If there’s one thing we know about bands, it’s that they bloody love ghosts.
No, really. Next time you meet a musician, ask them. Tell them Dork sent you if you must. It’ll be worth it, promise.
To celebrate Halloween 2017, we’ve spent the past few weeks pestering bands to tell us about the time they saw a ghost.
Here are the results.
“As kids, I was maybe 7, and my brother 8 or 9, we went round to our childhood friends house around the corner from ours one New Year’s Eve for a party. Their house was considered haunted by a few locals from the village, including an elderly lady who used to babysit us – she said she would never dream of babysitting at that particular house because of it. There were stories about the house next door too, as supposedly when it was constructed they’d had to dig up a couple of graves and move them to another site, prompting local fantasists to suggest that meant “disturbing the dead”.
Obviously, it being NYE and a party, it was great as a kid as you could stay up much later than you were normally allowed to. There were a few of us playing upstairs in the house, while the adults were all downstairs in the kitchen drinking and chatting. They had an old-fashioned clock on the upstairs landing, like a miniature grandfather clock, next to a big glass-fronted bookcase.
As children like to do, we’d all been winding each other up with ghost stories earlier in the evening. No word of a lie – as the clock struck midnight to call in the new year with its deafening chime, both of the glass bookcase doors flew open with force, and pretty much every book came flying out of it across the landing.
Naturally we were all terrified and sprinted down the stairs to recount the tale to our disbelieving parents! Our friends that grew up there have since said that was just one of many strange things that happened to them in that house over the years.”
“Our mum is convinced our last dog (which died about two years ago) keeps knocking pictures down off the wall of her new dog, haha!”
“I used to ghost-hunt as a hobby with my friend. We found a company that hired out haunted buildings overnight and held all kinds of spooky activities like seances and ouija boards. I was never a believer in any paranormal activity really, even when others claimed to see or hear or feel things I always put it down to the imagination and the power of suggestion, but we did it for fun.
Then one time, in a creepy attic in Falstaff’s museum in Stratford upon Avon, we were doing the good old hold-hands-round-the-table, and I SHIT YOU NOT, the bloody chandelier began to swing, and slowly, groaning in protest, the huge oak table began to rock side to side. Needless to say, I shit myself, ran downstairs and never went up there again. Do I believe it was ghosts? Not really, but it must have been something…”
“We were once in Russia, and after playing a show, we met some local musicians who were at the gig. They invited us back to their studio to have a jam and drink some vodka. It was a crazy dark, labyrinthine place in some concrete basement structure. We played together for a while in the live room then went to another kitchen area to sit around the table.
At some point me and Hiro went back into the live room to play with some of the guitars and old Soviet synths they had. We got very involved in a little tune we were working out, but we were faintly aware of someone behind the glass in the control room who kept walking about/moving. I went to ask if I could record a bit of what I’d been playing, but when I tried the door it was locked. We looked through the glass window, but it was dark and seemed totally empty. Then from the studio speakers, a fragment of the song we’d been playing started playing back on a loop, with a phrase in Russian over the top, repeating.
Totally freaked out, we went to ask our hosts what the fuck was going on. They found the key to the empty control room, and inside the tape machine was running. They explained they’d never even used it before because they didn’t know how it worked. We asked what the voice was saying. “Dance me into the darkness,” one of them replied. “That’s a fucking great lyric,” I thought. But that seemed like a good time to leave. It was totally weird but didn’t seem very scary at the time, maybe because of all the vodka. But looking back on it, it’s quite petrifying”.
The Lovely Eggs
“Right well we’ve got two “ghost” stories. The first involves an actual real-life ghost; the second involves a haunted answer machine…
We were playing Gullivers in Manchester a few years back. This is before it was all done out, so it looked like an old 1970s boozer. Think it might be Mark E Smith’s local actually. We were on the final day of a ten-date tour around the UK and sound checking in the room upstairs. The room was pretty dark, and there was just a little light behind the bar which looked like the olden days and a bit like the Toffee Crisp advert. Everything was dusty, dim and had a fringe on it.
