Tracks Part 6.

Linkstracks part 6

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flipping through pages 1.WAV by SamerMM

crickets country field night nice chirping +distant road.flac by kyles

Brick falling.wav by drummerman

furnace.wav by sforsman

Old typewriter.wav by juskiddink

 

Shows reccomended in the episode:

Middle:Below

The Tower

Folxlore

The Antique Shop

The McIlwraith Statements

A Scottish Podcast

Tales From The Aletheian Society

A Night Of Horror

The Prickwillow Papers

Caledonian Gothic


Transcript

The run back to the station is all a blur now. I remember the pain in my chest, the cold air against my skin, the sound of my feet against the forest floor. I don’t remember stopping to rest, although logic tells me I must have. The screams behind me faded away as I ran but the stench of the smoke never left me.

 

I reached the edge of the woods ragged and raw. The sky was dark above me – I had no idea what time it was. I passed over the metal ring and fell hard to the ground. My strength was gone. I lay there, on the damp ground, shuddering with my breath, when the roar of the creature came from within the trees. It had been following me. 

 

I was unable to move, the adrenaline burned away. I lay on my back and watched as it emerged from the treeline, the burning red light casting shadows across the meadow and reflecting back against the metal ring. It turned to face me and charged.

 

It hit the ring like a solid wall. Debris flew off it and over me – a sharp piece of metal sliced against my leg and bits of rock and wood hit my across my body as I lay there, but the bulk of the thing, the burning center, stopped short. 

 

I rolled away, pulling myself into a ball and covering my head, so I didn’t see it’s reaction, but I heard it. It screamed so loud I thought it would deafen me. 

 

Then it was gone. I heard it retreat and dared to move my head to check. I saw the glow of it moving away, around the perimeter of the metal ring. It was checking for any weak points, as it had been that first night. I hauled myself up and considered my next move. 

 

The ring meant something. It had to. There was a connection between the station and the creature – the weapon. This place had made itself immune to the thing’s attacks. It was clearly no ordinary station. Lots of places had been taken over by the military during the war, it makes sense given its location, that the station would be one of them. But I had been living there for days, I thought I had explored the entire compound. Was the ring really the only trace of the station’s wartime past or had I missed something? 

 

I began to move through the outbuildings, one by one, checking them for any clues. Last time I had only been looking for equipment to help set up the station. This time I looked at everything. Outside it grew lighter and I could hear the creature in the distance moving around me. 

 

I found nothing. I hadn’t missed anything, there was nothing to find. I stumbled between the buildings, feeling increasingly panicked. I headed back into the station building, aching as I pulled back the doors. The space felt familiar, but outside as it grew lighter I could see the shape of the weapon pacing along the meadow and knew I couldn’t relax. I needed to think. 

 

I found myself heading down into the cellar again, as I had done that first awful night that I saw the weapon. This time daylight filtered down from the door above as I sat heavily on the packed earth floor and wracked my brains. 

 

The ring must mean this building was important. It had to. It would explain why this part of the countryside was still so empty, why this was where the weapon was hunting. If it had been built here or stored here then there must be something left, surely. The weapon was unlike anything I had ever seen but if the ring could stop it that meant that at some point it was at least thought to be controlled. 

 

I learnt back heavily against the wall, knocking my head against the stone. It echoed with the impact. I turned and knocked it with my fist, scarcely daring to hope. The sound came back hollow. I tried the other walls and compared. The sound was duller. There was space behind that wall. 

 

I moved along it, trying to find any way of opening it up. My fingernails caught at the rough stone as I grasped along. But there was no secret door, whatever was hidden had been bricked over. I retrieved the poker and brought it down to the cellar. I jabbed it into a loose looking gap between two bricks and began to work the mortar loose. I was soon covered in sweat from the effort but to my delight the bricks began to slowly move out of place. I rammed the base of the poker hard into the spot I had loosened and with a dull thud a brick slid back, leaving a dark gap in the wall.

 

What I found there, after I made a hole big enough to climb through and brought down a lantern, changed everything. There was plenty I didn’t understand, in the dusty, bricked up laboratory, but one thing stood out. A mechanism, made of the same gleaming metal as the ring. And on it, a lever, labeled ‘on’. 

 

The sun was setting as I stood on the railway platform and stared out across the meadow. The creature stared back from the treeline, a red glow that was blending into the shadows as the sun dipped lower. I went over my plan in my mind. Lure the thing in. Trap it. Don’t die. I wasn’t sure how I was going to manage that last part. 

 

I walked down the steps onto the tracks and took a breath. Then I carefully stepped over them and up to the ring. I looked up. It hadn’t moved, but I felt like the red glow was almost brighter. I stared straight at it and stepped over the ring. 

 

It started moving so fast that I jumped, almost losing my footing. I turned and ran headlong back up the steps, praying they wouldn’t give way beneath me. I didn’t dare turn to look back. I threw myself across the platform and through the station doors. 

 

I reached the cellar door just as it crashed through the platform, splintering the walls of the station behind me. I fell with the force of the impact, hitting the cellar steps and landing painfully on my back. Above me the ceiling creaked, then gave way. I screamed, holding my arms uselessly above my head as the station fell into itself from the weight of the weapon and heavy floorboards landed on top of me. I lay pinned, staring upwards, as the red glow of the weapon beared down on me. 

 

There was…pain. The heat of the thing was overwhelming. It had sunk over me and as I struggled to move it was already pulling the debris of the station into itself. A long arm snaked over me and flipped one of the boards holding my body down back into the flame. Then, as I twisted to free myself, a second arm caught me by the leg. I screamed and yanked away from it, but it was too late. The arm crunched down on the bone and I heard a snap. Then it began to move back, hauling me in. 

 

I dangled uselessly for a moment from my broken leg, then, almost instinctively reached up and grabbed onto the arm, pulling against it, trying desperately to free myself. If I lost now, this was all for nothing. I grew closer to the flames, burning bright with the fuel it was feeding itself. My coat began to smolder and I threw myself away from the heat in fear, crying as my skin began to burn. My arm hit out at something metallic and I grasped at it. The poker.

 

I jammed the point of it between my leg and the arm, levering it with my bodyweight. The pain made me. scream again, but the arm let go, snapping at the poker and hauling it out of my grasp. I didn’t waste a second. I threw myself around and dragged myself across the floor towards the lab.

 

Most of the wall between the lab and the cellar was broken by the weapons descent but there was enough cover left that I managed to roll myself against the mechanism and pull myself out of sight of the weapon. Then, with a shaking arm, I pulled the lever back into the on position. 

 

What was left to do but wait to die. The arms were already reaching into the lab. I moved backwards, along the wall, some part of me desperate to live as long as I could. 

 

I closed my eyes and waited – an almost familiar feeling now. Then, against my raw, burnt skin, I felt a soft, cool breeze. I reached behind me – and felt wood. A door. 

 

It was small, built into the far corner of the lap and only big enough to crawl through. I pulled it open and found myself looking into a tunnel. An emergency exit. I began to cry. Behind me, the thing seemed to realise its prey was getting away. It screamed and began to jam itself further into the lab, but it’s engorged body, newly huge with the parts of the station it had already consumed, hindered its progress. I crawled into the tunnel, gave it one last look, and slammed the door shut.

 

I reached the outside world and felt the cold air rush to greet me. I shoved open a trapdoor and pulled myself through onto damp grass. The destroyed station was about 100 yards in front of me, glowing red from within. I let myself lay down and watched. The thing exploded out of the cellar and began to move wildly, this way and that. It spotted my in the meadow and threw itself towards me – and crashed into the invisible barrier. I watched as it threw itself again and again, desperate howls tearing through the night. I began to laugh. It made my chest ache but I couldn’t stop, gasping for breath as the weapon tore through the station compound, trying to find a way out. Then, at long last, everything faded to black. 

 

Epilogue

 

A complete account? But…it’s not complete! She must have recorded her further research somewhere, she even mentioned it at the start of this report! Are there pages missing? She doesn’t even explain how she evaded arrest! I don’t understand how she did it, the military hospital reported that her injuries were…extensive. Well, we may still be lucky. The most damaging information is here. When I think about what could happen if this report got in the wrong hands – if the truth about the massacre in the woods was made public – that it was our abandoned weapon that killed those people and that our soldiers were unable to contain it, well, it could start another war! She must be caught. She has the entire army out looking for her. We can only hope they’re not too late.

