Will's Ghostly Short Stories
Will Dallimore has been writing poetry and short-stories for many years. Here we present trilogy of his ghostly short-stories written in the 1990's.
TRICK OR TREAT
'Hello Tommo,' they shouted in unison when Billy emerged through the front door. 14 year-old Billy, known to his chums as Tommo, was the leader of this small band of adolescents.
'Have you had any ideas yet?' asked Billy. The ideas that he was looking for were concerning the cancellation of Halloween by school headmaster Mr. Simpson. Stinky, as the pupils called him, held a strange notion that as he hadn't seen a witch on a broomstick then they didn't exist. If they didn't exist then why celebrate Halloween. So before they broke up for half-term the pupils had been told that Halloween was outlawed.
'Where can we find a ghost?' enquired Maggot who had abandoned his skateboard and joined the rest on the wall.
'Why do you want a ghost?' queried Spud.
'Well!' continued Maggot. 'As Stinky hasn’t seen a ghost then maybe if he saw one he might change his mind.' The rest of the gang agreed with Maggot’s supposition.
'It would have to be very lifelike to fool Stinky,' added Billy.
'What about a monk?' suggested Jammer who until now had been deep in thought. 'Stinky lives in one of those flats in the old monastery, so what if he saw a ghost monk near there.' The others were very enthusiastic about the idea.
'I can get Friar Tuck's habit,' said Spud whose parents had recently done Robin Hood with the local Amateur Dramatic group.
'Right!' said Billy outlining the plot. 'I'll dress up as a monk and when Stinky passes in his car I'll run across the road in front of him so as to be seen in his headlights. Then he'll think its a ghost.'
'Do ghosts run?' asked Maggot, 'Don't they seem to glide along.'
'Yes! so can ours,' said Billy pointing at the discarded skateboard
lying at the foot of the drive. They agreed to meet back at Billy's
house that afternoon with all the components required for their
'Well it was Friar Tucks,' replied Spud to a chorus of laughter which reverberated around the close confines of Billy’s garden shed.
'Maybe you could pad it out,' said Maggot noticing a large block of foam hanging up on the shed wall
'We ought to try it out on the skateboard first before altering it,' remarked Jammer who once again proved to be the most practical member of the group. They tumbled out of the shed. Billy placed the skateboard on the garden path and made trial runs up and down the grey slabs. The hem of the habit was then pinned up to the ideal height, high enough to avoid dragging on the ground but low enough to cover the skateboard.
The night of Halloween soon came round and the gang members set off down the road towards the old monastery Although there had been no monks at the monastery for many years stories still circulated of people seeing ghostly monks, especially down Monks Path. This pathway was lined on both sides by a high stone wall and ran from the monastery to the main street of the village. It was a brave person who walked along Monks Path after dark. Our young adventurer's were far from being brave and planned to cross the road at the entrance to Monk's Path but not to go down it any further than was necessary.
'How much longer will he be?' asked Spud looking round the corner of the bus shelter, which they were using as their launch site, and down the dark road in the direction from which Mr. Simpson was expected.
'Not long now.' replied Billy pulling back the sleeve of the habit to read the luminous hands of his watch. Mr Simpson had been at a Parent Teachers meeting that evening and so the boys knew the exact timing of the headmaster's movements.
'I think he's coming,' said Jammer listening out for the distinctive sound of Stinky's old Morris Minor. Maggot put the skateboard down on the ground and lined it up with the entrance of Monks Path on the far side of the road. Billy climbed aboard. As the headlight's got nearer Spud. Maggot and Jammer prepared for the big push.
'3,2,1 Go!' shouted Billy before being rocketed across the road by his pals. The skateboarding monk gliding eerily in front of the oncoming vehicle. Billy halted the skateboard a few yards down Monks Path and waited for a signal from the other side of the road as to when it was safe to return.
'Stinky's stopped,' whispered Maggot to his two adversaries.
'What!' answered Spud peering out of the bus shelter to see indeed that Mr. Simpson had stopped his car and was walking back towards Monks Path. 'Get back!' continued Spud pushing the others into a dark corner of the shelter.
Billy heard footsteps approaching and suddenly found the beam of a torch being shone on him.
'Who's there?' boomed Mr. Simpson. 'Show yourself.'
Billy had two choices either to give himself up to Stinky or to high tail it down Monks Path. Billy chose the latter. He put one foot on the skateboard and scooted away from the headmaster. Mr. Simpson gave chase.
'Come back here?’ he shouted whilst in pursuit of the fleeing monk.
