You must login to vote
This evening’s rain pelting against our window evoked a memory from over thirty years ago. During my time at Art College, our seminar group was invited to spend a weekend at the recently opened Wedgwood Residential College. The Wedgwood Group sponsored the refurbishment of a derelict factory and donated it to the local council.
Wedgwood College was at the edge of Stoke, surrounded by flat grassland, woods and close to a pub. There were ten male and two female students, Val and Sara in our group. Not forgetting one tutor, Mr Wainwright. I remember the exact number so clearly due to an incident at supper. At eight o’clock on Friday evening, twelve hungry students and a tutor sat down in the refectory before a groaning board. We soon cleared it and as Sara stood to leave, teased her about being the first to leave a table of thirteen. She grinned and made a remark – I can’t recall her exact words but they weren’t polite.
The pub was next and we were quickly surrounded by glasses of beer, cigarette smoke and the strains of Status Quo’s ‘Caroline’. I was enthusing with my mates Pete and Alan about David Bowie. Greg and Keith were chatting up our female companions Val and Sara and getting nowhere. About an hour and a half later, Dave and Josh, they were older than us, twenty at least, suggested we returned to the college soon because Wainwright would get ratty if we didn’t show up reasonably early and reasonably sober and most of us were under-age. We looked over at Greg, he nodded,
It was about ten o’clock.
The wind was picking up speed as we walked back and black clouds threatened. We were safely in the leisure room when the storm broke. Rain hammered against the window driven by a howling gale that rattled the frames. For an hour, we lounged around smoking, discussing Stoke’s chances this year and our love lives – mostly fictional and certainly exaggerated. Dave and Josh had turned in early and two other guys followed before the clock struck eleven. It was still raining hard, although the wind had died down.
As vague as some of my recollections have been, the memory of the next hour was as sharp. Keith wandered over to the circular dining table in the corner, six chairs arranged about it. He looked over to us and said,
“Let’s hold a séance.”
I declined, as did Val and Sara. However Greg, Alan, Pete and Phil joined Keith at the table and sat down. Pieces of paper with the letters of the alphabet scrawled on them were placed around the table’s edge and an upturned glass in the centre.
I remained in the armchair, Val and Sara stood near the door. Everyone seated at the table put a finger on the glass. Keith intoned,
“Is there anybody there? Woooo.”
“Stop pratting about, man.” snapped Greg and repeated the question.
Everybody fell silent.
All I could hear were the rain and the clock.
I counted off twenty seconds before Keith hissed,
“Jesus, it’s moving – who’s pushing?” nobody spoke and as the glass scraped from one letter to another, I heard Greg muttering,
“Jay, a, see, oh, be – Jacob. Jacob?”
Sara gave a small cry and ran out of the room.
Val fumed at the group,
“You stupid sods, that wasn’t funny.”
They all looked blankly at her. She paled and sat down,
“My God, you didn’t know, did you?”
“Didn’t know what, Val?” Greg queried.
I offered her a cigarette, she lit it shakily.
“Sara’s dad died three weeks ago. His name was Jacob.” She stubbed out the half-smoked cigarette and left us to our thoughts.
Everyone turned to glare at Keith, his reputation as a prankster made him a natural suspect. His face was nearly grey, he whispered,
“I didn’t know – about her dad I mean. I didn’t push the sodding glass either.” Keith wasn’t faking, he was genuinely shocked. Everyone else denied moving the tumbler, so we were left with a mystery. I left the Art College about three months later. If the puzzle was solved - I never heard
(Author's note: With it being Hallowe'en, I thought I'd try my hand at a spooky type story. Certain details have been dramatised for effect. Except for one and I leave you with a disturbing thought. The seance did happen and nobody can explain how the glass spelled out the recently deceased man's name.
Coincidence possibly, but then again, possibly not. Goodnight, sleep tight - muahahahahaha!!)
In five hundred years time, most of us will be forgotten dust. But Hitler will still be remembered, God loves irony.