Anyway, while we were sound checking, I saw this woman stood at the bar. It was more of a figure really. Then she walked away down the corridor. I got totally creeped out. Something just felt WEIRD!! Afterwards, I asked if any of the staff if they had been up there during soundcheck and they said no. It was really very odd, and I had a full on spooky feeling. I had been boozing for ten days straight, so maybe it was some sort of alcohol-induced psychosis, but whatever it was, I saw summat up there. Maybe it was the ghost of Annie Walker!!
The next story is about a spooky message on our answerphone. Picture the scene. It is 4am. Me and David are in bed asleep. The landline telephone rings! Now if that wasn’t enough to shit you up, after a while the answerphone kicks in and the following spectral robotic voice resonates through the house: “BOB CROW. GOOD BLOKE. VERY PROFESSIONAL.”
We thought an obscure message like this was a bit weird at 4 in the morning but nothing too out of the ordinary in the world of the egg. It was only the next day that we found out that Trade Union Leader Bob Crow had died that night! We were gobsmacked and really shit up. Had he tried to contact us? Or was it someone else from the other side trying to reach out and say they had met him and that he was a nice guy? Turned out it was our mate Mark Waterman sending us a text message to the landline. Mystery solved! We think!! Moral of the story: always unplug yer landline on Halloween!!”
“This is a true story.
An old lady had been bed stricken for months and was being looked after by her son and two carers in a large house in north london. The old woman had not been able to even sit up for a long time but could signal for help with small hand gestures picked up on a baby monitor. One winter’s evening her son was working in his office downstairs when he heard a shrill scream coming from the kitchen. Bursting through the door he found the two carers hunched over the baby monitor, paralysed with fear. Grabbing it out of their hands he looked at the screen and was terrified by what he saw. His mother was in bed with the covers thrown off, her body bent double like a deckchair, with her head pressed into her knees and her hands at her toes. Above her a large dark shadow appeared to be pressing her down into the mattress. He threw the monitor aside and ran as fast as he could up to the bedroom. Outside the door he braced himself, ready to confront the horrors within, but when he entered she was sleeping peacefully on her back with the covers over her.
The next morning the two carers took breakfast up to the old woman as usual, but were surprised to find her sitting up against the headboard waiting for them. As they began to feed her she managed to speak for the first time in months. She said “death came for me last night” and nothing else. They finished up with her breakfast and carried on with the daily routines as if nothing had happened. A week later the old lady passed away.”
“3/4 of the band have seen [a ghost]. The same one. We often stay with a friend up north in a small mining village south of Newcastle. It’s a big, old school house. We’ve all witnessed the same shadowy figure walking along the upstairs corridor at different times over the last two years… and we would know if each other were lying. It doesn’t feel like a “malicious presence” to me, and personally, I believe there’s a scientific explanation for what we all saw. But we 100% saw it. It’s difficult for us to talk about because we’re called Dead! – and it’s rude and hurtful of things that defy death to take the attention away from us.”
“As a child, I grew up with my mum, my younger sister and my younger brother. I’m about nine years older than my brother and about seven years older than my sister, so I used to help my mum out quite a lot with them. Waking them up, getting them dressed and giving them breakfast each morning and what have you.
One morning, when my brother was only one and still slept in a cot, I walked into his bedroom to check on him before getting myself ready for school. What I walked into was truly terrifying. Everything from the drawers and the wardrobe in his little room had been piled into his cot while he lay there sleeping soundly. All of the nappies, babygrows, blankets, clothes, coats, toys, bottles, shoes and socks had been carefully placed around him and on top of him. His cot was stuffed to the brim with all of his baby stuff.
I woke my mum, and she was as frightened as I was. My baby sister who was two at the time was still asleep in her room opposite, the baby gate locked. I can still to this day only put it down to some weird ghostly prank.”
“We all grew up going to Low Island, which is where the band’s name is from. It’s a small, vulnerable spit of grass and rock in the Atlantic Ocean, a few miles off the South-West Irish coast. There are no roads, paths, houses or structures. It used to be a Cistercian burial ground and, once, an angry mountain ram lived there on his own.