The path sloped downhill towards the monastery and helped Billy to build up a bit of speed. As he rounded a corner he noticed something looming in front of him. It was a line of monks walking towards him. They seemed to be emitting a strange bright glow from their habits. Billy needed to act fast. He jumped swiftly off the skateboard which carried on down the path. It ran straight through the transparent rank of monks as though they weren’t there. Billy shrieked, hoisted up his habit and sprinted back up the path as fast as he could. He brushed past Mr. Simpson without stopping and continued running until he eventually reached the safety of the bus shelter.
What's wrong?' asked Spud to his out of breath leader.
'Ghost monks!' replied Billy sitting down on the bench in the bus shelter. 'Real ghost monks!' he continued to the disbelief of the others.
Just then Mr. Simpson dashed out of Monks Path. He hurried towards his car, looking around frequently to see if anyone was following him.
'I think Halloween will be back next year,' said Billy. The others agreed as they headed off down the main street and home.
'We'll get your skateboard back tomorrow. Maggot,' said Billy. 'When its light.'
Whitestone House was a large ivy-clad building which overlooked the village green. It belonged to elderly spinster, Sarah Cavanagh. Miss Cavanagh was noted as being one of the finest piano teachers in the county. She occupied the lower two floors of the three-storey house. The top floor having been sealed-off many years ago following a fire which tragically killed her twin sister.
It was in 1961 when the events in our story took place. Miss Cavanagh, who had previously not bothered too much with the maintenance of the building, finally got around to asking local carpenter Arthur Taylor to carry out some long overdue repairs.
Arthur started work at Whitestone House the following Monday. He began checking out the windows on the first floor. Arthur moved from room to room replacing broken sash cords. and easing the sliding sashes. Whilst Arthur was at the far end of the house he noticed a set of stairs that led up to the top floor. Although he wasn't supposed to do any work on that level, his curiosity got the better of him. and he climbed the stairs. He found a doorway blocking his path. The door had been screwed closed. Taking a screwdriver from his overalls he removed the two large screws. He placed them in the top pocket of his overalls. There was still a strong smell of smoke as he opened the door.
Arthur had only taken a couple of steps along the blackened corridor when he heard someone calling his name.
'Mr. Taylor, can you come down here a minute?' It was Miss Cavanagh shouting from the foot of the main staircase. Arthur hurried down to see what the old lady wanted.
'Mr. Taylor, I've made a cup of tea. would you like one?' she said leading him into the large flagstoned kitchen. Whilst drinking their tea they discussed Miss Cavanagh's other love, her garden.
Later in the morning Arthur was working in the main bedroom. He was in the middle of repairing one of its windows when he ran out of sash cord. Arthur had another skane in the van so he went down and fetched it. On his way back in he happened to pass the music room. The door was slightly ajar and glancing in he saw a piano at the far side of the room. Seated at the piano was a young girl, she had her back to him, but what struck Arthur during his quick glimpse into the room was her long flowing fair hair. As Arthur climbed the stairs he heard the piano begin to play Arthur recognising the tune quietly sang along with it.
'London's burning, London's burning, fetch water, fetch water, fire fire, fire fire.' Arthur suddenly stopped singing when he entered the bedroom. Thick smoke was billowing in through the dismantled window. He rushed over and lifted the sash window back into its opening, frantically trying to stop any more smoke from entering the room. The piano played on for a little longer then fell silent. At that same time the smoke suddenly disappeared. Arthur relaxed his arms from holding the window closed and was pleased to see the church appear again at the far side of the green.
At the end of the afternoon Arthur collected up his tools. He walked around the house looking for Miss Cavanagh, he found her at the rear of the house un-pegging some washing from the line.
'I'm going now. I'll see you in the morning,' said Arthur.
'Do you have the time?' asked Miss Cavanagh. 'I'm expecting a pupil for a piano lesson at five o'clock.'
'Four-thirty,' replied Arthur looking at his watch. This talk of pupils prompted Arthur into mentioning the young girl he'd seen playing the piano that morning.
'This morning?' queried Miss Cavanagh. 'I haven't had any pupils today. I've spent most of the day clearing up the garden.'
Arthur didn't continue with this line of conversation but asked. 'Ah! was it you who had the bonfire?'
'Bonfire!' said Miss Cavanagh smiling, 'I wouldn't have been very popular with the neighbours lighting a bonfire on wash-day.' Arthur laughed along with her. shaking his head in agreement.
