1960: The large Georgian mansion stood on a hill overlooking Gerrytown. It had held this prestige position for generations, towering over the working-class wooden houses nestled in the valley. It was said, that many years ago, an English gentleman had built the mansion for his bride. But what followed, was a series of terrifying paranormal event’s that caused the occupants to flee. The mansion, now abandoned and battered with age was, according to the town folk cursed, and children were warned to stay away. Lately, there had been mysterious happenings, lights in the old windows, and smoke coming from the chimneys. Fatty Nelson reckoned the smoke was green, he had watched it from his bedroom window late at night and according to him that meant one thing…witches.
Gerrytown’s main street was abandoned, the clock on the town hall struck eleven thirty pm. From his vantage point, Fatty Nelson shifted from one foot to the other. They were late, and if they didn’t hurry, he would miss out on all the action. Finally, he saw them making their way along the street, Fatty couldn’t believe it at first, but sure enough there was Tommy Thomson’s little sister lagging behind the boys.
Fatty grew increasingly impatient as he watched them slowly make their way through the deserted main street, past the Baker’s and the Butchers, past Miss Monica’s Emporium, where half-naked mannequins stared down at them with superior glassy eyes. Somewhere in the distance, a dog bayed at the full moon, and the children ran to where Fatty waited.
‘What’s Trudy doing here?’ said Fatty, glaring at Tommy.
‘Sorry Fatty, but she caught me climbing out the window, and was gunna tell Mum.’
‘Just what we need.’ scoffed Fatty, ‘a tell-tale tit.’
‘I had to wait until the old man was asleep’, yawned Billy, ‘Thought he was never gunna drop off.’
‘We’d better get going’, said Fatty, ‘we need to be there by midnight.’
‘Why?’ said Trudy.
‘Girls should be seen and not heard…understand,’ he said.
They crossed the street and walked down Bramberry lane until they came to the old rickety bridge, which they crossed carefully, avoiding the broken planks.
White Muscovy Ducks, glided on the glassy water below, while above a silhouette of a lone owl passed across the face of the moon. Trudy shivered, ‘I’m scared.’
‘What do I always say?’ Said Fatty, to no one in particular. ‘Girls are a pain in the bum.’
The road toward the old mansion was steep, over time deep ruts had worked their way into the surface. Recent rain had filled them with murky puddles. Side-stepping they made their way to the top.
‘Now’, said Fatty, ‘Billy is lookout and Tommy’ can come with me.’
‘What! Don’t you think Billy should go; I have to look after Trudy?’
‘No, you don’t, I can stay with Billy.’
Tommy’s face suddenly lost all its colour. ‘And what are we supposed to do once we get in there?’
‘Gawd Blimey Tommy, what have I been telling you at school? We go in and look through the windows.’
‘And what if there’s witches in there and they see us?’
‘Then we run like billyo.’
‘Now what?’ Said Tommy, as they reached the old iron gates.
It was obvious that there was no way in as they examined the large rusty gates. Over time, thick ropes of ivy had snaked around the bars forcing them shut.
‘Time to go home’, said Trudy.
Geeze Trudy, will you shut your gob.’
‘Here,’ said Fatty pulling a pocket-knife out of his trousers, just as well I’ve come prepared.’
Several minutes later Fatty had cut a small hole exposing the old iron bars.
‘Look,’ said Billy pointing to the mansion, a light’s just gone on in one of the upstairs rooms.’
‘That’s because it must be midnight, said Fatty, the witches are getting ready to cast their spells.’
The town clock struck twelve, the moons face disappeared behind a cloud, the sky turned inky black, and from somewhere in the mansion a high-pitched screech ripped through the night.
Billy dropped to the ground. ‘What was that?’
‘A cat stupid, witches always have em.’ Fatty pushed his hand through the hole in the gate feeling for the latch. ‘Aw, I can’t find the darn thing. I’ll have to stick me head through so I can see it.’
The clouds parted, unveiling the moon’s face, Fatty squeezed his head through the old gate.
From his vantage spot, Fatty could see that the garden was tangled with weeds. Ivy had twisted its way over the path, climbing all the way up the front steps. Turning his head, he searched for the latch.
‘It’s covered in this creeper stuff…hang on, someone’s opening the front door.’
‘Run for it,’ yelled Billy.
Fatty Nelson let go a large fart. ‘Help! Help! Me head’s stuck!’
If there was a time to run Fatty Nelson knew it had to be soon, and as he struggled to free his head, the woman, dressed in a long purple flowing gown seemed to float down the steps. Her long black hair fell in tendrils to her waist, and she was staring straight at him. Fatty struggled to pull himself free.
‘For Gawd sake, get me out!’
‘Just turn your head sideways,’ said Trudy, your ears are too big that’s why you’re stuck.’
‘Where’s the others? Said a relieved Fatty Nelson, rubbing hard at his ears.
‘They ran away, come on let’s get out of here.’
Fatty Nelson didn’t need to be told twice as they scrambled down the road. But it wasn’t until they reached the rickety bridge that he spoke.
‘Those boys are supposed to be me cobbers. Talk about scaredy cats, no guts, no guts at all.’
‘Yes,’ said Trudy,’ like I always say, boys are a pain in the bum.’
© Jan Weldon-Veitch 2020