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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

SOME POPULAR GHOST STORIES EXPLAINED

THE MYSTERY AT WINSBURY MANOR, OR, THE BASSINET NEVER FALLS FAR FROM THE NEST

Wilhelm van Bilge was a moderately successful importer. He stood up one night. That was when the ghost killed him, but the ghost was invisible, so it looked like Wilhelm just died for no particular reason. And also there was also a cot in the room he was standing in. It turned out the ghost was Wilhelm's dead child, come back to seek revenge on him because he pushed his pregnant wife down some stairs, killing her and the child. That's why the cot was important. But why was the cot in the room with him, if his child had been killed? Well, he had bought the cot some months before the child's birth because it was on sale, and his wife had reasoned that the next time they saw it, when they really needed it, that the cot would be far more expensive, and that would be typical. Was Wilhelm, then, perhaps killed by this very irony? No, it was the ghost.



THE LOCKED ROOM MYSTERY, OR, THE MYSTERY OF THE LOCKED ROOM

On that fateful morning, Lady Clarice Wottingstall was found dead in her bed chamber. How she died was a mystery. Her room, which had no windows for some reason and only one door, had been guarded all night by three members of an ancient Peruvian Pygmy tribe—whose own peculiar physiology meant they could never fall asleep, and were hyper-sensitive to noise and movement—who were guests of Lady Wottingstall, and, because of the Somerset Detectives' Convention that very weekend taing up all available rooms at Wottingstall House, had to spend the night stationed at various points down the hallway. Lady Wottingstall, as was her tradition, had spent half and hour before bed checking every possible hiding place in her bedroom (a quirk of personal psychology owing to a particularly traumatic childhood Easter, when her parents forgot where they had hidden the eggs) and came up empty, meaning that no one could have got in or out of her bedroom once her door was locked. How then, did she die? And how to explain the curious moisture that had permeated not only her body, but the entire room?

After many days of investigation by not one but thirteen separate detectives, no answer could be found. Until one day, when the House's boot-polish boy wandered into the bed chamber in search of a missing brush and suddenly exclaimed: "Crimey! This room ain't got no roof!"

The young boy was quite right, but this fact was neither here nor there. It was the Pygmies who did it. Which just goes to show, doesn't it.



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM AND THE PANCAKE, OR, THIRD TIME'S THE QUALM!

Our unnamed narrator is tried and persecuted for an unknown crime (that crime is, in fact, the unlawful possession and distribution of pencil rubbings) and awakes in what he thinks is a pitch black prison cell (it is). He discovers a bottomless pit in the middle of the room, as well as a plate of pancakes in one corner, and an old grandfather clock in the other. Things go quite well for the rest of the day, as the narrator stays well away from the pit, rations out the pancakes, and enjoys the melodious sounds of the grandfather clock. The next morning, however, he wakes up to find that the plate of pancakes has gone.

It turns out that one of the prison guards had just taken the plate away to refill it with fresh pancakes. Our narrator is mortally embarrassed when the guard returns, as he has been worrying that some dreadful fate has befallen his plate of sweet buttermilk flapjacks. He even thought that they might have disappeared down the hole. Talk about a red face!

1 comment:

Sommer Tothill said...

Forkin' brilliant!