The Bloomsbury Ghost

Christmas Eve: time for a ghost story. If you haven’t , it really is worth reading the prologue here. This story, in three parts, will stretch over the next three days: one today, one tomorrow and one on Boxing Day.

Merry Christmas, All.

The terrier was in an advanced state of sensory overload as he scrabbled the corner of the door with his paws.

His mistress and the children were not privy to the dense smellscape of London, but it was confusing. A big house would be an excellent way of limiting the messages wafting past his nose.

Maybe, the dog thought, he could gather his wits about him a little once he was inside.

The key was stiff, and it took a long time to coax the lock into giving up its secrets.

Hurry up, hurry up, the dog messaged, his tail thrashing back and forth. He could hear the children’s voices rising in excitement: due, he estimated, to that snow he could smell in the air. Yes, he observed as he glanced over his shoulder: there were the first flakes.

Inside, inside, Hamish emanated. Quickly.

And all at once the great door swung open and the family tumbled in, laughing and shouting and bustling, Steph carrying the great Gladstone bag, the children pulling their wheelie cases.

Hamish was first, though. His claws skittered across the beautiful old seasoned wood floor. He broke into a run, and decided at the last-minute to hang a left, demonstrating a perfect cartoon skidaddle.

Unless it is on a lead, the dog is invariably the first in any family to see a new house.

And Hamish was no exception.

The little dog appraised the cavernous old kitchen with its cold tile floor and a stove which sat like an old woman in the corner, hoarding memories.

He inspected the old bells lined up rusting on the wall: he smelt the pantry with the appreciation of a connoisseur. He scrambled up the stairs without noticing the dark ebony.

The rooms seemed to stretch upwards forever. They smelt damp. And there was something else, the small dog noted, his hackles rising slightly.

Hamish could smell one of those walkers.

They weren’t unusual, the dog knew – those humans who had finished their time on earth.

They were everywhere, here in this old city. A young girl had drifted by, unseen by his human family, as Steph had wrestled with the lock. The wraith rendered the dark stone behind her a pleasing shade of grey-green.

There had been three or four on that clanking underground train, overlapping the flesh-and-blood passengers with telling transparency and that unmistakable waft of damp other-wordliness.

Some were happy, resigned to In-Between, and enjoying the ride. Some were sad. They knew life had somehow eluded them.

And some were evil.

Not many: but that smell? Now that was one evil son-of-a-dog.

Hamish’s hackles responded as dogs have for thousands of years to the wrong kind of walker. They rose and he growled, even though he couldn’t yet see the source of his wrath.

He planted his paws like tent pegs into the floor and radiated threat. His job was to protect his family.

“And just how, insignificant four-paws, do you intend to do that?”

The rasping dry communication hacked through the long-silent air from a transparent figure sitting in the corner. And as he beheld his adversary for the first time, Hamish froze: his small doggy heart beat faster. Dogs know less fear than you might imagine, but this was an occasion for it, make no mistake.

The walker was dressed in a perfectly-cut suit of clothes, and fine shoes. He held a phantom cigar in one hand. The ghost of his fine bones rendered him a Dorian Gray, handsome and dashing- were it not for one point.

His eyes were not there.

The sockets gaped. Hamish had seen many walkers, each with its own story writ visibly on its gossamer shadow: headless ones, sunken ones, ones with  head-cages, ones carrying something which had been detached in life. But this was graphic, even for a walker.

And somehow, those great gaping caverns in its face communicated far more than hatred. Hamish sensed these things. This was a walker who, in life, had adored inflicting pain. He had found his greatest pleasure in the exquisite suffering of those around him.

The terrier’s motto: if in doubt, bark very loudly indeed.

He fired out a gatling-gun series of machine-gun barks. The walker sat unconcerned. Could it be anticipating the advent of his family with malevolent pleasure?

The sound of elephants stampeding up the staircase interrupted its reverie. The family was thundering up to the drawing-room: what was Hamish barking at?

The walker’s attention left the dog and focused on the sound of its new tenants.  It took a puff of the phantom cigar. Ghostly smoke emerged through its eye-spaces.

“Splendid….” it observed urbanely. “Splendid.”

And it dematerialized in a leisurely fashion.

