Note: I posted this on Reddit recently to their ‘true ghost stories’ subreddit, hence the lack of artistic flair. Everything that follows is true.
I was about eleven, my sister was thirteen. We slept in the living room of a little caravan we used to stay in near Stranraer (pronounced ‘stranRAHR’). There wasn’t a lot to do – the campsite didn’t have any amenities. I’d pass the time playing with my sister, taking walks or playing the SNES. This was ’98, so Castlevania and Donkey Kong Country weren’t nostalgic yet, they were just lame. I couldn’t wait to get home and back to the PC so I could get my Theme Hospital on. But mostly I’d read. I had a collection of books about ghosts, UFOs, cryptids and such. I’d pick them up at library sales or in charity shops. My favourites were the unexplained true stories, like the Dover Demon or the Gulf Breeze incident. There was a quarry on the other side of the site; sometimes at night I’d pretend the two red lights were the eyes of the Mothman, who’d swoop down to terrorise my family. What I’m getting at here is I was a kid, and I had an active imagination, but I never believed anything spooky would actually happen to me. If something out of the ordinary happens, it’s just your mind playing tricks on you, right?
I woke up one morning around 6:20. It was grey outside, the sun had just come up, but fog and cloudy skies ensured it wasn’t too bright. I felt uneasy, because I’d usually sleep till nine at least. It was silent. My sister wasn’t even snoring as she normally did. And then I heard it:
It sounded like a horse galloping. It was just outside the window. It was unsettling, to say the least. Had a horse escaped from a nearby field? Surely not. I’d never seen any horses around here, and what’s more, it didn’t sound heavy enough to be one.
Thu-dum, thu-dum, thu-dum.
Whatever it was, it was making circles around the caravan. I’d hear it fade a little as it looped around the other end, where my parents slept, and then get louder, almost next to my head. It had the irregular rhythm of a gallop, but I never heard four legs. It was almost like a person was skipping very, very quickly, but no person could be heavy enough to make that kind of noise on soft ground.
Thu-dum, thu-dum, thu-du…
It was fading, off into the distance. Whatever it was seemed to have ran off. I breathed a little easier. What a crazy situation. Maybe I hadn’t fully woken up yet and was having a dream hangover.
And then it came back.
Thu-dum, thu-dum, thu-dum, thu-DUM, THU-DUM.
It was getting louder, and more insistent. I decided to take my chances.
“Rosie? Are you awake?” I ventured.
“Yeah,” she said, voice quivering.
“You can hear that, right?”
“Yeah. What is it?”
“I don’t know,” I answered truthfully. “I’m afraid to look outside though.”
“I’m afraid it might be the devil.”
She moaned in fear. Thu-dum, thu-dum, thu-dum. There was a thump from the other end of the caravan, like whatever was outside had grazed it. I pulled my blanket tighter around me. After about a minute, it faded again. I told myself if it came back, I’d look outside, and the devil be damned.
It didn’t come back. My parents woke up around eight, made us breakfast, and the fog cleared. We asked them if they’d heard anything strange earlier. They hadn’t. There were no scrapes on the caravan that would suggest something heavy bumping against it. Apart from my sister, there was no evidence that anything had ever happened.
Except for one rough footprint outside the front door, in the shape of a hoof.
To this day, I regret not looking outside to see what it was. But when I wake up in the middle of the night, and everything seems so strange, I understand why I didn’t.
I expected myself to have a release this week, since in the dying months of last year I set myself a pace, but in my defence, Thanks for Playing was made on a laptop and thus could be worked on at any time in any place, and it took around nine weeks to get around to finishing A Very Short Introduction To…, so this next one isn’t quite as easy. However, a little update wouldn’t go amiss.
At the moment, I’m working on five/six seperate projects, two of which are secret. I intially planned to release them in a certain order, but I’ve come to realise that’s a pointless restriction I’ve placed on myself. So what you’ll be seeing from me in the next couple of months is:
- The Legend of Uncle Pat and the Mischievous Girl of Galloway – An EP, this is intentionally the mirror image of Thanks for Playing. Four songs, no synths, drum machines, effects or samples. Just me, my guitars and whatever I can find lying around. Like Thanks for Playing, it should also have a new version of an old song, in this case Buchanan Street Blues.
- Have You Added Some Sugar? – A companion piece to the above, this will contain two ‘acoustic’ versions of previous songs (that is, they’ll probably still have a bass on there but will be very stripped-back) and two remixes of previously-acoustic songs. The acoustic songs are Lemonade Lucy and Joanna Reb and the Wee Lie Downs, the remixes are yet to be revealed.
- The City of Adelaide – Not a concept album about the rotting boat in Irvine harbour, but a collection of definitive (as near as I can manage, anyway) versions of my ten favourite songs from my first 21 years on this earth. They’re not the best I’ve ever written, or the most personal, but each had something I liked and wanted to have decent recordings of: Track listing so far:
- Shortie the Piranha
- Jack’s Law
- Issie and the Elephant
- The Sand Witch
- Free as a Bee
- Hearts Dots Stars ‘n’ Stripes
- Forever Waiting
- King of Close Calls
- Men Things Do – Once all this retrospective stuff is out of the way, I plan on getting down to some more new music. This is going to be the next ‘official’ EP after The Legend of Uncle Pat… so it’s likely to have a different sound.
Phew! Add the two secret things I’m working on, the ten or so other songs that I’ve yet to find a place for, the resolution to do a whole new album at some point and the inevitable question of ‘how the hell am I going to play live’, and it’s gonna be a busy year.
I think there’s someone or something in my flat.