The Lost Evening

In this latest blog I am going to share with you one of my ghosts stories but with a difference. Because the story is quite long I am splitting it up into two parts. What follows is the first part of the story with the second story following in a future blog. I hope you enjoy this tale which is entitled ‘The Lost Evening’:

My name is Alan Davidson, and the story I am about to tell you is the complete truth.  I admit it sounds unbelievable, but then it still seems that way to me.  It happened, though: make no mistake about that.

In case the following pages seem nothing more to you than the insane ravings of a crazy person, let me put your mind at rest straight away.  I am a perfectly rational 28 year old, with a good job in the city.  I have always taken the view that believing in the supernatural is ridiculous.  Now, though, I am not so sure: not sure at all.

I think it would be best if I go straight on with my description of the strange night I experienced just two short weeks ago.  Is it really such a short time in the past? It seems to me that it happened a lifetime ago, but then in a way it did.

It all started on a bleak Friday night.  I had gone home after work that day to change clothes and collect my suitcase.  I was going to spend the weekend with an old friend, someone who I hadn’t seen for years.  We were old school mates, and I was certainly looking forward with some relish to seeing Tom again.

It was about six o’clock by the time I had everything ready for my journey up north, for Tom lived in the deep recesses of Lancashire.  I was thus in for quite a long journey in my Vauxhall Corsa.  This didn’t bother me much, however, as I’ve always enjoyed my driving.

Everything was going fine until I was about twenty miles away from Tom’s place.  I remember I was listening to a particularly melodic song on the radio, when my car’s engine started spluttering away before deciding to pack up on me entirely.

Now, I have had my trusty Vauxhall Corsa for quite some time, but it had never caused me any trouble before.  Why, then, should it choose this occasion to break down?

The crazy thing about it was that the car was running clear and easy, as smooth as a baby’s bottom you might say.  Then, all of a sudden, it ground to a spluttering halt.  The weird thing was that there was no forewarning of the impending doom.  One minute, everything was fine, the next disaster was in the air.

However, after a good deal of cursing, I realized that it was no use: I would have to call for help.  Luckily, I am a member of the AA, so I didn’t foresee any trouble in my car being repaired.  The question was whether I was going to be able to contact them in the first place.  My car was now parked in the middle of nowhere, although at least it was situated in a safe place in a lay by.  However, when I checked my cell phone I suddenly recalled I had meant to recharge it before setting off as the battery was almost dead, but in my rush to leave I had forgotten to do so.  I couldn’t use the recharger in my car as I needed the engine to be running to do that.

As I sat in frustrated silence, it seemed my luck was in, after all.  For, as fate would have it, I discovered a resplendent-looking house lying nearby.  I lost no time in getting out of the car and heading off in this direction.  I reasoned that they would probably have a phone I could use which would enable me to call for help with my car.  It would also allow me to inform Tom that I would be rather late.

I ventured along the country path which led to the house.  As I neared my goal, I was given something of a start as I heard a crackling noise underfoot.  However, it turned out to be nothing more than a twig underfoot which I had broken in two.

My uneasiness increased as I opened a wooden gate directly before the house.  As I made to open the ancient-looking gate, part of it came away in my hand.  As it then creaked ajar, there was another irksome noise which I became aware of which turned out to be a rat.  The filthy beast crawled up my leg until I managed to shake it free.

It was as this moment that I just wished I was safely at my friend’s place.  I couldn’t help but think that we would have been chatting merrily away about our past friendship, possibly over a beer or two.  Instead, I was in this god forsaken place.  I didn’t mind admitting that I was becoming quite edgy.  There was something about this night which was giving me the willies.

Finally, I managed to break free of my creeping agitation by cursing myself for beings such a kid.  For God’s sake, I told myself, I wasn’t a child.  Sure: it was dark, and there was a sinister character to the house up ahead, but there was no need to be frightened.

As I slowly managed to get a grip on myself, I arrived at the house itself.  It was a mysterious-looking dwelling.  There were lights on all around the house. Its architecture was remarkable in that it was of an Elizabethan style.  I imagined that it must be centuries old.

I peered through the criss-cross designed window pane next to the front door.  There must be someone home, I thought to myself.  Otherwise, why would all these lights be on? The view in front of me must surely have been the living room, as it was quite a large room with a marvellous chandelier up above.  A sparkling light emanated through the glassy beads of its surrounds.

Having noticed the door was slightly open, I made my way inside the house, calling out as I did so.  There was no reply, but there was a sudden coldness which went right through me.  Thinking this was the breeze from outside, I moved to close the door but it slammed shut of its own accord.

It was then that things started to get really creepy.  There was a cold sensation which enveloped me in its grip.  It was almost as if someone was holding me around the waist in an embrace.  But it was so cold, and there was nobody there.

“So, there you are,” came a voice approaching me.  It was a woman of about my own age, who strode towards me.  She was acting strangely, almost as if she knew me very well.  This was crazy, as I knew I had never clapped eyes on her until tonight.  “What kept you so long?” she then asked me, without waiting for a reply.  “Never mind, dinner’s ready now.  Let’s go through to the kitchen, shall we?”

“What?” I managed to stutter out, not quite knowing what to make of the scene taking place before my eyes.

“Oh, don’t worry, dear,” returned the extremely beautiful woman in front of me.  “We decided to wait for you before we made a start on dinner.”

“But I’m not….” I began to say, in an attempt to inform this young woman that I was not the person she thought I was.

“Not hungry?” she second guessed me.  “Nonsense, of course you’re hungry.  You’ve been working in the fields all day under a hot sun, how can you not be hungry?”

“Well, maybe I could have something,” I replied.  It was obvious to me that this woman, beautiful as she was, did not have possession of her full faculties.  I thought it best if I played along with her charade for now, and left the subject of phoning for assistance with my car until after the meal.