We went camping there one night, and a storm hit once it was too late to pack up and go home, so we were stranded. We saw a small light moving around outside, but we just thought it was a boat far away on the horizon. The light seemed to be circling the tent for a while, so we got out of the tent to take a closer look. The light was only a few yards away and swaying about a metre off the ground.
Through the heavy rain, we could eventually make out that it was a ram’s skull, illuminated by fire from the inside, swaying menacingly in the rain. We bottled it and hid faced down in our tent until the next morning. Only years later did we discover that it was just my older brother playing tricks on us.”
“Driving home seriously tired after shows with half cut passengers isn’t exactly the most reliable start to any story but fuck it, here goes. We were en route back from Brighton along the seafront after playing a midweek show at Green Door Store. Tom and Simon were chatting shit about the universe, and I was wondering where the nearest Costa Express machine was when the sheer shitness of the wind and rain forced us to turn off the radio and drive silent – turned out to be kind of calming after having played possibly our loudest show to date.
Tom and Simon started pointing and yelling, bringing my attention to the vague figure of an old woman fumbling in and out of the road about 100 meters ahead. After about 15 seconds of quick discussion surrounding the ‘ghost’, I was unconvinced. Their efforts to convert me to a believer had failed, so I ran her over at full speed without thinking twice. The lack of impact along with zero blood spill confirmed for me that, in fact, it was just the misty rain and oncoming headlights coupled with Tom and Simon’s intoxication that led them to believe such idiotic things.
The moral of the story I suppose is don’t stay sober and drive your drunk friends home.”
“We played a show in Glasgow when we were still in a swaddling band.
It was Halloween, so naturally, many pale faces loomed out of the Scotch night, brandishing ghastly bottles of Buckfast and other ghoulish brus in our tender direction.
Clutching our instruments, we piled into the fire-lit lobby of our hotel just as the gates of Nice and Sleazy’s burst open and spewed forth all manner of daemons, headless Scotsmen and shrieking banshees alike.
There was no receptionist at the desk, but the key to our attic room was swinging on the hook above the ‘ring for assistance’ bell.
Glad to be tucked up in bed with a mug of hot cocoa, we lapsed into our individual reveries.
A single LED lamp flickered in the corner of the room.
With no prior warning, the door to our bedchamber creaked open, and silence was called to attention.
A lone figure with a powdered white face and a crop of dull fire hair slid sideways into the semi-dark of the room.
He surveyed us in our beds and, after what felt like an aeon, asked a question.
“Can we be in here?” he moaned.
His robe – dirty bed linen white – flapped around his bare ankles.
“W-w-w-w-w-what?” our tour manager commanded from beneath the covers. Our last bastion of hope had failed us.
Preparing ourselves for an untimely end to our budding careers and also to our lives, we could only gaze in horror as the Glaswegian spectre, equally perplexed, asked again: “Can we be in here?”
Fear was omnipresent.
As if from another reality his friend dressed as Superman intervened and pulled him out into the hallway light.
“I think we’ve got the wrong room,” he apologised as they left.
We wordlessly agreed to commit the ordeal to the oblivion of dreams, never to be spoken of again, especially at night.
Saint Leonard’s Horses
“A few years ago, my then girlfriend’s mother lived in a converted medieval Nunnery on the moors of Yorkshire known as Kirklees Hall. It’s a relatively infamous spot amongst folklorists for being the historic burial place of Robin Hood, and there have over the centuries been dozens of well-documented sightings of the Kirklees Vampire in and around the region of remote moorland where the gothic House stands.
My girlfriend and I decided to spend a long weekend with her mother at Kirklees, in the remoteness of the moors, surrounded by ancient hunting grounds, at the time in contrast to our hectic existence in London, it was an incredibly appealing proposal of isolation. If just for a few days.
Fifty metres in front of the imposing main estate there is a small stone Game Hanging House, where in the past game-birds and wild boars would be left ‘to drain’ after they had been killed on the grounds. This curious structure had been converted into a very ill-thought through and uninviting summer house, it was fairly understandably virtually never used.