 

Credits

 

Tracks was written and produced by Libby Thomas. Narration was performed by Libby Thomas. The epilogue was performed by the wonderful David Pellow. You can hear more of his work on Middle Below and the Tower – two incredible, atmospheric shows that take the listener on journeys far beyond the everyday.  And while we’re on the topic of amazing shows, let’s mention a few more that shouldn’t be missed! Folxlore is a new queer Scottish horror podcast that balances the poetic and the terrible. The Antique Shop is another new Scottish show by Ghostly Thistle, the creator of the McIlwraith Statements. Both of these shows are beautiful eerie stories that will take you down dark pathways towards the unknown. And Some shows I’ve mentioned before – A Scottish Podcast, Tales from the Alethian Society, A Night of Horror, The Prickwillow Papers and Caledonian Gothic are all favourite shows of mine that deserve a listen. If you want to listen to more Scottish audio fiction, any of these shows is a perfect choice. 

 

The music in Tracks is all from Kai Engel and can be found on the free music archive. Sound effects are all listed on the website, as are links to all the shows I’ve mentioned.

 

Well, here we are, the end of the line. I really hope you enjoyed this story – my first attempt at writing something properly dark. I’ll be on hiatus while I work on my next project, but if you want to keep informed with what I’m up to, please follow me on twitter and tumblr at glasgow ghost stories or at the website  – glasgow ghost stories dot wordpress dot com. If you liked the show, then please get in touch! I really love to get feedback, or leave a review wherever you listen to the show. Thank you so much for listening.

 

 

 

Tracks Part 5.

Linkstracks part 5

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furnace.wav by sforsman


Transcript

It…it was neither beast nor machine…but…a twisted thing – an awful thing made of the worst of both. The black smog billowed around it, distorting my view, making it at first seem a spectre with only the glowing red lights glaring out of the darkness, but as the smog moved around it, the true horror of it’s form was revealed to me.

 

It was built like a tank, low to the ground and clearly capable of moving across any surface it needed to. But it was not armored like a tank – the whole outside of it seemed to ripple as it came closer to me and I could see large gaps where it seemed almost to have rotted apart. The red light burned out of these spaces. It was only a hundred meters away from me now and growing ever closer. I could make out details now – and the details were strange. It was not moving on wheels or legs or even tracks – it’s hulk simply slid along as if each piece was able to move around the centre. And the pieces – a gun, a boot, sheet metal, even bits of wood – and other things – all moving together around the glowing red inside, hauling the terrible whole closer, all the while screaming that terrible scream. As I continued to look at all the bits that the thing had added to itself, I saw all at once where all the bodies had gone and I began to scream too. 

 

I had not moved. I felt rooted to the spot in front of it, unable to think, unable to decide. It faced me, then, all at once, stopped. The front of it was opened wide, the red light spilling out.

 

I felt, deep in myself, at that moment, the sure knowledge that I was not going to survive. It was a clarifying sensation, like a cool wave that numbed me. I thought of the men on the train, of the way they had died and saw what had become of them. I began to move forward, towards the bodies that were now part of the mass of the things that had hunted them down. It did not move as I approached. As I reached it I felt a wave of burning heat from its insides. It seemed to open wider as I approached, the screaming now a fast, hungry whine. I moved forward. 

 

As I grew closer I began to hear other cries over the sound of the thing. I stepped up to the open front of it, the heat now strong enough to hurt. Inside it seemed hollow, the flames smaller than I thought – a burning centre around which debris moved. The space was like a cave or a stomach or a furnace – and I saw inside the source of the other cries. Not all the soldiers were dead. 

 

There was a an lying on a piece of sheet metal, his skin grey and covered in blood. His eyes looked blank, as if he was oblivious to his surroundings. I ignored the danger and stepped into the creature, ignoring the searing pain of the burning air around us. I knelt next to him and put my hand on his arm. His eyes focused on me and he stopped crying, taking in a shaking breath as he realised he was no longer alone.

 

He opened his mouth to speak and I leaned in, trying to listen over the roar of the thing we were inside.  His voice was hoarse – a cracked whisper that I could barely understand, but he seemed to urgently need to know something. I finally made out two words and my heart sank deep in my body. The boy was still looking up at me, oblivious to everything else, waiting for my response. He repeated himself and more clearly I heard him – did we stop the weapon?

He died soon after. I hope I brought him some peace in those last moments. Then I was alone, in the belly of the beast, waiting for it to make its move. Around me the walls began to shift and change  – piece of metal and wood and bone rearranging themselves into long arms that moved with a mechanical certainty towards me. I flinched and moved backwards, tucking myself into a ball and waiting for it all to be over. 

The grasping arms never came. I opened my eyes just in time to see the arms reach over me to the dead soldier and neatly rip him limb from limb. One arm carefully lifted a now detached leg and began to remove the cloth and boots. A small part of my mind – the only part still left thinking – urgently let my feet know that this was the time to run. I squeezed past the arms and dashed to the still gaping mouth of the monster. 

I stumbled out into the woods and tumbled down behind a tree. I tried to stand and instantly vomited. Behind me, the thing began to scream.  I forced myself up and ran blindly. I tripped on a root and as I fell the tree behind me splintered into pieces as the creature threw itself towards me. I stayed low on the ground, waiting for the blow, hoping I would die fast. Then, all at once, the thing paused. I could feel the heat off it against the back of my neck, then it was gone. I felt a surge of surprise and relief. Then, in the distance, I heard the shouting of men and the fear rose back. The thing was already screaming before I could stand up.

A convoy of men from (redacted), our old enemy and now reluctant neighbor  – here to gather intelligence, offer assistance or out of pure chance – walked right into us. I began to scream and run to them but the creature was louder and faster than I was. 

A desperate plan formed in my mind in those woods. I made a choice then that still haunts me to this day. I turned, not waiting to see what the thing – the weapon – was doing to those poor people who had stumbled upon us. I turned – and I ran back to the station. 

Tracks Part 4.

Linkstracks part 4

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Transcript

I left the station as the sun rose. I sent a final message; simply stating that the train had not stopped and that the creature was in pursuit. I was going to do my best to save those men, or at least confront whatever was hunting them. 

 

I packed a rucksack with food, a lantern, a sleeping mat and any other supplied I could think of. I left the station spotless, using the remaining darkness as a space to purge all my fear and despair  – scrubbing floors, wiping windows, covering the furniture, filling the wood store and carefully disassembling and packing up the radio, placing it in the driest and safest corner I could find.  I wondered about the last person to do this; whether they felt the same sense of fear and responsibility, whether the rage the felt was similar to mine. 

 

Once everything was ready I left, leaving no note or any indication I had been there other than the little vegetable patch. I felt a little sadness at the thought of how quickly it would become overgrown if I never returned. I walked out onto the station platform for the last time, looking around for any sign of the creature but deep in my gut I knew that it would be wherever the train was. I walked down the rickety wooden steps onto the ground and began to follow the track. When I reached the metal band that protected the station I reached down and touched it, feeling the sun warmed metal and hoping that the contact would offer me some kind of protection. Then I crossed it and continued on. 

 

The tracks were even more warped and rusted close up. I wondered how many years it had been since they had been laid. It had been a long time – decades – since we had enough peace and prosperity to manage any project that size. I reached the treeline and felt the sunshine on my neck vanish, replaced with a chill that hung about the trees and made my chest ache as I pushed my body to move more than it had in months. I was walking at as fast a pace as I could manage on the rough ground. I knew it had been hours since the train had passed – there was no way I could have caught up even if I’d left immediately and, in any case, I couldn’t have chased down a train – but I had knowledge that could help any survivors or, in any case, I could try to prevent it happening again. 

The forest was quiet, the soft sounds of nature muffled under the heavy blanket of fog that was slowly pooling around me. The tufts of moss that had grown up over fallen branches were covered in tiny droplets of water and every so often a bird would flit past me to sit and drink before darting away again into the gloom. The sun was blocked out for the most part and the light under the trees was a grey green that made it hard to see far ahead and blurred my vision. I focused on my own feet and on avoiding stumbling on roots and stones. In this space my urgency seeped out like my energy and my mind went blank, thinking only about moving my body onwards. When the tracks turned and the scenery finally changed I couldn’t tell whether one hour had passed or five.

The sun shone down as I reached the edge of the trees and the tracks began to move upwards along the edge of a steep cliff. I followed carefully, looking down and across at a wide lake below. As I picked my way along, pebbles disturbed by my feet fell down into the water, casting ripples across the still surface. On the far side of the lake, I could see the ruins of what seemed to be a fishing village, now just a few burnt out shells of buildings and a rotting pier. There was a tree growing out from the inside of a tumbled down cottage. 

I took a break when the tracks finally reached flat ground again and ate, sitting on an old tree stump. My legs ached but my mind felt clear and I felt an odd sense of joy – the joy of moving, of doing – that eased some of the fear in my gut and gave me the strength to keep moving. The fear grew again as I rounded a corner and found the first body. 

