So... I Met a Demon
By Paul McAvoy
In a small English town, the residents stay clear of a rundown house they call Spook House. Things have happened there, bad things the locals never talk about.
Young Ben sees a girl in the garden of the house one day... a girl who says she is trapped... a girl no-one else can see but him. Concerned, his parents forbid him to go near the place.
The girl appears once a year, for the next six years, never ageing. She is held there against her will by a power greater than anyone could imagine...
Can Ben help set the girl free from the clutches of Spook House?
This is the third book in the So... I Met series by Paul McAvoy, a gripping read, it is a stand-alone novel like the previous two which can be read without having read the others.
Read the fist chapter:
When I was six
It’s not easy knowing where to begin...
I have seen things... I still see things, which most kids, most people never have the fortune, be it good or bad, to witness. Demons, ghosts... they all exist, in the shadows... and you can find them if you know where to look, however I would not recommend it. I fought a demon and went through hell. I tried to save someone from a terrible fate. I learned about an organisation within the government who fight against and learned all about things such as ghosts, aliens, vampires... and demons.
I went on a journey over the course of several years, but this trip did not involve travel. It was a different kind of journey. It sounds corny, but it was a journey of discovery. It was scary and it was enlightening. I learnt a lot about people, and a lot about me. Would I still have taken this journey if I knew what was up ahead? Yes. And no.
But how do I tell this tale?
I remember the first day so vividly... the first day I saw the girl in the garden of Spook House... the last house on Bramble Lane. Guess I will never forget that day.
That was where the journey began... and so that should be where the story starts. That will be my beginning...
It was May Day, apparently, the first day in May and I was six years old. I was all big and clever as I was able to ride up and down Bramble Lane all on my own on my bike, with my mum and dad in our front garden, able to keep a close eye on me just in case I fell or tried to wander off too far.
I had been waiting for this moment forever, and up until now had only been able to ride my bike in the garden or on the road with Mum or Dad running after me as I giggled, feeling the wind blow in my face, swallowing the sweet taste of success.
My little blue bike still had stabilisers on, but my dad was going to take them off next week, or maybe next month. I rode along on my bike, feeling the heat of the sun on my face, penetrating the Factor Thirty my mum had plastered on every single bare part of my body earlier that day.
But every time I passed Spook House I felt a slight chill even in the hot spring heat.
Bramble Lane was a cul-de-sac and comprised of twenty houses. As you first entered the street there were two rows of semi detached houses facing each other and further down there were about seven bungalows. Right at the end, the last house on Bramble Lane was a big old detached house which was known to everyone as Spook House. Where Spook House stood the old lane had once carried on, but when they build the new main road, they shut off that part of Bramble Lane. That part of the lane as overgrown now, but led to a tarn where we had picnics sometimes.
The old house had been built before the rest of the houses on the street. It was set back from the road slightly and bordered with old wooden fences and a thick bush. The dark front windows of the bedrooms seemed to be eyes that looked out at you and those eyes seemed to say how much they liked children and would like to eat them up, thank you very much, yum.
I can’t remember how many times I passed the house before I saw the girl in the front garden. She was stood by the door and I could just make her out through the gaps in the front gate. She seemed to be crying. I passed the house and then cycled past a few bungalows then reached the semis. I looked at the road, stopped at the curb and crossed over once I had stopped, looked and listened for traffic.
Mum was brushing up old leaves in the front garden, putting them in the bin and dad was washing the door with a wet cloth he squeezed into a bucket of water occasionally. In the sky a plane eased along to its destiny amid the occasional cotton wool cloud.
I cycled down the street, passed the semis, the bungalows and came to Spook House and saw the girl was still crying. She looked old, maybe a teenager. I cycled past the house and rode past the bungalows, semis, crossed the road when I stopped, looked and listened for traffic. Then I reached the detached house again. Still crying. I did the same thing again.
‘Hey! Are you okay?’ I asked her before cycling off and heading down the street on my bike. When I came back she was at the gate.
‘You can see me?’ she asked, astonished, as I passed by. ‘Hey, kid!’
I cycled away. ‘Weirdo,’ I said, but was grinning anyway. It was a new word I had learnt and I liked to use it as often as I could, even though I did not truly know what it meant.
The following conversation occurred whilst I rode up and down Bramble Lane on my bike on that warm day in May.
‘So, you see me, that’s amazing!’ the girl said to me.
