Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Scary times. J.P. Bowie

I haven't seen a decent horror movie in years, despite the fact that there are scads of them around - mostly going straight to video or HBO on demand. Years ago Horror Movie meant just that - the ability to scare you off your seat or nearly pee your pants. Maybe because I've just outgrown them but I can't remember the last time a scary film scared me, or made me shudder.Maybe because my own family endured a very scary time when my niece was the victim of telekenesis.

For several weeks we were subjected to violent noises, lights flashing on anf off, faucets suddenly turned on, doors banging, rugs flying through the air, to mention just a few of the hair raising occurences that plagued us at night. Years later I wrote a novella  - A Ghost Story - and drew on some of what happened then.

This snippet is what occured the first night I was home. I had traveled up from London after my mother told me what was happening. Robbie is a fiction, the rest actually happened...

 Laura blinked then smiled up at him. “Oh, you just missed Robbie.”
Jamie glanced around the room but could see nothing that might have indicated she’d had company.
“Well, that’s a pity,” he said, determined not to show his niece his concern. “Now go back to sleep, sweetheart.” He stayed long enough to give her another goodnight kiss.
She must just be dreaming about these visits from Robbie. He ran downstairs and joined his mother in the kitchen.
“Would you like a drink, Jamie? I have some sherry.”
“Lovely. She said I just missed Robbie.”
His mother shook her head sadly as she poured out the sherry into two glasses. “I’ve never seen him, which makes me think she’s either dreaming or seeing things. Either one, I’m worried about it. She began seeing him when the noises started.” She handed Jamie a glass of sherry. “I would say ‘cheers’, but I’m afraid I’m not feeling very cheery right now.”
Jamie bent to kiss her cheek. “It’ll be all right, Mum. We’ll get it straightened out.”
“How? This isn’t anything like I’ve experienced before—” She cocked her head to one side as if listening for something. “Here it comes.”
Jamie heard it. A hammering sound seeming to come from a long way off. But it was getting closer, and louder.
“Jesus,” he muttered involuntarily. Now it was really loud—really, really loud. “Mum, you said it was a knocking sound. This is like a bloody thunderclap!”
She stared up at the ceiling.“It’s louder than usual.”
It was as though some giant was standing outside, pounding the roof with an enormous hammer.
“Look...” His mother pointed towards the dining room.
Jamie gaped at the dining chairs. They were…dancing, was the best way he could describe it. Moving up and down and sideways without falling over. The rug under his feet moved, the hammering intensified, then suddenly, like someone had yelled, ‘Stop’, everything went still. Jamie heard Laura call him from upstairs.
“Uncle Jamie!”
She sounded scared. He set his glass down and ran for the stairs, taking them two at a time. She was sitting up in bed, pointing. Her wardrobe door was wide open and her clothes were scattered about on the floor.
His mother was behind him, panting slightly from her hurried ascent up the stairs. “Oh, not again!” She stooped to pick up the clothes.
“This has happened before?” Jamie asked, helping her.
“Last night was the first time. There’s no lock on the doors, so it’s easy for him to open them.”
It took Jamie a moment to realise what his mother had just said but decided to let the ‘him’ reference slide for the moment.
Laura sighed and lay back down. “It wasn’t Robbie. He tried to stop it.”
Jamie heard a rustling sound from out on the landing and darted to the door to investigate. Nothing. He opened the door to his room and stared at the mess.
“Mum, look at this.”
His mother gasped at the state of the room. The bed had been completely stripped, the sheets, pillows and blankets strewn over the floor and furniture.
“What a wanker! Oh, sorry, Mum, didn’t mean to say that, but what the heck is going on? How is this possible?”
They were both startled by the chime of the doorbell. Jamie ran downstairs to see who was there. He swung the door open and stiffened with surprise at the sight of two rather grim police officers staring at him.
“Mr Barrett?”
“Yes, that’s me.”
“Police Officers Wilkins and Walpole, sir. We’ve had complaints about noises coming from your house, sir. Very loud noises. Can you tell us what you’ve been doing?”
“I wish I could.” Jamie stepped aside. “You’d better come in.”
Jamie’s mother was coming down the stairs as the policemen stepped into the hall. It was obvious from their expressions of faint surprise that they had expected to see the house in a shambles, not the neat and orderly interior they were looking at.
“So, what happened then?” P.C. Wilkins asked, taking in his mother’s shaken appearance.
“I’m really not sure. My mother phoned me earlier today—I live in London—and told me she’d been hearing some strange knocking noises—”