It was one of the soldiers. The tattered remains of the uniform were soaked with blood but the buttons were still bright and untarnished as if polished that morning. His face was full of fear in death, but the set of his jaw was determined. I didn’t think he’d thrown himself from the train in fear. He wasn’t on the tracks but against a boulder a few feet away. The bottom half of his body was nothing but shreds – I didn’t look too closely. His gun was clutched in his hand. I pictured him leaping off the back of the train, giving his life to add seconds to the space between his friends and the thing hunting them. I looked for anything that could identify him and found a ring on his finger. I made a note of the time, date and description in a notebook and carefully put the ring in my pack. I left the body where it was. I needed my energy for the journey ahead. 

The sky grew cloudy and when the rain came I felt a jolt of fear. The memory of being circled came back to me and I found myself looking over my shoulder as I walked, tripping and stumbling as I failed to keep track of my feet. My pace slowed as it slowly grew dark and my fear grew stronger as my brain moved to thinking about sleep. There was no way I could rest comfortably on the ground with the thought of the thing catching me unawares. I held hard to the thought that it must be ahead; that it couldn’t possibly know I was following. I finally made a decision when I saw a tree to the side of the tracks with a wide branch that jutted out almost horizontally. I clambered up onto it with some difficulty then pulled the tarpaulin over other branches above it, creating a dry space. I tied myself to the trunk and the branch, secured my rucksack then wrapped a blanket around my exhausted body. I could hear the rain dropping on the tarpaulin above. I fell asleep in seconds. 

The next morning came in grey and cold with the rain still falling steadily. I woke stiff and miserably sore but still dry and alive. I ate still lashed to the tree and half fell, half climbed down once I was done; my legs numb and half dead from being stuck in one position all night. There was no sign that anything had passed me by during the night. I gulped in the cold air, covered the rucksack and myself in the tarpaulin as much as I could and began to walk again. This second day I felt more committed – the station felt so far away. It would take as much energy to retreat as it would to go on. 

I moved along the tracks, the forest and the rain blending together into the same passing background, my mind empty. I don’t remember much from this walk – the cold and the damp seeped into me as I trudged forward, resolved to walk and unable to think about what lay before me. The clouds above made it impossible to tell the time. The rain grew heavier and I became soaked. Finally, I found it impossible to go on and I sat down, not caring where I was. There was no dry place to be. 

I closed my eyes and inhaled deeply. The air smelt of damp, of the greenery all around, and, very faintly, of the acrid tang of smoke. I opened my eyes again. At long last I was catching up. I hauled myself off the ground, all my sense of purpose returning. As I moved forward again my stomach lurched as my fear caught up with me again. 

The stink of the smoke grew stronger as I moved along. It cut through the rain, tainting it. I rubbed my face and saw the black residue on my hands, a clear sign of that smog. It stung my eyes as I moved onwards and soon the train had turned to a thick black paste that stuck to everything. I wrapped a cloth around my face and kept moving. 

There was debris now; more bodies, pieces of metal torn apart, gashes in the trees and rocks on the sides of the tracks. I moved passed the bodies slowly, collecting any identifiers as I had done with the first one and making notes. The falling smog-rain dotted the pages of my notebook with inky soot. I could taste the smog now, the taste choking me. I drank heavily from my canteen, trying to wash it away. The forest had been transformed – no longer damp, clean and wild – it was covered with this layer of darkness, making every surface poison. I could see the moss and smaller plants already dying around me. 

It was harder to move now; I was coughing as I went, my eyes streaming and aching. I stumbled forward, concentrating on moving one foot in front of the other, when I heard a noise like a thousand screams and the tearing of metal and stone and knew at long last I had caught up with my quarry. 

I found the remains of the train a few hundred feet ahead. It had been derailed and lay on its side in a deep gash in the earth. I wondered how fast it had been flying along those old worn-down rails before it finally threw itself free. The trees around it were still smouldering. There was a smell in the air that made me sick to my stomach. I could not tell what damage had been done to the train from the crash and what had been done beforehand. 

There were, oddly, fewer bodies here than I thought I would find. I clambered onto the remains of the carriages to look for the soldiers but there were none inside and those I did find were away from the tracks – those who had been flung furthest away or who had perhaps survived the initial crash and crawled a little into the trees before succumbing to injuries. I repeated my process for each of them, covering my notebook in the black ash as I worked. I felt numb – hollow inside – but I could feel, deep down, my stomach filling from the bottom with a kind of icy fear that I could only keep pushed down with moving forward. I finished my work and took in a deep, shaky breath that threatened to bring up all of that fear and swallow me whole. I stood on the tracks, shaking, waiting for the shock to hit when again I heard that awful shrieking noise. I pushed down on the feat again and turned to face the thing that I was hunting.

Tracks Part 3

Linkstracks part 3

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Periodic_Beeping_2014-07-20T11-52-15Z_13537.1kHz.wav by AlienXXX

Censor Beep by mattskydoodle


Transcript

Hours and hours passed before I could finally make myself believe that nothing was coming for me. I heard nothing from upstairs  – no crash of a massive bulk ramming through the wall – not even the squeak of a shoe on the floorboards. I forced my terrified mind to concede that even the most patient of enemies would surely come down and face a single civilian rather than wait them out the whole night. 

Dawn was making its way across the sky when I finally made my way back up into the waiting room. The radio was quietly beeping in the corner – someone was trying to send me a message. My legs began moving over to respond before I could stop them – well practised routine winning over fear, I suppose. Still there was no sign of the thing I had seen the day before. I averted my eyes from the windows and checked the message.

“Remain at your post. Please inform of all activity, not just personal in future. Do not let anything get in the way of your duties.”

I felt any connection to the outside world fade at the message. Clearly help was not coming. But the message was not just a refusal – it was an admonition. Somehow, I had failed in my task. What had I failed to report?

I let the question mull over in my mind as I went through the motions of acknowledging the message. If Vertwynne believed I had failed to report activity, that must mean they were expecting activity on the tracks: another train. I tried not to let myself criticise the fact that they had not given me any warning one was coming – I supposed that minimal communications about upcoming travel was simply protocol after a war heavy with espionage. So, a train had left Vertwynne and had not reached the station. And now something huge was outside my station, circling me. 

I sent another message, carefully choosing my words. “No other activity to report. No trains have passed this station in either direction.” I hoped it didn’t sound belligerent. In any case, it seemed like vital information. 

I took a breath. It was time: I had put off checking outside for too long. I stood, picked up the poker again and moved to the window. Outside the early morning was clear and the damp platform sparkled in the weak sunlight. The meadow beyond had transformed into a shallow lake, reflecting the grey blue sky above. I saw no sign of the dreaded thing that had been watching me. 

I ran over the events of the night before in my head. It had seen me and moved to attack – this I was certain about – and then, for some reason, it had stopped. It was my duty, I realised with a heavy heart, to find out why. Not just for the sake of the railway and my job, but for my own survival. No one was going to save me. 

I had no real weapons on hand; the army hadn’t seen fit to give me a gun. I did however, have the wood axe which I had oiled and sharpened. I took this from its place at the back door and hefted this with two hands, testing the weight. It was hardly going to do me any good against something the size of a tank but, like the poker, it gave me some courage. 

pushed the door to the platform open; my entire body tense. The platform was as empty as it had seemed from the window. I walked across the rickety wood carefully, then down the steps on one side to the tracks themselves. I looked across to where I had last seen the form leap. I crossed the tracks, keeping my eyes peeled for any movement. The water came up almost to my knees, but it was clear enough, the ground firm underneath. As I reached the place I had seen the thing I noticed something shining under the surface.  There was a band of metal, like the iron railings on the tracks, sunk into the ground. It gleamed as if it had been freshly laid and, on the surface, I could see some sort of engraving. I followed it along, walking along the side that was closest to the tracks. It continued along under the water for some way and I realised that it would take me some time to walk it. I was already cold from the water and aware that whatever was stalking me could strike at any minute. I retreated back to the platform to dry off and consider my next move. 

Noon came and I ventured out again, this time in a pair of waders I had found in one of the out buildings. They were far too big and one had a leak but I made much better progress following the strange metal line. I walked along between it and the tracks, until I reached the end of the meadow; the treeline only a few feet away. The tracks continued into the woods but the band curved around and crossed underneath them, shining under the twisted and rusted metal of the railway. I followed it around and realised I must be taking the same path as the thing. Was this what it was tracking? What was it?

I continued to walk until I reached the other side of the station, where the trees made following the line harder. I could see where the undergrowth had been crushed on the other side by the thing following the same route. Some little voice in my head told me not to cross to the other side of the metal band – to stay within the bounds of it. I returned to the station, feeling oddly safer. There still had been no sign of the thing, but I didn’t believe it was gone. 

