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There was a ghost in the house.  Billy just knew it.  His mother and father had told him not to be so silly and get into bed, and now of course he couldn’t sleep.  There was a chilly feeling in his room that was making him want to go to the toilet, but he felt sure that if he got out of bed something horrible would happen to him.  If you asked him why he thought that, he wouldn’t have been able to give you a very convincing answer, unless you yourself have had a feeling of something good or bad being about to happen for no particular reason.  The only way that Billy knew something would happen was from one of those feelings.

He lay still for a very long time, but eventually he had to move to make himself more comfortable, and to try and ease the feeling of needing to go to the toilet.  When Billy turned over, a terrifying sight met his eyes.  He had known all along that there was a ghost in the room, but when he saw the white glowing figure floating by the window he couldn’t help crying out.

‘Ssh!’ said a voice.  ‘You’ll wake your mother and father.’

‘S-sorry,’ Billy whispered.  ‘W-w-what do you want?’

‘Why are you stammering like that?’ asked the voice.  ‘Are you scared or something?’

‘W-well,’ said Billy.  ‘Yes.’

‘Why?’

‘Aren’t you a g-g-g-’

‘A ghost?  Yes.  I suppose you’ve heard horrible stories about what happens to little boys and girls who meet ghosts.  Your sweet old granny or somebody has warned you not to go anywhere near the old school building on the other side of the woods because it’s full of nasty, dangerous ghosts.  That’s about right, isn’t it?’

‘Y-yes,’ said Billy, who had heard stories about that old girls’ school from his grandmother that very afternoon.  ‘Isn’t it?’

‘Well of course it is,’ said the voice.  ‘Where do you think I came from?’

‘Oh dear,’ said Billy, needing to go to the toilet more than ever now.  ‘Were you a teacher there, or a pupil?’  He had an idea that the ghost of a pupil would be rather less scary to talk to than the ghost of a horrible strict teacher.

‘A pupil,’ said the ghost.  ‘My name’s Annie.  What are you called?’

‘B-B-Billy.’

‘Oh.  Pretty silly name if you ask me, but maybe it sounds better if you aren’t stuttering.  Have you heard many stories about that place, Billy?’

‘Well,’ said Billy.  ‘A few.’

‘Which ones?  Have you heard about Miss Gruel?’

‘I… I don’t think so.’

‘She was the woman who made meals for the girls right up until the day she died.  People were afraid of the headmistress, but it was Miss Gruel you really didn’t want to get on the wrong side of.’

Billy was afraid to ask about Miss Gruel, but he was so curious to hear the rest of this story that he just had to: ‘What did she do?’

‘Well,’ said Annie, ‘kitchens are dangerous places, and they always have been.  Miss Gruel didn’t have any newfangled inventions like an electric kettle.  If she wanted to boil water, she hung it over the open fire in a huge copper kettle.  One of her favourite things to do was make a girl stand in front of the fire and hold the kettle over it until the water boiled.  Ooh, we had a few blisters from that, I can tell you!’

‘What if you dropped it?’ asked Billy.

‘Well then you got nearly boiling water all over your legs,’ said Annie.  ‘We dropped it nearly every time, of course, and always if it was our first go.  Miss Gruel loved punishing us like that so much, sometimes she used to roam around the school just looking for girls who were doing something a little bit wrong.  The first time I had to hold the kettle was when she caught me taking apples from one of the trees in the orchard.  She grabbed me by the ear, said “Isn’t my food good enough for you, girl?” and dragged me into the kitchen.’

‘How long before you dropped the kettle?’ asked Billy.

‘Hardly any time at all.  She made me mop up the water, beat me with her rolling pin and then sent me away.  The next time I had to do it I managed to hold onto it for a bit longer, and then by the sixth time I managed to get the water all the way to the boil without dropping it.  I had developed a bit of a callous by then, I suppose.’

‘The sixth time?’ said Billy.  ‘I think you must have been rather bad at school if you had to do it six times.’

‘I suppose I was rather,’ said Annie, sounding rather proud.  ‘But of course, if you held the kettle until the water boiled, that only made her angrier.  She loved to see us drop it and spill the water all over our shins.’

‘Then what did she do if the water boiled?’ asked Billy.

‘She made us stick our hands in it,’ said Annie.  ‘Not the one we’d held the kettle with, though, because that was used to the heat.’

‘That’s horrible!’

‘I know.’

