This may sound like nothing, but I cannot tell you the uncanny monotony of its nightly repetitions. We refused to recognise it, of course, being sane, a family of atheists and, above all, British. One night, my furious doctor father, up book-writing in the early hours, bellowed: “Whoever’s charging up and down the stairs, will they stop?”
His wife and children rallied indignant: “Well, it’s not bloody us.”
One night, emboldened by drink, I roared: “Shut the ---- up” and it did, briefly, before recommencing with still more emphatic zeal. (There was a silver lining to this episode: my little sister, then nine, recently alluded to my big-sister bravery with the line: “Hannah shouts at ghosts.”)
READ: Ghost stories: The Wolf Man
Back then, we didn’t use the G-word. In fact, we strove not to use any word at all – not to acknowledge our summer haunting, certainly not to discuss it. And so the house tried harder, with what, I imagine, would be referred to as classic poltergeist activity. We would return home to find the taps turned on full-force, requiring wrenching back into inaction. An oven, on the third floor, would have its rings switched to red hot, making the house’s already airless attics crackle dangerously with heat. After the second time it happened, we had it disconnected. It happened again. (And, believe me, as I write this, I too think it is mad.)
Matters became worse. One night, the boarded-over fireplace in my room ripped open with a clamour. I wrenched my pillow over my ears, telling myself it must be a trapped bird. In the daylight, I investigated. Behind the fireplace, crammed up the chimney, were Victorian newspapers recording the house’s murder. I couldn’t read them.
My mother started behaving oddly – pensive, distracted. We eldest and Nanny Williams, our beloved summer-holiday addition, interrogated her. Finally, she cracked. Waking in the night, she had seen a dead child. This is how she described it – not a ghost, but a dead child dressed in Victorian clothing, visible from the knees up. It had a certain logic: a child appearing to a mother. I became determined not to see any such thing. Sounds could be denied; but sights would be too appalling.
But my mother was not the only person to be so affected. The house’s most oppressive room, overlooking the garden, we still do not venture into. It is colder than the rest of the house, now a repository for our old toys, which adds a certain Gothic element.
Back then, however, my four-year-old brother occupied it. Like all youngest offspring, he was a golden child: charming, vivacious. That summer he changed: rendered quiet, hollow-eyed, with the air of a tiny old man. Asked why he was so exhausted as he sat yawning one morning, he answered: “Every night, it’s the same: the lady with the big bottom [a bustle? I wonder] and the two men fighting over my bed, then one man hurts the other and the lady screams.” From then on, he slept in my mother’s room.
My grandmother bedded down there next, innocent of that summer’s events, then refused to ever again. My mother braved it to prove her wrong. Next morning, the room was locked. When we quizzed her, she refused to divulge what had happened, saying only that it was “something to do with time”. Somehow this was – and remains – the most horrifying thing I had ever heard.
READ: Ghost stories: A night in England's most haunted bedroom
Still, the part of the narrative that brings most fear to the few friends in whom I’ve confided it is this. One bright August day, drinking tea in the kitchen, we elders – me, my sister, Nanny and mother – finally admitted that something was happening. We laughed and teased each other but, my God, it was a relief.
Suddenly, a mirror sprang off the wall and shattered. On the back of its glass, in an old-fashioned script, the numbers 666 were repeatedly etched, along with the message: “I’m going to ------- kill you all.” I know you won’t believe this – I don’t believe it. But it happened.
Like you, I am wary of ghost stories: their linear march and relentless building to a crescendo. This is a story with no denouement. Over time, a year or two, events gradually petered out. Again, I am told that this is standard form: ghosts (I can barely type the word) act up with newcomers, then they – and you – adjust. Plus, I like to think that Bettses are far more terrifying.
Today, I love my parents’ house with its greenery and servants’ bells. It is our home. Yet still it has the capacity to act up. Our neighbour’s new cleaner recently informed him that she would not be returning, having seen a woman walk through a wall (our buildings were once joined). On another occasion, one brother’s girlfriend remarked that everything in her room had shaken at 4am. Was there some sort of quake?
“Some sort of quake,” we replied.
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Read more of our writers’ chilling tales at www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/
English Horror Story - Original Writing Essay
1927 Words8 Pages
English Horror Story - Original Writing
I was driving for about three hours when I realised I had taken the wrong turning and was hopelessly lost. I pulled over to the side and found my mobile phone in order to phone for help. Surprisingly, the battery had run completely low and I began to feel a sense of panic as it was rapidly becoming darker. In the distance, I saw the outline of a house and I thought that I could detect smoke coming out of the chimney. I decided that I had no option but to make my way to the house and ask for directions and for the use of the telephone as my family would be getting worried about me.
I drove to the house which was completely isolated and as I pulled up…show more content…
But nevertheless, I moved closer and I realised that it was only the door knocker. I took a deep breath and knocked on the door. I could hear the scuffling of shoes as if a person was rushing about inside, making me wonder whether these people were trying to hide something.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the door opened, and on the other side stood an old tired man in what seemed to be a butler's uniform. However, the old man did not look like a regular butler as he was quite plump and seemed to waddle instead of walk. He gestured for me to come in and to follow him. He waddled into the living room where a younger man sat, smoking a pipe. The younger man looked up at me, and startled me by his left glass eye, which seemed to be constantly staring at me.
"Ah, hello my friend. What brings you here on this night of the full moon?" The young man asked with the glass eye still staring intently. "Oh, and please do keep your voice down. My son is already asleep upstairs."
"I'm sorry to disturb you at this time of night, but I am lost and my car has broken down. I was wondering if it would be possible to use your telephone; that is if it's not too much trouble."
"I'm afraid to say that the storm earlier on has cut all the telephone lines in the area. However, if you wish, I have a spare bedroom