Electronic voice phenomenon or EVP as it is known, is when the voices of spirits are caught using a recording device. Some of the voices are not heard at the time, but can be heard later on the recording, as the voices are too low to hear with the human ear.
EVP is often used on ghost hunting shows. Usually they are able to pick up a few words or phrases from recordings.
It has become very popular in recent years. You can perform your own tests at home, using the recorder on your phone. Simply switch the recorder on and ask some questions to any spirits who may be in the room. Leave a gap for any answers, You can even leave it in the room alone and see if it picks up anything.
Copyright Kat Gracey
“What you are doing is wrong? It’s an abuse of your powers,” Geraldine hissed as Petra hurried to answer the door.
“Shut up, you nag. If you want to keep a roof over your head, you’ll shut up and let me work.”
She paused to check her reflection in the mirror by the door. Her dark hair was neatly swept back in a bun, her make up looked presentable.
Time to earn some cash.
Taking a deep breath, she opened the door to their guest.
“Welcome to our home. We are so sorry to hear about the sad departure of your loved one, but hopefully, we can connect you with them once more.”
Petra led the young man inside, a smile plastered on her face – somewhere between welcoming and sympathetic. The man, who was no more than twenty, entered the house warily. His eyes darting everywhere.
“David. My name is David,” he said.
He was well built, tall, with black hair and a beard. He had seen a lot in his short life, Petra would bet money on it.
She led him into the parlor, where the Ouija board was waiting for them. As they took their respective seats, Petra saw her sister, Geraldine, hovering in the doorway. She waved her away.
Geraldine didn’t approve of contacting the dead for money, but she didn’t have to worry about the upkeep of the house. Besides, she had certain gifts, those that hadn’t vanished when she…transitioned, so she might as well use them.
“Now, can I have the name of the departed please?” Petra asked.
David stared at her. Finally, he said, “Jane.”
Petra nodded, placing her fingertips on the planchette. She closed her eyes, tuning into the spiritual plane. It came naturally to her. As a member of the Anuri clan, she was a gifted witch. Or at least, she had been.
“Jane. I call upon you to cross over and make yourself known. Please give us a sign that you are here.”
They sat in silence and all Petra could hear was the ticking of the clock behind her. Some of the spirits took time to come through. She called for her again, and again, but no spirit appeared.
“I’m sorry, this doesn’t usually happen. Were you close to the deceased? Sometimes if the connection isn’t strong…”
“She was my mother.”
“Oh. I’m very sorry for your loss. Let me try again.”
“I don’t think that will be necessary. She would never show herself to the likes of you.”
Petra bristled, what did he mean by that? Was he calling her a fraud?
“I’m not sure what you mean? I assure you, I am completely capable of contacting the departed.”
“Oh, I know that. Your sister is proof of that,” he said, tipping his head in her direction.
“You can see her?” Petra asked.
“Yes, I can. She’s been dead, how long now? A hundred years.”
Petra glanced at Geraldine, who was frantically gesturing to get him out of the house.
“How do you know that?” she asked.
“I know all about you. Petra of the Anuri clan of witches. That was until you were turned by a vampire. Haunted by your first victim, as all bloodsuckers are.”
It was true. Geraldine was her first victim, before she knew what was happening to her and before she got a handle on her urges. They had come to an uneasy truce over the last few decades.
“That was a long time ago. I learned how to control it, I don’t harm humans.”
David, if that was his real name, didn’t look as though he believed her. “Who are you?” Petra asked.
He removed a silver stake from his jacket sleeve, and it became obvious. “You’re a hunter.”
“I have been tasked with stopping the spread of creatures like you.”
Petra felt fear flutter inside her, but it wasn’t for herself. “You can’t. I mean, you can’t kill me now. I am the keeper of the Anuri knowledge. I have to pass it on to the next priestess.”
David glanced to Geraldine, who nodded. “It’s the truth, sir. If she doesn’t then the clan will fall. You know how important they are in the fight. Do you want to be responsible for their loss?”
He sat back in the chair and sighed. “I have worked with the Anuri in the past. They are necessary in the fight. I will allow you to pass on the knowledge.”
Petra let out a breath. “Thank you. It should only be a few more years before…”
“No, you misunderstand. You may pass on the knowledge today, then I will have to destroy you.”
“No, she’s too young,” Geraldine said, wringing her hands. “Having all that knowledge implanted in her brain, it could drive her mad. They are supposed to receive it when they come of age.”
“That is my only offer. Take it or leave it.”
Petra weighed her options. The knowledge had to survive. Her own life didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Besides, once she was vanquished, Geraldine would be set free. She had carried tremendous guilt over the death of her older sister. They had been so close as children and Geraldine had been the only one to try and help her once she transitioned. It meant her death, but Geraldine would never have turned her back on her.
“Agreed,” Petra said.
“Petra, don’t,” Geraldine begged.
“No, I have to do this. She is a strong girl, she can take it. A deal is a deal.”
The hunter would not stop in his quest and if he managed to stake her before the knowledge was passed on then the clan would fall. She couldn’t allow that. He was being more than generous.
They left the house, taking the hunter’s truck and drove to a farm, some fifty miles away. The girl had lost her parents a few months ago. She had been sent to live with her aunt, although the woman had no Anuri blood in her veins. There were arguments amongst the clan leaders about where the child should go, but they had no legal right to her. I would have loved to have taken the girl in, but I was an outcast. Unclean. They only tolerated me because of the knowledge.
David parked his truck on the edge of the cornfield. A girl ran through the stalks, her brown hair flying out behind her. She looked happy, which considering all she had been through, was a blessing.
They got out of the truck, while Geraldine lagged behind them. It was part of the curse, she could never go further than thirty feet from Petra. They were joined together, for better or worse.
Petra walked toward the girl, feeling the weight of her actions weigh heavily upon her. It was so much to put on her.
“Alexis?” she called.
The girl stopped running. “How do you know my name?” she asked.
“I knew your mother. She wanted me to give you something, if that’s okay.”
The girl nodded slowly. David stayed back while they walked a little way into the cornfield.
“I have a gift for you,” Petra said.
“For me?” the girl looked excited, but she had no idea what this gift would entail.
Petra crouched in front of her. “You know that your mother was very special?”
“Well, you are special too. Very special. You will grow up to be a very powerful young woman.”