It had caught my attention however as being made of granite stone, and about twenty-foot square and high, the acoustics in there were bright, reverberate and quite incredible. I had just acquired an old four-track tape recorder and had brought some tapes and microphones along with me with the intention of recording some new songs in this weird building away from the main house.
On the Saturday evening, we had dinner with her family in the main house, during the meal a storm began to roll in and before long the exposed house was being battered by howling winds and sheeting rain. After dinner, I made it clear that I intended to go out to the game house to attempt some recording. This was met with some surprise, however I wasn’t to be swayed and dressed in a rain mac and clutching my guitar and the recording equipment I strode out into the storm and down across the lawn to the game house.
Once inside I lit several candles and began setting up microphones and the recorder. (An important detail is that I was only able to grab very long mic leads from the studio before I left, so I had two bundles of cables approximately twenty feet long, which are remarkably ungainly to carry or move.) Another significant architectural detail of the game house is that despite it being almost perfectly 12-foot square, it’s only windows are four very narrow slit windows, no more than two inches wide each, one on each of the four walls, these afford very little view of the surrounding environment. I settled down and immediately started to play around with a sequence of traditional blues songs I had been working on at the time. The storm grew in intensity, but the astonishing acoustic in the space kept me distracted and focussed on my work. I was pleased with the first few hours of recording. At around 1 am I was quite suddenly struck by an intense feeling of dread, and something akin to the heebie-jeebies. The sensation of being watched was almost overwhelming, however with no real windows, and given we were at least ten miles from any other human habitation this rationally seemed unlikely to me. The storm was still raging, and occasionally lightning forked strobing across the moorland, there was, I was certain, no one watching me
The uneasy feeling persisted still I had to fight the almost overwhelming urge to run from the building back to the main house, the feeling of dread had rapidly coalesced into a rising and palpable feeling of terror. What was even more disturbing was that there was no apparent reason for this feeling. I had seen nothing, heard nothing, and nothing had disturbed the room. I peered through the narrow slit windows again and could see nothing save the storm. With my heart now thumping in my chest, I clicked on my torch and blew out the candles, I went to open the heavy oak door, and just before running out into the night, I turned and grabbed my guitar. I didn’t bother picking up the recording equipment as I felt certain it would be safe to leave it overnight, given its ungainly weight and of course the remoteness of the locale, and really it having no inherent value to anyone outside of audiophile recording technicians.
Back in the house and warming up in front of the open fireplace, nursing a restorative whisky, my composure returned, and watching the storm roll over the moors, I began to feel a little foolish for panicking and fleeing the game shed. I laughed aloud at my own ability to spook myself. Finishing my dram, I went to bed at around 3 am.
The next morning I awoke to a commotion in the house. I came downstairs to find my girlfriend and her mother at the kitchen table, and my girlfriend’s stepfather stood by the kitchen door, shaking his head.
“What happened out there, lad? Down at the game house?” he said in his broad Yorkshire accent.
I replied that I had no idea what he was referring to, and that all had been fine when I left last night… aside from spooking myself, perhaps after staying up a little too late in a candlelit room… Why? I asked…
Without answering he motioned me to follow him as he walked out the door towards the game house.
As we approached the game house, in the bright light of the morning, it was clear there had been a disturbance.
Slowing as we approached a few metres from the structure, my heart stuck in my throat. The lawn all around the outside perimeter of the game house had been churned up, clearly in the sodden rain last night, but what as we approached was unmistakably the tracks of someone walking around and around the building. There were deeper patches of churned turf outside each of the narrow slit windows, clearly where someone had stood for quite some time gazing through the window, moving from foot to foot to get a better view through the slit, before moving around to the window. It was obvious from the extent to which the lawn had been churned, that this activity had gone on for quite some time.
I followed her stepfather into the Game house. All the recording equipment was gone, the four-track recorder, mics and two long coils of leads… there was damp soil on the floor, clearly from the thief’s muddy shoes. However what immediately struck me as curious was that the innately valuable iPad, the flat screen TV and expensive hi-fi in the corner had been left untouched. Why on Earth would an opportunist thief spend hours waiting in a howling gale, watching me, and then only have stolen the equipment that had no real value whatsoever outside of recording enthusiasts… leaving the comparatively far more valuable electronic goods untouched?
