trucks and police. They brought everyone outside into the gravel car park. A couple of women were in shock and were wrapped in silver blankets. Apart from that no one seemed hurt. Tony stood with his hands on his head looking at his restaurant that bore his name in red neon. There was a flicker and a buzz. The red G in the name went black.

    I don’t know why I thought the night would go any other way. I just wanted to play music, but music didn’t let me play.

    My girlfriend at the time, Rachel Waters, came over and put her hand on my shoulder.

    ‘Bad luck there, soldier,’ she said.

    ‘You could say that.’

    ‘How about we go out and try and forget all this?’

    ‘I think I’m just going to get some sleep.’

    ‘How about you walk me home then?’

    I checked my watch. Eleven. I’d left Ingrid alone in my flat. Maybe a little while longer wouldn’t hurt.

    ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘I’ll buy you dinner along the way.’

    We crossed the street and followed the footpath. Rachel kept looking behind her shoulders. It started to drizzle and cars made the sound of Velcro pulling apart when they drove along the wet street.

    ‘Something wrong?’ I said.

    ‘You haven’t read the news?’

    ‘Not my thing, babe. I’ve got enough news in my life.’

    ‘A couple was murdered a few streets from here.’

    ‘No kidding?’

    ‘It’s serious, Nils. The boyfriend was shot with a shotgun. The girl was drowned. The TV said it wasn’t a mugging because the bodies still had their wallets. They think it’s the same dude who killed that woman in the tub a couple of months ago. Could be a serial.’

    ‘Remember when Brian had his bike stolen on Dovetail?’

    ‘You’re comparing a stolen bike with two murders?’

    ‘What about that homeless man they found in the alleyway by Hammond Sports?’

    ‘That was never found to be murder.’

    ‘My point is we aren’t in any more danger now than we were last month. Or last year. Or since ever.’

    She’d stopped walking but started catching up to me again. ‘That doesn’t make me feel any better.’

    ‘I wasn’t trying to make you feel better.’

    We stopped at McDonald’s and ordered McChickens. She asked me for a McFlurry. I ordered everything and a Happy Meal and carried our food tray to a window seat. The world through the window was dark and the rain gave it the appearance of a television channel with poor reception. In the deep shadows the M of the McDonald’s arch was painted across the road.

    Rachel ate quietly, her eyes periodically moving to the untouched Happy Meal on the chair beside me.

    ‘You going to eat that?’ she asked.

    ‘Nah, later. Midnight snack.’

    She squinted, trying to figure out the joke. After she’d eaten her burger, she leaned back in her chair, picked up her drink and stared out the window while sucking at the straw.

    ‘What a way to go,’ she said.


    ‘The dead girl. It was in a toilet. Shoved her head in there until she let go. Makes you wonder how clean that toilet was.’

    I didn’t think a shotgun would be much cleaner. I kept my thoughts to myself.

    At her flat we kissed outside the door. I walked home in the rain, the water clattering against my leather jacket, my eyes over my shoulders. Just in case.

    INGRID HAD NEVER TOLD me her name. I don’t think anyone ever gave her one, so I began calling her the name of my mother, and she didn’t seem to mind. In her waking hours she did not speak but she did in her sleep and sometimes she would do so all night. Often she just made noises, and I’d listen from the doorway. When she wasn’t making noises or speaking she was suffering from night terrors that I could only assume came from a past that would destroy most adults.

    She had fallen asleep on the sofa with the TV on; when I stirred her awake her skin was cold and at first she didn’t respond, but then she opened her eyes and again I saw that strange light that seemed to be simultaneously produced by something external and internal.

    I put the Happy Meal bag on the table and opened it. She looked at me for permission. I helped her unwrap the hamburger, her eyes brightening. I genuinely believe she had never eaten McDonald’s before.

    I sat there watching this being who was under my care, whether by fate or otherwise. I once played a song for her on my guitar, playing it all the way through without anything bad happening, which led me to believe I could play at Grim Tony’s.

    I waited for her to finish eating and then got up and took my guitar from the cupboard and sat down beside her. I began to play, and the way she watched me made me unable to stop. I felt a release of energy I hadn’t experienced since my own childhood.

    I’d grown up with music. I’d lived it and breathed it. Music was there when nothing else was. The way her eyes lit up when I played told me she knew a lot more about it than I did.

    Next morning I woke at sunrise and dressed in a black shirt and a pair of jeans with holes in the knees. I tucked my wallet into my back pocket and walked down the stairs putting on my jacket. The street was puddled with last night’s rain and the wind was puffing at my hair.

    At the nearest newsagent I asked if he had any papers from the last two days, and he went out back and returned with a stack of them. I took one and rolled it into a tube and for Ingrid bought a colouring book and a box of crayons.

    The clouds were threatening rain before noon. I blew on my numb hands, trying to warm them. Walking back to my flat I opened the newspaper and I found staring at me a face I had seen only the night before.