‘But she doesn’t do that anymore, does she?  She’s a ghost - she can’t make you hold a real live kettle over a real live fire.’

‘No,’ said Annie, ‘but by some law of metaphysics, if she catches children trespassing in her kitchen, she can still use her mincing machine.’

As she said this, Billy felt a lump come to his throat.  He swallowed it, and said quietly, ‘Mincing machine?’

‘She only used that on us in the later days, when she’d gone completely insane.’  Annie paused, and then said stiffly, ‘I’d rather not talk about it.’

‘What about this headmistress?’ asked Billy, sure now that a little girl who had been tortured with a mincing machine couldn’t be as dangerous as the horrible women who had run the school.  ‘What did she do?’

‘Ah, Miss Bludgeon,’ said Annie, with what sounded like a wistful smile.  ‘Now she was a funny one.  She had a great many punishments, but I suppose her favourite was to dangle us out of a top storey window by our hair.  She was a very strong woman.’

‘Didn’t she ever drop anyone?’ asked Billy.

‘Well of course she did.  She was strong, but the hair wasn’t.  I had a friend called Sarah once, who had such feeble wispy blond hair that it came clean off her scalp while Miss Bludgeon was dangling her out of the window.’

‘How awful!’ said Billy, wincing when he thought of how much it must have hurt even before the girl hit the ground.  ‘Did she die?’

‘Oh no.  It was a long way down, but the nettle bed broke her fall.  So if you’re ever passing by that old place in the middle of the night, and you see someone dangling outside an upstairs window, you can guarantee they’ve had a disagreement with Miss Bludgeon.’

‘Are there any more ghosts there?’ asked Billy.

‘Billy,’ said Annie.  ‘I rather think you’re enjoying hearing about this.’

She was right about that.  Billy was both appalled and fascinated, and as a result he felt less as though he needed to go to the toilet.

‘Well,’ said Billy, ‘I’d be very frightened if I thought these ghosts could hurt me.  But I’m safe in my bed, aren’t I?’

‘Yes,’ said Annie.  ‘You’re safe in your bed.  You told me you’d heard some stories already.  What have you heard?’

‘I’ve heard about the little first-year girls freezing to death on the pond when it turned to ice,’ said Billy.

Annie made a noise as though she was sucking in her breath, though of course she had none, and said, ‘Ah, yes.  Nasty business, that.  The poor little wretches hadn’t learnt their three times tables properly, so Miss Brute made them all go and stand on the frozen pond in their bare feet.  Unfortunately she left them out there just a little bit too long.  There was a very nice chocolate cake at the teachers’ lunch table that day, and between you and me I think Miss Brute had forgotten she’d put eleven five-year-old girls out on the ice.  By the time she went to get them back inside, only one of them was still conscious and three of them were dead.  So you’ve heard about their ghosts, then?’

‘I’ve heard that you can still see the three dead girls standing on the pond, shivering and begging for shoes,’ said Billy.

‘Most uninteresting, as ghost stories go,’ said Annie.  ‘Haven’t you heard about what happened to the senior prefects?’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘Well then I’ll tell you.  They were a ruthless bunch of girls who punished you almost as badly as the teachers and Miss Gruel.  If they caught you out of bed after lights-out, they’d strip you down to the skin and leave you outside all night.’

‘What if you had to go to the toilet?’ asked Billy, once again very aware that he rather needed to do just that.

‘So much the better,’ said Annie.  ‘The prefects tried to catch you before you’d been, so they could throw you out needing to go.  Then another one would come and catch you soiling the school premises and give you six of the best with the birch.’

‘I’ve heard about the birch,’ said Billy.  ‘It leaves your bottom bleeding and red and raw.’

‘It certainly does,’ Annie said with feeling.

‘So what happened to the prefects?’

‘Well, the thing is that the prefects weren’t really supposed to be catching people out of bed after ten o’clock, because that was when they were supposed to be in bed themselves.  And one day they got caught - so of course they were stripped and sent out into the cold.’

‘Did they freeze to death like the first years?’ asked Billy.

‘Oh, if only,’ said Annie.  ‘No, it was rather more horrible than that.  They tried warming themselves by going into an outhouse and making a nice little bonfire.  Only the outhouse caught fire, and they all burnt to death.’

‘Oh no!’ cried Billy, who could not imagine a worse death than burning alive.

‘And we were stark raving naked too,’ said Annie.  ‘Most undignified.’

