A figure is approaching with cautious steps
through the empty roads shadows, past the blind eyes of boarded up
buildings. Montague Smythe is walking down from where he has parked his ageing
and slightly pitted E-type, well clear of the builders rubble that spills
into the road from the forecourt of the derelict hotel which he has recently
bought. It is a winter evening, and he shivers as the chill wind blows dead
leaves about his feet and brings a fine spray from the North Sea, which
periodically moans as it surges against the rocky shore nearby. He can smell
the salt and taste it on his lips, and he wrinkles his nose in disgust. The
moon appears briefly, then hides its face behind the black clouds again, as if
frightened. The hotel is in a desolate stretch of failed bed and breakfast
places in a seaside resort that has long ago had its day and been abandoned by
holiday-makers. He starts as he suddenly hears a scream, a shrill, broken
scream, made by a passing sea-gull.
When Montague Smythe reached his hotel, he
examined its exterior in the dim illumination provided by the only streetlight
in the road that was still working. The building had been completed in 1848 and
had originally been a proud edifice with battlements and turrets, the weekend
residence of a Newcastle merchant. Later it had been converted into a plush
hotel, but by now its façade was dilapidated. Its rusty nameplate had
lost the letter D and announced it as THE GRAN . Above that straggling weeds
and a bush were growing in its gutters, and a strange pale stain had oozed down
from the peak of the roof. In the front garden a barren apple-tree reached out
grasping arms with taloned fingers. Beyond it the Corinthian columns on either
side of the main entrance were disfigured by cracks and flaking paint, while
the door was so scuffed and gouged that it looked like some creature of the
night had been trying to get in. But it was still securely padlocked, and
Montague Smythe got out a key, unlocked it and shoved it open, making it
Once inside he quickly switched on the lights
in the foyer and walked past the reception desk to the door marked BASEMENT.
When he pulled that open, a stench of damp and decay surged out. He recoiled,
hesitated, then reached in for the light-switches. A sixty-watt bulb at the top
of the wooden stairs came on, followed by a hundred-watt bulb in the centre of
the large room below, which left much of it in the clutches of darkness.
Montague Smythe made his way carefully down the stairs, stepping over the ninth
one down, which was rotten, and then paused at the bottom to survey the
basement. It was strewn with dusty debris. His eyes picked out yellowed pages
of old newspapers, a willow pattern teacup with fungus growing inside it, a
long ebony shoe-horn, a splintered wine glass, a bottle of dried up black ink,
a brown-stained bridal veil, a faded tartan blanket with holes in it, a dead
crow, half-bricks, leprous planks of wood and a Gideon Bible with a broken
spine lying on its face. Beyond all that he could see a sagging armchair and an
antique dressing table with a spotted mirror. At the far end of the room and
along its two long sides there was clogged shadow, with vague looming shapes
and hidden recesses.
He advanced slowly, glancing round, and also
looking down every now and then, to make sure he didnt scuff his new,
hand-made brogues or trip over something on the floor. After several seconds he
became aware of a faint rustling ahead of him in the blackness. He stopped to
listen, and gazed unseeing into the gloom. He couldnt hear anything now.
Had he just imagined it? But then the noise started up again, and became a bit
louder, and seemed more like a scratching. It came and went at irregular
intervals. It seemed to be made by something hard coming into contact with
metal. There was a lull, then a brief frenzy of scrabbling, then only a
prolonged silence. He stood there, wondering if the sound had been made by mice
or even rats. It had not.
After several seconds he began walking
forward again. Then he thought he glimpsed something in the dressing
tables mirror as he got nearer to it, but he couldnt work out
exactly what it was. He paused and peered. At first he could see what was
apparently a wisp of smoke swirling and flickering, rising and falling. Hell
reflected smoke! Was the place on fire? He looked around the basement
quickly, but there was no trace of fire there. After a minute or so the smoke
began to billow out, more and more. It turned grey. Then it seemed to be
forming into a figure. It was only a shape, with fuzzy edges, but it looked to
him as if it might be a human shape. As he watched, it sharpened up. It was
definitely a person, although it wasnt a reflection of him, and another
quick look round established that there was nobody else in the room with him.
