‚Many people claim that ghosts don’t exist. It is often said that the latter are a product of our imagination or a result of longing for those who passed. However, each one of us, even once, happened to see or hear them. What we’ve done with the fact is a different thing. Most of us try to belittle what we saw. We tell ourselves that we fall victim to a mistake or an illusion. We assign strange noises often waking us up at a hollow night to creaks of the floor or the stairs which wood shrinks due to humidity. We explain mysterious rustle with draughts or rodents. Strange shadows that fill the flat up at night vanish after turning a bright electric light on. They turn out to be clothes hanging on hangers. We burst out laughing and are incredulous due to our naiveness. However, this laugh is often astonishingly theatrical – as we would like to convince ourselves and come back to sleeping calmly until the morning. Yet shadows always return after turning the light off and you try not to notice that they are too many of them again.
The dead visit us in our dreams, often surprisingly real, and for a long time after waking up we still feel their presence. Who doesn’t spotted in a crowd a silhouette of a deceased friend; of such a known one that it was breathtaking?’
I stopped typing on the laptop’s keyboard. The text was not the worst one, yet would it convince anyone? What would the editors say? In fact, this was not how it is written today. The style was too poetical and lyrical and therefore it could be recognised as a poor imitation of the stories of such masters of the horror as H. P. Lovecraft or our domestic one – Grabiński. In the case of the former, I would have to add more words like: ‚blasphemous’, ‚hideous’ or ‚sinister’. Contemporary horror stories should be written in simple language and contain strong sexual scenes and ones of violence. Nothing intrigued the readers more than hectolitres of blood. Sales of our magazine increased significantly after we had described the story of a priest who was raped with a stiff rolled-up newspaper and castrated with shears afterwards. The poor man was eventually strangled with a string of a harp. The sadist-killer turned out to be a man once molested by the clergyman.
But since that success, sales of our magazine decreased continuously. Maybe we were insufficiently terrifying or simply we started to share the fate of all kinds of similar niche paper magazines such as ‚Torturer’, ‚The Crime and the Erotic’ or ‚The Bloody Sensation’.
During the time, the Editor racked his brain for means of increasing sales. We came up with various – as we believed – shocking topics and interspersed reading the magazine with more or less abhorrent illustrations. There was everything – a man whose head was chopped off and send to his wife by post by a group of teenagers just for fun. The story of a butcher-criminal who killed girls, cut their breasts off and then fried the latter and served them to an unsuspecting family for supper.
Well, those were not too ambitious texts – I almost puked while reading most of them, especially because actual happenings inspired them more than once. Cruelty, pornography and violence did emigrate to the Internet that became a true mine of such content and sales of the magazine wasn’t increasing.
The Editor came to a conclusion that it was high time changing the magazine’s profile to a more spiritualised and esoteric one. ‚Intended for those who feel and know more’. Obviously, everything was a hogwash, from beginning to end. The stories about ghosts summoned by girls in a hall of residence during an amateur spiritist séance. The story of a girl possessed by even unclean daemons, speaking Aramaic fluently and spitting out the nails which were used to crucify the Christ. The interview with a clairvoyant foreseeing a nuclear hecatomb that only cockroaches would survive. And so on. Eventually, I ran out of ideas for texts and then – this letter arrived. An enigmatic one. At the beginning we recognised it as a bad joke. And it was as follows:
I writte to your editors office because I read that newspapr for some time. I buy it in our news-stand. You want a good topic so go to the school address which I’ve written for you below. My married one worked there once and what she told can’t be imagined. Something happened in there so they had to close and evacuate the whole school. Some of the kids perished and they sink witout a trace. Folks said there was something and those who went to the cursed school after that were running away like the devil himself was chasing them. Send there a journalist of yours, maybe he will find out something more and write about it. But better in daytime and not in the night, because it’s scary in the night and many of those who had gone there didn’t come back.
We read this grammatically poor letter twice and – to be frank – had a good many laughs with the Editor. We suspected that some crazy old man had written it. The writing had many scribbles and the very letters were created by a trembling hand. Below was the school address – a one-horse town, where the devil says goodnight, somewhere in Bieszczady. The signature was: ‚Yours Anthony’.
– This might be a nice topic for a photo material after all – the Editor said. – But I don’t believe there is something for real.
– Come on – I bridled – to go that far… It’s a waste of money. We don’t know if the school described by the guy even exists.
Eventually, after a stormy discussion, I agreed. I didn’t know that the travel would change my life.