Gypsy Lane. Based on a true story, with a fair licking of artistic licence.

Gypsy lane

It was another dark night. Every night was dark in that small village in North Wales, street lights were things that happened to other people. The only outside illumination in the whole village was the sign hanging from the side of the pub. The Hare kept the adults occupied during those late autumn evenings, but us kids had very little to keep us entertained; fourteen years old and bored is never a good combination. The village had a sports field, but when it’s so dark you can’t see more that two feet in front of you, games such as football become rather difficult and, on occasion, quite painful. There were no Playstations or Xboxes back then and the closest thing we had to a youth club was the village’s one and only bus shelter. Any time past six in the evening and we had that small concrete hut all to ourselves. It didn’t keep out the cold, but when it rained and you were lucky enough to be up against the far wall, it would keep you half dry. Six scruffy teenagers crammed into a space designed for three old ladies and their tartan shopping trolleys, but it was all we had. There was Jenny and George, brother and sister. Brian, a tall skinny lad with glasses and the first person we all came to if we had difficulties with our homework. Sarah, the eldest of the group, and Johnny, who would have preferred to have spent his every waking hour playing football. The first hour was generally spent swapping football stickers under torchlight while making fun of one member of the group or another. We all took a turn to be the brunt of the jokes, though it was never voluntary. None of us were popular at the school we attended, five miles down the road in a town that was large enough to warrant its own post office. We were a collection of would-be loners and it was easy enough to find something to taunt one another about.

After the final sticker had been swapped and there was a short discussion about who would complete their album first, the ghost stories began. Jenny, the youngest of the group by 3 months, always squeezed her way to the far corner of the shelter at the first mention of wavering shadows, bogeymen and witches. Her older brother, George, would sidle up next to her in such a way as to seem coincidental and every time she jumped he’d place his hand upon her shoulder to reassure her. He would never admit to this however.

The stories would always end up about Gypsy Lane, the supposedly haunted road that ran down the back of the village. There were no houses, or any other type of building on that road, it merely cut through two large fields. Bordered by two high hedges and kept dark even in the daylight by a thick archway of branches, it looked the part, especially during a full moon when what little light there was snaked through the gnarled branches and danced on the tarmac below.

We had never before ventured there after dark, we didn’t usually have the nerve, but this one night something had gotten into us and bolstered our courage. One can of bitter, half a litre of weak beer swiped from a parent’s drinks cabinet (yes we still had them back then) shared between six curious mouths. We each had no more than a taste and we all agreed that it lived up to its name but it gave us a boost, which was probably more psychological than chemical. Two by two and with three torches between us we walked through the dark deserted village. The only noises we heard were the sound of slurred voices and the clinking of piano keys as Old Mr. Foot played ‘Roll Out Your Barrow’ as we passed The Hare.

After several minutes, the noise of the pub faded away and a silence dropped over us, only broken by the occasional hoot of an owl. The moon was only a crescent but it reflected enough light to make shadow puppets quiver on the edge of the road. None of us had spoken during our slow wander. We were all worried that our nervousness would come out in our voices. As we arrived at the opening to Gypsy Lane the first person to speak was George.

“I’m not sure Jenny should be here with us,” his voice was gruff, as if he had a throat full of phlegm. He coughed before continuing. “I… I think I should take her home. I’m not chickening out or nothing, I just think she’s too young to be out here.”

“Oh shut up, George,” I said. “I’m only three months older than her and I’m not scared.” It was a lie, one that I’d been telling myself since we left the bus shelter.

“Well I’m not scared neither,” Jenny said, stamping her foot against the ground. The rest of the group remained silent.

“Okay then, Sis,” George said, shrugging his shoulders. “If you’re sure?”

We stared down gypsy lane, as far as we could in the darkness. The overhanging branches were visible enough with the moon light shimmer through them. Without another word, we began a slow walk under them. Sarah led the way, shining her torch from one side to another. Johnny held up the rear with the rest of us spread out in between. The lane was narrow, barely room for anything larger than a car. The hedges either side loomed over us and seemed closer with every step. A rustle in the branches above made Jenny whimper and I had to turn a sharp inward breath into a yawn in an attempt to hide my own fear.

