"Whew! Look at this place! Doesn't look like it's been touched in twenty years!"

"Longer, probably."

"Right. But all this antique stuff: most of it looks brand new, never been used."

"It seems so. Can you give me a price on the whole lot?"

"Sure, but it'll take a bit of time, pulling together a proper catalogue. Some of these pieces are collectors' items, maybe one or two of them are unique."

"There's no huge rush."

"Fair enough. If you're interested in getting a really good return, I'll get some of this into some specialist auctions."

"Take your time. Not that it matters."

"So who owned this lot?"

"Some old guy. The paramedics found his mummified body upstairs a few days ago. He was a recluse, hadn't been out of this place in years."

"What on Earth made him so reclusive?"

"Ha. There's a story. My dad told me, years ago. Said he met the bloke who did all the renovation work in a pub. His mate said this used to be quite a party place. The old guy won the lottery or something. Had loads of money. Wanted a pad to impress people."

"You mean, impress women?"

"Yeah, probably. Anyway, it was a wild spot for a while. It all stopped when the old guy realised that all of his friends - even the lady friends - were just there to take advantage of his generosity: twenty-four hour party, free booze, free food - everything you could want."

"Ah. And then what happened?"

"He realised the truth, it seems. Perhaps it was inevitable, but he took it into his head to test what people really thought. He announced that his money had run out, that he was going to have to rely on his friends for a while. Of course everybody believed him. And none of them showed any interest in inviting him to their homes, treating him like he had treated them."

"So he still had money?"

"Oh yeah. Pots of it, in savings and investments. Probably got more now he's dead than he won in the lottery in the first place."

"And no living relatives?"

"That’s right. Giving it all to charities. Animal charities."

"Disillustioned with people, then?"

"Can you blame him?"

Part 1

...Then a Miracle Occurs Book Cover If you have enjoyed this story, then why not take a look at the others in this collection? An eclectic mixture of science fiction and mystery/ghost stories under the title ...Then a Miracle Occurs.

Four Square Less One Book Cover You may also enjoy my earlier collection of fifteen interlinked short stories under the title Four Square Less One. Can you work out the hidden connections between all of the stories?

New Bridge to Lyndesfarne Book Cover Bridge at War Book Cover Death on the New Bridge Book Cover Bridge of Stone and Magic Book Cover Why not take a look at my Lyndesfarne Bridge series of novels: New Bridge to Lyndesfarne, Bridge at War, Death on the New Bridge and Bridge of Stone and Magic.

Findo Gask - Goblin Detective Book Cover I am now working on a new series of Private Eye fantasy novels. The first is called Findo Gask - Goblin Detective, featuring the eponymous Private Eye, Findo Gask himself.