This story concerns the strangest event of my life so far. I've been at a few seances in my time, conducted a couple of Ouija sessions. I even took up a deck of Tarot cards once. I like to delve into the paranormal, but this experience... I've never been able to explain it, so I just popped it into the 'weird' category in my head, and left it at that...
It was one night in a leafy September back in 2012. The air was stirring with a chill breath from approaching winter, but it was still warm enough that it was midnight-ish and no one was in bed. My housemate started rearranging the furniture in the living room of our shared halfway house, and when asked why she explained a couple of her friends were coming over. This worried me a bit - she had just been paroled from prison and I wasn't sure how tasteful her guests were going to be, and whether me and our other housemate were going to wake up to the tv stolen and the kitchen wiped clean of electronics and cutlery.
I didn't regard her as particularly suspicious. For the past three weeks of her tenancy, it was clear she was genuinely trying to get her life back on track: applying for jobs, sticking with her parole officer - she was doing her best. But I wasn't so naive to assume that her savory past wasn't trying to catch up with her - and these two 'friends'- still worried me.
"Give us a hand?" Samantha called, panting.
I grabbed the other end of the sofa, and we pushed it into the corner. "You're forever moving these sofas - just pick an arrangement!"
"No, this room is too long... Why don't we... Help me move the dining table - "
"No! We did that last week - it didn't work."
"Fine... I'll just leave this sofa here... Put this one in front of the window... Yeah...No! Put it HERE - "
She yanked it round and positioned it opposite the other. The fireplace and the telly stood between them, and she had soon lit a few candles, turned the lights off, and changed the channel to Smooth FM.
She scrutinized me up and down, and told me to get dressed. The past few months, whilst I suffered from depression and lack of employment, had been in my pyjamas, so I went upstairs and changed into a nice dress, and pulled on some stockings because I wasn't shaving my legs at this time of night. Luckily tights and stockings and leggings were all the rage again. You rarely saw any woman with bare legs these days.
I slapped on some foundation and painted my lips and eyelids. I like to go for black most days - it goes with any outfit.
"Good! Nice one!" Sam told me.
"Yeah right..." Having just recently been released from the downward spiral of sleeping in shop doorways, make-up was something I was reacquainting myself with.
I threw myself down onto a sofa, and crossed my legs. "Sexy candles," I commented.
"Yeah..." Sam murmured, doing stuff on her phone.
"They won't be long," she went on. "Shoot - I need to put the coffee on - "
Now it was here that I heard the strange travelling sound. You hear a noise from around a corner, you hear someone or something speaking or rustling, it's no biggie; it's just a noise, it's a noise happening around a corner, not weird. But this wasn't just a noise, and it was a voice as well, and it didn't just emanate from around the corner of the door onto the front hall - it moved round the corner, it travelled round the corner - it wasn't a voice so much as a voice of something invisible and in motion, a voice, a noise, a voice going: "Samanthaaaaa..."
It was like someone was whispering my housemate's name, pulling out the final vowel, urging it - it was a sound that moved, as if the source of it were moving, around the corner of the door frame into the lounge. "Samanthaaaaa..." The sound curved round the door frame.
Of course there was nothing there that might have made the noise - no cloud of mist, no ghost under a bed sheet, no shadow figure. The shape of the sound - "Samanthaaaaa..." made me think of a slinky; uncoiled, cylindrical, moving as a invisible mouth might move.
"Sam!" I asked as she came back in, "Did you hear that?"
"Yeah sure, what?" she replied, tapping away on her phone.
"That...That voice...! You didn't hear that voice?"
Now, I don't like drugs - I don't even like drinking too much coffee - so I've never hallucinated in my life, certainly not a hallucination as complete and realistic as this travelling voice. Trips happen inside your head, not outside. Nevertheless, I don't believe ghosts exist either. And as it turned out, she never heard the sound - no one heard it but me.
No, she never heard it, but it was the next day that she learnt her uncle, who lived at home with her mother, being very close to his sister, had died, suffering a series of fatal heart attacks. Whether the two events were related, I have no idea, but I never explained the thing to Sam fully. She just doesn't need to know.