"No man knows fear, until fear comes to him." A wise man.

Like all good Hallowe'en tales, this story is true.
Recounted on many evenings such as this.
It requires no embellishment.
It is told just how it happened.


The Eye


The Partick room and kitchen may not have been our dream semi-detached, but it was ours - my wife and I's. Our first home, a first floor tenement flat overlooking a tyre fitting yard. Our first son had arrived and we set his cot up in a wee nursery within the bedroom recess - the bed recess in the old days. Our bed sat in the middle of the floor, bathed in the light from the big bay window. It wasn't a big flat, just this bedroom, the kitchen/living room next door, a tiny inside toilet and a small hallway leading out to the landing. The old lady who'd lived there had recently died and her daughter had decided to sell it off. Humble beginnings, but we'd fought hard to get it, saving up the deposit, jumping through the hoops of all the legal beagles as they took their cut. We were happy and felt we were on our way.

But something wasn't right. It was M felt it first. While I was at work, especially on back-shifts or nights, she felt jumpy, insecure. But she didn't let on to me... until later.

Of course I knew of our strange neighbour, the old woman who lived in the ground floor flat below us. It wasn't just that she kept a Christmas tree in her window all year round. Or the fact she scolded me once on the stair for wearing a red pullover.

"Red is an angry colour."
She hissed, shaking her head to demonstrate her disapproval.
"It annoys the spirits and leads to aggression..."
She prattled on as I lumbered a heavy Silver Cross pram, laden with baby paraphenalia, up to the first landing. But it wasn't until the time I entered her house that I discovered the true nature of the woman. I can't remember why she invited me in. Perhaps she wanted to talk to me about the baby crying or events in the close, memory fails me on that count. I recall a cup of tea, in china cup and saucer. I remember clearly how the conversation turned to her 'friends'.

"Dont you see them?" She asked.
"Eh? No, cant say I do." I replied, sipping my tea and looking around the time capsule of a room.
"They're all around us," she went on "I talk to them and they talk to me."
A Spiritualist, she spoke to me of her beliefs and the after life, of portents and premonitions. Of the meaning of the strange little ornaments displayed along her mantlepiece and her ghostly residents and visitors.
"They can see you. They're looking and talking about you right now. See, over there..."
She pointed to the sink as though someone were standing there.
I grew uneasy as she explained how they came to her and told her of the goings on in the building, of how she didn't need to leave the house, how she was kept informed by her... friends.

I told M little of this. She knew the old woman was a bit eccentric because of the all year Christmas tree and did her best to keep out of her way. So did I.

The burst pipe was just one of those things. A connection came loose at the back of the washing machine in the middle of the night, water seeped over the floor, and brought down part of the ceiling downstairs.
The old lady was quietly livid. My mate and I did our best to redecorate the damaged area, all the time joking about the spirits watching us and how they were probably critcising our brush strokes. It was tastless humour at the auld yin's expense and she glowered at us, fingering the pieces of one of the ornaments that had been broken by falling plaster.
We finally finished and left.

Then things started to happen...


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Original story © Bob Wilson 2008
Layout, editing and additional material © Dave Sloan 2016
'tachras' and 'Winding Yarn' © Dave Sloan 2005, 2012, 2016

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