Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Apparition of Wretchly Manor. A Ghost Story.

Wretchly Manor. Now Open for Tours.

Once upon a time in the hamlet of Cloverdale in the Shire of Cloverdale in the Confederacy of Dunces lived a very lazy, mischievous young man named William Wretchly of Wretchly Manor. His father was the Manor’s Lord. His mother, the Lady.

William loved his bed and struggled to pull himself from it’s warmth until well past mid day. The Lady Wretchly didn't understand her son's aversion to morning hours and his love of all things dark. She thought it a sickness. She ordered multiple examinations by the Shire's best doctors. Some claimed it was his poor diet and prescribed a variety of their own liquid cures to restore his constitution. Others insisted it was a blood malady and tried unsuccessfully to bleed him with cuts or leeches. William's sense of smell was acute. From his bed he could smell the blade in the doctor’s bag of tricks from far down the gravel drive. Needless to say, finding a hidden teen in a large manor house that knows he's about to be bled is as impossible as finding a Bishop in want of a good meal.

William got up and ate once the sun crossed the sky’s mid point. His demeanor changed once he was fed. He morphed from slothfulness to flamboyantly annoying, spending the rest of the day roaming the manor searching for mischief. Unfortunately, the servants were on the receiving end more times than not.

William Wretchly was the favorite topic of conversation at the servant’s table during mealtimes. His exploits were told and retold to educate the newly hired. Each servant took turns pulling up a pant leg or rolling up a shirt sleeve to show the others the horrors William was capable of inflicting when upset. He was truly a terror.

The local Priest was called to examine the boy for symptoms of demon possession. William tolerated the cross on his forehead. He recited the Lord’s prayer and took no notice when showered with holy water. The Bishop pronounced him clean. Before leaving, the Bishop recommended the Lord and Lady consider sending William to Dibley Castle to work as a page to one of the knights. The demanding physical duties of a page would strenghten his character. The Lord and Lady took an immediate liking to the suggestion.

William overhead the Bishop from behind his locked bedroom door and panicked. A scheme was hatched as he paced back and forth in front of his large window. He needed to teach his parents a lesson. He needed to remind them that sending him away would have severe consequences. Running away was the only logical thing left in his arsenal. This act of cowardness would embarrass his father.

William tied several of his bed’s sheets and blankets together, tossed them out the window and attempted to scale down the outside wall to the ground below. His balance was lost climbing out the window. William fell three stories to the rocky pavement below and died two hours later from a brain hemorrhage.

William, surrounded by his sisters (1693)

Three hundred years later, much of Wretchly Manor is gone, except for the family's living quarters and a section of the Banquet Room - all of which were in serious disrepair. Two years ago the Confederacy's Minister of Historical Preservation took control of the Manor in hopes of restoring it to its previous splendor. Work started and continued normally until it reached William's bedroom.

Several workman reported hearing strange noises just after noon on their first day in the bedroom. Many added strong smells to the list of unexplained mysteries. Soon afterword a frightened painter walked off the job after seeing a formless apparition hovering over the corner of the room where the bed once stood.

The Ministry normally ignores reports of ghosts, attributing them to the over active imaginations of the workman. But this was different. The sightings, smells, and sounds gained frequency as the work on the Manor house progressed. With his back to the wall and a deadline looming, the Minister was persuaded to seek professional help. Alminda Horver, a local psychic practicing at the Sea View Fun Park in Tamworth on Tide, was commissioned to exorcise the ghostly squatter.

She chose Friday the 13th as the day she would parlay with the ghost of Wretchly Manor. She arrived mid morning by Austin Mini, wearing a plain white blouse and skirt of many colors. Several strands of beads hung from her neck. Her fingers were decorated in multiple rings which matched her earrings. She walked to the entrance and stopped to take the air and get her bearings. With outstretched arms she hoped to capture the slightest psychic vibrations. Everyone, including the Minister, waited for her pronouncement.

“Yes, there is something here. I feel a disturbance,” she said. "Let's enter." Several of the workers nodded to each other, happy she was able to collaborate what they knew from experience. She held out both arms as she entered the House. She walked slowly, room to room mumbling to herself. Stopping at times to rub her arms, hands and shins as if to comfort nonexistent wounds. Ten minutes later she found William’s bedroom.

“What a naughty young man,” she repeated multiple times to the stone walls.
“Explain what you mean,” the minister asked as he motioned to a workman to bring them both a chair.

“This manor is indeed haunted but not by a ghost, so to speak. What you have is an apparition - a spirit that refuses to move into the light and too lazy to take a recognizable form.” She stopped for a moment, then continued to walk to the exact spot where William’s bed once stood. “This apparition was once a teen age boy.”

She paused again, walking toward the window from which William fell. “Yes, I understand. This boy was temperamental and apparently very lazy. He fell from this window. I don’t know how but that is where he died.” She said pointed to the stone pavement three stories below.

Alminda Horver smiled as things cleared in her mind. “What a lazy little...... Minister, let me explain what I’m sensing. This boy was lazy and mischievous. Those personality traits continued with him in death. He is simply too lazy to transition into a proper ghost. In three hundred years all he’s managed to muster is an occasional whining and the odd smell or two. He is so lazy he can’t be bothered to coalesce his energy into human form. He prefers to hover here and there as a shapeless fog.”

Alminda Horver shook her head in disbelief. “In all my readings and investigations this takes the cake.” the psychic stood in the center of the room. The Minister sat beside her. A cool wind blew in from the missing stone in the walls. It was just past noon.

“He's aware of us. I think we’ve disturbed his sleep.” She closed her eyes to concentrate. “Are you awake? Can we bother you for a sign?” There was nothing heard but the wind. “Young man, I know you. I know you’re lazy. I know you see the light but can’t be bothered to transition toward it. I order you to go to the light. This world isn’t for you. Go to the light.”

Again, there was nothing but the wind. Alminda stretched out her arms. “He’s here but won’t make contact. I can’t believe what I’m sensing. This one will be difficult Minister. I’m going to take a different approach.”

She pulled up a chair and sat opposite the Minister. She leaned forward and whispered into his ear. “Play along with me. Make it convincing.”

“Minister,” Alminda said sitting back in her chair looking quite satisfied with herself. “May I propose we put this young man to work? You’re restoring this Manor into a National Landmark. That means hundreds of tourists per week. Now correct me if I’m wrong. National Landmarks are expected to earn a portion of their maintenance budget from tours. Imagine how popular this Manor will be when people learn it is haunted. Money will pour in. If we put this little spirit to work producing sounds and smells, and the occasional apparition, word will spread. Money will pour in and everyone wins. What do you think?”

The minister winked and jumped to his feet. “Wonderful idea. Spirit, you are now ordered to work by a Confederacy Minister. Failure to do so will lead to punishment.”

Suddenly the wind stopped. Both the minister and the psychic held their hands to their noses. The putrid smell of sulfur filled the open room causing both to nearly gag.
“Perfect!” Alminda shouted while holding back her breakfast from spilling onto the stone floor. “That’s what we’re looking for. What a good worker this spirit has become. Now, let’s hear a sound. What can you give us. Please try to frighten us. You will make us so much money. It is your duty. You must earn the privilege if you plan on living in this house."

The smell disappeared as quickly as it arrived. The sound of wind returned. Alminda walked the room several times with arms outstretched before pronouncing the Manor clean. The spirit transitioned into the light. The boy, in an effort to avoid any form of work, found his way into the other world.

Work on Wretchly Manor was finished and the restored Manor opened to the public. To this day, the story of the little lazy ghost is still told by the tour guides to the delight of all who visit.

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