Over at Do Authors Dream of Electric Books, the other day, Stuart Hill was talking about
true ghost stories. He collected a few good ones!
I left a comment there about my family’s long
struggle to be rational and not believe in ghosts – a battle fought by generations before me, while my family were beset by ghosts and heavy-footed things that tramp in the night (of which, more
later this month).
In my collection of ghost stories, NIGHTCOMERS, there’s a story called ‘The Baby’ which I based on one of the flesh-creepers my aunt
Doris was my grandmother’s niece; and Emily one
of my grandad’s sisters. They were close neighbours and, as Emily was heavily pregnant, Doris was looking forward to seeing the baby when it was born.
But Doris contracted pneumonia – pretty much a
death-sentence in the early 1930s, especially if you were poor. She was put to bed and her mother and sisters sat with her.
Doris was sick for days. The other women
knew that Emily had given birth, but no one told Doris. The baby wasn’t strong, and they thought it best not to mention it.
Doris kept asking that the bedroom window be
opened, but it wasn’t, because it was cold. Again and again Doris demanded that the window be opened. She struggled to sit up, saying, “Open it! Open it!”
Obviously, she was delirious. They tried to
calm her. “Let her in!” she said. “She wants to come in – she wants to be with me. Let her in!”
“Who’s outside?” one of the sisters asked.
“Who wants to come in?”
Doris said, “Emily’s baby. She wants to
come in and be with me. Let her in!”
Doris begged for the window to be opened until,
eventually, someone did open it, despite the cold. They left it open after she died too, for a whole day, for fear of what they might shut inside if they closed it too soon.
The women sitting with Doris knew that Emily’s
sickly baby had been a girl. And two days after Doris’ death, the baby that had wanted to be with her, died too.
My Aunt told me this, but, a true Price, ended it
by saying, “It’s easily explained – Emily never had a baby that lived longer than a couple of days. And it would have been on Doris’ mind.”
Somehow, these sensible remarks never stopped
that cold grue going down my back.