Later back in the house, I re-voiced this question to the local Policeman, who had been called to the house…
“Why would anyone do that, in a storm like last night – for no real reason, miles and miles from anywhere?” I asked him. “Who would be out there?”
The affable police officer had his back to me looking out from the lounge windows, slowly, deliberately he put his cup of tea down on the table, he paused squinting back out across the moor and said:
“It’s probably best not to dwell on that too long lad.”
“I felt really haunted my whole childhood. I grew up in the countryside of a hilly town in Denmark. It was a secluded place and nature pretty much ruled it all. That comes with a lot of anxiety for the occult, but also a lot of joy during Christmas time. Somebody always eats from the bowl that you put out for the little elves.
Anyway, one night when I was reaching my daring adolescent stage, I was lying in my bed listening to the scraping sounds of winter outside. I heard a loud bumping sound. Like a one-legged man trying to get from the far side of the attic to the top of my barren wooden ceiling. I was sweating and scared but determined that I would seek out the source of this madness.
Rolling out of my large bed, I thought about a time where I wet myself in my sleep. Got to the hall, down the stairs, through the kitchen and outside. It was snowing and windy, but I only had to cross the yard to get to the stables, from there I could reach the attic.
I crept up the metal staircase and popped my head up above the concrete floor… I was suddenly face to face with two eyes in the dark.”
Emre, Exit Kid / Years & Years
“There is something you should know about me, Dear Reader; I see dead people.
Ever since I was a child, the deceased have plagued my waking hours. They all have unfinished business here. Some seek justice, some revenge and some are simply trying to send a message to a loved one who is still shuffling along this mortal coil.
There is one who stands apart in my memory. His name is Bruce Willis. He used to be a psychiatrist before taking his own life, but now, he knows not that he is dead.
Bruce Willis stalks his living wife, trying desperately to reconnect, all the time not realising she isn’t ignoring him, it’s just that he’s a ghost and she simply can’t see, hear or feel him. It’s very sad; we’ve all been there.
Will he see the light? Will he remain trapped in limbo? Who knows? Bruce, if you’re still out there, get over it mate. You’re dead ffs.”
Max, Wild Cat Strike
“As a young boy, I spent a couple of weeks a year at my grandma’s cottage, upon the misty moors of south Devon. While having a particularly action-packed day of frolicking and running around the cottage, I stumbled into the room my parents stayed in. Sitting at the vanity mirror was a young lady I’d never seen before, she had long blonde wavy hair, piercing blue eyes and a huge bouffant yellow dress. She just sat in front of the mirror brushing her hair; our eyes met in the reflection, I asked what she was doing in my parents’ room, she said “waiting for the children”. She continued brushing her hair, expressionless and not breaking eye contact.
At the young age I was I thought nothing of it, although I asked my mum who the lady was in her room. It was dismissed as a young boy’s imagination, there was no woman in the room. I’d all but forgotten about it for almost 20 years until it was brought up in conversation, and after all that time I could still remember the woman’s striking blue eyes staring back at me through the mirror. I never felt scared or uncomfortable at the time, but the memory gives me the chills. Then it turned out I was that woman the whole time.”
Chris, The Old Pink House
“Weird stuff always used to happen in the house I grew up in. For example, we had a phone that hung on the kitchen wall, and when you’d come downstairs in the morning, it would be on the kitchen table, across the room. Also, the TV used to turn itself on all the time.
The house was pretty small, so much so that the staircase rose over the living room, leaving an alcove in the corner of the room. I don’t really remember this, but apparently, I always used talk to a man in the corner, who stood in the alcove and watched us, which probably freaked my parents out but I don’t think they ever really took it seriously and wrote it off as me just being a weird kid.
