Every Society Breeds The Ghosts It Deserves….

Lethmachen is the most haunted town in England.

 We should know. We have lived here all our lives.

 Yet you have probably never heard of Lethmachen. The town is never mentioned in any book or on any website dedicated to the paranormal.

 This does not mean that Lethmachen is not haunted, it means that people here are afraid to talk.

  A conspiracy of silence? We say ‘Always watch the quiet ones!’

 The purpose of this site is to document the supernatural phenomena of Lethmachen, both contemporary and historical.


Lethmachen: The Most Haunted Town in England

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The first book of tales based on the true accounts documented on this website

13 terrifying tales of Shire Horror, published by Lethmachen Press….

ISBN: 978-1-291-40880-5


A ghostly stare plagues a man during his most private moments…


I find I must begin with a slightly embarrassing confession. This does not start in a very auspicious place: let me take you to the gents toilets on The High Street, Lethmachen! I was sitting in one of the cubicles the other day, and I suppose I must have been there for a while, because I got to thinking about the door in front of me, specifically about its size. Why do they make them so small? The obvious reason, I guess, is safety: you don’t want a child trapped in there. Yet it seemed to me that there are other advantages in having gaps at the floor and the ceiling. For a start, they must make unsavoury types less likely to engage in their preferred activities. I guess they cost a little less as well. That sounds silly, but I know a thing or two about economies of scale.

Anyway, that was that, or at least it should have been, but this seemingly trivial subject was returned to me later that evening when, in a distracted moment, I found myself contemplating the door to my guest bedroom. This room does not enjoy much official use, to be honest, and since I have been living on my own, I spend quite a bit of my time in it. Well, I was watching television, as is my want, when my eye was caught by the rectangle of glass at the top of the door. My home is rather large, and I find it disconcerting to leave all the doors open, so I had a good view, and it occurred to me that, rather like the gaps at the bottom and the top of toilet doors, this was a design feature to which I had not previously given much consideration.  I suppose it was there to let in light. This was not for the benefit of the bedroom, as behind the door there was only a small, enclosed corridor, containing three doors that led variously to my lounge, study and bathroom. Could the feature, then, really be there to illuminate such an insignificant place, and then only during those hours when the door was closed? It seemed absurd, and I looked on some more, hoping, in the most general way, to understand.

It was then, for the briefest moment imaginable, that there appeared to me two vast, brown eyes, looking through the glass, searching, yet horribly placid. They were not floating, but set within a vast, masculine brow. As I say, the vision was over before it began, the memory of it being, it seemed to me, all I had from the first.

I was struck with fear, really quite pinned to where I sat. I have never felt anything as intense, certainly not in my adult life at least. What disturbed most was not the knowledge that I was exposed, or even the sheer size of the threat, but the incongruity of the space in which my adversary must have been located. What contortions had that body, even momentarily, had to endure. And why, considering this, was there no pain registering in those vast, mild eyes?

If anyone else has experienced similar, I would, of course, like to know. Somehow I doubt it.  This is more generally a warning: these things can creep up on you. I am now more careful than ever about what I look at and what I think.

Radio Dada? A pirate signal haunts the airwaves…

radio wan2

I am probably making something out of nothing. The concerns I am about to raise, the phenomena I am about to document, may merely be the result of some technical issue or even an overactive imagination. It is true that I have not been sleeping well recently. I suppose I am in an awkward phase of transition. My new shift at the warehouse means more pay but also means that I have to work unsociable hours: I clock in at 6pm and never get home before 2am. As you will understand, this had completely disrupted my familiar sleeping patterns, and so this could account for the strange things I have been hearing recently. Some of your readers will no doubt immediately conclude that my evidence is unreliable. They will point out, quite correctly, that I have only heard these things when I am alone and when I am probably over-tired following a long, physically demanding stint at work. After all, who doesn’t imagine things at that time of night? Sometimes when I am still sleepless in the small hours of the morning, it feels like I must be the only person awake in the entire country. I suppose that explains why I like to have the radio on. It is comforting to hear another voice or a piece of music, and when they have other callers on the air you do feel there is still a community out there, even at that time. As I said, the radio was a help, a comfort….at first. But lately I have started hearing things, and I am not convinced these sounds are all in my head. Have any other listeners experienced what I have?

