FOUR tales guaranteed to send shivers and scares down the spine take pride of place in a new exhibition at the Museum of Edinburgh, from Monday until 15 January.
All have been written by local school pupils and are winners of the Ghostly Tales project, run by Museums and Galleries Edinburgh with City of Edinburgh Tours.
The project challenged children in the Lothians to write their very own horror story inspired by the rich cultural heritage of the Capital.
The winning tales of terror, which you can read here, along with the runners-up, which you can read online at www.edinburghnews.com, will be on display at the Museum of Edinburgh.
There will also be a chance to hear the spooky stories at a free storytelling event in the museum on Sunday 19 November, at 2pm, as well as the chance to buy a book in which all the stories will be published.
Now, read on, if you dare...
IT’S ALIVE, by Matthew Campbell
S3, Currie Community High
ELLIE’S parents (to her disgust) had decided the destination of choice for a family day out on this cold, rainy day was the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh.
The museum was quiet, just two attendants and the odd visitor sparsely placed throughout.
Ellie plugged in her headphones and walked away from her parents; glass cases filled with old books that taught parents to parent and dusty, old-fashioned toys.
She was already bored, she was supposed to see her friends but no, instead here she stood, in an empty hall, alone.
She trailed around the ground floor, listening to her music until…it stopped. Silence.
She groaned and cursed under her breath, she pulled out her phone only to see that it was dead, nothing was going her way.
She trudged up the spiral staircase to the first floor, the rusted steps feeling as though they could give way and collapse at any moment. She reached the top.
Miniature dolls and houses had been put here, along with an old train that went around endlessly. The noise was getting to her, or was it the silence?
She turned and looked up – “IT’S ALIVE! Mechanical Marvels from the House of Automata”. This piqued her interest so she walked through the archway.
A handful of people were looking at a plethora of disembodied heads and severed limbs.
As she gazed at the exhibits, the hall slowly emptied, leaving just Ellie and a mother with three kids. Ellie reached the final case which had an extremely macabre doll inside. A label read: “three lever dolls”.
She pulled the first one; the doll’s hand jerked into the air in a robotic fashion.
She pulled the second lever making the doll’s head jolt down. She chuckled, maybe this wasn’t so bad…
She pulled the third and final lever; the doll’s other hand knocked upwards. She let out a little laugh.
The mother and her three kids had just twisted a wind-up rabbit that was hidden inside a cabbage.
Eerie, tinkling doll music played. The kids were getting scared, they tugged at their mother’s sleeve indicating it’s time to go, leaving Ellie alone in the hall.
As the music slowly came to a close, as it squeezed out those last chimes, Ellie looked at the three-lever doll… “Mummy,” it whispered.
The doll’s head jolted upwards, meeting Ellie’s gaze; she jumped back as every exhibit slowly started reanimating.
Banging and scraping at the glass, each hit and scratch becoming louder and louder. The casing began to splinter and eventually it shattered, setting the limbs loose, blocking her path through the archway.
She panicked and ran back into the room, the dolls slowly crawled, hopped and walked towards her, she kicked and struggled as much as she could until they overcame her and threw themselves on top until she could see nothing.
As she came to, she realised something wasn’t right. She looked out into the room and there were her parents, looking at her through the glass case…
TIME PASSES, by Katy Thorne
P7, Hermitage Park Primary
I WAS 12 when I died. I don’t know how though. I was in my bed and the next thing I knew I couldn’t wake up.
Now I live under the streets of Edinburgh waiting for my parents to return. I’m Victoria by the way, the ghost.
Every day I try to tell the people of Edinburgh that I have died and I’ve lost my parents but every time they scream and run away. I felt shivers up my spine and the cold run up my legs and I wonder if I’ll ever find my parents.
I sleep on a cold, used and dirty mattress under a pub covered by a thin blanket. I was put asunder from my parents and I lived in an orphanage for half my life. Every day I hear the one o’clock gun above me which is frightening.
A few days ago, a family from California came to visit Edinburgh. I told them about the problem that I had, I was alone and that I’ve been searching for my parents for years. I was in tears.
“How old are you?” said the daughter.
“I’m 12 and died the same age. Which was 200 years ago.” I said nervously.
“But you said you’ve been looking for your family for years?” said the Mum, looking confused.
“I know but when you die you stay the same age.” I said.
The family stayed for four weeks, the last week we searched for my parents but the thing was, my parents could be dead. Except I’m a ghost and they could be too.
It was the last day so we had to give up, I was drowning in my tears but suddenly I saw a white figure floating down from the clouds above me and there were my parents!
MYSTERY ON THE MOUND, by Fin Trigg
ON A cold night in Edinburgh, Bob was working. Bob had a job as a security guard in the Bank of Scotland on the Mound. Bob liked looking out of the window over the city and all the lights of Princes Street.