One night, however, it was just my Dad and me sitting at home watching the Dennis Quaid-Sean Connery classic Dragonheart. I looked over my Dad’s shoulder into the alcove and told my Dad that the man was there watching us. My Dad asked me if the man looked happy. I told my Dad that the man in the corner didn’t look happy at all, and at that exact moment our dog, who was sleeping on the carpet in front of us, looked into the corner and started growling viciously, hackles raised. This freaked out my Dad, who is usually a hardened sceptic, so he moved seats away from the corner and from then on always avoided the alcove. When we sold the house a few years later, the woman who bought it from us claimed to be an amateur medium and said that the house had spirits trapped in it.”
“A few years ago we were set on recording our first record and started looking for a studio space that we could get for very cheap or free. One of the options we tried was an abandoned church on the outskirts of a small village, about 50 mins north of North-most London. It was an amazing space, there was a huge old organ at the back that still squeezed out a few notes. The building itself was set in the middle of a relatively large cemetery, and the door was the opposite side of the building to the road, so we spent a lot of time walking back and forth through the graves to the car with all our gear. The ground underfoot had that bouncy sagging graveyard feel, and on the second day it was covered in snow – it was the coldest week of the year. We set up in the space in front of the altar.
We had even taken the trouble to rent a Portaloo; the rent had been so cheap we could afford to. But this, for logistical purposes had to be near the road, and so every time any of us needed to use it, we’d have to walk through the graves again.
It was so bitterly cold that we found it really hard to do anything but sit around in our jackets with our hands in our pockets. But by the end of the first week, we’d managed to record one song – the slightly-too-appropriate ‘Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)’.
I’ve always been pretty agnostic towards ghosts, and I don’t know if it was guilt at the song we’d chosen to do or my latent Catholic angst, but the three of us gradually succumbed to a creeping, snowballing fear that had us completely hysterical by the end of a week. Somebody mentioned an invisible congregation watching us in silent rage and condemnation, and after that, every noise or shadow in the church felt like an omen.
There was a metal grate on the floor, filled with blackness that opened right into the crypt. There was the house next door which never had any signs of life, except once when we saw a very old and very emaciated looking man staring intently out of the window at a point on the horizon that we couldn’t see. And there was the nighttime walks through the snow-covered graves of ex-inhabitants of the village to piss in a pitch black plastic cabin.
On the last day of the first week, we arrived to a bizarre high pitched screeching – it was incessant, and somewhere between manic sobbing and screaming. We followed the noise from the road to the door of the church. There in the small porch was the spreadeagled, decapitated body of a crow. The screeching was coming from all around us. We all looked at each other, and I think just said, “We’re leaving”. We grabbed anything that we thought wouldn’t be safe in the cold and pretty much ran to the car and drove away. We didn’t come back for a month.”
“When we moved into our new place in Leeds this year, the previous owners had left a painting of a crying child on the wall. We instantly thought it was a bit of a weird and creepy painting to have up, and for a few weeks, the painting sat on our windowsill while we were moving our stuff in and making it feel homely.
Over the course of the two weeks, we were having quite a lot of fires on our patio in the front garden area as it’s quite big. Fires are something we’ve never really done before to the extent we were in the first two weeks, but we found it relaxing at night.
One evening we were having a fire outside with some friends when one of them mentioned the painting of the crying boy which was staring at us from the house windowsill. He said that he’d seen that very painting online in an article about the most haunted paintings in the world. We all thought he was joking around until we Googled ‘crying boy painting’ and the very same painting came up as a cursed painting of an orphan boy called Toby that had been found in the remains of house fires around the UK.
There is a story behind the painting and the reason why it’s supposedly cursed, and it’s better to Google and find out than we explain, but it was creepy nonetheless. The strange part is that we were thought it was weird that we were having lots of fires outside the house just for fun. Maybe it was Toby trying to tell us something.”
“A few years ago we decided to drive over to Normandy in an attempt to escape London and draw on some fresh inspiration. As soon we as arrived at what we would come to call “the weird house”, we quickly realised we hadn’t chosen the most inspirational spot, and over the next week we inevitably ended up getting a bit bored and weird.