‘You’re nuts, course I can see you,’ I replied. ‘You’re standing right there, aren’t you? Why wouldn’t I be able to see you?’
‘That’s so… well, great,’ she told me. ‘Not many people see me you see, not since I was… like... not since forever…’
‘Are you the Invisible Girl?’
‘No… I have been trapped,’ she told me. ‘It’s a long story, but I need your help, will you be able to help me?’
‘How can I help you?’ I asked the girl. She was slim and wore faded jeans and T shirt that had the words Roxy Music on the front. Her blonde hair was long.
‘I know what ‘music’ means,’ I said. ‘But what’s roxy?’
‘You are a good reader!’ she said. ‘Roxy is a name, I think. I’m not too sure... haven’t really thought about it. They’re a band. You know, a pop band?’ She proceeded to sing something about dancing away. ‘You might be too young to have heard it. It’s in the charts now… or it was. It was on Top of the Pops.’
I nodded and carried on riding. ‘What’s ‘tops the pops?’’
‘You’ve never heard of Top of the Pops?’ she asked, and I just shook my head. ‘Get your mum or dad to come over, maybe they can help me. No… wait…that wouldn’t be wise…’
‘What then?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know,’ she said, looking glum. ‘I don’t know what to do that’s right. I’ve been alone for so long. Just talk to me… what year is it?’
‘Year? It’s this year,’ I said, wanting to say the word ‘weirdo’ again, but stopping myself – she seemed nice. And I did not think ‘weirdo’ was truly nice thing to keep calling someone. It was like calling someone a son of a bitch, or a retard, which was mega bad.
‘Yes, but what year, as in like nineteen-seventy-something - what year is it?’
‘Uh?’ She walked into the garden, holding her hands to her head, muttering something I did not hear. I cycled away, crossed over and came back.
‘What year do you think it is?’ I asked.
She looked over at me sadly and I stopped riding my bike now and looked at her. ‘I can’t have been here so long…’ He walked back to the gate, arms limp at her sides.
‘Are you lost?’ I asked the girl. ‘Should I get my mum and dad yet? Maybe they can fetch your mummy and daddy?’
‘No use,’ the girl sighed. ‘Only you can see me... I can’t get out of here, I’ve tried.’
‘It’s easy… you just open the gate and walk out. Easy peas.’
She laughed despite the sadness she evidently felt. ‘Easy peas!’ Then frowned. ‘Not so easy peas… Not for me anyway.’
‘I’ll get my mum or dad and they will help… wait here.’
I cycled past a few bungalows then reached the semis. I was in a hurry, but still kept my wits about me: I looked at the road, stopped at the curb and crossed over once I had stopped, looked and listened for traffic. I reached our garden. Mum was still putting bits of grass in a bin, Dad was staring at the front of the house curiously and muttering something about a lick of paint.
‘You okay, Ben?’ asked my mum.
‘There is a girl trapped in Spook House,’ I informed them both. ‘I said I would ask if you could come and help her?’
I notice my mother tense slightly and my dad turned to face me. Mum said, ‘Who have you been talking to?’
‘The girl in the garden,’ I said.
My dad frowned deeply, so deeply that it scared me just a little bit. ‘Are making up stories?’ he asked me.
‘No, there is a girl and she said she is trapped,’ I said. I swallowed, but my throat was dry. ‘Can you come?’
My dad looked past me and up the street towards the house. He continued to frown and for a moment and I thought I saw something I had never seen on my father’s face before: fear.
‘Dad,’ I whined. ‘I said I would go and ask you to help.’
He looked at my mother. She just shrugged.
‘Okay, Ben,’ he said finally. ‘Let’s go and have a look.’
He walked alongside me while I rode up Bramble Lane on my bike. There was a sudden noise and we both looked to the skies to see a jet fly past. My dad muttered something about that being low and we carried on to the last house on Bramble Lane. When we reached the gate, we looked inside. There was no sign of the girl.
‘Hello,’ I called, but my dad didn’t say anything; he just peered into the garden cautiously. I got off my bike and laid it on the floor. I made my way to the gate and reached out. My father put his hand on my shoulder.
‘You’re not going in there,’ he told me.
‘Why not?’ I asked. ‘The girl’s there.’
‘The grass, it’s too overgrown,’ Dad said. ‘There could be anything could be hiding in there. Mice… rats. And it’s dirty.’
‘But the girl’s in there,’ I repeated.
‘She must have left.’
‘She said she couldn’t get out,’ I said. ‘She told me she was trapped in the garden.’
