True Ghost Story

December 10, 2017

Floris M. Neusüss

As a teen, my friends and I would sometimes spend evenings on Dundry Hill – a large area filled with farmland and small village homes. At the top, past a few cow fields, was a small pit used for fires and barbecues. We spent many summer evenings there, staying out until the sun had gone and the embers flew into the air to join the stars. Once the fire had burned out we all made our way home together in the dark, drifting off one by one as we approached home.

On one of these evenings, I was staying with a friend of mine and so rather than heading off to my house, we turned towards hers.

Ten people became five, became two.

We walked alone, in the dark, down a road lit with street lamps. Talking quietly, happily, as teenage girls do. To our left was a small field. It was there we heard it first.

A young girl’s laugh.

This was odd, certainly, but it was an area with a lot of children. Near a school. It was ten o clock at night, sure, but it was still an explainable event. We didn’t even acknowledge the sound, we only kept walking.

We moved past the field, down a small alley that took us through a cul de sac. We went through a small gate and heard it again. This time we looked at each other, quickly. You heard it too, the wide eyes said. But we brushed it off. Continued our talk.

We saw nothing, heard nothing, until we were back on the road.

To our right, a garage.

Again, the laugh.

The same pitch, the same tone, identical in every way.

People roll their eyes at children in horror, it’s so overdone it’s become a cliche. But when you hear a child laughing on a deserted street in the dark, it is the scariest sound you could ever imagine.

We looked at each other again, eyes wide. Both realising what we had heard. Both unsure of what to do. The sound had followed us, but there had been no way to move from the field to the garage without being seen.

It was not explainable. Not to us.

The laugh.

Again.

To the left.

Louder.

We ran the short distance back to my friends house, almost laughing with fright as if unsure what else to do.

We slept with the lights on.

And we never heard the sound again.

An unsatisfying ending to a ghost story, perhaps. But a real ending to a true story.

Baylea Hart
My True Ghost Story

A ghost walking

December 9, 2017

silent darkness

Everyone has a ghost story. It might be a schoolyard tale whispered under the slide, or that time your dog howled before you found out your grandmother died. It might not even be your story, but an urban myth that made you scared to drive down the lane, walk past that house, or look in the mirror in candlelight. The point is, we all have stories that have crawled into the deepest parts of us and never let go. If you’re very lucky, this happens when you’re young, before you’ve thrown up your defenses of cynicism and doubt.

Some stories are universal, variations on a theme that act as modern day fairy tales — warning us against irresponsible behaviour or sexual “deviancy.” What is the Bloody Hook story — where teenagers on Lovers Lane rush home after hearing of an escaped, hook–handed serial killer only to discover a bloody hook hanging from their car door — other than a cautionary tale against teenaged sexual experimentation? My own childhood ghost story, assuredly handed down by an older sibling, is pretty easy to parse. After all it was the 1970s: there was nothing more horrifying in white suburbia in the 1970s than an unwed, pregnant teenage girl on drugs. But none of that mattered to eight–year–old me. I hadn’t yet built any walls of cynicism. All I knew was every few weeks, we would gather our courage, hold hands, and creep closer to the fence. Maybe the story wasn’t true, we told ourselves. Maybe there wasn’t a ghost walking through the woods. But what if there was? It was scary and unknown and the very idea of it thrilled us to our toes.

Deborah Stanish
Everyone has a ghost story

When Dennis Wheatley was at prep school in the early 1900s he was convinced he saw a ghost on the staircase one day. In an era when spiritualism was in vogue and Ouija boards were taken seriously it was not unusual for a little boy to be superstitious. The significance of Wheatley’s encounter with an apparition was that it sparked off a lifelong fascination with the occult that spawned a series of bestselling novels with titles such as The Devil Rides Out and To The Devil A Daughter…

Dominic Midgley
Master of the Macabre
Daily Express 18th October 2013

Ghost trains

October 18, 2017

Hearing ghost stories in a heatwave especially lends the experience a dreamy indistinctness, a sensation of journeying back in thought, images muted with heat and distance, with lobed sun flecks and patterns of greenery. Until, as (Algernon) Blackwood puts it, “a sudden darkness comes, taking the summer brilliance out of everything”.

Antonia Quirke
Algernon Blackwood’s Ghost Stories and why horror is better in the heat
(New Statesman)

Bryan Silva

It’s that time of year again. The shadows grow longer, the days colder. We light fires and candles, close our doors against the night and tell tales to terrify ourselves. Why when the darkness presses against the windows and the winds howl do we concentrate on our fears? The terror of the unknown, the closeness of death and decay?

For the rest of the year we keep these thoughts at bay. It is only when we feel most vulnerable to the in-definable, to the spirits that we don’t really believe in, to the afterlife we hope exists, but of which we can find no evidence, that we indulge in an orgy of spine chilling stories.

Misha Herwin
Ghost Stories

Ghosts around us

April 14, 2017

Some people think that our brash modern world with its mechanism, its cynicism and its materialism has ousted the ghosts which used to dwell among us. On the contrary, they mingle with us more than ever before.

Gone are the days when they could wander in peace in some ancient castle or stately home. Now they are driven out of these places by coachloads of gawping tourists who stare at them without seeing them, and make mock of them with imitation shivers when the touring guide describes a haunting.

So now, virtually evicted and with an almost insoluble housing problem, the ghost have moved in among us.

They mooch about in hospital outpatients’ departments: they meander up and down the gaudy gangways of the supermarket; they sit on couches in the airport departure lounge; they join the crowd coming out of the factory gates; they tack themselves on to bus queues; they travel on commuters’ trains; they haunt Underground platforms and passages, bringing with them strange gusts of strange-smelling air.

And in all these activities they do us a great service. For even if visibility suddenly comes upon them (an accident which may happen to any ghost at any time) they may be seen, even heard – but they take up no material space. They are part of the crowd, yet do not make it thicker.

So how can you tell which member of a crowd is a ghost which has come-over-visible? You can’t, unless you bump into him and feel absolutely nothing. Then you know. And you are afraid, because it’s a weird feeling. But that is not the poor ghost’s fault. He can’t help being unsolid any more than you can help being solid.

Rosemary Timperley
Introduction to the Sixth Ghost Book (book one)

Lock your door

February 18, 2017

Down in the Orchard

August 31, 2016

Down in the orchard
the grasses creep,
covering a grave
dug fair and deep.

Down in the orchard
where nobody goes,
earth is over him
heard and toes.

And nobody cares,
and nobody weeps,
for that bitter secret
the orchard keeps.

While I sit safe
in a fire-lit room,
outside the wind
is cold as doom.

Once to bed early
two filled with hate;
now I alone sit
when the hour is late,

He cannot hurt me
anymore,
he can only stare
at the worms that bore.

A step upstairs, right over my head!
Who walks so late
When all are abed?

The stairs go creak,
and the door goes crack;—
who is that standing
at my back?

I dare not move,
nor turn to see,
lest he should be staring
there at me.

But I am drawn
in a close embrace
by arms as thin
and white as lace;

Arms that are more
bone than flesh—
my hair is over me
like a mesh;

Golden and silken,
a shining coat;
closely it tightens
round my throat! . . .

Down in the orchard
the grasses creep,
covering two graves
dug fair and deep.

Richard Ely Morse

Materializations…

August 30, 2016

ghost-books

Materializations are often best produced in rooms where there are books. I cannot think of any time when materialization was in any way hampered by the presence of books.

Shirley Jackson
The Haunting of Hill House