Arthur didn't go home directly but skirted the village green and parked outside one of the terraced houses that stand alongside the church.
'Come in Arthur ? I've got the kettle on,' said Aunt Maud beckoning her nephew into the cosy parlour.
'I see you're working at the big house,' she said slicing into a home-made sponge. The term 'big house' going back to the days when Maud's mother had been a maid at Whitestone House. If you wanted to know anything about anyone in the village then Maud was the person to see.
Maud told Arthur all about the piano teachers life. 'The Cavanagh's moved to the village around about the turn of the century. Mr. Cavanagh was a writer and had twin daughters. Charlotte and Sarah. Sarah, that's Miss Cavanagh who is still at the big house. was a plain, some say, ugly child, in comparison with Charlotte. Now Charlotte was a beautiful girl with long golden hair and was worshipped by her father. At the time it was rumoured that the fire which killed Charlotte was deliberately started by Sarah, because she was jealous of her sister. Mr. Cavanagh never got over Charlottes death and died soon after of a broken heart. They're buried together in the graveyard just over the wall there,' said Maud pointing in the direction of the church. After taking another sip of tea she continued with her recollections
'My mother said that long after the fire. she had heard what sounded like a child screaming from behind the sealed-up door on the top floor. She and the other workers ill the house never ventured up there afterwards. and some said that the ghost of Charlotte was still there. And that if the door was ever unsealed then she would seek revenge.' Arthur's hand shot to the top pocket of his overalls. He could feel the two large screws that he had forgotten to replace.
Arthur looked worried enough for Maud to remark. 'They're only rumours Arthur, you're not frightened of a ghost are you?'
Before Arthur went home he popped into the churchyard. Over in the far corner he found the grave of Edward and Charlotte Cavanagh. What puzzled him was how Miss Cavanagh had let the grave fall into such an untidy and overgrown state compared with her own immaculate garden.
The next day Arthur was working in the music room. He was busy concentrating on dismantling the window when the piano began to play. This startled Arthur as he hadn't heard anyone enter the room. Almost immediately smoke once more billowed in through the window, there was no way he could stop it this time. He turned to see the same young girl he'd seen the day before sitting at the piano. As he walked towards her she spun round on the piano stool. Arthur froze, disbelieving what he saw. The girl stood up, she was dressed in a long night-dress her face, hands and feet were all horrifyingly burnt and hardly recognisable as being human. She walked towards Arthur, who in trying to get away from her, knocked over a standard lamp. He somehow made it to the door, which he slammed immediately behind him. He had hardly got his breath when he noticed someone standing directly in front of him.
'Cup of tea, Mr. Taylor?' said Miss Cavanagh handing him a tray. 'I'll open the door for you,' she continued.
Leaning past Arthur she swung open the Music room door. There was no sign of the girl. or that the room had ever been filled with smoke. He waited for Miss Cavanagh to return to the kitchen before entering the room. The only reminder of his experience was the standard lamp prostrate on the floor. He put down the tray. then collected the lampshade which had been hurled across the room and replaced it on the righted standard lamp.
The following dad Arthur arrived to find a fire engine outside the house. A policeman on the door told Arthur that Miss Cavanagh had been killed, possibly electrocuted by a faulty standard lamp, this had started a fire and the music room had been gutted.
Arthur returned to his van and drove towards the church, not sure if he was somehow to blame for her death. As he approached the church gate he saw the same young girl he'd seen playing the piano. He pulled up alongside her. She stopped. and turned towards Arthur. He grimaced expecting to see the same horrific sight he'd seen in the music room but what he saw was a beautiful young girl. She smiled at him, then turned and skipped away into the churchyard.
'Benny luv, how much longer?' pleaded Babs to her husband who had just entered the bedroom with her breakfast tray.
'Just a few more days dear,' he replied.
'Well, we've been waiting seven years, so I suppose a few more days won't hurt,' she said philosophically. The thing that she had been waiting for was money. Loads of money. Loads of stolen money.
Benny 'Wheels' Wheeler was aptly named, for he was one of the best getaway drivers in the business. He had taken a small but vital part in a gold bullion robbery at Heathrow Airport several years ago. For his assistance in one of the crimes of the century he was given a couple of gold bars. Being a professional he stashed away the bars until the heat was well and truly off. Benny kept the location of where he'd buried the booty to himself, not even telling his wife Babs or teenage daughter Jane.
'I'll take Jane up town today,' said Babs biting into a piece of toast.
The girls spent the day window shopping in London before returning to their Ilford home.
'Dad's late tonight?' remarked Jane.