David watched the exchange, waiting for Petra to try to run, but so far, she was keeping her word. Her sister stood nearby, looking worried.
“You won’t have to worry much longer. Soon you will be free,” he said.
“Is that how you see it?” Geraldine asked.
“Your sister murdered you.”
“She was not herself. When she came to her senses, she was horrified at what she had done. She has worked hard to ensure our clan survives, you have no idea what you are doing.”
“A vampire is a vampire, no matter who she was before. They are made to kill. Sooner or later, she will give into that impulse and a human life will be taken.”
“She could do so much good.”
David tightened his grip on the stake, which he kept hidden at his side. “You still see your sister. But I have faced vampires, my village was plagued by them as a young boy. They killed my mother and my sister. From the age of eight, my father raised me to hunt them. It is only because of hunters and the witches that help them, that they haven’t taken over the world.”
Geraldine was silent. He knew she could not argue with that. The first vampire was discovered in a cave, almost 500 years ago, frozen in ice. He was thawed out and it soon became clear that he was still alive. Efforts were made to keep him locked away, but he escaped and started creating more of his kind. If a hunter had taken him out, vampires would not be an issue. And he would have grown up with his family, had a normal life. He mourned his mother and sister every day, but he knew that the hunt must go on until every last vampire was extinguished.
Some may claim to be good, to have stopped their evil ways, but it was a lie. Whether it was a lie to him, or one they told themselves, didn’t matter. Sooner or later, they would face a situation that they couldn’t escape. They would feed, and once blood started flowing, it didn’t stop.
He watched as Petra placed her hands on the child’s face. After a few seconds, her eyes rolled back into her head and she started to convulse.
“She’s too young,” Geraldine said.
When Petra finished the transfer, the girl sank to the ground and lay still. Petra came back to them, tears falling.
“She survived the process, but I don’t know what it will do to her mind.”
“You shouldn’t have done it,” Geraldine said.
“I can’t risk dying and losing the knowledge. Hunters don’t stop, you know that.”
David raised the stake.
“Wait,” Petra said. “Promise me you will take the child home and that you will make sure she is okay.”
David glanced at the girl. “I will keep an eye on her, until she comes of age and into her powers. You have my word.”
Petra nodded. “Thank you. Well, sister. In case this is it, I am sorry for everything.”
Geraldine shook her head. “No, sister. I forgive you. We’ll be together in the afterlife.”
“I hope so.”
She spread her arms, waiting for David to strike.
“May God be with you,” he said, then he drove the silver stake through her chest, piercing her heart.
In seconds, her body turned to dust, a sudden breeze blew her apart, scattering her across the cornfield. Geraldine gave him one final look before she faded away.
David tucked the stake back inside his coat and checked on the girl. She was still unconscious, but the shaking had stopped. He scooped her up and walked toward the farmhouse to return her to her family.
The front door lay open. “Hello?” he called.
A woman appeared. When she saw Alexis, she yelled for her husband.
“What have you done?” she snarled.
“I have done nothing, ma’am. I was passing, and I saw her lying in the field. I couldn’t wake her.”
Her husband appeared. “What’s going on?”
David handed the girl off to him. “I hope she is okay,” he said.
He walked away, leaving them to deal with it. After a good night’s rest, he was sure the girl would be okay. He would check in on her again in a few weeks. He had to deal with a nest a few hundred miles away. He would stop in on his way back.
He would keep his promise to Petra, for the woman she once was. He would ensure that the Anuri clan survived. Without them, he was sure that humanity would fall.
About ten years ago, i went on a ghost hunt with a group of friends in Armagh, Northern Ireland. We were with a local team and we explored the house first, before we sat in one of the rooms. The lights were left off, as the man in charge attempted to communicate with any spirits that were present.
As we sat in the room, it became quite cold. The man in charge said that a spirit had entered the room, a soldier who used to live in the house.
I saw the outline of a man appear to walk around the table and stop behind someone in the group, when I asked if that was where he was standing, the man in charge confirmed this. It looked like a shadowy outline, but it wasn't solid, it looked like heat waves moving around in the shape. It is the first time I have ever seen anything so clearly.
by P.J. Blakey-Novis
Meredith O'Brien's house was a small one; a red-brick construction built to last. Nearly ninety years on, and it was almost as solid as the day it had been built. The only structural change in all this time had been to move the toilet indoors, and this had been put-off until Meredith's husband, Bill, had become too ill to trudge to the outhouse each time he felt the urge. That had merely been a decade ago, and Bill had struggled on for another four years before the prostate cancer finally took him, leaving Meredith alone. Living independently after almost sixty years of marriage took some adjustment, but Meredith found it to not be anywhere near as unpleasant as she had expected.
Of course, there was sadness, she had lost her husband, but she was not one to mope, and certainly had no intention of joining him any sooner than necessary. They had been unable to have children, and most of their friends had either moved away or been cremated by this point, and so Meredith passed her time painting, and writing the novel she had always dreamed of completing. Life was peaceful, and this was how Meredith liked things. She still found herself talking aloud, on occasion, with comments that would have been aimed at Bill, if only he could hear her. Meredith took pleasure in reading each completed chapter from her armchair, as if reading to a keen listener rather than her empty house. Life would have stayed this way too, if it wasn't for those bastard developers.
Once a week, Meredith left the house to shop for groceries, carefully planning what she would eat so as not to have to go any other days. This was always on a Friday morning, after breakfast, and before she sat down to add to her piece of fiction. The small, red-brick house was one of only four properties which had remained homes on that street; the rest gradually being renovated and marketed as retail premises. Meredith was a frugal woman who had no interest in the shops that had sprung up along her little street over the past few years. Food was a necessity, a bottle of Mother's Ruin was a treat once a month, but she needed little else.
Her lack of interest in the opening of other businesses meant that she did not notice when they began to close, either. Until, one rainy Friday morning, she couldn't get her groceries. The shop's windows were whitewashed, with no sign of life. Of course, there had been a closing down sign in all the windows for weeks before it had actually happened, but Meredith never took the time to read the signs. All that remained was a small poster displaying the address of the nearest store. The rain was becoming heavier, and Meredith could not remember the last time she had ventured farther than where she currently stood. Bewildered, she ventured to the end of the street and glanced in all directions, hoping it would not be too far to go.
