When I was around 15 or 16 school holidays meant that I was free to roam around the farm at will, either on horse back or on a motor bike. It also meant that I would generally have a few friends from school over for a week or so, so they could escape town. And this generally meant that there was a serious camping trip planned.
This particular December holiday I had three friends over, my very good friend Amy, a guy friend called Andrew and another girl called Christy. We were also joined by one of my best friends and next door neighbors Pietie. Between the 4 of us we decided against the normal camping spot in the Kubusie Valley and decided to try camping out in one of the abandoned farm houses on a farm called Flossdale. It was our version of Glamping. Of course, as kids we had been told all the different ghost stories about the house but the main one that terrified us was the story that the original owner was a seriously god fearing man and deeply religious and his slightly retarded daughter had fallen pregnant by one of the neighboring farmers sons and instead of insisting that they got married the farmer shot his daughter while she was sleeping. He was never charged with her murder and he lived in the same house until he died. Both of them are actually still buried on the farm, a few hundred meters away from the farm house. It is said that you can still hear the gun shots late in the evenings and if you drive passed the house in the evenings (you have to purposely drive to the house as it cant be seen from the road) you can see candles flickering in the windows even though no one has lived in the house for many years.
At one stage my parents decided to refurbish the house as a “retirement” cottage because it had a spectacular view from the verandah. But all attempts to fix the house up have failed, each time a new roof was raised, we had freak winds or a massive storm and the roof was blown off. Before I left the farm another roof was put on and it seemed to stay on as far as I was aware. The Easter Cape is filled with ghost stories, either to scary the youngsters or to serve as a warning to adults. Where we lived in the Lugilo area all the way down to the valley of the Kei river ghost stories were part of everyday life. But that is a different post altogether which is currently a work in progress… what this space 🙂
Back to our camping story, whenever the girls and the guys got together there was always a rivalry between the two groups about who could play the best pranks on one another and this night was no different. It was always a mission to make sure you were not the first one to fall asleep. As night fell the nightjars and owls emerged from their nests and began their nightly rituals, we had set up camp in the main living area off the verandah and you could see all the way down the valley. The jackal were quiet that night, their howls can be quite unnerving at times. We watched the moon rise over the valley as we braaied (barbecued) our food in the fireplace.
Soon the conversation strayed on the ghost stories of our area and we discussed at length any experiences that we may have had when it came to the supernatural, the old noisy house did little to help the creep factor of our conversations. I think we scared ourselves more than the stories actually had. As we sat out on the old verandah watching the stars and pointing out the different constellations Christy made the epic mistake of falling asleep, nice and cozy in her sleeping bag in front of the warm fire. The four of us sat a little while longer chatting about school and what we had been up to during the term, and in all honesty I don’t remember who it was decided to play a few pranks on the sleeping girl. Ok, it was pretty mean but we started tamely but carefully melting a wax candle in her loooong blonde hair. It took a while but we didn’t wake her up. Then the conversation turned to stories that we had heard our dads talking about during their time in the army and the one that we found very funny was when their dorm mates used to put newspaper between the sleeping persons toes and light the paper and let it burn down to the toes to see how they would react.
I’m not sure why we thought this was hilarious but we definitely didn’t think about the consequences of our choices especially considering that we were lighting things near highly flammable sleeping bags. Also, we didn’t have any newspaper so we decided to use toilet paper instead. So quietly as possible we put of plan into action, Pietie unzipped the bottom of her sleeping bag, Andrew found the lighter, Amy put the toilet paper in between her toes and I, of course, light it…. man, it burned a lot quicker than we imagined and Christy moved as well so as the flame got to her toes it was extinguished and thankfully she wasn’t really hurt. At this point we were pretty peeved that our plan had been foiled so we decided to go for a walk outside towards the graveyard, thankfully it was full moon outside so we could actually see where we were going without torches because there area through which we walked used to be used to cultivate crops and was still terraced.
I think that we made it about 15o meters from the house when we heard a all mighty scream coming from the cottage, we weren’t sure what was going on so we hightailed it back to make sure that Christy was ok. As we got about 20 meters from the verandah she came barreling through the front door and parted us like skittles. It took a few moments to calm her down and find out what was going on, when we left her in the cottage she had woken up to find everyone gone, which unnerved her in the first instance. While lying there she heard footsteps coming from the passage behind her and as she turned around all she saw was a very dark shadow of a man watching her. It took, what felt like forever to her, to unparalyze her self and get herself out of the room and all through this the shadow never moved.
It was only after she calmed down when she looked at us all very puzzled and asked why her toes where sore, this broke the tension for us as we were completely freaked out. We sent the boys back into the house to do an investigation into the shadow, which also gave Amy and I the time to completely blame of the pranks on the poor boys. Pietie and Andrew came back unscathed to say there was nothing in the house, but in all fairness they were to scared to go into the back bedrooms to make sure no one was there. We went back into the house and even though the fire was blazing it was chilly in the living room but after awhile it warmed up again and slowly one by one we drifted to sleep. The girls slept with the boys sleeping facing each door.
As the sun rose the next morning, we eagerly revisited last nights adventures and Christy was determined that what she saw was the ghost of an old man. And because she had at this point discovered the melted candle wax in her hair was rather pissed off with the two boys who were rather bewildered why she was only cross with them. After a quick walk through the veld to blow out the cobwebs we went back to the house to make some breakfast before my mom arrived to pick us up. Christy had been plotting her revenge in the meantime, she crept out to the pens that used to house the goat herd and stole some of their poop droppings. She hid them in the breakfast buns that we had brought with us the night before and watched as the boys toasted them to have with their eggs. The excitement must have shown on her face because the boys where immediately suspicious and soon found out why, they discovered the goat dropping before they could be eaten. Soon my mom arrived to pick us up and I don’t think that I stepped foot in that house again after that, although I would have liked to have confirmed who that ghost was that night.
Needless to say Christy never came back to the farm after that night, although Piteie, myself, Amy and Andrew had a few more adventures afterwards. Most of them involved more camping trips and late night strolls that landed us up in some serious situations but we were able to laugh about each one afterwards.