This is my ghost story called Atholl House. A friend of mine in England lives near Atholl House said to be haunted. Something bad happened there once.
Using this as my inspiration and given names of chapters by my friend i wrote :
Atholl House –
for the vulnerable
An old girls’ school.
Rundown and neglected.
Boards cover windows.
Rusted chains bar the gates.
Chiselled into that back gate are
the words Atholl House.
Eaten alive by time and dampness.
Dampness oozes from Atholl’s pores.
A stench of blood and corruption fills the air.
I pass Atholl House every day.
Every time I do, i walk quickly as I can.
I feel like running but my
heart is pumping fast enough already.
Nature has tried its best to rid the world
of Atholl House using ivy and dead leaves
to hide the skeletal frame and
cover its grounds.
Empty rooms and empty halls are all that remains.
The library is in the midst of decay.
War and Peace all in pieces on the library shelf
for there is no librarian to keep bookworms away.
No comfort to keep bookworms reading.
Big hole lets sky in as well as dampness.
Hole reflected in puddle on floor.
As i walk past the school I stop and
hold onto the bars of the gate.
Dead leaves skitter across
the desolate playground only movement.
Why would a valuable school like this
be left to turn sour with neglect?
As this thought turns in my head
my stomach turned.
No, it leapt.
Suddenly i felt so lonely
I could cry.
I looked around subconsciously
and found a girl looking at me.
Speckled with freckles and
spectacled with glasses.
Wide school hat and uniform.
Holes in her stockings and
skirt was more patch than skirt.
Mousey plaits hang
down both sides of her head.
Leather held tightly with two straps
served her as a school bag.
She noticed i was looking her way,
She started talking quickly like
she had forgotten the art of it.
‘I come here for schooling, maam’,
she said in a shy whispery voice.
‘I like school but people don’t like me.
Not teachers and not boys nor girls.
They stay away from me.
I read books instead.
I take books behind the waterfall
and read it there. Nobody can look at me.
Nobody can talk about me.
And I can’t hear them if they do’.
I knew what condition Atholl House was in. The school was not fit for habitation of any kind be it animal or human. I asked her if she was waiting for a bus.
She said she was and had been waiting a long time.
I was going to tell her buses had
not been using this route since the school closed
She clutched her schoolbag and vanished.
I am glad I met her.
She found a friend at last.
So did I.
No more quick walks past Atholl House.
Maybe next time I will bring a book.
Atholl House Revisited
In the papers an ad appears
offering a generous parcel of land
at no cost to organization to set up
a hospital for the vulnerable.
The only stipulation is lilacs should
take up half of property. Lilacs are to be
be planted and maintained throughout
life of property.
Centuries pass and the parcel of land is
accepted by unknowns.
They build large facility and establish the lilacs.
It is located in the countryside,
shrouded in mist. Lilac trees grow wild and untamed.
Floral nectar runs like sweat down the trunks.
Buds drown in the saccharine air.
Dear Mum and Dad
I have finally put all my things away in their right places so they are easy to get at.
A small mirror on my wall tells me my plaits are neat, my part is straight, my collar buttoned and my face clean.
There is a library so I had a good hard look at what they had and found there are a lot of books I haven’t read. Those books will keep me going through the winter which looks like it is going to be bitter.
I have a fireplace in my room. I like to poke the fire with my metal stick so the coals glow a nice red colour. Sometimes the logs make a popping noise as they resettle. That gives me a fright.
I have put the lilacs in their tall vase out in the hall. It is impossible to sleep with them in the room. They give off a ghastly aroma. They give me bad dreams if they are here with me. Lilacs are all over the place. Some old ones die and are replaced with new ones.
The gardener has a boring job looking after zillions of lilacs.
Mum, i am learning to oil paint. It is fun but messy. For Christmas i am painting you the scene i see outside my window so you can see what i see when i wake up in the morning.
Dad, you are getting a present too. I am learning woodwork so i am making you a pencilcase with a pretty pink rose, much more wholesome than the lily don’t you think? You will be able to keep your pencils in one spot. I have never seen a pencil grow legs and walk. Cannot understand why they disappear.
I have not ventured further than my bedroom door.