“Knocking? The way it was described to us it was more like a thunderous hammering.”
“Yes, that’s what it sounded like tonight,” Jamie agreed.
“It’s never been as loud as it was tonight,” his mother said. “This was the worst ever.”
“And what exactly causes the noise?”
“Well, I thought at first it might be the water pipes, but I had a plumber out and there was nothing wrong.”
“Water pipes?” The two police officers glanced at one another.
“Not water pipes,” Jamie said. “Not what we heard tonight. Honestly, we don’t know what it is. The uh, chairs over there, were uh, moving. And the rug in the kitchen was sort of…undulating.”
P.C. Walpole regarded him like he’d just grown another head.
“Are you taking the Mickey, sir?”
“No, of course not.”
Jamie’s mother stepped in front of the officers and shook a finger at them. “You think we’re making this up? This has been going on for over a week. My nerves are in pieces. If my son hadn’t come up from London today, I don’t know what I’d have done.”
“Right then, Mrs uh…Barrett, we didn’t mean to infer that you were making it up, of course, but you must admit it sounds a bit strange.”
“Of course it does, that’s why I haven’t been able to talk to anyone about it, except my son. My sister didn’t believe it, but the first time she heard it she ran out of here like her hair was on fire.”
Jamie chuckled at the vision his mother had created in his mind.
He cleared his throat. “Mum, I’m sure the police officers will investigate and come up with a solution, if not an answer.” He smiled sweetly at the two burly men, daring them to say he was ‘taking the Mickey’ again.
“Well, yes, we’ll do that. Seems quite quiet now, though.”
His mother nodded. “It doesn’t go on all night, thank goodness. Once my granddaughter is asleep it usually stops.”
“Your granddaughter…” Wilkins rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “How old is she?”
“She’ll be twelve next month,” Jamie told him.
“Hmm…” He took a pad from his jacket pocket and a pen from another. After referring to a business card from his wallet he wrote down a name and number. “You might want to give this chap a call, sir.”
“Who is he?”
“He’s a member of a team of psychics.”
“Psychics…?” Jamie noticed that P.C. Walpole was looking at his fellow officer with a startled expression. “Now who’s taking the Mickey?”
“Very reputable group, sir,” P.C. Wilkins assured him. “They study psychic phenomena and the like. They might be able to help you.”
“You seemed to see a connection between what’s happening and my niece, or was I mistaken?”
“I’m no expert in this, sir, but I’ve read a couple of articles linking strange noises and, uh, moving things, to young children in puberty years, or if they’re emotionally upset.”
“Oh, yes?”
Laura certainly comes under both those criteria. Jamie looked at the number on the paper. Why not? It might be worth a phone call.
“Well, thanks, Officer, I’ll give him a call in the morning.” He glanced at the name… Kevin Singleton. “You know this man personally?”
“Sorry, no. My wife knows him. Not personally, but she goes to some of the meetings… Says they’re very interesting.”
“All right then. I’ll phone him tomorrow.”
“Right, sir.”
The officers turned to go.
“Hope your evening isn’t disturbed again,” Wilkins said.
Jamie grinned at him. “I think the neighbours are probably hoping the same thig."

I did contact the psychic group and they were very helpful, though not in the way my story progresses, LOL.
My niece eventually 'got over' her nightly terrors and my mother sold the house and moved in with her sister-in-law. Some time later I heard through a friend that the people who bought our house - a group of medical students - complained about hearing strange noises at night. Woooooo!


  1. Wow! Great story, JP!

    I think that if I really went through that experience, I'd be a limp mess.

  2. I'd be pretty much exactly like the sister. I wouldn't believe it at all, and then if I did hear anything, I'd do the hair-on-fire run for sure.

  3. I hate how those witty British understatements like “Are you taking the Mickey, sir?” make me spit my tea on the keyboard. Not quite sure what it means (booze?) but sure is funny.

    Although I think we all have experiences that have made us question reality, that experience is over and beyond any story I could tell. But that won't stop me:

    When Momma and I first moved into our own place, we had just finished painting a room, when a friend who was helping said, "They're falling!" Turns out a pair of large red plastic hoop earrings fell from the empty ceiling to the middle of the floor (no chandeliers, etc) after we had just painted it, the whole apartment otherwise empty. We still have those mystery earrings from 49 years ago.

  4. Makes you wonder whether things (or beings) slip through the boundaries between alternate universes, probably unintentionally.


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