Ghost Story Competition Winner
Thank you to all our lovely readers who entered our Ghost Story Competition over Christmas.
You are a spooky lot!
Well, after some deliberation we have our winner and that is
Carolyn Denman for her story The Lonely House
We have already contacted Carolyn and are ensuring her fabulous prize, courtesy of Meadow Carpets in Haverfordwest, will be winging its way to her. https://meadowcarpets.co.uk/
Hope you have a lovely time choosing your new rug, Carolyn.
In addition, out of the generosity of our hearts and because we couldn’t resist, we would like to offer a runner-up prize of a £10 book token to Aisling Phillips for her story The Winter Cat which you will be able to read here tomorrow.
Thank you for all your contributions, readers.
You can read Carolyn’s story below.
THE LONELY HOUSE
The old house had a wonderful weathered appearance. Built from local stone, it had a gaunt, grey demeanour, brightened by coloured lichens which thrived in the pure Dartmoor air. Pale yellow, lime and ivy green, even white, they gave the lonely house a welcoming air.
Tom parked the car, and his wife and twin daughters got out.
‘Mum, we’re all alone, no neighbours,’ Bryony said, spinning around in delight.
‘Long journey.’ Heather stretched. ‘Old house, Dad.’
‘Built-in the 16th century. Apparently there’s a historic landmark beside the house.’
The twins ran across the springy grass and through the garden gate. Lisa laughed and followed, with Tom in the rear. Just outside the fence, there was a high stone cross. The twins were looking at it solemnly.
‘Creepy. Why’s it here beside the house?’ asked Heather.
Tom opened his Dartmoor guidebook,
‘According to this, it’s called Mount Misery Cross.’
‘Perfect,’ Lisa said in Tom’s ear. ‘Great holiday location.’
‘It’s lovely here,’ said Bryony, surveying the undulating moorland with the pinks and purples of the August heathers. The bright yellows of prickly gorse were visible in clumps too. ‘Why call it Mount Misery, Dad?’
‘The guide says a monk died in a nearby bog when he lost his way on the moor.’
‘Gruesome! Let’s go and find the bog. Come on, Bryony.’
‘Perhaps his bones are still there, just coming up out of the mud.’
The two ten-year-olds ran helter-skelter out of the gate and off across the moor.
‘Careful,’ Lisa called. ‘I’d better go after them, Tom.’
‘OK, I’ll start unloading the car.’
With a brief glance after his family, Tom turned the key and entered the house. It was silent. Not even the ticking of a clock. Tom paused and shivered, looking around uneasily. The hall contained a set of wide, shallow stairs and nothing else. Striding forward, Tom opened the first door onto a stone-flagged kitchen. On each side of the hall, a corridor ran towards the front of the house. Tom’s footsteps sounded as he crossed the aged wooden flooring. He turned a corner and blinked.
‘What?’ For a moment, he saw a grey spiral of mist part-way along the corridor. Stopping to pull off his glasses and rub his eyes, he looked again.
There was nothing in the corridor. Shaking his head at his own imagination, he continued on his tour. He brought all the cases in, then plugged in the kettle ready to make drinks when the others returned.
But he felt impelled to return to the corridor, the floorboards creaking ominously as he walked. Tom felt cold. He looked at the dark wood panelling on the walls, reaching to tap it. He chuckled as distant memories of the Famous Five surfaced. He gave a cheerful rat-tat-tat on the nearest panel.
A thunderous knocking sounded in response. Tom’s whole body jerked with shock, he stared at the panel. Then he remembered his family.
‘Twins,’ he said, annoyed, and turned around.
A grey-black form was advancing towards him, its face was hidden deep inside the hood of a monk’s robe.
‘Who…?’ Tom felt an icy chill seep through him. He lifted a foot to run, but he was frozen in place.
‘You disturb my slumber.’ The sound resonating deep inside Tom’s head ended in a screech. Tom flinched, the hairs on his arms lifting. Feeling stifled, he tried to take a deep breath but there wasn’t any air. He tore at his throat with his hands. A sharp pain in his ankles, made him glance downwards. His feet had vanished. More pain gripped him and he screamed as he sank further through the floorboards.
‘You will join me,’ the monk told him. ‘They betrayed me, my so called brothers. Brothers Mark and John threw me into the bog, ignored my calls and left me to die. All men will pay.’
Tom implored the monk with his eyes, he had no breath to beg.
There was no response. Pain ripped up Tom’s legs, then his hips were being crushed and the rest of his body fell. Down, down and down.
Tom’s arms splatted against mud. Viscous, black-green and stinking, it was engulfing him. Tom paddled frantically with his hands, then he saw his family: his girls and Lisa, their backs turned towards him as they moved away from the bog.
‘Not much to see,’ said Bryony.
‘It’s dried up over the centuries.’
‘If they see you, you will be saved.’ The voice grated across his mind.
Turn, turn, he implored his family.
‘Call to them,’ the voice taunted.
Tom’s voice was functioning again. Anguished, he opened his mouth and yelled.
‘Lisa, help! Help me! I’m stuck in the bog.’
Tom watched. They must hear him. They were still close.
‘Lisa, Bryony, Heather, I’m here. Help!’
Sweat beaded on his forehead as he watched his family. He raised his voice and screamed in desperation.
‘Help!’ He could feel the weight of the mud pulling him downwards. ‘No, please, no.’ Tom looked up at the black form, which was hovering just above him. ‘Please, my family need me.’
The monk’s form did a circling dance, and a harsh laugh exploded in Tom’s head.
‘Call, call, it’s not too late.’
Tom tried to stretch upwards out of the bog.
‘Lisa, help me. Help! Help! I’m here.’ He battered at the mud, rage turning his vision red. ‘Turn around, I’m behind you.’ Tears gushed from his eyes when his family ignored him. He looked up helplessly at the black being.
‘Why don’t they come?’
The only response was a dry chuckling that reverberated with cruelty.
Tom felt his strength fading. With a sigh, he slipped beneath the mud…
Lisa, Bryony and Heather ran around the lonely house calling.
‘Dad, Dad, where are you?’