JNW’s Halloween Challenge: Ghost

Feldbrunnen to Langendorf 28.09 (29)

“There’s a tap on the door,”
and a groan from outside”
“It is only the wind
You do not have to hide.”
“But I see through the window a face looking in”
“A reflection from the moon, it’s the usual  thing”
“I hear voices that cry, and wolves that now howl”
I am frightened, I must hide, something is fowl
But wait it is silent, all I hear is a cough
“I know all is good I switched the television off
The “Return of Dracula” was showing as the scene,
Do not forget, tonight is halloween.”
“And now I feel safe, but wait, there is a tap at the door
I will open it”
“No don’t, you cannot be sure.”

And now it was quiet, no sound to be heard
A black raven sat on the house roof
A very strange bird.

JNW’s Halloween Challenge: Ghost

Daily Prompt: The ghostly avocado

“The gardeners have arrived.”

“Hi Joe, Hi Fred, glad to see you again. Where’s Ambrose?”

“Hallo Mrs. Angloswiss. He is not working with us at the moment.”

“Oh, that’s a shame, he was so good. I was sure he spoke to my plants and knew exactly what they require.”

“I know, that sort of gardener no longer exists, he could just look at a seed and say if it would survive or not. Anything special to do Mrs. Angloswiss, or just the usual?”

“Just the usual. The hedges need cutting again, and perhaps a few weeds growing here and there.”

“Yes, we can see that. What about the remainders of the Spring bulbs, shall we cut them back.”

avocado“Oh, no just leave them to disappear all by theirselves. Ambrose always said not to interfere too much with nature, and let it take its course. Just one thing Joe, I planted a second avocado in the garden. Actually I almost lost it, because I couldn’t remember where I had put it. I have one already growing in a pot, but I thought I would put the second pit in the garden to see how it would survive. It is over there on the edge of the flower bed. Just leave it where it is to see what will happen.”

“Are you sure, it doesn’t look very strong and will probably not survive the Winter.”

“You might be right. Perhaps you could ask Ambrose if you see him, what he thinks.”

“We probably will. We will ask him when we visit him tomorrow.”

“Visit him?”

“Yes, he is in hospital. Had  a heart attack last week, and will probably no longer be able to work.”

“Give him my best wishes when you see him. My garden will not be the same without his guiding hands I am sure.”

“Yes, well me and Fred will be doing our best.”

“Sorry, no offence meant, but Ambrose just became part of my garden over the years. I remember when he saw my first apple tree that I grew from a seed. All the other gardeners said it would not survive and I could forget about it bearing apples. Ambrose looked at the small sapling and re-assured me it would find its way in the garden and last year I harvested over 100 apples.”

“Yes, we know. Ambrose seemed to grow with the plants and feel with them. We really do miss him. And now to the work.”

The gardeners worked well and when they left in the evening everything was perfect, except for one small item. Mrs. Angloswiss searched everywhere. She was not sure where it was, but she could not find her new arrival, the avocado she planted in the garden. There was a space where the stalk and its few leaves were. She the realised what had happened. Avocados were not a common appearance is the climate where she lived and the gardeners probably thought it was just one of the other weeds. She was sad, her avocado was no longer. She had watched it grow from the beginnings in an egg cup where she placed it in some water. First of all the root fought its way through the pit, and then the first leaves arrived. She took the chance and planted it in the garden, where it actually got lost until she found it growing in her herbs. She then found a safe place next to the rose bush, and now it was gone. “If only Ambrose had been here” she thought “he would have  recognised my avocado and rescued it, and now either Joe or Fred have thrown it amongst the other weeds, that the< piled into their truck before they left.”

She was sorry that her avocado had disappeared, but she still had the other one in a pot.

The next day she had a surprise and Ambrose was standing in her garden. Gardeners always arrive by the back entrance, so they do not have to walk through her home with their muddy shoes.

“Hello Ambrose, what a surprise. I though you was in hospital recovering from a heart attack.”

