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. The Gypsy's Grave

A short ghost story by Peter Marshall

“It’s nice to see you again, Barry“, said Raymond Francis, “But I’m intrigued by why you asked me to meet you. There’s obviously more than just a social catch-up involved.“ The two friends were in The Old Bell, in Kentford, on the Bury Road, near Newmarket. “Well, yes, there is”, said Barry Granger. “I know you’re into all this paranormal, investigative stuff.” “Yes, I am”, said Raymond. “Why? I thought you didn’t believe in it.” “Well, I had a very strange and disturbing experience a few days ago“ said Barry.“ I was on my way to Bury St Edmunds and began to feel very tired, just before reaching there. I pulled into a lay-by and got out to walk around, to try to wake myself up.” “Go on“, said Raymond.“ “Well, as I walked, I seemed to lose track of time. I must’ve walked about a mile, when I came to a crossroads, where there was a display of fresh flowers. On closer inspection, it appeared to be a grave. I stooped down and studied it for a while and seemed to feel it was pretty important to me at that particular time – as if it was part of my destiny to be there then. Mad, I know it sounds. I’m quite embarrassed about telling you, but it’s been playing on my mind. Maybe that’s all it was, just a matter of overthinking. It was, after all, very late and dark. There was very little light from the moon and the scene was further obscured by the fact that there was a cold mist hanging in the air. There was nobody around and the only sound was a low hum, from an electricity pylon close by. You’re referring to the Gypsy Boy’s Grave. Everybody around here knows about that”, said Raymond. It’s been there for more than a century, so the legend goes. There’s always fresh flowers on it and nobody ever sees them being put there. Gypsies, I suppose, but, as I said, nobody ever sees them being replaced. So is that it, just that you found this grave? It’s a local legend.” “No, it’s more than that in “, said Barry. “You see, I felt very emotionally disturbed, when I was squatting by the grave; yet I didn’t know anything about it. In fact I had a feeling of deep dread, like I’ve never felt before. Then I went back to the car and I fell asleep. I had a very disturbing dream. You see, I dreamt I was the person in the grave and, interestingly, I was a gypsy in my dream. I was charged to look after some sheep for a local farmer and when counting the flock, I found there was one short. Well, I knew that the punishment for sheep stealing was flogging, followed by hanging and I was frightened. I was so frightened that I took my rope and set up a noose on the bow of a tree and, there, I hanged myself. Before I died, I woke up from the dream. I was in a cold sweat. I couldn’t get it out of my mind all day and the next evening I went back to the grave to have another look. It was late, it was dark and cold and a mist hung in the air again. Then I saw it , hanging from the branch of a nearby tree, a figure hanging, a ragged boy, no more than about 11 years of age. Suddenly, it was gone. I wasn’t sure whether it was ever there, or whether I had imagined it. I was becoming very confused and disturbed and my mind was working overtime.

Then, that night, I dreamt about it again but, this time, I recounted the sheep and there were none missing. I had made a mistake the night before, but then I had the overwhelming sorrow that it was too late. I was already hanging from the tree and I was dead. I woke up in a cold sweat again. I needed to talk to someone about it. I felt I was losing my mind and then I remembered you were into that sort of thing. You and your family used to attend seances at the spiritualist church.” “Still do“ said Raymond. “I can tell you that what you dreamt about is consistent with the legend. Are you sure you’ve never heard about it?” “Absolutely“, said Barry.“ I’ve never seen or heard of this grave, or the legend, before.“ “Well, the legend goes that the gypsy boy was looking after sheep for the Lord of the Manor, said Raymond. “And when he counted them, one day, he found one was missing. Well, the punishment for sheep rustling around here, in those days, was public flogging, followed by hanging. Fearing this, the young youth hanged himself from the bough of a tree and, suicide being a crime and a mortal sin, those who took their own life were always buried on crossroads, so that they could never rest in peace. Really odd that you should dream all that when you’ve never heard the legend before. I tell you what; I know a hypnotist who specialises in past life regression. Shall I introduce you? ", he asked.

“Yes, please do“, said Barry.“ I’ve never believed in ghosts, but I’m now prepared to try anything, if it might shed some light on this.“ Raymond took his mobile phone from his pocket and after entering his password, scrolled down his contacts until he came to the name George Lidenfield. He clicked the call button, clicked loudspeaker and waited for a reply “George”, he said. “I’ve someone with me that could do with your expert help. A past life regression issue. When could you see him?” “I’m free after four O’clock tomorrow”, if he could make it then, he said. “Usual fees.” Barry gave the thumbs up and the appointment was made.

The following afternoon, Barry arrived at what was an old farmhouse, rather dilapidated, and George Lindenfield showed him into his consulting room. “Now, are you sure about this?“, asked George. “Are you going to freak out if you find out something disturbing?“ “Yes, I’m sure, said Barry. “Let’s just get on with it.” George settled Barry into a reclining chair, switched on a recorder and asked him to fix his eyes on a spot on the ceiling. Then he began coaxing him into a trance with words spoken in a gentle tone. Very soon, Barry lost track of time and was falling into a deep trance. After that Barry rembered nothing directly about his experiences in the trance; his only knowledge of it was from the playback of the recording that George had made. Barry heard himself talking in a dialect that was not his; though the timbre of his voice he clearly recognised as his own. He learned that he had been a gypsy shepherd in a past life and, in fact, it was him that was buried at the crossroads. He was anything, but relieved by the information.

“Does that mean I’m a ghost?“, he asked, his heart was now pounding. “No; not at all“, replied George. “We all have many lives. The River of Stix washes away memories between them, but being buried at the crossroads prevented this happening for you. You weren’t allowed to rest, no more than any other suicide victim. But now you know what happened and you know you were innocent of the crime, you can make peace with your former self, so that you can move on.” “Being buried at the crossroads prevented him completely dying, you’re saying. D’you mean he remained undead?”

“Well, yes”, said George. “Not only because of the burial at the crossroad, he didn’t want to be dead anyway. He knew it was not his time. That was the main reason for his remaining undead.” “So I am partly undead,then?”, asked Barry. “For, after all, a previous life had not ended before my current one started.”

The hypnotist didn’t answer the question.

“What we must do now is tell that part of your unconscious mind to give up its attempt to cling to life, or half-life, and let you take over completely, said George.

“How do you propose I do that?”, asked Barry.

“I will guide you into trance where you brain will be functioning at a wavelength of around 7.5 Hz. That is the gateway to the unconscious. Then I’ll talk to that part of your psyche that belongs to this past life, said George. “I’ll tell it that what had happened can’t be reversed, so there’s no point in it clinging to life and I’ll command it to let go.”

“OK”, let’s do it then”, said Barry.

“Fix your eyes on that same spot on the ceiling then”, said George and he began the induction process as before. Barry was aware of no more than the first few gentle words the therapist spoke. The next thing he was aware of was being awakened out of the trance.

“How do you feel now?”, asked George.“

“Still a bit disturbed”, said Barry.

“Time is a great healer“, said George. “You will come to terms with it.“

“I suppose I’ll have to”, said Barry.

[at 1547 words, this is a 12 minute read]

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