Mostly, I try and sleep during the day. I find it impossible to go straight to bed when I get home, which is typically about half two in the morning. It takes me at least a couple of hours to unwind, especially if anything has happened at work, if the orders have been packaged wrong or if I have had a bit of a run-in with one of the managers. These are the kind of things that trouble me and keep me awake; they race around my mind in circles if I attempt to just lie there and close my eyes. So before I retire, I like to have a quick drink and switch on the radio. The local station, Radio Wan, is the one that I found most soothing. At that hour they mostly broadcast talk shows, interspersed with the occasional record, usually something light and familiar. Not being young anymore, by the time I get home I am hardly in the mood for banging party anthems! Anyway, the topics discussed are mostly local issues, or simply just local residents phoning in to confess their problems or air their grievances. One night they may cover pedestrianization and parking permits, the next infidelity and terminal illness.  Even if you do not agree with their opinions it is nice to hear from other people when you are sat there alone in the dark, these other voices you know are not too far away. It makes you feel less isolated. Thinking back, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly when the trouble started. I probably was not even aware of the initial signs. They were so quiet, so subtle, like the way the dawn creeps up on you.

All I heard at first was static. Or what I took to be static – an irritating wash of white noise, as if I hadn’t tuned in the station properly. Over repeated nights, this would fade in and out of the listed programme at irregular intervals, until I found myself listening more closely to this interference than I did the conversation or the music. Half consciously, I began to recognise, to identify certain sounds. What could be mistaken for whispering was actually atmospheric sound. To be precise, it appeared to be a field recording of nearby Lethmachen Hill. Over the years I had taken a number of strolls up there, and I became convinced the distortion on the radio was in fact the sound of the trees up there swaying in the wind, the boughs creaking, the leaves rustling. Although I had never before heard them at night, I was certain that was how those trees would sound. It was as if the hill itself was broadcasting a signal; communicating. The more intently I listened, the more I drew from the ambience. There was the soft gurgling of what must be a woodland stream, and the grunting and whinnying of what must be small animals scavenging in the undergrowth. Most chillingly, I often heard the drawn out, plaintive, practically human cries of what I believed to be foxes.

Frustratingly, these snatches of sound have been infrequent and indistinct. They also seem to be repeated in random order, making it difficult to judge if I am hearing something for the first time or the fifth. As the days passed, I became increasingly impatient with the deejay and his callers, longing for the precious minutes when they would dissolve into a symphony of sighs and groans as the wind and rain swept through the hidden alcoves of the hill. I admit there are nights I spend hours waiting beside the radio, poised with pen and paper beneath a solitary desk light. You see, I have become convinced that this pirate signal is trying to communicate something, that the hill has a story to tell. Only of course the details are almost impossible to communicate on our wavelength, meaning that those who listen need to assemble the narrative from any clues that can be deciphered. For instance, on half a dozen occasions I have heard the same brief melody repeated, either hummed or whistled as if at a slight remove. It is possible, however I don’t think this is just stray music transmitted by a neighbouring station. Recently, my patience has been rewarded. Now, there are words. Just a single exclamation at first, evolving gradually into distinct, individual words. Finally, I have been able to hear what are apparently broken sentences, perhaps a conversation cut short? ‘No…not tonight…another night…’ I thought I heard a hushed voice say. ‘We should be getting back…it’s getting dark…’ she repeated. Then I think, in the background, an answer in a lower voice. Muffled, almost indecipherable: ‘There’s no hurry…’

That is my story. My motivation for writing to your site was the hope that other readers could tell me if they have shared a similar experience whilst listening to Radio Wan late at night? Is it just a problem with the local transmitter or the reception in this area? Do other people feel they are being communicated with, or is it just me? I appreciate that at that hour the listening figures are probably low. I did recently confide in a colleague at work. He is always very quiet and keeps himself to himself, so I figured he could be trusted. Yet he just responded by shooting me a very wary glance, and when I tried to go into the details of what I was hearing, he looked genuinely frightened and avoided any further interaction.

Location, location…apparition? Exclusive residence hides a dark past?


