Leslie Blackwell Leslie Blackwell
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that certain je ne' se' quois of dread. You certainly have a way with words!

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Allen Clarke Allen Clarke
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The Ghost of Mr.Wilson

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She had a friend.

I know I would never pass for an Englishman of the Gentry, but what the hell! I wrote this all in good fun. Even though this writing might seem like balderdash to some, I think of it as merely an excorcise...ahem, I mean...excercise.

      Chapter One- The Trembling Heart

    It was a quarter past midnight when I first saw him. It appeared to be an apparition.I was still in that certain twilight sense of being half-sleep and conscious. So at first, I thought that I had dreamed it.I had never experienced anything of the sort, in all of my 62 years. Its' sudden visitation startled my composure. Because, you see, for the most part, I had spent a relatively peaceful life up until that night.Certainly,I had heard stories of the macabre since childhood. However,I had no idea that "those things" existed.Indeed, those things that" go bump" in the night.

    While it is true that most men have encountered certain strange sights in the course of a lifetime, this night of the macabre was my first. And,yet, I oftimes, would purposely walk the surrounding moors by the light of the waning moon. Perhaps, it was the perchance, secret thrill of encountering something...other-worldly to provoke some sense of excitement to my otherwise hum-drum existence. True, I had heard scintillating fables from volumes of dusty, forgotten lore. The imagination is an unfortunate loner until the face of visceral terror reveals itself as the moon breaks a cloudy churn. And so, my tale of ghastly visitation began to unravel.

    I had just tugged my comforter over my night-cap upon hearing a muffled commotion outside my bedroom door.Initially, I suspected that it was Jeeves, my Ceshire cat, exercising his midnight antics.I knew it couldn't possibly be Cadbury, since he was away for week's end.It was Hallow's Eve and the moon was full.It's rays danced across the floor by the window overlooking Wembleyshire Manor, my ancestral abode.

At first the sounds were faint, as though they were muffled. Then, presently, I discerned the distinct grating sound of metal dragging, in lurches, across the bare wooden floor. Whatever it was, was out in the hallway.The noise seemed deafening in my ears. Wembleyshire Manor should have been deserted.
    Denial seeped into my bones. I would not have it! Besides, I felt I was much too old to investigate.Quite morbidly, I mused,with my heart palpitating slightly.What nocturnal madness might await beyond those great oaken doors? My heart trembled at the thought of encountering the unimaginable.My hands trembled and felt as though they had been dipped in some Icelandic fijord. And,where were my heart pills? Moments ago, I had imagined them to be at my night-table within reach.I leaned over, and saw that, in my hurried haste to grasp at some semblance of sanity, my dexterity had vanished! I had knocked the pillbox over,scattering them hither and thither.
    I hoped against hope, that this was all but a bad dream. And, yet, still the incessant grind of metal on wood seemed to be taunting me. By scintillating degrees,it seemed that this unholy disturbance approached ever...so...much...closer.Within moments, the grinding stopped right outside my bedroom door. My legs melted! I had no strength! How was I to outrun this unseen terror? The silence reverberated in my cringing soul. I was undone!

     The clock struck hollowly one hour past Dread. Still that infernal drag of chain across floorboards assailed my now - desecrated inner sanctum. A strange thing transpires once a mouse of a man is trapped in a corner. The fact is...he ceases to be a mouse. At such times, something of the primeval wells up within the civilized breast. At any rate,and at that moment, the voice of reason spoke into my spirit. There was nowhere else to turn but within.

     Even though he had been the weaver of macabre tales on many a cold, wintry night, I heard him. The voice of my grandfather came to me, there; in that curious space of my profound loneliness. His voice rang out repetitously, like verbal jabs, repeating, repeating..."Courage..courage...courage". And the voice of the elder rang with validity. And, I suppose it was because he had seen death face to face during the Boer War.His stories were certainly not the vain janglings of spineless amoeba. Time and again,he had crossed swords with the barbarian horde. As horrific as his tales bore out, he returned to us and to Wembleyshire, with every extremity intact.

     Momentarily, I had found the reason to go in in this darkest of nights. Still, I prayed for day-light to come streaming in through those darkly-clouded bay windows.But only the black robed gloom of the nocturnal hours answered silently and without pity. The screech of a hunting owl echoing outside in the garden  bought a strange twinge of comfort. After all, nature, at this point, was my only remembrance of reason. Sadly,even crackle of log upon hearth merely served to mock my extenuating circumstance.Instead, the flame cast hellish-like shadowy flickers across the great ,cold, vast room.

    The sound of approaching calamity thundered in my ears! I turned to my left and then to my right, and I could not find a worthy thing to call a weapon.I then saw the light from the hearth reflect off of the doorknob. Then, to my great unease, I saw the knob slowly turn. At length, I realised that I had forgotten to lock the door!I heard the thunder of my own heart...ka-thump,ka-thump... beating, like a drummed death knell. Just then, the moon broke through the clouds. Its' light cascaded onto the floor, there; by the now... open... door!I heard it creak open. I swore I heard it open above the din of my beating...bleeding...heart..of fear! Oh, to be away from this hellish place! If I could somehow sprout wings and take to blessed flight!Alas! I had now tasted of the bitter wine which Poe so magnificently ascribed to!

