Home from neon lights and loud music, in the early hours of a Sunday morning, I sat in an armchair and drank a cup of tea. Not drunk. Of sound - if not entirely sober - mind. A notion occurred that I had left the exterior storm door unlocked and ajar. Such an error would have been entirely out of character, yet presented itself as the logical reason for the blowing gale, which sounded - in settled weather conditions and with growing intensity - from the hall outside the room.
I heard then with increasing dread, the dragging of a person of considerable weight - not as a body might be dragged across a floor - but rather that of an able bodied person, who having met with misadventure, may struggle a short distance to a suitable place of rest. And a simultaneous scuffing sound, of an injured party leant against the hall wall for support - despite my certain knowledge of a large and heavy sideboard in the way. I stared in alarm at the door, and - had it been further ajar - do believe entirely I would have met with a most unwelcome sight.
Had either of my parents awoke in the night, with a cramping leg or a reason to be wandering the floor, I should have seen a light, heard the padding of bare feet or the creak of the bathroom door. But on reaching the end of the hall, the sound effects stopped - not abruptly, but as a dial on a radio would turn the volume down. The storm abated and the dragging disappeared. I sat in the armchair a good half an hour before nerves - and the absence of any alternative plan - enabled the 10 second dash to my room.
I checked of course, the following day - if either had risen in the night, but knew before asking that the answer would be no. It remains the most alarming and curious incident, and one I cannot explain. It frightened me in a most unpleasant way, I saw nothing, but heard - and sensed - that whatever occupied the hall - was ill disposed and intended to cause alarm.
Others have, over the years, sensed disquiet in the house. My mother often hears a step in the hall, only to discover that she is quite alone. A Dutch aunt, a regular guest, tells of noise she cannot place and a shiver to the spine. An old house then, perhaps with souls who are loathe to leave. I shall share this story not, with my son. He sleeps soundly at No. 1 of the occasional weekend. If ghosts walk the hall may they leave him alone. No place have phantoms in the dreams of a child - in fleece pyjamas under a heavy quilt. Warm and safe and very much of our world... x