Be Scared! Be Very Scared!
Desperately sad losers? Maybe so. But the picture to the left shows not just your current writer-in-residence, but also three teachers at his senior school [including the Head of English]. As this is the first week back at school in the Northern Territory I felt it incumbent upon me to mark the occasion by humiliating my colleagues in as comprehensive a manner as possible.
Believe it or not, this strange bunch of people, plus a few others who refused to be photographed, achieved the best results last year of any English department in the NT. In fact, ANY department, English or otherwise. Judge not a book by its cover? Good advice. But we DO look weird. And, let’s be honest, a little scary. Speaking of which:
The Hands: A Ghost Story, Part 1
As promised, here is the start of my TRUE ghost story. It happened about thirty years ago, back in the UK and I had been invited round to someone’s house for a meal. I didn’t really know her very well but her husband was a French chef at a local restaurant that supposedly served fabulous food [I couldn’t afford to eat there] so I felt that at least I would get a damn good meal. Unfortunately, he had been called in to work that night, so when I rocked up there was just his wife and a guy called Richard who I didn’t know. We finished the food [pretty good, I remember, even if not cooked by the renowned chef] and sat chatting for a while. It was getting late, the candlelight created just the right atmosphere and we were all mellow after a couple of glasses of wine. The conversation turned to ghost stories. Now I have always been a sucker for ghost stories. I love them, even though I’m the kind of person who can’t watch horror movies without covering my eyes with splayed fingers and hyperventilating.
‘Richard lives in a haunted house,’ said my host. ‘He’s got some cool stories to tell.’
‘Brilliant,’ I said. ‘Tell me all.’
Richard fiddled with his wine glass. ‘Well, most of it is pretty unremarkable,’ he said finally. ‘I moved into the house about six months ago. It’s only about ten years old and for the first five months it was all fine. I live there by myself, you see, unless you count my cat. But then I started to hear strange things at night.’
‘Clanking chains?’ I suggested.
He smiled. ‘Nothing so dramatic,’ he said. ‘Footsteps, mainly. From downstairs. I would be lying in bed and hear the sounds of someone, or something, moving around. I’d get up to investigate and there was never anyone there. The sounds would stop but as soon as I went back to bed they’d kick in again.’
‘Scary,’ I said.
‘More like annoying,’ Richard replied. ‘I just put it down to the normal sounds that houses make late at night. You know, timbers settling, metal contracting. Maybe I had too much imagination and believed that ordinary noises had a sinister significance.’
‘But?’ I said.
‘But then I heard the sounds of fingernails scraping along the wall next to my bed. There was no mistaking that. It came from the bathroom next to my bedroom. Trouble was, there was no one in the house except me. So I got up to see what it was…’
To be continued.
By the way, I hope you had a fabulous first week back at school [second week for some, I guess]. I’m teaching part-time this year and met my two new classes who seem lovely. Then again, it was the first week… maybe they’ll give me the occasional nasty surprise once they’ve settled in.