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This is a question The Occult

The Occult. Accidentally opened a portal to another dimension? Tell us your tales of the ethereal.

(, Wed 7 Sep 2016, 10:32)
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I can't hurt you - I'M DEAD
Ooh another scarey repost sweetiesz!

This from after I'd settled down after my journey through the omnivoox.



There was once this bloke in my local, used to come in three or four times a week, and sit by himself drinking. He was quite tall and thin with a mullet and beard, a rather lined face and a haunted expression. Probably late forties, early fifties. He kept himself to himself, never caused any bother so people used to leave him to his own devices - drinking, and sometimes reading the paper or a book, but mostly drinking and staring into space. So what, you may ask, pubs are full of such people. And so they are. This chap became a fixture over the years, a part of the furniture, never talking to any of the other regulars or customers, only speaking to ask for another pint and chaser. He'd only seem to come out of his shell a little when Arsenal were playing, then he'd move slightly closer to the main crowd and get engrossed in the game. But most of the time he'd sit alone, drinking, from 7pm until closing time. He never seemed to be pissed, would just appear less haunted after he left the pub after 7 or 8 pints (plus chasers).

Then one week, he didn't show. I remember one night thinking something wasn't quite right with the pub, and the landlord pointed out that Jim (not his real name) wasn't in his usual chair. So what, he's probably moved house, or died, or perhaps given up the booze. We all laughed, and then forgot about him. A few more weeks went by and it was as if he had never existed. And then one evening as I entered the bar, he was there, in his usual place, a pint and a whiskey chaser in front of him.

He looked different. Somehow smaller, as if he had shrunken inside his 80's style brown leather jacket. He kept blinking a lot, exaggeratedly, almost like a wince. He kept shaking his head and his hands, when not employed in conveying glass to lips, were clutched tightly in his lap.

Everyone felt uncomfortable but no one had the emotional courage to go up to him and ask him what was wrong. Or perhaps they didn't care. But as I thought back over the years and years of Jim coming to my local, the sadder I felt and my heart began to feel heavy with sympathy for the poor man. As I watched from the bar he put his head in his hands and began to sob quietly, his thin shoulders shaking.

That was it for me. All very well to mind your own business and take the piss, but I just couldn't leave it. So what if he told me to fuck off, at least I'd have tried. So I walked over to him with my pint and sat down opposite him. "Come on mate, it might never happen." It came out without me thinking about it, the sort of inane platitude you blurt out in serious situations when words are inadequate, like asking someone very clearly injured in a car accident "are you all right?"

He looked up at me, his blue eyes awash with tears, his lined face all red. "It won't leave me alone," he muttered. "Won't fucking leave me alone." He had a beautiful voice, deep with a slight Irish accent. I'd never noticed before.

I dreaded to ask, but I had to. "What won't leave you alone, mate?"

"The baby... the...the baby." He broke down into sobs. I summoned the landlord to bring more drinks and waited for Jim to recover.

"Do you want to talk about it?" I asked hesitantly.

He glared at me for a moment, then took a sip of whisky. "You won't be able to help."

"I might."

Jim shook his head. "No. You won't." He leaned back in his chair and his face creased again. "No-one can!"

After a few more sips he calmed down, though he still looked haunted. And he told me his story. Those looking for a funny story will be disappointed; those who type TLDR fair enough, or think I’m making this up fair enough, but I'm not.

This is what he told me: thirty years ago, at the age of twenty-one, he'd got married to his childhood sweetheart, Rachel. He was a plumber at the time and her parents were "posh" and didn't approve of the match. But Jim and Rachel defied them and made the marriage work; within a few years he had his own plumbing business and Rachel (a teacher) was pregnant with their first child. All went well until this child was born. It was severely deformed with anencephaly (Google it but BE WARNED, the photos of babies with this condition WILL give you nightmares for the rest of your life). Babies with anencephaly never live very long and their child, a boy, lived for three hours after which it died from complications.

It was a devastating shock to the young couple, but Rachel soon recovered from it and began to talk about planning for another child. That was when the visits started.

One night, Jim was awoken by a noise from the next room - the room they were going to use as a nursery, but was now a general store-room. He got out of bed without disturbing Rachel and went into the room and turned the light on. There, propped up in a corner, was the corpse of their anencephalic baby. It stared at him with its dead, protuberant eyes. Jim froze to the spot - he says he never felt anything like it - he went cold all over and was overcome with this feeling of absolute terror.

And then the baby spoke, in a high, piping, lilting voice:

"Why are you scared of me, Daddy? I can't hurt you - I'M DEAD."

Jim blacked out. Rachel found him the next morning but he put it down to work stress, and didn't tell her what he'd seen and heard.

These visits came almost nightly after that. Jim became withdrawn, morose, and took to drinking. The drinking took over, Rachel left him, the business collapsed, and Jim began the downward spiral that led him to this pub, my local pub. He was now living in rented accommodation and claiming benefits for mental health problems. He spent a couple of months in a psychiatric ward after he tried to kill himself. He was prescribed meds but he found the only thing that helped was drinking heavily. But a few weeks ago his doctor had told him to stop drinking for the sake of his liver. Jim had complied - and the visits had started again. Always exactly the same - he'd be woken by a noise from another room, go inside, and find the baby there with its chilling statement. He'd tried not going - but then the baby would appear on the bed, or, once, inside it with him.

So now he was back, drinking again, despite the risk to his life.

After he'd finished his story he looked a little less haunted, as if the telling of it had relieved some of his pain. I told him that he was right - I could not help him - other than to suggest he goes back to his doctor or psychiatrist, because self-medicating with alcohol in his condition could only have one outcome.

He thanked me kindly for my advice though I knew he'd never take it. I stayed with him for the rest of the night and we talked about other things, mundane things like the football and the telly and antiques (on which he was a bit of an expert). When he left the pub that night he seemed almost cheerful - or rather, a shade less haunted and miserable.

I never saw him again and that was five years ago.

Wherever you are, Jim, I hope you have found some peace.
(, Thu 8 Sep 2016, 21:20, 1 reply)

OK. You got the hair on my arms to stand up.
(, Sun 11 Sep 2016, 9:33, closed)

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