‘Yes,’ said Billy, ‘it must have been.  Hey… wait a minute!’

‘Yes?’ said Annie.

‘You said “we”.’

‘Did I?’

‘Is that what happened to you?’ asked Billy.  ‘Were you one of those senior prefects?’

‘Well yes,’ said Annie, ‘as it happens I was.  Miss Bludgeon was furious about the outhouse, you know.  She always said she wished she could punish us for that too.  And now, of course, she can.’

‘Oh, how awful for you,’ said Billy.  ‘Is that why you left?’

‘What?’ said Annie.  ‘Oh no, no, not at all.  I left because since the school shut down, there hasn’t been very much for us prefects to do.  Not very many people out of bed after lights-out, you see.’

‘Oh,’ said Billy.  ‘I see.  But if you did find somebody out of bed…?’

‘Well then bad luck for him,’ said Annie.  ‘Or her.  And that is all I’ll say on the matter.’

By now Billy’s heart was hammering, his throat was dry and his bladder was fit to burst.  This time, he didn’t press Annie for more information.  He simply rolled over in bed, squeezed his legs together and prayed that it was almost morning.
It gave me some minor stress, but at last I have my entry for :iconwinewriter:’s Ghosts and Ghoulies contest [link] - and I happen to think it isn’t too total a wreck of the vision that I started out with.

The aim of the contest is to use ghosts and ghouls in an original way. While I realise that I have been vastly unoriginal in some ways, there are other ways in which I hope I have achieved this contest criterion. I shan’t insult my reader’s intelligence by pointing out what these are. How original you think I’ve been is up to you; you don’t need my input.

It was advised that anyone wanting to enter this contest think of Poe, King and Dahl all in one. As you will see, or have seen, by far my biggest influence on this piece was Roald Dahl (who is my total and absolute hero). Since I was told in a class last week that it’s completely ok to borrow a little from other authors, I shall admit quite happily that I took some influence from my three favourite Dahl novels: Matilda a lot, The Witches a little bit, and The BFG was very much a starting point.

I think that The BFG as a whole is a true masterpiece, and there’s one chapter in particular that I think is absolute genius. It’s the first instance in which Sophie and the BFG have a conversation, and before the reader learns that BFG actually stands for Big Friendly Giant, it is made abundantly clear that the story is going to be about malevolent giants - which, let’s face it, is what children want. If I picked up a book that seemed like it was only going to be about good giants, I wouldn’t want to read on. So anyway, you’ll see how that passage influenced this story. A lot.
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Daily Deviation

Given 2008-01-05
When Annie Came to Stay by *ThornyEnglishRose is written in a casual, charming voice that delivers lines with such humor that I can’t help but smile, even at some of the nastier parts. The story is mostly dialogs, delivered by characters as compelling as the story itself, and there are no sections of this that I did not enjoy. ‘When Annie Came to Stay’, is (dare I say it) reminiscent of Roald Dahl. It has a humorous, slightly macabre, and always enjoyable style that I can’t help but fall in love with. ( Suggested by WineWriter and Featured by StJoan )
:iconliger0schnider:
liger0schnider Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2011
OMG! gratz on the DD!
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:iconliger0schnider:
liger0schnider Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2011
from ages ago lol
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:iconlucy-labrador:
Lucy-Labrador Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2011
Ooo... this had made me need to pee... lol. Amazing.
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:iconanimalls10000:
animalls10000 Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2009
Nice love the story!
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Dec 23, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. :)
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:iconsmallmollz18:
smallmollz18 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
thats great, its really original compared to all the stories about ghosts haunting castles and typical haunted houses, i dont think iv read one about a school before
well done *claps*
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks very much! :D And thanks for faving.
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:iconsmallmollz18:
smallmollz18 Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
no problem :D
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:iconquadrophobia:
quadrophobia Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Hey, just to let you know I'm going to illustrate this story for an artwork portfolio submission to a book company. Obviously I'm not submitting your story but I need something to illustrate to show them and I really enjoyed this so I thought it would be a good place to start :)

I'm not sure if I'm going to do the whole thing or just a few pages but I'll post it online for you to see when I'm done. I won't be making ANY money or anything from it, it's purely just to build up my artwork portfolio (because I'm lacking in book illustration), just to reassure you. Let me know if you have a problem with it, either way.
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
I don't have a problem with it at all - that sounds awesome. I can't wait to see it! :D
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:iconquadrophobia:
quadrophobia Featured By Owner Sep 20, 2009  Professional Digital Artist
Hey, here's the first double page spread.

