Friday, 31 October 2008
Happy Halloween + A Very Spooky Tale
Wishing all my friends and readers, a very Happy Halloween.
I have a suitably spooky tale to share with you for Halloween and this happens to be a true ghost story, not one from my own imagination. This is the time of the year when the veil between the living and the dead is at its weakest, when spirits are said to roam. A night of ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night.
In July of 1884, a British square-rigged yacht called “Pierrot” capsized in the Atlantic. Only four men from the crew managed to escape with their lives. They huddled together in a battered dinghy and helplessly drifted for twenty-five days.
By this time they were all close to death from starvation and exposure to the elements. The Captain, one Edwin Rutt, then came up with a last and very desperate suggestion.
Two of the sailors, Josh Dudley and Will Hoon, agreed with him but the third, eighteen year old Dick Tomlin, who had been the youngest crewman on the Pierrot, protested in disgust and horror. He insisted if they held on a little longer, rescue would come. The Captain had suggested that, in order to survive, they must eat human flesh.
Because poor Dick had disagreed, his fate was sealed and the other three decided that he would be the victim. They said nothing and continued to act as normally as they could in the circumstances. When Dick eventually fell asleep, Captain Rutt crept towards him and drove a knife deep into his neck.
The three seaman had no reservation about turning to cannibalism. Four days later they were rescued by the yacht “Gellert”. They were in a much better state because they have been feasting on the flesh of the boy.
The Captain of the Gellert was horror-stricken and disgusted at the remains he and his crew found and refused to conduct a burial as sea. He insisted that the body or, what was left of it, had to be returned to England. So, hidden underneath a tarpaulin, the body of Dick was taken to the Cornish port of Falmouth.
All thought that the horror was over. In fact, it was only just beginning.
The three men were tried and condemned to death for murder and conspiracy to murder. However, the Home Secretary decided, for whatever reason, that enough was enough. He sentenced them all to six months’ imprisonment.
When the men were eventually released they found little future for themselves. Josh Dudley found work as a drayman. But only two weeks later his team of horses saw “something" that frightened them in the middle of a very foggy London Street. They bolted, throwing Dudley to the cobbled street. His head was completely shattered. Witnesses said the “thing” in the fog was a figure, swathed from head to foot in bloodstained bandages.
Captain Rutt went into the Soho slums to seek out Will Hoon. He found the seaman, a hopeless drunk, a complete derelict who was in bad health. Rutt told Hoon that some vengeance-seeking relative of the murdered Dick was masquerading as his ghost and haunting him. He had been seeing the strange, bandage-wrapped figure. He begged Hoon for help. Hoon was in no state to help. He had turned to drink because he was being haunted by this “fiend” as well.
Shortly afterwards, Hoon was taken to the charity ward of a London hospital where he died in a screaming fit, pointing at something. Witnesses said that another “patient” completely covered in bloody bandages had been bending over Hoon, holding him down. As soon as Hoon breathed his last, the “patient” vanished.
Captain Rutt was now in mortal terror. He went to the police and begged them for help. They scoffed at his tale, to them it was unbelievable. However, they could see he was in a bad way. Terrified beyond belief. They made the offer that he could stay that night in one of their cells. He was more than happy to agree.
Rutt went thankfully to the cell. He checked several times to make sure that he was securely locked in. It was a cell block used for disturbed people living in London and so screams in the night were not unusual.
It was at three a.m. that the police heard the Captain’s cries. At first they decided to take no notice, but there was some unearthly quality in his screams, something that sent the warders running. They quickly unlocked the cell and ran to his bunk. Rutt lay with his knees drawn up towards his chest, his dead eyes staring at the ceiling, a fixed expression of total horror on his face.
Clutched in his hand, the police and warders were amazed and horrified to see shreds of cotton - and a piece of bloodstained bandage!
Dick Tomlin’s revenge was complete.