An hour later, Meredith dragged her tartan shopping trolley through her front door, removed her soaking coat, and slumped into an armchair to think. She didn't like the shop she had found; it was expensive, farther away, and the people working there couldn't speak English. She scolded herself a little for her casual racism but could not deny that she found it irritating being unable to understand what the staff were saying to one another.
Unaware of any other options, Meredith resigned herself to the same journey on the following Friday. She was thankful that the weather was far more pleasant this time and made a conscious effort to take in her surroundings. She lived exactly half-way along the street. There were twelve properties for her to pass as she headed towards the junction at the end of the road. Nine businesses, including the grocery shop, all had either closed signs in the windows, whitewashed windows, or heaps of mail visible through the glass doors. There were three houses and, despite the lack of any sold signs on display, they looked long-since abandoned.
"This town is really going downhill," Meredith mumbled to herself, hoping the new shop would have some decent gin, and feeling desperate to get home.
Almost four weeks passed, the days filled with the usual routine, until there came a knock at the door. Three hard knocks, in fact, which caused Meredith to jump a little, and adding too much paint to the brush she was holding.
"Who on earth could that be?" she mumbled. No-one ever came to visit, there was no-one she knew well enough. Meredith's first thought was that it could be someone selling something, either tat she didn't need, or a religion that she had no interest in. In which case, it would be simpler to ignore the caller. Surely there are too few homes along here now to justify sending out salespeople? Meredith pondered. Or someone needs help? A little reluctantly, she made her way to the door and opened it, letting out an audible sigh. She was greeted by two overweight men in suits, both wearing lanyards, one holding a clipboard.
"Good afternoon Mrs. O'Brien. My name is Patrick Matthews, and this is my colleague, Daniel Smith."
"I'll stop you there," Meredith began. "I have everything I need, both physically, and spiritually."
"We're not here to sell you anything," Smith interjected. "We're following up on the letter that we sent you some months ago, regarding your house." Meredith's face was blank.
"Did you not receive our letter, Mrs. O'Brien?"
"I don't open my mail," she explained. "No-one writes to me, my bills are all paid, and everything else is junk."
"I see," Matthews said, looking a little nervous. The letter would have given some warning, but now he had to do it himself. "You have probably noticed that the other properties on this street have closed, the homes are empty?"
"I'm aware of that. I have to walk farther to get my shopping now, and I'm not happy about it."
"Sorry to hear that. We represent the firm which has purchased the properties on this street, with a view to developing the land. Due to the generous offers made, we have had no difficulty in obtaining them all. Except yours, Mrs. O'Brien." Meredith stared at the men for a moment, processing what she had heard.
"My house is not for sale, if that's what you're getting at?"
"We are aware of the market value, Mrs. O'Brien, which has dropped since the closures of the businesses around you. We are willing to offer you fifty per cent over and above that value."
"I don't care if you are offering one hundred times the value; the house is not for sale. I'm too old to be moving to a new house now, I have enough money for myself, with no-one to leave it to if I had more. I'll be in this house until they take me out in a box." With that, Meredith closed the front door, and headed to the kitchen to fix a large gin. Her hands shook as she poured a triple measure into the tumbler, hating confrontation but angry at the audacity of the developers, and upset by the thought of her home being demolished. Despite having stated her position clearly, Meredith had a niggling suspicion that they would not give up quite so easily.
Two days had passed before Matthews and Smith returned. Meredith tried ignoring the banging at the door, but they were persistent, and she had had enough.
"I've told you I'm not selling," she stated, before either man could speak.
"We understand that, Meredith. May I call you Meredith?" Smith began.
"No, you may not," Meredith snapped back.
"Apologies. We have discussed the conversation we had last time and feel able to make you a substantially higher offer. Now, I know..." was as far as the conversation went before Smith found the door closing in his face. Instinctively, he placed a foot against the door frame, preventing it shutting completely. Meredith tried to hide the fear from her face as she took a step back, focusing on the feeling of anger instead.
"If my husband was still alive, you wouldn't get away with this behaviour! Now move your foot before I call the police!"
Matthews nodded at Smith, who slowly retracted his foot. No sooner had he moved it than the door slammed shut, seemingly of its own accord. Meredith stared at the door, trying to convince herself that, despite the stillness in the air, it had blown shut.
"Stupid woman," she heard one of them say. "Looks like it's Plan B."
Plan B? Meredith wondered. Offer more money? Send in the heavies? Do people really do that? Well, I won't be bullied out of my home. The return of the two men had set Meredith on edge, and she double-locked the front door as a precaution against their return.
Jason sat in greasy cafe cradling his coffee as he awaited his employers. It was shady business, but he'd been doing their dirty work for years by this time, and never considered quitting. The money was good, as with most illegal employments, and he took a certain pleasure in completing each task. He glanced towards the door as the two suits walked in, taking the seats across the table from him.
"What you got for me?" Jason asked. Matthews slid a scrap of paper across the sticky table, an address written on it.
"The boss needs this place. But the owner won't sell."
"How many in the house?" Jason asked.
"Just her; Meredith O'Brien. She's old, got to be more than eighty. No interest in money, says she's too old to move. Stubborn woman."
"OK," Jason replied, downing the last mouthful of cold coffee and standing to leave.
"Whatever it takes," Matthews told him, grabbing his arm. "We need her out within the week." Jason leaned towards Matthews' face and grinned.
"Take your fucking hand off me, unless you want to lose it." Matthews withdrew his hand, keeping eye contact with Jason.
"Just do what we pay you for." And Jason was gone.
Meredith rarely looked out on the street, preferring the view of her small back garden, which her painting room provided her with. This meant that for the rest of the day, Jason could observe the house from his car without being noticed. He clocked a few lights coming on and off inside, confirming that the owner was at home. He noted in his small notebook that she did not leave the house on that day. Once it was late enough to assume that Mrs. O'Brien would be sleeping, he approached the front door and gently tried the handle. There was no room for movement and hoping that the coast was clear, he shone a torch between the door and the frame. Double-locked. Shit. On the left-hand side of the house ran a narrow pathway, leading to the side entrance of the building next-door. A building that had once been a home, then a Polish food shop, and now sat empty. Carefully, Jason side-stepped past three plastic wheelie bins overflowing with rubbish. To his disappointment, there was no side door, or garden entrance, to Meredith's property. There was, however, also no lighting at the back of the property, and he was completely hidden from sight. The garden was bordered by a fence, approximately six feet in height, but certainly scalable.