In the mirror there was somebody turned towards him, but bent double, with the
head down, and the face concealed under a grey cowl. As he took a few steps
forward to see better, the figure abruptly straightened up and revealed itself.
It was an old monk, with a haggard, heavily lined face. The eyes were closed,
as if in prayer, and the head was rocking backwards and forwards rhythmically.
Suddenly the monks eyes snapped open, and blazed, as he glared at
Montague Smythe, jabbed a withered finger at him and gibbered soundlessly.
Montague Smythe took a step back in surprise. And he jumped when a deep voice
close to his ear bellowed GET OUT and a perfume bottle on the dressing table
He gave a smug little smile and muttered:
Not bad. But a tad conventional and clichéd. I want much more
frightening stuff if Im going to pass this place off as the most haunted
hotel in the Northeast.
He had deliberately retained the haunted
house exterior. Inside he had renovated the bedrooms and suites on all three
floors. The man from SPOOKS INC. had made a start two days earlier on ghostly
effects in the basement, which was to be the main draw for very expensive
Haunted Hotel Weekends and slightly less expensive Haunted Hotel Weekdays, and
Montague Smythe was there to do a spot-check on his progress so far. There were
local stories about the building being haunted, by the spirit of Stan Laurel in
particular, and he had really built on all that in the website hed had
set up, claiming that the comedian had committed suicide by cutting his throat
in the basement. The SPOOKS INC. man was adept with motion sensors, sound
recordings, plasma screens, animatronic figures and so on. Montague Smythe
intended the basement to be the most sinister part of the hotel, the real seat
of horror, a veritable pièce de résistance; but in the bedrooms
suddenly lights and electric appliances would switch on or off, pictures would
drop from the walls, doors would open or close and so forth as part of the
whole haunting experience. He had also demanded listening devices in the rooms
to pick up what the guests were hoping for or afraid of, so the terror could be
tailored, with messages from dead relatives and similar tricks for the
His wife Daphne had put up the money for the
project. He had married a plain and lonely rich woman in her early forties who
had been easily ensnared by his sly ploys. After an initial money-making scheme
of his failed she had been infuriatingly tight-fisted with her cash, until a
few months ago, when she succumbed to a major charm offensive involving
candle-lit dinners, red roses, declarations of undying love and prolonged
stints of sexual intercourse with ersatz enthusiasm. She had insisted on a
fifty-fifty split of the profits, but he fully intended to do the silly,
sentimental bitch out of a small fortune with some creative accounting and
outright lies. He knew hed make a ton of money out of the hotel because
ghost tourism had really taken off recently and brought in billions a year now.
He stood there savouring the inevitable
success of his brilliant new project and the packet hed make from
gullible, superstitious fools who actually believed in ghosts - if SPOOKS INC.
pulled their weight and earned their fee. Hed phone the grubby little man
tomorrow and give him a flea in his ear. Hed demand greater
inventiveness, more unusual effects, really singular scares for his
establishment. He was paying them enough, for Christs sake, so they could
jump to it and come up with the goods superior shocks for a spooky
scenario that would scare the punters shitless, all ready for the grand opening
in the New Year.
His stomach rumbled. He suddenly realized he
was hungry and decided it was time for dinner. As he turned to leave, he stood
on something. He looked down and saw of all things a Brussels sprout, squashed
by his foot. Then he realized that there were two sprouts next to each other
with a phallic carrot in between them. He had just said to himself that there
couldnt possibly be Brussels sprouts there when he caught the
unmistakeable odour of cooked sprout. That was odd, very curious. And he hated
sprouts. How the hell had they got there? Clearly they werent old ones
because of the smell
Ah yes, of course, it must have been the peasant from
SPOOKS INC. He looked like the kind of creature who would eat sprouts, probably
with his fingers. They must have been part of his lunch, which hed
dropped. Christ, sprouts for lunch! Still what could one expect from the lower
classes? Ignorant bloody pleb. Hed have him on the carpet for that: no
food in the basement, and sprouts absolutely verboten.
