My mother, I recall, was reticent. ‘I really don’t think we should let him.’ She felt it her duty to protect me from the terrors inherent to existence. ‘He’ll have nightmares.’
‘But I don’t want to go on the Teddy Bears’ Picnic.’ I threatened a tantrum. ‘It’s for cissies!’
‘See?’ Dad was on my side. Mollycoddle all you like, but a lad has to man up some day. ‘Of course he won’t have nightmares.’
And so it was that I went on my first ghost train. Four years old, excited, but without the slightest idea of what lay ahead: howls and shrieks in the dark, cobwebs brushing my cheek, huge white skeletons leaping out at me, bats swooping down to claw out my eyes.
‘Ah! You’re still alive,’ said Mum when we emerged, confirming that I was a lucky person indeed. ‘Brave boy!’
‘It was brilliant!’ My legs wobbled beneath me, jelly that hasn’t even set. ‘Please can we do the Teddy Bears’ Picnic now?’
No sooner had I closed my eyes that night than a horde of ghouls came to drag me away. And no one got any sleep for the rest of the holiday.
This was in Lowestoft, where the other main attraction was boat trips on the Broads. There are two reasons to love a boat trip: firstly, the sheer joy of drifting along on the water, and secondly, the absence of ghosts.
Though come to think of it, I wouldn’t be too sure about that…
The Right Place. A short story in The Box Under the Bed. Release date, 1st October. Pre-order here at the special discount price of $0.99.