To my complete and utter horror, I realized that I had no weapon powerful enough to vanquish my invisible foe! And even if I had one, what possible good would it do against...spirit? I felt as though I was strangely imasculated. In effect, I became neutured by my own fear! I know, I know it sounds ridiculous, but I had always prided myself on being...able. Ha! How preposterously I had presumed my imagined infallibility.Not even the head of the Catholic Church could help me now in this... my dire dilemma! After all, every man at his best is just...only... a man.Where did I ever get the idea that I was in complete charge of my life?

Chapter Two - As the Worm Turns

     At first, I saw his head passing through the great oaken door to my boudoir.It was grey-ish and transluscent and seemed that its' very cheeks resembled the likes of a pair of shrunken Granny Smith apples.Its' anquished moans shook me to the core of my being!I had never heard the like!The chains which hung about its' neck seemed to further augment his miserable...non-existence. Poor wretched soul! It was chained to an eternity of wandering aimlessly through the lonely corridors of Time.Oh,but nay..the pity that I felt for Mr. Wilson did not, in the slightest, diminish the absolute shock of this strange encounter.

     And so it was that he provoked me with terror. This thing...this mysterious entity seemed to mock me with an exquisitely-invoked sense of that certain je ne' se' quois of dread. Mock me if you will! Dare I say, my command of the French language; is a horror unto itself!
     And so it shortly came to pass, in a dream, that...the ghost of Mr. Wilson, vaguely, revealed his namesake. Fortunately, I awoke to discover that the communication was, alas, but a dream!And, yet, the name , Wilson, kept returning. I slept fitfully, and then I awoke to the stark reality that it was still the dead of night. The whole night was fastly becoming such a nightmare that I cannot say, of a certainty if I was indeed awake or halfway mired in slumbers deep! But wait...wait, wait for this tale-bearer's art to be exquisitely weaved, sufficiently; and by scintillating degrees! Anyway, where was I? Ah, yes...about the relentless terror to whom I was subjugated. 1 comment

It was perhaps the momentary pause at my door which deceived me into believing that the terror had passed.Surely, the Death Angel had passed by. Or so, I thought.Oh, dear Lord!I must have seemed a darkly comical sight to behold, cringing,there, under my comforter!
    Gingerly, I emerged from beneath my covering of down and duvet.I tell you now, with trembling lips that I was a man at wit's end! What was I to do? I had never seen a spirit face to face.Surely, I had heard rumors of their existence.I had never seen one. Certainly, there had been instances in my experience when words couldn't explain certain, inexplicable occurrences.At this point, I felt like such a clod! I couldn't recall a time when I couldn't explain away anything and everything. That is, up until now. Woe was me! Knowledge had failed me utterly!

Chapter Three- Flesh Meets Spirit

     Wembleyshire Manor had always been a safe haven.The eye in the hurricane, so to speak. Lately though, my familial place of rest and well-being had become quite the contrary. Oh, I suppose that the ancestral abode might have housed certain residual qualities of its' grand and illustrious history.I never did question anything of its' grand illusion. Oh, I suppose that, as with everything, it might have harboured a thing or two of lingering dark secrecy. For the most part, I was shielded from anything malignant which may have been deeply imbedded in these stony walls.In my childhood, it housed the comfort of better days, long... ago... passed away, though alive in sweet memory.

     And so it was, that this spectral visitor invaded the threshold of my convivial fortress. This...sanctuary was my precious hearth and home. And, certainly, that of which, I had always treasured deeply, within my heart of hearts. And so, I heard the clarion call to arms.This meant...War?? The problem was that the "enemy" and encroacher of my peace was unseen. And how then does one wage war against a can of smoke? The very idea of it was preposterous to my inherent sense of enlightenment. Was I then left to take flight and live to fight another day? Oh, but, nay! I would be less of a man if I ran to hide behind my mother's skirt! So, then, I resolved, if fight I must, then fight I would!

     I sat up in the huge bed. My spine stiffened with a steely resolve as one prepared for conflict.My sudden departure from the usual fear startled me.Perhaps this exhilaration was induced by the rush of adrenaline one experiences at the point of peril. At length, I could not further process my apparent metamorphosis from  spineless cringer to hopeful warrior.At any rate, I was ready and yet, not, in the least prepared for whatever might transpire next. Perhaps, in my wildest imaginings, I could somehow see my way to negotiating with the unreasonably intangible.

      What happened next surprised my sense of expectation! He, or rather it began to converse with me. At first his voice was ...warbled.It was as if the words which he uttered were issuing from the bottom of a deep well.
     I first saw his coarse, parched lips move without the accompanying human warmth of words.His eyes were like dark, glass marbles.His eyes,his eyes those dread circled orbs turned a reddish glow. And if they be the mirror of the soul, then, tonight, this very night... I... had glimpsed a flicker of Purgatory!
     His head seemed to be wrapped in what I can only describe as thin, grey surgical gauze. Not forgetting that his ghastly visage was indeed translucent, though no less terrifying! By all human rights, I should have quaked exceedingly! By all that is divine, I, the All Sufficient One, should have trembled to the very core. But, quite inexplicably, I remained disturbingly serene.Momentarily, I became no longer the trembling leaf. I could not understand as to why I would be so suddenly composed during what should have been a soul- shattering moment in Time!

