Tuesday, 25 July 2017

'Intruder'

The third story in Cold Iron: Ghost Stories for the 21st Century is by Kitty Fitzgerald. She's a familiar name to me, having had radio dramas produced by Radio 4. Her story is written in the present tense, giving a dramatic immediacy. Her protagonist, Polly, is a woman who has been diagnosed with cancer, and is taking a bath when a strange young man appears in her flat.

The obvious part of the story is the ghost. I don't think the author intends you to see the intruder as a normal human being. Terry is a ghost, even thought he does bring a bottle. Terry's behaviour is that of the narcissistic obsessive, a stalker type who resents the fact that Polly has never noticed him. He proceeds to lecture his hapless victim with gibberish about unconventional cancer treatments while Polly tries to think of a way to avoid being attacked by this nutter.

The ending is of course the revelation that Terry died from cancer at exactly the time he appeared in Polly's flat. Given that we know this, or something very like it, must be the ending, what are we supposed to make of the story? It's a little flimsy, as Terry is unpleasant but not very substantial. Perhaps the real message is that, if you have cancer, you have to put up with a lot of peripheral crap from stupid and/or unpleasant people.

Another instalment in this running review tomorrow, with luck!

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