Authors: Traci Harding
Tags: #(v5), #Fantasy
A collection of haunting
ghost stories dedicated to women
who are very much alive
My mother â the healer
My best friend â my editor
My listener â the film editor
The actress â an inspiration
The dancer â my other listener
My agent â my fairy godmother
THIS COLLECTION OF beautiful ghostly tales is dedicated to the different women in my life who have supported me and assisted my career and my physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing over the years.
Many readers have written and emailed to me, wanting to know more about my road to success, my life and my characters. So, besides being a collection of short stories,
is an insight into how I became an author with a little help from my friends. In telling my readers a little about myself, those close to me and my inspiration for each tale I attempt to give you a glimpse of my creative process. I am constantly being asked, âWho is Tory Alexander? Where did her character come from?' This book then, is also an insight into the women who contributed to making Tory Alexander the great gal she is.
Each of these fictional stories is a quest for the spiritual warrior that is inside every living being. The women to whom these stories are dedicated
have, for as long as I have known them, striven to excel in their own fields of endeavour and have never given up on their dreams and aspirations, despite tremendous obstacles at times.
Why ghost stories? I am a huge fan of ghost stories and having had a few close encounters with the disembodied myself, I am a big believer in this phenomenon. I don't see ghosts as clearly as some do, but I always know when there is a spectre lurking about.
So, let me begin my ghostly tales of fiction with a factual account of a haunting that was witnessed first-hand by yours truly.
Our House Ghost
THE HOUSE WHERE I grew up in the Sydney suburb of Carlingford became haunted during the twenty odd years we lived there. I say, âbecame haunted', as there were never any odd occurrences until we renovated the room under the house which had previously been a junk cum kids playroom, and only enterable from the outside.
We turned this space into a bar/TV room with a cellar and a spa, and connected it to the lounge upstairs via a narrow, spiral staircase. I came to hate the staircase and the room downstairs, and would never go down there alone.
The first time I became aware of a presence in the house, we had just completed the extension. I was up late watching âNightmoves' on TV waiting for âThe Police: Live in Concert' to come on. Unfortunately, I was forced to sit through an hour of Joe Cocker live beforehand and the only thing that kept me awake was the distinct impression that I was being watched. I found my eyes drifting from the television to the new spiral staircase in the corner â I kept expecting someone to walk upstairs. It was the damnedest feeling, sensing a presence and being unable to see it. I was certain I heard and felt someone ascend the stairs. I was seventeen and knew little about the supernatural â although admittedly I had an interest in the subject even then.
Gradually, little things began happening. Cold spots in the downstairs room and in the upstairs hall mostly, but they did occur right throughout the house. Except for the kitchen â the kitchen was like a sanctuary, it always felt safe and warm.
I recall sometimes being left to babysit my brothers. After the boys had gone to bed, I would retreat to the kitchen to await my parents' return. My focus was always on the hallway, watching for my invisible voyeur, who was there between me and the bathroom, watching, and waiting to vex me with cold spots and shivers should I make a dash to the loo.
We had a glass cabinet in the dining room that used to rattle any time someone walked past it; the
floorboards in front of it creaked, too. I couldn't count the times my brothers and I heard the ghost pacing the house.
There was a night when a group of us teenagers were watching a movie in the bar room. We all heard someone walking around upstairs. Our gallant boys went upstairs to check out the house, only to find all the doors and windows locked and nobody about. After deciding we'd been hearing things, we went back to the movie, whereupon the footsteps were again heard upstairs. This went on for most of the evening. Some of my friends had doubted my claim that we had a ghost in the house; none of them doubted it after that night. As for the ghost, I think it was his way of protesting to all the noisy teenagers in his space â and the bar room and cellar were definitely HIS space.
How did I know it was a he? Well, I'm coming to that.
The ghost was never close by when there was a strong male presence in the house. When my father moved out the episodes got worse, and my mother began to sense we had company as well.
It was around this time that I went to see my first clairvoyant. I did not mention the ghost to her; in fact, it hadn't even occurred to me to speak of it. She knew all about what had been happening, all the same.
âThere are several ghosts where you live,' she told me.
I thought, horrified.
âYou feel very safe in the kitchen?' she queried, and I nodded, nearly choking with shock. âYour nanna is there, watching out for you,' she informed me.
My nanna had owned the house before my parents brought it, and she had spent much of her time in the sunny kitchen. Nanna and I had been extremely close prior to her death. I was six years old when she died.
âAnd the other spirit?' I ventured.
âHe has been disturbed and is disgruntled.'
