The Lost Evening (Part 2)

As promised in my previous blog there now follows the concluding part to my ghost story entitled ‘The Lost Evening.’ I hope you enjoy it:

After dinner I took a look around the house.  I could see now that not only was the kitchen of an ancient design, but the rest of the house as well.  I also noticed that the lighting seemed to belong to a different age.  For, to my amazement, there were candles present in every room, even the bedroom.  The magnificent chandelier in the living room also contained this form of lighting.

Another aspect of the household which gave the feeling of belonging to a bygone era was the style of furniture.  Everything from the tables and chairs in the living room to the double bed upstairs, was of a design popular some four centuries before.  There was a noticeable absence of a television in the living room, or any mod cons such as a washing machine in the kitchen.

Finally, regardless of what was going on before me, I got back to my original reason for entering this house.  “Have you got a phone I can use?” I requested of Elizabeth.

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Have you got a telephone?” I repeated in desperation.  “I need to call for help with my car.”

“What are you talking about?” Elizabeth now looked at me with a look of great mistrust.  “I’ve never heard of such a thing as a telephone.  And what is a car?”

I now realized how stupid I was to bring up such a thing.  By some freak of nature, I was stuck in some sort of time warp.  I had somehow gone back four centuries and everything I took as belonging to my life was now well into the future.

Realizing how stupid I would sound to Elizabeth, but needing to know nonetheless, I asked her what year it was.

“What a silly question to ask, my dear husband! You most certainly have been working too hard.  It’s 1622, of course!”

By god, I thought: it must be exactly 400 years in the past.  Checking on this, I asked Elizabeth if the day was the 17th of September.  She was quick to supply me with an affirmative answer.

It now came to me almost like a burst of thunder what my purpose was in this unlikely setting.  I was Elizabeth’s husband in a previous life, and my presence here was to forestall a tragedy which occurred on this night exactly 400 years before.  It felt like there was something inside my head explaining all these details to me.

Then, all of a sudden, I was no longer my self anymore.  Instead, I was transformed into Elizabeth’s husband in body and soul.  There was part of me that could not understand what was going on, but my character changed markedly from that moment on.

Amazingly, the ghost of James was now visible to me.  I can only think this happened because I was no longer acting the character of the father, but actually was him.  Indeed, it was as if this was all no longer part of a dream but taking place in real life.

“Right!” I boomed out in an authoritative voice I did not recognize as my own; “we are going to stay in the living room tonight.”

“What?” replied Elizabeth in a disbelieving way.  “Why do you want to stay down here?”

“Yes, daddy,” agreed the now visible James.  “Why are you acting like this? You’re scaring me!”

I now approached my family and embraced them.  “Listen to me, both of you: I fear there is great danger tonight.  I believe the only way we will all stay alive is by staying together.”

Breaking free of my clutches, Elizabeth stared open-mouthed at me.  “Don’t say that, Gerald! What do you mean we are in danger? What has caused you to say such a thing?”

“Look,” returned Gerald, for such was my name now.  “I believe there is a good chance Jim Davis is on his way here tonight.  I think he will try to wrench you away from me.”

“But, darling! I’ve told you that my affair with him was only brief.  You said you forgave me, so why are you bringing it up again?”

“Because I fear he is going to try and gain retribution for the fact you refused to leave me for him.  He tried to take you away from me, I know he did.”

Elizabeth now looked at her husband in an amazed fashion, almost as if she couldn’t understand how he could know something she had never told him.

“Yes,” she finally admitted, “it’s true: he did try to tempt me away from you.  I wouldn’t, though, so he turned violent towards me.  Well, after that I managed to get away from him and vowed I would never let him enter our lives again.”

“I know, dear; but I can assure you that Davis has not forgotten you.  He’s intent on wreaking vengeance, I tell you.  And I’ve just got this feeling that tonight is when he will strike.”

“Very well, darling: I believe you.  What are we going to do to stop him?”

Just then, almost as if he thought it was time for his entrance, Jim Davis smashed the front door open.  Having entered the living room, he wore a look of great surprise at seeing the whole family in front of him.

“Right, Davis: you can stop right there,” I boomed out in a strong voice.  “I’m not going to let you destroy my family.  My wife has told me all about you.  She’s told me what a thoroughly despicable human being you are.  But I’ll tell you this: if you try anything to harm my family, by God I’ll kill you!”

“Oh, is that right?” was the antagonistic reply from Davis.  He was a man of about thirty-five, with a surly manner.  However, he was a handsome man, which would explain Elizabeth’s initial fascination with him.

“Yes, that is right!” piped up Elizabeth.  “Why don’t you just leave us, Jim? You’ve got no business here.”