Keeping his torch off, Jason pulled himself over the fence and slid quietly onto the flower bed that ran the length of the garden, destroying a couple of pansies on the way. The house sat in darkness, and he could just about make out the white uPVC frame of the back door, which led from the garden into the kitchen. He tried the door, on the off-chance it had been left unlocked, but no such luck. He decided to call it a night, once he had left his mark in the garden. After Jason had pulled up every flower that he could manage, kicking dirt across the lawn, he turned his attention to the ornaments, knocking them over, or simply flipping them upside-down. All the while, he could not shake the feeling that he was being watched. This kind of nocturnal, criminal activity was not something new to Jason, and there was always a little paranoia about being spotted. However, this felt different, like there were eyes on him. It was as he turned to destroy the bird bath that he was startled by something moving; a shadow in the periphery of his vision. He looked around but saw nothing. As his foot connected with the bird bath once again, the shadow seemed to swirl around him for a second before disappearing. Bastard cat, he thought, optimistically. Cat or no cat, Jason was sufficiently spooked to be on his way.
Meredith almost dropped her tea cup when she looked out of the kitchen door on the following morning. Despite the garden being small, she kept it presentable. The grass area was kept tidy, the beds were always filled with seasonal flowers, and the ornate wooden bird table (which Bill had hand-carved himself) sat proudly in the centre. That is, until now. Huge chunks of grass and soil had been ripped from the lawn, every single flower had been yanked out by the roots and, most upsetting of all, the bird table now lay scattered in pieces. She had never experienced anything like this before and had no doubts as to who was responsible. Without hesitation, Meredith called the police, foolishly thinking that they would be able to catch the perpetrator.
"We will have a chat with the men who came by," the officer told her, with a look that said 'Don't get your hopes up.' "But there is a good chance this was just kids. In the meantime, keep your house secure and get in touch if anything else happens." The police gave the garden another quick look-over before making their exit, all under the watch of Jason, who was parked a few buildings down from the house.
Deciding to deal with the mess outside a little later, Meredith grabbed her shopping trolley and made her way out the front door, double-locking it and trying the handle to be certain. She was visibly shaken, glancing up and down the street before she began the journey. It has to have been those bastards, she told herself. Surely when the police confront them, they will back off. From the crossroads, it was another ten-minute walk to the convenience store. She dragged her cart around, unable to concentrate on what she was really doing, not noticing the man who watched her from the end of each aisle. Once she had paid, and made her way outside, she did not notice him approach her from behind until he was inches from her face.
"You really should think about moving," he said with a grin. "At your age, people tend to have a lot of falls." Before she could reply, Jason was running ahead of her, disappearing out of sight. Meredith froze, attempting to process the threat she had received, unsure of what to do. However, it wasn't fear that she felt, as much as anger. The police will have to act now!
Meredith's pace quickened, as she hurried home to call the police. The fear that this unpleasant man could be waiting for her loitered at the back of her mind, but the idea of heading straight to the police station didn't occur to her. Reaching the door to her home, Meredith fumbled inside her handbag trying to locate her keys.
"For goodness' sake!" she muttered, slowly removing each item in her search. As she took out the last objects, a look of horror spread across her face as she realised they were not there. She knew full well that she had needed to use them to lock her front door, and the chance of them simply falling from her bag was virtually zero. Cautiously, Meredith tried the door, half expecting it to be unlocked and her assailant waiting within. However, the door remained firmly closed, with no way for her to gain entry.
For ten minutes, Meredith stood outside of her own home, weighing up her options, trying to hold back the tears that were forming. Taking the walk to the police station was her only choice now, but before she had taken a step, a car pulled up beside her.
"Having some difficulties, Mrs. O'Brien?" Matthews shouted through the open car window, barely concealing the smug look on his face. Meredith reacted before thinking, anger taking hold, and she marched towards the car, swinging her now empty handbag at the man. Her attack was met with laughter. "Calm down, love. This is all going to be fine." Matthews reached into his jacket pocket and passed Meredith a folded piece of paper. She opened it, staring incredulously at the cheque. It was a large sum of money, but she had no intention of accepting it and tore it to pieces in front of him, scattering the pieces in the breeze.
"I'm going to the police. You've effectively stolen my home."
Matthews feigned a worried look.
"Fine. You can have your keys back. We give up." He handed the bunch of keys over, which Jason had passed to him at the far end of the road. Meredith snatched them away from him, scuttling inside without noticing that there was one missing.
Meredith tried to predict how the police would act. After all, she had her keys back, and these bastards had, albeit unconvincingly, said they were giving up on their attempts to buy her home. I should report it anyway; at least get it on record somewhere in case they return.
"We'll get an officer out to see you, Mrs. O'Brien, but it may not be until tomorrow, I'm afraid." This wasn't the news that Meredith wanted to hear, but she remained polite and thanked the switchboard operator. She had rolled her eyes when advised to keep the doors and windows locked, trying to resist making a sarcastic comment about how she had planned to leave everything open for anyone to wander in. With a hot cup of tea, Meredith sat herself in the armchair and thought over the events of the day.
"They wouldn't dare to do this if you were still here Bill," she said aloud, her eyes falling on their wedding photograph, which sat on the mantel piece. "You'd take care of everything." Meredith could feel her eyes moisten, as she fought back tears. "Why did you have to leave?" she said, a hint of anger evident. A gust of wind caused the curtains to flap, startling Meredith. Certain the windows had been closed, she stood up, to find that they still were. She looked around the room in confusion, teacup still in hand. Meredith let out a yelp as the small cupboard door in the corner of the living room swung open. Transfixed she stood, rooted to the spot, as two scenic jigsaw puzzles appeared to fall from the space, followed by a very old Scrabble set. Then nothing.
After a good ten minutes of not knowing how to react, Meredith put the events down to something explainable, despite the fact she could not fathom what. Only as she went to place the items back in the cupboard did she feel it, feel him, gently touching her arm. She flinched at the cold touch, but the familiarity of it was undeniable.
"Bill?" she whispered, trembling, and feeling a little silly for even thinking he could still be around. The Scrabble set moved. Meredith cautiously bent down to pick it up, but an unseen force knocked it from her hands, scattering the lettered tiles across the carpet. Feeling faint, Meredith sat back in her chair, staring at the floor as the tiles began to move.
