Simon King from Bletchley, Milton Keynes, is one of my poor, unsuspecting contractors from work whom I annoy on a regular basis. He sent me the following story. I initially read the information he sent and thought, what a cool story. I went home. All was fine. Until 2am in the morning when I heard a pair of cats screeching at each other outside my bedroom window like a pair of banshees. The sound was something akin to a baby wailing and, I kid ye not, I thought I was reliving part of Simon’s rather eerie tale. Cheers for that, King. Took me ages to get back to sleep.
Anyway, I’m afraid the compulsion to illustrate the facts overtook me somewhat (I’m a writer, it’s what I do), and although the dialogue is fictional, the events described are factual. I hope you enjoy today’s post:
Somewhere just outside Newport Pagnell, Milton Keynes, in a small and very old village called Lathbury, there is an old farmhouse. For a while, the farmhouse was rented by a man who lived on his own. He had no time for people, preferring the company of his two hunting dogs and his birds of prey instead. He avoided the people of the village and they avoided him because he was a bit too different for their tastes. The man rented the farmhouse for a while but then, for some reason, no one saw him anymore. It was assumed that he had moved on or, as the village gossips liked to tell anyone who would listen, had fallen behind on his rent and had been thrown out.
The house was a big, five bedroom affair, about two hundred years old with a dank, badly lit cellar, a stuffy, cobweb-strewn loft and two staircases, one at either end of the house. In 2001, Simon and one of his colleagues, Jay, were hired to give the house a lick of paint in readiness for it to be let once more. The house was cold and unwelcoming at best and, if he was honest, Simon found it an eerie and unsettling place to work.
Halfway through the day, Simon found they were short on paint and nipped out to get some more. When he returned, he found Jay waiting for him and he didn’t look too happy.
“Yeah, you’re not funny, you know,” Jay told him sullenly.
“What are you on about?” Simon asked as he put the newly acquired paint down on the floor.
“You. Messing about with the radio.”
“I haven’t touched the radio, mate. I’ve been out buying paint.”
“Yeah, okay, so who was it that turned off the radio twice when I left the room? Christmas fairy, perhaps?”
“Must have been, because I’m telling you, it wasn’t me, I was out buying paint,” Simon protested pointing at the tins by his feet. Jay didn’t look convinced but dropped the subject anyway. The atmosphere in the old house seemed to weigh heavily on Jay and Simon’s shoulders as they rushed to get the work done so they could finally get out of there.
A few weeks later in November, two women from the local letting agency dropped by to take some photos of the freshly painted house. Val got out of the car and gazed up at the front of the old building. It was getting dark and it was threatening rain but they only needed a few internal photos so that didn’t matter too much.
“Doesn’t look too inviting, does it?” Frances muttered as she fumbled in her bag for the keys. “I wouldn’t want to live here.”
“Let’s just get these photos and go,” Val said, pulling her collar up around her ears. “It’s freezing out here and I hate driving in the rain.”
The two women let themselves in and set about taking pictures as quickly as they could. For some reason neither of them could quite put a finger on, they didn’t want to spend a moment longer in the house than absolutely necessary. Fifteen minutes later, and with a feeling of great relief, they locked the front door behind them and climbed into the car. Just as they were about to pull away, a light shining from a window at the top of the house caught Val’s attention. She sighed.
“Fran, you’ve left a light on upstairs.”
“No, I didn’t,” Frances squeaked. “You were the last one up there.” They stared at each other for a few seconds before Frances gave in and unbuckled her seatbelt. “Okay, fine, I’ll go turn it off then, shall I?” she grumbled as she climbed out of the car. “But just so you know, if I don’t make it out alive…”
“God, you make such a fuss,” Val sniffed. “Look, I’ll come with you if it makes you feel better.” The two women went back inside and Val loitered on the stairs while Frances went up to turn the light off. When Frances reappeared she found Val looking rather pale and listening intently to something. Frances said nothing but rushed past Val and headed straight for the door. Neither of them spoke a word as they locked the house up again, got into the car and drove off. After a mile or so, Val finally spoke.
“Did you hear anything while we were at the house?” She didn’t take her eyes of the road and her hands gripped the steering wheel so tightly that her knuckles stood out proud and white. Frances remained silent. “Frances? Did you…”
“I heard you,” Frances said softly. “I heard a baby crying somewhere in the house when I turned that light off. I thought I was hearing things.” Val swore under her breath and slowed the car to a stop. “What are you doing?” Frances asked.
“I heard the same thing but I thought I was imagining things, too. If we both heard the same thing we’ve got to go back and take another look. What if someone’s dumped a child there or something?”
“That’s ridiculous,” Frances snapped.
“Yeah, maybe it is ridiculous, but are you going to get any sleep tonight if we don’t go back and look?” Reluctantly, Val turned the car around and headed back to the farmhouse.
The two women stuck together this time as they trawled through the house looking under the pathetic bits of furniture littered around the house, but they found nothing.
“I’ve had enough of this place,” Val said as they made their way down the opposite stairway to the one they had gone up. “There’s nothing here. It must have been a noise from outside or someth…” she stopped mid sentence as they entered the kitchen. “Where did that come from?” she asked quietly. Frances looked over her friend’s shoulder and felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand to attention.
“Oh… no way,” Frances whispered. Lying on the floor in the middle of the kitchen was a baby doll, the kind that has a pull string on its back. “That was not there before.” Val picked the toy up and, with her eyes fixed on her colleague, pulled the string. The toy emitted a loud wail that seemed to echo around the rest of the farmhouse. Val dropped the toy without a second thought and, catching her friend by the sleeve, dragged her to the door. She didn’t bother to lock up this time and neither of them stopped until they were both in the car with the doors locked and on the way back to the office.
“Someone else had to have been in that house with us,” Val said shakily. “Someone was messing with us. Heaven only knows what they could have done to us. Call the police, Fran. Tell them they have to go straight away because someone’s broken in and they might still be there.”
“There was no one else there, Val…”
“Just call them!”
The police arrived, made a thorough search of the house, found nothing and left. No one could explain who might have left the doll on the floor of the house, or why. The strange events that happened at the farmhouse in Lathbury still remain a mystery.
©Nicola Kirk and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2010