Right, he muttered,
lets shake the dust of this place from my feet. He kicked the
offending sprouts out of his path and picked his way through the debris,
thinking how much he loathed the smell of sprouts. Immediately the slight odour
of sprout gave way to a nostril-searing stink of cat-piss. My god, thats
disgusting, he thought. How did a cat get in here? There must be a hole
somewhere. Ill get the yobs to fill that in. The bloody navvies can earn
their pay too. Lazy bastards were supposed to have checked the fabric of the
building properly. Ill bawl out that wog foreman tomorrow.
His stomach rumbled again and he started to
think about what he would have for dinner. It was only a few days to Christmas,
so maybe hed have turkey. But without sprouts. As he formed that thought,
he heard a turkey gobble somewhere in the shadows to his left. He found the
coincidence unsettling. But then he told himself not to be silly. It was
obviously just a sound effect for the mugs by SPOOKS INC. Still hed gone
off the idea of turkey for some reason. As he reached the bottom of the stairs,
he decided on that swish new Italian restaurant. He looked at his gold Rolex, a
present from his wife. That saucy little piece Randy Mandy would be off her
shift soon. Hed wait for her outside the hospital, take her for a meal
there, blind her with science and then go back to her place for a bonk, for
several bonks in fact. Give them a good meal, and nurses were always good
value, couldnt get enough of it; handling bodies all day got them right
in the mood.
As he stepped on to the lowest stair, a
ukulele began to play behind him, startling him. Then a gormless voice sang:
Im leaning on a lamp-post at the corner of the street in case a
certain little lady comes by; oh me, oh my, I hope the little lady comes
by. He looked into the darkness, but couldnt see anything. He shook
his head in irritation and dismissed the cheap scare. He began to think of
Mandys breasts, those plump, delectable breasts that hed be getting
his hands on soon. Immediately the same voice chanted: On the breasts of
a barmaid from Sale, were tattooed the prices of ale, while on her behind, for
the sake of the blind, was the same information in braille.
Montague Smythe spun round. Then he grew
angry, because hed allowed himself to be unsettled. Hed talk to the
retard from SPOOKS INC. tomorrow: he was not having a stupid song in an
execrable northern accent and a naff ukulele and a dirty limerick in his
haunted basement. That wasnt weird, that wouldnt frighten people
it was just imbecilic. He wanted much scarier stuff. His place would
have class, distinction, be a cut above the opposition. As he started up the
stairs, the voice spoke again. It said: Hello, Monty. Slumming? That
wasnt SPOOKS INC., old boy. That was me Stan, a real spook.
Youre not very quick, are you? And no sense of humour. Dont you
want to be entertained? I used to be good at entertaining people. Me and me
partner used to have them rolling in the aisles.
Montague Smythe froze. This really was
strange. But no, he must be just hearing things trick of the acoustics
or something. Yes, thatd be it. But hed get out of the basement
smartish anyway. He started up the stairs quite quickly. The ninth one down
split when he put his weight on it, and he fell forward and banged his knee
painfully. A mocking laugh came behind him. He scrambled to his feet and
hobbled up the remaining steps more quickly. Just as he reached the top, the
basement door slammed shut. He rushed at it, seized the handle and pulled hard.
But he couldnt move it. He tugged and tugged, and achieved nothing. He
kicked it violently, several times, with no effect at all. The door didnt
The voice behind him said: Time for much
scarier stuff, superior shocks
You wanted weird. With that Montague
Smythe involuntarily floated away from the door and down the stairs, watching
the door now open of its own accord, tantalizingly, but unable to reach it and
escape. He landed on the basement floor with a bump and immediately turned
round so he couldnt be taken from behind unawares. He tried to back on to
the stairs, but he couldnt move his feet. He stared about fearfully. The
basement seemed somehow watchful, expectant. But there was silence and nothing
happened. He held his breath and stared about.
After a few seconds he began to feel cold. He
got colder and colder, but there was silence and nothing happened, for over a
minute. He waited, helpless and taut with tension. Then the bulb in the middle
of the room turned red. The diminished light that it gave off reduced
visibility still further, so the darkness seemed to close in on him. It was as
if the shadows were creeping up on him, to smother him. But there was still
enough light for him to see the floor just in front of him start to bleed. He
gaped with horror and the hairs stood up on his neck, as blood seeped up
through the concrete. It formed a pool, a small pool, which grew into a larger
pool. Then the blood began to squeak.