‘Maybe she was having a joke with you,’ my dad suggested.
I shook my head. ‘She might have gone round the back… or maybe she’s shy?’ Shy was another new word... it was a word someone had used to describe how I was a few months back. I didn’t really know what it meant, just as I didn’t know what ‘weirdo’ meant but thought it was something to do with a person being scared of people.
‘You can’t go in there,’ said my father. ‘It is not allowed.’
‘The police won’t let people in there,’ he told me, his face solemn. ‘They put people in prison who have been in there.’
‘Oh no,’ I said. ‘But why?’
‘It’s something to do with the house belonging to a bad man...’ he began. ‘A man who... used to do bad things. That’s why no one lives there now, that’s why it is run-down and full of litter.’
I looked at him doubtfully, and then said, ‘Has the girl gone to prison? I didn’t see a police car.’
‘I don’t think so.’ He looked up and down the street and I could detect he didn’t really want to be there.
‘Why was she there if you are not allowed to?’ I asked my father.
‘She must not have known…’
‘They should put a sign up,’ I said.
‘So that people know no one is allowed in the garden. A sign, like ‘No going in,’ or ‘Danger: Mice.’
Mt father grinned and opened his mouth to speak, but his sentence was cut off by a loud scream. It came from the house.
‘It’s the girl,’ I said, looking at my dad, then at the house. ‘It must be. We have to go into the garden, she might have hurt herself.’
My father looked at the house, deep in thought. Then he said, ‘It sounded like a bird to me. Come on, let’s go…’
‘Dad, it was the girl, not a bird.’
‘Some birds sound just like people when they caw,’ he told me. He reached for my bike. ‘Like cats do when they sing.’
‘Cats don’t sing...’ I said, grimacing. ‘Do they?’
‘Sometimes, at night, it’s called a ‘cats’ chorus.’ Sometimes they knock at your door and sing Christmas Carols.’
‘Let’s have some lunch then go to the park, huh? We’ll play on the swings. Take your new football with you.’
I was looking at the house and wondering where the strange girl had gone to. Playing on the swings was great, as was playing football with my dad, but I hesitated.
My father said, ‘Look, I don’t want to say this, but she was probably having a joke with you and left the garden. Some people have a very strange sense of humour, Ben.’
I recalled the look in her eyes: she had seemed so sincere.
‘Or maybe she managed to find a way out of the garden all by herself,’ he continued. ‘Or someone else helped her get out.’
I nodded, had another quick look at the house, and reluctantly followed my dad back to the house.
We played on the swings and played football and my father must have surely got bored of my incessant questions about the girl and who she might be, and how she had got out of the garden. However, he didn’t show it if he did. He just chatted along with me and played. Afterwards he bought me an ice cream and we sat looking at the ducks in the park’s small lake as I ate my 99.
‘Make most of this weather,’ he said, ‘It’s going to turn.’
‘What’s it going to turn into?’ I asked.
He paused, then, ‘Rain and wind,’ he said sadly.
He was right. For the next week it drizzled and was a lot colder. Although it lasted six days, it seemed to go on forever. I wasn’t able to play out at home nor were me and my classmates able to go outside during play time at school, and I hated having to stay in the school hall. When it did finally stop drizzling, the skies turned bright and a hot sun appeared, looking down on us kindly, sending rays of heat.
‘Can I play out?’ I asked my mum and dad. It was a Sunday morning; I had been playing Lego, building a big tower. Other than football or riding my bike up and down Bramble Lane, Lego building was one of my favourite past times.
‘Yes,’ said my mother, ‘but only in the front garden… the grass out back will still be wet.’
I knocked the tower over and went to get my trainers. I went outside and into the garden with a football and began to play ‘keepy uppy,’ but wasn’t very good at it. If I were to play for Chelsea or Liverpool one day I would have to do better than that. I decided to try ‘headers.’ This involved me throwing the ball up and me heading it. I headed it toward the gate and ran after it. I kicked the ball up and down. I was Drogba scoring in the final of the Champion’s League, or Gerrard scoring from a free kick to win the FA Cup final. All around me the crowd roared and the commentators screamed in amazement. Then I was me… Ben… scoring on his league debut for Arsenal. ‘An amazing goal for this young player… I see him playing for England one day, Alan! In fact I can see him captaining England one day!’
‘Yes… an amazing player! This kid is one to watch out for! And he is only six as well!’