It was only upon discovering that the house had been rebuilt that I felt the need to write to you.  I am not even sure why this is significant. Following the renovations, the place is almost completely unrecognizable as the derelict ruin that still haunts my memories, and my dreams. Now the house exhibits an air of opulence: an array of expensive cars parked up on the driveway; the whitewashed stonework of the Georgian facade boasting sculpted pillars and elegant balconies. It even has a new name: Hillcrest Villa. Yet it was all very different in my day. I am not even sure the building had a name back then, not a real one. People called it all sorts of things: Hill House, Tower Lodge, Yews Court. But to the children who attended nearby Lethmachen Primary School it was known simply as ‘The Haunted House’.  I remember we used to talk about it all the time, especially during the summer, when the teachers would march us up the hill on a nature trail. Our route would typically skirt around the back of the property, and every child would take turns peeking nervously over the crumbled stone wall, pinching and kicking at each other whilst inventing terrible stories.

As for me, these days it is the familiar story. Trying to balance work and family life occupies most of my time, so I rarely have the inclination to venture across town and visit the neighbourhood where I grew up.  In fact, I only happened to be crossing Lethmachen Hill that day because I was attending a meeting out of town and had been diverted by the latest set of roadworks. As my car struggled to the peak of that steep incline I happened to glance off road to my right. And that was when I saw Hillcrest Villa. You know how it is when you return to somewhere you once knew. You immediately notice if anything looks different, even if you can’t exactly remember how it looked before. It almost feels like a personal insult that changes have been made in your absence! Well, my first reaction on sighting Hillcrest Villa was ‘Ooh, that’s new!’ Only the next moment I realised it wasn’t. In fact it was very old, and I knew it. You see, in spite of the shiny new facelift, in spite of the gentrification with the chandeliers and works of art I glimpsed in passing, nothing had really changed. I still felt this horrible, oppressive sense of fear when looking at that building, even though it had attempted a disguise. That afternoon I gave a terrible presentation at the executive meeting. All I could think about was The Haunted House, and what had happened there so long ago. I mean, what had happened to me. When my eldest daughter mentioned your website, I thought that perhaps by sharing my story it would become just another story, and no longer belong to me. I am tired of keeping it all to myself.

We’re going back twenty years now. That morning everyone in my year had received their GCSE results. That evening, as we were all still too young to get into any pubs or clubs, a party had been arranged on Lethmachen Hill. I don’t remember much about the actual party, partly because of the alcohol, partly because I imagine it was pretty dull. There were probably stories circulating for a few weeks afterwards, exaggerated tales of who had been sick and who had had sex, but by then I had already decided I was too old for such gossip. Instead of returning to school for A levels, I had made up my mind I wanted a job. This party would be my last experience of school life, of my childhood. Tomorrow my life was going to change. At some point in the evening, about half way down a bottle of vodka, I realised that I needed to mark this momentous occasion in some way. There needed to be a significant ending that I would be able look back on and recognise in years to come. Drunken logic dictated that Chris would fulfil this function. He was a boy in my class who had liked me for ages. The other girls were always winding me up about ‘the chemistry’ between us, although in truth I only really saw him as a friend. Still, I kept flirting with him on and off throughout the party and we ended up walking off alone and stumbling down the hill together in the dark. He was showing off in front of me, little suspecting I did not intend to see him again after this night was over. For me this was an ending, not a beginning.

Straying from the path, we soon lost our bearings and found we were approaching ‘The Haunted House’. When I was able to focus, I could just pick out its low silhouette crouched amongst the surrounding trees. In the dark the place looked even more desolate, as if it were the remnants of some stone age dwelling, rather than the shell of some Victorian town house, gutted by fire, as was told in most of the stories. Of course the stories were what we immediately started talking about, the conversation suddenly steering away from how short my dress was or how it would be fun if we went to explore what was behind those bushes. By our age, nobody really believed those stories about ‘The Haunted House’ anymore. Even at primary school they had become so contradictory and confused that you had your doubts. Tales of drowned witches, phantom highwaymen and headless horsemen had somehow all got mixed up in the legend, and even I recognised the latter had just been drafted in from ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’. The version of the story I knew best was that there had been a murder in Victorian times. A father had murdered his wife in an upstairs bedroom and then waited for his children to get home from school. On their return he had stormed downstairs, picked up the boy in one hand and the girl in the other, and thrown them on to the roaring flames of an open fire. Oh, and another thing. When the father stormed down the stairs he had been wearing a mask cut from the face of the dead mother. No, no, no, argued Chris, quite animatedly. That was not the version he knew. His story was at once more plausible and more sordid: something to do with an illegal abortion racket and police corruption. But seriously, between us we had heard dozens of variants, ranging from fairy realms to flying saucers.

