This is actually an experience, told to me by my father, many years ago. I shall start by telling you some of the circumstances, which led up to the events.
My dad, after completing Standard 6 at school, (grade 8) was forced to leave and seek employment, due to the "Great Depression" which had hit the Western world. His fathers' family had grown - five children now. (Gran popped 'em out, almost as fast as I did!) He was lucky enough to get an apprenticeship as a (shaft) carpenter with De Beers' Mines in Kimberley.
A few years down the line an opportunity presented itself to make more money, but this entailed leaving Kimberley and his family; moving to what was then known as South-West Africa; now known as Namibia. He took the plunge, and was sent to a small town, Luderitz. (He also went to Kolmanskop, if any of you are interested and have time on your hands, google "the ghost town of Kolmanskop".) Many of the inhabitants were Germans, whom also spoke English, Afrikaans, and some of the local native dialects. My dad found accommodation at a local lodging house.
A little aside from the story: The land-lady had a young daughter named Nellie. She also owned a one-legged Indian Myna bird, which used to hop around freely. One day, this 'lady' was calling for her child, screaming at the top of her voice, "NELLIE", yes, just like a fish-wife would! A few seconds later, the 'echo' "Nellie!" was heard. The woman swung around, glaring, expecting to find someone mocking her. All she found, was the Myna bird... It had learned to mimic the woman's voice. My Dad, watching from a short distance away, had to suppress his laughter. He didn't want to 'fall foul' of this rather large harridan.
The type of mining (I think it was mainly alluvial, at the time) was very different to that back in Kimberley, so there were no 'shafts' to work in. He was employed more in the building trade, erecting 'offices' and other temporary structures, made of a wooden frame, then covered by corrugated iron. Amongst these structures, was a 'mortuary'.
Due to the intense heat of the climate, and the lack of cooling systems, this was a very temporary building... Nothing big or fancy... Just a shed with space for a 'bunk-bed' type structure on either side of the inside walls. From what I can understand, the door was also made of corrugated iron - no lock, only a sliding bolt.
Amongst my dad's co-workers, was a very superstitious German chap, (we shall call him Kurt) and another English fellow (William). Now Will had a great sense of humour, and was always pulling some prank or other on his comrades. Kurt, on the other hand, was very dour, with no sense of humour at all.
As I mentioned earlier, the temperatures soar in that part of the world, often reaching 37 degrees Celsius (99F). Due to the excessive heat, any corpse kept there would quickly bloat, due to the air trapped inside the body, expanding the stomach. Kurt had been present, one day, when a corpse had 'sat up' and belched; so Kurt was very reluctant to enter the mortuary, alone or even with another (living) person present. This incident gave Will the inspiration for one of his devilish pranks.
My dad was to 'lure' Kurt into the mortuary, on some pretext or another; while the two men were inside, Will would climb down the sand-dune (my dad was forever telling me how the sand dunes 'moved' overnight) next to the building, and 'run' his hammer along the corrugated iron. My dad, being still young and full of mischief too, agreed to Will's plan. The trap was set!
Shortly after my dad and Kurt entered the mortuary, sliding sand was heard outside; this was a normal occurrence, so Kurt didn't make any comment. All of a sudden, the loud "Rat-at-tat" of the hammer being drawn over the corrugated iron was heard; Kurt's eyes bugged from their sockets, and he fled the building, sobbing with fear. Will came into the mortuary, and stood with my dad, laughing, until the tears rolled down their cheeks.
Suddenly, my dad stopped laughing, as the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He instinctively turned around; there, behind him, was the glowing outline of a person, standing beside a corpse. Dad frantically pushed Will out the door, and they both bolted for safety.
Who had the last laugh?
I hope you enjoyed my dad's tale as much as I did.
Thank you for reading