Objects of the Imagination

Trip Start May 22, 2009
Trip End Feb 16, 2010

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Flag of United Kingdom  , Scotland,
Friday, July 24, 2009

A day of frolicking with faeries and fearing the phantoms...

This morning I spent a delightful time with a little faerie named Eryn.  We flitted around together preparing magical faerie cakes with pink and purple icing sprinkles with faerie dust, madly preparing for the great gathering.  Much work needed to be done:  dusting, decorating, setting the table, picking sweet peas.  But all was a success when the faeries arrived and feasted on the cakes.  So happy they were, they proceeded to play outdoors picking leaves, pollinating flowers, and when it rained they fabricated umbrellas out of giant rhubarb stalks and continued their very important work. 

My evening was quite the opposite.  I spent time with mythical creatures of a different sort...

Traveling into Edinburgh, I witnessed horrific acts of torture, heard stories of grueling public executions, and crept into dark alleys where heinous murders were committed.  Crimes so cruel that their evil spirits permeated the very walls and foundations around them causing ordinary citizens to see and hear things no longer of this world...well supposedly.  I am a bit of a skeptic regarding such things, but it was still fun to play along!

Then it was down under the streets into places that never see the light of day:  the South Bridge vaults.  Long locked away and only used by criminals and body snatchers.  Now home to terrified tourists and the ghosts of old.  Reports of sightings and experiences from people over the  years have shown similarities and patterns have begun to form developing the ghosts you may get a chance to see.  Deep in the depths it was dark and dank where voices echoed through the corridors.  Changes in temperature from room to room gave way to imagined feelings of breath on the back of the neck, and tingles that ran down my back as I stood on the outskirts of the group - outside the confronting circle of candlelight - constantly checking  behind my shoulder and squinting to see better into the dark corners.  All the while listening to haunting tales. 

Unfortunately, no one on our tour saw anything paranormal in the vaults.  No cold fingers on shoulders, breath on neck, or ores in the shadows.  After our  tour, we were taken into a secret room and served a good stiff drink to calm the nerves of the evening and hear more terrifying tales.  I'll share one with you now...

The True Story of Apartment #17

Several stories above the very chamber in which we stood.  In the tenements that tower above the vaults owned by a nasty landlord.  Every night, rowdy sounds of men singing, women laughing, and the clinking of glasses would disrupt the night and could be heard into the early hours of the morning.  However noisy it got, no one was ever seen coming or going from the apartments.  All the neighbors were disturbed and held quite a grudge against the landlord for allowing this to go on, but no once could do anything about it.  Speaking to the landlord did little good as he adamantly proclaimed that no one was living in the apartments there.  Eventually, the landlord died and everyone secretly rejoiced as it meant that the parties would finally end.  But the evening of the day his body was carried away, the noises resumed  louder than ever!  Everyone around was too terrified to set foot inside.  Families moved from the area and the building fell to disarray for many many years. 

20 years later - well after the locals had moved away and the tales were forgotten, and young English couple came into the area shopping for real estate.  They wanted to set up a B&B and make a good business out of it.  Finding the old landlord's place, it was the perfect combination of old-work nostalgia, fixing up, and affordable price.  After it was fixed up, the
B&B was such a success that the rooms were all full up almost every night and no one ever complained about noises.  So successful they were, that at times they needed to let out the very top room in the attic to provide enough space.  But none that stayed in that room had a good experience.  Every morning, the guests would complain about the room:  too cold, strange noises, bad smells.  No one felt at ease in that room, not even the cleaning staff or the owners.  Upon entering the room a terrible feeling would develop in the pit of their stomaches.  So the English couple decided to stop letting out that room and continued with their successful business for many years. 

One evening, there was a young newly married couple in desperate need of a room.  Being young and naive, they had neglected to book their room ahead of time.  Now in the dark of
the evening in Edinburgh, the rain began as they continued to search for a room more frantically.  Knocking on every door they could find, the answer was always the same:  no room.  Finally they came to the English couple's B&B.  They too were fully occupied this evening (except for the attic room).  The English man could see straight away that this couple was desperate and needed a place to stay, so he decided to let the attic room.  Neglecting to mention WHY this particular room was available, he handed over the keys and told the couple to make themselves comfortable. 

Carting their bags up 5 flights of stairs, they were ready for bed.  But upon inserting the key into the lock they heard voices coming from the room.  Surely there must be some kind of mistake - this room was already occupied!  Instead of trudging back down all those steps, 
they rang the bell for the maid to ask some advice.  Now Mrs. McCarthy was none too pleased about being roused this late in the evening.  And being a very portly lady, she was none too pleased about having to travel up all those stairs.  Arriving out of breath and annoyed, she told the couple it was preposterous!  No one had occupied that room for years.  She grabbed the key and put it into the lock and gave it a slow and steady turn....click!  Then taking the handle she gave it a slow and steady turn until the door started to hinge open.  Further and further it creaked open until Mrs. McCarthy stepped through.  Immediately the door went SLAM behind her!  After several minutes of silence, the young couple creeped closer to the door.  Gaining confidence, the opened the door again to look inside.  The young bride's screamed arose the Englishman who sprinted up the stairs 2 by 2.  Upon entering the room, he found Mrs. McCarthy clinging to the bedpost sharing fixedly at a single point on the ceiling.  She did not utter a word, and never would again.  Never revealing to anyone what it was that she saw in the room that night.  Not what had made her cling to the bedpost or stare at the fixed point in the ceiling.  She was carted off to an asylum where she spent the remainder of her days in stony mute silence. 

Many more years past and a man by the name of Reverend Anderson heard of the strange past of apartment #17.  Now he only believed in one ghost:  The Holy Ghost and he had made it his mission to dispel the talks of ghosts in #17.  In order to do this, he would spend an entire night in that room.  For safety, he was to take 2 bells along with him into the room to alert his colleague Mr. Hall of what dealings may be going on.  One was a tiny high pitched bell to be rung if anything strange or untoward began to happen.  The 2nd was a large, deep, booming bell.  This bell was ONLY to be used if he felt that his life were in immanent danger.  Only if the 2nd bell were rung should Mr. Hall enter the room.  The Reverend went
into the attic at nightfall that evening and Mr. Hall went into the room directly below, where he would be sure to clearly hear the ringing.  However, Mr. Hall took with him a rather large bottle of Scotch, and was snoozing soundly in no time.  All through the evening not a sound came from the attic.  But the early morning brought with it the little tinkle of a high pitched bell, rousing Mr. Hall from his sleep.  Nothing to be concerned about, he thought, this bell was only for strange occurrences - nothing life threatening.  But as the bell began to sound more shrill, and was run with more intensity, Mr. Hall began to get a strange feeling in the bottom of his stomach.  The ringing was not ceasing and was growing faster and faster.  Mr. Hall began to put on his slippers and got ready to investigate.  That's when he heard the sound of the other bell.  The deep ring resonated through the stairwell, halls, rooms and Mr. Hall's head.  Leaping from his bed, he took the stairs 3, 4, and 5 at a time up, up to the top floor and rushed the attic room.  There was the Reverend sitting frozen on the bed starting at a single point on the ceiling.  On closer inspection, he was found stone cold dead, and on the other side of the room was the large room - completely out of reach of the Reverend.  Again, no one would ever know what was seen in that room, and no one wanted to find out!

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