The result of this conversation is that Chris and I became convinced that we had to break into ‘The Haunted House’. We couldn’t believe that, as far as we were aware, nobody had ever attempted this in the past. Suddenly it all made perfect sense. We had a purpose in life, we would make history. Predictably, Chris insisted on trying to impress me by dramatically wrenching away the rotten boards nailed across the nearest window. There was no glass, just a gaping hole that yawned an even deeper darkness than the night outside. The two of us slithered clumsily through the jagged space and dropped to the floor. As you would expect, once inside there was nothing to see. Not only was the hull pitch black but it smelt dank and there was no furniture, no carpet, no character. We loitered awkwardly for a few seconds, trying to think of something funny to say and trying to imagine what we could do next. I certainly wasn’t having sex in here, no matter how drunk I was. ‘OK…right. I think it’s time to go home…’ I began to slur when Chris abruptly hushed me. Yes, now I could hear it too. A dull, muffled vibration of sound rising from somewhere up ahead. As if summoned, we took simultaneous steps forward. Could I also now make out a frame of pale light in the far corner, as if a door had been left ajar?

We opened the door and walked in. The living room was brightly lit and cosy, neatly arranged with a chintz sofa and an ornamental table piled high with board games and books. An open fire raged in the hearth – this was the sound we had heard. Fascinated, I stared deep into the fire, watching the tongues of flame spit and surge higher. Chris touched me gently on the arm. On the mantelpiece stood a gallery of family portraits: two parents and two children stared out from the sepia tinted photographs. The mother’s smile always appeared strained, as if she felt uncomfortable in her own skin. Everything about the room felt impossibly warm and homely, just for a moment. Then I realised it all felt impossible. My sensation of content had been broken by the sound of heavy footsteps above us, pacing the upstairs room. Did this house even have an upstairs anymore? No, I couldn’t recall seeing one from the outside, the roof had sunken in. This couldn’t be. But there in front of us was a flight of stairs, ascending. Suddenly, a savage, unseen voice rang out from the top of the stairs – threatening, not welcoming.

‘Children, is that you? Are you home?’

I can’t remember exactly what happened next; I didn’t drink alcohol for a while afterwards. When I heard those footsteps slowly begin to descend the stairs I must have instinctively turned to run. There was something wrong with the way they sounded: heartless, lifeless, weighted with a burden. I think they even had this weird echo. Anyway, I swear I grabbed Chris by the arm and tried to drag him with me. But he refused to move. He was frozen to the spot, staring blankly towards the stairs with this horrible expression – a mask of disbelief and yet undeniable belief. In that split second, he looked to me almost as if he had suddenly realised that this place was his home, that he had been stupid to have ignored the stories, or been unlucky to have heard the wrong ones. He had been part of the myth all along and it had come back to claim him. I guess I just panicked. I fled the room and scrambled through the dark next door until I reached the window. Outside, I must have dashed blindly down the hill for a distance, careering through hedgerows and undergrowth (my body was covered in cuts and bruises when I woke late the next morning). Then a sudden wave of guilt had swamped me and I stopped running. How could I have left Chris there on his own? I turned and sprinted back up the hill as fast as I could. But when I reached ‘The Haunted House’ there was nothing there. Once again it was just a dark, dismal, empty shell of a building: holes in the roof, damp in the walls. I couldn’t find that brightly lit, inhabited room and I couldn’t find Chris. In fact, I never saw him again after that night. Of course I had never intended to see him again but that didn’t stop me feeling guilty. Later I heard rumours that he and his family had relocated, left town during that summer. I hope this is the truth.

Most of the time, when I think about what happened at that house, I can convince myself it was all a dream. Even today, if I ever drink too much, I often have dreams where the night continues as if I had never gone to bed, and then in the morning I have to pick apart dreams and reality. Perhaps this is what occurred? Perhaps Chris and I just parted ways after the party, yet because we had been talking about the legends of ‘The Haunted House’, I then went home and dreamt about one of them? I mean, it couldn’t be that out of that jumbled mess of stories that have been told over the years, one of the stories was actually true? And so that particular story returns every now and again to assert its truth? As I said at the beginning, I thought I had buried the memory, the guilt years ago. But for some reason seeing that house rebuilt, renewed….well, it brought it all back again. Sometimes I worry I will open the wrong door and find myself back in that warm, cosy room, as if I now too belong to the myth. I suppose that was one reason why I wanted to give the story to you?