“Yes that’s right Mrs. Angloswiss, but they have now let me go home. I just wanted to see how things were in your garden before leaving. You apple tree is growing nicely, it will be a good harvest this year. And what do we have here. Well look at that, an avocado tree. Looks like your other tree in the pot will have a little brother.”

“But Ambrose Joe and Fred mistook my avocado for a weed and removed it.”

“Doesn’t look like it to me Ma’am, growing strong and tall like the other one. Lovely little specimen arn’t you?”

And Mrs. Anglswiss was sure that her missing avocado which had now mysteriously appeared in the garden again, shook it leaves – or was it the wind. She was glad it had survived the attack of Joe and Fred. Thank goodness Ambrose had looked in.

“Thankyou Ambrose, I am sure my avocado appreciates your visit. Ambrose, Ambrose” she called, but he was not longer there. It then began to rain, looked like a storm was brewing, there were a few thunder claps and some lightening bolts, but her avocado pit stood its ground and soaked up the rain.”

The next day Mrs. Angloswiss was reading the local newspaper and the obituaries as usual, but she startled. How come that Mr. Ambrose Muggly (her gardener) had passed away from the results of a heart attack yesterday morning, when he was in her garden yesterday afternoon. She cast a glance at her avocado and notice it had made another two leaves since yesterday.

Avocado

Based a little on the truth. I did plant a second avocado pit in my garden (see photo), but forgot where it was, and suddenly found it in my herb bed. I replanted it again and it disappeared after the gardeners had tidied up my garden. I found it again two days ago, there must have been a remainder in the garden or……….

Daily Prompt: The ghostly avocado

Blogger Creative Challenge Prompt: In the Beginning……

Something out of the box, but I had a dream……..

Local view

In the beginning there was a storm: not really surprising. They day had been humid; the electricity in the air could be felt. The whole thing was waiting to explode. Evening came and the clouds grew darker. It then rained, it poured, it lashed down.

“Looks like we are in for a heavy one this time” said Fred to his wife Mabel.

She looked up from her knitting. Although it was summer, “you could never be too early” she thought and was busy with the needles creating a wonderful warm pullover for Fred. Unfortunately it was one of those pullovers with the wool that scratches, being bought in a local Summer sale, and the pattern was not exactly to Fred’s taste, one of those pullovers with a polo neck that prevents circulation of fresh air around the body.

“Yes, it definitely looks like a storm is brewing Fred, do you think we will be all right. Some parts were flooded the last time.”

“No problem Mabel, we are safe here. Our apartment is high above the river. What could possibly go wrong?” so Fred switched on the television to watch the match. It was an international football match for the European cup qualifications and Fred really did not want to miss that one.

It was then that it happened. The apartment, the complete house, was plunged into darkness. Fred had a new job, he was the caretaker for his house, and he was responsible for descending to the cellar room and redeeming the electric power for the house inhabitants. Fred was a handyman, had worked as an electrician for many years, and knew what was to do. He lost no time. He realised that a fuse must have been blown in the cellar, causing darkness to reign. Swearing under his breath he left his apartment for the cellar. This was not funny. The soccer future of his country was at stake. The football match was about to begin and he knew that all male members of the house depended on his prompt action.

He took a torch with him, and approached the room where all the central fuses and electric switches were.

“Strange” he thought. “There seems to be a glow in the room seeping through the door frame. Wonder where that comes from, we have no power. Perhaps a friendly neighbour lit a candle for me in the room, but no-one has the key to the room.”

Fred opened the door and his attention was drawn immediately to a corner which was illuminated by the aura surrounding the figure of a man. The man was almost transparent. Fred realised for the first time in his realistic life, he was looking at a ghost. He was fixed to the spot.

Electricity power line

“Hello Fred” said the ghost. “I suppose you want to fix the illuminations.”

Fred was speechless. He had never seen a ghost and this one was actually speaking to him, knew his name.

“W-w-who are you” asked Fred.

“I am your house ghost, Geoffrey, pleased to meet you.”

