The year was 2007. The month of October. The location a suburban house in Australia. Awash with a sea of dark, horned, cloaked figures with blackened eyes and grimaced faces. The ground rumbled with low frequencies of demonic growls. The dark figures erupted in a reactive wave adorned with inverted pentagrams and a prophetic use of numero 666.
It was my brother's 21st. Welcome to the world of metalheads.
I was 26 at this time. Usually my bro threw birthday parties at Mum's place. But this year Mum learned a great and important statement: "Not here again" and so my bro had to find an alternative dwelling for his 21st bash which was going to be "Epic", in his words.
As you can probably tell I was a bystander in this but kept in touch regarding the soon to be epic location. Which turned out to be a friend of my brother, we'll call her L, turned out to be L's Dad's house. L's Dad was out of town: "Epic". But it wasn't like that. L's Dad very kindly offered the use of his place for the 21st and our parents were to look after the place during proceedings. These metalheads are a rowdy but polite bunch and that's exactly what happened. No episode of Judge Judy to follow.
We carpooled on the night. I went with my stepmum, who's the biggest nihilist I know. We get on famously. I don't talk much about ghosts with her. But my stepmum talks ghosts all the time, she's proud of not believing in them or some crap. I just twiddle my thumbs. We're prattling away about life in general on the ride over, nothing out of the ordinary.
We get to the house, first and only time I've ever visited this place. Now, this is the suburbs but it's bush scrub terrain. The driveway was long and had stones. The house was single story but elevated on stilts, so looked double story height from ground level. There was a fair amount of stairs leading to the front door.
We're walking along the stoney driveway, chatting away. There was a big flood light at the top of the stairs, fixed to the house, this was lighting the way. Maybe 5 meters or so before you reach the stairs there's some brick paving. I couldn't see the bricks well because it was dark and the flood light was a bit in your face. But I vaguely made out bricks and felt the difference underfoot. As soon as I reached one part of the brick paving I felt an emotion like I was greeted. I stopped walking for a moment and looked down at the bricks. My stepmum asked me what I was doing and I made an excuse about a stone in my shoe. Then went up the stairs with her.
I've been to many of my brother's rowdy parties over the years and so has my stepmum (who by the way is a metalhead too). But for some reason, on this night, my stepmum was really clingly with me. Completely out of character for her, and I mean completely out of character for her.
It was really kicking off inside, lively atmosphere, thumping music, metalheads everywhere. We met L, she was lovely. Found my bro, Mum and Dad and a few other family friends. The house was all rustic, old and gorgeous. L told me her Dad makes a lot of the artwork and old world glass panes. Reminded me of a Viking setting, it was stunning. A great night was had by all.
Sometime in the middle of the evening my Dad asked L if he could call her Dad and thank him properly for opening his house. My Dad's a chatter box and turned out he and L's Dad had a lot in common. They were on the phone for about an hour. The music was loud so Dad took the call outside.
I saw a woman with wavy blonde hair aged around 30 or 40 wearing high waisted stone wash jeans and a tucked in loose white t-shirt follow some people outside shortly after my Dad made the call. This woman really got my attention because she looked so late 1980's/early 1990's. Also it was a bitterly cold night and she was wearing a t-shirt. I only saw her profile then the back of her as she went out the door. I didn't recognise her and wondered who she was.
Bit later on someone stuck on Mortorhead's Ace Of Spades. Everyone stopped whatever they were doing and hurried in the main room, gathering shoulder to shoulder for a collective head bang sing along. It's customary in metal circles that the Ace Of Spades get an airing on hallmark occasions, thus bringing everyone together in uniform hysteria. It's the metal equivalent of Danny Boy.
The energy was high and everyone's laughing whilst yelling 'THE ACE OF SPADES!', including yours truly. Midway through the song I was really belly laughing at something someone said. I leaned back to catch my breath, still laughing, and saw the white t-shirt woman again. She was standing a few feet away from the main gathering, against a wall, smiling at me. She was sort of quietly laughing to herself at the whole situation. I looked at her and smiled back thinking, 'Hmm, I think you're a ghost.'
Later in the evening I was taking a look at some family photos displayed on a wall. The woman I'd seen was in some of the older pictures, but none recent. I didn't ask any questions. My stepmum was still being oddly clingy. But given she's the biggest nihilist I know, and there was surely a ghost in our midst, I understood.
It was about 3am when the party numbers started dwindling and around this time my step mumand me left. We said our goodbyes and were chatting about something as we left. As soon as I reached that same patch of path, I felt it again. Only this time I felt like looking in a particular direction. So I stopped and looked to a patch of garden behind me. I didn't notice anything, but I smiled back and waved subtly. Felt the urge to express goodbye in some way. My stepmum kept walking on ahead and knew not of my obscure actions.
The next day I told my Mum and bro about the 80's/90's woman. Mum said she didn't notice any such lady while my bro bounced up and down like he was going to burst something. Before I could get to the photos he exclaimed, "F--- yes, she's a ghost! You saw L's Mum, that's awesome!"
I told him about the photos and described what happened in the front pathway. He smiled a knowing smile, shook his head and said something like, "Some of those bricks have art on them. But the part where you stopped has a brick made by L and her Mum, that brick means a lot to her family."
My bro went on to tell me about L's Mum and their family back story. I won't go into that for privacy reasons. He shared some of the inexplicable things that happen around their house. It was all very positive and beautiful.
Thanks for reading.