The hall is dark and badly lit. The gas candles throw giant shadows on the walls. At the end of the hall is a giant mirror which makes the hallway look double the size it is.
I sometimes stand and look down the hallway hoping to see your dear faces but you do not appear so i go to my bed to curl up with a book as a companion.
How I long to see you. I miss you so much.
Please come and see me soon.
They are to be planted and maintained throughout life of property. Dozens of trees can be seen from all aspects except for the upstairs windows. Security windows restrict pleasure of viewing from upstairs’ level.
Cuttings are brought into each room and provide a homey touch to the house.
Lilacs are a showy deciduous tree and flowers throughout the year.
Lilacs are a symbol of youthful innocence.
Lilacs are used at funerals as they mask the scent of death.
There are 60 lilac trees on the property. This amount was agreed to upon purchase of land. Unknown why so many lilac trees were needed.
Noises in the Night
Beyond the looking glass
there is a world of shadow
where jigsaw people live.
They do not fit in so they are left out.
Their world runs parallel to ours.
Mothers love their children.
Their loved ones live a half life.
One in plain sight and one in shadow.
What goes on behind closed doors
is never seen. It is hidden away.
You can only see it in the suffering
of the people who love
the jigsaw people.
Noises in the night could
be one of those people being
taken away under cover of darkness.
Placed into care by the very people
who they trust. They are placed in a
secure place where they can cause
no harm to themselves or others.
In white rooms with no stimulation.
Having no stimulation their brains turn off.
They become jigsaw people.
They came to me.
The room was full of night.
They crowded around my bed
and gave me a fright.
Expressionless dressed in white.
One minute i was asleep.
The next minute they were there
standing next to my slippers
and robe on the chair.
Intruders in my room.
Came to me unbidden
gave me my tablets and
told me to swallow it down.
I pulled my blankets over my head
and waited for them to be gone.
Behind the waterfall
I pass through a curtain of glass
to be on the other side
where i can be me and
have time for myself.
Noise from the world outside
is removed. I relish in that.
It is dark and cool and green
Little rainbows sparkle.
with emerald moss cushions.
Nobody knows I am here.
I can’t be sought out.
My time is my own and
I won’t be disturbed.
Behind the waterfall.
I peep out through my keyhole.
It is cold and I can’t sleep.
The hall is dark, the candles splutter.
Floorboards creak making me shudder.
The flame licks the roof with its tongue.
The curtains hang from ornate iron rung.
The house is stark and cold and so so quiet.
If i called out now what would happen?
I wonder if I should try it.
I have not seen my mum and dad for so long.
I know they love me.
I worry about where they are.
Mum told me she was going away
she would be back,
she wasn’t going far.
I am here but I am
not sure where I am.
I will be brave.
I will go back to bed.
I will be strong as long as I can.
My Mum and Dad will come for me.
They love me.
They would never forget me.
They will come.
I expect them.
I will wait.
She realized that she had to
leave her darkly cold room and
go find her parents.
They had been gone so long
but they would never forget about her.
I peeped out my keyhole
and thought I saw
a little choir outside my door.
They got in their places
and the words they sang
gave me the chills and
made my blood ring.
‘We are A Tollhouse Choir
and we are the toll,
Cleaned off the streets
and places we have lived
and brought here
where we live no more.
White pills keep us in line
White walls clear our mind.
white lilacs sweeten our
coffins when we die.
For we are not normal.
We are not right.
People aren’t comfortable.
That discomfort they don’t like.
So we are removed from sight.
We are the noises in the night’
The choir packed up and went away.
I left Atholl House that day.
I realised the truth of Atholl House.
it was a tollhouse
for the vulnerable who were sent
here to die and one of
those vulnerables was I.
One of the vulnerable people was me.
Atholl House is at unrest.
White lilac trees hold
fragile snow in their grasp.
A wind howls for the vulnerable.
A sprinkle of confectioner’s sugar from the
stars above softens the world’s sharp edges
and hides it behind white nothingness.
The light turns a sickly green,
a blizzard is imminent.
I hug myself for extra warmth.
Dressed in threads and patches and
woollen stockings I point my feet
towards home and set off.
I do not want to be out in the blizzard but
I would rather be away from Atholl House,
my future in my own hands.