Thought I’d put this down, seeing as it’s Halloween … And it’s true, every word.
Many years ago, when the days were so much longer and the grass greener, I used to go and visit my then girlfriend over in Kirkdale, Liverpool. She lived with her parents, brothers and sister in a new build. We’d been going out for quite some time when I finally got the invite to ‘stay over’. This didn’t mean my sleeping on the couch, oh no. I would have a bed – one of her brother’s, who was away for that particular weekend.
How excited was I!
I was young, full of wide-eyed innocence. We sat together on the sofa, watched a film on TV, said goodnight to her mum and dad, and continued to sit, talk, do a little bit of mooching … Innocent.
You get the picture?
I hope so.
Well, as the night continued and the silence grew, we sat in the dark, savouring the moment, happy to be alone.
And then it began.
At first, I thought it was her brothers playing tricks. Their bedroom was directly above us and it seemed they were dragging their beds across the floor, the sound coming through the ceiling. We laughed at first, but when it continued, we became a little peeved. Through the crack around the living room door, the light from the hallway filtered through. I said I would go up and ask them, politely, to stop. But when I stood up and pulled open the door, the light went off.
Now, at this point, I have to confess, no thoughts of the supernatural entered my mind. What did was a developing anger. Her brothers were taking this too far now, no doubt wanting to disrupt our time together, having great fun at our expense.
The light to the kitchen was on. This was their mistake, I knew it for sure. I would rush in, confront them, beat them at their own game. So I did, and what I saw caused me to revaluate all my former ideas.
The kettle was boiling.
Now, this in itself is not so very disturbing, but when you consider the plug was out of its socket, then you can begin to understand the rising sense of fear which brewed up from inside me.
Shaking, I returned to the living room. My girlfriend, herself annoyed at her brothers’ antics, said it was time to go to bed. She’d have ‘words’ with the pair of them in the morning, make their ears ring!
But after we said goodnight and went to our respective rooms, the mysteries of the night were not yet finished. I snuggled down under the duvet and closed my eyes. The brothers were asleep in their own beds, for they all shared the same room. Peace at last, I said to myself, pushing aside the curious happenings of the kitchen, the lights, the strange noises … until they started again.
Somewhere from across the room it came, a slow, relentless sound of something, not unlike a brush or coarse cloth being rubbed across the wall. I listened, hardly daring to breathe, wondering what this sound was, my imagination going into overdrive. Perhaps it was my imagination. But to conjure up something so real, so close? No, this wasn’t me, this was really happening.
I sat up, peering through the darkness, my eyes by now well accustomed to the gloom. And as I looked to where the sound emanated, it moved. Slowly at first, but gathering speed, it travelled across the far wall and made its way relentlessly around the room towards where I sat. As it drew closer, so the noise increased, until it seemed as if it filled the entire room.
In classic, horror-film style, I threw myself under the covers and lay there, quivering, the noise growing louder, ever louder.
And then it stopped.
Right next to me.
I waited, with my heart pounding even louder than the recent noise, and as the minutes crawled by, I gradually relaxed. At some point I drifted off into sleep.
In the morning, I told my story to my girlfriend and she listened, her face pale. She told me she too had heard the noise and both of us were gripped by a confused dread. What could it be?
It didn’t take us so very long to find out.
I visited Liverpool City library. The simple fact was, the housing estate where my girlfriend lived was behind Kirkdale hospital, a huge, sprawling and vacant monstrosity of a building. Walking beside it was enough to give anybody the willies, so, acting on a hunch, I went to the reference section and discovered something, which seemed to explain everything.
The housing estate was built on the site of the hospital morgue.
Yes, that’s right. The place where they stored the bodies.
And porters moved trolleys.
The noise we heard, of beds being dragged across the floor, was this. A memory, forever imbedded in the fabric of time and space. What other explanation could there be?
And the rubbing?
Well, that is still a mystery, perhaps never to be solved.
This happened almost forty years ago and I have never experienced anything else quite like it. What the noises really were, I cannot honestly say. Subsequent sleep-overs at my girlfriend’s house saw no repeat of what happened that night, so the mystery remains. But the memory lingers and has helped me craft more than one horror story. Writing as Glenn Stuart, I have penned nine paranormal mysteries, amongst them my personal favourite, ‘Interlopers from Hell’, set in my home town and not so very far away from that spooky, grim edifice of a hospital, which is no longer there, but continues to conjure up the terror of that night.
So enjoy your Halloween, my friends, and always keep an open mind concerning things which go bump, or are dragged, in the night!