Happy Christmas everyone! A little ghost story...

  • A little Christmas ghost story (a retelling) I have written, along with appropriately styled artwork :D.
    I’ve not posted here for about a year because I’ve been flat out (3 books illustrated this year! Thanks to svs for moving my art to a level for me to get that many gigs!) but I’ve paused long enough.
    I’ve been asked to illustrate a story which would work great with a kind of Victorian linework style, so I thought I’d give it a go. And another story which needs a rabbit. And this next year I’m going to start writing my own stories again. Put it all together (plus being reminded of this rather old yarn) and you get this.

    It’s IS long....but I hope you enjoy it (and yes I am a minister as referenced below, thiugh for the incident in question pure fictional)


    There was a rabbit; one day, shortly before the hour of midday, he walked into an inn which was in an isolated part of our county with no other abode near at hand. He had travelled some distance and, being somewhat hungry and desperate of thirst, the rabbit ordered a cheese toastie (common pub fare you’ll agree) along with a pint of the landlord’s finest.

    He munched and quaffed the provisions with equal gusto sat at table in a polite manner, until not a scrap was left or a drop residing. Yet still he felt empty. And so went back to the bar and, having pushed past the lunchtime rush which had begun since his first arrival, ordered another toastie and more beer. This time, for the purposes of accuracy and completeness in telling of the tale, the toastie was tomato.

    Downed rapidly with equal enthusiasm as was with the earlier meal, our hero STILL was unfulfilled. And he decided that just one more round of both would do the trick. So he made his way back to the bar. It being even more busy in the establishment (many people obviously travelling that day) he had his paw trodden on several times and simply to be heard over the hubbub he had to perilously climb upon the top of the bar itself by means of a stool and scream at the top of his voice, “Bein’ that I am a rabbit, and a hungry one at that ‘cos of the rumblin’ in ma belly, may I please be orderin’ a pint of ‘golden sprocket’ and a ham toastie, Landlord?!” Golden Sprocket being the best in the house.

    You will note that the rabbit was not so well educated as to pronounce his ‘g’ at the end of certain words. And as for ‘ma’ as opposed to ‘my’, any literate person would have to contain their distaste for want of inclusion, rather than go to lengths to correct the error. Or it may have been simply that he was already a little light headed from the two beers he had already finished. He was not a large rabbit and even a small amount would make his head a little fuzzy.

    A grim silence at once descended upon the bar as every eye turned toward the bunny, which, with as much grace and head-held-high that he could muster, though feeling slightly embarrassed at his own outburst, climbed down and once more took his seat.

    The normal murmuring returned to the establishment, with the occasional glance in rabbit’s direction, and soon another feast was set before him. Which he devoured as he had done twice before.

    But alas! No sooner had the last morsel past his lips and hit his stomach, than his visage froze and he fell, stone dead, face-planting into his beer glass! A sad day I am sure you will agree!

    At that time I had the cure of parish and soul for the area, and as the local minister I was called upon to conduct the funeral, and many people from that day turned up to mourn the rabbit’s passing. I encouraged others to share their fondest memories as is usual on such occasions, and a number of people kindly rose to share their thoughts of the rabbit, his fondness for various forms of toasted bread product, and how well he could hold his beer. Quiet tears were shed as the coffin was lowered, and a great solemnity was experienced by all as we left the side of the grave. But this is not the end of the story.

    Some time later in the year, when the weather had turned rather unpleasantly to that grey dreariness of damp during the day and torrential rain at night, I was told of a frightening and almost unbelievable conclusion....

    The darkest of storms had rolled in from the west, with lightning and thunder on top of each other. Such was the heaviness of accompanying precipitation that it prevented even a young man from seeing clearly more than a half a dozen feet in front of him. It seemed a supernatural storm at that, for it insisted in not moving on but rumbled and flashed and deluged for hour upon hour in the same manner in that one place above a certain establishment where both ale and eating could be obtained in equal measure - a portent of what was to come, no doubt.

    And so it was that the landlord of the inn where our tale has been based was clearing up at midnight. It had been a poor night of takings since no one was venturing out for fear of life and limb, when there was a knock on the door. “Who could it be at this time of night?” He thought to himself. He went to the door and enquired without. But all that he received by way of reply was another knock, this time more slow and ominous than the first.

    “Perhaps a desperate traveller is on the road and is at his end!” Mused the landlord. He was a charitable man first and an entrepreneur second, and he could not imagine leaving anyone to their doom on such an evening! Though he was not one to pass up the opportunity to make a little more coin. So quickly he unbolted the door he had already locked with 5 smoke bolts of the finest iron, and swung it back. But oh what horrors awaited him, such that he stumbled rearward in terror!

    There, lit by the timely flash of lightning and dramatised by an accompanying crack of thunder as the sky split, was the ghastly form of the dead rabbit! Which now stepped (or was it floated?) through the doorway and into the room. A deathly chill fell upon the barman. It is said that a visible frost appeared on the glassware and crackled across the windows in that moment, such was the cold that descended.

    He feared for his life, that poor man! Had the rabbit come for revenge? Did the rabbit know that the beer he had been given was not in fact his finest ‘golden sprocket’ but actually a far more inferior beverage he reserved for travellers’ dogs, yet charged twice that of his best? (After all, he had reasoned at the time of his and the rabbit’s first meeting, how could a rabbit know what good beer tasted like, nor have an awareness of the economics of finance?). With a shaking voice the wretched man asked, “Why have you come for me Spirit....no...tell me first.... how did you die?” He thought at least if he knew that, then he would more clearly be aware if he should be fearful of this revengeful apparition or not!

    There was a long and terrible pause, and then the rabbit opened is mouth. A more horrible sound had not been heard in that room before nor since. In fact to this day travellers on the road of this county will say that that hellish sound can be heard in the rumble of the worst weather and they will hurry home for want of wishing to evade such an encounter as the landlord had that night.

    “I died....” slurred the rabbit....

    “From mixin’ ma toasties.....”

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