First an 'I' took its place in front of her, at her feet, before being joined by more letters. Meredith's eyes widened as the words formed; I didn't leave, Merry. No-one but Bill had called her Merry, not ever. She had no doubt that he was there, but the shock was enough for her pass out where she sat.
By the time she regained consciousness, more letters had been added, telling Meredith that Bill loved her. She watched as they shifted back and forth, unseen hands spelling out the words that he would keep her safe when those men returned. However, Meredith didn't care anymore. Having never been particularly religious, she hadn't expected there to be anything beyond the earthly life. Now she had no doubts that they could reunite in death, and she wanted nothing more than to join her husband.
"I want to come with you," she told him. "They can have the damned house." The tiles moved, more slowly this time as if Bill was unsure how to respond. 'Not yet', Meredith read, followed by 'not because of them'. She began to sob. "I'm ready, Bill. You have no idea how lonely I've been! What do you want me to do? Keep living alone, our conversations reliant on bloody Scrabble tiles?!" There was a pause, much longer than Meredith expected, as Bill was clearly thinking through their options. The tiles shifted purposefully. 'Revenge first'.
Bill was angry, that much was clear to Meredith. The threat she was facing had, through an unexpected series of events, caused her to want to die. The developers had essentially killed Meredith, whether it had been their intention or not. The tiles jumped about on the rug. 'Call them'. Meredith pondered Bill's intentions, doubting that inviting those men to the house would end well for them. "I can't," Meredith began.
Before she could speak again, a clatter from the kitchen startled her. Curtains and papers rustled in the living room as Bill moved about. She could swear she saw a shadow leave the room and head towards the kitchen. Hands trembling, heart racing, Meredith followed and found Jason stood in her kitchen.
"What the hell are you doing in my house?" Meredith demanded, trying to hide her fear. "I'm calling the police!" Jason lunged towards the elderly woman, grabbing her by the forearm and turning her back to face him.
"I'm only doing my job, lady. You'd be much better off just selling the house." Jason couldn't read the expression on Meredith's face, a mixture of fear and surprise, followed by a smirk of satisfaction. If he had seen what came from behind him, Jason would have understood, but the first thing he noticed was the warm sensation in the side of his neck. Jason's grip on Meredith eased a little as he raised his free hand up to the now wet area. Dabbing his fingers in the moisture, he examined his hand to see the unmistakable crimson of his own blood. He placed a hand on the kitchen counter to steady himself, as dizziness took hold. Jason did his best to see who was behind him, but the knife struck again, plunging into his side repeatedly until he gurgled his final breath, drenched in red from head to toe.
Meredith stared as her kitchen knife etched words into the wooden counter-top. 'Call them.' She was afraid, not only of the men who wanted her gone from her home, but now of Bill. Such a level of violence was out of character for him, certainly whilst he had been alive, but death brings a greater degree of freedom. Attempting to keep her voice level, Meredith retrieved the crumpled letter from her waste paper bin and dialled the number.
"Mr. Matthews?" she began. "Meredith O'Brien." There was a moment of hesitation. Probably wondering if his thug has been here yet, Meredith thought.
"Mrs. O'Brien, what a lovely surprise. What can I do for you?"
"I wish to sell the house. But it needs to be tonight."
"Well, I can't pretend to not be happy about that. What brought on the sudden change of heart?" Matthews asked, unsure if he really wanted to know.
"I'm sure you can guess, Mr. Matthews. I'm too old for all this nonsense, and as much as I think that you, and your firm, are the lowest of all God's creatures, I'm not going to stay here worrying about what you'll do next. Bring your cheque book and a contract round, and let's get this over with." With that, Meredith hung up the receiver and returned to the kitchen. Gingerly stepping over the body on her linoleum flooring, taking care not to slip on the ever-increasing blood puddle, Meredith poured a large gin into one of her crystal tumblers. "The ball's in your court now, Bill," she said aloud.
Barely fifteen minutes later came a knock at the door, and Meredith was greeted by Mr. Matthews.
"Come in," she said, trying to hide her disappointment that he had come alone. "Your partner couldn't make it?"
"I didn't think it was necessary to drag him out; I'll call him when we are done. Where would you like me?"
"Living room," Meredith replied, nodding her head towards the nearest door. She followed him in, taking her position in the armchair, whilst he sat across the room from her.
"It's a pretty standard contract," he began. "It states that you are happy to transfer the deeds for the property over to the development firm, at the price stated within. The only parts which need completing are your signature, and the date at which the transfer would take place. How soon are you able to move?"
"Tomorrow," she told him. His eyes registered surprise, but he certainly looked pleased that it could be so soon. "And I would like the cheque made out to the local hospital. They took care of my husband before he passed, so it seems like the right thing to do."
"The whole amount?" the man asked, a little uncertain. "Do you not need some for the purchase of another property?"
"Do you want to buy the bloody house or not? What business is it of yours what I do with my money?" Meredith fixed him with a glare, and he said no more, reaching into his case for the cheque book and a pen. Meredith folded the payment in half, sliding it into her blouse pocket, before signing the contract.
"Well, that wasn't too painless, was it?" Matthews said, a little smugly.
"Not yet," Meredith mumbled. Matthews stood to leave, the contract still firmly in his hands. "Oh, one more thing. Have you met my husband, Bill?" A puzzled look spread over his face. Old bat's gone a bit senile, he thought.
"Er, I thought you said your husband had died, Mrs. O'Brien?"
"Yes, he is dead, that's correct. Nevertheless, he'd still like to meet you." Meredith grinned at the man, who looked a little flustered. Before he could take a step, the curtains flapped again. Matthews managed to get as far as the doorway of the living room before being launched backwards by an unseen force, hitting his head against the fireplace.
"What the fuck?" he mumbled, looking up at Meredith. Matthews felt a weight on his chest, keeping him to the ground. He screamed for help, unable to understand his predicament.
"Screaming won't help, I'm afraid. All the buildings around here are empty, remember?" Meredith looked content as she watched on from her armchair. The fireplace had not been used for decades, but it was ornamental, complete with an antique basket containing a brush, shovel, tongs, and poker. Meredith watched as the poker appeared to float in mid-air, before slamming down into the wooden floor board, piercing Matthews' hand and securing him to the spot. He let out another scream, but it became muffled as the tongs entered his mouth, snapping at his tongue. They were blunt, but Bill's ghostly grip was tight, and the gurgling sound which accompanied the spurt of blood signified the loss of Mr. Matthews' tongue. There was only a soft moan, as the poker was ripped back through the man's hand and appeared to be aimed at his genitals.
