I’ve been out of touch with my two-legged followers for too long I know, but we’ve been busy. Hamish’s online shortbread business has taken off and we’ve been knee-deep in caster sugar since April, trying to pre-empt the Christmas rush.
Then the other week a letter dropped into my hayrack. Here’s what it said:
Dear Mystic Moo
Please can you help me? I don’t know what to do!
Up until six months ago I was an enthusiastic gamer but a bit short on space for all my Trail of Cthulhu supplements. Then we found a gorgeous house; plenty of room for a games library and backing on to a lovely park. And stupidly cheap. There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with it, though. The estate agent told us the owner wanted a fast sale as he was going abroad.
So my partner and I moved in but shortly after things began to go awry. We regularly hear loud noises and conversations coming from empty rooms in the middle of the night; Items disappear from one room and appear several nights later in another. My daughter has seen strange shadows on the stairs, and I don’t mean Hank Marvin.
My limited edition leather-bound Trail materialised in the bath this morning. The cover isn’t Radox-resistant and it frightened the hell out of the missus, who was shaving her legs at the time.
With Halloween coming up fast we’re getting very anxious.
Mystic Moo – you understand these preternatural forces, you understand gamers. You are my last hope. Please help us.
I looked at Hamish. Hamish looked at me. “Get the cattletruck ready, old love” I said. “We’re going on a road trip.”
So there was me, Hamish the Self-Identified Highland Cow and the farmer on driving duty. Not a bad team but something lacking. Then Hamish had a sudden inspiration “Long black coats, Moo! What we need are long black coats. That’s what professional ghosthunters wear. And maybe you should get your fur done, bit of moo-scara… and we can video it all and sell it to a TV company”. Sounded good to me – punter gets his ghost sorted out, we make a few bob; could be a runner.
So there was me, Hamish the S-I HC, the farmer and a selection of long black coats. And Marigold with a video camera. Then Marigold says “How do these things normally go, Moo?” and I had to tell her I didn’t have a clue. Never done a ghost hunt before. Usually just cast a few runes or check my astrology charts. But it’s all psychic, isn’t it? We’ll be fine.
Hamish said we’d need a Medium. I was indignant and said since the Hay Diet I could easily fit into a Small. He looked as patient as only a Highland Cow can and explained that what we really needed was a creature in tune with the other side, one who could commune with the souls of the dead. There was only one bloke who fitted the bill – enter Kevin the Scouse Sheep.
Kevin the Scouse Sheep is an undeniable talent; from Kevin’s point of view anyway. He’s the only medium we know and definitely the only one who’ll work for grass cuttings, so what can you do? The farmer did a detour just east of Southport to pick him up and we headed off to rendezvous with the Spooked Gamer family somewhere in the English Midlands.
The house was indeed impressive, in a smart street next to a park. We stuck the cattletruck on the drive and went in to take a look around It was a Saturday afternoon, around teatime, and from upstairs we could hear loud crashes and shouting. We were surprised that the phenomena had been so obliging but turns out it was Spooked Gamer and his mates playing AD&D in the spare bedroom. We’d left Kevin the Scouse Sheep in the truck so he could align his chakras and boost his psychic shield while we set up the equipment for our night-time vigil.
Hamish was our techie and distributed some motion detectors around the place. As we were a bit short on cash, butter and sugar taking up much of our venture capital for the year, we eschewed laser beams in favour of a strand of cotton thread stretched between two drawing pins across doorways. While Marigold took some test shots I cast the family’s horoscopes to get some insight from the psychic realm.
Spooked Gamer himself was a solid Orc, grounded and not prone to wild imaginings. If he said there was something going on, he was probably telling the truth. Mrs Gamer was a Burrows but with a Frodo moon, making her both sensitive and adventurous. She was rather worried but as curious as she was timid. Miss Gamer was a Ranger and thoroughly intrepid. She seemed to be rather enjoying all the attention and showed me some photos of orbs that she’d taken in the kitchen. Looked a bit like Fairy Liquid bubbles to me, but hey ho.
