It was a dark and stormy night. The wind howled, floorboards creaked, and Hector the Laird was drinking a hot cup of cocoa freshly made by the housekeeper. He sighed as he turned the pages of the local newspaper, utterly bored.
“Why don’t you watch a film? The TV guide says Ghostbusters is on the telly,” the housekeeper, who was getting a little vexed by Hector’s heavy sighs, suggested.
“Nah,” said Hector, scanning the classifieds and squinting at a picture of a remarkably well-kept Plymouth Fury, only £500, one careful owner.
“Suit yourself,” said the housekeeper, sipping tea and perusing a knitting magazine.
Hector sighed again and the housekeeper put her magazine down. She looked at Hector pointedly.
“Right, either you stop sighing like that or you go and do something, you’re doing my head in,” she said. “What’s wrong with you anyway?”
“It’s ghosts,” said Hector miserably.
“Ghosts? There aren’t any ghosts,” said the housekeeper, puzzled.
“EXACTLY!” Hector exclaimed. “What is the use of having a big, rambling pile like this, with hundreds of creepy rooms and a huge attic with antiques and dark corners and cobwebs when there aren’t any ghosts?”
“You’re complaining that you can walk the halls without getting scared out of your wits?” asked the housekeeper. “There aren’t any cobwebs, by the way, I’m GOOD at my job.”
“Sorry. Yes. Well, okay, but the odd fright wouldn’t do me any harm. Good for the constitution,” grumbled Hector.
The housekeeper rolled her eyes. “You’re an odd one, Hector, I’ve always said so. But the fact is, nearly everyone who has ever lived in this house has died a peaceful death. Even your great-great-great-uncle Alasdair, who fought in numerous wars, died peacefully in his sleep. It might be boring, but there you are, Hector. Peaceful deaths don’t produce ghosts.”
Hector sulked and looked out over the front lawn with its oddly shaped topiary. A tree branch tapped against the window. The wind whistled in the chimney. A lightning bolt briefly lit the mountains in the distance. The fire flared and then died down again.
“Wait, did you say nearly?” asked Hector.
Suddenly the moon appeared from behind the clouds.
And the housekeeper smiled a smile with slightly too many teeth.
Next on Bylines Scotland’s Halloween, monster, festive celebration at 6:30pm: “You’d be surprised what Jenny Wilson can whip together with a chopped up cornflakes packet and a black t-shirt. Oh, and she’s like this opportunity to publicly apologise to her brother” by Jenny Wilson
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