There was a faint squeaking as some of the
blood was drawn off from the pool as if by a finger to form letters on the
floor nearby. The letters spelled out two words. The words were HELP and STAN.
Then Montague Smythe heard a clatter as a blood-stained knife fell on to the
floor out of nowhere. He began to tremble, and quavered: What the hell is
Read your own website, growled the
voice off to his right, where you tell the whole world: In a fit of
depression Stan Laurel took his own life in the basement and now his spirit
haunts the place. Blabbermouth!
Montague Smythe gasped, and then he heard the
mocking laugh again. He didnt want to turn his head to the right, for
fear of what would meet his gaze. But something made him peep out of the corner
of his eye. He couldnt see anything. Then he could see something, and
what he saw made him decide to close his eyes at once. What he saw was a dog, a
large black dog with serpent eyes, which was talking. Its mouth twitched as he
heard the words: Heres another fine mess youve got yourself
into, you greedy, grasping sod.
Even with his eyes shut he could still see the
animal. He wondered how on earth that could be and how on earth a dog could be
talking. As he wondered that, the dog seemed to say: A gottle of geer, a
gottle of geer. Then it clenched its hind quarters and appeared to fart.
After a bit it came to him that it was farting the tune of Three Blind Mice. He
thought he was going insane.
No, youre not going insane,
said the voice. He opened his eyes and looked at the dog in astonishment. But
its mouth didnt move as the voice added: No, not there. Cold, cold
(so to speak). Im over here. On your left, old scream.
He turned to his left and managed to make out
a dim figure in the gloom. It was Stan Laurel, complete with sad clowns
face on the point of tears and vacant stare. He recognized him from old
photographs. It was definitely Stan Laurel. He thought: this is bizarre,
grotesque; I made this up, but its come true; Im being haunted by
Stan Laurel, for gods sake; I really am going insane.
The apparition took its bowler hat off, put
its hand on top of its head and scratched its spiky hair. Then it said:
No, youre really not going insane. Youve just had some
strange and shocking experiences. Youve been frightened yourself, by some
genuinely supernatural phenomena, in lieu of tacky, tired little tricks. And
Im truly sorry to say its not over yet. Eyes front! Look straight
ahead of you, not at me, you tripehound!
Montague Smythe bit back an automatic angry
response to that, then turned and looked ahead, with ice in his stomach and a
growing sense of dread. Something seemed to be manifesting itself in the middle
of the room. There was a vague outline just that at first. He worried
about what it was going to be. A ghost? A monster? A demon? But when it was
fully formed and became clear, it was a beautiful Malaysian woman, naked except
for a single slender gold anklet. After a sharp intake he stopped breathing, as
he took in her large, firm breasts, her lips of fire and the stars glittering
in her liquid eyes. She smiled at him seductively and slowly stroked her
exuberant pubic hair. He became erect. She held out her hands to him in an
imploring gesture. Then she formed her left hand into a fist, with her thumb in
the air, while her other hand cupped her right breast, offering it to him.
He couldnt help himself. He tried to go
to her, he had to take up the sexy little bitchs offer and fondle that
delectable boob. But the voice on his left said: Cor!...But not so fast,
you twit. If you go to her, youll feel a right tit, in more ways than
one. That is not a beautiful woman. That is a Pontianak. If you go to her,
shell suddenly return to her true, terrifying form, and kill you.
Youll get an idea of what I mean very soon now. Theres a nail on
the floor beside you. Can you see it? Right, pick it up.
Montague Smythe snorted. It was preposterous
him being lectured to and ordered about by Stan bloody Laurel, who had come out
with a pun, and a smutty pun at that. He detested puns, viewed them as the
lowest possible form of humour. But he picked up the nail and looked again at
the beautiful Malaysian. Abruptly her breasts sagged and her face changed. He
looked at it in horror. He recognized it from old footage. It couldnt be.
It was. It was the face of Margaret Thatcher! When she scowled and wagged a
finger at him, the voice on his left shouted: Quick, Monty! Throw the
nail at her. Now!
