In the run-up to Christmas, we’re featuring the best entries in our festive ghost story competition.
Today it’s the turn of Tommie Waters of Denmead, winner of the 15-and-under category. Tommie’s tale, Christmas At Woodford Crossing, is about the ghost of a long-dead soldier.
CHRISTMAS AT WOODFORD CROSSING
In the 1850s there was a village called Woodford. The villagers were terrified of a crossing that was haunted every Christmas.
They believed that there had been a battle at the crossing on Christmas Eve between the French and the English.
The captain of the English was on his horse when it got shot.
It leant backwards, making the captain fall off and hit his head on a rock.
He was unconscious and when the battle was lost the soldiers thought the captain was dead.
So they buried him...but he was still alive!
That’s why he haunts the crossing every Christmas Eve.
People said that they felt uneasy by the crossing and people had reported hearing muffled cries from under the soil as they walked to midnight mass.
Whispers of men crying ‘reload’ and ‘charge’ were heard when the Christmas bells went silent.
Some said they saw flashes going on in the trees, like gunfire.
A woman who lived by the crossing said that her children could hear marching and cannon fire from outside their bedroom windows as they hung up their stockings.
On Christmas Eve, two farmhands called Mick and George were loading a carriage full of Christmas trees.
It was dusk and the air was shatteringly cold. The sky was painted red from the setting sun.
The farmhands were bored. Their eyes were drawn to the forest.
They heard a loud bang as if there was cannon fire.
Lots of crows flew up into the air.
Mick moodily said: ‘There goes the captain again. Why don’t he just go back to his grave and stay there for once!?’
‘I bet it’s just some lunatic hunting deer,’ replied George sceptically.
Then Mick made a deal with George to see who could stay out by the crossing the longest that night when the ghost was due.
They finished loading the trees and went home.
Later that night George was at the dining table eating his cabbage soup when he got an idea for a brilliant prank for Mick.
When he went to fetch the Christmas decorations he would put on his great-grandfather’s army uniform.
So he went to a wardrobe in the corner of the room and opened it, taking out a rusty key from the very back.
He walked outside and grabbed a ladder and put it to the loft door and climbed up.
The loft was very dark and dusty so he used a candle to look for the old Christmas box and his great-grandfather’s uniform.
It took 10 minutes of moving boxes and chests to find the right one.
When he found it, he took the rusty key from his pocket and put it into the rusty lock.
The sound of the lock scratching the key was painful to George’s ears.
He twisted the key and opened the chest.
A rush of thick dust came out.
When it cleared, George could see into the chest.
There were old photos of his great-grandfather and great-grandmother and letters to someone called Betty, but George wasn’t interested so he reached to the bottom of the chest and first he pulled out a wooden angel, painted white and varnished.
He remembered his great-grandfather letting him sprinkle sugar on the angel.
Under a small box full of old Christmas pompoms he found the uniform.
In a flash, George put on the uniform and looked into the mirror. It wasn’t the best fit but it would do.
So he set off to the crossing to get there before Mick.
When George got to the crossing he sat on a boulder that was under a fir tree and waited for Mick.
As the village clock struck 12, Mick walked down the road with a lantern in his hand.
The lantern’s beam was just enough for George to see Mick’s worried face but without revealing George.
‘George? George, are you here?
‘Damn it! I can’t see a thing out here!’ shouted Mick. George didn’t reply and stayed still as possible on the boulder.
As Mick grew closer he could just about see a figure sitting before him. Mick’s eyes bulged wide with shock and fear. He was face to face with the dead captain!
Without hesitation Mick dropped his lantern, turned around and ran away screaming!
George laughed so hard that he fell off the rock, clenching his stomach.
On Christmas morning, George walked to Mick’s cottage, trying not to laugh about the night before.
He knocked on Mick’s front door with its Christmas wreath.
Mick said with a nervous voice: ‘Who...who’s there?’
George laughed a little and said: ‘It’s George. Open the door!’
There was a pause of silence for about 10 seconds before a rush of noise from the other side of the door erupted.
There was the sound of chains moving and keys turning, locks unlocking and bolts unbolting.
Then Mick opened the door and dragged George inside and closed the door behind him.
Mick had an old rifle in his hand and a look of exhaustion on his face.
George could tell that he hadn’t slept at all that night.
With a smug look on his face and his hands in his pockets he leant closer to Mick and said: ‘Did you see the captain then?’
Mick replied with a horrified whisper: ‘Yes...it scared me half to death!’
George burst out laughing and pointed at Mick.
‘You FOOL! That was I sitting on the rock!’
‘I know that, but I also saw the captain behind you!’ replied Mick with an anxious voice.
George suddenly stopped laughing and stared at Mick.
His face became pale with shock and he trembled.
It was as if someone had just walked over his grave!
TOMMIE WANTS TO CONTINUE WRITING AFTER SCHOOL IS OVER
Tommie Waters isn’t quite sure what he’d like to do when he finishes school - but he knows he wants to keep on creating stories.
The 14-year-old was thrilled to find out that he was picked as the winner in the 15-and-under category of our Christmas ghost story competition.
His prize is a £100 gift card which he can spend at any branch of Waterstones.
Tommie said he had a few different ideas about what he might do after finishing school.
He said: ‘I guess I’d like to do either writing or something different like bricklaying.
‘Or maybe I’ll even join the army.’
Tommie said he enjoyed ghost stories and was really happy with the response he received for Christmas At Woodford Crossing.
‘I think the story for this just popped into my mind.
‘I really like making stories up.
‘It’s a bit of fun to just be able to use your imagination and put words down on a bit of paper.
Tommie has also just penned another story called Men At War, which he said had a very poetic feel to it.
He attends Cowplain Community School in Waterlooville.
His mum, Marie, said her son was very creative.
‘He has a really good imagination.
‘He’s always doing something in his spare time like drawing pictures and writing.
‘He’s very artistic that way.’