09 May A Tale from the Seaside British Pub by C.M. Scandreth
By now, most of you will be aware that our season finale is going to be the much-anticipated production of the sequel to A Seaside British Pub. If you’re new to the podcast, A Seaside British Pub is one of our most beloved stories, first heard in S7E05. It soon became a firm fan-favorite, regularly cited in all-time-best story lists by our listeners. So suffice it to say, the fact we’re getting to do an audio production of the sequel is an exciting deal for all of us here at The NoSleep Podcast. But what’s that you say? If you’re new to the podcast, you haven’t heard the original yet? Well fear not, we’ve got you covered. Check out our re-release of the original A Seaside British Pub here, available for everyone to catch up before the season finale.
But that’s not all! A couple of years ago, author C.M. Scandreth wrote a bonus story set in the Seaside British Pub universe, which she’s kindly granted us permission to share with you all here on The NoSleep Podcast blog. So, whether you’re a returning fan or a newcomer, now’s the best time to catch up on everything Seaside British Pub before our exciting Season 10 finale next weekend!
The original text of the Seaside British Pub bonus story can be found here, posted on C.M. Scandreth’s subreddit, which you should go subscribe to if you haven’t already, to check out her other excellent work.
So without further ado, read on to experience another tale in… A Seaside British Pub.
It’s been difficult making the adjustment to my new life.
Ever since the harrowing trial watching over the Cauldron I’ve been plagued by flashes of otherworldly visions; brief intrusions of a realm that lies directly alongside ours, that spills over in potent locations and at portentous times.
The bag lady who shuffles listlessly past the concrete bollards of the waterfront is no longer a white-haired nuisance in an oversized navy-blue dress and ragged German army coat; with a queer shift of my perceptions, triggered by her proximity, her face becomes a nut-brown riot of deep wrinkles set with black eyes, a sunken nose and pointed ears. Instead of her dinged shopping trolley being full of useless junk, it is now a glittering trove of strange treasures that only the two of us can see.
And then it’s gone.
She’s nothing more than an asthmatic, elderly bag lady to whom the smell of piss and fag-ends has become the norm.
If I hadn’t already witnessed such things first-hand, at the seaside pub, I would have thought I was going quite mad.
Why this wannabe hooligan has decided to claim the pub as his new haunt is anyone’s guess.
Resplendent in the crimson panoply of his favoured ball-kickers, he’s a typical Liverpool fan; shouting slurs at the opposition forwards, slagging off goalies and banging his pint on the bar at every goal until my ears are ringing and there’s a puddle of our cheapest beer on and around his elbows.
Judging by his bruised knuckles, thrice-broken nose and the myriad of small scars that mar his Neanderthal features, he’s probably been booted out of every other bar within a hundred kilometres for starting scraps and glassing other patrons in the face.
But as you well know, that’s the sort of trouble we can handle.
Within the pub I’ve learned to suppress my curious new gift; for with my fey perceptions I can now catch glimpses of what the others truly are beneath their guise of mortality.
Green flame burns eternally on the brow of Danno; a faerie-fire crown that marks him as something old and of a nobility far removed from Queen Liz. Janet’s white-blond hair rises in a serpentine halo about her head, undulating in arctic winds that crackle the air about her with hoarfrost – and Mona… well, the less I tell you about that, the better.
So it never occurred to me that I should peer through the veil at our newest patron, the scarred and scarlet thug called Jack.
Danno and Stan are talking football, as they do whenever the two of them are in the bar – but their casual conversation is being punctuated by the bar-banging hoots of triumph from Jack as replays from the big game cycle endlessly on one of the TV’s near the bar.
Placid as ever, Stan pays the raucous yob in red no mind, sucking on his drink with his fat, fishy lips. But Danno? I can practically see his hackles rising at every imprecation shouted against his own favoured footballers – who lost.
I realised then that I was watching one of those perfect moments in time – and everything slowed around me, each detail burned into my brain with brilliant clarity as the events unfolded.
The coin appeared on the sunken knuckles of our resident Irishman, flipping back and forth, back and forth, as he tried to explain to Stan why this particular penalty was bullshit and that particular forward had been putting it on.
As he did so, the yelling from Jack reached a crescendo on a goal replay and finished with him slamming his pint down on the bar, where a geyser of brown liquid shot up, spraying everything – and everyone around him.
“Tha’s fookin it,” Danno’s thick accent burred as he stood.
With preternatural alacrity, Jack’s head whipped around – suddenly as sober and dangerous as a riptide sharp.
“You fuckin’ what, mate?”
That’s when it happened for me – against my will, caught up in the moment, I saw what Jack was.
Grey. His skin was the hard, weathered grey of granite monoliths, deep-creased as the highland tors. Where a nose should be were instead two flared slits – which whistled open and closed above a mouth that was far, far too big to fit into any natural human skull. A mouth that had too many rows of teeth; all of them filed to yellowed points.
And tilted jauntily on that cadaverous grey skull was a bloody red beret, from which drizzled continuous rivulets of bright, fresh blood – running in a slick down his neck and shoulders, where it spattered the growing pool of scarlet fluid around his feet.
Redcap, a half-remembered childhood memory whispered to me.
This was no loser of the supernatural world; this was a dyed-in-the-wool killer – who did in fact dye the wool of his hat in the blood of his victims.
“Round on the house!” I shouted, my shrill voice cutting the deadly tension.
Danno’s eyes still flashed with green fire, but when he jerked his head around at the sound of my voice, the whiteness of my face and the terror in my eyes must have cooled his temper.
“Make mine a Cocker Hoop,” Jack snapped as his attention was pulled back to me.
Trying to stop my hands from shaking, I got the man his beer.
In bed that night Lou told me, via his recently acquired and painfully slow sign-language, that I’d probably saved the lives of everyone in the bar.
“The appetite of the old Celtic fae – be it for food, drink or violence – is nigh impossible to stop once roused.”
He kissed my forehead, then shot me four more words with his big hands before he rolled over to sleep,
“You did good, lass.”