Supernatural Neutral - 1st Person

The Ghost Walks
by
B.M. Whitton

 

As the knitting needles fly through the last stitches, I wonder, “when did arthritis start crooking my fingers?”, and “what on earth possessed me to attempt this pattern in black?”. I knit to relax and sleep better, and this sweater is becoming a nightmare. My recliner by the fireplace, usually inviting and comfy, holds no pleasure for me tonight, only frustration. In this freezing weather, sitting by the roaring fire across from my husband, Tom, should be a blessing, yet it isn’t.

Tom sits on the couch entertained by his iPad. The light of the screen reflects the golden specks of his gorgeous brown eyes. The glow from the fireplace tints his salt and pepper hair with a reddish hue; the combination makes him look adorably wicked.

Reluctantly, I bring back my attention to the quarter sweater hanging from my needles. “Oh, why do I do this to myself?” I think. Then I start counting the rows, again, for the third time, when Tom’s chuckle interrupts me.

“Oh, for crying out loud!” I scream.

“What happened?” he asks all innocent.

I stare at him annoyed. Of course, he doesn’t know, he cannot know, he is not inside my head. 

“Truly, Nettie. What is it?” his left hand shoots up and combs his hair backwards.

Right then I’m annoyed by my own hair. A run-away blonde—almost white—strand has escaped my ponytail and tickles my round cheek. For a second, I eye the scissors in my knitting basket, but decide against such a drastic measure. I tuck the rebel lock behind my ear instead. Taking a deep breath, I say, “It’s nothing, I’m sorry. I just lost count of how many rows I’ve done. I can’t even see properly to count them. Your chuckle threw me off. I over-reacted, sorry.”

“I’m sorry, Hun, I didn’t realise. Doesn’t sound like you’re enjoying that tonight.” He says with a nod while he looks at my hands holding the needles. “If you keep squeezing at those, they’ll snap in half.”

He’s right. With a sigh, I put the knitting in the basket and lean back, “What’s so amusing anyway?”

“Oh, just a wonderful article I found. It’s honestly priceless. I’m thinking about using it in the show for next week’s spooky special. You wouldn’t find writing like this anywhere today. Want me to read it to you?”

“Are you going to do the voice?”

“If my lady pleases.” His smoky, sultry voice is not only his best feature, but it’s also what puts food on our table and a roof over our heads. When he uses that modulated, cultivated voice I get chills down my spine—the good kind—even after all these years together. “Come here, Hun,” he adds, tapping the couch next to him.

I go to him, sit by his side, and rest my head on his shoulder as he envelopes me in a half embrace. “Ready?” He asks.

“Ready!”

“And I quote, (The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld; 1878-1954), 1924) ’The Morning Bulletin, 22nd July 1924. The Ghost Walks. Camille Flammarion on his book “Haunted Houses” remarks that the unknown world is vaster and more important than the known. It is well to know the psychical world, and we are far from having exhausted its study. We do not know all the human faculties. Our own powers certainly have something to do with the phenomena of haunted houses, and as a faithful servant of the experimental method, he holds that we must examine every natural hypothesis before we have recourse to others. But we cannot use too much caution in the interpretation of facts, especially when it is a question of the scientific proof of the survival of the soul.”

Tom continues, “Our normal impression is that the soul is intimately bound up with the brain, with its evolution. Do certain phenomena happen before or after the moment of death? Initially he assumed they were due to the psychic force of the living person, but he said a careful analysis might proof some actions occur after death. He personally considers that ‘numerous and incontestable observations concerning apparitions of the dead to the dying are evidence of the survival of the soul’. The real interest of his book lies in the ghost stories he has collected.”

“Not all the stories relate to haunted houses, and several deal with manifestations from the dead. Lord Broughman told that in 1799, on arriving at Gothenburg, at a comfortable inn, he asked for a hot bath, and while taking it, he experienced a strange event. He had a friend called G., and they had often conversed on the immortality of the soul. They had drawn up an agreement, written in their own blood, that the first to die should manifest himself to the other, to dispel any doubt concerning the continuation of life after death.  G. had left for India, and Brougham had almost forgotten his existence. As he got out of the bath, Brougham saw G. seated on a chair, gazing at him quietly. He fainted, for, when he recovered his senses, he found himself lying on the floor. The apparition was no longer there. On returning to Edinburgh, Brougham found a letter announcing the death of his friend on the day of the visitation.” Tom says.

 “The English poet Stephen Phillips, wishing to obtain the tranquillity necessary for finishing an important work, rented a country house in the neighbourhood of Egham, a quiet little village near Windsor, on the Thames. Nobody had the kindness to tell him that the house was haunted. He had hardly established himself therein with his family when incomprehensible noises began to disturb him. He heard in the night and sometimes even in the evening, raps, scratching, and the sounds of steps, both heavy and light, slow and fast. Members of the family saw, even in broad daylight the doors open, though no hand was visible. Every time Phillips sat down at his desk and started to work, he was disturbed, as if somebody were entering the room. He would turn round; he would see the door open, moved by an invisible force. And he would hear the steps coming closer and receding in turn. He was not a nervous person, but these phenomena impressed him despite himself. Phillips made inquiries in the neighbourhood and succeeded in extracting the information that an atrocious crime was said to have been committed half a century before. All the preceding tenants of the house had left it precipitately. The English Society for Psychical Research instituted an inquiry, which endorsed the authenticity of the story without clearing up the mystery. However, Flammarion states such incidents are not as exceptional as we may think. The people who deny them astonish him!’.

Tom pauses for a second and with a knowing smile he continues, (The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld.: 1878 - 1954), 1989) “However, not all modern scientists agree. When consulted on the topic at hand only last month, LeFanu stated: ‘While the human mind is frequently difficult to influence by ponderable evidence on matters of fact, it is astonishing to find how it can be touched and impressed by incomprehensible fancies. Illustrations of this tendency will be found on glancing at the belief in the supernatural, which prevails so universally alike among civilized men and savages. Poetry and romance teem with pictures of imaginary creations, which possess to some extent characteristics of reality. Fairies and fiends, in attractive and repulsive forms, and possessed of more than mortal powers, have flitted about among the children of men in all times and in all countries. Modern science, more potent than the signet ring of King Solomon, has been dealing with them destructively. It has in many ways called upon them to give proofs of their existence. These not being forthcoming, and men's minds in these latter days being fully occupied with comprehensible matters, spiritual beings fail to attract attention: they disappear,’” Tom says drawing an inverted ‘u’ with an open palm in the air, like a magician. “End quote, the End. What do you think?”

“I think it will be perfect for the show.” I smile at him, my frustration dispelled.

The End.

Sources

[1]

The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld; 1878-1954), “The Ghost Walks,” 22 July 1924. [Online]. Available: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article54280855.

[2]

The Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton, Qld.: 1878 - 1954), “Ghosts,” 19 02 1989. [Online]. Available: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52530231.