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“Me dad were a martyr to ‘ay fever. One day in June it wus so bad ‘e had to spend the day in bed. ‘Well,’ I thought to meself, ‘now’s me chance. Don’t stay in a cemetery after dark, huh! Point about bleedin’ cemeteries is it’s full o’ dead people an’ no bugger’s goin’ to tell me ghosts is real.’”
He grinned at her, his teeth were yellow,
“Yer probably worked out by now that somefink ‘appened that day ter change me opinion.”
Conrad leaned forward again,
“Well, yer right, it did. But I wish it ‘ad only been a fuckin’ ghost.”
To Susan’s relief he settled back in the chair again and carried on,
“I finished at the usual time and went ‘ome for me tea. ‘Bout nine o’clock I went back, unlocked the Williams’ crypt, then I ‘id at the side of the gates, behind a tombstone. As soon as the sun sank behind the hills, I ‘eard this noise. It were like singing or somefink, but I couldn’t make out the words. As it got louder the crypt door started to open, I could just about see it in the twilight. Then this light came from inside the crypt and somebody stepped out of it.
Now I knew that crypt ‘ad nobody in it. Nobody who were alive that is. I started shakin’ and wanted to git out ‘o there, but me legs wouldn’t move. It were a woman an’ she were absolutely beautiful an’ bloody terrifying. I still couldn’t move and then two things followed ‘er out of the doorway. I must’ve whimpered or somefink ‘cos she turned around an’ stared in my direction. She said somefink to one of them things and it started to slide towards me. Imagine a spider the size of a wolf’ound wiv a shell an’ blood-red eyes.
That did it fer me, I got up an’ ran fer the gates, got through and slammed ‘em shut. At first I were shaking so much I couldn’t get the key into the first padlock. Then I realised it were the crypt door key. I scrabbled in me pockets, got out the right keys an’ bloody dropped ‘em. I could smell that thing by now, it were like gone-off meat an’ it were getting closer. I found the buggers, picked ‘em up, got the first bolt shut, fastened the padlock. The spider thing were close enough to reach through the rails by now. I felt its leg touch me face, it were like bloody ice and fire.
I climbed half-way up the gate, it weren’t ready fer that so I bought meself a couple ‘o seconds. Reached sideways, shot the other bolt ‘ome an’ got the key into the padlock. The thing started rearing up to me an’ I nearly froze wiv fright, I could feel pee dribblin’ down me leg. Any’ow I got the key turned an’ jumped back. I landed on me back an’ scrambled away from the gates ‘til I were out of that thing’s reach.”
By now Conrad’s voice had dropped to a whisper, Susan strained to hear him as he said,
“Then the woman came over to the gate and said,
‘Good evening Mr Conrad, I’m Charlotte Williams. I see my pet has touched you.’ I nodded like, not sure what ter say. She smiled, I remembering finking what a pretty smile she ‘ad. But I knew Charlotte Williams died ‘undred an’ fifty years ago, she said,
‘That’s right, Josiah, I am dead. This is Rufus, he’s quite a devil at times.’ ‘Er smile got a bit nasty then, ‘and he does not like being denied his food. Well, no matter, he has marked you now. When your time is close, Rufus will call you here and will feast on you then.’ I thought about ways out of it an’ she snapped,
‘There’s no way out of it, Conrad. Keeping the door locked won’t help. I can usually control them during daylight hours in any case, but try and stop them from feeding at all and I cannot be held responsible for what happens.’
She turned away then remarked,
‘Oh and if you try to leave your post as caretaker before retirement age, Rufus will call you back immediately. I trust you wish for a long life, Josiah. Goodbye for now.’
Conrad finished and looked at her bleakly,
“Well, missy, ye got yer story, I got me money. If yer don’t mind, I got stuff ter be gettin’ on wiv. Goodbye.”
Susan switched off the recorder, pushed it into a pocket and nearly ran from the bungalow.
She felt sorry for the old man. Evidently he was into the early stages of senility. She glanced up to where Woodstone Cemetery stood. Black clouds were gathering and the wind was becoming brisk. A street light flickered then snapped on. Susan Knight pulled up her coat collar and hurried down the road.
In five hundred years time, most of us will be forgotten dust. But Hitler will still be remembered, God loves irony.