Report On Halloween Night
... closer to the pale moon it formed into a pile of horizontal layers.
The Devil's Staircase!
We arranged to meet at the car park at 15 minutes to twelve. Three of us arrived. Terry Riddle, Rob Winnett and me, Ben Crossley. As we began to walk down the path to the ruins the cloud cleared gently from the moon. Conversation was cheerful and we exchanged a few jokes. We also noted that although it was approaching 12 o'clock B.S.T. the witching hour would not be for another 60 minutes. The walk gave us a good circulation, the night was becoming clear and not too cold so that when we reached the ruins and climbed over the remains of the outer wall it was almost as light and warm as daytime.
Between us we could remember little of the history of this old house in the middle of Bradgate Park except that it was the home of Lady Jane Grey and one of the first brick-built manors in England. Now the ruined towers gnawed at a luminescent sky, while in the shadows the moon speared the grass floor through an eyeless window.
We chose our position in what must have been a large hall, not the ideal place for witches but it gave a good atmosphere among the dark shapes of night.
I set the flashgun onto the camera and took a few photographs of us using a tripod and delayed shutter release. There is a lot of scope for effective modelling using a remote flash on a lead to give harsh shadows from sidelights. But the camera was left aside in favour of the ouija board.
It was laid on a low wall in the moonlight and at about 12.30 B.S.T. my companions rested their nervous fingers on the pointer. It remained motionless.
"Is there anybody there?" I asked. No reply.
"Who is there?" I asked and slowly the pointer began to move.
"Q" - - "U" - - "E" - - "YES" - - "E" - - "N"
"Queen who?" I asked excitedly and the board slowly continued.
"J" - - "A" - - "N" - - "E"
Those two simple words took 15 minutes with both of my friends complaining that someone was pulling the pointer.
After a brief pause we continued.
"Have you a message?"
"YES" - - "D" - - "A" - - "N" - - "G" - - "E" - - "R"
Again we stopped but when we continued all we could make out were the letters --
"B" - - "D" - - "B" - - "C" - - "D"
Maybe the board had become damp or perhaps there is a message in those letters.
Not far away a stag grumbled and roared a challenge into the night. The air was still.
"What time is it?"
"One minute to one o'clock."
An owl rustled through the air over our heads.
Suddenly we were very cold. We stood up and looked about as the ruins turned their dark faces away from us. The moon, clear only a moment before, was shaded by thin cloud. It appeared motionless but up past it rushed a circular white object. We followed its progress until it became invisible and then watched as more cloud followed, moving at great speed, swirling like the smoke from a huge fire.
It spread quickly across the western sky in straight diagonal lines while closer to the pale moon it formed into a pile of horizontal layers.
"The Devil's Staircase!"
We waited about for a few more minutes. Heavy dew was forming on everything, the ouija board and my camera. Little wonder that the photographs of these occasions are often fogged.
We walked towards the wall to return. As we reached it we were surprised by a flash of light. Lightning or a naturalist somewhere photographing badgers we decided and walking home we saw it once more against the clear sky to the north.
Just one motionless deer watched us returning down the long road, again in bright moonlight.
No crank calls please! Being motorcyclists we are not easily impressed. The above account is perfectly true but, just as the flashes are explained by marsh gas, even the startling meteorological formation could have a simple geophysical explanation. The Earth rotating over 'top-dead-centre' at midnight close to the equinox would have an atmospheric tidal effect similar to the sudden drop in pressure created in a cloud chamber experiment to detect subatomic particles. The effect on a clear cold night after a warm day would be to induce condensation of water droplets on any small motes of smoke from garden fires or field burning.