Back at the station there was another message waiting for me. I built up the fire and heated some soup then went over to read it.

Hold the station. Train incoming.”

I allowed myself a moment of dread and anger before I ate my soup, sent a message in acknowledgment and set myself up on the platform to watch for the train. I kept my axe close by but noticed that my fear of leaving the station had diminished since finding the metal. I didn’t understand why the station was encircled or what it meant but I felt somehow more protected. The day moved on as I waited, the afternoon turning slowly to evening and the setting sun casting golden red light across the water left by the rain. 

It was pitch black outside when I finally heard the sound of the train in the distance, the normal rattle and churning call drowned out by a horrible tearing and screeching noise that made me run out onto the platform and to the very edge to try and see what was happening. The glow of the train lights shone out from the darkness as I waved the lantern, trying to let them see the station was close. I could hear the speed of the train – it was still galloping along even as it grew closer. I couldn’t hear the familiar hissing of the steam being released or the squeak of brakes. Instead as it approached I could see the screeching was accompanied by sparks flying off the tracks as it flew onwards. It passed by my horrified eyes, huge gashes torn down the sides of the carriages, men screaming in fear as they held onto the remains of their shelter, others hanging out the sides, clearly past any kind of help. The smoke billowing out the front filled the air as it sped past, transporting me to a sudden and dreadful hell as the scene passed before me. Then, as it crossed in front of the station and carried off into the forest beyond, I was back, alone, with the train now becoming distant again and the horror in my heart huge and all consuming.

I felt stunned by the sight, as if I had been physically hit, and stood there, frozen in the dark. Then another sound cut through the night, and the force of it released me and sent me scurrying back inside before my brain had a chance to understand it. It was a howl unlike any I had heard before; hardly like an animal, and yet too full of malice to be the sound of machinery. It was the creature, and it had found it’s quarry again. The poor train crew couldn’t have known any more than I did what protection the station offered, and while being in the vicinity had clearly given it a chance to gain a lead on the creature, they had chosen to keep going and outrun it rather than stay. It had been a mistake.

I sat in front of the radio for a long time, thinking about what my message could say. I knew in my gut that to my employers I had failed, although what could I have done? By the time I had discovered the metal band, the train was already on its way and could not have been told and besides, it was still only a theory. 

I could feel the seconds ticking past as I stared at the machinery. I thought of the terrified faces of the soldiers on the train, hurtling through the dark, sent to face whatever was hunting them down on the tracks. I wonder if they knew any more than I did. I reflected that they probably knew less. I remembered the fear I noticed on my own journey. What had they been told? We had all lived so long in secrecy, and here we were, trying to open up a line between two cities that only a year before had been intent on destroying each other and everything in between. We could not continue like this, least of all me, the one person sitting between them, the one person who had seen the creature and was protected from it. I had to find the truth. 

 

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Transcript

Everything was quiet until my first supply drop. I had been making slow but steady progress cleaning and repairing the station buildings for several weeks when the train arrived, heralded with black smoke that seemed to fill the air for miles. This one was even bulkier than the one I had arrived on; new sheets of metal had been welded on top of previous layers – I wondered how much damage it was doing to the railway tracks it was meant to be repairing with all that extra weight. But as the train slowed and the smoke cleared I saw long scratched along the lengths of the carriages, deep into the metal. I hoped that this was simply from the new thickness of the carriages making them too wide for parts of the journey. Deep down I knew that wasn’t the truth.

 

The man who got off the train to greet me had a hollow expression. He looked both ways along the platform, staring out for several minutes before he acknowledged me, then he gripped my arm tight and asked me what I had seen since I arrived. I shook my head, too stunned to respond with words. His grip relaxed and he seemed to almost keel over with relief. I felt overwhelmed – I hadn’t spoken to another human being in weeks and this was too much. No one else got off the train and when I got on to take my packages, the atmosphere on board made me feel ill. It was silent, the soldiers staring at me with blank eyes. I could feel them willing me to hurry so the train could start up again. 

 

I was given another food package along with the first delivery of spare fuel for the trains  – huge skips of coal which were shoved onto the platform by miserable looking men who scurried back on board. I was also given radio equipment to allow me to contact the ends of the line and report on the trains that passed through.  The train left after barely ten minutes.

 

I had to leave the coal where it was – I secured a tarpaulin over it but it would take hours to move it all myself. I took the radio equipment inside and spent the rest of the day reading over the manual, happy to finally have something to do. When I finally got it working it felt like I was a part of the world again. I sent a message to (beeped out), letting them know that I was set up and acknowledging the arrival of the train. I got a response soon after, acknowledging my message. There were no further instructions. I wondered whether I should ask about the  scratch along the train. Even then I was afraid of asking more than I was told – a remnant of the war, I suppose. I’m not surprised they told me nothing – I’m sure they would never have expected me to stay if they did. 

 

The weather had been dry for the weeks I had been there, something I had been thankful for as I hurried to repair the roofs and tried to secure firewood and the  fuel for the trains all by myself. But it did not last. One night the heavens finally opened and I heared the water pour down, flooding the yard and turning the land in front of the station into a misty and unknown landscape. I rushed about, checking for leaks, worrying about the radio equipment and my tiny food supplies. I barely looked outside.

It must have followed the train. No carriages had been missing this time; it had not been sated. That is what I believe now. I wonder how long it waited, watching, before I knew it was there. Only the rain gave it away. 

The next morning the rain continued; the landscape a grey blur. I stood outside on the platform, missing the sunrise, when movement caught my eye. 

Something huge was out there, in the meadow beyond the tracks. I watched it as it crossed my vision, seeing the disruption of the rain as it hit something other than the ground. It moved slowly but steadily and as I stared I saw that its trajectory would take it across the train line.

At that point I felt the first pangs of fear but I forced down the panic. It could be anything – a passing animal, a tractor, a truck. I knew very little about the surrounding area – in fact all I had really been told was that it was all mostly abandoned after the war. There was no need to do anything but remain calm and keep an eye on it. I went back inside and sent in my daily check in message a few hours early, reporting the change in the weather and the possibility of water damage. I did not mention what I had seen outside.

I saw it again in the afternoon. I was up on the roof of one of the outbuildings, securing a tarpaulin over a hole. I looked outside the compound, this time towards the mountains, and saw once again, the huge bulk in the distance, moving in a slow constant path. It had moved, I realised, in a large circle around the station. I felt the hot and bitter taste of acid in my mouth as fear and dread turned to nausea. It took all my concentration to climb safely down off the roof. I could not stop myself from running as I headed back into the main station building, abandoning all my tools outside. I went straight to the radio and sent in a report. “Station under surveillance. Unknown creature or object circling the area. Requesting help.”

I felt torn, afraid to look outside and afraid not to. Evening came and it grew cold inside but I hesitated to build a fire. I could hear nothing outside over the sound of the rain and I hoped that whatever was circling the station didn’t know where I was and that I could wait it out until help arrived. I was shivering for hours before I realised that it must have seen me on the roof earlier in the day and that if it had spent hours watching then there was no way it didn’t know I was here. I might as well be warm. I built the fire up with shaking hands and lit the kindling, the burst of warmth giving me new strength. I stood and looked out the window, out across the platform, my legs shaking but my eyes clear. I had survived so much to get to this posting. There was no point feeling sorry for myself. This (sarcastic sigh) was my duty. 

I stared out and there, across the tracks, was the hulking thing. It was much closer now, perhaps only ten meters or so from the railway line and it had stopped moving. I tried to make out the details – it was perhaps ten, maybe even fifteen meters across and tall, an odd rough shape that I couldn’t understand. It didn’t seem man-made – the shape was hardly like a tank or a vehicle – but the stillness of it in the rain now it had stopped made it seem like it could hardly be an animal. I got the strong sense that it could see me watching it and as I looked out it raised itself, two glowing orbs that could have been demonic eye or perhaps headlamps shone out of the rain, hiding the rest of the mass as they beamed towards me. Then all of a sudden it leaped –  right towards the station.

I collapsed, falling backwards as the thing lunged towards the building and from the floor I scrambling backwards, my breath caught in my throat as I silently fought to get back up on my feet and away from the creature outside. I reached the far wall and pulled myself up, bracing myself for the thing to crash through the wall. My hand found the only weapon I could reach – the iron poker that had been leaning against the now smouldering fire. I grasped it with both hands and moved towards the door to the cellar, hoping against hope that I would reach it. The rough iron of the poker felt reassuringly heavy in my hands as I threw myself across the room and pushed the cellar door open, slamming it behind me and falling down the short set of stairs beyond. Winded and bruised I crawled to a corner, panting as I caught my breath in the darkness and watched the thin strip of light around the door. 

