I guess we've always been a bit different, I don't mean odd ... or do I? Well, to start off with it's just my sister and me, so I suppose we are an odd couple, but I doubt we're alone in that. Oh! I know what you're thinking, well, you've been read too many stories on the internet, we are just brother and sister, nothing more. When we were kids we didn't worry too much about who saw what, not nudity, just not bothered, and since I've had to look after her it would have been difficult to be prudish, but nothing more. We have both been married and divorced, and neither of us have any children, and when my sister had an early stroke, fortunately not too serious, I looked after her. We decided that she should come and live with me; I had moved into our parents old bungalow when they died, and she joined me there, and as she recovered from her stroke there were times when I had to see more of her than would normally be expected, but nothing ever happened, and I don't think either of us wanted to anyway. So that's that out of the way, no more nasty thoughts.
Our parents had moved from the old family home in the country to a suburban bungalow, but it didn't really suit them, and truth to tell it didn't suit us either. It just didn't seem right with us living there either, almost as though our parents were still watching us. So we wanted somewhere that we could start out on our own.
It took a long time, but we finally sold the old bungalow, and set out to find that place that we could really call our own, and being used to using the internet that was where I started to look. And that's where being different showed. You see most people select and area in which they would like to live, and then they work out how many bedrooms they need and all the other things, big kitchen, study, perhaps an 'en suite', modern or olde worlde, all those sort of things, whereas our first requirement was 'isolated', middle of a field, and 'interesting', it had to be interesting, and it had to have a barn, or some sort of outbuildings. After that we'd look at the house, or bungalow, cottage, or even mobile home, and check that it's got two bedrooms, or three or four it didn't matter, and all the usual things like a kitchen, not to worry if there is no bathroom, that's something I can soon sort. No electricity or water? No bills then.
So you see, different, and that means you can't use the internet property sites because the first thing they want to know is how many bedrooms. Like normal people would ask.
We had picked an area, well several and even they weren't fixed, so we started our hunt on the ground. What we needed was an estate agent who knew the property on his books, but also had a knowledge of what else might be available and was able to think away from the normally accepted formula, outside the box, and to us that meant finding one who tended to specialise in rural areas and dealing with the agricultural community. These people will often know about things that are not actually advertised for sale, but may be with a bit of negotiation...
We were lucky in that our first choice of agent turned out to be sympathetic to our requirements, well, let's be honest he was going to get his fees from whatever deal took place, but Tim seemed a pleasant young man who knew his job, and provided us with several properties to look at. None of them hit the spot though, they were all good, just not quite good enough. Sitting in his office on the morning of the second day he told us that he had thought of something that might suit, if we had a cup of coffee he'd make a couple of phone calls and see if he could line something up. What, he wouldn't say. It took him about twenty minutes, and when he returned he was all smiles and ushered us out to his car.
A couple of miles from the small town where he had his office was a pretty little village, and about a mile beyond that we turned onto an unmade road and past a neatly kept cottage. An attractive blonde woman in gardening kit waved as we went past.
Half a mile or so along the track we crossed a bridge over a small stream and there before us was paradise. Sitting in a shallow east/west valley was a rambling part single and part two storey stone cottage with a barn and some other outbuildings nestling protectively on the north side. There was, we were told, about ten acres of land that went with it. Like I said, paradise.
"There you are," said Tim. "Valley Farm."
"Great," I said, "but how the hell can we afford this, it's gotta be way over our budget."
"Don't be too sure," Tim, the agent said. "Wait until you've seen it all and then we'll discuss it."
We commence the tour. There was certainly plenty of accommodation, although you tended to go through one room to get to another, and the place was habitable; just. The kitchen was rudimentary by modern standards and the bathroom was, um ... let's just say the first thing that would happen would be total replacement whilst we used my old caravan. There was an electricity supply, although the wiring in the house looked distinctly unsafe, and a telephone connection arrived on the same poles, and yes a reasonable broadband connection was available. Altogether there were nine rooms on the ground floor, although one or two were small, and there was a large entrance hall with a staircase to two further rooms on the first floor. Outside the garden area was overgrown and the land was just rough pasture and a small amount of woodland. The barn, and the other outbuildings suited me right down to the ground, storage, garaging, workshops. Like I said, paradise.
And better still we both liked it too. My sister, Sally by the way, could see all the possibilities for doing her things, as well as continuing to run her business - well, somebody has to earn our crust – and I should be like a pig in ... well, you know what...
We went back to the estate agent's office and talked it over. An offer substantially less than our budget would be acceptable we discovered, leaving us with enough to carry out the work required to make the place fully habitable.