As always, Bob had his flask of coffee with a couple of drams of whisky. That’s what he told his manager anyway. Really, there was much more than just a couple of drams.
Bob sometimes likes to have a snooze at work. Tonight, he was woken up by his manager.
“I’m sorry, boss.” he said.
“Never mind that - what on Earth is that noise?”
The safe Bob was guarding was behind two very big heavy doors with lots of locks and bolts on them.
There was no way in unless you had the keys. These were in Bob’s pocket as well as a Mars bar, a packet of toffees and a half-eaten banana!
Bob looked at the door and at the keys. They could hear a very loud banging from behind the door.
Bob jumped out of his chair – actually he got up very slowly as he had a big belly!
He opened the first metal door and looked down the dark corridor with his torch.
Nothing there, but they could still hear a noise. He opened the second door and couldn’t see anything there either.
Suddenly, he felt a gust of wind on his shiny bald head. He ran back into the bank where the front door was open.
He ran out and up the Mound onto the Royal Mile, just in time to see a strange figure in a black cape disappear into the wall of Mary King’s Close – never to be seen again.
Bob didn’t have whisky in his coffee ever again.
THE DIARIES, by Caitlin Lawlor
P5, St Mary’s RC Primary
1640 – Mary King’s diary
TODAY I woke to the sound of the market outside. I bought an apple.
This horrid plague has ruined my peace. The smell of doctors’ herbs filled the air when I went to the market. I could smell the rotten and rancid pus when I was walking back. I could feel the dried blood of the executed on the wall as I trailed my hand along it.
372 years later
Katie MacDonald is a usual 20-year old. She works in the Museum of Childhood. Every morning she opens the museum. She gives tours all day. At 5pm she locks up and walks back to her flat.
2017 – Katie MacDonald’s diary:
This morning I woke up and put my uniform on. Just before I went out the door, I remembered my bag and snatched it off the peg. As I walked down the road I could smell the fresh bread in the bakery.
When I got to the Museum of Childhood I unlocked the door. During the day, I gave three tours of the museum. At 5pm I went to lock the door. Just as I was about to climb the stairs, I thought I heard a voice say, “Give me the diary.”
The voice that said it sounded silky smooth. I closed the door and went upstairs to lock the main door but just as I was going up the stairs, a book dropped out of my bag. As I turned around to get it, I found myself face-to-face with a glowing girl.
Joe Smith’s diary
In the morning when I was opening the museum, I suddenly felt sick. There, on the ground, was Katie. Next to her was a book. In it were the words, Mary King’s diary.
WINNER OF THE BALLAD CATEGORY
MY SCARY DREAM, by Gracie Gaughan
P6, Leith Primary
WOKE up on the floor,
White light shining beyond the door,
What could it be?
Maybe I should go and see.
Spiders crawling in my ear,
But what is that I hear?
A sound of whining,
When I open the door,
There is a girl crying on the floor.
Her face is pale and cold,
And then I’m told…
You better run, you better hide,
Before the monster comes inside!
I ran back to my room,
Jammed it shut with a broom.
I throw my covers over my head,
Tears on my face and it’s full of dread.
Then I jump out of bed.
I look out the window and what do I see?
I almost let out a scream.
I see a man with no face,
And his dagger looks so out of place.
I look away, just a glance.
Then I hear broken glass.
I turn around – what do I see?
The man I saw in my dream.
He plunged a dagger in my heart.
I feel my body ripped apart.
But thank goodness it was just a dream,
But you’ve seen what I’ve seen.
MR TODDINGSONS, by Emlyn Cox
P7, Bruntsfield Primary
IT WAS 1351. The plague was progressing, and it had taken a turn for the worse…
“Keep Edinburgh alive, Albert, keep it ali-.” Edinburgh’s best doctor died of the thing that he hated most, the plague. He died in Mary King’s Close, in his apprentice Albert’s arms. Albert feared this moment most. He heard the toller ringing bells and chanting,
“Bring out yer dead!”
The cold November town was crippled by plague. He wheeled out Dr Obes, gazing into his distant glassy eyes, thinking it should have been me. He could see a weeping youth dragging out four elderly and two infants. Next door tugging out a dog and a child. Everyone recognised that rotting corpse in his wheelbarrow coffin, Dr Obes. The only one who knew how to stop the plague…
Suddenly something clicked. Dr Obes had told Albert about someone on the other side of Arthur’s Seat who knew vital information. The cure to the plague. As soon as Albert remembered this, he bolted out of the door.
Albert ran. His feet burning now, crying tears mixed full of joy and grief. Trusting Dr Obes was his loan, finding Mr Toddingsons was his pound of flesh. When Albert reached the top of Arthur’s Seat, he saw a hut in a small valley. He ran towards this shack and strutted inside only to see a hunched figure waddling towards him.
“You need to come with me,” Albert said sternly.
“I’ll explain later but for now… Come. With. Me!”