I sat in the darkness alone and I waited.

 

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How to begin…let’s see…Hmm. A complete account of the incident…no. A complete account of the…the. A Complete account of the events of…ugh…I need to start. I’ll just…start. 

 

The Railway line from (beeped out) to (beeped out) was to be reopened. To many, this seemed like a foolish endeavour. Why try to reopen the line when maintaining the roads would take as much effort and much less steel? The railway hadn’t been used in over a decade – not since the last war and subsequent depression had wiped out the transport budgets on both sides. Someone in some department was determined though, determined enough to push through the plan, and their ideas may have had some merit. 

 

The line was winding, it was true, but not as winding as the roads, which had to be moved about every year – sometimes by miles – to adjust to floods and landslides. Whoever has built the original track had clearly taken time to plan properly – the route wound around the hills when it needed to, avoided the marshes, included sturdy bridges and most importantly tunnled through the mountains instead of trying to climb them. It was built to last and it would be a waste to let it decay any further. A comitee was formed, the words ‘infastrcture for the public good’ were typed on a file and eventually, months down the line, the first tentative explorative missions were planned.

 

Surprisingly little can be found of these first missions. I tried to find some records after my own expereinces of the tracks, but if there is one thing a government in crisis is good at, it’s a cover-up. After months of searching all I could come up with was a single non-official log book that a woman had kept after her friend vanished. I believe it was overlooked due to clear lack of understanding of the relationship between the two women. When I found her she was still wearing black and a matching pair of rings – one on her finger and one on a chain around her neck. She was more than happy to meet, urging me to take the log book and try and discover what I could. I could see how the sight of my scars hurt her – she was surely wondering what sort of fate her partner had encountered if a survivor was so badly marked. I was tempted to lie and claim the scars were from the war but this was a mission of truth. There was no point giving her false hope. 

 

My name is (beeped out) and I was assigned to the midway railway station six months after the last exploratory missions ended. When I was given the job I was told that the missions had been a success – the lines were damaged but the buckling would withstand the tough military trains that were leftover from wartime. These were the most efficient way to access the damaged areas and carry over the supplied to fix them. Every station along the way was derelict and the villages that they marked were still too impoverished to support the operation – if they even still existed. The trains would need at least one refilling station where reports of their journey could be sent back to the capital. I was to run this location. 

 

I arrived at the very beginning of spring, when snow still lay on the ground and only the very earliest buds had appeared on the trees. I started out in (beeped out), armed with only a small suitcase and a packed lunch. The train station was little more than a warehouse, grimy and echoing, filled with the rusting hulks of the military trains. I made my was to the only active platform and waited anxiously among the soldiers. The train we were taking was massive – more like a tank than anything else. The sides were plated with thick sheets of studded steel and the only windows were thin slits near the top. It belted out smoke as it waited for us to board. I tried not to cough in front of the men surrounding me. 

 

They were friendly enough once they learned I was going to be the new station master. One of two exchanged looked I didn’t understand and I was asked a few times if I had much knowledge of the railway line. I don’t know if my obvious naivety or orders from above kept them from spilling the truth.

 

The ride was bumpy; the rails below us were warped and rough from age. The train moved along slowly. I couldn’t see outside the dim carriage, so I spent my time chatting to the soldiers, sharing out my little packed lunch and  – mostly – sitting in silence. The atmosphere was strange. The soldiers seemed on high alert, even for military men. Looking back, I can’t even imagine how afraid they all must have been. 

 

I fell asleep once during the journey, resting my head against my rolled up jacket. It was a fickle, restless sleep, but it must have lasted several hours. Now I think back I can barely imagine how I managed it. When I woke it was dark, the only light coming from the swinging bulbs that lines the walls. The train had stopped.

 

Still half asleep, I turned to the nearest soldier to ask whether we had reached my destination, only to see he was pale and sweating under the yellow light. No one was moving and weapons were now glinting in various hands. I shrank back, more confused than afraid, still half-asleep. 

Before I could ask what was going on a long shrill whistle came from the front of the carriage and the atmosphere immediately relaxed. The soldier next to me  – really just a boy, certainly younger than I was – closed his eyes and I saw tears rolling down his face before he quickly wiped them away with his sleeve and turned away. I sat up, pretending to have just awoken and spent the last few hours of travel in quiet contemplation. 

 

We reached my destination at dawn. The train stopped, slow and creaking and the carriage was opened, letting in the golden rays of sun like a path to a better place. I fought to make myself thank the soldiers before escaping the confines of the metal train. I stepped out, glad to have finally arrived.

 

The platform was wood, almost rotted through and I nearly tripped as I navigated its rough surface. No one got out with me. An officer, exhausted and stern, handed my a dossier, shook my hand and handed my a large package, all without a word. He got back on the train and soon it was off again, groaning as it went along the worn out tracks. As it passed by me I noticed my carriage – which had a large number six painted on the door – was now the last one on the train. I had been sure there was another behind it when we started out. As it pulled away I saw that there was an off discolouration on the rear of the carriage – black like soot. I stood and watched it until the train finally went out of sight. 

 

The station itself was what you would expect from an isolation building that had been ignored for a decade. It was built in the pre-war style – simple and made of wood with a stone foundation and a long sloping roof. It was raised up on a stone platform to make it level with the platform with steps leading down to the ground and the outbuildings behind it. The platform itself was short, ending on each side with stone ramps. On the other side of the tracks was a wide meadow that lead across to the forest beyond. Behind me, the meadow continued to distant foothills and on either side the forest curved around, encircling the meadow on three sides. The land felt wide and flat as it spread out before me. I could see the tracks on each side for several miles until they vanished into the trees. Other than my own little compound there were no other buildings – no sign of humans other than the station and the tracks. The sky was bright, the sun warming me as it rose over the forest. It gave me some comfort. That glorious sky was a barrier between me and the mystery of the night before.

 

I opened the dossier and pulled out a ring of rusted looking keys and a thick folder. The words ‘instructions for the role of station master’ were printed in red on the front. I looked through keyring until I found one that matched the huge padlock on the station doors and spend several minutes wrestling with it, finally opening with the help of some grese from the remains of yesterday’s lunch. I pulled off the chains and undid the bolt.

 

Inside it was blessedly intact. It was clear to me that there had been no work done in preparing the place for my arrival. But the walls were firm, the roof seemed mostly solid and I saw no signs of leaks or break-ins.  Once upon a time this would have been a comfortable and pleasant place.I wondered about the previous inhabitants – so much had been erased from our past. I felt a pang of sympathy and used it to spur myself to work.

 

The first full week I cleaned and mended; airing out the waiting room, exploring the outbuildings and marking the ones that were suitable for storage and which would need more extensive repairs. The rest of the compound had not lasted as well as the main building but had been chained up with the same heavy locks and inside there remained old old equipment and supplies. The best surprises I found were in the basement of the station – a sizeable storage area that contained full stacks of firewood and several barrels of some kind of alcohol. 

 

The supply package I had been handed off the train had contained dry rations for several months as well as a bundle of fresh apples that I suspected had been bought out of the officer’s own pocket. There was fresh water in a brook nearby. My diet for the next few weeks was dull but manageable. I was used to this kind of eating. 

 

I found some old packets of seeds and the remains of a vegetable garden near one of the outbuildings and began to replant. I never knew if anything grew from them. The events that left me haunted and scarred came long before anything had a chance to sprout. 

 

Episode 31. November

An Epilogue.

Links _I looked up, like I always do, and smiled._

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It was a late afternoon in November and I was walking home along the path next to the river Kelvin. It was cold – the first day that really felt like winter. As I passed by the ruins of the old mill and headed towards the weir, I looked up, like I always do, and smiled. As I continued down the walkway a heron, perched on a branch over the river, shook its wings silently. Frost clung to the railings along the path and made them glow in the sunlight. 

 

I reached the arches of the Queen Margaret Bridge and headed up the steps to the road above. I turned left, as I had not too long ago, and stopped at the old entrance to Walker’s Bridge. It was quiet. No one was around. I leaned against the wall and watched as ghostly lamps flickered on in front of me, the phantom bridge swirling into view, the other side disappearing into mist. 

 

I still don’t know what lies on the other side of that bridge, but I know I’m not afraid to find out one day, whenever that might be. Life and death go side by side for me nowadays.

 

Everyone who came with me that night to the Necropolis kept their ability to see the dead, although it’s becoming a rarer occurrence. Nothing is hunting me anymore, and I guess we’re no longer a novelty. The only ghosts we see regularly are our friends. It’s nice. 

