by Patricia W Tapsell, Burnley
I’ve never seen a ghost, nor do I particularly want to. I think that maybe they can exist because I’ve heard of people’s experiences of seeing ghosts but I’d just rather take their word for it. Contradictory to what I’ve just said, however, in a moment of frivolity I once organised a ghost hunt, quite certain that nothing untoward would happen.
This story is based on some truth and some make-up. It begins with a Halloween practical joke which was instigated by myself but which came close to having dire consequences that even I could not foresee. The idea was to hold a ghost hunt with myself in charge of a group of youngsters consisting of my eleven-year-old son and five of his friends of similar age. Also included was an older boy, Nathan aged 15, whose role would be as my ‘co-instigator’. When I put the idea to these youngsters they were excited and full of anticipation – oh! what fun it would be!
I must at this stage give you some background which brought about my idea in the first place. At the top of our road was a ruin of what once upon a time had been a beautiful big house which stood in its own grounds and had been there years before the estate was built around it. The grounds were still there, much overgrown by now. Cloaking the ruined building were weeds, ivy and general forlorn growth. The once proud, upright trees had now become pitifully bent with age and weather. Anyway, reputation had it that the house and grounds were haunted by a lady dressed all in grey although it seemed that no one had yet caught sight of her. The ghost hunt was to try and spot the Grey Lady, locally nick-named
Jane, (maybe after the historically famous Lady Jane Grey perhaps?). storie
Well, came Halloween Night, clear and perfect in that there was a full moon across which the clouds passed every so often, thereby giving appropriate moonlight and shadow. And so the hunt began. What Nathan and I didn’t tell the youngsters was that we had arranged it so he would drape himself in a sheet and flit about, hopefully making the scene look more authentic. Everyone was buzzing and even I myself found that a little part of me was filling with anticipation.
It was now midnight – no school next day for the youngsters so we didn’t have to take that into consideration. We skulked and stalked around the place, making sure that we all kept together, when suddenly we spotted a shape flitting amongst the trees, and in and out of the ruins. We froze and held our nerve as long as we could. Then something happened that completely rocked me. Theresa, who was normally regarded as ‘cool’ by her peers, suddenly erupted into a screaming fit of hysterics which, in turn, spooked the other youngsters. She really was in quite a dreadful state. I had to get them all away from there as quickly as I could and back down the street to my home. I knew that Nathan could look after himself, it was the youngsters that were my main concern, particularly Theresa.
Thankfully, after hot chocolate drinks in the safety of my front room everybody calmed down and I then explained about Nathan and the sheet. To my relief this drew some laughter but then in the middle of this laughter Nathan entered, looking puzzled.
“What happened to you lot?” he asked, “I was about ready…”
I cut him off in mid-sentence and hurried him into the kitchen on the pretext of making him a hot drink. “Wait a minute,” I said, “Wasn’t it you flitting about amongst the ruins and the trees?”
“I didn’t get the chance to,” he said. We looked at each another, speechless. What was going on here? I decided that it would be wise not to delve any further into the subject but to leave well alone especially in view of what had happened with
Theresa. I rather think Nathan was glad to leave it at that!
The next day we were back to normal and all was well, with the youngsters still giggling about Nathan and the sheet, and itching to tell their friends at school about the whole adventure. Needless to say, the Grey Lady remained a mystery and I learnt a lesson about dire consequences and the avoidance of ghost hunts. And, by the way, I am told that if ghosts do exist they are said to do no harm.