Peace and Quiet.
Everyone likes peace and quiet. My flat was on the edge of a village and the only life west of it was livestock. Sheep, in fact! Perfect! My own flat, away from the hustle and bustle of Buckinghamshire towns. A haven, shared with my best mate, with whom I shared an interesting and colourful interest in culture, women and above all, rock and roll.
Reading Thomas Hardy novels with the bleating of sheep outside, as an accompaniment was a real joy. This was an idyllic situation and apart from providing the locals with a sort of visual challenge when frequenting the local pubs, (I was in my mid 20's and in a punk band) I was perfectly at home.
The flat itself was situated at the western edge of the very beautiful village of Dinton, accessed by a dirt track and above a household garage which used to be a barn. To the right hand side of the garage was the main front door which led to a flight of twelve carpeted stairs and then, to another yale-locked door which was the entrance to the flat. The rest of the rooms were casually arranged to meet the basic needs of the tenant and were by no means luxurious. In short, there was nothing exceptional about the place! A spare space, exploited by its' owners to generate more cash and enhance their retirement.
That was it! Nothing unusual or out of the ordinary! The nearest pub was about 100 yards away and I had a motorbike to get me to and from work in Aylesbury. A fairly contented man in a fantastic situation with absolutely no idea that anything would happen to change anything.
Steve was in a pretty deep relationship and told me that he and his girlfriend were going on holiday. No big deal. He went on holiday and left me in the flat where I was visited by an ex-lover and a few other friends. All was normal.
In the second week of Steve's two week holiday, something unusual happened.
I was lying in bed, just finishing a book, when the door at the bottom of the stairs opened and closed. There were only two key holders to the flat at that time and that was either me or Steve so I automatically assumed that Steve had come home early. The next thing was, a fall of heavy footsteps, starting at the bottom of the staircase and ending immediately outside the door which gives access to the flat. The footsteps didn't just end, they proceeded to the top of the stairs and then there was a shuffling sound but without the sound of keys jangling or any 'flatmate' noises. It was 12 o-clock midnight so there was no way that the landlord, Mr Bleasdale, could be there, he just left us alone and didn't bother us at all. I was lying flat on my back in bed and looked over to my left, there was no shadow of feet coming from beneath the door. I had left the landing light on, I don't know why, but I did. The sound of shuffling feet continued without the visual evidence that there was anyone really there but there had to be someone because it was so noisy. I watched and waited for a very long ten seconds, listening to those restless feet and gathering as much courage as I could because I did not know what this was. Burglars? There had been nothing out of the ordinary on this night in my location to interrupt the normal peace and quiet of my flat.
It had to be Steve, had an argument with the girlfriend and escaped back to the flat!
I called out, 'Steve is that you'? The shuffling stopped abruptly but there was no reply. I asked again, loudly 'Steve'? 'Mr Bleasdale'?
I got out of bed and opened the door. There was nobody there. I looked down the stairs in amazement because I had definitely heard the bottom door open and close. I examined the whole landing but could find nothing to indicate that there was an intruder, No-one had come past me and entered the flat, let alone walked up the stairs. There was nothing to worry about so I switched off the landing light, switched the light off in my room and returned to bed.
Then there was a lot of noise. I couldn't see anything in the darkness but there were scratching and knocking noises all around me. The walls were wooden and fairly resonant. I had never heard this in the flat before and rationalised that this was caused by some sort of wildlife but the scratching continued right through the rest of that night and I had no sleep. I made it into work the next day having put up with the noise for some 6 hours and just got on with my job. I tried to forget about what had happened but remained a little phased by the weird incident.
I spoke about it once to a good friend at work and was advised immediately to seek the advice of an exorcist. what a joke! I remember thinking.
Having made it home at the usual time, the flat was surprisingly different. So cold that I felt that something was definitely wrong. This was an intense, piercing cold that ate through clothing and froze the soul. When I attempted to plug in the electric fire in my room, the plug would not enter the socket however hard I tried to force it in. I tried several other plug sockets but the result was always the same. There was no way that I was going to be able to tolerate cold like that so I put the wall mounted electric bar heater on in Steve's room and went to cook some food in the kitchen, thinking that the heater would eventually warm my room.
When I had started to cook, I noticed a burning smell and looked around the flat with some urgency. I found that a poster on the wall in Steve's bedroom had draped over the electric fire and was burning, bloody great flames licking up a wallpapered wall. I ripped the poster off of the wall, which had begun to give off great big lumps of glowing red embers which floated around in my friends bedroom threatening a real inferno, and dealt with it. In all my life, there had never been a fire in any home of mine. I can remember being very worried by the fire, I could have destroyed the whole place.
I sat with my head in my hands for about 30 seconds and went back into the kitchen to attend to the bangers that I was frying (on a low heat) to be confronted by a raging inferno which was coming from the cooker and had spread to the ceiling and walls. Another emergency but this time much more urgent. I dealt with it but, as you can imagine, decided to beat a hasty retreat and, having secured the property, went to my landlord and explained what had happened. He was quite understanding and did not chastise me, in fact, he seemed to take it in 'his stride'.
It was mild weather outside and I wondered if the horrible chill in the flat was still there and after 20 minutes of emotional recovery, went back into the flat. There was a smell of burning but it was warm. All of the windows had been open for 30 minutes and the mild air from outside had heated the rooms.
Why had I been unable to insert a simple 3 prong plug into a simple 3 prong plug receiver and put the electric fire on in the normal way, why? This basic failure had seemed to me to have been the catalyst for disaster. For the first time, I was concerned about the events the night before. Had I let something evil into my flat? Well, only superstitious people think like that, don't they? I made another attempt to plug the electric fire in again (out of curiosity) but this time, there was absolutely no resistance to the plug in any of the places in which I had tried to put it in the first place, this seemed inexplicable but 'no big deal'.
I went to the pub, to have a couple of pints and just to relax. A local pub where everyone knows everyone. For that reason the landlord started to talk to me, wanting to know where I had come from and who I was. I said that I was from Aylesbury, 'ah metropolis' he said, then I told him I had recently moved to Dinton into the Bleasdales' flat.
I was about to explain where the flat was and as I began to speak, he interrupted me and said, 'you do realise that the Bleasdales' place is haunted, don't you?'