 

We choose our words carefully when we talk about them. It’s strange to think how much power a story can have on those without the ability to create their own. But, like us, they’re always learning, and, perhaps, like the spirit who used to haunt the motorway, they’ll find ways to adapt and grow without the help of the living. I haven’t seen him since that night, although I offered my help. Other ghosts tell me he’s doing ok though – he’s changed his story before. 

 

As I leaned on the wall and stared out across the bridge, a figure appeared next to me. He checked his watch, then noticed me. I greeted him warmly and we shared some time together, looking out across the river, watching the sun sink in the sky and the heron sit on his branch below us. Then we said our goodbyes and the figure crossed the bridge, passing on to a place beyond me. I watched a little longer as they faded into the mist, then turned and walked home. 

 

The street lamps turned on as I reached my front door, ready to spend another evening with friends – the living and the dead. 

Glasgow Ghost Stories was written and produced by Libby Thomas. Narration was by Libby Thomas. Credits were read by Harris Jones. The music is by Kevin MacLeod, and can be found at the free music archive. Sound effects are from freesound.org. Follow us at Glasgow Ghost Stories on twitter and tumblr, and visit us at glasgowghoststories.wordpress.com for transcripts of every episode.

It’s strange looking back to before all this started – before the ghosts and the pigeons and the kidnappings. It feels like a different Glasgow now that I know who we’re sharing it with. I like it better now. So here’s my advice – next time you find yourself drawn into the world of the supernatural, make sure to keep your mind open. Your life might turn out all the richer for it. One last time, as always, thanks for listening.


Hi This is Libby, writer and producer of Glasgow Ghost Stories. Thank you so much for sticking with us to the end! Making this show has been such a fantastic experience and it blows my mind to think that people actually took the time to listen so again, thank you.

Glasgow Ghost Stories is over for now but please keep subscribed to this feed – I have some special projects planned for Autumn that I’m really excited about. Can’t believe I’m ending this show about ghosts right before Halloween season starts but here we are.

If you’re looking for more content about ghosts, the supernatural or just general Scottish vibes, I have reccomendations! For a more comedic and slightly more scary ghost story than mine, try Middle Below – the protagonist, his friends and his cat work together to try and solve ghostly mysteries as they travel between the living world and the Below – the strange world of spirits. If you’re looking for a more historical feel try The Aletheian Society – members of this secret and ancient group battle dark forces and often each other in Victorian Scotland – starting in Glasgow in season one. If you want something a bit more modern and a lot more sweary, A Scottish Podcast is about to end it’s second season – a radio host and his pal start a horror podcast and end up finding much, much more than they planned to! Finally, if you’re looking for some truly strange and terrifying content, Caledonian Gothic will fill you with dread and leave you wanting more. Episode One takes place in a museum of toys that I personally have vivid memories of as a child – in fairness, it was scary even before a horror story was set there.

once more, thank you so, so much.

Episode 30. Necropolis

Reveals and Resolutions.

Links_out of the sky two lightning bolts shot down into the ground at her feet._

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When I finally opened my eyes again, the front door was still wide open. My head and my back both ached, but the lights were all back on and the invasion seemed to have passed. It was quiet now. I sat up and looked about – the hall was now covered with party decorations that had fallen to the floor. I felt oddly hollow and my stomach hurt. I wondered how long I had been unconscious. I tried to stand up and instantly felt dizzy. I managed to make my way into the disarray of the living room and found Harris and our guests awake and looking just how I felt.

 

We took some time to recover, gulping down water and eating whatever of the now curiously cold food hadn’t fallen on the floor. Someone looked outside and reported that the storm was now in full force. We could hear the wind howling outside.

 

I shuddered. Someone checked their phone and cried out in alarm. According to all our clocks, we had been out cold for two whole days. It was now, without any time to prepare, Halloween. 

 

Confused and shocked, we tried to make sense of it all. What had happened to us? We all seemed unhurt, just a little groggy and dehydrated from being knocked out for almost 48 hours. No one had called us, which was strange. It was as if we had all been carefully put out the way. But why?

Someone tried calling home (dial noise), and found that the call wouldn’t go through. Others tried with the same result. Harris, still checking the windows, reported something very strange in the distance. There was an odd glow in the sky out towards the East, it’s source just out of view from the windows. We rushed out the flat and downstairs to look.

Outside the street was deserted. The windows along the road were all black, which, worrying as it was, made me feel a little reassured. At least they weren’t all glowing with yellow light. Looking down the street we could see a huge beam of green light shooting up into the swirling clouds. Whatever it was, it seemed like the source of all the strangeness. I felt my resolve strengthened. Whatever was going on, I had to try to do something about it. 

I rallied my guests and gave as straightforward an explanation as I could. 

Libby – it all started when I was out in the rain one day..

Harris chimed in to back me up when I faltered. 

 Harris – so, look, there’s pigeons…(pigeon ramble)

It was tough. A lot of blame and fear was passed around, but, after we were done, my friends agreed that we had to do something. Well, most of them. Some just wanted to go home.

It was at this point that the pigeon ghost appeared, flapping wildly and looking more frightened than I had ever seen it. The close door slammed open  – Francis was there too, outside the flat for the first time since we’d known him, still invisible but now a stronger presence. Somehow we were able to sense his location and avoided walking through him. It was Halloween, I realised, and all ghosts could move freely. I made introductions between my living and dead acquaintances. Then, it was time for practicalities. 

We had three cars available between us. We squeezed in, Francis and the pigeon getting into mine, and headed east, towards the source of the green light. The streets were completely empty and dark, until we got closer into town.  Ghostly figures were appearing on each side of us, joining a parade all moving in the same direction as us. I pulled over and the two cars behind me followed suit. I opened the car door and called to the nearest ghost as my passengers crouched down away from the dead. The spirit was a middle aged man in a modern looking outfit. He looked slightly surprised to see us but was friendly enough. 

“I suppose I shouldn’t be shocked that there are living people here tonight, with all this weirdness.” he said to me. He explained that the green light was very odd and everyone was on their way to investigate it. 

“It’s interrupting everything!” He complained. “People are freaking out. I guess the rumours are true. I don’t know, I’m from out of town.”

I got back in the car and grimly told the others what I’d heard. We drove on, the light getting brighter as we got closer. A suspicion of the location began to gather in my mind and I adjusted my route accordingly. My suspicions were confirmed. We were heading to the Necropolis.

We parked in the square at the cathedral and gathering together. All around us ghosts were congregating, worried and irritated. In the crowds I could see none I recognised. Francis was almost visible now and the pigeon was in child-shape, hoping, I expected, not to alarm the other ghosts. Our group huddled close, trying to work out any sort of plan. 

“We need reinforcements.” I decided, and sent Francis off to spread the word and find any ghosts that were willing to help. We began to make our way towards the entrance.

Glasgow Necropolis is an extravagant Victorian cemetery built on the hill next to Glasgow Cathedral. Thousands of beautiful monuments line the slopes, from gravestones to huge mausoleums and towering columns. It’s a beautiful place to explore, with views right across the city. At night it becomes a maze of eerie shadows and treacherous pathways. We scrambled up the gravel, holding close to each other as we moved. The green light was bright now, casting long shadows back down the hill. It was difficult to move along while trying not to pass through any of the many ghosts milling about.

We reached the top of the hill, out of breath and full of dread. At the top was the monument to John Knox, bright with the green light as it burst from the top of the statue. Ghosts circled it, confused and wary. Above in the sky the storm clouds bubbled and swirled. We moved to the front of the crowd.

Perched all over the statue and surrounding buildings were pigeons. The other ghosts stayed well back from them, looking more and more terrified. I tried desperately to think of something reassuring to say. My friends looked almost hollow with fear, like I was, but here they were, standing with me.

I felt a cold touch on my shoulder and turned around to see the séance ghosts looking more serious than I had ever seen before. Behind them I saw the coffee ghost peering anxiously at me.

“Where have you been?” one of them exclaimed. I gave an account of what happened at the party and they looked gravely at one another, but nodded thoughtfully.

“If whoever this is felt the need to get you out the way, maybe you can do something to stop this,” suggested one of them. I shrugged. I had no idea what I was supposed to do.

Suddenly, the screaming that had become so terribly familiar filled the air. A booming voice echoed across the hilltop.

“Welcome one and all! I have called for you and you have all come to me!”

The ghosts shuffled uncomfortably and looked around for a source of the voice. A figure, shadowed in the dark behind the green beam of light, moved forward. She was tall and thin, more solid than any of the other ghosts and her eyes were two points of glaring yellow light. Her hair, long and wild, flew around her in the wind. As she walked forward, dark shadows appeared behind her, huge and menacing and I realised that the army of ghost buildings were here too. 