"There's no need for that!" Meredith scalded her husband. "Just get it over with, please." The poker moved quickly, aligning itself with Matthews' face, specifically above his left eye. He tried to wriggle his head away from under the weapon but could not get it to move far enough. Meredith watched as the front of Mr. Matthews' navy-blue suit trousers darkened with urine, only seconds before Bill dealt his death-blow. As quick as an arrow, the poker forced its way through eye and brain with a squelch. His right leg twitched momentarily, then all was still.
"I need to find a stamp," Meredith explained, rising from her chair, cheque in hand. The rather large payment was quickly sealed into an envelope, addressed, and stamped. "I'm going to post this, then I'll be back," she told Bill. The street was silent, to her relief, and she made her way to the end of the road as quickly as possible, where the nearest post box stood. The redness of the box reminded her of the scene inside her home, and for a brief moment she felt something similar to regret. Too late now, she told herself, knowing there was only one way in which this could end. Letting herself back through the front door, and removing her coat, Meredith took to her armchair for what she knew would be the last time.
"So, Bill, how do we do this?" No answer. The tiles remained still on the floor. "Don't wimp out on me now Bill, I thought you were going to do this?" Meredith sat upright, eyes glistening with tears as she wondered if she could go through with suicide. "Bill!" she pleaded, letting tears fall. A cushion rose from the chair that had recently been Matthews' resting pace and moved towards Meredith. She smiled, whispering a 'thank-you'. As she closed her eyes, feeling the soft fabric press against her face, she did not try to fight it. Her chest began to sting as her lungs failed to fill, her head feeling lighter, until she was no more.
Moments passed before she could see again, but now everything had a vibrant tone to it. She gazed into Bill's eyes as he dropped the cushion and kissed her fully. "Merry, my darling. I've missed you more than words could ever convey."
"And I, you William. But you never have to miss me again."
Spirit Photography dates back to the 19th century and is used to try and capture ghosts on camera. William H. Mumler used it in the 1860's when he accidentally used a double exposure. He started selling double exposed images, to add the images of dead loved ones to the picture. He was soon discovered as a fraud.
Nowadays, spirit photography has a whole new meaning. Many people capture orbs on their cameras, which many claim are spirits. Others argue that they are in fact just dust particles. What do you believe?
Comment if you have ever captured a ghost on camera.
The Veil between worlds is said to be what separates the land of the living and the land of the dead. It is said that the veil thins at a certain time of year - Halloween. During this time, we celebrate the dead, visit graves of our ancestors and communicate with those that have passed.
1. Tell us about your book
The story Meredith is one of six short stories included in my latest collection, The Artist & Other Stories: Collection III. Meredith is ghost story, and the other stories feature serial killers, sirens, and supernatural powers.
2. Who is your main character?
In this story, Meredith is the main character. She is a widow, now living alone and trying to keep her home out of the hands of some greedy developers.
3. Do your ghost have any special abilities or traits?
The ghost in the story is Meredith’s husband, Bill. Meredith was unaware of his presence in their home, until she found herself in danger and needed his help.
4. What is your favorite movie featuring a ghost and why?
My favourite film with ghosts in has to be Ghostbusters. Of course, it isn’t exactly scary but it’s a fun film, with some hilarious scenes, and one I could watch many times.
5. Where can readers find out more about you and your work?
You can find more about my books at www.redcapepublishing.com/our-authors and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pjbnauthor
Ghost films have been around for over a hundred years. As film goers, we love to scare ourselves silly watching them. While ghost films rarely come up with something new, here is a list of some of the top horror films of recent years and films that shook up the genre:
Gina regretted volunteering to overhaul the choir’s music files the instant she laid eyes on the job ahead of her. She had been let in via the tradesman’s entrance at the rear of the building, shown to a flight of stairs past the main hall to the cellars below. The musty smell of the old building and its dimly lit corridors were off putting enough, but on being let into the cellar, Gina’s heart really sank.
A row of eight filing cabinets, all stuffed full of words and music, lined the wall to her left. Spread across the floor more boxes held music, some over-flowing, spilling their contents. Items of old furniture, broken chairs, ancient tables, clothes rails, even an old organ, were variously strewn with sheets of music and all kinds of litter that appeared long forgotten.
“We’ll just be upstairs in rehearsal. It’s much appreciated,” Peter, the elderly chorister who had escorted Gina down to the cellar, shakily handed over the cellar key, nodded his thanks and turned to climb the stairs. The strains of a piano playing and muffled voices became briefly clearer as the door was pushed open and Peter joined the choir.
Gina felt strangely distant down here in the cellar alone, as if the hall and its male voice choir were very far away. She fought back the irrational urge to follow Peter up the stairs and tell him she’d changed her mind, instead turning her attention to the task at hand.
She would itemise the contents of the boxes first, she decided. Laying them out alphabetically across the floor, she could get them in some sort of order before she even opened a filing cabinet. She began pushing some of the furniture out of the way, scraping chair legs noisily across the red tile floor, struggling with a table far heavier than it looked. Upstairs, the choir were singing Deus Salutis.
Something stirred in the far corner. Panting from exertion, Gina stood up straight and watched for further movement; nothing, merely shadows within shadows. It was much darker there she noted; the lights at that end of the room were not switched on.
Expecting a cat or worse, a rat, she crossed back to the open doorway. Four light switches were set into the wall; only two of them were on. She flicked them, expecting the room to flood with light. A single dim bulb seeped into life. Opposite, in the corner where Gina thought she had seen something move, it remained stubbornly dark.
Gina shivered; that corner was wholly uninviting. Perhaps it was just that it was the darkest spot in the room. Maybe her hair had fallen into her eyes and tricked her into thinking she had seen something. She shrugged it off, feeling faintly foolish and conscious of the need to make a start on the filing.
Cursing the fact that she had forgotten her notepad, she began casting about for scraps of paper to write on. She had found a marker pen sitting on top of a box. Now she needed to write the letters of the alphabet on separate sheets and lay them in order across the floor; a rudimentary filing system to begin with.