Picture source- and nothing whatsoever to do with this fictional account- here


36 thoughts on “The Bloomsbury Ghost

  1. Oh Boy! This is really good and you have snared me big time. Soooo looking forward to the next two days and what the brave Hamish will be able to do. The Dorian Gray reference is indeed ominous and I am now wondering what kind of art is in the attic.

  2. Oh course, the protagonist is a dog like Hamish. How clever of his creator, and how eager I am to see where Hamish takes us, Kate. I look forward to chapter second in this ghostly Bloomsbury tale. Well done.

  3. I am now a mass of gooseflesh (and keeping an eye on my Minnie’s hackles)!

    I’d never given much thought to Christmas ghost tales until all the “ghostly” discussions precipitated by bloggers in recent days. Then my sis called from the living room last evening to say she was watching an episode of “Ghost Adventures” ( set in that other haven to ghosts, Charleston — mostly filmed in the old City Jail (spooky) — so I’ve had a double dose of ghost tales in the past 12 hours.

    Suffice to say this has drawn me in, and I’m anxious to see what happens next….. I think.

    1. Oooh, thanks Karen: a whole new vein of ghost stories for Phil and I to quake at over a glass of mulled wine! My friend Nancy has requested a happy ending, Karen. I’m inclined to acquiesce…have a wonderful holiday….

  4. I always learn so much from you Kate! I would’ve never known that the word scrabble could be used to describe my dogs at the door. Love this tale and look forward to seeing where it goes.

  5. Go, Hamish! I wasn’t sure of the whole ghost story thing, but you do it so well, and you have a Hamish. What’s not to love?

    Merry Christams to the ever entertaining Shrewsdays. All best wishes for the pudding 😉

    1. Thanks Fiona, glad you enjoyed the first instalment. If the second proves a bit too much I’m slipping in a Big Al post for Tilly_ I’ll label it up so you can go straight in 🙂

  6. Oh dear…three days when I can’t read my beloved Shrewsday posts. I don’t like ghost stories. Almost as much as I don’t like swarming things.

    Are you trying to get me to dump you?


    Merry Christmas, and may the pudding be all it promises to be!

  7. Excellent! I do hope that Hamish becomes a hero . . . protecting his humans from the evil son-of-a-dog. 🙂

    Hope your Christmas is Merry and Bright . . . filled with love, laughter, and light!

  8. Ooh, hair-raising – I do love a well-told ghost story… especially when, as now, I’m reading it with a good seven hours before dark. 🙂

    And such wonderfully evocative images, like

    a stove which sat like an old woman in the corner, hoarding memories. and

    He fired out a gatling-gun series of machine-gun barks.

    Merry Christmas!

  9. I am late today, but have been shamelessly saving this for the perfect time. The dog is perfect, and the ghost exudes devilish evil. Whether it ends happily or no, it is a fitting hook for Christmas readers everywhere.

    The city jail Karen referenced above is where MTM had his one ghostly experience. It is a spooky place.

    Merry Christmas Eve to all of you, Kate.

    1. And those adventurers in the jail documented some pretty hair-raising stuff on their visit!

      I’m glad that all the haunted places I ever ventured while living there were visited in broad daylight with lots of company! 🙂

      1. I know what you mean: although when you have to its amazing how hardened you can become. I locked up the haunted mansion round the corner for three years at times varying from 11pm to 2am, when I was a duty manager there. I won’t say it was fun; but one can shut off the fearful part of one’s mind a little.

    2. Wow, Andra! Have you blogged MTM’s experience? Love to read that….
      Phil, of course, was haunted on the toilet. Must look that one out.

      Hope you and MTM have a fabulous, restful, plentiful Christmas. It has been wonderful getting to know you this year.

  10. I made the mistake of reading this last night on my IPod Touch after retiring in my safe, comfortable bed! Yike! Kate! Tonight, when all the lights are on, I have a friend on the phone, and the cat is obviously sleeping peacefully, I will have the courage to read part two!

  11. Oh, excellent! I’m settling in for a good scare. Hamish is the literary Macauley for sure, and the ghost…well, now. He is deliciously sinister, just the way I like ’em.

  12. “Ghostly smoke emerged through its eye-spaces” – ooooer, what a picture that paints! Delightfully diabolical. Hope your Christmas has been quite the opposite, Kate

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