A few metres ahead a dark patch in the hedge became apparent. Brian was the first to see it, we always assumed he had better eyesight than the rest of us due to his thick rimmed glasses. Sarah shone her torch directly at it but the weak pen-light barely penetrated the darkness. Walking closer, we shifted towards the other side of the road, all peering at the dark patch. Stopping directly opposite, we stared into the rough circle of black. The slightest of movements caused Jenny to hide behind her brother.

“What is it?” Johnny asked as he stepped up behind us. The rest of the group merely shrugged but I couldn’t resist the urge to speak.

“It’s an entrance to the pits of hell,” I said calmly. Still afraid yet bolstered by the thought of playing a trick on my friends. Jenny grabbed her brothers coat, as if to anchor herself to him. Sarah snorted and tipped her eyes.

“Can we go home now?” George said, gulping.

“There’s no such thing as hell,” Brain said, taking an involuntary step further away from the dark patch.

“There’s something in there,” Sarah said, edging closer, still shining her feeble light.

“Stay back!” Johnny said, lifting his own torch towards the hedge. It flickered and died in his hand. “Damn it, I shouldn’t have used it to read in bed last night.” I crept up behind Sarah and we both moved within a few feet of the dark patch. Sarah’s torch made the leaves of the hedge shimmer, but otherwise was of little use. Brian first and then the rest of the group huddled up close behind us. I strained to see beyond the blackness and I fancied I could hear slow, heavy breathing.

Suddenly, the large, black and white head of a cow burst through the gap in the hedge, giving out a loud, drawn-out moo. Screaming, Sarah jumped backwards, stumbling into me, forcing us to fall into a pile in the road. Brain turned about-face and ran straight into the opposite hedge. Johnny dropped his defunct torch and dove onto the ground like a goal keeper saving a penalty. Jenny and George seemed to have barely moved other than swapping positions so it was now brother hiding behind sister. A few seconds passed with us staring at the cow and the cow staring back at us. It let out another, softer moo. With synchronised movement, who ever was not on their feet climbed to them and we all started running back down the lane towards the village.

I remember that night whenever the shadows draw near or when strange noises echo through the house. It reminds me that not all ghost stories are true. The supernatural is often just plain natural.

©2015 Peter John. Author of the Paranormal Comedy: Dead Medium

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The Inspiration For May Elizabeth Trump

The Inspiration For May Elizabeth Trump

When I first came up with the idea for Dead Medium I was sitting in the living room of a stranger. The television had been switched on just for my own amusement and I had been left to sit there alone. Well not alone exactly, there was an elderly woman sitting in an armchair in the corner knitting. She said not a word to me but looked up at me and smiled on a few occasions before returning her attention to her task at hand.It was the only time I can remember agreeing to take my mother to see a clairvoyant. She was upstairs in an unseen room with a woman in a baggy tracksuit, whom I saw only fleetingly on my arrival. The television had failed to grab my attention so I started to imagine what mystical events were occurring above my head. I could envision my mother sitting at one end of a small table in a dimly lit room. The psychic jogger was sat opposite her surrounded by ghosts all of which were jostling for position around her. Pushing and shoving each other, even overlapping in places as they all tried to grab the attention of the athletic medium.I began to realize that if a living person needed the aid of a clairvoyant to contact the dead then surely it was likewise on the flip side of the coin. If ghosts were freely capable of speaking with the living then we would hear them far more often than we reportedly do. Even if they were merely talking among themselves, wouldn’t we occasionally overhear them as we quietly crept down the stairs in the small hours to fetch a glass of water. A further thought occurred to me: if ghosts also needed the aid of a gifted individual, why did it necessarily mean that they had to still be alive. Was there no such thing as a dead medium? Eventually my mother reappeared from the depths of mystical re-enlightenment with a wide grin, an old cassette tape and an empty purse. I bade farewell to the old woman in the corner who looked up at me and smiled again. The square of wool between her knitting needles seemed no bigger than it had been when I arrived; it was as if she had been merely rubbing two sticks together the whole time I was there. On the journey home I listened to my mother’s rendition of what she referred to as a reading. I couldn’t help analysing her every word and compiling far less fantastical reasons than she, for that which she experienced in the unseen room. It was at that exact moment May Elizabeth Trump appeared in my mind, wagging a bony finger and complaining about how gullible some people could be. I consider myself an open minded cynic. I believe that there is something more beyond the curtain of death but I find it hard to accept the validity of the vague or circumstantial evidence that some people claim to be undeniable proof of life after death. May Elizabeth Trump on the other hand had a firmer view on things; she didn’t believe in anything that she couldn’t poke her umbrella at. She was a hard nosed cynic and the perfect candidate to become the main character in my début novel: Dead Medium. B9raLkKIIAAsvm-
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SNEAK PREVIEW! Just Medium, The Sequel To Dead Medium: Not Your Average Ghost Story.

