Saturday, 8 October 2011


Nightcomers by Susan Price
          Over at Do Authors Dream of Electric Books, the other day, Stuart Hill was talking about true ghost stories.  He collected a few good ones!
          I left a comment there about my family’s long struggle to be rational and not believe in ghosts – a battle fought by generations before me, while my family were beset by ghosts and heavy-footed things that tramp in the night (of which, more later this month).
          In my collection of ghost stories, NIGHTCOMERS -  which I’ll be bringing out as soon as my brother can finish the cover – there’s a story called ‘The Baby’ which I based on one of the flesh-creepers my aunt told me. 
          Doris was my grandmother’s niece; and Emily one of my grandad’s sisters.  They were close neighbours and, as Emily was heavily pregnant, Doris was looking forward to seeing the baby when it was born.
          But Doris contracted pneumonia – pretty much a death-sentence in the early 1930s, especially if you were poor.  She was put to bed and her mother and sisters sat with her.
          Doris was sick for days.  The other women knew that Emily had given birth, but no one told Doris.  The baby wasn’t strong, and they thought it best not to mention it.
          Doris kept asking that the bedroom window be opened, but it wasn’t, because it was cold.  Again and again Doris demanded that the window be opened.  She struggled to sit up, saying, “Open it!  Open it!”
          Obviously, she was delirious.  They tried to calm her.  “Let her in!” she said.  “She wants to come in – she wants to be with me.  Let her in!”
          “Who’s outside?” one of the sisters asked.  “Who wants to come in?”
          Doris said, “Emily’s baby.  She wants to come in and be with me.  Let her in!”
          Doris begged for the window to be opened until, eventually, someone did open it, despite the cold.  They left it open after she died too, for a whole day, for fear of what they might shut inside if they closed it too soon.
          The women sitting with Doris knew that Emily’s sickly baby had been a girl.  And two days after Doris’ death, the baby that had wanted to be with her, died too.
          My Aunt told me this, but, a true Price, ended it by saying, “It’s easily explained – Emily never had a baby that lived longer than a couple of days.  And it would have been on Doris’ mind.”
          Somehow, these sensible remarks never stopped that cold grue going down my back.
          I think I might tell true ghost stories all this month – and if anyone wants to leave theirs as comments, I'd love to read them, and we can build up quite a collection by Hallowe’en!

         But before any more ghost stories, here's Blot - 


madwippitt said...

Blot merely confirms my suspicions that he's a wippitt trapped in cat form ...

PS The comments and list still appear white ie invisible ...

Katherine Langrish said...


OK, here's a true ghost story I was told once by an American friend when we lived in France.

My friend was married to a Frenchman, who had two elderly aunts who lived in a small chateau outside of Paris. It was an old-fashioned, rather shabby country house, but with lots of room, and so the whole family would converge on it at times suchas Christmas or Easter, to get together.

In the old-fashioned way, the bedrooms had names, such as La Chambre Bleu, the Blue Room, or La Chambre Rouge, the Red Room. But, said my friend, there was one room which was never used unless the house was really full of guests, because no one wanted to sleep there.

It was called La Chambre des Mouches. The Room of the Flies.

It wasn't only, my friend said, that for some reason, this room nearly always seemed to contain a number of big, sleepy bluebottle flies, buzzing against the window panes. The room was large, and had once had three windows, but one of them had been bricked up, which gave it an odd feeling. There was also a little powder room opening off it perhaps a dressing room, or a nursery - who knew? But she'd slept in the Chambre des Mouches herself, a couple of times, and had never had a good night's sleep. There were noises. Muffled movements. She didn't like it.

So the Chambre des Mouches was avoided as much as possible, but one year when she and her husband were visiting, they had brought an American friend, Meredith: and as the house was full, on the first night it was Meredith who was allotted the Chambre des Mouches, although of course no one told her the stories. After all, no one wanted to unnerve her.

Next morning, Meredith came down for breakfast, and my friend and her husband said, "How did you sleep?"

"Not great," said Meredith. "It was that damn cuckoo clock. Every time I was about to fall off, it'd go off - bing-bong, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo, all night long."

There was a bit of a silence as the family looked at each other, and then my friend said gently, "But Meredith. There isn't any cuckoo clock..."

Cindy Jefferies said...

Great post Sue, with a very touching family ghost story. My own story is more about life than death. Can you have a ghost story about life? See what you think.

Many years ago I was living in an old, isolated cottage overlooking a Scottish loch called loch Nell, which someone told me means swan lake. At the time I had infant twins, who took up most of each day. I didn't have time to be lonely, and anyway, my husband came home every evening, and occasionally during the day I would speak to the shepherd or the postman.

One day I was upstairs with the babies when I heard voices downstairs. The back door was never locked, and so I thought that the postman must have come in to leave a parcel out of the rain, or maybe a friend had called in. But when I hurried downstairs there was no parcel, and no friend, No wet footprints either, and yet I was sure I'd heard someone. Just then I heard voices coming from upstairs. A couple of people, chatting to each other. I stood and listened. No one could be there. I was certain of that.

Somehow I didn't feel scared, the voices were too cheerful to be creepy. I listened hard but couldn't work out what they were talking about, and then they stopped. Over the next year or so, until I left the house, those voices kept me company. If I was upstairs they were down, and if I raced down the stairs to catch the ghosts that spoke they stopped, only to start again upstairs.

Everyone who came to the house commented on what a good atmosphere it had. It felt warm and welcoming. I agreed, but it wasn't me who made it so. It was those other people, who maybe had lived there many years ago, still enjoying life in the old house by the loch.

Stuart Hill said...