“Oh, I’ve got business here all right,” replied Davis in a menacing way.  “So, you didn’t want to leave your husband, eh?” he sneered contemptuously.  “Don’t worry, Liz: I know the real reason why you wouldn’t leave him for me.”

“Yes, because I love him,” returned a determined Elizabeth.

“Ha!” cackled Davis in a mocking tone.  “That’s not the reason, and you know it.  The real reason why you won’t leave your husband is because of that little brat over there.”  His defiant gesture was directed at little James, who was now cowering next to his mother.

“Why, you bastard!” I shouted.  “How dare you use such a term for my son!”

“Oh, don’t get all hot under the collar,” sneered Davis.  Now glaring at his rival for Elizabeth’s affections, he continued: “look, all you’ve done is make my job harder tonight, that’s all.”

“What do you mean?” I growled.

“Well, I had intended to come here and kill the troublesome child.  Then Elizabeth would have no cause to stay with you.  But then you interfered, so now I have to murder you as well.”

“Why, you brute!” screamed a near hysterical Elizabeth.  “You vicious, heartless brute.  You call yourself a man: you’re just a coward! Killing an innocent child, so you can try and drag me away with you.  And then trying to do away with my husband into the bargain.  You really have sunk to new depths, haven’t you?”

“Enough, woman!” roared a demonic Davis.  He seemed to take on the aspect of a deranged human being now.  The vicious tirade with which his previously dearest Elizabeth had subjected him to certainly appeared to knock him back.  He now glared once again in my direction and quick as a flash charged at me with a dagger.

Reacting as if I knew exactly what was coming, I drew out a pistol from inside my coat and gunned down my attacker.  It was a good shot, too, as it went right into Davis’s chest, killing him instantly.

Elizabeth quickly ran to her husband and embraced him fulsomely, as she now burst into tears.  “Oh, Gerald,” she sighed.  “What made him want to do something so wicked?”

This was a difficult question to answer.  After all, what turns a normally sincere and loving man into a crazy person? Not being able to reply to Elizabeth’s question, I held her firmly in my arms as if I never wanted to let her out of my sight again.

“Oh, James,” Elizabeth finally broke free of me and gazed at the young boy.  “Come over here dearest: come to mummy!”

This the youngster seemed only too pleased to do.  He wore the look of a very frightened child, which was not surprising considering what had transpired in the past few minutes. 

“It’s okay now,” I soothed as I held Elizabeth and James in a loving embrace.  “Nobody’s ever going to hurt us again: we’re safe now.”

It was at this point, with the danger now gone, when I finally regained my senses.  I was no longer a seventeenth century farmer called Gerald, but one Alan Davidson in body and soul.  Strange to say it, but I wasn’t at all sure whether I was glad about this or not.

In the past few hours I had gone four hundred years back in time, managed to safe a young boy from certain death and lived somebody else’s life.  After that, what could possibly compare?

To my amazement I found myself sitting in my car, exactly as I had been earlier on in the evening.  It was strange, though, because it didn’t seem to be any darker than it had been when my Vauxhall had broken down.  Finding this peculiar, I glanced at my watch to see a remarkable sight.  It was nine o’clock: exactly the same time as when my car had stopped.

So, what had really happened? Had I just imagined everything that had happened to me? I was certainly beginning to think so, but then it couldn’t have been a dream, because no time had passed.  However, when I went through my coat pocket for the car keys, I felt something hard.  Quickly taking the item out, I found it was an old-style snuff box, which was the replica of such a box that had been sitting on the living room mantelpiece.

Yes, of course! I could now remember just vaguely that while I was in the persona of Gerald, I had picked up the box.  However, that is when Davis made his entrance, so I quickly put it in my pocket, as I readied myself to confront him.

So, everything had happened: it was not a figment of my imagination.  As this thought hit home, I climbed out of my car to take one last look at the wonderful old house.  However, when I gazed over in that direction, I could find no trace of the building.  There was nothing but forestry for miles around.  Which meant that the house had never existed, or rather it had probably once existed, but it had only been brought back for a short time so I could play out my re-enactment of that night of long ago.

I now went back to my car and miraculously the engine started first time when I put the key in the ignition.  Dumbfounded, I drove in a hazy state away from this supernatural place.

It is two weeks since that night occurred, and the whole thing still seems so unreal to me.  I suppose, then, it should come as no surprise to me that nobody will believe my story.  Not even my closest friends give anything which happened to me on that ‘lost evening’ any credence.  They think it is just my overworked state.  Funny that, seeing as Elizabeth said precisely the same thing to me!

Copyright © Mark Campbell 2022

Categories:My Ghost Stories

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