Monday, 19 December 2011

The Mysterious Mystery of The Lang House Ghost

Here's a tale from Magic Torch's American Correspondent, Mr Ray Mitchell, last seen investigating Skinwalker Ranch in Utah.

This story features two historical characters, Mister James John L_____ of Greenock (Erstwhile Ghost Hunter), and his Hardy Compatriot, Andrew ‘Sandy’ Mc_______. Both are perhaps more famous for their connection to the infamous fake "ghost photo" of Auld Dunrod.

1: I decide on my mission

Many have spoke ill of me, all the years of my life. I have been referred to behind cupped hands and raised newspapers as indolent and slothful; these words do not hurt me. It has been said that I an content to rest my laurels here at M_____ House, letting my poor late father’s money and interests work for me, never once paying a visit to the factories and retailers which keep me in the manner which I have not earned; the haughty looks bother me not. I see the way part before me wherever I go, when all I wish is to mix with the people of this town, walking where they walk. Even so, I remain unperturbed, not because I am the ignorant fop I am proclaimed to be, but because I have been witness over these past few days to sights which have blinded me to all else in my life. Sights which have me doubting everything but the evidence of my two good eyes.

There. That’s gotten all of the soul-searching mumbo-jumbo out of the way; perhaps, now, I can begin to tell you of the events which brought me to the Lang House, and what I saw there.

I had heard of the house, of course; a remarkable, imposing, turreted structure clearly visible from the road running to the Daff Glen, it tends to stand out somewhat from the surrounding trees. Still, never would I have given it a second thought, had I not begun to hear whispering and murmurings of ghostly shenanigans within the walls of the great house.

Those of you who have chanced to read my earlier forays into the world of the othernormal - The Strange Case of the Man With No Plan in Life in particular was considered for publication in no less a periodical than The Strand Magazine - will be well aware of my long-standing fascination with spookly matters and such. As you can imagine, my nose was veritably twitching at the possibilities.

I ventured an enquiry or three in the right avenues and was rewarded with very little; strangely enough, very few people seem to have any firsthand knowledge of who has ever dwelled in the great house, let alone any tragedy which may have befallen them to cause their souls to wander there still. I finally got a little closer to the truth when I ran into Jock ‘Jock’ Scott, sometime resident of the _____ ______ Public Bar, propping up the wood in said establishment.

“Ghostses it is,” intoned Jock in plummy tones, his nose almost in his ale. He was three sheets to the wind by this time, which was to be expected; after all, it was past three in the afternoon. “Ghostses, roamin’ aw ower the blummin’ place. Goin like this. Wooooooo.”

“Yes, Jock, I know that,” said I, patiently. I had a great deal of time for Jock; he had been of great help to myself and Sandy in The Dastardly Case of the French Sailors Haunting the Cemetery (I’ve never liked that title. Still; too late now), keeping a midnight watch with us three nights running until we saw the ghastly apparitions, weaving out of the fog, stinking of the nether world and singing ‘La Marseillaise’ in close harmony. Dreadful. Dreadful business. “What I need to know, Jock my dear fellow, is who they are. Why are they haunting the Lang House? What keeps them there?”

At this, he fixed his one good eye on me - the other seemed to be fixed on his own right ear - and drew in breath in a long wheezing inward cough which quite worried me.

“Terrible thing. Poor wee lassie. Lovely she wis. Lovely. Died. Died she did. Broken herted. There wis a fella, awa’ fightin’ in the war. And there wis anither fella. Don’t know who he wis. There wis love, an’ fightin’, and she died. Terrible thing.”

This momentous speech over, Jock focused the steady half of his vision on his glass, and I would get no more sense out of him on this night.

Still; I had a little information in hand. I had embarked on ghost hunts with far less. I would speak to a ghost, or I would die in the attempt.

Well. Bit drastic, there, but you understand.

2: I recruit my partner in ghost-hunting

Sandy seemed unenthusiastic for a yomp into the world of the supernatural, which surprised me, considering his standing as my hale and hearty compatriot on countless (well, 9) earlier adventures.

Granted, it was 1:23 in the hours of the morning and, also granted, I had turned up unannounced at his door in stout walking boots and carrying a bulky pack of essentials ( I had left my blunderbuss at home only after great deliberation). Also, regrettably, Sandy was still recovering from a recently broken arm. Even so, though, I feel I deserved a warmer reception than my old friend gave me.

“Whit? Whit’s your game, Jimmy? D’ye know whit time it is? In the name o’ God, Jimmy. Whit?”

Unfazed by this drowsy outburst, I pressed on with the case at hand, explaining that time was of the essence; no self-respecting spectre would walk the halls of his (her) former home by the hours of daylight.

“Well, whit’s wrang wi’ tomorra night, ya numpty-heid?” Sandy was beginning to bog me down with his belligerence, he really was.

“Tomorrow night? Tomorrow night? Can this be the Andrew ‘Sandy’ Mc_____ I know so well? I remember the time when you’d have jumped at the chance to aid me in the study of a ghostly apparition! Jumped, I say!”

“Aye. Well. That’s as may be. Ye might have noticed ma arm’s broke. Ye might also have noticed this wee note on ma arm-cast here.” He pointed to a patch of plaster, but I confess in the dim lamplight I was unable to see it. I leaned forward, squinting. “What does it say?”

“YOUR FAULT!” Sandy’s cry caused me to step back, blinking in mute disbelief. “Your fault, ya puddin’! ‘Gi’es a hand at the cinema, Sandy, this ghost’s a right bugger tae catch.’ ‘Aye, nae bother, Jimmy - aw, no, he’s awa’ and broke ma arm.”

“Sandy, now, I have time and again apologised for the events at the culmination of The Mystery of the Cinema Ghost. I didn’t expect the ghost to become corporeal.”