[link]

I'll either post the rest as I do em or all at once at the end.
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Sep 21, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
That's totally cool! :D
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:iconspringearthbender14:
springearthbender14 Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
:blowkiss: this story rocks! :headbang:
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner May 28, 2009  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. :)
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:iconspringearthbender14:
springearthbender14 Featured By Owner May 29, 2009
I MUST add you to my Watchlist!
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:iconmarkmonosyllabic:
MarkMonosyllabic Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2008
This is a beautifully written story! There's nothing I could say about it that wouldn't sound too simplistic or vague to capture how amazing it really is, so I'll just leave it at this?
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Well thank you very much! :D And thanks for faving. :)
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:iconsweetcapris:
sweetcapris Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2008
hahaha, the characters are convincing and the deliver the story smooth and perfectly! Definitely reminds me of Roald Dahl, and also the Sideways Stories of Wayside School books. It had me smiling :] Great stuff this is!
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Feb 7, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :D
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:iconwinewriter:
WineWriter Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2008
Hello :) I've featured this here: [link]
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :D
Reply
:iconrenegademovement:
RenegadeMovement Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008
Firstly, congratulations on the DD. You definitely deserve it.

I couldn't quite place where I had heard the voice before, but when you mentioned Roald Dahl, it made a great deal more sense.

There are just two parts that bothered me:

1) I think you were trying to use "metaphysics" as a more intangible "physics", but I'm not quite sure the word works where it was intended. Then again, "physics" (the cliché phrase to use) doesn't either. There must be some way to imply that it is supernatural without using the word "metaphysics", which is really quite different from "physics" -- perhaps by saying "some twist of physics". But what do I know. I have no good suggestions.

2) You used blond to describe a girl, which is perfectly acceptable in modern English, but the root word is French and changes with gender: blond for males, blonde for females. Very few writers still adhere to that rule, but it's one of my pet peeves when someone does not, and I am quite anal about grammar.

In any case, it was a fantastic read. Thank you.

- Skyler
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
I've always been told that blond is the adjective and blonde the noun, so that's the rule I always use. :shrug:

Thanks for your comments. :)
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:iconrenegademovement:
RenegadeMovement Featured By Owner Jan 7, 2008
It doesn't matter, I'm just nitpicking.

You're welcome.
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:iconempty-paper:
Empty-Paper Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008
This story really reminded me of Roald Dahl's stories. I love it, and I can't wait to read more of your stories!
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you! :aww:
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:iconfurelise7:
FurElise7 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008   Writer
I loved this! You did well.
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. :)
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:iconcrysta411:
crysta411 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008
One question; what about child protective services?

Oh, and why did Annie come at all?
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:iconcrysta411:
crysta411 Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2008
I'd go for Annie's mean, and this is an AU.
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Explanations, explanations. Use your imagination! :D
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:iconhaydee:
haydee Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2008   Digital Artist
Oh god, now I'm scared to get out of bed D:
Great ghost story XD.
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
:evillaugh:
Reply
:iconchuppieneko:
ChuppieNeko Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2008
I will never want to see Annie outside my window EVER!!
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Well, maybe you will and maybe you won't. :evillaugh:
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:iconthelightswentoutin99:
TheLightsWentOutIn99 Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2008  Student Writer
Wow, you've written about a school evoked in Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." It's authoritarian, brutal, and completely unrealistic, but brings back ghosts for everyone who's ever gone through a bad school experience. Good job, and the twist makes it all the better!
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
I've never read that - I'll have to look out for it. Thanks for your kind comments. :)
Reply
:iconthelightswentoutin99:
TheLightsWentOutIn99 Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Student Writer
It's actually a song, so you'll have to listen to it, but you're very welcome for the comments. Keep on writing!
Reply
:icond-bt:
D-BT Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2008
nice story~indeed!
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. :)
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:iconleonca:
Leonca Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
Very good with building up the tension and creepiness as it goes along. =D Makes me think I should try reading Dahl’s stuff sometime.
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks. :) Dahl misfired with a few of his books, but I don't know anyone who doesn't at least like the good ones. The novels I'd recommend all appear in my comments, if you can use them.
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:iconsnowdog367:
Snowdog367 Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2008  Hobbyist General Artist
awesome!
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:iconthornyenglishrose:
ThornyEnglishRose Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2008  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you. :)
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