We completed what paperwork was needed to seal the deal and decided that we would take another look before we left for home. We stopped at the start of the unmade road when we saw the blonde woman in her garden and introduced ourselves as her new neighbours. We chatted for a few minutes and she told us her name was Charlotte, that she lived there with her sister Letitia who was a solicitor in the nearby town. And yes, they were called Lettie and Lottie.
"Are you sure you'll be able to cope with the house?" she asked.
"I don't think we'll have too much problem," I replied.
"Well, I think you're very brave my dears, yes, very brave."
And with those words we took our leave and drove down to have another look at what we were buying.
After we had had a good look round again we sat on an old bench that was in the garden.
"It seems such an incredible deal," said Sally, "but you've a hell of a lot of work to do."
"Nothing I can't handle."
"I wonder what she meant by us being very brave?"
"Lots of work I imagine." I replied.
We completed the purchase a month later and proceeded to move stuff in over the next couple of weeks. Fortunately I had a reasonably large caravan that we would be able to live in for a few weeks whilst some of the work was done on the house. One of the first things I did was install a closed circuit television system which, even with four cameras and oodles of recording space didn't cost too much and allayed some of the worries we had about being somewhat isolated.
Of course we spent several nights in the caravan during this period, and it was on one of these that we were invited for a drink and nibbles by our nearest neighbours, the ladies at the end of the lane. This was the first time we met Lettie who was the elder sister. She was a handsome woman, very good looking, not what you might call a beauty, but very striking, and certainly not femininely 'pretty', no, that was Lottie. Lettie was slender, about five eight, with slightly greying auburn hair which I thought was quite long, but worn in a tight bun, whereas Lottie was five three, had a delightful slim but feminine figure and a cloud of wavy blonde hair. Lettie was the one who worked, and Lottie kept house for them. Both were in their mid to late forties, about our own ages. Their cottage was typical of the area built of stone with a slate roof, with a well modernised interior, and set in a well kept garden. They proved to be good company and very informative about the area, although strangely reticent about our predecessors at Valley Farm, about whom we learned nothing.
We had been in residence for about a month and we had been in the house for several days when I was awakened one night by a revving engine and scrunching of spinning tyres, and made it to the bedroom window, in time to see the back end of a white van disappearing up the track at a fair old lick. Disturbed, I went down to check the video to see if I could get a number for the van. The first thing I found was that the back door was open, and Kate our border collie coming in through it. Now Kate always sleeps in the kitchen, at least she always did at our previous house, and her bed was just moved into the new one. But I was quite certain that I had closed and locked the door. I mean, really certain. I made a fuss of Kate and then examined the door, but it showed no sign of force having been used on it. Very strange. I closed and re-locked it and then I went into my office, or at any rate the area I had designated for that use, and checked the video. The cameras showed three men running to the van as though the hound of hell was after them. But they were being chased by Kate, and although she barked she wouldn't have given them more than a dangerous lick. Very odd. I watched it on the two cameras that showed anything, the van arrived, three men got out, they started to look around, and then Katy ran into the picture barking. But the men's reaction was one of utter panic, terror even, and the van's departure showed erratic driving that wouldn't have looked out of place in a Keystone Cops movie, the driver barely keeping to the track. I ran it through several times before I returned to the kitchen, but the dog snoring in its bed didn't look as though it would frighten a baby. I made two cups of tea – I knew Sally would be awake so I might just as well, took one into her and explained what had happened, and returned to bed. Perplexed, but happy that the erstwhile robbers had been foiled.
A couple of days later I took a break and decided to go for a walk around some of the local footpaths, taking Kate with me. We ended up at the local pub as you do.
"Can the dog come in?" I asked.
"No problem, as long as she's not dangerous." The landlord replied.
"Dangerous?" I said. "We saw some sheep just now and she took one look and hid behind me, that's how dangerous she is."
I introduced myself.
"Oh, you've taken over Valley Farm, have you? Come to tell us how to run the village like the rest of 'em I suppose?" He had the good grace to smile.
"Do you need telling?" I asked, keeping it light, I know just how village people feel about this sort of thing.
"No," he said. "No, we don't."
"Then I promise not to say a word."
"I'll hold you to that," he grinned. "How're you getting on with the ghosts?"
"Ghosts? What ghosts?"
"They didn't tell you? Oh dear. I suppose you got it cheap."
"Ye-es, yes, remarkably so."
"Well, that'll be why. Nobody around here would buy it. All the people who've lived there have left screaming, have done for years."
I mentioned the episode with the three men and the Transit.
"Ha, that'll be the Smith boys, I'll bet. Had a fright did they? Serves 'em right."
"Well, I don't believe in ghosts." I said.
"No, but you will do."
I finished my drink and left. Thoughtfully.
I walked up the road from the village until I turned onto the track down to the farm. As I did so I saw Lettie and Lottie sitting in the garden, both looking quite lovely in the evening sunshine.
