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Thompson’s Lost Plimsole

Part Twelve

The Ghosts of Hookemin Hall

It had been two months since the Golden Plimsole presentation debacle had taken place. However, the plimsole now sat in pride of place in its centrally positioned cabinet in the main hallway of the school. So positioned that the morning sun, as it rose to brighten each newly born day, would cast its radiant beams through the open doors, over the inlaid coconut fibre door mat, across the encaustic tiled floor and upwards, tracing its shining pathway towards the glorious golden object, this veritable Golden Fleece, this Mask of Tutankhamen, this Grail, this Welcome Stranger nugget, truly the only decent prize ever won by anyone with even the most microscopic connection to the school. Well, that was what everyone hoped would happen, but this was December and the sky had been grey and dull as dish water for weeks!

There had, however, been several more late-night sightings in the area of the old chapel.

Mr McQueen, the school choir master, returning late one evening from his weekly yodelling lesson at the Hallifield Cultural Centre, thought he heard strange sounds coming from the old chapel ruins. This winter night was bitterly cold, and a thin mist veiled the school grounds. He imagined that he could see what looked like a number of hooded figures pushing wheelbarrows. The old chapel was surrounded on three sides by woodland and as Mr McQueen tentatively approached the location of the perceived activity, his foot caught on a tree root causing him to fall and bash his knee. In pain he called out “Bugger!”.  An owl hooted, and all became silent.  Mr McQueen stood, regained his composure, and for a few minutes, rubbed his knee. Staring momentarily into the foggy mist, assuring himself that it must simply have been a trick of the light, he turned and walked back in the direction of the school. An owl hooted.

Mr McQueen was a rosy-faced individual with a massive shock of unruly ginger hair. Known to the boys as Queenie, he had spent the early part of the century finding himself spiritually, in a Shaolin Buddhist temple in China, where, over a number of years, he had mastered the ancient art of Kung Fu. Not normally felt  to be a skill required to take on the role of choir master in a very minor private school. However, a couple of weeks after his first encounter with the supposed ghosts of Hookemin Hall, he was once again returning late from his yodelling lesson and feeling slightly merry after imbibing several single malts at the after-class social. As he neared the door to the staff quarters, he thought that he saw a beam of light moving between the trees near the old chapel site.     

Feeling brave and keen to investigate, he marched purposefully towards the light source. An owl hooted. His trained sense of hearing alerted him to the sound of footsteps behind him. He quickly turned, only to be confronted by the shadowy figure of a monk. Mr McQueen stepped back as the spectre raised some sort of club above its head. He instinctively adopted the flying crane move and leapt into the air, kicking the weapon from the monk’s hand. Dropping to the floor he instantly adopted the Zhang open palm and struck hard in the direction of the ghostly monk’s nose. An audible crack could be heard, followed by “You’ve broken my flaming nose!” Alerted by another sound behind him, Mr McQueen turned to face a diminutive figure smoking a cigarette. “You, boy”, he exclaimed, “Who gave you permission to smoke? Extinguish that cigarette this instance and return to your dorm”.  What happened next was something that his extensive training had not prepared him for. The diminutive figure punched him hard in the testicles. Despite the years of training, winded and gasping for breath, he failed to hear the first apparition approach from behind. He also failed to remain conscious from the heavy blow applied to his cranium.