Other ghosts ran back and soon we looked like two sides of a battle, standing facing each other. Above, the storm howled and crackled.

The ghost woman fixed her eyes upon the crowds of terrified looking spirits and smiled a cruel looking smile.

“How does it feel, this one night of the year, to be free, to walk the earth and fear losing nothing?” she asked. The crowds looked back, confused.

“I, of course, and my army, can do this any time. We don’t need this special night, this special place in order to do that. We can walk where we like, whenever we want to. We take what we want!”

The crowd now looked afraid and angry, some shouting back that her army were parasites that preyed on other ghosts’ territories, that the earth belonged to the living and that she was taking away their precious time. The woman waited impassively for a few seconds as the crowds reacted to her then raised her arms and, with a sharp movement, flicked her hands and out of the sky two lightning bolts shot down into the ground at her feet. I felt my hair raise and smelt something tangy and metallic in the air. My friends and I were so exposed and vulnerable up in front of her. 

The woman laughed again, that angry, echoing laugh, and continued.

“The living do not deserve the mercy of the dead! In my life I suffered at their hands – they hanged me on a lie! and in death I continue to be misused! I have lost the living part of myself and gained all the power I could want! Join me! Join my army and we can rule the earth! The living will fear us and the dead will follow us! This city should be ours! We shall swallow it, then we shall swallow the surrounding towns – my old town – then more and more of this earth!”

The crowds were silent and shocked. There was a pause, as if each of them were considering the consequences of refusing her. I looked at their faces, and saw many of them had their eyes closed, mouths moving as they repeated something to themselves. Mantras, perhaps, to remind themselves of their identities.

I looked back at her, wondering. She claimed she had lost her identity, and created a new one, but how? She also said the living misused her in death. What did that mean? I frowned as I took her in. She also said she wasn’t actually from Glasgow but from a neighbouring town. Something in my mind clicked and I began to put the clues together. 

“No.” It took me a second to realise the word had come out my mouth. Suddenly I could feel a thousand pairs of eyes upon me, and the woman’s  face twisted in rage, looking around until she spotted me. She seemed to falter, as if in shock, but recovered swiftly and snarled.

“Look! The living even trespass here! They taint the gathering with their presence! Let us start by making examples of them all!”

“They do not trespass! They are welcome here, unlike you, witch!” came a cry and a huge ghost, towering above my head, appeared behind me. I stared back at it. It was the ghost from the motorway, now, at last, able to be seen. It was a dragon – huge and scaled with a pair of wings that it unfolded as it raised itself to its impressive height. A small part of my mind wondered when it chose that shape, what it had ‘evolved’ from. How old was it?

The woman narrowed her eyes at the word. “You have been here a long time, beast.” She responded. “What would it be like for you to lose yourself? My deal is simple, join me, give me the humans, or I will make it impossible for you to return to your homes and you will be lost forever like my pigeons here.”

At this the shadowy army behind her moved, the ghost buildings shaking with a deep rumble. The bright yellow lights in their windows shone out across the crowds – I saw spirits push into each other to avoid the glare. The dragon reared up, a deep roar beginning in his throat. 

“You will not threaten us, Witch!” He bellowed, the sound echoing across the hill. The green and yellow light seemed to shrink back at the sound. But to my horror, the woman simply smiled and stood her ground. 

“I see you do not take my power seriously. Perhaps a demonstration?”

She gestured towards the dragon with a sharp movement and as one the ghost buildings piled forward. The rest of the ghosts surged back in terror and my friends and I were forced to moved out of the way behind a monument. In the crush I lost sight of the dragon. Then, a sudden heart rending scream filled the air and when I finally managed to look back, the place where the huge figure had been was now filled with the hulking masses of the ghost buildings. The woman gestured again, and they fell back into line behind her, leaving behind nothing but a tiny figure perched on the ground. The blank eyes of a freshly made pigeon ghost blinked back up at us. 

 

There were gasps from the crowds. The rest of the pigeons shuffled uneasily. I stepped forward, feeling, for the first time, something more than fear. I felt indignant.

“See? Do you see my power? Can’t you see that your choice is to follow me or be lost forever?”

“That’s not true.” I said. Once again the eyes were upon me. I pressed on, pointing at the pigeons.  “They aren’t lost forever. They’re right here, looking for themselves, and they only reason they haven’t found new homes and identities is because you won’t let them.”

For the first time, the woman looked confused. I continued, not entirely sure what I was doing, but filled with a rage that was displacing my fear.

“If you just told them they weren’t lost, they wouldn’t be! They’re fine! They’re dead! Why should the dead feel pain anymore? It’s pointless! You’re just manipulating them into thinking that something bad is happening when all you want is to use them to manipulate even more people! The pigeon ghost I know is amazing! It only sat with me a little while and talked to a couple other people and now it can change shape! And move freely – like you! It doesn’t want to harm anyone! It just wants friends!”

On cue it walked forward, spun, billowing out the red  dress, and transformed back into a bird before flying up and landing on my shoulder. I pointed at her.

“You seem to think all the dead suffer like you! You think that no solid identity means you can just decide what they are! You need to stop thinking these things. I don’t know much about spirits, but I do know that you become what you believe – your thoughts are all that’s left, really, and this kind of unhelpful thinking is the real problem. Let other ghosts work out what they want for themselves.”

She looked enraged, moving towards us, her arms raised again. I imagined those bolts of lightning shooting down and hitting us and hurried on, stumbling over my words.

“It’s not a lack of identity that’s been you’re problem – it’s been that the stories the living tell about you have been coming true! Because that’s the power the living have, right? We can change stories, we can tell new ones, we can influence your identity, especially when yours is fragile. Isn’t that right, Agnes?”

She reeled back. I spoke softly now, the rage gone.

“I figured it out when the dragon called you witch. That’s who you were, right? The Paisley Witch. A lot of people were murdered after being accused – Scotland was awful about that. But only one gained a legend. The one who supposedly cursed the town and all the people in it forever. I don’t know if that actually happened, I don’t think it matters. I would probably say something similar if I was going to be executed like that. But it’s what happened afterwards that matters – long after you lost your living identity – I’m guessing you chose to move away from the site of your death and I don’t blame you – the legend lived on, influencing you, twisting you. They blamed you for everything, for years, and even now they keep building memorials. They won’t even pardon you, even now!”

She looked quiet now. I stopped, out of breath and shaking. She looked up, and when she did the yellow light was dimmer.

“How dare you? Who are you to say these things? You are no one! Just some stupid girl who stuck her nose where it didn’t belong!” Her voice was low but her rage remained.

I took a breath. What could I say to that? 

“You’re right.”, I said. I felt thousands of eyes on me as I talked. “But it’s still true, isn’t it? I might not know anything about the dead, but I know the living – and how much power we have, even over you.”

She stared at me, and I saw a hundred years of pain and misery in her eyes as she gazed into mine.

“I never really wanted to be this.” She said softly. “I just felt alone. Others were afraid – the living and the dead. I only felt good when I was in control.”

“You can be in control of your identity. You just need some help.” I responded. I felt bad now, seeing her. She had been in so much pain. 

“You’re not alone.” said a voice. I looked round to see the coffee ghost moving forward, looking scared but determined. “You might feel lost, but you still can do all the cool stuff that Libby was saying about the pigeons. You just need to let go of the pain. She’s right. We don’t need pain. It’s pointless.”

Suddenly the crowd of ghosts were agreeing, offering encouragement, some clearly just hoping she wouldn’t hurt them, but others moved, some smiling, some nodding in understanding. Agnes looked around at the sea of faces and smiled, a soft sweet smile. The yellow light left her eyes and she let her hands drop to her sides. 

“I think,” she said, “I’m ready to let go now – of all of it.”

There were murmurs of surprise in the crowd as she closed her eyes and was enveloped in a soft light. She flickered, then seemed to separate into a million tiny points of light that floated away across the hill and into the night.

The green beam of light went out and the sky went from clouds to clear, the stars and moon appearing above us. The towering bulks of Agnes’ army paused and then retreated. They would still be out there, but somehow that seemed like an issue for another time. The dead would have an eternity to deal with it.

The rest of the night was celebrations, and seemed to last for far longer than a few hours. When we felt tired we drove home, and as we did so the strange night of the dead seemed to fade away, the street lamps flickering on and people appearing, in costumes, all filling the streets and their homes with wonderful, wonderful life.

Glasgow Ghost Stories is written and produced by Libby Thomas. Narration is by Libby Thomas. Credits are read by Harris Jones. The theme music is by Kevin MacLeod, and can be found at the free music archive. Sound effects are from freesound.org. Follow us at Glasgow Ghost Stories on twitter and tumblr, and visit us at glasgowghoststories.wordpress.com for transcripts of every episode.