Fred was now sure one of the kids from the neighbours was playing a trick and lunged for the apparition, but soon noticed that he was grasping a handful of ice cold air.

“I am a ghost, Fred, you cannot get me.”

“Aaah, I see” said Fred with a feeling of doubt. Fred was still wondering what it was that he saw

“You are a house ghost? I thought that was only in those Harry Potter books.”

“No Fred” answered Geoffrey “I am the real thing. Most of the apartment blocks here have their own house ghosts. We usually stay tucked away beneath the surface, but now and again a few bolts of lightning call us into action.”

“What action?” was the only answer Fred knew.

“Like showing ourselves for a change: since my untimely death, I have just been drifting around. I always wanted to meet you in person.”

“Why was your death untimely?”

“Oh just one of those things. I was having fun with the mistress and her husband came home early from the hunt. Silly man had fallen off his horse. Anyhow he shot me in a duel a week later, so here I am. Actually her husband is quite a nice man, died of alcohol poisoning a year later. We often go haunting together. By the way Fred, don’t forget to renew the fuse. Your football match has started and we don’t want to miss anything.”

In the meanwhile Fred had dropped the box of fuses on the floor, and they were scattered all over the room.

“I would help Fred, but you know how it is. Ghosts have lost their sense of touch. I am sure you wouldn’t want us meddling in your real world. So hurry up, the match has started and I have invited a few ghostly friends to watch.”

“We don’t want to miss anything? You watch my television?”

“Of course Fred, we just sneak through the walls and floors. Don’t worry you cannot see us. It only happens when lightning strikes and they we disappear again. So put the fuse in.”

Fred was slightly disturbed by the plural “we” that Geoffrey was using. Fred’s hands were trembling, but he found a fuse and screwed it into the right place and there was again light. Everything was working. Fred wanted to say something to Geoffrey, but he was no longer there.

“Probably gone to watch the match” Fred thought. “No I am not stupid. That was a figment of my imagination. He returned to the apartment.

“You were a long while Fred. Everything OK.” asked Mabel.

“No problem love: you just go back to you knitting and I will watch the match.” Fred sat in his comfortable armchair with a glass of beer on the table and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Geoffrey told his friends to make theirselves comfortable as always. They did not disturb Fred’s view of the television, after all they were transparent.

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Daily Prompt: Fill in the Blank

Three people walk into a bar . . .

A September Walk through Solothurn

Hotel Roter Turm in Solothurn, Switzerland

Three people walk into a bar, three strangers. The bar was crowded, the air hung heavily with stale remainders of smoke and beer. Robin, Wenzel and Hugo had met on this evening in remembrance of what had passed.

As they opened the door they heard the mumbling and bawdy laughter of the bar customers, loud laughs, giggles formed the background to the stained floors where an empty bottle rolled under a polished wooden table. The polish no longer shined, it was blank and dull with the usage of many years.

The noise in the bar became silence. You could hear a wine cork fall, the three strangers moved towards an empty table in the corner. It was strange, it was as if the table had been waiting for them. No-one spoke, there was no merriment, the bar keeper was staring at the three people that had entered.

Wenzel removed his hat, the feathers sweeping across the surface of the table. Robin and Hugo followed suit. They kept their swords, which made a clanking sound as they seated. Three large draughts of ale appeared at the table and the three men emptied the goblets in one gulp. It was clear that these were three men not foreign to drink. Their goblets were refilled, as if by a ghostly hand.

In the meanwhile the bar customers began to move. One by one they left the bar and the three men were alone. It was Autumn and the mists came swirling from the near bye river. There was a procession of bar visitors treading along the embankment of the river. Some glanced at their watch. It was 15th October, the wrong evening to visit the oldest bar in the town. It had too many bad memories for some, especially for the three men.

In the bar the lights were dimmed, oil lamps had appeared on the wooden tables. A man entered the bar. His dress showed him to be of a wealthy kind, the three men stared at him.