Hi Sue, I've finally worked out how to post a blog. Please forgive my ignorance. Anway, a ghost story:

Many years ago when a callow youth of sixteen I lived with my parents in the back streets of Leicester. Back to back terraced housing with no front gardens and a small yard at the back. Pretty grim really, though I hasten to add my family home was very happy and loving.

One night during the legendary heatwave of 1976, I couldn't sleep and so decided that I'd get up and go for a walk to try and cool down. Even at two o'clock in the morning it was blisteringly hot. So, I crept downstairs and let myself out into the street. I should describe the surroundings in a little more detail at this point. As I've already said, the houses in the area were all Victorian back to backs, and at one end of the street was a busy main road, and at the other an iron foundry, while between was a row of hosiery factories. Venice it was not!

Anyway, before I'd set out I'd noticed that the heat seemed to be creating odd sound effects; dogs barking in the distance, the sound of motorbikes slowly dwindling a diminuendo of sound to a tiny far off whisper, but also a voice shouting. It sounded like a man bellowing angrily; just one long sustained masculine scream. It was fairly distant so I didn't think too much about it. I thought it was just a drunk coming back from a heavy night out.

Off I set on my walk, enjoying the slightly cooler temperatures on the streets. I then turned onto Repton Street, which ran parallel with the river, where the nearby water seemed to make it even cooler. The place, not surprisingly at two o'clock in the morning, was deserted, and relatively silent. I say relatively, because I could still hear the distant sound of cars, dogs and also the man's voice raging into the night sky.

But then suddenly, the voice seemed to fall through the darkness and a great belching bellowing roar errupted on the street just yards ahead of me, and all of the street lights went out!

I stood and stared into the wall of blackness in front of me, unable to see a thing. The voice had fallen silent, but the night seemed to thrum like a resonating bell after the final toll.

I turned and ran. I ran faster than I think I ever had before or since. And then the voice started to scream again, floating in the air above me.

When I reached home I fell through the front door and slammed it shut, and still I could hear the voice raging through the night sky.

I've never been able to explain what the voice could have been. It might have simply been some strange phenomenon caused by the heat; it might have been something else entirely rational. But deep down I think I have to say that I think it was the voice of a ghost.

Oh yes, and what about the street lights. Were they on some sort of timer that coincidentally reached its switch off point just as the voice screamed. Who knows, I don't.

Susan Price said...

Finally Blogger has allowed me to see your comments here and reply to them! Thank you all - I love the stories and the range of them.

Anonymous said...

this is the voice of blot leaving quite a simple story really. Stuart's post reminded me of a night walking home from a friend of mine in the very early hours of the morning. It was the height of summer and even in the AM it was close and stickly hot. I was walking through a heavy industrial area that was of course deserted and had probably an hour of brisk walking ahead of me before i got home. suddenly the sky above me lit up with the most spectacular display of heat lighting. purple, lilac, white, blue all coming fast one after the other like a strobe light but strangly- completely silent. it was wonderful and unerving, beautiful and strange. i was in the middle of standing staring at this spectacular display when i was fixed for the first and only time in my life with an overwhelming physical need to be somewhere else. it wasnt a sense of unease, or even fear, i am as a price a highly rational person and there was absolutly nothing to be afraid of, it was just my lizard hind-brain stepping in and saying ' thats enough of looking at the pretty lights you stupid monkey, get out of here NOW'

so i did- you dont argue with the hind-brain, thats what cheerleaders in horror films do. i know in the grand scheme of thngs its only a feeling, but what makes it stand out to me is that i have never felt a feeling like that before or since.

it would make a better story if it transpired that a murderer was loose that night, or that lightning later struck the very spot where i was standing but no. just me, alone in the night, running like the very devil was at my heels!

thanks for all the nice things people have said about blot by the way -Adam Price

Susan Price said...

Blot never told me that story before!
It sounds almost like Adam and Stuart met the Great God Pan, who was known to roar and to cause panic fear - but I never heard of Him hanging around industrial areas before. But maybe it's the industry he was roaring about.

Susan Price said...

Oh, and here's a story that Dennis Hamley sent me privately, cos he couldn't get Blogger to accept it. Over to Dennis -

Just signed up to Nennius. You asked for true ghost stories. Well, here's one which happened to me. Or I still stubbornly think so.
It was 1965 and I was teaching in Wakefield. My fiancee had come over from Manchester for the weekend and we decided to drive out to Howarth and see all the Bronte stuff. After doing the Parsonage we came into the parish church. Displayed in a glass case were various documents of the time and one of them was the Parish Register open at the page recording Emily's funeral.
I was teaching Wuthering Heights for A level at the time and perhaps these things were on my mind. Anyway, as I was reading the entry I distinctly heard in my ear, very close, the sound of a woman crying. There was no doubt about it: it was crystal clear as if she was standing right next to me.
My first reaction was that it was my fiancee and I felt a little bit hurt. "Was that you?" I demanded. "What was me?" she replied, completely dry-eyed. But it couldn't have been her: she was at the other end of the church looking at something else and had heard nothing. There were a few people outside in the church porch quietly minding their own business so they were exonerated as well.
I said, "I've just heard Emily crying about her funeral." And I'm sure I did. Someone I told said it couldn't be - it was obviously Charlotte by the graveside. Well, it was one of them. Definitely. But I didn't have a chill running up my spine: it seemed to me to be entirely fitting. If I try, I can still hear it. It was a good experience.


High Country Wanderer said...

Hi Susan this is Raymond, the person who sent you an email a few weeks ago. I just got around to reading your reply because I had been so busy working in the past few weeks. (Old mine is being walled up and I am the only owner-operator contractor taking the job) I only have some time to leave a message on your blog today because I have more work to do later. I will send you a more thorough reply when I am off.

Also, I love your Blot cartoons. They are so cute! I love cats too.