Behind the house there was an enormous cornfield, and one night we thought it would be fun to run really fast at each other from opposite ends of the field in the pitch black. We’d had a few drinks, and it was all pretty funny until Jack got knocked out.
That night, Jack seemed a little dazed and was making less sense than usual. After a while he became convinced he could hear the voice of an Irish man beneath the floorboards whispering the word “Parmesan” over and over. We were quick to reassure him that it was just a little ghost and told him not to worry.
The next day we headed to the local town for some lunch, and to our amazement, down by the waterfront, we found a small Italian restaurant by the name of “Parmesan”. We decided to eat there and it was probably the best pizza we’d ever had. So we concluded: the little Irish ghost from the weird house had just been trying to show us a good time.”
“A few years ago at a show in a random French city, a girl gave us a colourful amulet. She said everyone in the band was to wear it, one at a time. At first, we didn’t notice anything different, but then, strange things began to happen to whoever was in possession of the mystic amulet: Antoine began to experience bizarre troubles with his bass, Diego fell on his head after a show and now wears a scar reminiscent of our first album cover, Tim suddenly began to sing in a weird voice and César, fearing he was next in line for bad fortune, decided to leave. Now that same girl has taken his place in the band… coincidence?”
“The story begins some 20 years ago, in a small town in the north of England. While I was at a school, there was a strange gentleman who would sit outside the school gates every home time. He had a number of memorable quirks. A slumped posture, like a vulture or as if somebody had hung him up by a coat hanger in his sodden jacket. He had a sloped face, with narrow features and beady little busy eyes. With his most recognisable asset being the sock he wore over his dinosaur-like claw hand. He was known as ‘Johnny Three-Socks’.
Johnny would sit there with various items he’d pilfered from the local shops. These might have included items such as a 64 piece toolset, three medium sized boiler suits and even one time near the festive season, an open box of Christmas crackers. On my last day of school, he had served up a plate of stolen macaroons, but would not share such delights with me. Disgusted by his selfishness and having an empty stomach from spending my lunch money on B&H gold, I commandeered the tasty treats and lavished upon them. At this point Johnny snarled loudly, shouting gibberish or some unknown foreign tongue as I ran off laughing giddily. Little was I to know the grave consequences of my digression.
That evening with a full stomach I dropped off to sleep blissfully. As I was sleeping my dreams became nightmares, Johnny had entered my unconscious being. He tormented me with his toolset, piece by piece, tool by tool. I couldn’t run fast enough and woke in a sea of sweat. This continued night by night, another spanner, another hammer. I pleaded for forgiveness.
The nightmares subsided, and I didn’t see Johnny for a while, but I knew he was around lurking. There were numerous sightings of Johnny in the local pubs, where he’d sip on his Harveys Bristol Cream. I’d always try to find him, but he’d be gone, just an empty glass of Harveys Bristol Cream and a damp patch where he’d been sat.
About five years ago with Johnny well out of my mind, numerous rumours emerged that Johnny had only popped his clogs and gone to dinosaur heaven. Around this time some strange things started happening to me. Firstly I’d come home one evening to find a plethora of smashed plates within the hall. As I neared the kitchen, I’d find the entire contents of the overhang cupboard, destroyed beyond belief. That evening I would be awoken by the airing cupboard doors flying open, towels falling out. All an incredible coincidence?
On one particular evening, on what I retrospectively believed to be one year on from the alleged date of poor Johnny’s demise. I had the most vivid dream of Johnny chasing me with his sock and claw. He was screaming for my soul. When suddenly it went silent, and I awoke, floating above my bed. Had he entered me? Was he taking my soul? Or was this his twisted revenge? Then I promptly awoke, face down, flat on my back, saturated in my perspiration. To find a damp brown sock, peeping out from under my pillow. He has to be behind this.