Robin spoke in a low tone to Wenzel and Hugo “It is Vlad, the one I saw with my girl. She fought but he ignored her pleas. Her mind has been wandering since that moment.”

Hugo watched the man “Vlad is a well-known rogue. He takes his money and jewels from the highway robbers that he employs and protects. He had my father killed for the land he possessed. No-one is safe from this man.”

Wenzel spoke “we will rid the town of this vermin. I was once a successful business man. I had the best horses until he stole them from my stables and dared me to retrieve them. My faithful servant tried to stop him, and as thanks this rogue had him killed by his

bandits.”

The three men decided enough was enough, they approached Vlad surrounding him. They drew their swords and before Vlad could protect himself they struck. Three blows, one to the heart, one in the stomach and the third severing his head from the body. The other customers in the inn raised no hand to help Vlad. So was this scum thought of in the town.

The murder had been planned. The other customers removed the floor boards in the corner of the inn and Vlad’s body was buried under the boards.

Many years later, in the twentieth century, construction work was carried out in and around the inn, which had become a bar and restaurant in the meanwhile. It was enlarged and the floorboards were replaced. It was then that a skeleton was discovered. Of course it made headlines in the newspaper, and the general opinion was that it must have been a plague victim, or some other illness from the middle ages.

Since the discovery was made, it was noticed that every year on 15th October, three men entered the bar and sat in the same corner. It seemed they had their own drink. Their clothes resembled a theatre piece from the middle ages, but the swords they carried were real. The first time they appeared, just a few months after the discovery of the skeleton, a fourth headless man was seen rising from the floor. The three strange men that had entered the bar struck him with their swords and all four disappeared through the floor of the restaurant with strange sounds. Since, customers on 15th October left the bar when the three men appeared.

Daily Prompt: Fill in the Blank

The Resting Place of the Past

On a night when London fog was surrounding the Thames, Johnny Watkins was returning to his ship, destined to sail on the next morning. We are in the nineteenth century at the time when cargo ships still sailed into the London docks for discharge of their cargo. Johnny was still a boy, had run away from a stepfather who knew only the rule of the cane. There is a certain innocence that a young lad of sixteen years has. He believes that doing what the others did was the makings of a man. For this reason he had spent the evening in the tavern drinking with the other seamen. It was perhaps his need for belonging somewhere that gave him the encouragement to drink as much as the others. The others were hardened sailors, used to the roughness of a life on a ship, but alas Johnny was still a novice in such things. His steps were not so sure along the quayside on the slippery ground when he left the tavern, and sight was at a minimum. Fate took its reward and Johnny slipped into the murky waters of the River Thames. Perhaps it was due to the alcohol consume, perhaps his swimming talents were not so good, or it may just have been the foolishness of youth, but Johnny never again saw the light of the morning breaking over the murky waters.

He was fished out of the Thames by the police; a sorry end to a young hopeful life. There was no identification on the body, no-one seemed to miss Johnny; his life and death just an episode in London history. His remains were laid to rest in a small cemetery in East London; no grave with flowers and no angel’s statue guarding his bones. The grave diggers just made a hole in the ground, his body unceremoniously thrown in and covered with earth. Thanks to the merciful sisters, a stone was placed on top of his burial place, just a few words “Unknown male death by drowning in the River Thames 1862” and that was the unceremonious end of Johnny Watkins.

*******
Pat never really forgot her childhood in the East End of London. Although now living in another country, married with her own family, she often reflected on the past. There were memories and even dreams, but one memory was always there; a visit to the family grave in one of the older cemeteries in London; a cemetery existing for more than one hundred years.

Some of the older stones were weathered by the elements, and the words hardly readable. The older graves still had wax flowers covered by a more or less transparent glass dome for protection, which made them seem as if the inhabitants were still in the thoughts of their relations, although there were no longer any relations who could remember. It seemed to be a cemetery of the forgotten. Pat entered the cemetery, her mother walking ahead. Memories of the past came flooding back, it was her mother’s side of the family that were lying here in their last resting place. There was a large white stone, with names and dates of people Pat had never known, but it was family. The most recent and last to be buried was the grandfather and now it was finished. The grave was full, no room for more, seven were enough. To arrive at the family grave was not easy. There was no path, unless a path could be called stepping over graves and squeezing behind stones.

