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Light Night


Rusty Broadspear

Another tale from the Spearlight Zone, the same year that Percy know it all Pidgeon paid me a visit. Only this was December 19th, to be exact, and to be even more precise this tale begins at 10pm.

This was the first anniversary of losing my older brother, (Robert, he was 8 years of age), so I suppose even my young nerves and neurons were a little haphazard, firing signals to wrong locations and such like. Before Robert departed this spinning orb we had rehearsed for the school nativity play. The play went ahead on the 20th and 21st. I was a shepherd, Robert's role wasn't covered, so a lady teacher, (Miss Cambers), stood behind a door and read his lines, punctuated by numerous sniffs and stifled sobs. Mum and Dad were in the audience putting on brave faces for my sake. I was putting on a brave face for their sake.

The day after the Nativity Play our front door was opened to take Robert to the waiting hearse; I remember the plumes of white exhaust dispersing into a cold and cheerless day. He was buried in his Boy Scout's uniform along with his Christmas presents. As the decades have passed, I have missed him more and more.

Maybe this was playing on my mind, maybe not, I was still so young. No doubt the forthcoming Christmas and the promise of a two wheeler bike was at the forefront of my thoughts.

Whatever the case, it was 10pm, the bedroom was very dark. Heavy curtains blocked the window, never again would I sleep with curtainless window, I wouldn't even twitch them for a sneaky peak.

I'm snug and warm, there's a wire guard on top of the chimney, and old know
it all can freeze to death. Heck, when I came to bed the snow was falling in heavy big chunky flakes and it didn't look like stopping. I called that sort of snow warm snow; I didn't need gloves to make snowballs. Great day ahead tomorrow, that's for sure.

10pm, lying on my back, accepting the comforting tug of the sand man, knowing that my door was slightly ajar to let in light from the landing. Feeling smug and self-satisfied I decided to give in to these regular tugs and turn on my left side.

And that's when it happened and it was only the start.

As one turns over in bed, when one's mind is on the line between sleep and wakefulness, one tends to open one's eyes a tad, probably as a last check that all is OK with the world that one is leaving.

That's what I did... and in that nanosecond, I saw a hand dart through the gap in the door and turn on my bedroom light and then dart out again. It took a moment for this to register, my mind needed time to step back from the line.

I was expecting Mum or Dad to walk into my room but they didn't. It was then I realised with growing certainty that something was not quite right. In haste I fell out of bed, ran downstairs to where Mum and Dad were sitting chatting with friends. One of the visitors, a lady called Doris Slattery, said, "He looks like he's seen a ghost."

Until she said that I was speechless but I realised she was right, so there was only one course of action - run to Mum's lap. She wasn't fat but I always told her I liked placing a cheek on one of her fat arms. After a few huggies, and I was taken back to bed. As we entered the bedroom, the light was off. So Mum said it was quite clear I had imagined or dreamt what had happened, probably due to the excitement of Christmas. I asked if it was still snowing, she said it was. I was calm now, I knew she was right. Mums are always right, everyone knows that.

The door was left ajar again and although I was calm I lay on my left side, one eye trying to find the sleep line, the other beadily focused on the light switch. The former had the line in sight, when low and behold, the latter saw the blur of a hand dart to the light switch and switch the light on. It then darted back in and switched the light off and darted back out again.

There was only one course of action; I screamed. Beneath my screams I barely heard the running footsteps on the stairs. Dad burst in first, light from the landing flooded my room. Blabbering and blubbering, I somehow managed to explain what had happened. Mum came to the other side of the bed and this was one time when huggies didn't help. This was the first time I realised that Mums weren't always right.

Doris Slattery poked her head into the room, I felt like saying, Hey, this is private, this is family ghost business, but I didn't. She said, "Is he alright?" I felt like replying, "Of course I am, we go through this ritual every night!"

Maybe she picked up on my thoughts, as she soon cleared off back downstairs. Mum and Dad spent quite some time trying to comfort me, telling how dreams can have this effect. Saying I could sleep with them tonight. I was on the verge of agreeing, when low and behold...

The bedroom light came on, (with witnesses this time)...

Mum and Dad sat on my bed, mouths open in bewilderment, looking searchingly around the room, (searching for what?). I was scared but not so scared as before. Dad was here and he always knew what to do.

Then the bedroom light went out and Mum's sharp intake of breath sounded like a muffled scream..

Needless to say there was logical explanation which Dad discovered after taking a logical grown up approach. He tested the switch, it worked perfectly. He changed the light bulb, no change. He disappeared then reappeared with step ladders and a torch and climbed into the loft.

As I lay with Mum and Dad in their bed later that night, Dad explained that the snow was working its way under the roof tiles and lying directly on the wiring of the light in my room. This caused a short, turning the light on, immediately the snow evaporated, turning the light out. Then eventually more snow and so on.

So all was explained - apart from the darting hand.

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