    And I wondered what it meant to have played in front of a woman that was supposedly dead. Her black and white eyes pale and wet in my mind. Her name was Janet McFadden. I watched the newspaper fall from my hands and pull apart in the wind and skip down the street as I realised not only had I seen her image last night, but I knew her. She used to go to Motorizer, a rock bar. I think I spoke to her once or twice.


    TONY WATCHED THE YELLOW TAPE wrapped around his restaurant flutter in the breeze.

    ‘I don’t know how,’ he said, ‘but you have something to do with this.’

    ‘Excuse me?’

    ‘I put you on stage and the fucking roof falls down. Tell me that’s not a coincidence.’

    ‘Wish I could see what you see, Tony.’

    He pointed at a group of men wearing hardhats and white coats and carrying clipboards. A construction van was parked in front of the building and a crane was standing against the glare of the sky.

    ‘They’ve no idea how it happened.’ Tony continued. ‘The wooden beam just collapsed. You want to know what kicks it into hyper-drive? The water damage is on the inside of the wood. Inside it. Explain that.’

    ‘I really can’t be responsible for a faulty beam.’

    ‘You’re a funny guy who does funny things and I’m watching you.’

    ‘Glad to hear it.’

    Tony took a new pack of B&H from his pocket and peeled off the plastic. He lit a cigarette and watched construction workers move in and out of his building.

    ‘I guess we won’t be coming into work tonight then,’ I said.

    Tony pointed at me with the cigarette. ‘There it is. That funny thing you do. Remind me to stop with the singing crap and start comedy night. You can headline it.’

    We stood there watching the scene and Tony smoked.

    ‘Think you can get me some work?’ I said. ‘This is the only job I’ve got.’

    When I first left home I boxed at a local sports centre. I did that for six months and it was my only source of income while I lived at a youth hostel. My trainer said I had passion and skill, but I’d never get into the professional league because my wrists were too thin. After a summer break I quit completely. I sustained several injuries during my short tenure, some of them permanent. I didn’t want to go back down that road, but without an income I’d be out on the street in a month.

    Tony wiped his chin with his palm. ‘Maybe in a couple of days. We’ve got to pull out all the shit inside. I’m not being poetic. A beer keg went through the wall and broke the latrine in the women’s bathroom. Looks like Afghanistan in there. Lighten up, Nils. I’ll get you some under the table work. Hey, last night some fat prick left a card for you.’ He reached into his jacket and gave me a business card. It had a cartoon picture of a machine gun on it, the kind used by Sly or Arnold during the ‘80s.

    ‘This is from Machine Gun Records,’ I said in disbelief.

    ‘Right. You blow a hole in my restaurant and you still get a call back. When you’re done rubbing your magic lamp how about you bring it over and let me have a go. Look, I gotta get back over there and make sure none of these wankers messes anything up.’ He walked away, cigarette smoke snaking behind him. I remained there, the business card heavy between my fingers. Printed on the front was a personal name and a number.

    Ivan Spencer


    Machine Gun Records (executive)

    On the reverse were a handwritten address, a time, and a date. I slid the card into my wallet and walked twenty minutes to the public library. I was excited, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Ingrid and where she had come from. I logged into a computer and checked out the database of missing persons. I spent half an hour clicking through photographs of children who’d gone missing in the last two weeks. I clicked back a month and I still found nothing matching Ingrid’s description. I sat there staring at the screen wondering where she came from and why no one had reported her missing. She didn’t appear to be a street kid. Someone like her doesn’t simply go missing without somebody caring.

    She’d been with me for two weeks now, and I knew it couldn’t go on forever. I plugged in a few coins in a local payphone and dialled child services. As the phone rang my thoughts turned to the night I found her, and I imagined her face and those eyes that stared into me, lighting and acknowledging something about myself that I couldn’t see.

    I heard a voice on the other side. I stared at the receiver and hung it up, feeling both a sense of relief and guilt. Ingrid was not mine to look after. She was not an object to acquire, and I was not capable of caring for her. Legally or emotionally.

    I KNEW LEAVING INGRID alone as often as I had was a bad thing, so when I arrived home I knocked on my neighbour’s door. Her name was Jenny and she was about my age. I asked her if she could look after Ingrid for a couple of hours later that night. For the past four months Jenny had been living on a disability payout from her employer. I’d spoken to her more than anyone else in the building, and I believed her to be a good person. I told her that Ingrid was my niece and that I’d pay her eight quid an hour.

    At eight o’clock Rachel and I went to Motorizer and we sat beside the pool table and watched a large man with tattooed sleeves play versus a petite woman in a leather jacket, her hair peroxide white, her eyes faded like old denim. She appeared to be winning. The beer taps were covered in imitation skulls, and the wall beside the bar was chequered with photographs of Lemmy, Hammett, Dickinson, even a burning church. The sound system was connected to a laptop with which the bar owner

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