He did, and the apparition disappeared. The
voice said: Smashing, well done. But sniff. Sniff, Monty. Can you smell
He sniffed, and he could smell a scent. He
nodded and said: Yes, I can smell something, but I dont know what
Thats frangipani, that is. A
flower found in graveyards out east. The Pontianak always leaves that scent
behind when it disappears. You learn a lot when youre dead. Well,
blummineck, youve got a lot of time on your hands and access to all kinds
of knowledge. Its dead boring being dead, by and large, so you need to
keep busy and fill the time in, reading, studying and that, or you go mad.
Anyway you should be grateful to me. Ive saved you from a flipping
horrible death. Im your saviour, I am
The Pontianak preys on
travellers, posing as a beautiful female and begging a lift seductively, and
can only be killed by driving a nail through the back of its neck. You learn
something new every day, dont you well, some of us do. Its a
funny old world, isnt it? And talking of fun, face front again. Old
Maggie may have given up the ghost, but you wont stand a ghost of a
chance with this one. Eyes front.
Montague Smythe winced at the play on words
and faced front. He didnt want to look, went to close his eyes, but the
voice rapped out: Oi! Better keep the peepers open, chum. Trust me, you
dont want to be caught unawares by this bugger.
Montague Smythe examined the shadows
dry-mouthed. Gradually he became aware of a stirring there, a sort of movement.
Some of the blackness seemed to flow forward into the dim light and coalesce.
It became a tall black man, a towering black man, with glistening skin and
massive slabs of muscle. The Smythe sphincter contracted as he suddenly
realized that the figure was so tall partly because it was hovering off the
ground; and the feet had hooves, cow hooves. Abruptly it burst into song. It
had a clogged nose, and sang in a nasal voice: Do do that voodoo that you
do so well. It followed that up with a silly high-pitched laugh. Then it
stared at him, snorted and pawed the ground with one hoof.
Oh eck, said the voice.
He hasnt taken to you at all, Monty, has he? And thats
Moloch, horrid king besmeared with blood of human sacrifice and parents
tears. Merde!...Just kidding. Actually its a Jamaican duppy. And
hes about to bite your bum. And sundry other bits. Strewth! Better leg
it, Monty. Go on! Before he gets you.
The duppy gave its shrill laugh again, and
started to glide towards him. He tried to flee, but couldnt move. It came
on slowly, but relentlessly.
Help! squeaked Montague
What? asked the voice.
Say pretty please.
Pretty please. For Christs
sake, snapped Montague Smythe.
Oh, dont bring him into it. He
wont help you. Unless you can recite the Lords Prayer. Can you
recite the Lords Prayer?
Thought not. Heathen sod. Serves you
right if the duppy gets you and eats you. All that plump, well fed flesh. Yum
yum. Itll start with your buttocks, and move on from there.
The duppy was by now hovering menacingly over
Montague Smythe and breathing on him. Its breath smelled of graveyards, of
mulch and mould, of death and decay. It eyed him hungrily and licked its lips.
The voice said: I might just possibly be inclined to help you. But
youve got to do exactly what I say. Will you?
Yes, yes, anything you say.
You didnt do Latin at school, did
Er, no. One did German.
Oh, did one? Untermensch! Bit of a
duffer at school, werent you, not in the top set, for the more
challenging subjects. Well, no matter, if you want to get rid of this horrible
get before he gobbles you down and steals your soul into the bargain, read
these words out, quick!
A series of words written in fire glowed in
the air before Montague Smythe and he obediently read them out one by one just
before each one disappeared: HIC EGO PER TEMPUS OMNE ERO; HOC EGO PER DIABOLUM
Very good, Monty, super, jolly D! The
pronunciation leaves a lot to be desired, but still
Now count up to five,
Count up to five out loud. Trust
He counted to five and the duppy vanished. He
gave a sigh of relief. The voice commented: Funny thing about duppies,
lady - they can only count up to four. And they sod off and leave you alone if
you count up to five. So you see, its true what they say: there is safety
OK, now youve met some of me chums, its time for me
to bare me soul, so to speak. Hope this wont spook you too
Theres a few more puns for you, Monty. I know what a lover of
paranomasia you are, ha ha - a real punny man, arent you? I should cocoa!