"Come and have a drink."
I might have turned this down because I wanted to get back, but the landlord of the pub had piqued my curiosity.
"Thankyou," I said and entered the garden.
Kate was ahead of me and had already helped herself to a drink from their ornamental pond, before going to greet them enthusiastically.
"A beer, thankyou," I answered Lottie's unspoken question.
We chatted and I told them how I was getting on, and that I had just taken a couple of hours off and had called in at the pub.
"The landlord mentioned ghosts," I said. "I don't remember you mentioning anything like that."
Their faces were a picture, and neither was able to put together a sentence for a moment or two.
"I would have thought you'd been told about that, or found out," said Lettie. "What you might call research into a property, other than the searches your solicitor does, that is."
"Really? Floods, whether there is an airfield or a smelly pig unit nearby, I checked all of those. Ghosts didn't occur to me for some reason."
Lettie had the good grace to look embarrassed; Lottie hadn't stopped since I brought the subject up.
"It was young Timmy you bought it from, wasn't it?"
"Yes," I replied.
"It's the same family you see."
That explained a lot, but a lot still required an explanation.
I left them to it and walked home. I still didn't believe in ghosts.
By Christmas I had done most of the work, the house was now looking more or less as we wanted it, the new kitchen was fully functional and we had two good bathrooms. On the Friday just before Christmas, and after lunch, I was sitting in front of my computer getting down to some writing, I was behind with my work – you didn't really think I left it all to Sally did you? - and I had an agent on my tail. I didn't hear the phone ring and jumped when Sally put her head in and said that Lottie was on the line. It turned out that she had a blocked drain and could I possibly help because she couldn't get anyone to come out. Not a problem. I went outside and loaded the sort of things I would need in the trailer I used with the quad bike and drove up there.
It took me a couple of hours to sort the problem out, and make sure everything was working. I washed my hands in their kitchen and, after I had refused payment, Lottie offered me a glass of red wine. The first was followed by a second, accompanied by a certain level of banter containing perhaps a smidgeon of innuendo, and in an extension of the convivial spirit I guided her across the kitchen and under a sprig of mistletoe that was pinned to the beam across the centre of the kitchen as part of the Christmas decorations.
"We really shouldn't," she protested as she came into my arms.
The kiss was, at first, fairly chaste, but within a moment it became anything but and we were into a fully fledged 'I am about to pick you up and take you to bed' sort of kiss, and as this advanced I dropped my hand lower on her back so that I could draw her closer. It was at this point that I felt something that wasn't quite right. She obviously realised this and tried to pull away, but I held her tight, dropped my hand to the hem of her dress and slid it upwards to find ... a rigid cock.
I broke the kiss. I could see a look of fear in her eyes.
"I think there's something you haven't told me," I said. "Someone's being a naughty girl, aren't they?"
Lottie looked as though she was about to burst into tears, so I kissed her again, and after a few seconds she joined in. I still had hold of her cock when the door opened.
"Hello," said Lettie, brightly, as she entered the kitchen, followed by, "Oh!" as she realised what was going on. And then:
"Oh Lottie, you promised."
And she sat down heavily.
"Lottie you promised it wouldn't happen again."
"I couldn't help it Lettie."
"No, you'd had a glass of wine, no, two, and he-man here decided to take advantage of you. And you just couldn't resist, could you?"
She paused. "We'll have to move again."
"No, Lettie, please." Lottie was crying now.
"You know we'll have to."
"Yes," I asked, finally getting a word in, "why?"
"You should know what will happen when this gets around. We've had it before, Lottie makes a mistake and we're persecuted." Lettie rounded on me.
"I'm sorry," I said, "but I don't quite follow this. I appreciate that there are people who would be quite unpleasant if they found out, although I don't know why, but there are. And how will they find out?"
"Because you'll tell them. You won't be able to resist."
"I take exception to that remark. I enjoyed kissing Lottie, and I'm damned if I won't do it again." And I suited action to words.
"There. In the eyes of those who'd persecute you I'm probably just as bad, and I'm not moving. So why must you?"
Lettie sat there looking at me.
"You really mean that don't you?"
"Yes. I've never fancied having sex with another bloke, but Lottie just doesn't come across to me as anything but a woman. What about you?"
"What do you mean, 'what about me'?"
"I mean you always think of her as a woman and you know the truth. And if anyone were to push me on the subject and say that one of you two wasn't a woman I'd have picked you."
"D'you want me to take my knickers off so's you can sex me like a damned kitten?"
"No ... well ... don't take that the wrong way. I mean, you're a very attractive woman, so I'm not saying..."
Lettie was grinning broadly. "So you would like to?"
"I'm a bloke ... we can't help it."
"No, Lottie can't either, but for all the wrong reasons."
