“Oh my goodness! You are sopping wet, Charles. Should I order you a coffee?” Sally asks with a mixture of sympathy and bemusement.
“No thanks dear, I think I’m going to try and see if I can drag the boat back up,” I say, still debating the decision in my head.
“You must be joking!” she exclaims, until she realises that I’m actually giving it a serious thought. As she starts lecturing me on my stupidity and foolish behaviour blah blah blah, I run out the door, cross the road and head towards the river one last time.
Eventually, I locate the dinghy about 200 metres from where I last left it. I grab the little handle and try paddling back and quickly realise that this is not going to be as easy as I thought. Just then I hear crows squawking in the distance. I hold on, trying to figure out how best to get this damn thing out of the water.
I roll my eyes as I anticipate another berating lecture by my beloved Sally. She can be such a nag. As I yank a rope attached to the rubber float, more out of frustration than actual progress, I notice a few crows staring at me from the roof of a nearby derelict building. They start squawking, almost in unison.
The noise grows louder and louder. There’s a sudden mixture of urgency and panic that arrests the atmosphere. The more they look at me, with their heads darting nervously from side to side, the louder they squawk. An unexpected breeze blows through the trees as if something unseen has just moved through them. I decide to listen to my instinct and get the hell out of there.
By the time I stumble out of the water, the breeze has morphed into a howling wind, and the crows are now hysterical. I turn back, trying to make sense of what has unsettled them so much. I notice strange shadows moving in the distance, some big, some small. All menacing and sinister in their movement. They move, one by one, in between the buildings, across the grass and into the nearby trees.
At first their movements seem random, but I quickly realise that there is some sort of formation going on. They’re closing in on something.
What is casting these increasingly dark shadows? I don’t know. Where do they come from? I don’t know. What I do know though is that as I retreat from the water, too afraid to turn my back on the multiplying shadows, I realise with horror that they are advancing on me.
As I retreat and start jogging towards the perimeter wall, almost in disbelief, I break into a sprint. Is this some kind of nightmare? Am I even conscious? The pain that shoots through my knee as I bang it against the wall, trying to scrambling up the rough-cast face brick, informs me that this is no nightmare. I am fully alive and awake to the unfolding threat.
I slip down the wall a second time and decide to take a brief moment to catch my breath and gather strength. Big mistake.
Tell us: Do you believe in ghosts?