Right, er, anyway despite the local stories and your embroidery, Stan Laurel
did not stay here, let alone kill himself here. He stayed in the Grand Hotel in
Tynemouth, not The Grand (or Gran) here. And he died of a heart-attack, in
California. I was the one who stayed here.
As he said this, the speaker shimmered and
then took on a new appearance. He grew taller and broader; and his face became
quite different with dancing black eyes, a hawks beak of a nose
and thin lips set in a cynical smile. He was now wearing a loud red and yellow
checked suit, a crimson dicky-bow and a straw boater with a yellow ribbon
around it, and he was holding a cane in his right hand. He waved it like a wand
and spoke: Hey presto! There, Im feeling more me old self again
now. Thats better, much better.
Thats a matter of opinion,
murmured Montague Smythe, who was also feeling more his old self, now that the
duppy had gone.
The ghost ignored that and went on: The
Stan Laurel story came about in time because I was a comedian named Stan
Cheeky Stanley Chester and his Speaking, Pumping Pooch. I was a ventriloquist
too, obviously, and I did impressions and a bit of song and dance an
all-round entertainer. I used to be very popular, brought in big crowds at the
theatres round here, but, well, the arrival of TV buggered all that up. All of
a sudden the public wouldnt go to see you unless youd been on the
telly, and they wouldnt accept an act like mine on the telly. The BBC
said me humour was crude and nasty, cruel even, they called me grotesque
me! They said I wasnt smooth and sophisticated enough. Suffering cats!
So, not smooth and sophisticated like Bill and bloody Ben or Mister flaming
Actually I was an intelligent man, Id been a scholarship boy
at a very good school, but I had to earn a living somehow and you cant
let intelligence show too much in an act for hoi polloi, if you want to be a
hit with them
I hate the BBC. Did you know that once in the thirties
someone suggested they might have a woman or someone with a northern accent to
read out the news on the radio instead of a man with a posh southern accent?
And they considered the suggestion, and decided they couldnt possibly
have a woman or a northerner reading out the news because none of the listeners
would believe such a person. Bloody snobs
Later on I even tried the ITV,
but they said I was old hat.
Montague Smythe pursed his lips thoughtfully
and nodded his approval of the BBCs wisdom and good taste.
The ghost noted this, glared at him and
continued: Any road eventually I got fed up being ignored by massive
audiences of up to a dozen, so I retired. Id often stayed here, and the
manager gave me a deal for a tiny room with full board, especially because his
trade had fallen right off, so he was doing himself a favour rather than me,
the calculating sod. Anyway I moved in here. Like many comedians I had a
melancholy streak and a tendency to get depressed, and I felt that just
entertaining the general public (and demeaning meself in the process)
didnt amount to much, and when I couldnt even do that any more, I
went into a decline and lost the will to live.
What a loss to the Arts the Noel Coward
of Northumbria, thought Montague Smythe.
When the money ran out, I killed meself.
And the dog. As you can see, he doesnt hold it against me. Hes
stayed with me (dogging me footsteps, you might say), and he still helps me out
when needed, with a bit of twitching and clenching. We hung around here after I
snuffed it because it was nice and quiet, especially in the basement. By then
the holiday-makers were going to Spain more and more on package holidays and
English seaside resorts were emptying out. Soon the hotel went bust and closed
down. After a lifetime of being on show in front of people and having to put on
an act to please them, and then being ignored or even heckled by the ungrateful
buggers, I wanted nothing to do with people any more. I really enjoyed the
privacy and isolation, with nobody around to annoy me.
Well, apart from that time in the early
seventies when those two kids broke in, the two brothers. Jeez, I hate kids.
Any road, these two teenagers got in here with torches and started poking
around and trying to scare each other and daring each other. Really irritating.
Then one of them said: If there really is a spirit here, appear to us
now. So I made the main light work again and showed them directly under
it a phantom fetus, a bloody lump with a face like theirs (same nose and chin).