I giggled to myself, but suddenly the ball bounced awkwardly and flew over the gate and into the road outside. I hurried to the gate and looked out and watched it roll back towards the pavement and then down Bramble Lane.
I went to the front door. ‘Mum, can I get the ball it has gone outside the garden?’ I called.
‘Okay, but you stay off the road and when you have got your ball, come and tell me. If you don’t,’ she warned, ‘you can’t play out again.’
‘Okay, mum,’ I said and hurried down the garden path and to the gate. I pulled open the wrought iron gate and went out into the street only to see that the ball had rolled further down the road. It was near to the bungalows. I hesitated, not sure if my parents would want me to venture so far from the house without them watching me. I did not want to get into trouble. I turned to face the house, but there was no sign of my mother and father. I looked down the road at the ball. It would only take me a few seconds to run down, get the ball and run back.
I hurried down the street as fast as I could towards the ball. I was a big boy now and wasn’t a little baby. I was in year one at school and I could read, mostly. I neared the ball and reached down for it, but as I did it miraculously began to roll away, as though caught in a sudden wind. I watched it roll away. There was no wind. I looked around. I saw that it was now rolling past the bungalows and heading for Spook House. I ran over to it and it came to a halt outside the gate to the detached house. I reached down and picked it up.
I looked at the house over the gate, towards the sound of the voice.
‘Girl?’ I asked. ‘Is that you?’
I looked through the gate… there was no sign of the girl I had seen the week before. There was no sign of life at all.
I leaned forward. My height was the same height as the gate and on tip-toe I could look over and into the garden. I saw that it was overgrown with grass and weeds. I remembered what my dad had said about mice and rats. The front windows were empty and dark and the whole place looked as quiet as a tomb.
‘Girl?’ I whispered, putting the ball on the floor. ‘Are you still trapped?’
I heard the voice again. ‘Pip-squeak!’ Then laughter. I looked around, not sure where the sound of the voice had come from… and not really sure if it had been the girl who had spoken. It had sounded deeper, and a little more threatening.
Even so, I felt compelled to see where the voice was coming from, as though I was hypnotised. The walls of the house seemed to lean forward slightly, the darkened glass darkened more.
‘Come and play, pip-squeak,’ said the voice. It was trying to sound cheery, but wasn’t doing a very good job at it. ‘You are just a pip-squeak, aren’t you? Not too strong, just a boy who wants to play. We can have lots of fun here…’
‘Where are you?’ I asked. ‘I can’t see you!’
‘Of course you can’t see me… we are playing hide and seek!’
‘You’re not the girl. You are not her, are you?’
There was a pause. ‘Come see, come find me and find out who I am and what I look like. I might be the girl… I might not be. I might even be a clown or large cuddly bear or a clockwork monkey. I can be one of these things, or more, or something else entirely.’
I reached for the handle. Then, ‘My mum and dad will wonder where I have gone to.’
‘They will be all right if they find out you are here, safe and sound.’
I nodded. ‘I guess so.’
I began to open the gate. It caught on something and my grip loosened. I reached for the gate again.
All of a sudden I felt strong hands on my shoulders. I called out in alarm, thinking there was a monster behind me, or a stranger. I turned and looked up to see my father staring down at me, with a deep frown on his face.
‘Ben,’ he said. ‘What are you doing?’
‘I thought I heard the girl,’ I told him.
He took hold of me by my hand. ‘Come on, back home! You know you are not supposed to leave the garden.’
‘Mum said I could.’
‘She said you could go and get your ball from outside the house, not go all the way down the street to this place.’ He looked up at the house, grimacing. But with fear as well.
I reached down and got my ball. Dad’s grip tightened, like a vice and pulled me towards home. I caught him looking at Spook House again. He wanted to be well away from it.
‘Am I in trouble?’ I asked.
‘Yes. Yes, Ben… you are.’
‘Am I going to have to go to bed early?’
‘Probably… we’ll decide later,’ he said. I looked at him. I had never seen him looking so angry before. But there was something else in that expression as well. Horror. ‘Look, Ben… anything might have happened to you, wandering off like that. I want you to promise me you will not do anything like that again. Promise me, Ben?’
I nodded. ‘I promise.’
‘And promise you won’t go near that house!’
‘I promise, Dad,’ I told him. ‘Sorry, Dad.’
He smiled down at me, his grip loosening somewhat and his face easing into a smile. We reached our house and we went inside, where I expected another telling off from my mum, and more promises to make...
But some promises are hard to keep… or end up being forgotten.