Mystery surrounds the nameless shapes that are seen around town…









I have been reading your website this evening, although I’m a little ashamed to admit it, as my wife has taken my little boy off to the in-laws for the weekend, and by rights I should be living it up in town. Sad to say, I just haven’t got it in me at the moment. So I have been sitting here, having a beer or two, and getting really interested in all the strange stuff I never realised was (or wasn’t!) going on around me. I was thinking how much I would love to contribute, when the thought struck me, actually for the first time, that something weird had happened to me only this week.

This could bit dismissed as parental indulgence, but it is true when you have kids, you do notice things you would not otherwise. It’s the strange way kids have at looking at world. I’m talking about boys especially here, because that’s what I know. What gets me is the way they get things half right. You end up thinking, ‘wow, that’s new’ even as you are laughing at how dumb they can be. It’s like the buses: boys really love them. Not just mine, ether. I’ve noticed it even on the way to work with other dads and their sons. The kids will be asking questions ‘where does that one go?’ and the like, and they know all the numbers, and some of the drivers. They see glamour in it, and it is all planned, and so you can see why. The trouble is, they think all that regularity and effort is magical, when it’s actually dull as anything.

I was walking my boy home from nursery last week, when he provided me with what seemed to be another example of this kind of boyish over-valuation of mundane public phenomena. There is this pretty ugly copper statue on the high street. It’s the one just on from the A-store, the one that looks like an accident in a semi-circle factory. My boy asked, ‘Who made that?’ I didn’t know, and sensing an opportunity for a bit of a public display of advanced fathering, I walked over to the thing and looked at it. ‘Sometimes they have the name of the person who made it on the base’, I explained. We looked but couldn’t find one. My son seemed happy enough, so we walked round, taking in the shapes, and talking about art. ‘I’ll find out who made it for you’, I said. That night, when I was tucking him in, this was in my mind, for some reason, although I think it had probably long gone from his, and I said I would have the name of who made the sculpture by the time I picked him up the next day. I suppose I saw some chance to make some educational point, because I talked about reference books, and record offices and the Internet. I did a search that night, but I couldn’t come up with something. This didn’t surprise me: Lethmachen is not really known for its art, is it?

On my lunch break the next day, I walked the five minutes to Shire Hall, and asked if anyone could tell me anything about the work. They seemed in a rush, but I was told to sit and wait. A few minutes later, a young guy came out, and asked me to follow him. We went down to a record office, all paper based, and he pointed me to a shelf he said dealt with commissions. Well, I didn’t really know what to do, so I started back in the 50’s, and just began pulling out one file after another. I couldn’t find anything relating to any sculptures. There was stuff about the bandstand, and a new mayoral mace, and a ton of other similarly boring stuff. I assumed I was looking in the wrong place. The guy was still in the room, engrossed with another shelf, so I called him over. With a confident, disinterested air, he began snatching files from the shelves, but after a minute, his hand movements, already fast, became quicker still. I don’t know why, but I started to get scared. Then he stopped what he was doing, and looked at me with incomprehension, and something like anger. ‘I’m sorry’, he snapped, ‘I’m going to have to get back to you on this. Please…’ I followed his outstretched arm, and walked to the door, but before I ascended the stairs, I looked back at him. He had his arms outstretched, and was gripping onto the shelves with white-knuckled hands, staring at the lines of dull, brown files.

I found I couldn’t just drop it. When I met my kid from school, I told him daddy hadn’t found out who made the sculpture yet. ‘What should we do next?’ I said. I talked about the British library, and more about the Internet, and the lecturers at Universities who knew all about these things. He gave me a little bit of his attention. I think, already, he can see when something is not going to go anywhere. I don’t know. The incident upset me, to be honest, in a way that I still can’t quite understand. I mean, we all know that public sculpture is usually pretty much anonymous, especially the shite round our way, right? So why does the anonymity of this work seem so threatening? What does it matter, after all, if no one, and I mean no one, knows where it comes from. Any thoughts? Even better, any idea who made the sculpture’s on the High Street?

 Lethmachen Dad

Poltergeist plagues a shoe shop? These boots are inclined for walkin’….