When he finally came round, still disorientated, he found himself to be bound and gagged and surrounded by a group of hooded monks. The pint sized monk spoke first. “Did he see your face?”. “No”, came the reply, “But I think he’s broken my nose!”. “Well, we can’t leave him here, blindfold him and take him to the cellar, we can decide what to do with him later”. Mr McQueen, disregarding the situation that he now found himself in, thought to himself, “That young boy has a very deep and commanding voice, he’d be ideal in the bass section”. Two of the monks lifted him between them and started to bodily drag him away from the assembled group. The gag over his mouth loosened slightly, allowing him to address the smallest of the monks. “I don’t suppose you sing , do you?”. The monk with the broken nose attempted to replace the gag. Mr McQueen could see now that he was being taken to a vehicle parked in a small clearing, struggling to keep his mouth clear of the gag, he shouted back, “Choir practice on Monday evenings 5.30 to 7.00”. The mini monk laughed and shouted back. “No, I don’t sing, and neither will you when we get finished here”. Mr McQueen was bundled onto the back seat of the car which was driven slowly out of the woods without its lights on. One of the monks walked in front of the car using a lantern to guide the way until the main road was reached. Utilising his Shaolin training, Mr McQueen started counting the seconds off.  16 minutes. This would place him somewhere near the centre of Hallifield. The vehicle moving over cobbled stones also indicated that he was in the vicinity of the old market square. However, despite his years of training in the ancient arts, it was the 11pm peel of bells, G sharp, F Sharp, E and B from St Cuthbert’s Church, that was the giveaway. Mr McQueen knew these bells well, as it was the same sequence as that of Big Ben. The car halted and the two characters in the front waited a few moments to make sure that the coast was clear. The car door opened, and Mr McQueen was roughly dragged from his seat. He tried to kick out, but his legs and ankles were bound tightly. He was manhandled into a standing position and could hear a door lock being opened followed by the distinctive tinkle of a shop’s hanging doorbell. He continued to struggle but to no avail. He sensed another door being opened and a light going on. He was pushed down a small flight of stairs into a cold space that he perceived to be the aforementioned cellar. Dragged to his feet again, he was placed onto a wooden chair which he was then tied to. Broken Nose took this opportunity to punch Mr McQueen in the face. This was another mistake on the part of the broken nosed monk due to the fact that our hero had spent years strengthening his facial muscles by hanging increasingly heavier weights from his chin. “Bloody Nora! I think I’ve broken my ruddy fingers”. The second monk replied with a French accent, “we’ll deal with him properly when we get back, let’s go”.

He heard the monks leaving the cellar, and although he was blindfolded, he knew that the light had been extinguished and could hear the cellar door being locked behind them. The muffled tinkle of the shop doorbell told him that they were leaving the premises altogether, as did the sound of the car starting and moving off. Mr McQueen sat in silence for a few minutes listening to see if one of his captors had stayed behind. The rough handling that he had suffered had helped to loosen the blindfold and the gag. A little head shaking cleared both obstacles. He shouted out a few times in order to elicit a response from whoever might be on guard in the shop, but there was no response. How on earth was he going to free himself from this predicament? He tried to stand but could only manage a stoop, being so tightly bound to the chair. As he went to sit back down, one of the chair legs snapped off. This threw him to the floor at which point a second leg and part of the chair back broke away. The chair was rotten. It had obviously been down in this damp cellar for years. With all of the strength that he could muster, Mr McQueen straightened his body and snapped the chair back, away from the seat. Now free of the chair, he was able to hobble towards the staircase and by lying on his back, to ascend the stairs in order to operate the light switch. This he achieved with his teeth. With the light now on, he could see that he was in the shop’s coal cellar. There was an axe embedded in a large block of wood and this gave him an idea. Descending a flight of stairs when trussed up like a Christmas turkey proved to be a little more precarious than ascending the stairs. Mr McQueen missed the last two steps and ended up in a heap with his face two inches away from the blade of the axe. In the future, a complete lack of regular exercise, a penchant for bar snacks and a love of real ales, would add several inches to his waistline, but now Mr McQueen was supple enough to get himself into a position whereby he could bring his bound wrists into contact with the axe blade. It took a good twenty minutes of rubbing his bindings against the dull blade of the axe before his wrists were free.  The rest of his tethers were dispensed with a few moments later. Now free to make his escape, he attempted to open the cellar door by putting all of his weight against it but found it to be reinforced!  Even the axe made little impression on the 6×3 barricade. Looking around, Mr McQueen saw the pile of coal in the corner of the cellar. Above the coal pile was the delivery chute, the lid of which would be located on the pavement at the front of the shop. If he could force the lid open, then he might be able to use this as his escape route.

To be continued:


Published by crispinunderfelt

All round good egg. Humanist and red wine drinker.

7 thoughts on “Thompson’s Lost Plimsole

      1. Well, from casual observation I have seen that many of your characters reach rather ignominious ends. I just don’t know if I could handle all the fame and glory.

        Liked by 1 person

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