Lettie got to her feet. "Okay, stud, let's give you a run under the mistletoe and see if we can seal a deal."
It was a pretty long seal, but that's lawyers for you, and towards the end I felt a hand on my private parts. Nice.
Lettie broke the kiss.
But she still had hold of the family jewels.
"Any word of this gets about and before we go you'll lose these."
She gave them a squeeze.
"Now, let's have the evening to think things over and you come and see us in the morning."
I got home and put things away and went into the kitchen where Sally was just putting the finishing touches to supper.
"Just in time. I was thinking about sending out a search party."
I helped myself to a glass of red with the passing thought that this was what had caused the problem, and tucked in to supper.
When we had cleaned up I went and sat in front of my computer to think. I often do this, just stare at the screen and try to concentrate my thoughts. I had another glass because it just felt like one of those sort of evenings.
I heard a giggle behind me. Well, it sounded like a giggle, and it could only come from behind me because if it came from in front of me I'd have been able to see the giggler. Wouldn't I? But Sally had never been a giggler, so who was it?
It giggled again.
There was a semi-transparent figure behind me. Well, in front of me now; see, I'm not pissed, I know which way round I am. And whatever it was, was now in front of me, and it giggled again. And what it was, was a cliché. Honestly. I could see, and I'm sure I could see, the figure of a young woman with wavy black hair flowing past her shoulders, green eyes, I was sure they were green, an upturned nose, full red lips with sparkling white teeth all set against a perfect pale complexion, set on a long neck, exposed shoulders above a white peasant blouse that showed a deep and generous décolletage, a red sash holding up a full black skirt, perfect calves which probably led to dainty feet but I couldn't tell because they were encased in what looked like a pair of Doc Martens. I was so fascinated by the Doc Martens that by the time I looked up again she was dissolving into nothing. Thin air. But you see what I mean, a cliché, I have just described everyone's idea, or should that be every cinematographer's idea of the peasant siren, the gypsy maiden who is going to make your fondest dreams come true.
Fucking wet dreams to boot!
Oh yes, on reflection they were just old fashioned hobnailed boots. Kinky though.
I shook my head. I'd had one over the eight, must have, must have lost count because I didn't think I'd had that much.
I sat there for a few moments, and then got up and went to find Sally. She was sitting by the woodburner in the sitting room, knitting.
"Sal," I began, "I've just seen a ghost."
She looked up at me and smiled.
"Oh," she said, "you've met Demelza."
"I've met who?"
What kind of a name is that? And who is she?"
"Biblical, I think, and she's our ghost."
"Our ghost? You mean we've only got one?" I might have sounded slightly hysterical.
"Yes, only one. I'm surprised she's taken all this time to show herself to you, probably a bit shy, she thinks you're rather dishy."
"The ghost, our ghost, thinks I'm rather dishy. You mean the ghost fancies me? But I don't believe in ghosts."
At which point I was haunted by the pub landlord's words, 'You will do'.
"You really ought to sit down, you look as though you've seen a ghost."
"I have. Apparently."
I sat down.
"God! That's the second shock I've had today." Or is it the third, I wondered, thinking about Lottie and Lettie, and now Demelza.
"What was the first one?"
"I can't tell you. I'm sworn to secrecy."
"Oh, that'll be about Lottie then. I suppose that would be a bit of a shock, and Demelza feeds on emotion, so that's why you saw her this evening."
"What do you know about Lottie? And how do you know?"
"We don't want to discuss that, but obviously you found out, I can guess how, and I dare say that Lettie knows that you know, and she has sworn you to secrecy."
"Threatened to remove my frilly bits."
"She would too! And I'd help her if you ever opened your mouth."
Which was precisely what I did, it was hanging open as all kinds of emotions ran through me.
And then there was a giggle behind me.
"Oh fuck!" I groaned.
"I'd love to, but I ain't got no substance."
Demelza moved into view, definitely more substantial than previously, but still not really there.
"You can see me, 'an you can hear me, but you can't touch me. More's the pity."
"Hello, Demelza," said Sally. "You're getting lots of emotion from him are you?"
"Ooh yes Sally, thanks, lots, he's very good."
"Can I ask a question?" I asked, slightly pissed at being talked about.
"'Course you can."
"Why the boots?"
"Oh well, I was out feedin' the chickens when I was killed, an' I always wore boots fer that. I didn't like treadin' in chicken shit, or havin' the little bastards peckin me toes! Mistake 'em for worms they do."
Well, they wouldn't, wouldn't they?
I woke up just before the sun peeked over the hill which meant it was just before nine. I had a lot to think about from last night, but that would have to wait. I took a quick shower, grabbed a slice of toast and a cup of coffee that Sally had left when she made hers earlier, and headed off to see Lettie and Lottie, a few butterflys in my tummy.