Marigold set up the videocamera on a harness so she could swing it around. Hamish got the superglue and repaired the Dresden shepherdess. We convened in the kitchen for cowcake and a cuppa and waited for nightfall.
We found Kevin the Scouse Sheep still in his trailer. He affected a white dressing gown with his name embroidered on the back and was chilling out with a Mind, Body, Sheep magazine and a camomile tea. Marigold took a turn as makeup lady (it was that or the farmer, and he was off down the pub) then darkness came and we went in.
We started with a séance in the kitchen. The Gamers, Hamish, Kevin and I held hooves and hands. Marigold lowered the lights, switched to nightvision and pressed record.
We sat in silence for a few minutes then Kevin said “Is there anyone there that would like to talk to one of us?”
Desperate to salvage the video, I mean help these poor people, I asked again. “Would anyone like to moo something to us?”
There was a loud bang. Marigold jumped and said “What the **** was that?”
Marigold’s not good at learning lines and hopeless at improvisation so we agreed she would say that if anything happened. Hamish had spilled his cocoa down his long black coat.
Kevin was in his element. “Is anyone there? Knock once for yes and twice for no.” Two knocks. Stupid sheep. Then the biscuit tin flew across the room and grazed Hamish’s nose. Ten seconds later and Hamish was grazing the biscuit tin. The phenomena had ceased but there was obviously something to it.
Next step, split up and search the house. The family relocated to the cattletruck for safety. Marigold and Hamish took the videocamera to the top of the stairs. I stayed in the front room with Kevin. Mistake. I turned the lights off and lit some nightlights. In the flickering candlelight Kevin’s face took on a horrible aspect. His visage twisted in a dreadful rictus, he threw back his head and howled into the night…
Kevin tells us he is an expert in channelling. I know he’s a dab hand at crop circles, especially when Gary the Scouse Farmer leaves the gate open. But at that moment Kevin’s mush was reconfiguring into the face of something unearthly. In the half light his eyes glowed golden, his aura was black, his voice grated. The room was icy cold. Time itself seemed to stop. There was no sound. Then Kevin threw back his head again and the sound came from the very bowels of Hell itself… BAA!! Immediately there was a crash from the hall. Marigold screamed.
I rushed out of the room to find Hamish lying on his back in the hall with his hooves in the air. Frightened by the preternatural bleating he’d stumbled over a motion detector and fallen down the stairs. Being a hairy Highland Cow he’d suffered only light bruising. Marigold was in shock, but was able to carry on following a medicinal sherry or three.
Kevin was in a dead faint. This was bad. Should we abort the mission and return home? No! We cows are made of sterner stuff! And besides we were out of pocket! Deciding to stick together for the remainder of the night we settled again in the front room and switched on the videocamera.
After a while Kevin stirred. The temperature in the room dropped again and suddenly his eyes flew open. A dreadful rasping voice, quite unlike his usual Scouse chirpiness, issued from his ovine gullet and…
The most famous scene in The Exorcist is the one where the girl’s head rotates. In this modest residence in the West Midlands we had an entire rotating sheep. Kevin had levitated three feet off the floor and was spinning round an invisible axis. All the time the rasping, demonic voice was chanting over and over and over “Doner kebab, doner kebab”. It was time someone took this matter firmly in hoof.
I grabbed the rapidly gyrating grass-botherer and flung him to the floor, shouting “Go back from whence you came, thou foul fiend of chaos!”.
Kevin looked me straight in the eye, said “What, Birkenhead?” and fainted again.
Dawn rose. Then she made us a cuppa and her husband Mr Gamer and little Miss Gamer joined us for breakfast. The atmosphere felt lighter now. I reassured the Gamers that the evil manifestation had gone back to whatever hellish dimension it had come from.
“This house” I pronounced “is cleansed”.
“Damn right it is” said Mrs G. “I wasn’t going to be on telly with me nets not washed.”.
After breakfast we gathered around the TV to watch the video footage. There’s this weird thing with psychic phenomena where it drains all the energy out of a room and battery powered things just go – you’ll have to take my word for it. It really happened.
Moo for now.