SNEAK PREVIEW OF JUST MEDIUM

The Spin-Off Sequel To The Dark Comedy Best Seller

Dead Medium: Not Your Average Ghost Story

Prologue

It felt like waking up but her head was clear, there wasn’t the fuzzy awareness that she’d become accustomed to. Her mouth didn’t feel dry and her chin was free of residue, left behind by her usual nocturnal drool. She didn’t feel queasy yet hungry at the same time. She didn’t have an overpowering urge to drink coffee. She felt as if she’d just woken up, but she hadn’t. She would never wake up again, at least not from a state she would normally consider sleep. She would never need such sleep to wake from, there were many things that she would no longer need.

Doreen Wilson knew she was dead, it had been expected. In fact, her local G.P had been surprised by her capacity to linger on for so long. Doreen hardly considered spending three years trapped within her own bed as living anyway. Forever plugged into respirators and heart monitors, with little strength to move and the nagging dread that her every breath would be her last, scared her more than death ever could. Now it was all over. No more medication, no more hourly injections, no more machines squeezing every last ounce of life out of her frail, dying body.

She stood over her bed and looked upon what was nothing more than an empty shell. Her skin was so thin it was almost transparent. It clasped her bones like tightly wrapped cling film. Her face was gaunt and pale. Her eyes were sunk deep within their sockets and were shrouded in shadow. They looked pained but Doreen had not suffered in her passing. It was probably the cocktail of medication they had pumped into her veins that had saved her from any discomfort but she chose to see her death as a release from such bodily restraints. She had been trapped by life and now she was free. She could move, she could breathe without labor. There was no pain in her joints and, to her own surprise, her feet no longer felt numb and lifeless. She was dead, she harbored no doubt in this regard, but she felt more alive than she’d felt in years. A sense of elation flooded through her. I had feared death. I had expected a curtain to fall on my existence, a last act and the end of the show. She’d often wished that some kind of existence would follow death but had ultimately considered it a false hope. She still existed but most importantly she was still herself. She still had her memories and the same personality; she had lost nothing but the withered body that had imprisoned her.

I’m still me!” She punched her fist into the air as she cried out her name. “I am Doreen Wilson and I’m still me!”

Release Date: TBA

Dead Medium: Not Your Average Ghost Story
The deathly silence is about to be broken. She disliked the company of others and death did little to warm her spirit. She had led an independent life and she faced death in much the same way. She was finally alone, finally free from the mindless babble of others, at least that’s what she thought. May Elizabeth Trump was the rarest of spirits and she was none too happy about it either. She was a dead medium, a ghost who can speak with the living, and her services were to become in great demand. Flung into the limelight and smothered with unwanted attention, May soon discovers that it is not only ghosts with long awaited messages that have taken an interest in her. Something dark was lurking in the shadows, stalking her. Even the dead are not left to rest in peace. Dead Medium: A humorous, character driven story and a unique vision of life after death. Not your average ghost story.
(Just Medium is a work in progress and subject to change. )

“The Strangest Things Happen When You’re Dead.” – May Elizabeth Trump.

DEAD MEDIUM: Not Your Average Ghost Story

The deathly silence is about to be broken. She disliked the company of others and death did little to warm her spirit. She had led an independent life and she faced death in much the same way. She was finally alone, finally free from the mindless babble of others, at least that’s what she thought. May Elizabeth Trump was the rarest of spirits and she was none too happy about it either. She was a dead medium, a ghost who can speak with the living, and her services were to become in great demand. Flung into the limelight and smothered with unwanted attention, May soon discovers that it is not only ghosts with long awaited messages that have taken an interest in her. Something dark was lurking in the shadows, stalking her. Even the dead are not left to rest in peace. Dead Medium: A humorous, character driven story and a unique vision of life after death. Not your average ghost story.

DMgyard1

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