'He's probably got a long distance fare,' answered her mother. Benny was a mini-cab driver and had on a few occasions before come home late, but never this late.
'I'll ring his gaffer.' Babs then rang the mini-cab firm.
'Benny! He left hours ago,' replied a voice on the other end of the phone. Babs was now worried that something had happened to her husband that she decided to call the local hospital. The answer she received was one she didn't want to hear, they had a Benny Wheeler in casualty, he'd been in a three car pile-up. Babs called a cab and within a feet minutes they were at the hospital.
'He's in intensive care, Mrs. Wheeler, you can wait in here,' said the sister showing Babs and Jane to a small waiting room. After what seemed an eternity the sister returned accompanied by a doctor.
'I'm sorry .... ' Before he could finish his condolences Babs asked.'Did he say anything before he died? Did he mention about something being buried, anything about gold bars?'
'He never regained consciousness,' replied the doctor.
'Can we see him?' asked Babs.
'He's been taken to the hospital mortuary, you can see him there,' the sister answered. They found a green smocked attendant at the mortuary who wheeled Benny to them on a trolley.
'Do you think we could be alone with him for a minute?' she asked wiping away an imaginary tear. He understood and left the room.
'You take his jacket. I'll take his trousers,' instructed Babs to her daughter. They then searched every pocket, every lining, in fact everywhere that could hold some sort of clue as to the whereabouts of the gold.
Over the next few days Babs and Jane continued their search. They dissected every one of Bennv's clothes in his wardrobe, in fact even the wardrobe was subjected to rigorous examination. But to their frustration they never found what they were looking for. They had almost given up on seeing any of the money when Jane happened to spot an advert in the Dagenham Post.
'Listen to this mam, HAVE YOU RECENTLY LOST A LOVED ONE. DO YOU WISH TO CONTACT THEM.' Jane then read out a telephone number from the paper.
'Its worth a try, luv,' replied Babs realising that there may still be a way she could become wealthy. She dialled the number and spoke to medium Doris Cousins. Doris gave her details and arranged a visit. The following day Babs and Jane took the 167 bus from Ilford up to Gants Hill. Doris, a grey haired elderly lady, met them at the door of her small terraced house and led them into a darkened room. They were then seated at a round table in the centre of the room.
'Could we please join hands on the table?' asked Doris explaining the ritual that was needed to be done if contact with the other side was to be achieved. Doris removed her glasses closed her eyes then went into her routine.
'Is there am body there?' she repeated this phrase a couple of times. Suddenly the room shook, the red lamp above the table swinging to and fro.
'Is that the spirits?' enquired Jane gripping her mother's hand a little tighter.
'No, that's the underground,' replied Doris haughtily, having had her flow interrupted the girl's question.
'Is there anyone there called Benny, who recently passed over?' she continued. She tried several times but failed to get a response.'
'I'm sorry dear, but the spirits are not active todav,' explained the medium. She suggested that maybe it would be better to try again at another time. Babs paid the required fee and left. Over the next few weeks they returned a couple more times to Gants Hill without success.
'If we don't get a result today, then that's it. I'm not giving that old witch any more money,' said Babs.
Doris met them at the door as usual. After they had gone through the familiar routine of contacting the other side she appeared to have a bit of success.
'Is that you Benny?' she asked. 'Do you have a message for us?'
Babs and Jane hung on every word that Doris said.
'You're missing your wife and your daughter Jean.' She was halted by Babs.
'Jane! Her name's Jane not Jean.'
'Benny you'll have to speak more plainly,' continued Doris.
This was too much for Babs, she pulled her daughter from the table and headed out of the room ranting.
'She's a fraud, the old bags a fraud, she's just making it up.'
She dragged Jane out of the house slamming the door behind them.
'What's that Benny,' said Doris who had remained in a trance and was oblivious to the events that had happened around her. 'You buried something?'
About a week later Babs had calmed down from her outburst and felt a bit guilty about how she had treated Doris.
'I think I'll go and apologise,' she told Jane and took the next bus up to Gants Hill. As she approached the house she noticed a For Sale sign. She knocked on the door but got no reply. As she was leaving a neighbour came out.
She's gone abroad, the Costa del Sol.'
'On holiday?' asked Babs.
'No, for good, she came into a bit of monev,' replied the neighbour.
'Money!' remarked Babs.
'Well,' said the neighbour leaning over the fence towards Babs. 'Her exact words to me before she left was, Doll, I've struck gold.'
©2005 Will Dallimore