Monday, 12 May 2014
A Ghostly Experience
It happened years ago on a dark and wintry night in the depth of a mountainous region of Scotland. I was driving late at night after visiting some business customers up North and somehow I lost my way. It was the days before satellite navigation systems and cell-phones to help you communicate and get from one place to another. It was raining heavily with thunder and lightning brightening the skies for brief intervals and piercing the darkness of the road ahead. As usually happens in ghost stories and movies, my car eventually stopped having run out of gas. But this was for real. Not a movie script which I could put down and return to my reality sitting next to a warm fire with a hot chocolate drink in my hands. This was for real. My car stopped in the middle of nowhere on a cold rainy night with thunder and lightning for companionship. I swear I heard the howling of some wild creature in the distance.
What was I to do? I couldn't stay in the car all night and possibly freeze to death. Or be tinned food for whatever hungry creature is out there. I had no blanket in the car and I'd forgotten my overcoat at the office of the business I was visiting on behalf of my employer.
So there I was. All alone in a car with no means of communication. Cold. Hungry. Afraid. And I wanted to go to the toilet too. I should not have had that second cup of coffee they offered me. Coffee is quite diuretic, you know.
Stupidly perhaps, I decided to get out of the car and water a nearby tree. I could hold it no longer. Moments later I was back in the car totally wet and even colder than before because of the driving rain; but greatly relieved. After all, I had to do what I had to do and I could not do it from inside the car.
Now back in the car I was shivering and my teeth were chattering in tune with my racing heartbeat. My wet clothes stuck to the leather seat. My shoes and socks were soaking wet throughout. Because of the rain ... the rain ... are you paying attention? Please don't make up your own jokes at my misfortune.
Stupidly again, I decided to get out of the car and walk in any direction trying to find shelter. I locked the car and walked ahead in total darkness and driving rain, (or should I now say walking rain?). Every so often my solitude was broken by the occasional clap of thunder followed by a flash of lightning. (This was Scotland where thunder comes first because up North sound travels faster than light. Everyone knows that!)
Anyway, after walking for about half an hour there it was. Not a castle, as you'd expect in the Highlands. But a house. Admittedly a large house; again just like you'd expect in horror movies, big and dark with overhanging trees and climbing ivy everywhere. But not a castle.
I knocked at the door ... no bell. And eventually, after what seemed an eternity an old man opened the door.
He was wearing an eye patch. What I mean, he was wearing clothes, very old clothes, and he had an eye patch on. Did you really think he was wearing nothing else but an eye patch? I wish you'd pay more attention.
"Och aye ... It’s a dreich day! Aye right." he said in his native tongue. I didn't understand a word he said, so I asked him whether I could seek shelter for the night.
"Yer're drookit!" he said, "Aye ... come in ... come in ..."
I entered a dark room lit by a couple of candles. He beckoned me to sit by a small log fire to keep warm. As I sat there still shivering he walked away towards the wall and vanished through it. My blood ran cold. A shiver, ran down my spine ... that's a new shiver, not the one I was shivering with previously. I could have said a frisson, but I was in Scotland not France. So a shiver it was ... och aye!
I could not believe my eyes. The man had actually walked through a wall. Admittedly, it was dark, I was cold and freezing wet and quite hungry, but I assure you I was not hallucinating. I did not imagine it. The man just walked towards the wall and vanished through it. The experience made me want to go to the toilet once again; and this time it had nothing to do with the coffee. I must have cried in fear a little because I felt tears running down my leg.
Moments later he returned through the wall just as he had vanished. He stood there looking at me with one eye. The other eye was covered by an eye patch, remember.
My knees were knocking together in rhythm with my heart and chattering teeth. I had butterflies in my stomach and their knees were knocking too. Even my goose bumps had goose bumps of their own.
"Are you ... are you ... a spirit?" I heard myself mumble.
"Yer mean ... be I a drop of whisky?" he muttered, "Of course not ... I be a ghost ... A ghost, laddie. I been here fer' years. Och aye! Trapped in this house of doom fer ever, laddie."
I gulped and asked "Are you the ghost of a pirate? I mean ... the eye patch ..." I continued pointing at his face.
"Och no ... laddie," he said, "this be no pirate's doing! I got this one day as I was sliding through a keyhole and someone put a key in it. Occupational hazard for us ghosts!"
I smiled and said nothing.
"Now I just walk right through walls and solid objects" he said in perfect English, "much safer what?"
I picked up a bottle of vintage whisky nearby and took a gulp to keep me warm.
They found me the next morning fast asleep with an empty bottle beside me.