Then the fetus speaks, in a squeaky little voice. It says: Hiya, Jimmy,
Hiya, Danny. Im your baby brother. Our mum had an abortion and got shut
of me, killed me, but Im always with you (me ghost is), watching what
youre doing, longing to be part of your lives. I love you, lads, I love
you both. And now youve conjured me up I can show it. Give us a hug,
Danny. Give us a kiss, Jimmy. And with that the fetus begins to propel
itself along towards them with its little flippers, leaving this smeary,
slobbery trail behind it. For some reason that really did their heads in, the
little fruits, and they ran off screaming, ha ha
Word must have spread,
because nobody bothered me after that for ages.
My god, thats disgusting,
said Montague Smythe in a voice filled with distaste. Still what can you
expect from someone who
Oh shut your trap
Then you bought
the place. It was bad enough having builders in renovating the rooms, with all
the noise and upheaval upstairs, spoiling me concentration. But then that bloke
from SPOOKS INC. turns up down here. Monkeying around to put on a tawdry fake
spook-show, so you can bring in hundreds and hundreds of ghost-hunters down
here, disturbing me
TV ruined me life, and you were going to ruin me
afterlife. So Ive been waiting eagerly for you to show up. Ive been
dying for that, you might say. Then again you might not. Anyway
Look, must you make these awful
puns? asked Montague Smythe, pulling a face. Its gruesome
a ghost making puns. I cant take much more of that
As the actress said to the bishop. Sorry
about the puns, old chap, so sorry if they offend your delicate
Right, the reason why I was keen to meet you was so I could
show you the real thing spookwise, and have a bit of intellectual sport, have
some fun with you, have a laugh for a change well, I am a comedian after
all, and I have been just a teensy-weensy bit bored down here
are a repulsive bloody reptile, Monty. I only need to look at you to know why I
despise the whole human race. Youre an operator, you intended to trick
the punters, and you mock them for believing in ghosts and being scared of
them. So I just couldnt resist tricking you and mocking you and scaring
And you made a very good job of it,
aahm, yes, I have to compliment you on your performance, said Montague
Smythe smoothly. He had suddenly realized that this ghost, as the real thing,
would be extremely efficient at scaring people, so if he could win it over, he
could sack SPOOKS INC. and save lots of money there, and thered be no
risk of exposure of fakery.
Dont you smarm up to me,
mate, said the ghost. Dont think I dont know what
youre up to. Im really pissed off with you now. I resented the
intrusion, but I really resent the idea of you exploiting me. So you will be
replacing me as the main attraction and you will be the one exploited. Step
right up, youre the main attraction. Youll be discovered here
tomorrow, dead, at the foot of the stairs, with your face set in a rictus of
horror. And next to your corpse theyll find written on the floor in
blood: DAPHNE, MY UNQUIET SPIRIT WILL HAUNT THIS PLACE FOR ALL TIME. TELL THE
PUNTERS AND MAKE A PACKET. THIS IS MY DYING WISH. YOUR LOVING MONTY. The second
and third sentences will fade away after your wife reads them, but the rest
wont. Shell duly contact the media, and shell put that detail
about the haunting on your crummy lying website. The punters will soon descend
in large numbers, and those with any kind of psychic sensitivity will see you
and spread the word. So your wife will make a small fortune out of you, and you
wont be around to cheat her out of any of it, you cad, you meanie, you
blue-arsed bloody lobby-snaker.
Montague Smythe snorted and came back loftily:
Ha! You neednt think Ill meekly fall in with your plans, you
bloody oik. I have no intention of staying here and being plagued by
ghost-hunters. Ill, re, Ill just decamp, go off somewhere else and
spoil your sordid little scenario. Just see if I dont!
Oh deary deary me. Dont even think
of doing that, Monty me lad. That bit of Latin that you read out a while back?
Um, yes, said Montague Smythe,
Well, one really should have taken Latin
at school. I cant stress too much the benefits of a Classical education.