More than this she could not tell me. She said that Carlingford would have been on the main route from Sydney to Parramatta in colonial days and that many people had met their deaths due to highwaymen in the area. She had a friend, living not far from me, whose young daughter was constantly seeing rows of convicts hanging over the back fence in the evening.
The spirit was trying to contact me, she said, and advised that I should try speaking with it, to see if I could help ease its frustration.
Had I not been so young and scared witless, I might have done some good for this lost soul, but I couldn't bring myself to confront him. I was so young at the time that I wonder if I could have understood this disembodied spirit's pain anyway? And being so inexperienced in occult doctrine, I might have done more harm than good.
, I decided, although the clairvoyant told me that the ghost could not harm me or stay in my presence if I did not wish it. Well, I did not wish it, but wishing didn't make it go away.
I would bet you've never heard of someone being haunted whilst on the loo, but the one time I ever glimpsed our ghost that is exactly where I was. I was sitting there, looking about, as you do, when I felt the temperature drop and my skin began to prickle with the creepy pins and needles sensation that for me was an indication of the ghost's presence. From out of the bathroom mirror a shadow was cast on the floor â a large, broad-shouldered man who was bald.
More than that I did not define. I lept off the loo, ran past the mirror, cupping my hands over my eyes to avoid seeing the presence I feared would be staring back at me. I ran to my bedroom where my boyfriend Dave (now my husband) was settling into bed. I must have been as pale as a sheet.
âYou look like you've seen a ghost,' were his exact words.
I moved out with David into a unit soon after that. The episodes with the ghost became more furious for those left behind. It was as if it protested at the family going their separate ways â perhaps it had been feeding off our energy? Whatever the reason, the ghost acted up every time someone moved away from the house.
The day my brother Steven moved out with his girlfriend, our youngest brother, Kyle, and Mick, Steve's best mate, were in the bar room having a drink after packing the truck. The bottles on the glass shelves behind the bar began to rattle; Kyle and Mick didn't need any more of an invitation to hotfoot it upstairs. This was why we hated the staircase, because whenever a weird occurrence happened in the bar room, the slim, steep spiral ascent was so damn difficult to navigate in a hurry. Kyle tripped on the top step and fell to the floor. He rolled over to see Mick racing up behind him, and a glass come flying up the staircase and curve in midair in order to hit Mick in the back of the head.
Mum put the house on the market not too long after this, but she did not escape without first having an encounter with our phantom which shed new light on the character of the entity I had for so long feared.
I did not learn about this encounter for many years afterward, when the family sat down one night and finally talked about all the experiences we'd had in the house at Carlingford.
My mother's dad, whom we (the grandkids) simply called Father, was dying in hospital after a long fight with cancer. Mum had come home from the hospital to try and get some rest, and having asked the staff to call her if there was any change in Father's condition, she slept on the large playpen
lounge in our back room in order to be certain of hearing the telephone if it rang.
Mum woke before daylight from a disturbed sleep to find herself buried up to the neck in soil.
âI could literally feel the dirt running through my fingers,' she said, âthe weight of the earth bearing down upon my chest making it difficult to breathe.' And yet, she was very aware of still being in the back room. âI could see the walls, door, windows and curtains.'
Beside her stood a tall, early-colonial looking fellow leaning on a shovel. Despite her situation, Mum felt no fear of the man â she believes, in retrospect, that all the dirt piled on top of her was a means to pin her psyche down and hold her attention. The apparition never said a word, but Mum sensed that he was there to be a comfort to her â a warning bell for the day that was to follow.
She realised that her father had passed away, but having the message delivered by a ghost confirmed her belief in the soul. It was a comfort to know that, freed of his pain, her father's spirit would endure to evolve in the great scheme of creation.
she bade the spirit in her mind,
but I no longer wish to be here.
She willed herself to wake.
Daylight was streaming in through the large glass windows and the phone was ringing.
One of the hospital staff was calling to inform my mother that my grandfather had indeed passed
away in the early hours of the morning. The announcement came as no shock to my mother, but rather she felt happy for her father's release from the painful illness.
I asked Mum to describe the entity who had visited her that night. âBroad-shouldered, tall, middle-aged and bald.'
This was enough to convince me that I hadn't been imagining things all those years before, for it was clearly the same spirit we had both seen.
I feel bad that I never attempted to befriend our house ghost and ease his pain, as he eased my mother's. My mother, however, has completed courses in parapsychology and assisted other lost souls to free themselves from their self-induced limbo.
The experience taught me that the veil between the land of the living and the realm of the dead is very thin. If we dare to lift this flimsy sheath and see the wraiths that inhabit this world in which we live, then death is neither the end of the influence we can have on the lives of others, nor the end of the meaningful friendships we form on this earth.
My mother â the healer
A Piece of Time