Chapter Four - The Spectre Speaks

     The thing moved without a whisper of detectable sound.It fairly floated into the range of my peripheral.The chain to which it was attached seemed to be now separated from the spectre. This...this seeming reprieve of silence was merely an interlude. He moved his arm slightly and the rattling resumed, though not as strikingly as before. A noticeable stench of mold and mildew preceded its' presence.It wafted towards me on the wings of subtle terror.
     At first, it did not seem to be aware that I was there. And then, it did the strangest thing. And it did so, in a cloud of dust. With a ghostly hand, it burrowed deeply into the pocket of its' dark vesture and retrieved a swab of...spider web. With a sigh, he then, commenced to nibble on the grey ball of web.By the scrunching sound which it emitted, I would have to conclude that it was quite enjoying his late night repast. Hmmph!...Fancy that!

     I didn't mean to startle him, but I was somewhat amused by this spectacle, however macabre it might have seemed.The fact is..I shouldn't have been amused at all. Could he have decided to bite off my head just as easily as he had chewed the web? What if it turned out that he was of the poltergeist variety? I had heard stories alluding to the malicious nature of such spirits. With bated breath,and trembling heart, I feverishly hoped that he was not such an one.
     It was via a mix of bad timing and allergic propensity that, at the precise moment, that he turned his head my way..that I sneezed. Full force!

     He gasped when he first saw me.I suspect that I startled him, because he froze and ceased to rattle his chains.I was first to speak.

     " Who or what might you be ?"
     " Why..."he rasped," I...I..I am the son...of Will, the miller" A frosted breath of frigid air issued from his thin, dank lips as he spoke.
     " Oh" I said, not really knowing what to say next.As one could well imagine, it was an awkward moment. This was really, quite the sudden, deranged... epiphany unfolding.
       Murkish, dim light from my kerosene lamp flickered as if slightly a-tremble.His marbled eyes glinted off of the faint flame from the winnowing wick. In my transfixed moment of supernatural visitation,I could not be assured of his intent, so dared I to ask. With lips besmirched with stupefaction, I began to speak, with this most strange anomaly of undetermined origin.

     " Are you friend... or foe?" It was as plain as I could make it...to..someone..clearly not of this world.
     "Not sure" He said, once again leaving me in a languishing state of peril.
     "From whence camest thou?" I couldn't believe what I had just said. I was a long-time lover of the Elizabethan vernacular, but I feared; at that moment, that I had just sounded hopelessly archaic. However, it was too late to retrieve my words, with any certain measure of dignity.

He gazed at me with those dreadful, marbled eyes.It was as if he could see my very soul with all its' hidden, darkly-nuanced, brooding secrets.I felt naked before his hideous gaze...this...this spectre..this nothing..this..this horrific wisp of air! I felt excruciating unease in a way that I had never experienced before in all my life. He bore right through me as if to scoff at my pitiful notion of righteousness. And, indeed, at that very moment, I had no line of defense...to..to..save my soul.And, yet I scoffed brazenly at the preposterous musing that a spirit should dare sit in judgement of  a refined gentleman of the gentry, such as I.Besides, I argued inwardly,I was much,much...better than he. After all, he nary had a hat to hang on a hanger! Much less a head upon which to put it on. And yet, for all of my perfectly sound reasoning, I quaked at his damnable prescence!

     At length,I felt that I had looked upon a creature who had fallen from grace. Mr.Wilson was,indeed, trapped in Limbo.The only significant essence that marked a difference betwixt us was that I was still breathing, though hardly...living.Oh how I cursed this night under bated breath! Oh how I felt violated of my superb sense of ...superior...substance! Oh, if I was in a court of law, I would argue my defense with all the fervency  of a barrister who could do no wrong! And yet, I had to aquiecse to the reality which had so rudely imposed itself upon me. Did I deserve this? Was this my reward for something I had done in the years previous? Was this visitation some evil which resurrected from the mausoleum of my distant, faded memory? Every man was young and foolish once!

      With trembling lips, I began (quite gingerly) to draw him into my line of thought.Though thou must think me mad, I began..to..speak... with the son of ...Will..the miller. And as I did so, I experienced the eureka moment that I was walking on the precipice of madness.Of what should I utter? Current affairs? Or perhaps the latest fashion out of Paris? And then it alighted upon winged reason that I should inquire of his demise.Yes, yes, that would be the perfect argument against his sudden intrusion into my life!At last, I felt a twinge of hope.My heavens! I saw myself, finally, as pathetic, and only as being... fallibly human. That was all, there could be no denying! Or was he aware that he was no longer among the living?Just then a slight tremble traveled down the length of my spine as I realized that I was about to peer into the Abyss!

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