When we arrived in the kitchen, I was struck by the general look of the place.  It seemed to be in keeping with the ancient nature of the house’s outer facade.  There was a large oak table, which was of an exquisite design.  Its legs were sculpted in an old-fashioned way with caricatures of a different type of animal carved on each support.

I must have shown too much admiration for this magnificent table, as my mysterious host scolded me somewhat.  “Why are you showing such an interest in the table, dear? After all, you never mentioned it much when you made it.”

All I could do at this moment was to look back at the strange woman with an open-mouthed expression.  Telling myself that I should try to go along with what she was telling me, I sat down at the table.  “Yes, of course.  But I’ve only just seen what a lovely bit of work I did.  I’m rather surprised I didn’t say something about it before.”

“Well,” she drawled in a mystified way.  “I don’t know why you took so long to come to that conclusion.  After all, James and I have known it was a lovely piece of work all along.  Haven’t we, James?”

To my astonishment, she looked at the position opposite to me at the table.  It was almost as if she imagined someone was sitting there.  She was clearly seriously imbalanced, as she had even gone to the trouble to set a place for this person who did not exist.

Flinching from the unnerving situation I had mistakenly put myself into, I took a furtive glance around the room.  All the cooking utensils, including a ladle, seemed to belong to a different time.  It was almost as if I had walked into a time warp.  There was even a spit positioned in the far corner of the room.  Suspended above a raging fire was a carcass of some type of animal, which had been neatly skewered through with an iron rod.

As I once more gaped at this sight, my host, who acted as if she was my wife, once again looked at me suspiciously.  “What’s so amazing about that, ox?” she queried me.  “You surely can’t have forgotten that you bought it at the market the other day.  After all, it was only the day before yesterday.”

“Yes, of course,” I offered in a possibly less than convincing style.  It certainly appeared that this was the case, the way the woman was now staring at me.

She really was a true beauty, you know.  I think in the haste of describing the events of my strange night, I have not done justice to her smothering good looks.  She was quite tall, with long brunette hair.  Speaking in a soothing style, she was very much a dream girl.

Anyway, on with the story.  She now turned on me rather brusquely, and gave out a sneer as she expressed in words what I thought must be her impression of me.  “Why are you acting as if we were strangers, when we have been married for ten years?”

With this, I managed to change the subject by suggesting that I cut the meat in readiness for the meal.  “Really, Fiona: we better make a start on our dinner, don’t you think?”

“Why did you call me Fiona just now?” she asked of me.  It had actually been an attempt to find out what her name was.  I thought by calling her by a particular name she would correct me.

It then came to me how stupid I had been.  Of course, we were supposed to be married.  I could hardly expect my so-called wife to tell me her name, could I? “Oh, did I really?” I stammered.  “I’m sorry, dear: I suppose it must be that I’m so overworked at the moment.  I had a dream last night, and there was a Fiona in it.”

“Huh! I would have thought you would have been able to dream of your own sweet Elizabeth!” she pouted at me in reply.

I smiled now at the thought that I had at last managed to find out her name.  “I’m sorry, dear: I’ll try to make a recompense tonight.”

This seemed to appease her.  So much in fact, and very much to my relief, that she rose up and informed me she would cut the meat tonight.  This I was happy about, as I had no idea how to go about carving the carcass which was still roasting away.

Not long after, Elizabeth sat down again at the table and placed a plateful of food at the three places set for dinner.  I could see that she was going to carry on with the fiasco of pretending there was a third person at the table.  I smiled to myself, as I hoped James enjoyed his meal!

My mocking attitude, however, was destined to be short-lived.  As I prepared to settle down to my meal of roast beef and vegetables, something strange began to happen opposite me.  The knife and fork set for the empty place began to rise into the air and descend on the food.  Having cut up a small portion of the beef, the implements were used to pick up the food which then vanished into thin air.

My immediate reaction was to think that my eyes were playing tricks on me.  However, this explanation did not last the test of time, as more food soon disappeared in the same way.  The glass of water, which was positioned in front of the plate, now rose in the air and fell back as if someone was drinking its contents.

To my unbridled astonishment, Elizabeth carried on eating quite calmly.  I felt like mentioning the weird disappearing act that was going on opposite me, until her previous words came back to me.  Hadn’t she called the empty place James? Yes, she had.  Then clearly there was something distinctly supernatural going on.

I decided to test out this new realization.  Having consumed a few mouthfuls of beef to get my strength, I turned my attention to the place opposite me.  Feeling an absolute fool, I found myself talking into empty space.  “Are you enjoying your meal, James?”

“Yes,” came back a child’s voice.  “But I’ve always enjoyed beef, daddy.  You know that.”

“Of course, son, of course;” I muttered.  Hearing a voice come out of nowhere like that had certainly given me a bad shock to the system.  It seemed like I was stuck in some sort of crazy dream which I couldn’t wake up from.  How could there be a voice if there was no one there? I wondered.

It was then that I finally grasped what was going on.  What was opposite me was a ghost: an invisible ghost.  This supernatural being was playing the part of my son, and my host was playing the part of my wife.  But why? Who had thought up this unreal scenario? And why was I the one chosen to take part in the action?

As I mused over these unreal questions, another thought suddenly came to me.  It stood to reason that if the invisible being was a ghost, then maybe the visible one was as well.  Yes, it would make sense: that would explain why my host had been acting so strangely, including setting the position opposite me for dinner.

Throughout the rest of the meal, I somehow managed to put aside all my racing thoughts as to what was going on.  Instead, I played out my role as the head of the household.  I chatted amiably with my companions, hoping that soon I would be able to find out why I was here.

(Second part to follow soon…)

Copyright © Mark Campbell 2022

Categories:My Ghost Stories

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