She had made a good start, the floor covered with small, neat piles of music sheets, her hands grubby with the feel of old, untouched papers, when Peter reappeared at the door, “All okay?” he asked, scanning the room warily, “We’ve finished for tonight. See you Wednesday will we?”
“Oh, is that the time already? Yes, see you Wednesday,” Gina said, more brightly than she felt. Her gaze had been dragged back to that dark corner the whole time she was working. She glanced across at it now involuntarily, Peter’s eyes following hers.
“You’ve been busy,” He nodded at the rows of paper, all headed with assorted scraps individually marked A-Z, making three rows in all. Gina was suddenly alarmed.
“Do cleaners come down here?” she asked, afraid her painstaking work would be tidied away.
Peter gave her an odd look, “Nobody comes down here, just me,” he paused, “and now you.”
He held his hand out for the key. Glad to give it back, Gina grabbed her coat and bag and was at the top of the stairs and outside before Peter had a chance to lock the cellar door.
In the warmth and safety of her flat, Gina dismissed the whole incident as her over-active imagination. She had been on edge ever since she moved in a few weeks ago. It being near impossible to find a job hadn’t helped. That was why she had volunteered her services in the first place she reminded herself, when she had seen the choir’s rather old-fashioned advert for a ‘voluntary filing clerk’ in the local paper. It would give her something to focus on while she job hunted.
Yet the memory of that dark corner stayed with her, invading her dreams and turning them into near-nightmares, where everything came in shades of black and grey and all the shapes were nebulous, sinister; formless.
On Wednesday evening she decided to take a torch with her, to investigate the darkness, expose her fears as groundless and forget about it once and for all.
Peter handed her the key once again and wordlessly climbed the stairs. Immediately, Gina felt a tingling at her back. There was no one there; just that dark corner, heavy with threat, brooding and forbidding.
She half expected her work to be scattered wide but it lay just as she had left it. Heartened, she decided to investigate the corner first, put it behind her and get on with the job.
The torch felt hard and comfortingly real in her jacket pocket. She took it out and set it to full beam. It glowed strong and powerful. Encouraged, she picked her way carefully across the floor.
She saw now that when she had been pushing furniture out of the way she had formed a line; tables, chairs, clothes rail and organ standing in a row as if to delineate light and dark, or to hold something at bay. She chided herself for the thought; it was nothing more than a subconscious action, her tidy mind taking over, that’s all.
A navy blue jacket, the choir’s emblem on its left breast, hung from the clothes rail, along with some empty hangers and a tatty old suit cover. They rattled as she used the top bar as a hand hold and stepped through the body of the rail. She took a few steps, trailing the torchlight slowly over the rear wall and into the corner. The pulse in her throat quickened, her chest constricted. A cold sweat covered her back as the shadowy forms became more distinct.
A single picture frame hung lopsidedly from the wall. There was no plaster or paintwork here, just the original bare brick. A scrap of carpet lay under an old wooden chair and an ancient filing cabinet stood at an angle to the wall. Other than that, there was nothing. These items were much like everything else in the room, not at all out of place; there were certainly no disembodied figures or leering spectres lurking there.
Relieved, Gina nevertheless couldn’t wait to get away from there. Unwilling to turn her back, she clumsily found her way back to the clothes rail and the light beyond. She realised she was shaking, her breath coming in short, panicky rasps. She gave a weak laugh, more forced than real, and tried to calm down.
Her hands were cold and trembling as she began sorting the papers on the floor, her work doing nothing to warm or steady them. At last, Peter appeared at the doorway and told her it was time to leave. She couldn’t resist looking over at the corner one last time, but now a different movement caught her eye.
The navy jacket was swinging on the rail; not wildly like it had when she had knocked it in passing earlier, but regularly, uniformly; as if it was being steadily pushed by a hand on the other side. The hangers and the tatty suit cover hung still and unmoving beside it.
Gina’s blood ran cold. She turned to Peter to gauge if he had seen it too, but he wasn’t even looking that way. He was simply staring at her, his hand raised to take back the key.
She made up her mind not to go back on Monday as arranged. She would phone Peter and tell him she had other commitments. He wouldn’t argue; he knew as well as she did that there was something odd in that cellar. She had seen it in his eyes.
The dreams came again, more vivid than before. Now, from the grey-gloom of her nightmares the chair took on a weird life of its own, bulging and bending as if it might burst, tongues lolling from its wooden arms as if to lick her, hands growing from its frame to reach out and grasp her. The filing cabinet drawers seemed to scream as they opened, sending flakes of rust falling to the carpet below to pool, suddenly wet, like blood, at its feet; and all the time that picture frame swung madly from side to side, scraping the brickwork, the glass inside splintering into myriad spiteful pieces…
She had resolved not to go back there a hundred times or more, so Gina was surprised to find herself back that Monday evening as promised. Peter seemed even more so. He said nothing, but the way his eyebrows raised and his mouth formed a small oh at seeing her gave him away.
He unlocked the door, slipped the key into her hand and climbed the stairs, never speaking a word. Gina was grateful for that, sure that normal conversation was beyond her. Moments later there came the sound of masculine voices, the piano striking up a tune she did not recognise. Gina turned to look into the cellar.
Part of her had half expected the scraps of paper bearing the alphabet to have formed some message, like a giant Ouija board. She let out a sigh of relief to find that they were once again exactly as she had left them. Across the room, the jacket and its companions hung peaceably on the rail. She grasped the torch in her pocket tightly for reassurance, as if it had become some kind of talisman and stepped down into the room.
Things had been quiet; she had got a lot done. It took Gina a good while to even realise that something was amiss. She had been finding a disproportionate number of sheets for one song; Evermore.
Curious as to why there were so many copies of this, she had nonetheless stacked them up and filed them into her rough system under ‘E’ accordingly, this pile now much higher and less stable than all the others. It was only when she stopped to straighten up and rub her aching back that she saw what was wrong.
Evermore was on top of every single pile of paper on the floor. It faced upwards from every stack; A, Evermore, B, Evermore, C, Evermore… Not one single letter of the alphabet had been missed out; X, Evermore, Y, Evermore, Z Evermore.
This time her panic was instant; there was no voice of reason arguing in her head, nothing but a primitive urge telling her to get out, now. She turned on her heel and ran for the door, tripping over the handles of her bag in her haste. Cursing, she scrambled up, grabbed the bag and lunged for the door.
It slammed shut in her face.
