Friday, August 10, 1984

When vital heat shall leave thy frame!

At nine o’clock last night we let the tapes roll, and Lee immediately heard all sorts of clunks and knocks from inside the church. There wasn’t anyone about, because we checked this countless times, and at 10.16 Lee heard what he described as “a whispered prayer.”

When he said this my blood froze.

He played it for Jeremy who listened through the headphones and reacted with obvious disbelief and alarm. I refused the offer to listen and cursed my own pounding heart as I burrowed down into my sleeping bag.

At half-ten we had to cut the recording short because a couple of carloads of taproom lads and their girls rolled noisily up to investigate us: “Are you college freaks?” “Are you weird?” “I think you’re nutters; you should see someone . . .” and so on . . . Lee played them the tape of the whisper and I heard it for the first time, a barely audible but unmistakably human voice whispering with reverence. What was being said I couldn’t tell.

You could’ve heard the proverbial pin drop it was so quiet, and our dozen guests were spellbound. “What d’you reckon?” one of the lads asked his friend. “I don’t know but I don’t like it.” The girls were scared and thought us strange, we could tell, and they wanted to go, which they did a few minutes later.

Lee soon fell asleep, then Jeremy, and finally me, but I woke up at about three to find Michael crouched over the tape machine, headphones on. There was nothing but the crackle of static which he said sounded frightening, as though the crackling hid something silent, something obstinately refusing to show itself. I disliked listening in on the ‘phones, because even with the others awake, I felt isolated; it was just me and the pregnant hiss of the empty (?) church.

Now here’s the coincidence. The piece of glass Lee found yesterday had 444 imprinted on its surface, and a few months ago when Lee was messing about with a Ouija board he kept ‘getting’ the number 444. I did too when I joined in. And when the whispering voice spoke out through the hiss, the tape counter read 444. Lee only realised this coincidence as we talked to the assembled soul patrol on the porch, and he said it chilled him as much as it had those of us who listened.

And there’s more—Borley Rectory was demolished in 1944, in April, the fourth month: 4/44 – Is this pushing things too far? Is it ‘merely’ a coincidence? Is the Ouija board a limited method of predicting the future in some way? I don’t believe it’s a way of getting in touch with dead souls, but I think if there’s any value to it at all (and I’m inclined to doubt this, because it’s difficult to tell if someone is consciously or unconsciously moving the planchette), then perhaps it’s as a method of dredging the subconscious mind for intimations of future events. Idle speculation, but probably as wrong as wrong can be.

The cassette player was still plagued by static, so we could only assume that the night in the open had caused it to get damp and fucked the electrics somewhat. We didn’t get much else and dropped off to sleep until Mrs. Proudfoot came to unlock the door. She asked us if we’d got anything and we told her of the whispering, and she seemed taken aback and said she’s the one who cleans the church. She sounded nervous, probably because we’d always answered in the negative when she’d asked us if we’d got anything before.

We idled the rest of the day away on a patch of grass in front of the church in the town square, watching the punk-hippies strumming their guitars and sitting about doing their bored youth bit. I dislike Sudbury for its aggressive and unfriendly air. It’s full of kids and teenagers . . . Poor Michael looked sicker that ever.

We spent the journey back engrossed in talk of ghosts etc., and got to Watermouth at midnight. Michael, Jeremy and I are staying the night in Pete’s old room at Maynard Gardens.

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