Friday, 12 April 2013

#FridayFlash - Ghost Town

Up until Google came along, Pocklebridge didn't appear on any maps. We took down the signs during the war to confuse the Germans and we never put them back up, so our station remained anonymous, tucked away on a side spur that trains rarely use. We don't have many amenities so road signs only appear within about a mile or so of the village green, when you're too close to turn back. The village hid from the world, and we were happy with that.

But even we couldn't hide from a satellite, and eventually, Pocklebridge appeared on maps. Sat navs could find it through its post codes. People still had no reason to come here, so for a time, it didn't really matter. We kept on with our little quiet ways, and everything seemed fine. But word of mouth is a powerful thing, and it spreads faster than most viruses. After all, how many places do you know of that don't just have a haunted house, they have a whole street of them?

It started off with Eiderdown Cottage, the first house on the left in Willow Street. Its elderly owner died, a lovely old thing named Edith Crabtree, and she left her tiny place to a niece from London. The niece arrived, and soon started complaining of noises in the night, strange lights at the windows, and all manner of disturbances. I can't say any of us were surprised. Then No.3 Willow Street was next, left empty by the death of its owner, gap-toothed old Freda Smacksmith, and again the house was inherited away to a cousin from Birmingham. More disturbances were reported, including ghostly whispering over the back fence at midday. No.12, all the way down at the end of the lane, right where the street turns into scrap ground, was next. So it went on for months - the old folk died, leaving their houses to long lost relatives, who soon complained that things were going bump in the night. Eleven months after Mrs Crabtree died in Eiderdown Cottage, every resident in Willow Street was talking about ghosts - even the hard-nosed physicist who scoffed that they even exist. He soon changed his mind, I can tell you.

Of course, the internet found out, as the infernal thing always does. People began to visit Pocklebridge to see the haunted houses, bringing cameras and picnics. Tourists would loiter in the gardens, listening to the whispered conversations over the fence. The family in no.6 discovered that their resident ghost liked to rearrange the linen cupboard according to threadcount and people started paying a fee to come and see it. We even had TV crews come in, letting their hysterical hosts loose in the houses with thermometers and infra red. The ghosts stopped being pests, and became more like pets, pottering about the house playing with the furniture. The families that moved in started to see just why you wouldn't want to leave Pocklebridge.

That's the thing, you see. People don't move to Pocklebridge, and they don't move out. No one ever leaves. And let me tell you, we've got twenty more houses in the area with ageing occupants. That's twenty more houses to be left in wills, and inherited by outsiders. Twenty more houses just waiting for newcomers. Twenty more houses with phantom footsteps, flickering lights and knocking in the walls.

This town...it's becoming like a ghost town.

15 comments:

ganymeder said...

Very clever, a literal ghost town!

Eric J. Krause said...

Ghost town indeed! Sounds like a nice place. Too bad people visit. But sounds like the ghosts don't mind...

Helen said...

Ah a town you never leave even when you die. Clever story Icy a real ghost town!

Sulci Collective said...

I love the opening two paragraphs of this in particular, the town that hid itself by removing its signs during the war and time and technology catching back up to it with satellite location. That's inspired!

marc nash

Harry said...

When you mentioned the one sorting sheets and the TV crews with hysterical hosts, it made me think, you might have an idea here for a new reality show here. Ghost Town, featuring Honey Booooo-Boooooo.

Fun piece, Icy!

Icy Sedgwick said...

Cathy - Thanks!

Eric - I don't know if the ghosts even know they're ghosts...

Helen - Good job it's a nice place!

Marc - I'm fascinated by Google Maps.

Harry - Hehe you never know!

Larry Kollar said...

I loved the names in this, and the way things unfolded. I can understand the desire to be left alone in a world that's leaving you behind, anyway. The ghosts seem to be fairly friendly, just carrying on the way they did in life, gossip over the fence and sorting the linens. Is there a cranky old man who's going to be trouble after he pops his clogs?

Peter Newman said...

Very neat. And plausible too. I love (and don't love) how the internet can turn anything into entertainment.

deannaschrayer said...

Now I want to move to Pocklebridge, it sounds so charming. :) Love how the names - Crabtree, Smacksmith - immediately bring to mind gossipers of long-gone times. Lovely story Icy.

Beverly Fox said...

Well, grandma always did complain that we kids never came to visit her. Leave it to her to find a way to get all the attention she wants!

This was really fun, Icey. I especially the TV crews and their hysterical hosts- could totally see it!

Tony Noland said...

The clarity of the town's layout was a great touch. I could see the place getting full to the brim with spirits in a generation or two.

John Wiswell said...

But a roaring, popular ghost town! Just like they deserve.

Katherine Hajer said...

Clever and sweet. I like the idea of a town that wasn't readily on maps before satnav.

Magaly Guerrero said...

This makes me think of Claysville in Melissa Marr's Graveminder, but with much happier ghosts ;-)

I liked the details. How you convey the small town feeling: "the first house on the left in Willow Street," is a good example. Anyone who has lived in a tiny village knows that numbers are overrated.

This would make a lovely movie!

brainhaze said...

This is brilliant Icy - I could see this as the beginning of a blockbuster too, so much mystery and yet still a homely sense to the little town. Great work

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