“Fine,” grumbled the stranger.
On the way back, Albert explained everything to the man, Mr Toddingsons, a fine fellow who understood everything. Together they worked on the plague cure. Albert knew what was coming, a black rash was creeping up his hand. Edinburgh would live. Albert would not.
MYSTERIOUS HAPPENINGS, by Zoe Cranston
P6, Queensferry Primary
IT WAS finally finished. Finally, after months of tedious work and planning, the Scott Monument was finally complete. It was nightfall and George Meikle Kemp was savouring the joy of having designed such a masterpiece.
Suddenly the might air was pierced by a blood-curdling scream, coming from the top of the monument. George was suddenly tense. He felt a sudden urge to climb it.
As he ascended the spiral staircase, George felt a chill on the back of his blistery neck as though someone was behind him and breathing coldly on his neck. Kemp wheeled around. It was only a statue, a statue of a man.
“Thank God,” sighed George, clutching his chest in relief. He took another step then another. Suddenly he realised something. That statue hadn’t been in his design, none of the statues around him had!
Kemp raced up the stairs as fast as a tuna fish swimming frantically from a net. He could smell blood, taste the sweat creeping down his forehead like rain on a spider’s web. It felt like the soggy walls were closing in on him. With every step, George felt even more that, with the next step, the walls would close in and crush him to death. He was on the third floor, fourth floor, and…
He burst out into the cool night air. Then he looked up at the stars, remembering the recent disappearances of his wife and friends and plenty on men on the site. Then George realised… the male statue he had seen had been the manager of the site!
Wait, no. That couldn’t be. The manager of the site had a larger nose than the statue man. Then he realised something… he could smell blood! He could hear the wind whipping and whistling around him. Suddenly his skin started to go clammy. He started sliding backwards, his features contorting.
Just as George was being sucked into the wall, he saw a pearly white figure appear and say, “Finally, my monument is complete.”
George knew no more.
ELECTRIC CASTLE, by Timmy Taskin
P6, Royal Mile Primary
ON A boiling day peasants were building a castle that would be named Lauriston Castle. The leader of the peasants, Viny, had shouted, “Build the castle!”
Viny looked like a bone. He was as skinny as a stick and had dark black hair and eyes.
“Hello.” said Viny.
“Hello to you.” responded Lord Longin.
“Can you tell me something?” asked Viny.
“What?” asked Longin.
“I need you to tell the people reading the book what you look like.” whispered Viny.
“OK,” said Longin. “I am chubby and tall. I have blue eyes and blonde hair with my nose being stubby and fat.” responded Longin.
“The castle is complete!” shouted a peasant.
“Awesome!” said Viny.
“We need an army.” chuckled Longin happily.
BOOM! “What was that?” shouted Longin.
“A tower of the castle fell.” shouted a peasant. Peasants scrambled to fix the tower.
Five years later, Lord Longin’s son, King Loger had made an army called the Longers. But King Loger only lived to 34.
A new King called Lord Can was the fattest King ever seen. He had brown hair and brown eyes. He made another army called the Cocatiles. One night the wind was freezing cold. It was snowing and there was also lightning. A man called Nuroxe went outside to get some fresh air when he saw a mysterious rock.
“That is a weird rock,” wondered Nuroxe. “What is it?” he whispered.
BANG! A lightning bolt hit Nuroxe…what happened to Nuroxe?
In the morning, a peasant found Nuroxe on the ground, twitching. The peasant was scared and sad so he rushed Nuroxe to the doctor. The doctor helped Nuroxe live. Just one gram less of the healing balm and he would have died.
“What is that?” shouted Viny. The air was filled with shouts…
THE REUNION, by Gabrielle Gillespie
P5, St Peter’s RC Primary
“I AM innocent,” hissed a voice through the foggy evening of 31st October.
Many have brushed off these words as a chant the wind sings. But on one eventful evening at the stroke of twelve, a mysterious figure appeared to the community of Leith in Edinburgh. The haunted figure swayed back and forth in the misty darkness with a peculiar groan chanting over and over;
“Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit.” As the figure drew closer it appeared to be carrying a crimson-coated head severed at the neck. As the haar lifted, silent tears rolled of her pale cheeks for the life once loved yet gruesomely taken away. Her dress was made of the finest white silk, stained with dissatisfaction of the events that occurred.
On that frightful night, after guising, a little boy sneakily stayed up late to eat his sugar-filled goodies. Filled with excitement, he looked out of the cold windowpane and froze at the sight of the haunted figure that was approaching him quickly, wailing, “James!” Her hand held out, like any mother to a child, waiting, wanting to take him and love him. The cold shriek of the boy’s voice alerted the parents who burst through to find their little boy missing, curtains blowing a cold autumn wind in an empty room.
To this very day, nobody knows what happened to that little boy but the figure of Mary Queen of Scots walking hand-in-hand with her son is a picture many have portrayed.