Well I don’t think I’ll ever have a Halloween like that again. Here’s a tip – if you find yourself in the middle of a graveyard facing down a centuries old vengeful spirit, it might not be too late for reason. But even so, make sure you’ve got some friends to back you up.

We all need a long rest now, but we’ll be back for one more episode. Until then, as always, thanks for listening.

Episode 29. Murder Mystery Dinner Party

An Invitation is Extended. 

Links_I slide down onto the ground, filled with dread, and lost consciousness

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The night of my annual Murder Mystery Dinner Party felt like one last hurrah before the final showdown. I spent the day cleaning, shopping, setting up, decoration, and staying as busy as possible to avoid thinking about the huge army of ghosts preparing to do something on Halloween. A night with the living would be good for me.

The party started at seven. Harris and I welcomed our guests, all of us decked out in our costumes. The theme of the party was pirates and everyone had done their best with plastic swords, fake eye patches and some impressive hats.

The night started with the first scene of the mystery, all the guests playing their roles with great enthusiasm. A murder was discovered, accusations were tossed around and we stopped for our starter. I had already had several glasses of wine and was feeling quite merry. All the stress of getting ready for the evening was washing away and any thoughts of the dead were at the back of my mind. We ate, cleared the tables, joked around and finally settled into act two.

Harris: (pirate voice) – There’s a murderer on the ship!

Other person (pirate voice) – It was the lookout!

Libby (pirate voice) – It’s can’t be the lookout!

Other person (pirate voice) – why not?

Harris (pirate voice) – the lookout is dead too!

It was when the second death was announced that I noticed something was changing. One window was opened (with thanks to Francis) to stop the room overheating from 13 bodies but the curtains were tightly closed. When we had stopped for the starter I had been very comfortably warm and most people had removed their jackets and fake beards to cool down. Now I was chilly. People near the windows seemed to be shivering. I called over to them to shut the window and considered turning on the radiator. Harris obligingly leaned over the sofa and pulled the curtain open to reach the window handle. They stopped, their hand still on the curtain and stared outside.

Harris (normal voice) – what the hell?

Then they gave an exclamation and pulled the curtain open wide, giving us all a clear view of the world outside.

It was dark, but the night sky was covered in thick black clouds which churned and swirled as if pummelled by raging winds. Street lights were flickering in some strange pattern, casting us in and out of the dark. Flashes of lightning lit up the clouds but didn’t seem to touch the ground. It was as if a storm was taking place only above our heads. There was no wind or rain beneath the clouds. It was ominous, more like a warning than a full out attack. We gave each other bewildered looks, then, as people are want to do, decided to laugh it off. Jokes were made about how at least no one’s cars seemed to be in danger and got back to the game. Harris and I looked at each other warily. This was far too early, wasn’t it?

Libby (pirate voice) – So, me hearties, who is the killer? Who has shivered the final timbers of two of our crew tonight?

Other person (pirate voice) – It wasn’t me!

Other person (pirate voice) – well it wasn’t me!

Harris (pirate voice) – it has to be one of –

At the moment, the lights went out. There was a brief moment of stunned silence in the room, and I heard the boiler closet door slam shut. Then, with a deep rumbling sound, the room began to shake. People started screaming. The tables juddered and the candles on the mantelpiece flickered wildly. I was knocked off my chair and onto the floor, and began crawling out the living room and towards the bedroom, intent on getting to Francis, hoping that his influence would be able to help, to do anything to stop the shaking. I reached the bedroom, avoiding thing falling off the pantry shelves. The bedroom door was shut tight and I shouted for Francis to help. In the room I could hear moaning and a strange creaking noise. Behind me, the same sound started and I turned to look. The front door was shaking, as if something was trying to break it open. It was trembling. Francis was helping, I realised. Something was trying to get in, and he was doing what he could to keep every door and window shut. I stood, leaning against the wall to keep upright and pushed back on the door, shouting for whatever it was to stay away. A loud scream came from outside and with an almighty roar it finally won the struggle. The door burst open and I was flung against the wall. There was silence and a sudden overwhelming darkness. I slide down onto the ground, filled with dread, and lost consciousness. In my last moments I heard the screaming from the living room stop and thumps as my guests all fell to the ground.

Glasgow Ghost Stories is written and produced by Libby Thomas. Narration is by Libby Thomas. Credits are read by Harris Jones. The theme music is by Kevin MacLeod and Loyalty Freak Music, and can be found at the free music archive. Sound effects are from freesound.org.

Follow us at Glasgow Ghost Stories on twitter and tumblr, and visit us at glasgowghoststories.wordpress.com for transcripts of every episode.

Well that was certainly the scariest party we’ve ever hosted. If you’re waiting for an impending ghost incursion, best be careful about tempting fate. Fingers crossed we’ll see you next time. Until then, as always, thanks for listening.

Episode 28. Network

Hot drinks and foreboding.

Links_The pieces were falling into place._

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Word of the attack at Ruchill Tower had spread fast among the dead. Several went out of their way to meet me, more than just the paint ghost, although none as unpleasant. The most welcome meeting was with the coffee shop ghost. I had returned to the cafe, this time with Harris, in the hopes of bumping into her and on the way had managed to be haunted in passing at least half a dozen times. After a while it stopped being anything other than normal. They were curious,but not about what happened to me and Harris.They asked how many ghosts had been there that night. How many spirits that could move freely, that were strong enough to feel solid.

 

The attack on two living humans was of less importance to them and I began to understand why.

Someone was building an army for reasons unknown. An army capable of taking over any territory, of attacking the living and, seemingly, doing anything else it wanted. That was terrifying to the living and the dead.

Sitting in the cafe and sipping on a seasonal coffee, we considered our options. It would be impossible to ask for help from other living humans. What would we say? How would we make them believe us without forcing them into a world that they might want nothing to do with. The ability to see the dead was like a virus, and we were uncomfortable spreading it about without thinking.

The coffee ghost appeared after I finished my first cup, drawing a smiling face in the foam left at the bottom. I greeted the empty air and she appeared opposite me.

Ghost – I heard what happened. I’m glad you’re ok

Libby – You heard about it too? Already?

I was curious just how word was spreading so quickly, if ghosts were stuck in their territories.

Ghost – We have a good network for news and gossip. Some ghosts can travel further, and spread the news as much as possible, some territories overlap, sometimes we can leave each other messages. Eternity is a long time to perfect systems. New information is like food to us, so we spread it around as much as we can. Besides, when we finally can all see each other, it means we have connections, like a family.

Harris – Wait, finally see each other? What does that mean?

Ghost – on Halloween!

Harris – Halloween?

Libby – …Halloween…

Ghost – yes, Halloween! On that day we can all leave our haunts and move freely, so we all gather in one place like a huge party. It’s wonderful!

Harris – Oh, yeah, I get it. That does sound pretty cool!

So that was it. One night of the year, all the ghosts were able to move about. A night that happened to be only four days away. An army was gathering with an unknown but menacing intention. Slowly the pieces were coming together.

Harris – so why a coffee shop?

Ghost – it wasn’t always a coffee shop! But you know, I kind of like it? It’s cosy and warm and people are mostly nice and I can listen to them talk and hear tons of stories.

Harris – oh yeah, that sounds pretty ideal. Better than somewhere abandoned or isolated

Ghost – yeah, not for me! Some spirits like that better, but I’d get lonely

I could feel my heart filling with anxiety even as Harris and the ghost chatted away. What to the spirits could only be thought of as a joyful time was really just the weak spot that our unknown enemy was waiting for. The graffiti spirit’s warning made more sense now.

Harris – so what else has this place been?

Ghost – Oh, for a while it was a pharmacy – that was always interesting, you can learn a lot about people from what medicines they buy

Harris – I guess

Ghost – oh and for a little while it was this really fancy boutique that just sold hats. That was really boring – there’s only so many things you can learn about hats

Something bad was going to happen on Halloween. I didn’t know what, I just knew that I had to try and stop it.

Glasgow Ghost Stories is written and produced by Libby Thomas. Narration is by Libby Thomas. Credits are read by Harris Jones. The theme music is by Kevin MacLeod and can be found at the free music archive. Sound effects are from freesound.org. Follow us at Glasgow Ghost Stories on twitter and tumblr, and visit us at glasgowghoststories.wordpress.com for transcripts of every episode.

We’re in the throes of the final preparations for our murder mystery dinner party, so thankfully I don’t have too much energy to spend worrying about what else might happen on Hallowe’en. Until then, stay safe.

And as always, thanks for listening.