Sandy raised his bushy eyebrows at this. “Aye, Jimmy, funny enough, that’s jist whit Ah thought when the big bugger wis breakin’ ma arm. ‘Funny that, Ah didnae expect him tae become corporeal.’”

There was a silence, during which we stole furtive awkward glances at each other in the dim light.

I cannot remember who began to laugh first. Still, in the next few moments, we were guffawing loudly, tears rolling down my cheeks, Sandy roaring with gales of laughter, temporarily unmindful of his injury, and we were fast friends again. The cackling dried, tailed off, and Sandy looked out at me over his reading glasses.

“Will ye help me lace up ma walkin’ boots?”

Forty-five minutes later (helping a man who is basically one-armed to dress is not pleasant; I do not urge you to try it at any time) we were away, and I hoisted the pack up onto my back, holding the door for Sandy to squeeze past me. He caught sight of the grappling hooks poking from the bag’s mouth, and raised his eyebrows in a silent question in my direction.

“In case we have to go in over the roof, my dear chap.”

Sandy shook his sizeable head. “In the name o’ God,” he said in a murmur.

3: The mission proper

In the end, the grapples were not necessary; the house, abandoned now for a number of years I was not aware of, had been left unmanned, unwatched, unlocked. Our spirits (no pun intended) truly heartened by this turn of events, even Sandy seemed bolstered and keen for action as we made our way through the midnight rooms and shadow-lengthened corridors, a lantern giving us low illumination, for even an amateur ghost-grabber like myself knows that wandering spirits hate strong light.

For that reason, both of us are surprised when we see the light.

A pinpoint at first, moving slowly along the floor of the grand dining room, Sandy and I dutifully if nervously follow it as it grows; bright as a lantern; bright as summer daylight in a darkened room; finally growing too bright for our eyes, swelling in size, a ball of purest white six feet across.

“Jimmy, Ah’m feelin’ thon feelin’ Ah got jist before Ah got ma arm broke.”

“Take heart, old friend. I feel no malice from this entity. It seems benign.”

“Och, well, that’s awright then. Batter on.” Sandy’s sarcasm, I feel, often brings a touch of humour to our adventures. I sometimes lead him to believe that this is the reason I bring him along on my adventures; lucky for us that we both know better.

My lantern flickers and dies, but no matter; the room is as bright as day now, glowing from within because of this heavenly ball of light which even now has shapes, grey and dancing, flickering within it. The very air seems changed; the hairs on my body stand on end in quite unattractive fashion, and I fear to look at Sandy for fear of what this phenomenon has done to his splendid moustache.

Despite Sandy’s exhortations to “Keep back, ya middenheid!” I slowly make my way forward toward the angelic luminosity, keeping my empty hands in front of me, supplicating myself to this shade, whoever it may once have been.

With a sound like a hundred people drawing in breath at once, the grey shapes suddenly coalesce, forming into the shape of - a girl.

Here it is my turn to draw in sharp breath, for what a girl! Chimneyfire hair streaming over her shoulders, large soulful eyes - and soft, full lips that could draw stories from a mute. My mission is temporarily forgotten as this vision in plain silk blouse and dark velvet skirt faces me, and smiles.

“She better no brek ma ither arm, Jimmy,” comes to me from a distance. Sandy’s voice is lost to me; it seems as though this maiden’s ball of light swells to encompass me, drawing me closer to her. Her eyes are kind, and I can see only her as her hand reaches, reaches, finger pointing, and touches the back of my hand. Just once.

Duncan where is my Duncan gone in the war and William where is my William gone by someone’s hand though not mine I swear not mine they call me the worst of names harlot strumpet worse worse worse and I cry though what good does it they seek to hunt me out I am sure they think poor William was my fault he was only a good soul who showed a lonely girl some kindness I would never have betrayed my Duncan he was my heart and my treasure but there was someone else I could not see a face there was a flash and a cry and William lay dead and all I could do was cradle his kind head in my hands as the life leaked out of him and oh, me, oh, me, what will happen now

Duncan where is my Duncan lost in the war and William where is my William gone by someone’s hand though not mine both my fine men dead now dead now and I will find them I have spent every night since that night I gave up and used my own two good hands to join them in Heaven but I cannot find them where are they tell me where my Duncan my William my two fine men

This tirade, soft and entreating, is in my head in an instant, her nightly prayer since she took her own life, and there are tears rolling down my cheeks as I understand her.

The procedure for ‘exorcising’ a spirit, for sending it on its way to the other side, is long, and drawn out, and sometimes very unpleasant for all concerned.

The smile she gives me when she fades into darkness, the sigh she expounds as she gives herself over, is more than enough reward.

The dawn has come an hour hence when we make our weary way out of the stout doors of the Lang House. I clap Sandy, stout fellow that he is, on the shoulder, and thank him once again for his help in a thankless task. In the early light I can see tears brimming in his eyes.

“Will......will she be awright noo, Jimmy? Aye?”

I smile, my grip on Sandy’s shoulder tightening for a moment, and my voice, too, is thick with emotion.

“She will, Sandy, old man. I know it.”

We walk down the gravel path, taking our time, enjoying what will be another lovely day.

There you have it; what I am reasonably sure will be my last case. I grow too old to be chasing after spooks and spectres in all hours of the night, sending them on their way with a flea in their ear, or a blessing.

Then again, you never know what kind of trouble will seek out an amateur ghost hunter. Perhaps Mister James John L_____ of Greenock (Erstwhile Ghost Hunter), and his Hardy Compatriot, Andrew ‘Sandy’ Mc_______ will return in another adventure which is both breathtaking and enlightening.

Sandy’s arm is healing up nicely, by the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.