Tunnels, a Halloween Ghost Story is available now as a stand alone story, and will be featured in an upcoming collection of short stories. Read the sample here;
“If everyone can take a seat please, we will make our first attempt to establish contact with any spirits present, before we move on any farther,” Matthew ordered. I looked across at the row of plastic, green chairs lined against one wall; eight of them. In front of the chairs stood a table with a Ouija board on it. When we had all taken our seats, I watched intently as Matthew played his part, eyes closed, moving things around on the board. He called out loudly to the spirits of Elizabeth and Henry, almost begging for them to reveal themselves to the group. Nothing. Then Matthew fixed his gaze straight at me. “Everyone needs to hold hands or this will not work,” he said, unable to conceal his annoyance as he glanced at my right hand. Instead of holding Lily’s, as we had been told to, I had rested it just beneath her skirt, touching her thigh. Under the stare of everyone, I removed my hand from its inappropriate location and took Lily’s. Matthew began to call upon the spirits once more. This time something did happen; all eight of the lanterns went out simultaneously. The whole group, myself included, gasped, largely due to the sudden darkness that we had been plunged into. There was a nervous laugh as everyone fumbled with their torches. Our hosts did a good job at looking worried, as if they had not been responsible for the lights going out. I shone my torch towards the ceiling, looking for something that would give away the trick, but found nothing.
“That was pretty cool,” I admitted to Lily, a little annoyed that I couldn’t figure out how it had been done.
“Where’s the blonde girl?” I heard someone ask. Turning to my left, I looked down the row of seats to see that Chloe was sat at the far end. The chair next to her now sat empty. The man who had asked the question stood up, looking around, puzzled. He had been sat to her right.
“What do you mean blonde girl?” the goth asked. “I thought you two were together.”
“Nope, I came on my own. Looks like she did too.”
“Were you not holding her hand?” Matthew asked, looking concerned.
“I was, but she let go as soon as the lights went out.”
“Bravo!” I declared. I couldn’t help myself laughing at this point. “So, one of the guests disappears, one who happened to come here alone, and who happened to be sitting next to Chloe at the time. You know there’s a passageway at that end of the room, right?” The others stood to have a look. I was right, of course, having been in the tunnels before. The passageway entrance was indented into the wall in the far corner and could easily go unnoticed. Everyone seemed to relax, seeing the hoax for what it was. Everyone apart from Matthew and Chloe, who just exchanged worried glances.
“What’s her name?” goth girl asked, looking to Chloe. “We should call her back.” Chloe looked to Matthew, unsure of how to answer.
“She wasn’t with us,” Matthew said. “I don’t want to cause any panic, but she honestly did come alone, as a paying customer like the rest of you.”
“Bullshit,” I announced, but I was beginning to doubt my own confidence. The two hosts looked far more worried than anyone else.
“Then maybe she just thought it would be funny,” said the guy who had been sat next to her when she disappeared. “Sure she’ll be back soon.”
“I hope so,” goth girl said. “But it was you that put out the candles, wasn’t it?” she said, looking nervously at Matthew.
“You came for a ghost hunt; don’t start to freak out when you actually encounter one.” He seemed to have lost his friendliness, however fake it had been, and now appeared on edge, as though he had made a mistake.
“He’s got a point.” I turned to see Lily standing up, addressing the group. “Whether we honestly thought we would have some kind of paranormal encounter or not, we all came for the frights. We’ve been to a lot of things like this, and this one doesn’t seem much different. Matthew and Chloe are in character, and are unlikely to break that unless there is an actual emergency. Whether blondie was an actress, or she thought it would be funny to hide of her own accord, is neither here nor there. The point is, we had a scare, and now we move on to the next part of the tour; isn’t that right?” She looked at Matthew, desperately wanting her words to be true.
“Erm,” he stuttered, glancing at Chloe, “Yes. That’s right. And as someone said, I’m sure the other guest will reappear in due course. Probably quite soon, in fact, as that passageway is where we’re heading next.” Matthew shone his torch into the narrow entrance, failing to hide his hesitance. “It’s a squeeze in here, but this is where the soldiers used to bring the stores of food. There are numerous small store rooms, which come off of the passageway. It is also the location of the most frequent sightings of Elizabeth, so keep your eyes peeled.”
Four of the group followed behind Matthew, torches flickering to cast as much light as possible in the tight space. I followed, with Lily close behind. I could feel her grabbing on to the back of my jacket. The walls were no more than a foot and a half apart, causing one of the larger guests to turn a little to the side as he walked. No-one spoke, the only sounds being those of heavy breathing and the scraping of clothing along the damp walls as we made our way along. We passed the first two store rooms, one on either side of the passageway. When we reached the entrance to the third, Matthew halted the line.
“If everyone could come in to this room please; I have another little story to share with you.” We all shuffled in, and it was a relief to see some large electric lights attached to the wall. The brightness was a little dazzling, but certainly made us all feel safer. Everyone turned off their torches, all except Lily, who pointed hers at the floor as if preparing for another blackout.
“Everyone still here?” I asked, glancing around. Eight people; still one less than we started with but no new surprises. Yet. The group murmured as if to confirm their presence and Matthew began to talk, summoning his theatrical voice once again.
“This room is a key part to the story of Henry Oats. It lies directly beneath the location of his home. During our research, we were told by several eyewitnesses, that an image of a bearded man had appeared in this very room on numerous occasions. He did not seem menacing, so please do not be afraid. I will call out to him, and perhaps he will make an appearance.” Matthew began calling Henry’s name, asking him to make his presence known, but to no avail. The next ten seconds were a blur, however. The electric lamps all went out, again plunging us into darkness, aside from the light from Lily’s torch. Everyone made some kind of sound, ranging from a slight gasp to a full-blown scream. Then there was laughter and the room was illuminated again. As I looked toward the sound of the laughter, I saw that it was coming from the man who had been sat next to the blonde lady. He was in hysterics, his hand still resting on the switch for the lighting.
“Fucking arsehole!” the goth girl said.
“I’m sorry; I couldn’t resist,” the man said, still laughing at his prank. The entire group was looking at him, trying not to give him the satisfaction of actually having terrified all of us. Which is why the whole group saw his face change, from a self-satisfied smirk to pure fear. His eyes widened. His jaw fell slack, as he gazed beyond us. Lily was behind me and as she turned, was the first to let out a scream.
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