One evening Pat awoke in a cold sweat, she had revisited the graveyard in a dream. She wanted to reach the family grave, but had to stop and could not walk any further. It was as if an invisible barrier was stopping her. She looked down and saw it again: it was there. A flat brown stone, showing letters which had once been deeply engraved and were now hardly legible. She knew what the letters were saying, this was not a dream this was real; a reminder from the past of an unknown person, death by drowning. This time it was different; in the dream she saw the letters much clearer and there stood a name on the stone. “John Watkins” followed by the words “death by drowning in the River Thames 1862” and this was what awoke her. The grave stone was in her memory as showing “unknown” and now it had a name. It was many years ago, but she had never forgot this stone that she often walked over to reach the family grave.

“Mum, have you seen that stone” she would ask on the visits she made with her mother.

“Oh yes, just walk over it, it is in a strange place. It has always been there. Probably just some unidentified person they fished out of the Thames” and that was the explanation Pat got from her mother.

Pat never forgot this dream, at last the grave in the path had a name, she thought. Later that year she paid a visit to London and revisited many places where she had grown up. It was then that she made a decision; she must go to the graveyard again.

She arrived at the gates, but everything seemed much smaller than it was when she was a child. She thought probably the dimensions of time, then I was smaller and everything seemed bigger. She remembered there was a quaint old chapel covered with trailing ivy at the entrance, where the services were held before the burials. The chapel was no longer there. At the entrance there was a line of old gravestones with statues of angels gracing them. The statues were no longer as clean and white as Pat remembered them. They had a green cover of the mould which had grown over the years. She tried to remember where the family grave was, and searched for the path that was the way to the grave, but it was an impossible task. Many of the graves were no longer there, a housing estate had taken over part of the cemetery.

It was then that she noticed part of the cemetery looked comparatively new, although the gravestones were not covered with letters as she knew them, but in Arabic writing. There were visitors dressed accordingly in their dark cloaks and hats belonging to the ethnic minorities of this part of the town. It seemed that the dream and the memories had probably confused things over the years and she decided it was better to leave, when she saw a small office at the entrance to the cemetery.

“Hello, is anyone there” she called

“Yes madam, can I help you?”

“Perhaps you could explain what happened to this cemetery. I remember it as being completely different. We have a family grave here which I could no longer find. There was a chapel at the entrance and there were so many graves that you had to walk over some to arrive at your own grave.”

“Well that was many years ago. The graveyard was sold and part of it was demolished. Houses have now been built on that part. The remaining part of the cemetery was converted into a Muslim cemetery.”

“Yes, but there were graves where the Muslim graves now are. What happened to them?”

“Well to be quite honest, they are still there, but somewhere below. Most of the graves were no longer visited, so new graves were just built on top.”

“Where is my family grave? The land was bought and I have a photo of the grave.”

“I can give you a telephone number to call, and if you can give them the plot number, they will find out the details for you.”

“I have one last question. Where is the chapel?”

“Oh, yes, now that was unfortunate. Some kids were playing in the cemetery one evening and they lit a fire. It spread and before it could be stopped it engulfed the complete chapel in flames. It was no longer being used in any case, and the part that was still standing had to be removed for safety reasons.”

Pat thanked the porter, who had been very helpful and prepared to leave. She took one last glance back at the cemetery. She was sad that the past could be so destroyed without any respect to those concerned. It was then she saw a shadow move behind one of the gravestones with the angel on top. A shudder went down her spine, she did not know why, but a figure stepped forward from behind the stone; a young man, dressed in clothes that looked as if they originated in a history book. He looked at Pat and laughed. Pat did not know why, but two words left her lips

“Johnny Watkins?”

The figure nodded and said “Thank you for remembering” and disappeared.