Wonkas halloween story, p.1
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       Wonka's Halloween Story, p.1
 

          
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Wonka's Halloween Story
Wonka’s Halloween Story

  Copyright 2014 Madeleine Masterson

  We were coming up fast to the night of the year when according to tradition the Veil was thin. ‘What,’ said Wonka ‘is that meaning?’ It means, I explained that all those spirits hovering around for the rest of the year can pop back into this World for the night. I reckon that indicates there is more than one world and surely this one is enough for anyone? Before my imaginary Jung could jump out of the closet bringing with him a whole great football team of Greeks, Germans (you cannot best them for thinkers. Remember Nietzsche) and hangers on, I came back down to earth. ‘Have I to get some sweets for all the children dressing up for Halloween?’

  The year before I had been organised to a fault, armed with packets of those sour chewy sweets, boiled sweets on sticks, single boiled sweets and as a back up my beloved choc limes. No one had called or knocked at the door dressed in anything.

  Wonka kept up his lonely vigil in the bay, peering out at the non-passers by. I had dressed the window, and our snow leopard Maximillian sported a witch’s hat, and my special feature, a large grey plastic rat with red eyes thanks to batteries, was on his back. A finishing touch had been a stick on the window ghost which flashed colours on and off. All very Halloween except for the trick or treaters. I mean the street usually packed with cars and racing drivers intent on reaching the end of it at 80 miles per hour – well where were they?

  It seemed to me that a blanket of heavy silence had dropped never mind a thin veil. ‘Is that a sea mist or fog?’ I wondered, joining Wonka at the window. They call it a fret, the sea fret and it can come rolling in very fast. Whatever it was I could no longer see the end of the street and it shrouded all the cars from view. I caved in and had a lolly. We had a few films lined up but was I going to be alright watching The Shining on my own. Wonka had already declared it to be a ‘behind the settee’ film, and to count him out.

  ‘What about,’ I decided ‘a little ghost story then?’ We had a few to choose from, and nothing too frightening. Not much. Again I had my work cut out convincing Wonka to tell the story. ‘It might be too frightening!’ he moaned, for all his dare and do, Wonka could beat me to the nearest hiding place. Knocks on the door, strange noises…we could both tie for first place in an easily frightened person/animal contest. No matter, I had decided.

  ‘Here you are then.’ I handed Wonka a hefty looking script. It had been a story I lovingly put together years ago – nearly five – in the misguided hope of winning a competition. To my knowledge no one apart from me had ever read it. ‘If you read it, it might perk it up a bit.’ Wonka took the story and told me to put the light on.

  ‘If you are settled, then I’ll begin!’ And so Wonka began our story for Halloween.

  ‘A Tall Story’ he droned looking at me, ‘by Emily Poole’. At the time of writing it I had high hopes of immediate success and had picked a suitable nom de plume. Poole had been the surname of my Great Aunt Maude, and Emily went rather nicely with it. ‘Yes alright, I know it sounds daft now, just read it Wonka!’

  Sniggering a little at my failed attempt to be famous, Wonka did begin.

  ‘A Tall Story’

  So here I am, in one of those old-fashioned wing armchairs with the rough material now what do they call that? Never mind. So I’m sitting slightly forward on that scratchy material cushion and I’m to the left of a blazing fire. It is a coal fire, banked high, and set within a clean and elegant hearth. There are tiles surrounding and reaching up to the fire surround itself and the mantelpiece. I do love a mantelpiece. The glow of the fire is reflected in the tiles and the singing of the coal and the crackling as it moves and burns, well this is the intense yet comfortable atmosphere in the room. I would go so far as to say, there is a tension in the air, yes, but one of excitement not fears. I move my right leg somewhat as the heat of the fire becomes just that little bit too warm. My face too on that side is pleasantly warm and my cheek I dare say is rather pink now. I lean forward and start up a conversation with the man sitting opposite me, in the same kind of chair and equally comfortable in it. This man was Mr Charles Dickens.

