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‘Welcome to Dark Entertainments Ghost Tours!’ Major Grim announced.
‘Your guide for this evening is Barby.’ Major Grim gestured towards the tall, slender blonde who smiled.
With a hint of irony, unnoticed, he added ... ‘Enjoy your stay! I’m sure I will meet you all later.’
With that he turned sharply on his heels in smart military manner and left, pulling behind him the heavy door which clanged shut.
Barby turned to a neat row of battery powered hurricane lamps and, taking them one by one, handed out each of the lamps randomly as she began her usual introduction for the group of tourists assembled higgledy-piggledy in the half dark entrance chamber.
‘There is one lamp between two or three people.’
As she switched on and distributed each lamp, the cavernous room was illuminated as the tourists threw the beams in all directions exploring the cavernous arched ceiling and the old grey stone walls and their numerous darkly medieaval recesses.
‘Now I must lock the door for security’.
As she said so she took from her belt a large iron ring that jangled with an assortment of medieaval looking keys and with deft fingers isolated the required key, set it into the lock of the large elaborately carved oak door and with a loud clunk it was locked. She turned to the expectant group all eyes focused on their attractive young guide.
‘Before we enter the underground chambers I must advise you of several important points.’ Her sombre tone echoed through the ante-chamber.
‘Firstly, these underground chambers are many hundreds of years old and when they were built people were not so tall as we are today, so the many stone steps are uneven, narrow and, in some places, well worn so please tread carefully as we explore. Also, many of the entrances have very low arches so mind your head. Behind you, you can see a set of steps leading down, there is a handrail, firstly on the left and then on the right. Please use them when we descend to the underground in a few moments. Secondly, please stay together as a group. If you wander off on your own, it is very easy to get lost in the labyrinth, the underground tunnels are extensive and I cannot guarantee that I will be able to find you. Finally, there are, in the underground many historical artefacts. Please do not touch any of these. If they break, I have to pay for them and if I could afford antiques, you would not have the pleasure of my company this evening.’
The guide smiled whimsically at the usual murmours of mild amusement that expressed her guests understanding and assent. ‘So we will begin.’ The guide raised her lamp and strode towards the first steep, narrow steps, pausing to look back momentarily at her group. She grinned almost nervously. ‘Follow me.’
And so with eager trepidation and careful steps the train of amateur ghost-hunters began their slow and careful descent to the ancient underground crypt.
. . . to be continued