by Jeremy Hodge
age 10 years, Abergavenny, South Wales.

Late one night, just as the full moon began to slowly sink behind the hills, a screeching noise was heard in the distance. Could this be the return of the terrible ghost that had haunted the ancient village for many years? John decided to investigate….

John was a brave boy, seventeen years old and still in school studying for his A levels. He was a tall boy with a serious looking face and blond hair. He had heard all the stories about the ghost ever since he was tiny. He used to believe the stories but now he wanted to see for himself. Was it all true, or had the stories been made up by the old people of the village to frighten strangers away? John had been born in the village and had lived there all his life. He longed to meet new, young people from the world outside. While there were stories of terrifying ghosts in the woods and the village, this did not seem to be very likely to John. The only people who came to the town were the odd (and usually old ) people who delighted in 'ghost- hunting'! John was so bored he just had to find out the truth.

He got together his ghost hunting equipment; a good torch and spare batteries, a camera with a flash, night vision binoculars that he had managed to ' borrow' from his father 's study,(his father was a keen bird watcher and often went out at night to study the owls in the woods- or so he said.) John also took the mobile telephone that he had been given as a birthday present. He did not expect trouble but took it just in case. His mother and father had gone out for the evening, as they often did, and were not due back until the early hours of the next morning, so there was nobody to stop him from going on his adventure.

How to get there was his next problem. He had a motorbike but decided to use his bicycle so that he would not make too much noise and warn whoever or whatever had made that unearthly noise that he was approaching.

He set off just around midnight -there was a full moon that lit the woodland path with an eerie glow. '' There's nothing to worry about ,'' he told himself over and over again but he could not quite convince himself. As he went further into the woods he became even more nervous and tried as hard as he could to keep from shaking as he went along. When the path turned into thick undergrowth he knew that he would have to walk the rest of the way into the woods. He dismounted from his bike and pushed it into the bushes to hide it from view- then he marked the bush with a cross made from small fallen branches so that he would know where to find his bike if he needed to make a hasty retreat!

As John walked slowly into the woods he felt extremely nervous. His heart was pounding so quickly and loudly that he was sure it would be heard. ''There are no such things as ghosts!'' he told himself sharply, annoyed at how quickly he was losing his nerve. Suddenly, a loud scream pierced the still night air. John froze to the spot for several seconds as he held his breath and listened as hard as he could, terrified that he would be discovered by….. he did not know what. His mind raced with all sorts of horrible images and he thought that it would only be a matter of time before he would be screaming too!! He fought back the impulse to turn and run - his fear over-ruled by his desire to find out just what was going on in this awful place. As he strained to listen he thought that he could hear voices- he even thought that he could recognise one of the voices. His resolve strengthened by his curiosity, he dropped to his knees and cautiously crept forward towards the sound of the voices. As the voices grew louder he held his breath and moved as quietly as he could. He could see a clearing ahead of him and heard the crackling of wood burning. He crawled as near as he dared -and when he finally saw what was happening he was absolutely amazed!

There in the clearing a great fire was blazing and sitting around it were all the adults from the village - including his mother and father! Old Mr. Jeffries, the village postman, was standing up in the glow of the fire and he was telling a creepy story about a haunted house in the village. The other people there shook with fear but were obviously enjoying being frightened half to death. The story was terrifying and made even more so by the noises that were being made by some of the group who were acting as a kind of 'backing group' to Mr. Jeffries, by screaming and wailing to increase the dramatic effect of the story. It was certainly working - the listeners were spellbound by the story and some of the old women were screaming and hiding their faces in their hands when it became particularly frightening. The other listeners took their turns to tell a story -each more frightening than the rest! John listened and watched in fascinated wonder- he knew now what the noises that sometimes came from the woods were- the screams of a Midnight Horror Story Club. John guessed that he had been told the stories about the ghosts to keep him away from the woods so that the villagers could keep their 'club' a secret, making it more of a scary experience for them. How could they tell their really scary stories if children were around?

Now that the mystery was solved, John slipped away quietly, found his bike and went back home to his bed. He decided that he would not mention to anyone about his adventure, preferring to let the adults keep up their sense of mystery. He would have a good story to tell if he joined the Midnight Horror Story Club! However, he knew for certain that he would never believe the ghost stories again !


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