‘Wildwood’, the last house standing in Perseverance Terrace, is a solitary gravestone in a desert of broken bricks, rubble, dumped rubbish and smouldering bonfires and has become refuge to generations of ghosts who were born, lived and died there.
Inside Wildwood, the kitchen is crammed full of ghosts; had they needed to breathe, many would have suffocated. Erasmus, their elected leader, explains, The only reason our home has survived this long is because of superstition. It only needs one man not to fear the retribution of ghosts and we’re gone, our safe haven lost.
Lester Field, a mortal, enters the kitchen.
Invader! The ghosts cry out. Alien!
I’m no alien. I’m just a man looking for help, Lester says. Goodness, there are hundreds of you in here.
Who are you? Erasmus asks. How can you see us?
I’m Lester Field and blessed, or cursed, with the gift of seeing your world as well as mine.
Why are you here?
I need a ghost.
Why? Erasmus asks.
To take revenge. I discovered that Thacker, leader of the Council, received huge backhanders for selling off public land. I tried to get it on the news. I got fired. But I have an idea. Thacker’s son, Henry, died in mysterious circumstances, I want to find Henry’s ghost and the truth about his death. Can any of you help me find him? Lester asks.
The ghosts shimmer and groan.
Erasmus explains, They’re afraid that if they leave here there’ll be no coming back and they’ll be lost forever in time and space.
Are they right? Lester asks.
I don’t know. Do you think you can get Thacker to stop demolishing Wildwood?
Then I’ll come with you, Erasmus says.
Thacker, at home, sits in his snug sipping whisky when the door bangs open and his wife bursts in. It’s our boy, she cries. Henry’s back.
You’re off your head, Lucy. He’s dead.
His ghost isn’t, Lester says from the doorway. He’s told me the truth about his abuse and how he died.
What? Lucy demands. What abuse?
What did your father do to you, darling?
It’s a trick; there’s no such thing as ghosts, Thacker protests.
I’m here, aren’t I? Henry asks. You stop knocking down Wildwood, or I’ll tell Mum how I died.
You little shit! Thacker says.
And pay me the salary you owe me, Lester adds. Or I’ll tell the police.
It’s early morning as Lester, Erasmus and Henry cross the wasteland.
A giant wrecking ball swings from a crane and thunders into Wildwood. Thacker, standing by his Mercedes, smiles as he watches the demolition.
He lied, Henry says.
The ghosts erupt from Wildwood flying like wasps flung hither and thither in a maelstrom of roaring anger engulfing Thacker. His cries of agony pierce the eerie silence of the wasteland. The wailing ghosts vanish into the sky. Thacker lies dead on Wildwood’s threshold.
Erasmus grips Lester’s hand. Something of a Pyrrhic Victory, I think.
© Phil Cosker 2022
Phil Cosker has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs & Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. All rights reserved; no part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted by any mean, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.