Although never aspiring to the high fashion end of the market, generations of local readers will hold fond memories of Ambles Shoe Shop. Many of us will have visited its modest premises as children to try on our first school shoes, and perhaps returned as adults when requiring some sensible footwear for a formal occasion. A stalwart presence on the Lower High Street for five decades, there was a genuine sense of loss within the community when the shop finally closed its doors almost a decade ago now. Yet with hindsight its passing seems inevitable: as town centres across the country become increasingly homogenised, there is little hope of survival for a small family business. A Costa Coffee now occupies the location where Ambles once stood. Fortunately for us this sad state of affairs means that an ex-employee and family member can approach us without fear of adversely affecting business prospects or reputation. And so we offer you a historic tale:

‘Obviously this is going back a few years. So I don’t necessarily see things in the same light now, but this is how it seemed at the time. Narrowing it down, it must have been January 1983? Definitely I remember it was right after Christmas, because I couldn’t relax and it had ruined my holidays. Instead of just going back to school for the new term, first we all had to do one week’s work experience. That might not sound like such a big deal, but to someone barely 15 who has never had a proper job before, only a paper-round or two, the idea of the ‘work place’ was terrifying. At that age I didn’t know where I was headed, I hadn’t even considered any kind of ‘career path’. Looking back, maybe I lacked a bit of self confidence; nowadays I reckon I could accept any job without giving it a second thought. Luckily, my Grandad stepped in at the last minute and suggested I spend the week working alongside him in the shoe shop. Although I still wasn’t exactly keen on the idea, at least I was better off than the majority of my classmates. Some of them were actually sent off to work in proper offices, a fate I managed to stall for a few years yet, thank God.

As customers you may think of Ambles as a little shoebox of a place. Upstairs, I’d be the first to admit, the shop floor was a bit cramped. There was hardly any room for a fitting area and bear in a mind we also had a staff kitchen and bathroom squeezed in round the back. Yet this space is the only space the public saw. Below stairs we had a basement that seemed to stretch on for miles; row after row of rickety shelves, filled to the rafters with boxes of shoes – most identically blank, but for a sticky label. Grandad did not entrust me with too many duties at the counter; I think he could tell I was nervous when it came to dealing with people and money. My sole responsibility was to collect the boxes from the basement, then return them if the sale fell through or the shoe didn’t fit. Although we weren’t exactly run off our feet, business was fairly brisk in those days. So I would spend most of the day struggling up and down that narrow flight of steps that led to the basement. It was dark down there, just one bare bulb hanging from the middle of the ceiling, and I remember always freezing cold. Cold like only concrete can be. Sometimes Grandad got impatient with me because I kept the customer waiting too long. It wasn’t really my fault; it could be difficult to find the right aisle, the right shelf, the right box. There I was, stumbling around in the gloom, squinting at the details on the order slip, or clutching a solitary shoe like it was some kind of genie’s lamp. But I suppose I did get distracted now and again. I would find myself standing still and staring up at those towers of boxes, as if I were admiring the pyramids. It’s difficult to explain what I found so fascinating. Perhaps something to do with the privacy of it all? This was the first time I was surrounded by objects that were not my own, objects that other people wanted. They were not meant to stay with me, yet I didn’t have to let them go unless I chose to. They could end up anywhere.

At first I wondered what I had been so anxious about. Work experience was not that bad; in fact I was surprised how much I was enjoying the role. My mind raced ahead: I could even picture myself doing something like this in the future. It was on my third day that things started to go wrong, and I knew I had been right to be on my guard all along. Descending to the basement that Wednesday morning, I suddenly felt like an impostor, like I was not wanted and had no call to be there. Switching on the light at the foot of the steps I was greeted by a black pair of men’s shoes, neatly positioned directly in front of me, stood distinctly apart from any shelving. For some reason they made me think of of a soldier reporting for duty or a pet expecting an owner. What made me uneasy was that the shoes looked like they had been deliberately placed, yet I was certain I had been the last person in the basement yesterday. When I locked up I had left the place tidy. Anyway, I gingerly picked up these shoes, like they were some sort of dead animal, and placed them back on the right shelf. Must be the elves helping the shoemaker, I smiled to myself, and didn’t think much more of it. Trade was fairly slow that day, and I had no call to return to the basement until closing time. This time when I switched on the light I saw something different. A pair of women’s shoes, white stilettos, placed where the men’s shoes had been before. Assuming I must have left the shoes lying around, I impatiently snatched them up and replaced them in their box. Only when I turned to leave did I notice the same pair of men’s shoes was also out again. Yet this time they were lurking in the corner, in the shadows, half hidden instead of standing in plain sight. It was almost as if they were waiting, watching for something.

