Today is Halloween and it’s scary time for loads of people, but this gives me a chance to to tell a true story of my youth……..
A long, long time ago, in a city, far, far away I lived in Glasgow and as a youth learning my drinking spurs, but with not a lot of cash meant that a night out ended either finding a couch/floor to crash on, or if I had the cash I’d grab a taxi back but sometimes if I’d missed the last bus the only option open to me was the long walk home. From the centre of Glasgow this was a long walk home and it’d take the better part of 40 minutes to an hour depending on the route I decided to take.
There was a long route but it was the safest route because being Glasgow in the 1980’s, there were some place you didn’t want to walk down because you’d get knifed, or possibly worse. One route back that took about 15 minutes off the walk was along the Forth and Clyde canal, which is lovely during the day.
At night though it could be very, very scary but I’d used it so often that I felt comfortable as the only things I’d normally see was the odd gypsy traveler (a group used to be camped near the canal near Possilpark) or the odd parked car on one of the roads leading to the canal which would always have a flobbery pink arse going up and down if you could squint through the misted up windscreens.
So one night I wasn’t feeling especially well, so I’d left a late night session early to get the last bus but I missed it, so seeing as I couldn’t afford a taxi that night, I decided to take the walk home to Milton which was a serious walk but I thought I’d take the long walk home but after about 20 minutes walk I felt sick and not wanting to puke next to a main road I thought I’d cut up past the canal and try to firstly throw up, and secondly leg it home and back to bed.
I took the path up onto the canal managing to hold the contents of my stomach til I got into an especially dark area, and once there unleashed all it’s contents onto the grass. Once I’d been ill, I felt better, but I thought rather than hang around admiring the stars (I’d often take this route because you’d see the stars so clear it was astonishing to think you were in a city) as it was a pretty clear, mild night I just injected a bit of pace into my walk and took the canal path as far as I could as back then it wasn’t as open as it is today.
At some point I became aware of something looking at me as I could see something move in the dark, thinking it was either a traveler or someone waiting for me to vanish so they could shoot up (there were the odd addict that used the path) I though nothing of it and moved on as fast as my legs could take me as there was an awful smell wafting from this figure. As I came off the canal track I noticed there was someone walking behind me, but again, I thought nothing of it. After all although it was sometime after 1am, people were still coming back from the pub or wherever and once off the canal path I felt safer as there’s streetlights everywhere and now I was in Possil, it was a 20 minute brisk walk back home.
But then the smell hit me again. It’s hard to describe, but it smelled of a bin the day after Christmas Day when it’s full of rotting Christmas bird. It was rank and make me retch a bit in my state of feeling ill, but even now I just thought it was a mix of several pints and whatever bug I’d picked up so I just kept on walking stopping once to cross the road and flashing a look behind me.
About 100 yards behind me was a shape of a person but it was too dark to see features even though they stood right under a streetlight which was something I noticed and instantly thought ‘this isn’t right’ and then decided to push on faster but at this point I realised the shape was following me, and the dodgy smell was coming from their direction. After another pant-wetting five minutes of being followed I thought I’d do something potentially exceptionally stupid, so I slowed down and thought this would make the shape pass me as we were the only people on the streets.
Except all that happened was it slowed down too.
Back then I used to carry a penknife, so as I picked up pace again I fumbled to find my knife because at this point I perceived this as someone try to mug me, but by now I was coming up to a junction where I took a left to take me home and I looked as the shape had vanished behind me, but there was still a smell of something rotting wafting in the night air.
All of this was in a 15 minute (gave or take) period and I’d managed to make great time so I was chuffed to see I was within sight of my home. There was just a steep lane going down and one going up to go, but I’d stopped being scared as I was sure my pursuer had gone and anyhow, the smell had gone.
So as I got to the bottom of the path leading up to my house the smell hit me again and I looked left to where I thought it came from. I lived at this point next to a school’s playing fields so had darkness illuminated by the odd streetlight in front of me and clear as day I could see something moving towards the path I was on about 300 yards away.
I legged it that last 50 yards up the path to my home, legged it up the stairs, grabbed a hammer and retreated to my bedroom and looked out the window where I had a view of the path leading to my house. Something was moving in the path. Any minute now I expected a knock on my door but it never came, and I know that as I was awake til light, and then slept with a hammer under my covers.
Next day I was ill still, I’d obviously picked up a virus so stayed at home but my dad asked me what I did to the front door the previous night. I was confused, so I went and had a look and there were scratch marks around the keyholes and the bottom of the door had strange marks on it. Someone, or something had done something to the door and for the next month I made sure I never took that route home ever again as I always got the last bus home or sorted out a place to crash.
I never again saw the shape, but about three years later I’d moved to Leicester, and one weekend I was on a trip to London and one night on the underground that smell hit me again but I never had time to work out where the smell was coming from but I never want to smell that rich, rotting smell ever again…
And that’s a little story of the past. Another time I’ll tell the tale of the time I spotted a UFO……………