  I interrupted with ‘Shall I just set the scene Wonka?’ but he didn’t hear me, and what with the silence of the foggy night outside, and the quiet of just me and Wonka sitting there, one listening and the other telling the story, the scene was set anyway. Like before, Wonka had agreed I could use my own illustrations (Oh alright then) put together in a last ditch attempt to hot the story up. I had three up my sleeve, and was quietly proud of them

  ‘Mr Dickens,’ I sat forward, keen to get my side of things across but a little in awe of this icon I suppose of English literature, of so many popular characters, of perhaps re-inventing Christmas – ‘Mr Dickens, I’m writing a short story, for a competition actually – no that’s wrong – it’s a story I’ve already written and look, will you listen and give me your take on it? ‘

  Mr Dickens took his time replying to this, and for a short while I even wondered if he had heard me. Then I pondered on my language and whether this might be a stumbling block – after all, it is now the year 2010 – twenty ten, or two thousand and ten, I think I come down on the side of the latter; being an old fashioned sort of woman. Anyway, Mr Dickens had heard me, and seemed to understand exactly my needs. He too leaned forward towards me, and in the pleasant glow of that firelight invited me, yes me Emily Poole, of middle years and not an unattractive disposition, to tell him my short story. Well you can imagine perhaps how I am feeling about this invitation. I feel honoured, valued, encouraged. Oh, oh, oh! Do I feel at last, here is my chance to be heard and heard by greatness.

  Only the slow, enigmatic tick of the enormous napoleon hat clock, seated squarely on the mantelpiece, divided up the magical time and the glorious telling of my story.

  ‘It seems so much more of a story’ I smiled over at Wonka, ‘with you reading it.’ I sipped my cooling mug of coffee laced with real spirits and nodded at Wonka to carry on. He licked his paw and held down the next page thus:

  ‘You see it was a ghost story, and I knew that Mr Dickens was interested in this genre; Genre? I sound a bit pretentious now and I don’t mean to be. I remember a time when I felt full of grief and ill with it really, and trying to find a foothold, some peace back in my life and I was able to read, so read away I did. Having absorbed Dombey and Son, I found one of those collections of stories by the great man, and one of these was a ghost story; a proper ghost story, no special effects, but full of that eerie reckoning that uses the safe and normal everyday living to scare us. I loved it. Maybe I just fell in love with the author a little bit more. Anyway, I’m supposed to be telling a story myself!

  A piece of coal shifted in the pile, and a spark flew. It made me start and shift back a bit in my high seat. Mr Dickens smiled over at me and this encouraged me to begin. I noticed the clock then, and the time. It was a little before midnight.

  ‘He had arranged to meet his lover on the bridge, in the still of the night, and in the shadows, away from the light of lamp or moon, and silent but for the lap of the waters below; perhaps a rustle or two from the rats to disturb this otherwise lonely tryst. The smell of old wood, and decomposing litter surrounded the bridge and this rotten odour was the last scent Sarah knew.’

  I paused here to gauge Mr Dickens’ reaction. He seemed happy enough, sitting there in the firelight, and even nodded gently as if to say, please go on.

  So I did. ‘She had not known her lover long, but then love cannot be measured in hours or days. This sudden overwhelming passion, this love, was now Sarah’s life and she could not imagine a before or after. It woke her up it fell her to sl
eep. It drove her now to a dark place, a lonely place, replacing her fear with a foolish courage, yet to see him again was all she longed for. She waited, huddled in the shadows, cold yet warm in her feelings and yearning to see her lover, to hear him, to be held losing herself in his –‘

  I stopped here only because I felt myself a little self-conscious talking about love and feelings in front of my hero, Mr Dickens. Once again I invited a response from him, some reassurance to go on with my tale. Now whilst I wondered here, I went over in my mind, what happened next and whether I should change it.

 
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