On the Thursday work got even worse. When I went down to the basement I found the white stilettos out of their box again. They were scattered at the bottom of the stairs like they had been knocked down whilst trying to escape. For a moment I thought of Cinderella, but then I noticed the bloody footprints. I followed the footprints away from the fallen stilettos, across the concrete floor, until they led me to the far, dark corner. There I found hidden that same pair of men’s black shoes, also out of their box once more. Of course I was in the middle of collecting an order so I had no time to either investigate or tidy up before I was expected back upstairs. Then. when I came back twenty minutes later, there was no sign of either pair of shoes or the footprints. Everything was back where it should be. Could this be Grandad’s idea of a joke? It didn’t really seem in his nature, he was never one for jokes. Perhaps a dissatisfied customer, playing a cruel trick?  But how would they get back here without us noticing? Actually, what I was reminded of most of all was that film ‘Poltergeist’. It was new around that time and I had seen it on pirate video over at Uncle Ken’s. I didn’t sleep well that night. My mum reckoned it was because I was overtired from all the hard work I had been doing, but I didn’t tell her the real reason. On my last day I was dreading having to go back down to that basement, but at the same time I didn’t want to disappoint Grandad. Creeping down the steps, I thought I heard a weird kind of struggling noise in the dark. And when I switched on the light I must have cried out loud. There were two black shoes suspended in mid-air, kicking about like they were being strung up from the rafters, although I couldn’t see a rope. Suddenly one shoe dropped and smacked against the stone floor like a dead fish.

I don’t think Grandad, God rest his soul, ever understood what had upset me so much. He probably assumed I was simply finding full time employment too challenging and too stressful. Perhaps he was right. Noticing I was missing, he had come down to the basement to check on me. Although I tried to explain, to his mind there was nothing to see but a pair of shoes, lying discarded on the floor. Still, it was nice of him to keep me upstairs on the counter for the rest of the day. I remember a strange coincidence that happened late that Friday. During my last few hours in the shop, we sold both those pairs of shoes, the black slip-on’s and the white stilettos. I remember because I served the woman and then the man, although Grandad went to fetch the boxes. You’ll never guess who the female customer was – Suzy Dawes – that girl who was murdered. As far as I know, they never caught the bloke who did it. People say there was a suspect, but he topped himself before they could bring charges. Apparently the police were convinced it was a local man, which I find hard to believe’.

Scheming Sat-Nav lures driver to the outer limits…?










I was driving to my new place in Worcestershire a few nights back, and as I had no great idea of the best route, I tried out my new GPS. I had got it from the A-Store online, a Malinche 2, supposedly the next big thing in that kind of tech. Anyhow, as I was following the soothing voice, I found that I had got myself far away from the route I had established over the preceding week. In fact, I had strayed so far from any predictable roads, that I found myself on the outskirts of your town, Lethmachen, which, as far as I can see, having subsequently consulted an OS, takes me in quite the wrong direction. Hoping that all would come out ok, that, perhaps, this was all part of some lateral thinking on the part of the Malinche, I kept going, only to be directed towards what seemed to be some kind of quarry, just about visible behind a small, sparse wooded area.

It was getting late, and even from inside the car I could hear the trees, all bare, of course, clicking in the dusk. I felt a little shiver even before the Malinche piped up. It said “You are home”. It repeated this a few times, and I can tell you, I was getting quite unnerved. I reached out to turn the thing off, and just as my finger made contact, it said again “You are home”. Something about the way it said it caught me, and I looked out. In the few moments that had passed, the darkness had really come on, and there was nothing but the indistinct mass of the trees, swaying a little more than they had done, and through them the white glow of rocks beyond which there was nothing but a deep blackness. I found myself looking intently, almost as if there might be something amongst it all that was familiar.

When the Malinche spoke for the last time, there was something different about it, some insistent inflection that I did not like. “You ARE home”, it said. I put the car into reverse without looking back, my three point turn threw up a little shower of gravel, and then I was off. I turned off the GPS, of course, and found my way back to my regular route. I told my wife about it, and she mentioned your site. Is this the kind of thing that you are interested in? I can give you more details if you wish…

Gavin Elms, Malvern



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