At this point, I knew I had to make peace with Johnny, even if it was too late. I ran to the nearest offy and purchased the largest bottle of Harvey’s Bristol Cream money could buy. From there I ran to the local graveyard, searching frantically for Johnny’s gravestone. I spotted some newer looking plots, and with outrageous luck, I stumbled upon Johnny’s grave. Was it him? I only knew him as Johnny Three-Socks; it must be? The dates tied up, it was him. I looked around to make sure I was alone and poured my heart out to Johnny’s grave, begging forgiveness. I opened the Harvey’s Bristol Cream and proceeded to empty it over his grave, sobbing all the while. “Take this Johnny, let me repent!” As the bottle emptied, I felt a light tap on my shoulder. It felt like a baby velociraptors claw, wrapped in a damp rotting sock. I turn, and to my sheer amazement there he was. “Would you like another biscuit, sir?””
Olly, Trudy & The Romance
“It was the October before last, my pockets were dry, and I was cold to the bone. For a few short weeks, I was… The Night Porter.
My blue collar nights stunk of hookers, drunks and loners. But oh Daddy I needed the place, and I was God sure that it needed me.
Patty Ann. Pa-Dee-Ann. Mann, she was a scream; with eyes that swallowed me whole. Patty was the hotel maid, I didn’t much like how they worked her, but she needed this gig, and so did I.
Lost in tears one morning she told me everything. The boss man said if business didn’t pick up we were out on our asses.
I was vacant in the lobby with the hum of late night TV. I didn’t bother the muts, and they didn’t bother me. And then an advert ran saying I could get a ghost… for free.
“Ghost in the post.”
A ghost in the hotel to scare people over. A ghost scare to attract the streets in and make the boss man a quick buck.
My ghost came a week late, and Halloween was only a few winks away. We didn’t have much time to get spookin’.
Halloween night would be lit up with punks and drunks galore. However, my ghost was small, friendly and couldn’t scare a pussycat.
The night came, and the hotel sat rampant. Spooks, screams and unhappy dreams. The night was a hot success.
In the early hours, I searched to congratulate the spookiest ghost in town. But found him only hunched shivering in a cupboard, cowering from the muts. He’d been in there all night.
And if he was in there all night long…
What in hell spooked the muts?
The hotel thrived with ghost tours after that and Patty Ann kept her smile, but I was finished, I had to get out and save my rock & roll band.”
Mike, The Vryll Society
“One of our early rehearsal spaces was a really old Georgian building and one night the handle of the door just started rattling on its own, we looked behind the door and nothing was there. About two minutes later the same thing happened again, it was terrifying, everyone just stopped what they were doing, then turned pale. The ghost must of been trying to tell us to stop playing shit tunes, we weren’t very good back then!”
Joe, Salad Boys
“When I was ten, we lived in an old house down by the beach, and some strange stuff went on. The house had been empty for several years before we moved in and had a stale, dead and creepy feel about it. The house was two storey, but the top level was just my bedroom and my sister’s bedroom. You never wanted to go up there by yourself; I always had a feeling of dread standing at the bottom of the stairs looking up.
We used to hear footsteps up and down the stairs at night, frequently, it disturbed my sister so much she used to sleep with her bedroom light on all night. Once we heard our basketball bouncing around outside, not rolling around in the wind but actually bouncing around as if someone/something was playing with it (I can’t imagine a prowler wanting to draw that sort of attention to themselves).
Another time when we were all having dinner in the lounge the stereo came on by itself in the next room full volume. This was an old stereo with a mechanical volume knob and a definite manual on/off switch, not a case of a digital glitch or power surge.
Another night we were having a sleepover with our cousins in the lounge and heard the unmistakable sound of somebody flicking the window pane with their finger, this happened twice about five minutes apart. Given that our parents knew of my sister and I’s terror of that house I doubt it was a sadistic joke on their part.
There were a few other things that went on that have slipped my memory, but I still recall many nights with little sleep and being scared to get up and go to the bathroom. It was worse for my sister, she attributed it to a lot of her confidence issues at school around the time and talking to her about it now still gives her the chills.
One thing worth mentioning was immediately next door was an old cinder block church that was unoccupied and never had anyone coming or going, it was situated on a large property with loads of scary looking old trees that used to cast wicked shadows on our bedroom floors at night. I’m not sure if that place had anything to do with what my sister and I experienced, but it certainly didn’t make us anymore at ease!”