As a cleric once averred, it elevates above the common herd and fits one for
positions of considerable emolument. And, if youd understood what you
were actually saying, it would have stopped you swearing in the name of the
Devil that you would remain here for all time. Which is what you did by reading
those words out. As incautious as Cydippe. I just knew that once you
accepted that I was a ghost, your devious little mind would start working
overtime and youd have an eye to the main chance and try to use
What? spluttered Montague Smythe
in outrage. But I didnt know what I was saying. You, you tricked
me. Thats immoral. Ill have you know
Oh shut your cakehole! You said the
words, and iuro means I swear, so you swore an oath, Sheisskopf,
and you swore it by Lucifer, the Antichrist, Apollyon, Abbadon whatever
you want to call him. So dont imagine for one second that you can leave
here and get away with it. As you can imagine, the Evil One gets pretty pissed
off when people take his name in vain. The Prince of Darkness gets cross if you
cross him and he does horrible things to you.
Montague Smythe blustered: Oh come on!
Stuff and nonsense! The devils a fairy story, put about by the church to
scare gullible fools. Every intelligent person knows that.
So that would let you out. You really
are an arrogant, superior sod, flown with insolence, if not wine
Mister Smarty-pants, take a look at this. Over there to your right is a Gateway
To Hell, which is now being opened. See it?
Montague Smythe did, and nodded unhappily, as
a trap-door opened in the floor and he gazed down into an abyss filled with
fire and smoke, with shadows and gibbets, with tormented souls and tormenting
And do you see whos down there on
the left, someone who enraged His Satanic Majesty and is now undergoing condign
punishment for that? Cant you see her? Hells teeth! Do you see
inside the bubble the great big rabbit with snow-shoes on and a sprig of holly
growing out of its bum? Yeah? Right, just in front of that is the huge pair of
ears with a knife sticking out between them, walking along on those big feet.
Got them? OK, now look just to the left of the ears. See her? Yes, its
your gran (well this hotel is The Gran after all). Yes, your poor little old
gran, the only person in the world you ever loved (well, a bit, and apart from
yourself that is). And she loved you.
The ghost let Montague Smythe take in the
Bosch-inspired Hell that he had created and then continued, lying: She
loved you so much that she sold her soul to the Devil in return for a long and
prosperous life for you. But then, when she got old, well, she got on to a
priest and tried to go back on the deal. Still what can you expect from a
family like yours? Tsk tsk. Crossing the Archfiend is a bum move, as you are
about to see.
Montague Smythe tried to close his eyes, but
found that he couldnt, and so was forced to watch the fiery fiend next to
his grandmother pick her up in one horny hand and cram her into his black
gaping mouth, head first. Her feet in her fur booties waved about feebly until
she was gulped down whole. Then a substantial lump could be seen slowly making
its way down the gullet, jiggling slightly at first, and then no longer
jiggling. After about forty seconds in the bowels the old lady was expelled
from the anus with a splat and a splash in a brown deluge.
Thats whats known as a
bums rush, said the ghost. I told you crossing Satan was a
crap idea, didnt I? And the dysenteric demon Asmodeus is now going to
repeat that whole process da capo, after your gran has wiped the pooh off her
glasses, so she can see whats happening to her. And hell continue
to repeat that process for all time, for ever and ever, throughout
So think on. Leaving here is not an option for you. Unless you
fancy something like that for yourself. Or something even worse.
Montague Smythe gulped. He was a bit put out
over his grans sufferings and absolutely appalled at the prospects for
himself. He could find nothing to say.
Whats up? Cat got your tongue?
Right, so youll be staying here. As for me, itll be far too noisy
and crowded here for me, with wall-to-wall gawping ghost-hunters, so Ill
be moving on. Ive got me eye on somewhere else, a very undesirable
property, heavily contaminated by chemical and nuclear waste. But of course all
that doesnt bother me at all, and itll keep bloody people away, so
Ill be having some lovely peace and quiet again
OK? All clear? Good.
So, Ill be leaving you now. Toodle pip, old fruit!
With that the Gateway To Hell closed up and
the spectre glided off towards the far end of the basement. But then the spirit
paused and said: Hang on. Let me see. Was there something else before I
go? Oh yes, of course. Silly me. Fancy forgetting that - the minor matter of
The phantom floated back, went up close to
Montague Smythes face and looked deeply into his eyes. Then the ghost
suddenly screamed - a shrill, ear-rending scream beyond all human endurance.