A good part of the night was spent monitoring the Bishop’s room and the adjacent room hoping to pick up any, shall we say, supernatural occurrences. Actually, the original idea was for Dave Milner to sleep in the Bishop’s Room, and he could be monitored, whether he actually managed to sleep or not, lying on the bed.
He was a bit reluctant at first, but he agreed to do it only on the understanding that we all went downstairs first to have some tea from flasks and get warm by the calor gas fire John Humphries had left on for us. In other words, for everybody to take a short break away from the gloom and despairing atmosphere that seemed to permeate the upstairs of the building. The idea was that, after this short respite in the investigation, Dave Milner could act as a firsthand witness to any unusual psychic activity in the Bishop’s Room in the event of any unusual occurrences as – and as seemed to have proved the case going by its past history – the Ram’s ghosts seemed to become more active in the presence of human witnesses.
Anyway, it seemed a more plausible alternative as opposed to rather just continuing to monitoring the empty room. And if it was the case that psychic energy might be in some way be activated by some “living presence” in the room – in this case Dave Milner – if anything happened it could be recorded on film and produce some sort of evidence of psychic activity.
After having discussed the matter downstairs for an hour or so and comparing notes in the still relatively depressing atmosphere that seemed to envelop the entire Inn after dark, I remained downstairs with Dave Milner, trying to grab as much available heat as possible, whilst Wayne went upstairs with the others to check the equipment and make sure it was ready for the next stage of the vigil. He said he would send somebody down to get us once the preparations were complete. Although Dave was set to get into the bed, I would be watching the monitor and checking around with the others. About twenty minutes after this, there seemed to be a slight commotion, movements of the others moving around upstairs which seemed at variance with a previous “organised silence”.
I went upstairs to find out what was happening, only to find Wayne packing up the equipment. He said he was sorry but they had to leave; not because of any “psychic anomalies” in the Inn itself, but because Heidi was feeling really unwell, an escalation of a condition that she’d had for over a week or more. I could tell this was no idle excuse. I had come to know Heidi quite well and realised she was not one who would easily give in to any effects of physical sickness, unless its results were real enough and she only longed the comfort of her own home and the warmth of her own bed. You could tell by looking at her that she looked drained by the temporary “bug” that had attached itself to her; indeed, even at dinner earlier before that vigil had even commenced, she looked slightly pale and had not been her normal talkative self. Wayne with his typical concern for other people, and notwithstanding that he was a dedicated psychic investigator himself who had frequently endured far more potent places than the Ancient Ram Inn, just wanted to take her back to Wolverhampton as quickly as possible, and had no wish to aggravate her condition by making her endure yet more hours in the cold, damp environment of the Inn.
So, after loading up the equipment, Wayne and the rest of his group left in their two cars at approximately a quarter to four that morning leaving Dave Milner and myself tired, but relatively comfortable, downstairs. Dave covered himself with blankets on a tattered settee and fell into a light sleep, probably relived no longer to be expected to try to sleep in the cold Bishop’s Room upstairs. I curled up on another sofa; cold and “sleepless” but hugging the warmth of the small calor gas fire.
Laying there in the dim light, my eyes absorbing the numerous strange objects and ornaments that cluttered the room, I suddenly became aware that something seemed “different”. I didn’t know what it was; only that there was just something ‘different’ in the room.
I had been idly watching an old grandfather-clock; not so much consciously, but because it commanded my line of vision on the wall opposite and it had almost an hypnotic effect in the undisturbed stillness. An orange glow reflected from the light of the gas fire, which by itself, seemed to reflect unreal images in a semi-real environment. You could see the light move across the yellowed glass; strange images, I thought, yet consoled by the fact the cause was only a gas container. It would have been easy to let imagination to wander in the confines of the Inn; but it was more an hypnotic effect, like fleeting illusions that seemed to be trying to defy reality.
Ironically, I was wide awake, but my attention was somehow drawn to the clock for no apparent reason.
I lay watching the minutes on the clock, casually “ticking these off” as it gradually approached daylight, when it suddenly dawned on me that what had taken five minutes on the clock, seemed to have taken more like half an hour. Its difficult to describe it more precisely than that. I never wore a watch, and Dave Milner was asleep, so I didn’t want to compare time by waking him up. But what was strange was, this went on for the next five minutes, and then the next five; it seemed to be an eternity. Eventually, what should have been about an hour or so, had only registered on the clock as about five minutes.
Then, all of a sudden, my attention was distracted by something else and I looked at another area in the room (as it was this turned out to be irrelevant; I had heard a ‘scratching noise’ but I assumed this to be a genuine rat or something) but when I looked back at the clock, I realised that something was ‘different’. The clock had actually stopped ticking. Before, its monotonous ticking sound had been almost a part of the background but now, after I had been distracted by the noise of the ‘rat‘, there was just an overbearing silence. I lay staring at the clock-face and could swear its hands were still moving forward. But this almost ‘hypnotic’ focusing’ caused me to fall into a ‘half-sleep’, and when I awoke fully it was light and I realised the clock had started ticking again. Dave Milner eventually woke up and I learned the exact time and, much to my surprise, the actual time registered on the clock was dead right. I was convinced these mysterious ‘time lapses’ – or perhaps more accurately ‘time-delays’ – had not been my imagination. Like most people, I was perfectly capable of being able to discern normal time spans; at least, be aware of the difference between lengthy periods and those accompanying only a minute or two. But another careful look at the clock confirmed that it hadn’t lost any time whatsoever.
We remained till the morning, and again, being a Sunday, there were no buses. But John Humphries called us a taxi and, once again, I watched the Ram Inn merge back into its virtual hiding place on the hill; an encapsulated shrine in the bleak countryside that seemed to be in no hurry to give away its innermost secrets …
© David Farrant 1998