Gina stopped dead in shocked confusion. What the hell was going on here? Was that Peter? Did he think this was funny?
A surge of anger flooded her veins. She hammered at the door, “Peter! Peter! This is not funny. What the hell do you think you’re doing?” Her hands, slick with cold sweat, were sliding uselessly off the handle; it was locked. Gina’s stomach lurched, “Why would you lock it? I’ve got a key, remember?” Her voice was high with fear, “You gave me a key!” She fumbled about in her pockets, weak with relief when her hands brushed the cold metal of the key, “I’ve got a key!” she shouted again, hands shaking so badly she had to use both of them to guide it into the lock.
It wouldn’t turn. No matter how many times she tried it this way and that, it would not open. Frustrated, Gina banged her fists against the door, screaming for help, jolting the key out of the lock, sending it clattering to the floor.
He had given her the wrong key. All this time he must have planned this, slipping her a fake key to give her some false sense of safety. Yet all the time he planned to lock her down here for some hellish reason.
Gina knew she had to calm down. More than ever now she needed to be rational, to think clearly.
A gentle rustling behind her made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. A mere whisper of noise, it somehow filled the room, filling her with a dread far greater than any she had yet known. She huddled closer into the door, wishing she could somehow melt herself through it and out the other side. The rustling went on a moment longer, then stopped; the atmosphere expectant.
Dreading what she might see, she turned around. Her neatly ordered rows were still untouched; the song sheet Evermore still topped each pile, but now the header letters did indeed spell out a word. Across the centre of the middle row, in Gina’s own hand-writing, was the word STAY.
Gina gave a strangled sob, her breath suddenly visible on the air, spiralling upwards as a dank chill descended. The rustling began again and Gina watched, transfixed, as the letters rearranged themselves in front of her into a new word; GINA.
She moaned, low and guttural, heaving her body away from the door to search frantically for the key; if she could find it, just try it one more time in the lock…
The lights went out, the darkness so complete it seemed solid. There was no sound, not even a trace of movement. Gina froze. Then the grating, dry sound of something rasping across stone came to her through the darkness; a sound that made her sick with fear. She had heard that noise before, in her dreams. She couldn’t see it, yet she knew it was the picture frame, swinging to and fro on its hook, scraping the bare bricks of the wall.
She closed her eyes against the darkness, making herself as small as she could, covering her ears. The scraping grew wilder, faster, louder, followed at last by the shattering of glass as the frame flew violently free of the hook and crashed to the floor.
Gina cringed, expecting shards to be thrown in her direction, unseen hands to pull at her, but the room seemed to have fallen still once more. Sobbing, she fumbled for her torch, her fingers clumsy as she hurried to turn it on. Only when she heard the small click of its switch did she reopen her eyes.
Over in the corner, a single bulb flickered into life.
Her legs felt at once leaden and weak. Gina crawled heavily to the wall, used it for support to struggle to her feet and looked over. The bulb shone faintly above the chair and the filing cabinet. She reached back and tested the door handle one last time, knowing it was pointless, suddenly overcome with a feeling of inevitability.
It was that sense of fate that lured her on towards the corner. The bare bulb was swinging erratically, sending shadows to loom monstrously inwards upon the little scene and then veer away. Her feet crunched upon shattered glass and she looked down; the frame was snapped but whatever it had held was still in one piece against the wooden backboard.
She knelt down and shone her torchlight upon the paper. A face she recognised stared up at her from a photograph alongside an article in yellowing print. The title above it read: ‘Killer Chorister” Dies.’
Gina picked it up; it was a Weekly Herald paper cutting, dated some years ago.
‘Killer Chorister’ Peter Hesquith passed away in his prison cell yesterday afternoon after a brief illness. Hesquith, 87, was once a well-known and much loved local character, who late in his choir career achieved some success when his hymn, ‘Evermore’ was published. It became something of a signature tune for the now defunct male voice choir to which he belonged. His arrest and eventual imprisonment, along with several fellow choristers, was a huge shock to the community. As a consequence the song lost popularity and is now rarely sung, largely due to the nature of its lyrics when held against the evidence of his crimes. Hesquith and fellow choir members Gregory Lacey, Raymond Chapman and Phillip Greer, were all convicted of charges including theft, fraud, abduction and murder. Hesquith, widely believed to be the ringleader, received a life sentence.
It was proved that the building in which the choir practised played a role in the abductions, if not the murders, of the quartet’s many victims. As a result the choir disbanded, in part as a mark of respect to the victims and their families, but also due to the widely held feeling that the building had become tainted by its misuse. It has since fallen into disrepair and is no longer in use.
Hesquith is the first of the four to pass away, being the oldest by some years. There were rumours at the time of their arrest of a pact between the men to reunite ‘on the other side’ leading some to speculate there may also have been an occult interest to their activities. One thing is certain; if we do ever find out more about the actions and thinking of these men, it will not be Hesquith who tells us now.’
Gina threw the paper aside and fell onto all fours, retching. How could Peter be the man in the photograph? How could the choir be defunct? They were the very reason she was here. She had heard them herself, singing above her head as she worked in the cellar below…
The chair creaked as if a sudden weight rested in it. Disbelieving, Gina wiped her mouth and looked up. Peter sat smartly upright in the chair; his eyes closed, a faint smile on his face, his feet tapping in time to a tune she could not hear.
The sound of the piano came, loud and clear. Feet shuffled on the floorboards above their heads, a throat was cleared in readiness to sing. Gina could hear them; she could hear them! She curled into a ball on the floor, mindless of the shattered glass pricking her skin, sobbing freely, helplessly.
Peter’s eyes flickered open. He did not even cast a glance at Gina, prostrate and defenceless at his feet. In harmony with the unseen choir, he began to sing;
We shall be together
Shall we be apart
We will endeavour
Joined heart to heart…’
The song came to an end. The light went out.
S. P. Oldham
Dopplegangers are our exact doubles. Sometimes they can appear as a normal person, but other times they appear as ghostly apparitions. So what are they?
They are said to represent bad luck and anyone who sees their own doppleganger could be in danger.
The ancient Egyptians believed that everyone has a spirit double.
Abraham Lincoln was said to have seen his own double in a mirror, two separate reflections which was said to be a bad omen. He died shortly afterwards.
Have you ever seen your ghostly twin?
I AM AN AUTHOR, BLOGGER AND A JOURNALIST.
“Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.”