Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Sophie: A Ghost Story

My name is Samuel Hunter. This is my true and factual account of the events that happened to me on the night of the 31st October. I am of sound mind and rational thinking, and my medical doctor and closest friends will attest to this truth. Many of the events related herein should lie in the realms of fantasy, and I myself would never have believed them if I had not lived through them. The Almighty knows I wish I had been spared the ordeal.


It all started when I received a phone call from the law firm J. Simpkins and Sons, informing me of the death of my great Uncle Vladimir and of the vast estate he had left solely to me, just outside a small town called Hexham.

I am by trade a business man, and I made my fortune through a series of opportune investments. My life looked great from the outside, but I felt alone and rotten. I had no motivation to live: no job, no purpose, very few real friends and no one to care for me. My family was long dead and I never managed any meaningful attachments with women.

I was reaching the point of despair, drowning my sorrows in the highest quality whisky, often wondering whether the world would be any different if I killed myself, but always lacking the courage.

When I heard the news, I decided to take a trip North to pay my respects to the man I had never met, who had probably been my last surviving blood relative. At the same time, I took advantage of taking a look at the estate.

Mr Simpkins himself drove me to the estate, and on the way he amused himself by telling me stories about area. As he showed me around the house, and then around the lands, he started telling me ghost stories, presumably inspired by the gothic architecture.

I barely heard him. As we walked around, I started feeling. For so long I had been numb, and now I noticed the beauty around me and was inspired. I started having all sorts of plans about what to do with them. I immediately arranged for my transfer to the house.

The day I moved in was a glorious day. It was October, and there was a thin frost sparkling on the grass and a delightful crispness in the air. The lake glinted like a mirror. As I walked around, I saw intricate spider's webs glistening in the dawn light. The trees had created deep carpets of red and orange, and their long bare branches stretched in praise to the heavens. I spent several hours wandering the grounds, one moment planning and dreaming, the next lost in the beauty and calmness.

Later on, I met with Mr Simpkins to sign all his papers. “Make sure you beware of the ghosts!” he laughed as he got into his car and drove off.

I devoted the rest of the day sorting things out in the house, feeling useful for the first time in years. That evening, I fell into a deep sleep as soon as I hit the pillow.

I woke up suddenly in the middle of the night. I had a feeling I had been startled by a loud noise. I couldn't get back to sleep again, so I lay awake listening to the sounds of the house. Suddenly I heard a creak on the stairs and then footsteps, as if someone outside my room. 'You're just imagining things', I told myself. ‘The house is too decrepit for thieves’. Nevertheless, my pulse started racing, and I felt a chill down my spine. 'It's just the house cooling down'.

Then the lawyer's remark this morning crossed my mind. “Beware of the ghosts!”, he had said, cheerfully. 'There's no such thing', I reassured myself.

I snuggled down into my duvet and tried to go back to sleep. Suddenly there was a howling and rattling of the whole house. The window in my room flew open and the curtains blew about. I got up and tried to turn on the lights, but the power had gone off. 'It's an old house', I told myself. 'It's just a storm'. But as I looked out the window, the full moon was shining brightly in the sky and the trees were as still as corpses. I shuddered at the imagery and pulled my dressing gown tight around myself as the howling and rattling got louder.

I have always been a rational man, so I tried to calm down and think of a logical explanation, but I couldn’t. I summoned all my courage and went into the hallway, but there was nothing there. The whole house seemed to be shuddering along with me.

As I stood there, all the noise stopped, and after a few moments of dead silence, a deep groaning began, which chilled me to the bone. The floorboards creaked and I swear I heard a unearthly voice say “Sam”.

I ran out of the house. The moonlight shone eerily on the house, seeming to highlight the more gruesome gargoyles and cavities in the gothic facade. The trees looked as if they were reaching down with their branches to trap and entangle me, and I could feel thousands of arachnid eyes upon me. The lake looked like a bottomless pit where I could fall for eternity, and even the grass felt hard, icy and unforgiving under my slippered feet.

Suddenly I saw a human figure walking out from the house. It had been someone playing a trick on me, all along! I ran over. Any human contact would be better than this madness. “Who are you?” I called out. I received no answer, but the figure turned towards me. “What are you doing here?” I shouted angrily. “What are you playing at? I own this house! You are trespassing!”

I received no answer.

I slowed to a walk and gestured emphatically. “Who are you? Get out of here!”

When I reached the place where the figure was standing, I stopped. An old man stood there, grimacing. His aspect filled me with terror, and I stood frozen as he gave me one good look, nodded, and then disappeared completely.

I ran through the trees, scratching my arms and legs and tearing at my hair. I still feel the sickening waves of fear in the pit of my stomach when I think of that moment. I do not know what madness seized me, but I know I lost many memories of that night, because I woke up I bed, and there was no sign of the events, other than my injuries. And the window was open, with the curtains blowing ominously.

You may pass this story off as fiction – the delusions of an attention seeker or the fantasies of a madman. I assure you I am neither attention seeker or madman. The events of this report never occurred again, and although there is no clear reason for this, I have my own theories.

The 31st October is All Hallows Eve, the date which traditionally all the souls of those who have deceased during the year roam free. Mostly they go unnoticed and do not affect people. But my Uncle Vlad would never have gone without a show. And it was he. When later I saw a portrait, it was a perfect likeness to the ghost that I saw.

However, I do owe something to this incident. I regained my passion for living. And therefore, I suppose I should be grateful.

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