Monday, October 30, 2006

Spooky Stories

All right, kids, I have been waiting a full week to write this one. Inspired by Jenny of Jenny Sais Quoi, I decided to post a ghoulish story or two for Halloween. I don't have many of my own, so I'll be using stories from my beloved & very haunted city, Edinburgh. Here are my favorites, borrowed verbatim from Edinburgh's Capital Guide 2003-2004. Enjoy!
  1. "The Treaty & The Roast" - To say that the Treaty of Union, which passed control of Scotland's political affairs over to England, was unpopular with the Edinburgh Mob would be quite an understatement. The whole event was being pushed through by noblemen like the Duke of Queensberry who were being very highly rewarded for their betrayal of Scotland's desires, with both titles and silver aplenty pouring in. The people of Scotland had not forgotten the past raids by, and wars with, their southern neighbors and had no desire to be in union with them. Thus it was that, when news spread that the treaty was to be signed that night, the Mob took to the streets, roaming the city in search of the signing place, so that they could forcibly put a stop to the event. Knowing this was likely to be the case, Queensberry took his entire house staff with him for protection, bar one young kitchen boy, left to tend the roast on the fire, which was to be their feast when they returned home, triumphant. However, what they returned home to, after betraying their nation, was a terrible and macabre sight. For the Duke had an idiot son, long since believed dead, who had been imprisoned in a darkened room since a young age and had grown to a much larger than normal man, described as a "giant." With his normal guard away with his father, the son had escaped his prison and, finding his stomach empty, followed his nose to the kitchen. There, he had discovered the roast and the terrified boy and, deciding the roast itself was not to his taste, he had flung it aside, murdered the boy with his bare hands, and was busy feasting on his partially roasted body when his family returned.
  2. "The Drummer Boy" - A passage was supposedly found underneath Edinburgh Castle and the City Council was concerned about the obvious security risk. The opening, however, was extremely small, and thus a young boy . . . . was sent into the tunnel to investigate. The elders then followed the boy's drumming from above ground as it led them down the High Street. What they hadn't thought through was what exactly they intended to do if the drumming stopped, which it abruptly did just next to the Tron Kirk. Should they send another boy down to see what became of the first? What if they met with the same fate? They didn't have an inexhaustible supply of boys to keep sacrificing down the tunnel. So the Councilmen, in their wisdom, decided just to block up the tunnel to prevent anything coming out of it, leaving the boy to his presumed fate. Apparently, to this day, on quiet nights, a faint drumming can be heard beneath the High Street just near the Tron and one tourist in 1994 fainted on hearing this story, having moments before been wondering what that funny drumming noise she kept hearing was.
  3. (This one is my favorite) "What Was It?" - In the area of the Botanic Gardens over a hundred years ago, a strange and solitary man lived at No. 17 in a well-respected street. His only caller was a charwoman who would twice weekly come to his home to bring him his provisions. After his death, the charwoman locked the house tight and it lay empty for years, until stories began to circulate of late night parties on the upper floors, overheard by the residents of numbers 16 & 18. But no one was ever seen to enter or leave the house. The talk abated after a while, until it was mostly forgotten. Then, in the early throes of World War I, the house was completely gutted and converted into a guesthouse for an English couple, who then moved in to run the house. The first signs that something was not right came when two different chambermaids claimed to hear voices from an attic bedroom, but upon entering, found the room empty. The room was generally not used, because of these unnatural occurrences, until the guesthouse came to be overbooked and a young married couple were given the keys for the attic room. On approaching the door, they heard voices and assumed they had been given the wrong room number, so rang the bell for service. An old woman by the name of Mary Brewster responded and entered the room to prove there was nobody in there at all. But as soon as she entered she let out a shattering scream and it was the last sound she ever made. She was found rigidly clinging to the bedpost, staring straight at the ceiling in terror, and although she lived on, she never spoke another word. News of this reached some local students and one, Andrew Muir, finding his curiosity overpowered his fears, determined to sit alone in the room one night, with two bells, one small and one large. The small bell was to signal anything unusual happening, while the large bell was to be a call for aid to the owner, who was sitting in a downstairs room. At 10 pm, Muir entered the room. After only ten minutes, the small bell was rung vigorously, immediately followed by the panicked clanging of the larger bell. The owner flew up the stairs, and flung open the door to find Muir literally frightened to death in his chair, staring up at the ceiling.

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