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Since the caretaker died the house next door was empty.

Hid behind my mom when the fire hose ran through our garage until I realised it wasn’t our house, and then I wanted to see everything but wasn’t allowed to. We found smoke stained books in the room where he’d died. Casino Royale was one, everybody read it and passed it around like nobody had died at all. He didn’t get burned, just the smoke killed him.

It was getting dangerous when the clocks went back. We were shouted at regularly for going in. Your jumper was never thick enough to keep out the cold wind. Missing floorboards, you could see below. The stairs were okay. Upstairs there was a painted white circle in the middle of the room. Perfect for a train set, they got it set up and powered by steam, the metholayted spirits chuntering round. The hippies had been in and done a séance and had drawn the circle, but now it was our turn. This went on for hours, aeroplanes and everything flew across the room. More kids than the place could stand, so some were expelled downstairs mostly because they were fat, lived a long way away, and my brother owed them money so things were thrown down at them making the holes in the floorboards bigger. But instead of throwing back up, they took the staircase out from the bottom up because that was more fun. Competing with the shouting and swearing the aeroplanes that flew then were large pieces of wood.

Couldn’t hear anything, didn’t know what was going on, it got dark. And I was on my own. Couldn’t get downstairs, the stairs had gone. The train set had gone too. I ran around. At the front a window was cracked, it wasn’t before, and there was no streetlights. Went back to the room with the white circle, it seemed a bit warmer because the door hadn’t been ripped off before. The cold wind didn’t get in. Heard something loose and afraid the floor would fall out under me. I saw that hippie woman with the snake go away behind a cloud of smoke, but I couldn’t move. It was like magnetism. Kept hearing voices but there was nobody there. I called back but it made no difference, my ears popped.

He was a large man with green blisters over his face, he sat outside on the steps but I never saw him after he died whatever they said about witches and hippies and how I had disappeared for hours and they were all walking the streets looking for me and why was I hiding? And there was no fight and there was nothing wrong with the stairs, but I couldn’t get down – so you must have been abducted without knowing about it? There’s more things in heaven and earth, but I don’t think so. I didn’t see a ghost whatever they said. And If I did I wouldn’t say so.

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